I mean. Get serious, Andrew Ripp. This is incredible.
This weekend in San Antonio was our last Girls of Grace event of the season.
You know I’m an emoter, I tend to feel things LIKE REALLY FEEL THINGS, and I don’t like when things end. I spent most of Saturday feeling things- watching all the lasts, taking it all in, fighting with all my might not to cry out of pure gratefulness to be a part of such a special event.
For the thousands of y’all that have been a part of a Girls of Grace event this season, you know what I’m taking about.
The worship. Meredith Andrews has a special place in God’s heart and we all get to go there when she leads.
The bands. So cool. Such a highlight of the day to have incredible musicians singing words that challenge and encourage.
Point of Grace. Don’t even get me started. I feel like those ladies are the big sisters I never had.
And then Amber. Our fashion expert and one of my real life BFFs. It meant EVERYTHING that she was on the tour with me. Nothing felt better than that sweet part of my home life being with me on every event.
But there are people you never see that work from sun up to sun down to make sure the event is flawless. The Word staff have become some of my dearest friends and no joke, every Girls of Grace event feels like just a big family back in the green room.
I didn’t know that would happen.
I didn’t know I’d see God do so many things in so many cities in so many hearts.
On Saturday, right before I spoke, the worship team was on the stage and a few of us were standing back stage. Chris was pacing back and forth with computer in hand, Denise Jones snuggled tightly with Remy, Meredith’s new baby, and I was going over my notes. Meredith sang on stage and we could hear it….
Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power, Our God, Our God…
And I started singing quietly to myself. So did Chris. So did Denise. Meredith led us, I prepped to speak, and my friends sung around me. And it is one of those memories that I will never forget because it is exactly how I feel about Girls of Grace.
We’re just each other’s people, standing together, worshiping together, sharing Jesus together.
All season long we’ve been teaching about The Beautiful Truth. You are loved. You are valuable. You are more than a number. Your words matter. Wait for steak.
Here’s the Beautiful Truth that I have learned this season: God is more generous than I ever have known. I have felt it and seen it – over and over again – through the people and the events of Girls of Grace.
And I am so grateful. Grateful to the point of tears.
As we enter into next season, which I’m really honored to be a part of, I will never forget God’s generosity towards me in my first season with Girls of Grace.
Our God is greater.
Our God is stronger.
God, You are higher than any other.
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Did you come to Girls of Grace this season? What did you love about the day?
I used to love to watch this Canadian home show on HGTV and the girl always calls the job she does “a reno,” instead of a renovation. So that’s cool and Canadian and so I titled my blog post that.
Last week, I decided it was high time to reno the guest room. My parents had been storing some furniture for me in Atlanta since, well, 1999. And so it was past time for me to either use the furniture or give it to someone else. So on Wednesday of last week, I hitched a ride to Marietta and drove a UHaul of water damaged, dusty, and moldy bedroom furniture back to my Nashville home.
You know what they say about authors on a deadline? They have the cleanest homes because, you know, they are looking for anything to do besides working on their work. And in my case, it was the furniture that needed cleaning.
So I laid the furniture out on my front porch….
and then I simply used lemon oil and old socks to scrub and clean and attempt to heal these old and beautiful and long-neglected pieces.
[I am BEYOND thrilled with how all the pieces turned out! My grandma would be so happy to see her furniture restored and being used!]
Then it was on to the room itself. The walls were a boring white, so I wanted just a basic tan to cover some of the imperfections and add some bit of color to the room. I taped off the room because I am a big believer in the power of the blue tape.
I tested the paint in a few spots and loved it – Behr Almond Cream – so I grabbed a few cans and a few friends and off we went!
Then I brought all the furniture in the room and set it about where I wanted it.
And this next picture? It is the epitome of my lack of patience. The bed frame, being at least 50 years old, was rickety and would need some work before putting the mattress on it. But because I was DYING TO SEE THE BEDDING all made, I went ahead and made it. Because y’all. I’m a lunatic.
Finally yesterday [and I use "finally" loosely because seriously, this whole project just started last Thursday], a friend came over and repaired the bed and hung the mirror and I was giggly and clapping.
So all this to say… next time you head to Nashville, I’ve got a guest room waiting on you!
Now I’m no Nester… but I do love a good home reno job. Have you done any DIY projects lately that you shared on your blog? Leave the link below- I’d LOVE to swing by and check it out!
[Hey subscribers... there is a video here. Click over, yo.]
How you can pray:
1. Please pray that above all else, God would be glorified.
2. Please pray that God would put this book into all the right hands and none of the wrong ones.
3. Please pray that God would convict and redeem the mean girls – that this mindset would no longer have a place in our society.
4. Please pray that God would open all the right doors for the book and for me as the author and CLOSE THE WRONG ONES [and if you wanna, you can pray that I'll be cool with closed doors knowing that God is in control!].
5. Please pray that God would change each girl’s world who reads this book- that her school, her family, her relationships, and her life would be different because of what He speaks to her heart through this book.
[PS- the song in the video is Spirit Speaks by All Sons and Daughters. Just in case you fell in love with it like I do every time I hear it.]
. . . . .
So friends, will you pray with me for this book? I’d be really really grateful.
You know, the whole way that the cover of Perfectly Unique worked out was kinda a miracle. Here’s the story if you missed it first time around.
I absolutely loved it the moment that I saw it. I mean, LOVED it.
So when the first email came through with the cover for my next book, Speak Love, I was giddy.
But as soon as I opened it, to be honest y’all, I didn’t like it at all. Like, at allllllll.
It didn’t feel like me. It didn’t look like me. It didn’t partner with the words that were going to stand between it and the back cover.
I cried in the “oh-no-this-is-bad” kind of way.
I sent emails, made phone calls, sent more emails, and there was nothing to be done. It had been decided, this was my next cover. And for weeks, I would look at it almost every day with hopes that something would change- with the design or my heart.
It never did.
So I just began praying and asking God to change my heart and give me a grateful attitude because people had worked hard to design it and the profesh people know more than me and my personal preference isn’t what matters. I told myself to get over it.
And I tried to. I really really did.
. . . . .
Four weeks later, I got an email from the important decision maker people at Zondervan that the cover was going to have to change for a bunch of marketing reasons that I don’t totally understand. But trust me- I didn’t care WHY they were changing it, I freaked out with happy. And a few days after that, I was shown the new cover and I cried again.
But this time, it was in the “oh-yes-this-is-perfection” kind of way.
I’m oversimplifying the story for the sake of your time, but trust me, just as much as the Perfectly Unique cover was a miracle, this new cover for Speak Love? Also a total miracle. Really. This cover below, the final one that just came through last week, absolutely feels like me and my writing and is way too beautiful and I love the colors and I think that purple couch is adorable.
Pretty much, I’m beyond excited about it.
So here it is – for the first time on the blog – the cover of Speak Love!
So cute, right??? Teens are gonna love it I think! I HOPE!
[I want to say this too. If the cover would have never changed, it would have been okay. From the first conversation about this book, it has been evident that Speak Love is a God thing and I just am lucky enough to be a part of it. A beautiful cover, or a less than beautiful cover, doesn't determine into which hands God decides to place the book. He's in control and I'm very grateful.]
Speak Love is up and CHEAP on Amazon if you want to go ahead and pre-order it before it comes out in August. We are going to do some fun pre-order prizes, so hang onto your email receipt when you get it!
Also, my newsletter peeps got to see the cover last week. If you want to sign up to get my monthly newsletters and rare fun announcement emails, CLICK HERE. Or on my face right here.
We have soooo many fun announcements coming with Speak Love in the next few weeks, so stick around.
[And tomorrow? Let's talk about praying for this book. Okay? Okay. Because that matters to me more than you could ever know. Tomorrow. We'll discuss it.]
(Stole this pic from my friend Nichole…. thanks, Nic!)
I’ve spent the week recovering from the beach, returning to real life of writing and emailing, crying in my cereal, and spending money at Home Depot. The guest room in our place needed a face lift and since I’m on a book deadline, obviously home improvement projects need to be high on the to-do list.
While at the beach, I blitzed through a couple of books. You see, I love laying in the shade and reading for hours. And hours. In the shade. Because sister over here is as pale as one can imagine and no matter what I do, I am either red or white. Never brown. Red or white. White to red and back to white, never passing by tan.
The shade at the beach it shall be. And then I read.
And I know I talk about books a lot but that really and truly is because I love them so much. It’s one of the things I talk about in real life as much as I talk about online. In fact, I just hung up from an hour long hilarious and moving and wonderful catch-up chat with Logan and we talked at length about books. Because, well, we love them.
So here’s what I read last weekend at the beach:
So Shauna Niequist and I share an editor at Zondervan and a few weeks ago, that amazing editor said, “Annie. Do not write the book for me until you read Shauna’s new book.” Well, lucky for her I’m too scared to write it anyways, so it gave me a little time to finish Bread & Wine. I read it more slowly than I planned because I wanted to enjoy the read and learn from Shauna as an author at the same time. She writes short yet moving essays and then offers recipes and it is just a great great book. And the recipes? Awesome.
Being in college ministry in 2013 allows for a lot of conversations about a lot of topics. Ahem. So. I needed a resource to share with students in the area of sexual purity. A friend of mine that is in full time college ministry that I HIGHLY respect recommended this one, so I grabbed a copy for me to read first before sending it along to college students. Honestly, I think the really moving and inspirational parts are in the first third of the book, but it is a good read and the best resource I’ve seen lately for this topic.
And oh this topic and college students. Insert deep sigh and “help us Lord” and headshake. Bless them and protect them, Jesus. Someday when I’m in the mood to PREACH on the blog I will PREACH about how Satan is targeting young adults, particularly in the area of sexual purity, in ways that are unprecedented. It is sickening and awful and yet reminds me that HE IS SO SCARED OF THE NEXT GENERATION AND WHAT THEY COULD DO FOR JESUS THAT HE WANTS TO DESTROY THEM ALL. BUT HE WILL NOT WIN.
Okay, I preached a bit. Sorry.
So I didn’t know Rebekah Lyons before this book but now I refuse to not know her for the rest of our days. Maybe it’s because she moved from Atlanta and so did I. Maybe it’s because she lives in New York City and there is a part of my heart that has always wanted to have an address there. Maybe it is just because of the beautiful font on the cover and throughout the book that makes it a piece of art. But I’m guessing I love this book most of all for the story and the writing. It is moving and brought tears to my eyes but all the while it also is written with such a blanket of peace that you are calm when the story isn’t. Incredible. Buy it.
So I read books. And hung out with my girlfriends. And dug my feet into sand. And drank fruity drinks while telling myself they were healthy because it is fruit. And I did not get one square inch of sunburn thank you very much.
So what have you been reading lately?
I sat down to dinner at 9:30pm last night.
To a bowl of rice krispies and almond milk.
I took a deep breath and my eyes filled with tears. For being the first day back from vacation, it was kinda a doozie – like a bad Monday sneaking up on your Tuesday.
Tears built all day but never spilled.
I woke up Monday morning honestly saddened over the end of a holiday that felt like paradise and escape, in all the right ways.
I wrote an article before lunch that was deep for me emotionally, pulling from some old places, and it bubbled emotion in me that those first-day-back-from-vacay blues already had simmering.
I read this post about being a teacher from Jen Hatmaker and my teacher heart, the one the still lives in me and still missed being in the classroom a lot of days, could barely take it.
My basement fills up more and more every day of college student paraphernalia as summer has arrived and the gals are just storing away their goods until the fall. So I said goodbye to a few until their junior year brings them back to this town and the second half of their college careers.
And then for some of my other college students who are walking through hard seasons – big choices, heartbreak, change that they don’t know how to handle, I feel like a triage nurse just trying to keep the emotional bleeding from getting out of control.
I almost cried as I finished Freefall to Fly by Rebekah Lyons Monday afternoon because it is one of the most beautiful books I have read in a long time.
And so, at the end of the day, when all this had built up and because I am me and I have been me for almost 33 years, I cried into my cereal, as one hand held the spoon and the other held my head.
I cried because some of my favorite humans who are also like family who are also seniors in college are graduating and the change that will bring to my life is more than I ever expected. And I feel the loss so deep that I can barely breathe when I think about it.
I cried because on the last day of the month all the finances for that month come in and go out and God allows me to practice faith and trust a lot in this area.
I cried because the war for our hearts never end when you are a believer, and I’m watching as people I love dearly are in the spiritual cross-hairs and can hardly stand under the weight of it. I cried because I know it doesn’t end. I cried because the enemy of our hearts doesn’t play by any rules and it sucks.
Trust me, I know Who wins in the end, but it doesn’t make the day to day battling pain-free.
I cried as I read 2 Corinthians. Not for my life, but for the lives of those I love that are feeling it.
We are hard pressed on every side,
but not crushed;
but not in despair;
but not abandoned;
but not destroyed.
I sing it over them as I pray. I feel it in my bones.
If you feel that today too, trust the Word of God. You are not crushed. Those you love will not live in despair. You are not abandoned. You, your people, your heart – they will not be destroyed.
Something I don’t do much anymore is write about what it was like to move from Atlanta to Nashville. Now that I have lived here for almost five years, it is home in so many ways.
But an experience a few weeks ago reminded me of those first worst days and made me grateful for the good days and all the history that has been built in my heart here in Nashville.
. . . . . .
Are you new around these parts? Well welcome!
Hi. I’m Annie.
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It’s late on Monday night and I took a nap today so this is always how my nap-nights go. My emotions are high and I don’t want to go to bed and I just made a strawberry banana almond milkshake because all I wanted in my life today was a Coke Icee but I resisted because I don’t want to put that junk in my body anymore.
But trust me. I wanted to. I left Young Life and all my heart wanted was a Coke Icee.
But a fruit smoothie- while high in sugar – is still better for my bod than a Coke Icee. Unfortunately. And if you care, I did one frozen banana, about five frozen strawberries, one scoop of almond milk vanilla ice cream, and about half a cup of almond milk. It was great.
Speaking of great, DALLAS, TEXAS.
Y’all, I just plain had the best time.
For starters, I spent Friday night at dinner with one of my dearest friends from college, Caren. Caren works in college ministry at SMU and she drove me around the campus and then we grabbed dinner.
I got back to my hotel room and two other Texas-livin’ besties, Marie Claire and Betsy, had arrived and were enthusiastically grateful to Zondervan and Girls of Grace for the fancy hotel room.
[Just kidding. I totally said, "Y'all jump on the bed so I can take a picture for the internet." So, there's the behind the scenes to being real life friends with me.]
And then Saturday was Girls of Grace and sometimes I just want to pass out because I love my job so much. As you see from the top picture, it was a full house and the girls were PUMPED to be there. It is always soooooo fun when the crowd is as excited as we are. And those Dallas gals showed up in all the best ways. And it was the first event that featured my sweet friend Jamie Grace [and her sister Morgan on the left]. The crowd loved her so much. Understandably. She’s adorbs.
Such a fun fun day. It is amazing to talk with girls who attend and listen to them and know that while I am living a normal Girls of Grace Saturday, all the girls in the audience are having a life-defining kind of day with Jesus. It’s incredible.
We have one more event for this season themed “The Beautiful Truth” in San Antonio in a couple of weeks. Then we take the summer off, and then? We start a new season and y’all, the fact that Girls of Grace is letting me be a part for the next season could just get me all emotional. I cannot wait.
But it’s coming. “Girls of Grace: Live. Love. Lead.” is about to rock 2013-2014. Here’s the preview video. [By the way, what does a new season mean for me? New speaking shirt, new talk, new merch, all very exciting.]
[Hey subscribers... there's a video here. Click on over, yo!]
I’ve updated my speaking calendar to show you where all the Girls of Grace dates for 2013-2014 are, as well as some other pretty awesome events I get to be at in the new few months. Like Hawaii. Like Rock The Universe. Like whoa.
I still have a few weekends available in 2013 if you or your church are looking to bring in a speaker. It’s like my favorite thing- having a microphone, talking about Jesus, and hanging out with people. So contact us if you wanna bring me to your event.
How was your weekend?
TOP 5 FRIDAY is when we each list five of our favorite things, depending on the topic. Feel free to join in via the comments or by posting on your own blog and linking back here. Play along. It’s Friday.
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In a week laden with heaviness, I just wanted to share a few books that have kept me in stitches over the last few years. Maybe that’s just what your weekend needs? Some time in the sun, a large glass of lemonade, and a hilarious escape from normal life for a bit.
In random order [except Tina Fey is by far the funniest], here are some of my favorite funny books!
If you haven’t read this Tiny Fey autobiography, please please do it now. The Kindle version is super cheap – like 99¢ – so that’s awesome. This book will have you absolutely LOLing. Really. I’ve read it multiple times and I laugh again and again.
. . . . .
When I think about Christian fiction novels that I have read, the Ashley Stockingdale series are the ones that I found to be absolutely hilarious. She’s not one of those characters who does dumb stuff and then spends the whole book getting out of messes [I do not think those books are funny personally]. She just plain has a funny life. And compared to other books of this genre, she definitely is the cleanest while still being knock-you-0ver hilarious. [Y'all know I'm kinda prude-ish in my entertainment, so I prefer cleaner comedy. It's my life. I'm okay with it. ]
. . . . .
Bryan is hysterical and this book is a super easy read just for funsies. I think it is a great gift for men and, dare I say, a great book to stick in your guest bathroom. [Gross, Downs. Gross.] I read this book on a plane and LOLed in front of God and the stewardesses and everybody. I like it.
. . . . .
This is the funniest read of the bunch that also has the most heart. I love Melanie’s writing and this book is just so much of a good thing. I cracked up and cried in the same chapter multiple times. It’s incredible. And perfectly humorous.
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I read this book before The Mindy Project started showing on television, and now I want to read it again because that show? It’s funny. The book is great too. She’s just an incredible writer and tells stories so well. I have rarely laughed as hard reading as I did with this one.
. . . . .
I know. I know. I left off a ton of amazingly hilarious reads. I asked people on twitter yesterday what their favorite funny read was, so if you trust people who reply on twitter, check out the list they composed.
What’s the funniest book you’ve ever read?