November 16, 2013

in the sketchbook...

if you follow me on instagram, you already saw this little doodle but thought i would share it here too... it's such a good reminder, time and time again.

don't give up!

one thing i've learned this past year as a full time artist is that sometimes things don't happen on the first try. or even the second, or the fifth, or the fiftieth... sometimes my vision is finally realized on the hundredth try. and if i gave up on the fifth, i wouldn't see my vision come to life.

i think about all the great artists i admire and glean from, and it's so easy to look at their work or where their career has taken them and start to feel 'less than', inadequate, etc... but i've realized that i'm only seeing their highlight reel. i'm not seeing the deleted scenes or the blooper reel, i'm seeing the fruit of countless hours of hard work and perseverance. i'm not seeing the blood, sweat, tears, frustration, high and low points... i'm seeing the final product of all that.

i came across this quote a few weeks ago and i absolutely love it...

"great things are done by a series of small things brought together." - vincent van gogh

we're all in the same creative canoe, paddling with small strokes in the water, each stroke just as important as the next- it's the perseverance of the paddling, it's the series of dips in the water that get us to where we want to go. our muscles might be sore, our mind might be exhausted, but let's keep moving!

row at your own pace and don't compare yourself to anyone else. don't change because you have critics, don't change your voice for the crowd... raise your unique voice that the Creator gave you, glorify him with it.

don't give up friends.

November 14, 2013

feet above water

blogging wasn't on the agenda today, because i've honestly been swamped with work, with chores, with holiday prep, oh the list goes on. the last few days, maybe even weeks, i've been feeling like i can barely keep my head above water... do you ever feel like that?

my mind feels like it could drown in all my battling thoughts - "oh, i need to clean the kitchen" "when was the last time i mopped?" "that bill is overdue" "i need to email this person" "i need to go to that meeting"... "but wait, enjoy the journey" "am i really feeling overwhelmed again?!" "i need to be thankful, i have so much" "i need to focus on others..." "i have nothing to wear." "crap, i didn't get into God's word this morning. my day is shot."

holy smokes. those are my thoughts right there.... and that's just a minute's worth of thoughts, not even a whole day's worth. barely above water.

i started reading proverbs 14 this morning, and i stopped at verse 1...

"the wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands."

my mind started to reel with thoughts again - "am i building up my house? am i encouraging my husband? is my priority my family or my art? etc. etc. etc..."
barely above water.

then i stopped again at verse 14...

"the backslider of heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above."

here we go again... "i'm filled with my own ways. i'm always concerned with how i'm feeling and what i'm doing wrong and what i'm doing right..." back and forth. barely above water.

i wrote those verses down, my thoughts on them, and then journaled a prayer to Jesus like i usually do in my devo time -

"Lord, i feel like i'm struggling, big time. i feel like i'm treading water, barely keeping my feet head above water...."

i paused after i scribbled out the wrong word. where on earth did the word feet come from when i meant to write head? i was so still... i knew right then that God was speaking to me. in my own strength, i can barely keep my head above water, but with Jesus, my feet will be kept above water.

i realized something so embarrassingly simple: i had been filling myself with my own ways - my focus was no longer on Jesus but on everything else - on the waves of a million 'things to do', on the dark ocean of failure beneath me, on the boat with everyone i compare myself to in it, on the sky of thundering clouds or on the sky with not a cloud in sight [good days can be distracting too!] - my focus was everywhere else - my eyes and mind dashing from one place to the next, then finally crying out "Jesus, help me!"

my help was there all along. i just took my eyes off Him. the second i cry out, He reaches down and pulls me up [mind and all] to where He's standing - above water - and He keeps me there.
oh the weight of the world melts away when He rescues me, because it's not me holding myself above the water, it's Jesus.

praying this encourages you like it did me... praying that our eyes will be fixed on Jesus today amidst the waves of craziness that the day will bring. :)

November 8, 2013

logo for kylie rae cakes!

a few months back, i had the delight of creating this logo for one of my sweet friends in california, kylie rae, who has been wowing me for years with her baked goods... yeah, her stuff is good. real good. oh and not to mention she's just so lovely inside and out, you can't help but love her.

kylie, you're so incredibly talented and beautiful!! it was an absolute honor to collaborate with you and so awesome to watch this chapter unfold... i couldn't be more excited for you and all that God has in store!
can't wait to see all the goodies you create! :)


November 7, 2013

embrace grace

several months ago, vanessa warren [of butterfly sparks and kelliandvanessa] asked if i would be interested in collaborating with her on this ministry's logo and branding... vanessa already had the pretty font in place so i created the watercolor elements to go along with it... and i've just recently been able to see it on the finished site.

i got lost in the site, reading testimonials, watching their info video, reading about who they are and how they started... i was choked up the entire time. it's an absolute honor to link arms with ministries like embrace grace, who truly exemplify grace to hurting girls, giving them hope in the midst of their guilt/shame/embarrassment/whatever they're feeling, loving them like Christ. oh my heart could just explode.

i have the video here, but be sure to check out their site for more info, encouragement, and ways to help.

thanks so much to vanessa for inviting me to collaborate on this... i'm so grateful for the opportunity and humbled by the experience!!


November 6, 2013

november desktop + wallpaper!

november is one of my favorite months, and not just because of all the baking and gathering, but also because nic and i got married this month seven years ago. i love that our wedding anniversary is linked to thanksgiving - a time of reflecting on thankfulness and giving. such vital aspects of marriage... but sometimes i focus more on the thankfulness part and not as much on the giving part...

it's easy to give out of our abundance, but to give out of our lack - when we feel like we don't have anything to offer or we don't have anymore time to spare - is something that has a far greater impact.

give until it hurts. how often does that characterize my life and my heart, my relationships? do i give only when it's convenient? or only when i have a full bank account? or only when i have time? do i give without thinking about what i can get out of it? and even if i do give sacrificially, when it hurts, do i complain about it? convicting stuff...

challenging stuff... good stuff... eternal stuff.

when we were in our most shameful, sinful moments, God loved us and GAVE His only Son, Jesus, to buy us out of darkness, to bring us into eternal light. as much as the world and all its media tries to convince me otherwise, it's not about me. it's about Him, who is so characterized by giving - giving to the point of death. giving until it hurt... and then some. He is an endless, unconditional giver!!
i'm totally having a little rally over here by myself... ha!

in my marriage, in my friendships, in my encounters with strangers, i am so challenged and inspired by this month's desktop to do just that - give till it hurts, without complaining, with joy.

i love collaborating on these desktops with kelli trontel, and i know i speak for both of us when i say that it's an honor to give these to you every month, for inspiration and for encouragement... it's amazing to hear how these are blessing and challenging you... thank you for sharing in this journey with us!!

oh! i almost forgot to mention that this lovely pie you see on the desktop was made by jessy of arrowleaf baking co.... and they're available for purchase via red caboose! can't wait to get mine....

ashley :)

November 2, 2013

heap + reap

"if your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat;
and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;
for so you will heap coals of fire on his head,
and the Lord will reward you."
[proverbs 25:21-22]

i read this the other day, at such a perfect time, and was reminded that i never have an excuse to 'give up' on loving someone. it doesn't matter how much they've hurt me, or how difficult they are to love, my duty in Christ is to love them persistently, sacrificially, unconditionally. if i'm not doing that, i'm not imitating Christ.

of course, it's not the easiest thing to do, actually it's probably the most challenging thing to do, and yet it's probably the most rewarding. and not just rewarding for us, but also for our enemies...

"the picture is that of the high priest [leviticus 16:12] who, on the day of atonement, took his censer and filled it with coals of fire and then put incense on the coals to create a pleasing, sweet-smelling fragrance.
the cloud of smoke of the incense covered the mercy seat and was acceptable to God for atonement. 

samuel wesley wrote:
'so artists melt the sullen ore of lead, by heaping coals of fire upon its head, 
in the kind warmth the metal learns to glow, and pure from dross the silver runs below.'"
[taken from biblegateway]

heaping coals of fire - living out unconditional love - however difficult it may be, has the power to melt our enemies' hearts.... what an amazing reward to reap!! knowing there's that kind of potential just cheers me on! i hope it cheers you on too... let's not give up friends!

love you all!!

November 1, 2013

arrowleaf baking co. logo!

i had so much fun collaborating with jessy of arrowleaf on her new logo... she was such a delight to work with and she's an extraordinary baker that's literally on another level. her treats not only spark curiosity and interest [roasted banana scones with chocolate drizzle?!] but also look incredibly beautiful...

needless to say, it was an honor to create her logo, and i'm so excited to see what the future holds for her! you can find her baked goods at the red caboose, on instagram [ @arrowleafbaking ] and very soon online!

hope you're having a lovely weekend, friends!