3 Reasons You Might Need a Nap

_Sleep Drunk_

My son’s naptime reminds me of a scene from Honey I Blew Up the Kid.

Instead of a giant toddler ransacking Las Vegas, the only thing giant-sized in this house is my kid’s tantrums around noon.

I’m pretty sure the whole neighborhood recognizes the signs. Whining morphs into crying and eventually turns into full-blown screaming.

In these moments of desperation, we play a game called “horsey wants to run.” It calms him down.

Yesterday, I scooped him up on my back and galloped toward the bed. Between giggles he said, “I don’t want a nap.”

“But you need a nap,” I said in my horsey voice, neighing and then trotting up the stairs.

“But I don’t want a nap.”

Can I just come right out and say it? If you’re cranky or anxious today, you probably need a nap too.

Adults need proper rest but often refuse to sleep, not realizing how it affects us. We lumber on like cranky toddlers, wide-eyed at the next Netflix episode or strung out over late-night comedy.

If you fall into this category, here’s three reasons you need more sleep.

  1. Creativity flows from rest.

Americans suffer chronic sleep deprivation, averaging less than 7 hours a night. That’s bad news if you make a living as a creative thinker. Loads of studies link proper rest to creativity.

Turning in early at night allows me to rise before the sun. That way I can get things done.

Often we’re duped into thinking sleeping less leads to more productivity, but that’s not the case. Going to bed early can increase work performance.

  1. Tired Brains Can’t Focus

Creativity isn’t the only thing that hinges on quantity and quality of sleep. Our attention spans and memory improve with eight hours of Zzzz’s.

Sleepy people often show signs of ADD or ADHD. If you’re having trouble concentrating, go take a nap. This article can wait.

Almost everything can wait.

Think of it this way. So much of your quality of life depends on your concentration and memory. Is finishing that book or late-night TV really worth it?

3. Sleepiness makes you feel like you’re drunk.

Recently, I stayed up way too late, relishing every moment I could spend with a group of witty, like-minded people.

I made a mistake.

It was late, and as the night waxed into morning, my body cried out for sleep, but I ignored it. Maybe you’re ignoring some of the symptoms, too.

  1. Forgetfulness
  2. Incessant yawning
  3. Giddiness
  4. Speed blinking to keep your eyes open

After a few nights of this routine, one thought plagued me—I feel drunk. Though no wine or spirits flowed, I found myself babbling and laughing incessantly.

Turns out, I’m not alone. Studies show, missing sleep can make us feel and act inebriated. I call it “sleepy drunk.”

That week I babbled on into the wee hours, but struggled to keep my mind for wandering during the day. My emotions, too, were a wreck.

While we’ll all have late nights sometimes, make sure they’re the exception to the rule.

Sleep does our minds and bodies good.

That little morsel of wisdom is worth drinking to—as long we’re drinking coffee (and decaf after 1 p.m.).

I would love to hear from you! How does sleep affect the quality of your life?

 

When God Serenades, Pandora-Style

My firstborn and I snuggle. This was taken about four years ago.

My firstborn and I snuggle. This was taken about four years ago.

I heard Sam trot down the hall and peek around the corner, grinning into the office where I sat.

Twenty minutes ago I snuggled him in for a nap. Now, my 2-year old looked high on caffeine and sugar.

This day was not going as planned.

My heart sank at the thought of a round-two nap. My mind raced and fingers itched to write, and I didn’t want to “squander” my next hour cuddling a toddler.

As I begrudgingly gathered my son close, pulling the covers over both of us, God reminded me how He so often gathers me close, persuading me to rest.

I consider how He tucks me into His presence and speaks in heart whispers, still and small.

As I lay next to Sam, I understood why the psalmist said God gives sleep to those He loves, (Psalms 127:2). Zephaniah 3:17 even paints God singing over us as we sleep.

Almost like God poured a bucket of love over me, I lay next to my son drenched, soaked by His compassion to draw me close. Then, I heard these lyrics stream from my phone’s speaker.

“When the rain is blowing in your face,

And the whole world is on your case,

I could offer you a warm embrace

To make you feel my love.

 

“When the evening shadows and the stars appear,

And there is no one there to dry your tears,

I could hold you for a million years

To make you feel my love.”

 

The words caught me off guard. Seldom do I feel God’s love. Love’s deficit, I know. Stress. Condemnation. Performance-ism.

Hadn’t I asked to feel the love of God yesterday? The tears sneak from my eyes as I realized the good gift given by a good Dad.

The O’Neil brothers continue to croon about romantic love, but I know Papa sings about agape love—a love I’m only beginning to catch a glimpse of.

“The storms are raging on the rolling sea

And on the highway of regret.

The winds of change are blowing wild and free,

You ain’t seen nothing like me yet.

 

“I could make you happy, make your dreams come true.

Nothing that I wouldn’t do.

Go to the ends of the Earth for you,

To make you feel my love

To make you feel my love.”

 

Sam looked at me with concern written across his face and asked why I was crying. How do you tell a toddler you’re weeping because of joy?

How do you tell him how grateful and stunned you are that God can serenade you through Pandora’s lullaby channel? That tears can be beautiful prayer to Jesus?

 

A recent shot. Too big to cuddle? I fear the day.

A recent shot. Too big to cuddle? I fear the day.

Finally, my Sam Man sleeps. *Sigh of relief*

Finally, my Sam Man sleeps. *Sigh of relief*

I’m beginning to see this crucible of motherhood as chance after chance to see with new eyes how God loves us. To see, how over the years, God keeps on loving us.

Beyond the cross, I can’t think of a better way to show us self-sacrificial love.

As parents, our days are chock-full of training and correcting. Most days, I’m so consumed being a parent, I forget how to be a child.

As I lay with my son, I remember whose child I am and marvel how we never pack up and leave this house of love Jesus built for us. God’s no empty- nester.

His father heart beats in the middle of all our moments, compounded throughout time. Until the day when we’ll step out of time—even then, we remain children of God.

The room is dark and still, now. My chest no longer heaves in sobs. Sam sleeps in the crook of my arms, and I know this feeling is fleeting. But I linger, hoping to keep the song in my head.

He stands over you singing too, friend. Listen, do you hear it?

 

How to Trade Work for Rest without Quitting Your Job

Photo by Christine Wagner, Creative Commons, Flickr.

Photo by Christine Wagner, Creative Commons, Flickr.

As a child reading Aesop’s Fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, I always cheered for the Hare.

Slow and steady has never been my thing. I like pedal to metal. I’m a multitasking maven. Just keep the coffee brewing.

I never really saw a problem with the Hare’s approach to life until a few months ago when I started to write a book—and failed.

I decided I would crank out 1,000 or more words a day, and I did for several weeks. But this isn’t the type of book you can write quickly, especially for someone like me, who’s never written a book.

Now I see the hare’s problem—all the running made him so exhausted he decided to take a nap before crossing the finish line. I totally get it.

I know how exhaustion can lull a person to sleep even when they’re awake, leaving them sleepwalking through the motions of life—the motions of parenting and marriage.

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Last week the class I tutor at our homeschool co-op was assigned to narrate an Aesop Fable. When not one but two students chose to retell the classic parable and laud the tortoise for his leisure, I took it as a sign from God.

Maybe this book won’t unfold lickety-split. Maybe I need to slow down and seek rest.

So I have. I know if I’m going to finish this book, God will breathe it into my heart and provide the time to plant my bottom in the chair.

I’m done with trying to write it at a hare’s pace in my own strength, where my goals and good intentions can morph into the ugly two-headed monster of striving and selfish ambition.

I know one thing about trading my way for God’s way. When I do give up, it’s like a cheeky child turns back the hour hand on the clock.

I’ve found surrendering my time to God, multiplies my time.

Joy and peace flood our home—and overflow into my work. All of a sudden this writing life transforms from striving to the glorious exhale of rest.

The more I step and sway with the Spirit—learning His Divine rhythm and pace, the more I learn how to work from a posture of rest.

And this, my friends, changes everything.

Instead of the finish line consuming my thoughts, chewing up the in-between moments, I approach each task fully present. Laughter and concentration come easily, and so do a few jokes.

I think the tortoise knew all along he would cross the finish line—he never doubted it.

I, too, know this book will come, and I’m ok plodding through it slow and steady.

The Real Work of Rest

 

Photo by Seabimarium via Creative Commons Flickr

Photo by Seabimarium via Creative Commons Flickr

Rest has always eluded me. I’m an achiever, a veritable list maker. If I can pen a goal on paper with the hope of crossing it off, I know I can make it happen.

“Make it happen,” became the theme of my late teens and early twenties when I attended a discipleship training program where this statement was mantra. We had more than 100 students, who like me, were eager to know God and receive ministry training.

Like an army, we received marching orders from leaders along with those three words. And we accomplished huge tasks for the church, but the real work of union with Christ and rest in Christ was lost on us. 

We worked 15-hour days building the Halloween attraction, “House of Horrors,” which would pull thousands through a hell house designed to preach the gospel. The intention was good, but the tactics pandered to people’s fear of death and only hinted at the crux of the gospel–utter connectedness to a loving God.

We worked for the church like we were working to keep ourselves out of hell—hard and with pure devotion. We—or at least I—approached chapel and daily quiet times with the same make-it-happen attitude.

It’s laughable now. I really thought a relationship with Christ could be initiated and maintained by me. I might actually laugh if I didn’t see so many people chasing that rabbit down the same hole that left me physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted.

I must have really believed I could sanctify myself. I had little concept of grace or biblical rest, nor an inkling that I might have a gaping need for both.

When I think about my time spent in Master’s Commission, I see the same heart the older son had in Jesus’ parable of the prodigal. I worked for God like a slave serving a master, not a dearly loved child.

And when love isn’t the core of your theology fear will be.

Until I read Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, I had little understanding of God’s grace beyond the theological.

Ten years later, grace still boggles my mind, and I have a daily need to preach the gospel to myself. If I don’t, my default posture of trying to earn God’s love always returns.

Even after a decade of living in grace, I still prefer a spiritual do-do list that doesn’t include much rest. I want to work at prayer and Bible study, but I’m learning true understanding takes place in restful meditation.

Union with Christ doesn’t happen when we’re on the go all the time.

Photo by Vladimer Shioshvili via Creative Commons Flickr

Photo by Vladimer Shioshvili via Creative Commons Flickr

Photo by Donnie Ray Jones via Creative Commons Flickr

Photo by Donnie Ray Jones via Creative Commons Flickr

More and more I notice how truth sneaks into my heart best when I go for a walk or lie down to put the kids to a nap. It’s during these times the metaphors of the Bible make the most sense to me.

It’s at the park with my sons that I see how we’re all just children that God constantly picks up and dusts off.

If you’re in need of rest for your spiritual life, hear the words of Christ today. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS” (Matthew 11:28-29).

How Stillness Leads Us to Worship

 

Photo by Jimmy Brown via Creative Commons

Photo by Jimmy Brown via Creative Commons

I feel the space heater warm my nose while I tug the blanket ever closer. Today, cold air is the price I pay for half an hour of stillness.

I sneak away to the part of our house where the thermostat reads 60. I lay open my Bible along with my anxious mind and discouraged mama heart.

It’s worth the frigid toes—this rendezvous with Jesus.

And always in these moments I ask myself why I don’t purpose this quiet more.

Most days Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know I am God,” feels like an accusation. I want to be still and know. So I work harder to create rest time, but rest never comes.

But always when I work from a posture of rest, I’m amazed at what I accomplish.

There’s a type of prayer we yell in frustration. And another we whisper to ourselves, but the best prayer of all is the prayer when we stop to listen.

Photo via Creative Commons

Photo via Creative Commons

Photo by Vinoth Chandar via Creative Commons

Photo by Vinoth Chandar via Creative Commons

This God of ours longs to speak life to us. He pines to abide in us—to spill his life out of us.

It’s easiest to listen in the stillness, and I seem to only find these tranquil places out of desperation.

When my heart breaks, I come. When fears ransack, I seek out this solitude. “Here I am,” I whisper Isaiah’s ancient words. “Send me.”

So much of my time I spend searching for my calling “out there somewhere” I can never seem to reach. All the while taking for granted this greater calling that’s much closer to home.

Stillness helps me embrace motherhood, to rest into this calling of diapers and dishes. The practice of quiet grounds me with God’s purposes for me in the present.

Waiting on God helps give birth to the fruit of the Spirit in me. Show me a home that can function without love, joy and peace?

I’m learning to rest in this calling of motherhood. I’m learning to look past the work and the exhaustion of a job that never ends, because in the serving I catch a glimpse of the kingdom of God.

You know the one that appears sideways to us turned-around sinners? The one where the humble are exalted and the foolish teach the wise.

In the bowing low of motherhood I see how we’re most alive when we’re dead to self. I see how the real work is not in the doing, but in the quietness of believing.

Do you remember what Jesus told the over-zealous disciples who were eager to find out how to do the “greater works?”

“Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent’” (John 6:29 NLT).

Stillness can give birth to a beautiful belief.

And when we purpose to listen somehow we carry the stillness with us back into our chaos.

Bench photo credit

Grass photo credit

Rain photo credit

Quitting My Media Habit Cold Turkey

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Media consumes my day, scribbling in the margins of my life.

I know I’m not alone.

An October study found Americans swallow up a whole 11 hours per day of various forms of media ranging from texting to radio. This same study predicts American’s appetite will average 15 hours a day by next year.

I feel the effects on my attention span. My young children tax my brain enough already, so I decided to take a drastic step to reclaim my mind. I set aside the remote and started a one month media fast.

Could you do it? I struggled through, and I already feel myself thinking clearer and praying more.

I feel a little like Cinderella once her fairy godmother poofed onto the scene, but instead of a gown and carriage, I’ve been given the gift of time. Three hours more per day descends on me like a package out of the sky in the form of no television, movies, Facebook or fiction.

So with this newfound gift of time, I accomplish more. I have even started this blog I’ve been meaning to get to for years. Without the distraction of TV, I brainstormed a book I want to write.

As a reward in itself, I study the Bible and exercise once the kids visit lullaby land. Quitting my media routine redeems 8:30-11:30 p.m. Every. Single. Day.

Replacing a bad habit with a good one is the only way to avoid returning to the foul habit, so I read every day, juggling between two or three different books.

Reading sharpens my thinking and speech. Conversations come easier, and I pause less often to think. My language and vocabulary have improved, and all the reading sharpens my writing.

I don’t check my Facebook feed five times a day anymore. This hones my focus to accomplish the tasks before me. You might still find me wondering around my kitchen trying to remember what I was doing, but my memory improves daily.

As far as TV goes, I don’t miss it at all. Most of the time I only sit in front of the tube to spend time with the Kenyan. He winds down. We hold hands and laugh with each other at the jokes. Sitting with the Kenyan I miss, but the mindless TV I will skip in the future.

Movies I definitely miss. A good movie is art. I will add movies back into my schedule once I make more progress on the blog and book.

Fiction I will add back into my media diet but avoid the meaningless novels cluttering my library. Instead I’ll focus on classics, bestsellers and historical fiction.

I pick up fiction second only after my head goes numb to nonfiction. This is when AMC’s Walking Dead would tempt me, but I will turn to fiction much more after seeing the benefits I’ve reaped so far.

Have you ever gone to sleep Sunday night and wondered, what happened to the weekend?

Before quitting my media habit, I often asked myself this. So the next weekend I would set out to rest more intentionally spending more time on the couch with my remote, but rest never comes.

Instead, TV arrests me and I end up serving it. True rest comes from erasing the extra media scrawled into the margin of my life.

No longer a slave to media, my mind can rest, explore and think freely. I bless the day I found the freedom to turn it off. Now I can rest.