Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Madison's 12th: A Basketball Poem


Madison,
Whether you shoot
Dribble
              Pass
Whether you miss, make
Or toss up an embarrassing
0h-my-how-could-she-miss-so-badly
Brick that bounces to
                           Outer space
Or just a simple swish
From the free throw line
You are
You will be
For always (and that’s a long time)
My forever star
Whether posting up for a three
Making a pass
                     Between the knees
Whether you criss-cross,
 cross-over
A win, a loss
It never matters to me
You’re my always and forever
Super-dazzling-dribbling
Star
Off the court
Not just on
Whether you miss, make, pass or shoot
With
5
4
3
2
1 second left
My eyes will be you
Not the rocket you just launched
From half-court
My eyes always follow the important things
The things I love, cherish and adore
A ball through a hoop
Off your fingertips
Will always make me
Shout, applaud
And rise to my feet (even if I spill my drink)
You’re my forever, always, never-ending
Superstar
Triple threat makes the defense wonder and think
Remember off the court (and on too)
Your triple threat lives between the head
              And heart
       On the empty (because He’s not there anymore)
Cross.
He’s the Father,
OUR Father
And the Son
And Holy Ghost
While there, his thoughts were on you
He spilled the blood of grace for you
Don’t forget this
This is more exciting than
An around-the-back-get-out-of-my-way-
Nothing-is-gonna-stop-me-
Drive to the hoop
Now if you dunk
Oh, man, look out
But, it’s the words from your mouth
That speak the heart
It’s the words that uplift
Like the arc on fade-away jump
Or a defensive swat or steal
That says,
No, no. Not on my court. Not today.
That shout out
“Hey, world! Look out!”
Because you’re not just
And will not only be just
A star on the floor boards
Setting fire to the scoreboard
You are and will be
My always and forever
SUPERSTAR
With all my love,
Daddy
Happy 12th !

Monday, December 25, 2017

North Pole Letters: Christmas Day 2017

December 25th 2017 – CHRISTMAS DAY!

Merry, Merry Christmas, Graybill girls! Has it really been a year already?! My how you have grown! It has been a joy and a pleasure watching you right smack dab in the middle of childhood learning, growing and discovering. We talk about the Graybill girls all the time up here. Mrs. Claus always pats her heart when you’re mentioned and says, “Such wonderful sweetness. If only I could bake a cookie that sweet.”

Do you know why we love and adore you so much? Well, one reason is we see the light of Christ shine in and through you. You’re still young and still growing, but we truly believe that amazing things are in store for you. Continue to keep Christ in your hearts. Everything we have and everything that happens to us, we need to express our gratitude to Him.

Thank you so much for you notes. I will certainly tell the elves how appreciative you are for the gifts. I am also appreciative that all three of you seem to know that it’s not about the gifts under the tree (or in stacks on the couch J), but the gift of our Savior being brought to earth to be close to us and to show us and to teach us how to live a life of grace, faith, love and kindness.

There is something I want to share with you that I think you know, but not every child does. Although my face is often associated with Christmas – and I really wish it wasn’t sometimes, or so much anyway – it’s not me that makes it Christmas. All I do is give. And I do that from the bottom of my heart. Nothing makes happier. Giving is Christmas, because, as you know, Christ was our gift. Salvation is our gift for believing in Him. I just try to do my part. You see, I’ve been around a long time. My giving started when I received a lot of money one day. And instead of spending it on myself, I used it to give to the less fortunate. Christ commanded us to extend kindness and grace to the less fortunate.

I do not heal. I do not answer prayers. I am not Almighty. I am simply a man that tries to live every day with Christ in my heart. It’s not always easy. We get caught up in bad choices or find ourselves in poisonous relationships and before you know it, we’re in a rut. And we get comfortable in that rut. Then we make excuses as to why the rut is okay. Girls, please listen when I say, keep the light of Christ on in your hearts every moment of every day. You’ll feel that light every time you show kindness or give something from your heart. It’s a wonderful feeling. Your spirit feels like it’s soaring with the angels. Hold onto to that feeling and spread it around. You are some of the most beautiful girls in the world. The world needs that beauty. Put more love into the world so people can capture it and pass it on.

Keep up the tremendous work in school. Mrs. Claus and I are blown away at how well all of you are doing. We love you with all of our hearts and our hearts are warmed by the thought that girls such as yourself are out there learning to be the light. Praise the Lord!

Don’t forget to take a moment today to acknowledge why it is we are opening and giving gifts. Too many people give out gifts and their hearts are black and cold because they don’t know the child behind it all. That’s where you can make a difference in someone’s life. Believe it!

Have a wonderful day! Say hello to your Uncle Ehren for me. He’s a good giver and a good man. You three are blessed to have such wonderful family.


With love from all of us at the North Pole,

-Santa

Sunday, December 24, 2017

North Pole Letters: December 24, 2017


December 24, 2017

I can’t believe it! I just can’t…believe it! It is actually for seriously for reals the day before Christmas. This is what I call bittersweet. Do you know what that means? It means there’s something both sad and happy about the same situation. I am through the roof (not yours) with excitement that tomorrow is Christmas, but deeply saddened because this is the last letter we elves get to write to you until next year. The Big Guy will write the letter tomorrow. All I can say is, on behalf of all the elves, that it has been a wonderful treat coming into your home these last few weeks. Continue to strive to fill it with nothing, but love, forgiveness, kindness and grace. It should be the goal of every Christian. We are imperfectly perfect, but are loved perfectly.

The smell of all your baking was still lingering in the air when we came into your home. Oh, it made all of us soooo hungry. So, we took some nibbles. Hope that’s okay. Everything was scrumptious. It was hard not to gobble it all up. Self-control. It’s important and not just with food, but with words we speak. Self-control can keep us from saying something that may hurt someone else’s feelings. It can even stop us from saying yucky things to ourselves.

You girls need to keep believing in yourselves. All three of you are amazing girls and God created you so uniquely and with a special purpose. I can’t wait to see what that is. Just these last couple of weeks have left us so impressed. Madison, your pots you made are magnificent. B, your determination with your artwork is wonderful and Sophie, we just your love language of giving. The beauty you all have within is even more breathtaking than your beauty on the outside. You are very special, very important young ladies. Always remember to give glory to God no matter what season of life you are going through.

In parting, I am going to leave you with some of my favorite lyrics from Christmas songs. Perhaps they will inspire you to write a poem or a story. If so, I hope to read it some day.

“It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth…”
“The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay…”
“Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her King…”
“A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices…”

Do you know from which songs these are from? There’s your job for today.

Ladies, we love you and adore you and are so proud of you. You are truly blessed with so many things. Take time each day to stop and think about all the good things in your life. Hug each other today. Tell each other that you love them. It’d be nice to see more of that.

Merry Christmas!

Your sad-to-be-leaving Elves,


Cookie, Gumdrop, Skittle, Butternut Squash and Bing

Saturday, December 23, 2017

North Pole Letters: December 23, 2017

December 23, 2017

Good morning, angels! How was your first full day of winter break? Went by quickly didn’t it? That’s the problem with days off. They just fly by faster than Santa’s sleigh. You just have to make the most of every moment and hold on to those memories so one day you can tell your children about your Christmas-time traditions.

I can tell the train track has been in full-use. So glad you’re daddy got that out for you. We played with it for awhile. Hope you don't mind. I love trains. We actually have one up here at the Pole. We can ride anytime we want to. We have to earn our license, but after that, we ride all the time. Even since the Polar Express came out, we have special midnight rides where we sip hot chocolate. We often share stories of hope and we always walk away feeling uplifted…then of course we can’t get to sleep so…what do elves do when they can’t sleep? That’s right! Snowball fight!!

I have a friend in engineering that has helped me come up with the most amazing snowball ever. My team will surely be the champions this year. The grand prize is riding along with Santa on Christmas Eve! I. Can’t. Wait. I’ll be happy for whoever wins though because we were taught from a young age to be happy for other people’s successes. I’m sure you girls were taught the same. However, you can be taught something ‘till the cows come home, but if you don’t apply it to your everyday-life then you haven’t really learned it. Things like that have to be natural. Like manners – saying please and thank you.  I’m sure you girls will continue working on that, right? Because I know you’re parents have spent a lot of time talking about manners and extending gratitude and grace. Now you just need to apply it.

Did your mommy tell you what she did yesterday?! She paid for someone’s meal in the drive-thru. So generous. You have an amazing mommy. I know you already know that, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. J

Oh, no! I just got word that…well, it’s kind of funny actually. It seems like while I was mentioning the cows coming home, they actually CAME home…and they are IN Santa’s home right now! Oh, brother. The last time this happened it was an udder catastrophe. Forgive us, but we need to head back. It is always a pleasure being in your home. Please continue working on those kind words. We love you! Merry Christmas!

Your I-hope-the-cows-used-the-potty-before-barging-in Elves,


Sugar, Sweetness & Icing

Friday, December 22, 2017

North Pole Letters: December 22, 2017

December 22, 2017

Shhh! Listen. Can you hear it?! The sound of wrapping paper being shredded to bits. The pretend fire crackling on the TV. The scraping of the casserole dish being pulled out of the oven. Joy and laughter from hopefully all whose hearts participate in the true meaning of Christmas. All of those sounds are sounds of the best day of the year.

I almost want to say I enjoy the days leading up to Christmas more than Christmas Day itself. I guess because Christmas is just one day and society seems to think the season should end with an abrupt halt the day after. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still my favorite day! But, for me, all the anticipation-filled days leading up to the big day are so exciting. Generally people seem happier and more loving. But I think the music, especially certain songs like “Oh Holy Night,” make you stop and realize there is something bigger than all of us. And that something needs to be celebrated not just once a year and not just on Sundays. You know what I really hope for this Christmas, is for the people that believe – the lukewarm believers - to go to Christmas Eve service and allow themselves to be inspired to then not only to continue going to church, but to live a spiritual-filled life. So when asked, “How are you living?” they can answer, “with a grace-filled heart.”

I’m so glad you got to see the big guy last night! What a special moment! It sounds like you made some new memories while watching all of the lights and walking around despite the chill in the air. Trust me, that was nothing compared to what we endure up here.

Happy winter break! Have fun today watching Christmas movies or playing games or whatever you decide to do. I’m going to close out with a prayer if that’s okay.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We ask that this season upon which we celebrate You, that the hope, faith, joy and love that permanently intertwined within Christmas, evoke strong and powerful emotions within us. May those emotions fill us, inspire us to want to live a better life. May we not forget that a better life, although not a perfect one, not one without challenges, is a life where we see and feel the unending love that you have for each and every one of us. Fill our hearts, Lord, with compassion, with empathy where we are able to reflect your perfect love upon others. May our actions, our words, our thoughts be ignited by your truth. Allow that truth, Lord, to soak into our souls and withstand and fight past the hate, doubt and fear that surrounds us. For it wasn’t just a child that was in that manger, but also your Word put into motion.

In Your Precious Name,
Amen

Merry Christmas! We love you!

Your glad-it’s-winter-break-although-not-for-us-quite-yet Elves,


Rooster, Moo-Moo and Cookie (Yep, I came back!)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

North Pole Letters: December 21, 2017

December 21, 2017

Good morning, girls! And good morning, winter solstice! At 11:28 this morning it will officially be winter. Today will have the shortest amount of sunlight than any other day. I hear that you will be celebrating in a fun way! How exciting! Enjoy the lights and I hope you get some good pictures with Santa. What a great guy to stop what he’s doing to come take pictures with kids. That’s a lot smiling. But he loves it. He talks nonstop about the kids he sees. Mrs. Claus has to shove cookies in his mouth just to get him to shush.

I hope you girls thought a lot about your behavior and the choices you have been making particularly towards each other and your parents. Being disrespectful to other people – ESPECIALLY your parents – is NOT acceptable. “Not cool, not cool,” as Santa says. I believe the Lord made that pretty clear as well.

One more day of school and then break. You girls have been working really hard. I took a peek at your interims and they look marvelous! Keep it up!

Hmmm…oh, I got it! How about a word search? I used to always do the puzzles and games on the back of cereal boxes. Do you girls do that? They used to put prizes inside. Boy, did my brothers and I fight like cats and dogs over those!
H
O
P
E
J
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V
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A
Q
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G
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X
D
L
N
G
O
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L
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A
W
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V
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V
H
Z
W
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D
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Oh, I forgot to tell you the challenge. The challenge is that I’m not telling you the words that are hidden. There are 15. Use this as an opportunity to work together. I want to see teamwork and some kind and uplifting words. Can you do that? I know you can. Enjoy. And enjoy your evening out as a family tonight. I hope you write me a letter to tell me about it.

Merry Christmas! We love and adore you!

Your can’t-wait-to-celebrate-the-shortest-day-of-the-year-by-having-a-snowball-fight Elves,


Rocket, Rover and Ruckus