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Book Review: Love Skip Jump

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By Karen Hendricks

Is your instinct to say “yes” whenever you’re asked to volunteer at your child’s school, help a friend or relative, serve on a church committee, etc, etc? There are so many messages today that help us “deprogram” from automatically saying yes, because it’s so easy to overextend our capabilities and our time. So, as a result, is it now your instinct to say “no” to everything? Don’t get me wrong; there are so many wonderful causes, opportunities, people in need, ways to help your children’s schools/sports teams/etc, but it feels good to say “no” without a guilty conscious, and be selective about what we’re saying “yes” to, doesn’t it?

Well, I recently read a book that turned my whole way of thinking upside-down! Love Skip Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Saying Yes by Shelene Bryan is an inspiring book that challenges us to say “yes” more often.

How many times do you hear that little inner voice, putting ideas into your head? Is it really your thoughts… or is it God speaking to you? Shelene Bryan had a life-changing thought—to go to Africa and actually meet a child that her family was sponsoring by sending money for food and other vital necessities. What an incredible first leap of faith, that set countless positive results into motion!

Now, she isn’t saying that we should say “yes” to everything like Jim Carrey in the movie Yes Man: “Saying yes to everything obviously becomes problematic and is not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is listening to God’s call and recognizing the things He wants you to say yes to, then actually doing those things.”

It’s a three-step process that she describes as starting with love—the love that God has for us, and a relationship with God. It’s the foundation of our lives as Christians. The second step, “skip,” refers to giving up, or skipping something, for the sake of someone else. This illustrates God’s love, but more than that, it’s an attitude and lifestyle of giving. And skipping comfort. The third step, “jump,” means saying yes to God, and using your God-given talents to affect others. Jumping is an action.

Shelene Bryan - Photo Credit: LoveSkipJump.com

Shelene Bryan – Photo Credit: LoveSkipJump.com

She identifies lots of “things” that hold us back from saying yes: our job, spouse, relationships, addiction, success—or  the desire to have others perceive us as successful, our house, car, luxury items, or even the praise we like to receive from others. But Shelene especially felt a calling to help children and families in need.

Shelene writes about additional experiences she had, saying “yes” to ideas that popped into her head. Prior to the Christmas season one year, she contacted her friend Rachel, a neonatal nurse, and asked if she knew of a family that needed help during the holidays. As a result, the entire Bryan family bought Christmas gifts for a family that would be spending Christmas day with their baby at the hospital. In fact, they used the money that they would have used on their own gifts and shopped together. The Bryan kids still received stockings with little gifts, plus gifts from other family members, but Shelene writes about how exciting it was to watch her own children selflessly “skip” their gifts in order to help others. The icing on the cake? The Bryan family piled into their car, loaded up their surprise gifts, and visited the family, shocking them with their thoughtfulness on Christmas morning. They visited with all the other children hospitalized on Christmas morning, as well, singing Christmas carols in the hospital. How many of us would have the courage to do something like this?

One of my favorite chapters is titled “Every Jump Ripples.” Shelene writes, “We have all seen ripples moving in concentric circles away from the splash of a stone thrown into a lake or pond. In the same way, ripples happen when we say yes to God and do whatever it is He wants us to do. Our little splash has a reverberating effect on others.”

One example of a ripple: one of the neonatal nurses was moved by Shelene’s family’s visit and asked Rachel why the family would do that for someone they didn’t even know. Rachel told the fellow nurse about Shelene’s visit to Africa—to Uganda—and coincidentally the nurse was of Ugandan heritage. She had never been to Uganda but had always wanted to go. Rachel told her that Shelene planned a return trip to Uganda soon and the woman was compelled to join her on the next trip. As a result, the hospital also donated medicine… another ripple.

This book was especially thought-provoking, so much so that I’ll admit it was hard to read at times! It truly challenged me to examine my priorities, and think about being open to opportunities to “say yes” in my life. Hopefully I will not be so quick to automatically say “no” in the future… and I look forward to trying to make a difference in the lives of others,  spreading the love of God, skipping or giving up things that I don’t really need, and having the courage to take those leaps of faith, all the while involving my family. As Shelene Bryan writes, these experiences can be “uncomfortable journeys but with rich adventures.”

Every chapter in the book concludes with a prayer and there were several that especially spoke to me. I will leave you with these words and hope they are as inspiring to you, as they were to me:

Lord, help me see that my real worth is based on who I am in Your eyes, and not on my worldly successes. Help me see those who are hurting so I can show them the unconditional love You have shown me. Give me the boldness to share Your love and truth with those who come across my path. Amen.

Lord, give me the wisdom to recognize the comforts that constrain my desire to follow You. Help me seek above all else the things You would have me do in my life. Help me identify the yes opportunities You are putting in my path. Amen

Lord, allow me to know You well enough so that I can recognize Your whisper. Give me the strength of mind to hide Your Word in my heart so I can match Your Word against the voices of my culture. Give me the ability to be still and reflect on who You are and what You have done and what You want to do through me. Amen.

For more information:

Click here for SheleneBryan.com

Click here for LoveSkipJump.com

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A Dog Named Blue

By Karen Hendricks

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Photo Credit: KimKavin.com

One of the most moving books I have ever read is Little Boy Blue: A Puppy’s Rescue from Death Row and His Owner’s Journey for Truth. Last fall, coincidentally, as my beloved greyhound was dying of bone cancer, I devoured this book, stunned at the statistics and moved to tears by the state of our nation’s animal shelters. Author Kim Kavin, a fellow journalist/writer, did an amazing job of chronicling her experience adopting her dog Blue, interweaving her narrative with eye-opening research.

My fellow blogger Ruth wrote part one of her family’s story of pet adoption, The Adoption of Fletcher, last week. Stay tuned for her next post… but in the meantime, I thought I’d open the discussion on some interesting topics that Ruth touched upon, as they intersect with the book Little Boy Blue.

If you’re an animal lover like me, I highly recommend you read the book… but if you’re a busy mom like me, here’s the basic synopsis without giving away too much of the story: Kavin found Blue through an online listing via Petfinder and applied. Blue seemed to be close by her New Jersey home. In actuality, he was at a shelter in the south, rescued through a network of volunteers and brought north. Curious, Kavin spent months retracing the circumstances that led to Blue’s adoption and discovered he was lucky to escape a North Carolina  “high-kill shelter” equipped with a gas chamber. Blue’s story is similar to many other dogs’ tales:

America is spending more than a billion dollars a year to operate animal shelters.  Some of these facilities are functioning like actual shelters, meaning sanctuaries and places of safety, while others are killing more than 80 percent of the dogs and cats entrusted to their care.  That’s four out of five dogs, all but dead on arrival at the doors of the shelters like the one where Blue was found.  Fully three-quarters of those dogs are healthy and adoptable as opposed to sickly and vicious, but only one of four dogs who end up living in our homes come from shelters in any given year.  Most people get their dogs from breeders or from pet stores while perfectly wonderful puppies and dogs are left to die in shelters every single day.  Those statistics were bad enough, but the one that got me in the gut is this:  If just two in four people, instead of one in four people, went to shelters instead of breeders or pet stores to get their next dog, then the entire problem of killing dogs like Blue would be statistically eliminated across the country. (page 55)

Blue turned out to be a sweet, loveable prince of a dog, which makes Kavin’s story all the more heart-wrenching. To think what might have happened to him… routinely placed inside a gas chamber had Kavin not stepped forward to adopt him. But the gas chamber is, in fact, the fate of other shelter dogs every day.

Kavin does a great job at presenting all the statistics in an understandable way. Later in the book, she references an article from The Wall Street Journal, which quotes John Hoyt, former president of the Humane Society of the United States, who says that American shelters in the mid-1970’s were killing an estimated 85 percent of the dogs and cats who came into their care.  By his guess, that was nearly fifteen million would-be pets a year.  Our nation’s current estimates, as many as five million dogs and cats being killed every year, are a step in the right direction—and are a credit to the people who run excellent shelters that save far more dogs than they kill.  But it’s wrenching to learn that taxpayer-funded shelters like the one where Blue found himself are still moving backward.  If you don’t count the help of rescue groups, they’re killing dogs at an even higher rate than dogs were dying across America thirty-five years ago. (page 248)

Blue - at 18 months. Photo Credit: KimKavin.com

Blue – at 18 months. Photo Credit: LittleBoyBluethebook.wordpress.com

You can follow the latest news and progress made, in the wake of Little Boy Blue being published, through Kavin’s website/blog. The very shelter that once housed Blue is starting to turn itself around. Just this past January 2013, officials dismantled and removed the gas chamber.

If you’re thinking about pet adoption, I highly encourage you to visit your local animal shelter or SPCA. Our family has adopted wonderful cats from shelters over the years. In a future blog, I might address the special plight of one breed of dog in particular–greyhounds in need of adoption. My family provided forever homes to two greyhounds over the past 15 years and I am hooked on their sweet, gentle nature. They are almost always adopted from rescue groups specializing in that breed. But after reading the story of Blue, I’d be open to adopting a shelter dog.

Other ways you can help, besides adopting:

  • Educate yourself about your local shelters. What are their procedures?
  • Volunteer at your local shelter and lend a hand. Good volunteers are almost always in short supply.
  • Donate money or resources to your local shelter. Find out what they need: pet foods, cleaning supplies, etc.
  • Consider fostering animals until permanent homes can be found, either through your SPCA or local adoption/pet rescue groups.

Click here for a YouTube preview of  Little Boy Blue. To learn more, go to The Little Boy Blue website and read the first two chapters of her book for free. Warning: This will probably hook you! You will probably end up purchasing and finishing the book—or check your local library.

Food for thought: If you spend three days reading the book, then in that same time period, as many as 42,000 companion animals died in American shelters.  (page 299)

I encourage you to join me in trying to reverse this trend.

More Resources:

Click here for the ASPCA website

And click here to visit Petfinder.com

Small Changes You Can Make to Help Improve & Save Our Environment

By Jennifer (Smith) Schuler

Earth Day is April 22nd.

Earth Day is April 22nd.

Earth Day is Monday, April 22nd – Go Mother Earth! Indeed there is much to celebrate on this annual occasion which was first held on April 22, 1970 in the United States. It became an international event in 1990 with organized events in 141 nations.

As we clean up some of our past environmental messes and come up with ideas to better care for our Earth in the future, there exist more groups than ever to help us do just that. These organized groups address environmental issues on local, national, and international scales.

According to author Andrew Rowell, the largest and most influential environmental organizations in the United States are the “Group of Ten” comprised of organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, and The Wilderness Society.

Public awareness and environmental sciences have certainly improved in recent years, and environmental issues have broadened to include concepts such as “sustainability” – as well as to address new concerns such as ozone depletion, global warming, acid rain, and land use.

Additionally, environmental movements often collaborate with social movements such as those that work for peace, human rights, and animal rights; or who are opposed to nuclear weapons/power, poverty, and hunger. 

Pretty “big picture,” isn’t it? In a couple of my past blogs, I have written about topics that involve a “little things” focus. Here, I intend to do the same because when you think about environmental issues in too big a context you can become overwhelmed and even complacent. Have you ever thought, “What can I do?” or, “Does my small part in all of this really make any difference?”

Well…yes. Doing little things, making small changes, and focusing on doing your part can make a big difference. Even if you are not part of an environmental group, there are many other steps you can take to contribute toward improving our environment and making Earth a cleaner, healthier, better place to live – for us all!

Here are simple and easily implemented ideas to get you started – from the outside in:

The Great Outdoors

+ Take a look at the property you live on. If you have acreage, consider its location. If you live in an area where your land meets certain criteria, you can apply to the National Wildlife Federation to have it certified as a wildlife habitat area. I speak from experience! Receiving such a certification as we have means you have taken steps to provide a viable area where wildlife can thrive.

+ Start a compost pile. Do you have a spot outdoors that would be an ideal location? When you research this environmental tool, you will find there are many ways to create one even without a large plot of land. Cleaner and more convenient than a compost pile is a compost bin which is easy to build and can even be used on a porch or patio. Our compost pile is contained by bricks, and once it has built up through the fall and winter my husband uses it in the spring to jump-start our garden! We bought a stainless steel, compact pail that we keep next to our sink. In it, we collect and store our compost (fruit peels, rotten tomatoes, vegetable skins, etc.) until we have enough to take outside to our pile. The special odor fighting insert helps keep the pail’s contents a secret.

Putting in a garden yields the best in natural, "home grown" food!

Putting in a garden yields the best in natural, “home grown” food!

+ Put in a garden. Gardens come in many forms and sizes. My husband designed a small one in our backyard to grow a few of our favorite vegetables using organic methods. After a year of trial and error to get it going, he planted and tended to a row of blueberry bushes bordering the garden – yielding more berries each season. Next step is a few fruit trees! We have also grown vegetables, such as tomatoes in big planters, and strawberries in large flower pots on our deck.

+ Plant trees. Whether you buy saplings or trees with some growth, planting adds oxygen to our environment and creates natural habitats.

+ Add flowers and plants wherever you can. We invested in several flower/plant/herb boxes and lined our deck railing with them. The bees and butterflies seemed appreciative, and this little step which we saw as simply beautifying our favorite outdoor gathering place has contributed toward many life cycles. Plus, you get the benefit of a beautiful outdoor retreat on a warm spring or summer day!

Ahhh...a lush garden retreat!

Ahhh…a lush garden retreat!

Indoors

+ Sign up with your energy company for their energy savings program. The ways to save energy vary by company, as does the level of participation. BGE in Maryland offers “Peak Rewards” in which we participate. Even the higher level has proven of little inconvenience to us. We receive big savings on our monthly bill – and save the environment at the same time!

+ Develop an awareness of your electricity usage patterns. Are there lights that are on unnecessarily? Our home has many big windows that let the sunlight in – we have very little use for lights once the sun comes up!

+ Add motion detector lights and switch to more efficient light bulbs. This reduces electricity usage and conserves energy.

+ Use cold water for washing clothes whenever possible. Warm and hot water is usually not needed to effectively clean clothes.

+ Become conscience of your water usage habits. How often to you turn on a water faucet? How long do you leave the water running? Consider cutting back on the length of your showers and turning off the water while you brush your teeth.

+ Recycle. Establish an easily followed process. Throughout the day, we put recyclable materials (what is accepted as such varies by county) in a non-descript box on top of our kitchen counter. When our recyclables pile up, we take the box to our upper deck and distribute into two bins – one for paper and cardboard, and one for plastic and cans/jars. On weekly pickup day we empty the bins into the large containers the county provides (stored outside) and take them to the end of our driveway. When we read on a product what recyclable materials were used in its production or container, we know we had a part in that!

We can all make a difference if we just do our part!

We can all make a difference if we just do our part!

These are just some ideas for conserving energy and resources, reusing materials, and contributing toward a cleaner environment that we can all live in and enjoy! So this Earth Day, take a pledge to look around you – just outside your door or around your home can be far enough to make a real global impact when we all make a little effort or a small change.

What are some little things you do to help improve our environment? We would love to hear from you!

Coping with the empty(ing) nest: Invest in your work

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Image: Some rights reserved by San José Library

By Chris Little

In my last two posts I wrote about adapting to the empty(ing) nest—how do you manage the transition from being a mother with kids at home to being a mother whose kids are off on their own? I suggested, first of all, taking some time to reconnect with yourself and your hopes and dreams after all those years of child-focused living. Then I suggested expanding your nest—broadening your circle of concern to include not only your immediate family but your local community, and investing in that community through volunteer work.

Now I want to think about investing more in your work. Many moms who step “off the merry go round” of full-time work remain connected to their careers through part-time, home-based, or freelance work. If you’ve scaled back your work for the kids, then as the kids move out of the house, now might be the time to pick things up again. Because even though we’ve loved being home with our kids, having work we love can be immensely rewarding and provides a sense of purpose for a lot of us, especially as we transition out of the intensely child-focused years.

I’m thinking of my friend Wendy, who had done project-oriented and volunteer work at our local arts council for years. As her kids got into middle school and high school, she stepped into a part-time position there. She’s still home when the kids are, and she’s involved in an organization she feels strongly committed to, so that as her kids move on out into the world, she’ll have a meaningful focus for her energy and talent.

And there’s my friend Karen, who loved working as a substitute teacher when her kids were young, so she decided to go for her teaching certificate while they were in high school. Now she’s starting a full-time teaching career as her youngest is beginning to look at colleges.

Here are three steps for investing in your work as the kids move out of the house:

1. Think about your work: Is it a good fit?

Do you love your work? Is it meaningful and exciting and a good use of your time and skills? In short, would you like to do more as your schedule opens up? Some women find that their interests have changed over the years they’ve been focusing on their families, and their old careers just don’t excite them anymore. But others can’t wait to dig a little deeper and commit themselves a little more. So take some time to think about whether your work is still meaningful to you, or whether you’d like to go off in a different direction (which I’ll write about in my next post!).

2. If it is, consider taking on a little more.

Talk with your supervisor to see if you can pick up more hours. If your work is freelance or home-based, look around for a few potential new clients you can approach. Take some people out to lunch. Do some work on a pro bono basis (that is, [volunteer]!) Tell your friends and colleagues you’re looking for a little more work. It may take awhile to get re-established, but that gives you time to slowly transition from being child-focused into a more work-centered life.

3. But don’t overcommit!

As you get more into your work, you might be tempted to overcommit. Be careful to maintain balance in your life. Although your kids might not show it, they still need you around, and you never know when they’ll want to talk. In fact, I know moms who chose to step off the merry-go-round during their kids’ high school years, so that they’ll be available for them after school, and for college visits, etc.

But inching your way back into the working world as your children begin leaving home can be rewarding for both you and the kids, and it can definitely smooth your transition into being the mother of daughters and sons who live outside the home.

So how about you? Do you do part-time, freelance, or home-based work in addition to parenting your kids? Do you love it? Are you thinking about investing more in your work as the kids leave home?

Coping with the empty(ing) nest: Expand your circle of concern

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Image by Klest, via Wikimedia Commons

by Chris Little

So, in my ongoing exploration of the transition years when the kids are getting older and leaving home, last time I wrote about the importance of looking within, of getting to know yourself again after what so many years of raising the kids, when our own concerns are often placed far into the background.

In this post I’d like to talk about another strategy for coping with this sometimes-painful transition: expanding your nest. When the kids were little, after I had stepped off the merry-go-round of my full-time career to devote my time to raising them, my focus was pretty much entirely on my family and my home—my nest. I stenciled walls, mixed up batches of homemade play-dough, baked bread, made scrapbooks, the works! Sure, I taught some Sunday school and helped out at the kids’ school, but for the most part, my focus was on my young family. Nothing wrong with that!

But I find that as the kids inch their way out of the house—they’re 15 and 18 now—I’m finding that I have a little more space in my life, a little more time and energy, and a little more interest in looking outward and broadening my circle of concern to include more of my community.

In a way, I’ve begun to think of my entire community as my nest. And it strikes me that getting more involved in my community through volunteer work might be a meaningful strategy for transitioning out of the child-rearing years into my life as a mom with children who are out in that world themselves, instead of living at home with me.

Doing meaningful volunteer work doesn’t pay, of course—but it’s work that our communities desperately need. And who is better positioned to do this work than those of us who aren’t tied down to full-time careers? What’s more, in addition to helping make our communities richer, healthier places, we’ll be setting a great example for our kids.

So here are three steps to keep in mind as you think about expanding your nest to include your community:

1. Take stock of your heart.

What do you love? What are you really good at? What excites and motivates you? How do you spend your free time? Focus your energy on these things, and volunteering will feel meaningful and rewarding. I know a mom who always loved to play tennis with her kids, so as they grew up and out of the house, she started a young peoples’ tennis league in town, and now she’s teaching kids of all ages to enjoy her favorite game.

2. Take stock of your community.

What’s going on in your community that interests or excites you? What’s not going on in your community that you would like to see happen? If you’re concerned about funding cuts to your kids’ schools, it might be meaningful for you to volunteer for the high school sports booster club. If you love to exercise, how about teaching a fitness class at the local YWCA?

3. Step into it! But strive for balance.

It might take a little courage to step into volunteering in your community, especially if you haven’t been involved previously. Start small, and be careful not to overcommit. And remember that the work you do, no matter how small it seems to you, makes your community worth living in—and worth coming home from college to visit! And I can only think it will make your own life richer and more rewarding too.

So I wonder, what volunteer work is meaningful to you? How do you find ways to engage meaningfully in your expanded nest?

Next time I’ll write about another strategy for adapting to your empty(ing) nest: Investing in your work.

Taking a Leap of Faith into 2013

By Karen Hendricks

Famous cliff jumpers: Thelma & Louise

Famous cliff jumpers: Thelma & Louise

“The fiscal cliff” is the hot topic in the news today, and it makes me think about the expression “jumping off a cliff.” Blogging is a bit like jumping off a cliff or taking a leap of faith. You dream up a concept, create a website (blog), post your opinions and topics for the world to see, hope you’re adding some good to the world, and making connections to readers and a community. Many thanks to YOU, our readers, for finding us, subscribing to our posts and sharing your thoughts and ideas with us! We appreciate your support as we launched in 2012.

Jumping off a cliff, taking a leap of faith, or in our case, “jumping off the merry-go-round,” takes some courage. But it’s been an extremely rewarding experience on many levels. Personally, this was the first Christmas season that I spent 100% with my family (ok, honestly, I did a tiny bit of work… but only about 5% of the time!). Past holiday seasons, I spent the majority of my time working, but wishing I could devote more time to my family. I truly feel for parents who don’t have a choice but to work through the holiday season–medical and emergency personnel come to mind. For me, making the decision to leave a full time, 60-70 hour-per-week job in 2012 and concentrate on my own business during a more manageable 30-40 hour-per-week workload… was the best decision for both my family and myself, personally and professionally.

I have immensely enjoyed getting to know other bloggers and parents through Off the Merry-Go-Round. I invite you to comment or email us (OfftheMGR at gmail.com) with your ideas for future topics in 2013. Let us know about parenting issues you struggle with, phases or stages your kids are going through or career issues. Likewise, send us your tips, comments and words of wisdom! Tell us how you solved a parenting problem, share your best penny-pinching tips or share a fabulous craft idea or recipe. We’ll compile and share your ideas in future upcoming posts.

Our bloggers–Jennifer, Jen, Mary Ann, Ruth and myself–have been brainstorming and developing future blog topics for 2013. They are a joy to work with! Here are some of the topics you can look forward to (in the news business, this is called a “tease!”):

  • Training for a 5K
  • How to Journal
  • Life: It’s the Little Things that Matter
  • Small Changes You Can Make to Help Improve and Save Our Environment
  • A Craft Project for an Icy Day
  • Adoption Issues
  • The College Search Process
  • Living with Lyme Disease
  • Tips for Family Fun on Skis
  • Pinterest “Picks”
  • How to Lose the Boob Tube
  • A Fabulous Recipe for Homemade Soft Pretzels
  • And so much more!

Happy New Year! We look forward to sharing 2013 with you. If you’ve enjoyed “Off the Merry-Go-Round” thus far, please share this website with your network of friends and widen our community! Many thanks! 🙂

The Reason for the Season

By Ruth Topper 

If you are like me, it gets to be the second week in December and holiday panic starts to hit you.  Christmas is just two weeks away and the list of things to do to “get ready” keeps growing.   There is shopping to do, gifts to wrap, a Christmas letter and cards to get in the mail, cookies to bake, and concerts/parties to attend.  With all these things to do it is very easy to lose track of the true meaning of Christmas.

My son Josh (a few years ago) was apparently tickled to be a cow!

My son Josh (a few years ago) was quite the happy cow!

But there is one event that helps me keep the true meaning of Christmas in mind:  Helping to coordinate the annual Christmas Pageant at my church.  About 10 years ago for some now unknown reason I said “yes” when asked if I would like to help coordinate our first pageant.  (Perhaps it was that my home church never had a pageant while I was growing up and I had an inner desire to be part of one!)  My decision may also have been made a little easier knowing that there was a script, music director in place and that two other friends, Julie and Kathleen, were also willing to help.  Thus began my pageant coordinating career.

It never fails to amaze Julie and I how well the pageant “production” turns out!  We leave our Saturday morning practice the day before the big event and just shake our heads, wondering how this is ever going to pull together.  Although the kids have been practicing the music with our wonderful and talented music director, Pete, for more than a month, you just never know exactly what is going to happen when you have 2 year old lambs and 4th graders playing the roles of Elizabeth, Zachariah, Mary, Joseph, the Innkeeper,  the angel Gabriel, etc.

Our original script included children from age 2 through 8th grade.  Volunteers sewed costumes for our shepherds and cast, made sheep, donkey and cow “heads” (so our pre-schoolers would look authentic as our friendly beasts), cut angel wings out of posterboard and decorated Burger King crowns for our Wise Men!  Ten years later we still make use of all of those wonderful costuming props.

Some of my favorite pageant moments over the years have been:

  • Never knowing exactly what those 2 and 3 year old lambs are going to do…
  • Sean, now graduated from high school, playing the bagpipes, several years in a row, for the processional for our 3 kings
  • Our band of 6th to 8th graders playing several of our pageant songs
  • Hearing “Mary” and “Elizabeth” sing the “Cherry Tree Magnificat” based on Luke 1:47-55

    Fellow Off the Merry-Go-Round blogger Karen's daughter Kelly as the angel Gabriel

    Fellow Off the Merry-Go-Round blogger Karen’s daughter Kelly as the angel Gabriel

  • When Pete, our director, asked where the Innkeeper’s Wife was at practice one year and Matt (the Innkeeper) calmly replied that he was single!
  • Learning and loving songs that I had never heard until I got involved with the pageant – “Get Ready”, “Mary Had a Baby” and “Little Lamb”

Every year as the pageant season begins again I question myself as to why I continue to help with it.  My kids are “aging” out of the pageant and I certainly don’t need something else to add to my “to do” list.  However I just think about my favorite pageant moments over the past few years and it draws me back again.   So–if given the opportunity–I would encourage you to attend the Children’s Christmas Pageant at your church or school.  It will certainly bring a smile to your face and help remind you of “the reason for the season.”

How do you keep the true meaning of Christmas alive?  Have you helped organize a similar Christmas pageant, play or musical event?  Feel free to share your experiences below.

The cast is assembled!

The cast is assembled!

My daughter Rachel and a friend sing Elizabeth and Mary's song

My daughter Rachel and a friend sing Elizabeth and Mary’s song