The gracious Mistress of the Parsonage has the habit of talking in my sleep. Invariably, just as I am about to drift off to la-la-land she whispers in my good ear, "Are you warm enough or do you need another blanket?"
This has the effect of rousing me to total consciousness, enabling me to stay awake for another 30 minutes or more. Just as I am drifting off again she will whisper, "Did you lock the front door?"
Now, all of these are perfectly good questions. In fact, they are quite essential queries in their proper place.
In my opinion, they sure do make lousy pillow talk.
Just last Tuesday, for example, I was just easing into my nightly period of glorious unconsciousness when my wife plied me with a new question. She sat straight up in bed and gasped, "Did you hear that?"
Of course, this only points out the difference between men and women.
Women have the ability to hear sounds men can never hear. In fact, my wife has the uncanny ability to hear sounds that actually do not exist.
The fact that I did not hear the noise only heightened her desire for me to hear.
"Quiet," she said. I stopped breathing, listened, and heard absolutely nothing.
"Don't you hear that?" I didn't but did not want to tell her, so I mumbled something to the effect that it was just her imagination and tried to go back to sleep.
"There it is again. You had to hear it that time."
I didn't, but told her it was just the wind and nothing to worry about.
As I rolled over to go back to sleep she made her announcement. In her assessment, there was only one explanation for the noise.
"We have mice," she soberly announced.
At 1:30 in the morning, I'm counting sheep, not mice.
At this point, I could count on my wife to put a plan into action. "Go," she said to me, "and see where that mouse is."
I knew that if I was to get any sleep, I had to get up and see about some mysterious mouse in the parsonage.
In my drowsiness, I stumbled into the kitchen to check on the nocturnal visitor. I found nothing and went back to bed while my good wife stayed up all night counting the gnawing sounds to estimate just how many mice were in the parsonage.
According to her calculations, there were nine million, seven hundred and fifty thousand mice in our humble abode.
My assignment for the day was to go and purchase enough mousetraps to eliminate the mouse infestation. I figured three would do the job nicely.
That evening, just before retiring for the night, I dutifully set the mousetraps in the kitchen, in hopes of eradicating the competition for my sleep.
Just as I was drifting off, I heard a loud SNAP, echo from the kitchen.
My wife sat up and exclaimed, "We got it. Go take care of it. I don't want to see it."
I wrapped myself in my bathrobe, headed for the kitchen, and braced myself for the job at hand.
When I got there, I found to my chagrin that one trap had been set off, the cheese that I put on the trigger was missing, but there was no mouse. The other two traps were missing the cheese but were not set off.
I reset each trap with fresh pieces of cheese and headed to bed. Within 45 minutes, I heard SNAP, SNAP, SNAP.
I jumped out of bed and raced to the kitchen only to find three empty mousetraps devoid of cheese.
Peering around the corner of the kitchen, my wife whispered, "Did you get 'em?" When I replied in the negative she then suggested I try peanut butter.
The theory being that if I smeared peanut butter on the trigger mechanism there would be no way a mouse could get it off without getting caught. A piece of cheese perhaps was too easy to remove, but peanut butter was impossible.
Resetting the traps with the peanut butter I went to bed in high hopes the strategy would succeed.
I hardly got into bed when I heard SNAP - SNAP, SNAP. Racing to the kitchen, I found three empty mousetraps with the triggers as clean as a whistle.
By this time, I began to realize we had some very intelligent mice on our hands.
There was no way I was going to be outwitted by something with a pointy nose and whiskers.
After all, this was my house, I was in control and nothing was going to invade my castle.
I reset each trap and made sure the triggers were carefully set to go off easily. I set it so close that two of them went off as I set them on the floor.
I smiled a sly little smile as I tiptoed back to bed. Nothing was going to touch those traps and get away.
As I lay in bed, I heard nothing. Soon I fell into a deep sleep and was dreaming luxuriously, forgetting all the nonsense of the evening.
Usually I awake about four o'clock in the morning, go to the kitchen for a drink, and then go back to bed. Don't tell the Mistress of the Parsonage, but more often than not, a snack is involved, but you didn't hear it from me.
I got awake and made my usual pilgrimage into the kitchen. Just as I stepped into the kitchen, I heard a SNAP! Almost immediately, I felt a sharp pain in my big toe.
As I hopped on one foot, I heard another SNAP! Immediately there was a corresponding sharp pain in my other toe.
By this time, I had run out of feet to hop on.
I turned on the light and saw that each big toe was caught in a mousetrap. Somewhere in the recesses of the kitchen, I thought I heard a snicker.
This incident brought new light to a Bible verse. "They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah." (Psalms 57:6 KJV.)
As I trust God, all the traps the devil employs against me will turn upon him. God's grace is truly amazing.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road in Silver Springs Shores. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores and can be contacted by calling 1-352-687-4240. Rev. Snyder's Christmas book, "Christmas Through A Parsonage Window," is available. Call for details. His e-mail address is JamesSnyder2@worldnet.att.net. The church Web site is www.whatafellowship.com