2014 in a Nutshell

For the past two years (2012 & 2013) I’ve written a recap of my year. 
This post took me probably between eight and twelve hours and several days to complete. It’s been crazy looking back through 2014 and seeing all that’s happened in my life! 
I’ve had a lot of good times, a lot of confusing moments, a lot of oh-my-goodness-is-this-really-my-life experiences, a lot of pain, a lot of joy and a lot of changes. 
This year has been a full-out learning to trust God and rest in Him year (more about that in another post), so it’s not been all lolly-pops and ice cream sundaes, if you know what I mean. 
I’ve decided to share the good, the bad and the fantastic with y’all. 
I hope you enjoy getting to see a glimpse of my life! 
I’ve linked about 95 of the over 320 posts from last year into this post, 
so I hope you enjoy going back and reading about a few of my highlights again. 🙂 


January: 

2014 was ushered in with lots of fun, festivities, Settlers of Catan, and hanging out with family. Our cousins spent about two weeks with us – weeks filled with jolliness, games, and craziness. I would have never guessed at that time that they’d be living here before the year was out!
I also began writing When Life Hands You Lymes and posting a segment each Friday. 
On the 3rd I headed to my adopted parent’s house to work on writing a kids bookCool Critters of the IceAge, with them. I start having ‘no internet, no computer Sundays’. During the first ten days of January I also work on hyper-speed to write the first draft of the first book in my Action Kids series. (I co-authored one book and wrote the first draft of another book during the first 10 days of the year. Short books, but still… Busy times!) I took many long, freezing cold, snowy walks to brainstorm. 
All in all, in January I write the first draft of the Action Kids book, go through it a second time, send it to my beta readers, go through it a third and forth time and then send it to my editor.
We were on a time crunch. 
I enter a short writing contest, but don’t even place in the top 10. I spend part of January working at the house we’re building. Thinking we’ll be moving within a couple of months, I give y’all a tour of my ‘old’ office. Getting my braces off is an exciting time for me and I celebrate by eating sugar for the first time in over a year. On the 24th I head to Florida with my family (cue fun car trip with sisters). 
All throughout January I’m praying about possibly taking a trip to Asia for a month with my brother, but I  can’t find an opportunity to ask my dad about it, so I don’t know if it will work out or not. At the end of the month I finally ask Dad and he’s all for it. I’m going to surprise my best friend (who lives there), so I keep the trip quiet. 
My review of January leaves me feeling happy. 
Nights Gone in January: 12
Books Read in January: 8
February: 
Walking was so nice in the beautiful Florida sunshine that I walked 22 miles one week, a far cry from my previous year in bed with Lyme disease. 
Getting to watch the Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate on the 4th was exciting. 
Hanging out with extended family, getting the first illustrations for my Action Kids book and getting ready for a huge work conference made the first week of February fly by. 
I worked a lot on scheduling posts for the A to Z Challenge I wanted to take part in during April, because I’d be in Asia over that time. 
On the 9th I get to spend the day with my adopted parents, fossil hunting and hanging out with Dr. and Mrs. Parker. It was so very cool! 
Going to GatorLand on the 10th and getting to sit on a gator was also pretty fun. 
A fellow blogger contacted me and asked me to write a guest post for her blog. She requested a subject I’d never blogged about before, but I happily accepted the challenge.
After our conference we spend Valentines day canoeing in the Everglades.
We arrived back home on the 17th, a few days later I introduce Action Kids to Noveltea. 
I then celebrate my upcoming two year blog-anniversery with a giveaway
And of course I review February. 
Nights Gone in February: 15
Books Read in February: 5

March: 

I start out the month with gearing up for the trip to Europe that our family was planning to take in April. I wished I had more time to read books set in the countries we were going to be visiting. My two year blog-anniversery takes place on the 6th while I’m in Nashville with my adopted parents. While in Nashville we got to go to the Hermitage which is where Andrew Jackson used to live. It was a crazy experience. Going to the Grand Ole Oprey was a something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m so glad I got to go and see my adopted parent’s old stomping grounds. 
I get home from Nashville on the 9th to find my first royalty check! *cue happy dance* My wonderful sister, Helena, gave me a stuffed animal to celebrate. (Stuffed animals are the best, by the way.)
My brother and I leave for Asia on the 15th and after over 50 hours of traveling we arrive at our destination. I blog about successfully surprising my friend, Sarah, and settle into life on a warm, tropical, bustling island. Walking in the rain, riding the motor bikes, climbing up mountains, shopping at the market, eating exotic fruit and tons of rice, hiking to gorgeous waterfalls and playing countless games of Rook made for a wonderful interlude in my life.
I also spent many hours sitting on the couch, editing my Action Kids book.
My review of March.

Nights Gone in March: 22
Books Read in March: 8

April: 

The A to Z Challenge starts in April and I kick off with the word Attitude. Getting to be in the background taking pictures when my wonderful friend, Sarah, gets proposed to was well-worth the trip to Asia and a highlight of my year (of course!). Finding out a few days later that she wanted me to be in her wedding party was incredible.
 A few days later we hike up the same mountain we tackled in March, this time in the middle of the night. Our plans to arrive at the top of the mountain in time to watch the sunrise were messed up by dense fog hiding the view, but it was still a wonderful experience, ending with two more of my friends getting engaged.
My brother and I arrive home on the 16th after over 55 hours of traveling. With all the time changes, April 15th lasted for over 30 hours for me which was really weird. My phone stopped working about half-way through our stay in Asia, so getting it fixed when we arrived home was wonderful. After a busy 8 days home, my family and I head to Europe for a month.
We spend a week in Vienna, Austria at a business convention.
I don’t take the time to review April. Life is just too crazy.

Nights Gone in April: 22
Books Read in April: 6

May: 

Getting to explore so many countries was spectacular. After Vienna, Austria, (where we got go to into catacombs!) we go to a more rural part of the country and get to see where part of The Sound of Music was filmed. We head to Germany next but take a very long detour to Switzerland and spend the day taking in the beautiful view. I’ve wanted to go to Switzerland since I was just a little girl and I throughly caved each moment of sitting in a wide, flower-strewn field under the breath-taking heights of the Swiss Alps into my memory bank.
In Germany we get to experience the culture for a few days while staying in an apartment where we try our hand at cooking German-ish food. Exploring castles in Germany was a absolutely amazing. Especially going to Heidelberg.
Holland was our next stop and a dream come true for me. I’ve wanted to go to Holland and see the Beje (where Corrie ten Boom lived) since I was about eight. Reading part of The Hiding Place while in the actual hiding place was something I’ll always treasure. Seeing the Beje and the place where Anne Frank lived on the same day was crazy. Hanging out with our friends in Holland made the trip so much better and our day trip to Belgium with them on the 9th was a whirlwind.
On the 12th we head to Paris and I’m amazed at it. After a few very interesting days in Paris (including going to the top of the Eiffel Tower) we take the Euro Star across the countryside and through the Chunnel to London. London was a beautiful, friendly and filled with places I’ve read about. London was one of my favorite cities in Europe. After too-short of a stay in London we meet up with some of our friends who have lived in England for 45 or so years. They treated us like royalty when we were at their house, including delicious meals in the garden. It was dream-like.
While in England we visited Oxford and I got to go into the Eagle and Child, which is where C.S. Lewis used to hang out with his writing friends. On the 22nd we pack up and head home. A couple of days after we get home we have some friends come and visit. Our time together is lovely.

Nights Gone in May: 21
Books Read in May: 10

June: 

Having almost the whole month of June home was a much-needed breather. I spent a lot of the month working with my family on moving to our new house that we’d been building and also discussing plans for Sarah’s upcoming wedding. Midway through the month I celebrate my book’s first birthday. On Father’s Day I surprise my adopted dad by staying with my adopted family and having a totally fantastic time.
I also take time to work on another round of editing. During this time I begin to have discouraging feelings about being a writer that I’ve never had before. I have to make the choice to trust God instead of continuing to freak out. A conversation with a wise friend really helped me during this time.
 We move into our new house on June 24th. Deciding an office is way more useful for me than a bedroom, I ditch the whole bedroom idea and create the perfect office for myself. I just pull a sleeping bag out of the closet each night and sleep on my office floor. My office is everything I dreamed of and more. I can’t stop being amazed at how wonderful it is.

Nights Gone in June: 1
Books Read in June: 5

July: 

July starts out with exciting news: One of my adopted dad’s songs hit number 11 in the national charts! Helping out with the VBS at church was one of my highlights of the month.
Getting to work with kids is so rewarding!
The second week of July I head out of town with a few family members to visit my sister and her family. I also spend a large amount of time planning a bridal shower for Sarah. July is a month brimming with so many responsibilities and emotions I can hardly keep track. There are some really big things in my life that are changing and I’m not sure how to deal with everything. Being thrown out of routine is hard for me and I struggle with finding peace and joy with being where I’m supposed to be. An encouraging note from a special friend came just at the perfect time and warmed my heart. Five months later I still carry the note around in my computer bag.
Spending several days with extended family is a highlight and we have a really wonderful time. Sadly I’m not feeling the best which puts a damper on the time for me, but I still enjoy it. One of the cousins is getting married so we spend a good amount of time talking about that, including phone calls on speakerphone to his fiancée. Good times.
A few days after our family get-together I head to PA to spend a few days with Sarah and work with a wonderful friend to get my dress made for Sarah’s wedding. My day is brightened by the news that I have a brand new, beautiful niece. I end out the month with finishing setting up my new office, I celebrate by taking some pictures. It was a good ending to a hard, crazy, wonderful month.

Nights Gone in July: 10
Books Read in July: 9

August: 

The first week of August rolls around along with Sarah’s bridal shower. The bridal shower didn’t exactly happen without any snags, but I did learn a lot that I’ll put into practice if I ever host another similar event. Overall everyone agreed it was a success. The next week I head out of state for a wedding and I’m shocked to meet a girl who reads my blog while in the food line at the reception.
On the 18th I hit my goal of read 22 non-ficiton books before I turn 22 and I celebrate by sharing a list of the books with Noveltea. Getting the contract signed for the Cool Critters of the Ice Age book that I wrote with my adopted parents back in January was great.
I drop my iPhone and it breaks into three pieces and is only held together by a little thread. I tape it and keep using it, discovering a mixture of tricks to do what I need to even when it begins malfunctioning.
Sarah’s wedding was on the 23rd and I’m blessed beyond belief to have been her maid-of-honor.
The days before and after her wedding are crammed full of tons of out of state guests who came in for the wedding, including some of my most amazing friends ever. At the beginning of the time I prayed that each day would seem like a week so I could store and treasure all the memories I wanted to have. I’m very happy to say it was one of the longest weeks of my life.
(And, one of the shortest, if we’re going according to how many hours of sleep I got.)
So much happiness, emotions, changes, sunset-watching, caring, tears, dreams come true, long hugs and good talks took place. 
I end August by going on an overnight caving adventure with my adopted parents. Fun times!

Nights Gone in August: 5
Books Read in August: 10

September: 

I arrive home from caving to the delighted welcome of a bunch of little cousins who have moved in next door but spend most of there time over at our house. (Yes, the same amazing ones who I mentioned at the beginning of the year.) When the founder of one of my favorite blogs asks me to guest post, I’m ecstatic. We also have some great friends spend several days with us, a life-changing visit.
Getting to spend a week at the Creation Museum (where I get to meet the Duggar family) with my adopted parents is wonderful and my excitement is overflowing when they buy me a rat for my birthday. The fact that they also give me a genuine whip (I’ve been wanting one for several years now) adds greatly to my delight. Being sick with a horrible cold during my stay with them is a bummer, but I still enjoy my time. I arrive home three days before my 22nd birthday, and then wake up on my birthday with pinkeye. Not fun at all. Thankfully we’re able to get medicine and no one else in the family gets sick. My birthday is brightened considerably by the exciting news that I have another niece or nephew on the way. The perfect birthday present.
All throughout September I’m dealing with a lot of changes going on in my life and I’m having a hard time being ok with some of them. I spend many nights praying, reading and snuggling in my sleeping bag trying to comprehend life and growing up and difficulties and changes. It actually takes me about two months and lots of late-night talks with God and heart-to-heart discussions with my sweet sister and a couple of great conversations with good friends before I finally find peace and accept that life is going to be full of changes and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Nights Gone in September: 7
Books Read in September: 7

October: 

October starts out with a crazy writing-related list for me to work on. The plan is for me to dedicate the whole month to work on my up coming Action Kid book release. Going to a concert with some of my sisters and cousins was fun break, but not exactly what I was imagining.
When my good friend and neighbor, “Grandpa” Eddie dies, it’s harder on me than I expected it to be, but I’m so thankful for the years I knew him. In the middle of my extremely busy month getting ready for the book release, I head off on an last minute trip to my sister’s house for a week (with pretty much zero internet) to help her out cause she hadn’t been feeling the best. While there I’m amazed time and time again at all the work mothers do. I also get a call from Helena (another sister) asking me if I want to go on a road trip to Nebraska with her in some friends in November, then we’ll fly home. (Our friends live in Nebraska.) Of course I happily accept since 1) Road trips are awesome. 2) Sibling time is amazing. 3) Some of my best friends live out in Nebraska. It was a win-win situation. The last day I spend with my sister I get to see a bunch of hot air balloons which was crazy-cool.
 October also marks the start of my “23 Before 23 Challenge”.
On October 27th I begin the two week countdown until the release of my Action Kids book. My furious paced work on the book release details continue. I self-published the book and we ran into a few snags with the formatting that gave me several days of craziness. My brother, Logan, is a huge, huge help to me during this time. I couldn’t have pulled it off without him. He’s an amazing example of being a servant. I read an extra few books during the late nights when I can’t sleep because I’m mildly freaking out about Action Kids. 
October in review.

Nights Gone in October: 6
Books Read in October: 13

November:

My stressed out, jumbled emotions are totally unexpected and only heighten as November comes into focus. It took me two or so weeks to remember that I felt the same way leading up to the release day of my first book. I have everything (other than runaway-emontions) under control with the book release now, so I can focus on some big events going on at my non-writing job. When I’m not working I’m pretty much curled up in my room, freaking out or reading books late into the night cause I can’t sleep or listening to the Bible on audio to escape the stress. (I read ten books in the nine days leading up to the release.) Mom endures several sessions of me freaking out and asking what is wrong before I finally calm down a bit.
The day of my book release and the launch of my blog tour finally take place and leave me feeling rather let down. I spend several days musing over being an author, wondering if it’s worth every thing I’d been going through. (I’d been working on the Action Kids concept for over four years by this time.) It will take me several more weeks and some really good talks with wise artist friends before I can accept how I felt I failed and move on and have joy in being an author again.
My phone gives up the ghost for good and I miss having my iPhone kindle and music a lot.
Meanwhile, we have some friends visiting and also family coming in for an early Thanksgiving. Our family Thanksgiving takes place on the 15th and the news that I have yet another niece or nephew on the way is the highlight of the week.
On the 21st some of us head to Nebraska, and after about nineteen hours we arrive at our destination. Those nine days were life-changing for me. I was able to let go of the stress of being an author and just enjoy living life as a person, not a writer. I was almost constantly surrounded by sweet children and wonderful friends who were loving and made me feel so special. I had a very healing talk with Helena that helped me overcome some things I’d been going through all year long and change my mindset about some big things happening in my life.
I also had some epic writing related conversations with friends out there that helped me see life/writing in the right perspective again. Right before we head back home, Helena and I receive the news that our long anticipated trip to Africa that had been post-poned is back in motion!
I arrive back home the last day in November.
November in review.

Nights Gone in November: 9
Books read in November: 15

December:

Soon after getting home I read my 100th book for the year. My goal was 50, so I’m pretty excited. December if filled with extra-long hours at my non-writing job, good family time, preparation for my upcoming trip to Africa (leaving Jan. 10th, 2015, Lord willing), lots of editing and reading. I also get to go to the Creation Museum twice: Once with my family for the day, and then the next weekend with some friends and I end up staying with my adopted parents for several days. It was wonderful.
A quick trip out of state with some extend family turns into a great memory-making couple of days and when we arrive home late on Christmas Eve, I’m ready for Christmas.
Christmas and the days surrounding it are filled to brimming with family, board games and fun. The day after Christmas I start on a five day juice cleanse. It’s a good (exhausting) experience and I hope to do it again some day when I can continue for longer.
The last several days of December are spent reviewing the year, working on goals for the next year, deep-cleaning my office, getting work done and getting a yellow fever shot before Africa. We also have tons of family and friends over for multiple game nights and hanging out times.
I have a delightful time finally eating again on December 31st.
December in review.

Nights Gone in December: 3
Books read in December: 24

* * * *

Nights gone in 2014: 133
Books read in 2014: 121

I am so ready for a totally wonderfully God-blessed 2015!

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