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What Moana taught me about calling.

on December 17, 2016 in Culture Matters with 11 comments by

Two friends and I went to see Disney’s Moana yesterday afternoon. I was excited for sure (I tend to either like movies or LOVE movies…so it’s always exciting for me) but gosh it’s a good one, y’all. And in a way that only a God as kind as ours would do, He put His hand right over a pain point in my heart while I watched Moana.

I don’t want to give any movie details away, but as brave little Moana heads out on her mission, she carries a glowing green stone with her, the visible symbol of what she is called to, the important work she’s been chosen (by the ocean) to do.

When some time has passed (about an hour for us, a few days for her) and Moana has done everything she knows to do and is still failing, when she is deeply disappointed and out of strength, in the middle of the night out on the ocean in her canoe, she decides she can’t do it anymore. This calling on her life is too much and she turns to the ocean and with the stone in her hands, begins to speak to the waters.

“Why did you bring me here?” she asks, “I’m not the right person. You have to choose someone else. Choose someone else. Please.” She holds out the stone, offering it back to the ocean, and a wave reaches into her palm and takes the green stone and lets it drop through it’s water to the bottom of the sea. And then Moana cries.

And so did I, right there in the movie theater.

Because I don’t know about you, but there are days that I look back to God and open my hand and say, “take back this calling, please. I can’t do this. Let someone else have it.”

I want Him to choose someone else.

It feels too hard.

I tried and didn’t succeed like I thought I would.

This isn’t how I pictured my calling, my life, my ministry, my future. (Can I get an amen?)

Just this week I said to God, “Hey, I didn’t sign up for this and I don’t like it. Do You even care about that?”

(Sure, I’m talking about being single, but also some other areas of my life that are in a bit of turmoil currently.)

Somedays, not most days, but probably more days than I want to admit, I ball up all the things I feel called to write about and talk about and live through and I stretch out my hands and ask Him, “Why did you bring me HERE?” And I remind Him I’m not the right person. And I ask Him to choose someone else. Please.

And it makes me cry.

Throughout the film, Moana has a mantra about who she is, where she is from, and what she is doing. A few minutes after this heartbreaking scene when she gives her calling back, through a series of flashbacks and a visit from someone in her past (no spoilers here!), she remembers who she is. She remembers her unique spot on the planet. She remembers what this is all for. And she dives deep into the ocean after that glowing green stone. Moana grabs it for herself this time. What was handed to her before is now something she is choosing, because she sees how much it matters.

(And now I am a MESS in the theater.)

Because for every conversation I start where I hand back to God all that He has called me to do and the life He has given me, He speaks up quickly and reminds me of who I am and why I’m here and what this is all for. And then I have the strength, and the genuine desire, to CHOOSE this life for myself. To believe that it matters, to be grateful for the calling and the opportunities and my unique spot on the planet.

Phew. I didn’t plan for Moana to talk to me about God and my calling and remind me to persevere and even rejoice in where I find myself today- personally and professionally- but she did. What a beautiful and kind moment from God to me in the middle of an animated kid movie. What a way to remind me that yes, He does care and yes, He does see, and yes, all of this matters. And I’m really really grateful.

Looking For Lovely Gift Guide for Your Single Friend!

on December 15, 2016 in Looking For Lovely with no comments by

Well listen.

If Lifeway is gonna let you have a copy of Looking For Lovely for only FIVE AMERICAN DOLLARS, I’m gonna help you build out a little gift for a few different women in your life.

Today- let’s talk about those lovely single gals in your life! In addition to a copy of Looking For Lovely, here are a few gift ideas I loooooove that I think any of your single friends will love too. So pick a few or pick ’em all, but they will be great co-gifts with the book!

. . . . .

Looking For Lovely Gift Guide for Your Single Friend!

. . . . .

Grace & Perseverance bracelet :: just like my wrist tattoos I write about in the book, but with less pain (or permanency).

Entrusted by Beth Moore :: I just finished this study and I looooooved it deeply.

Queen Radiant Lipstick :: this stuff is amazing. All the shades are beautiful, but Queen is the one I can’t quit.

Let’s All Be Brave Mug :: I drink out of it twice a week at least, depending on my dishwasher.

Young Living Deep Relief Roller :: I don’t sell oils, but my friend Brittany does, and this deep relief roller has legit changed my life. I get lots of migraines and this puppy helps a ton.

Garden & Gun :: I love this magazine.

Women’s Foil Print Vintage Vee Tee :: this pink t-shirt with gold foil dots is the cutest I’ve seen at Target in a while.

The Road Back To You :: the enneagram is one of my favorite things to talk about and I think we could all really benefit from learning about ourselves and each other.

(And don’t forget that after you buy Looking For Lovely, let me sign it for you!)

. . . . .

So there you go! Gifts gifts gifts for daaaayyyysss! Well, for one day. Christmas Day. December 25. Just in case you needed that reminder.

In case you missed it, I posted some gift ideas for young women, and a longer list for the moms in your life! Also, if you have any gift recommendations to go along with Looking For Lovely, leave it down in the comments for us. That’ll be fun to see what y’all share too.

. . . . .

They Came To Jerusalem….

on December 14, 2016 in Nash-livin' with 2 comments by

What happens when the Light that guides us seems to disappear?

Y’all know me. I don’t do this a lot. (Actually. I don’t know that I’ve ever done this…. have I?) But I haven’t stopped talking about this sermon all week and I’m so grateful for technology making a way for me to share it instead of just retelling the whole thing like I’ve been doing since Sunday.

The service on Sunday morning at my church was a bit of a game-changer for me… which, to be honest, you don’t really expect during Christmas. Right? I’ve read Matthew 2 a lot of times… anyone who celebrates Christmas or reads the Bible during Advent has crossed over the story of the Magi, the wise men who brought gifts to Jesus.

But what Pastor Chris pulled out of the scripture blew my mind.

So I hope you’ll take 36 minutes to watch this and find peace and comfort and revelation AND HOPE in this word. Because I think we have all asked the question Chris is asking here- what happens when you think you’ve followed God but ended up in the “wrong” place?

(video below… if you can’t see it for some reason, you can watch here on youtube.)





Thoughts? I’d love to hear what you are processing after you watch.

Looking For Lovely Gift Guide for Moms!

on December 14, 2016 in Looking For Lovely with no comments by

Well listen.

If Lifeway is gonna let you have a copy of Looking For Lovely for only FIVE AMERICAN DOLLARS, I’m gonna help you build out a little gift for a few different women in your life.

Today let’s think about the moms that you know… either she’s your mom or your wife or your friend or…. I don’t know another category. But you have to buy her a gift AND she’s a mom (or about to be!). That’s who I’m thinking about today. In addition to a copy of Looking For Lovely, here are a few gift ideas I loooooove that I think all sorts of moms will love too. So pick a few or pick ’em all, but they will be great co-gifts with the book!

. . . . .

Looking For Lovely Gift Guide for Moms!

. . . . .

Lalabu Soothe Shirt :: I mean, I’ve never worn it but ALL my people do. It seems amazing.

Celebrations Cookbook :: Danielle Walker writes my very very favorite cookbooks of all time.

Mamuye Leather Tote :: this bag is gorgeous and perfect and so versatile.

Hope Is Worth Fighting For Tumbler :: I use this puppy alllllll the time. Great size, love a good straw, and the saying is straight from Looking For Lovely!

Gracelaced Mom’s Wreath :: whoa i think this is beautiful and I’m kinda addicted to Gracelaced’s work.

Grace & Peace Mug :: this is from SheReadsTruth and I think it is so classic and lovely.

Looking For Lovely Bible Study :: if she is looking for a Bible study to go along with the book!

Love Your Life, Not Theirs :: Rachel nails it on this one. Every woman needs to read it.

(And don’t forget that after you buy Looking For Lovely, let me sign it for you!)

. . . . .

So there you go! In case you missed it, I posted some gift ideas for young women yesterday, and will add some thoughts for the single gals on your shopping list on Friday! Also, if you have any gift recommendations to go along with Looking For Lovely, leave it down in the comments for us. That’ll be fun to see what y’all share too.

. . . . .

Looking For Lovely Gift Guide for College Girls!

on December 13, 2016 in Looking For Lovely with no comments by

Well listen.

If Lifeway is gonna let you have a copy of Looking For Lovely for only FIVE AMERICAN DOLLARS, I’m gonna help you build out a little gift for a few different women in your life.

Today- let’s talk about those dears that are between seventeen(ish) and twenty-three(ish)! In addition to a copy of Looking For Lovely, here are a few gift ideas I loooooove that I think college-aged gals will love too. So pick a few or pick ’em all, but they will be great co-gifts with the book!

. . . . .

Looking For Lovely Gift Guide for College Girls!

. . . . .

East Pole Coffee :: delicious coffee, cool guys who make it, all the fancy terms that coffee people care about like POUR OVER and all that business I don’t know, trendy and tasty.

Lovely jar :: so sweet and beautifully handmade.

Darling Magazine Subscription :: it’s just my favorite, so many amazing features and photographs.

OPI Nail Polish in You Don’t Know Jacques :: the perfect shade for December to March.

Cuff Ring :: I am DYING over this cuff ring from fashionABLE. I feel like every girl I see studying at a coffee shop has one like it. (So obviously I want one too.)

Graphique Dipped Foil Hard Cover Journal :: when it comes to journals, spiral is a must to me. This one is adorable.

Looking For Lovely Bible Study :: the yellow cover is for younger women, so I’d suggest that one here.

(And don’t forget that after you buy Looking For Lovely, let me sign it for you!)

. . . . .

So there you go! I’m gonna help you out with the single ladies and the mamas in your family this week too, so stick around! Also, if you have any gift recommendations to go along with Looking For Lovely, leave it down in the comments for us. That’ll be fun to see what y’all share too.

. . . . .

Looking For Lovely bookplates!

on December 8, 2016 in AnnieWrites, Looking For Lovely with 3 comments by

It’s Looking For Lovely‘s first Christmas! Baby’s first Christmas! I should definitely get an ornament. BRB… ordering a glittery one from Etsy. 🙂

But seriously- it gets me so so excited to think that a lot of friends will find Looking For Lovely inside the wrapping paper of their Christmas gifts this year! (Which. By the way. You know Lifeway has Looking For Lovely for ONLY FIVE AMERICAN DOLLARS? Yeah, online and in stores. That’s ridiculously cheap and I am thrilled about it.)

Books as Christmas gifts are great. BUT….

Autographed books as Christmas gifts are AWESOME. Unfortunately, unless you live on my street in Nashville, I can’t personalize each book. BUT. I can mail you a signed bookplate that sticks inside the book! So if you are gifting Looking For LovelyI’d love to autograph it! And it won’t cost you anything except a few stamps!

. . . . .

Here’s what you have to do to get one:

1. Fill out this little Christmas Bookplate form.

2. Mail a self-addressed stamped envelope to:

BOOKPLATE
c/o Annie F. Downs
PO Box 121826
Nashville, TN 37212

Pretty much, address an envelope to yourself, put a stamp on it, and then fold it into another envelope, address and stamp that outer envelope, and mail it to me.

3. Wait patiently a few days… hang a few ornaments… and then the sticker will come in the mail, personalized by me! Stick it in the copy of Looking For Lovely you are gifting, wrap it, and you shall be able to give your friend/child/cousin/person an autographed copy!!! (I also have a handful of those cool stickers in the picture above- we’ll toss one of those in until we run out. SO HURRY if you want one!)

. . . . .

A few things:

I need to receive your envelope BEFORE DECEMBER 20th to guarantee it gets to you by Christmas.

I will let you know by email when I put the bookplate back in the mail to you! [I’ll have your email address after you fill out this form and I will be able to get in touch with you.]

. . . . .

Any questions?

2016 Christmas Party Episode 1: Living With Landyn + Decorating For Christmas!

on November 23, 2016 in That Sounds Fun Podcast with no comments by

Landyn Hutchinson on That Sounds Fun Podcast

I decided to throw a Christmas party. And I want you to coooooome!

(And yes. I know today is the day before Thanksgiving. But sue me I am ready to talk Christmas.)

Here’s the thing. I LOVE DECEMBER. A bunch of us do. And the dream of my holiday would be to throw a Christmas party that all of y’all can attend. Sadly, my home would not even come close to holding us all (but I’d sure try).

So instead? I’m throwing a podcast party. Every Thursday in December, we’ve got a podcast episode coming your way, all Christmas themed, some fun surprises, and jingly background music from our pal Dave Barnes.

Obviously, in order to throw a party, you gotta decorate. So my friend Landyn Hutchinson, better known as Living With Landyn, popped into the studio and helped me sort out some of my decoration issues. Mainly, I tend the decorate every corner of my living room but ignore the rest of the place. BUT NO LONGER THANKS TO LANDYN!

So whether you are traveling today or just spending a few minutes alone on the treadmill before family life really kicks up, I hope you’ll let Landyn and I hang out with you and talk Christmas!!

(If you aren’t already subscribed to the podcast, today would be the day to do that so you don’t miss anymore of the Christmas party!)

. . . . .

– Landyn Hutchinson

– Dave Barnes

A Very Merry Christmas by Dave Barnes

A December to Remember by Dave Barnes

Nicolle Galyon

Deanna Kay

Tennessee Titans

Steve Hutchinson

Landyn’s White Chicken Chili (I said “turkey chili” in the podcast… how embarrassing. It’s chicken.)

Painted Fox

Publix

Landyn’s Thanksgiving Post

– Cluse Watch

Living With Landyn Gift Guides

Smell Alarm Clock

Kid Mailbox

Speak Love Gift Guide

Perfectly Unique Gift Guide

Let’s All Be Brave Gift Guide

Review/rate this podcast!

Subscribe to this podcast!

. . . . .

Election Day.

on November 8, 2016 in Culture Matters with no comments by

Sweet friends,

I have been nothing but the worst of all bloggers this fall. I am so very sorry. At an event recently, the host asked if I was to be introduced as an “author, speaker, and blogger” and I cringed thinking how long it has been since I put words to the page here. (I’m putting lots of words to other pages, don’t worry, I’m still writing, but just not here like I should or want to.) I have big plans for returning with a vengeance in 2017 though, so don’t you worry about that!

But today, I asked a dear friend of mine, Michael Wear, to pen a little something about the election. Michael is a massively trusted voice in the faith and politics world, and I’ve watched the last few years as he has led this conversation with integrity and compassion. This is what he had to say to us today…

. . . . .

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23 (NIV)

This morning, we woke up to heated talk about the presidential election. Throughout the day, political strategists will make their predictions, and the stakes will be discussed in starker and starker terms as we move through the day. Millions will agonize over their vote, and then nervously watch the returns come in tonight.

This election has been disconcerting to say the least. It has been defined by the presumption of fear and instability. We are told that great enemies surround us, and that our fate will be decided when the votes are tallied.

It is right to think of pleasant things while reading the twenty-third Psalm: the calm of still waters and the peace of green pastures. We read this Psalm, some of the best-known literature the world has ever known, and we are transported in our minds and in our spirit. We are reminded of God’s character and the promise He has for our lives.

The Psalm is used often at funerals—I read it at my father’s service—and it is depicted on lovely home decor. It is a Psalm for all times, a reminder of the constant things and eternal truths.

Yet, to think this Psalm is primarily for our moments of reflection or mourning is to miss its meaning. The Twenty-Third Psalm is not just for the backdrop of our lives, a reminder in the moments when we finally catch our breath. No, this Psalm is meant for when we are in the very thick of life, for the very moment of crisis.

David, of course, was not someone who lived a simple life. He was a warrior and a king. He led armies and slayed giants. He faced major trials—many of his own making. This Psalm is not just a reflection on God’s faithfulness, but an overflow of David’s experience of God’s faithfulness at the present time.

wear_post_3

Today, I want to remind you that the same God who led David beside still waters, and who prepared a table for him in the midst of his trial, that God is alive and well. If you have cast your lot with Jesus, He says that we can abide in Him and He will take care of our needs. If David can find security in God as others plot his demise, surely we can trust Jesus for our security in the midst of an election.

This does not mean that we ignore reality. This is the great relief of the Psalm: that David is able to acknowledge that he walks through the valley of the shadow of death, but God meets him right there in the mess with blessing and anointing and comfort.

Likewise, as we move through this day, we do not ignore the real consequences that the outcome of this election will have on our well-being and that of our neighbors, our country and the world. We can even care deeply about the outcome. But let us not live as though we have no Shepherd. Jesus encourages us, “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We can find security at all times in Him, and we need not fear any evil. We worship a great and compassionate God, who is ushering in a certain kingdom, and whose term as King is not for four or eight years, but all time.

. . . . .

Don’t you love Michael?!? I promise he’s about to become your favorite twitter follow and your favorite political thinkin’ man. And this writing is SUCH good truth. Honestly exactly what I needed to hear today. Michael is the author of the forthcoming book, Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy– I hope you will too. Totally worth it. 

. . . . .

That Sounds Fun Episode #19: Brad Lomenick

on September 15, 2016 in That Sounds Fun Podcast with no comments by

Brad Lomenick on That Sounds Fun

Brad Lomenick and I have been friends a while, but this conversation probably still ranks as my favorite one we’ve ever had. If you don’t know Brad, I promise you’ll finish listening to this podcast and feel like you do! Brad’s an expert on leadership, Atlanta, and hunting (apparently)! Hope you enjoy this conversation!!

. . . . .

Here are the things we discussed on the podcast:

– Brad Lomenick

Catalyst

The Catalyst Leader

H3 Leadership

Parnassus Books

Gabe Lyons

Injoy

Jon Acuff

John Maxwell

Rover (yes, there’s an official website for such a thing.) 🙂

Georgia Bulldogs

English Premiere League

Arsenal

Zondervan

The Mocha Club

SquareSpace

Kay Arthur

Billy Graham

Beth Moore

Will Smith

Bob Foster’s “Lost Valley Ranch”

Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

AARP

University of Oklahoma

Duck Hunt

Ellie Holcomb

Review/rate this podcast

Subscribe to this podcast!

. . . . .

That Sounds Fun Episode #18: Bianca Juarez Oltoff

on September 1, 2016 in That Sounds Fun Podcast with no comments by

Bianca Olthoff on That Sounds Fun

Well I just pure love Bianca Olthoff. She’s just one of the best. A dear friend. A powerhouse preacher. The friend who reminds me to wear heels on stage and take headshots more often. 🙂 She’s amazing.

Many of us have been BEGGING Bianca to write a book for years. Literally. But man was it worth the wait. Bianca’s new book, Play With Fire, is absolutely a gold mine. You will be so glad you bought it, read it, underlined the MESS out of it, and keep it near to you as a resource.

Most of our podcasts we actually record live in person because I LOVE sitting across the table from the friend when we are talking. But Bianca lives in California and RUDE she wouldn’t fly here to Nash. 🙂 But the truth is, we talk on the phone more than we see each other in person, so you’re probably getting the truest version of our friendship here. So congrats to us all. (HA!)

Hope you enjoy this one!

. . . . .

– Bianca Juarez Olthoff

Israel Collective

Girls of Grace

Emily Freeman

Camry

Radnor

She Reads Truth

First5

Christianese

Calling of Matthew

A21 

Propel Women

The Rising of the Pheonix

Dallas Willard

When Harry Met Sally

Nora Ephron

Germany

Bulgaria

London

Podcast!

Jessica Turner

The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner

Shauna Niequist

Savor by Shauna Niequist

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman

Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman

Graceful by Emily P. Freeman

Review/rate this podcast!

Subscribe to this podcast!

Ellie Holcomb

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