Q&A with Associate Director and Co-Founder, Lisa Schloss
We took some time to catch up with Lisa to get her perspective on her different roles at New Song. We hope you enjoy reading her answers!
Lisa, take yourself back in time for a moment. You and Bob had just created New Song, created the ministry’s first board of directors, and began sharing your vision. The ministry was in the middle of purchasing 100 acres in Brown County, new supporters were signing up it seemed like every week, plans were being drawn up to obtain zoning and begin building. What were your hopes and dreams for the ministry at that time?
I remember the excitement of that time like it was yesterday. It was really special knowing that God was at work with something big and beyond us. I was familiar with the plight of vulnerable children in Indiana and couldn’t wait to be a part of loving on them and giving them a new opportunity in life.
At that point, what would you have said was the purpose of the ministry? Why was the ministry created?
In our minds, we were very clear on that. There were children in Indiana whose families were suffering and kids who were struggling, and we wanted to provide a safe, stable, loving place for kids to come and know the Lord.
You were involved in so many things in the early stages of the ministry--meeting with supporters, giving input on the architectural and interior design of the homes, raising & homeschooling four boys in the process. Since the dust has settled on all of the construction, what responsibilities have you had in the ministry?
As New Song’s Associate Director, I’ve been part of the administrative team, working alongside of our campus team to shape a positive culture, putting together training programs for houseparents and other staff, helping to develop policies and procedures for our board members to review, and collaborating with others to put together our overall ministry program and academics for students. I’ve also played a role in reviewing the backgrounds of potential students and interviewing them during our student enrollment process and developing each new student’s plan of care. Of course the most enjoyable blessing from God of all the things I’ve been involved with has been being a part of the lives of the kids the Lord has entrusted us with.
With all of your other responsibilities, how much have you been able to work directly with the New Song students?
Since our first group of students came in early 2017, I’ve been involved in the lives of the kids here on campus, and it's been so rewarding. My involvement with our students has grown even deeper over the last year. My interactions with our students have run the gambit, from fun, light-hearted activities, to counseling and discipling them through difficult struggles. I also have been blessed to be helping in the classroom and involved some in their home as I’ve worked alongside of our houseparents, Logan and Olivia Stoner, who have been such faithful ministry partners. We make a great team I think! And Bob and I have been the Respite Care Couple for the girls as well, caring for them for a few days each month.
With Logan and Olivia recently having their first child in early February, baby Wally, you and Bob have been full-time houseparents to the two teenage girls who are now at New Song. That seems like a big adjustment. What’s the experience been like?
It’s really been life-changing. Full-time houseparenting is one role I had never experienced before. It took a little time to get my feet under me and adjust, but Bob and I are headed toward 3 months of caring for the girls, and I feel like we’ve really hit our stride and have a great routine in place. I’ve settled in as a house mom and I’m so thankful for the bonding and life experiences I have had with the girls. I love the girls and enjoy caring for them. Being a houseparent takes a LOT of mental work and energy! It requires very thoughtful, proactive parenting and recognizing the particular needs of each child. Helping them through challenges can be emotionally draining at times. It causes me to be dependent upon the Lord.
In that past you’ve been a respite houseparent…how is this different?
Full-time houseparenting is completely different. The best analogy I can think of is that respite houseparenting is kind of like being a substitute teacher, only in a much more personal environment. You step in, attempt to give some guidance and keep the kids on their normal routine, and then you’re out of there before you have the chance to settle in and develop deeper bonds. I think it’s different from the kids’ perspective too, and that’s probably just a natural thing. The kids see respite care couples as those who’ve come to have some fun with them, not necessarily as people they are “doing life” with. It takes more to get to the next level in the relationships with students in a respite care role.
When you live with people as full-time houseparents, you go through the up and downs of life with them; you get the real deal, and so do the students. There’s a lot more freedom to just be yourself in front of them, and so the kids have gotten to know me better. They see that I’m a real person who has real emotions. When you are full-time houseparents, the relationships become more personal and special. I praise the Lord for this wonderful season. It is a stretch though, trying to still handle my other responsibilities.
Are there any activities or things that have occurred as a house mom that have stood out to you during your time in the home?
Bob and I raised four boys, and it’s very different raising girls. Our boys never cared too much for “window shopping” at stores for hours on end, dancing around in the house and singing at the top of their lungs in the car while the music is blaring. All the girly conversations we have about hair, makeup, fashion, boys, and a bunch of other things are times I treasure. I’ve had the privilege of coming alongside of a student while they are going through a crisis and helping them lean into the Lord, as students have confided in me about some very personal, emotional things. To be used by God during those times, it’s really what New Song is all about.
What are some things you’ve been excited to see the girls get involved with in the home or personally accomplish?
In addition to the joy I see in them each day and the fun we get to have together, one of the most rewarding things I’ve experienced is their growth and maturation as young ladies. They show this growth in many ways, maybe the most important is to see their desire to work through problems/conflicts they have with others in a mature, relational way. The girls are really learning to resolve conflicts well. It’s also super encouraging to see them spend time in God’s Word preparing for the nights that they lead our family devotions. The girls are learning how to study His Word and make sense of what they are reading. It doesn’t get any better than growing in God’s word. It really warms my heart.
What personal growth have you seen in the girls during this time?
Students come with their own personal struggles, and I have seen each of these girls grow in how they respond to their struggles. It used to be common for each of these girls to withdraw from problems—but now it’s common for them to desire to work through things instead of running. They are also growing in the area of showing that they care for others in the household by acknowledging them, being hospitable, and realizing that it’s important to contribute to the well-being of the people you are living with.
These girls have become so responsible with coming home and getting right into their chore and activity lists. They take care of their own laundry, regularly help with meal times, and for some it might be a new experience making a meal from start to finish. They are loving to bake—mostly cakes and brownies up to this point, but it’s a start! They made French Toast from scratch for the first time a couple of weeks ago; they did it together, following a recipe, which was a pretty big deal to Bob and me. Before the pandemic, the girls picked out beads at Hobby Lobby and have been making some bracelets. They are also learning more about showing appreciation to others, writing “thank you” notes for gifts they’ve received, or for people and churches who have helped out the ministry in some way. Before the COVID-19 we did a LOT of roller skating; Avery got into skating so much that she wanted to buy her own skates, and she earned half the cost for new skates through working various jobs around campus. Her Mimi and Papaw pitched in the other half, and Avery now owns a brand-new, shiny pair of skates! The girls are learning new ways of spending their free time as well. One of them is reading more than she ever had before, and both are learning new card and board games to play.
What difficulties have you had personally since becoming a full-time house mom?
It’s been really hard to be in so many different roles with the girls, sometimes all in one day. I play a different role with the girls outside of the home than I do in the home. Outside of the home I am counseling the girls, doing their evaluations and progress reports, and I lend a hand in the classroom a couple times a week (A HUGE shoutout here to Miss Grace, our teacher! I’m so glad she is coming back to teach again next year!) I think it can be really difficult at times in the girls’ minds, seeing me in these different roles. But they respond really well. I think things are smoothing out in that respect. Being in the house mom role, it’s also really difficult to get everything else done that I’m responsible for. But we do have a good team here on campus with Miss Grace, Shelley (our Office Manager) Carol (our bookkeeper), and of course, Bob. Miss Grace has helped us by spending several Friday nights with the girls these past couple of months so that Bob and I can spend time with our granddaughter and the rest of our family! That has been a huge help!
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I love being a part of what God is doing here at New Song. Knowing that 15 years ago I prayed for the very girls Bob and I are now caring for is so special. I shared that the other day with one of the girls, that she was prayed for even before she was born, and she was shocked and amazed by that. God knows what kids are coming to New Song and when they will be here. That gives me a peace.