I made a Spotify playlist to go with When Hope Speaks. It’s full of songs I listened to during my travels, and the albums that inspired me while I wrote the book. I’ve written an explanation for each song below, but if you want to skip straight to the music click here. Enjoy!
- Prince of Peace—Hillsong United
When I wrote the title story, ‘When Hope Speaks,’ I was trying to imagine every facet of H=hope possible. What would it sound like? Feel like? What would its presence do to people?
When hope arrives, it comes into your life and dispels the darkness. It is majestic and holy. The line, “Tearing through the night, riding on the storm, Staring down the fight, my eyes found Yours” captures that perfectly. It is the moment salvation arrives—the moment you are given a reason to stay alive.
- Beauty from Pain—Superchick
I lived in fear when I was younger. I was afraid of people and of pain. This song was a safe haven when it all felt like too much—it made me strong. Looking back, I see that listening to lyrics like this made me who I am. It gave me the courage to wait out the long nights and the obsessive thoughts, and to believe that the struggle was worth it.
- I Spoke Up—Steffany Gretzinger
I hate conflict, but I’ve learnt the hard way that avoiding it hurts more people than it protects. This song is short, impromptu and full of fear, but it is also brave and resolute. When I must speak up—for myself, or somebody else, this is how it feels. I must embrace the fear of the moment and turn it into adrenalin that gives me courage.
- I Believe in You—Bethany Dillon
I was given a copy of Bethany’s music soon after my diagnosis and I would listen to her albums over and over. They became etched in my memory, and I clung to them. They gave me hope that I wasn’t alone in my faith or my pain.
This song is also sentimental because I sang it in front my school when I was 15. My teacher told me he, “Didn’t think I had it in me” to do it. I don’t think the actual performance was that great, but the surprise in his voice has always stayed with me.
- Light and Shade—Guy Sebastian
I grew up seeing the world as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. I believed there was one way to do things, and was very sheltered and at times, ignorant. This song is about finding the middle ground—the struggle when we wrestle with to God to understand how our childhood faith fits in the world
- Your Love is Strong—Jon Foreman
This is my favourite song in the world. After returning from trips to the US, I would lie on the carpet and just listen to it on repeat. It is the most raw example of hope in music I have heard. You cannot hear the words with comprehending your own brokenness, yet you are reminded that God’s love is enough to save you. If I had to listen to one song for the rest of my life, this would be it.
- Feline—Delta Goodrem
I heard this song as I wrote the book, and the imagery of a lion running towards the fire captured me. I wanted to write something for my friends who had been traumatised, victimised and abused. I wanted to reclaim the beauty and feminity they lost, and display the great strength and wisdom they now possess through their experiences. I hope I communicated a little of their courage and beauty in this piece.
NEEDTOBREATHE was the first band I interviewed and reviewed when I decided to freelance. I was a week home from my internship in the US, and I was homesick, in denial and falling into depression. I heard the band perform Wasteland, and God found me in my chaos. To this day, the song gives me goose bumps and makes my heart soar.
- Follow The Sun—Evermore
It takes courage to drop everything and run towards hope, light and new possibilities—especially when you are hurting. In the desert seasons of my life, hope is a tiny thread I cling to, and follow over mountains and through valleys. It is my lifeline.
USA WEST COAST
- Worth the Wait—New Empire
If the chapter ‘Pink Blossoms’ had a soundtrack, this would be it. Worth the Wait is a promise, a hope and a far-flung dream. It is about believing you are worthy of love, and of loving someone else. It is about holding on, even when you are heart broken.
- Encore—Delta Goodrem
Delta’s ‘Wings of the Wild’ album played while I wrote this book, and like Feline, this song stood out to me. What if we chose to conquer our fears, our past mistakes and our doubt, by doing the impossible? Not to prove people wrong, but for ourselves. I wanted explore what it looks like to live a life knowing we are worthy of an authentic story, rather than a performance.
- Dare You to Move—Switchfoot
This is one of the few songs on my playlist that I have known and loved before my diagnosis. It is timeless, because it captures so many moments in my story. Notably, it also marked the moment a Canadian saw me and interrupted Jon Foreman’s set to say “hi”.
- Ships in the Night—Mat Kearney
This song is sunshine in fall. It is pumpkin spiced lattes, sequoia tress, long road trips and realising that you’re worthy of real friendship. It is the album I brought in Best Buy on sale for $6.99 and a constant reminder of my first adventure to the US.
THE GRAND CANYON
- Jesus, Jesus—Noah Gunderson
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my own struggle with mental illness, it’s that life is messy. It is rarely black and white. More often than not, it is grey. Noah’s song encapsulates the struggle perfectly. It is the tension I feel daily between religiosity and spirituality that compels me to wrestle with God.
Once I would have been offended by the fact Noah drops the f bomb in this song. But I’m not anymore, because I get it. We don’t have to have it all together to talk to God. And I’ve found myself much closer to him when I’ve been brutally honest than seemingly word-perfect and devout.
- Even When It Hurts (Praise Song)—Hillsong United
This song seems to match the concept I try to portray in ‘In my head’ perfectly—the ability to recognise brokenness rather than run from it and then transform that broken place and make it beautiful.
They call this a ‘praise song,’ and that scares me, because telling God how much I love and trust him is the hardest to do when life is hell. But it’s also when I am most transformed, and I think there is something sacred about those moments when we come to God and lay it all on the table.
- Beautiful Things—Gungor
The phrase, “You make beautiful things out of dust, you make beautiful things out of us” stayed with me for the longest time after I returned home from my internship in America. God can take dust and ashes, and make a garden in our hearts and minds and souls. He did this for me when I was homesick, frustrated and tired.
Beautiful Things is a promise that better days are ahead, and that there is purpose in the pain. There are beautiful flowers growing in the shadows and fertile soil just below the surface. There is hope.
US MID-WEST, NASHVILLE
- The One I’m Waiting For—Relient K
It’s so easy to be idealistic when someone infatuates you. I grew up learning about my worth and the qualities to look for in a godly man. When you finally see these qualities in someone, it’s nearly impossible not to get carried away and think they are ‘the one’. It means you fall hard and fast, and your heart shatters very quickly when they say, “no”.
What I have learnt though, is that there’s strength in getting back up and believing love still exists. The heartbreak actually makes us who we are—I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
- To the Dreamers—for KING & COUNTRY
I played this song over-and-over when I came back to Australia. It made me feel less alone, and reminded me that my desire to travel and do something bigger with my life was okay. That is was important to keep chasing down my far-fetched dreams, even when life wasn’t going my way.
When I finally visited Nashville, this song made sense to me. The city is full of dreamers and do-ers. That’s who I want to be, and one day I hope to join them there. It’s no wonder I love Nash so much.
- Clean—Taylor Swift
This song didn’t make it to my Spotify playlist (props to T-Swift for standing her ground), but I had to add it in all the same. Clean is about letting go and moving on. It is about nearly drowning in pain, but swimming to the surface and choosing to live.
I began the process of letting go when the snow fell on me in Minneapolis, during my first trip to the US. It continued when I visited the ocean back home, and my heart felt too heavy to hold. It finished when I returned to the US four years later, and sat in the car with a new friend during a snowstorm. Just as he learnt to let go of love and became sober, I learnt to leave the past behind and let go of feelings that were hurting me. I was finally clean.
USA EAST COAST
- S. Lewis Song—Brooke Fraser
“If I find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy, I can only conclude that I was not made for here”
I have found so much comfort in the ideas and imagery that C.S.Lewis communicates through his books. It propels me to stretch my mind creatively and challenge my spirit, and it also entices me to brave. Like Aslan, sometimes God works in unusual ways. The fact I was made for more than this—this pain, this moment, this lifetime—gives me a purpose. And it gives me the strength to stay alive.
- Brave—Sara Bareilles
This song was given to my friends and I by an incredibly brave woman, one who understood me, and saw me for all I am and could be. She was one of a handful of phenomenal ladies who supported me while I was in Florida. I hear this song, and I think of them and what they taught me—that it is possible to be brave, beautiful, gracious and bold.
- As Sure As The Sun—Ellie Holcomb
I heard Ellie’s album soon after I came home from Florida, and it reminds me of that first morning on Melbourne Beach as I watched the sun rise. This song is about hope and the promise of the good things to come in life. My time in Florida was all that and more.
- Can’t Hold Us Down feat Ray Dalton—Macklemore
This song was all over the radio in the fall of 2013, and my intern group loved it. The track captures the ‘let’s take on the world’ vibe of my internship.
I had never heard of Macklemore before and was intrigued by how openly he openly spoke about topics like addiction and sexuality: circumstances that I would learn to approach with grace and empathy over the course of my time in Melbourne Beach.
- Goodbye, Apathy—One Republic
My internship in Florida was one of the heaviest experiences I have ever been through. We were confronted daily with stories about people’s darkness and struggles, a task that eventually takes its toll on you. Goodbye, Apathy means more to me than the simple decision to engage with other people’s stories, it’s the decision to engage with your own and accept your own weakness in the midst of it.
- Making Our Way—Skipping Girl Vinegar
Skipping Girl Vinegar comes from a small town along the surf coast of Victoria, and their album uses natural sound effects, like the wind and waves, to communicate the emotion of each song.
I love Making Our Way because it represents my journey of becoming: both now, and the literal process of moving from Florida back to Geelong (it also sounds like Melbourne Beach and the Victorian Coast), It is hope-filled, light and the hook gets stuck in your head for days. Life is filled with golden moments like this; I just need to take the time to notice them.
- Hope Is The Anthem—Switchfoot
When all is lost, hope still exists. It is still living and breathing, rallying us to overcome the darkness together. Switchfoot’s ‘Where The Light Shines Through’ album means a lot to me, and I chose this track to finish my play list because I want it to be my life’s song. It is honest, it is raw, and it is powerful. When I hear it, I feel the earth and heaven’s move, and hope fills my bones. I am alive, and this song gives me the courage to keep living.