–> There will be two online book clubs this spring that run from February 6-May 1.
–> Each week, I will send a video out to each book club (one for Perfectly Uniquers and one for Speak Lovelies) with discussion questions. There will also be a secret Facebook group for each book club.
(PS- if you aren’t on Facebook, no biggie. You can still join the book clubs!)
–> The first 20 gals who join each group will get a Skype date with me sometime in June to discuss the book they read, what we learned, and to answer any questions.
–> Only the first fifty girls who sign up for each group will be able to participate this semester.
Why are we doing this?
Because a lot of girls got one of these books for Christmas and may just want some friends to read with. Because you may be looking for a group of gals to talk to about life. Because you may think it is cool to read the same book as a girl across the country or across the world and get to talk about it.
Also? We just think it will be really fun to get to know 100 girls this semester, mail them cool stuff, and see what God does in our hearts and lives!
Like, I love them so much. I love snail mail. I love seeing beautiful pictures of my friends and family. I love the handwriting on the outside of the envelope. I love displaying them across the garland in my dining room.
But I have yet to have the guts to send one myself. Because it may be a little weird to get a Christmas card from a single girl. Right? Maybe not. But it feels like it would take some guts to send one and say, “MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM ANNIE DOWNS AND HERSELF.”
How’s this. No matter what, I pinky promise that I will send a Christmas card. Married, single, cat-owner [nope]. Just don’t let me forget.
Aren’t these awesome!?! I totally love the New Years ones. Such sweet sentiments- totally what Speak Love is all about. So feel free to pop over to Speak Love Now and send a few e-cards via email or social media.
Also, we’re seeing people LOVE LOVE LOVE these Speak Love Now e-cards on pinterest. Here’s the Speak Love Now board. So you can also share that way if you want.
And if you happen to have a spare Christmas card laying around this year, feel free to pop it in the mail and I’ll add it to my garland strand!
Pretty much, address an envelope to yourself, put a stamp on it, and then fold it into another envelope, address and stamp that outer envelope, and mail it to me.
3. Wait patiently a few days… count down your chocolate Advent calendar… and then the sticker will come in the mail, personalized by me to your girl. Stick it in your book, wrap it, and you shall be able to give your teen/college girl an autographed copy of Perfectly Unique or Speak Love. Like THIS!
Obviously it won’t say “TO YOU!”…. it will have the name of the girl receiving the book- you’ll tell me that info and make sure I spell her name right on the Bookplate form here.
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A few things:
I need to receive your envelope BEFORE DECEMBER 17th to guarantee it gets to you by Christmas.
I will let you know by email when I put the bookplate back in the mail to you! [I'll have your email address after you fill out this form and I will be able to get in touch with you.]
The prices have already been changed and shipping is goneski, so no code needed or any crazy jazz like that.
There are limited supplies for every item, so the quicker the better if you want a particular size t-shirt.
We’ve also got some goodies in Santa Sarah’s shop…. you know, my intern who is amazing that really runs the show around here… so each package will include stickers and an autographed poster and bookmarks and whatever other excitement we find around here.
No kidding. Sarah just said, “We have deals that will SLEIGH you.” I’m more proud of her punny-ness than you can imagine.
I hope you had a really lovely Thanksgiving holiday. Here’s something I learned: my family loves Duck Dynasty. We watched a lot of Duck Dynasty and football and Elf.
Also, as my first dairy-free/gluten-free holiday, I survived just fine. No big deal.
My mother made a turkey that would just bless you and the rest of the family contributed sides that are tried and true and perfect.
So today we celebrate my mom’s birthday and then I head back from Georgia to Nashville where my home is decorated and I am DYING to show you my mantle because I have never felt more decor pride. I bought real garland, y’all. I’m so domestic.
Also, I will be buying boiled peanuts from a run-down gas station before I exit North Georgia because they are delicious. If you’ve never purchased boiled peanuts, here’s a tip: the more backwoods the location / people, the more perfectly salted and cooked the boiled peanuts.
- if Santa is giving your teen girl a Kindle or e-reader, grab Speak Love to throw on there!
- if you’ve been wondering whether Speak Love would work for your small group, check it out for less than a buck!
- if you like to have lots of rando books on your Kindle so that when you are flying on a airplane you can flip from book to book like changing channels on a television, here ya go!
- if you have a friend that you’ve been wanting to gift Speak Love, buy it today!
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And we have MAJOR SALE STUFF going on for Cyber Monday over at the AnnieBlogs Store, so prepare your hearts for that.
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Speaking of books for young women, I want to make a list of all the books that teen girls should be reading right now. I’ve got a Pinterest board started for Teen Reads, but I’d love to know what you think we should add to it.
In October, hundreds of people sent Speak Love Now e-cards to people in their lives that just needed a moment of encouragement. And on Pinterest? Cards from the Speak Love Now Board are being shared EVERY SINGLE DAY. Like, lots of them.
What’s the deal?
Earlier this week, we had a friends-giving dinner and fourteen of us crowded around a warm dining room table, plates piled high with casseroles and turkey. As is typical this time of year, we went around the table and said what we were grateful for. Over and over, each person echoed a version of the same thing.
“I thankful for you,” he would say, “and for the people around this table.”
“This year has been hard,” she said, “but you guys have helped so much.”
“Sometimes I forget what home feels like,” she spoke quietly, “but here I remember. This is home.”
Call me cheesy. Call me predictable. But here is the truth- we feel these emotions ALL YEAR LONG and for some reason, we say it once a year, sitting around a table.
I believe in Speak Love Now and the power of one sentence to change someone’s day. I saw it- over and over again- around the table this week. I saw the teary eyes and the things long needing to be said. I see it when teen girls are encouraged by their leaders or parents. I see it when my college girls need permission to be brave.
Just one sentence. It can change so much.
I wonder – who today, in your life, could use just a quick one sentence reminder that they matter to you?
Call them. Tell them around any table. Send them a message. Don’t miss the chance to say the thing that could really change someone’s day.
Have a great weekend, friends. Love your people – with your time, your actions, AND your words.
And I’m going to keep writing about it until our culture decides that it isn’t fair for us to bully celebrities.
Because this matters to me. It matters to me how we talk to people we know AND people we don’t. We create every program possible to stop bullies and make it front page news when students are bullied [and rightly so], yet we act like how we talk about and to celebrities doesn’t matter.
See the video below, one of many from the Jimmy Kimmel Show. [Warning- this is def rated PG13, but the language is bleeped out.]
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I know- it is supposed to be funny. And no, I’m not overly sensitive to it because Lady Antebellum is on there and they are my people. I get that this is a little humorous, but could you do that? Could you be on the celebrity side? Could you read, on national television, a nasty tweet someone had said about you? I don’t think I could.
Here’s what is true:
Celebrities see your words.
These Jimmy Kimmel clips are proof of that. But I hear it here in Nashville too. Amber Lehman, one of my BFFs who is a stylist to many celebrities in Nashville, has story after story of stars being affected by the words of people they don’t know. Even recently, Amber dressed an older female country star, one you would think would never notice an ill word said. And yet, as she stood their teary before Amber, she shared of how the comments people type about her on twitter make it hard to look in the mirror and be happy with herself.
That is so rude of us, the public, to speak into her insecurities and cause hurt like that. Shame on us. My friend Beth says, ”It’s really arrogant of us to determine someone is famous enough that we no longer have to treat them like a person.”
They are not that different from us.
“Who cares how celebrities feel? They are rich and have everything they want. No way does my facebook status or twitter comment matter.” WRONG WRONG WRONG. That same line of thinking would also say that because a student is popular or successful or well-liked they they deserve to be bullied. You’d never say that to a teenager. The same is true for adults. Celebrities are just humans who are doing their job to entertain us. And they have issues and hurts and responsibilities that we will never understand.
LeCrae tweeted this the other day and I think he’s exactly right.
Their people may be seeing your words, too.
A few weeks ago, two friends from a different city shared a link on facebook to a show about women in Nashville and said some fairly derogatory things. It infuriated me because I know and love some of the women on that show. I wanted to pick up my phone, call those women in other cities, and remind them that they aren’t being rude about strangers, they are talking about MY FRIENDS. With the way this world wide web works, you never know when person A is going to share something with person B and suddenly it’s gone six degrees straight to Kevin Bacon… or his sister. You don’t want to hurt the celebrity with your words [I hope], but you also don’t want to hurt their people.
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My guess? My guess is that my readers aren’t slamming celebrities online. That’s not your personality or your MO, as far as I know you. But I wonder if you, like me, have opportunities to stand up for and defend celebrities when we see other people being unkind. Or even more simply- can we just be the different voice? Can we be the ones who speak genuine truth and life into the lives of these people?
It’s just time we recognize that all people, no matter their status or job, deserve to be treated well and spoken to with kindness. I guess I just wish more people would consider whether they are speaking life or death and ask themselves how God would have them use their words to impact the lives of others- famous or not.
I don’t exactly know how we fix it. I just know it’s awful and celebrity or not, people deserve to be treated better than this.
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Your thoughts are welcome here… have you seen this behavior online as well? How do you think we should be handling it? Do you think it matters? Would love for us to talk about this.
If you haven’t heard the news story yet, here it is in full. Rebecca Sedwick, a 12 year old girl in Lakeland, Florida committed suicide last week after being cyber-bullied for years by other middle school girls.
FIFTEEN OF THEM.
And as you saw in the video, Rebecca even wrote in her journal, “How many lives have to be lost until people realize words do matter?”
My insides ache when I think about this story too much. There are just so many things for us to discuss and the facts are so discouraging.
The mom tried. They changed schools. She took away her phone. Put the child in counseling. I mean, she was doing what I stood in front of a room full of youth leaders last weekend and told them to do to protect their kids from cyber-bullying.
And yet. This little 12 year old still jumped to her death over words spoken to her.
It’s complicated dealing with teens and bullying. Not only are ugly words used, but they are used by and to humans who are going through the emotional turmoil of puberty. As if what is going on inside isn’t enough to drive someone to depression [please remember being 12. It was the worst.], but the outside forces of hate-filled words can end up feeling like too much for one little heart to handle.
Teenagers are dying at incredible rates from suicide- and it seems as the internet presence increases, so does the rate of suicide among younger and younger girls. [Read some stats here] And it feels hopeless.
BUT IT ISN’T.
We do not lose hope for the next generation. WE FIGHT FOR THEM.
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So how do we fight?
1. Pray. I know. It’s the cliche Christian answer. But the only One with a winning game plan here is God. He’s the only One who can see the battle in full and so we look to Him, listen to Him, and He is our only hope. Our only hope, y’all.
2. Talk to your gals. Please. Please tell me you are talking to your daughters, students, players, youth group, college babysitter, every teen girl you know about bullying. And please tell me you are talking about being the victim AND BEING THE BULLY.
We can no longer just address the victim. WE MUST ADDRESS THE BULLY AND TELL HER TO STOP.
Those fifteen girls have at least one parent each. And teachers. And coaches. They should have been stopped.
3. Know your ‘net. Do you know about ask.fm? Kik? Vine? Because every teen girl does. And she is there, using her words to validate or destroy others.
4. Use YOUR words. Intervene. Speak up. Get nosy. Encourage. I know teenagers can seem scary, but they aren’t. [You used to be one. Don't forget that.] Get some teen girls in your life and start speaking into theirs. HELP THEM. PLEASE.
5. Get honest with your daughter. You’ve got to ask- is she the mean girl? Is YOUR daughter the bully? Please have eyes wide open to the possibility that someone is suffering because of your daughter’s words.
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We have to change this trend in teens. For Rebecca. For her mom. For those fifteen mean girls.
We have to look culture in the face and say “NO MORE MEAN GIRLS!”
I had to write Speak Love because this behavior HAS to stop. We cannot let the next generation be exterminated by words of hate driving them to the point of death. I am standing in front of as many teen girls as I can telling them of the hope we have in Jesus, asking them to use their words differently, unifying them to stand with me to defeat that mean girl mentality forever.
It’s heartbreaking. It is discouraging. But it is not hopeless. We will fight for them.
You know the journal exists. [It doesn't release for a few weeks, so hang tight. I just got mine in the mail and HOLY CANOLI IT IS ADORABLE. But Amazon says they have it? Maybe they do. It's official release is September 17th.]
But here are some other things to help spread the word and launch the movement that will end the mean girl mentality.
First, we have officially opened the Speak Love store, with two shirts and two pieces of custom jewelry!
My hope for these four products is that as young women and women of all ages wear them, that heart speech bubble will come to be recognized as the opportunity to speak love and accountability to use words to create life and build up others.
Pretty much, I hope it gets plastered everywhere, until the enemy trembles a little when he sees it, like the banner over an army that he knows he won’t defeat.
[Don't even get me started. I'll be preaching before you even know it.]
So a few months ago my friend Matt and I sat at our favorite coffee shop and brainstormed to death about this book- what could we do to give women the chance to speak love to each other? And we thought about ecards, so I told my team at Zondervan. Next thing I know Zondervan and Prolific are partnered up and good gravy we have nine free Speak Love e-cards for you to send!
They look like this and you can either email them or post them on a friend’s facebook wall or tweet them to your family, friends, or even your favorite celebrities.
We hopefully have made it very easy to share because we want these puppies flying all over the internet believing that to start knocking down the wall of angry words, we chisel with tools like this.
So check out the ecards and let me know what you think! Also, will you look through the options and let me know if there are any other cards you’d like to see offered?