Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye, 2008

How do you say goodbye to a year that was the most life-changing one of your life? I hope you don't mind if I wax poetic for a bit.

It seems a strange thing to say (maybe), but I think 2006 was actually a more difficult year than 2008. Becoming a new mom with a baby who was the world's worst nurser brought out the worst in me. Truly. Just ask my husband. And anyone else in my immediate family. I wasn't very excited about motherhood nor did I accept it or its ups and downs with God's grace.

The next year, 2007, was a much better year. Matthew and I bought a new house, went to Barbados, and got pregnant with baby #2. Things were going great.

By the time 2008 rolled around I was in fine form. Or so I thought. God knew differently. He knew that I was simply gliding around on my own strength, looking to myself for answers, and ultimately ignoring Him. He knew that 2008 would present me with a choice. Follow Him or wither up and die. Thankfully, I heard His voice and am now closer to Him than ever. Enter Benjamin. My sweet baby. His birth threw me for a loop. Well, actually, his birth went quite well.

After his birth but before I found out he has Down syndrome, this picture was taken. Looking at it is very bittersweet for me. It makes me think of my mindset then. It reminds me of my old self. Much happier in a surface-level kind of way. But much more ignorant of what life is really about. Much less secure with herself. Less kind. More reliant on herself and less on God. Less accepting of others and their faults. Not that I've arrived in any sense of the word. I just feel like 2008 has caused me to grow about a decade in only eight short months. Oh, here's the picture:

And here is a picture of the "new" me. Only nine days later. Buckets of tears and millions of prayers later. Oh, how my heart still ached in this picture.

And now. We embark on a new year. I'm not really making any resolutions, though the same old ones are always here. I'd love to eat better (and less), exercise more, read my Bible more, and try not to talk about others as much as I do. We'll see. Those are all pretty unsurmountable tasks on my own. Know anyone who can help me? ;)

Now, onto the fun stuff. Here's a end-of-the-year questionnare I read about on Monica's blog. It looked fun. I do love to talk about myself. :)

What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?

Ooh, this is a hard one. It wasn't my first baby. I didn't take any trips. I know there is an answer for this but I just can't think of one.

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I don't think I really had any. I don't really believe in them.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

Uh, yeah. I did. Oh, and JOYCE!! My best friend since sixth grade. Oh, I love her! She and her husband struggled for years to have a baby and sweet Zachary was born just a few weeks ago. And my friends Juliann, Diana, and Marina all gave birth to their second babies this year.

Did anyone close to you die?

No, thankfully. That may just have pushed me over the edge.

What countries did you visit?

None this year! (And probably not any for the next few years...)

What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?

A size 12 waist. (A girl can dream, right?)

What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April 24--The day Benjamin was born
October 3--The day of his open-heart surgery
I think both of these speak for themselves.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

I think becoming a mommy of two and not losing my mind was pretty big. I even clean my house on schedule.

What was your biggest failure?

Probably just not living for God the way I should.

Did you suffer illness or injury?

Does my C-section scar work? I'm still trying to pull the whole "Could-you-do-this-for-me-I-just-had-major-surgery" schtick over on people, but it's losing its effectiveness.

What was the best thing you bought?

My new laptop that I'm typing on right now. LOVE IT!

Whose behavior merited celebration?

I think that for being two and having a new brother born, Andrew has behaved wonderfully this year. Sure, he has his moments, but he really, truly is a good kid. I only hope 2009 will not prove me wrong on this!

Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My own at times. I feel like such a hypocrite sometimes.

Where did most of your money go?

Did I mention open-heart surgery? It's a good thing that Matthew works for CIGNA Healthcare, because we helped them out a lot in 2008.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?

The NKOTB reunion!!!!!!!!!! Takes me back to 1991. :)

What song will always remind you of 2008?

"I Saw God Today" by George Strait

This song was popular right around the time Benjamin was born. I remember hearing it the morning he was born as we were getting ready to go to the hospital. It convinced me that I was going to have a girl. Little did I know the impact of that day would cause me to hear that song in a whole new way. Click here if you want to watch George sing it live on the ACM Awards this year, but don't forget to go to the bottom of this page (ctrl-end) and pause my music.

Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder? Hmmm....Kind of both, actually.

b) thinner or fatter? I weigh about the same now (give or take five pounds) as I did before I got pregnant with Benjamin, but things still don't fit right. Gotta love what pregnancy and childbirth do to the ol' hips.

c) richer or poorer? surgery ain't cheap, y'all. (Though to be perfectly honest, we're not having to pay for a lot of it b/c we've got pretty decent insurance.)

What do you wish you’d done more of?


What do you wish you’d done less of?

Pick from this list: complaining, emotional eating, gossiping, wasting time on the computer (this doesn't count...)

How did you spend Christmas?

With my family. I love them all so much, and I'm so blessed to have them all living right here.

Did you fall in love in 2008?

Not in the traditional sense, no.

What was your favorite TV program?

Oh, wow, there are so many. Probably Lost. Or The Office. Or Project Runway. Or Top Chef.

What was the best book you read?

Road Map to Holland: How I Found My Way Through My Son's First Two Years With Down Syndrome by Jennifer Graf Groneberg

What was your favorite film this year?

I think I saw "Dan in Real Life" in 2008. I really liked that one.

What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

I was 31 in March and stuffed myself silly at Provino's with my family.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Better seats at the Harry Connick, Jr. holiday concert.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?

Lounge pants and nursing bras. 'Nuff said.

What kept you sane?

This blog. Seriously, it has been very therapeutic.

Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

None really. Though I really like Matthew Fox. Hubba hubba.

What political issue stirred you the most?

I suppose the election. Pretty monumental, even if it didn't turn out the way I wanted it to.

Who did you miss?

Joyce. I don't see nearly enough of her.

Who was the best new person you met?

Well, technically, I'm sure I "met" Stephanie before 2008, but it wasn't until this year that we ever really talked. She is amazing.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.

It's not all about me. And God is bigger than anything you think you can't handle. Don't spend all of your time waiting for things to be the way you want them to be. You're gonna miss now. And now is really cool if you'll let it be.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"You're gonna miss this. You're gonna want this back. You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast. These are some good times. So take a good look around. You may not know it now...but you're gonna miss this."


My name is Sarah said...

This is Sarah's mom, Joyce. I really enjoyed reading your post today. Your description of your before and after photos is very beautifully stated. Unfortunately I did not journal much when Sarah was born, so I find it therapeutic at times to read the words of young mothers. It takes me back to a different time which can be useful to help keep it all in perspective, so thank you. I wish you and your family a safe and blessed New Year.

Beverly said...

I love both the before and after photos of you and Benjamin. Very sweet!

Diana said...

My blogs are never quite as moving or meaningful as yours... SO you are my blog idol! My blog is more of random humor. It is kind of me, better to laugh and deflect than deal. I admire you on so many levels (mother, friend, mentor, etc.) Either way I feel truly blessed to be starting another year as your friend. I hope we make 2009 our B***H! Excuse my language! LOVE YA! I think it much harder being fake than real... so come keep it real BABY! Paul and I just stuffed ourselves with OUTBACK to go, so tomorrow WiiFit for me! It is almost 2009 and I want a hard behind!

sandi said...

I love your blog! Love the song at the end. It is one of my favorites. It is so true!

Stephanie said...

oh, Angela! What a big deal!!! I can't believe it--- how many people did I beat? 1 or like 1000?
I love you too!
I fell in love in 2008 with Benjamin Amick! ;)
I loved this post.
Thank you for being my friend.

Anonymous said...

That post was amazing. Amazing. I loved it. What an amazing thing growing in Him is. I too resolve to be with Him more and live for Him more. You're awesome Angela. I am proud to call you friend.

Lisa said...

Angela... your posts always move me. This one was particularly special. I continue to admire you and your strength.

I hope you reap many rewards this year after so many months of struggle. It sounds like you are well on your way.

Happy New Year. I know I don't comment much here or post on BZ, but know that you are often in my thoughts.

Heather said...

That's what I get for leaving Blogspot, I haven't read any of your updates until just now!

Happy New Year, Angela. 2008 will definitely go down in infamy, yes? May 2009 be a blessed year for you guys.


Mary Jo said...

What a great update as usual! I think I know what you mean about 2006 being harder than 2008. From my experience, things in life that we "think" we should be able to control and have a handle on -like breast feeding, being a first time mom, etc. -really shake our ego and draw us to ourselves more than closer to God. We think "I should be able to do this!... so I'm gonna figure out how to do it on my own!"
Then something like 2008 comes along -where something happens so bigger than us, so much bigger than anything we think we can plan for or control. In life, on our own, those things are soooo much harder to do than things like breast feeding and being a mom for the first time. But things like that, like 2008 and our beautiful Benjamin and heart surgery, we know we can't do them on our own. We know that it is bigger than ourselves (though all the other stuff before it was too :) and finally we stop trying to do it on our own and invite God in every step of the way.
Angela, you have been such a model of strength WITH God this last year. You will never know how many seeds of faith you (and Benjamin) have inspired in so many people through your strength AND your brokeness. Thank you for letting me share in your 2008 journey with you. (OK emotional prego girl needs to go find a tissue now.) Love you! MJ

Kristen said...

This is a WONDERFUL post, Angela. Just loved it. I'm stealing the questions for my own blog now. :)

jennifergg said...

Wow, what an honor and a privledge to have been "with" you on your journey this year...thanks for mentioning my book, it means so much to me.

I was just looking over old photos of me and Avery and I saw one in which I looked pretty happy and I thought the exact thing you wrote: happy on the outside, but my heart ached inside.

Not any more! ;)

Happy 2009!


Erica said...

What a moving post. I LOVE reading your blog but it often leaves me looking for tissues....some times for sad tears others because I am laughing so hard. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us.

May 2009 bring you and your family much health and happiness!

Love ya

Laurie said...

Thank you for visiting my blog. This is the first time I have seen yours and Im so glad I did!

Just wanted to say that I can really relate to what you said about the pictures of your son. I also have a picture of me with Dylan, right after he was born, before I knew about his Ds. When I look at that picture now... there are just so many emotions. What you wrote describes it perfectly.

Thank you for sharing that.

Amber said...

I thought of the same song before I scrolled down!

I cry anytime I hear it. Or think of it.