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. Lisa-Jo,
    Oh now you’ve got me thinking about “that room”…the only thing I can put my finger on is that the heart is sinful. It is fallen and deceptive. We like to say, “Trust your heart,” when in reality we need to “trust God’s heart.” I kind of see that room as the sinful, selfish desires of our heart. Much like you, I put myself out there. I do a lot of interacting with people. I pour out love on my family, the kids that we serve through our ministry, to my writing and the women who are touched by it. I pour out a lot and I think, like you, my room might be filled with emptiness because sometimes I do just want to be left alone. I want my down time. I just want to sit and drink my coffee and not be interrupted by anyone or anything. To me that sounds pretty selfish…but I believe that’s the room where my selfish heart dwells – in the “me”.

    I do think, however, that God redeems our hearts. He replaces our heart of stone with a heart of flesh and I think that’s the heart we need to seek after…the one who (for me) loves my husband dearly, pours out unselfishly to my kids even though they don’t return in kind, the one who loves seeing children in a part of the world that is terrifying grow in the love of Christ, the one who is in her “zone” when she’s writing and encouraging others. The one that gets excited by digging deeper into God’s Word. I think that’s the door to the room I want to keep opening. As for the one to my selfish heart’s desires…I think I’ll leave that one shut because Christ died so I wouldn’t have to open it.

    Be easy on yourself…even Christ got weary and needed to draw away and retreat from the world. That was because, at that point in time, He was human like us. You have a wonderful ministry to your family and to (in)courage and your writing….I know, you’ve touched me with it 🙂

    Blessings,
    Bev xx

  2. All such interesting thoughts. I struggle with some of the same things. Just wanting some down time of watching a show, surfing the internet, or having a treat. And then comes the endless cycle of guilt. Like why can’t I overcome these habits? My struggle is, though, “what is my unique gifting that God has given me to share the gospel?”

  3. I would bet that most people would find that they really want LOVE. Those other things you or I fear might show up are our feeble attempts at locating it. You might say wait a minute, I just wanted some down time from giving, some R&R, binge on selfishness for a bit. If that were the thing you loved most you wouldn’t even be asking yourself any of these questions. Of course we don’t know our inner most longings, that is exactly why God has the Holy Spirit interceding for us. Those groaning of our hearts are known to the only one who matters, our great wonderful loving God.

    Now I know the above to be absolutely true with every fiber of my being, but half the time my feelings just get in the way. Right now I’m having the hardest time praying for what is needed in my life. Notice I said needed. Easy to pray for others most of the time,but sometimes I’m just afraid to open the door to opportunities to ……… yep, the unknown. Seek and ye shall find, well we all might be concerned where that would take us on earth, but not to a room of deepest desires, because heaven is there waiting for us.

  4. I’m aware that God has gifted me and given me a passion for teaching the Bible, and that’s been the way I’ve shared the gospel through the years, but your words also make me want to stay close to the sound of His voice because you’re right — our own hearts surprise us sometimes with what they attach themselves to, and I’d never want to let a gift from God become the thing that separates me from His plan for me.

  5. Oh, Lisa-Jo, funny that this is the topic today, because I was reading in 1 John this morning and one of the verses that glared back at me was: “…If we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.” (1Jn. 4:12, nlt) — “His love is brought to full expression in us.” Isn’t that lovely? I’m still trying to unwind it, figure out the nuances of its meaning, but I love the beauty–the poetry of that phrase. (God is the best writer ever. 🙂 ) — My unique gifting–hmm, God can correct me if I’m wrong (*smile*), but I feel like the compassion and heart for others He’s given me — approachablity, inclusivity, outreaching — seems to me, to be how I’m able to best serve. Mostly through social ministry and writing ministry. — Lovely post, Lisa-Jo, thanks for sharing. (And, I’ll have to try to come back later to read the other responses…interesting question. 🙂 )

  6. This was so thought-provoking and encouraging. Thank you. Lisa-Jo. I suspect that my room would look a lot like yours – room service is definitely one of my favorite things. But I pray God continues to work in me and cause me to love His Gospel even more. I love the unchanging character of the Lord and am gifted to walk alongside women who are suffering and remind them of His promises, in person and through writing.

  7. What a great exercise of envisioning “that room!” I have been uniquely gifted with the gospel to encourage and support others. For years I disregarded this gifting and and strove instead to be the one out front, competed for attention and accolade. But as I’ve matured spiritual and emotionally, I see how the Lord created me for partnership and uses that in just about every aspect and season of my life. Nowadays, I usually embrace my role and have learned healthy boundaries to avoid being taken advantage of for my given gifts (as I was in my younger years). Being satisfied with what the Lord has given is such a great joy!

  8. Wow! Talk about making a girl think!!!

    As someone who struggles with a few health things, lots of weight, my head, and I suppose heart, was like….Yes!!! Skinny, no aching knees or complete exhaustion from Hashimotos Thyroid! While that would be great…..I will have that in Heaven!

    While I most often am one to quickly respond no matter what I feel like doing, I love my quiet, peaceful, ME time. And God has really blessed me, because the way I am blessed to spread his love is thru the crochet ministry He gave me. I get sit in prayer over someone, kniwn or not, and God uses my hands to create tangible pieces of love. Chemo hats tgat go to cancer patients, prayer shawls to those grieving a loss, baby blankets fir NICU babies, blankets for the Humane Society.

    God knew my physical issues, and gave me a gift if prayer and creating beautiful things filled with hugs and prayers. I need to remember this more. And not feel like I am not usable, or doing enough.

    Blessings to you.

    • Sue, that is so beautiful; to hear of His great grace. This is something, a privilege, I share with you. Thank you for using that gift to His glory 🙂

    • Sue,
      What you are doing is MEANINGFUL! What a wonderful and tender ministry – what you do. You are literally being the hands of Jesus with your knitting. Keep using your gift to glorify him and show compassion to others.
      Blessings,
      Bev xx

      • Woman encouraging women! Iron sharpening iron, grace all over the place! All of us, in whatever capacity are right in the center of God’s will! This is the body of Christ

  9. Dear Lisa-Jo and (in)courage friends who read the comments,

    This comment is not on topic but I pray you’ll have grace for that. Yesterday, we got the news that my cousin’s six month old son has a rare and aggressive form of cancer. This morning as I was praying for them, I realized I wanted to share this with all of you and ask you for your prayers for this sweet baby and his family. Would you please pray for them? As believers themselves, I know that they’re thankful for all the prayers they can get in this unimaginable time. Thank you so much!! I’m so thankful to be a (mostly silent but very blessed) part of the (in)courage community!

    Allie

  10. I’ve been doing a lot of processing lately. Through a traumatic head injury, I lost all my hair within 21 days. It brought my life to a halt to reflect and redirect. I love This Room you talk of. I think mine would be filled with what didn’t really matter in the end. But YES this gifting to share the gospel will propel me forward to share Jesus with others. Needed these thoughts to help sort through this processing.

  11. Practically speaking Obeying what He asks me to do is oftentimes sacrificial, difficult and bad for my schedule.
    But my aha moment, ” it’s all His anyway!” so in grace I learn to obey and my life is never the same.
    It all boils down to living in Jesus. Expressing life in love, trusting in Him and sheer obedience.
    Sometimes it is to regroup pray and above all else listen.
    God is so good always, no matter what! Amen!

    • Hello Corena,

      Was your “AHA” intentional for the acronym of All His Anyway? I hadn’t heard of AHA that way, I was just wondering.
      If it wasn’t before, it is now…for me.

      • love it but it was actually my “aha moment.” I am a CVICU nurse so AHA to me means American Heart Association . But I like yours anyway. Blessings Sarah

  12. Hi Lisa-Jo! What an insightful question to consider. I particularly relate to how you refer to it as a tension between the love of self and the love of the gospel; I believe this tension of our heartstrings is designed! If we let slack into that string, we will be jolted and hurt when God nudges us. But with tension, we are free to feel His tugs and slowly tightrope walk closer to His heart for us.

    For me, like you, that is using words and story to share this radical, life-changing, all-consuming, relentless hope and love that won’t let me go, and helping women to know the God of this love through His word.

    This verse comes to mind: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” – Galatians 5:17

  13. Thank you for this post! Smith’s book, “You Are What You Love” is shaping up to be a good read! I’m going through it now. ❤️
    I know I need the Lord’s conviction to love Him first, and to see why that’s so much better than anything else.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing Lisa! Really made me think! I would always love for my greatest desire to be Jesus and spending time with Him and being surrounded by loved ones! Blessings always xoxo

  15. Oh boy, I though I had it all figured out. I must have only cracked my door, because writing flows easily, and wanting to help people. But God thinks so much higher, all the little dreams He turns into bigger ones. Sorry, Lisa Jo, you may have to give up some television to focus on Him. I hardly ever watched television anymore,when once before all I wanted to do was write was cop shows. I had a better covenant and promise and the reality is reality t.v….isn’t or quality either. The beauty of Jesus gives me better stories to share. Don’t be afraid of your room, it’s just better than you think and the enemy deceives. I read Bev’s comment and I know that verse, but I believe a born again heart full of Jesus will not deceive you and it’s alright to follow it. It’s more the thought process, the mind’s inability to really grasp His goodness, that’s where the attack comes from. So we must stay focused on Him or else, we wander off. He knows we all have things to do and people to care for, but He will help us manage our time.

  16. I don’t know if this might be taken the wrong way (in fact it might even cause More guilt) but I envy you and all the lives of these in courage writers who do have a husband, and kids and people to love and love them. Be glad you have that because some of us don’t. Believe me, sitting alone and watching hours of Netflix and eating junk food can get old reallly fast: especially when you’re single and have TOO much downtime. It’s nice when u can have Both family time and ‘me’ time. Some of us have too much ‘me’ time. (Guilty as charged.) Anyway, it’d be nice to have that full abundant life where you have people who love u and u can pour into them and they can pour it back..I enjoyed your post. Its just hard when I hear people complain about things that other people dream about being able to do. You didn’t but I often seem to hear that as a complaint of women who have families and husband’s to take care of…

  17. I’m glad to read all of the comments today. I haven’t been able to do that for a while. Love and prayers as I read.

    It’s a good question, to ponder our gifting. I have a friend who told me, “You’re a pretty good writer,” and I know God wants to love others through me. I pray in the morning that God will give me his love for my people today.

    I remember a game changer when I was so busy with my little one that the only Bible time I had was when I tucked her into bed. I realized that I did have free moments in my day, I just DIDN’T KNOW WHEN so I didn’t plan for them. Once I realized that I planned to read the Bible and a devotional whenever the peaceful moment came. It was as if God was in charge of giving me time to meet with him. First it was only ten minutes but it grew to a half hour.

    It’s a good question to remind us that our best love is God, but a bad one if we sidetrack and try to clean our hearts by ourselves instead of bringing them back to God daily or hourly or moment by moment (kairos time). Scott NcKnight’s book, The King Jesus Gospel gives a great picture of how we can live “under the influence” of the Father as Jesus did. Not that I attain this but my best moments have been thrilling. Trusting Jesus is better than trying to be perfect for him. Go ahead and ask for your daily down time!

  18. Thank you, Lisa Jo, for these thoughts. I copied some of this into my journal – and want to keep it before me. So good – thank you!

  19. Lisa-Jo,

    You are what you love. But you might not love what you think.” AMEN! I, too, have weeks when all I want is to be alone with my thoughts. Life gets crazy with part-time work, caring for elderly parents, church, etc. I see that room only for me it is filled with quiet Christian music, a computer and myself. My unique gifting is encouragement. I send out cards, e-cards, texts, & e-mails letting others know how much they mean to me. Also go to assisted living and try to smile and say hi to the residents.

    I don’t think it is selfish to want some alone time. What we do with it is a different story. This fallen world would have us want to watch TV and eat junk food. There have been times when I’ve craved just that. Mostly I just want peace and tranquility. Perhaps time to work on Bible Study, read an email or just be with God.

    Blessings 🙂

  20. Lisa-Jo, thanks for the very challenging thoughts. So good! You HAVE to read James K.A. Smith’s book, You Are What You Love. I read it last year and it has stayed with me for so long. Truly, a life-changing read.