During my junior year of college, I was spread thin serving as a Resident Assistant, working on my honor’s thesis, and using my art to serve needs on campus at Ouachita Baptist University. I was doing a lot of things that I loved and my life was wound tightly around my church and community. I may have continued to run with the flow of Christian culture on Ouachita’s campus, but my life halted when my friend LJ suddenly passed away that December. That next semester was spent learning how to mourn with close friends, how to ditch my 4.0 GPA, and how to go to the Lord with hard questions.
By that summer, I was exhausted. My everyday routine seemed meaningless and my once exciting plans to write for children became a burden. At the time, I was trying to wrap up the draft of my senior thesis, which was writing the story of the bible for children in couplet form. I was so overwhelmed with what I felt I needed to do FOR GOD. My joy was running dry.
I began reading “Desiring God” by John Piper. I related to people he described who honored God with their lips, but whose hearts were far from him. Piper explained that “In the end the heart longs NOT for any of God’s good gifts, but for God himself. To see Him and know and be in His presence is the soul’s final feast.”
My heart and mind were digesting these ideas when I was journaling some of my burdens to the Lord. Next to my journal entry, I quickly scribbled the guts of “The King’s Invitation” on June 30, 2013.
Before I graduated last spring, I finished a draft of the story and presented it as my senior thesis. I was proud of what I had produced, but the next steps with the book remained unclear.
Thankfully, I did NOT read a book that told me to believe in my dreams and dare to do big things for God. Instead, I read a book by Phil Vischer that encouraged me to hold my dreams loosely. In his autobiography, “Me Myself and Bob,” he explains that “we really shouldn’t attempt to do anything for God until we have learned to find our worth in Him alone….the impact God has planned for us doesn’t occur when we’re pursuing impact. It occurs when we’re pursuing God.”
I came to a place where I began holding everything loosely but God himself. God was so good to get me to that place before I met Terry in August. I was blown away when I had a publisher eager to share my story before the summer ended.
That fall, I began working on finalizing illustrations and re-wording text. If God hadn’t been clear enough before, He made sure that I understood that my desire to be with Him should be greater than my effort to do anything for him. He was teaching me again that I could do nothing to make Him love me more. I was re-taught the very heart of my own story while reading a book called “With: Reimagining the way you relate to God” by Skye Jethani. While I made connections between Jethani’s book and “The King’s Invitation,” I realized that the story I was inspired to write was not my own, but a message that God was making very clear to me and calling me to share with others.
The final product is a picture book, created for children ages 3 to 93. I hope that it speaks deeply to anyone who is burdened in their efforts to live a significant life or earn God’s love. I pray that it encourages all who read it to run to the king, realizing it is impossible to make him love us more.