2021: A Year in Review

It’s the last day of 2021, and whew, what a year! In some ways it was easier than 2020. The dystopian vibes, while still present, were at least turned down a couple of notches! But in other ways, it was one of the most challenging and growth-filled years I’ve experienced in a while.

Every year I take this little trip down Memory Lane, using the following list of questions as an outline. Without further ado, here’s a peek into my life over the past year!

What did you do in 2021 that you’d never done before?

Well, let’s start with the happiest and most exciting one: I PUBLISHED A BOOK! After 5 years of very hard work, I released my debut novel, Operation Lionhearted, on October 13th. In other news,

  • I went to the ER, had major surgery, spent a night in the hospital, and experienced occupational therapy, all for the first time
  • I was a guest on Matthew Clark’s podcast
  • I watched all of the Harry Potter films
  • I spent 7 weeks studying to become a virtual assistant! (I’ll be sharing more about that very soon, so watch this space!)

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

According to my 2020 Year In Review post, my goals for 2021 were:

“1) PUBLISH OPERATION LIONHEARTED, 2) Write Dragonslayer, 3) Make consistently positive health and fitness choices, and 4) Be a strong, confident, entrepreneurial-minded woman.”

Well, I DID publish the novel! I did NOT write Dragonslayer (though the idea, or at least part of it, still lives in my head), but I’ve managed to keep up with walking and yoga, and I’ve become increasingly entrepreneurial. So I did achieve the majority of my goals.

My goals for 2022 are simple: I’d like to continue gardening, keep up with my healthy living, and get a home-based business up and running. (Again, more on that soon!)

Did anyone close to you get married?

One cousin got married in March, and another got married in October.

Did anyone close to you give birth or get pregnant?

A dear friend had her baby in April, and my sister Emily is expecting her second daughter in 2022!

Did anyone close to you die?

No, no one close to me, thank goodness.


In March we traveled to Arkansas for one cousin’s wedding, and then in September we went to Panama City Beach for a much-needed vacation.

Image credit: Maribeth Barber

What was the best month/season? 

I always think fall is the best time of the year, but 2021’s was especially good: I began feeling a lot stronger (physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally), the garden finally flourished after a soggy spring and scorching summer, and the beach trip allowed me to be quiet and rest for the first time in a while.

What date(s) from 2021 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 16th, the day I shattered my elbow, and February 23, the day my 12-year-old sister, Joy, broke her leg. (February was rough, guys.)

Did you suffer illness or injury?

Me in past years: “Eh, nothin’ outta the ordinary bruises and sniffles.”

Me in 2021: (*is now learning to predict the weather by the state of my elbow*)

The end result of a 3 hour surgery!

Whose behavior merited celebration?

While I’m on the subject of accidents, I want to give Joy a huge shout-out. She’s one of the sweetest, softest souls I have the pleasure to know and love, and she was such a trooper during her recovery!

Whose behavior made you appalled and/or depressed?

I think this tweet of mine, post-Capitol-riot, sums it up nicely.

Where did most of your money go?

Doctor’s appointments and publishing expenses.

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

  • Seeing the cover of Operation Lionhearted for the first time!
  • Going to the beach!
  • My new Spotify account!
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home! (SO GOOD!)
  • The Operation Lionhearted Blog Tour!
  • My sister Katie’s new kitten, Luna!

What song(s) will always remind you of 2021?

I discovered all kinds of new music this year thanks to Spotify, and I did a whole post about it earlier this month. Specific songs, however, include the Hawaii 5-0 theme, “Shallow” by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper), and “High Noon” by Andrew Peterson.

What was an unexpected surprise?

A growing friendship with someone I’ve known for a long time, but who is more of a kindred spirit than I ever realized.

Did you develop any new & amusing affections for certain fictional heroes in 2021?

No, believe it or not! I think I was too tired for most of the year, haha.

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

We got to see Steven Curtis Chapman and Mac Powell in concert on Veterans Day! It was wonderful. We were all in tears by the end.

What were your favorite TV programs?

The new All Creatures Great and Small miniseries was a delight at the beginning of the year, but the real TV show of 2021 for us was Hawaii 5-0, which I reviewed here.

What were your favorite films?

Silence (review here), Black Widow (podcast review here), This Beautiful Fantastic, and Ever After, a childhood favorite which I rediscovered this year. I never realized how much Ever After formed my imagination and storytelling preferences as a little girl! I should probably write a post about that in 2022…

What were the best books you read?

Star Wars: Bloodline, Romanov, Silence, and This Beautiful Truth. (And those are all links to my reviews.)

What was your greatest musical discovery?

Undoubtedly Lady Gaga. She would never have been on my radar were it not for House of Gucci (and these adorable set photos). Then I fell in love with the soundtrack of A Star is Born and her show-stopping performance of a Sound of Music medley at the Oscars a few years back. I don’t listen to 80% of her music, but I have a real admiration for her powerful voice and musical talent.

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

I turned 29, and I think I went to physical therapy? My sister Carolyn made the birthday cake, which we ate at my grandparents’…and I’m pretty sure we watched an episode of All Creatures Great and Small.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2021?

Necessarily practical and comfortable.

What political issue stirred or exhausted you the most?

Probably the attempt to mandate the Thing for businesses. Thankfully, it seems to be dead in the water. People can debate till the cows come home whether the Thing is effective or not, but forcing anybody to take it against their wills and consciences is morally wrong and unconstitutional to the extreme. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

What valuable life lesson did you learn in 2021?

This has been a year of often uncomfortable growth. But I’ve also received a tangible reminder in the form of a scar that my worth is not in my productivity or in my physical strength…and I’ve been reminded that no matter how hard things are or how alone I’ve sometimes felt, I am loved and remembered by the God Who Sees.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

I remember waking in the middle of the night a week after my accident. I was in terrible pain and couldn’t sleep…but while I lay there, the words from one of Taylor Swift’s new songs kept running through my mind:

And I was catching my breath
Floors of a cabin creaking under my step
And I couldn’t be sure
I had a feeling so peculiar
This pain wouldn’t be for

Looking back, I think those words were a midnight gift. It took me most of 2021 to catch my breath, but Taylor is right: the physical and mental pain doesn’t last forevermore. There is always hope: the promise of beautiful things just around the corner.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Goodbye, 2021…HELLO, 2022! And a very happy New Year to all of you, dear readers!

11 thoughts on “2021: A Year in Review

  1. Hopefully 2022 will be even more amazing for you (and not include any broken bones!).

    Happily… All Creatures Great and Small is coming back for season two in a week! I am excited to see it, although bummed that we only get six episodes per year. I want more. WAH.


  2. Oh, wow, your poor elbow! That looks incredibly painful just with an X-ray picture. I’m so thankful you’re healing up well. That must’ve been terrifying.

    And of course, congratulations again on publishing Operation Lionhearted! It was such a great book. 🙂


    1. It was very scary and very painful–but I’m so grateful to the Lord for all His mercies. I know He used my accident to grow me and draw me closer to Him, and I don’t think any of that related growth is done. I’m excited to see how He continues to use it in my life.

      Thank you so much for the congratulations, Vanessa! I hope you have a fantastic 2022.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely recap!

    I’m so glad that I was a part of the blog tour for Operation Lionhearted. You made the whole experience very special and memorable, and it was tons of fun. #goals

    Haha, that’s a great meme/tweet about the Capitol riots. XD (But also…smh. *wink*)

    Upward and onward! Looking forward to chatting more with you and publishing our post!!!


    1. I’m so glad you were part of the blog tour as well, my friend! It was such a great experience. So grateful for my entire team!

      Finn and Rose are just relatable like that 😂

      I’m really looking forward to our post as well! It’s going to be so full of Fun and Feelings™️ 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh my!! I love this article ❤ The author really captures why I love Taylor's music: not only is she a brilliant storyteller, but the stories she tells with her songs often involve a turn from despair to hope. Or from sorry to peace.

        You too, my dear!


  4. A very happy New Year to you, Maribeth!!

    Your thoughts on this year struck me hard. That’s something I’ve learned (painfully) this year: that “my worth is not in my productivity or in my physical strength” but in who I am as a child of God. I know that will be something I’ll wrestle with into this coming year, but by the grace of God I will continue to grow and learn to rely more on HIM as the source of my strength and worth.

    I hope you have a blessed beginning to this new year, full of grace and joy! ❤


    1. Ahh, I’m so glad that portion of the post ministered to you, my friend, even if it was a sobering encouragement. That’s an identity issue I’ve wrestled with for most of my life–but it took *this* event to break some of those chains and help me rest in God’s love and that of my parents (who are awesome and so full of grace towards me). I pray you find rest and peace in the Lord’s goodness and unfailing, unbreakable, everlasting love for you–and I hope you, too, have a wonderful 2022!


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