15 Reasons I Love My Papercutter

Huh?!

A picture with a title something like “If you remember what this is you’re ancient” scrolled across my Facebook feed. Really? A paper cutter? I use mine all the time. They’re antique now? I think one should be on every woman’s wedding registry.

Actually, they’re still for sale at Office Depot www.officedepot.com/a/products/883647/X-Acto-Heavy-Duty-15-x/;jsessionid=0000zvZxmcAJ2gAaMEwvxvn4V-_:17h4h7aom?cm_cat=2000000020 and  Amazon.com at https://www.amazon.com/Swingline-Trimmer-Guillotine-Capacity-ClassicCut/dp/B016LDV41S/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1484344112&sr=8-3&keywords=paper+cutter+guillotine

Let me tell you about paper cutters.

#1 I’ve cut myself with scissors, razors, and exacto knives, but never with my paper cutter.  I love the crisp, perfect, straight-edge cut I get. I was all kinds of happy when I finally used some birthday gift money to purchase one. I think I’m right because the price has quadrupled since I bought mine.

It looks dangerous, but it isn’t if you take reasonable care when using it.

Here’s what I cut

#2 Squares to  make snowflakes and origami. Most paper comes in rectangle shapes. A lot of times I need as close to a perfect square as I can get.

#3 Memory verse reminders for DVBS, Sunday School and family devotions. I copy and paste from http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org, print them out, and cut them into perfect little note-size shapes.

I have cut thousands of memory verse reminders.

#4 Edges of homemade books. When you fold paper for a book, the center pages stick out at the opposite edge from the fold. The paper cutter trims them to be even.

#5 Crafts such as paper chains, book marks, and coloring pages. I also have “Color, cut and paste” pages for Preschool class on Wednesday and Children’s Church on Sunday that often require cutting from separate pages that are included.

These postcards are from my work in a jail ministry. The women loved getting Bible verses and hymns they could hang on their bunks.

#6 I make my own greeting cards and postcards all the time. I like to use card stock for both. The paper cutter takes one swing to cut a greeting card that requires a single fold and two swings to separate a piece of paper into four postcards.

The youth group sends cards to widows and shut-ins. The top card was one they colored. We did that before it became a “thing.”

#7 Flashcards. Homeschooling meant lots of flashcards. Usually I started with blank index cards and cut them in half. These fit so nicely in a child’s hand. I put everything from the Circle of Fifths to phonics sounds on them. I knew I had succeeded when my children asked me to cut blank cards to make their own study help card packs.

#8 Schedules. They always fit better when I trim off the edges before taping them into a notebook.

#9 Bulletin board borders. I can print out border art on colored paper, then cut the paper into strips and hang it around the edges of the bulletin board with pins or tape. Usually I use a design on longer paper such as 8 1/2 by 14 to do this.

#10 All my homemade photo projects pass under my paper cutter’s arm for trimming.

My children’s artwork made up into cute note-card sets.

#11 I print on sticker paper and cut out stickers when needed. I find that labels run through the printer easily and cut into just the right size for kids.

Special projects

#12 I don’t scrapbook much, but if I did, I would never be able to cut straight lines with a rolling cutter or scissors.

#13 I made a “Lift the flap” page for a wedding scrapbook being assembled at my niece-to-be’s wedding shower.

#14 When I sent in a mock-up for a boardbook idea to a publisher, I used it to trim pages to fit perfectly.

#15 I’ve even used it for iron-on transfer art.

Simple art projects become even simpler!

Hints

Paper pulled fresh out of a ream cuts well. As soon as it absorbs moisture from humidity in the air, not so well. Sometimes cutting two or more pieces solves the problem. Sometimes moving up or down the cutting surface of the blade helps. The center of the blade is not as sharp as the ends.

An added benefit is that a paper cutter cuts through scotch tape and usually through other tape, too. Duct tape might gum up the cutting edge. Test it first on a scrap piece of paper.

My cutter cuts corrugated cardboard easily. It chokes more on thick, solid-type cardboard, though the thinner type such as used for cereal boxes is no problem. Cardstock paper works great also.

Getting your own

If you want one of your own and the sticker price is too high, just think: these things are built like tanks. Find one on ebay or do an ISO (in search of) on a local bargain site like virtual yard sale in your town or county.  Another option is using a cutter at a local copy center. Sometimes they don’t charge if you do business there often.

If this were an actual review

So I have to admit, I am in love with my paper cutter. You need to go fall in love with your own.

I am not being compensated by anyone or any company. This post contains only my personal opinions.

Instant Home: Just Add Curtains

I’ve always thought that curtains made houses feel like homes. During college and while counseling at summer camp I always brought my curtains with me. It softened the rooms, and made them feel warm and kind to me.

When we sold our old house, we discovered that all window furnishing stay with the house. So… the new owner let me bring our orange nursery curtains from our Under the Sea themed nursery. But, that was it. We’d be starting over.

So, when November of last year arrived, we still had minimal curtains up, and just cordless blinds in the bedrooms.

However, I happened upon an awesome sale that month at our nearby Bargain Hunt! They were trying to get rid of all their curtains and selling them for $5 a package! (A package usually meant one panel, but occasionally two.) It took some digging, because most of the curtains wouldn’t fit our décor. But, I found curtains that would work! I was so excited!

I brought them home, and immediately began to run into problems. First, I only had 2 panels for our bedroom which has 2 windows. Now, each panel covered one of those windows, but, I really preferred to have window curtains hanging on each side.

The curtains I brought for the dining room were fresh, and cute! But… they didn’t quite reach the floor near our sliding glass door. And I really didn’t care for that at all!

The dining room curtains looked complete when I added a strip of blue curtain fabric to fill in the gap to the floor. And I love the way it ties the grey into my lovely blue walls!

And… I hadn’t found what I was looking for to go in the girls new room. They would be upgrading beds from the crib and trundle shortly, and we hadn’t really gone with the under the sea theme in the new house. The orange curtains were just a bit on the short side for their room anyway.

So, I got to work. I pulled out my sewing machine and scissors and went to town. First, I added a few inches in blue to the bottom of the dining room curtains. I hemmed up the sheer white curtains that gave light, but privacy in our living room. Then I split the bedroom curtains, and playroom/office curtains in half, and hemmed up the edges. Everything was far less labor intensive than I first imagined it would be! I had it all done within a day or two!

One panel, where you want two? Just split the curtain down the middle, and hem up the edges! Ta-da!
Adding curtains to the basement playroom amps up the style, and gives privacy during the winter months when our neighbors deck is visible through the window.
Sheer material from Goodwill was the base for this lovely sheer curtain in the living room. A double curtain rod allows us to drop the heavier curtains at night when it’s nice to be a bit more private in our front living room.

Finally, it was time to fix up the girl’s room. I had made a stop at Joann’s Fabric, and found this darling princess material that I knew they’d love. I also bought some blackout material.

Place the pins all facing one direction, so that you don’t accidently stab your hand when you run your stitch.
Pins helped keep the fabric from slipping and creating funny creases as I sewed.

The darker the room, the longer they’ll sleep, right? Now, these curtains did cost more than all the other curtains. But I figured I’d saved so much money buying the $5 panels that it was ok to splurge a little here. I carefully cut and pinned the blackout material and Princess material together, and ran a straight stitch down each side. The girls loved it! And so did I!

Freshly hung princess curtains!

We went from a lovely house, to a cozy and fresh home. Just add curtains!

Our back door curtains came from a much larger panel. I cut down the material and split the panel in half to make these darling little curtains. A magnetic curtain rod allowed us to hang them directly on the door.

DIY Winter Sunshine

Enduring winter

Exactly nine weeks until spring. I’m counting. In the meantime, these gray days desperately need some sunshine. I suggest lots of marshmallow-laden hot chocolate, cheerful music, warm snuggly blankets, marmalade and melted butter on thick slices of homemade bread, fuzzy boot liners, crackling fires in the fireplace, simmering stew with dumplings on the stove, a  good long book to read and a little ball of handmade pompoms sunshine.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine! You make me happy when skies are gray.

My mom taught me how to make pompoms when I was a child, so these simple directions and pictures should work for you. But if they don’t, find a child. He or she can probably work it out for you. We sewed these onto stocking caps. Now I use them for craft projects a lot.

How to

You will need yarn, scissors, cardboard, a pencil or pen and two objects that can be drawn around to make circles of two different sizes.

First, cut out two doughnuts from a cardboard cereal or cracker box. They can be almost any size, but the larger they are, the more yarn you will need. The smaller they are, the harder it is to feed the yarn through the center.

These cut-outs don’t have to be pretty. They will be thrown out. It doesn’t matter if they are perfectly even either.

The next part usually falls to a willing child. Wrap the yarn around and around and around until it’s nice and thick.

Less yarn just makes a floppier pompom. Sometimes that might be the look you want.

Carefully slice all the layers of yarn by sliding one blade of your scissors between the cardboard circles and working around the doughnut from start to finish. Before you remove the cardboard, slip a piece of yarn between the two doughnuts and tie a knot as tightly as possible. You can bend the cardboard to do this. If you hold the knot with one finger, it comes out much tighter and the pompom is less apt to fall apart.

 

Cut in small snips to keep the pompom even.
Make the knot count. If it comes out, the pompom comes apart.

Cut off the cardboard and you’re done. A little bit of sunshine. These are really cute done with several layers of color, too.

If you have a few longer strings, just trim them to match the others.

I’ll have to make a gray one for Big Bro because now and then we sing, “You are my storm cloud, my only storm cloud, you make me ANGRY when thunder booms …”

 

10 Reasons I Love the Book of Genesis

Beginnings

Going on two dozen years, I’ve read the book of Genesis every January. The first time I ever read it, I was 9 years old. My Awana book required me to read it. I was hooked from the first chapter till it ended 1,000 years later across from the first page of Exodus.

My Bible. It never gathers dust.

The List

#1 Theme, characters, point of view, conflict, it’s all there and more. All the aspects of great literature coalesce into one continuous historical account. It tells the first love story, the first story of a wanderer on a journey, the first story of rescue, the first mountaintop experience, the first story of deception, the first story of redemption.

#2 Quotes from Genesis frame my life. “Thou God seest me.” “God will provide himself a lamb.” “I being in the way, the LORD led me.” “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.” “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” “And God said,  Let there be light.”

#3 Genealogies taught me to love rolling names off my tongue. Arphaxad, Mahalaleel, Jokshan, Jetheth, and Malchiel.   Were Muppim and Huppim twins? And places like Zeboim and Machpelah.

#4 Incredible, true, heart-wrenching stories. Cain killed his brother. Noah preached 100 years. Sarah laughed when she heard God’s promise. Jacob lost and found his son.

#5 My own origins in the creation of the world. God breathed into man the breath of life. I have a living soul. I know where I come from.

#6 Seeing God’s interactions with people. He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening. He lifted Enoch to Heaven a year before the flood. He pulled Lot out of Sodom.  He fought a whole night with Jacob and struck his hip. If God interacted with others, He surely does with me, too.

I expect a garden in Heaven since trees will be there.

#7 Joseph. SO. MANY. LIFE. LESSONS.

#8 The panoply of God’s character from judgment to mercy,  Priest to Sacrifice, and Creator to Messiah. His holiness, faithfulness, wisdom, and goodness are portrayed in the pages as He promises to be a shield and a reward and a provider. Early in my life, God was teaching me about Himself as I read and reread and found Him in the stories.

#9 All the prophecies came true. And I cling to that one at the beginning that revealed Jesus would come. “It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

#10 God probably used Moses to write it. People debate about it, but it doesn’t matter. God inspired it. He breathed out the words with that same breath that gave life. Genesis. Life.

Kite Flight: A Poem

One of my goals for 2017 is to write a poem a week. This poem is the first of the new year. Over Christmas we traveled to Charleston, and Nana and Papa went to the beach with us where we flew our kite.

Kite Flight

White sea foam reflects the grey sky blanket….

The beach hushes the world as surf hits sand.

Above, seagulls with wings spread wide to catch salt-winds, skim across the skies

Searching, searching, searching.

 

Or are they floating.

Feathers furled to catch the currents,

Eyes wide to watch the waves,

Breath by breath scrying the world below,

Dreamers diving into the waters.

Sharp eyed seers certain where the scales will fall

Fierce with foresight for fish.

 

They flew.

And, called our kite up to them.

Saw the primary colors dancing up the winds

Heard the pounding of our feet

As we rushed our twirl tailed messenger to meet them,

And drew our earth-built wanderer toward the heavens.

Up, and up the heights it labored.

Pulling at the twine, then dodging down to start the climb again.

 

We felt the weight of the wind whirl against it.

Our hands held taut against the tethering.

It felt the winds might tear its parts to pieces

The sticks that held it might burst

And the trembling tail fall fumbling into the foam,

But, still it soared up and up, twist by twist.

 

Now it pulled against its mooring

Daring us to let it loose to ride the winds alone

To let it mount above the clouds.

 

And yet, our twine which anchored it to earth

Exasperating all its efforts to escape;

Our plain white string near nothing to the naked eye

And hardly cause for admiration, held firm.

This far, and no further.

This high and not an inch beyond.

 

The kite cried out for freedom

The world below so small, the string, so tight.

But, still the string held firm.

A kite without a string is just some colored paper.

A kite without the wind will never leave the sand.

Foundation and resistance gift the flight.

And so it sailed, pushed and pulled along the currents.

And the white winged seagulls soared and dove around it.

Sharing, for a moment, their vision of the world below.

 

Crazy Good January Bargains

The Phone Call

Sears called me on Tuesday to ask me to renew my dishwasher warranty. I’ve had them out to try to fix it and I’m of the opinion it is never going to wash dishes very well, which isn’t a big problem because I enjoy washing my dishes by hand and using the time at the sink as “thinking time.” I love having my hands in soapy hot water and getting my fingernails clean. And I love storing, well, you’ll have to look at the picture which is surely worth a thousand words!

Why yes, that’s an ice cream bucket of play food, play dough equipment, barbecue skewers, a jug of vinegar, an egg carton of plastic eggs, dish washer detergent, dish soap, a plastic bib, and a few other things conveniently locked away in the dish washer. The grandkids haven’t figured out how to open it, so it’s all safe.

But back to the phone call. During the conversation the girl mentioned I had 43 points worth 43 dollars that were going to go away by January 21st. Woe! I forgot about that car battery with the lifetime warranty we bought last year. That added up fast. And I didn’t realize they cancelled points so quickly. I’ll have to keep that in my long and short term memory bank.

The Bargains

I can’t buy used clothes for these prices!

So I went to Sears. Sears in January is crazy. Everything is around 65 to 70% off and some stuff is 85% off! I bought a sweater, a summer shirt, four birthday presents for the grandkids, (the only bad part about that is their return policy is only good for 30 days, so I have to be certain everything is going to fit,) and next year’s Christmas pajamas (we have a contest Juli started which includes taking Christmas pictures in our Christmas pajamas. Paul and I will win this year. I’ll tell you about it next December! No spoilers, but I definitely got the winning PJs.)  I found some fantastic prices. And I paid only $1.16. But the best stuff came at my next stop: Walmart. I’d been watching the discounts and clearances. Last year I got a better bargain, but 4 cents is pretty good for coffee stir sticks. Here they are.

Wintergreen flavored coffee is really good. This box of candy canes is a winner.

The Coffee Stir Sticks

I love candy cane flavored coffee. It’s way better than any of the coffee shop gourmet specialties I’ve ever tried. I do have a bit of a problem keeping them from the grandchildren when they ask with those big round eyes for one. I try to explain to them that they’re actually coffee stir sticks, but they think otherwise. I’ll run out before next year’s supply is ready, but that’s okay. I need a few weeks of pumpkin coffee to fill in the gap next fall anyway. My sister taught me the trick for making that. Occasionally when the milk jug is empty, I substitute ice cream if I have it, which also stretches my candy cane supply.

Do not make the mistake of buying fruit flavored candy canes. They don’t pass the taste test.
My sister discovered this recipe when she had a tiny bit of pumpkin puree leftover from a recipe and couldn’t bear to throw it out. Rescuing it turned coffee into a whole new healthy concept!

Overall, I saved a lot of money today. Years ago I started shopping year-round for Christmas and birthdays. I have to budget for it, but in the end, it saves so much that it’s well worth it.

Tuning up your Washing Machine

I only just happened to walk back into the laundry room. I had forgotten to grab a wash rag while I was down there and went back to retrieve it.

Smoke had begun filling the room. I tried to quickly evaluate the situation. I turned off the washing machine where I could see the smoke was coming from. I carefully reached behind and unplugged the machine as well. Then, I felt the lid. If there were flames inside I didn’t want to feed them with oxygen by opening the lid. However, the lid was cool, so I opened it up, and smoke billowed out.

I hadn’t ever thought of a washing machine fire. I’d heard of dryer fires before. But, somehow the thought of the washing machine full of water causing a fire had not occurred to me. But, here I stood surrounded by choking smoke.

I opened the doors, and windows and set up fans to pull the foul air out of our house.

Then I began investigating. Where had the smoke come from? I unscrewed the outside of the washing machine. And pulled the sides off. I sniffed, and felt for warm areas. It seemed to have come from underneath. It didn’t seem to be the belt. I could still move that along just fine.

I called in the expert. My grandfather is a genius. He worked on nuclear subs and built lasers for a living. As an octogenarian, he still services the lasers at the holographic company he worked at for several decades. He is one of the only people who knows how to fix the lasers! He also built a solar powered house back in the ’80s before all the solar panels became popular. He can fix or invent just about anything he sets his mind to.

I took the top off my washing machine. What had caused all that smoke?

He talked me through checking parts of the under workings of the machine. I pulled off the cover to the large tub part, and then lifted the tub itself off the part that spins it. I ran my fingers down the drain as far as I could, but found nothing within reach.

While I had the thing apart, I cleaned it. Sediment had built up in the bottom the I scraped off and deposited in the trash.

I tried turning the tub, and checked the pump as well as I was able.

Then, I reassembled the machine, piece by piece.

I hadn’t found the source of the smoke, but, I did know what parts of the washer were not giving me trouble. And then, I started a small load. I sat in the laundry room, waiting to yank the cord out of the wall and stop everything if the smoke started again. But, it didn’t. The only slightly strange thing was that when the machine drained the drain pipe shook like it was preparing to go into orbit. I think that a sock had gotten sucked into the drain, and got stuck. That over worked the pump, causing the smoke.

Regardless of whether or not that was the issue, my washing machine works just fine now. And, I know how to take apart and thoroughly clean my washing machine. That’s a win.

Getting organized: outgrown clothes

Christmas vacation

A couple sweet friends sent their children’s outgrown clothes with us when we visited our youngest son and his wife and 5 year-old, 2 year-old and 6 week-old twins. As we packed for the trip, we realized the bags and boxes would probably overwhelm our daughter-in-law even though she would be excited to see the gorgeous little dresses and precious outfits that would save her hundreds of dollars.

When we asked if we could help organize she jumped at the chance. She had wanted to set up her nursery before the twins arrival, but God had other plans. She ended up spending a month in the hospital and then needing recovery time from the c-section surgery.  Her older two had spent that time growing, so clothes became a major trouble.

Organizing in order to organize

We started by asking the Lord for a good buy on totes. We unpacked all the clothes in our car, sneaking them into the garage. Since we wanted to take the older two girls Christmas shopping to buy gifts for their mom and dad, we ended up borrowing their van. That was a blessing! As we walked in the door of our first tote-seeking location, Home Depot, a handwritten white board sign said, “Totes $6.97.” We found the totes section, but no totes that matched the sign on sale for $6.97.

Paul went to check while I zoomed the car-shaped cart up and down the nearby aisles to entertain the grandkids. Just as I passed the check-out lane, I noticed a pile of totes with a sign, “Clearance $3.47.” Score! I stacked all 12 in the cart loving the UPC sticker which said “$11.97.” Before I reached the register, a store employee walked up to me and asked where I found the totes. I told her I had taken them all but I would be glad to share. She said, “No, that’s okay. They’ll have more on clearance soon. They always do.”  I’ll be checking Home Depot clearance more often after that hint. Having a group of the same size totes makes storing much easier as they stack into a corner from floor to ceiling easily and take very little room to hold a lot.

Almost done.

We crammed the totes and kids back in the van and set off again thanking the Lord we had the van to fit them in. After finishing the Christmas shopping, we headed back to their house.

I recommend…

The first step there included finding a permanent marker, labeling each tote with Newborn to 3 months, 6-9 month, 12 month, 18 month, 24 and 2T, 3T, 4T, 5T, and shoes. That left three for future use. Even as we worked, those kids kept growing! Future use is so close. We lined the totes along the wall in order and then dumped the bags and boxes everywhere else.

The toddler soon grew bored. I asked her to move the lids for me. She carefully moved them one by one to a new stack. Then she moved them back one by one. That kept her adorably busy for 15 minutes!

Three-year-olds are never happy unless they’re busy!

As we sorted and fed babies and talked and played with the older 2, I was glad that I had pre-sorted almost all the clothes I brought. My daughter-in-law cleaned out the dresser drawers and closets in the bedrooms and we added those clothes to the tubs.

We finished up the sorting and then found two more boxes. I wish that was the happy ending, but unfortunately my daughter-in-law found more boxes in the garage after we left. She was really rolling on the organization band wagon by that time and got them all put away. It’s a great start to the New Year.

One last note

Sometimes you can be a blessing to someone by helping them get started on a project that seems to be too much to do. This might mean babysitting, spending a couple hours talking through plans, or giving a helping hand. The Bible says we reap what we sow. When you bless someone else, the blessing comes back to you.

 

 

Cardamom Rolls

Spice so nice

Traditions begin sometime and somewhere. This one began for my family in Connecticut in the early 1970s. My mom discovered cardamom.

Real cardamom for real Christmas rolls!

Cardamom

I’m driving to Charleston, South Carolina from Indianapolis today, Christmas Day. I ate two cardamom rolls for breakfast with my youngest daughter and her husband. I’ll eat leftovers tomorrow morning with my oldest daughter and my sister. My daughter’s will  be gluten free with her grandpa and two cousins. The phone just rang–they’re making more right now!

Ready to roll!
If we don’t make enough, we run out too soon. They need to last as long as our Christmas celebration at least!
After 30 years, we can make them while playing Boggle and rocking the babies to sleep all at the same time.
A forever tradition in our family.
This is the third batch.

How to

 

Bread dough takes much less effort than you can imagine. Yeast, warm (NOT HOT) water, sugar, flour and salt. That’s all you have to have. Egg and butter make a richer dough. Don’t wait till Christmas Eve to learn how to make bread dough. Try throughout the year to be ready for next Christmas if you want to make cardamom rolls. As you make the dough, add a few teaspoons of cardamom. You can buy it ready to add in a powder, but for the best taste, buy whole seeds. Peel off the outer papery shell and dump the little black, uneven bumpy inner seeds into a thick plastic bag. I use the liner bag from cereal. Use a hammer to crush the seeds to fine powder. Throw it in the dough with the other ingredients. I recommend smelling it often. It tastes a lot different than its scent. The taste is a bit peppery. I almost enjoy the smell of it baking more than the flavor.

Rolls are rolls because you roll them. Once the dough rises, roll it out on a lightly floured counter or table. Spread melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins over it. Then roll up the dough into a long log. Cut the log into single rolls. Let them rise again. Hint: dough shouldn’t rise longer than 30 minutes.

We often bake the rolls a day ahead, but then they have to be warmed. We also top most of them with frosting, another simple item you can make with confectionery sugar, water or milk and a chunk of melted butter. Start with the butter, add a dollop of water or milk and then stir in the sugar until it turns into the thickness you desire. Make it thicker for hot rolls out of the oven or thinner for rolls that have cooled off.

Soooooo good! Melt in your mouth!

I mentioned we make these gluten free, too.  Our tradition had to adjust to the needs of our family.

Merry Christmas! May your Christmas traditions be a blessing to your family.

 

 

Christmas Children’s Programs

Christmas Tradition

We have a tradition my husband’s family and my own have kept through the years from our childhoods. We participate in children’s Christmas programs at our church in one way or another. As children we acted and sang in them and sometimes provided the humorous asides. I admit I brought a Scooter Pie, that’s a Moon Pie to those of you from the South, to Joseph while I was playing Mary one year. I don’t remember the reaction to the crinkling plastic wrap as we ate them during the nativity scene. We ended up in the emergency room one night, but that was caused by some after-the-program shenanigans. As adults we sometimes still have parts, or direct, or act as the appreciative audience.

Here’s my husband in one of my favorite roles for him: Wise Man! Gotta love those kings all wearing glasses!

How-to

I remember my brother being a wise man and I sang as an angel at least twice. Another time we had Christmas Around the World and I dressed as a Swedish girl with braids wrapped around my head.  My children took part in Patch the Pirate Christmas plays, flew around the platform as angels, narrated the Bible story from Scripture and played prophets, fictional characters and animals. These days, my grandchildren take part.

Baby Jesus slept in a manger–not a cradle.

The benefits

Christmas programs forced me to memorize quickly and occasionally lengthy amounts, work under pressure, help friends, paint backdrops, operate mikes and lighting, put aside my own issues to meet the needs of others, perform, pray, and focus. That’s the short list. I’m sure all of my family looks back with mostly fond memories and quite a bit of laughter.

Best of all, we told the greatest true story of all time.

Every child should be an angel sometime!

These are the events that shaped our lives. I thank the Lord he placed us in a small country church where we can be super involved. Fitting in everything sometimes leaves us on the exhausted side, but we celebrate Christmas only once a year even though the years fly by. This tradition gives wonderful memories.

Toddlers on stage always steal the show one way or another!

Sneak Peek

After this year’s program, inspiration hit and I wrote a Christmas program called “Kidnapping Baby Jesus.” If all goes well, we’ll be setting up a store to offer it in time for use next year. While you wait, here’s a sneak peek.

Scene 1

Setting: A radio station broadcast room. “On the Air” sign is lit up. Instrumentalist plays It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.

 Riley Castell:  This is Riley Castell wrapping up our Early Morning Christmas Music at WMSC, 92.4, your FM station. Time for News Bites with Lane Nussbaum. What’s happening at 10:58 A.M., Lane?

Lane Nussbaum: Lane Nussbaum here with News Bites. We’re glad to report a quiet evening last night here in ___(your town or city)__. About an hour ago, police dispatched a cruiser to ___(your church)___  . During the night someone stole the baby Jesus figure from the nativity scene in the churchyard under cover of darkness.

Riley: Almost seems like we need to issue an Amber Alert on this one!

Lane: Well, sadly enough, it was hand carved by an original member of the church who passed away several years ago.

Riley: That must make it irreplaceable.

Lane: Yes. And extremely rare and sentimentally  valuable. Officer Zenke reported a reward with no questions asked is being offered for the safe return of the Christ child, but so far no one has any leads. Back to you, Riley, and Merry Christmas!

Riley: Thank you, very much, Lane. The same to you and many happy returns, Stealing the baby Jesus from a church! Wow! I wonder what that’s all about. What do you know? That’s the same church we’re featuring this coming hour for a Touch of Local Live Music. The children’s choir from ____ will be with us right after this message from our sponsor.

From here, the children’s choir enters, discusses the robbery, sings, receives a call demanding a ransom, sings some more, discovers the ransom is a scam, sings yet again, hears Good News from the preschool choir, and finally discovers the whereabouts of the kidnapped baby Jesus.

If you don’t want to wait until our store is up and running, please send a message and we’ll see what we can do.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas!