Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Looking for Lovely: Collecting Moments that Matter by Annie F. Downs (book review)

I read a whole lot of books of varying genres. My favorite non-fiction books are the ones that read like fiction, like you're actually talking with the author. That is what it's like to read a book by Annie F. Downs. She's like your best friend, mentor, and big sister rolled into one. You laugh with her and cry and go "oh" at deep thoughts. Her new book, "Looking for Lovely" has not disappointed me in this aspect. I've enjoyed every second of reading through.
image via Amazon
There were many times in the book when I starred a paragraph or dog-eared a page or underlined a sentence or two. And not only things that resonated with me, but things I think may resonate with my loved ones. When she wrote "I grew up with a lot of shame...Satan started early with me, whispering into my ear that things were my fault, that I should be so embarrassed when I made a mistake, that I wasn't good enough or strong enough to be who everyone else thought I could be" I thought of my son, Squirt. Is that how he feels in his self-imposed perfectionism? It seems no matter how many times I tell him something isn't a big deal or that his Batman drawings look just how they should (although, no they don't look like movie posters of photographs because they're not photographs and he's just six), it just doesn't sink in. Is that the enemy whispering lies to him?

Or a few pages later when she writes about wishing she hadn't quit something. I feel the same about a few things. I don't know if I have a quitting problem like she confesses to have in her book but a few of the things I loved that I quit just in order to fit in; oh I wish I hadn't.

My favorite part of this book (in this reading of it), is when she is sitting with a friend who is broken hearted and he told her "This is the most profound pain of my life. But it also feels sacred." She is praying for "God to HEAL HIM NOW and LET THE PAIN END" and she goes on to explain about how we need to go through pain sometimes, suffering sometimes, dreadful things sometimes in order to come out on the other side seeing the beautiful, or (as my friend Kaitlyn said) to be sanctified by God (which is a fancy term for how God makes us holy little by little). Downs talks about how we don't want to be sad or hurt or see those we love feeling those things. I don't either. But I know in the hard times in our lives (when our son was diagnosed with autism and then epilepsy, when motherhood was just overwhelming, job loss after job loss - move after move, and in other, smaller trials - even the every day mundane trials like when your kids are driving you mad!!), I have seen God show up, sit in that hard place with me (us), and etch His holiness into me (us). Not always can I see it right away and there are still many places where I need sanctified, but I see Him.

That's what "Looking for Lovely" is about. Seeing God in the hard times, knowing He has not left us nor forsaken us. Looking for lovely things in the every day, in the mirror (yes!!!), in the hard cracked places of our lives.

I absolutely enjoyed this book and think it's a must-read. Perhaps I'm biased because I'm fairly certain Annie is my new best friend. Also, this would make a lovely Mother's Day gift for the mother in your life!

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may differ from mine but these are all mine. 

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