Tag: Speak Love

Speak Love Gift Guide

on December 16, 2014 in Speak Love 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 gift pack with a few items.

Here are some suggestions for Perfectly Unique, and today, we tackle Speak Love!

Speak Love teaches that your words matter and this is an important reminder to teen girls and women of all ages. Separated into three parts- how you speak to God, how you speak to others, and how you speak to yourself, this book will challenge the reader to use words to speak life.

This one would be good for gals as young as 13 and up to probably 22. Here’s a link to lots of places you can buy Speak Love.


Here are some fun products you could gift along with Speak Love:

–> Speak Love Revolution : This 30-day journal was written to go hand in hand with Speak Love.

–> Leather Strand Necklace : I think this necklace from 107 Market Street is totally adorable.

–> Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. by For King & Country : I love these dudes and I love this album.

–> LetterPress Blocks : Whether you want to spell her name or her favorite word like GRACE or FAITH, I absolutely love these wooden blocks. I have LOVE hanging in my house and I absolutely love it.

–> Rifle Paper Co Thank You Notes : Especially when we are teaching about how to use our words, having beautiful notecards will help encourage her to write someone!

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

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Hope that helps you with your shopping, Santa!


Annie The Elf 🙂

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31 Books: Speak Love (book #3)

on October 8, 2014 in 31 Books Every Young Woman Needs, Speak Love with 1 comment by


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


speak love coverTitle: Speak Love

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Annie F. Downs (meeeeeeee!)

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What the book is about:

You’ve heard, “Think before you speak” a hundred times, and probably shrugged it off just like that other insightful phrase, “Your face will freeze like that if you’re not careful.” But unlike a facial expression, our words do stick around. (Just think about middle school a sec. See?) Which means everything you say””from what tell your friends, whisper about your enemies, post online, mutter to yourself, or even say to the celebrity you ran into at the coffee shop””carries a whole lot of power.

The question is, are you ready to use that power to make a real difference? Because the truth is, you could be part of the first generation who uses their words to build up and not tear down, and even kill the mean girl mentality. Through very funny stories, Scripture, and a real understanding of the good, bad, and ugly ways we can use our words, Annie Downs explores the difference you can make when you speak love to others, to God, and even to yourself. Because when you speak love, you speak life. And that’s what matters.

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Why I like it:

Girls are using more words that ever these days thanks to social media. It is our duty, and our honor, as adults in this day and age to train young women on how to use their words to bring glory to God and good to others. In Speak Love, we go through how to talk to God, how to talk to others, and how to talk to yourself- all important conversations. (You can read more about the book here.)

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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.




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I’m having all the fun right now on the internet.

on April 9, 2014 in I heart books. with 5 comments by

I just need you to know this.

Here’s why.


Talk about God opening a HUGE door! Amazon picked Speak Love (a TEEN CHRISTIAN book!) to be their Kindle Daily Deal. Yes, everyone at Zondervan freeeeeeaked out. Because y’all! What is God up to that He has made a way for this book about the power of words to get into a LOT more hands!!?!

So if you don’t have it yet, grab it today! Less than TWO DOLLARS!

And feel free to grab this graphic and share the deal with your people. (Would you please share the deal with your people?)

But it is JUST for today- like, literally. Amazon don’t play. So tell your people! You know what they say… don’t let the sun go down on your empty Kindle…. or something like that.

Speaking of books….


Did you get your two free chapters of Let’s All Be Brave? I am so honored by the response so far, the hundreds of people who have downloaded it and so many who have written me to say they have been moved by it. And as I tweeted last week, you have NO IDEA how much that means with as much challenge and heartache as I experienced in the writing of it. I have asked God over and over to please let the pain matter and make a difference. I pray it does.

You can pre-order Let’s All Be Brave now if you liked the first two chapters enough to want to finish it. If you didn’t…. uh… don’t tell me yet. I’m still a bit of a tenderheart about this one. 🙂


On Tuesdays and Thursdays this month, I’m on The Chat with Priscilla. Yes, Priscilla Shirer. I’m gonna write a whole blog post about it, but I want you to know that you can tune in this month to see the two-part series on What Women Wish Men Knew. And this picture of Angie Smith and I? It’s my favorite. I love her so much.


I also got to blog at the LifeWay Women All Access blog about what women wish men knew. And I got to write about my Vandy boys, so you know that was joy to my heart.

Also, I’m sorry these graphics have you dealing with four versions of my face.

Amen and happy Wednesday.

13 Highlights of 2013

on December 30, 2013 in Yearly Review with 16 comments by

I find it necessary to recap my life at the end of every year. Or, close to at least.

If you’ve got too much time on your hands, here is my 2007 recap and my 2008 recap. In 2009, I didn’t want to officially recap apparently, I barely survived the stress of 2010, and in 2011 I barely survived deportation. 2012 was so fun and today I loved rereading 2012’s best moments.

And now, as I think back on this year, I think of hard days and fun days and sweet days and tired days. But mostly? There is so much to be grateful for in 2013…

JANUARY: I spent a day in Florida with Christine Caine and Joyce Meyer and it changed me forever.

I wrote about that day here, but when I reflect on that day, it shaped my year, my career, my walk with God, and my life in ways that I feel every day. This is me and Christine Caine. She’s a total hero to me.


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FEBRUARY: I quit eating dairy this month after God really opened my eyes to the importance of treating PCOS like the real disease that it is.

And 10 months later, I’m still living without it and I’m so glad for all the ways God has moved me towards health, though we have many steps to go.

This picture is the morning I decided to quit dairy. I wrote about that day here.


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MARCH: I finished writing Speak Love and signed the deal for the next book that comes out in 2014! 

I spent this whole month writing- finishing a book that God downloaded word for word, starting writing a book that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It took all spring and I cannot wait for you to read it later in 2014.

Here my family and I are celebrating the new book at a restaurant in Atlanta.


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APRIL: While traveling and speaking were major parts of my spring (and fall), I also was lucky enough to spend every Tuesday night with my CrossPoint College small group gals.

In April, we spent time telling our life stories and then praying for each other. It was one of the sweetest seasons our group has known.

small group

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MAY: Vanderbilt baseball.

I went to a lot of baseball games. I celebrated the graduation of some of my favorite men. I cheered with the families as the boys played well and I cried with them when their playoff hopes fell apart right before our very eyes and right in on our own ballfield.

I could have never dreamed that I would love a group of guys like I love these. There aren’t words. What God has gifted me in these relationships, in these little brothers, is one of the greatest joys of my life. No kidding.

I love them.


I also renovated my guest room because remember that book that was so hard to write? I found LOTS OF OTHER THINGS to do besides, you know, write.

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JUNE: My speaking and travel season ended with a conference in Honolulu.

Tough life. I know. It was such a joy to serve the teen girls of Hawaii at the Bloom Conference. Here’s my thoughts from that weekend.


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JULY: I rested.

After I turned in the next book on July 4, I celebrated my birthday with friends, and then headed to the beach. Alone. With books. And a tired heart. It was the quietest few days of my whole life. It was healing and perfect.


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AUGUST: Speak Love released!

Man. I am so proud of this book. I love how God is using it, I love how teen girls are responding to it. I feel so so so lucky to have been the person God picked to be a part of what He is already doing.

On it’s first day of life, I took my copy of Speak Love to the bookstore to meet all her friends.

Speak Love

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SEPTEMBER: The travel and speaking bug bit me like crazy, having me out of town 26 out of 31 days of this month.

Wow + tired. But way more WOW. I could not believe all the doors God opened this month for me to meet friends and speak to teenagers and connect with other people in ministry. An absolute highlight was preaching my first Sunday morning service (three times!) at Rock The Universe in Orlando, Florida. I wrote about that morning, and the marshmallow bricks, here.


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OCTOBER: We blogged our little hearts out with 31 Ways To Speak Love.

31 ways

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NOVEMBER: Another major travel month, with tons of fun opportunities to meet students, leaders, and independent bookstore owners!

I haven’t mentioned it yet, but one of the highlights of 2013 was the Girls of Grace conference. I love the people. I love traveling with them. And I love the way God is moving in the hearts of teen girls and their moms and leaders.


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DECEMBER: A day in Athens.

This was a great month of little travel, lots of rest, and tons of sweet time with friends. One of the best days of the month, heck- of the year, was spending last Friday in Athens, Georgia. There were many MANY people that I love dearly in that town that I didn’t get to see since I was only there for ten hours. But the few I did? Life-giving. Heart-filling. Moment-making. It was a day of fresh air moving through my soul.

These are three of my best college/life friends. We met 15 years ago as freshman at UGA. Now? We live in Atlanta, Dallas, Nashville, and Prague. And amazingly, we were all able to convene in the same restaurant at the same time on the same day in our old college town. So sweet.


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HIGHLIGHT #13: Learning lessons the hard way.

I excelled at this in 2013. Apologizing. Being humbled. Forgiving others. Forgiving myself. Promising myself that will each lesson learned, through each tear and trial, that I will work to retain the wisdom and not cycle through those lessons again.


All of it has purpose. You know that, right? All the hard days, all the tired days, all the losses and all the gains, the good days, the best days. Every sunrise of 2013 was meant for us and every sunset to remind us that we survived another day.

Reminds me of Romans 11:36 (NIV).

For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.

To Him be the glory forever! Amen.

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I’d love to hear about your 2013. If you are a blogger, please link to your 2013 recap post in the comments! If you don’t blog, just comment below and tell me some of the things from 2013 that you will never forget.


on December 2, 2013 in Speak Love with 1 comment by

cyber monday sale

Alright, friends! HERE WE GO!

For today and today only, we’re doing 30% off everything in the store and FREE SHIPPING!

The prices have already been changed and shipping is goneski, so no code needed or any crazy jazz like that.

There are limited supplies for every item, so the quicker the better if you want a particular size t-shirt.

We’ve also got some goodies in Santa Sarah’s shop…. you know, my intern who is amazing that really runs the show around here… so each package will include stickers and an autographed poster and bookmarks and whatever other excitement we find around here.

No kidding. Sarah just said, “We have deals that will SLEIGH you.” I’m more proud of her punny-ness than you can imagine.

If Speak Love is the turkey, our store is offering all the fixin’s at 30% off and no shipping cost. So go ahead and grab Christmas gifts for the gals in your life- friends, daughters, babysitters, nieces, college students.

Happy Cyber Monday, friends. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good sale!

Day 10 :: Malala

on October 10, 2013 in 31 Ways To Speak Love with 4 comments by

31 ways

I was supposed to blog about a different speak love topic today, but when I returned home from speaking at Brentwood High School’s FCA this morning, a video clip came across my internet.

I had seen some friends talking about this Malala Yousafzai girl over the last few days, but to be honest, I just hadn’t had time to read up on her.

So I took a few minutes to watch her interview with Jon Stewart and tears came to my eyes.

She is my people- a teen girl using her words to change the world.

My favorite quote?

When Jon asks her what gave her the courage to speak out against the Taliban, she says, “At the time, I said ‘Why should I wait for someone else? Why should I be looking to the government or the army that they should help us? WHY DON’T I RAISE MY VOICE? WHY DON’T WE SPEAK UP FOR OUR RIGHTS…

Phew. That kind of courage can’t be taught. It is earned in the trenches.

Please watch this whole clip- at the end, she talks about what she would do if the Talib came to kill her. You absolutely won’t believe her answer.

(If you wanna watch the whole episode, here is the link.)

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To be honest, I don’t know. I’m so moved by the story- I’m going to share it. And I’m praying for this girl today- for her courage and her heart and that she would know Truth in the innermost places. Also, today, I’m grateful for my education, for the freedom that women currently have in this country- to learn, to speak up, to lead. And I’m asking God to teach the next generation of women how to use this freedom well to set others free.

What will you do in response to this video?


This is Day 10 of 31 Ways to Speak Love. You can click here to see a list of all the posts in the series.

Day 7 :: Brave

on October 7, 2013 in 31 Ways To Speak Love, Sounds good to me. with 7 comments by

31 waysEvery Monday of October, I want to share with you a song that speaks directly about the power of words.

Brave by Sara Bareilles is absolutely the first one that came to mind. Not only does she encourage us to say the things we need to say, but to do it even when it isn’t easy.

 Take time to read the lyrics. They are incredible.

Enjoy the video below. I hope it’s a happy part of your Monday.


Post this video on your facebook wall or tweet a link to it. Remember today to be brave with your words, whatever that looks like. Say what you need to say. 🙂 Who needs to hear a kind word from you? Don’t hesitate. Speak Love.

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What are your favorite songs about the power of words? I’d love to hear!

And remember that we’ve made a Perfectly Unique Spotify Playlist as well as a Speak Love Spotify Playlist for you to subscribe to and enjoy!


This is Day 7 of 31 Ways to Speak Love. You can click here to see a list of all the posts in the series.

Day 4 :: Lyrics

on October 4, 2013 in 31 Ways To Speak Love, TOP 5 FRIDAY with 26 comments by

31 waysI cannot think of a finer writing style than songwriting.


What a songwriter says in 35 lines it takes me 35 paragraphs and you are surely bored at the end of my rant and you’re teary by the end of the song.

It’s incredible.

I never appreciated lyrics much until I moved to Nashville. I watch as my songwriter friends slave over a sentence and rework a few lines and the final product could just take your breath away.

Talk about making your words matter!

So next time you LOVE a song, don’t just think about the performer. Think about the WRITER. That’s the person who deserves the first standing ovation when your heart is moved.

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On Fridays, I like to do a little list – we call it TOP 5 FRIDAY.

So today I want to list my top 5 favorite lyrics … that come to mind right now. Because you and I both know that as soon as I hit publish I am going to think of eight more that I wish I could add.


1. Taylor Swift // Everything Has Changed

“All I know is we said, ‘Hello.’ So dust off your highest hopes.”

Seriously. UGH. That’s such a great use of words and the idea of your highest hopes. Beautiful word picture.


2. Joy Williams // Golden Thread

“Just wanna know while everything’s unraveling. I’m hanging on, just hanging by a golden thread.”

I love the sense of hope in a hard time in this line. You just know that a golden thread is worth holding on to.


3. Lady Antebellum // Goodbye Town

“I can’t erase the memories. And I can’t burn the whole place down.”

Genius. When you think of where a heartbreak happened, you know those are the two options. If I stay in this town, I will always remember where the memories occurred. Such a beautiful way to talk about a harsh reality.


4. Meredith Andrews // Pieces

“You are completely known. You are completely loved. This is where you belong.”

I literally can’t hear Meredith sing this line without tearing up. Truth will do that to a person. [But really. EVERY line in this song. EVERY ONE.]


5. Mumford & Sons // After The Storm 

“With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.”

I want this to be me.



So those are my five! What’s your favorite lyric? Write a blog post about it or tweet it or share it below in the comments!

Everyone who comments below is entered to win an autographed copy of Speak Love, the Speak Love Revolution journal, and a brand new CD (that hasn’t even released yet!) from one of my very favorite singer/songwriters, Reeve Coobs.

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A few other things:

Because I am a LOVER OF MUSIC, we have built two Spotify playlists for you based on my two books, Perfectly Unique and Speak Love!

Perfectly Unique Spotify Playlist

Speak Love Spotify Playlist

Also, use the code 31WAYS at the AnnieBlogs store to receive free shipping all month long!

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So remember to leave your comment below to be entered to win today’s prize pack! 

October is for speaking love.

on September 30, 2013 in 31 Ways To Speak Love with 7 comments by

31 ways

It’s that easy.

That’s what this month is about.

31 ways we can speak love to the ones we know and the ones we don’t.

31 ways we can be different than the generation before us and lead the one behind us.

31 ways we can impact and change our culture.

Each day will tell a different story, recommend a different resource, share a song, introduce you to some thoughts, or challenge you with a task.

The goal? 

To speak love. To speak life. To change those around us. And to kill the mean girl mentality in our generation. 

And you can play along.

Wanna? Let’s do it.

Oh y’all. I just can’t tell you how excited I am about this month, about all the ways that I imagine our little tribe changing the world with our words.

It’s gonna be really fun. I promise. Like whoa fun.

Starting tomorrow. WOOT.

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A few things….

  • Remember we are starting the @speaklovenow instagram posts tomorrow with daily devotionals. This is geared for teen/college gals, but everyone is welcome. Just prepare yourself for an abundance of emojis, teen talk, and instagram names with lots of underscores, because that’s how teens roll these days. 🙂
  • We are doing a special sale at the AnnieBlogs store. Use the coupon code 31WAYS and get free shipping all month! [There will also be other deals during the month, so stick around for that!]
  • We’ll be giving away a lot of copies of Speak Love and the companion journal Speak Love Revolution throughout the month because I have lots of boxes of books at my house that I’m ready to get in your hands! 
  • Lots of friends will be doing 31 Days posts this month. So make sure you swing by some of the other folks. I’ll be sharing some of my favorites as we go too.

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Any questions? 

Marshmallow bricks.

on September 11, 2013 in AnnieSpeaks, Girls of Grace with 4 comments by

For starters, let me apologize for the silence the last few days. If you keep up with me on instagram, you know I spent last week in Orlando at the Youth Leader Experience and Rock The Universe. [Which, good gravy Rock The Universe has already got it’s 2014 website up and I haven’t even finished my laundry from the week! Sheesh.]

I spoke or was interviewed eight times in six days and so that means six photo-op ready outfits and hello I do not live like that in my real life. It was early mornings and late nights and I promise I loved every minute of it. My family joined me on Friday, so I was able to spend the weekend with them as well, which was awesome.

[Biggest thanks to Word, Girls of Grace, and Zondervan for taking me to the place where dreams come true… and pretty much making all mine come true as well.]

So. Marshmallow bricks. It’s time I explained.

Here’s the thing. I preached my first ever Sunday service this weekend. Three times in a row. [That’s me…. on the far left with the microphone.]crowd

WHOA, right? I know. I was sweating like I was running a 10K for a few reasons: because I was preaching outside in the heat of Florida and because ALL THE PEOPLE.

As I was praying for months about a sermon topic, I kept thinking about these students, about 1500 per service, needing a solid foundation. I talked with my friend and co-Girls of Grace speaker Chris Wheeler and he said it should be the difference between marshmallows and legos.

And that got my wheels spinning.

I decided that when we discuss a solid foundation, I wanted to compare standing on real bricks to standing on marshmallow bricks, and bring them with me from Nashville. [It felt like a stresser to try to build them in Florida… I didn’t have time to BLOG much less build marshmallow bricks.]

But this whole plan would require some ingenuity.

Insert smart intern Sarah here. Sarah [on the far right] took jumbo marshmallows and bound them with toothpicks and water and recruited other small group gals [Kendall and Hannah] to work as well.

the gals

Before we knew it, we had fifteen jumbo marshmallow bricks made. We stuck them in the fridge, then laid them on the counter for a while to dry out, then put each in it’s own large ziplock bag and then I flew to Florida with an entire suitcase full of jumbo marshmallow bricks. Exactly 31.5 pounds worth.



Once in Florida, I practiced my full talk multiple times- making sure I knew how to explain how a wise man builds his house upon the rock [bricks that I bought at Home Depot in Orlando] and the foolish man builds his house upon the sand [or marshmallows, as the case may be].


Sunday morning came and in each service, I would bring up two students. One to stand on the bricks and one to stand on the marshmallows. I would remind the students that we can stand on things like the holiness of God, the security of His love and His plan for our lives, and Jesus’s death and resurrection. And I would mention again that while things like our friendships, abilities, and relationships are GOOD THINGS, like marshmallows, and have a place and a purpose, like s’mores, they are not things we can stand on.

And it was awesome every time.

[This may be one of my favorite pictures ever because my face says EXACTLY how I feel about high school and college dudes- I absolutely LOVE THEM TO PIECES.]


So I guess you can see why we had to make fifteen bricks- five for each service. Because, ya know, there wasn’t really any reusing them. And you can see the cute girl on my other side and her bricks she stood on.

[“…on which she stood”? I dunno. Grammar. Woof.]

So I hope that explains fairly well why marshmallows took over my life last week.

I could tell you so much more about the week in Orlando- how I saw many of my musician friends from Girls of Grace events, how much I enjoyed my time with the staff and executives from these companies that now consider me a part of their families, how my family tackled Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure like they were teenagers.

Mainly, I’m home now and all I can do it thank God for letting me live this life, as different as it is from what I dreamed and expected, and how I can’t wait to hold a microphone and talk about Jesus all over again.

This weekend. In Phoenix. Sans marshmallows.

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