Lydia Tjia- The Story Behind Your Stuff Spring 2017 Winner
My name is Lydia Tjia. I am a wife, mother of three awesome children, hand-lettering artist, calligrapher, and illustrator. I have homeschooled my three children since 1994. When I started, homeschooling seemed like a long and endless journey. My whole life centered around my family. Fast-forward twenty-three years: My homeschooling years are coming to an end. I find myself asking what I will do when all the children have left the house. Currently, I only have one child left at home. The thought of not having anyone to chauffeur, no lesson plans, and no scheduling both excite and scare me. Life as I know it is about to change when my youngest graduates from high school in a few years.
When I first had these thoughts a few years ago, I began praying and asking God for direction. Change is always uncomfortable but I also believe that if we walk in His way, we will step into any new challenges with joy and excitement. Sometimes, I dread the journey through an unfamiliar path, but Isaiah tells me that I will “go out in joy and be led forth in peace” (Is. 55:12, NIV). Not only that: The “mountains and hills will burst into song” and “all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Is. 55:12, NIV). Even Creation is cheering me on!
Slowly, the Lord began to reveal a side of me I did not know I had: My artistic side. I did not grow up with any artistic experience and no one in my family is an artist. I have only started dabbling in art journaling for fun about five to six years go. My younger daughter has shown great interest and talents in art, so I decided to sign her up for an art class. Over the next several years, I became close friends with her art teacher. We would swap stories and ideas. In the beginning, I would just watch and listen to her talk about art. And when I started doing my art journal, I would show her my scribbles and she would always encourage me. She took us on a life-changing field trip to our local art supply store, explained and showed me art stuffs I have never seen or heard before in my life. Soon after that, I started making homemade art journals and gave her one as a gift. So every time I took my girl for art lesson, we would show each other our art journal pages. The professional artist and the complete beginner.
About two years ago, I finally decided to join my daughter’s art class. Yes, I was doing art in the same room with little kids, but my good friend, the art teacher, worked with me individually and helped me move at my own pace. Soon afterward, I began to learn hand-lettering and calligraphy. I did not know at that time where the Lord was taking me, but as a “DIY” person, I started taking classes online, both free and paid. I just tried to soak in as much information as I could. I never forgot what someone told me many years ago.
“Prepare and equip yourself even if you don’t see any openings yet, so when the opportunity comes, you are ready to step into it. Opportunity does not announce itself ahead of time; it just shows up. And when it does, if you are not ready for it, it will be your own fault.”
As I learned more, I became more comfortable with my new skills and saw more clearly where the Lord was taking me. I narrowed my interests and focused on them. As I improved, I began to find new opportunities.
I remembered looking at other people’s works and used to say to myself that’s what I wanted to do. Whenever I looked through Pinterest, I would get so many ideas and inspirations but at the same I would get so overwhelmed. How am I going to get as good as these people? When I get an information overload, my tendency is to shut down and not do anything. So in the midst of information overload, I decided the best thing for me is to pray. I know that at least it will calm me down. Not only did it calm me down, prayer has given me direction. One of the things I learn throughout this journey is that I just need to be myself. I do not have to copy someone else’s style. I don’t have to try to be like someone else. I have my own style and it is unique. This thought gives me so much peace and confidence. Pinterest does not overwhelm me now. It gives me inspiration. I was reminded of a quote by Oscar Wilde, the famous author,
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
I designed my social media (blog, instagram, and facebook) as a place to inspire and encourage others while also showcasing my work. I realize that I have something to share, whether it is an encouragement, an inspiring verse, my illustrated sermon notes, a good book, or even a wholesome recipe. While it started as hand lettering and calligraphy pieces, my works have lately evolve to include watercolor painting and pen drawing. I am learning to combine painting and lettering. It definitely has stretched me beyond my comfort zone. But I am up for the challenge. And the journey has been very rewarding to me. Most of the quotes, verses, and illustrations I do in my pieces are nuggets I get in my daily devotions.
I turned fifty this year. Some would consider this too old or too late to start something new, but I believe I am just beginning. I love the the quote by Les Brown:
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”
I think this is true regardless of your age or position in life. You may have passed “the Big Five-O” like me, or you may be a young person with many bright years ahead: Never stop learning.
*All “The Story Behind Your Stuff” contest winner stories and images are written and provided by the product designers/artists themselves. Please do not duplicate or redistribute without permission.