Long before Laura and I dated, we were friends. As we shared stories of our lives, they always seemed to come back to Christian faith. When we began to date and fell in love, it was a first for both us. No, not that we hadn’t loved others. We had and had both been married. The first was that our relationship grew from a foundation and a cornerstone of Christian faith. Looks, job, age, money all became secondary. (Talk about a blessing for me.) It is upon the rock of faith we pledged to build our marriage on December 22, 2001. We pray that we will continue to grow in love for each other and our Savior.
Laura and I met at KU. Her official title is Associate Director of Career and Academic Counseling. She worked with the swimming, diving and rowing teams for years. In 2015, she was asked to take on the challenges of the cross country and track and field teams. The addition forced her to give up rowing. She now helps chart the academic path for each of over 150 student-athletes. In many ways, Laura’s calling is much more important than any of the work I do as KU’s athletic photographer.
Laura was, and continues to be, an outstanding athlete. Her Oklahoma high school basketball career was legendary. She went on to have an outstanding playing career at the University of Oklahoma. Those same skills have helped her become an accomplished photographer. She began helping me at games and grew as a photographer. She now, voluntarily, helps photograph a great many KU events. Besides the fun of seeing her photography develop, the time we share is truly priceless and has led to many great adventures. For that, we are truly thankful.
My oldest daughter, Julie, graduated from Washburn University with a degree in Mass Media with an emphasis in public relations and fundraising. Julie works for the Kansas Children’s Service League. She worked at the Boys and Girls Club of Topeka and Big Brother/Big Sister before taking time to be a stay-at-home mother to her son, Jake, before joining the Children’s Service League.
Julie married Tim Phillips on June 11, 2011. Tim is a graduate in aeronautical engineering from Mississippi State University. Tim works as an engineer in tire research and development for Goodyear Tire. Tim is fine Christian man, and we are very pleased and thankful to the Lord for Tim’s presence in Julie’s life. They own a small starter home in Topeka.
Julie is one of the funniest people I know. She is also as sincere as any human I have ever met. She has a way with young children that is a true blessing. Her calling to non-profit work helping children in need is God sent. It is hard to stay mad at Julie for any length of time. And, believe me, she has tested me like no other. Julie and I share an intense love of sports, especially, a passion for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
On May 1, 2012, Julie gave birth to Jake Robert Phillips. On May 25, 2015, Luke Michael Phillips was born. Laura and I are now happy grandparents and Kelly is a loving aunt. We sing praises to our Lord and Savior for the gift of these wondrous children and the brother’s mother and father. With the Lord’s help and guidance, the presence of the new lives in our family continue to bless us. We love them so much.
My youngest daughter, Kelly, graduated in the spring of 2012 from Washburn University with a degree in Political Science. In July, 2013, Kelly completed an intense 12-month masters program in environmental law and policy at Vermont Law School. For someone so young, Kelly has quite a resume in the political arena. Kelly had interest in journalism throughout high school. That passion led to a special opportunity to speak in Washington at the nation’s Capitol as a senior. A spark for politics ignited.
A summer and fall working for the Congressional reelection bid of Nancy Boyda helped Kelly grow up fast. She found her voice working for the Great Plains Alliance for Clean Energy (GPACE). Her passion for the environment continued its growth during six-month internship with the League of Conservation Voters in Washington, D.C.
During her senior year, Kelly worked for the Kansas House Democratic Caucus in the Statehouse supporting the political agenda for the House Minority Leader and other Democratic members. In August, 2011, Kelly was one of 20 college students selected to be part of the first clean energy Recharge Retreat hosted by Focus the Nation on Oregon’s Mount Hood.
Kelly was the Finance Director for Paul Davis’ gubernatorial campaign in the state of Kansas for 16 months. Davis, then the Democratic Minority leader in the state’s House of Representatives, sadly, could not unseat the incumbent Governor. Kelly is now working for the political consultant group GPS Impact in Kansas City, Missouri, with offices throughout the United States.
Finally, there is Rocket. Abandoned early in his life, Rocket joined us at six months after being found by friends from church. A black lab mix, Rocket turned 14 in October. As a pup, Rocket’s life with us hung in the balance until, out of desperation, I took him running on the grass trails in Shunga Park. His life and ours have never been the same, and all for the better. Rocket kept both Laura and me running on soft trails for years while enjoying the unbridled joy Rocket exudes from the moment we mention the word “run.” At 15, Rocket’s runs are now short walks. He continues to be our great friend and protector of our home.
You will get to know everyone better as we move along. I promise you will enjoy them as much as I do and often question our sanity. What fun.