Drs. Ron and Nancy Rockey are the founders of Fixable Life, Inc. (now Life Renewal), which they created after years of marital frustration and discord, leading them to Graduate Degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy and Pastoral Counseling.
Nancy and Ron Rockey married in August of 1965, on the hottest and most humid day in Connecticut’s history. The non-airconditioned church was packed, adding to the intense heat. Little did they know that the temperature that day would predict the first 12-15 years of their marriage. They had no idea that their days as babes in the womb and the subsequent first years of their lives would set the stage for later difficulties, struggles, and discord.
Ron was born to a family who didn’t want him. He was number four in the line-up of children, and his parents had decided that three was enough, but . . . surprise! Ron was born in the attic of his family’s home, at the end of his mother’s 10th month of pregnancy; he weighed 10.5 pounds. Shortly after his birth, his mother was rushed to the hospital, her survival in question. Ron was left in the care of his nine-year-old sister for several months. While his sister tried her best to “mother” her baby brother, Ron had to cry a lot to have his most basic needs met.
Ron’s mother recovered. Once she was in better health, she conceived and birthed two more children. Ron was ignored, sent alone at four years of age to the movie theatre for long afternoons. He watched his older brother, George, be beaten down in the furnace room by his father. His mother would sit on the stairs, egging on his father, encouraging him to beat George more. George would come to bed, bloodied and blistered, and Ron thus learned to never trust a woman.
Nancy was born just as World War II began. Two weeks into her parent’s marriage, her father was drafted. However, her mother became pregnant during her father’s time at boot camp and medic training. When Nancy was 14 months old, her family moved so he could attend advanced medic training. Even at this young age, Nancy learned to never trust a man, as it was her father’s aim to break her will. After three months, Nancy’s father was sent directly overseas to the thick of the war, leaving a yet-again-pregnant wife and an 18-month-old daughter. Nancy’s brother was born, but died within 10 days due to a hospital accident. Her mother was alone, mourning the loss of a son, and wondering how and where her husband was.
Fortunately, Nancy’s maternal grandparents gave Nancy and her mother a good home, and Nancy benefited from the positive influence of her grandparents. When her father returned home from war when she was four, he quickly moved the family into an apartment of their own. While Nancy’s father was a brilliant man and a biblical scholar, he was also a strong disciplinarian. During this time, Nancy’s mother worked as a nurse, and her father was her caregiver while her mother was away. At age eight, the family moved to a country home with Nancy’s grandparents. While Nancy loved living with her grandparents, whom she called her “comforters,” it was while living there that she endured five years of sexual abuse from a neighbor.
With the impact of these negative experiences festering beneath and surface, Nancy and Ron experienced turmoil in their first years of marriage. It wasn’t until 1979 that Ron and Nancy, ready for a divorce, opted to go back to school for a master’s degree in family therapy. As they continued their education, they began to understand why their marriage had been so difficult. As they began to heal, they grew both personally and as a couple. The ripple effect began to benefit their children, too.
Nancy and Ron began holding “marriage weekends” in New England with couples who attended the churches which Ron pastored. The weekends were conducted in Cape Cod, and included a stay in a motel and an excellent speaker. As part of the weekend’s activities, attendees would be divided into small groups to engage in writing and sharing activities.
Once Nancy and Ron graduated with their master’s degrees, they bought a 15-room house in Southern Maine, ordained to become the Family Life Center for Couples. It had nine bedrooms and a 15×30 living room for classes. However, the building tragically caught fire and burned to the ground before the Rockeys’ dream could be realized.
For a year, Nancy and Ron took another pastorate in a damp part of New England. Nancy suffered lung damage from the fire, and couldn’t breathe in the extreme humidity. As such, the Rockeys moved to the Southwest’s drier climate. After several more moves, they returned to New England, hoping that Nancy’s lungs had healed. There, they hosted a Boston radio call-in program for a year, and worked at a Family Life Center. They then moved to Florida, where they took another pastorate and began work on their doctorate degrees. After three years, they moved to North Dakota as pastor (Ron) and Family Life Director for the Dakotas (Nancy).
In 1995, Nancy and Ron were called by Dan Matthews to “Faith for Today,” a long-standing TV program, and another TV program called “LifeStyle Magazine.” During their ten years there, they wrote “Binding the Wounds,” their first recovery program, as well as the books Belonging and Chosen. They also bought a GMC 4107 “Buffalo Bus,” and under the direction and help of Deb and Doug Haefner, transformed its inside into a thing of beauty and convenience. Then, they “hit the road.” Their work for “Faith for Today” involved conducting seminars and then leaving behind a recovery program to be facilitated at the local level.
When Curt Dolinsky became the manager at “Faith for Today,” he took over the Rockeys’ scheduling. Out of necessity, the Rockeys took to the “friendly skies,” traveling to places such as England, Scotland, Guam, Singapore, Russia, the Czech Republic, Caribbean Islands, Bermuda, Canada, etc. By 2005, they were tired! When a new director came to “Faith for Today,” Nancy and Ron decided it was time to retire. However, before retirement, a couple who had benefited from the Rockeys’ work proposed a new project. Their goal was to produce another recovery program–this time, based on the Bible but without listing Biblical chapter and verse–to be used by Social Services or in prisons. It took several years to fulfill their contracts with “Faith for Today,” travel to conduct newly scheduled seminars, and to write The Journey. It was beautifully produced and funded by Jim and Ellen Foulke of Pennsylvania and is, along with Binding the Wounds, still available today.
In 2007, Nancy began to notice changes in Ron. He was exhausted much of the time. Her “ever-ready bunny” lost his desire to hop along, yet the team continued to do the work to which they had been called.
In 2008, the U.S. economy went “belly-up;” the Rockeys’ sponsors lost a great deal of income and could no longer fund their work. As such, the Rockeys experienced a steep dive in their income, as well. They were forced to sell their Arizona home and move to a smaller house in New Mexico.
In 2019, Nancy and Ron found that the work of Life Renewal was becoming too much as Ron’s health continued to deteriorated due to Parkinson’s Disease. Petr Cincala of The Institute of Church Ministry, a beloved “adopted son” to the Rockeys, took over as Executive Director, and the headquarters of Life Renewal moved to Berrien Springs, MI.