psst—the Justice plan begins tomorrow!
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Today I want to introduce you to my friend Annie.
I’m blessed to have a few Annies in my life, so to avoid confusion, my kids like to call this particular Annie by her full name: “Annie Who Lets Us Jump On Her.” Whenever she appears at our door, they go absolutely nuts—running around the dining room table at full speed, then taking turns vaulting themselves into her lap. (She’s left my house with bruises before, people. True story.) If the official title doesn’t give it away, Annie Downs is one of the most joy-filled, life-loving people I know. She is silly and sincere, honest and hilarious, hard working and kind. She’s also one heckuva writer.
Annie’s first two books — Perfectly Unique and Speak Love — are must-reads for teenage girls and the parents, friends and mentors who love them. (Seriously, if you have a teenage daughter, buy her these books.) Last week Annie released Let’s All Be Brave, a book written for us grownups — young and old, men and women, you and me.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit my bias (I love this girl, I really do), but believe me when I tell you — this book is a life-changer.
Let’s All Be Brave will inspire you.
It will challenge you.
It will expose those dreams hidden deep in your heart and shine light on the truths that darkness tries to hide.
It will make you want to live life with the fearless joy of a running, jumping, wrestling four-year-old.
This book will give you gumption that’s rooted in the gospel.
I know this because that’s what it does for me.
I truly believe the message of this book was planted in my friend’s heart by God himself. Watch this short trailer, and you’ll see what I mean.
I snagged a little of Annie’s time during release week to ask her four questions about Let’s All Be Brave. Take a moment to read her answers, and let me know which resonates with you most.
Annie, early on in your book you say, “To see yourself the way God sees you is the first step in being brave.” Can you you help us understand how reading truth makes us brave?
It’s not just reading the truth that makes us brave, it’s BELIEVING it. When you choose to ignore the easy messages that are fed into our minds (you can’t, you won’t, you shouldn’t, you aren’t, etc.) and you believe that God made you on purpose? That is a brave choice. It’s hard to stand up for truth when the world is full of lies.
You talk a lot in the book about how we can make others brave simply by speaking truth and love into their lives. “Your words are changing the atmosphere” (page 98). I love that image! Can you share with us an example of one simple sentence spoken to you that helped make you brave?
Last spring, when I was writing this book, I remember sitting across the table from my intern Connor. He’s like a little brother to me, and he watched, day in and day out, as I struggled to put the stories to paper. On a Monday, we sat down in my office and I, with tears in my eyes already, said, “I don’t think I can write this book.” Connor looked at me and said, “You can write this book. You will write this book. You are brave enough to write this book.” And the atmosphere changed. The despair lifted and I felt stronger. I’ll never forget it.
Annie, the “Hold On” and “Let Go” chapters really got me. They’re just so vulnerable and good. You share a little in the book about your experience as a single thirty-something — that tough balance between hope and trust when it comes to the story God is writing with your life. I was struck by the honesty in this line: “This book isn’t about me being single, but if you think it’s been easy to hold on to hope as I’ve watched my friends pass me in life phases over and over again, oh, friend. Not so much.” As a community where nearly half of our readers are single women, I’m certain so many of us can relate to this. What brave word would you encourage our single readers with today, or any of us who are holding on to hope today?
I think it’s important to remember that there is no shame in being full of hope. There are times when we feel shame for hoping- for believing that God could do something and move in an area of our lives that we haven’t seen movement in so far. We feel the shame because we think we should just quit hoping and let our dreams die. But the brave ones doesn’t stop hoping. It takes guts to hope in the face of disappointment. It takes guts to hope until doors close and THEN go face to face with God about hope unfulfilled. It’s easy to give up. Don’t do it. Hold on to hope.
I adored the story of your grandmother and the spunk and bravery she showed in her life. (Before reading your book, I’d never considered prayer as being an act of courage; but it does involve a sort of death to self-promotion and desires, doesn’t it?) Just like your Grandmother Ruth, there are so many ways we can be brave right where we are. Can you leave us a practical word of advice on how to be brave today, right here and now?
It’s closer than you think. (I started to say “easier,” but by definition, I think if it calls you to be brave, it probably isn’t exactly easy.) Do the next thing that steps you towards your dream. Send an email. Make a call. Write a card. Post a blog. Write a check. Get out of bed. Whatever it is. Remember that God made you unique, so your call to courage is that unique today. Ask God what it is- listen to Him and do the thing. You are brave. Believe it.