Our Story: How Hardship Birthed the Soul Reserve


Our story begins when we met in college – only fast forward a few years on a double date, both accompanying other dates, somehow a small spark began to take form.

We knew soon in our dating relationship that we wanted to be together for the rest of our lives. Our first date was at Lou Malnatti’s Pizzeria and everyone knows that’s the best pizza in Chicago.

Challenges in life came fast for us, after dating for 9 months we found out we were pregnant.

We both prayerfully and quickly decided that we wanted to keep our baby and started our wedding plans, Michelle was 22 and Mark was 24. We were encouraged by a wise counselor to be transparent with our pregnancy and announce it in our wedding invitations. We were fully onboard with this. Others were not, Mark was recently hired as the head coach at a small Christian College in IL, he was asked to step down from the coaching job and not inform his players that he would not be coaching, the transparency was too much. And Michelle had a very difficult pregnancy with little support. After nine months our beautiful girl was born! However, for the most part we felt isolated and alone, our families did not live close, and we were the first in our friend groups to get married and become parents. We needed community and eventually found that along with lifelong friends in a local church.

Over time we faced many challenges, usually during major transitions in our lives.

Like going from one to two children, then three; having all kids in school and no one at home during the day; kids entering their adolescent and teen-age years. We sought counselors through many of these transitions to help us grow in our relationship together and as a family. We also met with a therapist to help us prepare to be empty nesters in 2015. It helped us prepare in many ways.

Life was great for us in 2015 until it wasn’t – we were both excited and scared to become empty nesters. Our oldest daughter was recently married, our son was on trials with professional soccer teams and our youngest daughter was playing preseason soccer in England getting ready or her freshmen year in college. Our marriage was strong, heck we even were leading the marriage ministry at our church for several years, Marks career was cruising along…and then Mark was unfaithful, a one-night stand.

The facade of everything being perfect came crashing down in one night.

Blind to his own self-righteousness, “I would never have an affair or cheat on Michelle.” His judgment of others became real especially about other men that had affairs. And now he was an adulterer – he wanted to hide, keep it a secret, no one needed to know. That’s not how God created us – to hold our secret sins. Mark needed to tell Michelle, but he was scared and afraid.

He thought I would lose everything – most importantly Michelle and our kids.

In God’s unique way, soon after the affair, Michelle asked a question she had never asked before. Mark lied three times before letting the truth explode from his body. Whew, he thought, that’s a relief to let it go and tell the truth. Only that’s when the work really began. Michelle left, she came back, we cried, we wept, we talked, we wept and talked more, she forgave – but could Mark forgive myself?

This is where our healing journey begins. We went back to our therapist, and Mark eventually found another therapist who worked with men coming out of affairs. We went to intensive prayer healers while Mark was still feeling isolated and alone. He realized he needed men that could be real with him and truly hold him accountable. Cue in The Crucible Project where Mark learned about soul work.

It was the first time Mark began connecting with emotions and how to step into God given power as a man.

For the first time Mark truthfully looked at the hidden parts of himself especially the hatred felt for his younger self. We decided to explore soul work together through story and we both applied and were accepted to Allender Center at the Seattle School of Psychology and Theology. We learned about soul work through story, and both passed the course and earned a Certificate in Narrative Focused Trauma Care. We went back for more, applied, were accepted and attended round two the next year.

We are both now certified facilitators in Narrative Focused Trauma Care which is primarily done through story work.

Prior to attending The Allender Center, we were on a lake visiting our friends at their lake house and Michelle had a vision of us doing intensive married couples work on lake in a beautiful house with 4 or 5 couples at a time. Where we would work on relationships and help couples play together. From that vision, we eventually created The Soul Reserve. Now we are offering story groups, life coaching, marriage coaching, and premarital coaching!

Will you share your story with us?

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