15 Sep 2014

On Breaking Up with Yourself and Growing Up into the Motherless Mother: Surprised by Motherhood Book Club, Week 2: Chps 3-5

“Losing a mother doesn’t happen in a moment. It takes years to appreciate the impact of what’s gone.”~ Surprised by Motherhood.

Surprised by Motherhood 3b

Welcome to week 2 of the Book Club. Here’s how it works each week:

Every Monday: Discussion video posted on the blog – feel free to leave your questions in the comments.

Every Monday Night: Live Q&A discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #surprisedbymotherhood

Every Wednesday: A discussion around some of your questions on the blog.

Every Friday: A Free, Useful, help-you-hold-onto-your-sanity Printable posted on the blog for all book club readers.

OK, happy Monday – grab yourself a cup of something warm and a few quiet minutes of mom-time alone and read along with me.


Chp 3: From Zululand with Love
Chp 4: A Great, Big Man Named Chuck
Chp 5: Two Funerals and a Baby Shower

{If you haven’t already – you can pick up a copy over here.}


Chapters 3 & 4: I got to chat with one of my oldest friends, Christie Purifoy, who knew me in my “I would rather run away from home than have babies” days. I wrote the last 3 chapters of the book in the very farmhouse we filmed this video in. Come and pull up a chair:

Click here if you can’t see the video.

Chapter 5, which is my love letter to South Africa, had to be a conversation with Kate Motaung. Kate and I have lived the same life in opposite directions – while  was born in South Africa and fell in love in the States, she grew up in Michigan and then moved to South Africa for the next decade where she had her three kids. I love how she loves and understands South Africa and it’s unique backdrop for this chapter.

Click here if you can’t see the video.


Take a few moments today to think through the questions below and feel free to share your answers in the comments. Or use them as you talk through the book in your MOPS group or with your book club.

Chapter 3

  • In what ways do you “tightrope between old habits” (before kids) and new ones? Which parts of your ‘old self’ do you try to cling to most?
  • What memories do you have of your own mother during your childhood, and how do they impact and affect the way you parent now?

Chapter 4

  • What did Church look like for you in your growing up years, and what do you want it to look like for your own children?
  • Was there ever a time that you knew you didn’t want to have children? If so, what changed?
  • When and how have you felt pressured by others regarding motherhood (either to have kids or not to have kids; to pursue a career or not to pursue a career, etc.)?

Chapter 5

  • In the video, Lisa-Jo talks about how she felt Jesus’ presence so strongly in the midst of her mother’s absence. She also shares how He surrounded her with supportive women and mother figures who helped to fill the gap of losing her own mom. How has the Lord provided for you in ways that you never expected?
  • How and when have people in your own life stepped in and filled a gap in some way?
  • Describe a time or an experience when you understood what it means to be sad and well at the same time.

Scripture passages for this week:

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for
my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)

“The memory of the righteous is a blessing …” (Proverbs 10:7a)

the memory of the righteous is a blessing

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)

OK, YOUR TURN – share your answers and observations in the comments – let’s crowd source encouragement for this journey deep into the heart of motherhood together.

Just click here to leave a comment.

{Photo credit: Jacque Watkins}



{ Leave a Comment }
  1. 1

    Love you, Lisa-Jo! And love your beautiful book.

  2. 3

    I love seeing you and Christie up close and personal – what a beautiful friendship you have!

  3. 5

    I related to how you talk about South Africa being your true home even though you’ve lived overseas for years. I can never get Australia out of my heart even though I’ve lived in Canada for years. And I want my 4 kids to have Australia in their heart, too.
    I am mothering without my mother for 3 years now and IT SUCKS! In my childhood dreams, I never imagined being a motherless mother.

    • 6

      Sounds like you and I are living a lot of the same story lines. And so here we soak in South Africa food and music and we tell all the stories I can think about my mom.

  4. 7

    Sziasztok! (Hey everybody in Hungarian:)

    Well, Lisa-Jo, I don’t know if you got my e-mail, but thank you for your part in the God-moment I had on Saturday morning. I am ahead because I love the book, and into Chapter 6. I start reading about Colleen and keep reading & my heart stops a bit. I realize this is the same woman I have been going to Bible Study with these last few months in Bp. I LOVE how you described her & I had been praying, praying for a mommy mentor. It’s been hard, hard for me esp. Living overseas :( I initiated that day & we’ll start meeting next week…I kept wondering how God would answer that prayer…I have choices & have been turned down by many women as they are too busy:( But, as you know, none of this is Colleen…it’s been a road that she has already cried and prayed for me knowing how raw it all is. How hard to find anyone to come alongside & yeah, too, doing it all with Mama in Heaven…so thank you! I trust this encourages you somehow…I encouraged Colleen with how even if she’s never impacted another person, because she so impacted you she has touched the lives of tens of thousands & more moms:) God is good!

    • 8

      Un. Be. Lievable.

      And now I’m trying not to be wretchedly jealous that you get to have Colleen in your life. She is all kinds of wonderul -savor it friend. May you both be an encouragement to one another.

      • 9

        Thank you & I will. We may only have till June when her youngest graduates as they may move to another E.E. Country. All the more reason to savor & be so thankful for you, your story, some crazy parallels to my own & reading Chapter 6 on a Saturday morning and finding the answer to my prayers:) We will pray hard for you together & dream about bringing something like {in}courage to women in Eastern Europe & Russia. So thankful for the constant reality of God pursuing us in love this whole wide world over :)

  5. 10

    Lisa-Jo, thank you for these videos.
    I think I find it hard to be a mother and let go of my old self because my own mum never did it for us. She is a yoga teacher, a divorced woman but she never sacrificed anything for us 3: she did what she wanted to do, building her yoga school at home, even if it meant I would spend days on my own, waiting for her to come out of her practice room. So she never modeled the kind of mothering I am trying to achieve.
    I am creative and need this creativity in order to stay sane. But I have learnt to let go of this desire as it was taking over my mothering time. Now I have peace and I kind of have found balance between my need to be creative and my mothering and it feels really good. But it took some real intentionality, and will. :)
    I want my kids to remember that I LOVE being a mum although I find it hard most days!

    Can I also add that I love your father character in the book: he seems to be a incredible man, so full of love for God and , as I read, I found myself feeling envious! I wish I had a dad like that, so strong in his faith. I love the passages when he prays for you as you are about to give birth or depart for the US.
    Sophie (France)

    • 11

      Sophie, I so enjoy your insights. We have similarities in our stories although different and it encourages me so to have you write your success stories.
      “I want my kids to remember that I LOVE being a mum.” YES! So true. My sweet momma was too young when she had me and I don’t think she ever really grew up. She survived but never experienced a sense of understanding who she was and so abducted her role to me.
      Love those babies well, be the person you were created to be while sacrificing the right amount of your life for your blessings.

    • 12

      Hey there Sophie – yes trying to figure out which parts of our own parenting we want to model and which parts we want to change – that’s an ongoing lesson for me too.

  6. 13

    Hi Lisa-Jo- What a blessing the videos and chapters have been this week. I have really enjoyed the book and have found that it has taken me by surprise in some ways…I expected to resonate with a lot of what you would have to say in the sense that I feel “surprised by motherhood” on a daily basis in so many ways! What I wasn’t expecting was for the chapters this week to strike such a chord in regards to my feelings about my relationship with my own mother, who is very much still around and involved with my family, but who has always been very emotionally unavailable…I feel so lost sometimes and am not sure where to find my answers, which is why i appreciated your thoughts today about Jesus’ tender loving guidance, love and care for you in this area. I have been praying for a mentor in this regard…More specifically a mentor who could give me insight into some of the more daily mundane challenges, but also the challenge of wanting to find ways to express my own creativity and desires to write, but I don’t ever want to do those things to my children’s detriment. I feel like I’m living in constant fear that I’m either not living up to my own dreams/potential, or that if I started to pursue those things more passionately that I would be hurting my children somehow (my mother never really pursued interests/passions of her own, so I feel like I lack a model for that).

    Anyways…what a beautifully written book and I’m thankful for the things it is bringing to the surface for me…what a blessing.

    Cheers, Lisa

    • 14

      Hi there Lisa,

      Yea, that tension of living in two worlds never gets easier I don’t think. It’s kind of a daily grace give and take between mothering and then leaning into the other areas we hear God’s call. And I’m convinced it’s good for our kids to watch us follow Christ’s call on our lives to grow into new areas, because we want them to do the same one day. We get to model discipleship and how to fits into the life of a busy mom. Because I’m certain He doesn’t give us dreams that end in the labor and delivery ward, you know?

      • 15

        For sure! The dreams definitely did not die in the labor and delivery ward, though the pursuit of them has become much more complicated than I could have ever imagined! Thanks you for this bit of encouragement- I have three girls and more than anything want to set a good example for them…I’m working on letting go of the fear that my absence while I’m working on other things will make them feel unloved…ugh. Academically and logically I know that’s not true, but I feel like I’m wrestling through it and praying for clarity! As I’m writing this I’m just remembering that we met briefly this past spring at September’s Raising Generation’s conference… I told you I wanted to pursue my passions to write more and was going to work on some stuff for submission…I haven’t gotten very far! Ahhh….I must remind myself daily that we are all a work in progress (: Looking forward to reading the next chapters!

  7. 16

    I love the story of Chuck, a willing vessel who followed the Lords prompting resulting in great kingdom treasure!
    Thank you for this “Motherhood is not an obligation, it is a gift… it’s not a duty,… it’s not something that we can force, or create, or claim as a status symbol. Because we have done nothing. It is a gift from God. He is the one who creates life.”
    Yes! We have done nothing…it is God’s gift of life.
    Struggling with infertility for years it was hard not taking on the shame that something is wrong with me if I can not have a child. Now with two children of our own, I still hold the women dear in my heart that are dealing with the loss of motherhood. My heartbreaks as I hear certain teaching or philosophies that imply you are not all you are created to be if you are not a mother, or you are incomplete, less spiritual, etc.. Oh that our identity as women would be set firm in Jesus and not in others interpretations or perceptions of the gospel.

    “Breaking up with myself”.
    Yes even 12 years into motherhood I still struggle with this daily. I miss the ability to set my own pace of life. I wrestle with and push against the necessary pace of my children’s lives of school and activities, like trying to paddle a canoe up stream in a swift current. I need to turn this around, trusting God in the flow of the daily mundane yet hectic pace, taking in the beauty that is all around me, enjoy the adventure and white waters of motherhood.


  1. […] and humor and a good friend to help carry the load. So today’s post unpacks some of the behind-the-scenes of chapter 5 from Surprised by Motherhood.“ We read, “Two Funerals and a Baby Shower” in book […]

  2. […] Lisa-Jo Baker and I chatted about this theme of how it’s possible for it to be “well with your soul” even in the midst of incredible sadness.  It’s a topic that comes up as we discuss Chapter 5 of her book, Surprised by Motherhood. […]

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