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Wishing on Willows Devotional: Identity


Excerpt from the book:

“…you take heart that failure doesn’t define you. Neither does your past.” Mom fingered the silver cross hanging around her neck. “When that truth sinks in, you dust yourself off and get back up again.” ~Maureen McKay, Wishing on Willows


The past is a hard thing to escape, especially when failure is part of it.

I don’t know anyone who likes to mess up. We all want to succeed. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make the people in our life proud. That is a natural desire. The problem comes when we hang our identity on it.

For those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, our past—no matter how inglorious or ugly—does not define us. Neither do our failures or our peers or our parents or the expectations placed upon our shoulders.

Yet I find it all too easy to forget this truth. I find it all too easy, in the midst of living life, to forget who I am in Christ. Am I the only one who could use a reminder?

The Bible tells us that we are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), beloved (Col. 3:12), redeemed (Eph. 1:7), the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21), a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9), the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), God’s children (John 1:12), heirs to the throne (Rom. 8:17), His spotless bride (Rev. 19:7-8), His masterpiece (Eph. 2:10).

How can we be the light of the world or a city set on a hill (Mt. 5:14) if we let shame and guilt hold us captive? Why wear those chains when Jesus already broke them on the cross? When we live as if God has not set us free, we are placing our faith in the Father of Lies instead of the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

If you’re struggling with mess-ups from your past, meditate on David’s prayer. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow (Psalm 51:7). Let’s plug our ears when this world attempts to define us and instead believe the only One who can redeem.


Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy… ~Psalm 103:2-4 


Lord, your benefits are numerous. Give us faith to believe we are who You say we are.

If you’d like to purchase Wishing on Willows, please visit the book page for links to your favorite retailer!

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Mystery and Victory (Plus a Giveaway)
mystery and victory

Since last week we talked musical inspiration, I thought it’d be fun to continue in that same vein this week!

I often wonder…

If music inspires my novels, what inspires the musicians?

To answer this question, I invited Austin Tullos with the HBCD_Worship band to join me on the blog today. Not only are they super talented (their second album just released on May 23rd), they have such contagious hearts for the Lord.

I absolutely love the title of this album–Mystery and Victory. Where did that title come from?

It comes from 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. I love the mental picture the word mystery paints for us when talking about the gospel. We are saved by grace through faith–in the midst of mystery, in the midst of not understanding everything, in the midst of trouble. Our faith and trust in the work of Jesus on the cross is what carries us through. Faith that He is sufficient to save us. Faith that our lives, as believers, aren’t bracketed between birth and death, but that there is a hope for the future. Faith that our joy is based on and found in Him. Faith that He has won the victory for His glory and our good. Out of our faith in that great mystery–this gospel–comes hope and life.  His victory is ours for the taking.

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

Amen! So one of my favorite songs on the album is called He Has Won. What was the inspiration behind the song?

Seth and I were writing in my basement, talking about our friend, Nate, who had just passed away after a 10 month battle with Leukemia. I said that we should write a song that Nate would want to sing.

What you need to know about Nate is that he suffered well. Really well. His main concern through his sickness was God’s glory, whether that came through his healing or his death. He loved the Lord with an incredible purity and fervor. We wanted to honor that. So we turned to 1 Corinthians 15 and read verse 55 a few times and we wrote the chorus right there. A loud, up-tempo song that the church could shout out, declaring together that HE HAS WON! A song of hope for the believer. There is NOTHING worth celebrating more than this truth.

Thank you so much for sharing, Austin! I know the words and the songs will bless my readers!

If you would like to purchase the album, you can find it on iTunes and Amazon.

Make sure to enter the giveaway below!

Austin and Seth and the rest of the HBCD_Worship crew are giving away an autographed copy of Mystery and Victory, and I’m throwing in an autographed copy of my latest release, A Broken Kind of Beautiful. The giveaway will end at midnight on Saturday and the winner will be notified via email on Sunday, so please keep an eye on your inbox. To keep shipping costs down, we can only ship within the United States. Thanks for understanding!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Musical Inspiration for A Broken Kind of Beautiful

“Where do you get your inspiration for your novels?”

This is usually one of the first questions people ask when they find out I’m an author.

It also happens to be one of my most favorite to answer.

One of the biggest sources of inspiration for me comes in the form of music. So today I thought it would be fun to share what songs inspired me as I wrote my most recent novel, A Broken Kind of Beautiful.

Here they are, in no particular order. I’ve included snippets of the lyrics beneath each video, as well as a short blurb explaining how each song inspired me.

A More Beautiful You by Jonny Diaz

Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine
Says she wants to look that way…

Little girl twenty one the things that you’ve already done
Anything to get ahead…

I’ve been involved in junior high ministry for a long time now. For five years, I’ve seen the message society is sending our young women about beauty, and so much of it breaks my heart. Who can measure up to such a standard of perfection?

Often, not even the models themselves. Just look at Ivy Clark. To those on the outside looking in, she may have a glamorous life. But from the inside looking out, things don’t feel glamorous at all.

Like this song, I wanted to write a story that peeled back the glittery veneer we see on magazine covers and get a peek at what might be underneath.

Broken Girl by Mathew West

Look what he’s done to you
It isn’t fair
Your light was bright and new
But he didn’t care
He took the heart of a little girl
And made it grow up too fast

This is a song for the broken girl
The one pushed aside by the cold, cold world
You’re not the worthless they made you feel
There is a Love they can never steal away

Those damaged goods you see
In your reflection
Love sees them differently
Love sees perfection

I heard this song while working on edits and it nearly took my breath away. This is Ivy’s song. Right here.

Her father didn’t want her, and her uncle used her for his own gain.

She bought into the lie that the more she gave, the more she’d get, not realizing that pieces of her heart were being stripped away by a long line of men just wanting to drink their fill.

But like the words of this song, she is not the worthless they made her feel. God can take what is broken and create a masterpiece. Ivy doesn’t have to stay broken.

Better than a Hallelujah by Amy Grant

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful, the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

How can our miseries sound like a melody to God?

It doesn’t seem to make sense, at least not on the surface. I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s during some of the most broken moments of my life that God has drawn me closest to Him. And man, there is something so beautiful about that.

It’s a message that resonates deep inside my heart–beauty from brokenness. It’s a theme that has inspired all of my stories, especially this one. It’s a theme I will continue to explore as long as God gives me stories to write.

Bloom by Moriah Peters

Have you ever heard you are beautiful
I know what you’re worth
But you don’t see it at all…

I wish you could see you were made for more
And your wildest dreams can’t compare
To what God’s got in store…

This last one isn’t a song I heard during the writing or editing process. It’s one a reader shared with me in the weeks leading up to the book’s release. Another song that so beautifully portrays God’s love letter to Ivy in this novel. She might feel washed up, used up, dried up–like the best life has to offer is behind her–but little does she know, God is only getting started.

If you’ve read A Broken Kind of Beautiful, are there any songs that came to mind as you read Ivy’s story?

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