Creating a Christ-Centered Home: Tips for Christian Foster and Adoptive Parents
For my husband and me, the call to grow our family through foster-adoption was rooted in our faith in Jesus Christ and our desire to honor Him in every aspect of our lives. We believe it is very clear in scripture that God’s heart is for those who are struggling, vulnerable, and marginalized. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
This certainly describes children and youth who are in need of a safe and loving home for a short time or forever. So our answer to this sacred calling was, “Yes!”
We knew the children who joined our family would have pain to overcome, but we significantly underestimated the impact this would have on us, our other children, and our extended family and friends. But of course God knew, and it was all part of the gifts he had in store for us.
We quickly discovered that we had a LOT to learn…….about ourselves, our children, and the God who called us. The journey that started with the first, “Yes!” has required more than two decades worth of countless “yeses” all along the way. “Yes” to asking for help. “Yes” to learning a new way of parenting that took into account our kids’ experiences and backgrounds. “Yes” to allowing God to heal the broken places in our own hearts, and “yes” to learning that we are completely dependent on Him for everything! It has been the greatest source of refinement, challenge, pain, and growth of our lives. “If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10
From the very beginning of parenting, we made it a point to talk to our kids about who God is and His desire for each of His children to know how much He loves them. He demonstrated that love by sending His Son, Jesus Christ to die for our sins, be resurrected, and go prepare a place for us with our heavenly Father. God has offered everyone an open invitation for a personal relationship with Him, no exceptions. “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10
Every person who has come through our home knows what we believe and yet, each person was/is given the freedom to be honest about their faith journey. Their individual journeys with the Lord are unique to their story, His plans, and ultimately, their choice.
Our faith is not a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s about the privilege of being in a close and loving relationship with our Creator, the very purpose for which we were created. We wanted our children to see the joy and delight in that, so we tried to order our lives around gratitude and praise. We also never wanted to suggest to our children that we could explain everything there is to know about God. His ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours. So, we tried (and still try!) to approach every conversation with humility and authenticity.
With the values of obedience, humility, and gratitude in mind, here are some practices we find in God’s word:
- Practice what you preach! As the leaders of your home, model a standard of behavior and character that shows Jesus is the Lord of your life. The Bible says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23
- Prayer and scripture reading as individuals. This does not stem from obligation, but love and a desire to grow closer to Jesus Christ daily. All of the answers to life, who God is, and what we were made to be are in His Word. Let your kids see you spending time reading your Bible and praying. “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2
- Prayer and scripture reading as a family. Set aside time at meals or another planned time to do a family devotional. That just means reading scriptures and talking about what they mean. Then, pray together as a family over individual prayer requests and things going on in the family. As children grow, they can take turns planning and leading the family devotional. “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
- Go to church. Church is a place to learn, worship, and serve with other believers. It is also a great place to find mentors and teachers for your kids who can be a positive influence on them. Church is a place for kids to discover and use their gifts, like music or helping in childcare. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
- Teach your kids how to be generous. Giving expresses the Biblical principals of gratitude and generosity. It acknowledges that everything we have comes from God and belongs to Him. When we give to a local church or ministry, we are sharing with others and investing in God’s work so more people can enjoy the benefit of helpful and positive programs. Most of all, giving reminds us that we are not owners, but rather stewards of what God has entrusted with us. “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.” Proverbs 3:9
- Serve others as a family. Whether bringing meals, doing yard work, or giving someone a break by watching their kids, get your children involved in helping others. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10-11
These are some of the ways we can order our daily lives around our faith in God. There are many more ideas, and we would love to hear some of yours. The most important truth here is that the life, home, and family of a Christ follower is not divided between the religious and the secular. It is just…….life. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17