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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!
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.
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.
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?
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! 😉
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.)
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?
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:
- Till We Have Faces* (C.S. Lewis)
- Book Girl* (Sarah Clarkson)
- Hannah Coulter* (Wendell Berry)
- The 100 Most Important Events in Christian History* (A. Kenneth Curtis)
- The Silmarillion* (J.R.R. Tolkien)
- Adorning the Dark* (Andrew Peterson)
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.
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!