Unfortunately, some people have difficulty leaving relationships where they are treated poorly. But even in difficult times, we hear amazing stories of people who are truly courageous and determined. Let me tell you about Cara Brookins, a mother of four children. Even though she didn’t have much money, she decided to do something incredible that would change her family’s life. After her second marriage ended badly and she felt very tired and upset, Cara Brookins wanted to find solace in a special project. She decided to build her own house even though she didn’t know how to do it. She learned by watching videos on YouTube. She sold her property in Bryant, Arkansas, and began looking for a new place for herself and her four children. The affordable options were too few, but she was determined to bring her family together.

She didn’t know exactly how it would work, but that’s when she came up with the grand plan of building her own house from the ground up. “It felt right for us at the time,” she says. “Looking back, I know it sounds a little crazy, but no one else thought that.” Cara bought a property for $20,000 and took out a loan of about $150,000 to build a house. She learned by watching videos on YouTube figuring out things like building the foundation, putting up walls, and setting up gas and plumbing. For nine months, her children, aged between two and seventeen, helped build the 325 square meter house. Her fifteen-year-old son Drew helped with the plans, and eleven-year-old Jada fetched water from a neighbor’s pond to mix with heavy bags of cement for the foundation. Looking back, Cara says, “Every step felt really heavy.” She worked while her children were at school, then took them to the construction site, about five miles away, to work on the house late into the night. The YouTube videos weren’t always clear, and there were different ways to do things.

To learn more, Cara hired a part-time firefighter with tree experience for $25 an hour. “He knew more than we did,” she says. On March 31, 2009, Cara and her children finally moved into their five-bedroom home called Inkwell Manor. They called it that because Cara wanted to be a writer. Cara later wrote many books, including a memoir called “Rise: How a House Built a Family,” which is scheduled to be released on January 24th. Looking back on the time when they built their own home, Cara admits: “We were a little ashamed that building our own house was the best choice for us. It wasn’t something we were proud of.”

But it turned out to be the most powerful decision she could have made. “If I, a little computer programmer, can build an entire house,” she says, “you can do anything if you put your mind to it.” Cara’s advice for people going through difficult times is simple but truly meaningful: “Choose an important goal and stick to it. Figure out what big goal you want to achieve, take small steps toward it, and invite others who also need healing to join you. There’s a lot of power in that.” The amazing story of Cara and her children is best told by them. Watch them share their touching story of courage and hope:

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