Embracing the call

One woman's journey from brokenness to caring for the broken

By Shari Lau

Lisa’s* journey into foster care began long before she even fully understood what foster care was. As one of seven children, she and her siblings knew from an early age what it meant for their family to live with open hearts and open hands. Both her parents and grandparents became foster parents around the same time, and over the course of her childhood Lisa had at least 15 foster children in her home, with three of them becoming legally permanent. While Lisa’s parents eventually felt the need to end foster care in their home, the idea of fostering vulnerable children was firmly planted in Lisa’s heart. 

Lisa has always felt personally called to the idea of adoption and foster care, even missions, taking that attitude of living life with an open heart and hand seriously. She felt God’s call on her life at a young age, and her passion for serving Him only matured as she grew older. “It’s all God’s,” she states, “He’s blessed us with so much,” and that sense of obedience has led her to where she is now. 

But it hasn’t all made sense, and it hasn’t all been without fear. 

Having grown up in a Christian home, Lisa married young and immediately started a family. Four kids later her marriage fell apart and she found herself in a crisis of faith. Her dream of a “whole family” was gone. That led her to live under her own authority for a while, and she entered into a relationship with a man she never married. For 10 years she lived in a common-law relationship as she battled through the questions, bitterness and anger she had raging within her. 

Then, while pregnant with her youngest child, Lisa’s life took another dramatic turn when her adolescent daughter revealed that Lisa’s common-law husband was molesting her. He was arrested and removed from the home, and Lisa’s life shattered. Her will to live left her. She felt stripped bare, and in her brokenness she felt God call her back to Him. She felt Him ask her to surrender her dream of a whole family: to let go and allow Him back in. 

What followed were years of healing, walking her now-adult children through the aftermath, re-establishing her relationship with Christ and discovering along the way that her original calling was still tugging on her heart. That tug led Lisa on a missions trip to Africa where she eventually founded a ministry to single moms. Her work there helped to cultivate that call in her heart for children, and for equipping the moms there with the help and resources they needed to be able to care for their kids. All the while, her longing for a husband and a “whole family” remained. 

A few years later God challenged Lisa’s heart and the fear she still struggled with when a nasty text from her ex-common-law husband left her emotionally raw and questioning who she was. She found herself on her knees asking God “Who do you say that I am?” Through her pleading and tears she distinctly felt Jesus next to her saying “You are my Warrior!” Given her ex’s names for her, and her own struggle with self-doubt, Lisa fought this and asked Him for more. And once again God revealed Himself to her, calling her “His Beloved” and “His Warrior.” In this new confidence as His Beloved, a term no man had ever called her before, she felt the strength to accept the “warrior.”

With this new sense of who she was in Christ, God gave her the words “right here, and right now,” and her calling was rekindled. The seed for fostering was planted, but even then she gave every excuse for why that didn’t make sense. Selfishly she couldn’t do it; she couldn’t give up on her dream of marriage and a “whole” family. She followed in obedience though, hoping that at some point along the way God would honour her obedience and stop the foster care process. 

But He didn’t. As she began to explore the foster-care call, Lisa found every door she knocked on open. She received nothing but affirmation from the social worker assigned to her, and full support from her family. And in a final push, through a conversation with her tween son, she got the encouragement she needed to make it a reality. God even affirmed the “warrior” title she had heard from a few years back, when the social worker doing the home study indicated that the sexual abuse of her daughter would make her a great warrior or advocate for the children that would end up in her home. 

But fear still gripped her. 

Then, in the spring of 2017, having signed the final papers at 4 p.m., Lisa received a call an hour later asking if she could take some children right away. Panic hit her as she realized that this was now about to be a reality, and she went into the room she had prepared and prayed over the beds. 

As Lisa questioned if she had what it would take, the Holy Spirit whispered to her that “Jesus has what it takes.” In that moment, Lisa felt the anxiety and fear lift. He took her right to the end of her journey of obedience, with all her fear and bargaining, and removed her fear of never being a “whole family.” He moved Lisa to acknowledge that He is bigger than all of it, and His calling to live life with an open hand . . . and now as His warrior . . . is all she needs. 

* Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Shari Lau is senior care ministries associate for Focus on the Family Canada.