November Memories

November has pretty much been a blur which is how life seems to go these days.  Life has been full with family things and church things and quite a few photography jobs as well.  This past week, was extra special and I thought I’d take a few minutes tonight to share some pictures and words to officially commemorate the memories.

Last weekend, I flew out to Michigan for a very short trip to see my family.  With the craziness of our past summer, we weren’t able to get out to see everyone so this helped to make up for that.


In Michigan on my side of the family, I have 15 nieces and nephews between my two sisters.  While a few of the nephews were out of town hunting, I was able to spend some quality time with the 13 others that were around.  Much of that time was spent indoors because Michigan is COLD this time of year but we found a few fun activities to do, one being buying and building about six different gingerbread house kits.


One of the hardest parts of not living by family, is not getting the chance to be with these awesome kids more often.  But I guess it’s also that part that makes time spent together so incredibly special.


Aunt Laura might have also bought both families hermit crabs.  Granted, hermit crabs are the simplest and maybe saddest of all pets because they aren’t super cuddly or necessarily that exciting, but since both sisters preferred low key pets (probably because most time is spent caring for their very large families) that is what we ended up with.  Thankfully, the kids didn’t seem to mind that much and were happy with their newfound family pets.


I’m also proud to share that one of the nights, I cooked for everyone.  Being someone who both has a small family of four and who doesn’t love cooking in general, I actually felt a great sense of accomplishment, successfully cooking for nineteen people.


The weekend went by fast.  I did all I could to fit in baby cuddles, chats with my sisters and parents and lots of games with the nieces and nephews.


And even though it was quick, I’m so glad for the opportunity to fly back to Michigan and spend time with my amazing family.  It was so good to connect with my sisters, encourage them all I could and spend quality time in my hometown.


It took three delayed flight times but thankfully I was able to fly in late Monday and arrive home just in time for Ellee’s 13th birthday which was on Tuesday.  We spent the afternoon getting her hair done (a subtle ombre) and then had a nice family birthday dinner at the Diner.  Her friend party was on Thursday and we celebrated at hibachi.


Sitting around the hibachi tables, I was overcome with gratitude for Ellee and her circle of friends.  She was surrounded by a small group of friends, most of whom she’s known for years.


The food delicious and the entertainment was fun as well.  It was the perfect way to welcome her into her teen years.


In addition to her friends, she also invited her brother’s friends who have been like extra older brothers to her over the years.


We finished the afternoon at home with cake and presents and all in all, it was the best way to celebrate our sweet Ellee.  It really does seem like yesterday that we were bringing our baby girl home from the hospital and I found myself wondering where the years have gone many times this past week.


And that sums up some of my favorite November memories.  We’re definitely looking forward to the short school week as well as our annual Thanksgiving festivities and thanks for taking time to check in and catch up.

Finally 15

It really does seem like just yesterday…


And whereas I could go back and find a hundred pictures to showcase those precious baby moments, I’ll share only just a few.  Because while a big part of me does miss those baby days, I’ve learned that life moves forward whether we want it to or not and for the most part these days, I’m good with that.


All that being said, today, our baby turned 15.


And we celebrated the fact that he had finally caught up to his classmates in age, even if just for a little while.


He unwrapped presents and cards from family and friends all over the country and then opened presents from us and his sweet sister.  We enjoyed lunch at the Diner, just the four of us and then spent the day preparing for a little party.


Christian at 15 mostly just wanted to hang out with friends and eat his favorite foods, so that is exactly what we did.  And I just have to note that we truly are thankful for this group.  We’ve watched them grow and mature and look out for each other and most importantly do great things.  And having them continue to be so awesome is a huge blessing both to our boy and to our family as well.


And I’ll conclude this post by saying Happy Birthday Christian, you are finally 15.  Your life these days is well balanced and focused and we are so proud of you.  Our prayers are that you would continue to work hard and play strong while being surrounded and supported by your family and friends.  Remember that God has a great plan for you and keep pursing that truth.  We love you and we are so glad that we got to celebrate you today!


Pastor Rumley

I was raised in a small church in Michigan with the same pastor for basically my entire life.  We called him Pastor Rumley and I’m pretty sure for the longest time I just assumed that was his actual name.  Pastor Rumley always had a deep love for Jesus, his family (he had nine kids) and for Sheridan Drive Baptist Church.  He faithfully preached out of the King James Bible both Sunday mornings and nights and headed up weekly prayer meetings every Wednesday night as well.


It’s funny now that I’m married to a pastor, thinking of all of the important life events that pastors are a part of.  Pastor Rumley married Jeremy and I in 2003.


And he was also the pastor we chose to do a dedication for, for both of our babies.


Most of my memories of Pastor Rumley looked like this.  His faithful preaching of the Word of God behind the pulpit at Sheridan.  Since moving away in 2003, I’ve been blessed to return most every year and spend a Sunday or two at my home church each year.


Many of our family trips back to Michigan were also extra special.


Because they involved meeting up with Sheridan’s church family out at the Lake.


And watching so many of my amazing nieces and nephews share their testimonies and be baptized by Pastor Rumley.


This morning, I learned that they found a quarter-sized tumor on Pastor Rumley’s brain as well as two other spots and I was so saddened to hear this news.  In the days to come there will be more tests as they figure out the best course of treatment.  I wondered what I could do and figured I’d share about my wonderful Pastor and ask for prayers for him and his family.  Pictured below is Pastor with his beautiful wife Nancy.  She was the gentle and kind and Jesus-loving example of a pastor’s wife that I saw growing up.  To this day, whenever I hold babies at our church, I always tell them how much Jesus loves them because I remember Nancy telling me that she always did this for the babies in the nursery at church.  From the youngest to the oldest, Pastor and Nancy have always had a godly love for so many and this has touched so many lives as well.


All this being said, Pastor Rumley has served faithfully at Sheridan Drive for nearly 40 years and I just ask that you keep him in prayer this week.


He’s been there for my family and for so many through all of the sorrows and joys of life.


And it is our prayer that God would bring healing to him throughout all that he is going through.  Deuteronomy 7:9 says ““Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;”  I take great comfort in knowing that God is faithful and loving and that he will care for Pastor and his family during this great time of need.


Youth Group is for You

If you’re a student in 7th through 12th Grades, then Youth Group is for you and it starts back up this week.  To be more specific, Eastport Bible Church Youth Group (otherwise known as EBCYG) is for you and we would love to have you connect with us.


At EBCYG we offer a variety of opportunities for teens to get involved.  We meet up four times throughout the week and I’d love to share more about what we do so here goes.  First off, we have Hangtime, which is a community after-school program that meets on Wednesdays.  Hangtime is a program for K-6th Graders, but it’s also an opportunity for 7th-12th graders to come and serve others.  Our teen helpers work along side of our adult leaders doing everything from homework help to workshops to even teaching during our lesson time.  We love having teens help out at Hangtime and this is an incredible opportunity for them to grow personally and in their leadership skills.


Then, Thursday nights are our main night for Youth Group.  Each week, we meet up at the church from 7:00pm-9:00pm for games, a worship and lesson time and small groups.


On Sunday nights, we have Living Room, which is a small group for teens that meets in our living room, hence the name.  We get together from 7:00pm-8:30pm and all teens are welcome to join us here as well.


Then finally, all throughout the year, on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month, we get together for a variety of fun events.  All of our students are welcome to join us and we always encourage them to invite friends as well.


And in addition to our four weekly meet up opportunities, we also do a variety of activities all throughout the year.  We play flag football,


We take an annual trip to the City to serve others,


We shop at Target for toys to send to kids all over the world,


And every February we Breakaway for our annual winter retreat in Pennsylvania.


You might be asking why we do these things?  Well, mostly because we love hanging out with teens and make it our goal to connect with them as much as we can while we encourage them to connect to Jesus and to grow in their faith.


EBCYG is a Youth Group and Youth Group is for you, that is, if you are an amazing teen.  We would absolutely love to have you come and get connected with us.  If you have any questions, you can feel free to reach out to me ( or Jeremy (, my amazing husband who is the Youth Pastor at Eastport Bible Church and we would love to tell you more about our programs.


Gas Station Salad

I recently paid for another year of blogging, so I figured I’d better get going, you know, to get my money’s worth.  The problem I’ve had with keeping up with my blog though, is that life has sort of shifted.  I started blogging in 2011 and it’s always been a simple way to share family things, photography and church stuff.  However, I’ve learned that lately it feels like I have less time and that life seems to just get busier and busier.  Also, I now have two teenagers who probably, actually care when I publicly share things about them, so many times, I just don’t.  It was easy to share about the younger years but the teen years, not so much.  And finally, social media culture has shifted too.  Whereas it used to be normal to share a few blog posts a week, it’s now common for people to share posts a few times a day and there is a part of me that feels like just giving up because I can’t seem to keep up with it all.

But then I take a deep breath, and remind myself it’s really not about keeping up.  That my blog was never a display of greatness, but just thoughts and my photography with the goal to be real and to share life.  I’ll continue to only share about our kids what they allow (Ellee’s not really a fan of pictures these days, and Christian usually mostly gives permission for the sports pics, which is why you’ll see so many of those) and that is totally fine.  And I will also share some photography things (business has been great this year, even though I haven’t taken the time to share about that as much either) and church things as well (because it’s always been a great way to share what we’re doing in our community).  And for those of you who want to continue reading, I’ll thank you in advance because it’s nice to think that my words might still have an affect and be a blessing to others.

So in closing, I’ll leave you with a picture of my gas station salad.  Part of the reason I’m writing is because we’ve been on a mini-vacation the past few days and I feel like because of that, I actually have time to write this.  And the other part is because in areas of Pennsylvania, there are really nice gas stations that make really tasty foods and I just feel like people should know this.  However, in all honestly, the sweet potatoes were not as good, but our son reminded me that this, was obvious.  Apparently there is a big difference between salads and sides when it comes to gas station foods.  So enjoy the visual, and the little update on where I’ve been but also where I hope to be when it comes to continuing to share life, love and the pursuit of photography.  Also, if you’re ever near a WAWA gas station, their salads and sourdough melts are totally worth it.


Anchored Adornments

This is my sweet niece Anna Carpenter.  Well, it’s her when she was a baby.


She’s my older sister Leslie’s oldest daughter and one of ten kids if you can believe it.


Anna has always been a wonderful girl.


She was named after my dear Grandma who was always so proud of her namesake.


And we’ve always loved going back to Michigan mostly every year to spend time with our amazing niece.


Being the oldest daughter of ten (with eight brothers!), Anna’s always been a helper and a hard worker too.


She’s four months older than our Ellee, and they’ve always enjoyed being as close as cousins can be who live 850 miles apart.



And I write all of this because recently Anna started a small business of making jewelry and hair bows and other awesome projects.  I’ve enjoyed chatting on the phone with her about her business and have really admired the time and effort she has put into making a fun pastime into a profitable passion.


Ellee and I have been customer’s through her Etsy page called Anchored Adornments.  And this coming Saturday, at The Community Church in Ada Michigan (7239 Thornapple River Dr. SE  Ada, MI 49301), Anna will be participating in the Grand Rapids Children’s Business Fair.  So if you are local to Grand Rapids, you can totally go and check out her table.  The fair is from 10:00am to 12 noon and I know that it would mean so much to Anna if you were able to go and support her and the other young entrepreneurs who will be there.


“Family is forever.”  It was the motto that our Dad taught us when we were younger.  And I’m so glad that I got to introduce you to a little bit of my family and one of my amazing nieces.

Hangtime is for Us

If you have a child who is in Kindergarten through 6th Grade this year, then this post is for you.  Because on Wednesday, October 2nd from 3:30-5:30pm we are starting Hangtime, which is an after-school program that meets at Eastport Bible Church and we would love to have your child join us!

A quick overview of what we do at Hangtime would be that each week, we start off with  a snack and homework time.


Then we do a Bible lesson with the goal to encourage our students and teach them great things.



Afterwards, we have 45 minutes of workshops.  Our workshops are focused on fun physical activity, play and creativity.  Typical weekly workshops include sports and games, legos, cooking, crafts and art.


We love to encourage play and outdoor fun at Hangtime.


Kids in elementary school usually only have a few days of gym and very short recess times each day.  Our sports and games workshop gives them an additional 45 minutes of exercise and activity and year after year, they love it.


And we all know the appeal that technology has had with our kids.  On that note, Hangtime is a “Screen Free” program which means that kids are encouraged to take a two hour break from screens while they attend our program.  We’ve learned that many kids love doing simpler things like crafts or playing with Legos so we make sure to provide those opportunities each week as well.


Also at Hangtime we do all that we can to support strong and healthy kids.  We even offer a special workshop for 5th and 6th grade girls called Stronger where we encourage growth and strength and confidence for this challenging time of life.


Whereas I personally direct Hangtime and have a great team of Adult Leaders one of my other favorite things about Hangtime is that I also have an incredible team of Teen Helpers that come and participate each week.  Hangtime is a community effort.  We give the teens an opportunity to serve and for the past 5 years, they have done an incredible job helping out.


What is more important than loving and supporting our kids?  We all know that it’s a tough world that they are growing up in.  But programs like Hangtime are here to help.  Our goal is to provide a loving and safe environment that encourages strength and growth and confidence and each year, that is what we strive to provide.


So, who can come to Hangtime?  Anyone in elementary school!  We are open to all communities.  But the good news, if your child attends Eastport Elementary or Tuttle Avenue School is that we will pick up your child each week from their schools.  We have a great relationship with both of our local schools and they are wonderfully supportive of our program.  More good news, would be that our program is completely FREE.  There is no cost at all for your child to attend.  Occasionally we like to ask for food/snack donations since last year we fed about 75 kids and teens each week, but this of course is optional.


Hangtime is for you, but in many ways, Hangtime is also for US.  We have an incredible community that we live in and Hangtime is one way that our church strives to serve in our community.  Registration happening now and it’s quick and easy.  You can find all you need by going to our website and clicking the Hangtime link:

Hangtime starts October 2nd and we hope to see you there!


*My name is Laura Herr and I am the Hangtime Director.  If you have any questions, you can contact me at:

VBS Kids Camp 2019 Recap

Every year, the first full week in August is reserved for VBS Kids Camp at Eastport Bible Church.



Our church gathers an incredible group of adult leaders and teens helpers.


And we open our doors to the amazing kids in our community, and every year, it’s awesome.



This year was particularly awesome.


We had over 100 kids join us for VBS and every day these amazing kids learned truths about God and His great love for them.


The learned lots of fun songs.



And enjoyed a great Skit each day as well.


And in my mind, there is nothing greater than teaching our kids good things about God and the Bible and encouraging them to be awesome as well.


Fun fact, these sweet babies came to VBS Kids Camp a few years ago with their beautiful mamas…  Their families started coming to Eastport Bible Church…


And this year they got to officially attend VBS for the first time.


In addition to our opening time, the kids who came to VBS got to enjoy lots of other awesome activities.  A few favorite each year, would be the pool time for the 6th and 7th graders.


As well as game time and snack time back at the church for the younger kids.


Yes, VBS Kids Camp was a great success this year and we are so thankful to all of the students who joined us for the week.  A final highlight is that each year, we ask our kids to bring in their coins and change to help an orphanage in Burkina Faso, West Africa.  Years ago our church partnered with Kayas Kids to help make a difference.  To help motivate our students and add some fun, we divide the kids into teams and pick someone to slime each year and this year we picked a boys team and a girls team.


All of the kids did an amazing job bringing in their change and almost filling up two huge 5 gallon buckets with coins.  The girls team ended up bringing in the most change…


And were slimed at the end of the week.


They were good sports, considering the slime was extra gross this year, and their efforts were well worth it… because in total, our VBS Kids Camp brought in $2008.00 in coins and every single one will go to Kaya’s Kids to help the orphans.  If your child attended our VBS and you gave them money, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


And that sums up our amazing week of VBS Kids Camp at Eastport Bible Church.

The good news, is that if you have a child who had an amazing time at our program or if you have a child that you’d like to get involved in a program then I have the best news for you.  Starting the first week of October, Eastport Bible Church will have programs that run during the school year, for Kindergarten all the way up through 12th Grade.

Pioneer Girls is for 3rd – 6th Grade girls and meets Tuesday nights, 7pm-8:30pm

Hangtime, is for boys and girls in K-6th and meets Wednesdays from 3:30pm-5:30pm

Stockade Boys is for 3rd – 6th Grade Boys and meets Wednesday nights, 7pm-8:30pm

And EBCYG is a Youth Group for 7th-12th Grades and meets Thursdays from 7-9m with an additional Small Group on Sunday nights as well as Friday events every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month.

All groups meet at Eastport Bible Church and you can find more information as well as registration at our website:


Build Each Other Up

Do you ever feel discouraged?  I do.  Sometimes it’s because I look around at the world and see so much negativity.  And other times, it’s because I’m struggling and I have so much negativity in my very own heart.  Either way, I thought up something last week while preparing to teach at Youth Group and it turned into something that I thought I could share here as well.  So here goes.


Picture yourself building a sand castle.  For fact, if you haven’t built one in awhile, I highly suggest that you try.  Because I personally hadn’t built one in awhile and yesterday at the beach I tried and it was way harder than I remembered.  Thankfully, I had help.  To start, Ellee and I sat and carved out a base.


And if you literally fast forward like 40 minutes, this is what we came up with.  Full disclosure, building a sand castle would probably be easier had we had actual tools like a bucket or shovel.  We didn’t, so we simply used our hands.  It was tedious work.  Because we’re not experts and had quite a few corner crumbles or cave ins.  But we worked on.


Once we had our basic castle built, we searched the shores for pretty or interesting shells.  We also added a nice seaweed filled moat.


And at the end of our efforts, we had this.  It might not look like much, but we really enjoyed building it.  And for the record, it literally took us an hour and 15 minutes between building and finding all the shells to decorate.  When we finished, we were happy and proud of our work.  Had we left it, it would have stayed up for a bit and it would have been nice for others to see our handiwork.


But I told Ellee she could destroy it.  For illustration’s sake.


She didn’t hesitate.


And while this is a cute series of pictures.


Would you believe


That it literally took her three seconds to completely demolish all of our hard work.


And just like that, it was gone.

And I write all of this because it made me think of an illustration.  What is better, friends?  To build something up, or to tear it down.  Building something up often takes time.  It takes thought.  It takes energy.  But it also results in something beautiful and something good.  Something that can be remembered and admired.

But tearing something down?  It takes seconds.  No thought.  It’s destructive and leaves nothing when it’s finished.

And this is how it can be when we think of how we treat others.  Are you someone who builds others up?  Or is it just easy to tear them down.  If I’m being honest, I think we live in a society and world that often tears down but seldom remembers to build up.


So that is where this post comes in.  I came up with a reminder when it comes to this illustration.  And it’s simply this.  A bracelet (or anklet) with three beads.  Two yellow ones that represent two sand castles.  One that is built up and one that is torn down.  And a nice blue bead in the middle.  That maybe represents the ocean.  Or the big picture of things.  Or it might just be there because it looks nice and compliments the other beads.  You can choose.

I’m not a huge fan or jewelry, but I’ve been wearing mine around my ankle and it’s been a great reminder to me to build others up.  Whether it’s my husband or our kids, or my friends, or co-workers or even random people I see throughout my day, I always have a choice to be a positive force of goodness.  And that is what I’m choosing these days.


If you are like me and want to look for some good ways to love and encourage others, then do I have a deal for you.  I had a surplus in supplies and now have quite a few extra bracelets.  So I printed up little cards and wanted to offer them to anyone who might want to join me on this journey of building others up.  The bracelets aren’t free.  The cost is simply a commitment to doing good and encouraging and building others up.  And in this way, maybe we can all work together to change the world for good.


So, message me or comment if you’d like a bracelet.  If you’re local we’ll figure out the easiest way to get you your bracelet.  And if you’re not, I’m happy to mail them out.  Because I believe in doing what you can when you look around and see a need for change, and so this is my story and my small way of making a difference as I’m able.

This post was also inspired by an awesome Bible verse that says,

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.”  1 Thessalonians 5:11

Boys Junior National Championships 2019

Three weeks ago, we were in Dallas and we had an incredible week together as a family so of course I wanted to take time to write about it and tonight is the first chance I’ve had to do it.  So here goes.

I honestly never thought we’d be that family that flew all over the country for volleyball. I say that because for years, we’ve known those families and I always admired them, but also thought they were a little crazy.  Well friends, we’ve become that family.  And for the record, it is a little crazy, but it’s also really cool.

We ended up in Dallas because earlier in the season, Christian’s team won a bid to go to the Boys Junior National Championships.  It was a great honor, but also meant that basically they would be playing against the best teams in the country, which meant that while an awesome opportunity, it would be some pretty challenging days of volleyball.


However, despite the tough matches, our time in Dallas was instantly amazing because we got to meet up with our Arizona family while we were there.


Our nephew Jaxon plays for an incredible team and they also got a bid to Nationals so in addition to going to see our son play which we love, we also got to see our nephew play and that was quite amazing as well.  Jaxon is an incredible setter and his team was so fun to watch.


As I mentioned before, the games were pretty intense.


But it was most fun to just think about how far our team has come and also how much our son has grown in his abilities and love for this game.


In addition to all of the volleyball, being in Dallas was pretty fun as well.  We were there over the 4th of July, and form our hotel, we had a pretty awesome view of basically all of the city’s fireworks.


We also had a lot of time with our Arizona family which was the best.


I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I could not be more pleased with our Club experience with Academy.  It was Christian’s tenacity that got him into pursuing travel volleyball last year.  He paid for a portion of his tuition and had a wonderful time playing with his team.


This past year, he committed to paying for his whole tuition which to be honest, was a goal even I wasn’t sure he could attain within the year.  But after he turned 14, he went and got a job and was able to make enough money to reach his goal and we could not be more proud of all that he accomplished.  Seeing him play with some of his best friends was as added bonus as well.


The tournament overall was an awesome opportunity for growth and perseverance.  We were most proud to see Christian’s team come together strong and it was a fantastic way to end an incredible year of volleyball.


Other highlights from our week included going down to the jersey trading floor which in many ways reminded me of visiting Canal Street in New York City.


And Ellee was a huge fan of Dallas’ City Scooters which were much scarier and faster than they looked.  They kept her happy on the hot days and thankfully she didn’t even fall or break anything, so that was a perk as well.


So much love goes out to this family and I’m secretly praying that our boys will always love and play volleyball so we can meet up all over the country to enjoy these tournaments together.


And I have to admit, I got a little teary eyed seeing the Arizona and New York cousins exchange jerseys on the last day.


I’m praying many prayers for these boys, that not only will they continue to learn and grow their passion for playing, but that their hearts will always be strong in the things that matter most and that they will both grow to be godly and strong young men who do great things for Jesus.


Congrats to the Acad 15 Boys for all of their hard work this year!


And that sums up our family trip to Dallas and the awesome week that we had while we were there.