23 Jan 2013

You’re not the only one who gets scared

Sometimes when the world feels big and mothering and working and writing feel like they’re eating me and my time alive, I turn to the sink. There’s something about that hot water washing away all last night’s leftovers and today’s anxieties. It can be hard to breathe inside your own head and water is good about loosening up the tied tongue, at least to pray.

A commissioning over that frying pan. I bought it just last week at Walmart for it’s turquoise blue base. Peter raised an eyebrow when I reached for it because, of course. That color holds my imagination. Today I wash it until my fingers feel pruney and my chest a bit less constricted. A woman’s skin can be a hard fit, harder even than a pair of skinny jeans.

I’ve zumba-ed for two weeks now and it’s the best therapy I know. All that sweat in a room full of women laughing at themselves in mirrors. Good for the ego, to see how we really look. Me so much older than I remember. When did I lose all sense of coordination? There was a time when I could take to a dance floor fearless. Those days are further away now, buried under layers of checking homework, doing read-alouds, folding the socks.

But it doesn’t stop me from rooting through my memory every Monday and Thursday for a refresher course. For a reminder that beauty now rides my hips with a very different silhouette than it used to, as I fail to shake them in time to Shakira. Beauty is part of me now, I don’t apply it like so much eye liner. I wear it. Even on the days I only wear sweat pants.

A son comes to bring me a blanket as I lie on the floor and keep an eye on Zoe in the bathtub. He pets my head. He tells me he likes my hair. This is where my beauty lives. A baby bats her eyelashes at me from over the edge of the soapy tub and I grin lopsided at her. I don’t like it when people tell me she looks like Pete. This one is mine. This girl, she is all mine.

So I wash out her bottles and don’t even pretend to have a plan for weaning her off them. I’m not in a rush. No rush to finish up this third round of parenting a baby. No rush to graduate elementary school. These boys are a hurtle through time and I will carefully sweep up the bread crumbs left over from their morning bagels and notice how much they ate and the legos they left in their trail.

The garbage disposal empties the sink of suds, of grease, of reminders from yesterday. I pray better in motion that when I am still. I pray best when the music is loud and I’m surrounded by others. Dancing can be worship. Oh I see you raise your eyebrow, but that’s OK. You didn’t know my mother.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo can be worship for a homesick South African girl who traces the roots of her story to a dark night in Zululand. It can be worship for a seven year old and his mom as they gumboot dance in a bright playroom surrounded by the Darth Vader masks and too many new baby dolls than can be good for the baby who’s watching. We dance and we pray, we wash dishes and we carpool. We work and we worship.

And some afternoons I wash the dishes quietly, by myself, and I remember to exhale.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    Love this! Thank you!

  2. 2

    You are blessing and encouraging me this week. Mothering is feeling small, and I’m feeling restless, and right now I don’t even know how to fill this afternoon or what to make for dinner, and I am thankful for your words.

  3. 5

    Beautifully written. Thank you…I have no more words than that to add to your eloquence. Yeah, you’ve got it covered.

  4. 6

    Wow! Beauty is also something you exude in your smile and in your words. Thank you.

    Deb Weaver

  5. 7

    I love this post. I find it amazing how beauty changes over time, and more amazing still, how it changes when we dig deeper in God’s word, deeper into Him. I love realizing that in many ways, I’m only just beginning to really “know” beauty. ^_^

  6. 8

    seriously how do. you. do. it. You write and it’s like I’m sitting right there with you. Standing next to you at the kitchen sink. Lying on the floor in the bathroom. Dancing in the playroom. You’ve got this sister. God created you for this and He will see it to completion.

  7. 10

    I hope you are getting to go see LBM in Bethesda on Friday. If not, just keep dancing and praying and remembering. You do not know how much I would love to go Zumba with you! ( I promise to not say that Zoe looks like you know who.)

  8. 12

    Lisa-Jo, I just love this. You’re writing is so very beautiful and your heart, too. It makes me want to Zumba! And that’s saying a lot.

  9. 13

    This is a printer – I’m totally printing this one out to pull out and re-read on those days where I just. can’t. catch. my. breath from all the mothering and doing. My husband does most of the cooking and I do the cleaning – mostly for the very reason you’ve written about here. So glad to know I’m not the only one that throws out a little soapy sudsy prayer as often as possible.

  10. 14

    You make me want to go wash some dishes!

  11. 15

    Oh, how I adored this.

    I’m in no rush either. Kind of what I shared in my post (a link to a post last year) as it’s the eve of yet another birthday for my baby boy. Though not a baby at all. Not ready for it to end.

    Grateful for your reminders. <3

  12. 16

    LOve it! I agree worship is whatever brings us into a state of praise, to the one that gives us the ability to sing out loud, to jump and flap our arms by ourselves or with the little people he blessed us with. I feel God’s presence so much more when I am moving, when I hear a song that speaks to that part of me that needs to be spoken to, when I see or hear my little guy singing the song he learned during chapel or saying the verse he memorized, when we are jumping and dancing to the Fresh Beat Band and I see the joy that comes to his little face. Yes I feel God in the moments.

  13. 17

    Lisa-Jo, this is pure beauty. Grateful for your dance, your song, the sudsy prayers and especially, always, for your words here.

  14. 18

    I am in no hurry either. It just felt like my baby girl was always so ready to grow up and move on. She quit nursing around 10 months and would only drink from sippy cups like her brothers. I cried. Walking early. Potty training early. All those things I wanted to prolong a little longer with my last one…she would have no part in being slow. Enjoy those moments! Jen

  15. 19

    I am always reading your blog on my iPod where leaving a comment is not as quick and easy as a keyboard, but this post made me NEED to type out on this tiny space – thank you, thank you, thank you. Your writing reaches me and makes me nod my head in agreement every time. What you write often feels like a warm hug, a cup of tea, encouragement and acknowledgement of the work that is a mother. Thank you.

    • 20

      And now I’m the grateful one that you clicked over to comment. This encouraged me so. Thank you, Holly.

  16. 21

    Keep up the dancing, Lisa-Jo. Just beauty here.

  17. 22

    Lisa Jo, this might my most favorite post I’ve read of yours. Thank you for it. Truly.

  18. 23

    Love this …
    ” Beauty is part of me now, I don’t apply it like so much eye liner. I wear it. Even on the days I only wear sweat pants.”

  19. 24

    Lisa Jo, you are so right not to ever be in a hurry with that little one, and keep the music loud and those hips swinging.

  20. 25

    Oh, my word! Love all of your posts, but this was absolutely beautiful! Love how God meets us in the mundane. And I am with you on the dancing thing- although I won’t be shaking it in public any time soon. Not until after this 4th one makes her appearance in the world! :) But dancing with my kids is one of most favorite things of all! And I believe that our Father receives great joy when He sees us laughing and loving one another!

    • 26
      Amelie Scheller says:

      Amen! Can’t you see Him smiling at us with a gentle chuckle? We were made in His image – meaning we were made for relationship. Isn’t laughing and loving each other the best of life? God bless you with your 4th with good health and strength.

  21. 28

    You make me smile :0)

  22. 29
    Amelie Scheller says:

    Oh you bless me with your mother’s liturgy! The sacredness of the chaos is so beautifully painted with the brushstrokes of your keyboard. My 4 children have moved on into the teen years. Through the portal of your writing I quickly travel back to the exhaustion and seemingly small world of small children at home. I miss the smell of freshly washed baby shampoo hair and kneeling down on my knees to wash up those beautiful babes. Know this – the fruit of your labor now will yield a beautiful harvest of holy relationships with your children – and with each other – because of the gift of your presence in the every moment of the every day of the daily grind of motherhood. I look back and think sometimes it was like the desert wanderings…. and now I am in the promised land of healthy, whole and holy relationship with our Father and His Son & Spirit and with each other. Amen!

  23. 30

    I so love the feeling of hot water, the smell of the dish detergent, the way the dishes look with the bubbles all over them, then the feel of the rinse water. Not only does it wash my dishes but washes me clean again and again. Time to be still, to rest in the Lord and appreciate the small things around me. Thank you for sharing

  24. 31

    I shared this with a mama sister in need of encouragement today. She and I were both so blessed by your words. Thank you for preaching it true and tender, Lisa-Jo.

  25. 32

    This is beautiful. It pulls at my heart strings, you just sung my life-song. thank you for wording what I cannot.. My tears today are for you. Thank you.

  26. 33

    Thankyou for this beautiful post and the reminder that time flies all to fast!

  27. 34

    I do hope you have your blog posts printed up each year in book form. What a treasure your entries will be for your children one day. Beautifully written and expressed!

  28. 35

    We dance and we pray, we wash dishes and we carpool. We work and we worship.

    I’m a liturgical Anglican and appreciate formal worship but I love your image of dance and prayer and dishes and work and worship all coexisting. Thank you for your words and imagery and breath of fresh air!

  29. 36

    Oh yes!!! There is worship in work. I know this, too. I dance and sing, too, sometimes best while washing and folding and sweeping. There’s worship in those pots. That’s all Martha needed to realize. We can worship and refuse to fuss and oh yes, it is indeed worship. You reminded me today. Today, sitting here with a tight, achy chest and several week old chest cold. Today with all of its broken glasses and messed up checkbooks and the weight of feeling like I should’ve done more. Should’ve pulled that account up online. This quest for rest I’m in has been hindered so much already this new year. It seems the piles and the messes prove more tempting with each new attempt to just look away and rest. And right away I question my sanity. I battle the mindset that I CANNOT STOP. SEE what happens when I stop?

    But I’m walking away now reminded that even in this mess here today, this online mess I’m looking at, I can worship. So I’m off to crank up the music. Thank you for always sharing. For once again reminding me that I’m not alone. Wiping away my tears now cranking up the music.

  30. 37

    Just wanted to let you know how your blog with the picture of dishes in kitchen sink just resignated with me! Meaningful memories! I always enjoy your writings!

  31. 38

    I am feeling the need for more prayer in my life… I also have no dishwasher… I’m thinking I may change my view on having to do dishes.

  32. 39
    Rhonda Bradshaw says:

    Your words go straight to my heart. I share them with my friends. I send them to my daughter.
    I would give anything to go back in time and have my little boys under my feet.
    They are now 26 and 23.
    So enjoy each precious minute reading to them, playing with them, singing, dancing, worshiping our Lord and creator of all good things. Washing their clothes, cooking, cleaning, tending, nursing, …
    I wait to hear from my children. I look forward to a call, a letter, a “thinking of you mom” email, something to hold to my heart. I treasure the memories, the pictures, home movies, vacations, baseball games, the TIME spent with them. Those years went too fast and I was even a stay at home mom!!
    I know how God must feel when we, as His children, stay away too long. xoxox

  33. 40

    My Yurizan

  34. 41

    yo those flix are ha ha hay

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