Saturday, January 28, 2012

I gotta get up in the morning!

This week has been unusual because on Wednesday I took what I thought would be a nap after work..... I woke up well after midnight with my tennis shoes still on.....very disoriented.  I also took a nap this morning, so that's 2 naps in one week!  I've got sleep on the brain.  Please bear with me.  This blog entry may seem like a history of Bonnie's sleep habits, but there is another more important point....... 

I have never been good at waking up.  My brother and I neither one even woke up early on Christmas morning.  We never got to watch morning cartoons because we slept through them.  I was sometimes late to my afternoon kindergarten class that started at noon because I slept late.  For most of the mornings of my childhood I was literally hauled out of bed, set on my unwilling feet and pointed toward the bathroom before the rest of the household could continue with their morning routine. 

Sometimes when my parents were feeling patient, my dad would wake me up with singing, 

“Good morning to you,
Good morning to you,
We’re all in our places
with bright shiny faces,
what a wonderful way
to start a new day!”

But more times than I would like to admit, my mom, the wake up “heavy” would be called upon to lay down the morning law which usually involved the loss of all of my warm and cozy covers as well as a loss of quiet solitude that made it so easy to slip back into slumber.  As it happens, my mom’s favorite scene in the movie “Hope Floats” is of the mom waking up her daughter Sandra Bullock by vacuuming in her bedroom. 

By the time I was in high school, I had waking up and sleeping late down to an art.  For my first two years of high school when we still lived only a few blocks from the school, I would wake up at 6:00 a.m., rush around and get totally primped and ready for school and then at 7:00 a.m. I would carefully take a 57 minute nap on the couch, so as not to mess up my fresh hairdo.  THEN, we’d run to the car, and after stopping by my locker, I would stroll to my first class and be seated before the tardy bell at 8:05. 

Imagine my horror when I moved to Katy and realized that without a car, I’d have to catch the bus at 6:40 every morning!  I HATED being at an early school!  No self respecting school I’d ever heard of would open it’s door before 8:00!  No worries, I just walked to the bus stop and then fell asleep on the ride to school each morning.  When I finally got to drive my brother to school my senior year, things improved dramatically because I got to sleep for about 40 minutes later each morning, 20 minutes were shaved off by not having to catch the bus and 20 minutes were shaved off by putting my make-up on in the car........ while I was driving.  My brother would helpfully hold the lids to all of my make-up paraphernalia and make-up bag.  He thought it was the least he could do to ensure that we didn’t have a wreck while I was barreling down I-10 each morning with a mascara brush attached to my eyelashes.      

I feel sorry for my college roommates who had to put up with me when I became the sole owner and operator of an alarm clock because my favorite button was the snooze button.  I also discovered that once I entered that “half asleep” state between the first alarm clock and the time when you HAVE to get up, the steady beep of the alarm clock would be just enough inspiration to allow me to compose music in my sleep.  I wish I had a dollar for every time I was late to class because I was writing some stupid totally forgettable dream song…… 

By the time I got a real job I was again horrified to discover that my first "real" music teacher job was at an early school!!!!!!  I faithfully commuted to a job where I had to leave my house at 6:15 in the morning for exactly as many days as it took to move out of my parent’s house and into my own apartment 3 miles from school.   In my early days as a music teacher, when I thought I'd only teach for 2 years max.......I was decent at getting to work on time, not perfect, but not dreadful. I compensated for the early report time by  rushing home at 3:15 to take a nap  before going out to do whatever I had planned for the evening.  It’s amazing the kind of 2nd wind you can get from an afternoon nap!    THEN, about the time that God answered my prayer to help me love the children I taught, I started working with an acknowledged workaholic named Pablo AND we got a fine arts integration grant.   Gone were the days of the afternoon nap and for the next 7 years I struggled every single day to wake up on time so that I could get to work on time.  I did everything I knew how to do except go home at a reasonable hour.  Instead, I struggled with perpetual 5-10 minute tardiness while I stayed late and worked 13-14 hour days. 

I'm now about half way through my 3rd year at my second school.   Now that I love my school I can honestly say that at the time of the move, it was a change that I didn't seek or look forward to.   However, I will admit that my non-commuting heart leapt at the thought of living even closer to school!  I now live as close to my school as I did when I went to school in McCamey.  I love it!  I still can’t sleep later, because this school is also an early school AND I have breakfast duty this year so instead of reporting at 7:15 a.m. I report at 7:00 a.m..  BUT, for the most part my constant struggle to wake up is solved.  I am occasionally tardy, mostly prompt and regularly early to work.  I often bribe myself out of bed by offering to go and get iced tea for myself from Whataburger…. I don’t have a Starbucks nearby and the iced tea at Whataburger is cheaper and I can get a GIANT cup!  Sometimes the bribe works and other times I just have to hurry to school.   
I still work 13-14 hour days…. But because of laptops, clouds and web-based services I can take most of my work home, so now most days I’m only at school for 11-12 hours so I’m home more and typically go to bed earlier.

So now to the point..... what does Bonnie's sleep history have to do with anything at all.  

Since my struggle to wake up has literally been a lifetime battle, I never suspected it could change.  Like most people, this particular struggle is only one of many, and when I compare it to other struggles in my life, it feels relatively minor.  But as we are called to be obedient even in the small things, this area of oversleeping has been a battleground of faith for me. You see, I never thought that I’d be someone who could conquer waking up. I'm not someone who can conquer anything at all.... but God is! 

As a child and college student my inability or unwillingness to easily wake was an annoyance at best and an act of defiance at worst.  As an adult, it was unattractive, inconvenient, and unprofessional, not to mention stressful.  Especially as an adult, I would pray that God would help me wake up because the thought of experiencing the stress that chronic oversleep has caused me over the years is well….. STRESSFUL!     

But now that I look back, I can see marked improvement and this improvement has not been of my own doing! I feel blessed to be able to testify about how God is working in this seemingly small area of my life because while I constantly struggled for years, God's grace was sufficient, and now that the burden is not as heavy I can see that even when I lack the faith to surrender even these small moments to God, He is faithful.  God is also not finished with us! He hears and answers our prayers!  He loves us enough not to leave us the way we are.  Struggles and habits that we NEVER think we will be able to defeat are defeat-able.    

When Paul speaks in 2nd Corinthians about a “thorn in my flesh”, I bet it wasn’t something as silly as oversleeping, but it was an issue that caused him to plead with the Lord, so whatever it was I’m sure that you can relate like I can.  There are things that we deal with, those “everyday thorns” that if we don’t depend on the Lord can wear us down.  Here is what the Lord said to Paul. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 

To which Paul said,

  “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

All of this talk about sleep reminds me that God never sleeps! 

Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the mountains -
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.  
He will not let your foot slip - 
he who watches over you will not slumber;

Indeed, he who watches over Israel 
will neither slumber nor sleep. 
The LORD watches over you-
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm-
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore. 

 He is always aware, never befuddled or confused and He always sees.  He knows our name, He knows our needs and He knows our hearts. 

I'm so grateful that my God who humbled Himself to become a fully human man, familiar with fatigue, hunger and pain, is also the God not limited by my human frailties.  Not only is His strength strong enough to sustain me, but His redeeming power is redemptive enough to change me.  His love is boundless and His blessings are limitless.  

My prayer today is that the Lord would continue His transformational work in me.  

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