The Day God Made You serves as a "beautiful reminder to all children that God created them with purpose and love"

By Nick Maslow
June 16, 2020 01:35 PM
Advertisement

This Father's Day will be especially sweet for Rory Feek, whose new children's book debuts on Tuesday.

The Day God Made You is inspired by the country crooner's 6-year-old daughter Indiana, who was born with Down syndrome.

"Although Indy was a bit of a surprise to Joey and I, she wasn't a surprise — God knew exactly what she was going to be and who she was going to be the day that He made her," Feek, 55, tells PEOPLE of his daughter with his late wife, country singer Joey Feek, who died of cancer at the age of 40 in March 2016.

In an exclusive video provided to PEOPLE, little Indy, as her family and friends call her, reads the book her proud "papa" wrote for her, and giggles ensue as the duo cuddles up on their back porch at their family farm in Tennessee.

"A colorful picture book with vivid illustrations from artist Malgosia Piatkowska, The Day God Made You is a beautiful reminder to all children that God created them with purpose and love," Thomas Nelson Publishers said in a press release. "With its gentle words about God's personal care, families will find comfort and affirmation in remembering that God delights in who He created them to be."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

The Day God Made You by Rory Feek
Thomas Nelson Publishers

Rory — whose first children's book, The Cow Said Neigh! A Farm Story, debuted in 2018 — says he hopes the book serves as a reminder to Indy that she's loved just the way she is, a message he wants to share with other families, too.

"Right now, Indy doesn't know she has Down syndrome. She doesn't know that that's a thing, and she especially doesn't know it's a negative thing," Rory, 55, tells PEOPLE. "I know there will come a day where she's going to wake up and someone's going to tell her — she's going to find out that she's different. And in a lot, a lot of people's eyes, she's less. And that's going to be very, very difficult. For me, maybe this is just a little part of insight to think, to build, even within her a little bit, that you are different. You're specially made different, just like I am."

When looking at Polish-born Piatkowska's inclusive illustrations, "I just smile," says Rory, "because I think it's wonderful that it includes so many different [children]."

Hollis Bennett

His only requests for the illustrations were to include Indy and her mom Joey, plus a person in a wheelchair.

"I think about my friend, [singer] Bradley Walker, and I think about, if you were a little one in the wheelchair and you're never ever going to get out of the wheelchair, it's a special thing to think God knew that, too," says Rory. "I've actually had someone reach out to me specifically, a friend of the family, who said that meant so much to them because it's not an image that normally is with typical children imagery."

When writing the book's text, though, Rory says he only thought of one person: Indy.

"Someone told me years ago, I heard about this years ago, when screenwriting and writing screenplays, the more specific and personal you are, the more universal it is," he explains. "And so I think that's kind of what I do — I'm really just writing about my little girl and our little world. And somehow the more you do that, the more universal it is."

Speaking with PEOPLE on Monday, which marked his and Joey's 15th wedding anniversary, Rory says he reflected, coffee in hand, next to Joey's cross on her grave in the backyard cemetery where Joey was laid to rest — a sacred spot he and Indy visit often.

"It's a beautiful place where we walk and spend a lot of time," he told PEOPLE in March. "I was leaving the other day and Indy stopped me. I had already walked out the gate. She said, 'Papa, you have to kiss Mama bye.' "

"Life has a way of being okay. Life keeps going. The world keeps turning," Rory said of adjusting to life after Joey's death. "It doesn't mean that you don't miss that person like crazy and that there isn't a big void inside of you. But that also doesn't mean that there can't be a lot of joy and happiness and you can't wake up every day pinching yourself, which is what I feel like I do. And I don't think I would have known that exactly four years ago."