something to lean on

By Jamie O’Donnell, High Countries



You woke up again last night, like always — except I had puttered around the house instead of going to bed.  So I was mad, really, that I hadn’t even closed my eyes before you started crying. And you were really crying. I never did figure out why you decided to wail for a half-hour, but as I sat in the rocking chair with you on my lap, I fumed about not this one night, but all of the nights that you woke multiple times, for which I had no reason.  And I thought about how long it had been since I’d slept til morning, and I sort of thought-prayed, “God, when will he get it? Why will my child NOT sleep?”  And after you had finally nursed yourself into deep slumber, I laid you back in your crib and huffed off to the bathroom, frowning and trying not to stomp like a child. My thoughts were very me, me, me, me, ME.

My thought-prayer had been heard, and God answered my plea, ashen face reflected in the mirror: You don’t lean on sleep. You lean on Jesus. And I realized:  you, my dear Ezzy boy, don’t sleep well yet because I need this from you.

Seriously? Seriously. There are few things I want more than to feel rested. In the past, I have thought this to be what helps me finish the day — but  you have totally obliterated that. I worry and I stew and I make routines and I get frustrated by them… but I don’t go to Jesus. I have failed (as of yet) to learn this one simple lesson: from whence shall my help come? So God lets it continue, because its important — missing sleep important.

I went back into the room we share — your daddy, you, and I — and covered you with a thin blanket.  I prayed.  and I prayed this time not for sleep, but for remembrance, of where to go when I’m tired and needy.  I prayed to stop trusting in myself, in a well-planned schedule, in energy or hours of sleep or time alone or coffee — but to trust in God, my refuge and strength.  Ah, I thought, so this is what that means.

And then you went and slept till morning.


Bio: Jamie O’Donnell lives in Japan with her husband and three kiddos: Jones (4), Ezra (2) and Harper (3 months). She writes about walking with Jesus through life overseas, motherhood, and the things in between at High Countries.


Dear friends, Jamie’s touched on such an important principle of motherhood and parenting here – that as much as we are there to help shape our children, they are also given to us to help shape and refine us. (Thank you for bringing this truth to light Jamie!) Friends, what helps you to remember this principle when you are up with a 3:00am feed or in the midst of a toddler tantrum?

constantly being refined,

About Author

Adriel Booker is an author, speaker, and advocate based in Sydney, Australia who believes storytelling, beauty, and the grace of God will change the world. Adriel has become a trusted voice in areas of motherhood and parenting, Christian spirituality, and global women's issues. She's also known for her work with the Love A Mama Collective—serving under-resourced women in developing nations through safe birth initiatives—as well as her years spent as a Bible teacher and leadership coach. Her latest book is Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss and she's made the companion grief journal available for free. Find Adriel across all social media platforms at @adrielbooker or sign up for LoveNotes, Adriel's 'secret posts' that aren't published anywhere else online. ✌️


  • Rachel J.
    6 November 2011 at 1:50 am

    Jamie, what a beautiful post – so deeply moving and honest. This is a principle I know I need to cling to as the arrival of my new little one approaches. It’s amazing how God brings these things to light for us just when we need them. Thank you for sharing this. <3

  • Alicia
    6 November 2011 at 3:32 am

    Wow, what a humbling reminder of the true essence of being a mom, that it’s not just about raising our children, but it’s also about God’s process of maturing us too. Thank you for a beautiful and honest post!

    For me, one of the things that helps me remember this principle is reminding myself what a long awaited blessing my son is. I was 34 when I had him and there were several times I questioned if I would ever even get to experience being a mom. I know that he is a very precious gift the Lord has given us and with a grateful heart I want to do my very best with him.

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      6 November 2011 at 10:21 pm

      i’m with you alicia! if only it were easier to remember at 3am… this is so timely for me as i grapple with life with a newborn and a toddler!!!

  • Ashley
    6 November 2011 at 9:09 am

    Thank you for such a beautiful reminder! I too have found myself, some nights, stumbling in the dark wanting to stomp around in a fit about lack of sleep. I’m so glad you’ve posted this, as I can use this as another reminder to give myself at 2am.

    For me, remembering that my son is my teammate is so, so important. Every time that I feel tired, or frustrated, any of those “negative” emotions – I remember how we treat team members. We back them up, we rely on them, we support them, we do whatever we need to in order to succeed together, as a team. Once I am in that mindset, I find I am unwavering – even at 2am – but when I fall out of it and start focusing only on myself, I know it’s a tough climb until I get back there.

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      6 November 2011 at 10:22 pm

      i love your mentality ashley. in some ways i think it’s really unique to you and your son. in other ways, i think it’s a principle that we could ALL benefit from. thanks for sharing!! x

  • Jamie
    6 November 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Adriel, thanks for the chance to write a little for your readership! 🙂 STILL learning this lesson this week, after a bout of colds that went through all three kids, one at a time. Up many many hours with coughs and runny noses and vick’s vapor and humidifiers. Needing the reminder to not think “me me me” — my kids as teammates is an excellent idea.

    Fighting to think righteously, to lean on Jesus, with you other moms.. such a tough battle..

    • Adriel @ The Mommyhood Memos
      6 November 2011 at 10:24 pm

      oh, thank YOU jamie. such a timely reminder for me as i think judah is having a growth spurt and i feel like i’ve been nursing 24/7 the last couple of days!!! i purposely posted this, knowing that if i post it… well i can’t ignore it. 🙂 we’re all “learning to lean” together. again. and again. and… again. 🙂


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