Gary & Lisa's


Thoughts and encouragements on how we move through the seasons of life.


Grief is not foreign to me; me and pain, we go way back. Even a seasoned soul like mine is still taken back by the unexpected and inconvenient moments when grief seems to explode like a bomb going off.

With no mercy, it consumes like a flame to oxygen.

Last week I woke hours before the sun to prepare for the day, walking to class, breathing in the spring air sipping my hot tea, waving at the locals and smiling an occasional Spanish greeting, "Hola."

The air felt new and clean; the morning smelled of hope, I smiled to myself. I am consistently thankful to get to spend my hours and my days living with purpose. I do not take this call lightly; it is common for me to spend months to prepare for one week of teaching.

For almost 30 years I have known grief as subtle and sneaky, slowly seducing me into sorrow until the weight brings the warm tears. There is healing in distress; all the weeping brings release. But today, without warning a thought consumed my mind, my pace slowed, a memory flashed again, and my heart began to ache. I did not see the right hook, followed immediately by the front jab of grief punching me right in the face; it was a sudden, searing pain, a shocking awareness of profound loss.

"Please God, not now," I begged as my heels clicked on the cobblestone street, and I turned to enter the school. At that very moment, there was a classroom full of eager, engaged and precious young ones waiting for me to lead them. These students are not just part of my job; they are an extension of my tribe; they have invaded my heart. My pace quickens as I struggle to control my emotions, knowing that just past the glass doors my sweet ones were waiting for inspiration to flow from me, with vulnerability, grace, and truth.

I began to question my ability to stand or speak, let alone inspire. How is could I show myself to be vulnerable and yet composed? How could I walk in excellence when my soul felt shattered?

Grief can make you question your strength; at times it feels too violent to overcome.

Grief can feel rather cruel as it washes over you like a wave to powerful to stand in, a tsunami that knocks you to the floor of the sea and demands the air from your lungs. The deep sorrow strikes and weakens you, at the very moment you need to be steady and reliable as you stand before a crowd that has gathered to hear what you have to say.

Grief seems to rear its head when you take extra time to prepare your appearance; still, the tears soak the linen blouse that you starched and pressed early in the morning. Grief can humble you and sabotage your expectations of flawlessness when mascara turns the weeping to little black streams that destroy your powdered face.

Once again I am humbled and reminded of the vulnerability that comes with being human.

This pain takes on different shapes, and at times it can only be seen as brilliantly tragic like when the sunrise appears so is so majestic over the Mediterranean sea that I question if I have never seen these shades before.

I wonder, "Was this sunrise created just for me?"

Clearly, I have not been abandoned by God.

Grief shows up when I am holding my man's hand as we walk together, in a moment of sadness, I realize how deeply in love I am. I love this man who grieves with me, this man that gives his life to me, laying all that he is before me as a sacrifice of humility; he does this daily in a million simple ways, no matter the cost to his soul.

Grief is in the heavy sigh that you release when you realize that you are truly happy, bizarrely so, and in walking in a peace that you can not explain, at least not with words.

Yes, the grief is still present, even though it has been six years since I embraced my son and looked into his intense and brilliant blue eyes.

Grief is merely the evidence of longing for what you have lost.

My family and I still grieve. Grief is always present for the very reason that it has been six years since we have held Michael and looked deeply into his sparkling blue eyes. The more time that passes, the more we realize what Michael is missing. The more additions to our family the more we ache for Michael to see.

Grief is in the parts of your heart that are shattered and in the elements of your heart that are fully alive and thriving. Pain hits you in the same moment you realize that God is redeeming your brokenness, and healing your entire tribe, your wild-tribe, the one you love with all that you are and all that you have.

The depths of Grief cannot exist without the depths of Love.

The Grief is there because it belongs there. You are free when you no longer wait for the day the grief ends and dissipates; instead, you embrace it and hold it close within walls of your heart, and allow the loss to expand the love that has no bounds.

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We are in the midst of a movement; after you read this, please consider sharing with your networks and joining us, thank you! 

Last week I flew into Colorado Springs, the place where our family lived for over 20 years— where we raised our children, where we worked, played, laughed, prayed, and grieved.  I drove down the street where our old house stands, the last place we saw our son alive before drugs and despair stole his mind and his destiny. 

New families fill some of the houses and familiar faces are around every turn. Colorado Springs is still breathtakingly beautiful, but there is a darkness hovering here now that threatens to block the sun.  A wave of suicides has plagued our city, permeated our school district, shaking our neighbors, our community and our friends to the very core.

Our babies are taking their own lives, and no one seems to know why.  The same people that attended our son’s funeral four years ago, brought meals to our home, wept with us in our grief and confusion are still struggling to find answers to the question, “What is happening to our kids?” 

I spent days looking at memorials, talking to parents, and reading about the stories of every child that has died here over the last three years.  The heaviness sat on me like thousand pounds and I cried out to God, begging Him to tell me, “ What is the answer?”

Last week I found myself in the company of old friends, Lou Engle (The Call) took the stage and began to call us to prayer and fasting for revival in America. Then he described the revivals of the past and the prayer that had preceded all of them, with the exception of the “The Jesus Movement” in the 70’s. He asked God what that revival was birthed out of, if not a prayer movement.

God replied, “That revival was birthed out of the tears and prayers of a million mothers who were losing their children!”

It was like a shotgun blast went off, and a fire was lit deep within me.  

This was the answer for which I had been searching and praying.

Since our son took his own life on April 17, 2013, I have received hundreds of messages from mothers crying out for help, as our nation is under attack from heroin and opioid deaths.

Depression and anxiety seem to be the norm, and suicide is stealing the destiny of our young ones in record numbers.  America is leading the world in overdose deaths from opioid use. Heroin has taken over entire cities. The US only holds about 4% of the world’s population, yet reports 27% of the world’s deaths caused by drug overdoses.  

 I have been in a place of shock and grief over the past 4 years. I have felt like a zombie just dragging my feet, living at a barely breathing pace. I have cried every single day since we lost Michael Ryan Black. Yes, I am devastated by the brutal and shocking suicide that rocked our family. Yes, I have wept because my heart is shattered. But I am not weeping only for me, I am weeping for all the mothers that find themselves in the center of this storm.

 Like many mothers, I have been in hibernation, unsure of how to fight this battle that seems too big, too overwhelming, and too dark.

I am looking for the Mama Bears in the world to join me, to wake up, and rise up! I am looking for the Mama Bears that are sick and tired of visiting their children in rehab and in the hospital, the Mamas that cannot bear to go to one more funeral for their sister’s son, their neighbor’s daughter, for anyone’s child. I am looking for Mamas that have buried their own babies and Mamas that have wondered if this might be the fate of their offspring.

I am looking for an army of mothers to join me and fight like only a woman can. We were created to defend the vulnerable, we were created to nurture the little ones. But do not mistake our tenderness for weakness. We are mighty and powerful beings, and we are willing to die to protect our children!

I am looking for women that carry the spirit of motherhood— not just biological mothers or mothers that are still raising young children. I am looking for mothers in the inner city, mothers in the suburbs, single moms, foster moms, stepmothers, adoptive mothers and grandmothers. Your title does not matter. If you love a child that needs you, if you are willing to fight for that child, if you are willing to die for that child, then you are a MOTHER.

We are going to gather our weapons, and we are going to fight like the warriors that we were created to be.

There is only one way we are going to win this war, ladies. We are going to rise up and fall on our knees…we are going to fight the Spirit of death with the Spirit of Life.

We wrestle not against flesh and blood but principalities and rulers of the air.

We are going to fight like girls, and the enemy will not be able to continue to kill our children; he will not be able to stand against the finished work of Jesus Christ. When He said “It is finished,” he meant all of it!

Ladies, it is time to go to war! It is time to fall on our knees and fight like never before and shout a Holy chant to the enemy’s camp.



These our children, and they belong to the Lord of Glory.

You will not take ONE MORE!”

Join me on October 6 – 9, 2017 in our nation’s capital, as we fast and pray for our country, our children, our seed, and our future!

To donate to this project that helps me get my book out, to events like Rise Up, my fight for every child out there, and much more… please go to our Foundation in our son Michael’s name and partner with us today! 

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Written by Lisa Black

Social media makes everything seem easier, appear more glamorous, and look more beautiful than it really is.

Pregnancy and motherhood are made to look more like a professional magazine layout when you are scrolling through Facebook, but it rarely reveals the truth of what is really going on behind the scenes.

Your husband’s loving hand on your growing belly is sweet, all the birthday pics of babies in tutu’s are precious, we should take pictures of these days, we should remember them with joy.  But let’s be honest, having little children is absurdly hard work…and I don’t miss that part at all.

Sometimes people see me as “Mother Earth” because nurturing is easy and natural for me, making a home cozy and cooking yummy food is like breathing, it does not challenge me in the least- but that is a very small part of this motherhood gig.

The majority of life while raising kids is waking up at all hours to a full and disgusting diaper, a screaming baby, or a puking child. There is endless laundry, mounds of filthy dishes and no one knows where all the socks and teaspoons end up, no matter how organized you are. Being a mom means trying to stay awake all night to deal with a rogue teen-ager that stole your Jeep at 3 am. Being a mom means ripping a house apart to  find cleats and jock straps as you rush out the door to spend the entire weekend baking in 98% heat to watch little humans throw, catch and kick balls, over and over and over again. No one tells you when they hand you that soft, fuzzy innocent little infant that it will grow up and morph into an angry-emotional- pimple- covered -punk that at some point will reject you and break your heart.

That’s the reality of it, I know some women love this dark side of mothering, I am not in that group.

I don’t miss any of it, not even a little bit.  

I can’t relate to mothers who want to keep having babies until their uterus collapses because they just “love the way newborns smell!”

Buy a candle that smells like baby powder, that works just fine too.

I really don’t understand mother’s that never want their adult children leave.  I am not talking about an 18 year old going off to college, that is a big adjustment for everyone, and there are supposed to be tears.  It’s those clingy women that don’t know who they are if they don’t have their offspring under their roofs forever, that is something I just don’t get.

I mean, I thought that was the point.  We raise them, feed them, teach them about everything we can and then they leave, and live away from us so they can practice all the lessons in real time.  Isn’t that the job?

No, I don’t miss the hard days and even more challenging nights.  I do miss knowing where they were, safe in their beds, crazy hair in the morning,  all the kisses and all the snuggles…that is the best!

That’s the thing, it is all just a season in a woman’s life, short little seasons of newborns, babies, kids, teen-agers and adults in training.  The seasons don’t last, but hopefully the people do.

Hey, if you really like stalking people on social media you might find that my adult children enjoy the occasional cuss-word, really enjoy adult beverages, and have an extraordinary amount of tattoos.  You might think this is a direct reflection of my mothering, throw in there the scandalous death of our 19 year old son, and I am primed for judgement.  

Bring it on.

I love my kids, I think they are hilarious, and I would not change one thing about them, especially their tattoos. I think my babies are brave and I think their tattoos are beautiful.

I don’t think they are amazing because they are perfect, and they are not successful adults because I was a perfect mother.  

I just love them, fully, completely, with no expectations and with no conditions.  

I failed, I fell, I did not make homemade cupcakes that are Pinterest worthy because I hate baking, so I just don’t do it.  I forgot things and things fell through the cracks. I did not volunteer for every school committee and I made my kids do their own homework, even if that meant a failing grade-especially if that meant a failing grade. Sometimes I had no idea what to do, or how to help my six wild ones. Sometimes they cried and I was helpless to stop the tears, so I just cried with them. I never quit trying, and they never stopped giving me another chance, I kept learning and they kept forgiving.

Now that most of them are adults, I am no longer responsible for every meal they eat, or every decision they make.  I get to just enjoy them and every thing that comes with them, and I love it.

I don’t miss the work, the sleepless nights or the never ending smell of dirty socks, I do miss seeing all their faces at the dinner table…I miss that the most.

I did the best I could, and then I gave some more when I had nothing left to give, because that is what mothers do.

I want to tell all mothers, especially the young ones…”Relax honey, just love them and accept them as they are, everything else will fade away…only love remains”

That is all that is required to be a real mother everyday, not just this Sunday.

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