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.

originally published at Heart & Home


  1. Gifty Marian says:

    Thank you very much. I also learnt to appreciate God through out the day and in all the little and big moments

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this with the world. I am here, totally relating 100% to you, and crying as this truth is setting me free! THANK YOU!

  3. Came across your Blog and praying my teen daughter will read and glean too!!

    I so enjoyed reading this as it affirmed what happened to me many years ago when raising my 4 small babies- I felt so condemned one day that I could not make my “quiet” time any more and a friend told me, but you worship God every time you serve your family, or wipe a snotty nose or run a bath. Jesus is listening and with you there…ahhhhh so soothing!!

    Thnak you for such a beautiful and uplifting blog.

    (I live in the United Kingdom, btw)

  4. Thank you so much for that reminder.

  5. Ashleigh,
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been struggling between feeling selfish for spending time with God, and feeling selfish for not helping my mom and sister get breakfast on the table. Somewhere along the way I picked up that idea that I just had to have that quite hour with God every morning first thing when I wake up. This was just what I needed to read. I don’t need to feel guilty either way. I can help my mom and sister, and I can still have special moments with God, but they may not be the same every day. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. Ashleigh, yes, thanks for sharing! It’s so true even though I don’t have little ones yet. I really enjoy this site too!

  7. sweetmomma says:

    Ha! So true! I entirely agree!
    I think that a happy child’s innocent laughter and a devoted mother’s thankful sigh sounds better to our Father God than an hour of half-hearted devotions done just because we have to,
    Quiet times are nice. But we shouldn’t think that they alone somehow symbolize our relationship with . 😀
    Much Love! Blessings on your happy home!

  8. Great post! I absolutely loved reading it 😀

    I love the website by the way!

    Alisha A.

  9. Thank you for sharing this, Ashleigh! I needed to be reminded of this – that our Father is with us every moment of the day, not just in those first few still moments of the morning.

  10. Love this, Ashley! I think anyone in any stage of life can take this to heart. Wherever we are, whatever our daily activites– we can give glory to God through them.

    By the way, this is off-topic, but can someone with experience write a post on getting married and moving away from family?? Chantel? Elizabeth? I’m in a wonderful relationship but struggle with the idea of leaving my hometown, family, friends, church, and community!! Any encouragement from those modern pioneer women who have experienced this? 😀

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