Let Freedom Ring: Independence Day 2018

The Fourth of July, or better stated Independence Day, has become a milestone of sorts for the Hepburn Clan. It all started 7 years ago when we cut up our credit cards and began paying off our debts to gain financial freedom and independence.

Believe me, we know Independence Day in America means so much more, however it has taken on special meaning for us as it relates to freedom and independence. As we reflect back, here are some of the most meaningful things that happened by God’s grace on or near July 4th for The Hepburn Clan. To Him be the glory!:

July 2018 – This year marks another milestone in our fight against cancer. Last week, on June 25th I had my routine six month follow-up appointment with my oncologist. We received three great pieces of news.

First, I don’t have to see her again for one year! I have been seeing the oncologist at least once every six months since October of 2011. Secondly, the PT Scan she had planned to order this visit is not necessary! My blood work is clear and at the end of this year I will be 4 years cancer free. The last time I was in to see Dr. Kamdar in December the PT Scan was on the July agenda. She changed her mind! Whoo hoo! Which leads to the third and final piece of great news – she actually said the word ‘remission’!!! We have been waiting to hear this word for nearly 7 years! Statistics are now demonstrating that if my type of Lymphoma does not come back within 2 years after having taken the chemo cocktail of Rituximab and Bendamustine, well then statistically that is a very good thing! Hallelujah! We’ll take it, knowing at any moment things can change. But for now – we’ll rejoice in hearing that word! An emotional day for sure, the emotions are still too surreal to believe! Cancer Free this Independence Day!!!

July 2017 – Get Living Adventure. Being able to do some things we had always wanted to do as a family. Last year we wrote a post entitled “Independence Day 2017: 6 Years in the Making” that marked the holiday last summer. There is something very freeing about being on the road without much of a plan. And being able to checkoff items on my Get Living List in the process – priceless!

July 2016 – We finally gained back some independence after moving out of Cortney’s parent’s home. The reality of it was bitter sweet. The five years we spent living with them, we would never trade. We see why many cultures around the world live this way. It was a true blessing to us as a family, in our journey out of debt and while providing the support we needed as I fought cancer three times. Enjoying the tradition of decorating bikes for our local 4th of July parade was in the cards in 2016.

July 2015 – The first half of 2015 was really rough. I had finished chemo in December of 2014 and the side effects were lingering and terrible. It was about midway into February that it hit me the worst and it actually didn’t get much better for some time. It was not until about the 4th of July that I began to almost feel like myself again and could start being around crowds once more (crowds have lots of germs and when your white blood counts are extremely low – doctor said no big crowds). It was about the end of July that my blood counts and health had returned to normal levels. The huge bummer was we had missed so much while I was sick, including Cortney’s sister’s wedding. To have the freedom again health-wise to do normal things again was huge.

July 2014 – Heavenly Freedom. We got the call from my mom during dinner on July 4th that my dad had taken a turn in his fight. It was time to come home. Cortney’s parents took the kids out to watch fireworks and in that short time Cortney and I packed our things in the car. When the kids got home from fireworks we loaded them in the car and left for California to be home with my family. My Dad passed away shortly after July 4th in 2014. This time of year always brings that back to mind and causes me to Remember My Dad. I think the experience of witnessing my Dad’s fight, his physical struggles – which included losing his speech and many of his motor skills – and eventually taking his last breath; it has taught me that this life is short and never goes as planned. He inspired me to do many things – one of them being to create my own Get Living List and to Enjoy the Moment. All those places and memories I want to make with my family before I leave this earth – I think his death prompted me in a lot of good ways to Get Living Today.

These photos were taken months before my Dad passed away. Both are very special to me, as I learned so much about being a dad from my dad. He was awesome!

July 2013 – During the summer of 2013 we knew that Strategic Kids was to become my full time work come mid-August. After starting up four chess classes in our local schools that spring, it gained momentum and it poised us for a full launch in the fall. Financially speaking it got our boat close enough to the dock to make the jump from my job at the county to full time self employment that could sustain our family. In that time I read a fantastic book called Quitter by Jon Acuff. It helped me process a lot when attempting to make that leap.

Strategic Kids has been a huge catalyst in our family gaining financial freedom. Plus the freedom to set my own work schedule and calendar. In the years since, we now joke; you have complete freedom being self employed – you get to work any 60 hours per week you want! True freedom! Like many small businesses you hear of being started on the kitchen table, ours was concieved on a folding table in the windowless portion of our parent’s basement! Ha! Cortney reminded me often, I could only go up from there!

(photo of working in the basement is somewhere but we can’t find it. If we ever come across it we’ll post it here!)

July 2012 – Looking back through our photos, we did not take any in July. I was asking Cortney why that was. She said, “Don’t you remember? You were working like a madman at the county by day and Papa John’s by night.” Which was true. While working at the county, which was only open Monday through Thursday, I had week nights, Fridays and the weekends off. We were gazelle intense about getting out of debt and I was taking every shift I could delivering pizza. While I was working, the kids, I am sure, were up to many shenanigans, like mowing the hardwood floor.

July 2011 – As mentioned above we made that physical motion of cutting up the credit cards and saying good-bye to debt and all the stress that comes the never-ending payments. As is written in Proverbs 22:7 “the borrower is slave to the lender” and we felt the truth in that. It was a moment we captured on video. Check it out here. In retrospect we would have chose a different backdrop; instead of our bathroom! Huh?! (We had downsized into a very small apartment and with two baby’s napping, I am sure this was the only place we would not disturb their peace.) Look at all those cards! This was real plastic surgery, Bye-bye debt!


2 thoughts on “Let Freedom Ring: Independence Day 2018

  1. That was terrific Blake. I am an old grade school friend of your mother’s and have only met you once. But I hear about you and Courtney and the kids often. What a wonderful journey you have been on. Wishing you all the best on the days and years ahead; they go quickly


    1. That was terrific Blake. I am an old grade school friend of your mother’s and have only met you once. But I hear about you and Courtney and the kids often. What a wonderful journey you have been on. Wishing you all the best on the days and years ahead; they go quickly


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