Friday, December 27, 2013

Grumbling Through the Holidays

As of yesterday, I've had an awful cough that mom suspects is borderline bronchitis. Since then, I've spent most of my time in our hotel room, distracting myself with Christmas movies and searching for the key card that I somehow misplaced. This has left me feeling forgetful and frail, that is until two minutes ago when Shelby confessed he had accidentally snatched up my key card as well as his own. So now I just feel frail. 

This isn't exactly how I envisioned my Christmas vacation in Florida: tentatively venturing out to the beach and getting winded after 30 minutes, followed by coughing up little bits of world-class pork at Sonny's Pit Bar-B-Cue. After lunch, I retreated to the hotel room I'm sharing with my brothers and collapsed into bed, pouting that I was too tired and sore to join my family in the swimming pool. I threw another pity party when my family went to my uncle's for supper and I was too exhausted to attend. C'mon God! The entire Barry Graber family, all 18 of us, is here.  I have exactly zero minutes to be sick. I need to be spending all my spare minutes with my 5 nieces and 2 nephews! 

But The Lord didn't see fit to let me wallow in my miserable attitude. "Look at all the blessings I've given you, little one." 

A trip to Florida with my family.

A gluten-free dessert bakery within walking distance of my hotel room. 

My sister and her family spent over 3 days driving 3,000 miles from Oregon to Florida, while our trip took less than a day. 

That same sister brought curious potions and oils and creams that are now slathered over my chest, feet, and the inside of my esophagus. Those same oils, creams, and potions are doing sciencey antibiotic things against the potential bronchitis that is currently tightening a belt around my lungs. Meanwhile mom is delivering me cough drops and diet 7-Up and snacks and food and being all motherly. 

I got to spend Christmas Day with my wonderful Grandma Thelma and Grandpa Clayton, as well as hang out with dozens of cousins I haven't seen in years. 

The beaches in Florida, coupled with the weather, have been fantastic. An oxymoronic place to develop a debilitating cold that causes me to wear blankets and hoodies at all times, but I couldn't think if a better place to be for recovery: sitting in the warm sun, surrounded by family. 

"What did I tell you?" The Apostle Paul cheerily shouts. "In every circumstance, be content!" 

A quote on the internet grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me around for a bit: "Go 24 hours without complaining (not even once!) then watch how your life starts changing."

Posh! That's easy! I think to myself. But then I reflect on the last 36 hours, ashamed at all the grumbling I've caused my Savior to endure. 

God has been good to me, and I want to acknowledge that. Alright next 24 hours, let's do this. 

Merry (late!) Christmas, everyone. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Looking for Godly Role Models

I am a huge fan of Duck Dynasty.

Specifically, I am a huge fan of Phil Robertson.

Watch that, the next 30 minutes your ears are free. You don't have to watch the video necessarily, since it functions well as an audio sermon. But I watched it, and fully enjoyed it.

So today when I read this:

Which lead me to this:

I got all hot and bothered.

In the comment section of Matt Walsh's blog, a good soul posted A&E's contact information. So I jumped on that like a bandit on a stagecoach and sent the following response to A&E. Normally I dislike passive-aggressive "Argh I'm angry about this development so I'm gonna yell at someone!" responses, but that's precisely what I'm doing. Sometimes it does your soul some good. :)

There are many superheroes that kids and adults relate to. Superheroes are fictional, but many people look up to popular entertainment icons as their role models. As their superheroes.

I and the thousands of Christians in this land have no such popular role models in contemporary entertainment, save for the wonderful folks at Duck Dynasty.

When you pander to certain activist groups and fire Phil Robertson (one of the only decent men being filmed for television today) for truthfully answering a pointed interview question about the Bible, it really does look like you're encouraging whiny, hateful intolerance.

Perhaps Christians should lobby and scream insults and deface property to get their way, eh? What if we threatened violence and harm toward you about all of the other television shows on your network, and blackmail you until ALL the shows you air reflect our beliefs? Of course not. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves.

I know, it's tempting to acquiesce to the demands of the arrogant loud-mouth. You'd hate to get on THEIR bad side, lest they say mean things about you! But you have effectively proclaimed that you are biased against honesty, faithfulness, and standing firm for one's beliefs: attributes our nation needs in a role model.

Don't worry, you didn't let me down, because I wasn't looking to you (or any other network) for my moral compass. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised that you would host such a fine, upstanding family on your network. Of course, you were practically printing your own money thanks to the Robertson family, but you allowed them to speak about their beliefs, which was awesome! Was awesome.

Our country needs faithful men to rise up and lead. You could have been on the forefront of that movement, thanks to your media presence. Oh well, God will still be glorified, just through another avenue. You have missed your chance.

Shawn Graber

If you'd like to contact A&E and yell at them yourself:
Send A&E feedback at: or write to:
A&E Television Networks, LLC
235 E. 45th St.
New York, NY 10017
NY Tel. 212-210-1400
Fax 212-210-1308

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Unexpected Exams

There's nothing quite like driving behind your driving instructor when you're in a hurry.

It's Finals Week. Unlike several of my close friends, I'm not in college, slaving away over horrible tests and exams. I chuckle sometimes when I think about exams because I'm cold-hearted like that. But lately, I've been subjected to quizzes and exams with hardly any prior notice. If you think NOT going to college makes you exempt from getting tested, well then you failed that pop quiz!

In life, you aren't given a schedule that tells you when your life-skills will be examined. A few days ago my patience was tested. On Friday, I scheduled a much-needed chiropractor appointment for 4:30pm and eagerly watched the clock arms wade through molasses toward the appointment time. Like any important event, the prior hours crawled along until it was time to leave and then the clock hit the afterburners and I was suddenly late for my treatment. Rushing from the office, I met none other than Fred Wagner, whom everyone and their parents call "Driver Ed Fred". Several of my dear readers will know who that venerable man is, but for those of you who don't, all you need to know is that he has single-handedly (well, one hand and one claw) taught 96% of Southeast Iowa how to drive, including myself.  He's also a caretaker of the little white church in Joetown. Joetown is the little village, population 120, (maybe? 36 if the annual picnic is an indication of town population) a mile from where I grew up. 

"Ah, yes, Shawn." Mr. Wagner said, in no particular hurry. "The furnace in the church seems to be cycling. It isn't running quite right. Perhaps you could stop by and take a look at it sometime, when you're driving by." I hastily promised that we would take a look at it sometime in the near future. After all, we drive past the church in Joetown no less than 4 times a day, so it wasn't like it would require a special trip. (Later when I mentioned Fred's request to Dad, he laughed and said "We can do exactly nothing for that furnace. It's been on its last leg for the past 15 years.")

He thanked me and ambled back to his pickup, which had coincidentally parked me in. He eased into the driver's seat and subsequently forgot how to drive for 30 seconds. The man who was able to uncannily tell when I wasn't using my side mirrors enough was staring at the dash of his pickup like it was a Latin manuscript. He slowly recollected his 40+ years of driver's educating and drove out the driveway. I erroneously assumed he would head LEFT toward Joetown to go putter around in the church for a bit. Instead, he turned RIGHT toward Wellman. I suppose it was logical, seeing how Fred lives in Wellman. But so does the chiropractor I was trying to get to! It was like Fred was mentally discerning my schedule and gumming it up on purpose. Uncanny.

The road connecting Graber Heating & Air to Wellman is curvy, scenic, and unpaved. It's gravel-topped surface is currently covered in a thin layer of hard-packed snow, which rivals glare ice. That little fact seems irrelevant to the drivers that race past our shop doing north of 60mph, but the hazardous condition wasn't lost on Driver Ed Fred, who drove precisely 20mph. I could almost audibly hear a professor speak "Your exam on Patience begins now."

Driver Ed Fred knows everyone. You may not have heard of him before this post, but it's very likely he knows you. I couldn't just blast past him, because I'd forever be known as a reckless driver who has little heed for other travelers. (Who am I kidding, I'm already known for that.) Mr. Wagner sensed my predicament (Truly, that man is uncanny.) and pulled over to the side to let me pass. Did he sense I was in dire straits to get my neck back into alignment? Perhaps he's developed a keen awareness of the dread Graber Lead Foot, a symptom he was reminded of as I tailgated him for two miles.

So I passed him, but I doubt I passed the Patience exam.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Things Men Want for Christmas

Do you have a human being in your life that is also a man? Husband, father, brother, uncle, grandpa, cousin, boyfriend, friendly UPS deliveryman? Have you been agonizing about what gift to get him for Christmas? Well agonize no more! Here are a few items I'd recommend.

Sometimes, I look at my bedroom and think "How would I ever manage to evacuate all this stuff in the event of a fire?" 

Other times I think "If a tornado were to hit my bedroom, how much of this stuff would I spend time looking for?"

Understandably, the sight of my room causes me to think about natural disasters.