Several months ago, I got a copy of Annie Downs’ book Looking for Lovely. I was instantly drawn to the title because I have often written to y’all about how I feel like God sends me love letters through small moments in my day–something one of my kids says or something that the Holy Spirit helps me to see or notice. Something that causes me to whisper to God, “I saw what you did there.” This idea is, in part, what Annie’s book helps you do.
Each chapter is a small snippet of life, almost like a series of mini-memoirs, and in each recollection of a day in her past, you can see where she learned, little by little, to stop and notice what God is doing around her.
In the first section of the book, entitled “The Absence of Lovely,” Annie tells stories of how she grew insecure as a preteen about her appearance, and how, even though she loved God, she hated herself. Annie has a great, readable writing style, and her personality shines through as she tells her tales with lots of self-deprecating humor, tempered with an acknowledgement that she is loved and known by the God of the universe. She has moments of raw honesty, like when she admits that she realized she has a tendency to be a quitter and when she talks about struggles related to her weight. But, the heart of the pain that she experienced through her high school and college years was really about how she couldn’t see any beauty in herself, not on the outside or on the inside. And, she didn’t see how she could be “good enough” for God. Thus, she started a journey (with the help of a counselor) to look for the lovely, both in herself and in the world and people around her.
In the second section of the book, called “In Search of Lovely,” Annie tells a series of stories about the overwhelming goodness of God, as she discovered it both through His word and through the small moments of beauty around her. At the end of each chapter, she includes an assignment that will help you look for the lovely around you. She encourages you to wake up early to watch a sunrise, go to a concert, really open up to a friend, buy a watermelon and eat it, and other things that can help you pause for a moment and appreciate the good in your life, the little gifts that God gives.
The final section is small, and is called “When I Found Lovely.” Here Annie talks about how she finally learned to love herself as God loves her, even though she isn’t “finished” or perfect. The book ends with such a sense of hope and purpose and reliance on God.
I enjoyed Annie’s book. I felt like some of the things she talked about are things that I did struggle with in the past, in my younger days, but as a mom of three, married seventeen years, it didn’t hit me right where I am at the moment. But, the whole time I was reading, young women that I know kept coming to mind, and I just kept thinking about how much this book would minister to them. I recommend the book for older high school, college, and young career-aged women. If you have a daughter or granddaughter or friend who is struggling to grow into who they are in Christ, I think they would get a lot out of this book. Go here and buy it for them! Help them to remember that God is in the every day, and that He sees beauty in them.
This is a sponsored post. I was provided with a copy of Annie’s book in exchange for my honest review.