16 Oct 2013

From South Africa, With Thanks

There are days it’s easy to feel like an orphan. Or lost in a grown up’s life.

My family live an ocean away and my daughter stood and screamed for a good ten minutes without her drawers while seated on her potty yesterday. Screamed good and red in the face and nothing could make it better.




Sometimes we’re all stuck in our uncomfortable, awkward stories and grown ups aren’t supposed to just scream out all the frustration at the top of their lungs.

I go down on my knees beside her little chubby legs. They’re curving over the edge of her green froggy potty stool and she is glaring snot and tears into my face. I reach for her and she swats at me and doesn’t want what I know she wants.

I gently take her hands and pull her up. Her tender self all frustration and sweat and nakedness melting into me. I cup her with my arms and my words and slowly stroke those damp curls back from her cheeks. I rock her and we’re both listening to the music and watching each other in the mirror and there is comfort in frustration and fury shared.

I hold all she is and none of it repulses, angers, isolates me.

I hold her and I am holding myself.

All these aching parts; grown ups wear their bruises on the inside.

I rock her as she wails and slowly she dissolves into me and her head burrows into my neck and I can feel her tears salty sweet against my skin. Daughter of mine, self made over again, I love you.

And this is an act of the divine – to enter the life and story of another. To set ourselves aside for a moment and say, “I remember you. I see you.”

Mothers do this thing. This amazing stepping into the shoes and skin and stories of tiny humans.

In the midst of the dishes and the car pooling and baseball games and picking up the milk and doing the laundry. In the midst of doing the laundry mothers make time. They stop and go and stop and go a thousand thousand times a day and this is the holy tabernacle of remembering.

Always making time to remember someone else in the midst of the hurly burly of their days. And nights. And days again. Mothers remember that there is always more to the story than themselves.



So I shouldn’t have been surprised yesterday when you all remembered your sisters in South Africa. And funded a new community water point and laundry center in less than 12 hours flat!


I shouldn’t have been covered in goosebumps with tears choking out my eyes and clogging up my throat when I watched you stop and remember.

Stop in the middle of the laundry.

Stop between runs to the grocery store and the school.

Stop on your way to work.

Stop between making the lunch and making the dinner.

I shouldn’t have been so amazed that so many mothers would stop and remember what it might be like to do laundry without a washer, over an open hose, in a small community in Maubane, South Africa.



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Because we are perhaps at our most human and most sacred when we forget ourselves and open our arms and hearts to the aches and needs of our sisters in Christ. Because in that moment we remember Him.

The Jesus who moved into the neighborhood – next door to you and me and mamas in Maubane and farmer’s wives in Canada and Iowa.

I come with hands full of thanks – full up and running over between my fingers – all this thanks I can barely cup in two hands.

I’ll let my dad, who will help build the water point and laundry center that you funded in less than 12 hours – I’ll let him express it in his own words:

Dear Friends,
We watched with awe and astonishment as we saw the “Laundry for Africa” project being fully funded yesterday, within 12 hours! Though we have not seen you, we have been loved by you, and you have said “This thing can be done! ” We felt as if we have been holding hands and dancing together with yourselves and the Lord Jesus.

I think Sarah must have felt a little the same when she was told by the Lord that she was going to have a baby, and she could hardly believe it for joy. So thank you so much for the dance that cost you something but made us laugh together at the Grace of Christ amongst us.

Love from South Africa and the Take Action team




The next time you think you’re “just” a mom, remember yesterday. Remember what a community of moms and neighbors and friends seperated by an ocean but connected by a Holy Spirit can do together.

Remember how we all danced and laughed at the joy of doing laundry together.

All of us sisters stopping to remember. And dance on.

And if you didn’t get a chance to be part of this project? Because it was over so quickly. I’m thinking next month? Maybe we plant a vegetable garden right next to that water point, eh?


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    Thanks and praise be to God! How exciting, Lisa! It is amazing what technology has allowed us to do for His Kingdom these days. May the Gospel go forth through these acts of love. I will try to remember these mothers in prayer today as I load/switch my laundry using my washer/dryer.

  2. 2
    Ro elliott says:

    Praises….God is on the move…thanks for taking the position God has placed you and living so other centered with your voice ….rejoicing here…blessings~

  3. 3

    You are a visionary. A builder. Thank you for inviting us to work alongside you :)

  4. 4

    What a precious post. God’s women are the very best. I missed out on it this time so I do hope you plan another project.

  5. 5

    Thank you so much for enabling us to be part of this – sharing the laundry and the love.
    Blessings from a fellow mummy, in Oxfordshire, UK

  6. 6

    That frog potty is much loved and hated here, too. I stand by my statement that potty training is my least favorite part of momming!

    I find myself tearing u over how beautiful it is that this project was funded so quickly! So quickly, in fact, that I missed out on participating. I’ll try to move faster when the vegetable garden comes up next month! What a great way to help make good, healthy food easier for mamas to provide for their babies! Thanks for letting us share in this project!

  7. 7

    “And this is an act of the divine – to enter the life and story of another. To set ourselves aside for a moment and say, “I remember you. I see you.”
    This is pure beauty and poetry. Classic Lisa-Jo. Thank you for that :)

  8. 9

    I love a vegetable garden and all it implies :) Wrote a reflection on this today. Can’t wait to spend the next two weekends hanging with you and incredible mothers and writers at MomCon and Allume!

  9. 10

    I’m so humbled and awed by the way God chooses to work through such imperfect people as me! Thanks for the opportunity to step into someone’s story.

  10. 11
    Suzanne vd Merwe says:


    Loooong story short, I live in Pretoria, SA, and if you guys want to do a vegetable garden in Maubane, then I’ve got a contact for you. His name Ian Steyn, he works with Foundations for Farming (you can check their website for awesome testimonies), and his life’s passion is helping urban communities build sustainable vegetable gardens all over South Africa. He is an incredible person, and has done incredible work. I can only imagine that he would love to help you guys by giving advice from his extensive experience on optimizing urban resources to whatever else you guys need.

    On the website, he is the trainer for Gauteng, ian.steyn@absa.co.za

    Please please check it out!


  11. 12
    Suzanne vd Merwe says:

    * Rural resources. Not Urban, obviously…


  12. 13
    Mary Geisen says:

    I loved your story today and the great news of quick funding for those in need of a water point and laundry. What really struck me in your post though is the simple reminder for all mothers captured in one sentence: “Mothers remember that there is always more to the story than themselves.” Words to hold close when the mundane is overtaking your day. Words to uplift when you need them most. Thank you for the blessing of your story today.

  13. 14

    What a great joy it is to think, that your words not only bring light into someone world but also brought water into someone neighbor. Who would think that doing laundry would be something to be excited about, but having done laundry without a washer before I can appreciate the greatness of that convenience. Blessing to you and to those who serve in whatever capacity they can.

  14. 15

    I love love love the end of this post…because I didn’t get a chance to donate! I was on my way to do so this morning when I saw that it funded. If you want to build a vegetable garden, I’d be glad to help make it happen!

  15. 16

    I missed it! Sign me up for next month, please! (I mean, I’ll jump when you tell about the project.)

  16. 17

    Yes a veg garden! Can’t wait!!

  17. 18
    AineMistig says:

    This was amazing — it was so encouraging and aweing to read how quickly the goal was reached!

    Like I said yesterday, I opened my email, came over to participate and it was already done! So, a vegetable garden and maybe chickens/baby chicks sounds good to me!

  18. 19

    Thank you for this opportunity and for sharing the follow up. It was so neat to share your Father’s letter and the photos with my family – especially my little girl – and talk about how our family could partner with other families around the country to make a difference for these moms and kids in South Africa. It was such a great faith building moment!

  19. 20

    What a beautiful thing. Mothers helping other mothers. Just how the world should be!

  20. 21

    Wow…Jesus in action right there!


  1. […] Africa and they’re going to send a thank you I can’t wait to share with you tomorrow. (Click here to read it). Let’s just say there was a lot of happy tears and happy dancing!!! Moms can do hard things! […]

  2. […] you all raised $5,000 in less than 12 hours for a community water and laundry project in South Africa. (Stay tuned for what we’re gonna build next […]

  3. […] Friday at Lisa-Jo Baker’s where this week readers raised $5,000 in less than 12 hours for a community water and laundry project in South Africa! Such good news. I need to be reminded that something so automatic for most of us as the washing […]

  4. […]  $5,000 in less than 12 hours for a community water and laundry project in South Africa.  Reading about it touched me deep, and so did her reminder that “Mother’s remember that there is always […]

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