Saturday, July 23, 2016

Shout Out 12!: Catching Up

Shout-Outs are something I started a while back here on my blog. Their purpose is to recognize people's accomplishments or to express my gratitude for their good and kind deeds or for just doing something awesome in their lives. It's a way to celebrate the little things that may otherwise go unnoticed to the human eye.

And...it's a boy!

No, not for us, but for my brother Evan and his wife Helena. Words cannot express how happy I am for Evan to be a daddy. He's already a great one for which I had no doubt he would be (although it sounds like there has been some diaper challenges along the way. But, the fact that he even changes diapers puts him way ahead of most fathers.) He earned enough stripes just being a great uncle to my three daughters. But as excited as I am - no offense, Evan - this Shout Out is not for you. It's for my first nephew, Oliver Nelson. His middle name was my father's middle name and I think that was a great way to honor my dad and an unforgettable way for Oliver to be honored. 

We drove up in early June while Oliver was still in the hospital. I think he was close to a week old at this point. The poor fellow swallowed some poop on his way into the world, but he fought it like a champ. No doubt he has Graybill blood. Angie and I were able to see him, but not hold him. The girls weren't old enough to visit with him so at this point they have only seen him via FaceTime. And I haven't held him yet so I'm anxious to get up to Lancaster and see the new addition to the Graybill clan. 

Now, isn't he handsome?!!



VBS (and a small opinion)

I'll try to keep most of my opinions to myself about VBS, but this is a genuine Shout Out to the many volunteers and staff that helped in so many ways while preparing for the wonderful week of VBS as well as during the week where we had 100 volunteers teach and inspire the 209 kids that came with big smiles through our church doors every day. And left the same way! The set designs were amazing, the songs were fun and I think the kids went way knowing more about Christ our King. Because that's what it's about. Therefore, VBS should always, always, ALWAYS be free. There is no ifs, ands or buts about it. It's a community outreach where it allows kids to learn more about Jesus. It's not daycare and it's not about the cost of this and cost of that. That's my opinion and will not be changed. If that ruffles some feathers then so be it.

Brother's Weekend

One thing that gets me through the school year is Brother's Weekend. Starting back in 2009 - and only missing one year since - and with the purpose of honoring our dad, we began the tradition of this weekend where we all come together to celebrate our brotherhood. It's something I think others envy and wish they could and would do the same with their siblings. It certainly solidifies all of those statements when we were younger about how through some powerful magic our "hatred" towards each other would turn into love and respect. Sometimes it annoys me when other people are right and other times I'm filled with gratitude. Not so much because they said it, but because I think we made the effort to make it happen. We come with our differences, but those hardly make it to the surface because overall we have a lot in common.

All of our lives are centered around the Phillies...er, I mean Christ so that's a good foundation to have. But, we also enjoy outdoor games, hiking and biking and like Ehren said, no matter the time of day, you can't turn away from a campfire. 

The biking is something I particularly look forward. It's a tradition as well as a bonding time with my older brother, Jason. I look forward to that, but I was also was looking forward to my own performance being that I was thirty to forty pounds lighter than the last time we rode Hemlock Road. It made quite the difference. We stopped for some breathers, but the success lies in the fact that I did not have to stop and walk my bike up the remaining part of the mountain - like I did every single year prior. Incredibly, Jason has always made it to the top without having to stop at all.

I said goodbye to my diet for those four nights and three days. Glad I did too because Ehren's breakfasts were delicious and it was nice not counting calories as we ate casseroles, burgers, dogs, sausages, pancakes, bacon and who knows how many sodas.

It's a heartfelt Shout Out to my brothers for establishing and maintaining a bond of brotherhood that I consider a true blessing.

Oh, and another Shout Out to Jason, this year's home run derby champion! Another one to Evan for leaving his family for a couple of days which I know isn't easy (and to Helena for understanding). And yet another for all four us for successfully embarking on a very difficult mountain-climb. See picture below.

Evan and I were the deer tick champions...or losers depending on how you look at it.

$4 That Changed a Life

...and maybe not just one.

One of the best things our church does is make manna bags that people can put in their cars and hand out to homeless folks or anyone else in need. This is wonderful in so many ways. One being that it gives our girls a chance to see first hand that we as a family care and love the least, the last and the lonely. We love them because that's what Jesus taught us to do. It's had its effect on all of them, but I think our oldest most of all.

Just last night we were headed home from our bookstore and a movie outing as a family. We stopped at Aldi because you can't beat their prices on produce and milk. On our return home from there, like we do most times, we saw a man on the center median asking for money or food or maybe just for a connection to those not on the fringe of society. Sitting at the red light I noticed our manna bags had been depleted. This is good because we've been handing them out, but no so good because we've neglected to replenish. But from the back comes the voice of my ten-year-old. "Wait! I have money!" She reaches back to her stash that she has reserved solely for an occasion like this and then hands me four one-dollar bills. Her entire stash. But that's not what makes me most proud. It's the fact that she took her own money and saved it with the intention - and follow-through - of giving it away. We'll never know how, but the that money made a difference. My daughter made a difference. For that, I am very proud.

It wasn't just the man on the median whose life was changed. My life changed just seeing my daughter show grace and giving to others, but more importantly, I think it changed her life. It'll be a moment she won't forget. A moment that when life has her knocked down for one reason or another, she'll remember that no matter what, a heart that beats grace is a heart that never fades.



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