Monday, January 6, 2014

Day 2: Jon Bowers

Today, my friend, Jon Bowers, is in a Cincinnati hospital starting some seriously intense chemotherapy for kidney cancer that has spread beyond his kidneys. In fact, right now, he is experiencing treatment 2 of 14 for the week. So, as I lift up my friend, Jon, to Jesus and ask for healing and strength, I will tell you just a little bit about him.

I met Jon's wife Nancy through the North American Christian Convention. I started working there as an intern in the summer of 1993. Nancy immediately introduced me to Jon and their three boys, Nathan, Zachary and Andrew. (I think Andrew was all of about 5 at the time, which seriously ages me as he is now married with little ones of his own. Oh my....) And, the entire Bowers family welcomed me into the their home for food (very important in my young life at the time), long walks, parental advice and sibling fun. From day one whether I was joining them for some family fun or being scolded for messing up Nancy's vaccuum marks, I was one of the family. 

Jon is an extremely hardworker. A systems analyst for Procter and Gamble, it seemed that Jon would stop working long enough to hang with the family, help the boys with homework -- and as soon as the family went to bed, he was working the rest of the night. I remember Nancy telling me that Jon would be up til the wee hours of the morning, before catching a few hours of sleep and starting all over again. As I find myself with a daughter myself, I think of him often as I have adopted some of his non-sleeping habits. But, when Jon wasn't spending time with his family or working for P&G, he was donating his time to the North American staff, supporting their IT efforts any way possible. 

Supporting IT efforts for the North American was no small task. The early 90s brought in windows technology, but the convention office was DOS-based. Yep. You heard me. DOS. Based. The man has a heart of gold and a work ethic like no one I know -- and he showed it every day at the North American HQ.

He also gives countless hours to the church and ministry. Jon truly loves God and God's people. When I lived in Cincinnati, I remember that he worked tirelessly as an elder offering the leadership the church desperately needed. You could see and hear the passion in his joy and frustration with trying to help the church move forward.

That same passion he surely shares with his family. One of the traits I admire most about Jon is that he has always had high expectations of his kids, but he loves and protects them fiercely. I was the happy recipient of the same "kid treatment" from Jon, even though he isn't nearly old enough to be my dad. He always was ready with some words of wisdom. But, when I got into some stressful situations at the North American he (along with Nancy) were quick to come to my defense.

I haven't talked to the boys in a really long time, but one look at Jon and you can see and hear his deep love for them. I had lunch with Nancy and Jon a few years ago, when I was still living in Florida. They have wintered in Florida for the last several years, and one Sunday they drove over to Orlando. As we were eating, we shared some of the joys and sorrows that the last 15+ years had brought. Just watching Jon share about his kids was delightful. It was fun to see the pride in his eyes.

And, now, several years later, Jon and Nancy have the most beautiful grandchildren. Each one is so fortunate to inherit all of this love and joy and passion for God and His church, and fierce protection over their lives. I certainly am blessed to know Jon and Nancy, and call them family (even though I don't call like I should)!

Today and for the next several days and weeks and months to come, I am praying for my friend, Jon Bowers. I hope you will too. I can't wait to see how God will use this day and every day to count for His glory because of the faith and love and strength that He created in Jon.

742 words, 45 minutes.

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