A Gift to Our Whole Family
By Jen Harris, Host Family and Safe Families Director of Outreach
We have had about a dozen children in our home through Safe Families. We set out to offer a home to a child who needs it, but we have been blessed more than we could possibly have given. The single greatest gift in serving as a host family has been serving all together. My children have grown up with Safe Families as a part of our life. Our oldest was nine when we started and our youngest just two. I have watched all five of our children develop an awareness that not everyone has the privileges we do like a roof over their head or food in their pantry. Some children don't have a mommy and a daddy in their home. My children have known from an early age that not only do some kids not have play rooms, some are lucky to have toys at all. They understand that doesn't lessen anyone’s value or the value God gives them. My children see the world differently than many of their peers. They get to see the world through the eyes of others and that is the kind of children I want to raise.
Safe Families for Children is a Grace Partner that provides safe, loving homes where parents may voluntarily have their children cared for while they seek to restore stability in their lives.
I see my soft-spoken son ask a little girl about her teacher at school and her interests to help set her anxious heart at ease. I get to see my ever-the-ham daughter make another child laugh and forget the strangeness of this new home. My other son grabs the ball and starts tossing it with our new guests because he knows that some kids don't have the words for what they're going through, but the familiar passing and catching of the ball is comforting. Sure you can use my stuffed animal. Yes, we have enough food for the entire day. Of course, you can play with my doll. No, we don't use that word, we say thank you in our family. I see them share and smile up at me with the all-important knowing that what they are doing is much more than sharing. We hear as each of our children pray for this little one's parents as they work to be better so they can all be together. They value and give worth to each of the lives that come into ours and they are richer and stronger for it. This ministry of opening our home to others has opened our eyes to the eyes of Jesus. Mom, dad, siblings working together to show the love of Jesus to our special guest. Not because it fixes everything, but because everyone deserves the grace, mercy and love of Christ.
My children and husband have had to share my time and energy with others. My children have slept on a blow-up mattress while a new friend used their bed. They have been exposed to words we don't use in our home. I have missed a child's game once because I was helping one of our Safe Families' kids. No, we aren't doing Friday night pizza because our new guest needs shoes that fit instead. It's true, they've made sacrifices. It is hard to say goodbye. It's messy and unpredictable. But I'm not trying to raise comfortable children. I'm raising people who love Jesus and share it with others. I'm raising people who will give God their “yes” when the easier answer is “no.” Hosting for Safe Families has been the hardest thing we've done and the greatest gift we've received.
I'm raising people who will give God their “yes” when the easier answer is “no.” Tweet This
Jen Harris lives in Noblesville with her husband and 5 children. She has volunteered with Safe Families since 2009 and now works as the Director of Outreach. You can find more of her writing on her personal blog at jahhelpme.blogspot.com.