As a general rule, it takes me a little while to feel like I can really be myself around people. I don’t think it’s because I’m cynical or distrusting; I think it has more to do with my inner introvert, the part of me that wants to run and hide when I’m in any sort of unfamiliar social situation. My inner introvert makes things like big gatherings with people I don’t know very well a real kick and a half, mainly because no matter how much I try to commit to embracing my surroundings, at some point that inner introvert sneaks up behind me, taps my shoulder, and oh-so-cautiously whispers, Hey. You know what would be more fun than all of this small talk? A “FLIPPING OUT” MARATHON ON BRAVO.
About five years ago I was at a bloggy meet-and-greet at a conference in Charlotte, and one of the first people I met that day was Annie Downs. I loved her instantly, and for whatever reason I knew from the get-go that if I felt tempted to leave the festivities and watch a Flipping Out marathon, I should totally take her with me. We ended up staying at the meet and greet and then talking for the better part of two days. I’m so grateful that my extrovert told my introvert to HUSH IT that day.
Annie moved to Nashville not too long after we first met in Charlotte, and I can honestly say that watching her chase her dream of being a published author – and seeing God at work in the middle of that – has been nothing short of inspiring. This past New Year’s we met for breakfast when I was in Nashville with my family, and just hearing about what the Lord was doing in Annie’s life made me teary-eyed. She had recently signed with Zondervan, and her perspective – as well as her obedience – encouraged me like crazy.
Annie’s book, Perfectly Unique: Praising God from Head to Foot, releases today, and it is an incredible resource for teenage girls who are trying to figure out what it means to serve God with every part of their being. I’m so thrilled for Annie, and I’m just as thrilled for the girls who are going to read her book. Annie has the unique ability to communicate with teenage girls in a way that’s utterly relatable and engaging, and her transparency in doing that is contagious.
I could try to find some flowery way to say it, but the bottom line is that Angie Smith is pretty much one of my favorite people on earth. She is deeply – DEEPLY – hilarious, and she writes so beautifully that sometimes I re-read her sentences three or four times just because they’re so stinkin’ purty. More than anything, I admire Angie so much for the way she pours into her family, for the way she cares for her community, for the way she serves with genuine humility in the places and spaces where God has called her.
She is the real dadgum deal.
Angie’s third book released this past Saturday, and it’s called Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole. If you’ve been reading Angie’s blog for awhile, you’ll recognize the broken pitcher on the cover – and once you open that cover, you’ll find stories that remind you that “there is no one God can’t use and no one whose brokenness is too broken for God.” I think there are probably lots of us who can relate to the words that follow: “We know this is true for our friends when we want to encourage them. Yet, when it comes to the places of our innermost sense of shame and regret, we often wonder if it is really true that God can work all things together for good for those who love Him.”
Just a couple of weeks ago someone told me about how sweet Emily Freeman‘s last book, Grace for the Good Girl, had impacted her heart and her life. Emily’s humility and her gentleness shine through in everything she writes, and that’s precisely why I enjoy reading her words so much. She’s calm and thoughtful and present and discerning, and sometimes I’m tempted to stockpile her blog posts and save them for a day when I’m stressed out and need some perspective.
I’m so happy that Emily has written a new book, Graceful: Letting Go of Your Try-Hard Life, that’s especially for young women. Specifically, it’s written to help young women know what it takes “to be free on the inside, no matter what’s going on outside. Through an honest look at the roles girls play, [Emily] helps them learn to stop trying and start trusting that the Jesus who came to save them also comes to live with them, right here and now.”
So that’s the big news around here: three sweet friends and three great books on a mighty fine Tuesday. I’ll be back tomorrow with tales of Bulldogs and humidity and how my hair applied for statehood status as the result of the humidity.
It was a very special time.
See y’all tomorrow!