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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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

www.eastportbiblechurch.com

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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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I am so incredibly proud of all of our children!

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

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

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

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

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

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Overall, the morning was perfect.

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

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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.

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Our Fifth Year of Hangtime!

Hello Friends!  It with with great joy and excitement that I get to share with you that we are preparing to enter our 5th year of Hangtime!

What is Hangtime, you may be asking?  Hangtime is our community after-school program that starts on October 3rd and runs throughout the entire school year.  It meets every Wednesday, from 3:30pm-5:30pm at Eastport Bible Church.  If your kids attend Eastport Elementary School or Tuttle Avenue School, we even pick them up for you!

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We start off every Hangtime with snack and a homework time.  Kids can do their homework with friends and we also have adult and teen helpers available to assist them in any way.

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After that, we get together for a welcome and song time.  And then all of the kids head off to workshops.  We believe that kids need to be creative and kids need to play, so our workshop time accommodates this.  When the weather is nice, we have Sports and Games outdoors (and indoors when it’s not).

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Each week, we also offer a Cooking Class

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Craft Workshop

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Legos

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And a few other options as well.  This 45 minutes is a great time for your child to get to have fun with friends while playing and learning new things.

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We end each week with a Bible Lesson and Small Groups as well.  We want to do all that we can to encourage our kids to know that they are loved by God and that they can do great things.

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Hangtime is for kids in Kindergarten through 6th Grade.  It’s a free program and open to our community.  If your child is not at Eastport or Tuttle, they are welcome to come and join us anyways!

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In case you didn’t know, my name is Laura Herr and I’ve been directing Hangtime for the past 5 years.  This is my amazing friend Jules Pinelli and she is our Assistant Director this year.  She’s a freshman in college and she is absolutely incredible with kids.  We are so happy to have her helping this year!  We also have a wonderful group of adult leaders and teen helpers who help to run our program.  Many of our teens attended Hangtime when they were younger and have a great love for our program.

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“STRONGER” WORKSHOP… This workshop is targeted for 5th and 6th grade girls and will be focused on teaching them to be stronger physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and in their friendships.  Jules will be leading this group which will be split up between doing fun physical activities and then having a talk time for the girls to share their thoughts on a variety of different relatable topics.  This is a tentative age for girls and we at Hangtime are offering this 45 minute workshop to help them as they work through the many challenges that they will face.

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So, what do you need to do to register your child for Hangtime 18-19?  It’s easy… You can just go to our church website and click on the “Hangtime” tab in the top right corner.  The registration form is online and will only take a few minutes to fill out.  Please register your child soon, it will help us to plan for our year.

www.eastportbiblechurch.com

Hangtime starts October 3rd.  It’s amazing and we hope to see you there!

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72 Hours

In the last 72 Hours, we’ve had the chance to interact with about 164 people over three different days and while it seems like it could be a little overwhelming, in all reality, it’s just been pretty awesome.

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We started on Wednesday, with my absolutely favorite midweek program for K-6th grade kids, Hangtime.

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We had 60 kids and about 26 teen helpers and adult leaders and all together it made for a wonderfully big group of fun.  I had the opportunity during workshop time to walk around and catch a few pictures.  The one below was of our Craft Workshop.  After finishing their project, they put together some gifts for our Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes.  These boxes will go to help children all over the world and in my mind, nothing is better than kids helping kids.

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At Hangtime this week, we were blessed with having a special guest speaker, David Balsamo.  David is a Senior at our High School and he shared about how he was letting his light shine for Jesus (our theme for the year) by running a Bible Club at his school.  He did an incredible job of sharing with the kids at Hangtime and we were so thankful to have him join us.

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Then on Thursday night, we met up with about 50 of our best students and leaders for Youth Group.

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Each week, we spend our game time at Tuttle Avenue’s gym, usually playing some form of dodgeball.  Because that is a game that the kids all love.

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After games, we gathered together for some worship time and then Jeremy did a great job teaching the lesson.  Our theme is the Year of Awesome and our topics have been about how God is Awesome.  We focused in on Grace last night and it was powerful.

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We’ve been working this year to empower our students to step up and serve in leadership roles.  We are so proud of them and know that they are doing great things for Jesus.

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Last night, we also revealed this year’s Breakaway theme, which is not “pajamas” as some guessed (because Jeremy walked out wearing these crazy Christmas pajamas).  Our theme this year is Christmas and we could not be more excited for our upcoming Youth Group Retreat to Pennsylvania in February.

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And then the final event of our last 72 hours was a First and Third field trip to Chick-fil-A.  Because who wouldn’t want to drive 45 minutes to take 28 teenagers to eat delicious chicken?

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In a fun turn of events, it was Chick-fil-A’s birthday we think.  Because there were festive balloons and then the Chick-fil-A cow came out and gave everyone free cookies.  We also found out it was our friend Mario’s birthday (technically in a few days) so we sang a nice loud “Happy Birthday” to him and Chick-fil-A.

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And that sums up the story of how in the past 72 hours we’ve hung out with so many amazing people.  And I write these things for a few reasons.  First off, if you have a child (or children) who is in Kindergarten all the way up through 12th grade, we pretty much have great groups for them to check out at Eastport Bible Church.  Jeremy and I and our teams of leaders and helpers, will lovingly and willingly spend quality time with your kids and do our best to encourage them as much as we can.  And secondly, let’s be honest.  Life isn’t easy.  But we were never meant to do it alone.  Finding people to become “your people” and who will be there for you… well it’s a huge blessing for sure.  And again, we have a great family and community at Eastport Bible Church and we would love for you to come and join us!  For more details check out:

www.eastportbiblechurch.com

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Happy Weekend to you!