Perfectly Unique

When Lent hurts.

on March 29, 2017 in Nash-livin', Perfectly Unique with 41 comments by

It’s not a complicated story.

I gave up makeup for Lent.

And it’s terrible.

It’s about control. I knew it as soon as the idea was dropped into my heart the week leading up to Ash Wednesday, the start of the season. It’s about how I try to control everything, including what you think of me. And what you think of my face.

(You may have noticed it’s a bit of a theme me and God are working with right now – control – as explained in my SheReadsTruth piece for this Lent reading plan.)

And it’s terrible. This no makeup thing? It’s a daily struggle. It’s not like every person I see I get to explain, “by the way, I know what you’ve seen in pictures but I’m not wearing makeup right now but it’s really me hi will you still be my friend?”


It hurts. It’s bringing up all sorts of muck from the bottom of my emotional ocean that I never intended to be stirred up. Old insecurities. Fears. Worries. And it’s constant. That’s the thing that sucks the most. I never escape it. It never leaves my mind. In every place I go, in every face I make eye contact with, including my own in the mirror.

But it matters. The pain matters. I sat with a friend the other day as we discussed some things that we want God to do in our lives. She said, “the good stuff is never cheap.”

It isn’t. I’ve never found the best things in life to be free or easy or without struggle.

And that has been this. I know it in my guts, even if I don’t even know the good that will come of this yet. But good will come. That’s how this all works. That’s how it always works.

Today though? I’m mainly just ready for it to be over, if I’m being honest.

But I’m not quitting. I will finish this.

Last week, I saw that my friend Jeremy Cowart was offering portrait sessions here in town. I thought about it long and hard and decided that I wanted this experience documented. I want to remember the wrestling. I want to remember the things God has whispered to me in the secret place over these last few weeks and the layers that are slowly peeling away. I want to remember the Lent that I otherwise would work hard to forget.

So I did it. I went and had a portrait session with not one stitch of makeup on my face. Woof.

After Jeremy took my picture for about 15 minutes, he invited me around to the monitor side to see some of the shots. I hated most of them. If you’ve ever done a photoshoot (professional hair and makeup or none of the above), you know that’s pretty true no matter what. But I winced a few more times than usual as Jeremy slid through the images he had captured. As only a big brother can do, Jeremy kept reassuring me that he was on my team and loved me and the pictures were beautiful.

Then we hit this one- this one picture of me looking away and trying to speak truth to my mind and taking a deep breath. And I kind of love it. I guess I had never noticed my freckles before. Or the three bright grey strands of hair that stand out because being Annie means life is causing some greys. Or the fake dimples that age has gifted to the corners of my mouth. Or the creases and the spots and the bump on my nose and all the things that are me, right there.

So I thought I would share it.

Because maybe sometimes we think Lent is easy for everyone else but us. Or we think that insecurities are only for the weak. Or we think that we are bad people for struggling.

But you’re not. I’m not. We’re not.

I could have never dreamed how hard this would be before Lent began. And I don’t know the new that is coming on Easter. But I can feel the buds pushing their way to the surface, through all the dirt. And I’m believing that something beautiful will bloom from these painfully sown seeds.

. . . . .

(Small Lent caveat: I am wearing makeup when I teach at events. So if you’ve seen me on the road the last few weeks and I’ve been on a stage, yes. I’ve had on makeup.)

(Also. You can still book a portrait with Jeremy as well. So easy and so worth it.)

. . . . .

Want to hear more about Lent? Subscribe to my podcast and check out the Lent episode with the girls from SheReadsTruth!

. . . . .


on March 9, 2015 in Perfectly Unique, Speak Love with no comments by

Cheap ebooks!


I just had to tell you.

Both my ebooks for teens/young women are on MAJOR SALE LIKE WHOA KIND OF SALE today!

. . . . .

Perfectly Unique

. . . . .

Speak Love

 . . . . .

Literally for less than a grande no water soy chai at Starbucks, you can have both of these resources on your e-reader! BOO. YAH.

FOUR DOLLARS. Two cents less, to be precise. $3.98. FOR TWO FULL BOOKS.

Get. You. Some.

(And actually, my people at Zondy have put soooo many books on sale this week, so if I was you, I’d set a little budget- maybe $10?- and grab a handful of them. Actually, if my calculations are correct, you can get the whole lot of them for $22. Wowie zowie.)

Hope this makes your Monday a little brighter! 🙂

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Perfectly Unique Gift Guide

on December 15, 2014 in Perfectly Unique with no comments by

If you are Santa (you aren’t. Santa is real.), then I want to be your elf. For the next few days, I want to help you. If you are going to gift one of my little books, I want to share with you some easy things that go along with the book, in case you are looking to make a little present with a few items.

First up, Perfectly Unique!

Perfectly Unique is a simple reminder for teen girls/young women that God made them each on purpose, uniquely, and He has a plan for each of their lives. This book speaks to the issue of self-esteem and self-hate while also teaching the reader to focus on God for freedom and healing.

This one would be good for gals as young as 11 or 12 up to probably 20ish. Here’s a link to lots of places you can buy Perfectly Unique.


Here are some fun products you could gift along with Perfectly Unique:

–> Popular by Tindell Baldwin : This book is such a good companion for Perfectly Unique. Especially if your gal is a reader, grab her this one too.

–> Ready To Fly by Jamie Grace : I love love love this album, and I don’t know a teen girl who would disagree with me.

–> Shine Necklace : This new collection from Dayspring is absolutely gorgeous and I think this necklace would be a beautiful addition to any young woman’s jewelry collection.

–> Kitty Cat Jewelry Holder : I just think this is so stinkin’ cute.

–> Perfectly Unique bookplate : If you’d like me to autograph the book you are giving, easy cheesy!

. . . . .

Hope that helps you with your shopping, Santa!


Annie The Elf 🙂

. . . . .

2014 Bookplates!

on November 26, 2014 in Gal Stuff, Let's All Be Brave, Perfectly Unique, Speak Love with no comments by


It’s the most wonderful time of the year…… BOOKPLATES!

No joke. For three years running now this has become one of my very.favorite.things.

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 Let’s All Be BravePerfectly Unique or Speak Love, I’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:


c/0 Annie 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 book you are gifting, wrap it, and you shall be able to give your friend/child/cousin/person an autographed copy of the book you think they will love!

. . . . .

A few things:

I need to receive your envelope BEFORE DECEMBER 19th 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?

31 books: Perfectly Unique (book #2)

on October 7, 2014 in 31 Books Every Young Woman Needs, Perfectly Unique with no comments by


[Going ahead and knocking my books out so that we can catch up on the 31 books. Don’t hate. 🙂 ]


Title: Perfectly Unique


. . . . .


Annie F. Downs (meeeeeeee!)

. . . . .

What the book is about:

Your body is an instrument. No, it’s not a flute, or a guitar (I hope). It is a sacred and original design by a master craftsman with a specific plan and purpose. That’s a pretty big deal. From head to foot, the way you view your body is directly connected to how you serve God. Seriously. From the thoughts you think to the steps you take, every part of you is linked to the divine. Perhaps you are struggling with your body image or are trying to make sense of why God made you as you are. Maybe you are looking for new ways to understand Scripture or to love God more fully. Either way, this book will take you on a thoughtful, funny, and spirit-filled exploration of the way you were designed and will help you better honor the Creator by learning to value his perfectly unique creation (yourself!).

. . . . .

Why I like it:

I think this topic of discussing self-worth and purpose is fairly universal for women- especially young women. It is massively important that we teach young women to value how God made them, celebrate it, and grow from it. (You can read more about the book here.)

. . . . .

Buy it here.



I know some of us love books, and some of us LOVE them. For those that LOVE books, I’m creating a special VIP list. When you join this list, you’ll receive an email at the end of October with five additional books to add to this list of 31 and you’ll be entered to win some fun giveaways and discounts/coupon codes for some other special products I think young women will want!

Join the 31 books VIP list here.




. . . . .

When Positive Self Talk Isn’t Enough

on August 18, 2014 in Gal Stuff, Perfectly Unique with 26 comments by


It’s been many a year that I have wrestled and worked through how to deal with the lies in my head about how God made me and who I am and how I look. It’s always been a big deal to me. Good gravy, I wrote a book about it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle.

The lies still come. Sometimes they are a whisper when I am walking onto a stage, sometimes they are a quick cut when I see a picture of myself, and other times, they scream. They scream in a way I cannot describe- they are constant and vulgar and violently unkind.

And when the lies get loud like that in my head – the ones that say I am painfully ugly, unlovablely fat, ruined, unsalvageable, disappointing, etc. – the first step, I have learned, is to invite truth in. So I stand there, or sit there, or lie there, and I say the true things.

God made me on purpose.

God loves me unconditionally.

God doesn’t make ugly.

Bible verses long memorized about who I am, how I was made perfectly, and how God treasures me.

And repeat repeat repeat.

If you’ve never struggled with self-hate, maybe this doesn’t make sense to you. But sometimes, even when you say the true thing over and over and over again, your brain cannot hear it. And for me? That’s when I know it’s bad.

When the truth, from the Bible into my mind and out of my mouth, doesn’t resonate with my heart after a few days (yes, days) of saying it, writing it, singing it, and choosing it, well… that’s bad.

Sometimes, for me, when the mean voices get too loud, positive self-talk isn’t enough.

It’s been that way, in recent days. Sometimes there is a trigger, an event or experience that sends me down the self-hate rabbit hole, but this time, nothing. I can tell you a few things I know- summer is usually harder because it gets hot and sweaty and it makes me feel unhappy, I can pinpoint a few experiences lately that would be knocks to any gal’s self-esteem, but nothing out of the ordinary. So I can’t tell you where it started. I just know the self-talk wasn’t working and I was falling farther and farther.

Because this has been my struggle for years (YEARS), I have learned what to do next- the next level of arsenal. Besides the yelling out to God for rescue from the onslaught, I do a few other things to mute the lies.

Hang up words.

And so I did. On my mirror. This beautiful print from Aliza Latta now hangs in my bathroom, forcing itself on me every morning.

Tell somebody.

I did. I told my counselor this week- I spoke the lies to her, the ones that have screamed at me recently. I told her where I heard them and who was there and what I was wearing and way more detail than she could ever want. When someone else knows, it’s better.

Go on a walk.

I know. It sounds ridiculous. But for me, the farther down the self-hate hole I am, the more I sit still. So I head out, through my neighborhood, for twenty minutes or so, just to move.

Do something kind for yourself.

I’ve been living on a strict budget this summer, so when my normal makeup ran out, I used some I found in a drawer. (I’m cheap. Sorry.) But on Saturday, I popped over to the mall and replaced the few essentials I use daily. It may sound silly, but it mattered to me. So I did some creative budget shifting, and found some moola for the makeup I really like.

And you know what? I’m feeling better. The lies are less than, and there were days this weekend when I didn’t hear them at all. I’m not mad at myself for struggling, but my guard is up now and I’m watching with a protective eye over my own mind and heart.

So why tell you this? Because I guarantee I’m not alone. I am sure, like 100% sure, that one of you reading this feels this with me. And if that’s you, I just want you to know you aren’t alone.

You aren’t alone in this fight. I’m here too. And God is with us.

“Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath. Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.”

— Psalm 34:17-19 (The Message)

. . . . .

Book Clubs!

on January 22, 2014 in Perfectly Unique, Speak Love with 11 comments by


So here’s a fun idea.

Let’s read Perfectly Unique and/or Speak Love together! 

Watch the video below for more details!

So…. to sum it up:

–> There will be two online book clubs this spring that run from February 6-May 1.

–> Each week, I will send a video out to each book club (one for Perfectly Uniquers and one for Speak Lovelies) with discussion questions. There will also be a secret Facebook group for each book club.

(PS- if you aren’t on Facebook, no biggie. You can still join the book clubs!)

–> The first 20 gals who join each group will get a Skype date with me sometime in June to discuss the book they read, what we learned, and to answer any questions.


–> Only the first fifty girls who sign up for each group will be able to participate this semester.

Why are we doing this?

Because a lot of girls got one of these books for Christmas and may just want some friends to read with. Because you may be looking for a group of gals to talk to about life. Because you may think it is cool to read the same book as a girl across the country or across the world and get to talk about it.

Also? We just think it will be really fun to get to know 100 girls this semester, mail them cool stuff, and see what God does in our hearts and lives!

So if you are interested, join us! If you know a young woman who would be interested, will you share? If you gave someone a copy of Speak Love or Perfectly Unique for Christmas, this could be a cool thing to let them know about!

2013 Bookplates!

on December 6, 2013 in Perfectly Unique, Speak Love with no comments by


OH friends. This may become my favorite holiday tradition- BOOKPLATES!

So for anyone who is gifting Perfectly Unique or Speak Love, I’d love to autograph it for your gal! 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:


c/0 Annie 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… count down your chocolate Advent calendar… and then the sticker will come in the mail, personalized by me to your girl. Stick it in your book, wrap it, and you shall be able to give your teen/college girl an autographed copy of Perfectly Unique or Speak Love. Like THIS!

PU autograph

Speak Love autograph

Obviously it won’t say “TO YOU!”…. it will have the name of the girl receiving the book- you’ll tell me that info and make sure I spell her name right on the Bookplate form here.

. . . . .

A few things:

I need to receive your envelope BEFORE DECEMBER 17th 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?


Please steal my books.

on November 30, 2013 in Perfectly Unique, Speak Love with 2 comments by

speak love cover As I told you yesterday-

The Speak Love Kindle edition is only $0.99!

Like 99 pennies.


So hop over to Amazon (or your favorite online retailer) and download that puppy before the deal goes away. I can’t imagine it will ever be this cheap again.

And while you’re at it…


The Perfectly Unique Kindle edition is only $5.12!

So you can literally get both my books on your e-reader for less than the cost of a burrito.

Almost thievery.


Happy Saturday. Get your save on, people.

be His.

on February 5, 2013 in Perfectly Unique with 5 comments by

Just wanted to let y’all know about a little limited edition goodie that we are offering over here….

be His

Maybe you have a daughter off at college and you want to send her a Valentine’s Day package, or maybe your teenager just loves getting mail [don’t we all?]. I remember vividly the fear and angst of going to school on Valentine’s Day as a single teenager. Not fun. But my parents were always intentional and really sweet on Valentine’s Day, so I’m hoping this will help you bless your daughter/granddaughter/little sister/friend this year.

On a day when everyone is saying “be mine,” we hope this is the perfect way to remind her to “be His.”

This “be His” package includes:

  • A personally autographed copy of Perfectly Unique
  • 5 Perfectly Unique folded notecards and 5 pink envelopes [they are totes brand new and adorable and these girls will be the FIRST to have them!]
  • A fabric flower pin that can be clipped in your hair or pinned on your jacket or backpack
  • A Valentine’s card letting her know who the gift is from
  • A little handmade Valentine happy reminder her to “be His”
  • Glitter [duh]

The total cost is $25 and that includes shipping [within the continental USA]! And there is a spot on PayPal where you can tell me who to sign the book to and who to sign the Valentine from- it’s under the shipping address where it says “note to seller”. Fancy, eh?

To insure / ensure [both are right, I’m scared of being wrong, so both it shall be] … to MAKE SURE this arrives by Valentine’s Day (Feb 14), you must order by next Monday, February 11.

Jeremiah 31:3 (The Message)

“I have never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!”

Big thanks to Erin Pfister, Connor Harrell and Lyndsay Rush for all their help.

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