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God Made You to Be You Author Q&A

Andy Whisenant | Jun 18th

Why did you write this book?

As a mom of four kids, I am always trying to find ways to encourage them to trust that God knew what he was doing when he created them: that they are for sure different from their friends and that’s a good thing—a great thing, actually! God made them just how he wanted them to be, and he has big things in store for them.

For whom did you write this book?

All of us! Obviously, this is a book geared toward little kids, but this is a message I need to be reminded of often. My hope is that as adults read Sammy’s story to children, God will remind them both of how important they are to the Kingdom and that their gifts and talents matter.

Where did you get the inspiration for Sammy’s story?

In my book, You Be You, I have a chapter titled “Bloom Where You’re Planted” that was inspired by a trip to the desert. As my husband, Aaron, and I drove from Phoenix to Sedona, I noticed the big, beautiful cacti with all the arms were getting less and less visible on our trip. While in Sedona, a guide told us that you won’t find the big saguaro cactus (Sammy!) in northern Arizona because they can’t survive there. They were never meant to bloom there. A lightbulb went off in my head as I realized so many of us desire to be places where God never intended for us to thrive, yet he has graciously put us exactly where he wants us to be.

That story was profound for me, and it eventually morphed into a kid’s book about a cute cactus named Sammy who wished he was more like his fun friends than himself. 

You’ve authored three adult trade books, but this is your first kids’ book. What made you want to write a kids’ book?

As a mom of four kids, the truths in this book are what I want to instill in them. They are truths that I’m still reminding myself of, so putting them in a kids’ book format was so exciting to me!

How was working on a kids’ book different than working on your other books? What did you enjoy about the process? What was challenging about it?

SO DIFFERENT! I had a fun idea for a story, but my co-writer, Tama, really helped me flesh it out. Writing an adult book is what I’m used to; you get about 50,000 words to work with. For a kid’s book, it’s more like a couple hundred! Every word counts and matters. I LOVED dreaming up the characters and how they would relate to each other. I love that the wise friend Jack Rabbit is a girl. I love that the feelings of insecurity and wondering if we matter are always combated with the truth of God’s love for us, no matter if you are four or 40. 

How does this book and its message connect with your adult book, You Be You?

It’s the same message: God wants you to be the person HE CREATED YOU TO BE! We have always been insecure and discontent people since the beginning of time. Nothing is new about that, but we also live in a world where it’s easy to look around and see all the “good things” everyone else has and start to believe that we don’t matter. I talk about that a lot in my book, You Be You, and basically, that’s what this whole book is about as well. Sammy can’t do what his friends can do, but he can do exactly what God created him to do.

In this book and in You Be You, you encourage readers to be who God made them to be. Why do you feel so passionate about this?

Because Satan is really good about whispering in our ears that we don’t add up: that our life doesn’t matter, that God forgot about you and that everyone else got better things from God. All of those lies can feel overwhelming to us, and the more we hear God’s truth, the more we begin to believe the truth about our lives. God created us with a purpose and has a plan for our lives, he has prepared good deeds for us in advance, his love for us is never-ending and that he will use all of our lives to bring him glory and point those around us to him. 

Those are big truths, and if we can show kids how Sammy begins to believe that his life has purpose and that God didn’t forget him, then hopefully in their sweet hearts they can also believe that as well. 

Why is it important for kids to hear that God has a special purpose and plan for each of us? How have you instilled this message in your own kids?

The same reason it’s important for all of us. We have an enemy who is out to kill, steal and destroy. Instilling truths in our children’s hearts and minds at a young age is a building block for their faith. It’s a big truth presented in a way that they can believe and understand it. 

What is your favorite illustration in the book? Why?

I love that when Sammy imagines himself as a jackrabbit, a snake and other animals the illustrator created those animals also like a cactus. He was imagining himself doing the things they do. I think it’s so cute and creative!

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

The truth that we’re all clinging to: God created you for a purpose.