Tuesday, August 5, 2014
I never knew how to answer the standard question asked of children. What do you want to be when you grow up? I had four dreams – to be a wife, a mom, a teacher, and a writer. And I planned to have them all.
At the tender age of twenty I became a wife, and only a few years later I landed my first job as a teacher of special needs children. The dream of being a mom took longer to realize – infertility claimed eight heartbreaking years before I held my little miracle son in my arms.
Two years later we were blessed with a second son, and four years after that we adopted our daughter. I spent a few fleeting years home with babies, and then I continued teaching, but I never lost my dream of being a writer. I wrote bits and pieces: kid’s plays, magazine articles, stories I could jot down while my family napped.
Life went by in a whirlwind of Little League games, spelling tests, and bedtime prayers. One by one our children grew up and moved away. My husband and I woke to the surprise of a middle-aged empty nest. The time for the fourth dream had arrived. My school district offered me the opportunity of early retirement with a benefit package. I could devote myself to pursuing the dream that persisted.
I wrote and rewrote. I went to conferences, studied the craft of writing, and established myself in a writing community. It was far more difficult than I’d anticipated. I achieved some small successes and encouragement from professionals. And I didn’t give up. I wrote and rewrote again.
In May 2014, seven years from the month I retired, my first novel, Atonement for Emily Adams, was released. The main character, Emily, also dreams of being a mom. Her dream is deferred, too, not by life, but by death – the death of a child. Burdened by guilt, Emily tries to make up for her wrong by doing good works. Readers call the story excellent, inspirational, and satisfying.
Not simply a good story, Atonement for Emily Adams is fiction with a purpose. This late life dream-come-true of mine has the potential to make many dreams possible. Several months ago my husband, Gary, and I heard Scott and Marcia Borg, missionaries in Swaziland, Africa, share their vision to build a home for babies and children, orphaned and abandoned in the AIDs ravaged country. Swaziland natives would staff and run the facility and the children would be raised in a home-like atmosphere. The land had been purchased, but funds were needed to build.
Gary and I knew we had the opportunity to make a difference for these children who had no one to fight for them. We decided to donate our proceeds from my novel to Pour International, the non-profit organization founded by the Borgs. If Atonement for Emily Adams sells well, the book will build the abandoned baby home.
The dream of one little starry-eyed girl was a very long time coming. But it now has the potential for touching thousands of lives. A dream deferred is only a bulb, waiting underground for the right season to grow, sprout, and blossom.
Has your dream been deferred? What are you doing to nourish your underground dream?
Susan Lawrence, a graduate of Kansas State Teacher’s College, taught special needs children for thirty-three years before retiring to devote more time to writing, speaking, and storytelling. She has published two family devotion books, contributed to three anthologies, and has written articles for various Christian publications. Atonement for Emily Adams is her first novel. Susan lives with her husband, Gary, in the woods of Iowa. She is the mother of three and grandmother of seven beautiful and brilliant grandchildren. Contact Susan at: firstname.lastname@example.org.