Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV)
It is my great privilege to introduce myself to the Key Ministry audience and participants today as the new Director of Education. My name is Barb Dittrich, and while I am no stranger to Key Ministry, I may be a new face to many of you. I have been a contributor to Key's blogs for several years and also served a few years back as Key's social community manager.
What you need to know about me, first and foremost, is that I am a beloved child of God, called to share the Good News that you are also boundlessly loved by Him. If you feel discouraged, He is your strength. Your life has infinite worth and meaning because you are His. And I pray that those are words that fill you with endless hope, especially when the days are tough.
I came to first know that same hope over 23 years ago when life was not going very well for me. Working as an investment broker in a high pressure environment, I was on my second marriage and had just experienced my second miscarriage. A family friend reached out to me and shared this eternal promise of Jesus Christ when I was hurting, and I have never been the same since.
Life did not become easier for me after I embraced a relationship with Jesus. My husband and I went through infertility issues after the miscarriage. When God finally saw fit to make us parents, our second child was born with severe Hemophilia - A, a bleeding disorder. Later, our third child suffered a multitude of diagnoses including severe allergies, asthma, social deficits, sensory processing difficulties, and severe ADHD. Our eldest has most recently had arthritis difficulties as well as heart challenges that remain a mystery to doctors.
Early in my son's life, we experienced great testing of our faith as he endured many medical crises. I wanted to be served, but God had other instructions. He called me to serve, to comfort others with the same comfort He was pouring out on me. That is when, in 2002, I founded Snappin' Ministries, which became an organization primarily focused on offering "special care for special caregivers." I was clueless, but I will go to my grave saying that I was exactly what God wanted so that I wouldn't get in the way of His work. The leadership at Snappin's belief was that the spiritual health of the family begins with the parents. All of the good things that were being done in the disability community for children were less effective if those things were not being reinforced at home. So we sought to bring spiritual growth and mutual support to parents. We also wanted to make it easy for reluctant churches to welcome families by offering these simple supports. One of our hallmark achievements over 15 years was developing and implementing a parent mentor program.
In recent years, we found it increasingly difficult to find people to share our vision and serve alongside us. Having three children of my own who are in deep need of my advocacy, care, and assistance, I simply could not continue with so little help. With my son in a pivotal year of transition (he is a senior in high school), the Lord made it clear to me that my family was not to be sacrificed for the sake of serving others. While that may sound like the announcement of our imminent demise, God provided a solution. Being colleagues who shared a passion with Dr Steve Grcevich, Sandra Peoples, Beth Golik, Ann Holmes, and all of the Key Ministry team for many years, I knew that we could partner together to advance God's kingdom work in the disability community. I approached Dr Grcevich to see if that might be a possibility. I am so grateful that he and the team decided to welcome both myself and many of the amazing people already serving through Snappin' Ministries.
What I bring to Key Ministry is a different level of experience and interaction. Living in Southeastern Wisconsin, I am connected with the local disability and chronic illness communities. It is no secret that I am an empath, willing to listen, pray, and hold hands with so many others like me. I am passionate about showing others how to do the same. Thankfully, I also bring with me established methods that can be replicated in churches and municipalities anywhere in the country.
Equipped with these tools, it is my prayer to take the parents and caregivers of Key Ministry deeper in 2018. In addition to promoting the excellent pieces shared on Key's platforms, my hope is to activate readers to make a difference right in their own community. We are blessed to be a blessing, and I hope to show you how to do just that. We will continue parent mentor training twice a year using video conferencing, so it can be done anywhere in the world. With that training, I hope to help you establish a parent small group in your church or local area that will facilitate spiritual growth and mutual support. Multiplication and replication of compassion, comfort, and sharing are my goal.
I am so very excited to be a part of this dynamic team! I ask your prayers for me as I join in Key's mission. My hope is also that you will join us for these exciting opportunities in the days ahead.