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Happy Birthday to My Favorite Illustrator!

Help me wish my illustrator, Sarah Strickling Jones, a very happy birthday!

If you don’t know our story, let me tell you about this fierce, godly woman! Sarah is the driving force behind Why Did You Choose Me? We have been friends for over a decade, when we joined our church and worked together in the nursery. Her love for children knows no bounds. As a mother of four and an art teacher in two local elementary schools, Sarah has always had a compassion for children. And she has loved my children just as well.

Sarah has always been a great friend and sounding board for me. One summer, Sarah shared her love for teaching by showing this black-thumbed mama how to properly raise a garden. My gardening skills are still lacking, but it was the summer when our friendship grew as she listened to me vent about how frustrated I was in trying to raise funds for our third adoption and how little support I felt we were receiving emotionally. I had my own doubts as well. But Sarah never did. She only knew that God had created a burden in my heart for this child, and so she prayed for the best for our family.

One day, I was sharing with her that I had received a grant from an essay contest, answering the question, “If your child comes to you one day and says, ‘Why did you choose me?,’ what will you say?” Sarah had the great idea to turn the essay into a children’s book that she would illustrate for me and that the proceeds could go to my adoption.

She spent hours poring over different children’s books, working tirelessly to find the right color palette, illustrations, and storyboard for my essay. The stack of books she went through was almost as tall as me!

Sadly, once she had put together a beautiful storyboard for me, I couldn’t find a publisher. At least, not one that wouldn’t cost me a lot of money to publish. So, Sarah continued praying with me and encouraging me as our manuscript sat collecting dust on top of my dresser.

Four years passed. God provided the funds for our adoption in a different way, but I never forgot our book. I so desperately wanted to honor our friendship by publishing our book. And finally, I had a call from my friend at Ambassador International, who told me now was the time to present my manuscript to her boss.

One meeting, and Sarah and I were on our way to signing a contract!

So, today, I celebrate this amazing friend–the one who believed that this baby was meant to be mine, who strove to teach me gardening, who prayed with me and wept with me, who saw the potential for something and gave me the courage to try.

Sarah, thank you for being that friend!

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