halloween @ elevation...

on thursday afternoon, the kids got to dress up for a super fun halloween party "elevation style". we headed over to the church offices for a small gathering of the elevation staff and the armor bearer team and their families. there were lots of great costumes and really really cute kiddos! there were games set up for the kids to play and they won some fun prizes. then they got to "trick or treat" throughout the staff offices. there was a costume contest & yummy snacks.

my princesses, cinderella x2

my star wars guys, clone trooper & darth vader

some games...

jordyn and her friend, addison

cinderella and a sweet little tinkerbell

my pictures just don't do justice to what the elevation volunteer team had set up for us. i wish i would have taken pictures of so many more things, including the costume contest winner! it was such a festive and fun party!


a month of thanks & giving...

my sweet bloggy friend jeanette posted today with an awesome experiment called "30 days of thanks and giving"! jeanette is challenging herself as well as others to participate in reflecting on the things we are thankful for and demonstrating a spirit of giving! it goes like this, each day throughout the month you should write down one thing that you are thankful for and demonstrate one act of giving.

jeanette is encouraging us to share the idea and get involved! what a fun idea that we can all do across the blogosphere!

you can go here to read her post with a full explanation. if you decide to join in on the fun, let me know!!


pumpkin patch...

on sunday afternoon we took a little trip to riverbend farms.
what a fun little outing to do with the family.

little pilgrims!

it has been years since we have been there.
we took josh when he was one year old. and haven't been back since.
i am so glad we went back! we will definitely go again.

while we were waiting to take the wagon ride out to the pumpkin patch,
we took a little tour around the farm.

while we were walking around,
we ran into two families that we know from church! so fun!
we rode the wagon with one of those sweet families.

this is little hannah, jaelyn loves her!
with her mom, rachael and dad, kenny
rachael and kenny are in our small group!

when we got to the pumpkin patch i gave the kids one rule.
they had to pick a pumpkin that they could carry.

there is no way jamil and i could carry their pumpkins
along with the baby and the diaper bag.

jordyn with her prize pumpkin!

look at my baby girl's face,
for some reason she was terrified to be put next to her pumpkin!!
i can only imagine how she is going to react to sitting on santa's lap this year!

after we got our pumpkins the kids had a fun time playing on the playground.

what a great family day!!!


pure joy...

update: in a hurry i posted this before it was actually done and i had time to proof and give it the finishing touches... so i have those completed now! if you read the rough draft, please read this final copy too....

this past weekend we started a new series at elevation called "joy genome". wow! what a great sermon and what perfect timing! lately, i have been feeling a little lacking in the joy area. it isn't that i don't have joy in my life or feel joyful on the inside. there are so many things that bring me pure joy. but sometimes, ok, a lot of times, i allow those not so joyful things to overshadow the joy. so on the outside i may not look or feel joyful. i know the joy is there and i just have to let it outshine the not so joyful stuff. i don't want those circumstances to define who i am. i want the joy that is given to me through Christ to define and shine!!

pastor steven said this, it is a key statement to the sermon and to what i am taking away from it...
"My joy is not determined by what happens to me, but what Christ is doing in me and through me."

so i began the week with a new approach to joy! i want joy to explode from me and i want others to see it and i want to be able to really feel it. so i am going to let the good things outshine the bad things that happen every day. i consider those good things a reflection of who He is in me.

i had two moments yesterday where i was overwhelmed with joy! and it made me realize that i want to approach my life with daily reflections on the things that brought me joy and made me feel joyful.

so i am going to share two moments with you...

the first moment was in the parking lot of aldi's (do you shop there, if you don't you have to give it a try!) i was loading up my groceries, when i saw a lady parked next to me and she was wearing her baby in a sling. as she started heading toward the store, she turned back around to go back to her car, she got a floppy seat out of her car and took her baby out of the sling and put him into the cart. i thought to myself, how she reminded me of myself. i often have to figure out if wearing the baby or pushing the baby will work better. sometimes i change my mind and do what she did. as she walked by me, i said something to her about that and then we began chatting. her 6 month old was a sweet chubby baby and she said that she just couldn't get him to fit well in her sling (she was wearing him across her body cuddled up). so i shared with her two different ways she could wear her baby (on her hip and sitting up facing out) in her sling. i loved being able to offer that kind of support to her. i could tell she was encouraged by learning something new! it gave me pure joy to do this for her. it reminded me of the passion that God has put inside of me and how much i love encouraging and supporting other women, especially moms!!!

the second moment was when i was walking into the second grocery store (lowes foods, just opened near our house!) i went to. i put jesiah and jaelyn in a little cart that looked like a car. they were so excited. and just that little simple moment gave me pure joy to look at my kids and be reminded of what a blessing they are to me. it reminded me of a time when i had joshua and jordyn out and about and they were close to the same age as jesiah and jaelyn are. and it made me think about how i have two wonderful big kids in school and i still have two wonderful little kids at home with me. God knows my heart and knows my love for babies and little kids and he has given me four of them!!! i feel so blessed. to be a mom of four kids all in different stages and ages. they keep me so busy and my hands are so full, but i am blessed and they bring me pure joy!!!

what things bring you joy in your life??

if you need a little joy in your life today or need a little reminder about joy...you can hear my amazing pastor preach a great word here!


weekend recap...

on mondays, i usually spend the day at home catching up on things that we let go around the house over the weekend. i get in gear for the week. i plan out the week and make lists. today, i have done that, as well as the grocery shopping for the next two weeks. we were out early and back by lunch time. the little ones are napping/doing quiet time. so, i decided to sit down and write a blog post or two instead of doing other not so fun things i should be doing

we had a good and busy weekend. josh played his last soccer game on saturday. afterwards, we went to get school shoes for jordyn. i had been putting this off for awhile because her shoes cost me a fortune. jordyn has the most narrow little foot ever. and for a shoe (like a school shoe) that she will be wearing a lot, i feel like she has to have ones that fits well. a few years ago we found an awesome shoe store in our area (shoe in) that carries specialty brand shoes. the owner of the store knows us and knows how to fit jordyn's little foot. and i have learned my lesson, i will not spend a lot of time searching elsewhere and i will just go there. the shoes never end up being cheap but they always fit well and we can get a lot of wear out of them. helps to make the money worth it. jordyn wanted me to take a picture of her shoes so i did.

she is so excited about her new shoes - such a girl!!!

on sunday, we went to a pumpkin patch and had a family day! it was a fun time. i will post more pictures later this week!

that evening we went to church... online! our church does a live service online at 7:00 pm on sundays. so innovative and such a great idea. i love our church!! if you don't live near elevation or can't attend a service there is always this option!!!

after fighting it off for awhile, i got hit by a yucky cold at the end of last week. it is so not fun to be sick and to be a mom. i am so ready for it to go away already!! i am praying that this doesn't start round two of germs being spread through our family. everyone else got sick last month and i didn't get it until now, so i hope they will stay germ free!!! so far so good!!!

we have some fun fall things planned this week! we have two halloween parties to go to and the kids are super excited to dress up!! we are going to be doing some fun pumpkin stuff too!!! lots of good stuff to blog about!!! hopefully i will remember to take pictures!

this last week in october is going to be a busy one! i seriously can not believe it is going to be november next week! where in the world did october go?


take your ball and go...

the other day, we went to the park with some friends. as we were leaving, my friend, erin, found a ball that had been left there, and it ended up in the backseat with jesiah.

jesiah couldn't wait until his big brother and sister got home to play with him with his new ball. i \think the kids were outside maybe five minutes before i heard screaming from jesiah. the big
kids were taking control of the ball and they were not playing with it like jesiah wanted them to. just minutes later, the screaming became tears and i found jesiah sitting on the back porch steps crying with his ball in his lap.

he had enough and decided it was time to take his ball and go. jesiah was done fighting over his ball, done trying to make the big kids play with him in the way he wanted to play. he was tired of fighting for his way and for what he wanted. he was making his statement. he was done.

i saw him sitting there on the steps and wanted to comfort him and tell him to go back out and play. but i just left him be. and thought about what he was going through. and i understood.

sometimes its just plain easier to take your ball and go. go and hide somewhere away from the fight. when things don't go your way it is so much easier to give up on what you have been fighting for and just. be. done.

kids can do that so much easier than adults, can't they? but that isn't what we are suppose to do. God doesn't want us to give up. He wants us to fight the fight and keep on going. if He could send His son to die for us on the cross and keep on being Lord Almighty; we most certainly can keep on going down when things don't go our way. He can provide us with the strength to keep fighting when we just don't think we have any fight left. with our faith in Him, when we feel lost and alone He will show us the way.

i can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
philippians 4:13

trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
proverbs 3:5&6

you will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all of your heart.
jeremiah 29:13


pretty random...

here are a few things that are going on around here,
they are completely random and in no special order...

~ i sat down to see what new pictures i could upload from the last week or so. and i realized i have taken only one photo since jaelyn's birthday two weeks ago. this is the random picture i took since then. we were at josh's soccer game last saturday, this is jordyn inside of the case that holds our fold up chairs! it was raining so she was trying to stay warm. she comes up with the craziest things sometimes! i can't believe that i have been so slack on taking pictures!

~ jaelyn had her one year check up at the end of last week. she has grown 10 inches and gained 10 pounds since the day she was born. she is 30 inches long and weighs 17 lbs 11 oz. jaelyn is in the 75th %ile for height and in like the 0%ile for weight. she is tall and tiny! her head was in the 75%ile, our doctor said that was because she is so smart!!!

~ the big kids are doing great in school. they have adjusted well. i am so confident that we made the right decision to send them to school. i feel like a ton of bricks has been lifted off my shoulders!! i have had conferences with both of their teachers. i am very pleased with their teachers. God completely matched my kids with the best teachers for them. they are making friends and doing well in their schoolwork. they have adjusted to just about everything. getting up early is still something we all are still adjusting to. oh and packing lunches, there is just something about packing my kid's lunches that drives me crazy. we do them at night, but it still is such an ordeal.

~ jesiah is doing good with the big kids at school, sometimes i can tell he misses them being home. but he is such a great kid, and he loves to play with jaelyn. and when he isn't playing with her he will play by himself! he is great at independent play!! and it is crazy to think that this time next year he will be in kindergarten!

~ last week, i attended an information session at a local nursing school, mercy school of nursing. i have begun the process of going back to school to finish my nursing degree. and it really is a process. there is a lot that has to fall in place and has to be decided before i start school. i am not sure of the timing of everything and how it will all line up, but i know God does. i am relying on Him more than ever to guide me in the right direction and help make the right decisions. i know He has given me this desire and passion to become a momma/baby nurse and i really want to achieve it. i just want it to be in His timing. and i know that it is going to be a lot of work, and i want to be able to keep my family first while being in school.

~ i have been fighting off sickness for about two or three weeks. the rest of my family passed around a yucky cold while i continued to fight it off. last week, i ended up getting a cough, but nothing more, thankfully. the cough is really annoying and i am so ready for it to go away. it is almost gone! and i am praying that we all stay clear of the rest of the nasty germs that are floating around out there.

so those are just a few of the things that are on my mind today!
what's on yours?


it all started with josh (his birth story)...

as you may have read, two of my kiddos celebrated their birthdays five days apart this month. i didn't want to combine their parties, so we did a birthday celebration for josh with a homemade ice cream cake and some presents with our family. and then we did a bit bigger birthday party for jaelyn. (i have a strategic way to do birthday celebrations with our kids, we just can't do four huge parties every year - but i will save that for another post.)

since we didn't do a huge party for josh, i thought i would share his birth story instead. i guess i have never done that before. wow! this is a story to read!!!

i just love talking about pregnancy and birth stories. i also love hearing about other momma's stories too (if you have a birth story post on your blog - let me know! and if you don't have one yet - post one and let me know that too!!!) i just love sharing these precious moments.

God totally has put this passion for pregnancy and babies in my heart and it all started with joshua almost ten years ago!! i will start with a summary of my pregnancy with josh and then go into the big birth day!

jamil and i got married on december 18, 1999. on february 1, 2000 we found out we were pregnant. so we had ourselves a honeymoon baby, we had been married for about six weeks and we were about six weeks pregnant. what a surprise. we had "planned" on waiting for two - three years. but God had other plans. it was funny because after the wedding and we were settling into life together, i had this instinct that i just needed to take care of something. so i told jamil, i wanted to have a kitten, a puppy or a baby - it was up to him. he told me i could get a kitten. but before we did, we found out we were being blessed with a baby. and no, needless to say, he didn't let me get the kitten! we would find out through an early ultrasound that my due date was october 4, 2000!

i had a fairly easy pregnancy. i was just a little sick and nauseous during the first trimester, but not too bad. i had no complications and both the baby and i were healthy! we had one little scare around thirteen weeks when at my prenatal appointment, my doctor couldn't find the baby's heartbeat. we had heard it at the previous appointment, so i was terrified something was wrong. we were able to have an ultrasound immediately. praise God, He is so good, we saw the baby's heartbeat and it was moving and waving it's little arm. everything was good. (this pattern repeats itself in each of my subsequent pregnancies, we have a hard time picking up a heartbeat because, i was later to find out that i have a tilted uterus).

because of this little scare, i had to see the baby again, so we had an elective ultrasound to see our little peanut at around 18 weeks. we did not find out the sex of the baby, we wanted to be surprised!! although, we both had a feeling it would be a baby boy! so the rest of the pregnancy went great. i did have heartburn throughout the pregnancy and some strong cravings. it took a long time for my belly to show. i would get so frustrated about that. i wanted to look pregnant and wear maternity clothes so bad. little did i know by my fourth baby, i would be wearing those much desired clothes on the day i got the positive pregnancy test!

fast forward to right before the big day...

on september 28, 2000 ~ i went to carolina's medical center, eighth floor, labor and delivery, little did i know it would become one of my most favorite places in the world. although i was not there that day in labor. i was visiting my dear friend, stephanie. she was in labor with her son, elijah. and i was outside of the door when he was born. at that point in my life, the thought wasn't even in my mind to be in the room with her, i was way too scared at the thought, because i had no idea what to expect.

stephanie and i were pregnant together. and our due dates were like ten days apart. it was the first pregnancy for both of us. it was such a blessing to share this special time with a best friend. our babies would end up being only three days apart!

i had gone across the street to the hospital to visit stephanie, after my 39th week prenatal appointment. at this appointment, i found out i was 4 (yes, four!) cm. dilated and 80% effaced. at the time that didn't mean too much to me, except shouldn't i be in the hospital in labor and not walking around visiting someone else? but the doctor told me i could be like that for a few more days and as long as my water didn't break or having strong contractions i was good to go! i remember him describing what a strong contraction should feel like, i tucked that away in my head. and little did i know i would not have a text book description of a normal labor and delivery. i had no idea what was about to come!!

on the evening of september 30, 200 at around 5:00 pm, i was having some tightening across my belly kind of regularly. so i called my friend stephanie and asked her to describe her contractions and mine didn't really feel like the ones she was describing. they continued throughout the night. they were not regular and not strong. but i decided to call my doctor's office anyway. my doctor was in an emergency delivery, so i talked to one of the midwives in the practice, hallie (who would later end up delivering baby #3 & #4!). she told me that she could tell they were not painful. she suggested i take some tylenol and get some rest and see what happens. around 11:30 pm, the contractions completely stopped. i was so frustrated, i wanted to have my baby so bad!! i was ready!

i slept well that night. and the next morning (sunday october 1, 2000) i woke up early to say good bye to my dad. he had come the day before to drop off my mom (they were living in pa at the time) so she could be here to help us out. since it clearly didn't look like i was having a baby, he headed home. boy, he had no idea what he was about to miss!!! neither did we!

after he left, i think we all went back to sleep, he is a total early morning travel kind of guy! after waking up the second time around 10:00 am, i was laying in bed and felt this complete shift/movement/erratic behavior in my uterus, seriously like something (ha! the baby) just fell out of place. little did i know that was the baby dropping! now, remember, i haven't had contractions since late the night before. so i am not even thinking i would be haivng the baby anytime soon. i was thinking i would be prego forever!!!

so i decide to get up and go make something for breakfast, this is about 10:30 on a sunday morning. (we were not going to elevation church at this point, in fact it wasn't even a church at this time, gosh, pastor and holly were probably still in high school ;) or college to give them the benefit!! ) so, we had decided to skip church!! while i am mixing up the pancake batter, i felt this odd sensation and ran to the bathroom to realize that my water had broken! wow!! within a few minutes the contractions started again. but they were nothing like the night before. these were so much stronger. and they were about 3 minutes apart, regularly! i called my doctor and he said come on in to the hospital to have your baby! wow!!! this was nothing like we learned in our childbirth class. that i would have had contractions the night before and then they stopped until my water broke. so i asked him if i had time to get a shower before heading up to the hospital. he asked how far away we were, i said about 45 minutes. he said, yes, just don't take your time.
poor doctor makemson, he had been in an emergeny delivery the night before and here i am taking my good ol' time to look pretty!!

ok, hang on here, this is where the story gets really good, i promise.... grab a diet coke and come along for the wild ride we (no, i) was about to take!!!

getting to the hospital took forever. i remember, waiting in the living room in pain, hanging over the chair, waiting on my mom and husband to get ready to go. seriously, i was not happy. i am feeling the pain big time now!!! we finally get into our car at about 11:50 am and head up to the hospital. i am in a ton of pain. jamil is driving while chewing on his toothbrush of all things (btw, we have no idea what ever happened to it, he swears i through it out of the car window b/c i was mad about the pain i was in! ha!) my mom is on the cell phone calling our friends and family while timing my contractions. and they feel like they are on top of each other. she is telling me they are about a minute. little did i know that they were about 30 seconds apart and she was about to call for an ambulance to meet us on the way! i begin to tense up because of the pain and intensity and forget to do my breathing and almost pass out in the car. in between contractions with what little time i have, i am nearly cussing out and flipping off the slow moving, "out for a sunday drive" traffic and telling jamil he better run the red lights. (btw, i think i really did flip off someone i wasn't a"very good christian" at this time ;) haha! but i don't think i cussed)

we finally get to the hospital. it is about 12:30 pm or so at this time. we are met at the door with a wheel chair and taken directly to labor and delivery. it was a busy day for having babies, so i am put into a small observation room, where i have a small bathroom, and the room is barely big enough for a bed. i change my clothes and am panicking because i am bleeding, which is normal when at the end of labor! i didn't realize this. i finally get into the bed, when the nurse comes in, i am feeling like i have to push, she said, "oh sweetie, this is your first baby, it isn't time to push yet." she proceeds to check me and i am almost 10 cm. dilated. she almost panics as she tells my mom and i. jamil is not there yet, he is still parking the car!

so she puts me back into a wheelchair, and rushes and i mean rushes me to a labor and delivery suite. while she is pushing the wheelchair down the hall, my hair is flying, my mom is running to catch up and jamil finally joins in the race. i remember to ask for an epidural - um, yeah, right she says honey it is too late for that, we can give you something in your iv. yeah, right, i didn't even get an iv.

so we get into the l&d suite and it is literally time for me to start pushing. this part i can barely recall, i do remember that no one (family & friends) can get any kind of updates from the hospital, they don't even have me registered as a patient, because i have had no time to do any paperwork/check in stuff! that is how fast all of this is going down. jamil and my mom were both in the room with me. we hadn't planned on having anyone in the room but at this point i do not care and really want my mom to stay!

i remember it took me awhile to get good at pushing. i was using every muscle in my body except the right ones. it was when i saw my doctor hold up a huge long needle and a pair of scissors that i got serious and pushed the best i knew how. i remember telling them to move the full length mirror away, that i didn't want to see anything, i could feel enough!

finally, after about 30 minutes of pushing....
our baby was born!

jamil cut the cord and told me we have a joshua and i asked "it's a boy?" yup!

joshua brendan massey was born at 1:39 pm on sunday october 1, 2000.

i was so excited to meet my baby boy!!! i knew it was a boy.

joshua weighed 8 pounds 7 oz and was 20 3/4 inches long.

he was a big baby - the biggest of all four of mine. he did have the cord wrapped around his neck twice but he was completely healthy.

needless to say he came so fast and was so big that i had a lot of recovering to do and felt a great deal of pain. i had a third degree tear (internally too) - ouch!!!

but holding my sweet baby boy, was like a band-aid to my pain, really it was! i was totally smitten and in love with this baby. i was in shock that this baby who was once inside of me, i was now holding. wow! this is a true miracle! i was amazed by this whole process!

imagine the shock of our friends and family when we called them about an hour or so after my mom's call to them telling them we were on the way to the hospital, and we are telling them our baby boy is here!!

so that is where it all began. this is the start of my passion for pregnancy, birth and loving on babies!!

*you can go here to see some pictures of the day josh was born, for some reason i can not find them on my laptop :(


jaelyn's party...

better late than never, here are a few pics from jaelyn's first birthday party!
i still can't believe my baby girl is one!

so, last weekend we celebrated jaelyn's first birthday
with a pink & brown cupcake theme party.

jaelyn like opening the gifts, she had lots of help
from her siblings and friends...

i think she may have enjoyed eating her cupcake the very best...

she was a messy girl after devouring her yummy cupcake...

after mommy cleaned her up she got to put on another birthday outfit...

jaelyn with mommy and daddy on her big day...

our family and a few close friends came to celebrate with us.
this is an attempt at trying to get four babies (all born in 2008)
to sit together for a picture. ha!

here they had no choice...
on the laps of their mommas
my dear friends
amy with her twin babies merideth & mallory
chelsea with ashton
and me with jaelyn

aunt julie and me with jaelyn...
what do you think, do you think we look alike?
we often get asked if we are twins, we are not.
she is older ;) wink, wink!

here i am with my best friend amy,
also known as aunt amy around here

jaelyn with jamil's mom and step dad
grandma 'nessa and papa norris

jaelyn with johanna, our sweet and favorite babysitter...

jaelyn with my parents...
grandma 'retta and papa earl

my grandparents, my kid's great grandparents...
grammy & poppy

we had a fabulous time celebrating her big day!!!


killing my sin...

i love sundays.
i love my church.
and i love my pastor (and his wife)!

yesterday, was no different! pastor steven delivered a powerful message! each and every week i could (and should) write a post about what i have taken away from the amazing worship experience at elevation church. you can read a weekly commentary from holly furtick, pastor steven's wife.

pastor preached the third sermon in the series called "kill switch". pastor furtick preached from colossians 3:1-6. pastor talked about killing the sin in your life before the sin kills you. wow. what a touchy feeling message, huh? um, no, not really, but that is what i love about my pastor, he is not afraid to deliver a message of truth and one straight from the word!

here are a few points that i took away from the sermon. first, everyone has sin in their life, if you think you don't - pray about it, God will show you. i have prayed that for myself. because, i don't ever want to be complacent and think that i have it all together and live a sin free life.

once we identify the sin that we want to change we have to make a daily decision to set our hearts and our minds on the things above to get rid of the sin. we have to mortify not moderate our sin. just like a weed we have to kill it at the root! we have to completely destroy the things in our life that God hates, if you don't those things will destroy us.

God has shown me some sinful areas in my life that i want to mortify, destroy and kill at the root.

as a mom of four children, i do not have the patience i would like to have sometimes, ok most of the time. when i get overwhelmed, i can get angry at my kids very quickly and i raise my voice way too much. sometimes i have an issue with controlling my tongue, i speak way too harshly to them. i have gotten in a bad habit of not having as much self control as i would like. i have been working really hard to change this behavior. it seems the harder i work the more ill behaved my kids become. and i realize that is the enemy trying to get to me, he knows what buttons he can push so that i will fall hard into my sinful nature.

i will kill this anger and sinful behavior at its root. i will destroy it and mortify it. i will not let this sin destroy me.

when i start to get upset or angry i just repeat this scripture to myself...

"i can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" philippians 4:13

i am raised in Christ and will not let this sin bring me down.

i definitely didn't touch on all of what my pastor preached, so you can go here to listen to the sermon from yesterday. please do!


i keep her close...

at 11 months
in a lovely, handmade sew trendi sling
made by my friend gina!

at 6 months old
in another beautiful sew trendi sling

at 4 months old
in a baby bjorn front carrier

...at all times.