Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Avalanche Mode and Looking for Lovely

I sent an email to my writer’s group a while ago, which began like this, “At our house, we have passed overcommitted mode and are now in avalanche mode, trying to dig out from so many obligations.” I needed to tweak our meeting dates to accommodate my dilemma.

This avalanche mode has also forced me to compartmentalize a bit. I just look at my calendar and try to show up where I'm supposed to be. That’s why when I attended the yearly fundraising dinner for the Wesley Foundation at the University of Georgia, a student ministry where I’ve been a board member, somehow I didn’t know who was speaking until the director announced that the author Annie Downs was in the house. I had seen her name recently as a speaker in the program at the Catalyst conference where I volunteer as well as several other places. And hadn’t I seen her guest post on Ann Voskamp’s blog?

I grabbed my program and saw that she was indeed speaking, and not only that, but she was an alumna of the ministry.

How had I missed this? Had this information gotten lost in my hard drive somewhere?

And the years she was there, they were the same years we had student interns from the ministry live with us. So, chances are our paths might have intersected. As she spoke, she mentioned another church (not ours) she attended where she taught Sunday school. So, I thought, well maybe not. Maybe I didn’t know her, but just to make sure I approached her after the program.

Her back was to me, and when she turned around, her eyes brightened, “Varnado,” she said. She knew me without me having to tell her who I was. Young memories. So great.

As we talked, I found we definitely had connections all those years ago, and it was good to renew them.

Annie has written for teen girls, but her last two books have been for adults so I bought her just released, Looking for Lovely.

The back cover copy says Annie “shares personal stories, biblical truth, and examples of how others have courageously walked the path God paved for their lives by remembering all God had done, loving what was right in front of them, and seeing God in the everyday―whether that be nature, friends, or the face they see in the mirror.”

Even though I am probably old enough to be her mother, I love her transparent, conversational delivery as she talks about what she calls her “broken crazy” and how God has brought healing to her life so often through seeking out beauty. I had my own version of “broken crazy” to deal with in the form of posttraumatic stress, so I appreciate her not holding back so the rest of us can relate. And I, too, found wonder and beauty helped bring healing in my own journey.
I could see the value in her writing for so many young (and older) women today who struggle with loving themselves as they are rather than some future perfect version of themselves. I love the hope she leaves us in Looking for Lovely.
Seeing Annie Downs again was one of the best surprises I’ve had lately.

And her message of looking for the lovely was something I especially needed to hear even and especially while in avalanche mode.

God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded, But their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere (Psalm 19:1-3).


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