What makes a good night?

I have a couple of dear friends who frequently text me at night, and sometimes even in the middle of the night, to tell me they are praying our night goes well. While trying to find what helps Olivia sleep better, we have had a lot of rough nights, and we have had some okay nights. I’m always grateful to know that someone is praying specifically that Olivia would sleep.

As we struggle through difficult sleep patterns, long hours awake with screaming, or just plain restlessness while sleeping, I have thought a lot about what makes a good night. If you are a mom of an infant, you might consider getting 2 hours together of solid sleep a good night. If you don’t have young children you might think nothing short of a solid 8 hours is a good night. Whatever the case, we all dream of a perfectly peaceful night’s sleep.

As someone who believes with every core of my being in the sovereignty of God, I find that I have a much easier time seeing God’s hand in the big things than I do in small things. Olivia’s illness that has left its mark on our family is a big thing. While I have wondered why this happened, and wondered what God is doing in and through this, I have never once questioned the fact that God purposely planned for this to happen.

We are also in the midst of life decisions, and I trust that while I may not understand the reason for things, I do know that God has laid out a plan for our life. My theology is firmly grounded, and allows me see these life events in light of God’s working in and through our lives.

But where is my theology at two in the morning when I’m up rocking a screaming child and I desperately want sleep? Do I really believe that God will only allow exactly what is good and perfect for me even in such a small thing as my daughter’s sleep?

Do I really believe that God’s hand is in all parts of life? The big events. The little moments. The seemingly trivial circumstances. Do I believe that He lovingly chooses everything that comes into my life, giving me no more than I can handle, but exactly what I need to grow and love Him more. Shaping me equally with small insignificant moments as with big ones, to become more like Him, and to mold this broken, feeble vessel into a beautiful work of art?

Do I see His fingerprints in the small details of life just as easily as I see them in the life changing circumstances?

God loves us and lovingly chooses our circumstances. From the big to the minute, God ordains the moments in our life to make us more like Him.

As I was lying down in bed several nights after arriving home from the hospital, I breathed out in the darkness a prayer to God. But this time it was more than a plea for a good night’s rest.

“God, Olivia will only wake up tonight the exact number of times You intend for her to wake up. No more, no less. Help me to lovingly serve her in those moments. Help me to not grow weary in the calling you have given me these days. And give me grace and courage to be shaped into Your image by her sleep patterns.”

It was a good night. And it had nothing to do with how many times I woke up.


  1. RaShell S says:

    Thank you Johanna for a renewed perspective of God’s workings in my life. We are continuing to pray for you and your family.

  2. As the mother of an infant, God used your words to challenge and encourage me this morning. Thank you! Continuing to pray that God brings healing and gives you grace for the moment.

  3. Will pray specifically for this, Jo. Love you!

  4. Your words are such a blessing. I have been in the midst of “sleepless” nights for quite a few years now and I often have such a bad attitude about it. I think I’ll be revising your prayer for my own situation and praying it nightly from now on. Thank you for the encouragement!
    I continue to pray for Olivia’s healing and for you to have patience, strength, and peace as you parent her….sounds like that pray is being answered.

    • The years of sleepless nights are especially hard. It just wears on you. Praying right now that tonight will be more restful for you and that if it isn’t you will have grace to bear.

  5. My son has sensory processing disorder and has always slept very poorly (VERY poorly–like put me on Xanax because I’m hallucinating from getting up so much poorly!). So I know what you’re going through! Laura Story’s song “Blessings” has really encouraged me recently. I sing it to my children when I’m up with them sometimes.

    “We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
    Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
    We pray for healing, for prosperity
    We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
    And all the while, You hear each spoken need
    Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

    ‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
    What if Your healing comes through tears
    What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
    What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise.”

    • So sorry for your lack of sleep. :( My friend sent me this song after Olivia got sick! Such a blessing. Thanks for sharing here!

  6. Recently, I’ve been struggling with the big picture (b/c we are facing some major changes in the near future) and I’ll be honest in sharing that my spirit has grown restless and even fearful in the waiting. Your post was a great encouragement and just the reminder that I needed! Praying for grace for you in all that you are facing daily in your life right now because I know the weariness that accompanies such tedious care and how hard it is when seemingly small moments are the big events.

    • OH, I am in the same boat, Rachel. I know how hard it is to be waiting and not knowing what’s next. Praying for you!

  7. Aunt Lois says:

    Johanna, may you continue to seek God’s will in this event. Knowing of your nights we too will pray for grace in Olivia’s nights, rest and peace as well.
    I haven’t slept well for 3 nights- part of this traumatic event. Sheri, injured as she is, gets in many short naps, and I am honored to be here to help her when she needs me in the night, mostly just reassurance. I am grateful for these night.
    You are in our thoughts much more than you know.

    • We are SO grateful you and Sheri are okay. I can’t imagine the trauma you have been through, though. Praying God will keep your hearts peaceful. And we’re praying for Sheri’s recovery. I know it has to be extremely painful, but I’m so glad it wasn’t worse. Lots of love!

  8. Johanna, just saw this post after a friend linked to it on Facebook and wanted to let you know that I have prayed for you the last several nights while up with our newborn. Also, I have been going to mybabysleepguide.com quite a bit lately and thought it might be helpful for you too, since a number of sleep training books are referenced, and there is a wide variety of training ideas there. Maybe there will be something helpful there that you haven’t already tried. Praying for grace and strength for you!


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