I’m a foster mom, and kids come in and out of our home. Most of the time we have no idea how long they will be staying, and almost immediately I am hit with the idea that I may only have a short amount of time to pour into them.

Most kids come into foster care with stuff—no, not socks, shirts, and underwear. More like trauma, stress, and anxiety. While this sometimes throws a curveball into our family dynamic, our goal is to keep moving along, doing whatever we possibly can do to give these kids a sense of normalcy, a sense of family. Even though they may not be here forever, we want to instill in them morals, boundaries, and character, and we want them to get a taste of Jesus Christ. We want them to leave our home knowing that their worth and identity are in Jesus Christ.

One way I have started doing this with our girls is by speaking words of identity to them each morning while I brush their hair. We stand in front of the bathroom mirror together, the girl looking at herself and me standing behind her brushing her hair. I start out by saying, “You are beautiful.” She looks herself in the eye and repeats, “I am beautiful.” We do this with several other phrases, like “You are strong,” “You are kind,” and “You are smart.” I have also recently begun adding Scripture. So now, “You are beautiful” is followed by “God made us in His image” (Genesis 1:27), and “You are strong,” is followed by “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

It was awkward at first because our girls lacked so much self-confidence. Our five year old truly didn’t believe that she was worthy of our love, let alone God’s love. I am glad that we moved past the awkwardness because now it is just part of our routine. I want these children to remember these moments forever. I want them to look into the bathroom mirror wherever they are and remember that they are beautiful, strong, kind, smart, and, most importantly, that they are children of God, redeemed and loved. It even brings me to tears to think that one day each of them could be brushing her own daughter’s hair and remember to speak these same words over her.

I challenge you to make a tradition of speaking identity over your kids, whether they are like our children transitioning back to their biological families or even teenagers transitioning to college and adulthood. Imagine the difference we can make in the next generation as children grow up with their identity rooted in Christ.