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Showing 1-10 of 117 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 224 reviews
on June 19, 2015
As a young child, I much preferred playing with stuffed animals to playing house with dolls. As I grew older, I had far more dreams related to careers than motherhood. It took my husband several years to convince me that parenthood was something God might be calling us to. It wasn't until after we miscarried that I knew for sure I wanted to be a mom.
Because my story stands in such stark contrast to those of people who always wanted to be a mom, I sometimes have a hard time relating to gushy mommy memoirs or blogs. For this reason, I was intrigued by Lisa-Jo Baker's book, Surprised by Motherhood. After all, it's back-cover copy begins with, “Most people who talk about motherhood start out by telling you how much they always wanted to be a mom. Not Lisa-Jo Baker.”
Upon reading this, I decided this might be a book on motherhood I could relate to.
Indeed, it was.
In Surprised by Motherhood, Lisa-Jo chronicles her journey into motherhood, beginning with her own mother's death when she was 18. She talks of her focus on her career and the initial agreement she made with her husband NOT to have kids. She then shares how she ended up becoming a mom and how surprised she's been by motherhood – something I can relate to after just 28 days into my own journey as a mom.
Throughout Surprised by Motherhood, Lisa-Jo's writing is poignant and relatable. At various points, I laughed and I cried. I found her observation that “pregnancy, like marriage, is an act of courage and faith” to be especially accurate after suffering a miscarriage. As she talked about how there is no roadmap for motherhood, sharing how “We had all the equipment for raising a child but no clue what to do with either” I looked around my house at all the baby gear we've assembled over the last several months and at my daughter – less than a month old – and thought, “Yep. That's right.”
I also appreciated the astute observations Lisa-Jo makes about faith throughout Surprised by Motherhood, drawn from her own experience with motherhood. Among other things, she concludes, “I had confused faith in God with faith in what God could do for me.”
Beyond that, what I loved about Surprised by Motherhood is how it left me encouraged. Lisa-Jo reminds us that “God doesn't ask us to trade who we are for the label of 'Mom'. Rather, He builds all the courage and calling of a lifetime into a story line big enough and rich enough to encompass kids, passion, work, creativity, and dreams that don't end in the labor and delivery ward.”
In these early days of motherhood, Lisa's words have served as a lifeline to me. I'm sure they also will for others.
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on April 1, 2014
If you are a mom who feels you won’t survive one more dirty diaper, one more frivolous sibling squabble, one more “Mom? Mom! Mo-oomm!!” then Lisa-Jo Baker’s new book, Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected About Being a Mom, was written just for you.

It’s for women who, like Lisa-Jo, spent much of their single years, as she describes, “strapped between an invisible sandwich board that declared in silent, capital letters to the men around … MY BRAIN IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HAVING YOUR BABIES. A defiant sign to be wearing at a Christian college where marriage was practically a major.”

It’s for women who adore their children and would have it no other way, but would still agree in a heartbeat, “… who doesn’t want to escape for an afternoon into a realm where women go to the bathroom by themselves and don’t need to narrate what they’re doing while they’re in there?”

Lisa-Jo understands and is able to articulate so well the fact that:

"Motherhood starts with such a bang — so many visitors, all that roar of adrenaline — that what comes next can be disorienting. Because after the high of childbirth comes a sleepless cycle of days that all run into one long, messy, nondescript blur. If there’s one thing that can defeat a mother, it’s the monotony. Get up, feed the baby, wash the laundry, change the diapers, do the dishes, make the car pool run, wrestle the math homework, figure out a new way to make chicken, change the sheets — times 365 days in a row. It’s hard to see the significance when you’re so weighed down by the mundane.”

Surprised By Motherhood is not a how-to parenting book. It is one woman’s story, told in profound, raw beauty. The journey of a woman who pushed against the notion of motherhood, then slowly, gradually, not only grew into motherhood with the familiarity of a favorite pair of jeans, but now sees those spit-up-stained jeans as standing on holy ground. Lisa-Jo writes:

"In the dark and tired and the everydayness of those moments, I started to feel it — the weight of glory, the glorious ordinary that is a gift to us who are knee deep in a world where it can sometimes feel like we have lost all the parts of ourselves we used to know…. Slowly, being a mother became more than a series of moments connected only by dirty diapers, empty baby wipe bins, toy cars strewn all over the bathroom floor, and bum cream. There was a harmony rising from the eclectic collection of tasks every mother cycles through in a day — this sacred marriage of the mundane and the eternal. The small directly related to the massive; kids walking around like so much eternity with skin on.”

If you are a mom, this story will likely resonate deep within. Lisa-Jo writes with such relatable experience, she will leave you saying, “Me, too!” Her brave honesty and candid glimpse into the reality of her life thus far had me choked up with sentiment and laughing out loud almost in the same breath. Lisa-Jo’s incredible depth of insight will generate waves of grateful introspection and ultimately, glory to God above.

Take this book and let it seep like a bag of Five Roses tea into the hot water of your soul. Then pull a whiny, hungry, overtired toddler onto your knee, pull out a chair at your Play-Doh infused table, and pour a cup of this goodness for your sleep-deprived friend.
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on April 14, 2014
I admit, I wasn't sure I wanted to read "Surprised by Motherhood" right away. I have two young boys of my own; I'm up to my eyeballs in day-to-day parenting; I figured I didn't need to read about motherhood while I'm living it, right? Wrong! "Surprised by Motherhood" isn't just "another parenting book." It's so, so much more.

It's the story of a mother and a daughter - a story of love, grief, healing, forgiveness and acceptance.

It's the story of a marriage - of a partnership that isn't perfect and isn't always roses-and-chocolates romantic, but is real, and true and so very relateable.

It's the story of boys -- wild, rough, stubborn, loving boys -- and their mom, and how she learns to parent each of her boys differently, because God made them different and unique.

It's the story of a little girl who breaks her mom's heart open wide and brings healing and reconciliation and understanding that spans decades and even bridges death.

It's the story of the power of community - friendships and family connections that can thrive and blossom despite thousands of miles and vast cultural differences.

Lisa-Jo is one of the most gifted, remarkable, real storytellers I have ever read. I set out to read a chapter or two of this book and I read the ENTIRE thing in a single day (much to the chagrin of my husband, who perhaps felt slightly neglected that day!). It's THAT good, I kid you not. And as a voracious and fairly discerning reader, I don't say that lightly!
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on March 16, 2017
One of the best books! Lisa-Jo never disappoints and her writing resonates into the lives of women everywhere. While this book has been out for several years, I recently purchased several of these to give away to other moms. It's such a treat to sit down with your favorite cup of tea or coffee and feel like you're reading the words of a friend. One who knows your heart because she's felt all the feels, right along with you. A beautiful memoir packed full of lessons, laughter and tears along the way.
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on October 2, 2016
Lisa-Jo has written a poignant, heart touching account of womanhood, bravery, the love of Christ, and what it means to be a mother.

Like a hot loaf of bread that begs to be passed 'round the table, broken off chunk by chunk, and slathered with butter - this book feeds something deep in your soul; it aches to be shared.

As a mom of two small children, I squirreled away the minutes to read this book - reveling in the feeling of being known, being seen, and being advocated for. I laughed, I cried, I declared to my husband, "I love this woman!".

For the young, for the old, for the moms-of-many and the not-quite-moms-yet - this book is worth your dollars, worth your time, and worth the heart aches. Hide away, and as your heart breaks, feel God's unconditional, amazing love come knit it back together. Stronger, two-fold; beautiful.
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on March 25, 2017
As a daughter who's mama also died too early, I read this book surprised to see myself in the beautiful language and well crafted stories of Lisa Jo Baker. Her life ventures to and from far away places, with unfamiliar South African words, but her motherhood stories are universal, relatable to all moms. She is an artist with words and an ambassador for Christ in the mundane holiness of life with children. I look forward to reading more from her as her story continues.
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on November 10, 2016
As a brand-new mom, this book struck so many chords within me. It's not an advice book, if that's what you're looking for. But it made me feel better than any amount of sage advice could, because in reading this you simply feel understood, and that you are not alone. Her descriptions of the simultaneous glory and struggle of motherhood, and particularly the transition from your old life into this new adventure, were so incredibly eloquent and spot-on and poignant. I highlighted dozens of passages that described exactly how I was feeling. While her faith is an important part of her story, I am not a religious person and I still took away so much from this book.
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on April 30, 2014
This is less of a How To and more of a Me, Too book. This is Lisa-Jo's story... but really, it is all of us!

Lisa-Jo walks you through the footsteps of her life in grace and beauty... the way she describes things with words will make you ache to see, to smell, to feel it for yourself, and then - when you keep reading, you could swear that you were aching, smelling, and feeling it for yourself right in the midst of these pages.

There is a gifting that she has that builds up and encourages... a sisterhood in motherhood that simply lovingly just scooches on over and makes room. In her brave honesty of how she has loved and lost; how she didn't want to be a Mom and then all of the sudden she did...and she was; in how she shares those wretched hard days of babies and toddler years and the raw truth of having to learn to love, and forgive, and love, and... you get it... you've probably lived it too and that is the point!

On page 30 - only page 30 - Lisa-Jo writes it clear - this ache in my heart for the season that I am in, and she is no where near it yet! I am a Mama to an Only Nearly Grown Girlie... we are in that lovely hard transition space of letting go and leaning in... the dance of becoming less Authority, more Friend. So when I read these words... I knew! I knew that whole book through would be filled with grace and knowing - even though she has yet to Mother through the latter years of childhood and teendom. She wrote this: "Mothers may want to find room to breathe, to weep, to panic. But they don't want it to end --this delivering, shaping, cheering, loving, bringing life into the world."

Amen! We don't. I don't. I don't want it to end and here is the biggest Surprised by Motherhood reality:
It doesn't!

For better (on the good days!) or worse (on the less than good ones!) - it doesn't ever end! This Mothering that leaks out and over and fills in gaps and covers over wounds... it never ends! It has become part of who we are, it's not just what we do.

We mother because we are Mama's. We are Surprised by Motherhood because who knew a human being could have this capacity to love so fiercly... to protect and serve... to care for a tiny (or not so tiny) human, even when we feel so unable, unworthy, unqualified? Who knew God could work through a sleep deprived, cranky post pardom Mama, and rock us all deeper and deeper in love at 3a.m.? Who knew that somehow - having your very heart beating on the outside of you changes how you breath and move and changes what you hope for and cling to?

So whether you are a Mom, you have a Mom, or you know a Mom... Surprised by Motherhood should be at home on your bookshelf and in your gift closet... this book needs to be given on Mother's Day and at every Baby Shower from here on out because what we must know... what we must remember is that this Motherhood thing? We don't have to go it alone!

He's got you. We've got you... and there is room on our bench, and we'll even share the chocolate!
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on June 1, 2014
I already want to re-read this little gem of an atypical mothering memoir. I'm not usually drawn to fluffy, touchy, sentiment, but there were so many AHA! moments where the author captured so beautifully, eloquently, and movingly the exact feelings I'd express myself, if were I the type with open poetic license.
Ms. Baker shares the allegory of growing into motherhood, in a 3D swimming language feast. The word usage and descriptive techniques she uses are mesmerizing. It took me longer than average because her sentence grammar is chock - full of dense ideas. It's like a college textbook intellect describing motherhood from an internal perspective using so many examples that an alien species could get a firm grasp on the experience if this were the only manual on the subject of maturing through and discovering one's self in motherhood, except no where does this manual give any specifics or the presumptive preachiness of user guides, which often unintentionally lower the bar for the audience...either by intimidation or by being insipid.
I was nearly done with the book before I gave myself permission to "go with it" because her story really isn't a story, at least not in the chronological sense. She bounces around in time sequences and threads through various topics in an unfamiliar sequence which was difficult to follow at times, but eventually made sense when I thought of this more as a narrative given from the perspective of a poet or a writer using unconventional prose.
Then again, my writing to South African audiences may come across as even wilder open license.
Bravo, Lisa-Jo. My book will open with a reference like "for an understanding of my delve into motherhood, please read this book first, she says it far better than I could!"
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on April 22, 2014
Lisa-Jo is is like a long lost friend whom I've never actually met. She places into words, so eloquently, the things I've wanted to say for years but can't always find the words to express. She describes motherhood with candor and honestly, but her words also give you the grace and the encouragement to go another round even when your complete worn out and at the end of your rope.

I especially loved her chapter about her youngest son, Micah, because my second son shares a lot of his personality traits. Her descriptions echo my own sentiments on a boy who can wring every ounce of energy and love out of me but at the same time teach me so much about myself. He has taught me how to pray, much as Lisa-Jo's Micah did.

In my humble opinion, every mom needs to read this book. It will make you laugh and cry, sometimes while reading the same line. And that is a sign of an excellent book. Reading the lines on these pages feels like the arms of another mom reaching around you, hugging you tight, and saying, "Don't worry. You've got this. You've so got this."
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