12 Nov 2012

To all the heroes – yes you, the ones up to your elbows in ordinary

We all want a hero.

I grew up on a diet of popcorn and stories and the days my mom took me out of school to go to the movies were the ones I learned to fly.

Stories are still my safe place.

We all want a hero to stand on a stage or a white horse or a battlefield or a football field or a bridge and declare to the darkness, “you shall not pass.”

We want to believe in courage bigger than us and the role models willing to leave their footprints behind for us to tentatively step into.

Prophets and rock stars, preachers and teachers and bloggers and poets. We want them to pour their words and point their lives like warning signs to the tired who come behind all bended over with our ordinary and expecting that others will triumph so that we can live in awe.

My backyard is a mess.

My kids bicker.

For hours on Sunday morning before church my boys bicker and snipe and snap and throw toys and knock down each others’ towers. Until I want to banish them both to the far corners of the earth or at least this small house. Until I want to shake them and yell, “can you not see how good you have it?”

I am brimming over with clichés and temper and I calmly stay in the bedroom married to my mascara brush and focus on slowly, slowly just applying the gentle strokes and breathing.

Zoe is pretty in pink and yellow next to me and wants to hold my hand.

I keep breathing.

We want heroes with grand lives to sweep us up into their stories and propel us out to save the world through their endeavors while we stay home and fold the boring laundry.

I lose it when we get home from church. I just lose it when one kids pushes the other kid’s buttons for the 45th time and I hold him in a death grip on his arm and look him dead center and tell him straight through the heart how unacceptable this ugliness is. Like so much tar leaving sticky, bilious tracks through our day.

It’s gorgeous out. 70 degrees in November.

And what if we are the heroes we are waiting for?

What if we can change and mold and challenge and fight back the darkness from our own corner of the Kingdom.

What if ordinary is heroic?

Most heroes I know wear jeans and T-Shirts most days and fight fevers more than Hercules.

Most heroes I know don’t have or care about blog platforms or their readership. They are too busy figuring out how to love their kids through a meltdown.

Most heroes I know are sitting right there in the pew behind us with their broken down daughters, their aging parents, their newborns who won’t sleep through the night, their singing off key.

Most heroes I know are so ordinary we wouldn’t give them a second glance in the check out line. They reek of homework and figuring out the taxes and how to squeeze a date night into another crazy week of car pool and sports and getting one more stain out of the carpet.

Most heroes I know are brave because they keep going in the face of their overwhelming fears, their worries, the voices in their heads that tell them they aren’t good enough, diligent enough, calm enough, prepared enough, or any other enough that can spit up out of the “perfect-o-meter.”

Eight women spend a morning cooking food for the friend who’s house was trashed by a hurricane, for the single parent who doesn’t have enough, for the family who will likely knock on the church door tomorrow.

My friend Instagrams her toilet bowl and brush and that photo is more powerful than any I’ve seen of her up on stage.

There is no showmanship in heroism.  There is just the next thing. Sometimes that thing might feel small – like helping your kid with his math homework. And sometimes it might feel big – like standing on a stage, or writing a book, or helping build a school or raising a million dollars or hosting a global webcast. But my guess is heaven uses a very different yard stick than we do.

So keep on you.

Yes you. The one up to your elbows in what feels like ordinary.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    You have such a way with words and picture painting, Lisa Jo. You hit the nail on the head. I needed to hear this so much as I work through every moment of each day since my hero, who handled the ordinary with quiet strength went home to heaven. I have to remember that this puts me in that role for our kids. And it doesn’t matter how many blog followers I have or who read my last article or if I didn’t get one written when I wanted to because a little guy missing his daddy needed a tickle war from me “just list daddy used to do”. I just need to focus on being there…and living fully…in the midst of our new normal…trying to keep my head above water and gripping onto the shirt tales of my heavenly Father who carries me through it all. Thank you for this. You have given me a gift. God bless you and your precious family.

  2. 2

    Touch my heart!! Just the words I needed to hear!!

  3. 3

    Thank you, Lisa Jo, for helping me cling to my ordinary, which, by your words make my ordinary seem so extraordinary. You are the best cheerleader ever! I’m off to cherish these moments of dishes and laundry and the rest of the day-to-day, fabulous, ordinary life that God has given me.

  4. 4

    Oh Lisa-Jo. This was a gift to me today, at the end of my frayed rope. I have a stomach flu now plus 5 sick kids, puking in their beds and on the floor; an overdue manuscript; two hundred emails to return; a traveling husband; and a house that looks like a war zone. We are moving to a teeny tiny rental home in 7 days and I have hardly packed a thing. A week after that, we are bringing a new teen boy into our home through adoption. I am absolutely overwhelmed and thinking seriously that I am not doing a good enough job at anything these days. I am up to my elbows, my eyebrows even, and I needed the reminder that today, all I can do is what I can do, and remember that He has me here, doing this with as much intention as He will ever have me doing anything that feels important or profound. Thanks for the words to get me through this difficult day…

    • 5

      Oh, Cara. Love you so much and praying for that sickness to end and all the other loose ends to come together. Love, love, love you, friend.

    • 6

      Cara, you and this life and all those kids? I think that is THE absolute Jesus definition of heroic. Truly. Press on, keep going, drink water, take a rest, breathe. You are doing it – the hard things. You are doing it.

    • 7

      I love you.
      I wish there was more to say.
      More I could do.

      I just love you!
      And lifting you and yours up to the Daddy that loves you more!

  5. 8

    Lovely, Lisa-Jo. Just lovely!

    Thank You,
    Heather @ Find That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

  6. 9

    Lisa-Jo, I don’t have words for how much this means to me or how much I love it. Thank you. Just thank you.

  7. 11

    Thank you for making me extraordinary today! :)

  8. 12

    Lisa Jo — tears stream down my cheeks in conviction and agreement. Agreement because I know the heroes you speak of. I bring to mind the names of the loved in my life who wear these skins and live in the wrinkles of life each and every day. Conviction because God is disciplining my darkened heart in its bitterness and blame-shifting and name-calling in the false sense of “righteousness” — when in reality name-calling is pure sin and meanness no matter what alias I try to mask it with. I see her as she really is again. How my heart always knows her and try to take every opportunity to tell her: she is one of my heroes. Pure and simple. And the bitterness I let root because of silly annoyances or past hurts or heartaches is on me. Period. If I grow bitterness, I can be dang sure that it’s my garden and I’m the one who let those seeds fester. I can’t try the tactic “Well, this patch of weeds doesn’t belong to me. I’m just watching it for someone else. So whatever is growing here, no, no siree, I didn’t plant it. It popped up on its own.”

    No, it’s my sin. My heart. And I despise the lies of the enemy. I despise them even more when they work. When I take them, polish them up as truth and live them out in my actions and thoughts.

    I prayed in the midst of reading this – broken down and salty-wet, that I would see again with His eyes. For I know the beauty of my heroes. It Him in them. His Spirit breathing out in the dark moments, reclaiming the light by their faith, their race in which they endure to the end. He is my Ultimate Hero, and He in those I love, well He makes them little too. And I think that’s ok. I don’t think he count that as idolizing. I think He smiles on that as seeing those in our lives as He does. Loving with a pure love. Supporting, exhorting, unity-building. He asks us…implores us to do just that. A thousand times over. Seventy-times-seven and counting.

    THANK YOU for these words. Oh how they were balm to a blistered heart.

  9. 13

    Thank you for this post. I don’t feel very heroic, but I can’t lose sight of the fact that I am just where God has placed me. I pray He gives me eyes to see the heroic in those around me.

  10. 14

    THANK YOU!! Words cannot express the gratitude of your words… the mending of this post. Thank you for your transparency. I can more than relate! God is so good!! I thank Him for you tonight, Lisa Jo! Your heart is full and this reminder is just what this sister needed~ May God bless you, sweet one! :)

  11. 15

    This Mama just now helped a daughter finish math and study for a science test and a spelling test and now wants to fall asleep instead of tackle dinner dishes. And maybe I will, because we ordinary heroes need our rest, too.

    Love you!

  12. 17

    Wow….thanks for making me cry! It’s been a HARD evening but, reading this honestly makes me feel better. Thank you.

  13. 18
    Jeanna Bigbey says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I really needed to hear this:)

  14. 19

    Ah, this. It’s radiant in its truth-telling. Marvelous. And most of all, remarkable. How He takes our lowest and our ugliest and makes beauty out of it. Such grace.

    He’s showing me that when I receive His grace, I am living worship. And that’s heroic. I so much appreciate your words. Your courage to write them. And your love for Him to look past your wants to His.

    So grateful for you, LJ. Friend.

  15. 20

    Gah! This is amazing, in all its honesty and gritty grace. I just love your heart for these things, Lisa-Jo. You never cease to inspire me and help me to look at all this mess of motherhood and see there’s goodness and glory here, not buried underneath the mounds of laundry, but right out here on top, right where it can be seen if I look at it the right way. Bless you, girlfriend. Love you.

  16. 21

    Thank you for the validation, the permission, the reminder.
    You want to strangle them and say, “Do you know how GOOD you have it” too? Wow, I thought I was the awful one.
    I realized while I was reading this…. that we are the ones who have it good.
    We really do.
    We have a Heavenly Father who sees us bicker and argue and push our friends down on the playground with our adult-heavy words and He loves us anyway.
    How lucky we are.
    Thank you for this, Lisa-Jo. I needed it and I know so many others do too.

  17. 22

    Thank you sweet friend…so needed this today. ((Hugs))

  18. 23

    This brought tears to my eyes. I really needed this. Thank you so much.

  19. 24

    Yes! Just this morning when I wrestled with God about how I hate more ordinary and wouldn’t be better if I could just be more… this —> But my guess is heaven uses a very different yard stick than we do – A perfect reminder that God is my purpose and His will is my goal and all of this crazy, unbelievable ordinaryness is a perfect path to knee bending grace. Thank for this reminder friend. Just thank you for honest and ordinary.

  20. 25

    Beautiful Lisa-Jo
    You are my heroe par exellance by just writing this. I am a FM/ME sufferer and have just finished a cooking spree of two days for my fourth year student son. We are going to PE where he studies tomorrow and he is in the midst of exams. And he is hungry, hungry, hungry! He is doing his master’s degree in architecture so mommy has to help build those small houses of carton for his models and portfolio and all those extra thingies that don’t need his expertise!!! And I am tired! Did I mentioned that I baked up a storm as well while fighting against bad pain and exhaustion due to the illness.? Well, dear friend, you have just made me feel like a heroe. Thank you so much.
    Much love to you
    P.S. don’t frett to much about your kiddos, they do grow up although we doubt it at that age!

  21. 26

    What a blessing to read the words that have been on my heart….my ordinary has changed from busyness with children to having college students with their own lives and schedules…the once heroic things I used to do no longer have delightful squeals of appreciation…just a different season of life….and I am learning what my ordinary is now….am learning how to find fulfillment in this ordinary …so is my husband…different seasons at different times…I know our Heavenly Father will help us…..this was a wonderful post! Keep up the good /great work! Touched my heart! :o)

  22. 27

    Thank you for your ministry!!! Once again, your words saved me! I am in the thick of ordinary days filled with homeschool, twin newborns (that don’t sleep at all) and laundry. I feel so overwhelmed like I want to just jump out of my own skin. In midst of life, I sometimes forget that I’m ‘more than enough’ and that God’s measuring stick outweighs what the world has to say. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.

  23. 28

    Lisa-Jo, you make me grateful for *now*, for the laundry on the couch and the kids who argue but whom I know love each other anyway. This line: “Most heroes I know wear jeans and T-Shirts most days and fight fevers more than Hercules.” I love your heart for the silent, the way you blast ahead, in the middle of your glorious ordinary, and shout “I see you; you’re amazing; keep going.” Your words are you and Jesus hand in hand, gently whispering love and hope right through these screens and into our hearts. Wow, girl–you are powerful in your {extra}ordinary. Love to you.

    • 29

      Yes yes yes – I write it because I need to remember it. That what feels like ordinary is work that touches heaven and that Jesus is right there with us as we wash the dishes, take out the trash, push back the darkness, raise the next generation. Yes. Thank you and thank you.

  24. 30

    This reminds me of a scene from “While You Were Sleeping” where Lucy and Peter are talking about how she jumped on the tracks to save him and Peter says that he’s never done anything truly heroic. Lucy replies that he gives up his seat every morning on the train to someone else, Peter says that’s not heroic but Lucy states, “It is to the person who gets the seat.” Simple things are heroic because they often mean more to others than they do to ourselves.

  25. 31

    Thank you for your words, your insight, your support, your heart and your way. You shine a light for many of us in ways that truly cut to the quick, but in a good way! Thank you for singing the song for the unsung.

  26. 32

    I loved this post. I have many unsung ordinary heroes in my parish and I’d love to quote you in a sermon. May I have your permission to do so? It will be shared with about 35 people. Thank you for your insight.

  27. 34

    After reading this, I have a new outlook on the day ahead. Thank you x a million..

  28. 35

    So beautiful!!! As usual.

  29. 36

    You have such a way with words, and these posts are often a comforting balm to the soul.

    This is one of them.

    Thank you, LisaJo!

  30. 37

    so true, so well said. thank you for this encouragement today!

  31. 38

    goodness this just pierces right into this mama’s heart. There is so much beauty in the ordinary. Today has been spent rocking a sick baby (well, toddler ;) ) girl instead of cooking or baking or cleaning or laundry. It’s a beautiful ministry to be in, really.

  32. 39

    Amen!! I certainly needed this today! Thank you <333

  33. 40
    Nasreen Fynewever says:

    Beautiful. True.

  34. 41

    Just need to tell you that YOU – sharp words, exhaustion, impatience or whatever – YOU are my hero. Day after day, yes YOU. So thank you for your lovely salute, but please face into the mirror when you raise that glass, okay?

  35. 42

    Oh, yes. A hero, and one of those “easy buttons” from Staples to smooth over all of the rough places. Thanks for this – I’m not a mother (yet), but I *am* a daughter learning to love her parents in a whole new way.

  36. 43

    I had to start up my cleaning business again today. I quit when my client all died or went into nursing homes…3 years ago to go back to school. Job isn’t coming faster than the bill are piling up and I feel pretty plan today. Thank you Lisa-Jo…you met my need today.


  1. [...] To all the heroes – yes you, the ones up to your elbows in ordinary – I related to this. Quote – “I am brimming over with clichés and temper and I calmly stay in the bedroom married to my mascara brush and focus on slowly, slowly just applying the gentle strokes and breathing.” [...]

  2. [...] To all the heroes – yes you, the ones up to your elbows in ordinary from Lisa Jo at The Gypsy Mama Most heroes I know are so ordinary we wouldn’t give them a second glance in the check out line. They reek of homework and figuring out the taxes and how to squeeze a date night into another crazy week of car pool and sports and getting one more stain out of the carpet. [...]

  3. [...] The following is a portion of a blog post from Lisa-Jo Baker at Tales from a Gypsy Mama website. It speaks so truthfully about finding the heroic in ordinary lives that I wanted to share it. To read the full post, click here.  [...]

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