I know God is loving; I know He is good; I believe He is big and powerful. But sometimes I wonder if He is really kind— really deeply always kind. Is He? Christians love to talk about how God is in control, but that’s harder to grasp when things aren’t going like you thought they would, when your life looks quite different than you imagined. For centuries, God’s people have been building altars to Him—to remind themselves and the people around them of His work. His goodness. His kindness. Stacks of stones. Altars. Temples. Cathedrals. Why? Because they believed God and wanted to remember Him. In the back of my mind, God reminds me that He is the same trustworthy God—the One who always finishes the stories he starts. And this is my story—of wrestling with our God who gives a limp and a blessing. A God who is always kind even when my circumstances feel the opposite. God is who He says He is. He is kinder than you imagine. In a world where it is easy to forget who He is, we will not. We will remember God.
|Publisher:||B&H Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||3 Months to 18 Years|
About the Author
Annie F. Downs is a bestselling author, nationally known speaker, and podcast host based in Nashville, Tennessee. An author of multiple bestselling books including 100 Days to Brave, Looking for Lovely, and Let’s All Be Brave, Annie also loves traveling around the country speaking at conferences, churches, and events. Annie hosts the weekly popular That Sounds Fun Podcast and is a huge fan of bands with banjos, glitter, her community of friends, boiled peanuts, and soccer. Read more at anniefdowns.com and follow her @anniefdowns.
Read an Excerpt
I'm at a new coffee shop today in Nashville, one I haven't visited before. It's Monday after a busy work weekend and I'm just exhausted. My brain wants to rest; my calendar says to write. I'm not only struggling to find the words, I'm struggling to find the pictures in my mind that I want to describe for you. So I've pulled out photographs today, to see with my eyes what I can't conjure up in my mind.
To see Notre Dame.
I was fourteen years old the first time I saw the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I remember the exterior as being lighter in color than I thought, this edifice of barely gray stone that traveled up into the sky higher than I imagined.
Seeing it was different than standing at the base of a skyscraper in New York City, because I knew the cathedral was built by hand. The height of the spires, the flying buttresses, the detailed statues, the gargoyles, all built and hand-carved hundreds of years ago. They first broke ground on it in 1163 and Notre Dame was completed in 1365. Yes, it took two hundred years to build that building. That's unfathomable to me. I can't envision anyone in our day starting any project knowing it likely wouldn't be completed until five generations into the future.
I have pictures of my high school best friends and I, sitting outside the cathedral, waiting on a bench. I'm wearing a pink sweater and purple hiking boots, which should just tell you everything you ever wanted to know about my teenage self. I also have a picture printed out and labeled in a scrapbook of the moment I walked inside.
The north rose stained glass window was like nothing I had ever seen. There it was, straight ahead, what seemed like miles away — the blues and pinks and yellows — a bright spot in a darker massive room. I couldn't stop staring at the light shining through it or marveling that someone had created every piece, stained it, sealed it in place, and then (and I seriously do not know how someone using thirteenth-century equipment could do this) raised it and positioned it so many stories up.
You can't get close enough to see this feature with your bare eyes, but the center of the north rose is Jesus as a baby and His mother, Mary. It's an incredible piece of art. The whole window is. The whole room is. The whole building is.
(To be fair, all of Paris is, isn't it?)
I've been back to Notre Dame a few times since. And every time I'm there, I can't help but think about the centuries of people who have sat in those pews before me. I think of all the people who have gathered there for one reason.
Because they believed in God. And wanted to remember Him.
My assistant, Eliza, and I travel together quite a bit, about three weekends a month for roughly eight months of the year. We rarely get tired of each other (separate hotel rooms is clutch), and we never run out of life stories or God stories to tell.
A few years ago, we realized that every city where we went for me to speak at a conference, church, or event began to look the same — just the inside of a plane, the inside of a hotel, the inside of a church or event space. It felt like we were wasting these opportunities a bit. We thought, hey — we're in ARGYLE, TEXAS, for heaven's sake. We should see it! We're in BOSTON. We're in INDIANA, PENNSYLVANIA. We're in LEWISTON, IDAHO. But we weren't seeing cities; we weren't experiencing culture; we weren't eating local. We were missing the best parts of the travel side of our jobs.
So we created a little something called Tour de Tastebuds. (Probably better known to some of you as #tourdetastebuds.) It started out simple. In every city where we traveled, Eliza and I would try to find the most hole-in-the-wall, local, delicious restaurant. We didn't want a chain; we didn't want fancy. We wanted the place we would pick on a Tuesday night with our family or friends if we lived in this particular city. And after eating, we would ask ourselves: Is this place in middle Alabama better than the meal we had last week in middle California? Up-or-down vote. On to the next place.
Then one fateful day, a few months into the competition, standing outside a barbecue restaurant in Fort Wayne, Indiana, we disagreed. I said the meal was the number-two restaurant experience of our fall season; she said it was number-one. I was floored and we were out of sync.
So we created a scoring system: 1–5 in three different categories.
1. Atmosphere. How's the decor? How's the service? What kind of experience do the other patrons seem to be having? Does the look and feel of the place match the food being served?
2. Taste. Simply, how is the food?
3. How do you feel? Do you feel satisfied? Full? Dizzy? (Yes. Dizzy. It happened once after some fried pies in Oklahoma.)
We now had a system, and suddenly felt like we'd accidentally started an Instagram version of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Which was fine with me because I love that show. It just meant that in addition to all the other ways we prep before heading out on a trip, we now have another line item to check off: finding the right restaurant for the tour. We want variety and local, so we ask online or ask friends from the city. Fairly often the host of the event has a Tour de Tastebuds recommendation for us, but only about half the time is that the one we actually judge.
Last spring we were speaking outside of Pittsburgh, and multiple people had told us the same place — Pamela's — for breakfast. It is also President Obama's favorite breakfast, so that said something to us as well. We arrived in town the night before and didn't need to be at the event until the next afternoon, so Eliza and I got up that morning, put Pamela's into our GPS, and headed out.
As we drove, part of what we were talking about was a really sad text conversation of mine from earlier that weekend, a miscommunication with a man who mattered to me. "It feels like things are falling apart, Eliza," I said to her, "and I'm fine if that's what happens. I really am. It just makes me worry that I've missed God somehow in this." It's that train track thing again, you know? I thought I had some good direction from the Lord of where these tracks were going to go, until things went way off the rails and I was confused.
We turned left to head up a hill, and there, at the top, sat a cathedral. We both gasped and tears came to our eyes. I pulled over on Elm Street and stopped the car right there on the incline, and we stared in silence.
"A cathedral," I whispered to Eliza.
"I know, I know," she said back. "And I know what it means."
For months, God kept putting me in the path of cathedrals. I've loved them my whole life actually, but in recent months I couldn't seem to get away from them. In other countries, like Scotland, this is pretty normal. Old churches built centuries ago are around every corner. But in America, not so much. I love them because, more than anything else, they remind me of the history of God.
Here's a confession: I am easily awed. Which is both a gift and a curse. Sometimes it makes me look like a country bumpkin who's never left home for the big city because, "Wow, y'all, look at that!" It means I'm too easily entertained and probably shouldn't be quite so impressed with our planet as I am. "A BUTTERFLY! THAT'S AMAZING!" says no normal person who has ever seen butterflies before. But I do. Often. I mean, did you know during their transformation inside the cocoon, they actually become sort of like goo before emerging? Mind-blowing.
I actually don't mind being awed. I like that I really like life. I like how often I'm just happy to be here and can look for lovely all around me. If you're familiar with the Enneagram, I'm a 7, and we 7s pretty much just love life most of the time ... or are trying to love it so we can avoid pain.
But cathedrals, for any of us, are awe-inspiring.
Churches are great. I go to one. But my church is a cement box with cement floors. Though it's been our church home for a while, it used to be a storage facility for Goodwill. Cathedrals, on the other hand, never used to be anything else. They were built with a purpose. They continue with that purpose. You never look at a cathedral and wonder what it used to be or what it is now. "Is that a cathedral I see in the distance or an Ikea?"
Cathedrals are monster buildings with minute details around every corner. Tall ornate ceilings, tiled floors, pews, pillars, Latin words inscribed across the walls. Designed in the massive shape of a cross, cathedrals are the way humans have always offered sanctuary and a place to gather to worship an invisible God. They're how we've invited others to come here and believe that there is more to this life than what any of us can see.
They're monuments to God's presence with His people.
People build monuments all the time, to a variety of different things. They all exist to mark a place or a time that doesn't need to be forgotten by the human race. And typically they're accompanied by some kind of historical marker that describes what this statue or building is commemorating.
I LOVE reading historical markers. In fact, walking from my house to my local coffee shop, I pass two historical markers on the sidewalk, and I read both of them word for word every time. It feels mildly insane because DIDN'T I JUST READ THOSE YESTERDAY? But it also matters to me. Someone carved letters out of cement so that the people who lived and did something important in this spot, in this little corner of the universe, would not be forgotten.
It happened in the Bible too. Repeatedly when God rescued His people or healed them or restored them, the Israelites would mark it. Whether with a stack of stones or an altar or a name, they would make a place of remembrance so that God's power and work would not be forgotten. Think of Jacob, for instance — Genesis 32:30 — giving a name to the place where he wrestled all night with God. (We'll come back to him later. Mark that too.)
And throughout time, at least throughout the modern ages, the most prominent marking has become cathedrals, which people built to remember God.
I walked into Frothy Monkey, a little eatery in the 12 South area of Nashville, to meet our former intern, Sarah, for breakfast. You just cannot go wrong eating breakfast at Frothy. I usually get "The California" — toast and sprouts and avocado slices and two over-medium eggs. I go a little diva and ask for gluten-free toast and a side of crispy bacon. And seriously, it is the breakfast of my dreams.
Someday we can talk about how I used to think runny eggs were the grossest thing in the world until I had these runny eggs at Flat White Kitchen in Durham, England, and they changed my life and I've never been the same. Scrambled eggs are legitimately a memory for me because why would you eat those when you could have eggs over medium? That's where I stand on eggs.
I'd gotten back just a few days before from that trip to Pittsburgh with Eliza. I couldn't wait to tell Sarah how God had shown up, right there on a hill in Pennsylvania. I came in the back door of Frothy and walked up the stairs. The walls inside are decorated with local art which they change out randomly. (Well, it may not be random to them, but it is certainly random to me.) And get this. EVERY picture on the wall was a drawing of a cathedral. YES. FOR REAL. Big regal buildings from around the world.
Sarah was sitting at a table for two along the wall, where a church pew runs the length of the room, creating about seven "tables for two." Sarah looked up at me as I walked toward her. My hand was over my mouth.
"Sarah ..." I said, almost more a gasp than actually talking. "Look at the walls. It's all cathedrals. How long have these been here? Are they new? Who made them? Is this a joke?"
I didn't sit down. I just walked all around the coffee shop and looked at every picture. A few were labeled "churches" instead of cathedrals, but they had the same look. The same regal build. The same hard-as-stone, not moving, not shaking, survived-fire-and-doubt-and-wind-and-pain look.
God did not want me to miss this. Clearly. He was saying something to me ... because the heart of this book and the heart of cathedrals seem to be about the same. This may be why God brought the theme to me in the first place. The heart of my struggles involves holding tight to what cathedrals have always meant.
God is who He says He is. Kinder than you imagine. And people have gathered together in cathedrals fordecades to be reminded of who He is. That's the only reason those cross-shaped buildings were even created. To remember Him.
When Eliza and I turned that corner in Pittsburgh, and the cathedral rose over the hill, we both burst into tears. And days later, as I sat down with Sarah and looked at the cathedrals lining the walls of Frothy Monkey, tears came to my eyes again.
Because there He was. Again and again. Reminding me to remember Him.CHAPTER 2
I was playing Chutes and Ladders with my five-year-old friend Troy. It's a game I've played for the majority of my life, but knowing how to play doesn't help at all as far as winning goes. There is zero correlation between the time you've put into the game and your chances of winning. Because it is all up to chance.
If it's been a while since you played, here's a quick recap. The game board is a grid of one hundred boxes, ten rows of ten, with each square numbered in order — 1 at the bottom right corner, 100 at the top left. All the game pieces start at 1, and the goal of each player is to reach 100 first. Each turn begins with the roll of a single die (or the flick of a spinner), and the number determines how many spaces you move. Throughout the board are ladders that allow you to skip ahead a few boxes if you land at the base of them. But plenty of chutes also appear, causing you to slide back down the board if you're unlucky enough to land on those.
Troy was slaughtering me in the game. I would roll a six and land right on top of a chute, sending me sliding back to the start. Troy would roll a one and get to climb a ladder up ten or fifteen spaces. He was giggling like crazy and trash-talking just as much. I was laughing on the outside, playing along with him, having a great attitude about it. But on the inside? NOT HAPPY ONE BIT. I was super mad, like the kind of mad that almost gives you goose bumps. Anger goose bumps. Yes, they are a thing. How was this kid beating me? I have a college education and my own home and I know how to multiply. (He has NONE of those things, can do NONE of those things.) And yet he was killing me.
Webb, Troy's older brother, was across the room from us, doing a Star Wars puzzle. Looked like a good plan to me. I caught sight of Molly, their mom, walking in. She could instantly see how badly I was losing.
"Oh, Annie," she said, "what's happened here?"
Looking up to her from the floor, my face said it all. We've been friends for about twenty-five years, so she knows how to interpret my many and varied faces. "Things are not going so well for me over here," I responded through gritted teeth.
She laughed. That's what best friends do. They laugh at your pain, especially when it's brought on by children and board games.
The game took longer than I wanted — one of those slow, painful board game deaths with lots of twists and turns (eh, chutes and ladders). It ended with him landing on the 100 and then running laps around me, pumping his fists in the air. That's when I decided to write him out of my will.
Troy beat me. It was official.
I immediately started cleaning up the game while he protested that we should go again. I would not. I suggested (insisted) we switch to reading books because, guess what, kid, I know how to read ALL the words. Boom. Sucker.
Later that night as I was falling asleep, I reflected a bit on the afternoon and asked myself a few questions. What had happened there? Why the competitive fire? Why did losing make me legitimately angry when it was all just luck of the roll? Who cares? And what will you do next time, Annie, to ensure victory? (Just kidding about that last one ... sorta.)(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Remember God"
Copyright © 2018 Annie F. Downs.
Excerpted by permission of B&H Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a deeply personal book that makes you feel as though you are talking over coffee with your best friend. So many things that we feel, Annie does too, so this makes this a book we can relate to. This book reminds us that even in our most dire or difficult circumstances, God is there. Even when we question whether He really is. Annie shares her own struggles with wondering if God is truly good, kind and there for her and she goes through very trying times. She is vulnerable with us and truly shares her heart. Annie is very open in this book and shares the good and bad of her life. I think it spoke to me because she didn't try to sugar-coat her life. She goes through things and has the same types of feelings that we all do. It wasn't always easy reading about her struggles but it was beneficial to see how she points us back to God and His grace and love. I think this is a book that will definitely speak to the heart of the hurting. Remember God is beautifully written and I give it 4 out of 5 stars. *This book was provided to me by LifeWay. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.
I picked up Remember God based on the recommendation of several friends. Honestly, I was expecting a perky book based on the Annie F. Downs I hear on Instagram and her podcast. The Annie I read surprised me. I thoroughly enjoyed her honesty and vulnerability. Her story drew me in and held my attention. The book in a couple sentences: Annie F. Downs has the courage to let her readers in, to tell them the truth of what she’s been thinking and feeling. Remember God feels like a conversation with an old friend, the kind of story that drives us tell the truth and seek the truth. Downs helps readers discuss the questions they hide, like “is God always kind?” What I liked most: I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect but I loved this book once I started reading. She draws the reader into her story. You will feel compelled to keep reading, wanting to share the experience. The way she writes is soothing and interesting. Throughout the entire book, her focus is always clear—what is she learning about God in the moment, how does this all point to him, where is God in the story. I appreciate her honesty and know it will help others in their own stories. She doesn’t wrap it all up in a pretty bow at the end—her greatest gift of all. I might change: I can’t think of anything I would change. A quote to remember: “Because I will remember what we have been through, me and God. I will remember the limp and the blessing and the days and words and the years. I carry it all with me. Even in pain, even in worry, even today, wherever I am, I will not forget what He has done for me and been to me. I will remember God.”
In Remember God, Annie F. Downs tells the story about one recent year of her life. As Downs recalls key life events, she takes her readers on a journey of doubt and struggle, as well as hope and trust in God. It took me a while to become accustomed to her narrative’s somewhat choppy style and abrupt transitions. However, maybe this was intentionally done to mirror how life can feel like sometimes. I would say this book is geared towards a female audience, although the act of “remembering God” is something that is vital for everyone. Downs has written several books, but this was the first time I have read her writing. She is extremely open and honest with her readers about her relationship with God. She is not afraid to reveal her doubts, pain and disappointment. Her introspective writing style makes her relatable and her ability to discern God’s voice is inspiring. Downs also has a playful sense of humor that shines through even through difficult circumstances. The lessons Downs shares in Remember God are a valuable reminder that God is the author of our story and that we should not forget that He is in control.
This book was so hard to put down. Many Christian writers try to be vulnerable, but sometimes they try too hard to connect with a reader and it can come across forced. However, Annie Downs lets you into her world in a very real and authentic way. She shares her questions, her journey, uncertainties, and fears with the reader. When she begins to have issues after her book doesn’t get on a certain list, she shares how she handled it and how she went looking for God in all of it. She talks about playing computer games and staying in bed, as well as finding herself counting down the hours and minutes until she can get back to her hotel room bed while out on a speaking engagement. This is the kind of thing that many people face in their lives, but don’t share and it helps to see how Downs deals with her feelings. Downs lets you into her world when things aren’t going well or things aren’t happening in a way where it’s wrapped up all neatly in a bow. It’s refreshing to have an authentic voice sharing what happens when you’re in a storm and have questions are waiting on an answer. She writes about being in the “wilderness” and trusting God through it. This book feels like reading memoirs or a journal kind of like Gail Godwin’s diaries. It really pulls you in and makes you feel what she’s going through and, in turn, it provides ways to help you in going through what you are dealing with. Readers who enjoy Downs’ books will love this one and anyone looking for an authentic voice will love it as well. I read a lot of Christian non-fiction and this was my first book I’ve read by Downs, but she’s definitely made a fan here. I received this book from BH Publishing and Lifeway in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
In “Remember God” Annie is speaking of moments in her life where she is led to remember God. Some of those moments are difficult and heartbreaking but she draws closer to remember God. Annie’s writing style is journal like, effortless, and packed with detail without being wordy, it’s as though I am listening to an old friend. I can imagine the spaces and people she describes so vividly. Annie is transparent which shows her vulnerability. Annie’s thoughts are relatable and pure. This book reminds me that God will continue to be a guiding force when we seek Him; we must maintain patience and continue to be faithful though. Each time I sat down to read, I felt as though I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
This is one of the best books I have ever read. It came at just the perfect time in my life! Annie is a single woman, just like I am, wondering if God truly is kind because He hasn't given her a husband. The book is vulnerable and such a great journey to read about. I highly recommend!
How do you feel about God and the Christian life when things aren't going according to your plans. When your dreams don't come true, is God still kind? Good? In Remember God, Annie Downs wrestles with some hard questions in her life and she lets us get a glimpse of what that looks like. Remember God is written as sort of a memoir of Downs' year as she wrestles with God. Downs asks the question, Is God always kind, really deep down always? Downs is single and not only is she single but she is single well past when she thought she would be married if her life had gone according to her plan. This brave woman opens her heart and her life and shows us how God is not only kind but he does exceedingly and abundantly above all that we can ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20). However, initially that did not look or feel like how Downs wanted it to look. She shares how God grew her heart and soul through the year--a year with both a limp and a blessing. I am not single. I am a middle-aged woman with a different set of hopes and dreams that seem to be taking forever. My wrestling is different than Downs, but yet I relate so well to her wrestling. Her writing style is so conversational and down-to-earth that I feel like I am right there with her and as I read Remember God, I can get a glimpse into her heart. . .and I want to share mine. Her writing invites me to open up to God a little more and open up to those around me. These past couple of years as I have faced challenges, I have wanted to hide. . .but Downs invites me to open up with God, to listen for His voice and to grow. I like that she is a journaler. I journal too and wrote quotes and notes as I read this book. I invite you to read this book, open up with God and take some notes too. I think Remember God will help you reflect on your life and to grow in Him as it is helping me. I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review.
Remember God, is not a just a story that is expressed throughout another book. These very pages open an invitation to walk with Annie herself along her journey with the Lord. It is a very personal and vulnerable journey that we are privileged to step into. This book will not only impact your heart, but will give you permission to walk confidently in the very season that you are stewarding yourself. This is a book for everyone because everyone is writing their own story. Everyone is walking through their own personal season. This is a story of a woman who invites us into that very intimate, personal place with the Lord. Causing us to take a step back and not only reflect on what is happening, but begin to see God's hand through our very own season. Causing us to reflect on His very nature that has been there through every step of the way. We begin to reflect and remember his ever-present hand of friendship. Not only in the seasons of blessings, but even in the seasons where we can't seem to see anything, but an empty space. Although, it is within that very emptiness where God meets us. It is within that silence where we begin to hear Him speak. It is within that very wilderness where we begin to not only experience, but we begin to remember His very faithfulness. For if He did it then- He will do it now. He is not only the God of tomorrow, but He is the God of today. So take hold of this book and dive into a personal journey with Annie herself, with God Himself. Plus, you gain a friend through this. Everyone who picks up a book written by Annie leaves with a new friend by their side. She is inviting you to walk with her. To hear her story and begin to find confidence in your very own story.
I received the Christian Audio audiobook (read by Annie herself!) after preordering my book and paused it in a dozen places to think through the words of truth and wisdom Annie had just shared. By sharing heartfelt, honest snippets of her own story over the past couple of years, Annie reminds us that God is always kind - even and especially if that doesn't look like what we expect the endings of our own stories will. For times of loneliness, doubt, fear, or tiredness in the faith - Annie reminds us to look around at what we do have, at what He has made, and in all things, to remember God in an age where we so easily forget.
Annie brings her hope, her doubts, her triumphs, and her pain authentically and in equal measure in Remember God. From the start, I was tempted to skip to the end to see how Annie answers the question, "Is God kind?" but as she reminds us, everything that happens along the way matters just as much as the end (and maybe more). I heard Annie say on a podcast that the writing of this book was like building a bridge as she was walking it - I am so grateful for the fierce honesty and faith she laid down in every step.
I love Annie Downs. In my mind, we are totally BFFs... we have not (yet) met, but I know we will know each other already when we do because as much as our lives are different and we are not the same, our spirits speak the same language and -- you guys! She is so much fun! Even when she is sharing with such vulnerability about her brokenness and how she knows God but sometimes forgets to trust His goodness. (Been there? Yeah... me, too!) I am relistening to the audio version as I (not so patiently) await the arrival of the 'actual' book... it's so good! It's so Annie and God... and they are one of my favorite combos! God has been writing a different kind of hard in our life and I recall over and over singing worship songs with lyrics like, "You have been so, so good to me... You have been so, so kind to me..." and songs about how He is a Good, Good Father and I knew it was true --even though it sure didn't feel like it! Man... we need this offering and I am so thankful and so proud of Annie for being brave (ya see what I did there?) and sharing her journey as God continues to write her story! This book is full of stories... and it's also full of scripture. It's full of Annie, and it's full of God! And who wouldn't want to read a book like that? In fact, you may just want to order two because you're not going to want to keep it all to yourself! We all need the reminder that God is good... especially in the world right now where it is oh so easy to forget to remember!
The most powerful book yet from Annie F. Downs! As a fan of her previous books & her podcast (That Sounds Fun with Annie F. Downs), I expected to enjoy this book, but ended up LOVING it! She shares with brave transparency about the difficulties of walking faithfully in the tension of what God has promised & current life circumstances. Her words are the perfect combination of truth, honesty, encouragement, humor & preaching! A must read for anyone who has ever found themselves saying, "God, this isn't what I thought my life would look like."