Sarah and Sammy black and white sketches
In 2013, one of my most favorite groups of kids of all time at Wilcox County High School, the Class of 2014, was preparing to enter their senior year. We spent their junior and senior years together with a few students having had me as freshmen. When you teach the same students more than once, you create a bond that lasts a lifetime. I learned so much from these students, and I am so blessed that so many of the Class of 2014 still keep in contact with me.
That year I was working on my doctorate and teaching extended day without many breaks. I found myself over worked and over extended mentally and physically several times that year, which caused me to be quite crabby most mornings. I taught my first block class English 1101 and English 1102 as their professor/teacher, and we spent many mornings, writing together at the beginning of each class. I tried to write as they did.
The more I worked on academic writing the more I hated it. I was 34 years old, and I had been writing academic prose since I was 18 with absolute NO JOY or FULLFILMENT as a writer. One morning, my sweet future leaders of America suggested I live my dreams instead of focusing on what I felt obligated to do. I sat silently at table of five writers, and I pondered the concept of living my dreams.
I realized in that very moment, I had accomplished everything I had every wanted to do by 29. Sometime in 2006, I stopped dreaming and started to trap myself in obligatory tasks and within mundane experiences. I asked them, “What do I do now?”
First of all, I determined I needed to brainstorm what I wanted my life to be. What experiences would I absolutely LOVE to have versus what I actually did from day to day? That morning, I typed a list on a STICKY NOTE on my teacher laptop:
- write children’s books
- write poetry
- have another baby
To my surprise, I did not list “be a principal.” I believed that becoming a principal one day was all that I was working toward, yet that idea was no where on the list. Did I categorize being a principal as an obligation and not a dream? I looked up at my kids and said, “Y’all, I want to be an author. I think I want to have another baby.”
They were more shocked at my having another baby than being an author. I never imagined that finding someone to love and to marry would ever happen for me; I gave up on my being able to function in a relationship after my second divorce. However, I was intrigued at the prospect and decided to begin praying about it and giving my dreams over to God. That day I began a bible study about purposeful living, and I came across this verse while completing my devotional.
I brought my journal with me to class the day after our conversation about dreams, and I scribbled this verse at the top. I studied it and through about it. I looked up at those precious 18 year old faces with so much hopes and so much excitement about the future, and I began to write “Purposeful Day.” By the end of our journal time that November day in 2013, I created Sarah and Sammy Stone my personified characters.
I read the story to my students the next day, and I am not sure they really got the gist of my story. I smiled at them, and I said, “It’s okay. It’s meant for children.” I saved a copy of the story in a Note in my iPhone where it has remained for eight years. Until this November, Wesley (Class of 2014) and I began planning sketches for my original Esmerelda book.
Somehow, I remembered Sarah and Sammy Stone, and I looked for them inside my iCloud. I found those two characters, and I read the story that I wrote that morning so long ago. My sweet, Christian children’s book was a mere Note inside an old sad iPhone 6. I suddenly remembered how I imagined them, and how I resolved the main conflict of the story.
In “Purposeful Day,” Sarah wanted to be used for a purpose. On the other hand, her brother Sammy wished to stay in the quarry amongst the other stones because he was happy in his comfort zone. Sarah visualized a day when she would be utilized for a purpose by the people who mined the stones in her quarry. She imagined herself to be special and to be able to help people.
Sarah waited and waited until the day Sammy was drilled from his home and taken to town to become part of a building. Even as the brother left her, she never gave up hope. Then, one day, the architects came to choose her.
She would become the cornerstone of the town’s new church. Sarah spent the rest of her existence living her dream and her purpose. Ultimately, I had personified my own soul’s yearnings into a stone inside a quarry. Sarah was me in a sense. She seemed inert and unmovable, yet she could have a purpose. God used Sarah. God uses me. He uses us all to help further the kingdom and to be stewards of His creation.
This morning, I opened my business email to find Joshua, my illustrator, had completed ten of the twenty sketches needed for “Purposeful Day.” He asked me to make sure that the black and white sketches fit into my vision of Sarah and Sammy. Tears filled my eyes, I couldn’t have envisioned them better myself. My first commission with a freelance artist cost 1500 dollars, and Joshua Wichterich brought Sammy and Sarah to life even in his pencil sketches. I get to wait one more week to see all pencil sketches and two more weeks to get the painted version.
This is my seventeenth year teaching. and I wake up excited and happy each day this school year because I am also writing my blog or my books. I may not be a financial success yet, but I am creating and living my dream. I want to leave a legacy behind when I return to the earth from which I came. My children and my stories are my legacy.
I have to continue to thank the Class of 2014 for inspiring me to DREAM AGAIN and live my best life. My age does not limit my desire to create. Most importantly, the baby I birthed at 38 just told me he was too tired to pick up his toys, and it is only 10 am. The man who agreed to love and to marry me kissed me goodbye this morning to farm on his day off. My purpose continues to carry on and evolve as I age. I long for the day when Sarah Stone’s purpose is to inspire children’s hearts and minds and to teach them that they too should never give up on their purpose!