Hi, I’m Lisa-Jo
I’m a former attorney, longtime Community Manager at (in)courage, bestselling author, national speaker, and collaborative writer.
I’m the co-host of the Out of the Ordinary Podcast and live just outside Washington, D.C. with my husband of over 20 years and our 3 very loud kids.
Hi, I’m Lisa-Jo.
I have three kids, a well-traveled passport, and a Michigander husband who is a professor and one of the kindest people I know. I believe that ordinary life is the most extraordinary experience we get to have. And that it’s worth writing about.
I wrote a book about the gift of ordinary life called: The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good On You. It’s a collection of stories. Love letters to ordinary life. About the middle — this place where we might have outgrown the shape of our teenage jeans but finally grown into the shape of our souls.
It has resonated with women worldwide. In the words of Aarti Sequeira, Chef and TV Personality:
“I want to give Lisa-Jo’s book a standing ovation because it’s exactly what’s needed for this particular time, when our ‘ordinary’ lives seem so unextraordinary compared to what we see or hear on our phones. I’m beginning to embrace my middle, physically and metaphorically, and I’m finding the most extraordinary thing: The freedom and the joy I thought was missing in my life? It was there all along.”
—Aarti Sequeira, chef, TV personality, journalist and author
I’m not asking you to seize the day, just to make sure you actually see it; for all its wildly ordinary glory (Sobbing in my Minivan Over Honor Roll). Because I believe that the middle might be the best part of the love story of life, muffin top included.
Before I arrived at the muffin-top middle, I was stumbling through the sleep-deprived beginning of new motherhood. I wrote about it in my very first book, Surprised by Motherhood. It’s my journey from South Africa to the States and from swearing I would never be a mother to raising three of the loudest kids I know. The Middle Matters is in so many ways, the sequel to what began in, Surprised by Motherhood
Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom is what you can give that mom friend who feels alone, frustrated and failing.
Because I believe we need each other. I know I do. Most days I can’t find my car keys, my cell phone or my mind. Most nights I think my heart will burst wide open from all the messy love stuffed inside it for those sweetly snoring kids.
And many mornings I want to quit motherhood before I’ve even served the first bowl of Cheerios of the day. But writing this book reminded me that our kids and our stories are not by accident. Both are a gift from the God who gave them to us.
In the last decade, I’ve had the privilege of gathering a tribe of women into community; women who are tired of hearing how things are supposed to be—perfect or simple or uncomplicated or easy—and passionate about hearing about how things actually are: hard, scary, stressful, wonderful, stretching, and still hard.
Since the launch of this blog in 2009, and my memoir, Surprised by Motherhood in 2014, the hashtag #surprisedbymotherhood is now jam-packed with over 15,500 images of the real, gritty, beautiful, everyday snapshots of motherhood that bear testimony both to how difficult and how glorious it is to be a mother.
For nearly a decade, I got to serve as the community manager at the website, (in)courage, where thousands of women gather daily from around the globe to live out the tagline, “Find yourself among friends.”
And in 2017, after thousands of conversations with women about friendship between women, I released a book about everything I’d learned and it went on to be a Publisher’s Weekly and ECPA bestseller: Never Unfriended.
It’s about how nothing hurts as much as the unkind words of a friend. And nothing heals as much as the acceptance and encouragement of a friend.
In it I share about the weird world of navigating friendship during the minivan-driving years. I wanted to unlock the conversations we all have in our heads and get women talking out loud and in person instead. Churches across the country launched book clubs and Bible studies around these books, and women opened their homes and their stories of middle school type hurt experienced in a middle-aged body.
No one can make us quite as unsure about ourselves as another woman.
And no one can make us quite as brave as another woman.
Because that’s what we all long for. The safety of friends who won’t unfriend us. We want to know what the secret is.
As honestly as I could I wrote them down for you. All the secrets I’ve learned the hard way.
And then I dug deeper into what the Bible teaches about friendship. How radical Jesus is when it comes to loving other people. It’s super inconvenient for my selfish heart. But I’m learning. Slowly.
Thousands of women and their teen daughters who’d dug into the book dug deeper together through the Bible Study.
So on this blog and in my books I do my best not to dress up life or faith or motherhood or friendship or my muffin top. I try to tell it straight. Because trying to survive these rollercoasters while under the impression that other women somehow have it all together is dreadfully discouraging.
Instead, I believe that the shortest distance between strangers and friends is a shared awkward story.
And that I think it’s supposed to be like that. Because I believe in a God who is never done teaching us how to become less of us and more of Him.
I love that we can talk about that stuff here.
About what we want our daughters to know about the mean girls or how sometimes you need to show your waist grace.
I love that the Internet gives us a way to share our every day, extraordinary stories.
I co-host a podcast called Out of the Ordinary with a fellow author and friend of nearly two decades, Christie Purifoy, that explores the surprising ways that cultivating ordinary life leads to extraordinary stories.
I’m South African, currently living in the States after a couple years in Ukraine with travel to Belarus, the Czech Republic, Poland, Egypt, Botswana and a few wonderful years in Michigan. I love how social media can change the world for good, one blog post at a time. How it gives us glimpses into the similar stories we live right there between the cereal boxes and kids’ undone art projects at our messy kitchen tables.
And so I keep coming back here with words about motherhood and faith, about friendship and family. This is my truth. And I promise to keep on telling it, this love story. Of how Jesus would have loved me the same whether I had children or not. But how He is remaking me day in and day out through this gift that He saved till last.
So come back tomorrow. And the day after. And I will still be here, unwrapping, unwrapping, unwrapping all this laughing, crying extraordinarily sacred ordinary.
I think you are braver than you know.
I know that you are more beloved than you realize.
And here are my personal favorite and most read posts on the blog:
Two of my blog posts were turned into Mother’s Day videos by my friends over at Journey Box Media. They went viral and I get it because every time I watch them, they still always make me cry.
Come and say hello on Instagram. I’d love to meet you there! Click here to find me.
Want to collaborate on a writing project together? Click here.