Four years ago, in September 2015, I bought my first brush pen and fell in love instantly. To celebrate my 4-year “calligraversary” I thought some of you might be interested to hear my story about why I got started and how the Lord used what started as a relaxing hobby to change the trajectory of my life.
How it all began
Back in 2015 I was pursuing a career as a contemporary Christian singer/songwriter and had just finished an internship at a local church. My supervisors told me there would be an on-staff worship leader position opening in less than a year. I really wanted the job, so I chose to wait. I began working a few hours a week as a barista while pursuing a solo music career, but still had a lot of time on my hands. So, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill – brush lettering.
I had been into block letters, cursive, making my normal handwriting as pretty as possible, and “fauxligraphy.” (That’s where you write with a regular pen and go back and make all the downstrokes of the letters thicker to look like calligraphy – see this lyric video I created back in 2013 for one of my songs using this technique!) Hand lettering was starting to become more mainstream when I started practicing, so up until then, I didn’t know what to call it. I just knew I liked creating pretty word pictures of Bible verses, quotes from sermons, and lyrics from worship music in my free time. ❤
A slow transition
I started sharing my brush-lettered quotes on Instagram right away. I knew I wasn’t very good yet, but I loved what I was making and couldn’t help but share! My Instagram account started as a place to share my music endeavors and a bit about my personal life. But, the more I shared my lettering, the more that account grew – if you scroll down far enough, you can see this transition happen! When I look back, it’s almost like I can see my heart begin to shift from music to lettering. It’s pretty cool to have that visual reminder.
One of the very first quotes I brushed lettered was “how great Thou art.” And I letter it every year to mark my calligraversary and see how my style changes from year to year. It’s one of my favorite little traditions!
My love for lettering began growing and so did my scope of work. I got the job at the church and was doing more and more custom lettering work on the side. I had grown tired of the hustle and challenges that came with gigging as a solo musician singing outwardly Christian lyrics. I loved lettering so much and knew that I was onto something, so I poured my heart into that and less and less into songwriting. I felt really conflicted about it, but still got to sing and lead worship every weekend for my job, so I felt like I was getting the best of both worlds.
After I got married in October 2016 I opened an Etsy shop to try selling some of my own designs. I started with digital prints, then found a printer I really liked and started selling actual paper prints. My custom orders kept coming in, but the shop sales were really slow. (I’m talking 1-2 sales per month for the first several months!) But, in the summer of 2017, things started to change when I decided to turn a personal Romans lettering project into a devotional. When I announced I’d be self-publishing my first book, Romans: A Hand Lettered Devotional, I knew I was onto something bigger than I had planned. Hundreds of people (even strangers!) were getting behind a project that wasn’t even finished yet and I was blown away.
Going all in
While I was getting ready to release the book, I was feeling more and more conflicted about my job at the church. There were things I loved about it more than anything, but I also knew I wouldn’t be there forever. I told myself I’d be there two more years. (If that were the case, I’d just be finishing! Crazy!) But, a week after I said that, I had clarity that it was time to leave. The timing made no sense. My husband had just decided he was going back to school, my tiny business was not ready… but, God had a plan!
The Lord’s plans
Two years after all of that, here we are, and it’s clear He did have a plan. I could write an entire book about the highs and lows of the self-employed life and the unforeseen trials Luke and I faced over the past two years. But, I’ll attempt to sum it all up in just a few final sentences.
God turned something I kind of just fell into into something I wanted to put my all into. He has used hand lettering to help me rest in His goodness. He uses it to test my faith in Him, to build trust that He will provide my every need, to teach me about the downfalls of self-reliance, to show me the peace that comes with relying on Him, to humble me… I’ve learned a lot of lessons and in so many ways, I am still in the learning process.
I celebrate this anniversary, not to just celebrate a great passion of mine, but the great work Jesus has done in my life since picking up that first brush pen. All glory to Him for the work that has been done and the work He will do in and through me! I am extremely humbled that the Creator of the universe wants to use me in this way and that so many of you have been a part of the journey. Thank you!
Want to be notified about future blog posts and additional updates? I’d love to have you join my mailing list community! And, as a special thank you, I’ll send a digital download for you to print and use at home. ❤