Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Awesomeness of Naps

The topic for this entry was suggested to me by my good friend Jen.  Clearly, she knows me better than my friend Tom, whom I haven't seen since high school and who suggested I write about "the globalization of the world economy and the socio-political effects on the middle class in America and the growing middle class in China."  So, naps it is!

Naps are awesome.  I've read articles about businesses that have special rooms and sometimes little tents with cots for employees to take 20-minute naps during the day.  Part of me would love to work in a place that gives me permission (and a pillow!) to doze off during the workday.  The other part of me believes that this sounds like a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.  If you don't happen to work in an office that provides a nice cot in the break room, I suggest you train yourself to wake up yelling the phrase, "I'm trying to concentrate!"

Kids always fight taking naps.  At least, my kids do.  Even as infants they never really took naps like all the rest of the babies I knew.  I always get irritated at parents who are bummed that their 2-year-old is down to only two naps a day.  If I can get my baby to take one nap that is longer than 20 minutes and doesn't require me holding him so that he can rub my arm in his sleep, then we're having a pretty good day, nap wise.

A really good time to take advantage of naps is when you are pregnant.  Not only because people will excuse you for it, but because after you have the baby you will never sleep the same again.  I remember, towards the end of pregnancy, building a giant nest in the center of the bed using about fifteen pillows.  Every part of me needed to be propped and cushioned; knees, hips, back, belly, head and arms.   It would take a great deal of energy from my gargantuan body to adjust each pillow until it was in just the exact spot for maximum comfort.  And when I would settle down into my billowy nest... oh, what a rest it was!  I would go into such a deep sleep that nothing but the crazy baby in my belly, who was clearly practicing tumbling, could wake me from it.  It was great.  Sleeping in a pillow nest is how I imagine it must be to sleep in heaven on a cloud;  every limb optimally supported.  I highly suggest that everyone build their own pillow nest tonight.

I'm not a sound sleeper myself and, unless I'm sick or pregnant, I have a hard time sleeping during the day.  I clearly did not inherit my restlessness from my father.  He can sleep on a rock in the median of the express way during rush hour and wake up happy and refreshed.  He once fell asleep in a chair while holding a full-to-the-brim cup of tea by the saucer between his thumb and index finger.  Most people would have dropped the cup as soon as they dozed off, but not Dad.  His hand stayed completely steady; not a ripple in the cup!  I was so fascinated by this oddity, that instead of removing the cup from his hand to avoid what would seem an inevitable spill, I sat there watching him sleep; waiting for the disaster.  I watched him for at least fifteen minutes, listening to him snore like a hibernating bear before Mom came into the room and yelled, "Carl!  You're sleeping with tea in your hand!"  He calmly opened his eyes and, with his usual response of "I'm just resting my eyes," he took his first sip of his now cold tea.  I never asked him, but I'm sure he would agree, like all of his naps, that was an awesome nap.

Even God thinks naps are awesome.  He rested himself on the seventh day after making the whole world.  And, right off the bat in Genesis, he had Adam take a nap so he could remove one of his ribs to make Eve.  That's a pretty awesome nap, right?  You go to sleep in a beautiful garden, and wake up with a wife!  Psalms says that God grants sleep to those He loves.  I love Proverbs 3:24, "When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."  To sum up, God thinks naps are awesome.  And if God thinks it's awesome, then so do I.

Thanks for the topic, Jen.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a nap now.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What God Has Taught Me Through Chocolate Pie

Some people have epiphanies in very dramatic ways.  They can involve life-threatening experiences or a life-altering situation.  Mine came while standing over the stove making chocolate pie for Christmas Eve.  Not very dramatic, I know.  But I'm willing to believe that it will alter the way I look at things for the rest of my life.

Now, anyone who has known me for very long will recognize that "patient" is not one of the top ten words people would use to describe me.  Okay, truthfully, it's not even in the top 20.  I'm not patient; it's not a virtue I currently possess, but I'm working on it. 

Anyhow, I was once again realizing that I am not patient while stirring the previously mentioned pie.  You see, with chocolate pie, you put sugar, flour, milk and chocolate in a pot on medium-high heat and stir it till it boils.  Sounds simple, right?  Simple, yes.  But I'm not a medium-high cooker.  In the grand tradition of my mother and grandmother, I prefer to crank the heat up high and get things going as fast as possible.  The thing is, you can't do that with pie.  High heat will leave a terrible burnt flavor in your filling.  (I know this because I have previously attempted pie without being patient.)

So, I'm standing over the stove, on MEDIUM-high heat, stirring... stirring... stirring... for ten minutes.... fifteen minutes.... twenty minutes.  This is the point where I really get sick of standing there stirring and get the impulse to crank up the heat.  That is when I heard it;  the "still small voice" spoke to me and said, "Be patient.  The payoff is worth it." 

It made me pause, because it's not my nature to be patient or think of the future payoff.  It was certainly God.  I continued to stir the watery, brown liquid that promised to become thick decadent chocolate pie.  After 27 minutes, the liquid started to steam.  After 30 minutes, there was drag on the spoon as I stirred and the concoction began to thicken.  After 32 minutes of stirring, I had a pot full of thick, delicious, chocolaty goodness;  Proof that God loves me.

I continued slowly mixing the chocolate with the egg a little bit at a time, marveling at the miracle that those few ingredients and the application of heat created.  That's when I realized that miracles happen every day; we just don't appreciate the small things.  The every day miracles have become too "everyday" for us to recognize that God is in them. 

Patience. I don't make New Year's resolutions because calling it a resolution gives you permission to bail on it by mid-January if it gets too hard.  But I'm making a commitment before God and the one or two people who maybe read this blog that I am going to be more patient this year and in the years to come.  Miracles don't typically happen the second we ask for them.  I'm waiting on my miracle and, if God says "be patient," then I will be patient.  If you've asked God for a miracle, He will deliver.  Waiting stinks.  But the good news is, God is faithful and the payoff is worth it.