Tuesday, February 25, 2014


It's a little bittersweet to be retiring this blog.  I found my love for writing publicly, shared my heart, released my pain and documented so much of our life in this blog.  Now, it's a new chapter and a new blog.  Please follow me at Backyard Missions.


Thanks for reading and being so supportive of our journey.


Monday, May 27, 2013


Have you ever had a broken heart? It hurts.

I have a tender heart, so my heart often breaks.  It breaks over all the injustice in the world, it breaks when someone I love is hurting, it breaks when I have hurt someone.  My heart even breaks when I watch the Sarah Mclachlan commercials of abused pets that need to be adopted. 

Has your heart ever been shattered? 

It's different than being broken.  When it's broken, all the pieces can go back together.  When it's shattered it's hard to find all the tiny little pieces and put them back together.  Think of a plate that breaks in half versus a plate that shatters in to tiny little slivers. Although it's noticeable, a broken plate can be glued back together.  It takes lots of time to find all the pieces and glue back together a shattered plate. And most likely, you won't find every single little piece. A plate that shatters will never be the same.

So far, my heart has shattered twice in my life.  Both times, I was changed in ways that I would never take back.  I learned more about God, myself and life.  It was also the hardest times to get through... taking lots of time to heal and put my heart back together again. 
I was bracing myself for the shattering on Thursday when I said goodbye to my foster-son.  I have been preparing myself to pick up all the tiny slivers of my heart and put it back together.  And then... it didn't. 

Something different happened that my heart has never endured.  I willingly ripped out a piece of my own heart and buckled it in that carseat on Thursday.  I can honeslty say it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.  It was also the best thing I have ever done in my life.   To make a choice to give a piece of your heart away is painful and rewarding all at the same time. 

God gave Joel and I a beautiful gift in that moment.  After trying to teach our 11 month old foster son how to wave for months, he finally did that day as we said goodbye.  And he kept waving and waving at us as tears were streaming down our faces.  It was a beautiful moment that will be a video in my head forever. 

In our human nature, it seems wrong to give a piece of our heart away.  Why would we put ourselves through that pain?  When you love as God has loved us... it's not even a question. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Embracing Pain

I can feel it starting to take root and soak in to my soul.  It catches me off guard throughout the day and it takes a few moments to catch my breath.  It's heavy- weighing down on my chest and taking all my thoughts hostage.  


I signed up for it.... literally with my very own signature.  "Sign here to be a foster parent."  It should say, "sign here to have your heart broken."  I knew what I was in for, but now it has a face and a name.  He has taken a huge part of my heart with his big, deep brown eyes and his overwhelming smile.  My love for him is just as strong as my love for my own biological children. 

On May 23rd I have to release him for good.  I have to hand my son over to his adoptive family.  I celebrate in so many ways that he will be in his forever home safe and sound.  He will be loved, nutured and and brought up in the ways of the Lord.  I celebrate and I thank God that He has answered our prayers with this little life.

On May 23rd I also have to hand over a piece of my own heart.  I have to come back to the house where I watched him live and grow in his first 11 months of life.  I will hear the echo of his belly laugh as Isaiah runs by and his hungry cries in the middle of the night. 

Cue the pain. 

I spoke with another foster mom the other day and I am still sitting on her many wise "one-liners."  One of them being:

Hard does not mean "bad." 

The more I think about it- hard is good... although I don't have to like it.  Through pain we have the most growth, awareness and impact.  Through pain we have victory

My case worker keeps telling us that our foster son will know how to form healthy attachments- to be loved and love others because he was loved and nurtured in his first year of life. I am clinging to that because it makes all my heartache worth it. I want to live a life sacrifically. I want to be able to lay down my heart for the sake of the orphans.

The best model for this is Jesus himself.  He embraced the the utmost pain and heartache as he bore all of our sins, was tortured and hung on that old rugged cross.  He loved us so much that he was willing to take on pain at it's fullest just so we can have LIFE. 
To embrace the pain of releasing my foster son is to get a small glimpse of all the emotions our Savior endured. 

To embrace the pain is to need God in a more intimate way.
To embrace the pain is to know God in a more intimate way.
To embrace the pain is to become more like God.  

We try and avoid it at all costs, especially in our culture.  We actually pursue the opposite of pain.... maybe thats why I get so many questions of why I would sign up for something as crazy and heart-wrenching as foster care.  Believe me, I have asked myself this so many times... especially as I rock him to sleep or watch him discover something for the very first time.  But it's more than worth it-  To love him, have the time with him that I have had, to help him form "healthy attachments," to protect him for a season.. it's worth every bit of the pain.  Most of all, to know God and the pain he endured... even if it's just a small glimpse... makes it a beautiful painful experience that I wouldn't want to exchange for comfort.

I will laugh and soak up every moment I have left with my son until May 23rd. I will let myself cry when those emotions pertrude from the inside out. I will allow myself to feel, even if the feelings are hard. 

Being "healthy" doesn't mean that you have it all together or are void of pain in your life- Being healthy is looking pain straight in the eye and embracing it. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Misconception #1

Not every African-American is a good athlete.

Not every rich person is a snot.
Not every poor person is lazy.
Not every Christian is judgmental.
Not every politician is corrupt.
Not every feminist is a lesbian.

Not every pro-life person is a hateful picketer.

Not every blonde is a ditz.
Not every muslim is a terrorist.

We have all heard some of the horror stories of foster parents taking dozens of kids in to their homes, not really taking care of  the children because they do it all for the money.  I vividly remember a news program I watched in high school about a foster family in Denver putting their foster children in stacked cages in 1 bedroom, treating them like animals... just for the cash.   Unfortunatley, there have been a few foster families that have given the majority a bad reputation. 

Isn't that how it is with every demographic?  The few "crazies" get the media attention and then the stereotyping begins.  The majority is misunderstood. 

It's the biggest misconception about foster parents. Most foster parents would say, "What money?"  The very small stipen you do get every month usually only covers the expenses you have for that child. The majority of foster parents pay out of their own pockets to take care of these children.  Did you know several foster homes save the stipen for their child and they give it to them when they are old enough or in need (ie: college fund, etc)?  

The system has changed dramatically over the years to eliminate some of these horror stories.  It's an extensive process to make sure you are a good foster home.  They also don't allow foster families to take in more children then they, or their homes, can handle. 

Joel and I were at a mandatory training last week and I was humbled and honored to be sitting in the room with so many wonderful foster families. These families are some of the most loving, compassionate, selfless people I have ever met.  These families choose to sacrifice the conveinances of life to nuture and foster these children who need loving homes.  There was one family there who has 3 bio kids, 3 adopted and 3 foster.  And... this isn't the exception.  The majority of foster families end up adopting their foster children that no one else wants because these kids are assumed to be "damaged," "tramautized," or "bad" kids.  A lot of these children have special needs or medical conditions that other people don't want to deal with.  These foster families fall in love with these kids and take them in as one of their own.  If it wasn't for looks, you wouldn't be able to tell a difference between their foster and their biological children.  The incredible part is they don't see it as "sacrificing."  It's an honor and a blessing to be a foster parent.... to get the opportunity to love a child, even if it's for a short period of time.  They sign up with joy to foster these children, even with the high risk of heartbreak. 

I only hope that I can become like some of the incredible foster families we have in Larimer County.  I want to be open and available in whatever way I can to love the orphaned, abused and neglected children in my community.  I hope to help redefine the misconceptions of foster families and let the majority be recognized for their true tender hearts towards these children. 

Will you join me in standing up for the majority and eliminiating this awful misconception? 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Today is the day

Yesterday, I had a pre-op appointment at the hospital.  After getting registered, they took me in to the lab to wait for a nurse to go over the details of the c-section I will have today.  I sat down and realized I am sitting in the same chair, in the same lab where I found out I miscarried Gloria.  And now, here I am as life has come around full circle- I was sitting in the exact chair exactly 2 1/2 years later with a very pregnant belly.

The pregnancy has gone by fast with fostering a newborn, work and a preschooler. It's been a whirlwind of life since the day I finally had the 2 lines on the pregnancy test so, to be honest, there hasn't been a lot of time to process the blessing that has been knit in my womb.

Then all of a sudden today came and I am overflowing with praise, joy and excitement.  The pregnancy went fast, but the longing for this baby boy was long.  3 years shouldn't seem that long, but when you hope every month for 36 months and are disappointed every month... it feels like a lifetime. 

God was very clear with us to name our new baby boy Samuel.  It was no surprise when we found out the meaning of his name.  "God has heard."  

20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”   
Samuel 1:20

It's been hard to celebrate because I automatically think of others that are/have struggled with infertility or pregnancy loss.  Why am I the one that gets to be blessed?  I feel guilty rejoicing when others are mourning.  I don't know why I was blessed with this child when others are not, but I do know God hears our cries and desires of our hearts.  It's the trusting and waiting in Him that are hard.  

Today I am choosing to celebrate and rejoice that God decided to bless me in his perfect timing with this new life. However, as I celebrate I pray for those who have this same desire that they would know God has heard their cry too.  

27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28 So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.”             
Samuel 1: 27-28 

Happy Birthday Samuel! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hi, My name is Lisa and I am needy.

At this time last year I was soaking my depression in a glass of red wine or a nice vodka martini.  I had several moments of cussing out God and refusing to let him love me through the pain.  I didn't want to spend time with anyone except my friends on my favorite TV shows and they were expected to make me laugh and not talk about pregnancy or babies (I may have thrown pillows at the TV).  Then, there were these people... these stupid people that kept pursuing me. They would relentlessly check in with me regardless of my attempts of avoidance.  Some would speak truth, some would just listen, some would pray, some would literally pick me up from my house and take me away as I wallowed in my deep dark pit.  It was a low and I was humbled many times.

I needed people.

Everything in my human flesh wants to resist this very thing.  Isn't that what we are brought up knowing and taught in our society?  You have it together when you can do things on your own and have things under control.  You are failing as a person when you accept help, or worse off, ask for it.  You are successful when you can do everything on your own, help others and still manage to have all your laundry done.

Newsflash:  IT'S A LIE.  

Things have dramatically improved since last year.  I can honestly say that God healed me of my depression. I was finally able to hear him and let him love me.  I was able to hear His calling on our life to be foster parents and in our obedience came blessing and provision (in more than one way).  So, things are better.  I don't need people now that I am better, right?!  Wrong.

I still need people.

Even in the midst of chaos, Joel and I know that we were meant to be foster parents.  Not just that, but we were called out to be missionaries in our own community.    In all honesty, I was excited there was a way to be a "missionary" without having to raise support because that would mean I would have to be dependent on people and I want to do it on my own.  Guess what?  I can't.

I need people.

I was sharing our story about fostering with someone I don't know the other day.  She looked at me and said, "You are a saint!  What you are doing is real saintly."  HA!  I think I literally laughed in her face.  She obviously doesn't know me very well.  The truth is, we wouldn't be foster parents if it weren't for the people in our life.  We may not have had to send out support letters to go overseas, but we were quick to learn that we still need support of all kinds.

We need our prayer support team, knowing they are lifting us and our little foster babe up in prayer.
I need the delicious meals that have been  prepared for us when I don't have time to do it myself.
I need people to watch my kids during my doctors appointments.
I need the grace and flexibility my boss has given me at work.
I need my mom to help me clean my house
I need my friends that I can call and cry to when I am worried about the life of the little one we are caring for
We needed the money and car that was so graciously given to us
We need people checking in with us just to see how we are doing

I just had a friend say, "You know I am not going to let you sulk in your dark bedroom when your foster baby leaves."  And I had to realize, yes!  I will need you to make sure I don't do that.

I need her.

It's humbling.  Again, everything in my flesh wants to say, "Oh, thanks for asking but we are fine."  But it would rob people- it would rob them of the blessing and the use of their gifting and I would be left empty and useless.  If I am left empty, then I have nothing to pour out to others.

Sometimes we get so frustrated when we feel like God is not answering our prayers.  Could it be that sometimes God is answering our prayers through others and we are not allowing them to help us? God created us for community and relationship. Time to swallow the pride, be humbled, ask for help, accept help... need others.

You need people.
People need you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


I have only been a foster parent for a little over 5 weeks.  5 weeks of experiencing every emotion fathomable- excitement, love, compassion, exhaustion, frustration, sadness, anger.... and the list could go on and on.  There have been some days where I have experienced all the emotions in one day alone.  All in all, it's a journey I am so happy and blessed to have started.  I love our little newborn just like my own.  Even though we knew it would be hard, he is worth every second no matter what emotion we have to go through.

In 5 weeks I have had a lot of conversations with people, both strangers and friends alike, and I almost always get the same series of questions.  Part of me wishes I had copies of the answered questions in my diaper bag to hand to each person... wouldn't that catch them off guard?!  

Here are the most popular FAQ's: 

How did you get in to Foster Care? 
We started feeling called to fostering over a year ago when we started learning the shocking statistics of abused and neglected children in our very own community.  We were also feeling like God was asking us "If you were a missionary in Fort Collins, CO... how would your life look different?"  Fostering was our answer to that question. 
For more on that, read my  post "Called Out"  therussfam.blogspot.com/2012/05/called-out

What is the process like to become a Foster Parent? 
It took us about 9  months for our certification to come through.  It included: 
- an initial orientation with the foster care recruiter for our county 
- Training classes that were twice a week for 5 weeks 
- Home Study= series of interviews, background checks, home inspection, medical evaluations, reference checks, etc.

Did you get to choose your baby?
No, foster parenting is not like picking out a Compassion Child.  You don't get to flip through a book to find the cutest child and tell them when you are ready to start.  We did get to choose an age group (0-3yrs) because we wanted to keep birth order with Isaiah.  It's not about us getting a child that we want, it's about finding a family that would be best for the child.  If we have an opening at our house than we get a phone call when there is a child removed from their home.  We got our little guy 2 hours after the phone call.  

Adoption Questions:
A lot of people confuse foster care with adoption.  We have had several people assume that we are adopting him.  There are "foster-to-adopt" homes that only take children if they are possibly up for adoption.  We are just a foster home, although we are not closed off to adopting at some point if it's the right fit for everyone.  We didn't get in to foster care to adopt, we did it mainly to love on abused and neglected children in our community and minister to the birth parents.  I have a lot more to say about this, but I will save that for a different post... 

How long will you have him? 
We don't know.  Every case is a little different- sometimes you can have them overnight, sometime you can have them for 18 months.  It depends on several things like if they have family willing to take them at some point, if the parents do what they are supposed to get them back or if they get transferred into an adoptive home.  We will probably have our little guy for at least 6 months... but again, things could change next month so we have to be ready for anything.  

Isn't it going to be hard to give him back?
Of course it is!  I get attached to dogs that I dog sit, not alone a little baby that is like our own.  I knew that it would be hard though.  It would be easier to put up some guards and try not to fall in love, but that is pretty much impossible when you see a little miracle like I have swinging next to me right now.  He deserves 110% of my love every day.  We have a short time with him, so I am willing to sacrifice my heartbreak for his feeling of full love and nurture while he is under this roof.  I can't think too much about what happened to him in the past before he was with us or about him leaving because I wouldn't be able to live in the moment and do what I need to do to love him now. I do feel sorry for my parents and all the others investing in him, that didn't necessarily sign up for this that are going to have their own heartbreak after he leaves. Thanks for loving him anyway!  

Was the mom on drugs? Did they abuse him? Did she not want him?
We are under STRICT confidentialty with each child we get in, so there aren't a lot of questions I can answer.  I can't tell anyone what happened to him, what his parents did/didn't do, I can't share pictures publicly or why he is such a miracle... I can't really even process out some of my emotions because I can't say everything that I want to.  I am blessed to have Joel and a good caseworker to talk to...but that's about it.  
I can say that children don't get removed for minor things or a "one time" incident.  The majority of children get removed because of neglect, abuse and/or substance exposure.  

Are you Crazy? 
Yes. See my last post. 

My hope is that we would inspire and encourage others to become foster parents in their own community. If you are interested in fostering feel free to contact me and I would be happy to answer any other questions that you have from a "foster-mom" perspective.