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book ends

Jules —  January 3, 2016

House of Hope Kansas City

Well, I’ve boxed up the decorations and put away the gifts. Christmas is over, and the New Year is here. There were so many “feels” this Christmas, especially on December 19, the one year anniversary of Jessica’s placement at House of Hope. It was so wonderful to be together as a family. I felt so thankful for all that God had done in 365 days.

Jessica officially came home on December 7. It was one of the most magical evenings I’ve experienced. House of Hope had a lovely Christmas open house. Both houses were beautifully decorated. There was a great turnout of people prettily dressed for Christmas. The Christmas cookies were yummy as the girls lined up on the stairs to sing Christmas songs. As they finished, Miss Marilyn the founder, said she had a special announcement. To Jessica’s surprise, she announced in front of everyone that Jessica would be coming home that evening! We all cried tears of joy. We were suddenly the focus of the party as people congratulated us and inquired about our success.

After the party, we went to the main house. As Jessica packed up her things, we marched them out to the car! One of the girl’s Grandmas had bought matching pajamas for all the girls. The girls sat around the tables in the kitchen with the glow of Christmas lights from the living room in the background and opened the gifts and then it happened. . . God recreated a scene and I was awestruck by His gift to me.

The night of Jessica’s placement at House of Hope was easily at the top of my most difficult things I’ve ever done. It was horrific to say the least. When we walked in that night, the house was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Holiday music was playing as the girls were sitting around the tables joyfully making wreaths for their families. As I stood in the kitchen, they all stood up and began introducing themselves. One by one they gave their name, age and phase. As this was taking place, I felt “out of body.” It was like, “is this really happening?” As they were encouraging us, the scene burned into my memory.

So back to December 7. The girls, as I said, were sitting around the tables after the open house with Christmas wrap everywhere. I was standing in the kitchen, when a guest walked into the room. The girls all stood and one by one began introducing themselves by name, age and phase. Our last moments at House of Hope were exactly the same as our first few moments. God created book ends for our story. I felt like I was a character in a storybook. It was so surreal. I can’t give adequate words. As I stood there, all I could think was everything is the same but everything is different. It’s the same scene but our family is in an entirely different place than a year ago. Jessica is happy and healthy as she introduced herself; “I’m Jessica and I’m on Home Phase!”. The girls scream and cheer as I stand there . . . with a new scene burning into my memory.

After saying goodbye, our therapist had a special party planned for our family in the carriage house. She had pizza and pop for the six of us. We sat and reminisced about the year and told serious and funny stories and we all laughed. I couldn’t wait to tell her what had just happened at the house. I’ve always wanted my family to live in such a way that we would have a great story to tell!

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” Brad Paisley

The Island

James —  October 5, 2015


(By James)

Do you remember Cast Away with Tom Hanks? I remember watching this movie at the theater with Julie back in 2000. I remember being in total amazement during the middle eighty minutes of almost complete silence. No dialogue and no music, only the sounds of Chuck Noland (Hanks) trying to survive. It wasn’t until he created a relationship with Wilson the volleyball that he actually talks again.

Chuck Noland (No Land) was alone on that island for four years. As far as he was concerned, the world had completely stopped. He kept a photo of his girlfriend, Kelly (Hunt), through the entire time he was on that island as a reminder of the life he had left behind and would be returning to. When he did finally return back to civilization, he was greeted by a world he no longer understood. Fire was just a finger pull away. Seafood was no longer a delicacy. His girlfriend had a new life with a different man. He missed the funeral of his best friend’s wife. Nothing was as he had left it. He was going to have to start over. Eventually he found himself at a major crossroads with no idea where he was going to go next. At the end, Chuck was alone all over again.

I took the above photo yesterday during church service. Jessica asked me if she could go forward and worship at the stage. This is something many of the youth do frequently. I was struck by the distance she kept between herself and the other youth worshiping. I’m not sure how intentional it was, but it was extremely symbolic of how Jessica is feeling inside right now. I desperately wanted a friend or sister to run up there and be by her side. Nobody did. It’s not because they don’t love her. It’s because they don’t understand her. They don’t understand what ten months in a group home is like. They don’t understand what months of isolation can do to someone’s relationships.

For Jessica, time has stopped while she has been on her own island. For everyone else, time marched on. Relationships have come and gone. Classes have started and finished. Gossip has moved from subject to subject. New news is old news, and old news is ancient news. Jessica is now a stranger in a world she knew for fifteen and-a-half years, and nobody gets it.

Jessica needs friends and family in a unique way now. She needs a different kind of love from those who love her most. She needs a love that puts effort into understanding the isolation she has had to endure. She needs a love that keeps her informed of the changes that have happened in her absence. She needs a love that stands between her and someone who would roll their eyes at her lack of knowledge. She needs a love that can sit in her presence and give her undivided attention.

Jessica needs the kind of love that reminds her that, unlike Chuck Noland, she is not alone.

stars and spurs

Jules —  September 25, 2015

House of Hope has a yearly fundraiser, Stars and Spurs. James and I were able to attend. Anytime we get to spend time with Jessica, we are there!


The girls performed a dance and served tables. They also showed a video of the girls sharing. We didn’t participate in the auctions, etc., but it was fun to watch people bid and write checks for such an amazing program! I did purchase a mum from our table!


Here’s the video that was shown. Jessica was meant for the camera. She is a world changer!


Jules —  August 14, 2015

I. Am. In. Love. With. Ned. Yost. Why? You may be asking. I previously posted, A Visit From Ned, about Royals team manager Ned Yost’s visit to House of Hope.

Jessica beamed when she talked about his visit and how kind and encouraging he was. Here is a video from that day. Did I mention how much I love Ned Yost?!

a man among men

Jules —  August 10, 2015

Happy Birthday to my husband, friend, lover and hero!


“A man among men”

1. A superior example of one in a class.

2. One who should be emulated.

3. A superior or remarkable man who stands out from other men; a leader or exemplar for other men.

James, you are most certainly someone to be emulated. Thank you for serving your family and others so well. You are our rock, our leader, and our hero. Thank you for all your love and devotion and for leading us down difficult roads. We would follow you anywhere. I am proud to be by your side doing life together. We make a great team! Happy Birthday!

it is well

Jules —  June 1, 2015

We are soooooo excited to share Jessica’s baptism! Special thanks to the Brinegar family, Panther Films and Pics!

a sunday at a park

Jules —  May 27, 2015




get crackin

Jules —  May 27, 2015

Today is a BIG day at our home! My little wren couple is FRANTIC with excitement! The constant singing and flitting about along with the occasional faint sound of a baby bird tells me the eggs are hatching. It’s a LOUD day on my deck! Is it aging that causes one to begin to be delighted by things like wild birds or is it the wisdom that comes with age that tells us to slow down and appreciate the small miracles all around? I’m calling it wisdom as I put off everything I should be doing to enjoy the show being put on outside my kitchen! LOL


hold still

Jules —  May 26, 2015


We were privileged to spend Sunday afternoon at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, a fantasy art convention. Our entire family qualifies as art appreciators, including my niece Emily!

It takes a while to see everything, as it takes several passes by each booth to truly take it all in visually. Surprisingly, I didn’t think I was going to see anything I had to take home with me, until I passed by a particular artist in Artist Alley. I was suddenly drawn to her work and particularly a specific piece.


I wasn’t sure exactly why, but I fell in love with this print. It moved me emotionally and I began to get excited. I asked the artist what the name was and her response validated my feelings. “Hold Still” I told her that is exactly what God has been telling me! “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10 I am amazed by how personally God speaks. I’ve been thinking about “Hold Still” and I’m thankful that God has encouraged me once again to be still and trust Him. Now I have a visual reminder of His word!

The feathers remind me of Psalm 91:4 “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”

The aviator goggles remind of of Isaiah 40:31 “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles.”

The folded hands remind me to pray, wait and trust. . . “Hold Still”

movin on up!

Jules —  May 10, 2015

Jessica moved to phase 2 at House of Hope this week! She gets a dinner pass on Thursday evenings! We thoroughly enjoyed our first Thursday pass at Buffalo Wild Wings!


Today was her first Sunday pass. James, Olivia and Anjelia picked Jessica up this morning at 8am. Olivia was a surprise. Olivia and Jessica have been BFFs for many years.


Robin, Liv’s mom and Jessica’s other mother :)


James is back to teaching Sunday school. It was so fun having all our girls in class with us. The service was awesome. It felt so good to have Jessica worshiping with us again! It was the best Mother’s Day ever! I love hope. . . and faith is hope with legs! So we will keep moving forward anticipating all God has in store.

Beautiful girls! What a great way to celebrate!