forget about problem #2 and #3 listed above, my fault...I didn't know that I needed to choose the new style from dropdown before previewing.
issue #1 and #4 are still there though and I found another issue.
when editing the "flow" design, all i did was change the background/text color..saved.. published
then choose the new style from drop down and added to site.
when i view it online, no images show. the bg color is correct and text color is correct...but the text is in the upper left corner...no images though. if I change back to one of the preset styles (dark or light)...it all works just fine...but not on a custom style