13 Aug 2012

For when you feel lost in your own story

At 17 I swore I wouldn’t grow up to be all barefoot and cliché in the kitchen.

The pastor’s son laughed and told me I was destined for babies – my salvation depended on it. I grit my teeth and disagreed even when two elders sought me out after service one day to try and convince me otherwise.

I was the girl whose mother had been in the hospital for a year already with no hope in sight of coming home. My dad was losing his mind with grief and I was already practicing reluctant motherhood on my two younger brothers.

But I had plans for growing up that didn’t automatically include a husband and his brood of kids and I held onto them with both hands as the waters of sadness closed slowly over my head.

I went to school every day with that one shoe split open in a ragged grin and refused to replace it since my mom had bought them for me. I studied history and literature and how to roast a chicken on Sundays – stuffing and prepping it early before my brothers got up for church.

My mashed potatoes were as runny as soup and I served them with eyes just as wet. It was little Luke who told me they tasted so good, as long as you closed your eyes when eating them.

I was the most grown up, naïve 18 year old I knew.

And then my dad came home from the hospital one day with my mom’s suitcase and I lost everything except my faith. That was the miracle of it. That God kept holding tight onto me even while everything else was free falling away.

It turns out everyone grows up, with or without a mother.

Four days ago I stood in an auditorium with 2,000 of them. We stood with the hands that are raising a generation stretched to heaven. There wasn’t a whisper of cliché. Just this deep throbbing in my heart and gratitude so big I could hardly swallow.

I stood in the moment and let the music just wash over me – this current of redemption that has come from a God who always saves the best till last. A God who sees us. A God who isn’t interested in threats or stereotypes but instead lavishes time and love on the nuances of each individual story.

He had grown me up into a mother. Not because the church said so. But because He is a good gift giver.

Standing in a sea of motherhood I could feel the weight of His glory. He is the God of invisible moments. The God who sees. The God who bears witness to the three am fevers and hours spent walking off the colic. He is the God who celebrates first steps and never tires of hearing first words.

He is the God who watches with the block builders, the stain removers, the back yard sand box sitters, the park walkers, the baby food makers, the classroom volunteer helpers, the play dough bakers.

He imbues each seemingly small moment of a mother’s day with the eternal and by simply being in it with us blesses it and makes it holy.

He sees us.

The view from 37 back to 17 is a long one. I wanted to reach through time and wrap my arms around her and whisper,

“He isn’t in a rush – this God they tell you demands children. No, He is the great gift giver. And He knows when the time is right.”

I’m singing so hard with my heart that no words come out of my mouth. I stand and stand and stand until I have to sit and bow my head and just let all the gratitude spill out of me.

There are three children waiting at home for me and they are my gospel.

This is my ministry, my music, my love story. How God was never afraid of my story. But saved the best till last – not the children, but the gift of making me whole.

And maybe you don’t have kids, can’t have kids, don’t want kids.

Maybe you’re anxious and tired of being the stereotype.

Maybe you’re angry at Him or confused by Him or terrified of being left behind.

From a convention center in Dallas, Texas I simply want to reach out my hand and testimony to you.

God is the eternally patient, good gift giver who is willing to wait years before He unwraps what He has planned for you.

You are not forgotten.

You are not lost.

You are on your way home.

Especially when it doesn’t feel like it.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1
    Joanne Viola says:

    What a tremendous post. I am sitting here bawling. After going through a difficult weekend with my own mom & her health, I realized…at 55 years of age, I am still learning from her & am not ready to lose her yet. My children are grown, I am myself a Mimi, & I am still learning, DAILY, from being in the lives of each of them. You hit it on the head – we lay our dreams aside but in so doing, we gain the greater goal – pouring ourselves into that next generation that will believe God with all their hearts. And that truly is the greatest gift of all. Thank you for sharing a most moving testimony. KNOW, be assured, that God is using you in ways you know not. He did this morning in my life! Blessings!

  2. 2

    I’m receiving that gift, but it’s in a new vocation/direction. I don’t want to leave being the hospitality chair for MOPS, the room mom, the team mom, yearbook lady, or the mom that has the time and won’t say no. Having trouble taking those first steps this morning towards this new thing God has brought me. I’ve known it in my gut since I was in 8th grade and then high school, but God put it away till now. Now when I can’t have another baby and lived through so much more. Yesterday hurt having my little guy graduate up at church and leave all thing baby behind – YES! I cried. I will cry for all of those moments, but God is doing something bigger and harder in my life. I survived three years of a little boy with severe reflux where I caught sleep where I could, I had brain surgery, I had female surgery and lost the hopes of my baby girl, I became ME. I saw dreams that I had made destroyed and trampled and crushed, but I survived and realized those things don’t make up who I am, but molded me to become what I can be. I can still dream. I don’t know who that young lady was who started college 16 years ago was, but I know who I am now starting grad school. One tough cookie. God is with me helping me.

  3. 3

    Thank you that was beautiful!!!

  4. 4

    Lisa-Jo, your words make me cry because they are beautiful and true. So true. They are an encouragement — almost (almost, but not quite!) as good as sitting and talking with you on the quad in law school. Thanks for your wisdom, friend.

  5. 5

    Really, really beautiful. Your honesty is a great gift!

  6. 6

    Touch my heart!!! My mom was 16 when she had me and I felt I grew up with her. I was scared to death when I became a mom at 27, but like you said God is the giver of gifts!!! My kids awww they were the gift my soul needed:)

  7. 7

    Isn’t He good? I know this same grace, the taking of my first dreams and then giving me more by making me a mom. It wasn’t what I wanted when I was a teen. But now I know – it’s what I need. I am changed every day and I am so grateful He knows me better than myself.

    This is deep truth, friend. Beautiful.

  8. 8

    Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful words of encouragement and truth. As christian women we so often get wrapped up in what the church is telling us God requires that we often forget to seek out God himself to know what he is calling us to do. I too once thought I wouldn’t have children. I was wounded by a life lived with a mother always on the verge of mental illness, and quite frankly, too scared of “messing up my children.” How wonderful God is to reveal his plans for us, and how wonderful you are to remind us of that! Isn’t motherhood grand!!!!

  9. 9
    Erin Redick says:

    NO fair making me cry at work!!! I can’t imagine your rocky path to get here, but you are here in all HIS glory. You are an amazing walking testimony Lisa-Jo and though we have never met, I love getting to know you a little more with every post. Thank you for being so….well, you!

  10. 10

    Oh, Lisa-Jo,
    I sometimes avoid your posts because I know I will cry. I know I will have to look deeper into the eyes of Jesus and I’m so scared of not being who I am supposed to be.
    Your words can be like a refreshing rain, though, even with the tears! I’m not forgotten!? I’m not lost!? I AM ON MY WY HOME! Oh, how much I needed to hear that this morning.

    Steven Curtis Chapman has a song called “Taking the Long Way Home.” With that and your words, I will keep my hope! I have never lost faith per se. I know Jesus is everything. I just know that I fall short of being the disciple I should be. I need hope for the future, for what is to come is HIS GLORY! That is all I need to know and wait for and act upon!

  11. 11

    As one who longed for the cliche and is unable to grasp it-
    thank you.

  12. 12

    I think this may be my favorite post that you have written! Wonderful!

  13. 13

    AWESOME! I sit here at my desk trying not to cry especially at the part that says “He isn’t in a rush – this God they tell you demands children. No, He is the great gift giver. And He knows when the time is right.”…I was not planning on having a child, didn’t want to be a mom and I struggled when I became pregnant with this “gift from God”…isn’t that what people always say children are…but 2.5 years later and after many tears and one particular prayer where I said I trust you God, change my heart…I am enjoying this little gift God gave me…doesn’t mean I want anymore but it means that I know that God knew when the time was right. Thank you for your words.

  14. 14

    You are a poet. Thank you for your words, they are truly beautiful and edifying. I’m grateful I’ve discovered this cozy place you’ve created on your blog. And though we’ve never met, you, my sister- in- Christ, are a great friend!

  15. 15

    Lisa-Jo. I read every one of your posts and they all resonate with me so loudly. This one, I can’t even tell you what just happened in my heart. Thank you.

  16. 16

    From a place of feeling so lost in my story – I needed these words. Thank you for reminding me God has not forgotten me.

  17. 17

    I. love. you.

  18. 18

    Powerful words that I needed to hear today. Thank you.

  19. 19

    Oh this. So beautiful. Thank you. I missed the convention this year, but I plan to squeeze you once or twice at Allume. You heart is stunning. You breathe grace.

  20. 20

    Thank you so much for this post.

  21. 21

    Good grief woman. Not sure how to ever thank-you for this. Missing my mom something kind of fierce. Pregnant with my first and feeling so, unbearably lost. But God let me to your blog this morning. And I know he is willing me to stand up under it. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. So glad to know I am on my way home.

  22. 22

    My heart has been so full of fear concerning motherhood…fear of pain, failure, isolation, ultimate rejection, and definitely the cliche. I think God has been wooing my heart towards it, though, and it’s infuriating to me and I’m fighting it so hard. His voice is so gentle, so inviting, and I know that it’s “not the children, but the gift of making me whole” that he’s trying to give me…

    Thank you for this comfort. It means a lot to me.

  23. 23

    I have been on your blog for over an hour now. I can’t express to you how much you’ve helped me today.
    God Bless you and your beautiful family!!!
    I’ll keep reading.

    • 24

      Thanks Cortney. It’s so encouraging to know that my late night ramblings resonate with others! Thank you so much for saying hello!

  24. 25

    Lisa-Jo, you did it again! lol Here I am with my heart made tender (again!) by the Truth that swirls through your words. I don’t want to lose sight of the Gospel in the everyday. I’ve been so impressed and surprised by the things that stir my soul since becoming a Mother. The ways that the Spirit has spoken to me through mundane chores and formerly flippant necessities. This life just keeps getting richer!

  25. 26

    Oh Lisa Jo, I made that vow at 16 too. Never to be where I so happily find myself today. God makes all things right. So thankful that He knows and gives us just what we need.

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