As December, and hence 2022, draw to a close, it’s that time when I pause to reflect upon the twelve months that have just passed, especially in light of my Word of the Year. In January of 2022, I chose the word “Devotion” to guide me into the year to come.

As I debated what word to choose and why, “Devotion” came to mind because it would help me focus on what I truly wanted to be devoted to…and then actually spend my time on those important things, rather than pushing them to the margins in the face of the daily grind.

My “devoted to” list included:

  • God
  • My family
  • My call to write
  • Learning

But all too often, those things weren’t what was getting my time. Instead, most of my hours and days and weeks were spent doing the things that may have been good but weren’t my passion, weren’t my top-of-the-list. I wanted to refocus for 2022, free up some time for those Most Important Things, and truly devote myself to my faith and family and calling.

With that in mind, the big thing I did was take control of my design calendar and say “one cover design a week.” My “rule” before had been 2, but it frequently turned into 4 or 5, plus typesetting jobs, plus WhiteFire work, plus… everything. It was too much, and I was not only left without solid writing time, I was also left pushing things like my morning prayer and Scripture reading into five minutes. Not good! Hence that one-a-week cover design rule that I instituted. The result is that I’m already scheduling designs five months in advance, so I’ve had to encourage my clients to think ahead. And there have been times when I’ve gotten behind thanks to a writing deadline, so a few extra pile up. But in general, that “rule” has helped me SO much! I’m glad I instituted it and intend to carry it forward and be even more strict about it in 2023. (My November and December somehow ended up with an average of 4 projects a week again, because I just didn’t have the gumption to tell people no, LOL.)

One way I gave myself the space to do this was to start my direct-support group, Patrons & Peers. This is a Patreon-style group, but run directly through my website here. My supporters can choose their subscription level, and in exchange for that support, they receive perks and–far more important!–are invited into the P&P community. When I started the group, I had this dream that it wouldn’t just be about supporting me, but about supporting each other. That it would be faith-filled believers acting like the Church should, loving and encouraging each other. AND IT IS. I am still so floored by this, and deserve none of the credit. It’s the ladies themselves who have made this possible by being open and loving and filled with the Spirit of God. This group has not only blessed me financially throughout the year, enabling me to whittle down that design calendar, they’ve blessed me emotionally, spiritually, and mentally as well. I love reading the group emails and listening to/watching the Marco Polo videos. We’ve become friends. Sisters. A true community. We sign off with “love you guys!” and pray for each other daily. These ladies have helped me pursue my true devotion and have inspired me daily to walk worthy of the call of Christ. Thank you, “Roseanna Girls!”

In 2022 I also decided to do a Bible in a Year program, to force myself out of that 5-minutes-of-reading slump I’d been in. I chose to do the ESV Catholic Version and have really enjoyed reading all the Deuterocanonical texts as well as the familiar Scriptures in a new-to-me translation!

My husband and I have also been doing the Liturgy of the Hours together in the morning, listening to the Invitatory and Morning Prayer together in the Divine Office app on my phone. I love that these songs and recitations have grounded my heart in the Psalms–as I go throughout the day, I often find myself singing, “Come now, let us bow down to worship, bending the knee to the Lord our Maker! For He is our God, and we are His people, the flock He shepherds. Come, let us sing joyful songs to the Lord!” I’ve memorized several Psalms this way through the year without even meaning to! I try to listen to the Office of Reading too, when I can, which in addition to prayer and psalms and Scripture also has a short excerpt from a historical sermon. I love getting little bites of the Church Fathers this way!

Now…writing. This is “me.” This is what I do. I wanted to free up more time for it, and boy, have I done that! While I’m still not writing every day or anything, I have successfully completed 4 full-length manuscripts this year, plus edits and rewrites, and am about halfway done a 5th. I’ll have 4-5 due next year as well, so I’m so happy to have established a rhythm and routine that allows for more writing time. I still am scheduling most of it in big blocks (and don’t always remember to mark that week off on my design calendar, hence those occasional back-ups), but that’s what’s working for me in this season, so I’ll just run with it. =)

And now, study. I wanted to give the proper attention to both research for my novels and my own spiritual formation, and while I still have room for improvement here, I feel like I’ve made real strides! I did a lot of research for both Yesterday’s Tides and my new Imposters series for Bethany House, and I read a truly amazing book on Mary Magdalene in preparation for writing At His Feet for the Extraordinary Women of the Bible series for Guideposts. My husband and I have also both read several books together that we then discuss as we take walks, and that’s been a real joy too! And in the autumn, one of my P&P ladies, Laura Heagy, started sharing some Spiritual Formation exercises with us each month, which have also helped me focus time and some reading on this important goal.

Was 2022 a perfect year? Of course not. I had plenty of moments of frustration, of overwhelm, of exhaustion. There were days when the words wouldn’t come or when the headaches were too bad, and I got seriously derailed for a week or two by learning that I have a benign tumor on the pituitary gland in my brain. But for all that, as I look back on where I was a year ago and where I wanted to be this year, I know that I have, in fact, chased after that devotion with my whole heart. I had moments of failure, of course, but I picked myself back up and started again. Redevoted myself. Focused again on God and what He’s given me, what He’s placed in my charge, what He’s called me to.

And I already know how I’ll continue that work in 2023–my Word of the Year came to my mind and heart very quickly, as soon as I started thinking about it, and I’m looking forward to telling you more about how, in 2023, I intend to Linger with God, with His word, with His people, and with those things and people who make me who I want to be. Come back on January 1 to read my Word of the Year post!

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