About the Author

Lisa-Jo is the best-selling author of Never Unfriended and Surprised by Motherhood. Her newest book, The Middle Matters: Why That (Extra)Ordinary Life Looks Really Good on You invites us to get a good look at our middles and gives us permission to embrace them.

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  1. Passionately and beautifully spoken! Wish I could have heard this about 30 years ago. I chose to stay home and be with children for 10 years and then went to work as an aide in the schools so l could still be home when they weren’t at school. Years later I will tell you over and over that I don’t regret that decision. We didn’t get to take vacations or have a much in the way of nice things. Lived very modestly but did it together. They are my greatest treasure on Earth and were worth every sacrifice. Nurturing children is a valuable and necessary ministry to the well-being and health of our society. I think I’ll print off your encouragement to share with my daughter as her first child is arriving in December. Blessings to all the young mothers who need to know the value of what they are doing.

  2. Lisa Jo- baby girl woke up at 4:30 to be fed, the 3 year old ALWAYS wakes at 6. I chose to stay up in the “in between” in hopes of some quiet before the chaos. THANK YOU for being the voice to my quiet— I whispered enough yuck to myself in the mirror after a horrible yesterday. Thank you for always speaking truth over us mamas. You too give Mana through god’s grace. Thank you.

  3. Lisa Jo,
    AMEN!! Motherhood is a job that you never retire from…how many people can do that?? I believe that God has a special place in his heart for those that embrace the gift of motherhood and all that it entails. In a way, there is no higher calling than to be called to be a mom. Ministry at it’s finest and at it’s grittiest is being a mother. Thank you so much for your encouragement to moms of all ages!! What a great inspiration this morning!!
    Blessings,
    Bev

  4. I know that this mothering is the greatest work I will do in my lifetime – not the only work, but truly the greatest. I know this because of the great influence my own mother was in my life. It is the role of a lifetime!

  5. Those who think motherhood stopped when you pack them up haven’t walked the Mom tight rope. Four kids in five years, some time in the 1990s….now four kids in four different cities and Mom is still awakened at 3 am to pray. Baby girl will be 20th on Tuesday. She Saturday in ER for dog bite and is going through rabies shots. My arm ache to hold her, and through wet eyes I pray for her. God knew her before the beginnings and she is His. I rest in knowing He loves her much more than I do and He created this mother’s heart.

  6. Thank you for confirming that our families are our first ministry. What a garden of opportunity to plant, nourish, tender, grow, harvest, reap God’s precious righteousness in the celebrations of everyday life. Thank you.

  7. Wonderful!! There was a sign at the exit of the parking lot at a church that said: You are entering the mission field…..

  8. Truly, mothering is a challenging, beautiful calling. I’m trying to remain available for my kids and follow God’s leading in my life. Too often I ask myself about my worth, the value of my “work”, and I thank you for the reminder that this mothering thing matters, for real.

  9. Thank you for this wonderful encouragement. I am not a mother, but a caregiver to my 91 year old parents who are both disabled. Mom had a back fracture and dad a bypass and he is blind. My days are filled with my own office work, plus planning soft meals, diapers, itchy skin, bed sores, tantrums, repeating myself, ensuring the room temperature is always right. Brushing dentures, tucking in, emptying urinals keep me running around with wipes, paper towel and first aid supplies – our main shopping items.

    My sheets are unwashed, my bills are unpaid, the fridge has strange smells, the carpet is spotted – but we are thankful to God that we are together and mostly healthy. We have a home where Jesus rules, food on our plates, hot water, and know that our names are in His eternal book of life. Thank you again for confirming what He has told me- that this is my mission at this time.

  10. Such a beautiful post. Amen to every word. I was sucked into the “you must work to be successful” generation all those years ago. I missed out on so much of my children’s lives while I was trying to be important to everyone else. Now I spend every moment praying my daughters will stay at home with my grandchildren and doing everything I can to help them do so. Encouragement from other mothers is so important! Thank you for being such a great inspiration to this generation of young mothers. Your generation is raising the strongest warriors for God’s Army. I pray more women of my generation will become advocates for helping this generation stay at home to mother their children.

  11. Oh how I adore you and all of your words and your honesty and brave… I love your passion to preach to yourself and to say it loud enough to penetrate our hearts too and Lord may it seep in deep and let us – each of us – rise up to the calling and the ministry that You have placed before us, beside us, within us! Praying for you this week and everyone at Allume… believing God for ‘Big’ ministry in small quiet corners and over coffee and on hotel beds into the wee hours of the morning filled with laughter and tears and breakthroughs left and right!

  12. Amen and well-timed, finding me in the middle of canning applesauce, running homeschooled boys from point a to point b, and wondering why my house is never clean. OK. I get it. Thank you.

  13. So needed, I have two wild boys who just trashed three rooms before I could even correct them, who in their hearts are meant to be wild at heart, but how do I manage them? I have dishes in the sink, and the counter, laundry on two couches, cookies to bake for tomorrow night for our required volunteer time for school, and just very, very tired. So true liking your kids in addition to loving them, and mothering them and not just maintaining them, and me having to be the Godly example? What a tall order that is never ending.

    Now I just took a needed short breather and have to get back to my boys to help them get ready for school because I have to carpool for 4K and need to bring them both.

  14. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m one of those working moms who goes to bed feeling like half the day was left undone, and I’ve got two of “those” boys who try my patience on a daily basis. There are LOTS of days I think, ministry? What ministry? I’m just trying to survive here! I read somewhere that sometimes who you’re raising is the most important thing you can do for the Kingdom, and I remind myself of that often. God gave me my boys, He’s given me a means to support my family, and I may not minister to millions, but I can let Christ’s love pour through me to my husband and my boys and my co-workers and the people I ride up and down the elevator with each day.

  15. Maybe my favorite post of yours, Lisa-Jo, and there are already a lot that I love. No kids of my own, but I pray fervently for my parenting siblings every time I read your words. And I think of my mom and my own childhood…I wish you had been there, wish you had spoken these words to her 30 years ago, and even more, I wish I had been able to hear you say them to her. I am learning grace.

  16. Hitting the LOVE button on this one, Lisa-Jo! Such a great reminder for days when ministry looks like emptying a cat litter box or scraping sparkly glue off the floor (from this morning’s to-do list). Life is never dull or unimportant when you are serving those you love in Jesus’ Name!

  17. I remember as a young mom of four struggling with those thoughts all the time. I tried to be a good pastor’s wife, a lot times caregiver to my pastor husband who was sick 12 yrs out of our 17 yrs of marriage, and a mother. In the early years of his illness when our children were little, a young, single missionary woman came to our church. A few weeks after she was gone I received a card from her with the sweetest words written, and ones I needed to hear. She wrote that I was courageous and told me my greatest mission field was my children/family and to pour myself into them. I treasured those words and remembered them for many years. Since that time my husband has passed away (in 2000 at the age of 37). God sent me another wonderful, godly man. My children are all young adults now and only one remains at home until this coming spring. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, went through chemo and last month, after 12 years of ministry, I stepped down from the music team at church. My role has changed drastically. I feel like I’m trying to find my way once again in my role in life. God has been showing this very thing to me. Although my kids are grown, it’s in the everyday things. I get the calls from time to time to get my advice and to pray. I have been watching a boy (12) and his sister (10) since they were newborns, who are like my very own. I have and am investing in them. I’m taking one day at a time and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit in reaching out to people in the everyday things of this life. You are right….It is ministry that is coming in quietly… Our lives are not small. Thank you for this reminder, no matter what stage of life we are in.

  18. This is exactly what I needed to hear 15 years ago, and while I didn’t hear it then, I hear it loud and clear now. Now it means making ministry out of driving my teens all over town and praying without ceasing and cheering on the sidelines and doing my best to get out of the way so God can have His way in their lives.
    I love the way you serve him, Lisa-Jo:) Thank you for pouring out these words for all mamas, of babies and teens alike!

  19. Lisa,
    Sometimes you read a bit like this and it hits just right. I’m gulping in this post today like its air and I’ve been underwater for a week. You just equipped this mama to grab Jesus’s hand and look this day right in the eye and move forward. Today, I’m enough.

  20. Lisa Jo, thank you so much for these words. I began to read this post because earlier today I was getting nervous about Allume. Your words are helping me to settle my soul and be content with my ministry as a mother. It truly is the biggest blessing and sacrifice that I’ve ever made. Thank you!

  21. Love times a thousand.
    The scraping off the oven and the helping with math and the sorting of winter clothes and rubbing feet and going lower, always going lower. Jesus is found in all of this…
    I love all of us women down in the trenches, my quiet grateful heart might BURST!

  22. Lisa-Jo – what a gift your ministry is to me and all the other mamas like me! God has truly used your encouragement and honesty to speak into my life and to help me to once again see myself as His precious child and not “just” the frazzled 30-something in wet hair and sweatpants who happens yo answer to “mom.” He is using you to remind me that THIS everyday reality that I sometimes (okay, often!) wish away is actually the real Kingdom work, and recognizing that I need to be striving to please Him and not the voice in my head has been the truth I need to hear on those hard days. I thank God for you and your willingness to be used by Him to reach SO many mamas who are desperate for something, anything to grab onto that gives hope and solidarity on this hard journey. Preach it, sister!

  23. Powerful post. I don’t have little kids anymore. Two of our 4 kids are out of school, out of college, and married. One son is still in high school, and we have our oldest, precious one living at home with us: our 28 year old son, Joshua, who has Down Syndrome. He is my ministry right now…and I am thankful and honored to be his mom. Not gonna lie, tho, there are days, a rare, few days…when answering the same question for the 7000th time gets old…when wanting to go somewhere or just have a MOMENT to myself sounds like heaven…where I wish I could just feel “normal” for one second, whatever that is. I haven’t had a carefree breath in 28 years. Joshua is not a burden, but he’s always on my mind. By God’s plan and provision, Joshua has opened more doors than my husband and I ever could’ve opened on our own…opportunities to share God’s faithfulness; opportunities to point to HIM as our Sustainer and strength.Thank you for encouraging an “older” mom today. All the little things matter. 🙂

  24. Gosh, Lisa-Jo. This kept me raptured the entire time, nodding my head yes, yes, YES. So easy to compare, to believe lies, to feel Not Enough. A welcome- and beautiful- knock to my knees, taking the scales from my eyes: what I do matters.

  25. As always, Lisa-Jo, your words are like music to a weary mom’s soul. The days fly by, and it is so hard to feel like you are making a difference when you are just trying to keep everyone in clean underwear! Homeschooling my three kiddos, and being supportive to my overworked husband, leaves little time for me to do much besides operate in crisis mode. I try to get up early to have quiet time, but it is usually invaded. I have given up being frustrated by this, since it is something that God has shown me is one of my biggest blessings–precious time alone with my husband or one of my children. I do not need to be by myself to worship my Savior. I worship Him by being thankful for and kind to the blessings He’s given me. And I minister in the midst of the messiness that is my life. All about perspective!

    Blessings to you!
    Selena

  26. thank you! This is the very first post I have ever read at incourage and golly, was it timely. Just a few days ago, I mused how my hopes of “doing ministry” were set aside as I focused on my family; but it is through that that the Lord has actually revealed a greater calling – the opportunity to understand and encourage women and moms. This article was equal parts shouting to me AND shouting what I want to share. I am so grateful for this platform, for this beach house, for this community. I plan to return frequently as I believe I have found a like minded tribe 🙂 and hopefully one day soon be able to write something worth sharing.

  27. Just a quiet little thought to ponder along with these very true and powerful words. As a not-yet mother, married for five years, who doesn’t have a “career”, it’s easy to read these words and think “there—when I do that, when I become a mother, THAT is when I will mean something, that is when I will do something that matters. Even when the world laughs in the face of it’s incredible importance, mothering–in triumph and in failure—THAT will be doing something that’s worth something.” Everything you said, and your heart behind it is so true. Mothering IS so important, and such a precious gift. But what I’m learning is this– it’s still easy to attach our ultimate worth and value even to these very beautiful and honorable things God gifts us with to do. In a sense, it’s easy to make motherhood–both the joys and the trials–an idol. Like, “THIS, right here–this is the proof of why I mean something.”

    God is showing me that when ALL is stripped away, when every possible place I could attempt to derive an ounce of significance is removed, what do I find? Does my ultimate worth and value come solely from the unmeasurable love of God in Christ? Or do I find myself wading in insignificance and a lack of identity? Too often it’s the later. But God is reminding me that I matter to Him not because of any product of the work of my hands, honorable or otherwise, but because He formed me in my mother’s womb, fashioned me after His image, and breathed life into my very lungs. Because He loves me, ardently so. And because He burst forth from Heaven to this earth and bore a cross reserved from me to show me just how much.

    Now I find myself pondering—what if I could daily find my ultimate worth and identity simply in the beautiful fact that I am a child of the King. What would it look like to live out of that daily? What would it look like to BELIEVE that I matter and am worth something just because I am a child of God? God’s love for me is of the no-strings-attached variety. He loves me because He made me, and because I am His. This is why I matter, this is why I am worth something. It’s always because of Him, and what He has done.

    What mothers do is important, incredibly so. It’s a gift and a vital one. It’s a beautiful and high calling that most say means very little. But just because IT is important, doesn’t mean it’s what makes ME important. I know this isn’t what you are saying here—but as someone who has wrestled with this for a while, I just wanted to throw a quiet little thought in the mix, for anyone who is in a similar place—-anyone who reads this with head nodding in agreement, but with a tinge of discouragement because they’ve yet to experience the beautiful and sanctifying privilege of the ministry of a mother, let alone any of the other “big/more important” ones.

  28. A-MEN.

    God made a Garden, full of dirt and tangled roots — men made flower boxes and pots. Flowers seldom ever grow alone in nature. Gardens grow best when the plants grow together — people do too. If what you’re doing means getting tangled up in the dirt of someone else’s life, whether that be dirty diapers or drama, then it’s important. If what you’re doing involves caring for another person, the messier that caring-for gets, the mightier the ministry it is.

    This is a great reminder for all the mommas lost in the tangles and dirt. Thank you.

  29. Thank you so much! I needed this as I sit here this morning thinking and praying about many of these things! God bless you!

  30. Lisa-Jo, our daughter is grown now and our home is much quieter – and cleaner 🙂 But, oh I remember wanting to do something worthwhile for God. God allowed me to be a stay at home mom and raise that sweet girl of mine and I know it was one of my biggest blessings. Today I wonder about my significance in ministry for different reasons but I am reminded by your words that being a mom was and will always be my greatest calling.

    Beautiful.

  31. What a wonderful , well thought-out article! I wish I could send it to all the women I know!
    I will surely send it to some.
    God bless you.

  32. Thank You! I loved this post. Words I need to hear and remember every single day with my seven kids. I love and appreciate your passion to encourage mothers in their ministry to their families. So needed.

  33. Remember these words when you children are teens and young adults. It might not be Cheerios stuck to the floor or middle of the night feelings, but it will be waiting up for them to get home, and knowing when they need a hug but would never ask. Kids needs their moms even when they are 6’3″, drive themselves to school and pretend like they don’t need anybody.

  34. Thank you for the reminder of why I stayed home with my children. They are blessings from God and are each serving Him in their own ways as young adults. God uses us as we are and loves us as we serve. Each season of life offers different opportunities for ministry and work. Thanks again.

  35. Preach it Lisa-Jo!! Even though I’m not a mama I still sometimes wonder about my ministry. I am and have taken care of older parents. I watched for 2 years as my mom was bedridden with dementia and sundowner’s. Tried my best to help dad with stuff. Now I’m in charge of my dad’s banking (doing that since 2011) and running errands with and for him. I visit him weekly in the assisted living, try to go to each doctor’s appointment with him and be there when he’s in hospital.

    Your parents were given to you by God and it is our responsibility to show God to them by helping them out as they age. They raised us now it’s our turn.

    Through all this I work a full-time job and manage a household, with the help of hubby.

    Thank you Lisa Jo for reminding us that Mothering youngster or oldies is super important and a ministry in its own way!

    Blessings!!

  36. Lisa-Jo AND Lexi, from comments – thank you and beautiful. I’m 46, 3 kids later than most (married @30 and was told I was infertile by my OBGYN… God’s timing proved otherwise). Now my 1st son is almost 13, 2nd son 9 and baby girl almost 6. The Lord called me to homeschool 4 years ago and I am TIRED! Lexi, from comments above – the biggest shift in my walk with Jesus toward freedom from self-condemnation (and even others-condemnation… Yuck) has been learning what you described! When Jesus, JUST JESUS is enough for me to have (fill in the blank- gratitude/joy/peace/gentleness towards my kids/respect towards my husband…etc), then I am free! My identity is totally wrapped in Him and those “days left half undone” Lisa-Jo perfectly described don’t make me ME. He doesn’t look down from heaven and see the unfolded laundry, the math that wasn’t touched, the stupid show I sat up and watched INSTEAD of finishing my Bible Study homework, the harsh response I gave my badgering middle son, or the careless comment I made to my husband. According to the Word, The Lord sees JESUS ALL OVER ME and He LOVES me and delights to lift me, again, to this high calling. Thanks, ladies, for these truths again. I needed them.

  37. Ack – I left off a key phrase.. Insert after “comment made to my husband…” …and say THAT is who my daughter is.

    Of course The Lord sees all my blunders, but there is NO condemnation for me in Christ Jesus! So the deal is if He doesn’t define me by those things, I probably shouldn’t either.

  38. Thank you for writing this feature Lisa-Jo – well done and a great read. Moms and dads – print this out — and tape it to your fridge – you need to reread it and remind yourself 😉 My sons are teenagers now – taller than both my husband and I 😉 Another busy family adventure and crazy chapters have unfolded – titles could be ,”hold onto your seat” to “really he is old enough to drive his own car ” ie asking licensing inspector or “let’s go for another roller coaster ride warp speed” but I would not change it for anything. Our faith and God’s gifts /blessings keep us glued and have given us a strong and well built foundation. Thanks to my elder Carol for sharing on our First Presbyterian Church page ~ Chantal

  39. And when the cat box becomes someone else’s job and the sparkly glue turns into work clothes and engagement rings, we will know that every moment was worth it. This mothering thing never stops…it just morphs into a grander experience than we could ever imagine.

  40. Lisa-Jo, thanks for encouraging all the moms who sometimes feel as if they are unimportant. Seeing how tough it has been on my step-children to grow up without a mom breaks my heart. I am waiting for my adult step-children to call me “mom” and mean it (their mother died before they formed memories of her). I pray for them every day and think of them every day. Why do some people think that an adoptive mom can love her adopted kids, but somehow, a step-mom can’t/doesn’t love her step-children? I call them my kids and I don’t make a distinction about whether they’re biologically mine. I thank God for them and I hope that one day, they will want to treat me as their mom, not just the nice woman who married their dad.