I once saw an old Chinese woman spill shards of colored glass as fine as sand and spread them on her red-hot wand. She wielded it like a magician, her tiny frame rolling it this way and that. And then she carried it into the heat.
She tells us in a voice hushed like a spell that this tiny crevice where the broken glass enters is called the glory hole.
It gapes hot white with a blazing center like a fiery tomb. Over two thousand degrees later it’s pulled sparkling and molten and this fragile woman leans her head low like a bow and brings her lips to the other end and speaks life into what was once broken and fevered.
The glass bubbles and bulges and stretches invisible seams. And when it’s rounded and pregnant an orb about to burst, she brings in the heavy metal tools, sharp edges and tweezers pinching and grasping and cutting into it’s shape. It hangs suspended and oozing, stretching like a child’s taffy. Drooping and sad. But she has a vision for long and lean branches like arms, like wings. It is inhabited and it is beautiful.
I am mesmerized with creation.
I am a child when I watch this magic. Sixteen. I have long hair that blows wild in the trade winds. I breathe plumeria and soot but I only remember how the end product is so beautiful, a bird with wings stretched as wide as my dreams, translucent like glory.
I can only see the finished form. I forget that it started with broken parts.
I forget that heat gathers sweat on her brow and her face flushes as she plunges the already broken into the fire. I forget that the black iron cuts and restricts and pulls apart, her stringy biceps cording up as she creates. I forget that it had to solidify with a new wind, set in it’s identity.
And then I am a mother. I feel like a child. I am broken parts and scattered bits. I gaze wild eyes at the flames rising. I feel my belly fill with life, pushing foreign limbs against my insides. I have never felt this alone.
And he is born, this squalling infant swaddled and capped in tiny knitted blue and pink stripes. And I am pulled, arms lifted, my limbs stretching to embrace him with my whole heart. I am wind whipped and dazed. I am failing, I am sure. It hurts so much. I forgot what it looks like to be created.
I don’t know each cry and pull at my breast, I am leaking my whole life out. I am being formed as much as my child.
I don’t know He is preparing me for holy work. I don’t know I am created to be a minister of grace, a prophet, a peacemaker, a servant, a warrior.
I don’t know He is teaching me the gospel. I don’t know I will lay my life down over and over again and in it I will find joy. I don’t know that I will fail and be forgiven and learn grace. I don’t know that I will watch them blossom and I will believe in new life.
I don’t know that mothering will teach me truth because I won’t stand for lies if my kids might ever believe them. I tell them they are beloved. I tell them they are enough. I do my best to show them Jesus. I need to find Him myself to do this well. So I teach them how to seek and obey. And I find myself preaching freedom songs over them and it echoes in my ears and sounds like life.
I don’t know gathering my children to me will be the way He refines those shards and breathes hope into lengthening limbs. I don’t know he is creating wings as wide as hope to carry my dreams for my babies.
I don’t know He is creating a mother.
I believed I was failing at motherhood. I wished I had someone to remind me to dance in wild grace and laugh hard and hug too long. And that it’s ok to cry a bit when they got up from bed AGAIN. It’s ok. You’re doing a good job.
I wished I had the hope and life-giving words shared in my friend, Lisa Jo Baker’s new book Surprised by Motherhood, releasing today.
I read the whole thing in 2 nights staying up way past my bedtime like all good mothers do because, quiet.
It’s not your regular mommy/parenting book. It’s an exploration of the weight of motherhood, the glory inherent in raising tiny people, the struggles of growing up into a calling that often feels confusing and heartbreaking and wonderful all at the same time. It’s the tale of a motherless daughter and the way God fills gaps in holes we never even knew we had.
Seriously, you want it. And I love it so much, I’m giving away 3 copies. I want you to read it and be blessed.