March 10, 2016

his love is strong

Your love is strong. does anyone else know and love that jon foreman song? it has become one of my favorites over the last couple years... i hear it in my head whenever i feel overwhelmed with difficult circumstances or when i question God's goodness or when i feel completely drained from the throws of life... the melody weaves its way into my heart and reminds me that even though i'm weak and faithless and unloving at times - His love remains strong and unwavering.

it's been one of those weeks guys, so i thought i'd help myself to a little reminder and a little paint therapy. please enjoy this small, heartfelt gift of digital wallpaper on your tech. :)

His love is strong - stronger than whatever weighs you down today. hope that simple truth encourages you where you're at. :)

xo.





January 6, 2016

he restores my soul

"the Lord is my Shepherd, i lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, 
He restores my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for His name's sake."
psalm 23:1-3

the Shepherd works endlessly to keep His sheep - letting them feed on rich grass in the summer... protecting them from hungry predators... storing up hay for the coming winter... making sure all their needs are met through every season, every year...

"I will feed My sheep and I will cause them to lie down, says the Lord God. 
I will seek that which was lost and bring back that which has strayed, and I will bandage the hurt and the crippled and will strengthen the weak and the sick...
And I will raise up over them one Shepherd and He shall feed them... and I will confirm with them a covenant of peace and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, and [My people] shall dwell safely in the wilderness, desert, or pastureland and sleep confidently in the woods."
[ezekiel 34:15-16,22,25] 

He finds us who are lost - lost in sin, lost in despair, lost in heartache, lost in legalistic rules - and rescues us, restoring our souls from every kind of hurt we can imagine. even when we've strayed from Him, He promises to bring us back. it's His grace and love and kindness that leads us to repentance, making us whole where we've been broken, bringing us to a place of peace where we've been anxious.... where all we have to do is feed on His faithfulness and trust as He guides. 

"So Jesus said again, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that I Myself am the Door for the sheep.
I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved. he will come in and he will go out freely and will find pasture.
I am the Good Shepherd. the Good Shepherd risks and lays down His own life for the sheep.
And I give my sheep eternal life, and they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages. And no one is able to snatch them out of My hand." 
[john 10:7,9,11,28]

i'm continually learning and relearning that it's not by anything i do that i'm protected/restored/blessed, but what He's already done for me. it was out of His astounding grace that the Good Shepherd laid His own life down so that His sheep could enter into new, abundant, beautiful life, and there's nothing that can separate us from that. moving into the new year, i always want to keep that at the forefront of my mind... i belong to Him and no one can snatch me out of His loving grasp. i am His sheep and He restores my soul. :)

xo + happy new year!
[p.s. here's a little phone wallpaper to help us remember that. :)]





November 16, 2015

logo for just be counselling!





currently napping in her crib, baby indie is just over a month old [what?!] so i thought i'd dust off the ol' blog while i have a few quiet minutes. :)

this summer i had the pleasure of working on new branding for just be counselling! [also, side note, i had no idea that 'counseling' was spelled with an extra 'l' in canada! you learn something new everyday :)]

i created this logo with a romantic vibe that could easily be simplified for versatility throughout byrdie's branding... and i'm so happy with how it turned out! florals are always something i love illustrating. :)
thanks so much byrdie for collaborating with me on your new look!!
xo!


October 9, 2015

fall wallpaper // he establishes peace

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. 
Lord, You will establish peace for us, for You have also done all our works in us."
isaiah 26:3, 12

just like God's unconditional love and grace, His peace is not something that we have to work our way up to... we don't have to walk with God a certain amount of years, or read the bible a certain amount of times, or do enough good works to receive peace. it's not something that's earned, it's given - and not only is it given, it's established for us... i looked up that word to get a better grasp on what's being said here -

establish:
1. to institute [as a law] permanently by enactment
2. to make firm or stable
3. to introduce and cause to grow and multiply

praise hands for days!

peace grows and multiplies as we fix our minds on Him! i love that imagery... peace isn't something that's there for the taking one minute and gone the next - it's there permanently growing and expanding in His presence... all we need to do is abide in Him!

there are a few unknowns in my life right now... and it would be easy to fall back on all those old familiar feelings of worry + anxiety [and believe me, the struggle is real!], but these verses have popped up so many times in the last couple weeks and i just feel like the Spirit is reminding me of Who's in control even when circumstances seem completely out of control. it doesn't say "try to make sense of everything and then you'll have peace!" nope. it's "hey! things don't make sense, and that's ok! just keep your mind on Him because HE has it all figured out so, here - take some peace, there's plenty to go around!"

again, praise hands for days.

so, i thought i would make these wallpapers to remind myself of that truth - because Lord knows i need the reminder often!! i hope this meets you where you're at too... whatever the situation may be, peace awaits you in His presence.

love you friends! happy october!
xo,
ash

p.s. can i just hold my baby already?! indie is wayyyy too cozy in my belly apparently, and my patience is reaching its limits! haha! come on little girl, we can't wait to snuggle you!





September 11, 2015

logo for juniper + bloom!



when hollie first emailed me with her business name, i was immediately smitten and couldn't wait to start designing! sometimes there's just sort of magic that happens in collaboration, and i think hollie and i found that magical stride together. i love how her logo turned out and am so excited to see all that's in store for her and her business! 

check out juniper + bloom on instagram to stay connected!

xo!
ashley

September 4, 2015

streams in the desert



a year ago, i thought i was dying. i remember sitting on the couch, feeling so weak from unintentional weight loss and so weighed down by anxiety, i wondered if i would make it through. my anxious thoughts were relentless, but that's when i clung to God's word like a lifeline, maybe for the first time ever. like curling pages of an old newspaper, i believe that God's loving hand burned away characteristics and beliefs that i didn't even know i had... getting to the core of my heart.

for the first time i began to question what i believed and what the bible said, rather than what i had been taught over the years. i submerged myself in scripture, studying and grasping onto the words of Jesus... it's like i had been covered in weeds without knowing it because the weeds looked a lot like legit landscape and God brought along a huge brush fire, clearing away misconceptions and pride and self-righteousness, making the soil rich for growth.

i didn't see it like that at the time. i just saw the blaze around me. i felt the heat and pain from the wildfire and couldn't possibly see what good could come from it. but as weak and as scared and as dry as i was, i asked God to hold me and get me through it even if i couldn't hold onto Him. He does that, you know? it's all over scripture, and i claimed those truths as my own -

when i am weak, He is strong.

when i am faithless, He is faithful.

when i am defeated, He carries me to victory.

when i am useless, He still loves me.

when i feel utterly alone, He's right beside me, and promises that nothing can ever separate me from His love.

gosh, i love that. it's not about us making some great dent in the universe by our faith and works, it's about us surrendering to HIS love, HIS faithfulness, HIS greatness. it's all about Him loving us! that's the gospel... that's why it's such good news to a weary soul - i don't have to abide by a long list of rules, all i have to do is accept His love, claim His grace over my soul... and attempt to introduce others to that same love and grace.

as the months went by, i began to see how much my thought life needed to change. it needed a complete turnaround - from thinking only of what bad things were happening and what could happen to thinking on things that i knew to be true and lovely and right and noble and praiseworthy.

slowly, the smoke began to lift and the fire ceased. i started gaining weight and laughing again. that might sound silly, but when you're in the deep pit of anxiety, you can't even remember the last time you actually found humor and happiness in something!! it's crazy.

fast forward to the end of the year and i felt like God was repeatedly giving me these verses -

streams in the desert.
a road in the wilderness.
trees from thorn bushes.
... tranquility + refreshment in a place that had been scorched by heat.
... a paved way in a place that felt lost and forgotten.
... new, restorative life where there was only pain.

an exact year later from that wildfire, i find myself sitting here, feeling our little baby girl kick inside me. the exact place of my pain - my weak body - is where God has chosen to bring redemption - a life growing inside me. God burned things away last year, but He has brought new, unbelievable, beautiful growth. He allows us to go through night seasons, but He always promises the joy and hope and redemption of morning. there's always grace to be found in the wild.

feeling extra thankful and in awe of Him right now and just had to share... in hopes that it might encourage you. :)

xo!

July 20, 2015

winter in july // growing cold





one can't check social media, watch a few minutes of tv, or browse the magazine rack without seeing a lot of uncomfortable things happening in the world. stuff that will break our hearts, stuff that tempts us into rage, and stuff that might even offend and disgust us is plastered and praised and defended by many while others protest and shout their disgust and offenses, slowly letting their hearts grow cold to the ones we're to love.

before moving to montana, i didn't have a good understanding of what "cold" meant. socal winter living meant wearing a scarf in 65 degree weather. here... a much different story. it's when your phone reads -20 that you realize you're not in california anymore and unless there's an absolute emergency, you're not taking one step outside. there were a couple days that we had to be out in said negative weather, and the moment you step outside, you feel as though your lungs are going to turn into bags of ice, making it nearly impossible to breathe. even with gloves on, the tips of your fingers begin to feel stiff and numb, rendering them hurt and useless.

"and because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold."
matthew 24:11

when i read this verse, i pictured myself in the winter, my useless hands unable to help anyone because they're sticking close to my body to keep themselves warm. it would be easy to feel so defeated and disheartened and shocked by the winter of the world's activities, letting our hearts - the things that are supposed to remain warm and welcoming - slowly begin to numb and retract and attempt to keep the heat in, all to ourselves... we're in survival mode after all...

"if you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. but if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it."
matthew 16:25

Jesus' plan for survival is the complete opposite of what our natural man wants to do. when it's freezing cold, we naturally want to curl up in a ball and get back in the house, where it's warm and comfortable. but Jesus calls us to do the crazy thing - trudge through the snowy winters of this world with Him, breathing life into the hearts of stone that have long been frozen.

i don't want to shrink back from the bitter cold, i want to persevere through it and remain loving like Jesus does. it doesn't mean i'll agree with everyone and support everything, but allowing the Spirit to work His fruit through me even when i don't agree with someone or something - letting patience and kindness and goodness thaw and revive even the iciest places.

"For a second after Aslan had breathed upon him the stone lion looked just the same. Then a tiny streak of gold began to run along his white marble back - then it spread - then the color seemed to lick all over him as the flame licks all over a bit of paper - then, while his hind-quarters were still obviously stone the lion shook his mane and all the heavy, stony folds rippled into living hair. Then he opened a great red mouth, warm and living..."
c.s. lewis, the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe

June 29, 2015

new prints in the shop!



so excited to finally be able to update the shop with a few new prints [and a couple more items on the way!]... i made these with little baby in mind... knowing that there will be days ahead where she'll feel scared - scared to get out of her comfort zone, scared to pursue something because others have made her feel inadequate, scared to move forward because the road looks difficult... and i just want to whisper these words to her - courage dear heart. you are so dear and so loved, and you're not alone in any path you choose, not for one second.

xo

p.s. enter code SPARK30 at checkout to get 30% off all art prints from now until sunday!

May 28, 2015

josh + emily's wedding invites

i was so honored to create these wedding invitations for some dear friends of mine, who just couldn't be any lovelier! what a dream project! 

so much love / thanks / congrats to josh and emily, love them to the moon!

xo.



May 27, 2015

indoor / outdoor vibes



INDOOR // i'm not usually a crafter nor a maker, but these faux ceramic napkin rings are tugging my heartstrings. i'm a sucker for a good paint speckle, and now with our dining room fit for visitors, i may just have to roll up my sleeves and make those cute things!

OUTDOOR // bring me that uninhibited horizon of dreamy tranquil blue and i'll be a happy girl. [countdown to california begins now! 7 days and i'll be soaking my prego self in the lovely pacific... sigh...]

heart eyes.

May 20, 2015

which way is right?



the concept of God's will can be a little overwhelming... what is His will anyway? should i take this job or that job? should i move here or there? should i choose this or that?
sometimes we may even get so caught up in figuring out the "right" way that we don't take a step at all, we just stay in the same place because we're too worried about making the wrong decision, going in the wrong direction, taking the wrong opportunity. 

this is something that i've gone in waves of struggling with... some seasons i'm totally moved by faith and confident in Christ's freedom, and other seasons i'm stuck where i'm at because i don't want to make a wrong move... because in my mind, it's better to stand still than choose the wrong path. this season has proved to be the latter for me, so i have to remind myself that this way of thinking isn't helping me or keeping me safe. 

why is this a struggle? why does the idea of God's will scare us into doing nothing? i think it's because we've somehow inherited this idea that God's will means making every right move and if we don't, then God will punish us and withhold His sovereign plan from us. even saying that is an oxymoron - if the direction we choose affects God's sovereignty, then He's not sovereign at all, which would mean He's not in control. 

yes, there are some specifics about God's will in the bible, but they're dealing more with the heart - it's God's will for us to be sexually pure [so if you're married, be faithful to your husband sexually and emotionally; if you're single, save sex for your future marriage], it's God's will for us to have thankful hearts, it's God's will + desire for us to love Him with our entire being and share His love with others... it's all centered on the heart.

as i read His word, it becomes clearer that God is more concerned with the place of my heart than the place of my feet. if my heart is loving, trusting, seeking Him first, then everything else is sort of just background scenery. 

it's like if you were making a movie or writing a story, the actual setting that you place the characters in is secondary to what's going on with the characters. even if you created this amazing setting but the characters lacked any sort of depth or change or conflict or growth there really wouldn't be a story. the storyline is wrapped up in the characters, not the setting. 

isn't it interesting that when you're reading a good book or watching a movie, no matter what decisions the characters make - whether good or bad - the story flows and ends exactly how the writer intended? if we believe that God is the author and finisher of our faith, then He will write our stories exactly how they're intended to be.... and guess what? He promises that all things will work together for good for those who love Him. every decision, every fork in the road - they will all be worked together for our good.

following Christ frees us from the weighty legalism of the "right" path and allows us to adventure and take risks and succeed and even fail! we have freedom to choose that job or change our careers or move to a different state or whatever it is we're debating. of course, let's pray for God's direction but let's also move in the assurance that our decision-makings and path-wanderings will not and cannot throw off God's plan for our lives.

so the "right" way is the one we choose daily - the one where we place our hearts in God's hands.  
nothing can separate us from His love, and nothing can thwart His story.

xo!



May 19, 2015

lately loving...


these days, my mind [+ wallet] has been centered around baby's nursery, but every now and then a non-baby-related product will catch my eye that i just can't resist... for example, that hello tape + farmer's market bag are currently on their way to me as we speak!

we've also been playing with the idea of updating our kitchen just a bit. we definitely won't be doing a full on remodel or anything like that, but little touches like hardware and backsplash can really make a space feel completely different... and right now, i'm a little taken with those brass handles. heart eyes for days, am i right?

any home projects in the works for you guys? i have a feeling this summer is going to be nothing but nesting for me... thank the Lord for pinterest and all those diy videos out there!

1. hello tape from moorea seal
2. brass handles from schoolhouse electric
3. farmers market bag from dot & bo