If you have been along for the ride of Heather’s Letters you know it was a big, fat surprise to me to start a business! I know, you say, “how doyou get surprised with a business?” I still haven’t quite figured it out yet either. In fall 2013 I had a 1 year old baby, was a stay at home mom, and had seemed to “caught my stride” with motherhood and was finding I had a little time each day to do something for me that I enjoyed. So, being an artist I spent free time drawing, specifically, hand-lettering again and just enjoying the creative outlet for myself.
Long story short, I posted a few pics of my drawings, people started asking how much to draw them this or that, it led to several orders, so I gave this whatever-it-was a name and it grew from there! It was literally everything I had hoped to do “one day”.
I always felt called to be a stay at home mom to my kids from the time I was a teenager – I just knew it was what I had to do one day. And I married the greatest man who couldn’t be a bigger support of me staying home with our kids, even if it makes things tight financially. But I always had a dream of owning some sort of creative business that I could run from home when I had kids that were a little older and not as needy as the baby/toddler stage. So when this dream came true unexpectedly it was AWESOME! Seriously, I was loving it. Yes, it was hard and trying, but all I knew was if God saw it fit to give me this now, then He would give me the knowledge and strength to run it from home while keeping my family my top priority. Its not easy, and I didn’t always do this perfectly every single day, but I felt like the majority of the time I did.
That meant changing working hours from just 1-4pm during Teague’s naptime, to adding on 5-8am every morning before he woke up. Yes, me, the ultimate night owl willingly got up at 5am every day! Don’t worry, it shocked me too. But I loved it because I got the best of both worlds. When Teague was awake, I was “all mom” and when I was working, I was all there too. It was a great balance, but I realized I could only maintain that well if I felt 100%. If I got sick, things would unravel. If a ton of responsibilities with our youth group, or church, or friends, or a ministry I was a part of, or a lot of work projects happened all at once and threw off the balance, then other areas of my life suffered. Basically, when life happened, lots of other things that were my responsibility had to go on the back burner until I put all the immediate fires out.
But of course, I had a remedy for this. In the fall Teague would be starting preschool a few days a week, giving me back those “extra hours” and I could balance it all a little better. I went into 2015 feeling SO optimistic and hopeful for the future of this small business. On New Years Eve, Daniel and I found out we were expecting baby #2! EVEN BETTER!!! Having another baby was going to be awesome, and the way I saw it, I had 9 months to work hard towards my business goals and plans then I would be on maternity leave the rest of 2015. Then the morning sickness set in.
A few weeks into January I was overwhelmingly sick and tired. Way more than I ever was when I was pregnant with Teague. I thought if I gave my body a little extra TLC by not doing my normal 5am wake up calls for about a week or so, this would pass and I would just be more careful to not push myself too hard this first trimester. Yes, I hear all you other mother’s laughing right now through the screen. It continued to get worse and just felt debilitating. This continued into February, but I had a lot of big projects going on and some traveling to do that month so I pushed hard to get it all done, and ended up with a virus that made me feel even worse. Then the pain started. I knew I had another ovarian cyst this pregnancy that showed up on my first ultrasound. We were told there was NO WAY I would have surgery in this pregnancy to remove a huge tumor like I did in Teague’s pregnancy. This was just a normal first trimester cyst that would go away on its own.
It was just a few days after Valentine’s Day I was doubled over in pain crying on the couch from the pain of this “normal cyst” and with a huge ice storm blowing in that day I was sent by my doctor to the emergency room. From there it was all a repeat of my pregnancy with Teague. Go to Duke for some scans, yep need surgery, get scheduled for surgery to remove the huge tumors off my ovaries, recover for the next 6 weeks. And let me just say…this surgery, is ROUGH! I never, ever, ever wanted to do this again. To know the horrible pain that was ahead of me for a second time was probably worse than the first time around. And the possibility of losing an unborn baby again, for the second time around was terrifying. It is much more involved than a c-section type of surgery…lets just spare y’all and leave it at that.
But this time I was given just a few days to get everything in order before my surgery, and had a worried little boy to arrange childcare for and try to help his little 2 year old mind understand it would “all be ok.” Praise the Lord, we have the most wonderful, generous, best friends and family who overwhelmingly stepped in to support us during this time. It would have been SO much harder without all their help!!
Just 4 weeks out of surgery, Daniel accepted his new job at Lake Norman Baptist and with the time frame we had a few days less than a whole month to pack up in Wilson and move. Also in that same month was our gender reveal party for our baby (GIRL!) we were excited to host, Teague’s birthday and birthday party to plan, and all the goodbyes, goodbye parties and last minute hang outs with the best of friends and students! Lots of good, great, wonderful things, but all crammed into a very short time frame. Read : really good, but stressful and exhausting.
As of right now, we have lived in our new home for a little over 2 weeks. And I feel like I’ve held my breath since January and am finally letting out a sigh of relief. Even thought that was a lot, I could write bucket loads more of all.the.ways God’s hand provided for us materially, emotionally, physically and spiritually over the last few months. It has been a beautiful picture of His providence and grace. Obviously, none of this was in my foreknowledge or plan. Which is why I have been so frustrated to not operate at “full speed” for you, my awesome clients, customers and supporters. It weighed on me terribly when I couldn’t meet deadlines I promised, or something arrived late. Being a good business owner means a lot to me. So it crushed me to not meet those expectations – and not because they were made up expectations of what I thought I should be doing, but they were promises I made of shipping times, arrival and completion dates. Its my good word, and it means a lot to me to run a business of integrity.
So, I know that was a long walk through the last 5 months, but I write it all to say, so much was out of my control and not in my plan. But it was all in God’s plan. He was never surprised by any of it. Which was a comfort for me to tell myself when I felt like life was just “happening TO me”. That I was just being thrown curve ball after curve ball, and trying to keep everything from crashing down when they hit. And God was using it all to work on my heart and to call my focus and attention to the next task ahead of me.
In January and February when I was so, so sick I started wondering if I couldn’t pull this together, if this was going to be my reality the whole pregnancy, and then have a newborn, what in the world would happen to Heather’s Letters? The wrestling in my heart began, and then all those crazy curve balls began to hit, in rapid succession and each one drove home the question more. What now? What’s the next step? Is this God telling me to stop, that it’s over? Maybe it was fun and games for a while and that’s all it will be? But the thought of that always provoked an immediate gut-wrenching reaction within me that said, “No, God GAVE me this talent and this business, there is no way He just wants me to throw it away.” So, I was convinced things needed to change, but I didn’t have the tiniest idea of how.
I can be very black or white at times. I’m all in or all out. So to me, the only option was to force a way to continue as is or to close it all up. Neither sat well with me and the more I prayed the more I felt sure that both of those options were wrong. So I just kept praying. I didn’t talk to anyone about it at all. Just a conversation I continued with God over the course of a few months. Then, finally some clarity started to break through.
In the course of a week I watched a testimony of Joanna Gaines, you know, the Fixer Upper lady from HGTV? Yeah, I know, I’m crazy about all their stuff too! So, her video, and then I heard a testimony from a woman, an Indian evangelist who spoke to our local MOPS group. At some point in both of these, each woman said something very similar that immediately made me tear up and feel like it was God speaking straight to my heart! They both said something like, “I was sad because it felt like the end of a dream, but God told me to trust Him with my dreams and He will do more with them than I could ever imagine.” And each went on to share how that thing they felt called to had to take a back seat for a season and then God gave them the “green light” to go again and how He was using their talents and gifts as a platform for Him now in ways they would have never imagined. Two women, from two totally different walks of life and two different callings. Neither has a more “holy” calling than the next. One is an Indian evangelist and musician, the other is a famous interior designer on national television….and God is glorified in both!! It is so beautiful and encouraging that God calls and uses anyone, in anyway He sees fit according to the individual giftings He placed within each of us!
Now, I am one to be very cautious of saying that any old gust of the wind suddenly means God is speaking to me, and sadly can be a little skeptical when I hear people say God spoke to them, or they just knew, they just knew that because XYandZ happened that surely, God was telling them fill-in-the-blank. But I know when the Spirit moves in my heart it always provokes the same exact reaction : humbling tears that I cannot hold back. Even revisiting these memories, is making me feel this way because God is using this memory to continue to affirm in my heart that what He is leading me to is the right move. How kind that He reassures us in our callings?!
A lot has happened this year already, and looking forward I have a lot coming. We have just relocated our lives to a new city, new church, new job, and in just 3.5 months, a new baby. As I have always stressed, my family, our little Camp Ritchie is my first love and first priority. My job right now is to help my family transition as best as we can. We’ve had a lot happen, and especially for Teague who just turned 3, that is a lot to try and understand and now his whole world is different. His house and church are different, he doesn’t see his friends throughout the week, and everything is in boxes all over the place! Not to mention the same goes for me and Daniel, and I have to use GPS to get to Aldi and the Post Office, and well, anywhere. Thank God for Google Maps! It is just all different right now. We are really loving it, but it is all a constant, daily adjustment, and learning process for all of us. Once I knew we were moving I knew I had to be completely focused on my guys and getting our world settled before this baby girl would arrive, that it would take all my time and attention. And it has! And let me tell you, it has been a joy to focus on this. My only weight has been when and how to I announce the changes I have made to Heather’s Letters.
Also, knowing this will be our last biological baby (adoption is next!!) and my last newborn to cuddle, and rock, and be up all night with, and smell that heavenly newborn smell, I will in no way sacrifice ANY of that short time. It is so precious to me and I want to drink it all up. I want to look back and have no regrets on the time I spent with my babies. I feel like I was really present with Teague as a newborn and I still cannot believe how fast it went!
So with all this to look forward to I can say that Heather’s Letters will not run full time as a business for now. It is not closing, but I will not keep a stocked shop of prints and items for sale. I am simply stepping into a season of service to my family and my church. So what will Heather’s Letters be? Well, that is what I’m getting excited about. Heather’s Letters will remain at it’s core, what it always has been. A creative space for me to share my projects, artwork, ideas, my faith and family, and some of the things that make my life a little unique. Blog posts on all these things will be more present (I barely had the time before!), and I will continue to share our crazy, daily life happenings on Instagram and Twitter. The reason I’m excited is because I will be able to use this time to share behind the scenes more of my creative process, what I am experimenting with – tools, process, styles, etc. I will be perfecting my digital and handmade skills even more and trying to grow especially in my knowledge of graphic design. There is always more to learn, and I intend to use this time, this season of stepping back first for my family, and building our lives here in this new place, and secondly for God to grow me and prepare me for what will eventually be next for HL. I am CONFIDENT this is a season for me to serve my family, and a season to be obedient and trust God. As with everything, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” -Romans 8:28
At first, I was sad because this felt like my dream coming to an end, and it still makes me sad things are changing. From a totally selfish, business side all I could think was, “all that momentum, all those connections, down the drain!” But, you know how I made all those connections? God. 9 times out of 10 it was because so-and-so emailed me out of the blue and asked me to do such-and-such. That’s God. So, I only need to be confident that if I listen to God and only go again in His timing, that He will provide all that again and I’m confident in ways I never would have imagined. And just like that, God is turning my sadness over this into joy.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4
That doesn’t mean we get what we want. That means when we are delighting in the Lord, when we are in His word, meeting with Him in prayer, seeking His will above our own, then His desires, become our desires. My encouragement if you are finding yourself in a similar situation, to just shut the rest out. Shut out noise, shut out opinions of others, shut out comparison, and just get alone with God…a lot. Not just like, I prayed one night about this and didn’t get an immediate answer so that didn’t work. Pray a lot, all throughout your days, find alone time everyday to have quiet communion with God. He WILL answer, in HIS time. Like I said, I didn’t talk to anyone about this for months. Not even Daniel. Then I did share what I had been feeling and praying through with him so he could pray for me. Then I started to get some answers so I bounced them off two friends and really felt God used them not as the deciding voice, but just as affirmation of what He had already led me to.
So, if you were wanting to email me to make something, from now until I get the “green light” from God to reopen shop, the answer is probably going to be, sorry, but no. I have no idea when that will even be. A year, two years, five years? Who knows, and I’m OK with that. I imagine if at times I feel like making a custom order here or there and I have the spare time to do it and the itching hands to make something, I will post that here on the blog, and on social media so JUMP at the chance if you see that! Those kinds of things are always first come first serve. In no way am I laying my pens and ink down forever and ever, I’m just not going to be in full-blown sales mode. So if you are following along to see artwork, you will still see that!! And if you are a customer or client I have already been in talks with or creating with, I am obviously still honoring those commitments.
I hope you continue to check here and Instagram for plenty of inspiration, creative fun and our crazy fun life. It would be awesome to see how many of you are in a similar season and how we can learn from each other and encourage one another in this space! If you have any further questions about this feel free to email me, and I look forward to sharing more art, lettering, and life with you all!