Well, it's that time again! ...That time where I remember that I promised to share the best of what I'm reading and listening to lately! First up is the reason for the title of this post. Annie F. Downs is such an enjoyable writer, and every time I read her books I feel refreshed and relaxed--exactly what I need in this stage of life with tiny loud people running everywhere. Her latest book, Looking For Lovely, is on perseverance, overcoming the shame and fear that can sabotage our lives, and discovering beauty in the midst of the every day: the mundane and the hard. It weaves back and forth between personal stories and little practical "assignments" for awakening to the "lovely" in your life.
My very favorite thing about this book is the honesty and transparency with which it is written. Vulnerability is hard. No, make that very hard. It takes guts to put your story out there, all the deep fears and deep pain, and to allow others a window into the junk inside that you've dealt with. But Annie gives us the gift of her very personal story so that 1) we know we're not alone, 2) we can learn from her lessons how to find the beauty amidst our own struggles, and 3) we can find the hope we need to persevere through any trial we face. This book is really for anyone who has experienced pain, self-doubt, or the lies that shame feeds us--so yeah, that's pretty much all of us. It will comfort, encourage, and challenge you.
Next up is what I've been listening to (besides the Zootopia soundtrack, of course--thanks to my girls, I now have Shakira's voice playing in my head 24/7). Youth Revival by Hillsong Young & Free has been my go-to when my kids aren't the ones choosing. Although actually, my kids really like to dance to the first few songs, so, win-win. "To My Knees" is my favorite song.
Also, I'm late to the party on this, but can I get a GLORY HALLELUJAH for Chris Stapleton?! I'm from Appalachia and I'm not ashamed of it. I grew up listening to country music. And I mean REAL country music. Not whatever it is they mostly play on modern country radio. I've typed six different sentences trying to come up with words that aren't offensive, but let's just say most of what passes for country today is AWFUL. So it's safe to say all the real country fans were standing on our chairs waving our hankies when Chris Stapleton swept the CMA's last year. The dude is no joke. (And it doesn't hurt that he's from my beautiful home state of Kentucky, either.) His debut solo album Traveller, is gorgeous. I'm ever-so-subtly requesting the vinyl copy for Mother's Day...hint, hint, husband.
So what are your favorites lately?
*In the interest of full disclosure, I need to tell you I was given an advance reader copy of "Looking For Lovely" as a member of the Launch Team. But I also need to tell you that I am firmly convinced it was a gift from God to me for this precise season. I was thoroughly impacted by it, and I wholeheartedly believe you'll enjoy it.