There’s a lot that happens the first time I spend with an adoptive family. I have a whole list of activities and assessments I go through each time. One of them is called “Draw a Nest.” It’s a simple test really that helps us explore the way the child understands relationships and how they fit into them. I provide paper and markers and the simple prompt “draw a nest.” When the child is done, they get a score based on all sorts of different things—color choices, if birds are present, if the nest is supported in a tree, elements in the story they tell about it in the end, etc. I’ve seen all sorts of different drawings—some colorful and sweet in every way with mama birds feeding baby birds and some very dark and sad with broken eggs, missing eggs, cut down trees, and so on.
A couple months ago, a middle school boy and his parents came to see me. His parents who had adopted him as a baby had been struggling to connect with him. They worried about choices he was making and worried they were losing touch with him. When I asked him to draw a nest, he got to work with an end result I had not seen before. He drew a home, his home. When I asked him to tell a story about it, he talked about how he knew it was not traditional but that in his view, a nest is where you always have a place, where you belong. And, to him, that meant his home.
In the New Testament in chapter 14 of the book written by John, Jesus said:
In my Father’s house are many rooms. I am going ahead and will prepare a place for you. I will come back for you. I will greet you by name and welcome you home, where we will be together forever.
As part of God’s family, we always have a place where we are known and loved regardless. We are accepted as we are right now and loved as we are becoming who we will be. As part of God’s family, we are desired.
As part of God’s family, we are both loved individually and as a community. We are a son or daughter, but we’re also a brother or sister. Our Father’s house has many rooms, and He fills them. We know today that we are not alone. And, we never will be. As part of God’s family, we can experience the joy of belonging.
As part of God’s family, He provides for us like how a Mom and Dad provide for their children. He gives us what we need today and helps us to trust Him to give us what we need tomorrow and the next day and the next day. And, when we trust Him to do that, we can feel safe even when things around us aren’t right.
As part of God’s family, we can feel confident because we always have someone to rely on, and not just any someone. The same God who spoke each star into being and placed each drop of water in the sea has our back. We have His power for us and in us.
As part of God’s family, as we are known and loved, as we belong in community, as He gives us what is best, as He puts His power in us, we can be whole even though we are broken. Only through Him are we able to live a life of purpose, not simply getting through days to get to the next days or working hard in pursuit of our own goals. We have a bigger and better story because He has a bigger and better story for all eternity. As part of God’s family, we get to be a part of it.
This Christmas, may you know in a deeper way what it means to be part of God’s family and embrace it more fully in whatever way that may mean for you.
Kelly Raudenbush founded The Sparrow Fund along with her husband Mark in 2011 and launched Project Puppy Love, a canine-assisted therapy program for foster and adoptive families in June 2018. In addition to her service through The Sparrow Fund, Kelly is a therapist through the Attachment & Bonding Center of PA. Kelly has a particular interest in (a) encouraging and empowering parents who are struggling to attach with their children, (b) helping parents walk with their children as they process their stories, (c) helping couples continue to pursue each other and grow together while they parent their children as a team, and (d) training and empowering orphanage staff in China to build relationships with children and each other. Kelly and Mark have been married since 1998 and have 3 biological children and 1 daughter who was adopted as a toddler from China in 2010. You can learn more about their journey on Kelly’s personal blog. Contact Kelly directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.