2019: A Year in Review

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It’s that time of year again when I look back on the past twelve months before ringing in the new year! And this time we’re ringing in a new decade. I really think we ought to learn the Charleston so we can celebrate the return of the Roaring Twenties in style. Let’s just leave off the bootlegging, shall we?

(And by the way, thank you for your prayers and good wishes after my last post. I’m happy to report that my grandparents are feeling much better; surgeries were successful, and debilitating conditions have greatly improved!)

What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before?

Observed Lent. Attended a writing conference. Adopted three orchids (FYI, their names are Penelope, Eloise, and Adelaide). Started watching Downton Abbey. Became a solid fan of G.K. Chesterton. FINISHED MY NOVEL, ONCE AND FOR ALL. Published a newsletter for this blog! Prepared an old-fashioned British Christmas Pudding for the first time and served it on Christmas Eve (a rousing success). Joined the Hope*Writers community. Took a month-long social media hiatus. Guest-posted on a friend’s blog. Worked as a poll commissioner in the October/November election cycle.

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and do you have any for next year?

My 2018 resolutions included pursuing publication of Operation Lionhearted, beginning a new novel, staying consistent with my healthy eating and exercise regimen, and working my way through a growing list of books that would edify me intellectually, spiritually, and creatively. I kept all these resolutions except “Beginning a new novel”–not too shabby!

My resolutions/goals for 2020 are: 1) Submit Operation Lionhearted to publishers, 2) write and submit articles and essays for publication, 3) read even more books, and 4) learn how to play again when it comes to my writing. After receiving counsel from friends, family, and far more seasoned authors, I’ve finally acknowledged that my brain is stuck in Editing Mode, and I need to “remember how to play” before I try to write another novel. I’ll actually be focusing on short stories and fanfiction for a while!

@ Pinterest

Did anyone close to you get married?

Two of my dearest friends and my cousin all got married within three months of each other!

Did anyone close to you give birth or get pregnant?

My sister Emily had her sweet baby in August, and now my brother TJ and his wife Jenni are expecting their first baby in May! The Aunt Life is BOOMING, y’all.

Did anyone close to you die?

One of my great-aunts passed in July, one of the dear ladies who used to sing in our choir with me and Emily passed in November, and an old family friend died a couple of weeks ago, as well.

Travel?

My friend Caroline and I traveled, with her husband and toddler, to Nashville for the Art of Writing Conference! (If you didn’t catch my post about that trip, you can read it here.) I also visited the beautiful city of Natchez, Mississippi for the first time.

Saint Mary’s Basilica, Natchez, MS (photo taken by Yours Truly)

What was the best month?

This question is always so hard, haha…but let’s go with August, when my über-adorable niece was born.

What date(s) from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April 15, the day of the fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral (because of the spiritual lessons I gleaned from it), and August 12, my niece’s birthday (for obvious reasons).

Did you suffer illness or injury?

Nothing out of the ordinary. I did suffer my first migraine in April, though–that was a doozy.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

My sister Katie, who has spent the past year or so teaching herself how to play the guitar, writing her own songs, and becoming a yogi!

Whose behavior made you appalled and/or depressed?

Politicians.

Me, after watching the news for any length of time

Where did most of your money go?

My Hope*Writers membership–which has been totally worth it, by the way.

Who or what did you get really, really, really excited about?

Avengers: Endgame*, OF COURSE. Also the new Royal Baby, little Archie Harrison…and getting to go to Nashville…and The Rise of Skywalker (I HAVE SO MANY FEELINGS)…and Baby Yoda…and my developing plans to attend the Anselm Society’s Imagination Redeemed Conference in April 2020!

What song(s) will always remind you of 2019?

Creed“* by Rich Mullins, “The Bells Of Notre Dame“* from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, “Avengers Didn’t Start the Fire” from the Jimmy Fallon Show (10/10 would recommend), and “Girls in Movies“* by Two Benedictions.

What was an unexpected surprise?

Definitely the trip to Nashville + its results and reverberations: deepening my friendship with Caroline and Daniel, meeting Anne Bogel and Steve Laube, and winning a 15-minute consultation call with James Rubart! I also have another big surprise on the writing front which I’ll be revealing it in my newsletter on WEDNESDAY, so don’t forget to sign up! 😉

Did you fall in love develop any new & amusing affections for certain fictional males in 2019?

I developed a big soft spot for Doctor Strange while also realizing (during a re-watch of The Lord of the Rings) that my love for Aragorn, son of Arathorn is unchanged and eternal. And I should probably mention, too, that while Kylo Ren can go kick rocks, BEN SOLO won my heart in a record-breaking 25 minutes and was Extremely Fine™ in the process. (I only speak facts here, people.)

I will NEVER be over this scene. It was masterful, beautiful, and joyous. #BLESS

What was the best concert you’ve been to this year?

Didn’t go to any concerts except for our traditional Christmas cantatas. Which were lovely.

What were your favorite TV programs?

Doctor Who (which my mom and I watched obsessively for the first few months of 2019), Lark Rise to Candleford (delightful!), and Chernobyl (my new historical obsession). The jury is still out on Downton Abbey, but I will say this: it’d be a thousand times better if it was a mockumentary about THIS lady:

What were your favorite films?

Avengers: Endgame (which made it near the top of my list of Favorite Films), Doctor Strange*, Tolkien*, and The Rise of Skywalker (full review coming next week, by the way).

What were the best books you read?

I actually read 28 books this year, which is far more than I’ve read in a long time…but my favorites were undoubtedly:

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Two Benedictions (Joel and Joy Clarkson’s musical collaboration) and Rich Mullins (a rediscovery, since I grew up listening to him, but now I can appreciate the poetry and honesty of his songs).

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 27, and we went to my aunt and uncle’s for a crawfish boil!

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2019?

Basically the same Peggy Carter/Kate Middleton mashup, except I’ve also lost enough weight (thank youuuuuuuu, weight bench + Trim Healthy Mama) to feel comfortable in bootcut jeans.

What political issue stirred or exhausted you the most?

I am exhausted by all this impeachment humdrum pish-posh, and that’s all I’m gonna say about it.

What valuable life lesson did you learn in 2019?

I have been deeply inspired by several of Christianity’s great heroines this year. Not only have I taken great comfort from the stories of the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, but I’ve also been very empowered by the stories of Saint Scholastica (sister of Saint Benedict), Saint Catherine of Siena, and Saint Hildegard of Bingen. Mary and Elizabeth compel me to remember that “Blessed is she who [believes] that the Lord [will] fulfill his promises to her” (Luke 1:45), while Scholastica, Catherine, and Hildegard inspire me to embrace both the capaciousness of my own womanhood and the exciting new paths God has so clearly laid before me.     

@ Pinterest

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

So wake me up to the wonder of it all

Breathe new life in the dry and weary halls of this

War-torn heart that has made a home for pain

I wanna be born, wanna be born again

I wanna be born, wanna be born again

–Two Benedictions, “Born Again”

Goodbye, 2019…Hello, 2020!

  One thought on “2019: A Year in Review

  1. December 30, 2019 at 3:43 pm

    Beautiful post, Maribeth!!

    What you said about Mary and Scholastica and the other holy women makes me so happy ❤

    "A record-breaking twenty-five minutes" YAS YAS YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Rise of Skywalker was brilliant and Adam Driver was brilliant and that is All. *fangirls*

    Like

    • December 30, 2019 at 4:14 pm

      We need to talk more about our favorite Christian heroines! I have a feeling I could learn a lot from you 🙂

      I should probably confess: the first thing that came out of my mouth when the credits started rolling was an EXTREMELY emphatic, EXTREMELY enthusiastic comment on Ben Solo’s General Awesomeness in That Particular Scene, and my sister nearly fell out of her chair laughing. Ah well…there are just some things in this world that are simply too wonderful for measured and dignified reactions. (I mean, take That Kiss for example–my sister and I both gasped and started clinging to each other in sheer joy. We were not at all dignified–and her husband just laughed at us, but we did not care, no siree.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • December 30, 2019 at 5:17 pm

        We do need to talk more about that!! That would be awesome ❤

        THAT IS THE ONLY APPROPRIATE REACTION and to Heck with dignity! *giggles*

        Liked by 1 person

  2. carolinewilliamswriter
    December 30, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Love this post! Great recap!

    Like

  3. December 30, 2019 at 8:55 pm

    Love this post, Maribeth! It sounds like you had a great year!!
    Ooh, I can’t wait until I read The Silmarillion, Book Girl, and Adorning the Dark!! So glad to hear you liked them!
    AAAH YESSSSS THE RISE OF SKYWALKER WAS AMAZING AND BEN SOLO HAS MY HEART AS WELL AAAAHHH! I went to the movie with my cousin and we stared at each other with our mouths hanging open and unbelieving smiles on our faces at *That Particular Scene*. XD

    Like

    • December 30, 2019 at 9:31 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Amelie! I did have a good year; it was a little quieter than some, but that is not a bad thing 😉

      Oh yes, I loved those books! I hope you get to read them soon. Adorning the Dark was particularly encouraging to me as a writer.

      That Particular Scene will keep me walking on clouds for a week, haha. SO. STINKIN’. COOL. And I saw something this morning that pointed out how Ben was acting JUST like his dad in That Particular Scene: smirking, shooting bad guys over his shoulder, shrugging and holding his hands out like, “Sure, fight me if you want, bro–I’m a Jedi like my mother before me, but fine, gimme your best shot.” In short, he was walking in the footsteps of Han Solo, and he knew it XD

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 2, 2020 at 7:57 pm

        Yay!
        YES, SO STINKIN’ COOL INDEED! That is awesome. XD

        Like

  4. January 2, 2020 at 6:26 am

    Eeek! It was so fun to read this! First of all, that quote from Cyril Connolly made my heart swell. I feel like that was a perfect reminder for me, especially as I’m starting to write for more people than I *ever have before in my life.* School, blog, fanfiction, etc. It just made me stop and remember *why* I’m writing and to never change what makes my writing unique.

    Also: Downton Abbey. I’m so glad you’re watching it! Hooray! And yes, Maggie Smith is the best part of the show, am I right? The first season or so is a bit scandalous (hahaha that’s the joy of Downton), but hopefully you’ll fall in love with the characters and the big house (*theme song starts playing*)

    AND ALSO: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. I loved it so very much and so glad you did, too! I saw your Instagram post of you hugging the poster and it made me smile. I too mention That One Scene as one of the parts of the movie I loved most. BEN SOLO. My lil son. The kiss at the end too…i was crying…oh i was crying. Such a good film; you should do a review on it!

    And lastly, your adoration of the female saints literally makes me so happy. I love St. Lucy in particular, but there are so many others I have to explore. That’s my plan for this year is to learn more about the female saints. God does such amazing things with women, and reading about them warms my heart.

    Happy New Year! Thanks for a great post. Such fun to read.

    Emily 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • January 2, 2020 at 4:58 pm

      I’m so glad you loved that quote, Emily! As I enter my own season of rest when it comes to storytelling, I’m realizing how important it is to write for myself. I’ve been so caught up in editing and polishing my novel, I’ve forgotten why I love writing. So I need to play for a little while. And if I want to write a story where…(*smirks mischievously*)…Ben Solo lives and gets not only a chance to prove his redemption is genuine, but a chance to live happily ever after with She Who Is All of the Jedi, then I can do that.

      There are some characters of Downton Abbey who I absolutely love: the Dowager Countess, of course, but also Tom Branson, Sybil, Mr. Bates and Anna, Miss Baxter (OH I LOVE HER), and Mrs. Hughes. And I love Isobel Crawley, too! I’m just not crazy about Mary, haha. I think I’m especially sensitive to her behavior towards Edith because I’m the oldest in my family, too, and it makes me cringe when she’s so cruel to her younger sister. But I find most of the other characters incredibly entertaining. And yes, the theme song is gorgeous.

      I was desperate to hug that Rise of Skywalker poster by the end of the movie, and my sole complaint was that Redeemed!Ben wasn’t on it, haha! Honestly, I spent much of the drive home in my sister and brother-in-law’s car just wailing, at random moments, “I CAN’T BELIEVE HE DID THAT–I’M SO PROUD OF HIM.” And the kiss at the end was just…gah. So beautiful. I am definitely working on a review; it should be published this coming Monday!

      I would love to study some of the female saints with you! I’m still learning, of course, but I do find great comfort and inspiration in the stories of these women who were devoted, body and soul, to the Lord. Maybe we should start emailing each other about that?

      Liked by 1 person

      • January 3, 2020 at 2:52 am

        Yes, Maribeth! Play with your writing and write that story about Ben Solo proving his redemption and living happily in Jedi land with the Queen of Jedis and having Jedi babies! DO IT!

        Ehehehe

        And I feel the same about Mary Crawley. She’s a sour little bean, and her character goes everywhere throughout the course of the show. There was times I liked her, but a lot of the time she also made me cringe as that Tyrannical Eldest Sister TM. I’m the oldest, too, and it just irks me when she’s such a booger to Edith and Sybil. Sybil is my little baby, though. I love her so much. Ahh, bless her and that Tom Branson (#irishboysforever).

        And I would love to study some of the female saints with you, too! That would be so fun! They lift up my soul, and I love reading their stories. I’d love to email you about them whenever we find one we particularly love and wanna share! 🙂 Thanks for offering!

        Liked by 1 person

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