Living The Dream: Woodworking and Leatherworking for Kids


Weeks ago John was asked to share his passion for wood and leather with a group of elementary school children.  While initially our response was yes, which is what we said.  As the day neared, the opportunity brought a lot of nervousness to our family.  John was struck with the realization, “What am I going to say?”

Seeing our daughter and wanting her to realize that the potential for her life goes beyond what many believe, we felt a responsibility to these kids. 

John and I are living our dream.  It is not a glamorous dream.  It is not a dream many would have.  It is our dream.  Living in a grand adventure, taking a risk, and running a business.  We don’t really care much about stuff, we just want to be together, raise our daughter, and do what we love.

So, John prepared.  He gathered his leather instruments, some of his photography boxes, some of his tools, and a lot of gloves.  Also, we prayed, we want to bless these kids and their lives.

The day was a success, 7 classes, 100 students, and 28 gloves later, John was able to show some kids a bit of what he does. He had so much fun and the kids loved him. 

He had demonstrations, students were able to come to the front and see how John dyed the leather and try it themselves.  He showed them how he stitched his items and allowed the children to try with all they could to rip apart his stiches (none were successful).  

What impacted John the most though was something he said to the kids.  A couple of students were surprised, does he really get to do this?  This is really his job?  John responded.  “I lead a small life.  I don’t need a lot of stuff.  Because I live small, I get to do the things I really love.” What a beautiful realization, to see our successes measured in something other than our salary. 

This weekend we received a few thank you letters from these children.  While John loved every letter, I wanted to share just a few with you here.


Dear Mr. Strickling

Thank you for coming to Northside.  Out of all seven, I think you were the best because I think it was very interesting. 

I wore a lot of leather and I do cattle so some of your leather might be from one of our cows or bulls.

Ps. How are you?

I am doing good.




Dear Mr. Strickling,

Thank you for coming to our school to show us how to do leather works, I enjoyed it pretty much, the most.  I’ll probably do that as my hobby when I get older.



Dear John,

Thank you for coming. I really enjoyed it. I like what you do.  To me it seems really cool. I also liked your wallet and that bag.  If I had the money I would.  That’s how much I like it.  Thank you for coming I really like it.




This last one made me cry.

Dear Mr. Strickling,

Hella. I introduced you, and you gave me a bookmark.  Thanks for coming that was AWESOME! I learned so many things but I really like you.  Your really good! I want to grow up to be like you! Thanks for coming.




There you have it, my husband the role model.  What a pleasure to share his gift with children.