Story, So Far.

I used to feel like I didn’t have much of a story. I didn’t realize that the things I’d experienced in my life could add any value to the world around me. 

But as I’ve grown, I’ve realized that we all carry profound wisdom from the things we’ve been through. And by simply becoming vulnerable and sharing our stories, we can change lives and bring encouragement to others. 

I grew up, hungry for a big life. I’m a first generation American daughter of a South African immigrant. And the stories my mom told of growing up in Africa instilled a thirst for adventure within me early on. 

I took for missionary school at 17. Halfway across the country with big dreams of changing the world. I met a boy there who wanted to change it too. We were starry eyed and so young. So we (logically) dropped out of school and got married. 18 years old, I walked down the aisle and said forever to the man I loved. At 19, I became a mama. By the time I was 25, we’d already had 4 kids (all preemies) and 1 angel babe. 

Changing the world got a little diluted somewhere in the mix. We were just trying to keep up with bills and diapers and teething and bubble baths and spaghetti dinners. All of our big dreams got lost in small realities. 

In 2010, somewhere between baby 1 and baby 2, we moved ourselves across the ocean to South Africa. We did some incredible work there with some of the most amazing young people we’ve ever known. But after what wasn’t long enough, our hand was forced and we flew back to the US feeling a lot like failures. 

That was the first (but not last) time I sat back and felt like I’d blown it. We’d tried so hard and fought for what we felt was right for us, and it all fell through our fingers like sand. 

So we did life. Bryan worked so many jobs. Everything from delivery driving to retail sales to construction to remodeling and youth ministry. He did it all to pay the bills, and I carted around those 4 babies I’d had in 5 years. 

That girl and boy that had gotten married so young were getting old faster than the calendar would suggest. One day I looked at Bryan and said... I think we are living defensively. Just reacting to everything thrown our way instead of attacking life with a sense of purpose. So we started seeking out intention. 

Then in summer of 2015, it hit me. If money was the number one thing holding us back from living like the dreamers who married each other as kids, then why not seek out a solution. 

I turned to network marketing. It was the one thing I knew you could make a lot of money doing, without any qualifications. It was perfect for me. So I jumped in. I realized quickly, that while no qualification was required, hard work certainly was. But i wasn’t afraid of it.

I put my head down. I remembered that great things are hardly ever conventional. I ran on pure excitement and grit. And within four months, I matched Bryan’s full time income. 

We retired him before Christmas. Five months into network marketing we went all in. All eggs in one basket, All our bills relying on this crazy dream. And it paid off in a big way. 

By the next Spring, we were making six times our previous income. And we had freedom. Bryan was home. We were dreaming again. We were casting vision and hoping. 

That next spring, a full year later, we escalated to ten times our previous income. All from network marketing. Our heads were spinning and we were still so thankful. 

Then came the news that knocked the wind right out of us. Cancer. Somewhere in our finally perfect world, a screw was loose. And everything felt like it was about to just crash down on us. Stage 4 cancer. My handsome, lively, strong young husband was fighting for his life in a battle no one could see. 

These are the moments you find out what you’re truly made of. Are you actually strong? Or do you talk a big game? Do you actually know the meaning of trust? 

There were lots of days spent on my knees. Too many wracking sobs to recall. Days when we heard “I need to be honest with you. This isn’t good. This could kill you.” and days when we heard “You’ll be ok.” But they were never in a logical order. We grasped at something reliable, but it was all shifting pieces and spinning scenery. He laid in our bed for days. He couldn’t talk for more than a few minutes without losing his strength. He didn’t laugh for weeks. He lost his hair, his joy, his strength, and his optimism. These are the ugly parts pictures don’t show and social media doesn’t tell. I wondered if I’d already lost him. If he’d ever be the same man I married. 

Six grueling months might not sound all that long to you. But I promise I can’t fit all my happy days within those 180 painful ones. They felt like they took everything. 

Then right before Christmas, the same time we’d found financial freedom two years earlier, he was given a positive diagnosis. The cancer was no longer active. It had just gone to sleep. 

It was like someone picked up a two ton weight that had been crushing us. Picked it right up and took it so far away. And simply put, the world went back to spinning. 

Now we are different. We are so much stronger. And younger. Funny how something that should make you wiser makes you younger. Reminding you, you’re not always ready for life. Reminding you you have so much yet to learn. Reminding you you’re not untouchable. 

As we move forward, we are daring to dream bigger. Because life is too fragile to play small. We have to get in the game for as long as we can—and feel victory firsthand. 

Cancer didn’t stop life for us. It started it. 

I’ll leave you here. Because the rest of this story is still being written....

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