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 book I, I planned to make it into a trilogy, but now it’s turned into at least a six-book series called Warfare.
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).
- Finishing the plot of an evangelistic outreach movie I’d been planning since December called The Goodbye. I collect dolls professionally and enjoy making stopmotion animations with them.
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 documented my arduous editing journey here, but here’s a very small snippet of my multiple anguished reactions at the notorious chapter two.
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!
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
- 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.
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 preparing my dolls for shooting The Goodbye and made amazing memories with my brother. Certain songs we obsessed over still remind me of the epic times February held.
- 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.
- I began filming The Goodbye.
- Due to my 50k goal, I did a ton of sprinting on My Write Club and increased my WPM (words per minute). I was obsessed with sprinting.
- 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!
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 the 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. I think. I hope. If I have time. (Pfft, when do I ever NOT take the chance to shove my stuff down your esophagus.)
- I made a ton 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.
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 I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when I was 6.
When it jumped sides of my body, inflamed multiple joints at once, then went to my eyes, doctors were freaking out and put me on the same medicine used for chemotherapy. It would eventually destroy my ability to have children. I took it through weekly injections for years and also had 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.
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.
Since then, 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 weekly injections I took). 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, 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. Now I can write 4k 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.
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 the miracle-working power of God in my knee at a church we preached at.
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! >:)
- 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. I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do but write. 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 on July 1 and wrote 20k that 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:
- Wake up anytime from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M.
- Start the day off with roleplay.
- Take a shower while roleplaying.
- Get dressed while roleplaying. (This includes makeup. It’s an incredible feat.)
- Eat a late lunch while roleplaying.
- Take care of any blog stuff while roleplaying.
- Swim while roleplaying.
- Eat dinner while roleplaying.
- Go to bed and procrastinate getting started on writing while roleplaying.
- 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.
- 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 Novel, Structuring Your Novel, 5 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.
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
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?
Cabin Mate: Did you want to come?
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 Novel, Structuring Your Novel, 5 Secrets to Story Structure and began brainstorming, then started working through the OYN workbook.
- I also wrote the entire plot for my annual photostory series and began shooting it.
- 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. >:)
- 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.
- 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. 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.
Just to clear that up in case you read that and wanted to throw tomatoes at me. 🤷🏻♀️
- 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.
- My photostory series launched.
- 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 over half a million views!
- I finished updating my entire scene outline with all my research and historical “fixations”, as I call them. XD
2017’S BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
- 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 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 $690 to world missions.
- CHILDREN FED: I was personally able to feed one child a month for I think $72 this year. I forgot how many my parents fed, but as I state, that was completely my decision and money. You can literally change someone’s life for only $6 a month! Yeah, you! You can find out how to do it right here!
- 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, because 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; I’m scared about a bunch of things that are coming up and keep thinking 2018 is going to be terrible. But who am I kidding? Nothing’s hard for God! I can’t wait to watch Him blow 2017 out of the water with 2018’s coming epicness.
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: One of Them tomorrow. You don’t know how much self-control it’s taking not to keyboard slam my excitement right now along with hundreds of exclamation points. Expect tons of updates and, heh, of course, more snippets shoved down your esophagus!
P.S. At a loss for unique and awesome New Year’s resolutions? Check out my friend’s awesome post full of ideas here.