Let’s back up a little bit to 2013. It was around this time that I started to think about how I would want this story to be illustrated when I actually got around to writing it out. This was going to be a children’s book: a book that a parent or a grandparent could read as a bedtime story, a touching story for children, but also a story where an adult could find healing for themselves. I had a very specific illustration style in mind. I had done some fun artsy stuff here and there, but I knew there is no way I could put the images I had in my head onto paper. Then one weekend I was singing at our main church campus. I walked back into the green room and saw this incredible picture on the wall. It may have been there before, but this was the first time I really noticed it.
I was alone in the room, and everything came to a screeching halt as I stared at this picture with tears in my eyes and I said to myself, “This is it! This is what I have in mind for my story.” This huge 6ft x 8ft image of a child standing in between what I thought was the arms of Jesus. At the time, I did not know that my friend and one of the pastors on staff at Chase Oaks Church, Greg Holmes, had created this picture. He had been leading a group for some of the people involved in the worship arts side of ministry at the church; so in 2014 when I got the story out in writing, I began reaching out to him every once in a while over the next couple years to get his opinion and feedback. He was so gracious to share some insight, words of encouragement, and even connecting me with a potter so I could get some technical details ironed out. But as I shelved the project because life took over, our conversation surrounding the book also took a break.
I stared at this picture with tears in my eyes and I said to myself, “This is it! This is what I have in mind for my story.”
At some point I found out that Greg was the one who had created the incredible picture in the green room, the one that captured my heart and moved me to tears. When I asked him about the green room picture, this is what he told me:
“The image in the green room was one of two images that I created on stage during a Christmas series in December 2011. I can’t remember what the series was called, but it had kind of a “Jesus I never knew” emphasis. I wanted to create two images of Jesus that changed our perspective a bit. For the first image, I wanted to show Jesus as a child and emphasize his poverty and the fact that he was just a kid loved by his mother, just like scores of other children on the planet. Then, for the second image I wanted to portray Jesus as an adult and emphasize his Middle Eastern ethnicity and his joy.”
Yes, yes, and more yes! So in September of 2017, I was singing again at our main campus and Greg was hosting the services that weekend, so we had a chance to talk about the book again. I told him about some things I was doing to try to move the book project forward. Again he spoke into the situation with such wisdom and direction. I told him that I had been talking with some other people about illustrations, but that I couldn’t shake the green room picture, that this style was exactly what I have in my head and would he consider taking on this project. Greg is an amazing artist; but not having done a project like this before, he was a little hesitant at first about doing it. I really couldn’t imagine trusting the images that were so clear in my mind into the hands of anyone else. You know, how when you have a vivid dream and you wish there was a way to record it so others could experience the magic? This story was far too personal to settle for less that everything I imagined. Greg agreed to illustrate this project, and this continued the journey of turning my story into a book.
In the days and weeks to come, I will share more details about this journey. I will be sharing with you the behind the scenes process and pictures from the past several months as this project has been coming together. I wanted to take a minute, though, to share my heart and ask for your help. When trying to decide how to publish this book, I kept going back and forth between self-publishing or trying to pitch this to a publisher. I asked around, and the overwhelming feedback I got from people who have gone before me is that if you go with a publisher, then you have to be willing to let go of your illustrator. I was not willing to do that. From the picture in the greenroom to the initial story boards to each and every time Greg has sent me an image to approve, I have been overwhelmed with the feeling that he is reading my mind. How could I ever let go of such a wonderful thing? The choice was made.
Self-publishing. Great. How do we fund this thing? I was again encouraged by others to do crowd-funding since people love to be a part of things like this and there is no way I could fully fund this myself. I have put some of my own money into this project, but this is bigger than I. I spent some time looking into crowd-funding sites but felt discouraged by details such as if I don’t raise the full amount I’m needing to raise in the time allotted, then I don’t get any of the money towards the project. Also, the idea of having to share a percentage of the gift given by the people who love me with a company and not having all the money donated going to fund the project was unsettling. After lots of thought, I have decided to just put it out there to my friends and family on social media. It’s a huge step of faith to do this. I have already had some friends and family reach out to help financially, and it’s been a huge blessing. Here are some incentives for helping fund this book project.
- For a gift of any dollar amount, you will receive a 4×6 copy of my favorite illustration from the book.
- For a gift of $200, you will receive a 4×6 copy of my favorite illustration from the book and you will receive a signed copy of “Hope’s Purpose” signed by the author, me.
- I have decided to make 10 of the original illustrations available as part of the incentive to raise the money for this project. For a gift of $500 you will receive a beautifully framed original illustration signed by the artist, Greg Holmes. You will also receive a signed copy of “Hope’s Purpose” signed by the author, me.
A friend of mine told me that I should say, “Any gift over $1,000 would receive a date with the author,” but let’s not get carried away.
I have partnered with some great people to help me with this project, and I want to make sure they are able to be compensated for all their hard work. The purpose of my reaching out to my friends and family for help is to make sure this project that has been so personal to me is completed with excellence.
I am trying to raise a good sized amount of money in a short amount of time: $7,000 by June 15 to be exact. Since there are always little things that come up, this is a safe estimate. I can’t offer you a tax break or a better spot in Heaven, but any support would be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in supporting me in this project, please contact me by email at ArielTalitha@gmail.com. Use the subject “I want to help!” I will send you my information where you can send a gift. If you use Venmo, you can find me @ArielTalitha. You can also direct message me on Instagram and Facebook.
I am so excited for this next step in my journey! I know God has big things, and I want to be a part of them!