05 Dec 2012

Why “mom” is the most significant job title you will ever have

I talk a lot here about how small a mother’s routine can feel. Perhaps, however, I don’t talk enough about how big the impact of that routine can be. Celebrating the small is directly related to recognizing the massive, Kingdom impact. Kids are forever. They are eternity with skin on. And we mold them like so much play-doh until one day they walk out the door and take every small moment of a family’s routine with them.

My mom died when I was 18. One week to the day after I turned 18 actually. I’ve been spending a lot of time remembering her lately. Trying to remember the details of our every days together. I braille my way back into a life that includes a mother and it’s the littlest things that stand out.

How she used to burn the food. How she used to cut out Valentine’s Day hearts and decorate with pink and red and balloons and eggs fried in heart shaped bread. How she used to dance in the driveway each morning a lunatic good-bye that made us laugh till our love tanks were filled all the way up to the top. How dad called her “Jo-babe” and how they would dance to Bad Moon Rising right there in the living room between the brown sofas with the insides that were splitting out.

I don’t remember laundry but I remember dishes. I have the bread board she burned with a pot that shouldn’t have been set down on a wooden surface. I remember movies and stories and books – oh my heart – the books. They are a lifeline that still connects us. Turn on Bruce Springsteen or the Graceland album and I can see her.

So many in between moments I didn’t notice – but the mosaic – looking back I can see the mosaic of a mother who was complicated and interesting and loved that form fitting pink dress and couldn’t cook anything worth particularly remembering but her meringues, I will always love her meringues. She was Jesus to me. When we warmed up our school socks over the heater and singed them, when she sang to us, when she lay down on the floor and laughed over her own short comings. When she was up till 2am drinking Coke and working on a project, downing chocolate and encouragement – she was a woman who brought faith into every nook and cranny of her every day. I believed like I breathed.

I guess what I’m saying is that celebrating the smallness of a mother’s day in and day out is more than just making it through – friends, it’s a wild dance of recognition, of celebration, of courage. It has to be more than finding meaning in the laundry. It has to be a wild Hallelujah that laundry is just the tipping point for all that you invest, that you pour, that you knead and knead and pull and knead into your kids. These are the front lines. These are the glory days. This is the stuff of heroes – not the laundry, but the conversations that take place in between the loads.

Piece by painful, sometimes mind-numbingly boring piece, you are building a mosaic of memory love. Something that your children will see  the day they open the door and turn head back over shoulder for a last look. It will all be there, the beautiful wonder you’ve woven into them.

And when the world tries to claw at them, to break them, to smash the beauty in them, may our walls hold true. May the lessons we’ve told, the truths we’ve lived, the life we’ve spoken into them come back easily, predictably, with wash and repeat ease.

I live right outside of Washington, D.C. where people are defined by the question, “So, what do you do?” And “Mother” might be about the unsexiest answer ever uttered at a Capitol Hill mixer. But don’t let that fool you. “Mother” will always be the bravest, least ordinary, most difficult and utterly challenging career that anyone ever hopes to lay claim to.

While others might hear, “diaper-changer, food-maker, car-pooler, bottle-washer, laundry-doer, sweat pants-wearer, no-brain, mushy, washed up, life-on-hold” wanna be doing anything else woman, the Truth, whether it feels like it some days or not, is that you are in fact a shelter from the storm. You are a Cape of Good Hope. You are a warrior who will battle for your children’s hearts, souls, attention, innocence, education and memories.

Go to battle my friends. This is your time. We will hold strong on either side of you. We will pray over those bottles, through the dark watches of the night, when doubt comes and children break, when adults fail them, when they push and push as hard against us as that day we delivered them into the world we. will. not. be broken. We may ache and see cracks tear through our hearts, but we will get up again tomorrow and load the clothes and the words that need to be said. Again and again and again.

Kingdom business. Jesus work. This shaping of souls. This raising tiny humans.

I am so proud of what you do. I am awed by your commitment. You stun with your belief that this is ordinary. Don’t buy that for a second. Mighty.

You are mighty,

because you mother.



{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1
    Lisa Milman says:

    So.much.good. You really know how to put things into perspective. The little moments are what make up a life-however long or short.

  2. 2

    When you write, I just about cry every time! It’s exactly what I need. I have 2 young babies under 4 and I am always in need of an encouraging word and a reminder that we are warriors!

  3. 3

    Oh, this morning was so difficult. As they test now, I think of all I should’ve and could’ve done better. Thank you, thank you for reviving my self-worth a bit. Sometimes the loneliness & smallness of which you speak is so palpable. But I continue the journey.

  4. 4

    Hi Lisa-Jo, I just wanted to let you know how much this post touched my heart and spoke to my soul. I’m a new mama and the past 5 months have been the craziest, most challenging journey/job I’ve ever taken on. I needed your words and will come back again and again to repeat them to myself. I thank God for speaking to me through what you shared!

  5. 5

    I’m reading this through tears as I’m battling with my children to clean up their mess. Definitely a Godsend. Thanks, Lisa-Jo. Thanks for being honest and letting God use you, no matter how much it pricks my heart to read.

  6. 6

    thank you for this-from someone whose kids are all just about grown up and out of the nest and who has been struggling lately wondering if it was all enough-the 25 years or so I put into raising my 4 and hoping that the good days and times far outweigh the bad. your words always bring tears to my eyes because you seem to have a way to say exactly what I am feeling.

  7. 7

    Small is the new big, yes? And you, my friend, seem to have inherited some wonderful traits from your mom :) A love of Jesus, chocolate, laughter & encouragement. What a beautiful, strong post.

  8. 8

    Great post and so very, very true. My baby is all grown now, but I don’t regret one day of just being her mother. I’ve always said, we don’t necessarily need more women in the House; we need more mothers in the home. As the family goes, so goes the nation.

  9. 9

    I love this piece so much.

    Our girls are 28 and 31. As they have reflected on their childhoods, they remember some things that I don’t, don’t even remember some things I loved … but layer upon layer they remember a good.

    The daily choices do all up.

  10. 10

    tears in my eyes, again. thank you for always encouraging me when I need it most.

  11. 11

    I needed this today. Thank you!

  12. 12

    Thanks! I needed this. So beautiful! THanks!

  13. 13

    Wowzers. It is not that often anymore that I read something that knocks me off my feet like this did. It is not that often that I read something that makes me feel so important, or compels me to do better. Thank you for this perfect piece.

  14. 15

    Your post is 100 times what my post was…. but we had the same message, pretty much!!! On the same day!!! Must of been God. I wrote mine before I dozed off last night.

    Here is my post! http://wifemothersisterfriendwoman.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/warrior-mom/

  15. 16

    WOW. I’m a new mom and I’m just now getting the sometimes small and sometimes boring feeling of staying home with my little man, but reading this was a massive breath of fresh air and encouragement. Thank you for letting God speak through your words and encourage those of us that need it :)

  16. 17

    Beautiful reminder of how important the little moments are to our children.

  17. 18

    Oh such wise, well-spoken words. So hard to accept sometimes when it seems all we do is clean up messes and send out reprimands, but I know it’s true. Thank you so much for writing this.

  18. 19

    I’m the new mommy that is in tears after reading this…wow. Thank you for this reminder, I know it’s true, it’s just that on most days I forget how God sees the work we do as moms!

  19. 20

    Sometimes I play a game, a game I call, “Can I Make it Through a Gypsy Mama Post Without Crying?”

    Today’s Score:
    Gypsy Mama – 1
    Moi – 0

    (Or maybe it’s the other way around when I cry from being touched and honored. Makes it hard to keep score.)

  20. 21

    Beautiful post, Lisa-Jo. I lost my mom when I was 18 too. I’ve been doing a lot of remembering too.

  21. 22


  22. 23

    Once again, you have written the right post at the right time for me. Thank you.

  23. 24

    And you are an instrument, used by God on a daily basis, to makes us believe we can keep going. Even though my son is a young adult now, you remind that my best as a mom was good enough…and it WAS enough. I pray that he looks back and remembers the good things and not many times I was a failure as a mom!

    I love you, Lisa-Jo….what a gift you are to this world!

  24. 25

    This is one of the most beautiful, encouraging things I’ve ever read. Thank you so much.

  25. 26

    As always, from one mama missin’ her mama to another, thank you. You wrapped these words around my heart. I wrote something earlier this week that resonates with this. We really are doing Kingdom work and it lasts and lasts. http://www.handmedowngrace.com/2012/12/shes-never-not-my-daughter.html Glad to be in the trenches of motherhood with you friend.

  26. 27
    Val Nillen says:

    Lisa, Jo—you are such a beautiful soul! You fill me up so that now I can fill up my children with encouragement, to go out and enjoy their ordinary as well! You were sent to me for a reason, you are doing Gods work in my life right now. And I needed it, Thank you LisaJo!

  27. 28

    Lisa Jo — My tissue box is empty!!! I cried all the way through this one!!! My children are now 11 and 15 and my heart aches daily with the thoughts that my 15 year old son has only two years of high school left . . . and he wants to go to college in New York (all the way from Alabama!). My 11 year old daughter is no longer a little girl and as I watch her leave for school each day, I long for the days of picnics on our front lawn. Being a mother is the greatest gift — I had the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom when our children were little. On day an older gentleman asked me if I worked, I replied that I am “CEO of the _____ family” — he frowned and then I explained that God had given me the job of molding and shaping the hearts and minds of two beautiful children. He responded that that is the greatest job in the world . .. . there is no higher calling!!! It is our job to fill their tanks daily and remember that the diapers, laundry, legos, and doll clothes are just a season. Thank you for sharing the beauty in the tasks that we sometimes consider mundane . . .we are not washing clothes for ourselves or our children, but for our Lord . . . though sometimes I do wish He would make the piles smaller :).

  28. 29

    Wow Lisa Jo — That just about made me cry. Thank you for reminding me that my kids and my time with them is SO important.

    Thank you! I am now looking at being home in a different light. These words were so encouraging and so loving.

    I needed to hear this today.

  29. 30

    Gorgeous post, Lisa Jo. Really, truly beautiful work. Mothers all over the world thank you!

  30. 31

    This is the most amazing blog post I’ve ever read on being a mother. Thank you for sharing this. For sharing your memories. For reminding us what we’re making.

  31. 32
    carissa belford says:

    I am in tears!!! This is Kingdom work! I needed to refocus. We have 5 kids and our family is in a busy ministry. I am worn out and have lost my focus. THANK YOU FOR WRITING God’s goal for us and our families! You are a blessing.

  32. 33

    Perfect timing Lisa-Jo!! I was feeling defeated, discouraged and not so patient. I walked away and 2 of my friends had sent your post. I read it. I feel better! Do you feel the thank you hug I am sending?

  33. 34

    Thank you for this.
    I had resigned myself to survival and cartoons until I read this. Then, I prayed, and rebooted the load of words, and remembered how important it is, this day, these little people.
    Thank you.

  34. 35

    This made me cry. The whole thing, but especially, “This is the stuff of heroes – not the laundry, but the conversations that take place in between the loads.”

  35. 36

    Love. this. Thank you – I feel ready to conquer anything today. Well, maybe not the laundry. heehee

  36. 37

    You, my friend are cheerleader to a weary mama’s ears. So much of this one resonated with my story, many of the reasons you can guess.

    I love this singular message you tell. It’s balm to a battered heart at times.


  37. 38

    Oh, my. YES. Thank you for this beautiful word of encouragement. You are so very good at it. So very good. And I’m delighted that more and more of your mom-memories are good, happy, life-giving ones. This is how you will have her with you always, in the stories you tell and the memory-muscle that you build. Thanks for being you, sweetheart. You are the best.

  38. 39

    To say that I needed to hear this today, is an understatement.

    Truly beautiful, and so so encouraging.

  39. 40

    Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. You’ve blessed my heart!

  40. 41

    Love. <3

  41. 42

    Your words stick like glue. Or cheerios to my carpet. Or spilt milk on my sofa. :)

    Seriously, I remember things you’ve said, and they speak encouragement deep into me.

    Thanks for being brilliant.


  42. 44

    You make me wonder what mosaic my kids will remember of me someday….thanks for the encouragement,the reminder that it is powerful to be a mom and to believe that role is ENOUGH. I wrote this a couple of months ago about how I was finally starting to embrace being “just” a mom.


  43. 45

    Thank you so much for this. It’s absolutely beautiful. The line “You are a warrior who will battle for your children’s hearts, souls, attention, innocence, education and memories” means so much. I am in a battle now and this post is so encouraging. So grateful for people who are “holding strong on either side” of us.

  44. 46

    I’m sorry to hear you lost your mom at such a young age. She sure sounds like a person I would have loved to known! I lost my mom to cancer when I was 30. She was my best friend. We didn’t always see eye to eye but that was okay! Years later, I realized she had a different love language than I. I miss her dearly as I’m sure you do your mom. My mom got to see my first born but not the next four. That stinks.
    I am very thankful for your words. I was just telling my dad earlier this week that when I tell people I am a stay st home mom I hear “oh, so you don’t work” OH YES I DO ! I think people think I lay around and watch soaps. Not even close. When my husband calls during the day to see how my day is going, I almost feel like I Need to make it sound terrible! But! I once read some that has stuck w/me. It said”when you are on the phone with that someone telling them how bad your day is….there are little ears listening to you” Your day is spent w/your child(ren) I think they would be very sad to hear your day is so bad :( I had never thought of it that way.
    Just the other day I was complaining to myself. My ( 8 month old ) daughter wanted to be carried Everywhere! I complained “I can’t do the dishes, laundry,sweep the floor, dust, ect ! ALL I CAN DO IS ………hold you..” Wow….what could Possibly, be more important…..Nothing.

  45. 47

    thank you.
    thank you.
    thank you.
    thank you.
    thank you for encouraging my aching soul.

  46. 48

    THANK YOU! God knew I needed to read that today…His timing is perfect. I will be passing this on to several moms I know who also need the encouragement!

  47. 49

    Hello from a mom with 3 under 3…if you wrote this to encourage a weary mama sitting with coffee in the early morning hours wondering if she has the strength to mother well today, you did it. Thank you…needed it this morning. Now…on with Kingdom business, and Jesus work, and tiny humans…:-)

  48. 50

    well i just bawled my way all the way through this. thank you so much. i needed every word.

  49. 51

    That last line gave me chills! Thank you so much for your encouragement and for cheering us on in our shaping of little lives for His Kingdom.

  50. 52

    Jumped on your site looking for 5 minute Friday {yeah I forgot} found this post instead.
    What’s that Proverb verse about how an apt word is like apples of gold?…well that is what this post was for me. A sure shaft of truth that again repeats that when you are in Christ you are in an upside, paradox Kingdom. Stay at home warriors…how foolish and weird that seems to the world. Seems to me on the heavy days.
    Thanks and Cheers.

  51. 53

    Like so many mom’s before me said – THANK YOU! Needed to hear this this afternoon. Struggling with a 4 year old who, though I love to the moon and back…am struggling with liking him at this stage. And doubting my skills to parent/mother/guide him.

    Thank you for your encouragement. Am going to go and read your post on “liking” your little guy to see if I can gain some more wisdom. :)


  52. 54

    wonderful reminder today, LJ. thanks. needed it. =)

  53. 55

    I NEEDED THIS TODAY! THANK YOU! I never in my wildest dreams thought stay-at-home-mommy-hood would be this crazy hard! Just today I was wishing I could go back 10years to life without responsibility…just for one day. To just take care of me and not worry about anyone else…maybe I need a vacation haah. But you’re right…we keep keeping on because that is what this CALLING of Motherhood requires. And in the end…at the end of the day when I see their snoozing selves in bed, I know it’s ok and I’M OK too.
    :) thanks for all YOU do dear

  54. 56

    I am in tears and so thankful. Thankful to be a mother. Thankful to have this privilege. I have been convicted of late to make my child, my family, my home first priority above all the other things I could be doing, and this speaks directly to that. Beautiful words, mama. Thank you. xo

  55. 57

    I feel like I need to comment, but my heart is so touched, I can’t seem to find the words, and so all I can say now is AMAZING.and THANK YOU.

  56. 58

    Wonderful and inspiring post! You have described “mother” perfectly! Some of the posts I have written share the same thoughts, “Humility 101” at http://www.dreamsofperfectdesign.blogspot.com in particular. Thanks for sharing your heart, you certainly have a gift.

  57. 59

    I needed to hear this, thank you!

  58. 60

    I have not brushed my hair today. I have forgotten to eat breakfast and lunch. I barely sleep due to struggles with insomnia. Both of my children have been in an extremely testy phase…they are 3 and 2. My kitchen caught on fire a couple days ago. My own mother continually lets me know that I am a huge disappointment even though I can’t figure out what I have done wrong. I feel like a failure day after day. But I do the best I can with my children. I give them little memories that I know they will enjoy. Getting them up from bed to take them to see Christmas lights (with hot cocoa and popcorn). Using food coloring to make their pasta different colors. Catching them jumping on my bed (a no-no) and joining them. Apologizing to THEM when I am in the wrong, instead of only expecting apologies. The list goes on. They may not be huge things to the average person. But they make my kids laugh. They make them happy. They ask me to do it again. These are memories I don’t have with my own mom. That hurts. But as I read through this blog, I am sitting here crying because even if I don’t have those memories, I am so grateful that I am giving them to my own children. I pray that I am doing well enough that they will look back and see the love I have given them throughout the years.

  59. 61

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful post. It may be one of my favorite posts on motherhood that I’ve ever read. Humbling and so very true. Incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking. Tears were streaming down my face and I had to stop to sob a few times. There is nothing, NOTHING!, more beautiful than being a mom. Even when it’s ugly and hard. I love that you get that, and you’ve so eloquently described that in this post. Wonderful job! Thank you.

  60. 62

    SO TRUE! As my kids get older, they remember those little things. My daughter is almost in middle school and my boys are in junior high now, but I still tuck them in. Why? Because I’ve done it every night since they were born and that is just what we do. To them, it’s just part of the routine. It is the little things they will remember. Keep going and keep trying. Although now with their teenage attitudes, I’d like to trade them once in a while. It is those sweet moments where I can still see the little girl and boys they once were. Mother is wonderful title to have!

  61. 63

    I needed this today and every day! You’re a blessing with your words, you have no idea!

  62. 64

    Thank you for these beautiful words of encouragement. God bless you :)

  63. 65

    Thank you for this. So beautifully written, it spoke straight to my heart.

  64. 66

    I just found your blog through your recent post at Ann Voskamps site– and wanted to thank you for your perspective and subsequent encouragement. I lived in Washington, DC too–but for all of my 20s after landing my dream, super-awesome, glamorous job that I loved and (sadly) loved the attention from. I was hooked on the prestige I felt, esp. in the odd culture that is DC. But then I married and moved away at 29.5 years old and conceived our son on our honeymoon, our daughter following 18 months later, and now another baby on the way. Inbetween all of that, we moved to Germany, and I have had nothing to do with my ‘old’ life ever since. I LOVE being a mother more than anything in the world, but I feel so often tainted by my decade swept up in the “what do you do” category and the smugness/pride I used to feel, when there is no semblance of that same shiny-obvious ‘glory’ in motherhood. So thank you for your words– so. much. Thank you. These small things add up to the biggest things; I am honored to have this blessing to raise children, a heritage of the womb.

  65. 67

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