Monday, December 24, 2007

Our Christmas Letter

“For unto us, a child is born.” Isaiah 9:6

Dear Friends and Family,
As I reflect on the year 2007, I must say it was a year filled with emotion and love. For our family, it was a year of great joy and sorrow, one we will not ever forget and one that forever changed us in a way we never expected.
Most of you know we learned we were expecting a baby last fall. What an unexpected surprise to say the least! (We thought our family was complete after the triplets were born.) After the shock set in, we really were excited that our baby would be a little girl. Even Maxwell was looking forward to a little sister in our house of boys. But January 2007 brought with it the heartbreak that our precious baby had a chromosomal disorder known as Trisomy 18. Tests revealed our daughter would not live long, if at all, and we prepared ourselves for the worst each day. My doctor was gracious enough to allow us to have as many ultrasounds as we wanted in order to see Madeline and get to enjoy her while she was safe in my body. Those days, peeking into her little world, kept us going and brought us such happiness just knowing she was doing okay at that moment. We prayed continuously and asked God for a miracle, to spare our child and heal her completely.
Madeline, as we all know now, was quite a fighter. She continued to grow and thrive in the womb until her birth at 37 ½ weeks, when we finally got to meet her in person. June 27th was Madeline's birthday!!! She was a tiny 3 pounds, 12 ounces with a head full of black hair, looking lots like our Harry! Though her time here on earth was very short, those were the most joyous 12 hours of our lives. Madeline was able to breathe on her own and we got to hold and kiss her, bathe her, and try to fit in a lifetime of memories in a few short hours. Madeline left this world in our presence and we are comforted knowing she is in a much better place. Madeline taught us how to pray and that God really hears our prayers and answers them. We prayed for a miracle and got just that. Madeline Grace Hopkins was our miracle and we feel so blessed that God allowed us to be her parents. We have a huge investment in Heaven and look forward to the day when we get to see Madeline again.
As for the rest of the family……….Maxwell has grown in so many ways during the last year. He will soon be nine years old and is a third grader with lots of friends. It is hard to believe that our “baby” is growing up so fast. Maxwell is a sweet boy with a very sensitive heart. It has been a blessing to see God working in his little life as we suffered through the loss of Madeline. He is my little “prayer warrior” and continues to ask God to watch over Madeline until we see her again. Maxwell loves school and is our creative child. Right now, Maxwell wants to be an artist or inventor when he grows up. He will sit and draw for hours at a time and loves to write stories as well. He even wrote and got his first book published this year. He has already planned all the other volumes he is going to write too. If you have not read his book, Animals, Animals, Animals (Volume 1) you have really missed out. It should be fun to see what his future holds. I know God has some great things in store for Maxwell! He is happiest when he is playing with his brothers or wrestling with Brian. Maxwell loves to read, sing, watch movies and be ‘in charge” of his little brothers. I think he is finally able to enjoy having so many brothers, although they do a great job aggravating him sometimes. Maxwell constantly keeps us laughing at all his funny little comments. One of my favorite sounds is to hear him really laugh when something is funny. Maxwell started a family tradition of telling one good and one bad thing that happened in our day as we all eat dinner together each night. He is very serious about this “share” time---typical Maxwell!!!
Harrison, Grayson and Ashton turned 4 this summer and keep us very busy. They are quite the trio, filling our house with lots of noise. Harrison is the “oldest” and wants to be just like Maxwell. Harry loves trucks and anything you can ride on or race. Brian is sure he has a racecar driver in Harry! Harrison gives the best kisses and hugs and reminds us of Madeline with his dark hair and plump little lips. Grayson is our “middle” triplet and is pure mischief. He is always being silly and loves to keep trouble brewing between his brothers. Grayson has a twinkle in his eyes and the cutest little smile you have ever seen. He is very artistic and likes to draw and color. Ashton loves to say he is the “youngest, tallest” and is the most affectionate of our children. He loves shoes and clothes and would change every 30 minutes if we would let him. Ashton is our guitar-player and music lover. He remembers the words very quickly to all his favorite songs. The triplets are in Pre-K and are learning so much at school. We are amazed at all they are doing like writing their names and beginning to know sounds and letters. It seems like only yesterday that we were trying to figure out how to feed three hungry little ones at the same time and now they are big boys.
Brian is the busiest man I know and manages to be a super daddy and husband in the process. I have learned so much from him in the last few months about trusting in God’s timing and purpose. I am so thankful to have him as my husband and friend. Brian stays busy with his used car lot, Sweet Water Auto, and a full-time job as an accountant for his uncle’s firm in Forsyth. He has plans to go back to school and take the CPA exam to get certified once tax season is over. This past summer he coached Maxwell’s baseball team and led them to a second place win for the season. Somehow he even finds time when he is not working to spend time with our boys and do all the fun things boys enjoying doing like hunting and riding four-wheelers. He is our hero and we love seeing him walk in the door at the end of each day.
I am still teaching first grade at Midway for my 11th year. I am fortunate enough to work beside one of my dearest friends in the world each day. Jill and I keep each other motivated and laughing at all the funny things our students do and say. School is never dull when you work with 21 six year olds. Needless to say, I stay busy with the boys and can usually be found refereeing them as they play. I began a blog while I was expecting Madeline as a way to journal and I still use it to write sometimes. It has been neat “meeting” people from all over the country who have prayed for our family or who share similar experiences with us.
Thank you all for your friendship and love and your constant prayer and support during this past year. 2007 held some of our best and worst times but with God’s grace, we look ahead with hope. We look forward to what the new year will bring and pray that each of you has a joyous holiday. God Bless.
Mandy, Brian, and Boys


Constance said...

Merry Christmas to all of you from one of your new blog friends. I will say an extra prayer for all of you. Although your precious daughter is with the Lord Jesus Himself, you must miss her terribly! Praising God for the encouragement you are!

Connie Hopkins
Denton, Texas

Rebecca said...

Merry Christmas, Mandy...

Laurie said...

Merry Christmas Mandy,

Thank you so much for the update. I love hearing about the "tribe" of boys and how they are doing. And of course Madeline Grace, your precious angel that dances with Jesus every day even though your heart still continues hurting for you, missing her. She is a true miracle and has changed so many lives, including mine. Hope is what she represents and the ripples on the water of hearts will go on and on forever. I love you Mandy and pray for you all of the time as you support others on this road, and feel your heart break all over again. You are such an encourager from your experience that you share. May your Christmas Day tomorrow be filled with excitement and joy as you celebrate Jesus's birthday. He is our Hope for the future and I pray He blesses your families future in a huge way.

You are loved,
Laurie in Ca.

Emily said...

Oh, Merry Christmas to you, sweet friend.

justabeachkat said...

So sweet!

I wish for you and yours the merriest of Christmases filled with family, love, food and fun and many memory making moments.

Christmas hugs sweet friend!

Kenzie Stanfield said...


Thank you so much for sharing about how your family is doing and for showing the beautiful picture of Madeline. Prayers continue for your family... Merry Christmas!


Boothe Farley said...

hi mandy-
so good to hear from you this christmas season. i think about you so much... and it's nice to know you are doing... okay. is it right to use such trivial words for such inexpressible emotion? i suppose it's all we have. just know that you are not alone. i know what a light and an example you are to so many moms who are suffering the same prognosis that we did. i know our girls - along with poppy - are with the Father, even now waiting for us beyond what our eyes can see. for some reason christmas had a much deeper resonance for me this year. i now more fully appreciate what a gift Jesus was and is. without Him, we have no hope. zero. as emily dickinson said once, "we dwell in possibility." how true. i'm so thankful that as we breathe on this side of heaven, we are able to long and hope and yearn for the greatest reality... our eternal Home.


Kim ( said...

It was so good hearing from you and getting an update on your family. I love seeing sweet Madeline's picture too. I am so thankful for you and how much of an encouragement you continue to be for me and others in our similar circumstances. I truly know that God has given me all of you, and I don't know what I would do or how I would feel or how I would get through this without you all. Thank you for your prayers and support. I will continue to pray for your family and that 2008 will give you your hearts desires.
With love,

Becky said...

I will continue to pray that God will give you peace. I hope that you all have a Happy New Year!!

justabeachkat said...

Wow...what a beautifully written Christmas letter! I've enjoyed getting to know you and your sweet family through blogging. I wish for you all many many blessings in 2008.


Anonymous said...

My friend and I were recently talking about the ubiquitousness of technology in our daily lives. Reading this post makes me think back to that discussion we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.

I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as memory gets less expensive, the possibility of copying our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could encounter in my lifetime.

(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=]R4 SDHC[/url] DS rrPost)