What a busy year 2008 has been for us! Once again, it has passed too quickly. It seems like I was just writing this letter last year a few short months ago. I guess it is really true that time seems to pass quicker as you get older. On June 7, 2008, the Madeline Grace Foundation sponsored our first annual 5K marathon. This day was special to us because it was Madeline’s first birthday, and we wanted to celebrate her sweet life with others. After much preparation and with many local sponsors, more than 150 runners and walkers showed up to support our cause. God certainly blessed this event and allowed us to use our grief to help others. It was such an emotional and overwhelming experience to see God using our baby’s short life as a testimony to others. We raised about $6,000 and gave most of it to the Crossroads Pregnancy Center. Brian and I both felt led to support this wonderful ministry because it is a Christian pro-life organization. When I was expecting Madeline, we were advised by many to terminate the pregnancy. We both felt that God was in control and only He gives life. We are excited to be involved in the Pregnancy Center’s mission to end abortions and feel blessed that Madeline’s story continues to be told. We think about Madeline everyday and miss her still. I guess that will never change. Recently, my sister, Christa and I decorated a little Christmas tree for Madeline and put in at the cemetery, and as we stood there looking at it, I knew Madeline would have a much better holiday celebration than any of us can imagine. She is in Heaven with Jesus, and it is in that truth that we find the greatest comfort. As 1 Thessalonians 4:13 states, “We do not grieve like those who have no hope, for He was born that we might hope.” We are hopeful that we will celebrate with her one day. As for Madeline’s older brothers…..Maxwell will turn 10 in January and is looking forward to (as he puts it) being in the “double digits” soon! He continues to do well in school and is an honor roll student. He is in the Chess and Drama club and has a role in the upcoming play, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. We are constantly laughing at all the funny and profound things Maxwell says. Maxwell is our thoughtful child and was recently named “Student of the Month” in his class. He still thinks he wants to be an author or inventor when he grows up, but we will have to see about that. We know God has some big plans for him and it will be fun to see! I kid with Maxwell sometimes and tell him that he still thinks he is our only child, even though that changed five years ago. He loves to get to do special things without his brothers and get some extra attention. He justifies it by saying he deserves it for putting up with triplet brothers. (I really can’t say I blame him!) Maxwell is a great big brother. He loves to teach Harrison, Grayson and Ashton something new. And although they aggravate him sometimes, I know he would not trade having three little brothers for anything. Harrison, Grayson, and Ashton all began Kindergarten this year. We decided to separate them and put them in different classes. This has provided a great opportunity for each of them to become more independent of each other, make new friends, and not have an accomplice on hand to cause trouble. We also decided that one teacher might want to retire early if she had all three of them at once. They are wonderful children and keep our family interesting. There is never a dull moment that is for sure. Harry is his Daddy’s shadow. He can usually be found right behind Brian, working or helping Brian in the yard or shop. He loves to work. Brian’s mom said it best when she said Harrison has a “servant’s heart”. Harrison loves to ride his bike, usually down to play with our little neighbor, Maddie. His least favorite thing is homework, although he is very serious about school. He is beginning to read and is so proud of himself. Harrison is silly and his laugh is one of the best sounds in our house. Grayson is still our mischievous child and enjoys aggravating his brothers. His smile is just priceless when he knows he is getting the best of one of them. Grayson loves to be home and asks every morning if it is a school day. He has already learned so much this year and is really a great little math student. Grayson is funny with a dry sense of humor. We never know what he is going to say! He is a mama’s boy and loves to snuggle with me when he first gets up. Grayson is quite a character and keeps us guessing all of the time. There are few things cuter than Grayson trying to get out of homework by saying, “I am not responsible to do this!” Ashton is our sensitive love-bug! He is always the first to hand out hugs and kisses and loves to be loved. Ashton wants to be just like Maxwell. They have really bonded during the last few months. Maxwell has taught him how to play chess, and Ashton thinks he is so grown up when he gets to do all the things “big” boys do. His favorite thing is watching movies, especially Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Ashton is reading beautifully and loves school so much. He is a quick learner and really enjoys music and singing. He is so dramatic when he sings along with the radio. Brian and I just crack-up when we watch him in the rearview mirror. Ashton really “feels” his music!!! Brian continues to work in Forsyth with his uncle’s CPA firm, Buckley and Hopkins. He is able to be out of the office quite a bit when he is on-site doing audits and enjoys this flexibility. Brian is preparing to take the Becker Review course to take the certification exam in hopes to be able to put those letters, CPA, officially behind his name. This past summer, he began leading the worship and praise team at our church, Evergreen Baptist. He spends lots of time preparing for Sundays and is always strumming his guitar and singing. It is such a blessing to see how God is using Brian’s talent for His good. The boys and I love hearing him sing each Sunday. He also coached Maxwell’s baseball team last spring and once again led them to a second place win in the playoffs. Brian is looking forward to coaching again when baseball season starts and is already “recruiting” some of Maxwell’s friends. Maybe next year they can get over that “hump” to 1st. We’ll just have to wait and see, but he is already planning drills for his practices this coming season. Brian is a wonderful husband and father, always making time for each of us. He is always positive and keeps us all encouraged as we go about our day. I am still teaching first grade for my 13th year at Midway. I have a great class this year and enjoy all the challenges of working with young children. To my surprise, I was chosen by my peers as Midway’s Teacher of the Year. I am so proud to be a teacher and can think of no greater honor than to have my coworkers believe in me and the job that I do. It is still the hardest profession, I believe, besides being a parent, but one that is so worthwhile. As you can tell, our lives are full and we are blessed beyond measure. It is with much love that we wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a blessed new year.
I would like to ask for your prayers. Brian and I have a great friend who received some devastating news last week. Our friend, Jeff, was diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic cancer that has metastasized to his liver. Jeff is married to my best friend since childhood and is one of Brian's best friends as well. He and Nicole have two precious little girls, 6 and 9 months. Jeff will begin treatment in a week in Atlanta and needs your prayers as he begins the toughest fight of his life. Jeff was very instrumental in Miles for Madeline being the success that it was and is the kind of person who makes things happen! Please pray for our friend, a father, husband, son, and much more. We believe that God is in control and has Jeff in His hands.
We are taking a much needed, grown-up vacation to Hilton Head for the Labor Day weekend. It is the first time in a long time that Brian and I have gone away together. We are having a great time, but missing the boys too. They are camping with Nanny and Gaggy at the State Park and having so much fun. It is the first time for the triplets, so I know it will be so funny hearing them tell about their experience. I know I have not posted in a while. I need to update with some back to school pictures. We are all so busy trying to get back into the routine of early mornings and homework, lunchboxes and school uniforms. The triplets are enjoying Kindergarten so much and Maxwell loves fourth grade.
Thanks for checking in on us here. I will update soon and add some pictures.
P.S. I am reading the book, The Shack, on our trip. All I can say is WOW!!!! Can't wait to find out how it all ends. I will let you know what I think when I finish it. It is one powerful story! Check it out at www.theshackbook.com
This morning during breakfast the boys were discussing who they loved. Maxwell asked the boys who they loved the most---me or their Daddy. I reminded them that they are supposed to love their parents equally and Maxwell agreed. Grayson then said, with a smile, "I love boff my pawents the same size!" I thought he summed it up perfectly.
It is hard for me to imagine the triplets are now 5 years old. Where have the last few years gone and how did it pass so quickly? I remember imagining what it would be like as they got older. Well, I now know what it is like to live in a house with 4 little boys, three of whom are the same age. It is all that you might imagine and then some......loud, crazy, hectic, stressful, fun, exhausting, hilarious, sweet, and the list could go on. Each of these precious little people are independent and have their own little personalities. They keep us laughing and praying for our sanity. Harrison looks a lot like Maxwell and wants nothing more than to be his big brother's equal. He is very observant and amazes us with all that he "absorbs" just by watching and listening. Harry, as we like to call him, is a dare-devil and is happiest riding his bike as fast as he can pedal. Harry is our child who has the most boo-boos and he is constantly getting hurt because of his love of adventure. Grayson is absolutely his own person and so unique. He reminds me alot of myself with his desire for things to go just as he plans. Grayson is happiest when he is aggravating one of his brothers and is known for the cute little mischief in his eyes. He is funny and doesn't mind expressing himself! Ashton is still our little love-bug and is our most affectionate and sensitive child. He is happiest when he gets to hang-out with Maxwell watching Indiana Jones movies. Ashton also loves to change clothes, even underwear, throughout the day so I have to watch him or my laundry can get really out of control. It is amazing how different each of these little boys can be, and yet, so similar. They are the best of friends and bitter enemies, sometimes within minutes of each other. It has been an amazing five years with these little boys and we look forward to watching as they continue to bless our family. Keep us in your prayers as these three will soon begin Kindergarten. (You might also pray for their teachers too!)
We are very busy getting all the last minute details of the race done. It has been a great distraction for me and a blessing that I don't have the time to dwell on my sorrow as we approach Madeline's first b-day. It was one year ago that I had no reason to think she would come so soon. We got to meet Madeline on Thursday night about 8:30 after an emergency c-section. Her heart was beginning to show signs of stress, and my doctor decided it was best to take her a few weeks early. I am grateful that he did because she would not have made it another day, much less weeks. What an overwhelmingly emotional night that was! I have never been more scared in all my life, and I felt so helpless. I remember laying on the table in the delivery room waiting, what seemed like hours, for the doctor to deliver Madeline and I was trying to think of a scripture to calm me. All I could think of was "I can do all things through Christ who stregthens me!" I know I said it at least a hundred times as I laid their not knowing if Madeline would be alive when she was born. But God was good, and indeed she was alive. They wisked her away, and Brian got to go into the next room and watch as the nurses worked on her. I strained to hear her cry but she never really cried, just made little sweet sounds that I could barely hear. I asked my nurse over and over if Madeline was okay and tried to watch her face to see if I could tell by her expression what was going on with Madeline in the next room. You can not imagine the helplessness and fear I felt during those moments waiting to hear about my only daughter. Madeline was doing just fine and did not even need to be put on the ventilator. She was breathing on her own and only need a little oxygen in her nose. I spent a short time in the recovery room before getting to spend some time with Madeline. What a sight she was to me!!! Brian had been keeping me posted and had left me to go be with her since we did not know how long we had with her. Madeline was beautiful and so perfect in every way. God does not make mistakes! We tried to soak her up and I wished the clock would stop and we could have spent forever in that NICU, loving our only baby girl. What day June 7, 2007 was for our family and friends. As I look back over the last year, it is only appropriate that we spend tomorrow celebrating the 12 hours we had with Madeline. We will honor her little life and the blessing that she was to us as we hold this first annual Miles for Madeline. I hope she is watching over us tomorrow and smiling down on us as we remember how she has changed our lives for the better. Keep the race in your prayers and the blessings that God can give through our loss to others.
Please take a moment and go to www.madelinegracefoundation.com and click on Miles 4 Madeline on the left hand side. View the slideshow of our mission and vision for the foundation and for our first race on June 7th.
Thank you to Todd Lowe for creating this slideshow and to Dreau for posting it on our foundation's website.
Just a quick update on the race we have planned for Madeline's first birthday, June 7, 2008. We are still trying to get sponsors and get some details worked out but we are looking forward to a great response. I am excited that we have been able to have this to focus on and honor Madeline's life in such a tangible way. We are praying that God blesses this event and uses it as He sees fit. It has been a lot of work and we have so many friends and family members to thank for their help. Without their support, none of this would be possible. If you have not had an opportunity, please visit the foundation's website at www.madelinegracefoundation.com
Thank you for your interest! If you are interested in participating in the race on June 7, you can go to runningintheusa.com and register online. Please email me if you have any questions or would be interested in sponsoring. My email is email@example.com
I wanted to share some recent pictures of our boys and all the fun they have been having. The first is our oldest, Maxwell. We are so proud that he won a writing contest at his school called Celebration of Writing. He wrote a great story called "A Strange Day in July". The other photo shows the triplets and their love of all things "muddy"! It is a rare day when I can keep them clean, but I have learned that dirt and boys just go together.
Another mom I have "met" through my blogging and T18 journey is scheduled to deliver her daughter tomorrow (Monday). Please take a moment and pray that she and her family have lots of time with their sweet baby, Eva Janette. I know how uncertain your time is when you know your baby has a terminal diagnosis and every prayer helps. You can visit Eva's mom's blog at www.evajanette.blogspot.com Leave her a comment letting her know she is in your thoughts and prayers.
This post goes along with something I saw on another blog, the CF husband blog that I have posted here before. Nate's wife, Tricia, has cystic fibrosis and they had a little girl named Gwyneth 8 weeks ago. Gwyneth is doing well in the NICU but has at least two more months of growing to do before she is able to go home. Her mother, Tricia, is also doing well but is currently waiting for a lung transplant. You can visit their blog at http://cfhusband.blogspot.com/ and see how others are telling Tricia all the joys of motherhood and all that she has to look forward to with Gwyneth. Which brings me to my post today.......If I were on the other side of this blog, I would still act as if I had it all together. I have found out that I don't, never did, and never will.
Since becoming a mother to the boys and losing Madeline last year, I have learned:
that life is uncertain and we are not promised tomorrow so take advantage of today.
that children are a blessing, even when they come in threes (I have always known this but have to remind myself when the triplets are arguing or fighting over something and I want to pull my hair out!!!)
that a child can have a purpose even when she is taken from us too quickly.
that it is okay to be heartbroken....God has a way of moving you forward and earthly children keep you from giving up, while a baby in Heaven keeps you looking forward to a reunion like we can not imagine.
that your children don't care if you are not perfect.
that little boys are happiest when they are wet and muddy and desperately need a bath.
that a bandaid and a kiss from Mama can pretty much cure all things hurt.
that the sweetest sounds are your children singing, laughing, and praying.
that the hardest thing about parenting is not always jumping in to "fix" it but allowing your child to make their own mistakes.
that even with all the pain and heartache that comes with losing a child, the love you always feel for her makes it all worth it.
that at the end of the day you have all you need when you look at your sleeping children.
Hi, Everyone. We have been busy getting the Madeline Grace Foundation set up and organized. We have lots of ideas on how we can use Madeline's memory to help others. My sister has taken this on as a special project and I am so grateful for all that she is doing. Our first fundraiser is a 5K Race in downtown Milledgeville on Madeline's one year birthday. This marathon is a "Run and See Georgia" endorsed race and hopefully, we will have lots of participants. All of the proceeds of the race will go to our local Pregnancy Center. We chose the Pregnancy Center since I was encouraged to have an abortion when we found out that Madeline had a terminal diagnosis. But we believe that only God gives life and abortion is wrong. I hope to personally work with the Pregnancy Center and encourage other woman who might find themselves carrying a baby with a poor diagnosis. We are looking forward to what is to come and I will be giving more details soon on the race. Mark your calendars and plan to join us for a worthy cause and lots of fun. My brother-in-law is working hard to get our website set up. Go to www.madelinegracefoundation.com and see what he has done so far. (Thanks, Dreau!) We appreciate all of your support and for continuing to pray for us.
I just had to share something I thought was so sweet. Madeline looked so much like her big brother, Harrison. I took this sweet picture early one morning when he fell back asleep in our bed. Those lips are so much like the ones I remember kissing of hers. I would give just about anything for one more kiss from that sweet girl...............
Maxwell brought it to my attention that I am always finding "sad" stories on the Internet.....some I have shared with him as we say our nightly prayers. I know how much prayer helped our family when we found out about Madeline's diagnosis and then after she died so I wanted to ask again for your help when you are praying. I have "met" a family through blogging that could really benefit from lots of prayer. You may go to www.cfhusband.blogspot.com and read the story of a very courageous mother with cystic fibrosis and her little baby girl, Gwyneth, born at 24 weeks. Her husband, Nate, does a great job keeping his readers informed and there are always lots of pictures. I really feel like I know these people, whom I have never really met. Please take the time to visit them and lift them up as Tricia, the mom, is waiting on a double lung transplant. God is listening!
Please join me as I pray for Mary Grace Summons, who is sceduled to be born on Monday, January 14th. Her parents have a blog and I have gotten to "know" them as they are traveling a very similar journey as we have. Mary Grace has T18 like our Madeline, and I am praying that her parents and sisters get to spend some precious time with her. Please pray for their strength and courage as they face the unknown. You may check on them at www.marygracesummons.blogspot.com
Draw a circle. This circle is your life. Draw a slightly smaller circle inside of the first circle. It's okay if the edges touch in some places. This circle is your grief.
Now you can see that your grief almost totally fills your life. There isn't room for anything else. Your life and your grief are one.
Now draw another circle the same size as your grief circle. This circle is still your grief. Draw a larger circle around it. This is your life in the future. Your grief is still there, still the same size, but now there is space around it for other aspects of your life. As time goes on, the circle of your life grows and includes many other things, but your grief remains. It doesn't go away. It doesn't get smaller. But now there is room for other things and you are not always focused on the grief. You can laugh at a joke, go to a party, get a new job, maybe have living children, but your circle of grief is still there.
I have been married for 10 years to my high school sweetheart and am the mother of 5 beautiful children...an 8 year old son and triplet boys who just turned 4. Madeline, our only daughter, went to be with Jesus on June 8, 2007. Madeline had Trisomy 18 and lived 12 precious hours. We miss her so much but know we will see her again in heaven.