What are your hobbies? If you were to have a week of free time to just enjoy doing something that you love, what would it be? In our busy world, do you find it hard to carve out time for your hobbies? Or do you make it a priority to take necessary life-breaks and schedule time for them?
My 21-year-old son, Jayden has a hobby I never even thought about before he took it up. Here’s how it all started:
In his high school woods class, Jayden met a local volunteer, Chuck that came to help the students with their projects. Chuck has a passion for woodworking and has developed great skills over the years. As luck would have it, Jayden and Chuck hit it off right out of the gates. Their friendship grew as they spent time woodworking together—first with Jayden’s project for school and then in Chuck’s home-shop.
Under Chuck’s patient and skilled guidance, Jayden has learned and grown in his woodworking skills. But what intrigued him the most is wooden bowl-making.
After discovering this hobby there were things that happened or that already were that became almost immediately beneficial to him. First, we happen to live in the woods where there is a plethora of trees—key to making bowls! Second, his grandfather had a lathe that he didn’t use and gifted it to Jayden. Third, we have space in our garage that Jayden can use to turn his bowls whenever he is home from college (which was a lot during Covid!).
Over the past year-and-a-half, whenever Jayden was not working full-time at his internship or doing his college studies, he would often grab a log or burl and head to the garage to create something new. And if the project he had in mind was too large for his smaller lathe to handle, no problem, off to Chuck’s he went.
Jayden has made bowls and other turned projects for friends and family members, but it seems some of his creations are too dear to his heart to part with yet. And so, not only am I a recipient of one of his first and most beautiful cherry wood bowls made from a burl, I have also become a foster mom to many others. How lucky am I?
It has been a true joy watching Jayden as he has discovered this hobby and grown in his skills. But what really made it happen, were “lucky moments” in how it all came together and making the decision to take life-breaks in order to hone his skills.
In the automotive industry, October is also about breaks … but with the other spelling: Brakes for Breasts. Over the years, shops across the nation have embraced this cause by donating a percentage of brake-job sales to breast cancer research. Since 2011 they have raised over 1 million dollars in brakes donations. How amazing is that?
I wonder what other forms of cancer could have such nationwide, well-known donation support from the automotive industry? Not to downplay the importance of breast cancer research and support, but might I suggest that we consider a type of cancer that does not have as much notoriety? Colon Cancer.
In March of 2018, a dear friend of mine, Amy lost her beloved husband, John only months after his diagnosis of stage four colon cancer. John was only 49 at the time of his passing and had two young kids who were nine and twelve.
Two and a half years ago, my friend, Andrea was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Since then, she has been on a very difficult path of treatments, medications, and surgeries along with so much heartache as she, her husband, and their two teens have journeyed through this. Just last week she transitioned into hospice care, and today, as I finished this article, she met her Savior.
A few weeks ago, a dear friend of mine, Stephanie moved back to Rochester after being gone for nearly fifteen years! A few days after closing on their new home, her dad, Brian was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. A little over a week later, he passed.
As I share these stories with you, I have a pit in my throat and am weeping for the difficult trials and the loss these families have endured. I have been in the audience of their journeys and am in awe of how God has used their stories for His glory.
I met all three of these women—Amy, Andrea, and Stephanie at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) in our church years ago as we all attended and served in leadership together at some point. I had a different level of closeness with all three women but the one thing we all share is our love for Jesus. It is because of Him and our desires to be great moms that I have had the privilege of knowing all three women and watching God show off in their lives.
After losing John three and a half years ago, I have watched Amy struggle with the heartache of losing her husband and raising her children alone. The thing is, her faith has never faltered. She is a woman of so much love and goodness and persevering through this difficult trial in life has only made her stronger, more dependent on God, and more thankful for the little things in life.
About a year after John’s death, in response to my “checking in” text, Amy wrote this: “My day started out good, but by the end of the day, grief just hit me like a tidal wave. I’m feeling very overwhelmed by the load I carry. Yet I know I need to keep my eyes on the Mountain Mover, not the mountain. Please pray for strength for me today. To keep trusting that God can do more than I could ever imagine.”
What an incredibly remarkable woman.
Since the cancer was revealed to Andrea and her family after her 50th birthday at a routine colonoscopy, I have been on the sidelines of watching her journey as she has shared through CaringBridge. Her story inspires others and she never hesitates in pointing everyone to Jesus.
On September 18th, Andrea wrote these words:
“Things are diminishing quickly - faster than I thought they would, and that is very discouraging.
But I am reminded:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest" - Matthew 11:28
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" - 1 Peter 5:7
"Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus" - Philippians 4:6-7
Just a few good ones to keep in mind.
The love and support shown to my family for the last 2.5 years is mind-boggling. Truly. I could not ask for a better family or group of friends to walk down this path with and I will be eternally grateful for these demonstrations of love. We know we are surrounded by those who care.
I would greatly appreciate your prayers for me and my family as I transition through the last stages of life. I would love to live longer, but my body does not seem to be cooperating! (I've said for about two years that I needed a new body - I never got one).
That new body is coming, though, and I know that. It gives me reassurance for what lies ahead and makes this process less scary.
If this is my last post - my love to you all.”
Unfortunately, it was her last post ... but she was so faithful until the end and wrote the most lovely goodbye to be posted on CaringBridge after she left this earth, ending with:
"I now have my perfect body back!!!
I have one last verse that I would love to share with you all.
Romans 15:13: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit.
See you all again, Andrea"
What an incredibly remarkable woman.
On September 9th, my friend Stephanie learned of her dad’s cancer and texted me. Later that day she wrote:
“God is faithful. He’s shown me that again and again. I know He loves my dad and mom, and He loves me. I just need to keep my eyes and heart on Him and remember that He is in control of everything”.
Stephanie then opened her house, which she had barely gotten into, to her entire family as they brought her dad to her home from the hospital for his last days. She orchestrated the comings and goings of family and friends and honored her dad well. And then on September 21st, I received this text: “Dad relocated to heaven about an hour ago”.
What an incredibly remarkable woman.
Colon Cancer. It has taken the lives of many … far too soon. It has also taken the lives of many … far too quickly. Yet these women and their families have used their heartache and pain for God’s great glory.
It is in honor of all three of them that we are going to employ a new break in the automotive industry that I am calling: “Brakes for Butts”. In the month of October, we will be donating 5% of all brake services done at our shop to colon cancer research.
The thing is, everyone needs breaks and everyone needs brakes. Why not take a break for your brakes in October, where you can honor all who have endured colon cancer and their families by getting your brakes serviced as we give back to this cause?
Beyond breaking for “Brakes for Butts”, I wonder if you might now fully consider even more of what you should take a break for?
What about breaking for a colonoscopy? Many people put this uncomfortable, “pain in the butt” preventative procedure off. In doing so, I wonder what they could have prevented?
What about breaking for God? Do you add time to work on your relationship with Him, sitting quietly in His presence, seeking Him in all your decisions, praying in everything—in your life and on behalf of others? Do you know Him and live your life for Him? Are you pointing others to Jesus as Amy, Andrea, and Stephanie do?
Are you taking breaks from life’s busyness to serve others through the gifts and skills God has given you? Do you take breaks to hone your skills and create things that will bless others like my son, Jayden?
Though Jayden has kept various creations that I get to foster, he’s also made some for others. Recently I commissioned him to make a bowl for my friend, Lisa who was turning 50.
Lisa has had a very difficult life. Many things that she has experienced are beyond what you and I could ever imagine. Yet, she is a beautiful woman of deep faith who has grown and learned so much through her trials that she inspires me greatly in my faith. It is truly incredible and I wish I could share more. But without telling you the specifics of all she has endured; I will tell you this—she is lucky to still be alive. Here we are again, back to that “lucky” word.
Jayden was “lucky” to meet Chuck. He was “lucky” to have the things needed to do his new hobby. I am “lucky” to foster his bowls. I am “lucky” to have met Amy, Andrea, Stephanie, and Lisa. I am even “lucky” to be able to use my love for writing to share stories with you all. I am “lucky” to have readers who enjoy what I write and “lucky” to have made an impact on the few that I have. Maybe even after reading this, you will go get your colonoscopy that you’ve been putting off and you will feel “lucky” if the doctors find colon cancer early enough so that you can be healed.
But friends, I wonder, is it really luck? Or is it something more?
My heart knows, without a doubt, it is something more. None of these “lucky moments” happened by coincidence. God orchestrated it all. And so now, will you please read the above “lucky” paragraph and replace “lucky” with “blessed”?
I will wait while you do.
It sure packs a more intense punch, doesn’t it? Switching just that one word, moves it all from a coincidence to a plan. It moves it from a fleeting feeling to a deep-seated grateful heart.
I am grateful for you all. Thank you for taking a break to read my words about these special women who have blessed me through their stories. I pray now that they will bless you as well and that my words and their journeys might remind you to take more breaks in life.
Break for your hobbies—and use them to bless others. Break for your friends—praying for them and sitting with them in their grief. Break for your butt—and get your colonoscopy. Break for “Brakes for Butts”—and get your brakes repaired as we donate to Colon Cancer research in October. But most importantly, break for God—believe in Him, get to know Him, deepen your relationship with Him—in doing these things you can live your best life here like John, Andrea and Brian did and you can be certain that you will go the same place they did along with Amy, Stephanie, Lisa and I when we leave this earth—to spend eternity together in heaven. I look forward to seeing you there.