7 Quick Takes about galleys, daily logs, resolutions, and words for *last* year

January 3, 2014 | 58 comments

— 1 —

Happy New Year! I absolutely love this time of year. It’s nice to have a holiday that’s all about reflection and new beginnings that occurs when nobody is working much, so that you actually have some time to take stock of your life and make changes. Making New Year’s resolutions is one of my favorite activities, and I usually wake up on January 1 with a detailed list of concrete changes I’m going to make.

— 2 —

…Which makes it weird that I haven’t done that yet this year. Every time I went to think about goals for the new year, I felt like I was getting the message, Wait.

Maybe it was a prompting from the Lord, a nudge to let me know that changes are afoot and I’m not supposed to make any decisions yet. Or maybe it was my subconscious reminding me that being a homeschooling mother of six kids under age ten — including quite a few who spent a lot of time yelling and/or not sleeping — has left me so maxed out that until something changes in my day-to-day life there is no point to committing to any resolution other than “Try not to lose will to live entirely.”

Not that you could tell from that last paragraph, but I’m actually feeling really happy and optimistic about this year. I just don’t feel prompted to make resolutions yet.

— 3 —

I also don’t feel led to do a word of the year — not yet, anyway — which is also something I normally like to do. Although hearing other people’s words makes me feel so utterly uncreative. Sarah Mae’s word is JESSE, her husband’s name. Lisa Leonard’s is HELLO. A friend told me that her word was EPIC.

But like with the resolutions, nothing’s coming to me right now. However, it has been interesting to think of what word would best capture last year. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about a one-word theme of the year, and I think that the perfect one is this:


In 2013, I spent a lot of time being very, very weak, and so did people I love. Things had gone so well in 2011 and 2012 that I think I had started to believe that I could control every aspect of my life and my family’s lives. I felt powerful — a little too powerful, in fact. So 2013 was a year in which I came face-to-face with weakness in all of its forms. It was not particularly fun, and I can’t say that I handled any of it in a spiritually mature way at the time. However, now that I have some space to reflect back on our crazy year, it’s quite a fruitful topic for meditation. (I would tell you what Joe’s word for 2013 is, but I try not to use profanity on the blog.)

What word best summarizes 2013 for you? (Underlined because I’d really like to know!)

— 4 —

I’m going to try to do a daily log this year! I’m really excited about the idea, which I got from creative guru Austin Kleon.

Daily Log

I’m using my wonderful daily planner from Faith Calendars as a log book instead of a calendar this year. I like that there’s not much space for each day, so I won’t feel pressure to write a lot. So far I’m really enjoying having this simple record of our days, and I know it will be a treasured keepsake in years to come.

— 5 —

Today I send my edits to the galleys back to my publisher. Galleys are proofs of what the publisher is sending to the printer — the final-final-final shot to catch typos or make other small tweaks. I will not see the manuscript again until I hold a copy of the book in my hands. It’s kind of surreal.

Something Other than God galleys

— 6 —

Our awesome friend Fr. Dan Lorimer was in town for New Year’s, and we had so much fun hanging out with him. He left a nice parish job to volunteer for military service because he heard that there weren’t enough chaplains to serve our soldiers, and now he’s headed to Afghanistan soon. Say a prayer for him!


He joined us at a New Year’s Eve party hosted by one of Joe’s friends from Yale whose family are fellow crazy religious homeschoolers (my words, not theirs). Every year they throw a fabulous New Year’s Eve party that involves s’mores melted over open fire pits, a mouthwatering spread of food, plenty of champagne, and lots and lots of fireworks.

We originally thought my dad would make it as well, and Joe and I kept laughing about the setup: the friends hosting the party are Protestant, we’re Catholic, Fr. Dan is a priest, and my dad’s an atheist. It sounds like the beginning to an awesome sitcom, or maybe an epic: A nice Protestant family is hosting a party, and bunch of Catholics show up with a priest, an atheist, and a huge bag of fireworks…

— 7 —

Talking about themes words for 2013 made me wonder what my theme song would be. Without question, it’s Mumford and Sons’ Lover of the Light. It came on the radio frequently when I would do my late-night drives to the hospital to be with the baby in the NICU — and, oddly, I have only rarely heard it since then.

The lyrics love the one you hold always hit me hard, since our little guy was full term and quite alert, but we couldn’t pick him up because of the chest tubes. He would cry and I could do nothing to comfort him, which aged me about a thousand years. One night while driving to the hospital, Lover of the Light came on again, and this time I noticed the line, sung emphatically: breathe in, breathe out — which of course, made me think of my own life-threatening breathing issues in addition to the baby’s. I broke into tears, and by the time they belted out love the one you hold, I was sobbing so hard I could barely drive.

For me, that was the defining moment of the year, and, oddly, I’m glad I have that song to bring me back to that place. I don’t want to forget what it was like to be there.

Happy New Year!



  1. Leah @ Unequally Yoked

    By the way, thanks again for the Saint picker! I’ve been doing it monthly, and am starting the year off with St. Genevieve of Paris.

  2. Patty

    I love that song too!! I just downloaded a bunch of there songs from i-tunes…that NYE party sounds awesome too:)

  3. Considerer

    I don’t think I could pick one word to ‘aim for’ in 2014.

    I’d say my word for 2013 was ‘grief’ though. That was predominant throughout my year, in the way it impacted and affected me. Not the greatest year, really, but one with many profound lessons and much personal growth (however unwanted)

  4. jen

    My NICU song was “God of This City” by Bluetree.

  5. Isabella Rose

    One word for 2013 – that is tough.

    SURVIVAL comes to mind, so maybe that is it.

    Survival – survivor? No idea – just glad I survived. 🙂

    • Caroline M.

      So sorry your year was rough, but glad you “survived!” Praying that 2014 will be better for you!

  6. mary

    I’m having a hard time setting goals as well, for some of the same reasons you mentioned (not six, but three- under three who are all sick. lol).
    i think my word would be complete. Not that my life is totally complete, or that God is done with us. But I felt like this was the year our little family really came together. We had our third son, got out of debt so that I could be a stay at home mom and are planning on taking a small little break from pregnancy for a year. So right now, I just feel really really complete. It’s lovely. Good year for us Wilkersons 2013 was.

  7. Lori

    My word for 2013 is CHANGE. I was laid off in January, couldn’t find a job, had to sell my house and move back in with my parents, and started a business. God sustained me through it all. I feel like I was “cushioned” somehow – the changes never seemed that traumatic or difficult. I don’t even feel like I learned any huge life lessons – just to keep trusting.

  8. Hevel

    Using the calendar as a logbook is such a brilliant idea! Mine has a little more space, so I can use it as both. I’ll start doing it. 🙂

  9. Kim

    Looking back on 2013 I’d say that my word is Steady. As a mother of many children trying to build her own small side business to help the family financially I found that If I focused on the next thing, or get through what needed to be done that day, without too much planning or fretting over the days and things that weren’t here yet, then we were all ok. When I tried to plan too far ahead and be hyper organized I would become anxious or angry, and learning to take things one thing at a time has, in retrospect, given my family days that are much more even. Happy New Year!

  10. Sarah

    Can we count “roller coaster” as one word?! That would be mine for 2013. It was all extreme highs and lows without much peace or normalcy in between. A friend of mine had a similar experience and she said all she was hoping for was “consistent contentment” in 2014. I second that!

  11. Laura

    I think I named this year for the first time and the name I chose will keep me busy for quite some time. Last year’s word would definitely have to be “driving” because we spent an inordinate amount of time doing that. In fact, I based our Christmas letter off of the Willie Nelson song, “On the Road Again” and it fit perfectly. It’s weird to look back and realize you’ve been living a song! Wonder what this year’s song will be. Have a blessed New Year!

  12. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I got one of those 5-year journals in my stocking (after I picked it out myself, but anyway 🙂 ) and started it January 1, so I am absolutely delighted to see Austin Kleon recommending it. I loved Steal Like an Artist but never took the time to find him elsewhere online. Thanks for pointing me that direction.

    Also: the galleys!!! Congrats on the HUGE step!

  13. christine

    I would have to say “support” is my word for last year. I had many friends go through some horrible losses and major illnesses, and I had to learn to walk with them in their grief. I even went to the hospital within hours of a friend delivering her stillborn baby. I have never in my life prayed so hard for so many people.
    How very exciting to be “done” with the book.
    When we lived in a neighborhood, we used to have a New Years Eve party with the neighborhood families. They were so much fun. I imagine the same party but with the ability to go outside (like you all could do, thanks to, you know, it’s not frigid tundra where you live) would be even better.
    Here’s to a peaceful but joyful 2014.

  14. katarina_kne

    I have never picked a word or resolution for new year nor have done so regarding of a previous year. However, when I think of a moment that was The moment of 2013, the moment that comes first in my memory when thinking back is a moment of breaking into tears and sobbing in my beathroom after being told in 36 week gestation that my baby stopped growing in utero and being diagnoes with IUGR. I was told there is a chance the baby had some genetic disorder preventing him to grow. Net even the labour or seeing the baby in the incubator at the NICU can even comper to the weaknes and helplessnes of that particular moment.I hope never to forget it and to remind me that the only path to happiness is fulfilling God’s will, even if it ment having sick baby.

  15. Emily B

    I have difficulty coming up with a word for 2013 because it was all over the place…maybe rollercoaster? But honestly that is too exaggerated.

    I didn’t think of it before I read your post but my word for 2014 is definitely HOPE!
    God bless and happy New Year Jennifer. Can’t wait to read your book!

  16. Caroline M.

    I agree with Joe; my word is unprintable.

  17. Kathleen Basi

    Not being able to hold them is the worst part of being in the NICU. I was a hot mess the whole ten days my youngest was there. Now he’s sitting on my lap eating saltines, toilet trained (mostly). Sometimes you just have to shake your head.

    So glad you’ve finally got the book FINISHED!

  18. Amanda @ Planning On it

    I LOVE Mumford and Sons. Lover of the Light is a great song and you’re right, so appropriate for your year with your son.

    I hope 2014 is a much less eventful year for you 😉

  19. Barbara

    My word would be COMMUNITY. I spent our daughter’s first year overwhelmed and sad about the push to wipe out Down syndrome through eugenics. This year I looked up and saw the community I have and the willingness to treasure and support our daughter. I didn’t even want to move here 3 years ago. Now I can’t imagine being anywhere else.

  20. Lorelei

    Interesting how MANY people I know or know of had a tough year. A friend called it “Friday, the 2013th”. Perfect!

  21. Amanda

    I’m not one to pick a word for a year but if I had to name one for 2013 it would be something like ROUGH. The year was very difficult as we buried a love one about every other month, two of which were babies we lost in early second trimester (one in May, one in December).
    I did, however, use your Saint Name Generator on New Year’s Eve and received St. Catherine of Sweden. It took my breath away as I read that she is the patron saint of miscarriages! And also of prevention against abortion – and I’m our Diocesan respect life coordinator. So, it seems she was meant for me!

  22. Kris

    If you have time to speak to your priest-friend again before he leaves, please give him a huge THANK YOU for his service. My husband was deployed for 15 months to Afghanistan, and thankfully was at a large enough base where they had priests rotating in and out and were available to say Mass every week. But there are hundreds of Catholic soldiers all over Afghanistan in remote locations who don’t see a priest or receive the Eucharist for months at a time. He’s doing such a service for these men who need the comfort of their faith and the reception of Christ to help them remain strong.

  23. Jean

    I’m also a crazy religious homeschooling mother of six (under 11). My word for the year, though I have never had one before, is JOY. I need to capture it and foster it within the walls of our home.

  24. Mary Therese

    I think my word for 2013 would be ‘acceptance’. I learned to accept a lot of things about myself, my family, and a few others. Instead of fighting everything at every turn, I’m learning to ‘let go’ more. I like Jean’s word for 2014–I would like to capture JOY as well. Something to ponder.

  25. Kathryn

    Jen, my word is FOCUS. And, your #7 resonated with me, especially this: “I’m glad I have that song to bring me back to that place. I don’t want to forget what it was like to be there.” I hear you. God bless on a beautiful 2014.

  26. Michelle @ Endless Strength

    Sadly, I just don’t have the time to do my quick takes this week, but I wanted to comment on yours instead.

    First of all, I also have a priest friend who is overseas and became a military chaplain probably for the same reason. Fr. Brian Klingele if you feel inclined to lift up a prayer. I will also pray for your friend, Fr. Dan Lorimer.

    My word to sum up 2013 has to be sorrow. I was sad for much of the year since I lost my baby boy at 19 weeks gestation on March 1. Sure, I was happy sometimes — shoot many times with my family and other children, but grieving him has been lying under the surface for most of the year. And there’s really not much better word for how it feels than sorrow. I understand more now than ever why the sorrowful mysteries are not called the sad mysteries — sad and sorrow are different emotions and sorrow runs quite deep.

    Thanks for hosting! I hope to link up next week.

    Michelle @ Endless Strength

    PS: I’m coming to TX in the summer, we should totally meet up.

    • Jessica

      Michelle, I don’t have any of the required accounts to leave a post on your blog, so I’m leaving this here and I hope you see it . . .

      I am so sad to read about your baby boy. My husband and I have been there, as we lost four little ones while I was carrying them. I am often comforted by the thought that they are saints in Heaven; that they already know the peace of Paradise and have seen His Face.

      I ache with the understanding of your suffering – that you will not hold your son in this life, but my sister in Christ, remember that you will be with him for Eternity with our Savior! You will have a family reunion in Heaven, and it will be more beautiful than we can ever imagine.

      God bless you.

  27. Margie

    CANCER is my word. My routine mammogram in February evolved into mastectomy and chemotherapy. There were lots of good words like family, friends, and hope. We are frequently heard to say that 2013 didn’t count in reference to good health, projects and tasks accomplished. My friends ,family and my future were counted and treasured.

  28. Patty

    Happy New Year! My saint from the Saint Generator is St. Jane Valois whom I know nothing about. I look forward to learning about her. As I was reading about your friends’ words for 2014, the one that came to me strongly was SERVE. So that is my word for 2014.

    Kiss that sweet baby boy’s head and snuggle all the little (and not so little) ones because they will soon be asking you for the car keys. God bless you, and all your readers! God is good. His mercy endures forever.

  29. Annery at Home

    My word for last year would be “goodbye”. We said goodbye to our foster daughter of 2.5 years on December 20th. I’ll be thinking about my word for this year 🙂

  30. Lynn

    We know of Fr. Dan Lorimer! He is a priest of our awesome Diocese – Wichita, KS. God Bless and keep him. Thank him for his Priestly service to our military.

    I think a good word to describe 2013 for me would be FORWARD. The light began cracking through the difficulties as I slowly began realizing answered prayer.

    Here’s to a fruitful, peaceful, joyful, and surrendered 2014 for all of us.

  31. Brittany @ The 1000th Voice

    Thank you so much for sharing the daily log book idea! It seems like a wonderful way to keep track of little things, kid milestones & the funny/smart things they say and so much more.

  32. Rose G.

    My word for 2013 would be TURNAROUND.
    My husband and I tried for almost 3 years to conceive without success. On New Year’s Eve last year, I got terrible ultrasound results and found out I would probably have to have major abdominal surgery if we were to have any hope of having a baby. I had surgery for endometriosis in February. Over the next few months, we discovered other problems and complications which made it seem less and less likely that we would ever be able to conceive.
    Then, on July 1st (the first day of the second half of the year), we were shocked to get our first ever positive pregnancy test! What made it even funnier was that I didn’t even take a test because I thought I might be pregnant – the only reason I took a test that morning was because the test strip was expiring that month, and it seemed like a shame to throw it out without ever having had the chance to use it! We were in a daze for about the next three months, but it’s finally started to sink in. We’re expecting a baby girl in March 2014. So 2013 started out as one of the most difficult years of my life, but has turned around to an amazingly joyful one!

    • Camilla

      Rose–just made me so happy for you to read of your joy! Blessing upon your new daughter!

  33. Jules

    I’m not sure it is odd you want to hang on to that place and time. Memories aren’t just about the “hills are alive with the sound of music” moments. Life happens, and sometimes it is hard. Nothing wrong with remembering the tough times. If we forgot all of them, we’d forget the cross. Though I hope and pray 2014 is a little less exciting for you in that way. 🙂

  34. Trisha Niermeyer Potter

    I don’t wish anyone to have a bad year, but I’m kind of glad my husband and I aren’t the only ones who are tempted to sum up 2013 with one word-DONE! Here’s hoping and more importantly that 2014 is a better year for all of us!

  35. Lindsey @ Running in Circles

    I hardly ever click over from my blog reader, but I loved today’s post! I love finding someone else who shares my New Year optimism. I wrote a blog post earlier this week about one word for 2013: I chose ENOUGH.

    And I’m excited to start using my 2014 planner as a log book, too. I bought a planner for the first time in FOREVER after reading the Austin Kleon post when you linked to it on Twitter. Such a fun idea, for all the reasons you stated.

    Can’t wait to see the final copy of the new book! Congrats!

  36. Monica Benninghoff

    My word for 2013? THRESHOLD You know that feeling when you’re standing in a doorway and you don’t know what to expect to find on the other side? Most days were good, but some days could’ve gone either way. Only a few bad days that will stick in my memory. My word for 2014 is FAMILY. They have more of my attention than in previous years, like it or not!

  37. monica

    METANIOA! is the word for 2013 for me. It was a long time coming. I was fired from an awesome job because of my selfishness and stupidity. But all time thinking I was right when I was wrong, so WRONG!. God had to really get my attention and He did. I sought counseling which paid off immensely, was granted a second chance with new job after being out of work for four months that came with a a ten dollar pay cut. Changing my negatives into positives is a process but Rome wasn’t built in a day. I am happier now than I have been in long, long time.
    Living in God’s word and teaching is difficult as we know in these counter cultural times, but I am sticking to it as it has already proved fruitful. Thank you Jesus, I love you. Looking forward to 2014!

    I like your planner Jen, good idea.

    • monica

      I not a great speller, METANOIA

  38. leah

    I have five kids under ten, one of whom is a teething baby. I don’t really have a word for last year, but my word for this year is SLEEP. lol.

  39. Misty

    My word for 2013 was TRUST based on Proverbs 3:5-6. I tried so many new things in 2013 that forced me out of my comfort zone and I needed to trust God to help me. He did! My word for 2014 will be INTENTION. Many challenges lie ahead for 2014 and I need to do all things with great purpose.
    Cannot wait to see you book in my own hands!

  40. Eva

    Euch- my word for last year was probably Frantic. And my accidental word for this year is in the link below 🙂

  41. Amelia @ One Catholic Mama

    I did your patron saint generator thing. I got Saint Margaret of Cortona….verrrrry interesting.

  42. Anne

    My NICU song was My Darling by WIlco.

  43. Anna

    Word for 2013…UPHEAVAL. With NO as a close second. Trying to constantly remember that God is faithful.

  44. Natasha

    I think my word for last year would be Desperate. It was a really really tough year for us as well. And this song is our continuing theme song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYLyrJrjxoQ My husband lost his job during the housing crisis and went back to school. He has one semester left.

  45. Camilla

    I just posted (a few days ago) my word for 2014, “Love.” Maybe your word for the year should be “Wait.” That’s a good one. Did a study on it once by looking up every occurrence of “wait” in the Bible. And realized nobody I know is very good at it. God bless your year. Looking forward to you book.

  46. Ouiz

    Ugh. Having our first-born in the NICU for 50 days was such a grueling experience. I’m sure I learned a lot, but I was pretty much just trying to survive at that point. The song Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion takes me back to that point in time: “You were my strength when I was weak/you were my voice when I couldn’t speak…” Thankfully, that little guy is now a 16 yr old with a deep voice who towers over me (of course, at 5’2″, EVERYONE towers over me… except my mom… sorry, mom!)

    I’m captivated by having a word for this year… don’t know what it is, yet. Hopefully God won’t give me the word “Panic!” or “Duck and cover!” for this year 😉

    The journal is a great idea. We’ve got my great-aunt’s, and in between the daily stuff, she recorded this one sentence: Today the Pope declared the Assumption of Mary to be dogma. I about fell out of my chair! How cool is that??

  47. Angela

    My word this year is MOVE, as I need to get moving and exercise, I need to move away from the computer and more fully into my girls’ lives, we are moving this summer, and I want to move people and be moved (emotionally).

    As a Catholic whose husband is Active Duty Air Force, THANK YOU to Father Dan, WE NEED YOU! We have lived overseas for 5 years and are sososo thankful to our Catholic chaplains for keeping us going! We love our parish here in Korea, and I’m not sure that I would be very good at Mass in Korean. I’ve been a couple of times and it’s tough to keep up with without bringing a missal along.

  48. Holly


    I bought a house, advanced at work, got stronger in my faith (also had setbacks in this area), prioritized my health and fitness, and started working on my smartphone addiction.

  49. lisa

    We know Fr. Dan from UD! And his Uncle removed my gallbladder! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Fr. Dan from the Irlbeck clan!

  50. Jocee

    I am surprised that you re pomoting the Michael Fox foundation in ypur blog given that he was and still is although to a lesser degree a pomoter of embryonic stem cell research. I am all for fighting Parkinsons but not through embryonic stem cells.

  51. Bonnie Way

    Wow, congrats on the galleys! That’s exciting. I don’t know what my year for last year would be (crazy? hectic?) but I did use your Saint’s Name Generator to pick a patron saint for this year and I’m excited about that. 🙂

  52. Mary jean

    The first word that comes to my mind for 2013 is probably not one that I should share, but it might give some idea if I say that my 12yo son was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor in March. Perhaps a better choice of word would be CANCER. Certainly the entire rest of the year was focused on that word.

  53. Michelle @ My Life (In Lists)

    Word of 2013: Change

    So much moving, job changing, vocation crisis (big & little v), & other typical 20-something strugs.

    Mantra of 2014: More Jesus, Less Stuff

    Which probably leads to the word of 2014 to be: Intentional. Which I feel good about…even though it’s already Jan. 16 & I’m just figuring this out. wah wah.

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