Dream to Do: JULIE THEIS

Even though a year has passed since Parative completed our Kickstarter campaign, the memories are still so fresh. We look back and smile on all the hustle and working so hard to reach the goal in a set amount of time. I think too, having your goal for the whole world to see if you hit it or fail is hard too. There is something really vulnerable about it. We met Julie and her husband Brodie because some friends told them we had completed a crowd funding campaign and they were thinking about doing one as well. I won't spoil the whole thing for you but we are stoked for you to hear what they are about. 

PARATIVE: Tell us about your dream!

JULIE: Well, to start off, I feel like I need to say that this is not a dream that I've held dearly for many years based on something I'm really good at, and it's definitely not a dream that lines up perfectly with my greatest strengths or my deepest loves...it's a dream that has been really hard for me to pursue, a dream that requires me to reject fear and insecurity every single day.  It's a new dream that has welled up inside me, as I have begun really listening to and moving towards the things I feel like God is speaking to me about.  

PARATIVE: So when did you first discover it?

JULIE: I took a small step of obedience, years ago, when I felt God asking me to sell my engagement ring diamond, replace it with a Cubic Zirconium, and give the money to charity.  Two years ago, I began feeling like God was stirring three new things in me: 1. a broken heart for those in slavery, 2. a heart to bring freedom to those in slavery and 3. a desire to invite women to journey with me on this road towards bringing freedom.   

I have always been a pretty empathetic person, but after my daughter was born, it started going to a whole new level.  I started to frequently imagine what it would feel like to be a mother in another country, a mother so desperate to provide for her younger kids that she could decide to sell her oldest daughter to feed her younger ones.  And I started to think, sometimes every day, what it would feel like as that mother to know that there were people in other parts of the world who could easily help me, but who weren't helping.  

And as I've talked with women about these things, I began to think that women in America, if they had a vision for what their resources could actually do in the world, and even more so in a specific woman's life, that many would have a heart to join in.  So the larger dream in all this, is to see women in America use their freedom to bring freedom.  The smaller dream within the bigger dream, is that women would join me in donating a diamond, either the one on their finger or one they have sitting in a dresser drawer somewhere...and that those diamonds could be turned into freedom for women and children all over the world.

PARATIVE: What are you doing currently to make this dream happen?

JULIE: My husband, Brodie, and I have started a non-profit called A Brilliant Exchange, and we began a crowdfunding campaign to raise $50,000 to build the infrastructure and get it off the ground.

 Scene's from A Brilliant Exchange's crowdfunding launch party that took place earlier this month.

Scene's from A Brilliant Exchange's crowdfunding launch party that took place earlier this month.

PARATIVE: If this campaign is successful, what would you want this to look like in 5-10 years?

JULIE: In 5-10 years, if I'm being completely honest and really optimistic, I would love for A Brilliant Exchange to be receiving hundreds of diamonds every year, so that we could be giving away more money to organizations who are bringing freedom to the world's most vulnerable.  Who knows what's going to happen with it all...but at least I sleep well at night knowing I'm pursuing the dream that's in my heart!

PARATIVE: Have you always been confident you should keep pursuing this dream or have their been moments of doubt?

JULIE: Yes, there have been many thoughts of kicking this whole thing to the curb.  My whole life, I've had to fight against my natural tendencies towards laziness and lack of discipline...I like to be comfortable, and not to mention, I really dislike asking for money.  The thing that gets me to start moving and working towards freedom, is the thought that it could have easily been me living in another country, faced with these horrifying things, every day hoping that someone would advocate for me. And if one day, I'm going to stand before God, I want to be able to say that I used everything He gave me...and that fighting for freedom was more important to me than having a comfortable easy life.

PARATIVE: Do you have moments of absolute confidence to cancel out the moments of doubt? What is a time when you were like yes, we have to keep doing this no matter how hard?

JULIE: We got an email last week from a friend who has just recently gone through a really really hard divorce.  When she described how she felt when she read about A Brililant Exchange, all the insecurity of what people would think about our cause, just completely melted away.  And I thought, if this is all that comes out of what we're doing, it would be enough. Here's what she said:  "I want to donate my wedding band and ring. I just had plans to sell them after my divorce. I could use the money, but I soon as I read this I thought that is what I'm suppose to do with them. The rings once brought me so much joy and then my life was shattered and I could barely look at them or the mark that is still left on my hand after 10 years of wearing them. Now when I look down at my hand and see the indention I can think that those rings were used to help save a life. I'm so grateful for this non-profit. Not only am I helping to free someone, but it is helping to free me of some of the pain associated with looking at my hand." 


You can find A Brilliant Exchange's campaign page here. Check out there awesome video and use this opportunity to contribute to their dream!

We love stories like Julie's where people are like this is hard but I am going to keep at it because I am able and willing and if I don't do it, who else will? This series has been such a good chance to see how so many people are getting out and dreaming to do and how dreaming to do looks so different on everyone. And I must say, it looks damn good! (Thats a normal way to close out a blog post right? Just cat call all the readers..)



Drew Oxley