Fruit of the Spirit in Foster Care

Once I started to become invested in foster care, I began to see everything through a new lens. I did the same thing when I was a paramedic. Everything I watched, read, or heard was related back to EMS. Becoming truly immersed in a topic causes you to see everything differently. As I’ve been thinking about how to share the message of foster care, I started to think about classic passages and stories from the bible. It’s pretty easy to see that many popular passages can be used to encourage people who are considering foster care, or are in the middle of it. The fruit of the spirit is a great example.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV)


Love: “That’s because love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.” Bob Goff wrote that in his book aptly titled Love Does. It’s impossible to be passive in foster care. Love is an action, and foster care is a very active ministry.

Joy: Children have an inherent joy about how they live their lives. The same is true for kids in foster care. It’s incredible how much joy our kids still possess even after the trauma’s they have experienced. We can learn a lot from them. Rend Collective says “Seriousness is not a fruit of the Spirit, but joy is”

Peace: Peace can feel like a distant memory when you welcome a new child into your home, especially a child who has experienced trauma. John 16:33 says I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. You will undoubtedly face trials in foster care, but with the love and support of a strong foster care community, like Thornwell, you can find peace in the midst of the chaos.

Longsuffering: Most translations say patience, but the NKJV uses the word longsuffering, which I think is much more fitting when it comes to foster care. If you have kids, you know the truth to the saying that ‘patience is a virtue’. It can feel a lot like longsuffering.  Kids in foster care need you to be patient with them. They come from some pretty hard places, and need time to adjust to their new normal.

Kindness: Being kind to someone who isn’t being kind to you is a challenge. The children who you welcome into your home won’t always be kind. Sorry if I ruined that for anybody. Many times children express their past hurts through harsh words, because they don’t know how to handle all of the new emotions they are experiencing. Understanding that those hurtful words are not a personal attack can help you respond with the kindness that those kids need.

Goodness: God is good. We know this, but when we hear about some of the injustices and horrors that kids in foster care have lived through, it’s important to be reminded of His goodness. His goodness is greater than any badness that our kids experience. One of the great things about having the Bible is that we know the end of the story. We know that good defeats evil. We know that love wins every time.

Faithfulness: Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses. (1 Timothy 6:12 NLT) Whenever I’m talking to someone who is frustrated in the licensing process, I encourage them to keep fighting. Foster care truly is the good fight. Fighting for love, safety, and justice for children is always the right thing to do.

Gentleness: Kids in foster care are usually used to living in harsh environments. They’re used to harsh responses and harsh punishments. Providing calm and gentle responses can play a huge role in building trust and attachment with our foster kids. If you don’t believe me, it says so in the Bible: A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (Proverbs 15:1 NLT)

Self-Control:  In the Teaching Family Model, this is called quality components. The ability to maintain your composure and remain kind and gentle in the face of a tantrum or hateful words from a child who is hurting, when all you want to do is yell back at them. Like many things, it’s a tough but invaluable skill when working with kids from hard places.


It’s easy to say “master these things and you’ll be perfect foster parents.” It’s true, but unattainable. The best we can do is to strive to be better than we were yesterday. As long as you’re trying, you’re headed in the right direction.

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An Attempt 

It’s been a while since I’ve written out my thoughts. Jonathon has done such a great job of putting his emotions on our blog, so I’ve let him 🙂  A lot has gone on the last several months that I’m still just processing. My silence has been on purpose. We’ve had a lot of new, raw trauma – first and secondhand.

One of our sweet boys had a major surgery. We’ve seen many leave our home and campus that we weren’t prepared for. Going through our own adoption license training. All of this causes me a continuous heartache and tension. I’m a person who needs closure. I need a definitive end to something. I know that the deep meaning of foster care is just the opposite of that. There’s no closure. Kids are always in transition. There are sudden changes. Nothing is predictable. The nature even of my own cottage is to assess kids and move them. This is where I wonder exactly what God was thinking, calling me to this job and this home. I live without closure. It has, no doubt, been a journey of sanctification and trust.

Right now I think God is just keeping me here, in the thoughts of trust and sanctification. Daily I sink into the fact that I’m not in control, that I can’t really change anything, that I don’t measure up, that I can try at this job, but I don’t make a difference. I get so angry and frustrated at the things that should be simple, but for some reason they can’t be. It drives me crazy to not have the final say about my kids most days. I’m in charge, but I’m not in control. There’s a difference, and it feels as wide as an ocean.

My upbringing and ‘Good Christian’ side tell me to combat this by trusting in God and giving it to Him because it’s Him who does it all. He makes me measure up. He prompts the change. He makes the difference. He is just.

But let’s please remember that I’m a feelings person. Please. I need the feelings! But the fact is, they aren’t there. Trusting in God with my children doesn’t feel great. So I have to get a grip. Even when every part of my flesh is pulling me to control as much as I can, Jesus died so that I could be free of that temptation and desire.

Oh how easily I forget that God also knows my kids. I am more and more protective of each child the longer I am a mother. I learn how to love each one in a unique way. I love doing that. I feel like I’m made to do that. I was made to do that. I deeply value the relationship I have with each of our kiddos, but there are a plethora of people who make more important decisions or have more opinions than me when it comes to each kid’s situation. Many days being the actual foster parents feels like the least heard or valued opinion within a sea of other voices. Now, I understand that we are all working together to keep the child safe, but it just hasn’t felt that way. I feel bitterness and frustration creeping in on me.

I have to breathe. I have to tell myself that God is in control. I have to be confident that He has guided our steps to this specific job, even on days that I want to quit. He reassures me that even in the chaos, miscommunication, and factors of a broken system, God knows my kids. He can protect them better than I can. I have found a way on Earth to connect and relate to them, but He knows what their every thought is! He created them.

So I live in limbo. I live without the closure, ever attempting to trust a wise, all-knowing God with my most treasured earthly possessions. Writing is out makes it seem so simple. Getting past myself brings the complication.