03 May 2010

A belly button love story

All this week leading up to mother’s day I will be posting on topics related to this most favorite of my subjects:  the delicious, demanding and high calling of motherhood. And on Friday I’ll invite you to link up your own answer to the question, “Moms matter because.” Feel free to share from the perspective of either parent or child.

I play this game with our boys. I ask them, “Where’d you get your blue eyes?”

And they yell out in glee, “From mama!”

“Where’d you get your hair?” – from uncle Josh.

“Where’d you get your nose?” – from daddy.

“Where’d you get your lips?” – from daddy

“Where’d you get your belly button?” (and this answer is my favorite, favorite).

“From mama!” they squeal in delight.

Then they inevitably ask their own never-tired question, “Why, mama? Why’d we get this from you?”

And so I tell them.

I tell them the belly button love story.

It begins at an outdoor café in Kyiv, Ukraine at a birthday party for a girl about to turn thirty. She has never wanted children. But all year long the Lord, the giver of only good gifts, has been unwrapping her heart and presenting her with fresh perspectives on motherhood.

She is surrounded by missionary women who adventure on trains, planes and automobiles with their babes and kids and teens. Undaunted by language barriers or the state of the toilet facilities they go. They go into the villages and churches with excitement in their eyes and kids in their wake.

They never tell her she is missing out. She can see it for herself.

And with thirty candles on her cake she wishes only one thing. And a short year later he is born in Pretoria, South Africa. Three days before her next birthday.

My firstborn grew me in ways and places I didn’t know I had. And I am not just talking about stretch marks and pants sizes. With each week of his development I understood more about how God loves me and how my existence is wrapped up in his. Sustained, nourished, fed, buffered by Him.

Jackson was umbilical cord anchored to me.

We breathed together, ate together, moved together. And on a warm August morning the Creator of the Universe bent down and allowed me to share the mystery of co-creating life with Him; out of darkness I spoke and yelled and groaned my new light into being.

And I discovered that I was both the  clay and the potter. And it was so very, very good.

And while his legs might shoot up in height, while his attitude might take unpleasant turns, and his feet outgrow his shoes, that belly button remains the same.

It is the living reminder of where he came from. Of who he came from. And why.

Anchor, compass, love story.

They are on my list of endless gifts.


Belly buttons


Long, lean legs of a boy-child that tippy toe touch the end of the bed

Friends visiting from Owosso

Hot summer nights

Bright green Hawaaian print swim suits for eager boys

Hours of fun with a hose pipe

Picnics outside the Church with soccer balls and quesadillas

Phone calls from home

Lemon sorbet ice cream

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  1. 1

    Sweet sister!! You just painted a beautiful new picture of belly buttons for me!! I might just have to borrow that perspective!
    Motherhood truly is a mysterious gift!

    • 2

      Here’s my secret – anytime I see my boys’ bellybuttons I think of them as my own personal “Made in Lisa-Jo” label. ;) I do, I really do!

      • 3
        Sharon says:

        Your sweet sweet story brought tears to my eyes – when having a bad day i will always now take time to think about my daughters belly buttons, take a deep breath and just feel the love, the journey, the strength it took to have my girls and remember i can get through this. thank you thank you thank you.

        • 4

          Oh, you are so very welcome. Because I do the exact same thing. I grab those crazy boys on days when they make me so mad and I just snuggle my face into their bellies and kiss those little belly buttons and remember where they began – and that I was there at the beginning. And my love is much stronger than their bad attitude or the flood they have just let loose on my kitchen floor. Those belly buttons can save a mama’s sanity! ;)

  2. 5

    WoW! I never looked at it that way. What a beautiful thing, those belly-buttons! :)

  3. 7

    Beautiful. As always.

    Being a mother is incredible. I actually just guest posted for someone about what it means to be a mom…

  4. 9

    Never thought about it like that! So beautiful!! Thanks. :)

  5. 10


  6. 11

    Crying at the coffee shop. I am so moved by this. Will you come share part of this sentiment (or something related to your thoughts this week) in comments on my most recent post? I ask some questions about that first year of motherhood, and I’d love your thoughtful soul to join in the response. (It’s another part of the Greetings From Motherland project.)

    I will be *making* time to read your blog all week, lady. Can’t wait.

    xo elizabeth

  7. 13

    This is so, so good. A belly button love story – absolutely beautiful. :) So grateful for the woman who cried and yelled and groaned me into being.

  8. 14

    Beautiful story, made me smile.

  9. 15

    A perfect way to start this week of celebrating motherhood. Beautiful.

  10. 16

    What a beautiful mommy story. Oh, my button story consit of outy turned inny. Who knew?

  11. 17

    What a sweet story.

  12. 18

    Beautiful! What a beautiful legacy in story to leave for your children.

  13. 19

    Lisa-Jo, that made my baby-lover’s heart pitter patter like little chubby toddler feet on a hardwood floor.

  14. 20

    as someone who read this post with a belly button perched OVER the laptop space bar, i so appreciate your love for all things belly.

    and i’m with you on the firstborn growing parts of you you didn’t know you had … mine left me with feet a half size larger and a heart irrevocably changed.

  15. 21

    wonderful. WOnderful. Thank you for this love story. I’m going to send it along to a pregnant friend. It’s tooooooo sweet.

  16. 22

    Love it… simply beautiful.

  17. 23

    perfectly beautiful :O)

  18. 24

    I never wanted kids either…til I had that first one. Then I was hooked, and TOTALLY understood why my parents ended up with 7 – without being catholic!

  19. 25

    Wow! I never thought I’d be in tears over a post about belly buttons!! Beautiful!! Thanks! =)

  20. 26

    What a wonderful read. SO glad I came by today!

  21. 27

    Deliciously beautimous, Lisa-Jo!!

  22. 28

    This: “And on a warm August morning the Creator of the Universe bent down and allowed me to share the mystery of co-creating life with Him; out of darkness I spoke and yelled and groaned my new light into being.”

    That He let us do that?!!

    You shine.

  23. 29

    “With each week of his development I understood more about how God loves me and how my existence is wrapped up in his.”
    So true–having kids has shown me what unconditional love means and why our God is so very good. Beautiful picture of mama and baby, too!

  24. 31

    I remember feeling God’s love so strongly and better understanding it after I had my firstborn. Breathtaking love. Strong love. Amazing.

    • 32

      Absolutely – it’s like someone turned a light on inside my heart and the mama love that is really the Christ’s same love for his kids, just streams out of me.

  25. 33

    ohhhh so cute! can’t wait to have a baby one day. Thank you for sharing the gift of being a mother with me. Sounds delightful. One day… one day soon :)

  26. 35

    What a sweet, precious story! :-)


  1. […] As I’m spending this week focusing on the various elements of motherhood that I love, from belly buttons to bruised and bloodied hearts, I wanted to share this with you because sometimes mothers and […]

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