2016: The Beginning
In the first months of 2016, Carly and I had dinner with friends. They were engaged, and they had some questions about preparing for marriage and managing engagement. When they left, Carly walked them out, closed the door behind them, turned, and asked, "Why don't we do this all the time?" It was a question that ultimately defined the last nine months of our lives.
We always wanted to do something like what eventually became Not Easily Broken Ministries. (It didn't have a name when we first conceived it.) But we envisioned it as a mid-to-late-40s kind of endeavor. Kids graduated and out of the house. Enough money saved to start a new venture. Stability an assumed and given conclusion of our lives. But we were fools to ever believe that God would ever abide our timing or ignore the deepest desire of our heart. And so, God sped up our timeline. By the end of March, Not Easily Broken Ministries had launched. By the end of June, it was our full-time calling. By the grace of the Father, we were doing this all the time. We wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what "doing this all the time" entailed in 2016, and what we hope it will grow to mean in 2017.
In nine months, Carly and I have been honored and privileged to journey alongside an amazing TWELVE different couples. To hear and be trusted with their stories and shepherd them through pain, loss, fear, anger, and exhaustion has been the greatest joy of our professional lives. We've helped these couples face down issues as complex as addiction and infidelity to as seemingly simple as choosing a new church, and everything in between. Whatever their struggle at the time, we were thrilled to offer them community, support, and mentorship as they adventured from where and who they were to where and who they wanted to be. While we'd love to go on ad nauseam about all of the wonderful things we've gotten to experience working with these wonderful people this year, we won't. We'll let them tell you themselves:
Kiddos and Parents
Teaching Sensory Play Classes has been one of the highlights of this year for Paul and I! Between the two classes we teach in our home each week and the one we teach at Fellowship Missions Homeless Shelter we have had the chance to work with over 30 kids. We teach Bible stories at the toddler-preschool level and engage in sensory activities that strengthen caregiver bonds and develop necessary social, physical, and mental skills. We've built the wall of Jericho (out of foam blocks with shaving cream "mortar," of course) and knocked it down again, depicted the 7 days of creation with tactile sensory bottles, and thanked God for His provision by making nature "soup" and playdough ice-cream cones. Here are some thoughts from our kids and their families on what this year in class has meant to them:
Of the twelve couples that we saw in 2016 ten of them will likely still be seeing us with some regularity next year. We hope to bring in as many as 20 new couples in 2017, with a steady group of 15-20 couples that we're working with on a weekly or biweekly basis. We also hope to offer four different couples events throughout the year, as well as a few seminars on specific topics such as communication and conflict resolution.
Kiddos and Parents
Towards the end of 2016, we were so blessed to partner with our local DCS office, opening up free Sensory Play Classes to some of their clients. We were also able to offer sensory play training for families providing foster care to at-risk kiddos. In 2017, we are so eager to not only further that partnership, but to offer at least 2 more classes in low-income or at risk communities. Our goal is to serve 50 more children in 2017 than we did this year, bringing our total served in 2017 to 80 kids!
A Last Word About Finances...
Obviously, none of what we accomplished in 2016 or hope to do in 2017 would be possible without those of you who have supported us financially this year. Carly and I cannot thank you enough for all you have done for us. When we look at all the money that we've raised the last eight months, we are astounded by the way God has moved people to passion for this cause. We started our bank account on March 25, 2016, with $50 of our own money. As of this posting, we've raised more than $16,000 dollars, with a few more thousand likely to come in before December 31. Here's a quick visual breakdown of where that money went this year:
However, what we've raised in 2016 is a little less than a third of what we need to raise in order to accomplish our goals in 2017. We hope that you'll consider getting us started with a year-end donation. Every dollar you donate enables us to continue helping relationships, marriages, and families thrive in Christ. Thank you for your prayers, your support, and your encouragement. We could not do this without each and every one of you!