25 Feb 2014

How did motherhood suprise you today?

So I wrote this book called Surprised by Motherhood.


It comes out on April Fool’s day. Because that is the story of my life. You can click here to pre-order it.

Yesterday I got my first copy. And in case you think that writing a book looks like a cross between something out of a Pottery Barn catalog and a Smoky Mountain getaway, allow me to share what yesterday looked like.

My potty trained daughter peed a lake on her bedroom rug. On purpose.

I dropped an entire tray of chicken nuggets onto the floor while trying to navigate them into the oven.

One kid helpfully got down on hands and knees to grab them out from behind cabinets and under ledges. He neatly placed them back on the tray. Along with a hair ball or two.

I still cooked them.


My daughter refuses to wear anything other than pajamas. For over two weeks now. So I loaded her, her pajamas, one son and one neighbor kid into the minivan to go pick up my other son. All while the nuggets were still cooking.

When we got back in the ice and snow there was a package propped up against the garage door. Just behind the garbage cans. My oldest son brought it inside, but first stopped to pick up the remains of one of the toy guns my husband had accidentally driven over that morning.

Both boys declared the chicken nuggets disgusting. And refused to eat the cucumber or the carrots either. Both still wanted dessert.

But first they prayed a lyrical prayer over me and the new book. {After getting angry that the sibling right before them, “took myyyyyy prayer, what I was going to sayyyyyy, mom.”}


At 10:40pm my daughter was still awake. Because I’d let her nap till 5:30 that afternoon.

It totally wasn’t worth it.

I tripped over my own computer cord and having lost at laundry roulette the day before I finally remembered to switch the wash over to the dryer. Only a day or so late.

It took the boys nearly an hour and a half to finally, finally go to bed and stay there.

But then I sat down with this book.


The book I wish I’d had nine years ago when no one would admit to me how hard motherhood is.

And I read this, and I thought of you:

I remember being embarrassed at sixteen. I remember being the last girl to start shaving her legs or wear a bra or figure out eyeliner or successfully navigate any of a whole host of other coming-of-age changes. And I remember how my mom would hold me and how soft and comforting it was to be pressed against her bosom. She’d chuckle and tuck my hair behind my ears and smile her crooked smile and tell me, “Oh, my darling, once you have babies, nothing will ever embarrass you again.”

That truth was slow in coming. It had to burrow its way into my life, between the leftover college parts of me that liked to be beautifully put together and the insecurity of seeing a scrubby reflection of myself in some other young mom’s eyes. Jackson grew me up and out of myself more thoroughly than any church service or youth camp or volunteer project ever could have.

Some days I still miss the Lisa-Jo I used to be. But those days are rarer than they were when Jackson was just a few months old. Like a pair of saggy old jeans on a Sunday afternoon, the word mother fits me more comfortably now. But there were days under the lilac jacaranda when I shook my head and couldn’t understand how I’d lost myself in the wash and spin and rinse and repeat of new rhythms I couldn’t find my groove in.

But that’s because the breaking up can be a slow process. And it takes time till you can keep time to a cataclysmic new beat. It takes courage to say no to yourself and yes to someone else. Over and over again—days, weeks, weekends, years, and trips to Chuck E. Cheese’s on end. The way it gut-punch takes your breath away with the sheer shock of the change.

So I spun and spun in dizzying circles until sometime just before Jackson turned one, there in the distance I spotted the small unremarkable speck of who I used to be.
And I waved.
As the dance swept me on.

And then the day – the long, long hard, weird, wriggly, exhausting day melted into one of the most beautiful I can remember. Because I am still being remade. And I am not alone.

We are in this thing called motherhood, all dancing and spinning together.

One chicken nugget at a time.


{Click here to download a copy of this print}

{Click here to tweet it: The glory of motherhood comes camouflaged in so much chaos #SurprisedByMotherhood}

So tell me now, what surprised you about motherhood today?



{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    Oh man, I so love this post, and I am beyond thrilled for you to have a copy of your amazing book in your hands (and I can say amazing with authority now because I’ve read the first six chapters and it’s nothing short of amazing). Your description of your day helped put mine into perspective, when it started with me scooping goldfish off a wet wooden floor, while dripping wet in my towel after hearing screams and crashes from the kids’ room while I was still in the shower. It did require a room remodel and a few loads of laundry from all the clothes that were baptized by dirty fish bowl water, but hey — all three fish are still alive, and so are all three kids, so I’d say it was another victorious day of mothering, all by the grace of God. Thank you for walking in the real, the raw and the honest, and for letting us step into that beautiful, messy reality with the beautiful, messy realities of our own. Glorious chaos, it is.

  2. 2

    You already know how I feel about this book. How I’ve gushed into your inbox and into your ear. I can’t wait for the world to read these words. #rocketfuelformamas

    • 3

      Oh friend, the beauty of your book and words of friends like Jennifer who have become gusts of wind to you–take every leap you can, we learn so much from you and how you do relationships. Congrats continually and agreed, you are #rocketfuelIndeed

  3. 5

    Lisa-Jo, Your Words Have Encouraged Me And Uplifted Me So Many Times And Today Is No Different. Thank You So Much For Your Courage To Share Your Heart With All Of Us In The Trenches Of Motherhood!

  4. 6

    Well, you’ve sold me! this sounds like the refrain of my jagged mommy heart. Today motherhood surprised me as I took my potty trained daughter on an emergency “tee tee” behind a trash can in a park only to learn that it was not tee-tee- nor had it waited for me to get her pants down.. nor did it land in her pants or on the ground (hand twitches). This is motherhood.

  5. 9

    I love this.

    I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed the three attempts to get my 2.5 yr old boy to sleep. I am pregnant with babe number 2 and my back hurt from rocking him back and to sitting straight up in his big boy bed. I had to call my husband in to bring me our rocking chair from the living room. As I was sitting there, I was thinking about how frustrated I would have gotten if this was two Februarys ago and my boy refused sleep (which was every night). I thanked God in the quiet for my firstborn (as you’ve so beautifully written) – for the re shaping of my heart into the heart of a mama.

    I met you at Allume and gave you a bag. A Better Life Bag :) I am constantly inspired by your words, so thankful to be and live “Mama,” and cannot wait to read this book!

    May you be blessed to know your identity in Jesus, how loved you are. Xo, Ashley

    • 10

      Oh Ashley! I lost your card but I use that bag every.single.day. It’s gloriously lovely and I get compliments on it every time I take it anywhere and I always tell folks about your work. So so wonderful.

  6. 11

    Today I was surprised by how forgiving little boys can be and by how motherhood stretches me in ways I had not thought humanly possible, so I must come to the conclusion that God kept the promise He gave met his morning that ‘My grace will be sufficient for you’, and that it is, in fact, not a human way, but a God-way.

    And I was surprised that I could be so, so angry and afterwards I was surprised I did still not wish to undo this whole motherhood thing and the way it changed me and my life….

  7. 12

    Lisa-Jo, how is that that you can cause me to feel normal in just a matter of seconds? How is it, that when I read your posts like this one, that I realize that I’m not alone in the crazy, beautiful chaos of motherhood? Thank you for sharing your gift of words and encouragement! I’ve preordered your book and I can’t wait to read it!

  8. 13

    Well Lisa Jo my child rearing days are long gone. My children are probably your age and older. But I still am looking forward to reading your book. I love your writing style and you make me laugh. God bless you.

  9. 14

    Congratulations to you, a thousand times over, Lisa-Jo! Like someone above said, those days are LONG gone for me, as you know, but the feelings linger. The laughter over things like potty-training, the exhaustion over a late night, and the sorrow of feeling like I never quite got it right. And yet, the results are stunning.

    God bless you!!!

  10. 15

    On the other side of motherhood, I find myself wishing I would have had you for a cheerleader when I was in the throes! Now I get the fun part – being a Mimzi! Last evening, it was the amazing realization that my daughter is now a mommy to two! I love watching her mother her girls, and I love that there are moms out there willing to share their stories and the realness of mommyhood and encourage other moms in the journey. Congratulations on your new book! And may God richly bless you as you cheer on moms around the world.

  11. 16

    Your post reminds me that in the world of neatly dressed moms with children whose hair never seems to stick up, there are women who will be real! Thank you! I’ve recently been amazed at how motherhood has changed me from my 1st to my 3rd pregnancy. Refusing long trips because they’d be uncomfortable, staying out of the floor because I couldn’t get back up, or so I thought… Now, I drive even longer trips alone with two toddlers because that’s what it takes to get medical care for my child. I sit in the floor of hospitals and waiting rooms to play with my girls because it makes them more comfortable. And the confidence… the things we face in the coming months are beyond what I thought motherhood would require of me. But, from experience, I know I will continue to mother all three kids, and I’ll snap pictures because baby’s first smile may come while his sister is in surgery, and that’s okay. Not picture perfect, but it no longer has to be.

  12. 17

    I can’t get over how much your life sounds like my life on so many days in so many ways. Hair balls and all. Your book will be pre-ordered today…and not get here soon enough. ;) So my three-year old has regularly been forgoing a middle-of-the-day nap to only fall asleep while I’m cooking supper, then is running circles at 10pm and I literally can’t keep my eyes to read to her, much less her 5-year old brother. Who, by this time, is already asleep on the sofa and misses out on our nighttime snuggles and reading time. To which I end up feeling “less-than” as a mother in a myriad of ways. Sigh. And the fighting over prayer…yep, same here. One wants to sing “Raise your hands up in the air…let’s get ready for our prayer…lalala” at the dinner table and the other doesn’t want to hold anyones hands or say anything but “Thank you God for all the wonderful things you’ve made. Amen.” Sigh again. It is nice to know I’m not in the “trenches” alone…this is my beautiful, chaotic life now and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Well, maybe a hot shower alone or a meal without an interrupted potty break, but other than that…nothing. ;) Can’t wait to get my hands on your book and your words in my heart. This is such a needed book for so many moms. Bless you, Sister! <3

  13. 18

    Your words are always such a breath of fresh air to my mornings! And I can’t wait to read the book!! Congratulations to you! This morning, like so many mornings, I was surprised by how my heart aches as I watch my little 5 year-old son trot off into school with his friends. It doesn’t matter how frustrating a morning we had or how much of a battle it was to get out of the house on time… when I see his little blond head bobbing away from me my heart just can’t take it, and I’m always so surprised by that rush of emotion.

  14. 19

    I wouldn’t say surprised so much as just wanting to stick my head in the oven. WOW

    Kids 1 Mom 0 yesterday.

    I pray that the lessons get in their amidst the chaos! lol

  15. 20

    I just love you.

    And you know I just love this book.

    Reading this post takes me back to my own hard parenting days like you described above. Days when one son sprayed my daughter with Febreeze because “she smelled funny” and my other son tore down the street when I told him he couldn’t eat all the leftover cookies and my daughter thought it a good idea to paint the recliner with Vaseline. Hard days for sure, and some of them still are. But you give us hope, joy, and laughter with your glorious words ~ not just for the moms of littles, but for the moms of big kids, too. MUAH.

  16. 21

    I can’t wait to read your book! Your question got me thinking and prompted a post about what I never knew before I was a mother…. http://mississippimom.com/things-i-never-knew/
    One huge one for me is that I don’t have to have a perfect relationship with my mother to have a good one with my children.

  17. 22

    You CRACK me up. My boys always try to pick up dropped food from the floor and eat it, and I’m always like, “Noooooooo! Don’t eat off the floor….it hasn’t been mopped in like….ever!!!!!” My own house grosses me out sometimes. And I am Triple Type A – how did this happen? Oh yeah, the book. ;)

    So excited for you. So proud of you. So love your nail polish color.

  18. 23

    Lisa-Jo lets just say YOURE TOTALLY AWESOME!! & someone I would TOTALLY love to sit down & have a cuppa whatever with you!! I cannot wait to get your book in my hands & read it all!! YOU make me smile
    Thank you & ((HUGS))

  19. 24

    WAHOO!!! Just thrilled for you!!!

    Love you- Lisa-Jo!

  20. 25

    Can’t wait to read this book!! Motherhood is surprisingly tiring and rewarding all in the scope of a few hours! It also surprised me how much i learn about life, myself, and God all from just being a mom!!

  21. 26
    Mary Geisen says:

    I can describe motherhood on the other side-two sons grown up and on their own. You probably are asking if I can still be surprised – oh my-it never ends! So blessed to be a mom and so grateful for two sons that share everything-yes, sometimes more than I bargained for but sharing nonetheless. Your words made my heart happy because we are all in this girls’ club called motherhood and it is the best place to be.

  22. 27

    Always so encouraged by your beautiful words! And excited to see how God is going to use the words He’s given you in the hearts of so many through this precious book. Oh, and I’ve got a little girl that’s decided a swimming suit is her attire of choice for weeks now while we’re still covered in snow. :)
    Many blessings,

  23. 28

    As always, your words are a hope and inspiration for me to know that other mamas like you are in the trenches. Last night my husband & I had conferences (we teach at the same school), so our boys had to stay at the sitters for 12+ hours. Needless to say, I was dying to see them. So, today I wanted to pick them up early and spend extra time with them tonight. Our 4-year-old was still napping when we arrived and had a full-on 10 minute car ride meltdown because we woke him. I was just surprised at how I could talk myself calm when I wanted him to just. be. quiet. in the car and stop ugly crying. God is teaching me lots of patience.

  24. 29

    This is the part where I admit…

    I still haven’t figured out eyeliner…

    or motherhood, or many of life’s big questions.

  25. 30

    My three kids are a bit older (14 on Monday, 12 next week and 10). I’m surprised today how hard it still is to balance all of my noes with some yeses, even all these years into motherhood. I’m also surprised how hard it is to discipline for grades/lack of effort.

  26. 31

    Who we were in college is just a shadow of who God planned for us to be:) I couldn’t even fathom it until I lived it:) Congratulations on your dream come true!!!! So happy. happy. happy for you! – and isn’t that just like motherhood? It doesn’t even pause treasured milestones – you need to capture the moment while it happens and store it inside you to savor for later!


  1. […] .. and news about the upcoming release of this book. […]

Hide me
Free eBook for Blog Subscribers!
Just enter your email & you'll receive a welcome email with a link to download the eBook. Easy Peasy!
Show me