Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Tonight we get the opportunity to talk with a couple about adoption/foster care.  This may be one of my favorite things I get to do in life.  I love our journey and what foster care means to us.  I love talking about it. As I was thinking about it throughout the morning I thought about how different life is now that we are adoptive parents and biological parents.

It has been three years in November since we adopted our daughter.  Three years, I cannot believe it.  So what is different?  How has it changed us?  Why should someone consider adoption through foster care.  The easy answer is because it blesses you and gives you a joy you never thought you needed.  It has changed us for the better.  

But lets be honest for a few moments.  It is hard.  It is hard.  It is hard! This is not for the weak of heart.  We have spent lots of hours in tears over the kids in and out of our home.  Lots of prayer, lots of trips to the doctor, counseling and schools.  I was not naive and knew once we adopted that the trauma of the past would just not disappear.  However, what I did not take in account for was how I felt lonely in this world of adoption-how people just didn't get it or know what to say.  The pain of trauma looks different in each of our adoptive kiddos and how to figure out what is best for each child does not come easy even for this social worker momma.   I did not prepare myself for how protective I would feel of their sweet little spirits.  I did not think we would barely get to sleep (it is getting better!!!!)  and that my decisions based on no sleep would not always be my best.  These are the things I wish someone would have told me.  I would not change a thing, and will gladly sleep two hours so my child feels safe, but I do wish I have had a better idea.  So if you are thinking of foster care or adoption please talk to people who have gone before you in this.  They have been my life savers.  Surround yourself with friends and family who will listen and though will not always get it, they are there!

But honestly it is the most beautiful thing we have done.  I love what it has taught me about Christ and His love for me, my family, my friends, my neighborhood and the world.  I am sure looking after His kids is a hard tasks and He always knows when to give mercy and when to discipline.  I also love we are always a walking advertisement for foster care.  For those who may not know, our kids are black, brown and white--one of each!  We get lots of questions and mostly people are truly interested.  What an opportunity God has given us to share His Love with others around us.  We get to invite our friends into our world and share with them.  We get to talk to strangers about who our Lord is!  So this, this is the reason I would tell you to consider foster care and adoption.  Yes, you will change a child's life or two, you will be blessed as well, but you get to share about how God helps you through it all.  You have a way to always bring up His love.  I did not expect this outcome. We love because He first loved us and because of that we choose foster care and adoption.  Join us!

If you are interested in knowing more please ask or check out www.beafamily.org




Saturday, September 3, 2016

It's 4:30 in the morning and my whole house is sleeping.  I however am wide awake.  Tonight we heard about the passing of a sweet lady who was near and dear to the youth ministry Buck and I serve in.  It's hard to wrap my mind around it.  And as I do when someone I know passes away I begin to reflect on life which brought me to Facebook since it's full of reminders of memories (and this blog I forgot I had).

Tonight  I had few friends over.  As we gathered at the table for treats and drinks I couldn't help but feel blessed.  I have joked many times saying that making friends as an adult is the hardest thing I have ever done but I am thankful for that hard.  Scripture teaches us that God did not desire for us to do life alone.   He wants us to have community to share in the hard times and rejoice in the good times together.  I am thankful for my community.  To be honest there are times I am not sure if Buck and I could survive without our community of friends and family.

And since it is now almost 5 am and I cannot or should not call you all I wanted to say thank you.  Thank you to our people.  You know who you are.  Thank you for listening to our struggles.  Thank you for taking my kids for fun outings or for watching them when we needed help.  Thank you for eating with us and for feeding us at times.  Thank you for praying with us and for us.  Thank you for listening to us.  Thank you for laughing with us.  Thank  you for crying with us.  Thank you for loving our family well.  Our life, my life, is richer because of you.

So I ask you as I am taking time to reflect on life in the wee hours of the morning to do the same.  What are you thankful for?  My youth minister my senior year and now dear friend says all the time "people are more important than things."  I always believed him and tried to live by this mantra.  However, the older I get the messier life gets at times I am more aware than ever of just how true it is.  Today I am thankful for my community and my people.


Monday, September 29, 2014

My Pampered Feet - A Guest Post By My Husband Buck


Okay, I will be honest. Being a guy, pampered is probably not the way that most people would describe my feet.  I don’t get pedicures, I stand on them most of the day, and then idea of someone rubbing them gives me the creeps.  And according to most people, while I would say my feet are just manly, many people would refer to them as gross. 

But my feet should be thankful.  I let them breathe in the summer, I keep them bundled up in the winter, I wash them at least once a day, and they always have the right pair of shoes for the occasion.

This is especially true when I run.  I have been a runner for about 8 years now, and in that time I have learned the difference the right pair of running shoes makes, for performance as well as for health and comfort.  In fact it has become routine that the first thing I do when preparing for a race is go find that perfect pair of shoes.  Yet for my upcoming race many people will go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Many will run with no shoes at all.  But this isn’t without purpose.  In fact it is for one of the highest purposes possible, meeting the needs of others.

You see on October 4, 2014 I will be running in the Shoesfor Orphan Souls 5k put on by Buckner International.  For 15 years Buckner International has been collecting new pairs of shoes to take to areas around the world where they serve.  In that time they have provided over 3 million shoes in 76 different countries. You can find out more about what they are accomplishing here

Why does all of this matter? It matters for two reasons. The number one reason being that there are people in the world who do not have something as simple as shoes for their feet. And because of this they not only live with all kinds of discomfort, but they also leave themselves exposed to all kinds of diseases.  This isn’t right.  And I am thankful that someone is stepping up to do something about this and that I can be a part of that in some small way.

But the other thing is that we need to be reminded of the things we take for granted.  Like I said, my feet are blessed. But guess what, yours are too. Whether you get a pedicure every week or wear sandals all the time your feet and in turn you are blessed.  Too often we take for granted the little blessings in life or even take on a woe is me attitude because we do not have enough. For example, thinking we do not have the right amount or the right kind of shoes.  But instead we should daily be thankful for how blessed we are in comparison to the world around us, and look for ways to share our abundance so others can be blessed as well. Instead of complaining and thinking of ourselves let’s look for ways to care for others and meet their needs big and small. And donating a new pair of shoes might just be the perfect way to start. 




Monday, September 22, 2014

Family and Friends

So blame it on pregnancy, on the fact I cannot remember the last time I slept through the night,  or on the rain, but this weekend I had some time to do some thinking, thinking about our family and friends.

Six years ago when Buck and I were planning our wedding I never would have imagined just where God would bring us.  I had big dreams-I was going to change the world.  I had great friends, a family who supported me and was marrying into a family that adored me (I mean that had accepted me in as their family).  I knew that God designed us for others and that we needed other people to help us truly understand God's love for us.  But I don't think I got it completely-just how important  those relationships are to me.

Fast forward to now….six years later, 5 years of marriage, new friendships, old ones lost or made stronger, loss of family members, 8 foster kids, 2 adoptions, a baby on the way, and the list goes on…

I am grateful for the people God has placed in my life, who our on this journey with me.  I would not be who I am without them.  We could not do what we do without them.  I can see how each person who took time to invest in me has shaped me.  The list is long, I am blessed.  Some of you I wished I met earlier in my life.  So where am I going with this….

This weekend at our church was parent dedication.  The pastor asked all the friends and family of ours to stand up and come to the front to pray with us.  I was overwhelmed with the sea of people who stood up to pray with us.  People of all ages, from all walks of life who invest in not only us but in our kids.  As I reflected on it I couldn't help but be overjoyed to know our kids have all of them to be a part of their journey, of helping them become who they are to be.  Buck and I realize we can't do it all for them, they will need others.  For every person there I could think of some that could not be there and I think my kids are covered….covered in love, covered in prayer, covered with people to have fun with, people to cheer them on.

 And that was it.  You ask what do you mean by it? It was the first time I looked at us and saw a family. It felt real!  I have been asked many times when did you first feel like their mom, or how does it feel to be an adoptive parent.  I never have had a great answer for this because we love every child who comes through our home.  But yesterday, I was not an adoptive mom, I was not a member of a transracial family, I was not foster mom…we were a family.  I look forward to seeing how each of you will play a role in our kids life, whether you are to teach Niki to love reading, how to accessorize her outfit, how to love people, how to throw a softball--- or teach James how to keep a wicked beat on the drum, how to slide into home, how to be a friend.  What a journey it will be and thankful God brought us on this journey with our people!



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Summer's over

Can it really be September?  I feel like I woke up and my summer was gone.  And what a summer we had. To give you a recap (a quick one I promise) it went something like this....

In May we adopted James as seen in our last post.  One week later, yep that's right a week later we find out that I am pregnant.  We then leave for Pennsylvania to visit Buck's dad.  Several trips to and from  Longview to visit friends and family, swimming lessons, Niki's birthday, a niece being born, Camp Buckner,  sending off some of my favorite people to college  and that brings us to now.

September brings changes for our family.  But to tell you the truth we are always going through changes!  Buck has began a new job at Sunnyvale ISD. We were both sad to leave Mesquite ISD (Poteet specifically) but this has been a great move for him.  He loves his job and the people have been so encouraging and love on our family.  I am still getting use to having to wear blue and yellow instead of green but I am sure it will come natural soon.

Also with new baby Baskin on his/her way in February we have decided to take a break from foster care placements for a while.  We are staying on as a respite family so we can help out when needed.  And though I miss having  placements in our home, it has been a nice time to settle in as a family of four and prepare for the newest forever member of our family to arrive.

With all the new and change in our lives it has had me thinking about what changes do I need to make in myself to make me a better wife, mom, friend, etc.  I am always thankful that we have the opportunity to change and grow.  As we enter (soon) fall it reminds me of getting rid of the things that might need go and make room for the new.  So I challenge you to join the Baskin's in making the changes and being ready for new whether that means letting go of bad relationships, changing jobs, or finding a place where you can serve ( I suggest serving at Buckner but there are many things you can do). I will leave you with this, some lyrics from a song I use to sing as a kid but the words make more sense to me now than then.


He's still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
'Cause He's still workin' on me

There really ought to be a sign upon my heart
Don't judge him yet, there's an unfinished part
But I'll be better just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hands

He's still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
'Cause He's still workin' on me

In the mirror of His word
Reflections that I see
Makes me wonder why He never gave up on me
But He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He's the potter, I'm the clay

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A new Baskin to introduce to you

I recently was asked to speak at a luncheon for foster and adoptive moms and as I prepared what I wanted to say I thought about what we have learned along this journey, adventure or craziness as others call it.  I kept thinking about all the people who have come along side of us and became our "village."  I then was reminded of my favorite lines from the movie Frozen.  When the trolls are singing their Fixer Upper song the mother troll sings these lines....

We're only saying that love's a force that's powerful and strange
People make bad choices if they're mad or scared or stressed
But throw a little love their way, and you'll bring out their bestTrue love brings out the best

Every child who has come through our home has been a fixer upper (and to tell you the truth, aren't we all fixer uppers).  But Buck and I are blessed to have so many love them and help them bring out their best.  To our friends whose kids befriend the kids in our home, to the family who love them as family while they are here, to the foster parents who understand our struggles and see us as "normal", to our friends who don't have kids but love on ours, to our caseworkers, lawyers, and Buckner workers who work hard for our kiddos...I want to say thank you.  Love really is a powerful thing especially when that love comes from God.  



Now to the real reason for this post....last week we welcomed the newest member of our "forever family" into our  family officially.  As we traveled from state to state this weekend and to house to house for graduations and just to hang out, I realized (again) just how blessed our little ones are.  I cannot wait to see how they grow up, how those who surround them with love help bring out the best in them and to understand with grace when they mess up (remind me of this again later).  So without further ado I introduce James Daniel Baskin (and some of his village/entourage)



And to those not pictured we love you as well but most of the pictures are on Buck's computer and he is not here right now :)
















Monday, May 5, 2014

National Foster Care Month Post 2

I cannot take credit for this article but it spoke to me heart.  As we near our first mother's day (then soon father's day) with children who are forever ours I sometimes wonder how these tough conversations will go with our kids.


My Eyes are the Wrong Color

Scripture: Romans 8:14-17
  
"My eyes are the wrong color." I sat staring into the beautiful blue eyes of my 4-year old daughter as she explained to me that mom's eyes were brown, dad's green and hers blue. Even the dog had brown eyes ---- none matched hers. We never hid from her the fact that she was adopted; it was part of her story from the beginning. At the time, it was difficult for her to completely understand how all the pieces fit together to form our family.
  
Many Christians have never given much thought to their spiritual adoption. We like the idea of being a part of God's family, but I fear a level of misunderstanding about what this picture really means for us today. For our society, adoption is mostly for the benefit of the child. Today, children become eligible for adoption due to crisis in the lives of their birth families. In the first century, this was not the case.
  
If we go back to the time of the writing of Romans, Paul is addressing a largely non-Jewish crowd. Rome is the legal center of the known world, so when Paul used adoption terminology they would have had an understanding of his intent. When Roman couples did not have an heir, they would adopt a slave (normally a son) for very specific reasons. The first was so that they could have an heir, the second was so that someone would be there to bury them and grieve for them, and the third was to have someone to carry on the family business.
  
So, when Paul writes that we have received "adoption to sonship," (Romans 8:15b NIV) the culture and context of the book of Romans would imply that there are obligations that go along with this.
  
For the Christian, we have been spiritually adopted ---- becoming co-heirs with Christ. We have left the family of death and destruction in order that we might carry on the name and the business of the Father. In other words, we were not saved for our own benefit ---- although we have and will benefit more from this than any other decision we will ever make in our lives ---- but for the benefit of the Father. We are to carry on His name and work throughout our life. This is the theology of adoption.
  
In case you're wondering just what work we need to be carrying on, I might suggest the following two parables of Jesus as a great starting point. The first is the parable of the Prodigal Son ---- the restoration of relationships; both earthly and heavenly. The second is the Good Samaritan ---- meeting the needs of those who are hurting.
  
My daughter, now a teenager, has come to grips with her different eye color. She understands how God used the vehicle of adoption to build our family and how family goes way beyond physical similarities. Through our experiences, our entire family has learned of the grace and love of our Heavenly Father who desperately seeks a relationship with us. An adoptive relationship.
  
David Ummel is the administrator for Buckner Children and Family Service in East Texas. He and his wife, Shannon, are the parents of Lauren and Luke. They do their best to go to Disney World every year.