The Origin Story


I spent most of my college years writing a teen fiction novel about a small town girl dealing with loss and hardship who then finds out that she is destined for much more. 2 years into researching and writing every chance I had, my laptop crashed unexpectedly and I swear to you, I pooped my stomach out.

Ya’ll. I had put together an outline and storylines for 5 books within this series. I sketched outfits, drafted book covers I made on Photoshop, and even went as far as to cast the future film I was so sure would happen. I had started researching agents, editors, publishers. Looking back, I was completely naïve to it all, but I engrossed myself in my little-big creative world.

I remember looking at the guy at Best Buy with a doe-eyed bambi look on my face when he told me there was no salvaging my hard drive. I rushed home and started frantically searching through folders and emails, looking for any remaining remnants of my work. I had emailed small fragments of the book to select family and friends for input as I wrote. All together it made up maybe 5% of my work, and that was all I had left. I cried, a lot.

For years I refused to write, I felt like this was some kind of sign from the universe that it wasn’t meant to be. Many times I’d open a word document and find myself just sitting there, staring at a blank canvas. People encouraged me to write, those select few who read a bit of my book asked me when the next chapter would come. I shrugged them off with lame excuses and looked for ways to fill my calendar with stuff, just to avoid facing the fact that I was the one stomping all over my dream. Me, and only me.

Self-doubt is something that has plagued my life for as long as I could remember. I wish I could tell you it stems from a terribly misogynistic father, or a professor who told me I wasn’t good enough. I can’t remember anyone ever making me feel less than for my dreams, but the little gremlin in my own head doesn’t seem to shut up. For every mistake I’ve made in life: eating my feelings, not chasing that job, not writing that book, not going to that party, it has always stemmed from self-inflicted doubt. This cookie will make me feel better, maybe the whole box. I’m not good enough for that job, I’m incapable of succeeding at it. What if someone asks me to dance or tries to talk to me, I just won’t go. I don’t believe I can, therefore I will not.

This kind of mind set took me where I thought I needed to go but when I reached my destination, I couldn’t help but wonder if I had been cheated of the life I thought I wanted.

I was 22, married, owned a home and a car, and in a leadership position at one of the best companies to work for in South Florida. In 4 years I had moved up 4 ranks in the company, with already almost a decade of experience under my belt and working my way through an undergraduate degree. To the naked eye, I was making this happen. I’d get so many comments about how proud I should be of myself for working my way up and succeeding, for being so young and have accomplished SO much.

But I can’t tell you the amount of times my husband was calling me at 8pm because I had been at work since 7am and hadn’t come home yet. The times I had to shut my office door and ball my eyes out because I was so overwhelmed by it all. The countless amount of times I’d scarf down a candy bar in secret because I thought it’d make me feel better.

I aged so much in this season of my life, physically and emotionally. I had to grow up quickly, and I stopped prioritizing the important things – Like God, my husband, my health. I see pictures of myself during that time and I fully understand now why people assumed I was 35 with 3 children, cause’ sister, I looked the part.

When I had enough and decided to walk out on my stable corporate job, I had no idea who I was. I struggled just to go do groceries, because I was terrified of running into someone who knew me as Kristine, the super successful girl who had it all together. What would they think? These thoughts shook me to the core, so I focused on becoming a real life hermit crab. I rarely left my bed, let alone the house. I ate everything I could get my hands on and ballooned to the heaviest I had ever been. I dyed my hair every color of the rainbow and convinced myself that a fried pork sandwich was a suitable breakfast. I forgot what a proper hair routine looked like, let alone eyeliner.

During this time, Adam and I were also dealing with our money pit of a home that we ultimately had to sell. There’s also nothing like living off one paycheck to push your emotions aside and finally sell your first home. And so there I was… Unemployed, living at my parents, at the heaviest I had ever been, horribly depressed and lost, and with some burnt bleached hair because of my poor life decisions. Naturally, I decided to start a business because I had no idea where to go from here.

Before everything had snowballed in January 2017, I had the idea of Marked by Grace over the holidays. I had the name of the business before I had even envisioned what I was going to create. I remember sitting on the back porch of the cabin rental we were staying at with family over the holidays and telling Adam about my idea. Originally, Marked by Grace was going to be a “signage store” where we could create home décor signs based on what I had learned and created for our own home. At the time all I knew how to do was repurpose a canvas using some acrylic paint and vinyl. I also really loved small DIY projects and piecing rooms together with thrift finds from antique stores. We had no need for extra income, and I had no reason to think I could do this, but there was something about this dream that told me not to let it go.

Before I had even finished my pitch, I started to backpedal – what if this doesn’t work? This is dumb. This is going to be hard. I don’t have time. I can’t do it. I’m not creative enough. I know nothing about business. Nope, not going to do it. This idea can just be swept away under the rug and we can pretend I never said anything.

Just as I was going down this rabbit hole, Adam looked at my dead straight in the eye, knowing very well that we both had crazy demanding jobs and were getting ready to put our house on the market, and he said “Lets do it.”

Thus, was born Marked by Grace.

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Besides sharing our origin story, there are three things I want you to leave with when you x out this blog post.

First, I want to encourage you to reach deep in to yourself and have the courage to try. Try whatever it is that is on your heart right now, in this moment. Maybe it’s to drink more water, be a healthier you for your family, be a more loving wife, grow in your company, write, bake, create, run a 5k, branch out on your own. Whatever it is, DO IT. You don’t have to be good, you just have to be willing. No one was born with skill sets, resources, and a business plan. Use the gifts you’ve been given and go from there.

The second thing I want to encourage you to do is to stop waiting. Stop waiting for the “right time” to make a change or start something scary. Stop waiting for everything to be perfectly in place by your standards to try. As you can tell, our business was birthed during a pretty unstable season of our lives. I know firsthand what it’s like to be scared. I’m a chronic planner, I like lists and structure, and I’m that person that schedules every aspect of my life. Nothing about starting, managing, or growing a business is stable – and it challenges me in the best way.

The last thing I want to encourage you to do is to stop making excuses. There’s a MILLION reasons not to do something, but you only need one reason to do it – because it’s yours. If you’re like me, you’ve talked yourself out of so many ideas on your heart, but I’m going to need you to stop making excuses. If you don’t have an Adam in your life that is going to hold your hand and dare you to do it, well allow me to help… START TODAY. Do the damn thing, friend, and if you fall along the way – good. No success story has an easy origin.