Wife to Brandon, the most generous man I know. Mother to two adorable little girls, Rhema (age 12) and Hope (age 8).

34 thoughts on “About

  1. Jeneil,


    Hey Thanks for sharing. I know it’s good for you-but it’s also good for so many of us to get a closer look at autism. I am particularly blessed with your corelations to our spiritual walk with God.

    BTW: I’ve been blessed to get some decent eye contact from Rhema a few times. Amen.


    • Jeneil,

      I came across your posting DINING OUT, and it peaked my interest because my husband is a restaurant manager. Because of his job, my family has been blessed with eating out regularly, albeit, always at the same place, but realized how I had taken it for granted….I’m too tired to cook, let’s call Dad and tell him we’re coming in.
      Not only did I take it for granted the leisure at which I could make that last minute decision, but I was also missing what a joy it can be to eat in a restaurant and enjoy a meal as a family…
      I then scrolled down your blog and read all the replies and it made me upset to see that the dining out experience was missing something for so many. In a day and age where menus are revamped for calorie counters, low fat options, vegan, etc. why are we missing the boat in other areas? A dining experience is so much more than just the food, and the establishments should want to make that happen. Sure, most will try and accommodate allergies, bit I want to see who will step up and go the extra mile to make a truly FAMILY FRIENDLY atmosphere.
      I am moved to to the point of tears here, and I want to help. Please if you and your readers can send me ideas on what would make dining out more stress free and enjoyable for you, I would love it! Give me a a best case, all wishes granted list so I can get an idea and maybe work with some casual dining chains.

      walsh.jennifer@rocketmail.com or facebook.com/walsh.jennifer

      I look forward to hearing from you!

  2. Hi Jeneil,
    I was reading your blog really enjoyed your writing style and honest approach. The prayer asking for the answer that led you to the 2.29 lizard was funny story! I understand how much of an accomplishment that is from the parents and schools that we work with. I thought that I would reach out to you since you are in the speech and OT world and are probably looking for new products that weren’t made in the 70’s! First, a proper introduction, My name is Tom from Goosie Cards. We developed the first and only customizable flash card on the market. You are able to upload your own photos and text and we create high quality, commercial laminated flash cards. If you have ever used Snapfish or Shutterfly, you will be right at home making Goosie Cards.
    Not that I’m trying to sell you, but everytime we work with a school or meet parents at walks, they always tell us “I wish I heard about you a month ago!” Since you have such a great readership, I wanted to make you aware of who we are and what you can do with our cards. We have had such a response from the autistic community that we created a full curriculum for schools and offer big discounts for anyone that is effected. We support all the Autism Speaks walks in our area (NJ/NY) and have participated in gift baskets that local chapters have organized all over the country. The response from parents has been unbelievable and we are so proud that we offer a product that helps their children.

    I would love to send you some custom cards if you would like to check them out and use them in the real world. The only thing I ask is if you love them to help spread the word.

    Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions. Keep up the amazing work!
    Best Regards,

  3. Hey–I am classmate of Brandon’s, and also have a 4 year old, diagnosed with autism in 2006 at age 2.5. He’s doing great thanks to DAN! protocol–documented at my support group’s site: moosemoms.blogspot.com.

    I love your blog, with all the spiritual encouragement!


  4. Hi, our mutual friend Shannon sent me your blog site…hope you don’t mind. I was telling her about my 5 year old son who was diagnosed with autism at age 3 and the success we have been having that she recommended your site. It’s awesome. I cried throughout reading your blog. I really enjoyed reading it and it has really touched me.

  5. In March Judson Press will release a new book by Kathy Deyer Bolduc titled “Autism & Alleluias.” We’d love to have you join our blog tour for it. If you’re interested, I’d be happy to send you more information as we arrange the tour. Can you send me your email address for contacting you personally?

    You can read about the book (and the tremendous endorsements it’s already received) at http://www.judsonpress.com/product.cfm?product_id=13888. Thanks!


  6. Hi, I’m contacting you on behalf of Autisable.com, a blogging site dedicated to raising awareness and encouraging discussion about the challenges of autism, aspergers and ASD. We are interested in syndicating your blog on Autisable.com. Please contact joel@autisable.com for more information if you are interested in adding your blog to Autisable and reaching even more people with your story. Thank you!

  7. Hi Jeneil, Michelle O’Neil suggested I contact you about a blog tour we’re hosting for Kathleen Deyer Bolduc’s new book, Autism & Alleluias. The tour is from April 1-7, and we’d love to have you join us by reviewing the book on your blog, interviewing Kathy with a written Q & A, or featuring an excerpt from the book. If you’re interested in learning more and receiving a review copy of Autism & Alleluias, please contact me. Thanks!

  8. Hi, Jeneil.

    Just wanted to say, I stop by your blog from time to time , and Im moved, every time, by your honesty and tenacity and love (and also, youve got some stuff in here that’s really funny!). Your entry “Provision,” your prayer for all that God can give Hope through and with Rhema , made me think how our (amazing) niece is blessed to have both Hope and Rhema in her life. Lexi’s such a loving person already; I know she’ll continue to become more so through her relationships with your daughters and through seeing their relationship with each other as time goes on.

    I hope you and all your family have a wonderful Easter season. My parents send their best. We keep a prayer for Brandon, for a safe tour and safe return. God bless and take care- Beth (…Danesco…guess that was obvious! 🙂 )

  9. Hi Jeneil. It has been SO long- TOO long. I was happy to read about Rhema’s journey into writing and your joy at having her in a program which really seems to be working for her. I think of you often and hope for Brandon’s safe return home soon. Thanks for sharing your journey.
    Love, Gretchen

  10. Pingback: “We’re not Booboo and Isabella any more… « gail's Great Atlantic Northeast

  11. Hi,
    First, I want to say thank you for this wonderful blog. I appreciate it because you touch on the subject of faith and belief throughout your journey. Many parents lash out and I love that you have maintained a tight hold to God. May I include you on my blogroll? I am a new blogger so I’m learning about all of these intricate spaces on my page! It is called Living Above Daily and the link is http://livingabovedisorder.org/blog/. Visit and I hope that you enjoy.

  12. Hi Janeil,

    In the spirit of full disclosure, I do public relations for Oakland-based Scientific Learning Company. They create products that help kids to improve their reading/language skills through software that strengthens connections in the brain.

    They are launching a new product BrainPro Autism.
    Would you like to check it out and write about your reaction to it?

    If you’re skeptical then I recommend you review their research – which is extensive! You can review it on their website at http://www.scilearn.com/scientifically-based-research/special-education/autism-pdd

    I’m also providing a link to a video from Smart Planet that explains it beautifully. http://www.smartplanet.com/video/scientific-learning-unveils-software-to-help-improve-brain-function-in-autistic-children/6259527?tag=search-river

    I would love to send you their press release as well.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Peggy Jara

  13. I just wanted to say thank you for your blog, it is such an encouragement to me. It challenges me to remain focused on God and how to glorify and praise Him in all circumstances!

  14. Hi Jeneil!
    I’m writing you through the comments section, cause I don’t know how else to get in touch with you.
    It’s been a few years that I’ve been following your blog. There was the time that you stopped blogging for a while, but I’d still check to see when you’d start again. So glad that you did.
    Your stories are such an encouragement, and your positivity always reminds me to be thankful for my own blessings.
    Thank you for letting us share your life with you.
    I wanted to ask you something.
    For a while now I wanted to make a couple portraits of your daughters for you, but I don’t want to take photos from your blog without your permission. If you’d like me to, I could choose some pics that you’ve already posted, or you could send me some that you especially like.
    Here’s a link to my blog, there’s a few examples of my artwork.


    I wouldn’t be able to send it to you before Christmas, but I could post it at the beginning of the new year.
    Let me know if you’re interested.
    Thanks again,

  15. Hello Jeneil – I wanted to let you know I just finished reading your book today and I was so moved. Your deep abiding faith is an inspiration to me. I hope that you and your sister don’t mind but I have been saying “the pressure” a lot lately. Thank you for sharing your beautiful family through your writing.

  16. Jeneil, Brandon, Hope & Rhema –
    Thanks for being such a wonderful family…I’m blessed to have met you all.
    Hope! Your smile lights up the world 🙂
    Rhema! A simple glance and the day is made!
    Jeneil and Brandon! The world is a better place with you both in it!
    Merriest of holiday season to you all.

  17. Hi Jeneil,
    I heard you speak at MOPS today and just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate you sharing your story. Your amazing journey and remarkable faith have left a lasting impression on me. I feel truly privileged to have heard you speak.

  18. Hi Jeneil, a friend from CBS sent me the link to your blog. I just want to share very briefly with you I can understand much of what you are experiencing, learning, and watching what God is doing in Rhema. I have a 6 year son who was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that has developmental delays with it. I can still remember the day it hit me that something was going on with Ryan when I realized by 3 years old he should be able to climb out of his crib and not wait for me to come get him. I was brand new in Christ that year, and was so despaired by what was taking place and so I pushed forward to seek what was exactly happening with Ryan. All the other doctors just kept saying he was developing slowly but I asked God in prayer to help me find out was going on with him. I was leaving chldrens hospital to go home one day and this manilla paper stuck out to me on of the bulletin boards in the hallway outside the elevators. i went over to it and it was about the birth defects and genetics center in Waltham MA. it had just enough information on it to tell me this is what I was looking for. I called and made an appt months later Ryan’s blood test revealed a slight duplication in his first chromosome. I was relieved and sad all at the same time. This gave the chance to learn how to walk by faith as a new Christian. There was so many things I thought i would never see Ryan do or accomplish and he has come so far! He has an I.E.P that only God has been involved in making sure he is always receiving what he needs. He is a perfect git from God that it took me until now to learn how to appreciate. I know He will show you much more with Rehma!! His is grace is sufficient!

    God bless,


  19. Hi Jeniel.

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile – I am a journalist/writer, and I blog myself, often about the challenges of raising my autistic son and my faith struggles. I get a lot of inspiration from your writing, though our faith traditions are different (I am Muslim) – I also am a managing editor at Patheos.com – one of largest multi-faith websites in the U.S. I’m working on an article about special needs parenting, and would really really like to talk to you about. I can’t find an email for you. Can you respond back in the comments section, or email me? I can be reached at dali@patheos.com

    Here’s one of my posts about my son and me:


    Dilshad Ali

  20. You are a mighty blessing Jeniel. My 2 boys have been diagnosed with aspergers but have nowhere near the challenges that Rhema has, and yet you still give God the glory despite how difficult things get for you all at times.
    I have been so blessed as I scrolled through your posts and encouraged in my walk with Jesus.

    Thank you 🙂
    I adore your writing.

  21. Jeniel,
    I know this may sound weird, but I’m not sure of how to phrase it. I just want to tell you that I view your blog via my RSS feed, and through the daily struggles you write about I find encouragement. I know that if you and your Rhema can get through them, than we can too. It helps to know when things get a little chaotic that I have friends all over that have gone through and are going through similar trials.
    I came across your blog a little over a year ago, via the way of a Diary of a Mom, which I discovered and was following. It was a Crazy time. I was in the first few weeks of realization that our almost 2-year old son, Micah had autism. (He had regression onset, so symptoms hadn’t shown until 20 months old.) It would be 5 months more before we got our official diagnosis from the hospital psychologist…5 months of all sorts of tests, blood draws, EEGs, evals, and STRESS. Reading about your experiences with tests helped relieve my worries and laugh at some of the craziness that accompanies them. 🙂

    I am so glad I found your blog! I’m thankful that you are open and share your experiences, good and bad – for they have helped me. I read several blogs on Autism. I appreciate each one for different reasons. I find yours uplifting and encouraging because of your Christian faith expressed in your writings. I was surprised (though, I shouldn’t have been) that many parents with blogs either do not express a spiritual faith, or it is not a real presence in their writings. Sometimes, I see in other blogs that this can create a more negative view to our children’s challenges with autism.
    Rhema and Micah may be on different places on the spectrum, with different challenges, but I feel as if they lived next door that they would get along splendidly – despite the age difference (He’s almost 3 now)! Actually, the more I see into my child’s world, I kinda think age is irrelevant for autistics. They don’t care how old you are, as long as you’re interacting with them in their world.
    I do wish that my online autism community all lived in my neighborhood – what a Block we could have! 🙂
    That is probably the hardest thing, is no one nearby that can understand and relate (and not pity us).
    Please continue to share your family’s experiences. I do find them encouraging. I may not be good a commenting on posts, but I am reading, I am thinking of you, and I am praying for you. I feel like you are friends, and even family to me (though we’ve never met).
    Sorry if that makes me sound stalkerish. I don’t mean it that way at all.

    If you ever find yourselves in San Diego, you are welcome in our home.
    Much Love & God Bless you all!

  22. Hi Jeneil,
    I have just been looking through your blog and I think it’s amazing, it’s so inspiring and proves that belief really can get you through anything. Let me introduce myself, my name is Abby and I help to run a free teaching resources website called Early Learning HQ in the UK. We also have a successful blog where people involved in early years give their insight and advice on a variety of different topics. This is why I am contacting you now, as I believe you would be able to give a valuable insight into living with an Autistic child and give advice to other parents and teachers.

    If you have ideas for any resources that would help Rhema specifically then please let me know, as our in-house graphic designers are very talented and create lovely designs.

    Please feel free to contact me if you are at all interested, if not then keep up the good work :).


  23. Hi Jeneil,
    My name is Emily Jones and I just recently found your blog online. I got caught up reading your posts and I can see how much love you have for your family. I also know that as amazing as many moments are, there are many struggles as well. Striving to help students who have difficulties such as these is what helped me get into the field of special education with a focus in emotional and behavioral disorders, which brings me to my request. I am in a class specifically for teaching students with an Autism Spectrum Disorders and we are required to interview a parent of a child with an ASD. The interview is largely about how we, as educators, can better serve the children we work with to make sure that we can provide a better school experience for them as well as their families. I would love to interview you if you have the time, I have the list of 12 interview questions if you are interested. I am required to do this interview any time before the 24th of June. If you do not have time or would rather not be interviewed I absolutely understand.

    Thank you for your time!
    Emily Jones

  24. Hello Ms. Jeneil,

    I hope you are doing well. I am not sure whether or not you are the one who wrote the wonderful story “Midnight plane to Georgia,” from the ‘Devotional Stories for Wives’ book of the Chicken Soup for the Soul Series and about a great mother whose daughter was diagnosed with Down Syndrome. The story, however, touched my heart and soothed my soul in a very positive way. Please let me know if you are the same Jeneil Palmer Russell who wrote the story.

    Best regards,
    Hamza Hassan
    Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

  25. Hi Jeneil,
    Did you write a blog or an article entitled “Fake Work”? I remember reading it and thought it was excellent and now I don’t know where I found it . It would have been a year to a year and a half ago. thanks.

  26. Hi Jeneil,
    I was looking up this word “rhema” and came across your blog. Your story of faith and love and hope through your daughter Rhema is so encouraging. Thanks for sharing.
    Blessings to your family!

  27. Hi Jeneil, I was referred to your blog by a friend of mine years ago in 2012. At that time I was very moved by your wonderful mothering skills, patience and of course your writing ability! : )
    Unfortunately I haven’t been back to your blog in a long time. But you and your family have always been on my mind. It is amazing on how big Rhema is getting! I feel like it was just yesterday she looked like a toddler, now she is so beautiful!! I love hearing her sing, and smile! You truly are an amazing mom. It isn’t easy and test every level of patience but the little things just make it all worth it and you don’t take for granted the precious moments that other people might over look.
    My daughter was diagnosed at 18 months with Autism. We have been thru tons of doctors,therapy and hospitals for various things (absence seizures, tippy-toe walking, speech, DT, OT, etc.) Emma is turning 4 on Sunday and is doing very well! I am very thankful we have had the resources from the state and also from private therapy practices.
    I am so thankful you have chosen to tell us all your ‘story’, of life, motherhood, faith and family.
    It really touches our hearts, minds and soul… and I thank you for sharing the good, bad and ugly with us.
    My daughter is now speaking and reading. She is smarter than me I think! She still has stimming, sensory, motor skills and tippy-toe walking we are working on. But I truly believe her future is bright. She teaches me everyday something new as a mother.
    I do have a ‘mother’ question for you…. : )
    Potty training!!! Did Rhema have a hard time being potty trained? Is there any advice you might have or resources you suggest?
    Thank you in advance, and I am so happy to be back to your blog once again.
    Sincerely, Krista

  28. obviously like your web-site however you have to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to tell the truth on the other hand I will definitely come again again.

  29. Hi, I came upon your site when searching for the meaning and proper pronunciation of “Rhema” and I have to say that I love reading about the manifestation of God’s word in and through your life. I too named my daughter Rhema because of it’s meaning and how God has blessed me to be her mother. Your blog has inspired me to start my own to share how my daughter truly is God’s word revealed. Thank you for your testimony and the testimonies still to come … I look forward to reading more. Remain Blessed!

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