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It would be easy to say this project began on June 7th, 2009, the day I was diagnosed with a Grade II Oligoastrocytoma brain tumor. But the story actually begins much earlier. It began when I was ten years old, looking at myself in the mirror, and somehow knowing I was born to tell my story. Knowing I was created to affect the lives of those around me, offering hope and a unique promise. But over the next 20 years, my unique story never showed up.
But in those twenty years, I was determined. I won awards, continually set myself apart, married a beautiful blonde, and essentially succeeded at living the American dream. Still unable to tell "my" story, I started my own company to share the stories of others. Dot&Cross was a creative storytelling business that partnered with unique storytellers like Rob Bell, Marcus Buckingham, Don Miller, Tim Keller, Francis Chan, Josh Shipp, and Erik Wahl, as well as non-profits like Compassion International, World Vision, and Trans World Radio. If I couldn't figure out a story to tell for myself, I would make myself influential in telling others' stories.
But June 7th, 2009 eventually showed up. And through a crazy kung-fu related bump on the head, I suffered a grand mal seizure and was rushed by ambulance to Stanford Hospital. Later that day, I was told I had terminal brain cancer. I was given, at most, five to seven years to live. I made several difficult phone calls to share with my then-wife, my parents, my three sisters, and my business partners. The majority of them flew out to California to be with me during this time where I questioned God's reasoning for this unexpected tragedy.
But then it occurred to me. Maybe this is the beginning of my unique story.
When I returned home, I determined to make lemonade out of lemons. I was truthfully overcome with the brilliance of living and with every breath that entered my nostrils. Remembering that ten-year-old's dream, I offered to share my story at no cost to groups of people across the country. I spoke forty times that year at elementary schools, nursing homes, colleges, STORY Conference in Chicago, and Catalyst Conference in Atlanta. I was finally sharing MY story!
During my travels, I spoke of cancer and its effect on the relationship between God and myself. But at the same time, I started having trouble in my marriage. My wife disapproved of my speaking despite the fact I knew THIS was the exact thing I was created to do! We suffered through another year of marriage before she determined she was finished with me. The girl of my dreams divorced me.
I was heartbroken. For two years I lived in a blur somewhere between life and death. With no interest in fighting with her for our physical possessions, I used my airline miles to travel for six months. Then I stayed at my sister's house for more than a year. I had lost all hope in love and was so confused as to why God had allowed this at such a critical point in my life. I hate to admit it, but I was approaching permanent indifference.
During those years, I met a girl who had also suffered a divorce. She became my confidante as I struggled to get my quickly fading life back in order. Over time she developed feelings for me, but I was too blind to see it. I was still focused on looking backwards, trying to figure out how things had ended up so horribly wrong.
We became quite close that second year. I would even say we became best friends. But apparently, with several glasses of bourbon, a forward woman can become quite convincing. I regret to admit we ended up having a one night stand. My faint drunk memories recalled my concerns, but was met with the explanation of her doctors previously declaring her womb barren. To her, she was suffering a life with no hope for children. But to me, she served as a simple relief. Just a rare one-night stand as I tried to forget my miserable past.
Two weeks later, I got a call. Barren no more, Lori informed me I had managed to get her pregnant. Something her previous partner was incapable of doing despite their honest and planned out attempts. My life had somehow gotten even worse. I was now THAT guy. Lori was my best friend so I determined I would be a part of her and this baby's life. Three months passed before her belly started to show. Eyebrows were raised and we knew we had to come clean. I wrote a post on my blog and winced as I hit the "publish" button.
It doesn't get much worse than being drunk and getting a girl pregnant, but now I have to admit this horrible mistake to the general public . But oddly enough, I was met with love. So much love from my family, my friends, and even strangers. In the Spring of 2014, we gave birth to our surprise daughter and named her Marian, a name with two meanings; "bitter" and "long-awaited child."
Lori and I initially dealt with the struggle of how our relationship began, but she turned out to be my perfect partner. Since then she has made me the happiest man on the planet. In fact, we recently (and intentionally) gave birth to our second daughter, Viola, on the exact same day as Marian. The day of Marian's birth - the birth that began as a horrible mistake - seems to have been redeemed by God through this second child, the one we joyfully made together. Now we can celebrate their respective birthdays on the same day as a family.
My Story of Life, Death, and Resurrection
God told me I would live a unique story when I was ten years old. I had no idea then, but this story would include how terminal cancer has the potential to bring me back to an even better life, of how divorce is incredibly painful but can lead me to find my perfect partner, and how a sinful one-night stand can somehow be redeemed by God to give birth (pun intended) to a perfect second life with a perfect second family.
This story is full of seizures in my favorite restaurants, the showers at the Y, and 35,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. This story is about the ongoing battle between alternative and conventional treatments. This story is about heartbroken lonely walks past my old home, weeping over the person I'd lost. This story is about surviving the public shame of knocking up a girl, only to discover an entirely happy life waiting on the other side.
My agent proposed this story to a wide range of publishers. Too spiritual to be published by secular publishers, and too secular to be published by spiritual publishers, I was left in the middle. So I now turn to you, my family, my friends, and my partners in creativity. And I ask you to please help me create the story that ten-year-old was told he would eventually share with his world. Please take part in the story of my life, death, and resurrection.
With your help, I can finally tell the story of my life, and together we can say, "Thank you Kung Fu."
* I have included two free downloadable chapters on my blog as you consider your investment in me.
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Risks and challenges
My goal is to complete this book in eight months. As a writer, I know how I work. I can't complete this book writing a few hours each night. Believe me, I've tried. I want to give myself enough time to write this as I would any other book for any other client. I want to give it proper time to be written correctly. My desire for this book is to walk a fine line, describing incidences with individuals and moments in a meaningful, honest, and honorable manner.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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