25 Mar 2014

Why a mom of three compares my book to multi-layered cake and includes a Shrek reference

In which blog reader, Kate Motaung – American mom of 3 married to a South African pastor – gives her honest reaction to my book, Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom. Which releases one week from today. Gulp.

My husband will attest to the fact that I can be quite picky when it comes to books. It takes a lot for me to throw my whole self behind a book I’ve read. But this one by Lisa-Jo Baker is a winner and a half.

I wish I could stand on a street corner with a pile of books as high as my mountain of laundry and just dish out a copy of Surprised by Motherhood to every passerby.


I’ve heard several readers comment already on how this book has become the gift they plan to give at every baby shower from now till kingdom come.  Surprised by Motherhood ought to be an essential for every woman who is wheeled out of a maternity ward. Brand new moms should be required to leave the hospital with the baby, a car seat, and this book.

But just in case I’m creating any false impressions, it should be said that this is not a “how-to” book on parenting, nor is it only for new moms or moms with young children.

It won’t tell you how to reduce colic or how to combat diaper rash. Better than that, it will sway with you and hum with you and rub your aching back while you “walk those miles of carpet,” as Lisa-Jo would say, night after night after endless, sleepless night.


Throughout the chapters, Lisa-Jo weaves the tale of her own life experience, much of which recoiled at the thought of ever having children.  She tells of enduring the loss of her own mom, and how that has shaped and affected her view of motherhood over the years.  Then she treats her readers to an inside glimpse of the gradual shift that transpired over time, as she birthed first one, then two, then three gifts from above, and started to see, as she calls it, “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.”




With astounding grace and candor, Lisa-Jo peels back the facade that can often come across in so many other parenting books, the ones that think they can tell you how it’s done.  In doing so, she simultaneously throws open her arms to expose the nitty-gritty, not-so-glamorous moments of motherhood, while offering to embrace yours and mine all at the same time.

Other parenting books I’ve read have been helpful and motivating, but most have left a lingering taste of guilt after the bulk of the content has been swallowed.  It’s usually a tinge of guilt for all the ‘must-do’s’ that have been left undone, like dishes waiting in the bottom of the sink — as if we can’t parent effectively until the kitchen is squeaky clean.

By stark contrast, reading this book was as rejuvenating as reclining in a lounge chair on the coast of the Atlantic, my tired, stretched-out skin soaking up the African rays.   As I flipped to the last chapter, it was like lamenting the setting of the sun and not wanting to leave the beach.

What I love most about this book is how downright relatable Lisa-Jo is through the telling of her story.


And not only that, but how the gospel just flows from her so naturally.  Authenticity just seeps through her pores.  You can see a pretty cover from a mile away, but Lisa-Jo — she radiates the genuine glow of the Son through every page.

Because all of us, at some point (or hourly, as the case may be), need our focus shifted away from the beach of cracker crumbs covering the floor of our minivans to see the vastness of the glory of our calling.  We need to be reminded that there is “so much glory in the chaos.”  We need someone to lift our eyes from the Kool-Aid stain on the carpet to see the stains on the cross, and remind us that He who died to redeem has power not only to save, but to sustain.


And as a mom, I have to end with a cheesy reference to the movie, Shrek.  You know the scene where Shrek is trying to explain to Donkey that ogres are like onions because they both have layers, and then Donkey counters Shrek’s argument by saying, “What about cake?  Cakes have layers!  Everybody loves cake!”

Well, Lisa-Jo is like cake.  Her ministry of words has countless layers of God-glorifying goodness, and Surprised by Motherhood is just the icing on the top.

Even if you don’t subscribe to her blog and eat cake every day, at least treat yourself to a swipe of frosting by buying this book.

You won’t regret it.

Click here to order Surprised by Motherhood: Everything I Never Expected about Being a Mom and it will be in your hands in a week.

KateThanks Kate for saying so many nice things. And especially for comparing me to cake. That was my favorite. Kate Motaung is wife to a South African pastor and homeschooling mom of three.  She spends her days relying on God’s grace and chocolate.


{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    Ugh, fine…I’ll read it. :) As a woman with the mark of barrenness, I’ve avoided much of the discussion around this book. I’m now convinced that, even though I may bawl through much of the parts on being a mother, I need to read this.

    Kate, thanks for sharing your take on Surprised by Motherhood. You tipped me over the edge.
    Lisa-Jo, you are the cake.

    • 2

      Janice, I’m so very sorry to hear of your painful struggle. I’ve often thought about the women without children as I’ve read and gushed about this book. It will likely be a hard read for you. Having said that, I’m still convinced that it will bless you. In the early chapters, Lisa-Jo shares how she has fought against the world’s notion that in order to be a woman, you have to be a mom. It’s not our motherhood that defines us .. it’s Whose children we are.

    • 3

      Hey Janice,

      I echo what Kate said too. I think it will be an achey read for someone struggling to have kids. But it’s also my sincere testimony to the God who I know assures us He loves us the same whether we ever have kids or not. It was such an important part of my own discovery – that I am beloved apart from children – for me and the woman He created and crafted me to be. Thank you for being willing to open your heart to this one. Much love on a snowy Tuesday, Lisa-Jo

  2. 4

    What a wonderful tribute to an equally wonderful book and weaver of the words poured out in it. I agree with everything said here and I know this book will bless me and all who who read it long after the last word is tasted. Like cake…yes! I’ll second that. And agree that is a pretty awesome thing to be compared to. ;) Can’t wait to share my own review soon…xoxo

  3. 5

    I think the Shrek quote is actually parfe, but I guess that is a kind of cake.
    (Shrek is my youngest daughter’s favourite)

  4. 7

    Lisa Jo,
    Wow what a compliment. Cake and Shrek. It has been three days since I have been home from hearing you speak at the RGT conference in Corning. { I was the local girl who was sitting cross legged eating on the bench outside the dining hall right before you spoke}. You message and delivery style, honesty and wit, and most of all obvious love of Christ and family was so great, and sticking with me. I hope your book is the next 1000 gifts!

    • 8

      Yea, that was when I was trying to get the weird under-the-hair, over-the-ear head mic to cooperate – glamorous much. Thanks for the encouragement. I was so nervous before, but so pleased after to have been able to share a slice of my ordinary glory and remind moms (and myself) that Jesus really does see glory in the piles of laundry and heaven in the sound of kids. Hoping the book is one more way to spread the message – because motherhood is just so much better when we’re not in it alone. Thanks for saying hi over here, Leah.

  5. 9

    Kate. This post. Wow. You nailed Lisa Jo’s book on the head!! You captured my thoughts on it exactly….i can’t wait to read the rest of this book!!

    • 10

      Aww, thank you, Charissa! She makes it so easy for a girl to gush. ;-) And you are going to *love* the rest just as much as the beginning. Such a gift.


  1. […] Last week I had the privilege of telling Lisa-Jo Baker‘s readers why her new book, Surprised by Motherhood, is different from other parenting books. […]

  2. […] read what I wrote about the book over at Lisa-Jo’s, click […]

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