Ahh... For the love of Annie Downs, am I right?
I mean, come on! If you know her, or just 'know' her like me... --if you have had the privilege of reading her words either in book form or blog form or in articles... --if you have had the pleasure of hearing her speak in person or live streaming... --if you have encountered Annie in any way, chances are good, if you are a friend of mine, well then --you are a fan of hers!
She is kindred. She is one of those blessings who make you feel like you are BFFs even if you haven't (yet) met in real life! It's because she is real... brave (even if not all the time)... she is the kind of friend who makes you want to be
I wrote last month about how I have some seriously amazing friends who just so happen to write books, but Annie and I --well, we haven't met face to face (yet.)
But heart to heart, we are sisters.
She is may be louder to my quiet... I am may be introverted to her extrovert ways... but spirit to spirit... well - what you will find in her new book, Looking For Lovely, is that she and I? We are former quitters... and we are determined to be more than just finishers, but to also finish well!
Looking For Lovely by Annie F. Downs showed up at a time when I was feeling a pull to give in to and to give up on a few things... to revert back to my old Quitter ways... not with big huge things. Just a few little things that would hold me back and knock me off course in the smallest, seemingly insignificant ways... but off course, just the same!
Reading Looking For Lovely is a rare glimpse into a life willingly laid open... it's not polished and reflecting from the other side of the brokenness, but it's a real look right in to the lovely mending... not stuck in the middle but not completely yet on the wholly healed side either.
It gives hope and light... it reminds us of what we know and points us back to Who we love.
Annie, like a good friend does, will make you laugh and she'll make you cry. She will introduce you to good music and great books, to new food and must see places. But more importantly, she brings you to the mirror and helps you to see the lovely sowed and formed right in to the core of who you are... she makes you want to be you - only braver, kinder, and maybe a little more adventurous, too!
One of my favorite parts of Looking For Lovely is that it includes a little Challenge at the end of several chapters to help you actually go out and look for (and find!) lovely in your every day, real life! Little things... doable things... important ways that we can put action to this book and begin our own collecting of moments that matter!
"Change" is my OneWord365 this year, but oh my how I had lost the hunger for it but hadn't even noticed. However from the first line of the Forward, there it is: a reminder and a call to embrace change. To quit quitting. To press on.
There is really no one like Annie who can bring the raw and the real... she is vulnerably brave when she writes lines like these:
"I loved God. I just hated me."
"What if I had found cocaine instead of candy? What if I had drunk beer instead of milkshakes? I think about it a lot. I have the same propensity as any other addict; it's just my drug of choice is food."
"Maybe being brave about my brokenness was going to bring healing."
"I thought I needed to be repaired. But my need was significantly deeper than that, and that's pretty much the first thing she told me. I actually needed to be rebuilt."
~Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
I don't know about you, but when she offers such honesty, it undoes me - not just because of her boldness, but also because of my brokenness... because of my own, 'me, too!'
Below are just a few of my favorite quotes, but if I'm honest (and I am that!) - the whole book is highlighted, underlined, and dog-eared, with glitter and confetti sprinkled through out (because, of course!)
"When my heart is broken or when the night seems long or when the darkness feels consuming, please God promise me tomorrow comes in hues of soothing orange and fiery red and a pink that speaks of kindness." ~Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
"Trust the path." ~Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
"When I found lovely, both in me and in the world, it changed everything." ~Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
Then, there was this post on Instagram:
This was the sad and lovely day that I actually finished reading #LookingforLovely and this is what I wrote then:
"Gah @anniefdowns?!!?! Just when I think I can't love you any more... You go and wrap this up the way you do and I have all the feels! I hated knowing I was almost done because reading your books is like sitting across the table over a slow southern meal, or like sitting side by side on a bench looking over Radnor Lake (#squadgoals) and oh my goodness how reading the last page is like dropping a friend off at the airport and knowing you don't know when you will get to see them again --bittersweet but so full of Lovely! You make me want to fly to Nashville! And go for a hike... And be me and look for lovely wherever I go! Thank You doesn't seem like enough, my friend --but it is a start! #lookingforlovely #theconfettistaysinthebook because, of course!"
I think that still wraps it up perfectly because this truly is the kind of book you will not want to put down but you won't want to be done with it either!
We all need the reminder to look for lovely... in our right here, right now life! For the Word is clear, if we seek... we will find! And I can guarantee you that whatever ugly or dark or sad thing that may be trying to corner you and weigh you down, you really are surrounded by all kinds of lovely and light and joy that is trying to set you free! --That is willing to set you free! --That set you free already!
This book is one you should just go ahead and order in multiples because, honestly, I don't know anyone who wouldn't benefit from Annie's brave honesty and loving encouragement to Seek and to Find!
From Sushi to Nail Polish, to therapy and broken crazy, to Healthy Living and Pressing In to God --even if in the midst of not (yet!) living out Dreams Come True, she reminds us that when we look for lovely, we will find it!
* I was honored to be a part of Annie's Book Launch Team for Looking For Lovely. I received an Advance Readers copy (B&H Publishing) and the above review is my honest opinion. No Affiliate links were used.
If for some reason, you still need a little convincing... here's Annie talking about this new book and what it's about and why she wrote it:
P.S. I'm linking up with these lovely writers:
Kelly Chripczuk for #SmallWonders
Holly Barrett for #TestimonyTuesday