Q Boston!

on April 9, 2015 in AnnieSpeaks with 4 comments by

So in two weeks, I’m going to be in Boston and I totally want you to come as well.

I can’t wait to go to Boston. There’s just something about Quincy Market and those cannolis from Mike’s Pastry are a blessing… says an Annie who used to eat dairy.

I get to go to Boston in 2 weeks because I am attending Q Boston.

You know I love Q. You know I loved speaking at Q Women.

What I haven’t really told you is that I really REALLY love Q Women. I love the questions they are asking and the way they engage culture and how they streeeeeetch my brain.  So a few months ago, I said to Gabe and Rebekah Lyons, “um, I love all of this, can I get all up in your bizzzzzz and help with Q Women stuff?”

And they said YES so, that starts in 2 weeks with Boston! The conference is Thursday-Saturday, April 23-25, and we have a really great Q Women Reception on Thursday night.

Do you live near/kinda near/sorta near Boston and want to come? Do you love Boston (y’all. I LOVE BOSTON.) and think it would be fun to do a last minute trip? Check out the video below because I can help with that!


And remember the code is qwomen (all lowercase) and you get 50% off your ticket– so you’re only paying $312.50 for the full event and our Q Women Reception with me, Rebekah, Ann Voskamp, and Jennie Allen.

and it’s only for the FIRST 20 GALS who buy a ticket!

Seriously I hope you will come. We are excited that 400 women are already planning on attending and I’d love to be a part of making it 420ish. 🙂

(PS- if you have a gal pal living in or near Boston and you think you’d like her to experience this, send her this info… but do it QUICK before the 20 tickets are gone!)

Brave On The Road

on March 19, 2015 in AnnieSpeaks, video blogs with 6 comments by

Annie F. Downs: Brave On The Road

So here’s a fun thing.

I have a video intern this semester. I know, I feel like the luckiest human in the ever. Her name is Kristen and she is SUPER TALENTED and fun to be around and she fits around the dining room table / office like she has always been here. Sarah and I totally love her.

Well a few weeks ago, we thought it would be fun for Kristen to video what a whole speaking event day was like for me. I mean, if I go speak somewhere, all those people see is the two hours I’m there, but there is lots before and after that make for a pretty funny life.

My friend Amanda and my friend Caroline went with us to this event too, so that’s extra cool.

So here is a behind-the-scenes look at the insanity that is traveling with moi. 🙂 Grab some popcorn and enjoy!

(The video is embedded below subscribers, so you may have to click over. Or you can just watch it on YouTube!)

I made a list of things.

on January 30, 2015 in AnnieSpeaks, I heart books., Ze Bloggy Goodness with 3 comments by

I have not forgotten the blog exists, I promise.

Since getting back from Ecuador, I’ve been going ninety miles a minute trying to prep for two weeks of travel and buying a new car and writing some things and meetings and I HAVE FELT SOME OF THE PANIC.

Forgive me.

But here is what you need to know.

thing 1.

I get to travel a lot and it is awesome. And it is the best way for me to see you. So if you are anywhere NEAR where I am going this spring, please come say hi. Don’t panic about “can I come to that?” or “am I welcome?” — just email or tweet or something me and we’ll work something out.

thing 2.

There are a few books coming out that I think you’ll enjoy:

Home Is Where My People Are by Sophie Hudson… and my word, y’all, she has done it again.

For The Right Reasons by Sean Lowe… I liked it. I have thoughts. But I liked it.

(We’re gonna resurrect TueBook Tuesday next week and I’m going to expound on both of these, so yes. Obviously. I have more to say.)

thing 3.

Speaking of Tuesday, on Tuesday night I’m speaking in Atlanta at Buckhead Church’s Single Series. I know. I don’t talk about being a singlet very much. But when Atlanta asks, I usually say yes. I’m such a sucker for my hometown.

To introduce me to the crowd, they made this cute little video that I kinda love. (It’s below- so subscribers, you may need to click over to see it.)

If you are anywhere near, married or single, you are so welcome to join us Tuesday night. If you have any single friends in the area, definitely let them know about the series. Buckhead Church does a really cool job of intentionally caring for the singles in their community and I think it’s a place worth getting plugged in to if you are single in the city.

thing 4.

I’m sending out a newsletter today (or maybe tomorrow?) and I just wanted to make sure you knew that thing existed. It’s kind of like a VIP list- you know stuff first, you know stuff everyone else doesn’t know, if the blog feels like a bunch of friends at a party, the monthly newsletters feel like dinner around a farm table.

If you’d like to receive it, sign up here.

thing 5.

I’m hooked on Propel Women. Download this month’s magazine and set aside some time this weekend to read it. The direction they are encouraging all of us to go in leadership is right on, I think.

. . . . .

Okay, I think those are my things. Do you have any things to share with me?

. . . . .

Why IF:Local Matters

on January 12, 2015 in #thatisbrave, AnnieSpeaks with 5 comments by

In just a few weeks, I’ll be in Austin, Texas for IF:Gathering. Lucky for me, just like last year, I get to be part of the hosting team along with my great pal Joy Eggerichs, particularly hosting the IF:Local livestream.

Ever since last February, it has been hilarious how many people at churches or events will walk up to me, all squinty-eyed-like, trying to figure out why I look familiar, and they say, “uhh… why do I know you? WWAAAAAIIITTT! You hosted IF:Local!” and then they will proceed to tell me the sweetest story of what their experience was like watching the event from their own town, many in their own churches or homes.

I know IF:Local matters because it gives thousands and thousands of women who can’t make it to Austin the chance to experience the same content with their hometown girls.

But IF:Local matters even more for women like my friend Lindsey. I asked if she would tell you her story of how attending IF:Local in 2014 while bedridden has completely changed her life.

. . . . .


My bed is cozy. When I say cozy I mean that I quite literally have the softest sheets on the planet. There are no less than seven unique and perfectly weighted pillows piled up against a rustic headboard. I have a mattress that only dreams are made of. Sounds good, right? The truth is right after finishing this cozy bed, my world unraveled.

Five years ago I was diagnosed with an invisible enemy called Chronic Lyme Disease. My health eroded and everything changed. About the same time my hubby and I brought home our precious girl from Guatemala. Our daughter suffers from complex developmental trauma and lives in a near constant state of anxiety. Our lives became centred around two hard realities, Lyme Disease and Trauma Parenting. I began to feel like a prisoner in my home. My cozy bed became my pit of despair.

Now fast forward with me to the day that I decided to get out of bed. The weekend of IF:Gathering 2014. Since I couldn’t leave my house because of my illness, I didn’t fit into either defined category- being in Austin for IF:Gathering or going to a meet-up for IF:Local. I laughed and declared that I was having IF: My Bed (in pajamas, without make-up).

God met me that day. I had no idea how much the isolation of battling a chronic disease had been crippling me. I needed to hear that God was not through with me. While watching IF: Gathering online I chose to live again. I chose to get out of bed (despite the immense pain and fatigue of Lyme Disease). I chose to be present in my story and not wish it away even if I never felt better.

Though I was confined to my home I asked God how I could comfort others. God’s response was like a bolt of lightning – start a ministry and call it Bottle of Tears.

Today Bottle of Tears is about mailing hope in vintage bottles to those who need it most as a reminder that they are deeply loved and not forgotten. I get to pray for people who are hurting as each bottle leaves my house. I get to watch hundreds of people comfort one another. I want to spend the rest of my time on earth loving others right where they are. 

. . . . .

I don’t know your plans for February 6-7, 2015.

Maybe you’ll be with us in Austin for IF:Gathering.

Maybe you’re going to gather up with other women in your area and watching the IF:Local livestream. (Don’t know if there is an IF:Local planned around you? Search here! If you can’t find one, but want to host an event where women can gather? Plan that here!)

But maybe you have to work on Friday. Or you can’t travel to where a meet-up is happening. Or you, like Lindsey, are homebound, bedridden, or for any reason unable to leave your house or room.

Hey. I’m Annie. I’m your friend. And I’m inviting you to hang with ME at IF:Local.

God will meet you there, just like He’ll meet us in Austin. And it’ll be ME, your local yahoo, just on the other side of the screen!

Hope to see you there.

. . . . .

You in? What’s your plan for this year’s IF:Gathering?

. . . . .

Q Women

on September 19, 2014 in AnnieSpeaks with 8 comments by


I’m supposed to play it cool here. “Oh yeah, totes normal, I’m speaking at a Q Event, I mean, duh, of course.”


Run-on sentences. I say them when I can’t believe the opportunities I’ve been given.

Like now.

November 3.


Q Women.

Whoa. There’s my face.


I mean, y’all. You know me. I’m just a normal Annie. And soooo many of the men and women that will be speaking at Q Women on November 3rd are really respected and immensely wise. And I wear glitter nail polish…. so….

…. that should go over great.

At Q Women, I am talking about contentment, because, you know, I AM A PROFESSIONAL AT IT. (yeah right)


But seriously. I attended Q Ideas in the spring and some of the sessions and discussions were massively influential to me and as I peruse what the other speakers are bringing up at Q Women, I expect it will be the same. Some of this conversations are so so important and it is such an honor – really – for me to share space with these. I am excited to share some things I am processing about contentment and a full life and what that looks like for women no matter what life place you are in.

And ELLIE HOLCOMB is leading worship so that’s all you need to know, isn’t it?

Women, please please join us. You can register here. Only the first 500 women who register will be able to attend and I want you to be in that audience.

(Selfishly, because I need my people there to laugh at my jokes.)

But also. Really. Q Events are different and unique and amazing. I hope you ladies will come.

Join us in Nashville on November 3rd.

. . . . .

By the way, while we’re at it- if you’re in Nashville- I’m speaking next Saturday at the Called Conference. If you’re in the area, join us!


Those are all my announcements. Now I fly to Eden Prairie, MN for Girls of Grace!

Y’all have a great weekend. 🙂


. . . . .

TFIOS sneak peek!

on May 30, 2014 in Interviews with 1 comment by



As you probably recall, a few weeks ago I got to meet and interview the actors from The Fault In Our Stars, a hugely popular YA novel that has now become a feature film releasing on June 6, and my favorite author/vlogger John Green.

It was awesome. And I was nervous. And I learned a lot. And I have LOOOOOOTS of thoughts about the movie (which I got to see) and the stars and the experience in general.

You’ll be hearing all about it next week. Don’t you worry.

I’ve finished up the interview video with John Green, Shailene Woodley, and Ansel Elgort and I’m going to make it available next Monday to my VIP list only. Everyone else will see the interview after the movie releases, but I know some of you are bigger fans and want to get your eyes and paws on it ASAP.

I learned some really interesting stuff from each of these folks and I just cannot tell you how grateful I feel to have been on that red carpet. I hope you’ll enjoy the interviews.

Just sign up for the VIP list below and you’ll be getting access to the video first thing Monday morning!

. . . . .

Also- next week, I’ll be answering your questions about TFIOS – the movie, the experience, the actors, whatever you want. So feel free to leave those in the comments!

Let’s hang this summer.

on May 27, 2014 in AnnieSpeaks with 2 comments by

I love Memorial Day.

It just feels full of people having a great time. And you know me, I love to have a great time. We were out on the lake all Saturday (and I do not have a sunburn thank you very much), and then we went to my favorite corner of middle Tennessee for a concert. It was just one of those life-giving weekends that you hope you never forget.

And here we are. Tuesday. Back to work for you and me and everyone except most school kids. 🙂 Lucky ducks.

My June and July are fairly quiet, besides the release of Let’s All Be Brave on July 29.

So I’m wondering…. want me to come hang out with y’all?


Sorry for the overly excited face. It’s just how I live.

Here’s the thing. Just being real with ya. In order to pay my bills these next few months, I need to have a few more speaking events. This works out great for me because I love traveling to hang out with my people. So I was just going to check in with you and see if your church or group wants to have me come sometime in June or July?

It can be any collection of folks…

  • your youth group?
  • all the girls in your high school ministry?
  • your weekly college summer ministry?
  • the singles group?
  • a mother/daughter event?

Maybe we do a one night event and invite a bunch of youth groups from around town and I’ll grab Chris Wheeler and toss him in the car too? Or maybe you already have a weekly event for your women or youth or college students who are in town for the summer and your pastor would just like a week off from teaching? I’m here for ya, people.

And because I’d like to pick up 3-5 events, I’m willing to cut you a pretty good deal in order to make ends meet. Especially if you are in driving distance (250 miles or less from Nashville), we can definitely make something work.

Here is my speaking page with my calendar.

On the bottom of that page is a contact form. That comes straight to my inbox. So if you have a plan or a dream or a thought and want to brainstorm, send it over and let’s figure out how to make this a reality in June or July!

(Also- if you know a youth pastor, a college pastor, a singles minister, or a women’s ministry director, will you forward this on to them? It would mean a lot.)

Double also- we’re about to plan a mini-tour in August with the release of Let’s All Be Brave, so get pumped about that. We’re hoping to head to New England area and down the West Coast. So if you live in any of those places, let’s try to connect in August! (More info coming soon. I promise.)

Hope to hear from you! Let’s do this!!

Road Life: Unpack

on March 17, 2014 in Road Life with 11 comments by

I got back to Nashville about 6pm yesterday and I fly out this afternoon at 5pm.

23 hours.

It’s not always like this. But sometimes it is. You can tell by my travel/speaking schedule. I kinda have some busier months intentionally- so that months like December and July are a little quieter. But it makes for a head-spinning month here and there.

Last year, it was the same. And sometime in mid-November (of 2012), I kinda had a “MY ROOM IS A WRECK” meltdown. Every time I came home, I just kinda ripped all the clothes and items out of the bag, threw them on the floor, and then repacked. And then if I was home for a few days, I would pretty much just open my suitcase and live out of it until it was time to put clean clothes in it and head out.

My meltdown mainly looked like tears. Per usual.

So I talked with my friend Jeff Pardo– he’s married to Marisa and he’s the band leader for Matthew West, so yeah- you can trust his decision making. Anyways, I tell Jeff of my COMPLETE AND TOTAL MESSY ROOM MELTDOWN, and he asked, “Do you unpack?”

Um…. no? I mean, sorta? I mean, no?

Jeff, who travels a ton more than I do, said you have to unpack. All the way. No matter how long you are home, you unpack everything when you walk in the door, put your suitcase away, and put all your clothes and shoes and toiletries in their right place.

And y’all? It totally changed my life.


It makes me feel like I’m home when I’m home.

So now it is the first thing I do when I get home from the road. Unpack. All of it. Even the toiletries out of my travel bag, and yes- I will repack them again today. But it is worth the extra work for my peace of mind and sanity.

. . . . .

Someone asked me recently, “what do you do to feel at home when you are on the road so much?” It was an interesting question for me, that I pose to you too.

What do you do to feel at home? When you’ve been on vacation and come back, do you immediately light a candle? Go to the grocery store? Remake your bed? 

(Do you have more questions about my weirdo life on the road? Check out other Road Life posts here or ask questions in the comments below and I’ll answer them there or in a future post!)

Road Life: Travel Must-Haves

on January 27, 2014 in AnnieSpeaks, Road Life with 6 comments by


Oh friends. What a fun weekend we had at the Becoming Conference. The leadership is awesome and the girls were the sweetest and California is as dreamy as you can imagine.

I’m on weekend three of a five weekend run of speaking and traveling. I leave tomorrow for Atlanta where I do a couple of events (including this conference that you are welcome to attend if you’re in the area) and then I head to Austin for IF:Gathering. I have THE BEST JOB at IF. I can’t wait to tell you about it.

There are a handful of things that go with me to all the places. I think that’s important when you travel – especially when I’m only sleeping in my own bed 1-2 nights a week right now. So taking home with me really matters.

Example? My pillow. It goes everywhere, even if it means I have to check a bigger suitcase, so be it. Where I go, she goes to hold my noggin.


Also? Nail polish. When I don’t have a color with me, bad habits return- like me biting them. Woof. Also? Headache meds. Man, I get migraines. Have we talked about that? It’s not fun- but luckily the amount of headaches continues to decrease now that my body hasn’t had dairy in A YEAR (we will talk about THAT in February) and I don’t eat much wheat. But none the less, I still get them. So I do not leave home without proper meds.

polish and meds

Speaking of no dairy, I bring Larabars on every trip. While most churches and venues work hard to provide dairy-free options at every meal, sometimes it is just easier to bring a snack along that I know tastes great, fills me up, and isn’t made by a cow.


Also in my carry-on? Usually a long sleeve sweater of some sort. I do not prefer to be cold and if I have an early or late flight, I like to get all snuggly and snoozle. Also in my carry-on? Laptop, iPad, magazines, Bible study book, earphones, and… ahem… a pair of underwear.


I also don’t leave home without my Jackery Bar – my mama got this for me. It’s a portable charger for my iPhone and iPad! Pretty much it has three full charges in it. So I keep it full and carry it in my purse most of the time to make sure I am never stuck in RandomTown, USA with a dead phone.

Here I am, obviously very casually talking on the phone and charging it at the same time in the Orange County airport while some old guy napped beside me.


And so those are my main must-haves. If I keep this collection of things with me, I feel like I’m at home even when I’m not…. almost.

But then when I get home? I unpack IMMEDIATELY thanks to Jeff Pardo‘s recommendation- as a member of Matthew West’s band, he is a professional traveler and told me that is the BEST way to feel at home quickly. (He’s right. It changes everything to get unpacked right away.)

And I light my favorite candle.


But seriously. I can’t quit this smell.

. . . . .

What are your travel must-haves? I bet there is something you take with you that I’m gonna realize I need to take with me everywhere. Tell me. Please? 🙂

California Love.

on January 24, 2014 in AnnieSpeaks with 1 comment by


I’m in California.

In case you didn’t know from the instagrams.

I’m so excited to be speaking at the Becoming Girls Conference today and tomorrow – of all my travels and speaking events coming up, this is DEFINITELY the best weather.

I mean. Flip-flops. Sunshine. Warmth. Joy.

Pretty much the opposite of Nashville and it’s eighteen degrees and all I can hope is that a pipe has not busted in my home over in the east part of this continent where the winter of 2013/2014 will go down in the books as PURE MISERY. Luckily a friend is there to make sure my pipes stay unbursted (huh?), but I still feel a little PTSD panic about the whole thing. Just to be clear.

I woke up this morning at Sarah Markley‘s house and said to my friend Anna (who travels with me to make sure I don’t feel lonely and she runs my merch tables and such), “I don’t have bags under my eyes. Beautifully warm California killed my eye bags.”

I think it was a day in the sun. In the warmth. Sitting on a rock at the beach for an hour or ten minutes – I don’t remember – and talking with friends and soaking it all up.

And now I sit at a Starbucks in Temecula, California (which is adorable, by the way), about to head to the conference and we’re having In-N-Out Burger for dinner which seems like a dream life that I get to eat that way and then someone is giving me a microphone to stand in front of teen girls and make them laugh and tell them about Jesus.

So. Not mad over here. Not one bit. Though this seems to be a day where run-on sentences are ALL THE RAGE on the blog.

Thanks for telling your people about the book clubs. Whoa nelly. Almost 200 girls/women have signed up. Would you believe over HALF of them are 18 or older? Cool, right? We’re taking the weekend to think and pray about how to group everybody on Facebook and identify the first twenty in each group for Skyping in the summer.

We’ll be contacting everyone Monday- the book clubs will close Sunday night so we can organize everyone. So jump in now if you want in this semester! We are really REALLY excited about what God is up to- it’s something, that’s for sure.

Have a great weekend, friends. Get ready for Monday’s Road Life post– my travel must-have’s… assuming I remember to photograph them Sunday at the airport. 🙂

What are you up to this weekend?

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