Thrive

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Merry Christmas 2018

I must be catching up for the fact that I didn’t blog as much this year, considering my multiple posts in the last few days.  I’m okay with it.  Because this continues to be my best way to document life and someday I know I’ll be glad that I did.

Moving on to Christmas Day, 2018.  Like a crazy person, I was up till 4:00am, finishing up last minute things.  So God bless our family who graciously let me sleep in till a good 11:00am.  As I’ve mentioned before, Christmas day for our family is pretty simple since we don’t live by any extended family and we’ve realized the value of a nice quiet day for just the four of us, especially after an incredibly busy season.  Also, God bless Ellee who was the only one excited about me breaking out the camera this year.

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We started out our late Christmas morning with stocking presents.  Funny enough, Ellee did most of the shopping for us all this year as well as the wrapping of the many stocking gifts (she did everyone’s but her own).  Which is kind of weird, considering it’s always been my job to do both but also kind of awesome.

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Afterwards, we enjoyed Swedish pancakes, which was a tradition of Jeremy’s family as well as mine growing up.

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Afterwards, we cleaned up and slowly proceeded to the gift part of this day.  Christian did not get many gifts (I’ll explain in a bit) but he did get some new wall art, that at first glance he thought was a poster of Stalin.  For the record, it wasn’t and was instead the Ron Swanson Pyramid of Greatness poster.

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Ellee’s best gift of the year for her Dad was a series of coupons.  The first were about her treating her Dad to a Starbucks coffee or two.  But then we laughed when we realized quite a few were for fun adventures for her and Dad, that she assumed he’d enjoy, but also pay for.

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Jeremy bought himself some new ping pong paddles to share with Christian which have already gotten some good use today.

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And since this is something that I will always want to remember, it should be noted here.  This year, Christian decided that he didn’t want any Christmas presents from us.  It could be because he’s 14 or it could be because as much as his sister loves Christmas and the Hallmark Channel’s version of it, he wasn’t a fan.  Either way, he told us to take the money that we would have spent on him and send it to the orphans that our family supports in West Africa.  I gave him a few weeks in case he changed his mind, but he didn’t, so that is what we did.

That being said, I didn’t want to not get him a present.  So I thought about what I could get him that would be meaningful.  And it turned into me asking some of our family and good friends to write letters of wisdom and encouragement to put into a book for our son.  I didn’t ask everyone I knew, but in the end, had about 26 letters from some pretty important people who have had influence in the life of our son.  And what people wrote… it brought tears to my eyes and had just incredible meaning for Christian.  He received letters from some wonderful friends who have known him his whole life, from his best music teacher ever, from his volleyball coaches and from many others.  And I know this is a gift that he loved and one that he will remember for a very long time.

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This girl got all her favorites.  It’s a tiny bit sad to think our kids have mostly outgrown the toys part of Christmas.  And to be honest, I even had her help pick out the clothes part of her gifts this year, because she’s reached that stage as well.  But in addition to a big pile of clothes, she got a Starbucks gift card, a mini drone, and ice skates and was a very happy camper.

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Quick side note.  Our family has always celebrated the Jesus’ birthday part of Christmas.  Because celebrating a Savior who was born to a world very much in need of one, is something so true and beautiful.  At Hangtime this year for Christmas, we talked about wants and needs.  What we wanted for Christmas versus what we needed.  And while many of the gifts that we give or get are things that we will love for awhile, what we truly need is what will last.  And for our family that has always been and will always be, Jesus.

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For Jeremy this year, I skipped all the little things that I usually get him in addition to a big thing and piled all the money together so he could get a new watch because his old one (that I got him a few Christmases ago) has stopped working well.  He was pretty happy.  And he got me a nice big pile of my favorite Lush products as well as those two certificates below.  One being a a 3 month membership to Hot Yoga which almost made me cry, because I’ve taken the last few weeks off and have missed it terribly.  For the record, Hot Yoga is my absolute favorite but it is not cheap and with it being Christmas and there being many things to buy I knew I needed to let it go for a bit.  But the second, was a trial membership for him, which means that he is going to finally come with me and try it out and this is something that I NEVER thought would happen but something that I ALWAYS wanted to happen.  So it was a very, very good present and it made me very, very happy.

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I also need to give a shoutout to Coconut Lime being the best scent of all time and this body cream that is absolutely amazing.  It came from my friend Debbie’s shop, Island Bead and Trading which is located right in Eastport and it smells like heaven, if heaven was a tropical, coconut-y lime paradise.

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The rest of the day was spent relaxing and eating lots of good things.  Our Christmas protein of choice was a nice filet mignon that did not disappoint.  Ellee mastered the art of her mini drone and thankfully did not fly it into anyone’s eyeballs.

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And that sums up our Christmas Day 2018.  When I asked for a nice picture of our kids by the tree, this was the first take.

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And this was the second.  Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with lots of love!

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The Eve

When I looked out our window at 1:00am this morning, the first thing I thought was that someone must be dreaming of a white Christmas.

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I have to admit, it was pretty.  So pretty that I grabbed my camera and walked outdoors into it’s pretty but still silence.

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Like many people I kind of feel like Christmas snuck up on me this year.  I still have quite a few things to finish up before tomorrow, but the first task of today was to get to bed so I could rest up for a full day of Christmas Eve.  So I did just that.

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The first thing on our agenda, was our annual Jingle Bowl Flag Football game.  Except we loaned our flags to a friend on Thanksgiving and only realized this morning that we forgot to get them back.  So it because our first annual Jingle Bowl Touch Football game.

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Some came all cozy in Christmas jammies to observe.

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And the kids on the field played some fantastic games.

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Sweet Karis was so adorable cheering on the teams from the comfort of her Grandpa’s shoulders.  We are so thankful for the Kempers and so happy that they are here serving with us.

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Clearly someone’s family gets super excited to dress up for the Jingle Bowl.  It’s possible that they forgot to let everyone else know that they could as well.

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All in all, it was a great morning of football.  So thankful for all the fun friends who came out to play.  The rest of our afternoon consisted of dropping off gifts to some dear friends and then stopping in to our beautiful friend Connie’s Christmas Eve party.  Since we don’t have extended family close by, it’s always nice to be included in the Christmas fun of our church family.

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And then the last events of our Christmas Eve happened here.

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Every year, Eastport Bible Church has two Christmas Eve Candlelight services and they are my favorite ones of the year.

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After an encouraging message from Pastor Kaleb, we finished our nights with Christmas songs by candlelight.

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Our first service was at 7, and our second is starting up now, so I’d better finish up this post.  Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas Eve and a wonderful Christmas tomorrow as well!

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Merriest

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

Happy 12th Birthday Ellee

We celebrated Ellee’s 12th birthday this weekend.  And even as I type those words, it’s kind of hard to believe how quickly time has gone by.  Ellee was scheduled to be born on a Tuesday, but she decided she’d rather come on Monday instead.  She was born in the early morning hours and when I saw her for the first time, I remember being so happy that I had such a sweet baby girl.  Though she is no longer a baby, and the imminent teenage years are swapping some of the sweet with sass, I’m still overall so happy that she is our daughter and am so thankful for the incredible girl that she is.

Ellee picked a sleepover with a small group of friends this year.  Since the past two years, we had big parties, we decided to keep it on the simpler end and it was absolutely perfect.

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After a delicious pizza dinner, she opened some sweet gifts from her sweet friends.

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If you have a daughter you know the importance of good friends and the difference they can make.  And I’m so thankful to share that she has really, really great friends that she loves and it was so fun to see the ways that they celebrated her for her special day.

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One of the things that she wanted was a Photo Booth complete with fun props so of course that was easy for her photographer mom to set up.

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And because I’m a big fan of kids doing creative projects, we had one of those as well.

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The girls each made their own mini succulent garden.

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And I couldn’t help but think that Joanna Gaines would be proud, haha.

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In case you were wondering, it was fairly simple.  I Googled some DIY tips and picked up most of the supplies from The Home Depot, including the succulent plants.  The clear stones and glass containers came from the Dollar Store and everything came together quite nicely.

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The girls also did charcoal face masks that caused a slight allergic reaction for one of the girls who had sensitive skin (fail on my part for not asking ahead of time) but those pictures were cute, but will remain unseen.  And then Ellee played a raffle game for some prizes and little gifts that she got for her friends.  If you can’t tell from her face, she loves a good raffle and had fun picking all of the winning tickets.

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Her cake of choice for the year was a mint chocolate chip Polar Pizza from Baskin Robbins.  And while the candles pretty much left wax all over the one piece we designated, she didn’t care and made her wishes anyways.

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Thankfully the girls didn’t stay up too late, since we had church today and all in all, it was a pretty memorable sleepover, complete with fun girly movies and some French macaroons as well.

Ellee got some bonus birthday fun today when she hung out with another one of her dear friends all afternoon.

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And I had her make use of her fun birthday background with a few more friends who stopped by for our Sunday night Small Group.

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You know it’s a fun backdrop when you get a picture like this, with these cool kids.

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Tomorrow (Monday), we will wrap up Ellee’s birthday celebration with a little family time and dinner out after school.  But tonight, I just continue to reflect on what an incredible blessing our Ellee Girl is.  She is sweet and kind and hard working and a great friend and we could not be more thankful for the gift she is to our family.

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Happy Birthday Ellee, we love you so very much!  We pray that you will continue to love Jesus and be amazing and we cannot wait to see the great things that you will do in your 12th year!

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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

Holiday Sessions 2018

Hey Friends!  It’s finally Fall.  The humidity has dropped, the leaves are changing and the temperatures are finally cool.  And in my opinion, this all means it’s the basically the best season for getting your Family Holiday Portrait Sessions done.

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My Holiday Sessions are always shot on-location.  I’m a big fan of nature and the outdoors and love natural settings.  And Long Island has so many beautiful backgrounds to choose from.

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Or, if you’d rather, I’ll happily come to your home.  Sometimes it’s easier that way, and there is always such a close and cozy feel to family pictures taken indoors.

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During our Session, there is always time to shoot a variety of people and poses.

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And when planning ahead, I have to admit that there is no better gift to give, than that of family.  Parents love pictures of their kids and grandkids all together and booking a Holiday Session means that everyone can put their phones away and let me do the hard work with my beautiful professional camera and lenses.

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And if you were wondering, pets are always welcome too!

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Whether your kids are big…

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Or little, it’s always the right time to capture these stages of life.  Because we all know how quickly they pass us by.  Family pictures are gifts that will last for lifetimes and ones that also get better with age.

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So don’t delay!  Book your Holiday Session today!  I have availability all throughout the week.  And on a personal note, I absolutely love and adore working with families.  I consider an honor and a gift to be able to be a photographer and it’s my goal to bring out the fun personalities in your family.  Also, I like to work quickly because I get the stress that can come with family pictures and do all that I can to alleviate that while still getting pictures that you will cherish for years and years to come.

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My Holiday Packages have not changed in pricing for the past few years.  You have two options to choose from.

The Digital Package Price: $250  Includes a one hour, on-location session, and on-line gallery. You will be able to choose 10 digital images from that session on a disc, with copyrights so that you can choose where you would like to create all of your holiday cards, prints and gifts.

The Digital and Print Package Price: $350 includes a one hour, on-location session and an on-line gallery. You will receive a package of beautiful Prints including one 11×14, 2 8x10s, 4 5x7s and 4 3.5x5s in addition to a disc of all of the images from your session with copyrights, so that you can choose where you would like to create all of your holiday cards, prints and gifts.

I know that choosing to do a Holiday Session is an investment.  But I believe that it’s one that your family will appreciate and value not only just this year but also in the years to come.

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So contact me today to book your family’s 2018 Holiday Session.  You can reach me on Facebook or email: lauraherr8@gmail.com.

His Fourteenth

Our baby turned fourteen today.  And so we celebrated him in all the ways his fourteen year old heart wanted to be celebrated.  Which meant, this year, we kept things simple.

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We started after church with lunch with a few friends.

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And then walked over to play volleyball, but not before commemorating Christian’s newest talent.

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On a side note… there are things that I will always want to remember about our son at fourteen… and I’m sure things I’ll probably want to forget, haha.  But really overall, I am so very thankful for Christian.  He is smart and talented and athletic.  He’s proven himself to be a hard worker, willing to earn the things he wants in life.  He has really, really good friends and a good heart as well.  He looks out for his sister and we are very proud of the young man he is growing to be.  My hopes and prayers are that he would always love Jesus and pursue the great things that God has in store for his life.

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Despite the colder weather, we all enjoyed celebrating Christian today.

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He had told us that for his birthday, that he wanted to play volleyball with his friends and eat Popeye’s chicken for dinner.  So we did just that.

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After the game, we sat together and ate Christian’s favorite chicken complete with mashed potatoes, coleslaw and macaroni and cheese.  In lieu of cake, we enjoyed snickerdoodle cookies (his favorite) and homemade cupcakes.  Many times throughout the day, I felt and overwhelming sense of gratitude for Christian and his birthday.  Fourteen years ago, I had no idea the joys (and struggles) our son would bring but looking back, would not have it any other way.  Happy Birthday Christian… maybe you continue to grow to be an incredible young man, and always be surrounded by the love of your family and friends.

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Then There Were Ten

I got a text from my older sister Leslie announcing she was pregnant.  WITH HER TENTH BABY.  Of course right away I was happy for her, because ever since I could remember, my sister has LOVED babies, especially her own.  But then I tried to wrap my mind around how it was possible to have so many kids and still be relatively happy and amazing, and that would be the conundrum that is my sister Leslie.

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This past summer, we had the privilege of spending quite a bit of time with Leslie and Tim and their many children.

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The breakdown as of now, is seven incredible boys…

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And two very lovely girls.

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As I did for my sister Sarah, I took time during my visit to take family pictures for Leslie as well.  Which are now outdated.  Go figure.  But looking back it makes me so happy to get to photograph so many people that I love so very much.

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It’s hard when you don’t live by family to get to feel like you’re still a part of their lives.  But thankfully these amazing kids always seem to have love for their Aunt Laura and her family and it makes my heart so very happy.

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It’s going to sound braggy…  but you would not believe how incredible these kids ALL are.  They are loving and fun and kind and they look out for each other in the most wonderful ways.  They aren’t spoiled and realize that life isn’t about how much you can get, but about how much you can give and share with your siblings.  If you couldn’t tell, I’m incredibly proud of my sister and his husband and the beautiful ways they are raising their many children.

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I found out later that Leslie was indeed pregnant when we were visiting, which I tried to call out when I noticed her sensitivity to smells.  I like to give her a hard time, but in all reality, I’m thrilled for her because I know that she is so happy.  Overall, she has discovered the gifts and talents that God has given her and she is very much using them all to raise her beautiful family.

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So, around March of next year, the nine pictured here will be ten and I know that I will look forward to meeting the newest one as soon as I’m able.  A huge congratulations to Leslie and Tim and their family with the news of their newest addition.  We are very happy for you ALL!

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