Wednesday, November 26, 2014

[Insert Eye-Catching Yet Informative Title Here]

"Your friends are sending me some pictures of our skydive. It was amazing; you shoulda been there."
I said to Heather, the sales rep that hooked me up with the skydiving trip. 

Heather laughed, "I know! I couldn't make it because I went to a wedding instead. My friends sent a few photos to me while I was at the wedding. But I'm planning to go skydiving next year. Wanna go again?"

I paused. 


My hesitation was because I decided I need to start saving up for skydiving.

Shelby walked into the shop, heard two words, and said "Skydiving?"

Heather asked, "Are you interested in going too?"

"Sure. I need to save some money to go, though." He replied. 

Shane burst through the shop door, nose twitching. Without hearing a word of our conversation, he turned and said, "Skydiving!" 

Heather laughed and said "Would you like to go along with

"YES." Shane interrupted.  

Cue song: "It's Rainin' Men."

November has been a busy month. Once I have a spare moment to collect my thoughts, I'll tell you all about the wedding, the funeral, the road trip, the deer collision, and the other road trip to the other wedding. With the way things have been scheduled, I'll have some spare time to blog in April 2016. 

For those of you that take time to read my oft-neglected blog, thanks. I appreciate that. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Adrenaline Junkie

Yesterday I fell out of an airplane.
While it was flying.
On purpose.
I've got the story and the documentation to prove it.

It started a few months ago when I discovered that Heather, a sales rep that works with our business, has a pilot's license and several jumps under her belt.

Full disclosure: it actually started 21 years ago when I learned how to ride a bicycle, and therefore began to speed on things with wheels.

I asked Heather to let me know when the next jump would be happening. A month ago, she informed me that some of her friends were getting a group together to skydive. "Are you still interested?" She asked me. "Ab. So. Lutely." I replied.

I was contacted by Heather's friend Kathy, one of the jumpers. Over the phone, she sounded completely thrilled that I was joining. Perhaps because my interest confirmed that there were other humans as crazy as herself. The fact that I made the group large enough to get a discounted rate was a bonus. Kathy informed me that "Kathy, spelled with a C" was in charge of the group. I talked with Cathy and found her to be just as exuberant about skydiving as Kathy was. Cathy informed me that I could bring along a friend if I wanted, so I set out to find someone as wantonly reckless as myself.

My friend Anne has been laboring away at the University of Iowa for quite some time, and I determined that she could use a break from her studies. What better way to relax than to get thrown out of an airplane? I imagine there are various alternative activities you would recommend, dear reader, but then you're most likely not a Graber. I asked Anne if she wanted to join, and she replied, "I would totally go but I should perhaps converse with my parents. They might be concerned for my safety." An excellent course of action, and one that I deliberately avoided because my parents are always concerned for my safety, so why bother them with additional worries?

You'd never suspect that Anne is a borderline 
maniac, but then you'd be wrong.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Gun Buyback

Firearms are a sticky subject nowadays and I understand if you don't like firearms. I receive shivers in the presence of ceramic clowns, so I know that inanimate objects can make one feel uncomfortable.
Terribly uncomfortable.

For many years, cities all over the United States have offered Gun Buyback programs where your surrendered firearm will earn you a gift card for fuel or groceries. These buybacks, hosted by police stations, have become more frequent since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary and the theater in Aurora, Colorado. The premise is that if there are less guns on the street, there will be less robbery and homicide. For many, the idea seems brilliant. "Less guns = less crime and sadness!" They proclaim.

In 2012 (the year of the Sandy Hook shooting), there were 625 murders committed with shotguns and rifles.
That's a lot.

In 2012, there were 1,196 murders committed with hammers and fists.
That's a lot.

As a Christian, I understand that man's thoughts are wicked, and without the redemption of Jesus Christ, people will do terrible things to other people. They'll just keep on doing those terrible things with whatever tool or object they have at hand. Uh, pun not intended.

As a Graber, I understand that guns can be used for harm, but they are tools. No more, no less. Like a golf club or a baseball bat or a screwdriver or one of those teeny little brushes that puts on mascara. Guns used properly (I am reluctant to use the word "recreationally" because that makes guns sound like marijuana) can be a whole lot of fun.

Where was I? Oh yes, gun buybacks. Bring all your unwanted firearms and ammunition to the police station, and exchange them for some gift cards******!
*Ammunition will be accepted for surrender, but will not qualify for a gift card.
**One gift card per person, regardless of the amount of firearms surrendered.
***The surrendered firearms cannot have been previously stolen.

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Miracle in the Shape of a Guitar

This morning, I pulled my head up out of the sand and realized how long it has been since I've spoken to you, dear readers.

I'd love to tell you all about the things that I've been up to.

I'd love to tell you about the events that have caused this Summer to whip by like a turbo-charged carousel.

But I can't right now. I don't quite have the words for it all. Wording is important to me; I often scrap entire paragraphs and even full posts if they don't meet my standards.

I suppose that explains my extended hiatus from blogging...I haven't been able to find the words to say.

Momentary Logic could be categorized as "Humorous, anecdotal". I enjoy getting my readers to grin. So when difficult things come along, I refrain from blogging. I dislike reading posts filled with whining and complaining and pitiful pleas for attention, so why would I want to write one? 

So when faced with the most stretching, difficult few months of my life, I've been rendered speechless.

Yet God.

Yet God has been faithful and kind and loving. He daily reminds me of His presence and His promises, and I cannot let those miracles, those blessings, go unspoken.

A few months ago I posted about the possessions I lost due to theft. One of them was my brand-new Breedlove guitar.
Left: My 7-year-old trusty little Fender.
Right: My one-week old Breedlove, just before it was stolen

"That was YOUR guitar, God. I used it for praise and worship and sometimes impressing ladies. If You want me to have a guitar, You'll have to provide one." I ranted. I went back to using my trusty blue Fender, which had begun to chip and peel and show signs of abuse only years of clumsiness and campfires can incur.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Scavenger Hunt

Last night, our youth group leaders staged a scavenger hunt. We were told to bring along a smartphone or other video-recording device in order to record our progress, since this was not the type of scavenger hunt where you would bring your findings back to the church. The youth group was split into four teams and each team was given a list of objectives. The youth leaders gathered us together and issued a few basic ground rules.
We had until 8pm to complete as many of the objectives as possible, along with the bonus objectives. (It was approximately 6:20pm, so we had an hour and 40 minutes.)
The first team to return would get a bonus, the last team to return would get docked.
Be respectful, but have lots of fun!
For the team that returns to the church first and hands their camera in: (+2)
For the team that returns to the church last and hands their camera in: (-2)
To the best business advertisement (voted by Youth Leaders): (+2)
If one of your teammates cannot be seen in any of the videos: (-5)

After the objectives were explained and clarified, the teams were given $5 and a roll of toilet paper, and then sent out into the unsuspecting Kalona area. I was the leader of team #1, and my teammates were Jonathan, Emily, Rochelle, and Logan.

Emily and Rochelle. Emily is displaying
our team number and overall status in life.

1. Start with a short intro to your video!
Our team didn't see this step until near the end of our scavenger hunt, so we ended up making our intro video at the end. We introduced ourselves by name and exemplified complete humility and modesty: "Hello. We're team #1. Thanks for coming along with us today, we're about to win."

Side note: I will be listing the objectives in the order that we completed them, not in the order they were given.
Side side note: The photos in this post are screenshots from the videos we took, since videos are bandwidth hogs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Wedding in Maryland

"We'll just run down to the old abandoned church and back. Should be about 1, 1.2 miles there, so we're looking at 2.4 miles, round trip." Trent said.

For years as we grew up, I affectionately referred to my cousin Trent as "Chub Roll". His brother Kyle and I were the fearless champions of all things good, whereas our younger brothers Shelby and Trent were the portly faces of all things evil. When we'd play war games,  Kyle and I were always the brave and true Americans, Trent and Shelby were the scheming Germans. 

But recently Trent has jumped onto the Fitness Train. He developed a taste for weight-lifting and exercise when he joined the National Guard. When he finished Basic, he returned 35 lbs lighter and with a gleam for fitness twinkling in his eye. 

I had joined a van load of Graber cousins and relatives and traveled into the mountains of Maryland for my cousin Melanie's wedding. We had arrived Thursday evening at a pristine chateau hidden back in the woods where we'd be rooming for the weekend. After less than an hour from our arrival, Trent decided it was high time we went on a run. After all, we had been on the road for 15 hours and our legs needed to stretch! He exclaimed.

I wasn't against the idea. Back at home, I occasionally go on runs. I have a route that I run that is 0.7 miles one way; 1.4 miles round-trip. Two miles would be a stretch, but I was up for the challenge. The weather was incredible. The sun had just set, it was around 71 degrees, and there was a slight breeze wafting through the pines. After stretching and limbering up, Trent and I took off down the smooth blacktop road. We hauled along at a decent pace, but it still took 11 minutes to get to the old church. We took a short break and did some push ups before heading back. "I'm feeling great!" Trent said. "My legs feel better now than when we started." I wasn't feeling too awful just yet, but my right leg was cramping so we took some time to stretch before resuming our run. On the return trip, I began to doubt we were going "only" two miles. The moonlit road seemed to stretch out before my eyes, doubling the distance between me and the sweet, sweet pond back at the cabin. My lungs began to burn, and I was acutely aware that I was running at 1,726 feet above sea level higher than I run at home. Trent calmly provided encouragement and advice as I wheezed like a locomotive with a siezed piston. "Use those long legs to lengthen your stride. It'll save you energy." "Inhale for two steps, exhale for two steps. Short breaths not only rob you of oxygen, but they rob you of energy." "You've got good form with your arms as you run. I had a friend that ran with his arms clenched at the chest. Very inefficient."

We ran back down the lane to the cabin, and it had taken us 15 minutes to make the return trip. My initial oxygen-deprived plan of action was to jump into the pond immediately and drink a few quarts of pond water. Trent cautioned that I should probably stretch and walk for a little bit, just so I don't cramp up and drown. He also mentioned that I should probably drink some water before going into the pond, lest I get tempted to drink questionable pond water. I thought nothing of Trent's mind-reading prowess at the time, but marveled at it later when I had regained my sanity.  I took his advice, meanwhile hoping that we had run more than two miles. Otherwise, I was seriously out of shape. "I miscalculated that distance. It was probably a mile and a half to the church, so we just ran 3 miles." Trent mused. THREE MILES! AN IMPROMPTU 5k?! A warm feeling of accomplishment accompanied the warm feeling of my leg muscles tightening up like banjo strings. After an extended period of flopping around like a wounded groundhog stretching, I took a relaxing dip in the pond. A mist was rising off the surface and the water felt refreshingly cool, but not icy cold like I had expected.

On Friday morning, my uncle Corby showed up with his four-wheeler and told us we could drive it around and explore if we'd like.

 "Careful," Grandpa cautioned "That thing can get up to 75 mph!" I wasn't about to let that claim go unverified, so I whipped the four-wheeler up to a face-blistering 70 mph before I ran out of straight road. I traced the route Trent and I had run the prior evening and used the odometer on the four-wheeler to see just how far we had run. Four miles. FOUR STANKIN' MILES. And we ran it in 26 minutes, or 6.5 minutes a mile. The only thing that prevented me from being completely tickled about the discovery was the dull ache in my legs. The trip by ATV was considerably shorter (it took me roughly 4 minutes) and far more pleasant, despite having various bugs assault my face at high speeds. I have determined that the Good Lord provided trusty four-wheelers to save us from unnecessary leg pains.

We spent the afternoon helping set up the outdoor reception for my cousin Melanie's wedding. Grandma Ruth bustled around helping with chairs and decorations and then jumped on a swing set. Seriously, I hope to grow up just like her someday. :) 

The wedding on Friday was splendid. The ceremony was elegant and simple, (which seems to be the wedding theme this decade) but it was also unique and charming. The pastor told a story about a man who bought his bride for eight cows to make her feel special. I found the tale to be extra pertinent because Nathan, the groom, works on a family dairy farm. His family had butchered a cow for the reception meal, so I determined that Melanie was bought for one cow, or thereabouts.

At the reception we were fed inordinate amounts of food. A massive meal, followed by chocolate shakes, cake, ice cream, tasty wafer straw things, and cheesecake pops. It was painfully delicious. 

I've been to a few weddings lately and I always remember to take photos of things after the wedding is over. This time, I remembered to snap a photo of the bride and groom. 

Melanie paused from making sure everyone received a cheesecake pop to take a photo. She's the best. 

We threw bird seed as Nathan and Melanie left. There was a considerable pile of seed on the church parking lot once we were finished. My cousin Ryan and I determined to return with firearms the following day to snipe crows. A whole murder of crows, because that's what a group of crows are called. 

Back at the cabin, my cousin Whitney kept ramming into the screen door. So grandma disappeared for a moment and came out with these: 

Grandma couldn't find scotch tape so she grabbed a few band aids to work as helpful warning signs. 

Aunt Jana, Whitney's mom, added to the notes when no one was looking. 

And we all laughed about it for the rest of the weekend. 

[Side note: all of you should buy my Aunt Jana's hilarious book, entitled "One of Those Days". It's a compilation of some of her "Mommy Diaries" articles and they're expertly, humorously written. Those of you who are allergic to comedic wit should probably steer clear of this book.]

On Saturday morning I received a text from Dad informing me that Mom was in the hospital due to carbon monoxide poisoning. She had been power washing out the basement with a gas engine pressure washer and felt extremely sick a few hours later. Dad ran her to the hospital and she quickly improved. We spent a lot of time praying for her and we were grateful when the doctor released her Saturday afternoon. 

Aunt Kris fed us a monstrous brunch on Saturday morning. Moments after finishing the wedding meal, I had declared I would no longer need food for July. But the brunch caused me to completely forget my declaration and I ate waffles and cereal and fruit like I had just stepped off the Mayflower with nothing but sawdust and shoe leather. 

After brunch, Ryan and I grabbed a .22 rifle, a BB gun, ammunition, and raced to the church to slay some birds of prey. We arrived to discover two chubby crows gorging on the piles of bird seed. We whipped into firing range with a whoop and the crows lazily flew into the nearby woods. So we set up a stakeout and waited for them to return. After fifteen minutes waiting on the birds, we left. Perhaps the crows were full. Perhaps they were extremely cautious. Or perhaps it was because Ryan and I were talking and laughing loud enough to alert all woodland creatures in the state of Maryland. We returned to the cabin to blast a few squirrels that had been chewing through the window screens. We searched in vain but found no squirrels. (Later, after we had put our guns away, a squirrel ran up Aunt Jana's leg, just to mock us.) Uncle Corby spied the bloodthirsty glint in our eyes and told us to flush some pigeons out of the barn and shoot them with a shotgun. We flushed them out, but I managed to miss all three pigeons that flew past me. Even though we were unable to procure the heap of vermin carcasses we wanted, we still had an enjoyable jaunt. 

Ryan took Shelby and I down to the Mennonite Historical Archives to photograph some articles for his research in the history of the Mennonites. We learned all sorts of interesting things about our Menno history, including some history of our hometown, Kalona. 

I read articles on church divisions and strife that sounded eerily similar to what our churches are currently going through, except with the issues of the 1850's, like bundling. 

The rest of the cousins and relatives went to visit Swallow Falls while Ryan and Shelby and I dug into historical files and records. Iowa is beautiful but it lacks waterfalls, so I had hoped to go see some while in Maryland. It all worked out nicely though; Ryan, Shelby and I returned to the cabin and I had a relaxing afternoon catching up on some reading. 

Saturday evening we had a wonderful potluck with Grabers and Mausts; both sides of Aunt Kris's family. We gathered in a large open pavilion just down the hill from the cabin. Scarily large quantities of food were consumed amid the joyful din of a hundred conversations. I watched one of Kris' relatives fly his fancy quad-copter around the campground. The quad-copter was equipped with a camera that captured incredible birds'-eye views of the surrounding area. The relative (I dearly wish I could remember his name, because he was very pleasant) had used the quad-copter previously at the wedding reception to get footage of the guests eating outside. While the quad-copter recorded footage from above the campground, several rounds of Spike Ball and sand volleyball were staged. Many of the youth jumped enthusiastically into the games while the rest of us sensible humans laid around the picnic tables like beached whales. I strongly believe in a 4-hour mandatory waiting period between a potluck and vigorous exercise. I nearly broke this very policy by joining a game of Spoons.  Fortunately, I was eliminated before the group decided that snatching a spoon off the table wasn't exerting enough. They decided to hide the spoons in the moonlit yard and run for them once someone had gotten four-of-a-kind. 

After the festivities died down, we packed up our belongings and prepared for the return trip. We all piled into the van at 4am on Sunday morning and arrived back in Iowa Sunday afternoon. We averaged 70mph, thanks to the plethora of Graber feet stepping on the accelerator. 

Adventures like this one are all kinds of fun. A road trip with close relatives to visit more close relatives, a fairly laid-back weekend in a beautiful forest cabin, attending a wedding, and eating far too much food. I've truly been blessed with the family God has placed me in. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

So Long, Mr. Beard

A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to own a pagona. A man was in need of more living room space, and he had a terrarium loaded with sand, heat lamps, special accessories, and an adult pagona.

Of course everyone knows what a pagona is, right? No? Perhaps you know them by their non-scientific classification: the bearded dragon. 

Still no? Well neither did I, but Google told me it was a fairly unique lizard that made a good house pet, so I ran over to the man's house and snatched him up. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Free Doughnuts Might be Treacherous

"Hey Shawn, do you want a doughnut?"

Surely a voice from heaven just announced a blessing into my ear canals! I quickly identified the source of the heavenly blessing: Mom's voice coming through the office intercom. I checked my pulse. It was still pulsing, therefore I was in the mood for a doughnut. I quickly replied to the affirmative and ran into the house, located a mere 50 feet from the shop.

Mom handed me a hot, glazed doughnut and a glass of cold milk. I chowed into the doughnut hungrily.

"I made doughnuts! Accidentally." Sheryl exclaimed.

I gave my sister Sheryl a curious glance.

"Eat it quick, because it's tasty now but it's probably going to harden." Mom added.

I shifted my increasing curiosity from Sheryl to Mom.

"Dad was hiding these doughnuts from us." Mom said.

"Yeah but we found them." added Sheryl triumphantly. "He hid them in the oven."

"What?" I replied. It came out like "Whaff?" due to the mouthful of doughnut I was chewing.


Friday, May 16, 2014


Pick my favorite Bible verse?! "Pick your favorite verse and tag others blah blah..." I'm not very good at picking favorites. I like many things. Sure I like some things more than other things, but often my favorite book (currently "This Present Darkness") or movie (currently "Wall-E") or artist (currently "House of Heroes") or song (currently "House of God Forever") or food (currently French Fries, but I could possibly substitute them for anything grilled or smoked or slathered in wheat) is dependent on the season or my mood. Goodness, I sound like my sister. Lately tagging friends to do an activity has been all the rage on Facebook. It started with the Polar Plunge, which was ostensibly for raising money for cancer treatment and PLEASE HELP THE BABIES but was really more to see all of your friends get completely drenched in icy water and chuckle from the comfort of your Cozy Computer Chair. (I'm not sure where you find yourself at this moment, but I have stationed a lay-z-boy in front of my computer.) This newest trend has been far more spiritual and far less wet: "Share your favorite Bible verse." My brother Shane nominated me, sharing some fantastic verses of his own. It was only fair, I suppose, since I nominated Shane for the Polar Plunge.

It'll be a piece of cake! They said.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Best Things Cannot Be Stolen

EDIT: Because my roommate is innocent until proven guilty, I have removed his name from this post. I was given some excellent wisdom about the danger of casting blame, and what that could do to a potential court case. Thank you, Dad.

This past Monday, my roommate [redacted] returned while I was at work.

He brought a few friends with him.

He picked up some of his possessions, and grabbed a few of mine while he was at it.

Five guns.
A brand-new guitar.
A friend's gun.

As I sifted through my ransacked room that was left in their wake, I discovered other things missing. Ten PMAG ammunition magazines. Blankets. An Atlanta Braves hat autographed by my cousin Brandon Beachy. My cologne...?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

KVFD Pancake Breakfast

Each year, the firetrucks in Kalona are all parked outside, tables are set up inside the station, and  visitors donate some dollars to the Fire Department in order to eat tasty pancakes. The trucks were freshly waxed and polished in order to allow 900 squealing children (myself included) to lay their grubby, syrup-coated fingers all over them. Does every fire department do this? They should. It is a wonderful event that the entire community comes out to enjoy together.

It has been years since I've gone to the Kalona Volunteer Fire Department Annual Pancake Breakfast (heretofore referenced as "KVFDAPB" or "Pancaaaaaakes!")

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Amish Imposters

Once upon a time, my friend Brooks coordinated a trip to an Iowa Tennis match and encouraged us to dress like Amishmen.

So we did.

Left to right: Vernon, Marvin, Cecil and Glen

Monday, February 17, 2014

Extracurricular Activities

Seven days.

It has been seven days since my return from South Carolina.

It has been seven days since I've had running water in my home.

While I was gone in South Carolina, my water lines froze. I initially thought it was due to the house getting too cold, but we found out that it was more likely that the supply line froze under the driveway. We have attempted several different run-around methods of supplying water to my trailer, one including a 130-foot hose spanned from the water pit to my outside hydrant, but the bitterly cold temperature started freezing the water in the hose. My roommate Nate and I have been carrying buckets of water into the house for toilet use, but the dishes and laundry are piling up. Fortunately, this next week's forecast is calling for delicious above-freezing temperatures, so hopefully things will thaw out and I'll again be able to take showers at my own place. Funny how we get so used to something and in an instant, it all changes. So many things are affected by a lack of running water. I think the moral of the story is "Don't procrastinate on cleaning and washing and scrubbing because that luxury might be taken away without a moment's notice." I cooked some food the other day and went to wash my hands out of sheer instinct, until I realized that the simple act of washing hands would require a 50-yard trek through the snow to get a bucket of water. "50 yards, carrying a 5-gallon bucket full of water! Might as well be a triathalon! Eh, I'll just wipe my hands on my pants. That'll do for now."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Gluten Tolerant

Have you read my previous posts, "Prayer and Fasting" and "Signing Out (For a bit)"? Because they lead directly into this one. I'm far too lazy to rewrite back story, so if you find yourself lost or confused, you can refer back to those for explanation.

There's no better way to start this post but by saying thanks.

Thanks to my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. He has been exceedingly patient with me.

Thanks to my Graber family, church family, and friends for praying on my behalf.

Thanks to many dear souls in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that helped guide me to the Court Room in Heaven.

How did I end up there?

Well. I'm glad you asked.

Our group of 13 men and 16 women spent the first full day (Sunday) getting to know each other and spending some time worshiping. A large Tupperware bowl was placed on the table and we all deposited our cellphones into it. I'm not sure what we ended up calling that bowl, but there was a vague reference between it and the Super Bowl. We did some exploring of the surrounding area, spending most of our free time on the beach, which was located 100 yards from our building.

This photo was taken from the balcony attached to my bedroom. Each night I was lulled to sleep by the metronome of waves ebbing and flowing. I'm intentionally building up an enviable picture of this place, when in reality most days were too cold to do much but venture out for a quick walk or play some frisbee.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Signing Out (for a bit)

I'm currently in South Carolina, listening to the Atlantic crash majestically a hundred yards from my bedroom window. 

Doyle, Kermit, Shelby and I drove 20 hours and arrived at the Discipleship Retreat in Myrtle Beach this afternoon. Tomorrow we will start with the lessons, fellowship, prayer, and meditation at the unholy hour of 6am. Also tomorrow, Steve Stutzman will be collecting our phones and we'll go the rest of the week without electronic distraction. 

Please pray that God's will is done this week. Pray for our group of 29 students, as well as the staff. We desire to draw closer to God while equipping ourselves for His service. 

Pray for mental, emotional, and physical healing. Last year at this retreat, a young man was miraculously healed of a food disorder similar (but far worse) than mine. 

Keep us and the staff in your thoughts this week. We are headed toward serious battle with the Enemy. We're all more excited than we should be about that prospect, but we have every expectation that God will meet us here. 

See you next week!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Potty Ponderings

EDIT: Oh my. Time sneaks out the second-story window when I'm not looking. I wrote the draft for this blog about a year and a half ago and neglected to finish it until now.

I was about to write a quick comment on Emily Smucker's blog post but my comment started to get out of hand so I changed it into a post. (Other humans have that problem too, right?) If you haven't read her post about a strange bathroom encounter, you probably should right now. Seeing how she sends a large quantity of traffic to my blog, odds are you're coming from there and have already read it. 

Upon finally finding the bathroom, Emily discovered toilet paper with little cartoon characters printed on the the sheets. I've heard of toilet paper with Osama Bin Laden's face embossed on it, because evidently that is the highest dishonor we could think to bestow on that (now deceased) terrorist leader. Now they're placing cartoon characters on toilet paper? Questionable.

Some of the Terrorist TP rolls are emblazoned with catchy phrases like, 
"If he wants to attack, he can start with my crack!"

Have you ever played the game "Things"? It has a jillion little cards that have questions/phrases on them. Upon your turn, you read one of the cards. Everyone else anonymously writes a response. The goal is to determine who wrote which response. For instance, we recently played when the card "Things you wish were invented but don't exist." popped up. Some of the various responses were "Teleporter", "Healthy junk food", "a Freezer-wave" (the opposite of a Microwave), and "prehensile tails for humans." That last one was written by my roommate Shane.

I was playing with a group of friends when a card read "Things that Annoy You about Men". The responses were hilarious and fairly alarming. How have men survived extinction so long when 92% of our mannerisms bother and/or annoy women? One female friend wrote, "They pee everywhere." This is true. Guys are not encumbered with the necessity of finding clean facilities when there are perfectly acceptable trees to use. When I say trees, I also mean bushes, back yards, ravines, prairies, creeks, and any large expanse of wilderness. When I start to think about it, I realize what a nasty habit it is. So I try not to think about it and instead retort that "girls are just jealous." Although that's illogical, because girls are never jealous of things that guys do, right?

My little niece Jocelyn is making excellent progress in her potty training, although I feel sorry for her. Getting the convenience of Pampers taken away slowly is probably equivalent to having all of your remotes and thermostats removed from your house. Imagine having to actually walk all the way to the TV to turn it on, or all the way to the furnace to start it. Walking ALL THE WAY to the bathroom seems so....2013. This is the future, for goodness sakes! Why can't Pamper technology keep up?

Imagine how much time we could save if we all wore Pampers?

Conversely, imagine how smelly the world would be.

I changed my mind. Stop imagining. There are some things that are better off unimaginable.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Prayer and Fasting

There is no denying it, communication is the binding agent that fastens all the different aspects of our fragile lives together. Work, play, social events, interactions with family...all relationships require communication. This becomes most evident in our relationship with God. Through prayer, we connect with the Father, telling Him our fears and hopes, giving Him our praise and petitions.

As of late, there has been a lot of things I've been praying about. A job for my roomie Ryan. A deeper understanding of the Scripture. Continued spiritual growth for myself and for Sunnyside, my church. God's perfect will to be done, no matter what. Even if that means He gives me a helpmeet, thereby ruining altering my awesome bachelorious lifestyle. :) In several of these areas, God has definitely been at work. My most recent prayers have been focused on one upcoming event: a Discipleship Training Retreat in South Carolina. Last year, my roommates Shane and Victor announced they were headed out for a week of training under Steve Stutzman. "Is it a Take Back Your Life seminar?" I asked. "Nope, this is like the next level, but for a small group." "Nice!" I replied. "Does Steve host the training week often?" "This is the first time Steve has offered this class." They replied.  A week later, Shane and Victor returned with fantastic reports of intense spiritual training and fellowship. It sounded incredible. "Sign me up!" I declared. "Sorry man, it's invitation-only." Shane said, sheathing the sword he used to burst my bubble. So I prayed "Lord, if You want me to go, send me."

Next thing I know, Steve Stutzman handed me an invitation to the Discipleship Training week. He told me that my brother Shelby and I were invited to attend in February of 2014, if we were interested. If I was interested?! Goodness sakes alive and help the needy, this was an answer to prayer! I told Steve I'd be there.

I started doing some travel planning at the beginning of January, which is when I realized that I had forgotten to actually sign up for the retreat. The training class has a limited capacity, in order to maintain small-group intimacy. Fighting a rising sense of panic, I contacted Steve's wife Dorcas, who was in charge of the sign-up. "Is there still room in the class? I really would like to come." "Of course!" Dorcas replied. "Oh, and Doyle Byler is coming too."

"SWEEEEEEET!" I quickly contacted Doyle, my gracious Minnesotan host and long-time friend, to see if he was up for some road-trippin' out to South Carolina with Shelby and I. He replied that he'd be delighted to be stuck inside a vehicle with not one but TWO Grabers, as long as there was room for Kermit to join us. "Of course there's room!" I replied. I had spent some time getting to know Kermit at the TBYL conference, and I was glad to hear he was invited to the retreat.  This whole trip was coming together in a miraculous way. "I'm doing some fasting in preparation for the retreat." Doyle said. "I'm going without Facebook." "I'm doing some fasting too, from video games. But I don't think I could give up Facebook."

His words kept tickling my ears though. Was Facebook so important that I couldn't give it up for a few weeks? What kind of pansy am I to require constant social interaction? So I decided to join Doyle in fasting from Facebook. To be honest, it's been a difficult week without Facebook. Since I joined in 2008, I can't recall the last time I fasted from Facebook for more than a few days. That's fairly alarming. In order to prevent temptation, I moved the Facebook app on my phone to a page all by itself, where it wouldn't catch my eye every day. But if I can do it, so can you! The next time you feel the urge to check your profile, grab a Bible and spend some alone-time with the Father.

I fastidiously check notifications. I cannot allow a notification to go unchecked, 
so banishing the Facebook App to the far end of my phone was to preserve my sanity.

As for fasting from video games, that's been far easier. After selling my video games in April (which I wrote about in "Blog Constipation"), I went without video games of any kind for seven months. I began playing again when Ryan moved in. Since he was unable to drive anywhere, I brought out some video games to give him something to do with his free time. My dormant habits of spending way too much time on video games sprang back with gusto, so I determined to spend more time praying than playing. I haven't regretted the decision. I'd definitely appreciate your prayers for this upcoming retreat. Pray that we could limit the distractions vying for our time. Pray that God would guide our small group and use us for His plans.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

More than Just Happenstance

There has been a considerable gulf of time since the last time I blogged, and I'm well aware of it. Sometimes the cricket chirp-inducing silence is due to the fact that I have absolutely nothing to blog about, but this has not been the case. 2013 End/2014 Beginning has been more action-packed than a game of volleyball at the Mennonite Olympics. I'll briefly denote a few current happenings and perhaps add detail to some of them, while being ever-conscious that I have more material than anyone has time to read.

I drove to Florida with my parents and hung out with relatives for a week, and it was awesome except for the two days I spent in a hotel room, sick with bronchitis. I got to visit with my Maust relatives, seeing cousins, uncles, aunts, and grandparents that I haven't seen in a very long time. Both of my sisters came out with their families, which was an extra special blessing. Shannon and Konrad DROVE from Oregon to Florida. In a van. With five kids. I still can't believe it, but I'm very grateful they sacrificed their time and money and any hope for longevity to come join the reunion.