This is so exciting to me.
Truly, Girls of Grace is one of the best events I’ve ever gotten to be a part of. It’s like this little family that gets to tell teen girls and their mamas and their leaders about Jesus.
And for the first time since I’ve been a part of the family, we are coming to my home state!
Excitement. There is lots of it.
And this is one solid day. The other speakers- Chris and Bianca- are two of my favorite people and when I get to hear them speak, it is incredible. I’m serious. They bring serious words of life to every crowd we get to stand in front of.
Amanda Noelle that leads worship is so great. And the bands? Britt Nicole and Royal Tailor? I can’t even tell you how much I enjoy their shows. Both artists really believe in what we do and love being at Girls of Grace- and you can feel that! And of course, Point of Grace. I adore those women.
So obviously. I’m a fan.
This Saturday, we will be at Griffin First Assembly in Griffin, Georgia and The Bossman has given me two sets of tickets to give away to anyone who wants to come this weekend!
All you have to do is leave a comment below saying who you would bring with you and two people will each win two tickets!
Seriously, if you are in driving distance to Griffin, I can’t suggest more strongly for you to join us. Please? Come hang? We’re really fun and nice and cool and awesome and etc. 🙂
But truly. It feels like I’m bringing my best friends (the Girls of Grace crew) home to meet my family (that’s you, Georgia). And I hope you’ll be there.
I get to do one of my favorite things today.
Stand on the Girls of Grace stage.
For those who don’t know, Girls of Grace is a one day conference for teen girls and their moms/leaders. There are bands and worship and speaking and jokes and it’s awesome. We travel around the country speaking to thousands and thousands of girls.
Last year, when I first started speaking at this event, I was so nervous every weekend and focused on making my co-workers and bosses happy and making Jesus happy and making teen girls happy and making mamas happy that I barely slowed down to watch the day.
But towards the end of the season, I settled into my skin and my spot and got a better chance to see what God was doing throughout the day.
And this year? This year I’m just drinking it in.
Every weekend I get the honor of standing in front of hundreds and hundreds of teen girls and their moms/leaders and share about Jesus.
I get to proclaim things over them, speak love to them, and challenge them to use their words and their lives differently.
[This picture thanks to my sweet friend and co-worker at Girls of Grace Emily Freeman.]
I struggle every weekend though on that stage, because I just plain feel like there IS NOT ENOUGH TIME TO SAY IT ALL.
You know how I feel about teen girls. They are my people. And the fact that I’m getting to speak to them, well, it may be the only time. So I just want to KEEP GOING but the timer says DO NOT KEEP GOING.
Because I want them to know everything so that they can be healthy and loving and kind and crazy about Jesus.
Last year my topic was the power of words. So, you see how that turned out.
This year? I speak on leadership and what it means for girls to lead without fear.
And while I want to keep on talking once I’m on that stage, I’m also terrified.
Women in leadership is a terrain that is changing every day and yet, there is still a great divide between what women are capable to do and what they are allowed to do- and dare I say it is a wider gap in the church than out. So then I’m on a stage telling these young women to LEAD WITHOUT FEAR when their culture may be telling them that isn’t an option.
It feels weighty, friends. Very weighty and very important.
And a total honor to be trusted to bring this word in churches around the country.
. . . . .
Teens seem scary to so many adults. I get that. Bad stuff goes on A LOT in the world of a teenager and it is hard to imagine what it would be like to be fourteen right now with the internet and television shows and leadership opportunities- all things that we as adults didn’t have available.
But they aren’t scary. THEY NEED US. And we get to speak into their lives! It is such an honor!!
We have the benefit of teaching them how to speak love and speak life and lead without fear.
And today, at 1:05pm EST, with God’s grace and help, I’ll do just that.
. . . . .
Teenagers need to be encouraged- they need to be reminded that they are not alone and they have not be abandoned to figure out this season of their life on their own. Would you take a minute today and encourage a middle schooler, high schooler, or college student? Just a kind word goes such a long way.
Also, check and see if Girls of Grace is coming your way! I’d love for you to join us.
This is Day 19 of 31 Ways to Speak Love. You can click here to see a list of all the posts in the series.
You know those songs that just hit you the first time you hear them and you’re all HOW DID NO ONE ALREADY WRITE THIS BECAUSE IT IS PERFECT AND WONDERFUL AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO HEAR IT?!?
Right. So that’s how I feel about Wanted by Dara Maclean. [And probably Wanted by Hunter Hayes as well, but today is all about Dara so try to stay focused, people.]
Here’s the video for the song. It’s beautiful.
So Dara was on Girls of Grace last weekend in Houston and I already think she’s a pure joy as a human and friend but then when those pipes start up? Have mercy. Girl can sing. I feel very honored to share any stage with women like this who love God and people and are using their talents to make Him more known.
Right? She’s the cutest.
Here’s the exciting part. Dara’s new album Wanted released yesterday. It’s absolutely incredible- I’ve listened straight through about eight times and Intern Sarah and I can’t quit singing “you, you are wanted, you, you are wanted” randomly throughout every day.
We’re annoying ourselves to death.
On Saturday, I bought one of Dara’s CDs from her merch table [before she sold out… you can thank me later, winner] and I had her sign it for YOU. Well, one of you.
And I’m giving it away today, and I’ll toss an autographed Speak Love in there too…. mainly because I have a lot of them and it will fit in the envelope and two things are better than one and etc.
It’s an amazing album from top to bottom. You will not believe how talented this gal is.
So drop a comment below and you’ll be entered to win! Intern Sarah will pick a winner Thursday morning and put this little package in the mail to you.
[PS- have you seen the other cool thing Intern Sarah is working on? Yeah, she rulez.]
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.]
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.
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.
So one of my favorite things about Girls of Grace are the Youth Leader Luncheons.
A few months before our event in each city, a few of us get to go to the church where we will be having the Girls of Grace event and meet up with a group of youth pastors and leaders from the area. It gives us a chance to meet new friends and connect with folks we already know in town, give them the heads up about our event coming soon, and hear from them, as the people ministering to these girls day in and day, about the things their girls are struggling with.
So my friend Leigh, a big wig at our parent company Word Entertainment, and I headed to Phoenix on Monday to hang out with a bunch of youth leaders Tuesday at Grand Canyon University, one of our partners as well as the host for the event. [It’s a cool place, y’all.]
That’s me and Leigh. We like to call ourselves Thelma and Louise because we tend to act up and cause trouble everywhere we go. [Not really, we just wish we did. Does that count for anything?]
Phoenix was a blast. So many super fun youth leaders in a room together getting honest and open about student ministry and how to meet the needs of teen girls today. Loved it.
Then Leigh and I had True Food Kitchen which may seriously be one of my favorite restaurants in the nation. Their chia seed pudding with banana and coconut? Well it’ll just plain bring a tear to your dairy-free heart.
We hopped a plane to Portland, leaving 90 degrees and sunny for 50 degrees and rainy. But totally worth it. Also, the guy next to me on the flight told me every desert and mountain range and while you may think that would be a bit annoying, it was actually awesome because he showed me the Grand Canyon! I have never seen it before. It is big.
[You’re welcome for how weird that story reads. I don’t want to fix it because I think is sounds funny. Sorry.]
Leigh does such a great job explaining Girls of Grace every time, and especially to these youth leaders in Portland. And then I get up and act like a dodo bird and be silly and then be serious and talk about what God does in hearts at Girls of Grace.
We made new friends, laughed a lot, and then got a donut.
Vegan maple glazed please and thank you.
Also. ALSO. I got to see my wonderful and hilarious and practically perfect in every way friend Joy Eggerichs. And so immediately we got on the treadmill desk [I want one SO BAD] and just acted ridiculous. It’s what we do.
We made a video. I’m not gonna talk about the topic. I’m just gonna let you click if you want to see me embarrass myself for realz.
I also had a killer migraine yesterday and I don’t talk about that very much, but if you get headaches, I feel ya. The worst.
Sushi for dinner, early night to the hotel, then a 3:45am wakeup call for a 6am flight back to Nashville.
Upside? I got 4,000 words done on the next book which is awesome being that IT IS DUE ON JULY 1. [I’ll tell y’all more about that really soon… but you already know I’m scared.]
Though I did go to Phoenix and Portland for the first time in 2012, I am so excited to explore these cities more when we return for Girls of Grace this fall!
[Sorry that I did a stinker of a job blogging this week… the travel was a killa!]
Have a great holiday weekend, y’all. What’s your plans?
You know those songs that you kinda grow up with and love and they reside in a special place in your heart?
I have a few of those tucked away in my heart and when I hear them on the radio just causes an emotional reaction long before I can even prepare myself.
Such as, but not limited to, Testify to Love.
I’m gonna put a lyric video here and let you have a moment.
[Hey subscribers- there’s a video here. Click over if you can’t see it!]
Right? RIGHT? CAN I GET AN AMEN FROM MY MID-90S CHRISTIAN MUSIC LOVERS!?!
I know. It just takes you back there.
Fast forward to Girls of Grace. At one of our fall events my pal Amber says, “Man, last season when Michael used to sing Testify to Love? That was awesome.”
And then a sound like a record screeching happened [not really but imagine it] as I whipped my head towards her and said, “WHAT.”
Unbeknownst to me, my friend Michael that plays piano for Point of Grace is also the exact same Michael from the group Avalon that sings Testify to Love. [This I did not know. Obviously.]
Well. As if being around Point of Grace wasn’t enough to make 1994 Annie melt into a pile of uncool super fan, that about did it.
So I tried to play it cool, which you know I am really good at [no I’m not], and just hope that at some point during this Girls of Grace season, Michael would hear my heart cry out for a little throw back moment.
And it happened. I can’t remember which city, but I heard it from backstage and ran like my life depended on it so that I could watch it myself.
He sang Testify to Love.
It was moving times a million.
A few shows later in Dallas? He did it again.
My gracious, people.
And last week in San Antonio? The key change just plain about brought a tear to my eye. I did a horrible job filming it but I did a great job feeling it if that counts for anything. [It doesn’t.]
[Hey subscribers- there’s a video here. Click over if you can’t see it!]
I wish I’d have caught that key change on video. You’d be having a moment all over again right there on your side of the screen.
It is truly one of my favorite parts of the day. And I told him. EVERY TIME. Which just goes to prove that just because you are a speaker on a national conference tour, that DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE COOL.
In all seriousness, because you know I love a sentimental moment more than just about anybody, when Michael sang that song, it was such a full circle moment for me. Here I was, sharing the stage with these musicians that I have loved and adored from afar my whole life. I pictured little teen Annie, hanging out in her bedroom with 91.5FM playing on the radio in Atlanta, working on homework or reading a book when that song would come on. And y’all- I would sing every word like my life depended on it. Because I wanted my life to depend on those words. I wanted my life to look like that song.
For as long as I shall live
I will testify to love
I’ll be a witness in the silences
When words are not enough
With every breath I take
I will give thanks to God above
For as long as I shall live
I will testify to love
And it is still what I pray – that my life testifies to God’s love.
Also? I hope that someday I get to hear Steven Curtis Chapman sing Burn The Ships because then my life as a CCM super fan would be complete.
. . . . .
What’s your favorite 90s Christian song? Do you have one that just takes you back?
This weekend in San Antonio was our last Girls of Grace event of the season.
You know I’m an emoter, I tend to feel things LIKE REALLY FEEL THINGS, and I don’t like when things end. I spent most of Saturday feeling things- watching all the lasts, taking it all in, fighting with all my might not to cry out of pure gratefulness to be a part of such a special event.
For the thousands of y’all that have been a part of a Girls of Grace event this season, you know what I’m taking about.
The worship. Meredith Andrews has a special place in God’s heart and we all get to go there when she leads.
The bands. So cool. Such a highlight of the day to have incredible musicians singing words that challenge and encourage.
Point of Grace. Don’t even get me started. I feel like those ladies are the big sisters I never had.
And then Amber. Our fashion expert and one of my real life BFFs. It meant EVERYTHING that she was on the tour with me. Nothing felt better than that sweet part of my home life being with me on every event.
But there are people you never see that work from sun up to sun down to make sure the event is flawless. The Word staff have become some of my dearest friends and no joke, every Girls of Grace event feels like just a big family back in the green room.
I didn’t know that would happen.
I didn’t know I’d see God do so many things in so many cities in so many hearts.
On Saturday, right before I spoke, the worship team was on the stage and a few of us were standing back stage. Chris was pacing back and forth with computer in hand, Denise Jones snuggled tightly with Remy, Meredith’s new baby, and I was going over my notes. Meredith sang on stage and we could hear it….
Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power, Our God, Our God…
And I started singing quietly to myself. So did Chris. So did Denise. Meredith led us, I prepped to speak, and my friends sung around me. And it is one of those memories that I will never forget because it is exactly how I feel about Girls of Grace.
We’re just each other’s people, standing together, worshiping together, sharing Jesus together.
All season long we’ve been teaching about The Beautiful Truth. You are loved. You are valuable. You are more than a number. Your words matter. Wait for steak.
Here’s the Beautiful Truth that I have learned this season: God is more generous than I ever have known. I have felt it and seen it – over and over again – through the people and the events of Girls of Grace.
And I am so grateful. Grateful to the point of tears.
As we enter into next season, which I’m really honored to be a part of, I will never forget God’s generosity towards me in my first season with Girls of Grace.
Our God is greater.
Our God is stronger.
God, You are higher than any other.
. . . . .
Did you come to Girls of Grace this season? What did you love about the day?
It’s late on Monday night and I took a nap today so this is always how my nap-nights go. My emotions are high and I don’t want to go to bed and I just made a strawberry banana almond milkshake because all I wanted in my life today was a Coke Icee but I resisted because I don’t want to put that junk in my body anymore.
But trust me. I wanted to. I left Young Life and all my heart wanted was a Coke Icee.
But a fruit smoothie- while high in sugar – is still better for my bod than a Coke Icee. Unfortunately. 🙂 And if you care, I did one frozen banana, about five frozen strawberries, one scoop of almond milk vanilla ice cream, and about half a cup of almond milk. It was great.
Speaking of great, DALLAS, TEXAS.
Y’all, I just plain had the best time.
For starters, I spent Friday night at dinner with one of my dearest friends from college, Caren. Caren works in college ministry at SMU and she drove me around the campus and then we grabbed dinner.
I got back to my hotel room and two other Texas-livin’ besties, Marie Claire and Betsy, had arrived and were enthusiastically grateful to Zondervan and Girls of Grace for the fancy hotel room.
[Just kidding. I totally said, “Y’all jump on the bed so I can take a picture for the internet.” So, there’s the behind the scenes to being real life friends with me.]
And then Saturday was Girls of Grace and sometimes I just want to pass out because I love my job so much. As you see from the top picture, it was a full house and the girls were PUMPED to be there. It is always soooooo fun when the crowd is as excited as we are. And those Dallas gals showed up in all the best ways. And it was the first event that featured my sweet friend Jamie Grace [and her sister Morgan on the left]. The crowd loved her so much. Understandably. She’s adorbs.
Such a fun fun day. It is amazing to talk with girls who attend and listen to them and know that while I am living a normal Girls of Grace Saturday, all the girls in the audience are having a life-defining kind of day with Jesus. It’s incredible.
We have one more event for this season themed “The Beautiful Truth” in San Antonio in a couple of weeks. Then we take the summer off, and then? We start a new season and y’all, the fact that Girls of Grace is letting me be a part for the next season could just get me all emotional. I cannot wait.
But it’s coming. “Girls of Grace: Live. Love. Lead.” is about to rock 2013-2014. Here’s the preview video. [By the way, what does a new season mean for me? New speaking shirt, new talk, new merch, all very exciting.]
[Hey subscribers… there’s a video here. Click on over, yo!]
I’ve updated my speaking calendar to show you where all the Girls of Grace dates for 2013-2014 are, as well as some other pretty awesome events I get to be at in the new few months. Like Hawaii. Like Rock The Universe. Like whoa.
I still have a few weekends available in 2013 if you or your church are looking to bring in a speaker. It’s like my favorite thing- having a microphone, talking about Jesus, and hanging out with people. So contact us if you wanna bring me to your event.
How was your weekend?
I have so many reasons that I am beyond stoked about going to Dallas this weekend for Girls of Grace.
Here they are. In no particular order. Except the order in which these things are coming to my mind. So it is some particular order- I guess it is the order that my brain wants.
I’m over-explaining. Classic Annie.
Here’s the list.
1. Every weekend that we have a Girls of Grace event, I see Jesus change the hearts of young women and adult women. [That one really does deserve to be first. Random order begins with #2.]
2. After a great FREEZING weekend in Minnesota, I am looking forward to the short-sleevedness warmth of Dallas.
3. Being on the road with Girls of Grace is like traveling and goofing off with your favorite family members and then also getting to talk about Jesus.
4. For the first time eva, my sweet friend Jamie Grace will be on the GOG stage and I’m pretty sure Saturday will be full of us laughing and talking about boys and all other manner of backstage misbehavior.
5. Our worship leader Meredith Andrews just had a baby this winter and missed a few events, but she is BACK this weekend and I can’t wait to squeeze that baby. And worship. Duh.
6. We are busing to Dallas from Nashville. So yes, me and eleven of my friends will be stuck together for two 10-hour trips and that’s kinda my dream come true.
7. A handful of my sweet friends live in Dallas, so I get to see them too. Yay for business trips that include seeing your people!
8. The line-up for GOG Dallas? It’s insane. Maybe one of the best selection of artists and speakers that we have had.
9. Yes, I was just in Dallas for Blissdom. I couldn’t get enough. So I’m going back. In a bus. With my friends. Dreams coming true in 2013, people.
Any of my Texas friends wanna come? I’ve got a handful of tickets to giveaway, so all you have to do is leave a comment and let me know who you would bring and my dear intern will pick some winners until we run out of tickets!
[Also- if you live closer to San Antonio, we’ll be there in a few weeks! So hold your horses and come see us May 11th!]
I have a whopper of a weekend ahead of me.
Tonight and tomorrow night, I get to speak to a few hundred girls at Camp No Boys Allowed [hilarious] through Fellowship Bible Church here in Nashville.
Smack in the middle of Camp No Boys Allowed, GIRLS OF GRACE NASHVILLE![You know how I feel about the GOG. I LOVE it. So I am sooo excited that our spring season has started!!]
So today I’ll rehearse with Girls of Grace and go speak to the Camp No Boys Allowed.
Tomorrow I will be at Girls of Grace all day and then go speak to the Camp No Boys Allowed tomorrow night.
Then Sunday I will be a puddle of a person in the fifth row of the morning service at CrossPoint.
. . . . .
All three speaking opportunities this weekend, I’m talking about something that has become a bit of a passion for me: the power of words and how we are using them. Proverbs 18:21 in The Message version says, “Words kill; words give life.” And if we lived like that was true- that everything we say or write can give LIFE- I think we’d be so much more intentional with words.
To help grasp that, I had a friend of mine create these cool notecards that will hopefully encourage women to take a few minutes and write a note to someone they care about.
Everybody loves snail mail.
Everybody has three minutes a day to write a note.
Stamps are not super expensive.
Because I love these cards and think they are total perfection, we are selling them at events but also online! Adorably packaged, they are great to add to a gift or just use yourself to send notes.
. . . . .
PS- I’m writing today over at (in)courage. Just a little something I’ve been thinking about as I dream about summer.
. . . . . .
Are you new around these parts? Well welcome!
Hi. I’m Annie.
. . . . .
Have a great weekend! If you think of it, pray for me as I speak- that the words would be from God, that the girls would receive them, and that my energy would stay sky high!