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 | By Alison Blanchet

Where Will I Find the Time?!

This past summer I passed the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination — or the NCMHCE as it’s known to those who dread it. When I returned to school as an adult and mom of three, writing term papers and taking finals was challenging. Passing an exam on everything I had learned (or was supposed to have learned) felt impossible. When could I prepare? Homework, soccer games, bedtimes and appointments had my calendar overflowing and when I was home, The Toddler wouldn’t let me look at a computer or book without wiggling onto my lap to “help.”

“There is no time to study!” I complained to a wise friend and mentor.

“There is time,” she replied. “God has called you to this, and he’ll provide what you need, even time.”

I believed I was answering a call, but I was skeptical about finding time. I knew those who passed this test spent several hours immersed in preparation each day. In this stage of parenting, the only thing I get to do for several hours at a time is sleep — and even that is frequently interrupted by tiny humans.

When my exam was a few months away, I prayed for time and gradually realized it was there if I looked: 10 minutes laying next to The Toddler falling asleep; 45 minutes in the minivan during my teenager’s theater class; 20 minutes on my lunch break when I’d normally scroll social media. While I definitely had a few marathon weekend study sessions, the majority of my preparation was done in minutes seized throughout the day. I worried it wasn’t enough since it was hardly what others described doing. When I took the exam and was astounded to see “pass” on my score report, I realized that my friend had been right. There is time for the things we decide are important. 

With the exam behind me, I found myself reading books for fun and listening to all the podcasts I had paused for study. A few weeks later I found myself complaining to my pastor that the busy summer schedule was leaving no time for prayer. 

Almost immediately, I paused and realized how ridiculous this was. I had just carved hours out of what felt like thin air, because I had an important deadline. I made something work that I thought was impossible because it was a priority. How much more important was my relationship with God? How much more did my spiritual life deserve this time and attention? 

I don’t think I’m the only one who’s had the experience of being motivated by a deadline. We will find the time, whether it means sacrificing Netflix or sleep or both, when we know there is something important to accomplish.

With students back to school and the lazy — or hectic, if your kids are as busy as mine — days of summer ending, fall can be a great season to consider the things you think you don’t have time for. Bible study? Deeper prayer? A ministry you feel a tug to serve? 

Some things are not feasible for certain states of life — I can aspire to pray for 20 minutes a day, but a 10-day silent retreat will probably have to wait until I’m retired. However, my experience of finding time where I thought there was none has taught me that if God gives us an invitation, he’s already provided the time to answer it. It may just take a little creativity and commitment, and a little time with The Toddler in tow.

Alison Blanchet lives in Panama City with her husband and three children. She works as a therapist for children and teens. Email her at