Sunday, December 28, 2008

Looking forward to a wonderful 2009!!!! Happy New Year from our family to yours!
Merry Christmas ~ 2008

Dear Friends and Family,

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.

Brian, Mandy, and Boys