The “Job” of Ministering in Foster Care

I have to admit to you my lovely readers, that I have been remiss. We got a call a few weeks ago for a little boy in need of a foster home and said yes. He’s close to Little’s age and the two are now as thick as thieves. To say the least, fostering again has been keeping me very busy and this is why I’ve been M.I.A. So I do apologize. I must have sat down a dozen times to write a post announcing our newest arrival and something {or someone} would need my attention and off to the draft file it would go.

I’m learning more and more about myself and Jesus every single day as I foster. There really is nothing quite like fostering as a ministry. I’m humbled and terrified pretty much all the time. I’m humbled because I realize I’m mostly a giant blob of sin and selfishness and I completely lack the ability on my own to know how to love on this child in the way his damaged heart needs. And I’m terrified because I’m wondering every hour of every day that I’m awake, “Lord Jesus, is this enough?”

For the past couple of days, we’ve had yelling days at our house. I was sick with bronchitis over the weekend, so Travis manned the ship while I stayed in bed and coughed myself silly. Now that I’m better and back at the helm, he’s pushing things. He’s pushing my rules, pushing my punishments {which consist of time outs and gentle lectures about changing his attitude}, pushing my schedule, my instructions, everything. He’s pushing me. And let me tell you friends, it ain’t pretty.

In fact, it’s pretty ugly.

I found myself yelling at both of the boys yesterday. With Little, it happens. He’s stubborn, smart, and can be very difficult from time to time. I raise my voice with him, go to bed feeling frustrated and guilty, and we get up the next day with a new clean slate.

With our foster son, it’s different. When I raise my voice at him, I feel like an ogre. I feel like I’m not serving Jesus in the right way, and I feel absolutely terrified that we could get a call in a few days that a new relative has been found and he’ll be moving, and the only memory he’ll have of me {who he calls “Miss Kat”} will be this scene. Finger pointed, voice raised, demanding he pick up the plate he threw on the floor.

I know I’m not perfect and no one expects me to be. God certainly doesn’t. I hope my foster son doesn’t. But he does need a hero. He needs the structure and the discipline, and in there, there is love. There’s the care it takes to set expectations for a child who has never had any before and make sure he rises to them. There’s love in time out, there’s love in talks about using nice words and not ugly words. I’m trying to help him, I really am. But I feel so scared that all he’ll recall of me is the crazy lady with all those rules.

He’s thriving here. He really is. The rules are wonderful for him, and he’s eager to follow them. There’s just a lot of change and a lot of pain in his little heart that we’re fighting through together. I’m sorting through my own brokenness too, trying desperately to grope my way in the darkness and find the best ways to show him love.

I really hope that God can use the brokenness in me to reach him. That’s my biggest prayer. I’m broken. I do bad things sometimes. I yell. I’m sure coming from a situation with no rules or expectations and very few standards, it feels like we’re beyond strict to the point of ridiculousness. But those rules are established out of love and care. To raise him up in the way he should go, so that when he is old, he will not depart from it.

We started out fostering to love on some kids while we wait for our forever child, but now that I’m in this, I realize it’s so much more that we’re doing here. Daily, I’m giving him a glimpse of Jesus. I’m praying constantly throughout the day that Jesus will use me in ways that are far beyond my own ability to love on this child and reach the recesses of his heart that are so damaged and worn from the sin in this world that nothing BUT the blood of Christ can heal them.

I realize that in fostering, I’ve entered a battle in my own home for the kingdom of God. I’m fighting for these children in an eternal sense. I had a revelation that the only way they’ll make it in fostering and in “the system” is if they know and love Jesus. That’s it. They must know that God loves them, they are special, and they are created for an incredible purpose. Period.

So that’s my mission in fostering.

Had you asked me six months ago why I was fostering, I would have said, “So we can adopt.” Of course that’s still a desire of my heart, and I pray that someday we can. But right now that’s not even on the radar. My number one goal is that this child see Jesus in me. That he leave our home, whenever that may be, with a sense of peace in him because he was loved and cared for in a way that can only come from the strength of the Lord.

When I have yelling days, I feel terrible. But I press on and try to make the next hour better. You go hour by hour in foster care. I yell, I feel convicted, I sit down and hug on him and tell him how special he is and how much I {and God} love him. And so it goes, in and out of this circle of humanness and holiness.

I know ultimately that I can’t fill his empty cup or mend his hurting heart. But I serve a God that can, and I call on God moment by moment to help me show this child my God. God can work with the tiniest of seeds. I hope I’m planting enough to grow. I hope he looks back on his time in foster care as an adult and remembers us not by the fun things we did or the pets we had, but how deeply we loved him and much we shared the love of Jesus.

This ministry is a job, but the job isn’t what I imagined. And honestly, it feels like one of the greatest things I’ve ever been a part of. It’s also one of the hardest things I’ve ever been a part of. God is working in our home and through us as people and parents, and I’m constantly in awe of his daily mercies.

My new prayer is that Jesus would always be enough for this child, and that somewhere in the muck of my brokenness and sin, God shines through.





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5 responses to “The “Job” of Ministering in Foster Care

  1. Kristie White

    You are doing a great job. I think we all feel those struggles with our little guys. For me when we have one of those days I make sure that at bedtime we have extra hugs and kisses and reassure them that tomorrow is a new day and a fresh start. I SOOOO see a bigger house in your future. You are not done yet my friend!

    • Thank you Kristie. I’m so relieved to know you have days like that too! I think tonight there’ll be extra hugs and kisses and reassurances and praises to Jesus that he gives us second {or 80th} chances! I so hope you’re right, that we do have more children in our future- forever children too.

  2. kthorpe

    Wow, this was an amazing post. To see the direction you have taken with the fostering is a beautiful thing.

  3. Nanny

    I pray this broken little boy is the first of your forever children. That would be the second greatest gift he would ever receive second only to receiving Christ as his Savior. You and Trav are doing great so keep your eye on the prize and your chin up.

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