Apparently I am terrible at it.
Y’all. I am so sorry.
One post a month is such a bummer and a let down and I MISS YOU.
So hiiiiiiiii. I’m heeeeeeeere. I promiiiiiiiiiise.
And while I can’t tell you about the new book yet really, I can do things that hint at the things and okay moving on. 😉
What I’m still managing to do on a regular basis is instagram, for better or for worse.
And also complete shows on Netflix, meaning I FINALLY watched the last episodes of Friday Night Lights. I have thoughts. But they are still coming together.
. . . . .
Have you been keeping up with any 31 Dayers this month? I love how many people do the 31 day challenge. I’ve done it most years, but clearly, I went for October’s one day challenge. WHOOPS I AM STILL SORRY.
In 2012, I asked all my friends to help me come up with 31 Jokes. Because I love to laugh.
In 2014, I did maybe my favorite list EVER- 31 Books Every Young Woman Needs.
In 2015, I wrote a book. So. There’s that.
. . . . .
But man I’ve been thinking about my blog and you friends so much the last week or so. I so miss hopping on here a few times a week and catching up with you and telling you what kind of shenanigans I have found myself in.
But the book is done (draft 1 at least), my new assistant is sitting beside me handling all the things I am not so great at (which is more than I want to admit), and it’s a rainy Monday in Nashville so obviously, it was time to write.
. . . . .
At the end of each month, my good friend and favorite author Emily P. Freeman gives her reader friends a chance to write about all the things they learned that month. I figured this was a great month for me to play along because I’ve been so MIA in August, just holed up writing a book, and meanwhile there are some things I learned. (Also. Read to the end to see when I’m coming back to the internet and why. 🙂 )
Here are five things I learned in August (and one announcement):
This is why I cannot live in New York. My budget won’t support it. I would spend money to see a Broadway show every day. Or see Matthew Morrison every day.
I spent a week in New York this month to work on the book I’m writing and I got to see Finding Neverland with my friend Jonathan.
Y’all. Matthew Morrison, formerly known as Mr. Schuester from Glee, is so good. The whole cast is, but he REALLY is. (I tried to find a video for you, but none that are posted really do justice to his vocal and acting skills.)
And if you’ve seen the Finding Neverland movie, then you know how it ends, so you can understand why Jonathan and I were just an absolute puddle of tears (like. seriously. REALLY CRYING.) for the last 30 minutes of the show.
You’re welcome. It works. I’ve had a few coke icees this summer and so I got to test the theory myself. Success.
You can start with the first one if you want to get an idea of what it’s all about, but #5 is my very favorite so far.
I just like to make sure you know these things.
RIGHT? Are you drooling or what? I know. If you need a new perfectly sized cross-body bag or an adorable wallet, and you want to partner with a company that is helping women across the globe, you can get 10% off if you use this link.
As you probably know from earlier this month, I haven’t been on social media much at all this month. There have been a few updates, but mostly I’ve stayed away. In fact, I haven’t had twitter, Facebook, or instagram on my phone for weeks now.
And I feel like a different person. No kidding.
I may know less about what is going on in my friends’ lives, but I’m reading more and praying more and sleeping more and definitely writing more. Meanwhile, I’m comparing myself to others less, I’m obsessively scrolling less, I’m wasting less time, and I’m just all around a better version of me.
Don’t worry. I’m not quitting the world of social media. Because I love the friendships I have thanks to the internet. And I will bring it back to my life, but not yet. At least, not fully. The book I am writing is due on October 1, so until it is finished, my phone will remain social media free and I will remain a bit quieter than what you’ve grown to know.
Starting tomorrow? I’m be back in action for the first week of September because….
WHAT. YES. SERIOUSLY. TOMORROW.
I’m getting to travel with The Israel Collective to see the Holy Land and hear from people involved in the peace making and I am about to jump out of my skin I am so excited.
If you want to keep up with the trip, make sure you are following me…
You can keep up with all the posts from the folks I’m traveling with by following the #israelcollective hashtag.
Tell me about it! Leave a comment below or leave a link to your blog post where you shared your list of things you learned!
I think I had a really unique experience growing up. As in, some of the friends that I was in church choir with when we were four years old are still important people in my life, thirty years later. It’s just kind of the way of my hometown. It’s not that it’s super small, it’s just that you know almost everyone and everyone is connected. Marietta is big enough that everyone isn’t your friend, but small enough that everyone knows the gossip (can I get an amen, Marietta folks?).
As I grew up through my teen years, my church youth group friends were the dearest ones to me. And in the most interesting way, many of us ending up together in Athens as students at the University of Georgia. Isn’t that amazing? There are probably fifteen to twenty of us that traveled life together, walking side by side, for over a decade. Our friendships were real, we knew each other’s families well, we rode home together from school, we studied at Waffle House all night long, we worshipped alongside each other- as elementary kids, at youth group on Sunday nights, as college students at UGA’s Wesley Foundation.
(I’d like to thank my parents, all of our parents, for raising us like this. I didn’t know how valuable it was at the time. But I see it now.)
That crew included two dear friends who grew up down the street from me, Reid and Stacy, a brother and sister combo that were just one grade apart. They were constants in my life- whether we saw each other every day or once a week, they were always an extension of home. I have loved that family my whole life.
I remember when Reid brought Kyra around. I remember thinking how incredibly sweet she was, how genuine her smile, how much I hoped he would marry her. I thought, “this girl is so nice, she is NEVER going to like me, I am WAY too loud for her.” But she did, happily proving me wrong :), and we sat in Bible study together for a year or two. And though it has been a decade, I can quickly call to mind watching her face across the room when she talked about Jesus. It was a face of peace. I felt calmer when I was around her. She believed Him, I could tell. She believed what God said and she rested in that. I liked her a lot. (And Reid did marry her. Good call.)
While I’ve been in Nashville, they’ve been serving as missionaries to Italy with IMB.
Last week, Kyra was killed in the most unbelievable car accident. Reid and their daughters survived.
And her funeral is today.
(Update: Here is the link to Kyra’s funeral. It is such a beautiful service. Please use an hour of your day to watch it.)
And all I’ve been thinking for the last few days, since we learned of the tragedy, is how I wish we could all go back to college, for just a day or two. Our group expanded there, and we had a large community of friends that loved Jesus and loved each other and was pretty dang fun. I feel my soul longing for the simplicity of that life and for all of us to be together. I just keep wanting us to all be cheering at a football game or sitting at Wesley on a Wednesday night or hanging at the intramural fields, shooting the breeze. It was a time when it felt like our worries revolved around dinner plans and homework.
Those aren’t our biggest worries today. Those aren’t the worries of heartbroken people.
Maybe I don’t actually long for college, maybe I’m longing for heaven. Maybe what I want is what Kyra now has- peace, freedom, no more pain or worry or weeping that lasts all night. And Jesus in her sights. Maybe God is giving me a glimpse of what I’m longing for next. Maybe heaven is the simplicity of a worry-free college night in August. Maybe heaven is all my friends who have known me for years being in the same place again, and we don’t run out of time or things to talk about or chicken fingers from Guthrie’s on Baxter Avenue.
I don’t know what heaven is like, all I know is this isn’t heaven.
But I’ll tell you, we are not a people without hope. We have Jesus. We have each other. Distance isn’t a thing when lifelong friendship is. So while our tribe now spans across the globe, from Prague to Omaha and many spots in between, our hearts are together in one place- with Reid, for Reid, and our faith is in a God who promises that at the end of this story, there are no more tears.
. . . . .
Dear friends, as you think of this family, of Reid and his girls, of Kyra’s parents and sisters, please pray. And if you feel led to donate towards their mission work and family, you can do so here.
. . . . .
I haven’t blogged in a month.
I’m so sorry, y’all.
If you were around these parts for the writing phase of Let’s All Be Brave in 2013, you probably haven’t been all that surprised. When I’m writing, I’m quieter here. I don’t mean to be, I just run out of words by the end of the work day.
(By the way, the Let’s All Be Brave ebook is only $2.99! So if you haven’t gotten it yet, this is your time, people.)
So yes. I’m writing. Yes, a book.
I will tell you more about what I’m working on suuuuuuper soon. I promise! As soon as I’m allowed to spill the beans, SPILL THE BEANS I SHALL.
Also. Here’s another real truth. There’s a lot going on in our world that I just don’t know how to put words around. And as I watch people on the internet say a lot of things very quickly, I find myself saying very little because it only takes one little viral incident (or when you have a blog post that will not quit being shared) to teach a blogger to keep her mouth shut unless she is SURE she wants a million people to read her thoughts. 🙂 And in some of what’s going on right now, I just need to think and process and pray a little more before I speak.
It’s this new thing I’m trying. Thinking before I speak. I’ll let you know how it goes. 🙂
Here’s what I will tell you. My pastor Pete Wilson used a verse last week that I can’t get out of my head.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
So I’m trying to filter all the things through
1) What do I believe about God?
2) How do I express that faith through love?
3) What does that actually look like in my life?
I hope that verse will mean something to you today. It’s been messing with me the last two and half weeks, in the right kind of ways. And when I think about writing and blogging and what’s going on with our world and what I want to say, I just keep thinking about what it looks like for love to be expressed because of my faith.
Paul says it’s the only thing that counts. I think he may be right.
. . . . .
I mean. Have you ever read a more jumbled what in the world blog post in your life?!? I know. I’m so sorry. But I wanted to say hi and let you know all is well I am alive I’m just a little quiet and writing and thinking and learning and summer.
Hope you are well too.
That is legitimately my favorite song on the planet. It makes me tear up every time I hear it. I don’t really know why, but it does.
It is not, however, my karaoke song of choice. That is “Islands in the Stream.” Obviously. Because Dolly Parton has a sweet place in my heart. Have I ever told you the story of being in a carseat (so maybe I was three or four?) and singing “Workin’ 9 to 5” outloud while listening to it in my headphones. I didn’t realize everyone couldn’t hear it, so I was just belting it.
Anyways. All that to say.
I just called to say I Love You is my way of saying I AM HERE AND YOU ARE THERE AND I AM SO SORRY I HAVEN’T BLOGGED THIS WEEK.
About twice a year, I get a two week stretch that is so stressful to me and my calendar is so jam packed that it kinda makes me feel like passing out and eating all the chocolate in the world and staying in my bed all at the same time. But I don’t get to do any of that, I just get to keep writing and attempting to meet deadlines and traveling and speaking and WORKING ON MY NEXT BOOK SQUEAL! and making videos and the like.
I’m in the smack middle of that.
(And yes. Soon I will tell you about the next book because I’m gonna need your help and want your input.)
I have 30 minutes free this afternoon, so I thought I’d catch up with you a bit, in bullet form fashion.
–> I’m addicted to this Harney & Sons Paris Tea right now. Like. ADDICTED.
–> Like many of you, I have been enjoying watching an episode or six of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. Tina Fey’s comedy writing style is so so funny to me, and this series is fascinating and hilarious. It’s relatively clean, which I appreciate, and I laugh out loud every episode at some point. It is 30Rock-esque, if you enjoyed that. There is a great article by Elizabeth Esther on the show. I’d highly suggest reading it.
–> Y’all. I have had TWO pretty major allergic reactions to milk in the last week. For starters, a soup I was given, that I was PROMISED was dairy-free, was actually cream-based. (Which is why I kept saying, “Are y’all sure this is dairy free? It’s white. Wow. Amazing. Delicious!”) Yes, the restaurant apologized and yes I got a gift card and yes I survived, so huzzah. But then the second one is all on me because I used WHEY protein powder in a smoothie. Whey? Like curds and whey? Like milk? Yes, Annie. Milk. My entire head gets itchy and I get a migraine and it’s horrible. So. There’s that.
–> I cannot quit the Bethel Church podcasts. If you are looking for a good sermon to add to your weekly commute or walk around the neighborhood, I’d suggest this.
–> I’ve always been a soccer fan. You probably know that. But I’ve finally gotten on board with an EPL team this season and man do I love Liverpool FC. I have friends trying to get me to switch for next season, but for now? GO REDS.
So there’s a quick Annie update.
. . . . .
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.
But here is what you need to know.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
. . . . .
. . . . .
Sorry for my absence.
It’s World Cup time, which is by far my very favorite
holiday sporting event. In fact, probably the reason I’m actually remembering to blog today is because there are no games. 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just plunked in front of my television all day every day, but ESPN is on in the background as I get my daily work done. To be fair, I’m doing as little work as possible so that I can watch as much soccer as possible.
I’ve already made a note to myself to prepare accordingly and take June off completely from work in 2018. It’s better that way.
And if this doesn’t give you goosebumps and make you ready to cheer for the US of A on Tuesday (at 3:30pm EDT, so go ahead and clear your schedule because I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN), I’m concerned about your patriotism. 🙂
Speaking of amazing, forgive me for screaming on your computer screen, but VANDERBILT BASEBALL WON THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!
I can’t even. I cried. I yelled. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. And because you know me, you will appreciate what happens at the 1:00 mark of this video. I get very nervous, y’all. VERY. NERVOUS.
But we won. And these boys will forever be the first team to win a men’s national championship at Vanderbilt.
And oh my gracious did you see that Brian Miller proposed to my intern Megan Bonds ON THE FIELD after they won!?!? It was adorable and made me teary and happy and cheery and all of the above at the same time.
Because I need to have a productive day instead of crying the day away, I can’t get into telling you how much some of those boys have grown to mean to me and how when they leave this week for far off cities where they have been drafted I will become just a messy puddle of tears because I will miss them far more than they will miss me and it is always hard to love people that you know aren’t in your town to stay. (In my life to stay? Yes. In my town? Unfortunately not.)
(I run-on sentence when I emote. Forgive me.)
So the joy of them winning is only tainted a tiny bit by the truth that the season has ended and they now leave Nashville.
But overall, SO MUCH EXCITEMENT.
Earlier this week, a friend texted and said, “this is kind of your dream sports week, huh?” and BOY WAS HE RIGHT.
To make something not visibly spiritual into something overly spiritual, I experience God in sports. I know that may sound crazy, but I do. I find such joy and release and heart feels when I’m watching (or playing) sports. Maybe it’s the competition or the cheering or the athletic abilities on display, I don’t know. I just know that I feel like a good version of me when I get to watch sports I love and cheer for teams I love. So it has honestly felt like quite a gift from the Lord to have such fun sporting events to watch and care about these last few weeks as the World Cup began and the Vandy boys headed out to Omaha to attempt to bring home a trophy proving they are what I already knew- the best.
Here are my hopes for the World Cup:
I hope the USA keeps playing well and, beyond reason, I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN.
I am also cheering for:
But again- my truest heart lies with the USMNT… even if Michael Bradley doesn’t seem quite on his game and Jozy Altidore is injured, Tim Howard is a BEAST and Clint Dempsey plays to win every time he steps on the pitch.
Those are my thoughts. Your turn!
Do you have a favorite player or team for the World Cup?
Did you watch Vandy win it all on Wednesday night?
In a surprising turn of events (seriously), I’m in Hawaii.
This weekend, Bloom Conference is happening again. Twice as many girls, twice as much work, a billion times the excitement. I’m such a huge fan of this place and the people and this conference.
But I wasn’t planning on coming. I’m not speaking this year and I have a pretty packed schedule and oh yeah Let’s All Be Brave releases in three weeks.
Then, two weeks ago, Tiffany’s dad, Uncle Charlie, passed away suddenly from a heart attack.
And I knew I had to be here. To hug her. To help her. To support what God is doing in this place and in these girls through Tiff’s obedience and planning. I just plain wanted to be here. (One of the times when being single is kinda awesome because it didn’t mess up anyone else’s schedule for me to make a last minute decision like this! Booyah.)
So I got on a plane Thursday morning and here I am. Right here, beside Tiff. And y’all? She is doing so good. She’s honest about the pain but joyful in the Lord and peaceful and hurting and still absolutely lovely to be around. It’s amazing and she’s amazing and God is amazing, even in our deepest moments of pain and highest moments of joy.
The conference is Friday and Saturday and I’m back on a plane to Nashville early Sunday.
But I made a promise to myself this summer – I wrote about it here – that I won’t be ruled by tasks, but by love. And thanks to some Delta points collected by myself and (mostly) my parents, and the shuffling of some calendar things, I’m able to be here.
As Shauna Niequist says, “more love. less hustle.”
Yes and amen.
Would you please pray for this weekend? For Tiffany and her family as they grieve the loss of Uncle Charlie while also hosting a Kingdom-expanding teen girl conference? Pray that God would move through every aspect of the weekend and that lives would be changed for His glory. Pray for laughter and joy amidst grief. And pray, like it says in Proverbs 31, that each woman in attendance, young and old, would be “clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”
If you have a message for Tiffany, condolences or prayers for this weekend or virtual hugs or whatever, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will be sure she sees each one.
I’m just trying to take deep breaths and not forget my passport on Monday.
Across all forms of communication in my life, there are lists. My phone. Pieces of paper. My brain. Lists lists lists.
On every list?
DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSPORT.
(Seriously. If you have my phone number, will you please text me on Monday morning to make sure I don’t forget my passport? Or tweet me? Or email me? Just remind me.)
Also, I have four packages to mail this morning, including my friend Connor’s birthday gift HIS BIRTHDAY WAS IN MID-APRIL. Embarrassing.
This afternoon I fly to Spring, Texas for a fun event Saturday morning, so while I’m packing for Africa (PASSPORT!), I’m also prepping to speak to a few hundred moms and daughters about the tiny things we can do to speak into each other’s lives and identities. And I’m preparing to eat some amazing BBQ and Mexican food because TEXAS.
Okay, some other Friday-list-worthy items:
1. My sweet friend Meg and her family are adopting domestically. I can’t tell you how much I respect Meg’s parents and her brothers are two of my favorite people and well I just haven’t met a family member of hers that I don’t adore. And to see them rally together to raise support for this adoption is amazing. You can read all about it here and donate if you feel so led. Also, as part of this organization, each family also partners with a widow and tomorrow, the Holland family and other volunteers will be doing home repairs for a widow in our community. I think that’s amazing.
2. I hope you got to see the pictures from last Thursday night when I got to interview the stars of The Fault In Our Stars. I’ve working through the video content now to make a good recap video and hopefully I’ll be able to post more about it on Monday before I leave for Kenya (PASSPORT!). And I have some thoughts on the movie and some thoughts on meeting someone you feel like you know from the internet and so on and so forth. I just didn’t want you to think I had forgotten about telling you. I promise. I haven’t.
3. I have got some great new music to tell you about.
–> 3a. Old Flames by Matt Wertz : Gracious I love this guy. And I love his tunes. This album is honestly one of my favorites he’s released in a while. My personal favorite is Whenever You Love Somebody. Sigh. It’s a good one.
–> 3b. All Sons & Daughters : Just buy it and crank it up in your house while you are getting ready in the morning and then try to tell me that you didn’t feel Jesus in a deeper way that day.
–> 3c. Tennessee Born EP by The American Sons : Okay, so rock music is fun but not your normal thing? Let me suggest you giving this record a spin. One of my first friends in Nashville, who is still very dear to me, is the mind and talent and heart behind this band. I’m so proud of him I could just tear up over it. (And I have. Don’t you worry.) And the music is good. But because I know rock music may not be your jam (literally), you can download it for free at NoiseTrade and THEN buy it once you love it.
Speaking of NoiseTrade….
4. Just a reminder that you can get the first two chapters of my new release Let’s All Be Brave for free from Noisetrade as well! The book releases on July 29, but you could go ahead and pre-order it if you want. Your call. 🙂
5. Don’t forget to check out the #KenyaMocha hashtag – on instagram and twitter – as we head over to see New Dawn High School in Nairobi. (I know. PASSPORT!)
Happy weekend, y’all!
Sometimes I just wish you could come over.
Maybe I’m a lunatic, but when I type on this side of the screen, it often feels like I’m writing a letter to a friend. I think about you and think about what I want you to know and the funny stories I want to tell you and the things I want to talk about and ask you about.
Blogs can be limiting at times.
In real life, we wouldn’t talk about one topic per day. We’d talk about all sorts of things. We’d sit on my front porch drinking fruit tea (because I’m determined to learn how to make it like Baja Burrito) and conversation would flow back and forth.
I’d ask you your thoughts on Sabbath, and how we are supposed to rest when there is so much work to be done and when there are budgets to be met and when work is always there. There are always words to be written and deadlines to meet and yet, rest? How? If all I have to do is come to Him and I will find rest, why hasn’t it happened yet?
I’d tell you all about Girls of Grace ending for the season on Saturday, a great day in Grand Rapids, but how sad it is to me when anything ends and how much I am going to miss seeing my friends on a regular basis and riding for hours, down interstates I do not know, in a bus full of wonderful people as we play heads-up and laugh until it hurts.
And how much I’ll miss the ministry that Girls of Grace does and the family that we are.
I’d tell you how Pete Wilson at CrossPoint is so nailing it with the sermon series right now and we’d talk about David and Goliath and what it means to tend your sheep even after you’ve been anointed king. And we’d talk about the giants we see in our lives and how to focus on God more than the obstacles. And then you’d know, because you are seeing my face, that the giants have felt huge lately. And I’d know, by seeing your face, that the giants in your life aren’t going away yet either.
Next, I’d make sure you had read The Fault In Our Stars and because you are on my porch in Nashville, I’d say, “I mean, you’re gonna be there Thursday night, right? When we may get to meet John Green at the fan event.”
I think that dude is awesome because he is one of my favorite authors and an incredible advocate for, and a voice to, teens. Also? I’ve been a huge fan of his youtube channel since 2007. (Uh oh, my nerdiness is showing. Not ashamed. 🙂 )
But I’m scared if I meet him, I might:
And then you and I would talk about who else we respect enough that it could cause us to act like a total yahoo.
Next, I’d ask you who you would pay $250 per ticket to see in concert, in any venue of your choice. Like, what is your DREAM CONCERT. Because this is a game me and my friends play all the time and it feels right on the front porch today with fruit tea.
So what’s your answer? If you had $250 to spend on a ticket to a concert, what band would you want to see and where would the concert happen?
(I’ll put my answer in the comments today too.)
(Also. Reba would also make me act like a yahoo. For the record.)
(Double also. Thanks for coming over today. <3)