Nativity Backdrop


Christmas Nativity Scene Design-a-Room Pack

I wanted to put up a large Nativity scene in the foyer of our children’s building at First Baptist Church Tuscaloosa.

I found a backdrop scene at Oriental Trading called Christmas Nativity Scene Design-a-Room Pack for $39.98.


Note: this backdrop scene is made of the common Oriental Trading cheap plastic.

After receiving the kit, I couldn’t find any helpful information on how to assemble this kit. So this is what I decided to do. I hope it helps you.


Nativity Kit = $39.98

Foam Boards = $43.92 (4 x $10.98)

1/2″ white Mounting Tape = $79.60 (20 x $3.98)

1″ clear Mounting Tape = $9.96 (2 x $4.98)

Total: $173.46

Additional items I purchased from Lowes

4'x8' insulation foam board from Lowes

4’x8′ insulation foam board from Lowes

Four 4’x8′ 1/2″ foam boards (

mounting tape from Lowes

mounting tape from Lowes

20 packs of 1/2″ and 1″ Scotch Double-sided Mounting Tape (I love this stuff!) (

I used some old lumber I had lying around from other projects to build a wooden frame to prop the panels on so I didn’t have to purchase any lumber for my frame.




First I opened and laid out the 30’x4′ backdrops to get an idea of how they would fit together.

NOTE: The lower section (city scape) was shorter and not the full 30′

I slid the four foam boards underneath to measure where the cuts would be.



trimmed excess from backdrop

I trimmed the excess from the backdrops leaving about 12″-18″ on each end, just in case.







long strip of mountain tape

taped backdrop to foam board using mounting tape

Using the 1/2″ Mounting Tape, I put a 4′ strip down the edge of the board making sure to press the tape down well.

I used one 4′ strip for each side. 1 piece for the upper section and 1 piece from the lower section.





There may be a better way to do it, but I attached my tape on one side of the backdrop. Then I stretched and trimmed the other side.

After I trimmed the plastic, I placed a 4′ strip of 1/2″ tape on the opposite side and attached the backdrop.

One of my favorite things about this Mounting Tape is that I was able to de-attach and re-attach the backdrop several times without ripping the plastic. If you’ve used anything from Oriental Trading made from this plastic, you know how HUGE this is!

I cut and attached the lower section (city scape) on each board first then came back to do the upper section (sky). I overlapped the upper section over the lower section by 1/8″ or 1/4″.




I wanted the backdrop to be completely free-standing.

I had some old lumber lying around that I used as frames. I didn’t have to build it because I was making use of some old pieces that were already put together.





propped wooden frame support


I let the frame lean just slightly and screwed in 4 additional pieces of lumber to prop up the frame.










used command strops to attach foam board to wooden frame

I used command strips to attach the foam board to the wooden frame. These seemed to work fine. My backup plan was to use some of the Mounting Tape.


Also, I duct taped the seams of each board in effort to keep them together (see pic above).







tied frame down with sand buckets to keep from tipping forward


Then finally, to keep the frame from tipping forward, I used some small rope to tie it to a bucket of sand.








Attaching the Characters:

The characters come on 2 sheets (per pack) in random orientation. The will need to be cut out.

Using scissors, I (and some ladies helping me) cut out each of the characters. We cut them relatively close to the edge, but I was not very concerned to get them unnoticeably close.

I cut thin strips of the 1″ clear Mounting Tape, as many as needed, to attach the characters to the backdrop.


This is what I ended up with. While not perfect, but I am happy with the final product.

Grace & Hope Are the Family’s Safety Net


I recently heard this quote on ABC’s Last Man Standing. The episode is entitled “The Dad Hat” and originally aired on 11.5.2015.

The tough balance for any parent is providing a harness to keep our kids safe without taking away the victory of the climb.

~ Tim Allen, #LastManStanding

Anyone who has been a parent for any length of time will quickly relate to the truth in this statement. Most parents constantly engage in this internal battle between the desires for their child to succeed and to protect them from harm and failure.

I think of one of my nieces who is into indoor rock climbing. I don’t know a great deal about rock climbing, but one thing I’ve been told is that entry level rock climbing makes use of belay ropes for safety and support. These belay ropes allow a person to embrace the thrill of climbing to new heights but with the peace of mind that someone is holding the rope to keep you from falling. As long as you trust the person holding the rope, risk of danger is relatively small.

As parents this is what we want to do for our kids. We want our kids to try new things, climb, and succeed while we provide a safety net from failure that could cause them pain. I recently heard my wife say to one of our children:

There are 2 kinds of people in the world: those that fail & try harder and those that fail & quit.

(Of course there is, also, that third kind of person who is too afraid of failure to try at all.)

We cannot protect our kids from failure without shielding them from the invigorating joy of victory and ultimately preventing them from becoming the people they can and should be. Instead, we need to inspire our kids to work hard and not fear failure. How do we provide a safety net for our kids? I imagine that there are various ways this can be done in specific circumstances, but the primary way families should do this is by ensuring a safe place for their kids. This safe place means that we detach a child’s value from his performance. Each child must know, beyond any doubt, that he can try something new, and whether he succeeds or not, his family loves and will encourage him. We do our children great harm if we allow them to think that we believe they are failures. Even if the world turns on them, children need to know that failing does not make someone a failure, but quitting does. The old attage is true:

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

The Bible has much to say about avoiding idleness in the pursuit of hard work (Proverbs 14:23, Proverbs 18:9, Proverbs 21:25, and more), and we are often encouraged to do so under the leadership and power of the Holy Spirit. We are, also, charged with different priorities than others; we are commanded to “seek first the Kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33) and to “set our minds on things above.” (Colossians 3:2). We have these divine commands because God knows that the pursuit of His Kingdom provides hope, and that hope is the key to providing the right kind of safety net for our kids: grace. Ultimately, this hope is found in the grace of Jesus. In fact, the Bible makes this connection in Romans 5

Since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.. (vv 1-5)

Be the Parent:

Be the parent who encourages and challenges your child to new heights. Let him climb. Teach him early that his value is not tied to success or to failure. As a parent, guard your own heart from attaching your child’s value (and your own for that matter) to his performance. Be the parent that models courage by holding the belay rope while your child is young but allowing him to try new things all while maintaining an atmosphere of grace and hope in your home. Preventing your child from experiencing failure will likely lead to fear of trying. Be the parent who inspires hard work, perseverance, and courage instead of laziness, apathy, and fear.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill*

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy*

* Final quotes taken from



Pursuit of righteousness



For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification.”‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:19‬ ‭HCSB‬‬

I am fascinated by how Paul juxtaposes the law/faith and sin/righteousness in the early chapters of the book of Romans.

As I have reflected on these chapters, particularly in chapter 6 verse 19, a thought kept running through my mind:

To the degree which we pursued (and enjoyed) sin before following Jesus, to that same degree (and more so) we must pursue righteousness through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit!

Celebrating 2 lives today, June 3



Each year, June 3rd brings 2 celebrations of life.

One life is my dad! June 3 is his birthday. He is a man who has seen struggles, some consequential and others circumstantial; but today, he is fighting hard to be the man God has called him to be. I am thankful for him and love him so much!

The other life is daughter Carsyn Marie. She was stillborn on June 3, 2007. This morning I have reflected and read through posts from 2012 and 2013. Some thoughts from previous years can be found below.

But this year, I am reminded that the fact that these 2 lives are connected to the same calendar day means a great deal to me. My ability to deal with loss and life’s struggles was, in a large part, learned from my dad. As I said, he is man who has seen many personal struggles in his lifetime, and today, he stands firm fighting against those struggles toward Christlikeness. His example, along with other’s I have seen, wrapped in the mercy and graciousness of God gives me hope. Hope to press on. Hope that God is working things our for good according to His purposes and glory (Romans 8:28). Hope “that He who started a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Finally, I would be negligent if I failed to mention the steadfast faith of my wife, Janna. Through an emotionally devastating situation, she exemplified the peace of God unlike any I have personally witnessed. Paul said, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). She lived this back in 2007. And I’ve seen it over and over again since then. She is one of my greatest heroes.

My encouragement to you is this: struggles come and go, some last a long time and some only a short time. Jesus told His disciples, “In the world you have troubles, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)


Original post:

HPIM2389Our daughter, Carsyn, would have been 6 years old today, had she not been stillborn. In one sense, it seems like a lifetime ago; in another, like only yesterday.

Each year, we try to set aside this day to be together as a family. We talk. We do things together, some fun – some somber. We pray. We remember. The goal is not to idolize our daughter but to simply be together and to remember and celebrate, as a family, the mercy, grace, and faithfulness of God in our life during a dark time.

May God encourage you by what we continue to learn.

Below are some excerpts from last year’s post (to read in full:

My dear, sweet daughter Carsyn. Today would be her 5th birthday (2012) had she not been stillborn. Her birthday serves as a reminder for our family of one of the darkest seasons we have encountered. In a moment like that, there are no words of comfort for someone who has just been told “I’m sorry; we cannot find your baby’s heartbeat. She has died.” There is grief. Even though, we never heard her laugh or saw her smile. Even though, I never comforted her when she was crying or read her a book or played with her and her dolls…there is grief. There is sadness. She is, to this day, part of our family, though. Her picture hangs on our wall with the rest of the childrens’ pictures. She come up in our conversations.

I find myself reflecting often on the circumstances of 2007 in hopes that the Lord will not allow me to become complacent and stagnant in life. Of course, I do not desire that to return to that valley, but I, also, do not want to forget the lessons that God taught me during that time.

What did I learn then that I do not want to let go of? (note: this list is certainly not comprehensive)

1. Life is in God’s hands. Pretending I have any control or hand on life and death is pure foolishness. Furthermore, I do not need to understand death any more than I need to understand birth. I should not ask “Why did Carsyn die?” any more than I should ask “Why was Carsyn’s life created?”

2. Circumstances change; God does not.

3. Contentment in the Lord must be of highest importance to my family. Paul writes, “I have learned to be content in all things.” and so must I (1 Timothy 6). Not just contentment with stuff but with His power over the ebb and flow of life.

4. One of the most often misquote…and misapplied verses in Scripture is 1 Corinthians 10:13. It says:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape so that you are able to bear it. (HCSB)

I’ve heard it many times with this verse as support, “God will not allow anything to happen to you that you can’t handle.” This verse does not say this, nor does the Bible, in any other place, teach this idea. This verse is talking about the temptation to sin not the trials of life. The whole point is that we can’t handle many (perhaps argument could be made for all) of life’s circumstances. We need God. We need to Him as focus of our praise in the good times lest we think too highly of ourselves, and we need Him to sustain us during the difficult times by His peace.

5. The peace of God really does surpass all human understanding.

Why is this so important to me? Because as difficult as that season of life was for our family, God has shown us great mercy & grace over the last 5 years since. He has added 2 more amazing children our family and granted us loving relationships from our amazing church staff and church family…to name just a couple. God has shown us His kindness in more ways than I can name…and that is something I never want to forget!

Peace v Parenting


Click the image for more info about this book.

The following is from a series of posts of reflections and/or quotes from “Cultivating Responsibility” by Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller of the National Center for Biblical Parenting.

Any parent with more than one child must honestly admit that peaceful moments can be hard to come by, but we must not value peace in-and-of-itself so much that we miss opportunities to encourage and challenge our children in their journey toward maturity.

Though the task is hard, parents, let us keep our hearts and minds focused on our parental calling.

Children often train their parents to jump at their every request by making life uncomfortable. Parents sometimes become more interested in peace than character development and are quick to comply.

“Many times the words of parents become the script that children [rehearse] in their own hearts…”


Click the image for more info about this book.

The following is the first in a series of posts of reflections and/or quotes from “Cultivating Responsibility” by Scott Turansky & Joanne Miller of the National Center for Biblical Parenting.

A convicting statement about the importance of both the content and the delivery of our verbal communication with our children:

Many kids feed their emotions with negative thinking. Psalm 19:14 reminds us that the things said in the heart are just as important as those that are spoken. “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Many times the words of parents become the script that children say in their own hearts, so it’s important to manage parental speech, even when you are frustrated or angry.

Photoshopping Old Photos


A friend asked me if I would be able to “clean up” some old pics for a family project she was working on. Since I enjoy a good digital challenge, I accepted. While not perfect nor professional, I was please with the results! Drag the line in the center of each pic to see before and after. (NOTE: This plugin may not work on mobile devices. I apologize!)

Living Life in a Spiritual Layover


Reflections on Philippians 3

Our pastor recently preached on Philippians 3 so it’s been a topic around our staff table. As others have rightly noted, this chapter speaks deep to the topic of spiritual maturity. Paul seems to define spiritual maturity (v. 15) as living an active life in the constant and continued pursuit of a relationship with Jesus and the resulting fruit-bearing Christlikeness that accompanies this intimate relationship. In other words, salvation (being born again) is not the equivalent of acquiring a ticket to heaven, and once acquired, the ticket holder is simply waiting to board his plane to heaven, as if waiting in a “spiritual layover” with nothing more to do than to enjoy to food, scenery, and amenities of the locale.

No. Paul says “I consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of know Christ Jesus my Lord” (v. 7) and “my goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings” (v. 10). Our salvation is meant to propel us into active pursuit of Jesus and building/serving His church.

Paul’s goal in life and the reality of his salvation, as he recorded for the church in Philippi, was to know Jesus more and more each day. In verse 14, Paul says, “I pursue as my goal the prize of God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” I love this language! Pursue… it carries a such vivid imagery of action. I picture someone running as fast as he can, maybe in a race toward a finish line (which is imagery used elsewhere: 1 Corinthians 9:24, Galatians 2:2, Hebrews 12:1) or after someone or something highly valued. His eyes and mind are focused on the end goal, but the race isn’t over. With each step, he works hard, “reaching forward to what is ahead” (v. 13). Salvation is active. Earlier in Philippians 2:12, Paul said, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” It seems by both Paul’s teaching and his lifestyle that he did not understand being born again as limited to something that happened at a single point in history (for him on the Damascus road in Acts 9). His life as a Christian began at a point in time, but it did not end there nor was it placed “on hold” there. He said in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make EVERY EFFORT to take hold of it…” (emphasis added). Paul worked out (not for) his salvation… growing in Christ… learning about Him… worshiping Him… sharing Him with others.

In contrast to pursuing Jesus and subsequently becoming more Christlike, Paul later says that “many live as enemies of the cross of Christ” (v. 18) and “they are focused on earthly things” (v. 19). While Paul does not use the same intesity of active imagery for those who are worldly, he does set the 2 things against each other. The Christian’s “citizenship is in heaven, from which we EAGERLY wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 20; emphasis added). Enemies of the cross are focused on earthly things; Christians must be focused on heavenly things. Enemies of the cross pursue their own appetite and desires through the things of this world (3:19). Christians must “seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2) as we “stand firm in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1) and filling our minds with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, [and] whatever is commendable” (Philippians 4:8).

From a physical standpoint Paul learned how to be content in whatever circumstances he was in (4:11-12), but from a spiritual standpoint, he never settled for where he was or felt like his sanctification was complete (3:12).

My prayer is that I will follow Paul’s challenge and that you will, as well:

We should live up to whatever truth we have attained. Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. (Philippians 3:16-17)

Thanksgiving 2015


Carroll Family 2014

Like many of you, our family has much to be thankful for this year! We have been humbled by God’s graciousness to us over the past decade.

I began this post last Thanksgiving and dropped the ball on posting it. I thought I’d pick it up today and see if I could finish.


When we moved to Keller, TX, in 2007, we were in the middle of the darkest years of our married life up to that point. Moving to Keller was the answer to much prayer, and we had no idea how refreshing the years that followed would be. During our time in Keller, we were blessed part of an incredible church and community. We have so many friends who have had dramatic impact on our lives. When we moved to Keller in 2007, we were a small family of 4. God graciously added 3 kids to our family in those 7 years.

Growth was not only familial; there was spiritual growth, as well. I had the great honor of being ordained into the gospel ministry by our church family and baptize 2 of our children.

The deep friendships we made during our time in Keller continue to have a meaningful impact on us even today.



Carroll Family 2015


September rounded out our first year in Tuscaloosa. While we miss our friends from TX, the Lord has been gracious to us over the last year. Here are some highlights:

  • Moved to a new town
  • Moved into a new house
  • Began a new ministry
  • Lovingly welcomed into a new church family
  • Began new homeschooling endeavors
  • New soccer opportunities
  • Began new friendships
  • J: soccer (being able to continue to play after our move and for new opportunities)
  • C: 10th birthday
  • R: our home
  • H: our family (“& that I can draw a ghost on paper” Haha!)


All the way around, we have so much to be thankful for. We are grateful to have had another year together and know that we owe our gratitude to Jesus. We know that many have not had a great… or even a good year. Many of you have faced incredible challenges in 2015. To you, know that my family is praying for God’s sustaining grace and mercy be present and evident in your life. We pray that God will engulf you with His faithful love during this holiday season.

One of the verses that hangs in our home is Philippians 4:12-13, and it is one we pray envelopes our family.

In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content — whether well fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need. I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.

IMG_7377 copylarge_happy-thanksgiving-title

FBC Family Advent Devotional


In the last few years, many resources have been produced to help guide families in celebrating the season of Advent and Christmas together. You can find a few of them of the under the “Articles” link at

At FBC Tuscaloosa, we encourage families to set aside time to worship together throughout the week, but we realize that having family worship times can, sometimes, seem intimidating and overwhelming. We want to encourage you to use this Advent season as a time to begin, restart, or just continue to worship together as a family. To that end, we are providing a simple resource to help you.

During Sunday worship, beginning Sunday evening November 30, we will celebrate Advent corporately as a church. Coming alongside our corporate worship, we are providing a Family Advent Devotional to help guide you in leading your family through the season of Advent.

“How do I get a copy?” Glad you asked. There are 2 ways:

  1. Click here for the digital version (or the Family Advent Devotional link in the top menu).
  2. Printed resources are available in the foyer of the Children’s Center and the Hub of the main building. Look for this:


We pray you will find value in these resources! May God bless your time together as a family!

Jeremy Carroll
Minister to Preschool & Children
FBC Tuscaloosa

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