delaying the inevitable...

with christmas nearly here and being busy,
because my laptop is down,
and the pictures are in the camera and can't be loaded to the laptop,
because my desktop is slow and i have no patience,
even though, i have a lot to blog about and lots to share,
the guilt of not doing it is so intense and i am frustrated,
lack of time, lack of resource and lack of patience,
i decided to stop delaying the inevitable and post an out to lunch sign like my friend, erin did!

so with that said and the decision off my shoulders... i plan to be back and blogging strong after the holidays, hopefully with a new laptop courtesy of santa! or atleast a fixed one.

until then, don't look for my christmas card and letter in the mail, because they haven't been sent, let alone ordered. they have taken residence with my thank you notes and jaelyn's birth announcements. oh and the christmas letter i planned to write and post here, will be a happy new year letter -- maybe it will make it on here by 2010!

from our family to yours: we hope that you have a wonderful wonderful christmas holiday! enjoy what means most during this time - your friends and family and celebrating the amazing birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.


the beautiful mess...

i am so excited to blog about this today!!! for me it is an early christmas present and an anniversary present all wrapped in one!!

two saturdays ago, our family had the most amazing photo shoot with some very talented photographers, husband and wife team, candice and daniel lanning!! they own and operate the beautiful mess. we had such a great time during our shoot. my kids did so well. candice and daniel came to our house. with the kids in their own environment, they were able to capture our family in such a special and unique way. the photos are completely real and show who we are as a family!! there are no poses and goofy chin tilts - just all natural. jamil who in the past has dreaded family photo day even had a great time!! the kids didn't fight us or fuss about it at all. they feel like candice and daniel are like family now!!! they got to show off and be themselves. i knew the photo shoot went well and couldn't wait to see our photos!

today, one week before christmas and our ninth year anniversary, candice posted our pictures to her blog! i am so excited to be able to share our family pictures with you! just click here and you can see some pics and view our slideshow!! leave a comment and let me know what you think of them!!!

i am so thankful for the wonderful work candice and daniel have done. pictures are so important to me and capturing our family the way they did is such a tremendous blessing!!! words can't express how excited i am to have these photos!


menu plan monday...

ok, here is what we are having this week for dinner...what's on your plate???

monday.... spaghetti & meatballs (frozen not homemade!), salad & dinner rolls (again-frozen not homemade)

tuesday... for jamil and the kiddos...grilled cheese sandwiches & vegetable soup (from the can) and i am heading out for a girl's night of appetizers and desert!!!!

wednesday...easy beef stroganoff, fruit & dinner rolls

thursday...chicken tacos & refried beans

friday.... pizza night for the kids... jamil and i are going out for a date night!

saturday...chili & cornbread (oops forgot to order the mix when i did the online shopping!)

sunday... early Christmas dinner with my family

another week done!


holiday tag....

my friend, beth, tagged me to do this fun holiday post!!! so to start off my holiday blogging this year i am going to take part in the fun! thanks for tagging me beth!!

1. Egg nog or Hot Chocolate?
hot chocolate

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
santa doesn't get any credit for the presents under the tree - we give them and wrap them! we are not santa believers, although we are not anti-santa either. we are truthful to who santa is and remind the kids why we celebrate this season. "jesus is the reason"

3. Colored lights or white?

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
no. i am afraid if we hung mistletoe we would have like 8 kids instead of 4!

5. When do you put your decorations up?
the weekend after Thanksgiving - although this year we haven't put them all up - we are going very simple this year!

6. Favorite holiday dish?
hmmm...we don't really have a big holiday meal, so I don't know. this year my favorite dish will be the one i can eat in peace without having to manage 3 kids and a nursing baby! so it will probably be whatever jamil and i eat on our next date night!!! hurry up date night get here soon!

7. Favorite childhood memory?
i don't have one big memory, here are a few favorite traditions as a kid.
~looking for the 6 little elves that mom hides each year
~traveling to baltimore every Christmas morning to spend the day at my grandparent's house
~opening our presents on Christmas eve b/c we traveled the next day
~sleeping with my sister in one of our beds on Christmas eve and listening for santa
~traveling home from baltimore and having to go potty sooooo bad and there was like nowhere to stop, finally i think we found a place to stop

8. When/how did you learn the truth about Santa?
hmmmmm... good question, i know i "believed" but can't remember when i stopped, i guess i kind of outgrew it???

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
as an older kid, we opened all of our gifts then

as for our family now, we are starting the tradition this year, we will all open one present on Christmas Eve and it will always be pajamas for all of us - that way our Christmas morning pics we all look coordinating!!!

10. How do you decorate the tree?
hmmm... this year I opened the box, the baby started crying, so while i was nursing her, the kids put ALL of the ornaments on the tree. and i haven't taken the time to "fix" what they have done. i may not. so pretty much the kids decorated it this year. wow - i have really let go of my control issue this year!

11. Snow. Love it or dread it?
i HATE snow - grew up with A LOT of it up north. so i dread it. i am ok with one pretty day and watching the kids enjoy it, but i would be ok never to snow again - i am not a fan of cold weather.

12. Can you ice skate?
probably could do it but wouldn't want to b/c of disliking the cold so much!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
i think that my favorite "gift" would be my husband! in 1999, we got married a week before christmas! and then as a belated christmas gift we found out 6 weeks later we were pregnant with our first son - a honeymoon baby - which was right before christmas!!!

14. What is the most important thing about the holidays to you?
being with my family and watching them get so excited about this time and celebrating the birth of jesus!

15. Favorite holiday dessert?
i haven't met a dessert i didn't like - bring on all the sweets - love them!

16. Favorite Christmas Tradition?
over the years we have taken on some traditions for our family. i love all of them. this year we brought an elf into our family - so every day the kids look for "elfie". they love it - it is fun. they think he watches them and reports to me and santa how they are behaving.

17. What tops your tree?
a gold star

18. Do you prefer giving or receiving?
my love language is gifts - so i like both!! over the last year or so, giving has taken on a whole new meaning so i really really LOVE giving - and it doesn't have to be at Christmas. unfortunately, our budget is restricted so i can not give to all the people who we love and cherish at Christmas time like i wish we could.

19. Favorite Christmas song?
wow, i haven't listened to much Christmas music yet this season! but i like o holy night and come let us adore him

20. Candy canes. Yum or yuck?
a big YUCK!!!!

21. What do you want for Christmas?
this year i really do not want anything... i have my eye on a few things but there is nothing i really really want. i am so content with my family. my new baby girl is the best gift i could have this year!! you can't top that one!!

22. Do you attend an annual Christmas party?
last year we attended a party at some friend's house - and thought we were going to attend this year but they had to cancel it :(

23. Do you dress up for Christmas Eve or wear P.J.'s?
depends on where we are!!! last year it was comfy clothes. this year we will be at elevation - so i am sure we will dress up!!!!

24. Do you own a Santa hat?
we have 2 hats for the big kids to share/wear. the baby actually has 5 or 6 different little santa hats that came with several outfits that were handed down to us from chelsea and from my other kids were babies!

25. Who do you normally spend Christmas with?
christmas eve we spend with the Carr's, this year we will get together during the day and then go to elevation for the evening. Christmas day we spend the day together just our immediate family (jamil, the kids and me!). we will celebrate Christmas with my parents the weekend before Christmas. we will see jamil's family at some point during the holiday! they are our neighbors so they will just stop by at some time!

tag you are it.....
i am choosing stephanie, erin, patti, kelly h, heather d, teri, marybeth and chelsea (you've been tagged twice so you have to do this!) to join in the fun!!!


back on track...

today, on our way home from school, joshua informed me that "j" walked by him and kissed him on the forehead. joshua has known "j" since they were babies. i told him that "j" is a sweet loving girl and that they have been friends forever and that was sweet. althouhg i was wondering if his teacher had caught this? then he said, mom, "p" also likes me too. and to top it all off he says... wow, 3 girlfriends now i am back on track. he said "j", "p" and "r" all like me and now i have 3 girlfriends, cool. "j" and "p" are from school and "r" is from church.

it is hard to believe my eight year old has 3 "girlfriends". i am not sure how i feel about this. obviously he thinks he is "back on track". hmmm...



just minutes ago i finished nursing the baby and told jesiah that it was time to get ready to get the big kids from school, here is the conversation...

mom: hey jesiah, it's time to get the big kids from school. so then you will have someone to play with. are you ready to go?

jesiah: no, i like alone. i don't need none people to play with.

so that is how my three year old feels about "people" aka: his big brother and sister.

i literally laughed and had tears in my eyes. that kid cracks me up!

menu plan monday...

...even though it is tuesday!

my friend marybeth reminded me of her menu plan monday blog post when i was struggling with meal ideas. there are a lot of blogs that post a menu plan monday. so i have started looking at hers and others to get some ideas for cooking for my family. each week i struggle with what to cook. and this really helps me get some ideas. each week after i make a menu then i create a grocery list. we have been using the harris teeter express lane for our shopping, it has really helped me out. i order my groceries for the week online and then jamil picks them up on his way home. for us the online shopping has helped our budget because i don't impulse shop - b/c i am not seeing it and throwing it in the cart and neither are my kiddos. i also don't feel stressed when i am shopping. when i actually go into the store, i get really stressed because i don't want to be there and so i start putting extras in the cart but i still have to return the next week anyway. my next goal is to start using coupons to save some money.

ok, so here is my menu plan (dinners only!) for the week....

monday: meatloaf muffins, mashed potatoes & green beans
tuesday: beef tacos, chips and salsa & fruit
wednesday: chicken & dumplings in the crockpot
thursday: scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns & blueberry muffins
friday: pizza dip, french bread, buffalo chicken dip, chips and celery
saturday: beef stroganoff in the crock pot and dinner rolls
sunday: leftovers


blogging block...

everytime i begin to write a new post, i feel like i need to start with some kind of disclaimer or apology for the lack of posts, or the lack of depth or quality or meaning in my posts. and then i start to get frustrated and overwhelmed and a lot of times i don't end up writing anything or finish what i wanted to write. and then i begin to wonder why do i do this blog thing? is it for me? is it for those of you who read this? what is it for? and then i wonder about the purpose of my blog, what is that? i am not sure anymore of what i want this blog to be. is it a journal, a scrapbook, a diary, or all of those or none of those?

i think i have gone through this before and i guess i am just there again. i guess sometimes my writer's block leads to questioning why i keep this blog. so, i am going to take some time to figure out why i blog and exactly what i want to blog. i am going to work on a mission statement of sorts for myself for this blog. a few weeks ago i took down one of the boxes on the side which explained who is my j crew. once i figure out the goal and the purpose to this blog, i plan to put that in there. i also would like to change up a few things on the side bar.

i also wonder sometimes who reads my blog, sometimes i wonder if anyone does. i know that the numbers on my counter go up but sometimes i don't think anyone reads it. and then i wonder why i care if anyone reads it because i am keeping this blog for me and not for you... aren't i? who knows...

i also get really frustrated at the lack of time i have to keep this blog going. i love to write but i rarely have time to do it. i know that is just the season of my life right now.

and the most frustrating thing is when i come up with a great idea for something to write - usually in the car - by the time i can get to my laptop i have forgotten what my idea was.

so with all of that said... i am off to bed. i do feel like that lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. maybe i should just keep this as a draft and not post it. oh, who knows?


thankfulness not forgotten....

my mom and jaelyn

my grandparents with jesiah

my four cuties (omg - i have four kiddos)

my sister and me

jamil and his girls

big and little sister

here are just a few pictures from thanksgiving day. i have been meaning to write a post on what i am thankful for - even though the thanksgiving season has gone by i am still thankful for so many things.

the pictures above are representative of a big part of what i am thankful for - which are my family. somehow though, my dad didn't make it into a picture that day. but i am thankful for him.


four little turkeys...

the day before thanksgiving somehow i managed to have the kids make a little craft. we made glow turkeys. they were really easy and really cute! i found the directions in a family fun magazine. here is a quick set of directions for you for next year...

round bubble glass bowls
wooden doll heads
tissue paper
modge podge
hot glue gun
tacky glue
googly eyes, beads or pom poms can be used
battery operated tealight candles

~using hot glue gun, attach the wooden doll head for the turkey's head
~coat the outside of the bowl with modge podge, put a layer of different colored tissue paper, once covered coat again in modge podge also cover the wooden head
~make a beak and gaggle and glue onto the turkey's head, glue on the eyes.
~ twist and fold pieces of tissue paper to make a tail.
~ let dry
~ put candle inside

from my crew to yours...

a little late but...
we hope you had a wonderful thanksgiving!!!
we hope that your holiday was full of precious memories made with family and friends!



to my laundry room floor ~ sorry it has been six weeks and 2 days since i have seen you! i saw you briefly one day last week and by that night you were covered again. i hope to see you soon!

to the thank you notes that are still blank ~ you have been staring at me for weeks, i promise you will get written and sent out to our wonderful friends and family who have blessed us so much during this time. it will be a big day when you finally meet the postman!

to both of my eyebrows which are in serious need of a waxing or a plucking ~ i am sorry you look the way you do, but i hope you are enjoying your time together! one day soon you will see the tweezerman again.

to the four sets of clean sheets waiting to be put on our four beds ~ i promised you weeks ago that you would replace the old dirty sheets, thank you for being patient and not giving up on me. although if you could magically come out of the closet and replace the old ones that would be great! oh and don't be jealous that the baby's crib and pack n play sheets have been replaced more than you.

to our wonderful (and newly paid off!!) honda odyssey ~ one day you will get the detail you deserve!! a wash, wax, oil change, tire rotation and vacuum is the least i can do for you because you have been so faithful in getting our family everywhere we need to go and doing it so safely! i am sorry you may have to wait another six weeks or so.

to our three bathrooms ~ i am so grateful to have three of you! but then there are days i think it would be easier to just have one.
i am sorry toilets that you are dirty and need a good cleaning.
i am sorry floors that you are dirty and bare, one day i will get the rugs to cover you again, when they are done keeping the laundry room floor company.
mr. shower stall - i really don't like cleaning you, i think you are a pain but i am sorry we have yet to fix the crack on your floor
garden tub - you have been a lifesaver and i have enjoyed the long hot baths and hanging my clothes over you - one day you will get a good cleaning.
kid's tub - you will get clean one day when i have the energy to take all of the bath toys out of you.

to the mountains and piles of paperwork ~ you are there faithfully taking up counter space and when you aren't there you are being hidden from our guests in a drawer. one day you will get organized and put where you belong. until then i will just tear through the piles in a panic when i realized i forgot to pay one of your bills or complete an assignment off of a teacher's note.

to be continued (maybe)...

one day at a time....

it has been six weeks and two days since our little angel was born. i am enjoying every second of my sweet baby girl! i have enjoyed the maternity leave i have been taking. i am so glad i have slowed down. i have not jumped back into much of anything. most days i just do what i have to do. most nights i can't wait to get to bed even if it is only a few hours at a time. (over the last two weeks i have been able to sleep five to six hours. but i still am drained)

there are days when i feel like i am coming out of the "baby daze" and ready to get back in the swing of things. sometimes, i feel a little more back to myself(i don't dare say normal!) and have things together. and then there are days when i can't even think straight. i feel like i am losing my mind. most days don't go as i plan. so i think i might give up trying to make a plan. so many things have been forgotten and so many things don't get done. sometimes i get frustrated and overwhelmed, most days i am too tired to care! i can't complete sentences or comprehend a thought, let alone write anything on this blog. in fact i have had many ideas on for posts and then when i have a chance to write one, i have forgotten my idea. sometimes i wonder if i am permanently damaging my older kids because i feel like i am neglecting them, then the guilt sets in and then the tears begin. i know it will get better and it will get easier. until then i just take one day at a time.


baby daze....

i have been at a loss for what to write on this blog lately. i guess because i have been in a baby daze for five weeks. pretty much all i think about and all of my activity has to do with the baby!! i am using her blog to keep up with stories and pictures all about jaelyn! this is my attempt to "scrapbook". i have actually thought about creating one for all of my kids - since my scrapbooking is so far behind and who knows when i will get caught up!

anyway, i have been really good at posting on jaelyn's blog. in fact i just posted several posts today! but not so much here. sorry. my next post here will be an apologetic post to all the things/people i have let go and forgotten since beginning my baby daze five weeks ago!!! although by the time i get to it, it will have been six weeks!!! stay tuned... now i must go, the baby is ready to eat!



after jamil dealt with a little argument between jordyn and jesiah. jamil asked jesiah what happened and was helping them sort it out. jesiah replied to jamil...

"Oh, i don't know daddy, i just get so emotional!"

yes, those words straight from my three year old little boy! they could have just as easily been my words these days!!!


sun stood still...

...just long enough for God to begin a huge work in progress in the life of our family and He isn't finished yet.

yesterday, pastor's sermon reminded me that i haven't posted the details of how God answered our big prayers! if you weren't at elevation yesterday to hear pastor steven's sermon, you can check it out here! one part of our big prayer is financial, which is why pastor's sermon reminded me of our prayer. a lot of what he said yesterday, jamil and i had been doing. our actions were Christ honoring and i know that is why He has begun to answer our prayers. i will explain it all to you in this post. i honestly think that one post does not do justice or honor Him in the way that it should. i believe that one day God will use our story, perhaps the full, longer version to help someone else. until He tells us when, here is a shortened version (even though it seems quite long for this blog!!!).

a little over a year ago at elevation, we were challenged during several of pastor's sermons to pray a new way; to pray boldly and pray big prayers that when they are answered those around will know it had to be God. this really struck jamil and i. so we began to pray our sun stand still prayer (Joshua 10). i attached a second prayer to our first prayer, which i will explain in detail. so there were two big prayers that i commited to pray. we knew that while we were praying these prayers that God wasn't going to just drop the answer or the blessings in our laps. we knew we had to push while we were praying. we had to act on what God was telling us to do to have Him answer our prayers. so we began praying and listening to God and following His lead. we kneww it was Him leading us because we followed biblical principles and scripture, we talked and listened to other believers in our church family and we relied on and used pastor's teaching. we spent a little over a year doing all of these things and believing that our prayers would be answered. and God has begun to answer our prayers and bless us beyond our belief.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. Ephesians 3:20

our first prayer was so big that it seemed it would take a miracle to be answered, which was our desire to be debt-free and financially secure. financially secure meant a lot of different things to us, one big thing was that our monthly expenses be met and that we would have a surplus and not be negative. our financial house was a wreck and had been for years. over the course of our marriage we had made some bad financial decisions that we were still paying the price for. we had begun to learn from our mistakes a few years ago but now we were seriously ready to fix this mess. learning from our mistakes meant we had to create a budget and stick to it and sacrifice in many ways - for example we haven't had cable or satellite television for several years. it also meant no more credit cards, we made the decision to say no to all the "deal"s out there and live on the cash we made. we also decided that we needed to do our best at giving our tithes and offerings. we felt very convicted to give as much as we could and as often as we could. for us it didn't always mean a certain amount each month. because of our tight monthly budget, sometimes we couldn't give. but we did so everytime we could. during this time last year, we pledged to give an amount of money to the dominate campaign at elevation, we could account for how we would give about 80% of what we pledged. we felt God was telling us to give even more. that was a little scary for us, but we stepped out on faith and commited an additional 20 %. we commited to sticking to these things (staying on a tight budget, no more debt and giving regularly) as we begun to pray that God would repair the messy debt and increase our monthly income. i have to add here that the big reason we felt a sense of urgency to for this to be done was because jamil and i both had an overwhelming desire to give back. to give to our church and to others. we both have a heart to give but often our financial situation would restrict us from being able to be a blessing to others. and we were tired of not being able to give!

the second part of our prayer was that God would add another blessing to our family. not feeling that our family was complete, i really wanted another baby and i had baby fever! jamil being the logical one, really wanted us to be debt free and have a tighter hold on our finances before we added another child to our already growing family. to me that seemed like an eternity and i didn't want to wait. we were at a stand still. so i began to pray that God would change Jamil's heart about the timing and bless us with another baby. God knew the desires of my heart and also knew our financial situation.

so our sun stand still prayer was two fold for me and it seemed like neither was going to ever happen when we started to pray these prayers. they seemed so big and so ridiculous that they could never be answered. at first, i think i felt that i wasn't worthy of having such big prayers answered. i had seen miracles and big prayers answered in other people's lives, but didn't believe that it would happen for me. there is definitely a difference in just praying and believing that your prayers will be answered. as i began to pray our big pray, i realized quickly that i had to believe they would be answered. so i began to really believe in His power!

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all of these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

in the beginning of the year, our small group leader and ministries pastor, john bishop wrote the above scripture on a card for me when we were doing a group activity. i have held onto that card and this scripture ever since then. this scripture was a constant reminder of what God was going to do on our lives.

around this same time, jamil and i had given the "new year" a title...
making it great in 2008!

we held onto this positive statement and believed in the meaning of it. and believed in the fact that God was the one who would make it great! we could make it good, only He can make it great! we knew big things were going to happen.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus Phillipians 4:6&7

as God started to reveal little pieces of His plan and how He was going to answer our prayers, we still faced some hard times and some challenges that we couldn't quite understand. there were times that i would be so worried and so unsure of how He would provide for our family, let alone answer a prayer as big as ours. i held tightly to the above scripture and repeated it to myself numerous times during this season of our life.

we continued to push while we prayed and a series of events began to unfold. little events that began to happen and began to reveal the answer to our BIG prayers!!!

on february 12 of this year, i took a pregnancy test and it was positive. i was so excited, i felt so blessed to be having another baby. i wasworried about how jamil would take it. at this time we had just begun to talk about adding a fourth child and jamil was just starting to be open to having a baby sooner rather than later. although i don't think he thought this soon. i told him on valentine's day about our new baby to arrive in october!! i knew he was excited but worried. and i was a little worried to. he really wanted our financial situation to be different and there hadn't been much change to this point. we both knew that God would provide for us as we welcomed a new baby into our family.

at this point, we had been blessed with small gifts (monetary, gifts, gift cards, etc) but nothing that quite answered ourbig huge sun still prayer. those small blessings we clung to, knowing God was going to answer the big prayer too. we didn't know how but we knew He would.

by the springtime, jamil and i both became very resourceful, thinking about the things that we had and how they could make us prosper. we began to sell things on craig's list to make some extra money. we also both took on a whole new meaning of being frugal, not cheap, but frugal. we put a lot of effort into this. we both were on the same page with our mindset of our finances and continued to make sacrifices! jamil came to me one afternoon and felt very convicted about our commitment to give more regularly even though we didn't know exactly how that would work in our monthly budget - we stepped out on faith and gave more regularly. every time we gave an offering or a tithe we were always blessed with that amount of money or even more. God provided for us and was really showing us He was with us and He was our source of provision!

around this same time, jamil decided to sell an old car. this wasn't just any old car, but it was his dad's car. jamil's dad passed away when he was 9 months old and he was given this car. it has been sitting in a garage for a long time. jamil began to realize that he wasn't going to fix it up and get it running again. but there were a lot of people around him that would enjoy this. jamil sold this sentimental object to his cousin who had been telling him for years to let him know when he was ready to sell. this money, not enough to free us of all of our debt was another blessing and answer to our prayers.

by early summer, when we looked back over the months, we saw how each month we were provided for and cared for. we were blessed with significant amounts of money that helped our monthly expenses. they came to us in many different forms. and we were so grateful. we never went without and God always provided above and beyond what we needed.

early fall, jamil was given a raise and the possibility of some extra income through some side jobs at work. the raise and the extra income wouldn't quite make all the ends meet but still such a blessing to our monthly budget. things were really starting to look up. we continued to pray our big prayer and never underestimated His power and that He was going to see us through.

in the spring of the previous year (2007), jamil and i had gone through a tremendous amount of loss. one of our losses was that of his grandmother. jamil's grandmother had left a piece of property to jamil in her will. the piece of property was once used as a cab stand that his grandfather ran years ago. by the time the property was actually released to jamil because of all of the paper work and legal stuff it was the end of this summer. jamil knew of a church that was located next to the old cabstand that was interested in purchasing the land. jamil met with the pastor of the church and they decided to buy the land! jamil decided it was best to let go of another sentimental object. he really felt God telling him to let it go as he did with his daddy's old car. the sale of this property was another answer to our sun stand still prayer! the amount of money we would receive from the sale could totally change our financial picture.

believe me when i say, we still had to push and pray during those months. from the day jamil showed the land to the church and they said they would purchase it through the day after (yes i said the day after) we signed the papers for the sale were very long and very hard. we were faced with many challenges and it took about three months for it to be completed. often i cried out to God feeling as if He suddenly forgot us. but i was always reminded by my husband, good friends or my small group that is doesn't forget us and that He is always faithful and is our rock.

finally on september 25 we signed the papers for the sale of the land. because one person from the church was not at the closing, we had to wait until the following day to have the check in our hands. looking back we think oh what was one more day, but while we were in it, it was so stressful. we were down to the wire on so many things. we had bills that we promised to pay because we knew the money was coming that were waiting for payment. we also had a new baby arriving any day and a lot of things to purchase for her! even though we faced a few obstacles getting the check in our hands and then trying to get the money into the bank and then being able to access the money so we could pay our bills - we continued to stay strong and keep on pushing!

on october 6 we welcomed our beautiful baby girl into the world. the labor and delivery i experienced with baby jaelyn was the longest. my fourth baby to which i thought would be my fastest delivery was anything but. it was longer and a little bit harder. but i seriously and literally did a lot of praying while i pushed and went through each hard contractio. jaeln's arrival and her being a part of our familye reminds us each and every day of everything that God has done for us over this past year.

with the money he graciously blessed us with we were able to give almost all of our dominate pledge in one year. it was a wonderful night for jamil and i when we were able to give our pledge online - we had so much fun doing that together! what an honor and a privilege to be able to give to our church! we paid off one credit card. we were able to score a sweet deal - thanks to a good friend of ours who helped us out - we settled for 25% of what we owed - what a blessing!! we paid off our van - so we have no monthly vehicle payments!! and gave us $400 more each month! the money also allowed us to buy a few things that we needed for the baby's arrival as well as pay off some other small bills.

who would have thought that in just a little over a year we would be well on our way to being debt free, our monthly budget having a surplus and have a fourth child added to our family? only God has the power to do all the things He did this year for our family. we didn't think it could happen but we learned to believe that He can and He will answer our big prayers. our prayers being answered have blown us away. we are in awe of the mighty God we serve. we are so grateful to serve a God who is as powerful as He is. we are so thankful for the blessings he has bestowed upon us. and we know that he will not leave us or forsake us. He is with us and will see us through our big prayer of being debt free. only He will provide for us each and every month and allow us to be in the black and not in the red. we will gratefully and excitedly give back to him through our tithes and offering to elevation church, be able give to others in need, and be able to bless others as he has blessed us. we are so excited to be able to bless others with our resources and hope to eventually bless others with our testimony of what God has begun to do. and just about every day, we excitedly think... He is not done yet.

we believe God is going to blow our minds in 2009!!!

all of our pumpkins...

i am not a huge halloween fan. i have never been big into the holiday. although, the kids dress up and go trick or treating. the week before halloween we took the kids to their school's "boo bash" but they didn't dress up. it was our first time going and we didn't know if it was a dress up thing or not. it turns out it is, but they still had fun playing the games, getting candy and riding on a hay ride! so on halloween night we went to the carr's house to trick or treat with them. it has been an ongoing tradition for a few years! we only took one picture of our kids at their house, which is at the bottom. so the day after halloween, the kids dressed up again so i could get a few pictures. jordyn is cinderella, jesiah is venom spiderman, jaelyn is wearing a pumpkin hat and a festive orange shirt, joshua created and choose his own costume....tony hawk, the skateboard dude! josh is too old and too cold to wear the costume i bought for him!!!

here they are...

big brother...

jesiah has been a great big brother. he loves having jaelyn here. jesiah is very sweet with her.
ever since jaelyn was born, jesiah has not wanted to hold her. he just hasn't felt that desire. he told us that he would hold her when he turns four. well the other day i was trying to take a picture of all four of the kids, which was really difficult. jesiah decided that he wanted to her jaelyn. above is the picture i took, when he first held her. yes, he started to cry. i think it scared him to hold her.

here is one that i took with a little smile!


adjusting is learning...

being a new mommy again has been an adjustment. it hasn't been a negative experience. in fact it has been a very good one overall. yes, there have been hard times and times where i feel like i am losing my mind. being a mom of a newborn is the easy part for me. i am tired but who isn't when you are a parent of a child of any age. i love the newborn stage - taking care of a baby is easy and comes natural to me and i can't think of anything i enjoy more! balancing that responsibility and the needs/demands of the three older kids is where it gets a little tricky. but we just take it one day at a time. and i am learning a lot being a new mommy again. here are a few things...

1. i have really enjoyed this down time. i have basically cleared my schedule and have made no commitments since jaelyn was born. i have kept the days and the evenings very wide open. something that i didn't do with baby #2 and #3 - which i regret. i jumped back into doing things very quickly then. occasionally we will have a visitor or two or we may go on an outing here and there - but i have said NO to a lot of things. in some ways it is hard for me to miss out but i have enjoyed having quiet days and quiet nights. i am not quite ready to get back into the busyness of life - it will always be there when i am ready to commit again!!

2. i have my own "mommy style" it took having four babies to realize that and to be confident in that fact. each of us parent our children differently - we do what works for us and our family. i remember feeling so clueless and fearful with my first child. and then with the next two babies - i knew what to do but wasn't as confident. this time around i know and am confident in how i "mommy" my baby!

3. i love holding jaelyn and i have made that a priority. i let everything else take second to that. i have made the choice to hold her and love on her while she is tiny - because i know how fast this time will go by. i will choose to hold her over vacuuming or folding laundry - those things always are there for me to do - she won't always be so little!!! obviously, i don't let the needs of the rest of my family go unmet!! i am learning how to balance them all and still have plenty of time to love on jaelyn.

4. i love to "wear" jaelyn in a baby sling!! i love it. i haven't done it much around the house but i have done it while we have been out. my friend, gina, made me a sling as a gift!! it is one of my very favorite pieces of baby gear! i didn't use a sling with my other babies - i did use a baby bjorn and liked that - but i LOVE the sling!!!! we get lots of attention when i am wearing her - no one can believe there is a tiny baby in it!!!

i am sure there will be lots more that i learn as a mommy of four, this is just the beginning of our new adventure!


too cute for words...

isn't she the most precious thing you have ever seen?? can you tell that i am a very proud momma and totally smitten with my new baby girl? i just posted some new pictures on jaelyn's blog...check them out!! she will turn three weeks old tomorrow and i plan to post another update early this week on her blog.

also, i have been trying to catch up on posts that are long overdue!!! i posted today about jordyn's sleepover (august) and her fairy tale ball (october). i still have a few more drafts for this blog that i hope to finish and post this week...including the long awaited detailed post on our sun stand still prayer and a few things i am learning about being a "new mommy" again!!

stay tuned...

fairy tale ball...

in my last post, i told you a little bit about jordyn's fairy tale ball. here are a few more pictures and a few more details!! the kindergarten classes at union academy study fairy tales and their culminating event is the big fairy tale ball. the kids dress up as a fairy tale character of their choice. jordyn chose cinderella. they wore their costumes to school for the ball. each kindergarten class was set up for a fun event and the classes rotate through each class. they did crafts, read stories, ate festive food and learned to dance...

here is jordyn dancing with a little knight in her class!!!

at the end of the ball, jordyn's teacher had the class give each kid an award, telling what they liked about the costume they were wearting!!! jordyn was awarded most sparkly dress!!! she was thrilled!!!


Picture #4...

My friend Jessica Robinson tagged me to do this little blog activity!!!! So here is how it goes... You go to your fourth file and choose your fourth picture and write a blog about it!!! Kind of like Jess - my laptop is kind of "new" - we just had some work done to it and new software installed - so I have a limited number of photos on it - so this is a recent one that i haven't blogged about!!!

Who: Jordyn (age 5)
When: October 2, 2008 (just a few weeks ago)
Where: at school - Union Academy
What: Kindergarten Fairy Tale Ball

Jordyn's Kindergarten class "studied" Fairy Tales and the Fairy Tale Ball was the culminating activity!!! Each class was set up into a station... crafts & food, storytelling and dancing. And all of the kids dressed up as a fairy tale character. Jordyn chose Cinderella!! So this picture is her at school doing her famous pose!!! I promise to post more pictures from the event later - it was on my to blog list for this week!

Ok, so now I choose four friends who blog to do the same thing.... So take it away Chelsea,
Jess H, Stephanie V, and Patti Cakes!!!! (Don't let me down gals - if I had time to do it - you do too!!!!)


jaelyn's blog...

i am using my other blog... baby jaelyn's blog... to keep up with pictures and little things that have to do with her specifically on it. more of a scrapbook than a journal. check it out!!!

her first two weeks...

here is a little update on what life has been like around here over the last two weeks with our beautiful new baby girl! it is really hard to believe that she is going to be two weeks old tomorrow. the counter on my side bar reads that tomorrow is our due date - funny to think that by that calculation she "shouldn't be here yet". but instead of being pregnant for the last two weeks, i have been caring for baby jaelyn!

jaelyn is such a sweet baby! she is such a great baby. jaelyn rarely cries. she sleeps a lot and has been nursing really well. jaelyn is such a blessing and has assumed her role as the baby of the family quite well. she is very easy going. we couldn't have asked for a more precious little girl!

we came home from the hospital on wednesday, october 8. jaelyn had lost quite a bit of weight in the hospital - she was discharged at 6 lbs 5 ozs - a teeny little thing! so on friday, october 10 we took her to our peditrician's office and she was up to 6 lbs 11 ozs. jaelyn was gaining weight in just 2 days. our doctor wanted to see us back in a week. so this past friday, october 17 - we had our went back to the pediatrician. she weighed 7 lbs 5 ozs!!! she was back to her birth weight plus 4 ozs!! our doctor was very pleased. jaelyn is quite healthy and looks great!!!

our first week home, jamil was off of work, so we spent the week resting and adjusting! we were so blessed to have friends and family bring meals and help with our older three kids!! last monday, jamil went back to work and i was home with all four kids by myself - the big kids were still on their fall break. my mom was off of work but feeling sick - but still helped out as much as she could. on tuesday, school was back in session and it was quite an adjustment getting up early and seeing them off to school. but we survived the week with the school schedule - it was a little tough but again, i had friends and family helping out in a major way, bringing meals and helping with the bigger kids. such a blessing!!!

i was able to rest and regain my strength over the last two weeks because of all of the help! i haven't had to cook a meal - just reheat leftovers for lunch. i have done a little housework here and there. but between my mom and my hubby - i have just done what has needed to be done. this has the easiest birth for me to recover from. i have been feeling pretty good the last couple of days - almost back to normal, just really tired. and i know when i have done too much - i will start feeling it. so i have been trying not to do too much.

on friday after jaelyn's doctor's appointment, we went to target to get three things - it was an adventure. jaelyn slept the entire time and jesiah just begged for a new toy. needless to say it was probably the shortest time i spent in target ever.

yesterday, jamil had to go into work for a project that needed to be done and was already rescheduled once before b/c of jaelyn's arrival! so, we planned ahead and had our awesome babysitter - "jojo" - come for the day to help me out. the day went really well. i had some special things planned for the big kids to do with her and they had a lot of fun. they went on a nature walk and collected leaves. they used the leaves to do crayon rubbings and make placemats. then they played with brand new playdough (one of the things i got at target the day before). it had been awhile since we have had playdough in the house - they played with it for like 2 hours!!! having johanna was such a big help!!! the kids had a great time - thanks jojo for coming over to play with them!!!! you are such a blessing!!!

here are a few pics of jaelyn from the last two weeks: (i will post more soon! i have been going back and forth between my camera which works sometimes and sometimes not and my mom's old camera - which we can't find the cord to download the pics i have taken)

isn't she just precious??? we think she is just beautiful! we are often asked who she looks like - she doesn't really look like the other three kiddos when they were babies. she actually looks like me and my sister when we were babies!


back story: the big delivery day! (jaelyn's birth story)...

the two weeks leading up to having jaelyn were crazy busy, almost like a blur. we celebrated josh's birthday, jordyn had a fairy tale ball at school and the kids started their fall break - just to name a few things. so i will tell the birth story starting at my last weekly midwife appointment. ( i will catch up on the other family stuff later!)

on wednesday october 1, i had my weekly midwife appointment. i was making good progress, already 3 cm dilated! i knew it wouldn't be long until we would meet our precious baby girl! of course the planner in me was dying to know when and all the details. but i didn't know when, just soon!

on thursday october 2, i was exhausted. i was very tired and feeling lots of pressure and different things going on.

on fridayoctober 3, the kids were off school, they began their fall break the day before. so we headed out the door to get haircuts, go to target and have lunch with daddy. while we were in target, i was feeling pretty uncomfortable, lots of pressure and knew the day was coming. i kind of thought i would go into labor that day or that evening. that night jamil and i went out for a date night, knowing it would be awhile before we would have another one.

saturday october 4, was a busy day, my sister and i went for a pedicure - yeah! one last one before the baby arrived - glad i made it to this appointment! we also attended our dear friends' daughter's birthday party that day. and that evening we went to have a little fall fun at aw shucks corn maze in monroe.

on sunday october 5, my contractions began while i was at the 11:30 service at church. they were not regular and didn't hurt. that afternoon they became a little more regular. we were suppose to be heading to elevation's praise and worship night, but i wasn't sure if we would make it. in the end we decided to go, contractions and all. they didn't hurt and there wasn't a true pattern. so off we went! i had contractions throughout the night while we were there. they stayed 15-20 minutes apart and didn't really hurt. i was so glad that we were able to be there that night. jaelyn knew she had to hold off until after this event!

i couldn't sleep that night and was up for most of it with on and off contractions. i slept from 11:00 to 12:45. and then was up the rest of the night. by about 3:30 am, with the fear of going into hard labor at home and not making it to the hospital, we decided to call my midwife and tell her what was going on. when i talked to her she told me to come on in. we left for the hospital at about 6:00 am.

jamil and i were able to get things in order at our house, finish packing and take a leisurely drive to cmc hospital. my mom came up to watch the kids and we told my sister, who was planning on attending this labor and delivery, to go into work and we would call her with the details. on the way to the hospital, we stopped by krispy kreme and got some donuts! who would have thought that would have been my last "meal" for another 12 hours.

after we arrived at the hospital and got settled in our labor and delivery room, we learned that our friends from church, the lineberger's were two suites down and autumn was in labor too!!! how fun!

when my midwife came in around 7 am, i wasn't having any contractions and the baby was doing great. i was 5 cm and 80% effaced. after i was monitored for awhile, they let me do some walking, so we met up with greg and autumn and walked the halls. it was so special to have a friend there and share in this experience together! the walk did great for autumn - she had her beautiful baby girl within the next two hours of our walk. for me it was another story. at least it made it easy for our midwife to have our two births so far apart.

for the next couple of hours, i walked and rested and still the contractions hadn't started back. so at 11:15 am we decided to break my water. i was still only 5 cm. in the past once my water breaks, my babies make their appearance within 2 hours. so we called my sister and had her come to the hospital. we expected to meet our little baby girl in a short amount of time. i braced myself for a fast and furious active labor and delivery.

it took about an hour for the contractions to start again and become steady and hard. once they did, i was taken off the monitors and began to do all kinds of things to get this baby born!!! i walked, took a hot shower, used a birthing ball and tried to rest. the contractions became harder and more intense. by about 4:00 they were pretty painful and i was getting tired. i started thinking that i would need to have some drugs to make it through. about 40 minutes later, my nurse checked me and i was at 7 cm. some progress but not where i was hoping to be. when my midwife came in, i was in such pain and we talked about the drugs. she really encouraged me that it wouldn't be much longer and i could do this without medicine. she felt like the slow part of my labor was over and it would pick up and she would be here in no time. i opted not to get the drugs and keep on laboring! praying that it would be over soon. i was getting so tired and losing my strength.

about 20 minutes later the contractions were really hard and closer together, i felt a lot of pressure. my midwife checked me and i was still only at 7 cm but my cervix had changed enough and was really thinned out, that we could work through the next phase of labor. without giving a lot of graphic details, i will just say that i began to push through the contractions at about 5:45 or so and jaelyn was born at 6:03pm!!

i was so excited to see her. words never can express the range of emotions that i feel once i have brought a new baby into the world. and it was no different with her! i was in complete amazement of this miracle! i felt so relieved that all of the pain was over and i was holding the best gift ever.

later that night, my parents brought the kiddos up to the hospital so that they could all meet jaelyn!

it was a long day, but a wonderful one! i love being in the hospital after having a baby! i love everything about it. it is like a retreat for me. it is such a special time, one i have enjoyed with each of my babies and definitely with jaelyn's birth too. i stayed in the hospital until wednesday afternoon. i was feeling pretty good. this labor and delivery was probably the easiest on my body, as far as recovery time. but i guess after having four, it knows what to do!!

during my stay there we had a lot of visitors, lots of friends and family came to meet our little blessing. i was so happy to show jaelyn off!!

the big delivery day and hospital stay were just the beginning to a very joyful time in my life and in the life of our family.


our little blessing..

on monday, october 6, 2008 at 6:03 pm, jaelyn aliyah massey made her grand entrance into this world and into our family!! she weighed 7 lbs oz and 19 1/2 inches long. jaelyn is a beautiful and healthy baby girl!!!

i have quite a story to tell about her arrival who doesn't have a story to share about the miracle of labor, delivery and birth? until i have the time to create some detailed posts, i wanted to share a few pictures and make our big announcement on our blog! enjoy our beautiful baby girl!! we are so proud and excited to have her here!!

jaelyn only about an hour old and sucking her thumb!

such a sweet baby, not even 48 hours old!

mommy's baby girl!
just a day old

daddy's baby girl...
taken as we were leaving the hospital on 10/8

jesiah is content to watch daddy hold jaelyn

big brother josh knows what to do when it comes to holding a baby!

jordyn is so excited to hold her baby sister!

mommy, daddy and baby jaelyn

our first family picture... all six of us!


happy 8th birthday josh!

on october 1, we celebrated joshua's eighth birthday! we started the morning off by waking him with jamil, jordyn and i singing happy birthday to him! that afternoon i took cupcakes to school and his class celebrated with him! he was not shy at all and stood right up when it was time for him to be sung to!! that evening we celebrated his birthday by having dinner at fuddrucker's. it was a great birthday.

it is hard for me to believe that he is eight years old already. this past year went so fast. it was a big year for joshua! one of our favorite highlights was when he was baptized in february by pastor! that was such a memorable day and such an important day in his life.

over this last year we have seen him grow a lot - he is a very tall second grader, often mistaken for a fourth grader. joshua is doing well in second grade, although he thinks he knows everything and sometimes just rushes through, we are hoping that we can teach him to slow down and enjoy learning. he continues to love to play sports, especially basketball. he wasnts to give karate a try. recently, he has realized how much he enjoys drawing. josh is very artistic and has taken to drawing all kinds of things. we got him a corkboard for his birthday so he has a place to display his work! atleast a few of my genes are in him! josh looks a lot like his daddy! and they act alike as well!

here are a few pics from his big day..

josh stands up at school while his classmates sing to him

a birthday sundae for josh!

sharing his sundae with mom and jordyn!

picture with daddy!

josh poses with his grandparents


my hero..

as a very pregnant woman, this gas shortage really got the best of me. yesterday, jamil told me to go ahead and put some gas in our van. there was suppose to be some up the street from us. by the time i got there they were sold out. i was between a half and quarter of a tank. not desperate but still would like to have more than that. our thought is we really don't need to be on empty if i go into labor and then we are put in a panic situation and can't find gas anywhere and not have enough to get to the hospital. i decided to head the other direction to get gas at another station. traffic was backed up down the road, but i decided to wait. by the time i was in the parking lot of the station - they were covering the pumps. i waited nearly 30 minutes and nothing. i tried to more stations and they were out too. i was in tears, sobbing on the phone with jamil. my hormones plus this ridiculous situation got the best of me.

this morning, my heroic hubby got up extra early and went out on a gas search!!! he heard that a lot of stations are turning off their pumps during the day and cutting them back on in the morning. when he left this morning, it was dark, windy, rainy and cold. but he returned within the hour and had found some gas for us!!! just having the security of having gas and being nearly 37 weeks prego was such a relief and i felt so thankful!! what a great husband! i appreciate what he did this morning so much. i know it was just a little thing but it really meant a lot!


random thoughts...

i think this pregnancy is affecting my brain. i can barely write in a complete sentence or thought this morning. so i think i will just put it in a list form today... i love lists, so how fitting!!!

~ yard sale is done and over with and i never know if they are truly worth the time and energy. but it did bring in some cash to get us through the week - that is a good thing. bad thing is my house was a disaster from my focus being on the yard sale.

~ this week i am working on repairing the house from it's messiness and doing laundry, on top of the regular laundry i have baby clothes to wash as well as some fall clothing

~ fall clothing....wow, where have i been? the weather turned and i wasn't prepared for it. on sunday morning, i realized we were at that point where sending jordyn to church in a strappy sundress and white sandals wasn't going to work. so i will be doing some fall clothes shopping SOON! usually it would have been done by now???

~ i am not complaining about the weather - it is an awesome welcome relief!!!!

~ another welcome relief would be to have baby jaelyn sooner than later!! i think she will be here early... but hopefully she will wait until the week after next. weird to say that, but we have some big things going on this week and next week!

~ this week we have a big day on thursday that has been covered in prayer that i can't wait to share. it all has to do with our sun stand still prayer from last year. let's just say that our prayer is being answered in an amazing way and i will unveil the story eventually. actually i might have to write a book....

~ i have several dear friends who are throwing me a baby shower on saturday - that i am so looking forward to. i have a hard time being the center of attention. i do better at throwing showers and making the guest of honor feel special. i don't do as well at receiving it. i am so humbled at the generosity of my friends throwing it and those attending!

those are my random thoughts for the day!


going... going... gone?

during the last few weeks (months?), i have been "nesting" like crazy. i have had this huge desire to clean out and get rid of stuff in every area of our house. i have wanted to organize what is left and make sure everything in our house has it's own home! well, as i started to clean out each closet and drawer, things started to majorily pile up in our garage. all that stuff was starting to take over the space and leaving a very small space to park our van and a small path to the door. we were able to get rid of some of the stuff in the garage by selling it on craig's list, giving it away or just trashing or burning it. but it still left us with lots of stuff. so a few weeks ago, as i was telling amy about my stress of what to do with all this stuff, most being clothing. we decided to join efforts and have a yard sale! this will make our third or fourth annual yard sale.

are we crazy??? at this stage of life we are preparing for a yard sale. she has a full plate with her new babies and will. i am about to give birth in the next few weeks, but yes both of our needs to purge and organize has led us to a yard sale this saturday at my house!

we have all kinds of stuff, a lot of baby and kid's stuff. i know that sounds weird because we both still have babies and kids. but we just have too much stuff. we both have a ton of clothing that our kids have outgrown and is in great shape. after not having much luck at a consignment shop in town and no energy to tote THIRTEEN bins of clothing to another, i am gladly giving away stuff to friends and then selling the rest!!! if you need some fall clothing, come on over, i can probably help you out!!!!

i can envision a clean neat garage, everything in it's place and plenty of room to park a van and get FOUR kids in and out of it!!! with any luck we will make enough room in the garage to bring in a deep freezer and then i can move onto the next project.... making dinners to fill the freezer for when jaelyn comes!!!!

so for the next few days we will be busy busy preparing for a yard sale!!! stop by if you are out and about on saturday morning!!!!!

check out our other blog for an update on baby jaelyn!!!!!


beach and birthday weekend....

today, i am trying to get back into the swing of things and attempting to tackle real life! oh, it is so hard to face the reality of what i was able to hide away from for a few days!

on thursday morning of last week, myself along with seven wonderful ladies headed to carolina beach!!!! yes, i had a beach weekend with no children. it was such an awesome time. we started planning this trip several months ago and as it got closer i was unsure if i would be able to attend. obstacles attempted to keep me from it but God had a different plan and he knocked them down!!

this trip was definitely what i needed. i was able to rest and relax the whole time- even though we stayed up way too late each night. i laid on the beach without keeping an eye on kids or getting sprayed in the face with sand or having to trek back to the house for a potty break. i ate all of my meals and snacks without sharing or fixing one for someone else. i had no lists or no schedules to follow, we just did what we wanted when we wanted to do it.

i haven't ever experienced such a trip. there was no agenda and no schedule. there was no tension or anxiety. it was a completely wonderful time. on our drive the weather looked questionable and rain was predicted. but as soon as we hit wilmington the clouds parted and the sun was shining. we had three days of sun!!!! we had three days of laughter. i haven't laughed so hard in such a long time. i thought i might go into labor.

words can't even begin to describe how unique this group of women is. we all just get along so well and the friendships are easy and low maintenance. each friend brings a different dynamic to the group and we enjoy each other so much!!!

i feel so blessed to have these ladies in my life!!! they were so sweet to think of me and honor me this past weekend. they celebrated my birthday by taking me out to dinner on friday night! and then when we returned home they surprised me with gifts for the baby!!! a baby shower and birhday surprise all in one!! i was so humbled and honored that they did all of this for me!!

when we returned home on saturday evening, i was sad to see our much needed and anxiously awaited trip come to an end. but i really did miss my family. it was so good to see jamil and my babies!!! my kids greeted me with tons of handmade cards and a birthday present!!!!

jamil arranged for my kids to go to my in laws on saturday night and we went out for dinner for my birthday. wow - a beach weekend and then out to dinner with the best guy in town!! we went to pf changs and had a wonderful time together!

yesterday, my kids slept in until after 9:00 am!! woohoo! we got up and headed to the best church around!! after church, we came home and relaxed while jamil finished up at church. and then when he got home we headed to my parent's house!! they had us all over to celebrate my birthday. we had dinner, cake, ice cream and more presents!!

it has been such a wonderful, relaxing, long weekend and now it is monday morning and i am adjusting to the real world; kids off to school, list making, planning a trip to the grocery store, laundry, balancing the checkbook, running the dishwasher, preparing for a yard sale etc. it's so good to be home.


update on pregnancy...

i just wrote a post on baby j's blog with a quick update on the pregnancy. warning: the post is very whiny and not at all uplifting. it just tells about how i am feeling today... check it out.



several months ago, i began reading a book called "breathe" by keri wyatt kent. i have been reading this with a group of friends and we meet once a month to eat dinner, desert and have a good discussion. two weeks ago, we finished the book and had our group at my house. overall the book was pretty good. there were a few chapters here and there that seemed a bit redundant but the concept of the book really spoke to me and hit home. the book really challenged me to breathe. the book brought to my attention there was too much busyness in my life and that my role of a wife, mom and friend was not being placed first - other things were. i was even in a place where i don't think i had the time to hear from God. i was running in circles and really stressed out. i had been in the place for a long time. sometimes i would realize it and cut back on things, but then quickly say yes to other things. just trading busyness for other busyness.

there were several principles in the book that really spoke to me. the biggest one was that i really needed to start saying no to commitments i had made, to commitments i was the process of making and to learn how to continue to say no to other commitments that may come along. i realized that i was so busy and that i never had time to have any fun or do anything for myself. and if and when i did i felt guilty and the commitments that needed to be done would overshadow the fun i should or could be having. i started to resent some of the things i had said yes to. i realized that i wasn't really enjoying this season of my life. i wasn't enjoying my family or even my friends. i was overcommited and stressed out.

the first commitment i had to let go was my volunteer position at elevation as the ekidz volunteer coordinator. that was very hard for me. i love being a part of our church and having a role that made me feel important and like i was contributing. but the volunteer position required way too much of my time. it was so hard for me to step down but i knew i had to. i knew that through my reading and through God it was what i was suppose to do. sunday mornings were becoming stressful for me. being pregnant and getting three kids to church early in the morning and staying late into the afternoon was getting hard. and i had been doing it by myself. i began to resent all of that. i realized i was not supporting jamil in his role as one of our pastor's armor bearers because i was so stressed out. i also had to do a lot of "work" during the week from home. i loved the work i was doing and the people i worked with but i had to let it go.

another commitment was as a room mom. once the school year was done at union academy, i vowed not to take on the role as a room mom for the next year. i loved being one of two room moms for josh's class. but i knew i couldn't commit for the new school year to either of the classes my kid's would be in. when the time came this year, it was hard for me not to volunteer this year, but i didn't. i have offered to help in anyway i can but just not be in that take charge role.

i am a take charge kind of girl, that is just how God has made me but i knew he was asking me to let go of that gift and let go of both of those roles for this season of my life and just follow someone else's lead for awhile in whatever i help with. at church i serve on a team that supports one of our community outreach partners, safe journey. it doesn't require as much time and energy but i am still able to be involved and be able to serve. and i also choose to see that i have a valuable role as i support jamil as he serves along side of pastor steven. i feel that him knowing i am handling our family by myself on sunday mornings gives him a peace of mind and he can serve pastor and be completely focused as he does. at school this year, i will volunteer when and as much as i can but not by taking a lead role.

in june, when those things were finished my time was freed up tremendously. i was able to put that extra time into spending real quality time with my kids this summer. with jordyn starting kindergarten in the fall, i wanted to be able to have a good summer with them and especially with her. i didn't want to tell them no to things because i had "work" to do.

i also realized when it came time to my daily schedule i often put too many things into one day. if we had a party at 2:00, we could also have dinner plans with family at 6:00 and hey why not add something else at 10:00 am too because that is free. i have realized that just because a chunk of time is free it doesn't have to be filled with something to do. i have made a conscious effort to really look at how our days and how our weekends are scheduled. we definitely still have busy weeks and weekends but they are not as frequent. we have scheduled time to breathe! so when a busy week or weekend comes along i can handle it a lot better. and if i am handling it better, my family is too!! we have had a lot less evening commitments as well. it is refreshing to be able to be home more evenings then away. especially with the kids back in school. having two in school has definitely changed the dynamics of our evening routine!

i have done really well this summer saying no to things that would require my time. i have lost the desire to say "yes" all of the time. i think i had such a fear of saying no because i thought that if i said no it would show a weakness or that i would be bored or that i wouldn't be asked to do anything else. i had gotten into a habit of saying yes to everything. i had this mindset that i am a stay at home mom and i have a lot of time on my hands so i should be able to do everything and anything that came my way. so for years i have said yes and overcommited myself anyway i could. what i didn't realize is that i wouldn't be bored. having a family and keeping up with a home keeps me busy. i realized that i am not at all bored, not at all. i have still been really busy. my priorities have really shifted and changed. i have been able to put my family ahead of all those commitments that used to be there. i feel like i have been able to focus and really put my family first. i know that God is calling me to live this way. this is where he wants me in this season of my life. God is the center of my life and my family and friends come first.

august wrap up...

since my posts have been pretty far and few between, i thought i would just write one that summarizes and hightlights what's been going on around here this month. each one probably deserves it's own post but i am just putting it all into one for today!!!! it is really hard to believe that tomorrow we will begin a new month.

big kid's school stuff...

the kids have been in school for a full month. they are both doing pretty well. jordyn has really adjusted to being in kindergarten. she really likes it. she does get very tired in the afternoons, which makes doing anything in the evenings really hard. she enjoys being there and has made some friends. she is a social butterfly and has thad o move her clip because she is talking too much. although the last two weeks she has been on green every day!!! joshua has realized he is a class clown and we have been working with him on appropriate behavior and appropriate times. he is so bright and intelligent that we really want him to focus on staying on task and being funny when he is suppose to be. hard for a boy who wants to make his friends laugh. he is a lot like jamil - especially when he was in school.

little buddy...

jesiah is doing pretty well at home with me. he is not going to preschool this year so he is with me every day. it is so different just having one around for the majority of the day. jesiah is pretty laid back and easy going, although he has his moments. he plays really well by himself and i can often do what i need to get done while he plays. it has been really fun to have him all by myself every day! he says and does the cutest things. he hasn't wanted us to call him little buddy or any other nickname - he tells us his name is jesiah. wow that is hard. i think we have officially traded in the nighttime diapers (pull ups) this week for diapers for the baby! jesiah has been waking up dry at night for several weeks. so the last several nights we have put him to bed in big boy pants and he has done great. jesiah likes that he has given up his "diapers" to his baby sister!!! he can not wait to be a big brother! i talks about it all of the time. he loves to rub and touch my belly. it is very sweet.

first sleepover party...

jordyn had her first sleepover party this month. it was so much fun. we did all things girly!!! we had makeovers, manicures and pedicures. we ate pizza, popcorn and watched princess diaries. it went really really well. there were 7 little girls in total at our house on a friday night. several were sleeping over for the first time and/or a little nervous. but there was not even a whisper of being scared when it came to bedtime! of course my camera battery was dead so i didn't take any pictures. although, our babysitter and family friend, johanna came to my rescue, she took the pics for me. i will post some pics once i get them from here. johanna not only rescued me by taking the pictures, she came and helped me the whole night!! what a blessing. she was there on friday afternoon while we got ready and stayed until saturday morning. i really couldn't have done it without her. she was such a big help!!!!! my sister also came up during our makeovers and having her there was such a help, when you have seven little girls yelling for glitter!!!

elevation news...

at elevation we have seen God working overtime!!!!! we have launched a new campus in uptown charlotte, seen over 1,000 people baptized and over 600 people accept Christ as their personal Savior!!! it has been an amazing month at our church. i feel so blessed to be in the midst of what God is doing at elevation. currently, hundreds of volunteers along with the staff have been participating in the daniel fast. we are on day 14 of the fast. i haven't been able to take part fully in the fast - pregnancy and fast just didn't seem to agree with me or with the baby. but i have been challenged by making all of our dinners and having a lot of the appropriate snacks on hand from the daniel fast recipes, since jamil is doing it in it's full capacity. there are several new things we have tried and will continue to use or have on our dinner menus. i know God is going to bless our church and do great things through our church because of this act of obedience and sacrifice of so many people. honestly, i will be glad to make some of our regular dinner menus once this is over. and i have really really missed baking and making deserts!!!!


we have been busy, busy around our house. i have been in complete nesting mode and working on our "must do before the baby comes" list. we have blocked out the last couple of saturdays and this coming one and we haven't made any commitments so that we can work on projects around the house. those "saturday" projects are ones that i need jamil's help with. during the week i tackle as much as i can by myself. we have been making some good progress and crossing things off of our lists!!!!

baby on the way...

today marks 50 days until baby jaelyn comes. i have been feeling pretty good. and things have gone really well. i am pretty uncomfortable and have been tired. i am not sleeping great at night but overall things are going great! i really can not complain. i am really excited to see her! i have been going to my midwife appointments every other week and i think after this week i will go every week.

i think that catches up mostly what has been going on here in the past few weeks. now i feel like i can get a fresh start to september and be able to write more frequently - but don't hold your breath!!!