In the face of adversity, some individuals find it challenging to break free from abusive relationships and embark on new beginnings. Despite the hardships they encounter, stories of incredible resilience and determination emerge.
One such inspiring tale is that of Cara Brookins, a mother of four who, with limited financial resources, set out on an extraordinary journey that would forever transform her family’s destiny.
Cara Brookins had reached the breaking point after escaping her second abusive marriage. To aid her recovery, she decided to build her own home, a skill she acquired by watching YouTube tutorials.
Once she sold her property in Bryant, Arkansas, she began the search for a new place to provide shelter for her four children. Everything affordable seemed too small, but her unwavering commitment to reunite her family drove her to devise a radical plan: constructing her own home from the ground up.
Cara admitted, “It felt like, ‘If anyone were in our situation, they would do this.’ No one else saw it that way, and in hindsight, I realize it sounds insane.” She invested $20,000 in a one-acre piece of land and secured a construction loan of around $150,000.
Through YouTube videos, she acquired the knowledge to lay a foundation, build walls, run gas lines, install plumbing, and employ various construction techniques. Her children, ranging in age from two to seventeen, actively assisted her during the nine-month construction of their 3,500-square-foot home.
Fifteen-year-old Drew helped his mother with planning, while eleven-year-old Jada used buckets to transport water from a neighbor’s pond, mixing it with 80-pound bags of concrete to create the foundation mortar.
Brookins, who worked while her children were at school, reflected, “It felt impossible the entire way through.”
After school, Brookins would take her family to the construction site five miles away, and they would work late into the night. At the time, YouTube tutorials were sometimes blurry and presented multiple approaches to each task. Brookins did hire a part-time firefighter with building experience for $25 an hour, someone slightly more knowledgeable than them.
On March 31, 2009, Cara moved her children into their new five-bedroom house, which she named “Inkwell Manor” in honor of her aspiration to become a writer. Subsequently, she published numerous novels, including a memoir titled “Rise: How a House Built a Family,” set for release on January 24.
Reflecting on building the house, Brookins said, “We were humiliated that building our own shelter was our best option. It wasn’t something we were proud of, but it turned out to be the most empowering thing I could have done for myself.”
Cara passionately encourages others, stating, “If I, a 110-pound computer programmer, can build an entire house, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Choose a single goal, pursue it steadfastly, take small steps towards it, and bring others who need healing with you on the journey. There’s immense power in that.”
Perhaps the most poignant way to grasp Cara and her children’s incredible journey is to hear it in their own words. Watch their moving story of courage and hope as they recount their experiences.
Even in the most catastrophic circumstances, hope for a brighter future can prevail, as exemplified by Cara’s story, which now stands as a testament to the resilience of survivors.