Category Archives: Hope

Every Dollar Helps

Our campaign goal seems huge. Unimaginable. Unattainable.

But when you’ve struggled through the grief of a child’s death, when a dark day is right behind or in front of you, when you’ve walked through unimaginable pain and considered unattainable hope, facing a large fundraising goal doesn’t seem as daunting.

It might feel like a big dream, but when reaching out to help people who are going through some of the same pain you’ve experienced, wanting to help them and walk beside them, any pursuit, even if it seems challenging, seems worthwhile.

That’s where we are as Hope House founders, board members, campaign team members, and friends and family. We lean into the future, knowing many people are hurting and have a need for refuge, a getaway with family as they heal.

Hope House of Central Illinois will hopefully become a reality in 2019. We have the land and many volunteers. We want to break ground soon. Please help us.

Every dollar helps.

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Walking the Circle of Grief

photo-1484973768669-7fb6b5451095I have walked the circle of grief around many friends.

It’s not a journey I’d ever wish for them or myself, yet I was honored every time I have walked it.

Walking the circle is being close by, accessible, while giving space to my friends. Being available but not hovering.

Walking the circle is being close enough to feel the scorching heat of the pain. It is unimaginable. It is sharing a burden. It is seeing friends gasp for air. It’s inviting moments of laughter, knowing tears will often be close behind.

Walking the circle is doing difficult stuff. Making phone calls, picking up funeral clothes, sitting in uncomfortable positions beside a bed or chair for hours, holding hands, wiping snot, going through clothes and toys that will never be used (or used again).

Walking the circle now includes the opportunity to serve Hope House of Central Illinois. My friends founded this organization, and I do what things I can do to help them. It is a continuance of walking the circle.

You have likely walked the circle, too. You might still be walking it.

There are many of us. And now we get to come together.

We all walk the circle around parents and families who are grieving the death of a child. Hope House is on the verge of being built and welcoming those families. For more information on how to get involved, click on the campaign tab of our website.

Thank you.

A Good Place

photo-1521993067561-ce35b1ce9a91Whatever your preference and habits with faith and worship with a church family, we wanted to share a glimpse into one Hope House founder’s heart through something he recently shared at his church. Randy shared the following during a communion meditation. The habit at his church is to take communion every time the church family gets together for worship per Jesus’ instructions to share communion in remembrance of him. The weekly routine is intended to remember what Jesus has done for each of us as well as invite us to take inventory of our lives and consistently invite him to correct and encourage us. It is a reality check of sorts. And recently, Randy shared a glimpse into his own reality of grief and hope.

A few weeks ago, I went on a farm call.  It was a lovely spring day and I was thankful to get out of the office that afternoon. The farm is a pleasant place located on a hilltop. I knew well my way to this place because it was the home of my first and best friend after moving to Taylorville 32 years ago. It is a place that I’ve visited many times and I have only the fondest memories of being there. In my mind it is a happy place. But my friend moved and now I don’t go there so often. My friend’s son lives there now, and I will admit that I like him, too, and will gladly claim him as a friend. But our relationship is different and I just don’t visit as often as I probably should. While there, I looked at a few sheep and a couple dogs. Then I had a conversation.

We talked about our jobs, families, and all the interesting things going on in our lives. Then I told my young friend about a visit I had made the week prior to another place, very different place; Anderson Cemetery. I had gone to see my son. It is my son’s final resting place, and I don’t like going there.  I don’t visit often, and when I do go, I don’t stay long. I did not start that day planning to go. I have no idea why I went but I did, and for the first time, it wasn’t so awful. Maybe the sting of death is not as sharp now. I not only visited Dan’s grave but I also looked around. I saw Eddie there. He was my first neighbor in Taylorville. Eddie was a good neighbor. He used to watch my daughter, and she took her first steps in his house. Lyle is also there. He was funny and used to love repeating a story of when his mule bit me in the rear. I saw lots of names that I recognized and many whom I never knew. I saw headstones for young people, old people, and even people born in the 1700’s and Anderson Cemetery is said to be the final resting place of every last one of them.

Then I told my young friend that I had visited the grave of his daughter, and we talked about that for quite a while. Then he said something that really stuck in my head. He said that his life is in a good place now, and that he is content. Upon reflection, I feel that I, too, am in a good place now. But this good place will not be my final place. Nor is Anderson Cemetery the final resting place of our loved ones. There will be another place after my final resting place.  In John 14, Jesus has a conversation with his disciples and talks to them about his final resting place.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going. Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Jesus came from heaven to earth to give us a glimpse of our Father and to lead us to a very special place called Heaven. Jesus has gone before us and prepared a place for each of us. Today at this communion, celebrate what Jesus has done.

Do More Than Check Out

photo-1422190441165-ec2956dc9eccI know the desire to curl up in a ball and pull the covers over my head and retreat from the world. It’s okay for a moment, but at some point, it’s time to go for a walk, reach out to a friend, spend time with people who love you. Do something. Do more than check out from the reality of the world that is so hurtful, because it is so much more than that.

Your “one day” could be today.

one-dayOne day there will be no more sorrow. No more heartbreak. No more weeping.

There will be a day these are permanently gone. There are days in my life now where I am filled with joy and laughter. In those moments, my heart knows no sorrow because the joy before me overwhelms it.

There will be a day or moment after loss (whether it be the death of a child, a parent, a spouse, or even the loss when a relationship ends) in which you will find yourself smiling and have so much joy in the moment that your cheeks hurt from it, and you may even find yourself experiencing a nice deep belly laugh.

These moments are all the sweeter for the heartbreak and sorrow from which they are birthed.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. What a gift. What a treasure.

Keep looking ahead. Keep giving life and love another chance.

Because your “one day” WILL come.

The birth of a dream

The years 2013 and 2014 were life changers. We and our friends became part of this unorganized and unofficial  club no one wants to be a part of, Parents of Loss. While the dreams of life with our children had died, we were hopeful that there was purpose in our individual losses. 

Shortly after our loss, Jon and I took a trip in late July 2013 to the Smoky Mountains in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg TN area with Michael and Teresa. I was personally having trouble with being in public places.  I think social anxiety is a common thing for grieving parents. So, away we went for a little get away. It was a time of reflection, quiet contemplation, expressions of fears, anger, hurt, rejection, and a whole host of emotions. We spent time talking, eating, and playing games in the cabin. We spent time hiking and sight seeing in the great Smoky Mountains. There were moments we cried but there were also moments we smiled and even laughed again. 

That trip was an essential part of our healing process. It reminded us that although there are moments we can’t imaging living without our children, life is still worth the effort of getting out of bed each day if only to see the sunrise or help a fellow parent of loss know they aren’t alone. We were working to help each other find our lost hope and joy.


Once back in central Illinois, we continued to heal, spending time with friends and family. The memories of healing and time spent at the cabin in the Smokies kept us encouraged. 

Shortly after Christmas 2013, our little Yorkie, Phoebe, became very sick. We spent days visiting her at the vet’s office where Randy and his staff were working diligently to make sure she came out of her illness. During some of the visits, we spoke with Randy about our time in the Smokies with Michael and Teresa. That area has always been special to Randy and Gina. We discussed how nice it would be to own a cabin down there and joked about the three couples going in together to buy a place. As 2013 moved into 2014, we continued to discuss this idea whenever we would get together. Once Michael made the comment that it should not just be a vacation home though; it should mean something more, and maybe we could use it as a place to send grieving parents for a short time of healing like we had experienced.

The end of 2014 brought tragedy to Randy and Gina as they lost their twenty-four year old son Danny. He was home for the holidays and the beginning of 2015 found them taking a trip out west to handle his affairs there. While on the road one morning, they saw a rainbow which they received as a sign of hope. The idea of finding some purpose in the loss of our children, bringing something good out of these tragedies, was continuing to take root in our hearts and minds.


By the end of 2014, the birth of a new dream for each of us six parents had begun. The gestational period has been long and full of craziness but here we are boldly daring to dream. We dare to dream that although life can be difficult, there is always a reason to hope. We dream of being able to touch the lives of many other hurting families in the coming years by offering them a place of refuge during their first days of grief. We dream of finding land here in central Illinois where we can build Hope House. We dream of working with other organizations and services to provide the best resources for grieving parents. We dream……


Contact us to learn more and join us in this dream of Hope House.

What do you see?

We have all seen them. Those social media ink blot type photos that you are  supposed to stare at for 30 seconds then look away, blink three times, and see an image like Jesus or a bunny. Maybe a flower. The life of a grieving parent can be like an ink blot. You see one thing but after careful attention and then a glimpse from another perspective, you have a whole new picture. We grieving parents have buried a very very precious part of our lives. What would happen if we found a way to change that picture from having buried something precious to having planted something precious? With soil and water, things grow. With our tears we have watered what was planted at the burial of our children. What grows from that is up to us to some degree. Will it be a more loving and compassionate person in ourselves? Or will it be something not quite so pleasant? Don’t be too hard on yourself if what grows from your grief isn’t always pretty. After all, one of the most beautiful and well known flowers has thorns. 

Not Right Now

Today, I am ok. I am happy and able to enjoy life after the loss of our daughter. But that hasn’t been the case for very long. Three years ago I wasn’t sure this day would ever come. 

If you are in the early stages of grief or still struggling with questions years later, this song may speak to you. 

“I know someday, I know somehow, I’ll be ok, but not right now…..”

https://youtu.be/ullv_XN2d8M