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.

Friday, May 2, 2014

National Foster Care Awareness Month

May is national foster care awareness month.  While sitting outside watching my littles play I got an email from Buckner International reminding me about it and asking me to pray for kids in care.  Here was their requests for today 

Prayer Guide: 
Pray for greater understanding of the Scripture's teaching on the concept of adoption as a picture of the gospel. 
Pray for the biological families of children in foster care. Pray that they would have strength and courage to take necessary steps so that reunification would be possible.

As I began to think through Buckner's prayer requests I thought what would mine be?  What would I really want others to understand about the kids we love, the work we have be called to do and the little ones we currently have adopted and to the future kids we may adopt or serve for a short time on our home. So here is my shameless plug for foster care and adoption (specifically adoption through CPS care).

1.  HELP!!!!  Pray on how you can help.  Whether that means becoming a foster parent yourself, giving your money, time and resources to kids in care, or coming alongside a family who is fostering and loving them.  Buck and I have said this many times and I will keep saying it, we cannot do this alone.  It takes a team.  The kids may live in our house but it's others time, resources, babysitting, and prayers that allows us to keep going.  If you don't know how to help just ask!  Foster parents in general are pretty vocal so we will let you know.  And sometimes (at least for me) I just need a nap, or some clothes for a new placement and who doesn't love shopping for kid clothes!

2. Pray for a compassion. So people judge.  I get that it's a part of life you have to learn to deal with.  And I have been judged on many things....who I vote or didn't vote for, what movies I like, how I dress (I hate to wear shoes ever), how I clean (we are a clutter crew at my house), etc....but I have never felt more judged that when I became a parent.  Everyone has a way that is best or know what is better.  And while I hope you choose to not judge all parents please do not judge us as foster parents.  Kids do not always fit a mold which means parenting looks different.  We are trying our best to love someone else's kids as our own, and to teach them what being part of a family is like and most importantly that God loves them.  So unless we ask for your opinion or you think you know what's best...I refer you back to my first (ask how you can help).  Being a mom and dad is hard no matter how the kids got to your home (birth, adoption, CPS, raising a family members child, etc) let's not make it harder on each other.  

Also please pray for compassion for our kids and do not judge where they come from, where their parents come from or did and how they act.  Pray how to love our and all foster kids through their circumstances.  The last thing they need is someone judging them for things out of their control.

3.  And lastly (and maybe it should have been first)...Pray for each child in care and the family they represent.  There is never an easy reason a child is in care.  Sometimes the tiniest of people have to deal with the biggest of circumstances.  Pray for their hearts to feel love, to feel cared for, to feel safety and to know God's love.  Pray for their families they too have big hurts and hand ups as well.  

So I ask you to join me in prayer for all foster children, foster families, and those who are making the decisions in their lives (CPS workers, judges, foster care workers, etc) during this month of National Foster Care awareness and always.

*If you every suspect a child is being neglected or abused please call the National Child Abuse hotline  1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453) or online at

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Break Lesson

So this Spring break started off with taking family pictures.  I know this is a normal thing that many families do, however I found it a pure joy to be able to take these pictures. Our photographer was/is amazing and she worked with us to truly capture our family and the journey that brought us together.  And like anything in our family we share with the whole family.  My parents, niece and sister were all out there to help us bring smiles; it was cold but fun!

After pictures we went to watch a friend play softball.  Her grandparents and sister were there to watch as well.   It was fun to catch up and enjoy being together.

Next was a wedding celebration for a cousin of Buck's.  The kids played with their cousins, ran around the house and it was a time of prayer, celebration and just joy.

The middle of the week was miserable with a stomach bug....

Then the weekend came again and this time we spent it with Buck's family celebrating a birthday.  Again the kids played, kissed and hugged each other, giggled and enjoyed being together.  I love hearing them laugh and wanting to be with each other, so much there were tears when we had to leave.

So why the I was looking through our proofs of the pictures I think it was the first time I truly sat back and look at us as a family.  We do not look like each other, but Niki does have my smile and Baby J drums on everything and sings all the time like Buck.  I love that these kids are our normal.  I love how their personalities fit with us, our extended family and friends.  I love how no matter where we are they seem to bring joy.  I love celebrating their differences from us but seeing how they are just like us as well.  I love how our friends and family (well most of them) didn't question this foster care adoption journey and embraced it.  What a beautiful story for our kids!

I know there will be hard times for our kids.  I know that people will questions us like the lady a few weeks ago in JC Penny's who questioned me if I was really baby J's mom.  I know that our kids will have kids who ask them questions, but for now I am grateful for the love they are receiving and pray that in the hard times, Buck and I will have the words to say, compassion when listening and that Niki and Baby J will be able look around and remember just how much their family and our friends love them.

I wonder too that if we take more time with others loving them even when we disagree, we listen with compassion to others and enjoy being with others that we then show a true example of Christ love for all.  Honestly I don't have this down, I still have people I have a hard time loving (whether it was something they did to me to said about someone else, etc).  Seeing how the kids this week didn't ask questions they just played with each other and laughed makes me want a little more of that in my life.  Here's to me trying harder to love like Christ loves me, my kids and all and may I remember the smiles and laughs when things get hard.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Being a Parent

As I sit here in my empty house (babies at Mothers Day Out and husband is at work) I find myself reading trough Facebook and Blogs.  It's been a little overwhelming at the least.  Everyone has an opinion on everything and especially when it comes to raising little ones.  As I read through the blogs and post I thought about many of the things others have said to us as we have began our family.  Here are a few...

  • If you love your kids you will home school them or put them in private school
  • If you love your kids and Jesus you will vote Republican 
  • Now that you have adopted you need to stop doing foster care so you can really love your children
  • You adopted from CPS, wouldn't a "regular" adoption have less baggage?
  • Spanking is the best 
  • Never spank your kids
  • Let your babies cry it out
  • Don't let them cry it out
  • Etc...

Like I said everyone has an opinion on everything.  It can make you crazy or make you feel you don't know what you are doing as a parent, or even as a human.  Please let me be clear that I do believe there are some absolute truths and right and wrongs.  I do however feel that each child, family, situation is different and for others to say that if you love your children you will...well its harsh, rude and just plain mean.  Come on raising kids is hard enough with out all the other voices telling you what you are doing wrong. 

How about a "hey you are doing great and your kids look so happy!"  Because I know after a day when my now 18 month old forgets how to sleep and I am so tired and my 21 month old decides he wants to throw food while we are at a restaurant while screaming and drumming on everything, a kind word is better than "I bet you could get him to stop throwing food if you would...."  

So a few confessions from this mom... sometimes my house is messy; we sometimes never get out of our jammies; I love Jesus; I want my children to love and know him; we play outside when it's cold and sometimes when it's wet; we are often loud; we love our public school system; I read to my kids; I wrestle with and kiss them a lot; we sing and dance randomly during the day; I let them cry sometimes and other times I don't; sometimes my kids make me cry; we love being foster parents and adopting from care; we make mistakes;  and we need help sometimes. 

So to all you moms and dads out there who struggle with if you are doing the right thing or not here is my two cents.  You are doing a good job (believe me as foster parents we know the difference).  I know it's hard!  I pray that we will all take time to be more encouraging this next year!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 at the Baskin house

It's hard for me to put into words what the 2013 year was for our family.  We had both highs and lows in our lives and in the lives of our friends and family.  We learned a lot about hurt, healing, forgiving and joy.  

And that joy is what brings me to heart of the blog.  I debated wether to share this article or not since it was written about us and that seems a little less than humble.  However the author, John Hall, was able to capture for us what it means to be a foster and adoptive family to us and just what we believe God wants from all of us as we love others and as He would want.  

John is an employee of Buckner and wrote this for the January issue of the Common Call magazine (formerly known as the Baptist Standard).   He is much more eloquent than I ever could be.  I wish I could show you the pictures in the article as well but I do not have copies of them yet.  I promise to share when I get them.  But I will share these two from Niki's adoption day as we were surrounded by friends and family (the big group picture will come later once big brother is officially a Baskin as well).

Family: Where healing happens
By John Hall

MESQUITE, Texas -- Introductions are unnecessary at the Baskin home. Who you are, where you've been and what you have or have not done doesn't matter here. Everyone is welcome.

They're more than that. They're family.

That's the attitude the young couple has taken as they've helped vulnerable children as foster parents through Buckner International, a Texas-based ministry that strengthens the lives of children and families. In the past two years, eight foster children have been placed in the Baskins' care. Buck and Stephanie easily recall the kids' names and the stories. Photos of the children still dot the the family's home, daily reminders to continue to pray for those who have been in their care and for those who are now caring for the beloved children.

Holding a framed photo of an elementary-school-aged child, Stephanie says each kid who comes to the house is unique. They have specific needs. They're in the Baskins' care for a short period. The couple does the best it can to invest their lives into the children and the families. That's what they're called to do.

"Jesus got dirty," said Stephanie, an East Texas Baptist University graduate. "He got in there with the people. I wanted something more hands on where I could jump in the lives of people and build those relationships. That's something that drew me to foster care. Not only are you investing your time, you're investing in a whole family."

The decision to become foster parents revolutionized Buck and Stephanie's lives. They'd never spent much time around infants. Their first placement was a baby girl. In the first 12 hours, Stephanie became ill, and Buck went from never having changed a diaper to a temporarily solo dad. Holding her in his arms, Buck began considering fatherhood seriously for the first time. The couple had committed to fostering children; looking in her eyes, he began contemplating adoption in the future.

Life is precious and beautiful, the couple agrees. Each person needs to be nurtured and cared for. In the environment, young people can overcome the scars they've experienced. They blossom into the people God created them to be. The road there is difficult and often uneven, but it's one that can be travelled with the help of trusted guides. In that respect, the Baskins quickly note they have help in this process, namely supportive a supportive family, friends and congregation -- LakePointe Church's satellite campus in Mesquite.

"Kids are resilient," said Buck, a Dallas Baptist University alum. "If you give them the love and attention they need, they will heal. Someone has to fight for them."

If life is to be cherished, every person should be as well -- at every step of their lives, Stephanie said. Regardless of the decisions people make, they are people created by God. They are people Christ cares about. He gave His life for each individual.

"When I hear life, I think pro-life, she said. "My big thing with that is you have to be pro all of life, all aspects of life. If you're going to ask a mom to chose life, you have to follow her through all the big decisions. Life is more than when kids are little."

In December, those thoughts about adoption became something more. Another young girl had been placed in the Baskins' care. She captured the couple's heart. Stephanie and Buck bonded with Niki Jo. The timing was right. During a ceremony at the Tarrant County Courthouse filled with adoptive families, smiles and hugs, Niki Jo became a Baskin.

In January, the Baskins hope to give her a big brother. They're hoping to adopt a 21-month-old who they also have been fostering. At the end of that process, the Baskins will have two children of two different cultural backgrounds. The Baskins' ethnicity adds a third culture to the mix.

"Family doesn't have to be what we think it is -- perfect home, perfect economic level," Buck said. "It doesn't have to look like we think it does. As long as someone cares about them and are taking care of them, that's all that matters."

It's been quite a journey for a couple who once thought they didn't want to be parents. Now preschool toys are neatly scattered through their house. Artwork with small handprints hangs in their den. A photo of the family rests next to a couch, the frame proclaiming "Hugs welcome here."

Only God knows who next will be placed in the Baskins' care. The couple will continue fostering children. No matter who it is, the words in the frame will remain true.

"This really is my ministry," Stephanie said. "Until God provides something else and leads somewhere else, this is where I'm going to invest my time and talents."