Yes. I went there.
What better way to Wrap-Up 2020 (just a little late) than with a perfectly applicable pun!? Guys, it’s a once in a lifetime chance! I had to do it!
So, first, let me explain why I’m posting this in January instead of in December, as one might expect.
2020 threw a lot of people off, am I right? Myself included. I’d started with goals to post here on a regular schedule. That totally happened. (Hear the sarcasm bleeding through the screen!) About halfway through the year, I re-evaluated and decided that I needed to back off a little bit.
So, I made Book Reviews a priority and let everything else rest. It was a really good, healthy decision for me. I’ve missed the routine and other posts, but I’m content with what I was able to do. That said, I did really want to do this Wrap-Up post like I had done for 2019! And, had plans to do it on the last Thursday of December. Buuuuut, I caught covid.
For the last three weeks I’ve been…not so well, but I’m mostly better now. I’m still healing (and trying not to overdo it so I completely recover), but I’m able to start working again and start rejoining society. So, that’s why this post is coming to you in the New Year, rather than at the end of 2020. Cause, apparently, I had to end the year with a bang XD
But this is still a reflection on my past year. And I’ll still do my New Year post where I look out into 2021, too, so stay tuned for that! Anyone who knows me knows I’m passionate about living on purpose for a purpose, living intentionally. That’s why this time of reflection, resetting, refocusing, and looking ahead is so important to me. I don’t want to look up in ten years and wonder where the time has gone. I want to be prepared and intentional in seeking out the life I’m called to live.
Okay, with that, here we go!
The Best Year Yet
A lot happened in 2020. It was a year to remember! And, for some, it was a really challenging year in a lot of ways.
2020 was the year no one saw coming. I don’t care who you are or what side of any argument you stand on, you can’t tell me 2020 was a normal year. When we did this shindig last year–the setting goals and reflecting on 2019 and starting fresh for 2020 with excitement and stars in our eyes–this is not what anyone had in mind.
I’ve seen a lot of “Thank goodness it’s over!” and so many “The New Year couldn’t get here fast enough!” and more “Good riddance!” statements than I can count. And, honestly, they kind of break my heart.
Don’t get me wrong. I will own that 2020 was a doozy of a year. It had its ups and downs. But…I also hold that 2020 was the best year yet.
Yes, 2020 knocked us all of our horses and shoved our faces into the dirt at some point or other, at least once throughout the year. For some people, it was a pretty low year. We all got sick. We all got scared. We all got stressed. We got hit by fires and tornadoes and bombs (on Christmas Day, people, come on!!). People lost jobs, homes, loved ones, lives. Shoot, we lost more than that. We lost faith and trust. We lost hope.
I tell you this, I’ve never seen so many people react with so much fear and hatred so quickly. People panicked and they were so consumed with fear that they became unkind and downright mean. It broke my heart. It still does. Cause people are still letting fear and hatred rule their lives right now.
But fear is no excuse. We are not made with a spirit of fear.
Of all the hard (and funny–toilet paper shortage anyone?) challenges of the year, I can’t bring myself to loathe it so much as so many others seem to. I just can’t. I firmly believe that the deepest trials bring us our greatest triumphs. It is from ashes that we rise. It is among the thorns that we find beauty. It is tribulation that makes us stronger. It is from darkness that the light shines the brightest.
And, guys, 2020 shone bright. Wow. It was a stunning year for me.
I’ll get more into that in a minute. But let’s do this properly, yeah?
Oof. If you kept track of any of my WWWednesdays, you’d see that my reading took a hard hit this year. Oddly enough, you don’t see that in the numbers.
You may also know that Goodreads is a lifesaver! I use the site to keep track of a lot of things. I do their yearly reading challenge, which keeps track of most of my numbers for me, and I review every book I read on the site. I love their shelf function and use it to keep track of my eternal to-read lists. So, with that, for 2020:
- My goal was 60 books–including 12 non-fiction, 3 devotionals, and 2 writing books.
- I hit 96 books!
- 11 of those were non-fiction. I read over three devotionals, but I only read part of one writing book XD
- In 2019, I read 13,684 pages.
- In 2020, I read 14,363 pages! Score!
I chose to try audio books again this year, and found they were a hit or miss. I think it’s easier for me to listen to books I’ve already read than to listen to new ones. It’s harder for me to keep up with what’s going on. I much prefer to read a physical book in my hands, but I’ve learned audio books are a good supplement when I can’t just sit down and make time to read.
I also read a ton of children’s books this year–partly for work; I’m going through the children’s library at my church for the children’s pastor and so I’m reading the books they have to make sure they’re all church appropriate. That inflates the numbers a bit, too. But, honestly, I started out with the goal of reading 60 books this year, and I’m pretty sure (children’s books aside) I met that. I know I read more pages than 2019, and that was my real goal.
I had made it a resolution to read all of K. M. Shea’s Timeless Fairy Tales in 2020. Sadly, that didn’t happen. But I did find a few new authors to try, like A. G. Marshall and Lucy Tempest, and I kept up with Brittany Fichter’s releases ❤ I also got around to some new books, like The Green Ember and Dust, as well as revisited some old favorites, like Among the Hidden, The Giver, and The False Prince. So, overall, I’m pretty happy with the way 2020 reading turned out.
This has been my third year blogging–whoa!! It’s officially three years in February, but I’m pretty darn tootin’ close!
As mentioned earlier, I did back off a little this year, but I’ve also been thinking about upcoming changes and how I’d like to move forward. More on that in the New Year post!
I’d originally planned a very regulated schedule for 2020. But, in June, I re-evaluated that plan, and decided to drop down to bare bones. I keep up with the weekly Book Reviews and the monthly WWWednesdays, but other than that…I didn’t do much here for the last half of the year.
I’m pretty excited that I did consistently continue posting weekly Book Reviews and I kept the Book Review Index up to date. I think I only missed one or two weeks for the whole year! That’s awesome! I also took a few Book Review Requests, though I did struggle to keep up with those this year. Last year, I changed from only reviewing stand alones and the first books in series to doing follow-up reviews, and I’ve found that I really liked that, so I will keep that change going forward.
Though I started out the year posting two Thoughts on Thursdays a month, I let those drop off mid-year. This was the biggest revision to my goals that I made in the summer. Instead of trying to post these regularly, I decided that it was better to just post them as they came to me, more organically. GraceBought started on Thoughts on Thursdays, as a bit of an online journal, a creative outlet and hobby. But lately it’s been morphing into something a little more in line with my long-term goals.
I did post the monthly WWWednesdays, which has become one of my favorite kinds of posts! I only missed one month, and I made up for it by posting that one a week late (so one month has two!) The year started out strong with a monthly Writing on Wednesday–and I introduced a few poems and more short stories and such through this–but that was also something I cut down on in the middle of the year. My goal last year was to post two to four Author Spotlights, and I posted two! So, yay!
As for other, random tidbits, we moved from 100 followers to 157! Whoot whoot!ul There were 85 posts in 2020 and almost 78,000 words. Though that’s fewer than 2019, that’s still a ton and I totally count that as a win! You guys are always such an encouragement, so thank you for viewing, visiting, commenting, liking, etc. Your interactions are a huge part of this journey!
Oh, man. This was a doozy of a writing year. So much happened. So much.
I had intended (even paid the fees and everything) to attend another writing conference this year. Welp, that didn’t happen XD However, I did get to attend an online replacement for that conference as well as the amazing Story Embers Authentic Character Summit!
Furthermore, I took the leap and found a writing coach/mentor this year. I’ve been working with him weekly since the beginning of February, and it has been an amazing journey. In June, I joined the Young Writer’s Workshop Author Program, and it has revolutionized my writing.
I’ve found more community, more direction, and more hope in my writing career journey this year than in any other, and that has been a phenomenal experience. There is so much more work to do, yet, but I have more courage, strength, and hope now than ever before.
I also made the really, reeeaaallllyyy hard choice to set down Lenora, the Cinderella retelling I’ve been working on for the last year or two. In September, I chose to start work on a new project. Thus, I did not do NaNo this year. As difficult as it was to let go of Lenora, it was the right thing to do. And, one day, I dearly hope to return to it. In the meantime, I’m really excited about My Sister’s Fate and hope to share more about it with you soon!
Like I said, it’s been a crazy year! Even on my end.
I changed jobs (like nine times), changed cars (again), almost changed homes, lost two uncles in less than six months, missed my first Christmas with my college group in eight years, discovered a whole new community of the best friends in the world, caught the dreaded covid, gave it to my sister, and so much more!!
Looking back…I’ve grown closer to God this year than ever before. He showed up in ways I never dreamed this year. I spent the last two years trying to find hope in a not-so-great job, trying to juggle a backup plan with my true calling and dream, and praying desperately for joy when it felt like I had lost it all.
I prayed a very specific prayer daily for months and then COVID hit and shut everything down. It was like someone knocked my feet out from under me. Our society had to relearn how to crawl and then walk again. And some of us are terrified of trying to run. We keep looking over our shoulders, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I spent the whole summer searching for a job to pay rent, working every job I could because I knew I couldn’t stay at my former job any more. Normally, I’m the kind to have the new job in place before I quit the old job. But…I heard this whisper in my spirit say I was done. I couldn’t stay, and that meant I couldn’t accept the new contract my boss offered me in May. And that meant I had an insane summer trying to beat the budget and force things to fit into my timing. Little did I know God was about to gobsmack me.
Long story short, I learned from experience to lean on Christ and to trust God more deeply than I ever have. I learned that His timing is literally the most perfect timing possible. And I was reminded of just how much He loves me. Remember that very specific prayer I told you about? Yeah, He fulfilled each of those four requests quite specifically, and went far and beyond what I ever could have imagined.
And, now? Now I’m in the best place I’ve ever been. I’m where I’m meant to be. Like, seriously, it feels like I was literally made for this. This is a place I could honestly see myself staying in for the rest of my life. But God’s funny like that. He doesn’t like to let us stay stagnant. He likes to breathe life into our dead lives and watch us blossom.
So, I have no idea what 2021 has in store, but I do know that 2020 was full of more depth, growth, love, and hope than any other year has been. It was the best year yet.
How about you?