The Forest for the Trees

Tomorrow morning, I whisper to myself, Tomorrow morning I’m going to get up as soon as the alarm goes off. I’m going to have time. Time to soak in scripture, time to pick up my pen and scribble words on paper, time to figure it all out.

And then I sink into my pillow, tired mama eyes closing in the late night darkness. Sleep.

When the alarm blares at 5:00am, I’ve already been up with a three year old who woke, sweaty and hot in the fleecy jammies he insisted on wearing to bed. After slipping out of his footed sleeper, he tossed and wiggled and whimpered for an hour, snuggled between us in our bed. His daddy carried his limp form back to the toddler bed, eventually, but thirty minutes later, the other little boy was awake, coughing and crying, the residual effects of a long-lasting cold.

They say the “up all night” era ends alongside the end of infant hood. They’re wrong.

The alarm sounds. My eyelids are heavy and my arm asleep, as is the toddler curled up inside the curve of it. I don’t even open my eyes, irrationally sure even my lifting of the lids or my very breath will wake this light sleeper.

Another quiet morning. Slipping away before my closed eyes.

I need some time with you, Lord. My heart aches, attempting to ward off the chill setting in from lack of those communion mornings.

Later, from the kitchen counter, spreading peanut butter on bread, I feel it again. The chill. If only… time. To sit, to read, to ponder, to pen, to find answers to my questions and curiosities.

We eat breakfast, hurry out the door. Purse, lunch cooler, waters, keys, sunglasses. Rushing.

We drive, heading to the park. Meet friends, talking, playing, running, laughing. Drive home. Naps for boys, catching up for me. Dishes, laundry, check email, put lines through words on the to-do list. A block of time is what I need, Lord. Just a day, an afternoon, an hour. To sit and ponder, finding answers. Time… just time.

The boys wake. I slice pears. Last load of laundry goes in the dryer. While putting away clean size 4T jeans, I spot the box of 2T clothes that has been sitting in the corner of the boys’ room for over a week. I tackle the swap; size 18 months out, size 2T in.

My arm hold a stack six inches high of little polos and t-shirts. Hangers slip quickly into each neck line and onto the closet rod.

From across the room, I heard a melody. Two little voices giggling and singing. It was their favorite song. “Forever, Author of Salvation, our God is mighty to save…”

Holding a small green hanger in one hand and a blue shirt in the other, I froze.

I’d missed it. It was so simple, and yet I missed it.

It was in that early morning, before the sun peered in, when I spoke to the Lord while cuddling a toddler. It was in the selfless, unconditional love of a husband who encourages and challenges me, strengthens and cherishes me. It could be found as I made lunches in the morning, the boys and I singing silly songs about frogs and teeth and Jesus. It was driving an hour up the coast and meandering with my God through the depths of my heart. It was while watching my boys play with a new little friend at the park. It was the moment when one of them pouted and spoke harshly and I battled my pride in front of my own friend. It was the drive home, listening to music to remind me that Jesus saves and that my completion and hope are found in Christ alone. It was this moment, hearing the sounds of my little men, singing of our Savior.

It was communion with my Jesus.

And I’d missed it. I was holding on to an idea that says if I don’t get up at 5:00AM for the ideal hour of 100% distraction-free time with my Lord, my entire day was shot and my communication with him was broken. Or that until I had a large block of time to do nothing but study and search my Bible, my heart would remain barren and cold.

I’d almost passed right over the Truth.

The Truth is that Jesus sees me right where I am–the exhaustion of a mother, long nights, sick little ones and busy mornings–and he meets me there, too. He reveals his character, his unconditional love, his simplicity, in the minutia of my ordinary day-to-day, if I would only break out of my mold enough to see it.

He fills and warms the chilling heart. He gives glimpses of his glory.

I just have to catch it.

21 Responses to The Forest for the Trees

  1. 二つ折り財布 品質 October 27, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    I was recommended this web site by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed
    about my difficulty. You are wonderful! Thanks!

  2. Nicole aka Gidget November 3, 2009 at 1:31 pm #

    Amen. thanks for that.

  3. Kelley A. October 25, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

    Amen! I don’t have the blessing of little ones yet, but when I first got married and was adjusting to my new schedule after a couple weeks, when I reached the point when I “needed” time with the Lord, specific time, the Lord showed me that there is NO formula. He was spending time with me, and I with Him, when I was washing dishes, driving to the grocery store, listening to my favorite praise and worship songs. He is always around, and if I just keep my heart open, I can spend time with Him continuously, throughout the day. Thank you for that little reminder of that lesson! :)

  4. Gretchen Acheson October 24, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    Wow. Thanks for your honesty, Ash. Especially coming from the girl who is always envious when you talk about those morning quiet times of yours… Thanks for the reminder to commune with Him throughout the busy day of a mom. “Pray without ceasing,” as it were, huh? As you once told me, oft times our mother-heart’s prayer is “I Need Thee Every Hour.”

  5. Bethanyrb October 23, 2009 at 7:11 pm #

    Something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. Thank you for putting it into words. Well done!

  6. Katie October 23, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

    Wow, Ashleigh, I really, really needed to hear this today. I have been struggling all week with not having time for communion with the Lord. I am not married with children, but I am a senior in nursing school and in a serious relationship. Between the studying, commuting and being supportive to my man, I don’t always have the hour or two a day in the Word I would like. I was just feeling discouraged about this yesterday when I was once again driving the 50 miles to school. Sometimes I just can’t get up any earlier to do my Bible study.

    Your post really encouraged me, though. Thank you so much for reminding me that I am able to truly commune with the Lord wherever I am, whatever I am doing! What you said reminded me of something my mentor told me when she felt the same way as you. The Lord laid on her heart Matthew 25:40–“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.’”

  7. Leigh Ann October 23, 2009 at 3:22 pm #

    Popped over from Molly’s blog. I am starting to realize this too. But you write it out so lovely.

  8. Elizabeth in Alaska October 22, 2009 at 5:52 pm #

    Amen. I am right there with you, friend. :)

  9. Misty Lyn October 22, 2009 at 3:27 pm #

    I love you Ash. It’s hard, overwhelming and oh so physically and emotionally draining. I feel you cousin. God is so gracious. I have been so encouraged by the fact that it’s all for his Name’s sake anyway. He meets us where we’re at because He said He would, He’s God. 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” He sees the desires of our heart, to sit endlessly at his feet… He also blessed us with our responsibilities as wives and Mommies. That’s why He leads us gently. Isaiah 40:11 “He will feed His flock like a shepherd;…And gently lead those who are with young”

  10. Holly Hochstetler October 22, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

    ok, so I have to admit that as I was reading the first 2/3rds of your post I was thinking, “Oh, she is missing it!”And then as I read on, you discovered It! Yay!!!
    It is sooo important for us busy mamas to remember that we will have days, lots of them, when we are not able to have those uninterrupted moments with our Lord, but that doesn’t mean that we have taken a step or two away from Him. We need to learn that God wants communion with us in our quiet and busy days! Soon enough those children will be gone and you will have all kinds of “quiet” communion times with the Lord. Until then, don’t miss the opportunity to learn to commune with Him in everything, for that is truly what He desires!


  11. Nicole October 22, 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    Hey girlie . . . I’m totally on the same page with you. I miss those quiet “quiet times” too. On the days I get them, they are so beautiful and precious.

    But on the days when the kiddo’s sick and dinner burns? He’s there, too. Such a fresh breath of air… he’s always there, whether we see him or no.

    I’m so very grateful for that. So grateful for Him. :)

  12. Anna October 22, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    oooh my. that certainly struck a chord with my heart. thank you.

  13. Kaira October 22, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    moist eyes… so true.

  14. Katie October 22, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    Thanks, Ash. Such truth in those words… I dearly miss my interruption free time with Jesus some days too… but it’s so important to remember that He is in each frame of each moment of each day… ya just gotta look for it.

  15. Darcy October 22, 2009 at 6:40 am #

    Mmmm. That spoke to this busy Mama. Thank You.

  16. LeAnna October 22, 2009 at 6:27 am #

    Amen, sister. You penned it perfectly.

  17. jAne October 22, 2009 at 6:15 am #

    Sometimes, even when the children are no longer children, there are ‘up all night awake no sleeping’ nights. But there’s a flip to this – it’s the parent(s) who are up all night, not the sleeping lumps in bed. What are the parent(s) doing up all night or at least a good part of the night? Praying. Breathing prayer heavenward, laying out our fleece before a living God, surrending our will for His…for our sleeping adult children.

    There’s an exhaustion from this, yes. It’s somehow more an emotional exhaustion than physical. The Lord’s strength carries and His Name is glorified in all things…especially for the afternoon kitty-kat nap.



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