Shugie Collingsworth hails from Newnan, Georgia – known to outsiders as the “City of Homes,” and to locals as the town where everybody has a nickname. A graduate of the University of Georgia and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Shugie has a unique ability to blend life stories with biblical truth and her distinctive flavor of straight-talk Southern humor. With a speaking and teaching career spanning more than three decades, she has spoken to thousands all over the world on marriage, parenting and women’s issues. When you hear Shugie speak, you will laugh until you cry and come away changed with a fresh, gospel-centered perspective on life – just as if you had it delivered to you by a character right out of The Help.
If you have read the official bio and would like to know more, sit down and let Shugie tell you her story in her own words, [wpex here.]
Let’s get the name-thing explained first! My given name is Anne Leavell Mann. Double names are common in the South so I was called Anne Leavell by most. However, an unspoken trademark of Newnan is nicknames. My Daddy called me Shugie and by the time I left for college it was 50/50 among family and friends. Trouble brewed when I left Newnan and the surroundings of those who spoke and understood Newnan-ese. People from other places really had trouble with the double name thing. Since I refused to let anyone call me just Anne (who wants to be Anne Mann?) my nickname became the name most people chose. So, there you have it. Born with a big name, Anne Leavell Mann, I married JB Collingsworth and became Shugie Collingsworth. Whew – that explanation usually takes the first five minutes of every speaking engagement!
I was blessed with a wonderful childhood and great family. I got a degree in business from the University of Georgia and tried hard to convince God that a career in business would be best for me. Three cities and three different jobs later God convinced me that He had plans for me in ministry. And after my own “burning bush” experience I moved once more; this time to Ft. Worth, Texas, where I earned a masters’ degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. What followed was a few years’ stint in denominational missions work and great experiences teaching, speaking, editing, and organizing. Working alongside missionaries and telling their stories opened many doors for seeing and sharing God at work all over the world. Just about the time I was getting comfortable with the idea that I might remain single forever, God chose to surprise me by granting one of my desires – to marry and have a family. JB and I married and three children soon followed.
Over the years I have enjoyed speaking and teaching at every opportunity. Working alongside my minister-husband, I have seen it all over the years, or at least it seems that way. Three children with big personalities filled our home with joy and laughter. Our family of “all chiefs and no Indians” has had plenty of challenges, proud moments, sleepless nights, and opportunities to see God at work in good times and in bad!
Following JB’s career from youth work to innovative ministries among adults, we have lived and served in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia over the past thirty years. Adapting to new settings and managing our family wherever God placed us, I came to realize that all the experiences of life– the personal chapters and the ones walked with friends and other people – have continually prepared me to share the un-changing message of the faithfulness of God and the power of the gospel.
Most of my married life I was a full-time mom. And that, my friends, is a full time job! However, due to my desire to stay busy and JB’s 1001 very good ideas, I always had jobs! For 11 years I had a t-shirt business run out of our home – the laundry room to be exact! And then there was the writing and speaking, the teaching and training at church and at school.
While serving with JB at First Baptist Church in Orlando for 13 years, I was actively involved in the church’s school, The First Academy, where our children attended. One volunteer job led to another and ultimately I accepted the job as Director of Development for TFA. This position allowed me to re-enter the world as a full-time professional and become more involved in the community at large. It also allowed me to see things from the perspective of the many women who work full-time and juggle the responsibilities of their homes. This was a valuable chapter, but the next move brought it to an end after just a few years.
As far as hobbies go, I enjoy spending time with friends and collecting new ones along the way. The blessing of each move has been the wonderful friends God has provided at each stop. In addition to lunches with friends, projects with friends, coffee with friends, Bible study with friends, and travel with friends, I love to read, and my favorite spot to draw refreshment is Daytona Beach. Watching the sun rise, walking on the beach, sitting in a little chair at the water’s edge with a book and/or a friend is just as good as it gets for relaxing and reflecting on the great God who loves us and whom we get to serve.
There are hobbies and there are habits. My habits include getting up early every morning, coffee, Bible study, and communication with those I love. I would like to add discipline to regular exercise as a habit but that is yet to come.
The empty nest has changed things up a bit. Those three kids mentioned earlier are all out of the nest and spread out across the country. Mary Margaret, 29, is in Nashville, Tennessee; Rob, 27, is in Ft. Worth, Texas; and Wes, 25 is in Lexington, Kentucky. This chapter of life has now presented new opportunities and options on whether to slow down or get up and get moving! With a goal to live daily so as to have few regrets later, I have chosen a commitment to pray, prepare, and go, however and wherever God leads.
After spending my entire adult life away from home, only God could have orchestrated a move for JB and me to Newnan, Georgia in 2011! Not only is this a sweet time of ministry, it is perfect timing for some family needs, and to top it off I get to occasionally hear someone call out to me, “Hey, Anne Leavell!”[/wpex]