Friday, December 29, 2017

Looking Back... Going Forward

Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; but there’s one thing I am doing: I’m leaving my old life behind, putting everything on the line for this mission.
Philippians 3:13, VOICE

I have put off writing this post until the last minute. It's a little bit like writing my own obituary, this final piece for a ministry God birthed through me over fifteen years ago. As we prepare to merge Snappin' Ministries with Key Ministry on January 1st, I share my final thoughts here with you.

This is the time of year where those of us in the non-profit world like to do a year-in-review, summarizing for you all that has been accomplished in the previous 12 months. People want to know that we are having an impact when they donate charitable dollars. But this year is different. I look back with you not only to reflect on what God has done through us in 2017, but also since the inception of this ministry.

In 2017, Snappin' was once again named a Great Non-Profits TOP-RATED Non-Profit, thanks to our faithful volunteers and constituents.

Four out of our five ALL-TIME most-read blog posts were published this year:

  1. What a Caregiver Really Needs by Barb Dittrich, published on November 3, 2017 with over 15,400 reads
  2. 4 Things for the Special Needs Parent to Give Up for Lent by Barb Dittrich, published on March 1, 2017 with over 8,600 reads
  3. Heroin and the Life I Never Imagined by Kimberly Drew, published on March 15, 2017 with over 4,700 reads
  4. 2 Things a Special Needs Parent Can Never Be by Barb Dittrich, published on January 24, 2017 with over 3,600 reads

While those were popular posts, there were so many, many incredible pieces shared by our other writers sharing their hearts and experiences in raising kids with challenges. Each one pointed to God throughout the journey. And candidly, one of my favorite groups of parents on the entire planet are these precious writers who have become my treasured friends.

In May we once again served about 3 dozen mothers at our Refresh Retreat in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. No message I could present could beat the laughter, tears, and fellowship of these women who were spending some time away from their children filling their own tanks. And I am THRILLED that the 2018 Refresh Retreat will continue as planned. (You can register online NOW at  In fact, we hope to replicate more of these around the country! 

We also enjoyed another wonderful adaptive water ski event and family picnic on Browns Lake courtesy of Rick Legois, the Lynzay Legois Free Water Ski Club, the Browns Lake Aquaducks, and Adaptive Water Skiing Wisconsin. We could not have asked for a more perfect day.

We did spend a good portion of the year trying to get lift-off on our new initiative, Band of Fathers, just for the dads raising kids with additional needs. Unfortunately, the gentleman put in charge of the project walked away from it and no other fathers were willing to take the leadership role. Even so, the few gatherings the fathers did have together — burger nights and a ball game — were well received and enjoyed by those in attendance.

More parent mentors were trained again this year. We are anxiously waiting to see how those trainees and others implement all that they have been taught. 

And this very much summarizes how and why this year and this ministry concludes the way it does. 

Back in 2002, I was just a young mother trying to mesh my faith with a toddler who had a serious, rare chronic illness. I wanted to be served. I wanted to be led. But God had other plans. He emptied me of myself by instead calling me to lead, to share what I was learning, to point other people to Christ in my darkest of moments. 

Still, the Lord never intended me to do this alone. He never intended it to be "The Barb Show." He was using our circumstances to call others to give and to serve. To that end, we provided dozens of fun family outings, respite, retreats, pampering, and hosts of ways for people to both be served and come involved. However, in recent years I have become increasingly more disappointed and frustrated with how few people answer His call. And this year God distinctly told me that it was time to start shifting my focus back to the intensive needs of my own children.

This has been a big year for our family. My eldest still does not have solid answers on serious health issues of her own. Yet, she left in early August to spend a year studying abroad in Japan. That little toddler with the serious, rare chronic illness is now in his senior year of high school preparing to transition to college — an intense undertaking as we attempt to find funding and accommodations for future campus life. Our youngest is trying to find her way as she establishes peer friendships for the first time in her life. Jobs, and clubs, and sports have all found their way into our children's lives, and frankly, there just isn't enough of me to go around. 

If I was exhausted as a young special needs mom, I am even more so now. While my desire would have been to have so many more people catch the vision and care about parent caregivers, I can honestly say that I have faithfully served the ones God put in front of me. While I wish we could have motivated more and replicated community, I know that I poured every bit of compassion that God poured into me onto others. I sacrificed in love. I was obedient. And while tears role down my weathered face at this moment, I know that the Lord who has been so faithful to me through all of this will also be faithful in the next phase of His work.

I am eager to work with a motivated team who shares concern for families just like mine! I am grateful that I won't bear so much of this alone on my own shoulders. I am delighted to focus on the core work of mentor training and small group facilitation. I am THRILLED that most of the blog writers here will join me as we merge with Key Ministry. . And I pray that you will join us with your readership, engagement, prayers, and support.


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  1. You rock Barb! 15 years of faithful service which will continue just with group help instead of all on your own. THANK YOU! I'm sure this was hard to write. Love ya, Deb

  2. You have changed so many lives! You are amazing. May you have a more wonderful year. Happy 2018!

    1. Hope your enjoying the first quarter of the year so far. Have a great Sunday!

  3. Barb - as I look forward to Rare Disease Day 2018 and found your website here once again today - I want you to know that your "Rare Acts of Kindness" so impressed me that I took on my own version (up here in the North part of the state) of handing them out and creating awareness for Rare Disease Day and those of us living with rare disease (mine, Klippel-Feil Syndrome). You/your family/your faith/your community of Special Needs Network has been a inspiration and source of hope, model of faith, and gift of love. In ways, you have reached others in audience farther than you can imagine.

    We never know the true measure of how much our faith-filled actions and words will affect and inspire others in the world ....

    Theresa F.