2017: The Best Year of My Life josie edition 2017-12-18T20:17:27+00:00

There are lots of words I would use to describe what I’ve realized 2017 has been for me: Acceleration. Saturation. Growth. God’s taken me places I never imagined I would be, blowing even my biggest dreams out of the water.

Today, looking back at the past twelve months of my life makes me want to drop to my knees and shed tears of thankfulness to God for not only the epicness He’s done in my life, but what I’ve told Him He’s more than free to take over and do through me for others.

Let me share it with you!

 

To kick off the best year ever, I finished my very first novel at 123,000 words on January 31st. It was my most amazing, exhilarating writing experience to that date!

… not to mention absolutely terrible writing but WE DON’T NEED TO MENTION THAT.

Writing the last few words felt so surreal, I couldn’t believe the story world I had been absorbed in for ten months of my life was on a pause until editing.

At the time of finishing booh I, I planned to make it into a trilogy, but now it’s turned into at least a six-book series called Warfare. 

(Which, if you’ve been here for a while, you’ve no doubt heard me rant your ears off about. So I won’t talk anymore about it right now.)

Other significant things in January were:

  • Getting a Propel procedure done on my teeth so they’d move faster with both my Invisalign and braces (we’re not going to go into any specifics of it in case you freak out, because I totally more than freaked, and #PAIN).

I had over 70 of my online friends praying for me, which encouraged me beyond belief. It meant so much.

  • Finishing the plot of an evangelistic outreach movie I’d been planning since December called The Goodbye. I collect dolls professionally and enjoy making video animations called stopmotions with them, another avenue to bring Light into darkness.

Editing of the first draft of Loyalty Book I began not hours after I had finished writing the book and just before February 1st. I knew nothing about writing and that you should wait a little before beginning editing, but 🤷🏻‍♀️

I went through what Kellyn calls “editor’s horror”. Editing chapter two was so unbearable I lost faith in myself as a writer for a week or two.

I documented my arduous editing journey here, but here’s a very small snippet of my multiple anguished reactions.

2:30 AM – EWW THIS IS SO GAHH… I AM HATING CHAPTER 2 RIGHT NOW! This is so horrible! EEEEWWWW!!! AAAGGGHHH!!!

2:32 AM – I can’t stand this anymore! This is HORRIBLE!!! I might just COMPLETELY rewrite chapter 2! I can’t stand this!

I quit.

The second draft wasn’t much different. I’m so embarrassed I was enough of an idiot to enlist beta readers. I’ve scarred them for life. 😩

  • On February 7, I asked my parents when I could start my personal blog I had talked to them about. With the answer of “Oh, whenever you want”, I bought the domain name madigrace.org that night.

I spent wayyy too much time with the theme and everything over those next two days. XD


photo taken by my best friend
yup, that’s my style. you’re looking at the most non-voluntary-fashionista ever. t-shirt and skinny jeans, that’s me. I love to dress up / wear fashionable stuff, I just never have the time.

  • In early February, my best friends in Texas flew me down for the week of Valentine’s Day.


photo taken by my best friend

THEY HAD THE CUTEST BABY GOATS.

Really loud, too.

Here’s a picture I took from the airplane. I had to ride in coach, which, if you didn’t know, is much different from first class. 😒

Just kidding just kidding 😂 If you’ve never flown before, the only difference with riding coach vs. fItsu is three seats as opposed to 2, it’s deeper in the plane, and less snacks (depending on your airline).

And, if you keep getting lucky like me, you might get a seat above the wing, which makes for really cool pictures. >:)

Less snacks are usually a big deal for me—FOOD, GUYS, FOOD—but I was editing Book I during the flight, so my mind was happily occupied.

Not that I wasn’t lacking food by any means. I got plenty of my favorite treats during the trip, along with tons of other stuff I wasn’t expecting from all kinds of people. I was still really missing Texas at the time, so God went out of His way to bless me multiple times. I talk more about that here.

  • The latter end of February was even more epic. I started prepeating my dolls for shooting The Goodbye and made amazing memories with my brother. Certain songs we obssessed over still remind me of the times when we hung out together and how I daydreamed about The Goodbye turning out well.

  • Madi Grace launched on March 2nd. I’m not going to link you to the first post because I don’t want you to read it.

I’ll link you to Charis‘ interview of me and launch party instead.

  • On March 4th, a year after I first began writing Loyalty Book I, I did the dumbest thing of the entire year. I put that 123k hunk of junk up for beta-reading.

I’m seriously so embarrassed people read it. I DON’T ACTUALLY WRITE THAT BAD ANYMORE, GUYS, I PROMISE.

WHY DID I THINK IT WAS GOOD BACK THEN. 😩

  • After watching people do NaNoWriMo in 2016, I wondered if I was capable of writing 50k in a month. So in March, I decided to see.

I thought it would be a lot harder, and it was a ton of fun.

  • Due to my 50k goal, I did a ton of sprinting on My Write Club and increased my WPM (words per minute). I loved sprinting so much, I skipped awesome movies with my family to sprint nonstop instead. >:)
  • My awesome missionary friend Michael came to stay with us! Ever since 2014, he’s been staying with us every summer. He’s like my older brother and my dad’s spiritual son, and the funniest person I’ve ever met in my entire life. He’s now a missionary in Thailand!
  • Sarah helped me realize that Camp NaNo is a flexible event different from the regular NaNoWriMo, so she invited me to the cabin and I planned to spend April plotting Loyalty Book II. Thanks again for double checking if I wanted to do Camp or not, Sarah! <3
  • One of my favorite downtime ways to relax (but usually I just get myself super excited about what I’m daydreaming, thus furiously swinging out my excitement) is going outside and swinging while listening to music. I had some AMAZING times daydreaming about Loyalty Book II in the pitch black dark and pouring down rain all at once while listening to epic dramatic tracks.

XD Sorry, all of my favorite memories involve music.

Each month topped the one before it, but can I just take a moment and say how amazing April was?

  • My April Fools Day pranks on my little brother and Michael kinda backfired, but…
  • I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo! One of the best experiences EVER. I fully recapped it in this post.

  • In addition to Camp NaNo, I wrote my first novelette called Hora: Everything I Never Said. I’d link you, but while it was the best thing I’d written up to that point (my writing skyrocketed over this year, and I learned a lot), it still stinks.

But it’s coming out in 2018, edited and polished, available to all of you for free. (Pfft, when do I ever NOT tale the chance to shove my stuff down your esophagus.)

  • I madd tone of epic memories of sprinting until 4 A.M. in the morning and roleplaying with my friend Blue.
  • A week in to Camp NaNo, I took a weeklong break to finish filming The Goodbye and released it on Easter. It was the hardest I had worked that year. I pulled my first all-nighter on its release date to edit and upload that 15-minute mammoth of a stopmotion.
  • Michael introduced me to this epic Christian dance artist called Matthew Parker. MY MUSIC LIFE HAS NEVER BEEN THE SAME.
  • Oh, and LZ7, too.

THE LONG STORY BELOW IS PRETTY NECESSARY TO UNDERSTAND THE MIRACLE THAT HAPPENED IN APRIL IF YOU DON’T ALREADY KNOW MY BATTLE WITH JUVENILE ARTHRITIS. BUT NOBODY’S FORCING YOU NOT TO SKIM OR SKIP IT.

Some of you may know this, but when I was 6, I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis—something that hurts. Something that’s incurable.

When it jumped sides of my body, inflamed multiple joints at once, then went to my eyes, doctors were freaking out and putting me on the same medicine used for chemotherapy and would eventually destroy my ability to have children. I took it through weekly injections for years, not to mention a few steroid shots in my knee.

But the report of the doctor is not the report of the Lord. I’ve never doubted once that Jesus is still in the miracle-working business, and because of that, I’ve seen the hand of God work miracle upon miracle on my body through the years.

Instead of being blind and in a wheelchair today like the doctors were preparing for, I’m up and kicking butt like never before. The devil’s thrown a lot of arthritic curveballs in my health over the years, so I’m cracking his skull for it with every soul I win.

After almost a year of joints 100% clear from inflammation, my left knee; the one that had given me the most problems; began to swell again in April 2015. It’s no coincidence that I went through a time of anger and negativity about literally everything.

I was like a cloud; when I disappeared, it was a beautiful day. XD Your words have power, and the words I were speaking over my life were purely death and lies from the pit of hell. My health suffered from it.

Since 2015, I’d been believing for a miracle once again for my knee, and in April of this year, it came to pass.

Since April 2015, I couldn’t bend my knee back all the way. The farther I tried to bend it, the more excruciating it became. In 2016, we decided we were done with the methotrexate (the injections I took) and went with a natural gluten-free route, which didn’t do much. I attended a healing school in November 2016, where I learned how to apply the Word of God to my life, take authority over my body, and command healing. Every day, I quote Scriptures from the Bible about healing and miracles over my body.

HAVE YOU SKIMMED ALL OF THAT. I DON’T BLAME YOU, ‘CAUSE IT WAS LONG. IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, YOU MIGHT JUST READ THIS GOOD PART FIRST AND THEN GO BACK FOR NECESSARY DETAILS.

After an awesome day of yard work with my family and Michael (he makes everything super fun), I came inside and tried sitting down with my bottom on my heels again, something my knee was getting closer and closer to doing, and eventually could do over those two years but still hurt.

My eyes widened as I sat down and realized nothing was hurting. I wasn’t having to lean to one side to avoid pain. I could hardly believe it.

I told my family, and we were all casually like “YES. We knew this day would come.” I thought I’d scream and jump around, but I do most of my rejoicing before the miracle comes as a statement of faith. So I had celebrated already. XD

I know a lot of people don’t believe healing is for today. But Jesus took 39 stripes on His back, and there are 39 routes to all known diseases. With all my heart, I believe that by His stripes, we were healed!

APRIL WAS OFF-THE-CHAIN AWESOME, GUYS.

And the awesomeness didn’t stop there!

  • I finished off the last of Hora: Everything I Never Said. I learned a lot, had the time of my life, and learned to discipline myself to write 1k an hour.
  • I began roleplaying with Chloe and Josie on May 8th. We have had some awesome times and EPIC roleplay sagas to the wee hours of the morning on tlk.io. Chloe and Josie are such amazing friends, and I’m really blessed to be able to know them. We still haven’t stopped RPing, though seriously, guys; we’ve got to do an epic group one in the Elven realm again!

  • May ministers and leaders’ conference! Lots of great times with God during these 16 services in 8 days. I was gonna register myself to get a minister badge to wear because I believe in being a minister now, but since the state of Florida won’t legally let me marry & bury until I’m 17, we figured it wasn’t ethical. BUT THEN MY FRIEND WHO’S BARELY OLDER THAN ME WORE ONE AND I WAS ALL JELLY.

  • Best Memorial Day ever! I made so many awesome memories with my family and Michael, roleplaying, and editing the plot line for Loyalty Book II, which I planed to write for July Camp NaNo.

  • I began rewriting Loyalty Book I! I was becoming less of an idiot enough to realize it stank, but still dumb enough not to realize that the problem was not only in the terrible writing quality, but the fact that there was no plot, purpose, theme, character arcs… 😫

  • My family including Michael were blessed with a night at this really awesome resort. I was extremely shy and did barely any swimming, but lots of daydreaming and imagining. I wrote a Loyalty short story called Timeless based off of what I imagined. IT’S SO CUTE AND MAYBE I’LL LET YOU READ IT EVEN THOUGH IT SPOILS LIKE THE FIRST THREE BOOKS IN THE SERIES AND I HAD NO IDEA ABOUT ACTION BEATS OR SCENE STRUCTURE.

Ah, June. Always an awesome month, because summer and my birthday. I can’t think of a single June in my life that I didn’t like.


picture taken by Jenny Wymore

  • We went on the first ministry trip of the year! My parents are evangelists but slowed down on their traveling during 2015-2017 so they could support my sister in Bible college, focusing more on our missions base in East Africa, Pakistan, and Iraq instead. So this rare summer trip was super exciting. I got to demonstrate at a church my dad preached at the miracle-working power of God in my body.

I documented the entire trip here!


why don’t I get cool pixels on my face? >:(

  • With my IRL best friends Allie and Piper (the ones who flew me down to visit in February) I went to the American Girl store in Dallas while we were there in Texas… and was able to meet Chloe and her sister Sophie! It was my very first time having a meet up with an online friend, and such an incredible experience!

You’re such a sweet and incredible person, Chloe, and I’m so glad we got to meet!! I must apologize for giving you so many hugs. I was quite excited. XD

You’re next, Josie! >:)

  • These murderous goats tried to kill me.

  • I TURNED ONE YEAR OLD ON JUNE 27. Just kidding. I turned 14 but no one had a 4 candle anywhere.

My birthday party was spent pre-writing all day for July Camp NaNo. It was the best.

Ahh, July. Could summer ever get any greater? Definitely my favorite season.

  • I started writing Loyalty Book II: Pursuit of No One. I woke up at 4:00 in the morning and wrote 20k my first day. Most exhilarating writing experience ever! I documented the month of Camp here, with plenty of snippets. Probably too many.

My goal for the month was 75k, and the goal for the book to be 130k. But because I outlined it wrong, it ended up being barely 60k.

Embarrassing, I know. Chloe is the only one who has read the entirety of the epic fail known as the first draft of Pursuit of No One.

(If you have to fail, guys, at least fail epically. Go out with a bang.)

Then my goal changed to 100k in a month. So for the other 40k, I picked up rewriting Loyalty Book I.

JUST LOOK AT THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MOCK COVER IN THE WORLD THAT SARAH MADE FOR PURSUIT OF NO ONE IT’S LITERALLY THE MOST PERFECT THING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD AND I LOVE IT BECAUSE IT LITERALLY COULDN’T BE ANY MORE PERFECT SARAH THANK YOU SO MUCH.

 Most of my July days were spent like this:

  1. Wake up anytime from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M.
  2. Start the day off with roleplay.
  3. Get a shower while roleplaying.
  4. Get dressed while roleplaying. (This includes makeup. It’s an incredible feat.)
  5. Eat a late lunch while roleplaying.
  6. Take care of any blog stuff while roleplaying.
  7. Swim while roleplaying.
  8. Eat dinner while roleplaying.
  9. Go to bed and procrastinate getting started on writing while roleplaying.
  10. Write Loyalty Book II: Pursuit of No One from 11 P.M. to 5-7 A.M. While roleplaying until Chloe and Josie have to go or fall asleep.
  11. Fall asleep around 5-7 A.M.
  • Michael left for Thailand on July 6. *cries* We can’t visit him for two years.

  • I got to meet up with Light4theLord at the American Girl store in Orlando, Florida on July 10th!

Light4theLord, you’re just the sweetest and it was such an incredible experience to meet you and your family in person! I think I hugged you too much, but I was really excited. XD

And what do you know, I was wearing the same shirt that I wore when I met Chloe. XD

  • Summer campmeeting! I went to the night services only (yeah, there’s no way I’m going to be there at 9 A.M. if I’m falling asleep from 5-7), which let out at twelve A.M., so they were perfectly synced to my writing times.

  • My writing life was changed forever.

(Which has nothing to do with cake.)

Josie (bet you never heard me mention Chloe or her ever!) introduced me to Helping Writers Become Authors, and I literally don’t know what I would do without K.M. Weiland and her mind-blowing blog and books.

I had no idea about story structure or character arcs, and since reading Outlining Your NovelStructuring Your Novel5 Secrets to Story Structure, working through the coordinating OYN and SYN workbooks as well as the Creating Character Arcs Workbook later in the year, my writing and writing knowledge have skyrocketed.

  • Youth camp began on July 31, so I had to finish my 100k goal early.

*shudders* Youth camp. -_-

My reaction about being forced to go to my first summer camp can be summed up in this perfect photo taken during field day:


photo credit @ IM Student Ministries

Yup, there’s me. There’s my face I wore all field day. I’m ashamed. I knew I should be focusing on joy despite the circumstances.

My poor team. They got so annoyed at me. XD I opted out of every single activity I could and did the least amount of everything I could.

We lost.


photo credit @ IM Student Ministries

I hid behind everyone so I wouldn’t have to participate in this game, but they made me go twice. Which they shouldn’t have, because I was terrible at everything and didn’t want to do anything.


photo credit @ IM Student Ministries

I hated every game.


photo credit @ IM Student Ministries

Luckily, I got to be in a cabin (ha, yeah right, “cabin”. Super nice hotel room instead! >:)) with friends, one of which was my best friend (in the middle and right in front of me).

Cabin Mate: Are you excited?
Me: No.
Cabin Mate: Did you want to come?
Me: No.
Cabin Mate: I hope you get your $380 worth.
Me: My parents paid and forced me to come.


photo credit @ IM Student Ministries

Even though I initially had a bad attitude about having to go to youth camp, I learned to make it worth my while. The theme of the youth camp was a subject important to me; living life undefeated and taking authority in this life!

I went into the week believing for the courage to take the next steps in both my personal life and ministry, and after days of saturation in God’s presence and getting re-baptized, I was able to take the biggest step in front of me—one I was scared of and had been daunting me for years—a couple weeks later in August. My relationship with God went like 💥

Late in August, I read through Outlining Your NovelStructuring Your Novel5 Secrets to Story Structure and began brainstorming, then started working through the OYN workbook.

  • I pulled my second all-nighter to work on the plot of the series.
  • The Goodbye hit a quarter million views while I was at youth camp, and I got the best hate comments ever. I actually adore persecution, because that means I’m making the devil in people really mad. You can’t make an impact tickling people’s ears.

I was smiling so wide at the F-bombs and people telling me the movie was “unproffesional”… as they misspelled unprofessional. 😂 I SERIOUSLY LOVE PERSECUTION SO MUCH IT’S NOT EVEN FUNNY. Actually, it is, because it makes me laugh. 😂

I’ll have to make a post about handling persecution sometime, but I’m afraid I’m not really a good judge of it so far. All of the persecution I’ve ever gotten since I was eight, even from adults, were from people I didn’t know and whose opinions I couldn’t care less about. It would’ve actually hurt had it come from people I love, so I’ll make a post about it when I have a little more experience. XD

  • I began P.E. I’m not an athletic person, so people really enjoyed dying laughing at my 25 strike-outs in softball. I got the coach to call me Madi, though, and I’m witnessing to the Muslim kids there. >:)

It was my first extracurricular activity of the year. I used to do dance (tap, jazz, ballet, and team) and gymnastics, but now I’m too focused on blogging and writing. >:) (No wonder I’ve had so many chiropractic visits. -_-)

  • Having to evacuate due to Hurricane Irma ruined a lot of my plans, but I still managed to continue working through the OYN workbook and write an entire novelette practicing proper scene structure. I documented our evacuation trip here.

  • The rest of September was spent outlining like crazy (and continuing to shoot for the photostory series). I discovered major problems with the outlining and had to start all over, which I documented here.

  • With all that outlining and novel work, I needed music to motivate and inspire me. I’m usually a die-hard saver and planned to hold on to the $1,500.00 I once had saved, but… before I knew it, iTunes called my name and is slowly draining my bank account. MUSIC IS WORTH IT THOUGH.

I’ll get so pumped and excited about the scene I’m planning and music I’m listening to, I’ll, while writing, “dance” exactly like the gif above. XD

  • Up to this point, I was trying to outline and structure my entire novel in time for NaNoWriMo, but after realizing a lot of important things about quality over quantity, I decided to share my thoughts in this post, and with a heavy heart, give up my dream of participating in “real” NaNo.

This post aroused a lot of hate, too, especially on the NaNo forums which I shared it on. >:) I guess people took it the wrong way and thought I was trying to convince people to quit NaNo, which I wasn’t at all and wouldn’t blame them for the way they reacted if I was. I was actually simply sharing my reasons why I chose not to participate this year in case anyone else was dealing with the same novel problems. 🤷🏻‍♀️

  • I FINISHED OUTLINING AND BEGAN STRUCTURING. You don’t know how EXCITED I was.

When you can’t keyboard-slam your excitement, scribble it instead.

  • I got to go to a Planetshakers concert (as part of their Legacy tour) at my church for free. My pastors helped Planetshakers get started, and now they’re an awesome ministry in Australia with super epic praise and worship that are modern and have undefeated theology. It was the best concert I’ve ever been to.

Granted, I’ve only been to two.

  • Another ministry asked my dad to help them with a lawsuit, so we visited fam in Texas again while he flew to Oklahoma. Thanks to God’s favor, the ministry he’s helping has the big dogs on their side; the same lawyers who helped Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, and other influential ministers.

  • I finished the structuring of my novel on October 30th! Now I could start on my beloved scene outline… or so I thought, as I documented here.

  • I wrote my 50-scene, 27k scene outline in ten days! It was such an epic experience. I documented it here.

  • I began my novel research. Not a fun experience, as I document here.

  • I got to meet the machine gun preacher and shake his hand! Heh heh.

I planned everything so well, sitting on the second row right behind him. I felt like a mastermind genius; look him in the eyes at this moment when he turns around, hold his gaze, he’ll shake your hand. And it worked. >:) He’s not at all like I thought he was. He’s awesome! If for any reason you don’t like him, just comment your questions and I’ll tell you what he’s really about. ‘Cause I met him.

  • I pulled my third all-nighter, working on stuff I talk about here.
  • The Goodbye hit nearly half a million views! It’s currently at 480k-something.
  • I finished updating my entire scene outline with all my research and historical “fixations”, as I call them. XD

ACCOMPLISHMENTS GOD HELPED ME MAKE WERE:

  • WORDS WRITTEN: At least 436,258
  • BOOKS OF THE BIBLE READ: New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs
  • SOULS SAVED: I kept track of it all wrong, so I know there are more, but I was honored to help at least 157 people give their hearts to Jesus!
  • MONEY GIVEN TO WORLD MISSIONS: I believe every Christian should fulfill the Great Commission! While I soul-win here in America, I have a passion for world missions, too. Personally, I gave around $490 to world missions.
  • CHILDREN FED: I think I was personally able to feed one child a month for $72 this year. I want to feed more, but that’s just where I’m at right now. XD
  • MAJOR PROJECTS COMPLETED: I finished two novels, two novelettes, numerous short stories, one stopmotion movie, my annual photostory series, outlined, structured, researched, and scene-outlined a novel, and launched Madi Grace.

That sounds kind of braggy and look-what-I-did, and I apologize if it does. But I’m close to tears as I type this and want to say nothing could’ve been done like it was without the favor of God.

The fact that God can use me at my young age to help impact people for eternity through what I have available is something I’m still trying to wrap my mind around. If people don’t even remember I was the one who told them about the life-changing love of Jesus or posted an encouraging sermonette, GOOD. I live my life to make Jesus famous, and I love every bit of it.

2017 was by far the greatest year of my life. I made the most amazing memories, had the most amazing times, and most importantly, am closer to Jesus than ever before. I’d say 2017 is going to be pretty hard to top by next year, but who am I kidding? Nothing’s hard for God!

WHAT WERE YOUR FAVORITE PARTS OF 2017? ARE YOU READY FOR 2018, JUST LIKE YOU’RE READY FOR ME TO SHUT UP NOW? ME TOO. I’VE WORKED ON THIS POST FOR WEEKS.

I can’t wait to start writing Warfare Book I tomorrow. Expect tons of updates and, heh, of course, more snippets shoved down your esophagus!

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