Last week I left the country for the very first time. As I boarded the plane to fly to Brazil, I was flooded with sooooo many emotions. I was nervous, excited, a little sad to be leaving my babies, and had NO IDEA what to expect upon landing.

It isn’t always easy for me to do things that are outside of my comfort zone. And this trip was WAY out of my comfort zone. But I know that if I am going to fulfill my vision of bringing Maple Tree to the world – I’m going to have to do scary things like this….At least every once in a while.

In short, Brazil was AMAZING.

Life-changing, even.

But before I share about the trip, I want to tell you about how we got to this point.

When I first began Maple Tree in 2011, I had very little expectations for where it would go. I began doing research in exercise oncology in 2003 when I started working on my doctorate degree. After 8 years of conducting research, I knew exercising during cancer treatment was beneficial. However, I was surprised to learn that exercise was not a part of the standard of care in cancer treatment. So, I decided to do something about it.

Initially, I thought that if we could help just one person with cancer…I’d be happy.

Our first year in operations, we served 17 people. I was thrilled.

By 2014, we were serving around 35-40 patients each year. I was happy with that, but was starting to allow myself to dream of more. But it was still unclear as to what exactly “more” meant.

Then, one night in the Summer of 2014, on a plane flying to a conference in North Carolina, I began reading a book about prayer.

Immediately, I was convicted about my prayer life.

At the time, my prayers went something like this….”Ummmmm Hi God, I’m sorry to bother you. It would be great if more people knew about Maple Tree. But, ummm, whatever you want. It’s fine. I’m fine. Okay, thanks. Sorry.”

This book challenged me to pray BIG – understanding my own limitations, but believing that God could do the impossible….Trusting that God could use me to do the impossible.

I wondered to myself what I would even pray for if I dared to “pray big”.

Some people – even those with the same beliefs as I hold – might not understand, or even believe, what happened next. But it stands as one of the most defining moments of my entire life.

As I began to wonder what I would pray for, I felt God speak to my heart. Immediately, I felt that I was to ask Him for Maple Tree to be a world wide ministry.

World. Wide. Ministry.

This was more than I would have ever dreamed of – or even dared to dream of.

In fact, it wasn’t even appealing to me. I had cried actual tears earlier that day when I left for the airport because I didn’t want to leave my babies. I HATED to fly. I had never left the country and had exactly ZERO desire to do anything about it.

I am a homebody, who loves nothing more than to sit on the couch and watch a movie with my family.

The thought of traveling all over the world to bring Maple Tree to cancer patients might sound like a noble thing to do. But not to me.

Which is why I said NO.

At least initially.

But over the next three years, God confirmed this vision in my life. Over and over again.

Finally, in 2017, I surrendered. I came to see that God’s ways were higher than my ways. His plans were higher than my plans. I am limited in my understanding, where He is all-knowing. Most importantly, He loves me. He loves my family. And I trusted that He would not call me to do something that would destroy us.

So I went all in.

The rest….as they say, is history. Or, rather…. His-story.