About 2016: Faithfulness

Happy New Year’s Eve! Once again, it’s that time where we all get to pause and reflect on the year that has passed. For me, it seems like time itself is only accelerating and leaving me scrambling behind in the dust, but while this year feels like the quickest year yet, I nevertheless gained infinite amounts of valuable insight and knowledge about myself, others, and the world.

I’ll get right to it: above all, 2016 was the year I learned all about God’s faithfulness. And let me just say, there is nothing more constant, tangible, beautiful, or true. While this year was filled with highs and lows, the one thing that remained unquestionably steadfast was my Jesus.

I learned that God is a faithful Provider. He has provided me with another wonderful year at Belmont University where I’ve gotten to dive deeper into my studies of science and music. He has blessed me with a new church family in The Move Church along with the countless opportunities I’ve received to serve there. He’s kindled a passion inside of me for hand lettering. He’s provided for me financially through work in Belmont’s Admissions office as well as hand lettering commissions on the side. And of course, God has continued to provide me with uplifting and life-giving friends that I get to surround myself with and whom I can count on whenever I need them.

I learned that God is a faithful Friend even in my darkest circumstances. God was consistently present in life’s overwhelming situations. From me floundering in my coursework, even to when I was panic-ridden because of the time my car went mysteriously missing, He was there. God was equally present in the small everyday battles I waged as a college student, whether they were against loneliness, sadness, or anxiety.

Perhaps most importantly, I learned that God is faithful in His promises. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says He knows the plans He has for me. They are good plans that will give me a hope and a future. I continue to find comfort in this truth and and realize that although they are programmed into my nature, I need to let go of my worry and uncertainty. Though I am in a weird stage of life saturated heavily with ambiguity, I can have peace in my confidence that this stage of my life is only but a stepping stone to a greater plan known solely to God.

I was never truly able to say I had directly experienced God’s faithfulness in a way that shook me to my core, but after this year I can gratefully say that I have. It’s an attribute of God that has become so dear to my heart, and I anxiously await the year to come where I will find God’s faithfulness all the more evident.

I hope you have a wonderful New Year and that your 2017 is filled with friends, fun, laughter, and above all, amazement at God’s unwavering faithfulness!


Year

Crash Course: How to Make a Print

In the midst of the busyness and stress that comes with Finals Week, it’s important to take breaks and rest from studying every once in awhile. And what better way to do that than make a fun lettered print? I personally believe lettering is therapeutic and is a constructive way to spend your down time. And if you’re struggling to find good Christmas presents for someone, these are great gifts because they’re customizable and, more importantly, hand-made by you:))

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This post describes the broad process I generally follow in drawing out this print. I am by no means an expert, so you should take my instructions with a grain of salt!

How I Letter

Choose a quote: Do you have a favorite Bible verse or saying? Then letter it! Try to keep the quote at around ten words in length. That way, your print will look cleaner and planning the layout of the print will also be much easier. But if you are feeling ambitious and want to letter something longer, go for it! For this print, I chose a quote I stumbled upon on Pinterest that reads “Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.”

Plan the layout: Now that you have chosen your quote, it’s time to plan out the format of the print. I typically start by thinking of any words I want to emphasize. I want to emphasize the words or phrases that mean the most to me; for my print, I wanted to draw attention to blessed, curious, and adventures.

On to the layout! This is the part I have the most fun with because there is an endless combination of ways you can arrange your words. Grab some scratch paper and start sketching. Play around with fonts and word size. I like to make more “important” words cursive and larger while making minor words smaller and in print. If you’re feeling fancy, incorporate a banner to draw the eye to a word or phrase. Of course, the most important thing to keep in mind is that flexibility is key and that there are no such things as mistakes. There is no wrong way to do things in the planning stage.

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the final sketch, drawn on some old guitar tabs

In these pictures, hopefully you can see the evolution of my ideas. I knew I wanted to put “curious” in a banner, so that was set from the start. After tweaking the shape of the banner, adding in the arrow, and changing up the arrangement of a few words, I was finally happy with my sketch.

So once you have an idea you are satisfied with, transfer it to your “real” paper. From this point on, I make sure I have all the materials I need: some good paper (I use Canson’s 100lb/260g Bristol smooth paper and cut it down to 8″x10″), a non-mechanical pencil (I find they’re easier to erase later on), a ruler for measuring and drawing guide lines, and a really good eraser. The eraser is definitely an important component because if you’re anything like me, you will be doing a lot of erasing.

Sketch it out: I normally start this process by drawing out some guidelines. If anything, I draw lines to divide the paper into half vertically and horizontally. For this print, I drew a lot more lines since so many different things were going on.

After drawing the guidelines, start adding in elements. I usually start in the middle and work upward/downward to ensure the print is centered vertically.

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The above is a rough sketch of what I wanted the print to look like. The general placement of everything was on the page, and every time I reach this point on any print, I breathe a sigh of relief because from this point on, it’s generally smooth sailing! I might do some light erasing to fix some fine details, and I definitely trace over things once or twice so I can solidify the shape of everything.

So once I did my fine editing, my paper looked something like this:

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Trace over with pen or marker: Trace over the pencil with a pen or marker. I used the Tombow Fudenosuke hard-tip calligraphy pen which I like because rather than having to retrace over strokes to make them thicker, I can make thin or thick strokes just by adding or taking away pressure. Use a calligraphy pen if you want, or you can definitely use a Crayola marker and get the same results! The important thing to be mindful of here is keeping your strokes as even as possible.

Erase all the pencil marks once you’re done tracing to finish up the print!

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My final product:

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I hope this was a helpful read, and I would love to see what your print looks like if you decide to make one yourself!

Purpose

It’s been a good day. Despite the gloomy weather and the threatening gray clouds hanging low in the sky, I have had a good day. And now sitting here mentally preparing for finals week ahead, I had a mini revelatory moment, one of those times when a series of past moments culminates into a beautiful realization. So even though it’s nearing midnight, my mind is awake, and I must write.

Colony House is one of my favorite bands. After hearing them open for Ben Rector in August, I was hooked. I streamed their music constantly on Spotify, looping their albums over and over again. I immediately preordered their newest album, Only the Lonely. Since it was a preorder, songs from the album have gradually been released and added to my music library over the course of the past few months. Today, I was ecstatic to find that Colony House’s newest song “This Beautiful Life” was released. I dropped everything, gave the song my fullest attention, and listened. It was a beautiful song. The opening words spoke to me right away:

“What in the world are we doing here? What is the meaning of it all?”

And then later in the song:

“Maybe I’m a part of something that’s bigger than me, like I’m a page in a book in a library.”

These lyrics brought me back to the very beginning of my college experience. As an incoming freshman, I didn’t know what to expect out of college, but if anything, I expected that since there were going to be upwards of a thousand new students joining me in the start of this new experience, that making friends would be easy. And it was. I made a few close friends pretty quickly…the thing was, they were all music majors. Don’t get me wrong – I love my music friends, and I am a music minor myself after all. But I came into college as a Biology major, and while I started college with many acquaintances in the science department, I could not truly call them my friends. The same went for the Honors college; I knew everyone, but none of my relationships held any substance. Needless to say, I quickly felt out of place. I felt like no matter where I was, I didn’t fit in. Sooner or later, I began doubting my choices. I questioned my choice of friend groups and eventually even my choice in my university.

This inward tension surfaced during a Bible study I was a member of. This study was composed of a Commercial Voice major, three or four Musical Theare majors, and a Commercial Percussion major, so they wouldn’t understand, but I threw the question out to them anyway. “What the heck am I doing here?” I asked. I was distraught, lost, and confused. “We’ll pray for you,” they said. And I am confident that they did, but I never heard an answer from God.

My purpose on this Earth was something I struggled to discover, and it still is today. Even now, I have no idea what I was put on this Earth to do career-wise. It’s tough attending a university where students are predominantly music majors. I imagine a lot of them have been dreaming of making it big in the music industry ever since they were little kids, and now they’re at one of the greatest schools in the industry to pursue what they love.

I admire that so much. To have that drive and dedication, to be able to pour your heart into your dream. Where can I find that? And until then, what am I supposed to do with myself? It wasn’t until earlier this month that I was reminded of my purpose. On November 4th, we had our annual Presidential Scholars reception. I got to eat scones and drink coffee with my fellow scholars as well as some significant people at Belmont: my mentor Dr. Paula Gill who is the VP of Institutional Effectiveness, our Provost, and even President Dr. Fisher himself, among others. We all chatted for awhile until it was time for a speech given by one of these significant people (and of course, I can’t remember his name…) The speaker talked to us about many things, but the one topic he discussed that resonated with me was our purpose. I can still hear him loud and clear when he said,

We have been blessed so we can bless others.

The speaker’s words hit home for me. I realized then that I was placed at Belmont intentionally, I was chosen, and I was blessed with more than I could ever need so that every day, I can go out and bless others. This doesn’t just apply to me; each and every person was placed in the setting and circumstance they are in by God because that is where they are best equipped to bless others.

So what in the world am I doing here? What is the meaning of it all? From my lost freshman self to the Presidential Scholars reception to me today jamming out to Colony House, I have learned that we have been placed where we are to bless others. It doesn’t matter if it’s through the seemingly mundane, everyday tasks like holding the door open for the person behind you or through pursuing your passions and dreams by making it big in the music industry. In blessing others with God’s hope and love, we are pursuing a cause dealing with eternity and fulfilling our most important purpose.

I’m definitely a part of something that’s bigger than me, like a page in a book in a library.

“And inside my heart there’s a dying part that’s always searching, ’cause I know that there’s a place where I belong.”

Listen to “This Beautiful Life” here:

About November ’16

How is November already over?! It feels like just yesterday I was getting ready for the start of sophomore year. Now it’s December and we’re less than a week away from the end of the semester, which means finals are just around the corner…..oh no. Anyway, I honestly didn’t think much happened this past month, but looking back, November was a lot more eventful than I thought! For the start of a new monthly installment on WHATSUPWITHCHU, here are the highlights of a pretty great month:

  • My 20th birthday– I got to start off my November by turning twenty! On the down side, on my birthday I woke up feeling pretty sick and spent literally the whole day in bed. But on the bright side, the day before my birthday was spent in fellowship with my family. I got a Keurig as a gift which has been nothing but a lifesaver over and over again. I also got a ukulele! It’s such a fun instrument because it’s easy to learn and its sound never fails to put me in a good mood.
  • Talking with the White House– It’s not every day you get to sit in on a conference call with the White House. Thanks to my presidential mentor, I got the opportunity to listen in on a conversation about affordable healthcare options for university students as part of a Get Covered America initiative. We were hoping we would hear from President Obama himself, but we didn’t because he was busy (and what’s more, this was only a few days after the presidential election)
  • Church– We’re getting artsy at church! My friends and I are the official decorators of the kid’s ministry chalk wall. We’ll be going every few weeks to redo it. The first time around was tough, but I know it will only get easier and we’ll only get better!

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  • Love Does– I’m not exaggerating when I say this book has changed my life. Bob Goff’s wittiness and pursuit for a life fully lived changed the way I view life, God, and the world. If you haven’t read Love Does yet, I highly suggest doing so!
  • Thanksgiving break– I went back home to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. At the start of break, my brother and I hiked to the Jump Off. On Thanksgiving Day, our family feasted on an insane amount of American food, and ate an even insaner amount of Chinese food the next night. Basically, Thanksgiving break was great.
  • Celebrating things– I finished the month by taking my Organic Chemistry lab final and going to our Honors College’s Christmas party. The Christmas party was fun for obvious reasons, and the lab final was surprisingly fun because we had it at Pancake Pantry.

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(And yes, the pancakes were as good as they look.)

I hope your November was as great as mine was, and wishing you the best going into this month!

Healing

He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.’ Exodus 15:26 (NLT)

When I heard this verse maybe a month or so ago at church, I knew it was something that would definitely end up in my lettering journal. I forget why this particular verse was mentioned, but nevertheless, it resonated in me and I just had to put it out there. At around that same time, I had just learned how to draw a floral wreath from my favorite IG letterer and decided that this verse would be a great place to practice my newly acquired skill:

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After this print circulated social media for awhile, my mom contacted me and told me someone wanted two of these prints for her daughter, flower wreaths and all. I will admit that I was slightly confused; of all the verses in the Bible, why would someone choose that verse? I just went with it and still was skeptical until my mom clarified the situation for me.

The person that placed this order wanted two copies of this print for her daughter. One copy would be for her daughter, B (I feel so bad–I know her name starts with B, but I don’t remember what her name is!!), and the other for B’s friend Olivia. B and Olivia are both nine years old. B picked this print out herself because Olivia is currently battling osteosarcoma. She wanted this print to remind her and Olivia both that God can heal anything, even Olivia’s bone cancer.

So lettering these pieces was a really humbling experience. I find myself still in a state of admiration when I think about just how much faith B and Olivia have. For this, I look up to these girls who are demonstrating what unwavering faith in the midst of challenging circumstances looks like. And as for Olivia, I know that God has already used her story and will continue using it to shape the lives of many. I know she has shaped mine.

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And lastly, I ask that if you’ve gotten this far in the post, could you join me in praying for Olivia and for God to bring complete healing to her body? That would mean the world.

The Jump Off

Today was my first day back for Thanksgiving break. Instead of sleeping in like what I probably would’ve done, Brandon and I headed out at around 9am to hike to the Jump Off. It’s a lesser-known destination in the Smokies, but it definitely deserves a lot more attention.

The drive up was beautiful. We caught the leaves in their end stages of transitioning from fall to winter. Quite a few of the trees were still colored bright red, orange, or yellow. Eventually, we got to Newfound Gap where the hike began. It was around three miles to the Jump Off from the trailhead. Luckily enough for me, the hike was pretty easy and not that strenuous.

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mid-hike snackin’

acolorstory-3At our final elevation of 6130 feet, we were greeted with a beautiful view. But if you’re asking yourself, why does it look like there’s a layer of smoke over the mountains?,  it’s because there definitely was. The whole hike up smelled like a burnt out campfire. We drove back from the Smokies literally smelling like smoke. It was an unfortunate consequence of the forest fires that have been occurring across Tennessee and North Carolina. Nevertheless, a little smoke wasn’t able to cover up the beauty that was the Great Smoky Mountains. It felt good to be back. (And I had a great hiking buddy. Thanks for hiking with me, Bro.)img_4405acolorstory-2acolorstory-4img_4407img_4419img_4406img_4409img_4417

Pursuit

Happy Monday!

As some of you may know, I picked up hand lettering over the summer and it has been my newest crazy obsession. Lately, I’ve been especially busy with custom lettering orders as I’m fundraising for an ISL trip coming up in the spring, but hey I’m not complaining.

The cool thing about custom orders is that I have no idea what people will ask of me. I never thought it would turn into this, but doing lettering orders has definitely been a learning experience. Not only does completing orders allow me to refine my lettering style and work on my skill, but I’ve also gained new exposure to a lot of good quotes and Bible verses. More importantly, I’ve had to scribble so many thumbnails, sketch so many drafts, and erase and rewrite so many times that these verses and quotes have become internalized in my mind.

Lettering is also a means of meditation for me. When I letter my orders, I have plenty of time to think about what I’m writing about, what value it holds, and what it could mean in the context of my life. So this post is hopefully the start of a fun series where I’ll be sharing a piece I’ve done as well as my personal reflection on it.

So…yeah. Let’s go ahead and get started!
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Look for Christ, and you will find Him. And with Him, everything else.

-C.S. Lewis

When a good friend of mine asked me to letter this quote, I was really excited to do so because 1.) everyone knows C.S. Lewis is pretty much the best, and 2.) I found this quote to be applicable to life, especially as a college student.

I know that at least for me, I dedicate a good majority of my time as a Biology major hunkered down in my room over Organic Chemistry or Genetics textbooks. I spend so much of myself on my work that if and when I’m not careful, it draws me away from what, or rather Who, is truly important. God shouldn’t be an afterthought or a second resort, and sometimes I get so caught up with my pursuits in my future career path or in other things that I forget that.

Yesterday at church, our pastor talked about how the things of this earth will fade, but heavenly things will remain forever. I need to be reminded constantly that my pursuit of God’s face is the most important thing I will ever do because it is everlasting. And when I choose to find Him first and choose to prioritize Him over everything else, everything else will fall into place.


Want a print? Let me know!