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.