Spoiler alert: there are five fun ways to change the world at the end of this post. Because there’s no such thing as just a mom. Whether you’re in Michigan or Maubane, South Africa.

Since Valentine’s Day we’ve raised $24,440. For a community center for 400 moms and the orphans and vulnerable kids they’re raising in South Africa.

Our goal is $150,000 by Mother’s Day. It’s insane. And this is the human blue print.

human blue print

I was standing there in the heat and the sweat with hands holding kids the day the photo was taken.

You’d think this kind of thing is impossible and then a single anonymous donor gives $3,000 to fund the entire playground phase of this community center. And you remember that moms have always been in the business of doing the impossible. Moms and the God who invites them to co-create life with Him.

283 people have raised $24,440

11,983 people subscribe to this blog.

If everyone gave $10 we’d fund this community center just like that.

Is it too much information to tell you I get diarrhea every time I blog a post like this one? That my mouth gets dry and my hands shake and I’m scared all over again and wish I could hide from the story I’m called to live.


Because it means that much. Because these people are my family. Literally. I have three siblings adopted from this community. My dad preaches there on Sundays.

And I feel compelled and called to invite you into the story.

Meet my dad and Pastor Norman and sweaty, hot, African-sun burned me, sharing the dare.  Click here to see the video if you’re reading in an email.

What if between changing the diapers, the laundry and the dishes a community of mothers around the world could change the future for a community of kids in South Africa?

What if 1 blog community could build 1 South African community a safe place for sustainable food, child care, economic empowerment, job skills trainings, a gathering place for church, classrooms for HIV/Aids education, and a playground for their kids?

Because there’s a whole community of women who are raising more kids than just their own and still have all the same hopes, dreams and fears that we do.

And there’s a whole community of kids who would tell you that there is nothing ordinary about being a mom. Especially when you don’t have one.


They live just north of Pretoria, South Africa, in an area called Maubane. About 150 adults and 250 orphans and vulnerable children meet on this open plot of land every week for church, for meals, for play. 


And during the week many of them are unsupervised before and after school.

They’re not strangers. They’re family and friends. I have three adopted siblings from this town and my parents, brothers, and sisters all still live in South Africa and connect me umbilical-like to the country that runs in my veins. We were just home for Christmas. It was over 100 degrees- my Michigan man can never get used to that.





This is my dad. He’s a doctor. He says that all he ever really wanted was to be a preacher. But instead God just keeps giving him children. We tell him that sounds like Gospel to us.


This is my step-mom. After my mom died, she knit our family back together with faith and lots and lots of kids.


And this is the community praying over the plans for the community center. Before there was ever any hope of funding to make them a reality. That’s Pastor Norman on the left and my dad, Peter, on the right.


Along with the local community and my parents’ church – all praying over the plans they had no clue how to finance.



Until we said that the crazy big number wasn’t too big for a committed community to tackle.

Until we said, “We’re in.”

Until we decided that the best thing we can do for our children is invite them into someone else’s story.

I did a podcast over here about it – how scared is the new brave and how it’s a gift to invite our kids into hard stories.

Because what if while we rocked our babies or waited up for our teenagers, while we commuted to work, while we peeled the potatoes we were able to teach our kids what it looks like to love on the world next door?






So here are a bunch of ways you can support this project:

1. Click here to donate to the community kitchen and welcome center – phase 2 of the project.


2. Click here to buy one of these vintage dictionary necklaces from Krafty Kash – she’s donating $12 for every purchase to the project.

Wouldn’t the “Mother” necklace make the best Mother’s Day gift?


Lisa-Jo LOVE edit 2

Lisa-Jo HOME

3. Click here and my friend Money Saving Mom will pre-order my book, Surprised by Motherhood, as a thank you to anyone who donates over $40.

She’ll also include a copy of her new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.


4. Click here and my friend and musician Cherie will donate half of any songs you purchase to this project through the end of March.

PLUS… if you purchase the entire album, she will also send you her other EP “Here Am I” for free.  My favorite song from her new album? Her version of the old children’s hymn, Jesus Loves Me. Here’s the music video that this blog community helped make. With all those photos you shared.

5. Click here to order my book.

Because a percentage of the proceeds from this book will be going back into South Africa.


Because at the end of the days and blog posts, at the end of my rope and this messy house and my fears and chaos and incomplete to-do lists. Turns out I’m not defined by my mothering or my name on a business card or a book.

I’m not defined by what I got done today or whether or not I lost my temper. I’m not defined by my jeans I wish were a different size or my kids when they won’t obey. I’m not defined by my wrinkles or tired eyes.

I am defined by the God who knows me by name; by the God who promises that nothing I do or don’t do can separate me from His love that is in Christ Jesus.

Right where we are at the end of long days and long lists and long sleepless nights, Jesus meets us right there and in Him we are tenderly, patiently, lovingly held together. So we can be ready for tomorrow.

Whether our address is Maubane or Michigan.

He holds us all the same.