Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010.... A blank page..... What to write?

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” - Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Here we are... the last day of 2009... I've done my reflecting on all that has happened this year and now it is time to look forward and put forth some resolutions for 2010. I looked over my resolutions from last year and I think I accomplished about 50% of them... Not too bad, but not great either.... So, on to 2010!!!

  • No more than 10 NSF fees over the course of the year. I know I should have none, but there are times when I screw up and I want to have an attainable goal. :) FYI if anyone is confused on why this isn't that big of a deal to me is my bank will charge me if our our available balance goes below $500 whether or not all those items actually go through my bank or not. So it's not like I'm a bad check writer or anything! LOL... I'd like to have some extra funds in there so I don't have these hit my account at all!
  • Emergency Fund set up
  • Pay off at least 1 credit card. I'd really like to aim for at least 2 :)
  • Be more patient with my kids. I know, sounds familiar, and it will be on my list next year too, but I just feel like there is always room for improvement where my kids are concerned, and I want the best for them :)
  • Stay better on top of the boys schooling. Seriously considering TXVA next year, just thinking it would be better to have someone else for them to be accountable with my having 2 babies to chase :)
  • Get Shea potty trained, or on the way anyway :)
  • Play games more often with the kids, maybe reinstate family game night
  • Go to summer camp with the boys
  • Pray for my children more
  • Get off the computer when my husband is home and just really enjoy him.
  • Take my husband lunch as often as possible on Thursdays
  • To not to look so much like a desperate housewife when the husband comes home :)
  • Pray for my husband more
Friends and Family:
  • Stay in touch better, and send out birthday cards!
  • Do something unexpected for a friend at least 5 times this year
  • Give back some of what was given to me in the form of meals, emotional support etc during our time of transition when Will came home :)
Health and Fitness:
  • Do some form of exercise at least 2 times a week
  • Get serious about the Diabetic diet
  • Remember to take my meds
Home Management:
  • Plan menus regularly and do less fend for yourself nights
  • Stay on top of the cleaning Flylady style
  • Do a deep clean out and give away a lot of stuff to make room in our house for all the people who live here LOL
  • Redo the back deck
  • Plant flowers in the gardens and stay on top of the lawns this year
  • Have the Facia boards replaced
  • Get a set of patio furniture so we can eat on the deck more often
  • Continue to stay on track with my Bible Study doing my homework daily
  • Increase my prayer life through more time spent praying and more deep prayers
  • Share my excitement with others when I see God doing extraordinary things around me
Well, that probably pretty much covers it! Here's to a great year! :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 Recap

Well, it's that time of year again! 2009 is coming to a close at mock speed and we are getting ready for 2010 and all it will have in store for us..... So in order to know where we're going we must know where we've been :)


The boys competed in Pinewood Derby for the pack and had a great time, but the most exciting thing to happen in January was a visit from Grumpa. We had a great time having him here. The boys trained him on the power of the Wii and he taught them some things too :)


In February we participated in our last Blue and Gold Banquet with the pack. It was bitter sweet, knowing that by this time next year we would no longer be in the pack, having gone on to Boy Scouts with both boys now.


In March for Spring Break we went camping with the Jones's at Lost Maples State Park. We had an absolutely wonderful time complete with a very long hike that wore poor Lady Bird completely out. We had Marshall (our Blue Heeler) with us too, but he was very old and we left him at the campsite. We knew while we were camping that this would be our last camping trip with him. We also took our Blue Bonnet pictures :)


April began with a visit from our very good friends Angie, Raul, and Emma Cadena. They used to live here in town and go to church with us, but a couple of years ago they moved to New Foundland where Angie's family is. It was just like we had just seen each other last week, and a great time was had by us all :)

After very little rain all Spring we had a major rain storm at the end of April... Here's a picture of our lake er I mean street:


In May Auston graduated from the Encourager Home School Enrichment program. We were so proud of him :) Gregory turned 10 and tried to convince us he was in fact a teenager instead! :) We keep telling him to slow down and not be in such a hurry! We also finally got our license for foster care and began waiting for a child.


In June we went to Disney World with the Joneses again and had an absolutely wonderful time. We spent 4 days in Disney World and then 3 days at Vero Beach. Honestly I don't know which part we enjoyed more! We had been home for only a few days when we got a call requesting respite care for another foster family. We took the baby (who I'll call Chickadee) and we were very excited to have a baby around (even if just for the weekend) :)...... Or so we thought!!!


In July we found out we would have the Chickadee as a foster child, not just respite because her other foster mom had some health stuff come up. We were thrilled! She was so much fun to have around and we had adapted surprisingly well to having a baby around! I (Semalee) also started taking cake decorating classes in July. :)


In August we got ready for school to start back up and I made several cakes. Here is one of my favorite cakes I made. It also became more clear that Chickadee's future was not what we thought it was going to be, so we made it known that we would be honored to be her forever family. We had no idea what would happen, but figured it was worth a shot!

On a more sad note, our beloved dog Marshall passed away at the end of August. He was 15 1/2 years old. He was a wonderful dog and it really isn't the same without him.


September took us back to school again and it was a little different this year. Auston being in the 7th grade is a big difference. We are still homeschooling and enjoying it. I began another year of teaching preschool at the Encourager Home School Enrichment program and Gregory is in the 5th grade there now. Auston is the assistant to the science teacher and he really enjoys that a lot!


In October Auston turned 13!! GASP! I can't believe he is already a teenager! We celebrated this milestone by making a trip up to Austin and going to a place called Cypress Valley Canopy Tours and did a zip line tour. It was a LOT of fun! We also got official word that it was not CPS's intention to let the Chickadee stay with us, so we were preparing our hearts to let her go. One of Michael's good friends also got married in October and Michael was a groomsman so we were able to have some adult time while attending the rehearsal dinner and wedding... I think we clean up alright :)

I also donated my hair to an organization called Beautiful Lengths again as well. This is the second time I've done it, and I actually didn't get my hair mailed off right away, so by the time I actually got it mailed off I found out one of my pastors has stomach cancer. My hair is donated in honor of Reverend Janet, who is currently battling stomach cancer, my friend's daughter Marenna, who has battled Wilm's tumors twice now in her short life, and in honor of my neighbor JoAnn Horace who passed away this year of brain cancer.


November was an exciting month for us. We went to court on the Chickadee and after we left we were told that they were transferring her case to the adoptive worker who would prepare her to leave our home. 4 days later we got a call from the case worker saying she had prayed about the situation and had CHANGED HER MIND!! She was now changing her recommendation to have the Chickadee stay with us and have us be her forever family! In addition to this great news we were told that her younger brother was born (early) and asked if we would consider taking him. Well, we just couldn't see how we could not give her the opportunity to have a biological sibling, so we decided it was the right thing to do. We were scared to death about having a 10 month old and a newborn at the same time, but felt good about our decision. Also in November we had our 5th Annual Bilbrey Family Picnic and had a great time with all of our friends and family :)


December is very much a blur... having two infants is hard work! On December 9th "Sir Grunt a Lot" came to live with us. He was 3 weeks old when we brought him home directly from the NICU and just over 5 pounds. He was so tiny, but grew so fast! It has been exhausting, but an amazing experience to have him in our home. We are so in love with him already :) We went to Midland to spend Christmas with Michael's brother and his family. It was interesting to say the least to travel with 2 babies, but it went very well and wasn't nearly as bad as we thought it would be :)

That about wraps up 2009... It's been a wild ride, but we wouldn't change any of it! Here's to 2010 being even better! :)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Random Arrow

In the Bible in 1Kings there is a story about King Ahab. In the story Ahab is just screwing up all over the place and not doing what is good in the eyes of the LORD. Well, he is about to go into battle. He asks King Jehoshaphat to go into battle with him. Jehoshaphat agrees, but only if they consult a prophet of the LORD. So King Ahab has all of his prophets tell him they will win the battle. Jehoshaphat doesn't buy it, and asks if there is a prophet of Yaweh available. Ahab says there is one, but he never says anything good about Ahab, so he doesn't listen to him. Well, this prophet says that Ahab will die in the battle.

They decide to go into battle anyway, and Ahab convinces Jehoshaphat that he should wear his royal robes and ride in the chariot and Ahab will go in disguise. The fighting begins and they begin to attach Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat cries out and immediately the soldiers know it isn't Ahab and go away from him.

Then a random arrow flies through the air and hits Ahab between his armor plates. He bleeds to death.

Why am I telling you this? Well, as I read this account and then did my bible study homework I was preparing for the Guardian Ad Litem's assistant to come and meet the chickadee and talk to me about her case. I had a lot on my shoulders, knowing that this could be a turning point in our case to keep our baby. As I went through my bible study the question was asked, "What did you learn about God's sovereignty in this story?"..... And it hit me! God's will is God's will. No Man can stop it. When man tries to get in the way of God's will a random arrow flies through the air and hits someone between the armor plates.

Since the chick stepped into our house we have prayed God's will over her. We have prayed God's will even when it looked like that meant she was going to Dallas, we have prayed God's will NO MATTER WHAT.

In November we had a court date and the parental rights were terminated and they are transitioning her to adoption. After the court date I asked the CPS worker who's side she is on. And she said she thinks she should go to Dallas, so that was where she would probably be going. It wasn't over by any means, but pretty bleak looking.

But God.

FOUR days later the worker called me. There was a random arrow. A baby born. And she prayed about what was best for the chick and she CHANGED her mind! She said she had it approved for her to move into adoptive placement with US!

Another foster mom said to me one time "You never understand what it means to walk completely dependent on God until you do it. Then you learn. You think you know what it means to depend on God and all that, but you don't. Not until you do it." And she was right.

Through this whole saga it has been a lot of ups and downs and twists and turns and we are soooo not through yet. But through it all we have walked it with God. We've been in constant prayer. We've seen Him work in our lives and it has been a blessing beyond anything we've experienced. I knew as I sat in that court room that if I had to give my daughter up I could do it because she had been completely covered in Prayer and I had faith in that. But I never stopped praying. And I'm still praying. Praying and praising.

When you think you have no where to turn, no one to run to
When you think you've done all you can
When you think there's no hope at all.....

Just remember

But God.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

For I am With You

So, it has become clear this week with the sibling visit and all that our chances of keeping the chickadee are becoming less and less. So we are faced with dealing with that possiblity and learning to rely on God through it all. We didn't come into foster with the intention of adopting, but came with the attitude that this is what God has told us to do, and whatever the outcome we trust God. Easy to say. And easy to do in some ways. Today on my way to church I was having a very emotional day. My pastor and friend is going to another church (loss) and I don't know how long we'll have Shea (more loss)... I wasn't having a sad day, just emotional. I cried on the way to church. I cried because I miss my mom. I wish I could go to her through this time. I cried because I don't know how I'm going to stand on two feet while I give my baby to someone else. I just don't know.
But God.
But God.
"Come to me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest"
"I know the plans I have for you...."
"yea thought I walk through the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me Lord"
But God.

First, Thursday in Bible study (as I had to go without Shea while she was on a visit that meant more than I wanted it to) the devotion was all about trusting God in the face of loss. Of loss! Can you believe that??

Then today after church a lady came up to me and introduced herself. She's new to our church and a Daughter of the King (I'm the president of our chapter), so I wasn't surprised. And with her came her husband and their African American little girl (they're white)... She asked if we were fostering Shea and I told her yes, and she asked if we were planning on adopting her and I said we wanted to, but it's not looking good for us right now. And her husband (who I had never met before today) wrapped his arms around me and said some of the kindest words, he said, "We will hold you up as you walk this road"... Just before church I had been talking with another Daughter about her sister and the fact that she has Alzheimer's and she was sharing with me how much it meant to her to have me to talk to because if you haven't walked the road you just don't understand. I agreed. Well, as it turns out Donna and Nick were foster parents for many years and eventually adopted their daughter (after a 5 year long battle)..... So they've walked the road. They've walked the road of giving her up too- she went back to her mom for a year and a half....

It's like every time I start to think, I don't know God, this is too hard... He sends me a sign or someone... It's like He's saying to me, just be obedient and I will take care of you...

It's not easy. And it won't be. And we have a rough road ahead of us, but we will fear no evil because God is with us.


Friday, July 03, 2009

Lord Give me your Heart

You all know we've been on this journey to do foster care. It is a journey that was brought upon by the Lord and one that we are completely following His lead on. It has had it's ups and downs already, but it has been a truly amazing experience to see the Lord work.

We have a baby in our home now. One that has not actually been placed with us- but we are providing respite for another family. She is a precious sweet angel. She has been such a joy to have in our home and has already showed us so much about God's amazing healing power. I had no idea we could learn so much from someone so little in such a short period of time!

Today she was kind of fussy because she is teething. You would think it would irritate me that she wanted to be held or watching Baby Einstein and then held again, but it didn't. It just felt like a privilege. As she was about to go to bed I was holding her and had just finished giving her a bottle. I was talking to her and she was smiling back at me and we were dancing to the radio. The song give me your eyes came on and there is a line in there that never jumped out at me before, but boy did it tonight. It is where it says, "Give me your heart for the ones forgotten" Suddenly I was overcome and realized that this precious baby that I'm holding is one of those. Then I began to cry just thinking that she could be forgotten. I really felt what God was trying to tell me right then and realized what he is doing. He's giving us His heart.

Lyrics to Give Me Your Eyes :
Look down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight

Touch down on the cold black top
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breath in the familiar shock
Of confusion and chaos

All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me you heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide what’s underneath

There's a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
Too ashamed to tell his wife
He's out of work, He's buying time

Pre Chorus / Chorus

I’ve been here a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just move and pass me by
I swear I never thought that I was wrong
I need a second glance
Give me a second chance
To see the way you’ve seen the people all along


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Why I love Summer in Houston

It's summer time and I was thinking the other day about how much I really love summer... Here are my top 10 :)

10. Barbecues! YUM
9. Rain... Weird, huh? But I really like that the rain that falls out of the sky here is WARM!!!
8. Vacation!!! This year- DISNEY WORLD!!!
7. NO SCHOOL!!! I love having a more relaxed schedule and getting to spend more time just having fun with my kids!
6. The smell of fresh cut grass... and even cutting the grass is one of my favorites!
5. Free Movies! AMC, Marquee are free and Cinemark is only a buck.... We try to see at least one a week :)
4. Sprinklers! Even I will run through the sprinklers!
3. Sun Tans! (I know... it's bad for you, but I love it!)
2. Swimming Pools (especially the one in my back yard)

And you're really going to think I'm strange... but my number one thing....

1. Water that is the temperature of bath water coming out of the cold water tap!!!

There you have it! What are your favorite things about summer?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. I wonder how many people actually sit and ponder what Memorial Day is about. Do you think about the men and women who are not home for the BBQ this year? Or the men and women who will never be home for the BBQ? Do you get drunk and forget all your sorrows? Do you raise a glass to the past?

The men and women of our armed forces give up so much more than the average civilian realizes. They give up time. They give up memories. They give up their bodies. Whether that person comes home or not, whether they serve at home or abroad, they give. Willingly. With little obvious reward. For you. For me. For those who support them, and for those who don't.

It's been said that we are killers in Iraq. I don't care how you feel about the war, whether you believe we should be in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or nowhere at all, when comments like this are made YOU are the killer. You are the killer of the spirit of the men and women who serve for YOU. You may not agree with where they are, but understand this. They are fighting to protect YOU. And they deserve your honor and respect.

I'll tell you something else. Today is about the military and it should be, but let us not forget the men and women of the law enforcement world who are also fighting the good fight here on the home front day after day. It was police officers and firemen who ran into the twin towers. It is police officers who deal with the scum in our country and who keep a close eye at home for those who want to harm us here.

When you've served you understand. If you haven't served, you don't.

When you have loved ones who have served you understand.

When you lose someone, you understand..... and you don't.

God Bless the USA.

Thank you God for
Ben Gillespie (US Army)
Barry Hill (Police Officer)
Jason Norling (Police Officer)
And all the others

who gave their lives protecting the people they would never meet.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Not as I expected

Well yesterday I went to pick up all of the baby furniture from my friend and she gave me so much stuff!!! What a huge blessing!!! It's going to be so great to be able to tell the foster lady we have all of that already and for her to be able to put that in our homestudy :)

But it wasn't all good. My dad is not thrilled with our decision. Apparently.... As we were tying stuff down he said to me, "Do you ever get the feeling you are the only one excited about this?" And I said no.... why? Should I?, has Michael said something to you? And he said no, but then he said I'm going to have to let something go because we are already too scheduled. Which is true, but that is now starting to get better now that Michael is on days and can help take the kids to their evening activities. I am also in the process of training my understudy to take over the awards for the pack, so that will be quite a bit off my plate... Anyway, he was just so RRRRR... His tooth hurts, so I'm sure that had a lot to do with his mood, but it made me second guess myself a little and I was a little sad.

In the end I know he doesn't like change, and that is probably a lot of it, and he is probably very worried about me, but it just took some of the wind out of my sails, ya know?

So I was talking to another friend who is finalizing one of her adoptions tomorrow and she told me she got some of that from her family at first, but they are all thrilled now, so not to worry. Come to think of it we got a lot of that when we were pregnant with Gregory too.... I'm not going to let it bother me!!! :)

So I have a ton of stuff this week for this: I have to get the A/C inspection scheduled and the plumbing inspection scheduled. The boys are getting their TB Tests on Monday and Michael and I are getting ours on Wednesday. Michael and I are doing CPR on Monday evening. And we have to finish everything else up and get our house ready for the homestudy which is a week from Monday!!!! Here we go, we're up for quite a ride!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait!

So we're on this foster journey, right. You have read the stories and know that this is definitely God's Plan for us. I know that. You know when you know that you know that you know??? Well, I do. However, I am still starting to freak out a bit! We had our interviews on Monday and it went well, and we got our homestudy scheduled for the 9th. While interviewing our caseworker was trying to get a feel for the types of children we would accept and showing us children that she thought would fit well into our family. There was a sibling group with a little girl and a little boy that were just sooooo precious. I swear if we were approved I would have jumped at them. But the reality of this is really happening and we could potentially have another child or *gasp* children in our home within the next month or two is..... well...... overwhelming. I guess in a way I've had almost 9 months to prepare, but it's different than being pregnant, ya know? LOL!! I am having some twinges of sadness for the way our family is right now because it is all about to change in a big way. Our family is so peaceful (most of the time) and change is scary. But, I also know that I know that I know that this is God's plan and I also know that I know that I know that when we let Him be in charge we are NEVER sorry. So, it's a huge lesson in trust. I think that is the big thing He is working on with me right now. I like to be in control and it's hard for me to let go...... Especially about something this big!!!!

So, we have a million and a half things to do by next Monday and no money to do them with, so please pray for us!

Oh and I have to tell yet another cool God story.... As we were driving home from our interviews I was going over my list in my head.... things we have to buy, do etc .... Well, one thing on the list was baby bed of some sort, other furniture and misc items.... Well, when I got home there was an email in my inbox from another of God's angels saying that she is getting rid of all of her baby furniture and wants to DONATE it to us!!!! How cool is that???? This is going to be an adventure- and I'm so glad for the people who are chosing to take it with us in one way or another!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Another Letter

Well, I got another letter from my mother. This one wasn't mean, which is an improvement, but it wasn't nice either. You know, sometimes I think I shouldn't even open anything from her. But I just have this hope that she will come around eventually. This one told me that she thought about me all day on my birthday and wondered if she would call, but just didn't. She hasn't even read the letter I sent her. She says she's afraid of it. Whatever. Then she went on to tell ME to not let anger and my ego rule my life. How would she know what is ruling my life when she won't talk to me and won't read my letters? It is truly mind blowing. The bad part is, just as I start to be able to move towards forgiveness she says or does something to hurt me again. I'm trying to forgive all of the junk. I really am. I'm trying to make sense of it all. I'm trying to find my part in it so I can apologize. I just can't. I have all the letters she has sent me over the last few years in my hope chest and it really amazes me how cruel she has been, yet somehow I feel like it is my fault, or that there is something I could do differently. It makes me want to scream. So, I think what my friend said is the right thing to do. If she corresponds with me again I need to let someone else open it and decide if I should read it. If it's not nice they should just put it away for me and I shouldn't read it. It's the only way I'm going to be able to move through the forgiveness stages. I'd rather forgive and be naive then continue on this painful path. I've also decided that really if anyone deserves an apology it is me. So I will just wait. I will not contact her for any reason from this point forward (not that I have contacted her since I was blacklisted at the hospital) until it is clear to me that she is in a different state of mind. Not because I am angry, but because I really understand that all we do is hurt each other and I want to stop the cycle. When she's ready to stop the cycle then we'll be able to move forward, and that hasn't happened yet.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Year's Eve

Thought I'd post some pictures of our New Year's Eve Celebration. We did something new this year, that I think we will make a tradition. We made "Wish Logs". What is this? Well, we took empty toilet paper rolls and strips of paper. We wrote our wishes for 2009 on the strips of paper and stuffed them in the toilet paper "logs". Then we sealed the ends with candle wax and decorated the outside with some more wax. When we were all done with our logs we put them in the fireplace and built a fire with them. It was really a lot of fun. You can see pictures of our logs on the slideshow :)

Also, FYI- so far I'm doing good posting on Pictures of Jello! Check it out :)