“Big Ocean Women is about being powerful as women and using the power to make others’ lives better,” said featured Big Ocean Woman, Lisa Bjornberg. Below you can see Lisa as part of the Big Ocean leadership team at the UN, where they stood for faith, family, and motherhood in international policy.
As a very young child, Lisa’s parents divorced and her mother moved her family to Idaho to be near extended family. To support the family, Lisa’s mom returned to college for a nursing degree. Lisa remembers with fondness her mother’s kindness and dedication to her children, working the night shift once graduated so that she could be available to her children during the day.
Lisa with 4 generations
When Lisa was a teenager, her mother remarried and had additional children, adding to a sense of uncertainty about where she belonged. “The role of the father is irreplaceable,” Lisa states with conviction. “Growing up without my dad was hard,” she confided, “So much of your identity comes from knowing who you are, and that comes from your parents.” Lisa felt the absence of her father strongly in her life. As a teen, she felt the desire to learn more about her dad, this led her to move to Utah for her junior year in high school, and to develop more fully that important relationship in her life.
At the young age of fifteen, Lisa meet her future husband at church before he left for two years of church missionary service. They went on only one date before he left and developed their relationship through letter writing. After his return, the couple dated, were engaged and married within nine months. Lisa was nineteen.
At the age of 13, Lisa was diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease which can affect fertility. Lisa and her husband were concerned about how her condition would impact their desires for a family. Fortunately, they have been blessed with four great kids, ages 15 to 9.
As a teen, Lisa determined that she would fight hard to keep her family intact once married. “I saw how hard divorce was on everyone involved and decided I didn’t want that for my life. My husband and I have worked through difficult things to keep our marriage together.” In spite of hardship, she and her husband have persevered. Her mother’s example of dedication and sacrifice for her family inspired Lisa to provide that same level of dedication and love to her own children. She saw the importance of education and exposing children to issues in the world that surrounds them. These lessons have guided Lisa as she interacts with her children through homeschool, open conversation about world issues, and helping them see the world from multiple perspectives.
Lisa has developed a strong relationship with her husband through deep discussions, love for each other, and a commitment to help each other improve. Her husband’s dedication and support enables and encourages Lisa to participate in Big Ocean cottage meetings, attend conferences, and lead within the organization.
Somehow, amidst kids, homeschooling, working, and church responsibilities, Lisa finds time to be a freelance editor and beta reader, while dabbling in photography. She loves music and singing, especially with her family. Lisa loves to find adventure with her husband and children through hiking and outdoor activities.
Lisa said, “I love learning, I am kind of a bookworm.” She loves to read any chance she gets, and, if she is not reading, she will be found listening to books while crafting or gardening. Her children have taken after her love of the outdoors, and participate in 4-H raising and showing animals.
As a young woman, Lisa had an evolution in thought about feminism. At first, her leanings were towards traditional feminism and fighting for the equality of women among men. Without a father figure in her young life, the role of men in society was not clear, which led her to want to fight for women to be equal and like men. After marrying and quickly becoming a mother, her beliefs began to shift in the opposite direction. “I felt that motherhood was the most important thing that a woman could do, so equal rights was no longer as important to me.” Then one day, after a chance meeting with Carolina Allen, founder of Big Ocean, Lisa sat down to read Carolina’s words about Maternal Feminism. It was then she felt she had finally found an ideology that she could support and love.
Shortly after being introduced to Carolina and Big Ocean, Carolina invited Lisa to come to the World Congress of Families in Salt Lake City. At the time, Lisa’s family was in the middle of a cross-country move from Nebraska to Idaho for her husband’s job. Her husband lovingly encouraged her to go, driving and unpacking without her.
Lisa later also attended the United Nations meeting in New York City with the Big Ocean Women delegation. Lisa said of her experience, “Seeing so much good and bad in one place was eye-opening. I realized that as we work together we can make a huge difference. Not only locally, but we can do a lot regarding world issues too!”
Lisa currently serves as the Big Ocean Cottage Committee Co-Leader and the Vice President of the Idaho Cottage. Lisa has found that empowering women, educating others, and meeting in cottages strengthens herself and others. “This movement has so much potential to bring change and be good for communities and the world.” She encourages the women she works with and introduces BOW to reach out and serve, educate others, research local issues and get involved. “It is through the cottages at a local level that we can bring so much change and strengthen communities.”
Lisa posits that Big Ocean Women are powerful as they work to change the way that our society and world function. “Recognizing the personal power we have as women is a unique way we can help motivate change.”