Originally published Wednesday, 02 April 2014.
Today is LAUNCH DAY for Lisa-Jo Baker’s Surprised by Motherhood!
To celebrate, I am thrilled to have Lisa-Jo here today to answer some questions about her book and why she believes motherhood should come with a superhero cape.
As a brief introduction, Lisa-Jo Baker and I have basically “been there, done that, gotten the same t-shirt,” so to speak — only backwards. She wears the shirt and mine is a reflection in the mirror, with the logo of life appearing in reverse.
She was born in South Africa, moved to America for college, met a Michigander who is now her husband, and stayed. I was born in Michigan, moved to South Africa during college, met a South African who is now my husband, and stayed.
She had two boys before having a girlie, and I had my girl first before adding two boys.
She lost her mom to cancer when she was 18. I lost mine to cancer when I was 30.
She has written an amazing book. I have not. I guess the comparisons stop there.
About that book, have I mentioned how excited I am to have Lisa-Jo here today?
So without further ado, le Interview:
1. This is your first book. How did writing the chapters of Surprised by Motherhood stretch you and impact your own perspective, emotionally and spiritually?
I think I should start by saying I consider myself an accidental author. I didn’t grow up meaning to write a book or even wanting to. This book took me completely by surprise. A lot like a surprise pregnancy really, I discovered this book growing in me long before I ever planned for it. And like a baby it stretched me and made me weepy and vulnerable and desperately afraid at times. But it has also put me back together again in unexpected ways. It has taught me things I didn’t know about myself and given me new ways to see the courage of women and the grace of God in how He loves us wildly, extravagantly, irrationally almost. How His love is so much like a mother’s.
2. In your book, you talk about how you never wanted to be a mom. You reference a handful of factors that solidified that stance, including personal conversations with unhelpful individuals and general messages to women from society at large. Yet the Lord moved you from being the girl who never wanted kids, to the delighted and adoring mother of three. Talk to the woman who is already disillusioned about motherhood before even conceiving a child.
Well, let’s begin at the beginning. You are beloved. Period. Not for the color of your eyes or your language or where in the world you are from. Not for your business card or your all caught up on the laundry days. Not for your accomplishments or your grades or for the cute guy you married. You are beloved because God can’t not love you. He is defined by His never-giving-up, always-chasing love. He is the God who loved first and will love last. He loves you because He created you. Period. Everything else is a free grace gift. Everything. Especially including motherhood. It’s not an obligation or a requirement or a grading rubric. It’s a gift. It’s only a gift. So open your hands to it or not. You are still beloved. Today, tomorrow, motherhood or not, God will not let you fall from His mighty embrace. It’s OK to just let Him love you.
3. For those who might not be familiar with your ministry of encouraging moms, what would you say to the mom today who is flat-out burned-out and ready to throw in the towel?
You are a warrior who will battle for your children’s hearts, souls, attention, innocence, education and memories.
Go to battle my friends. This is your time.
We will hold strong on either side of you. We will pray over those bottles, through the dark watches of the night, when doubt comes and children break, when adults fail them, when they push and push as hard against us as that day we delivered them into the world we. will. not. be broken.
We may ache and see cracks tear through our hearts, but we will get up again tomorrow and load the clothes and the words that need to be said. Again and again and again.
And when the world tries to claw at them, to break them, to smash the beauty in them, may our walls hold true. May the lessons we’ve told, the truths we’ve lived, the life we’ve spoken into them come back easily, predictably, with wash and repeat ease.
Kingdom business. Jesus work. This shaping of souls. This raising tiny humans.
There are those that say that this is ordinary. Don’t buy that for a second.
Mighty. You are mighty, because you mother.
4. Give us a brief glimpse into your global vision and dream to impact moms, kids, and extended families and communities in South Africa.
Well, I’d love to invite you to join me and my family in South Africa as we partner with the nonprofit organization, Take Action, to change the stories of hundreds of kids without mothers.
To be part of a movement of moms who are changing the world while changing the diapers, the laundry loads, and the course of tomorrow.
So far we’ve built a water point and laundry facility, a vegetable garden and are working on a community center for a community just north of Pretoria, South Africa, called Maubane. About 150 adults and 250 orphans and vulnerable children rely on outdoor faucets that often run out of water.
Whether you are a mother, know a mother, or have a mother come and discover all over again how there is nothing ordinary about being a mother. Not to the hundreds of kids who don’t have one. Because motherhood is heroic. Period.
Join the movement at
5. And lastly, since South Africa is buried deep in the recesses of both of our hearts, give your best elevator pitch for why people should visit that magnificent land.
Because it’s got everything.
Oceans and mountains, perfect weather and beaches and people with smiles so big you think there faces will split. Because it’s got 11 national languages but pretty much everyone still speaks English so you’d have no problem getting around.
Because it’s complicated and simple and because the food is so diverse and delicious and the chocolate is about the best in the world. Because it’s wild and free and wonderful and often misunderstood.
Because it’s heartbroken and in the process of rebuilding. Because it’s a country God uses to remind the rest of us how much we are beloved even when we suffer, when we feel lost or alone.
Because it’s like coming home even when it’s your first time. And because of the melktert.
And the tea. The fact that everything always stops for tea.
Well, there you have it, folks. I hope this interview has not only convinced you to buy a hundred copies of Surprised by Motherhood for every woman you know, but that you will also make a point to visit South Africa at least once in your life, too.
And before you go, you just have to watch this trailer with Lisa-Jo giving all the moms the very best pep talk ever:
To read my review of Surprised by Motherhood, click here.
To read the first three chapters FREE, click here.