A Student in the School of Foster Care

The classic book by Andrew Murray “With Christ in the School of Prayer” brought us wonderful lessons (from the life of Christ) on becoming powerful prayer people. Becoming an effective pray-er takes time and consistency. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. As I have been thinking about it, I have realized that becoming an effective foster parent is a learn-as-you-go process. Just as prayer can be used to change the one who prays, fostering is changing me. Our family has begun a journey with Christ in the school of fostering!

We foster for several reasons. One of the reasons we chose to be foster parents is practical: We are taking care of kids who need a family. We came to believe it was the next right thing for us to do. There was a need and we knew we could be part of the solution.
Beyond that, though, investing ourselves in the lives of troubled children is a challenge to my patience, a test of my faith, and an opening of my eyes and heart to another world. In my bible study this week, Paul reminded me that he had learned to be content. When I entered the world of foster care, I enrolled in school … once again. Weekly there are lessons to learn. Philippians 2 has become more real to me than ever before. The verses in that chapter have become the teachers of my soul.

“So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence, for the One bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort – for the sake of His good pleasure – is God. Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world by holding on to the word of life …”

If I recognize anything at all, I recognize this: I wake up everyday and feel the need to get ready for school. I know there will be lessons to learn as I work out my salvation through practicing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control. For some reason, foster parenting especially seems to be a breeding ground for discontentment, impatience, and frustration. I’m so thankful I have a patient, kind and gracious Teacher, but I’m aware that some days my “study habits” are less than stellar.
We chose this path  in order to serve others … but I still lack a genuine servant heart.
I didn’t begin this journey expecting much thankfulness from the recipients … but too often at the end of the day I rehearse in my mind that I didn’t receive any.
I don’t think I deserve some sort of medal or recognition for my sacrifice … but neither am I content with a messy house, loads of laundry, and lots of wrestling.
I do not consider myself better than others because I am a foster mom … but some days I fret that we felt a burden that others don’t feel.

I’ve noticed that foster kids are very perceptive. They watch, they listen and they assume. I am learning to be authentic … to talk openly about my faith and my failures, and to listen intently to what they say and to what they don’t say.
Yep, I’m in school … again.

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