The first time I met Lisa Jo Baker she was totally cool about the fact that I was stalking her via twitter and the Dayspring booth at the MOPS convention. This incredible woman who put my heart into words on her blog about motherhood and how it can break us into a million little pieces and then put us back together in the best possible way looked straight into my eyes, recognized my twitter handle and my Five Minute Friday presence, and hugged me like a long lost sister.
Then she told me she loved my earrings and in the most real way exclaimed that she thought she had the same ones from the dollar clearance at Kmart.
Because she may be my writing hero and have thousands of followers and a real live book on the shelves of stores today, but really, truly, Lisa Jo Baker is a budget-conscious mama who knows the power of a great pair of earrings no matter where they came from.
So just like that, she took me in and talked to me about motherhood and writing and the balance and waiting for God’s timing and having a story that I’m not sure I’m ready to share and all the messy grace in between. We stood surrounded by waves of moms and people who I’m sure needed her time and attention, but she gave it all to me, and that’s when I knew that the internet may sugar coat some things, but this woman? She was exactly who I imagined her to be because she doesn’t write to make herself look good.
She writes to glorify Jesus and to pour out the love He’s poured on her.
Surprised by Motherhood is her offering to mamas everywhere. She wrote the back story, the before story, the story of how she went from being a civil rights lawyer rescuing women from sex trafficking to a mom with three kids who believes “motherhood should come with a superhero cape.”
She wrote a book for every mom at every stage.
To the mama with the screaming toddler in the checkout line at Target who just wants to get home and cry on her bathroom floor.
To the mama who has worn milk stains and vomit and possibly poop all day long because she packed extra clothes for the kids but forgot them for herself.
To the mama who has pried chubby arms from around her neck and put her crying child into the arms of another so she can bring home the daily bread.
To the mama who has wondered how she got here, surrounded by little people, in a world that seems foreign compared to her degree and high heels.
To the mama who makes the beds and sweeps the floors and churns the laundry every singe day on a constant cycle of rinse and repeat wondering if she’s ever going to feel that magic she’s read about.
To the mama who has navigated blindly into playdates and church visits and library storytime in an effort to meet someone else who just might understand.
To the mama who has never felt undone by her child but whose skin prickles when she thinks of her own mom.
To the mama who has flown cross country and cross ocean flights to bring babies home to the world that raised her.
To the mama who has had enough of feeling like she’ll never be enough.
Reading Surprised by Motherhood was like having a friend bring me a chocolate milkshake and then offer to watch my kids so I could take a bath by myself in a tub that’s not drowning in toys.
It was like hearing my own voice when I read, “There’s no rage like the exhausted rage of motherhood” and just about every other line in the chapter titled “How to Fall in Like” as she discusses with frank honesty what it’s really like to parent a child with a strong will and a fiery temper.
It was having someone finally understand that while we all know motherhood is so much better than we expect, we also choke down the reality that it’s so much harder than we expect.
But here’s the real beauty of Lisa Jo’s offering back to those of us who sometimes wonder if it matters that we’re just a mom—this offering came first from her knees when she realized that it didn’t matter whether or not she mothered, it mattered that the great Creator of all that is good and perfect* loved her.
He loves you too. And if you struggle to believe that, I’d like to put a copy of this book in your hands today.
Then I’d like to have you over for chocolate cake and coffee and tell you a little more about my own story and how I’m learning after nearly ten years as a mother and twenty-five as His child, how to finally find comfort in the skin He knit for me.
And if you’re not a mom or don’t want to ever be a mom? Read it anyway, just for the sheer joy of seeing these words:
“But when we metabolize love, it can sustain us for years. It feeds the parts of our hearts we didn’t know were starving. This never-giving-up, always-chasing love that isn’t afraid…this lavish love that loves us first.”
You can get a copy of Surprised by Motherhood here or here or here. You can read more about Lisa Jo here and you can read the first three chapters here. There’s a linkup over here (scroll all the way down) where our launch team is posting all our reviews and lots of those bloggers are giving away books too.
It’s a powerful thing when a community comes together to say we believe this is important. We believe this story is that. We also believe it’s important to give back a measure of what’s been given to you, so that’s why portions of the book sales also benefit Lisa Jo’s South African home.
You can read about how I’ve fallen in love with the world next door right here.
And my giveaway today? It’s going to be for one of my personal facebook readers. So many of you are my real life mama friends who have walked this journey with me. So leave a comment on my personal page where we do life together with silly pictures of our kids and our dogs and our piles of laundry, and I’ll have the random tool pick one of you to get a copy by the end of the week.
So much love to my online community who writes raw on Fridays with Lisa Jo at the helm, and so much gratitude to my real life community who shows up with Chic-fil-a and donuts just when I need it most.
Motherhood surprised me. But you people who love me like Jesus through it all? You’re a gift straight from the Father above.
Follow the movement on twitter and instagram with #surprisedbymotherhood .
*James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Linking up with Crystal over at Behind the Scenes as well. Because we all need a glimpse into the reality that’s on the edges of those photos. My beautiful family pics? My friend Merideth takes them and that day was a hot mess. That’s the only picture of Gus where he’s looking at the camera and wearing both shoes.
Show some love. Just share.