Easter 2019

Easter is one of my most favorite days of the year because while bunnies and chocolate eggs are good, celebrating Jesus and his resurrection is amazing and every year we do it in a pretty similar way.  For our family, Easter means getting up early for our church’s Sunrise Service at the beach.


A few years, like this one, the sun doesn’t show up for the Sunrise Service.  Which means it’s not quite as pretty as other years, but it’s still powerful in it’s own, cloudy way.


We had the sweetest little ones join us for our service this year and I give them and their mamas a lot of credit for bringing them out so early.  For our Sunrise Service, we sang a few songs and Pastor Kaleb shared a nice message.


And then we went back to church to enjoy a nice Easter breakfast.


A huge thanks to the amazing men who prepared our food!  Also, I think Auburn and I share a similar love for fruit salad.


At 10:00am, we gathered together as a church to celebrate Jesus and his resurrection.


Again, Pastor Kaleb shared a beautiful sermon about Jesus and how his resurrection changes our lives.



While the adults were enjoying their time upstairs, our children’s programs were full with wonderful kids learning all about Jesus and his love for them.


I’m so thankful for our church and especially for the many programs they provide that help children learn about God.


From our nursery to our preschool to our Kids Church, these kids had a fun and full morning.


After church, like the crazy photography loving person that I am, I found a few people who let me gather them together to take a quick Easter picture or two.




Family is so important and I would also argue that church family is so important as well.


A teensy part of me was sad that we weren’t able to be with family for Easter this year (or most years actually).  But that is where our church family has filled so many voids.  We truly are surrounded by so many people that we love and it’s a great thing indeed!

The rest of our day was pretty relaxed.  Christian actually had work and so we waited to have our big meal till 8 when he got home.  Ellee cooked and baked up lots of delicious treats and all in all it was a wonderful day of celebration.  Happy Easter Friends!

Breakaway 2019

A few weekends ago, we loaded a bus full of leaders and students and we drove to Pennsylvania to break away.  What follows will seem like a lot when it comes to pictures, but really is just a small glimpse of the great weekend that we had.  Words will be shared as needed and thank you for stopping by.


She was two and a half months old when we took her to Breakaway for the very first time and this year was her twelfth year coming to our retreat.  And while she’s still technically too young for Youth Group, all that will change in just a few months.  How that is possible, I do not know.





In honor of our Superhero theme, we came up with a game that we called “Soup or Hero.”  Let’s just say that it would have been better had the soup been hot and the hero’s pre-made.  Oh well.  You win some and you lose some when it comes to made up Breakaway games.  If sixteen years of winter retreats has taught me anything, it’s that.


Quick shout out to this guy.  Jeremy and I met Rick Pilieci when we were young and in love at Grace Bible College.  In the years that would follow, we’d continue a friendship with him and his amazing family while they moved to Michigan from Long Island and we to Long Island from Michigan.  Rick is currently the campus pastor at the now Grace Christian University, and he was our Breakaway speaker this year.  He did a phenomenal job connecting with our students and sharing God’s word and we are so thankful for him!



Ah, fun memories at the Tubing Hill.




Also shoutout to our Breakaway DJ, Zach Rosado.  He’s one of our former Youth Group Students and now grown with his own beautiful wife and baby girl.  The three of them joined us for the weekend and we had a blast!





Probably one of our most memorable Breakaway acts ever.


The crowd was delighted.



In Sunday morning Breakaway tradition we prayed over our Seniors.  We have a small group this year and as a youth group we’ve gotten pretty young again (many of our students are 9th grade and under).  But that being said, it makes me excited to think of seeing yet another wave of students up through their Jr. and Sr. High years, just like we got to see these awesome kids.






All in all, we had an absolutely amazing time at Breakaway.


And tonight, we took time to share about our trip at our annual Spaghetti Supper.


Our students came to serve and we are so proud of them.


And everyone enjoyed a delicious meal all together.



A huge thank you goes out to the amazing kitchen crew that was assembled.  One who was just out of frame actually celebrated his birthday while serving at our supper.  Which brings me to the fact that we have an absolutely amazing church family and we are so thankful for them!



We ended our supper with some worship from our amazing band this year.  Our friend Emily Prott recruited them and they did an incredible job!



And that pretty much sums up our Breakaway retreat and Spaghetti Supper.  It was a fantastic and full weekend followed by a delicious meal all together at Eastport Bible Church this afternoon.  A huge thank you to everyone who joined us and we look forward to seeing you all again next year!


Three Years: Strengthened and Supported

Tomorrow is January 8th, and the third anniversary of our friend Michael Einfeldt’s devastating car accident.  It’s a day that I will never forget, because of the impact that it made on our lives and on the lives of so many that we love.  In the days and weeks and months that would follow, we’d spend an incredible amount of time doing what we could to love and support Michael and his family throughout the early days of his recovery.

This was a familiar sight for the first three months.


Michael spent most of his time in the ICU at Stony Brook, surrounded by family and friends who visited around the clock.  In those early days, I remember that no matter what was happening through his many highs and lows, God was working His goodness and love into Michael’s life in numerous ways.


I spent a lot of time visiting Michael and his mom Sally, who was pretty much non-stop by his side.  Sally would often share what God was revealing to her as she prayed for her son.  One particular day, she shared that she believed that “God is using Michael to show that there is still a lot of good in the world” and that “there is Hope for us.”  I personally believe that hope is what kept this family strong during this time.


Michael would eventually become strong enough to be transferred out of the ICU and to a Traumatic Brain Injury Rehab up in Kings Park.  His family and friends would continue to make trips to see him and support him through his recovery.


He’d spend close to a year at that Rehab and then more time at two other ones.  Medically, he would have many ups and downs and surgeries and procedures  because of the extent of his traumatic brain injury.  But all the while, his family was working hard in a variety of ways because they wanted to bring him to where he belonged, they wanted to bring him home.


And praise Jesus because this past March, Michael was finally able to come home!  And home has been the most wonderful place for Michael to be.  Home is where he is surrounded by his family and since coming home, he has been so incredible.  Health wise, he is stable and working every day towards continuing to rehab his body and his brain.  At home, he is able to go out weekly for Rehab as well as receive wonderful care from wonderful people who come to work with him each week.

The best part for us is that since Michael is home, he is also able to come to church which is where we get to see him nearly every week.  Often times during church I’ll hear Michael and I always look forward to talking to him after the service.  Most of the time, he has a big smile and it brings incredible joy to my heart.


I love this picture because to me, it shows the strength and love of the Einfeldt family.  And even though Michael’s accident completely changed his life and his circumstances, it never once changed the love that his family had for him.  In many ways, I believe that it strengthened it, in ways that one could never have imagined.


I wanted to find something significant about three years.  So, I do what I often do, and utilized Google to connect me to verses about three years.  And it brought me to the story of Rehoboam in 2 Chronicles.  For the record, Rehoboam wasn’t great.  He was a king of Israel, but not the best because often times he did what he wanted, instead of what God wanted him to do.  But throughout his life, he had some moments of goodness.  And during one particular one, he actually rallied the priests and Levites from Israel who came to support him.

In 2 Chronicles 11 it says that “Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the LORD, the God of Israel followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the LORD, the God of their fathers.  They strengthened the kingdom of Judah and supported Rehoboam son of Solomon three years, walking in the ways of David and Solomon during this time.”

And to me, this verse honors the beauty of Michael’s past three years and all of those who came to strengthen and support him and his family.  Life holds no guarantees and we never know the challenges that we will face.  But often times in tragedy, people rise above to help and serve others in the most beautiful ways bringing goodness during much needed times.

Tomorrow is January 8th, and the third anniversary of our friend Michael Einfeldt’s devastating car accident.  And tonight I wanted to share this post to honor Michael and his family and to remember all that God has done.  I’ll leave you with Philippians 4:19 and the reminder that no matter what you might face in life, God promises to meet and supply all that you need.  It’s been beautiful to see the ways that He has done this for Michael and I love that I know that God can do this for us all.



So, like many of us, I’ve spent some time both looking back over the past year and forward in anticipation of the year to come.  And when I look back, while there were a tremendous amount of things to be grateful for, there were definitely parts of 2018 that were pretty challenging and hard.

One of the biggest things for me was that we spent half of the year without another pastor at our church.  And for some reason, I took this really hard.  Because I knew the impact it would have on my marriage, our family and on our ministry having gone through such transitions before (we’ve now had five Senior pastors since we started here).  There were many days that I felt so down about everything and it really did take a bit of a toll.  Maybe it was also a bit of burnout after serving 15 years in ministry with Jeremy.  Or maybe there are just seasons of life that are harder than others.  Whatever it was, I know that I spent some good chunks of last year just trying to make it through my struggles and emotions.

But, on a happier note, I did survive.  And thanks to Facebook, I learned that people are doing this thing, where they pick a word to be their theme for the year.  And after a few days of reflection, I decided that my word for 2019 is THRIVE.  Looking up a dictionary definition of the word, I found that thrive means to grow or develop well or vigorously.  It also means to prosper or flourish.  And that is what I want to do in this coming year.


Even though things were challenging at times last year, I absolutely love our church and the ministries that we get to be a part of.  My heart, of course, belongs to Hangtime, which is our church’s K-6th after school program.  I’m excited because I know that God has laid it on my heart this year to continue to grow and develop well this program.


I will also continue to serve along side of Jeremy in youth ministry.  This year we are looking forward to many youth group activities, including Breakaway, NTS Camp and an in-development Missions oriented trip this summer.  I absolutely love my husband and though it is exhausting at times, we continue to feel God calling us to minister to teens and I want to look for ways to THRIVE as we serve this coming year.


Last Saturday, Christian threw me a surprise as part of my Christmas present this year.  The surprise was him getting together this amazing group of girls, each one being a dear, dear friend that I’ve been able to invest in at different times over the years.  It made me cry to have them all together and so thankful for the ways they’ve blessed my life.  I’ll continue to love and support them and cheer them on to doing great things for Jesus in this coming year.  Because I truly think that a big part of thriving is doing what you can to grow those around you.


This year, I also want to continue to THRIVE in connecting with our extended family.  It’s a bit hard since between Jeremy’s family and mine, we are all literally spread out across the United States.  But they are a blessing and any time we get in this coming year will be a great blessing as well.


Another challenge that was quite great this past year for me, was accepting the fact that our kids are no longer little ones with little problems.  And there were parts of the year that I spent trying to survive the fact that we’re now parenting teenagers (well, one officially, and one close behind).  Friends, parenting teens is NOT easy, or pleasant at times, or frankly all that enjoyable when the going gets tough.


But there are many, many ways to THRIVE in doing so, and this is what I want to find in the coming year.  I have a daughter that is moody, but absolutely delightful and this year, I’m pursuing the good while enduring the bad and the ugly.


And last year, while there were times when I thought this kid and I wouldn’t actually make it… this year, I am trusting God as I get to watch our son pursue so many great things.  In addition to family things and church things and school and his club volleyball, he also picked up a job busing tables at Trumpets on the weekends and we are so very proud of his hard work.  Raising a teen to love Jesus and to do the right things seems impossible at times.  But this year, I want to find ways to trust God and to THRIVE in it.


Last year, this incredible man rode over 8,000 miles on his bike.  And it wasn’t my favorite because it’s terrifying to think of all the possibilities of what could happen while he’s on the road.  But thankfully, through lots of prayer, I’m realizing that loving him and supporting one of his passions is a beautiful way that we can THRIVE in our marriage.  We’re also taking a trip in April, so that will help too ;).  In all reality though, I do adore this man and am so very glad to get to do life with him.


Yes, when looking forward to 2019, I truly want to find many ways to THRIVE.  And part of thriving will include a bit of self-maintenance.  So for that, I’ll look to Hot Yoga and my goal to read through the entire Bible in this coming year.  And being transparent, I learned last year that it also helps for me to connect and talk with a great counselor that I started seeing.  She’s incredible and every time I left a session, I felt lighter and more at peace.  It was something that helped me tremendously and something that I want to continue to utilize this year.


So friends, hold me to to it.  My word for 2019 is THRIVE.  I’ve shared a plethora of ways that I’m going to try to accomplish this, knowing of course that some days will go better than others.  But I’m good with that, and ready for all that God has to show me in this coming year and I strive to THRIVE and serve Him.



We took our family picture late this year.  Because, well, life.  I actually spent a good portion of November and December taking pictures of other people’s amazing families, but somehow in the hustle and bustle of the season forgot that it might be a good idea to get mine done earlier as well.

So naturally, the later it got, the more I ran into the problem of trying to get everyone together at the same time and in the same place.  Church events, sports and the fact that it gets dark here at 4:00pm made it extra challenging during the weekdays.  So last weekend, we finally found a time that kind of worked.


I definitely had to bribe and beg the youngest one.  Because we were actually supposed to go ice skating that day and it fell through because it hasn’t actually been cold enough for anything to freeze here on our island.  So despite the sweet smile that she eventually found, it was a little challenging.  And also, for our first few takes, I did what most moms do and that is try to hide myself behind my family.


Honestly, there were a few moments that week that I had thought that I wouldn’t even do a card this year.  Parenting teens, while full of joys and blessings is actually a pretty hard stage of life.  And our kids like most weren’t super excited to go and do pictures because of this reason or that.  And it brought out more of the struggles we seem to be dealing with a lot these days.  And sometimes, we don’t want to recall or remember the struggles.  But honestly, it’s those struggles that make the good times that much better.  It’s those struggles that produce character and hope.


And my encouragement would be to document the hard times along with the good times, because that’s part of the grand balancing of life, right?  I was also secretly glad that Christian asked to hold my camera when we finished and he captured this shot.  To be honest, I’m not in a lot of pictures, because I’m always the one taking them.  But having a picture of yourself that you don’t mind is pretty nice and I’m glad that he got this one.


Because I’m silly, on our way out of the woods, I took this picture of our new to us minivan.  Because it’s a beautiful example of how God provides.  I spent some good time this year praying for a newer vehicle and one that could hold friends and teammates and this was my answer to prayer.  After a few initial bumps, it’s turned out to be a wonderful vehicle for our family and I’m so thankful for it.


And as far as our official 2018 family picture this would be it.  A few things to note would be that Ellee and Jeremy were on a slightly higher piece of the ground.  Which means that while she is close, Ellee is not quite taller than me yet and Christian is actually starting to slowly inch past Jeremy.  Another thing would be that I paid way too much to get my Christmas cards rush shipped to our house only to find that they printed the same message on the front and back and that the pre-addressed envelopes were not up to par either.  I was initially upset but ended up getting well over half of my money back so in the end, it all turned out fine.


All that being said, we do wish you all the Merriest of Christmases!  We’ll celebrate with our annual Jingle Bowl this morning (I’m up that late, lol) and then our Candlelight church services in the evening (7pm and 9pm if you’re local and want to come and join us at Eastport Bible Church… all are welcome!).  And then Christmas Day will be a nice break and celebration with our little family in honor of Jesus’ birth.

I have such love for you all and hope that whatever you’re doing, you have some wonderful days of celebration as well!

Most Wonderful

In many, many ways, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.  And if you’re looking for great ways to celebrate Christmas, I’ve learned that Eastport Bible Church is a great place to be.  At our church and for our family, December means a wide variety of Christmas activities and parties and we enjoyed two of them this past Sunday.


The first event was a Christmas Cookie Exchange.  Which basically just means that for the price of baking a few dozen of your own cookies, you then get to go to a party and pick from a huge variety of other cookies to take home and enjoy.  There were tons of cookies to chose from and it really was the best kind of party you could imagine.




Our beautiful friend Susan Reiley hosted our party and in addition to the exchange of cookies, she also came up with some fun games for us all to play.


This one involved passing presents to the left or right and everyone ended up with something fun to take home.


A huge thank you to Susan and to all of the amazing friends that came out for our Cookie Exchange!  It was a delightful and delicious way to spend the afternoon.


Afterwards, we hosted a Christmas dinner for Living Room, which is the small group for teens that we have each Sunday night… in our living room of course.  We started off our night with a few games of “Left Center Right” which is an easy but super fun game we discovered recently.


We had asked our teens to bring dinner foods and they did not disappoint!  Jeremy roasted a few chickens on our Traeger grill and combined with the sides and desserts we had a nice feast.


Since our extended families live all over the United States, we never really have to configure big holiday meal set ups.  But we did for our teens and were able to somewhat comfortably seat all twenty of us around a nice long L shaped table.  And it made my heart so happy to be able to break bread with the students that we love so very much.


And that sums this past Sunday’s celebrations.  That being said, there are more to come this week!  Ellee will participate in Christmas Caroling Tuesday night with her Pioneer Girls Group (3rd-6th grades).  We’ll have a mini-Christmas celebration at Hangtime (K-6th) on Wednesday and the Stockade Boys (3rd-6th grades) will be Christmas caroling that night as well.  Thursday night will be our Youth Group (7th-12th) Christmas Party and then next Sunday our Young Adults Group will have their Christmas Party as well.

And if you are local, you should totally check out Eastport Bible Church’s Christmas Eve Candlelight Services which will take place next Monday night at both 7:00pm and 9:00pm.  It is my absolute favorite and one of the most beautiful services of the year!  All of this info and more can be found on our Church website:


If you are looking for wonderful ways to finish the Christmas season, we have lots of opportunities for you and your family and we would love to have you join us!


Children’s Christmas Celebration 2018

Today at Eastport Bible Church, we had our first ever Sunday morning Children’s Christmas Celebration.  Usually we do our program in the evening, but this year decided to try something new and I’m happy to share that everything went well.

We kicked off our program with our Nursery and Toddler babies singing and jingling bells.  Sure, there were a few tears, because it’s a little intimidating to be in front of an entire church.


But overall, these precious little babies did an incredible job!


When it was time for the big kids to walk in, they did so to the song Christmas Hallelujah.  If you haven’t heard it, you should, it’s so beautiful and was the perfect song to set the mood for our play.


Also this year, for the first time ever, we had a real, live Baby Jesus.  Which is way cooler than the random plastic nursery doll we usually end up wrapping or should I say swaddling in the cloths.  I have to share, when planning our program I secretly prayed that we could have a real Baby Jesus.  But the babies that I knew were older than one and I figured it could be kind of tricky to convince a one year old to stay put and not jump out of the manger.

So yesterday at our practice, when I was telling a group of kids how I had really wanted a real Baby Jesus this year, the sweetest mom of some of our Hangtime students walked right up and offered her darling little 3 month old for our play.  My silly prayers were answered and he was absolutely perfect!


I am so incredibly proud of all of our children!


From the shepherds to the angels to the stable animals everyone was fabulous.


We keep our Nativity play simple for a variety of reasons.


But simple is good and it gave the opportunity for our children to share in the sweetest way the story of Jesus’ birth.


These lovely girls sang “Heaven Everywhere” by Francesca Battistelli, which is another lovely Christmas song that everyone should hear.


Most of these girls have participated in our Stronger Workshop at Hangtime which is a group to encourage girls in 5th and 6th grades.


Overall, the morning was perfect.


There is something so wonderful about being a part of a church that loves and values children.


A huge thank you to everyone who was involved in making our Children’s Christmas Celebration a great success this year!  Thank you for joining us in celebrating the best reason for this Season and that is Jesus, coming to earth as a baby to be our Savior.  It was something so needed back then, and something that we continue to need today as well.


15 Years of Thankfulness

This past Sunday, our beautiful church took time to acknowledge and celebrate our past 15 years of serving in Youth Ministry.  It was a complete surprise to Jeremy and I, we had no idea what was going on and found out at the end of church when our new pastor, Kaleb Kemper stood up to make the announcement.  What followed, was a time of sharing and then the most incredible 15 minute video I could have ever imagined.  Put together by one of our former students, Sam Nankervis, it was the most touching journal of video messages from some of our past and present students.  We laughed and cried through much of it and it was probably one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

And ever since then, I’ve been trying to find a way to process what that video meant to me.  Because really, truly, it was more than just a nice thank you for the years we’ve been blessed to serve at Eastport Bible Church.  For me, it represented so many incredible interactions and conversations and time spent together and trips taken with some of the most wonderful people on this Island and in this world.

I wanted to think of a way to then express my thanks and that would be what will follow.  A forewarning.  This is a long post with a lot of pictures that I spent the past day looking up.  Because I wanted to do all I could to honor our amazing friends and youth group students who took time to say thank you.  So here goes…

Hey Eastport Bible Church and EBCYG,

Thank you for thanking us this past Sunday.  But honestly, we’re the ones that should be thanking you.  Thank you for letting us be here for 15 years, loving and serving Jesus while reaching out to the incredible teens in our town.  What follows are a lot of pictures of most of the people who sent in their videos.  I don’t know why, but for me, I just wanted to share these pictures to acknowledge how much each person has meant to us.  It’s mostly pictures because there are a ton of them, but I figured I’d also share a few words here or there as well.





I did want to thank you John Caprari… for coming to Youth Group and for sticking around.  Thank you for being one of my husband’s best friends and for watching all those sports with him for all of those years.  Thank you now, for loving Jesus so much that you answered His call to Africa where you and your family are now serving.



Zack Skarka, thank you for being on that very first Breakaway, and for pretty much coming around for everything after that.  Watching your faith stay strong through two different cancers strengthened our faith and the faith of so many around you.  You are one of the best people we will ever know and for that, we are incredibly thankful.



Zach Rado, we know every single story you mentioned, and love you that much more for all of those memories.  Those moments all built up into seeing you grown and loving Jesus and your new baby and we are so very proud of you.


15 years in ministry gives you the chance to watch kids grow into deep and meaningful relationships with Jesus and really, there is nothing greater.




And so you know, I started crying the first time when I saw your video, Victoria.  It was an incredible blessing to get to be your friend and to watch you love and serve Jesus.  And it still is, my friend.




And oh, Matt Mattia…  Thank you for your video!  You were there at the very beginning when we basically had no idea what we were doing.  So thankful to know that Jesus used us, even then and we loved getting to spend that time with you and your family.








Sam Nankervis, we loved having you in Youth Group and then to help us serve in our ministries as well!  The video that you put together was just incredible and we could not be more thankful to see you using the amazing gifts God gave you.


And Emily Prott, this whole thing was your idea and it will have forever blessed our hearts.  Your dream gave us such joy and we thank you for that!

But also, thank you for being so amazing and for having the most wonderful heart.  We saw it from the very beginning and has been so blessed to have gotten to see it throughout these years.


On a personal note, thank you for loving not only us, but also our kids as well.  You’ve watched them grow up and have loved and supported them every step of the way, and as a parent, that means the absolute world to me.




Once there was a student named Ryan Daley that we knew and loved right from the beginning.  He’d sit in Jeremy’s office and make the weirdest faces because he was just awesome like that.


He’d run over to our house barefoot and sneak in through our attic.  We’d know and love him for years and years and considered our lives to be that much greater for getting to be a part of his.







As I’m writing and looking through these pictures, I have an incredibly overwhelming feeling of gratitude.  Which fits nicely  because it’s technically almost 2am on Thanksgiving Day.

And if I could just take a minute I want to share the incredible value that comes in long term ministry.  When we arrived at the church, I was told that the average time in a church for a youth pastor was 18 months.  So I just figured that we’d be moving around an awful lot.  But 15 years later, I’m thankful to say that that has not been our story.





When you serve in a church longterm, you get to watch people grow.



You get to see them as little ones, attending your program.  And then years later, they come back and help in those very same programs that they attended.



You get to go through the good times, but also the hard times too.  But it’s in those times, that the most beautiful things happen.





Serving in ministry gives you the opportunity to love on some of the most wonderful families you could imagine.


It also sometimes gives you the opportunity to watch people that you know and love grow to go and serve in Youth Ministry too.






All those years ago, I would have never guess that we’d get to stay and raise our family for so many years in the most wonderful church on Long Island.


And if I’m being transparent, which is something that I try to be, I have to admit that for me, there have been a lot of ups and downs these days.  Raising our own teens has given me a whole new challenge and a whole new perspective on just how hard it can be.  But this 15 year celebration and the beautiful video made was just what I needed to be encouraged and refreshed in what we do and why we do it.  I’ve learned that I cannot fix all that’s wrong or hard in the world, but I can love Jesus and reach out and help others to love Him as well.


So in closing…  How do you best show the gratitude that you have for 15 years of serving in ministry with a church that you love?  With an incredibly long blog post full of pictures from the past and present because that is just who you are and what you do.  From Jeremy and I, thank you for the beautiful service and for the amazing video that shared so many of your stories.  We love you all so very much and will continue to love and serve at Eastport Bible Church in all the ways that we can.

Operation Christmas Child 2018

Last night, we gathered together some pretty amazing teens for our annual Operation Christmas Child shopping trip.  If you aren’t familiar with the program, basically the goal is to fill shoeboxes with gifts for children that then get shipped all over the world.  Some of the children that receive these gifts have never gotten a Christmas gift, so it’s an incredible opportunity for our teens to do something great for others.


After a quick explanation, we loaded up our church van and bus and drove out to Target.  It’s always funny seeing the looks on the faces of the employees as we walk our big group of teens in.  Granted what they don’t know is that we do give them a big “don’t be a hooligan” speech beforehand, so for the most part, they are all usually amazing.


The one on the left is still technically a year away from officially being in our youth group, but as you can see, she tends to blend right in these days.





Part of the fun for me that night, was watching our teens figure out what gifts they wanted to buy for their box.  Kudos to these ones for being responsible and even using the price checker.



Also, kudos to Target, who happens to have some pretty nice lighting for the many pics I like to take during our annual shopping trip.




Our teens did an incredible job!  They were so excited to share the gifts they found.



After they finished shopping, they returned to the church to pack up their boxes.



They also had the opportunity to include letters about themselves that would go to the child who would receive their box.


Gifts were bought for both big and little ones.  And again, I smiled thinking of the joy that would come from the gifts that would be received.  Even better for us is knowing that with each gift, the children would also get the chance to learn about Jesus and His great love for them.


Sometimes it’s easy to give teens a bad rap.  Because they’re, well teens.  But in our lives, we often get to see their awesome side.


And on that particular night, we got to see the selfless side.



The giving side.


And the side that took time to put other’s needs above their own.


And all because of a simple shoebox.


A huge thanks to these kids for the 23 boxes that they put together for Operation Christmas Child 2018.  We love you and are so proud to call you our own!


Snow Night

When I was picking Ellee up from school this afternoon, I marveled at how strange it wast to see the light snow that was falling to the ground.  If my memory serves me right, I don’t remember having snow last year till January.  That being said, it really was pretty and kind of cute to think it was actually snowing mid-November.  The forecast earlier in the day called for Long Island to get less than an inch, so I didn’t think much of it.

A few hours later, we were kind of in what felt like a full blown snow storm.


Seeing the golden colors of fall, covered in the cold white of winter was a pretty beautiful contrast.


A few brave members of our family decided to run outdoors to get a closer look.


So of course I grabbed my camera to capture the moment because as a photographer, that is what I love to do.  Life seems to go by too quickly these days, and I’m realizing that if I’m not purposeful in capturing it, it just passes me by.  Also, if you look closely in the picture below, one of them was a bit crazier (and colder) than the others.


After hearing how bad the roads were, and seeing the inches slowly start to accumulate, Jeremy decided to cancel Youth Group, in lieu of our Snow Night.  Which was disappointing, but necessary for safety’s sake.


And even though we were looking forward to hanging out with our amazing teens, it did give us the chance to enjoy dinner all together (which can be rare when you factor in church ministries and volleyball practices) and then a nice cozy night at home.  It also gave me the chance to sit down and write on my blog, which something that I’ve missed doing these past months.  I’ll be honest, it’s been busy, thankfully all with good things.  But I am going to try to be better about sharing because in all reality, despite the ups and downs, there are so many good things to share and this is what I want to do.

Life is full of blessings.  There are always things that bring joy and always things to be grateful for.  As we near Thanksgiving, it’s so good to take time to reflect on these truths.  Thanks for taking time to read this tonight and I’ll write more again soon!