Annie F. Downs has been encouraging readers and pointing them to Jesus for several years now. So, I came a little late to the party because I just started reading her words this past month. I read two of her books, Let's All Be Brave and her latest book Looking for Lovely, and felt so connected to her and inspired by her authentic writing. Both books happened to be very timely for me but spoke to me in different ways. And both books beautifully display Annie's story and heart in different seasons of her life.
Annie invites readers into an intimate look at her life over the past few years, particularly inviting us into the hardships, struggles, and what she calls her "broken crazy." Although I wasn't quite sure what to expect in this book, the premise intrigued me. I always love stories of honest struggle that point to God's goodness and faithfulness, and Looking for Lovely is just that.
Annie splits up Looking for Lovely into three sections.
"In the Absense of Lovely"
"In Search of Lovely"
"When I Found Lovely"
Each section allows her to dive deeper into her own story of struggle through the past few years as well as looking back through childhood to find the roots of certain issues. She graciously reveals her heart through short essays in order to help her readers see God's goodness and love in even the hardest of times. The essays are filled with entertaining humor and raw genuineness. Annie has the ability to make you laugh and cry in the same story. She courageously shares her struggles in a way that feels like you are listening to a friend.
Annie looks at one of my favorite passages of Scripture found in Romans 5. She refers to verses 3 through 5 throughout the book: "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." This idea that hope can be a product of suffering marks the book. Hope is attained through trial, and Annie's story encourages readers to see persevering through suffering and hardship and struggle and pain is worth it.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Looking for Lovely:
"Transformation and suffering came in a pair." (page ix)
Annie writes in a conversational way I find very engaging and easy to read. This isn't meant to be a deep exegetical study on hope or suffering or perseverance, so if you're looking for that you will be disappointed. But, if you're looking for something more casual and approachable with a bit of whimsy in a story sharing format, this will offer you real encouragement founded on Biblical truths.
Looking for Lovely reveals Annie's personal journey towards healing and hope. It will leave you inspired and ready to search for the good, the beautiful, the lovely in the times of suffering and struggle and sorrow. It will help you fix your eyes on Jesus as you walk through hardships and trust His goodness and faithfulness and perfect love.
And you can buy the book here!
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*Disclaimer: I was given this book by the publisher for an honest review.*
Sarah loves Jesus and her family and is passionate about addressing the urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. She is the wife of Spencer and mama of Katherine and Claire, and they live in Nashville, TN. She runs a photography business with her husband and writes in order to offer encouragement and invite others to choose grace, joy, and gratitude in the adventure and the mundane. She loves traveling and reading; she will choose unsweet tea over sweet and bootcut jeans over skinny; and she is all sorts of awkward with small talk but thrives with deep conversations.