5 – A Man and His Hobbies

What are your hobbies?
How do you use them to care for your soul?
What steps do you take to balance them with other responsibilities?

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”

– G.K. Chesterton

Tyler’s Astrophotography

Some notes from Tyler:

Andromeda Galaxy – This is the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Not only is it approximated to have twice as many stars as our own galaxy (it has approximately 1 trillion stars!), it is also the closest major galaxy to us. In fact, it is the most distant object in space that you can see with the naked eye (or some cheap binoculars) from a dark location. To give you a sense of how big it is visually: if the full moon were right next to this galaxy in the night sky, Andromeda would appear over four times longer!

Orion Nebula – This is the Orion Nebula (M42), which is a cloud of gas and dust that glows with various colors due to the ultraviolet light that passes through it from nearby stars. It is a nursery for new stars to form, of which you can see some of the youngest stars it has created at the core of the nebula. You can also just make out the fainter Running Man Nebula on the left side of the picture.

Bode’s Galaxy – This is actually two galaxies that are interacting with each other.  The larger one on the right is called Bode’s galaxy (M81). It is about 70,000 light years in diameter–about half the diameter of our own Milky Way galaxy–and contains hundreds of billions of stars. The smaller galaxy on the left is referred to as the Cigar galaxy (M82) because of its elongated shape. Its unique shape was likely caused by its gravitational interaction with M81, since the distance between the two galaxies’ centers is only about 150,000 light years apart, which is very close from a galactic perspective!

Tim’s Maker Work

Michael’s Jeep in the Mountains

Transcript of the episode

Michael: Welcome to the Ironcenturion podcast, a Christ-centered adventure into leadership, manliness, and brotherhood. I’m Michael DeGroat one of the instructors with Ironcenturion.

Tim: Thanks Michael and I’m Tim Storm. I’m here with Ironcenturion as well and I’m a founding member and we’ve got some other guests that we’ll introduce here in a second. Michael first, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what we’re going to be talking about tonight? 

Michael: Yeah. We’re going to talk about the idea of the healthy role of hobbies in a man’s life. What do we do with free time? What are your hobbies and what are our hobbies? We’re going to talk about some of our hobbies and so that’s why we have a guest with us. 

Tim: So, and that guest tonight is Tyler Davis. Tyler is one of our executive board members on staff with us and Tyler and I have been doing hobbies together since we were approximately seven. Those hobbies started with Legos and progressed into whatever else we can cook up in our basements growing up as kids and here we are today, still doing hobbies and other fun things together. I just thought he’d be a great person to throw on this episode and figure out what kind of things he’s into these days and all the other things that were up to you. 

Michael: Hi Tyler.

Tyler:  Hey guys. Thanks for having me on.

Tim: You bet.

Michael: So, let’s just talk about this a little bit. I want to learn about everybody’s hobbies here. I know some of the things you’re into. Tyler I’m specifically really interested in your hobby. We had a car ride and you told me a bit about it not long ago and I thought it was quite fascinating.

Tyler: So yeah, I have a newer hobby. Just started this year, so I can’t profess to be an expert in it, but I just picked up the hobby of astrophotography. So, I got a telescope and I’m using that take pictures of galaxies, nebulous star clusters. It’s been amazing. I’ve been learning a lot, still learning a lot but really fun.

Michael: Astrophotography. I have seen one or two of your photos. In fact, you know what we’re going to have to do. We’re going to have to post a link to some photos or something on our website or down in the show notes so people can see this because it is unbelievable to me that this is a hobby you have recently picked up. You make it look absurdly easy. 

Tyler: Thank you. But I’ll probably have to say that’s because of the equipment, and we can get into this, but it’s a costly hobby and so the better pictures you can take are based on what type of equipment you have. But at the same time, to your point about just the beauty of it, that’s one of the things that’s really attracted me to it is just, it’s a worshipful hobby for me as I see some of these amazing things that God’s created across His universe specifically for us to enjoy has been really, really cool. A really fun part of this hobby.

Tim: So, you mentioned getting into it in this last year. Is that something that you picked up because of the pandemic? Is it something you were squirreled away in your house, and you were like I can just sit in my backyard and do this? How’d you stumble onto this hobby?

Tyler: That’s a good question because actually, your point about the pandemic is an interesting one because I think that’s the reason why a lot of people have been getting into astronomy because when I wanted to buy a telescope, it took like two to three months to get one because they were all on backorder.

Tim: Really.

Tyler: Because great hobby, just go out in your backyard and have a telescope. But everyone wants to be an astronomer now.  But no, for me it was actually more, and we can get into the backstory, but I’ve actually been not really a hobby person up to this point and not because I haven’t wanted to be, but I’m very protective of my time and how I use my time. So, making sure that there aren’t things that are competing for my time with my family and church ministry and that sort of thing. But it was almost getting to a point where it was probably unhealthily where I was so focused on structuring every minute of my time and my day that I was becoming so rigid and almost pretty much it wasn’t healthy. So, my wife actually suggested me getting into a hobby. So, for our anniversary, she was the one who got me the telescope. So, it’s been a matter of a lot of YouTube video watching from there before I got to the point where I’m at now.

Tim: Yeah. I feel like YouTube is like a launchpad for the obvious. How much 20 years ago, could you not have figured out that it’s now on YouTube and freely available and you can just binge-watch and get up to speed rather quickly on a lot of different things.

Michael: Yeah, that’s fantastic and what you were mentioning earlier reminds me of that phrase all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Just the idea of like, there’s a place where having some, some breaks, some leisure, some fun, some gap is healthy in our lives. 

Tyler: And you even see that I think in the gospels, right where Jesus is often having his disciples getaway to a desolate place. I think part of that, you can tie in with hobbies, having the spiritual discipline of rest. I think hobbies are a place where you can do that rest well because it’s breaking up the monotony of the day, but also, it’s still engaging your mind and using your creative skills as you use that time well.

Michael: Yeah, I suppose. I wonder are all hobbies restful? Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. Should a hobby be restful?

Tyler: I mean, there are strange people out there that think running is a hobby and that would not be restful to me. So yeah, there are probably people out there that are more on the extreme side of things that their hobbies are not restful.

Michael: That’s interesting. Tyler, so what are some of the pieces of this puzzle that you need to do astrophotography? You mentioned there’s some equipment and some gear and some stuff. I’m thinking you’re not just holding your iPhone camera up to the back of a telescope. You’ve got things.

Tyler: Some people actually do. It’s actually impressive with the smartphone cameras that are out these days. I’ve seen some pictures on Facebook that people still need a telescope, but you just hold your iPhone up to it and you take some pretty impressive pictures, but yes, there are lots of different stages. So, one for me, the cheapest way to kind of get into it is obviously you need a camera. So, for me, I got a DSLR camera, but I got it used. You can get some great ones used. That would be great for the hobby, but there are actually dedicated astrophotography cameras that you can go to that are well, over $1,000. But mine was a couple of hundred dollars used that you can get. The most important piece of equipment they say is actually the mount. So, the thing that your telescope stands on for two reasons. One, it needs to be robust.

Michael: Like the tripod.

Tyler: Yeah. Yeah. So, the tripod is more than just a tripod, but it does need to be a sturdy enough tripod so that wind is not going to shake your telescope that sort of thing, but more importantly, they’re actually pretty sophisticated mounts. The tripods have a head on it that has an engine that points that telescope where you want it to. So, I can literally just on my computer type in what part of the sky I want to look at. So what galaxy, or what nebula do I want to focus on, and it swivels over to it. Then because the sky is constantly rotating, rather the earth is rotating and so it looks like the sky is rotating for us the mount is actually tracking those objects throughout the night, which is important because when you take a picture of a galaxy, it’s not like a regular picture where you just snap a picture for a second. The light is so dim. You actually want to track it for 30 seconds, one minute. Up to five minutes, I’ve done so far. You have one exposure that opens the shutter for five minutes, staring at that one galaxy. So, you imagine how well that mount has to track that object to be in the precise, same location for those five minutes. 

Michael: This is blowing my mind. So, you have a telescope that moves that is computerized, that is connected to your computer so you can tell it what to look at and it does and finds it and follows it.

Tyler: That’s right and there’s some cool software too, where I’m actually pulling up the software, looking at the part of the sky. It’s like a virtual map of the sky, and you can zoom in on the object, you click it, and then it swivels to that object.

Michael: This is not something we touched on in our car ride and this is fascinating. That’s pretty cool.

Tim: The engineering and physics side of my brain is really firing on all cylinders right now. It’s pretty cool.

Tyler: That’s another thing that drew me to this hobby is because it engaged multiple sides of the things that that I’m into. So, I like math, I like science. It kind of brought a lot of those things together for me and really kind of drew me in because of that. 

Michael: Wow. Okay. So okay Tim, hang on. Help me with this first for a second. I feel like the math behind this and I’m asking you because you’re the engineer here. I feel like the math behind this has to be extremely to get a stationary image to capture from a galaxy that is millions and millions of miles away smoothly while on a moving rotating earth.

Tim: Yeah. I don’t think math is necessarily the difficult part. The beauty of astrophysics, if you will, is the math that drives all that stuff is incredibly simple and I think there’s actually…

Michael: See, you’re the engineer here. Oh, it’s easy. I learned this. Last year of college, super easy math. 

Tim: But when you think of how hard it could be, but how simple it actually is. I mean, the formula is all or less than a couple of lines long. To me what that signifies is there’s so much order in creation that God allows us to figure out how he designed things and it’s not beyond our grasp. He’s allowed us to have the mental capacity to figure out how some of those things work or at least put mathematical models to those things. That to me is like just, another fingerprint of God that just says, see, this is pretty cool huh?

Michael: That’s mind-blowing. Okay. So, Tyler there are some problems that come to mind, some challenges. What are the challenges you face? Motion would be one of them, but you solved it with this really cool tripod. But there’s got to be other challenges to be able to capture an image like this.

Tyler: Yeah. The biggest challenge I’m running into, which any astronomer would tell you is the weather. So, my hobby is very much dependent on what the weather is like. So, for instance, here in Texas, where I live the weather for the last almost two months has been cloudy every single night and so I haven’t done any pictures except for last weekend was the first time in up to two months. So, that’s the biggest thing is you have to be patient with, with the hobby. You know, other things like you’re in the middle of the winter so it’s cold. You have to be outside for setting up. I’ve been getting to the point where I can set up my telescope in maybe 15, 20 minutes I can rush inside and I can actually remote into my computer from inside, which makes it a little more enjoyable. But some might say that’s the lazy man way out. There are astronomers who, you know, they’re out there all night throughout the night, cold freezing temperatures and braving it and I’m inside in my cozy bed going to sleep, and then I’ll wake up when it’s all done.

Michael:  Okay. That’s cool. Okay, so challenges of weather. Of course, yeah, it has been cloudy. You and I don’t live that far apart. What about we live in a pretty populated area.  I’ve got a friend who grew up in Dallas and they always were confused about that Bible verse that says when God asked Abraham to number the stars in the sky, and I’m going to give you this many descendants. They were always like, what, that’s weird. There are seven of them. Why would God say it that way? Because they grew up here and we can’t see very many stars here. At least I feel like we can’t.

Tyler: Sure. Yeah. Yeah, and I’m in the Dallas suburbs and so even here the light pollution is pretty poor. There are some ways around it. So, there are certain they’re called filters that you can put in front of your camera that actually help block out some of the unnatural light. So, some of the streetlights, city lights. Tim would like this. They actually have certain wavelengths and so if you can isolate those wavelengths, you can filter them out using these filters, leaving just the natural light that you would expect from like a star or a nebula, that sort of thing. So, you can pay all kinds of money for different types of filters that filter out the different types of lights, so you just get the ones that you want.

So, if you want a nebula, that’s more colorful. There are certain wavelengths that you’re targeting. You’re doing a galaxy that might be a different type of filter that you can get the right lights. But the easiest solution is to just drive somewhere where it’s darker. So, for me, I paid to become a member of a local astronomy society and they have their own, they call it a dark site just over the border in Oklahoma, which is much less light pollution. So, I can go up there on the weekends and set up my telescope. They have nice pads and electricity and stuff that I can plugin and it’s actually really cool. Camping is another example. You go camping, it’s much darker skies there. There you can really see what God was talking about to Abraham. Oh, there are the stars. You can sometimes even see the Milky Way. It’s pretty cool.

Michael: Fantastic. 

Tim: I know Michael, you and I have seen that when we went to Guadalupe that one night and we’re spending the night upon the mountains you could see more stars than I’ve ever seen in my entire lifetime and the bands of the Milky Way as well so that was pretty cool.

Michael: Yeah. I remember that specifically. We could probably tell that story in full sometime, but we were camping at 7,000 feet and we were 400 miles.

Tyler: Texas?

Michael: In Texas. Yeah. We were, I don’t know, it felt like 400, 300 miles from the nearest significant population. There was no light pollution of any kind. It was a clear night and there was no moon that I can recall. It was very limited, and the stars were just, it was absurd. I felt like I could pluck them. Pretty cool.

Tim: Michael, let’s talk about you for a minute. So, you’re more of a gearhead on this side of the spectrum.

Michael: That’s true. Yes and no and that’s an interesting thing. So, one of my primary hobbies, of choice is I like to work on my Jeep. I have a Jeep. It’s a ’97 Jeep Wrangler. It is almost a classic. I’m deciding if I’m going to get classic plates for it. I theoretically could soon, and I have I have rebuilt pretty much everything on this Jeep. The only thing that I have not rebuilt that is substantial is the engine and that is scheduled to start soon. So, I have taught myself via YouTube and some friends and others just how Jeeps work and how to upgrade them and build them and so I’ve really fallen in love with that. But I make a distinction here. I don’t really work on cars. If you’re like, oh, you’re a car guy. Not really, I don’t know much about cars. I know a whole lot about blue 1997 Jeep Wranglers that are in my garage. I have turned almost every bolt and I have learned what to upgrade and what not to for the purposes of taking it to the mountains and so for several years.

Tim: So, that is your magic school bus essentially. 

Michael: Exactly. Yes. Yes, and so I take Ms. Frizzle-style adventures and I do. I try to go every year. It actually has turned out to be every other year, but I always say I do it annually and go to Colorado or to Utah or places that are famous for Jeep trails. Texas is very poor on Jeep trails, but Colorado has lots of natural national forest land and bureau of land management land with forest service, fire roads. Road is probably too generous. They are basically…

Tim: Let’s talk about that for a second, because I just went up to Colorado a few weeks ago and experienced Jeep trails for the first time. I rented an ATV, a Polaris RZR. It was pretty fun to drive around. Now where we went… Now, Michael, this is a place that you’ve been before. 

Michael: I have.

Tim: The Yankee Boy Basin up near Ouray, Colorado. 

Michael: Yes.

Tim: Beautiful, beautiful land. When we went, it was mid to late May. There was still snow on the ground. 

Michael: Yes. 

Tim: At least up at altitude. So, we weren’t able to go as far as you’ve gone on that trail, but I  was starting to get a picture of what these Jeep trails entail. To paint a better picture for those of you who are uninitiated like I was a few months ago. What Michael is talking about are these tiny little dirt roads that have sheer drop-offs on one side and cliffs on the other side. So, if adrenaline is your thing and you’ve always wondered, hey, can I drive a car across something that if I don’t do this properly, it would mean that I fall down and tumble into this gorge then this is probably the hobby for you.

Michael: That is a good description. In fact, I’ll see if I can find this photo. I’ve got a great photo of me in my Jeep on one of those roads. If I can find it, I’ll send it over to you and we’ll post it somewhere where you can find it if you’re listening along. But yeah, that’s what I enjoy doing and I know that that trail you were on Tim. You probably made it oh, 1000 maybe 2000 feet above the town you were staying in. That trail you’re on a, if you continue when the snow is not there in the summer, it goes to about 12,000, actually at one place, it crosses over into the 13,000-foot range, which is very high and you can do it sitting in the driver’s seat, which is really cool.

Tim: Yeah. Our altimeter was showing around 11,000 feet.

Michael: Okay. Yeah. So, there’s 2000 more up to go if you want.

Tyler: Now, Michael you mentioned that the hobby that you wanted to talk about though was actually working on your Jeep. Can you help me understand that though? Because that sounds like the last thing I would want to do, the whole my car breaks down, I need to fix it. I just bring it to a shop or something because that would be the last thing I’d want to do.

Michael: Yes. That’s fair.

Tyler: So, what’s appealing about working on your Jeep?

Michael: That’s very fair. So, I call it wrench therapy and so for me, I’m not in Colorado all the time. I’m not on the trails all the time, but being able to just take some time, get out into the garage after work and turn a wrench, work physically, which is actually interesting. We talked about restful hobbies. It’s restful for me but in a way that is very physically draining because it’ll be hot. I’ll get greasy and skin my knuckles and get dirty and frustrated when a bolt is rusted shut. It’s soothing to me and relaxing because I think it’s the order of stuff. You can tell when something’s broken and putting it back the way it’s supposed to be is orderly and I enjoy that. I also enjoy that it’s something I don’t know about. So, it’s like a massive puzzle that matters because I’m always looking stuff up and looking on forums and trying to figure out, okay, what is this supposed to look like? How’s it supposed to work? Following the steps in the repair manual is just an orderly process and sometimes it’s a puzzle trying to figure out, okay, what’s wrong? Why doesn’t this work? The one thing I hate is electrical. That is like a puzzle, but when things start not working electrically, I just hate that. But working on the mechanical side of it is very orderly and calming for me.

Tim: So, you mentioned forums and that’s a part of my hobby as well. This is a weird concept for me again too about 10 years ago when I started out in my hobby. But have you met people on the forums in person?

Michael: I have not met anyone from forums in person yet, but I have established some kind of rapport with people, and you learn who on the forum, I mean is knowledgeable. Who’s the go-to wisdom person and who’s the guy who whatever he says is probably not right. But you learn like, okay, if they said it that’s the way it is. So, there are a couple of people on some of the Jeep forums that I’m part of it. They have forgotten more about Jeeps than I will ever know and so when they say, oh, you need this model number, they just know that in their head and you just do what they said and it’s right and that’s cool the community that, that creates.

Tim: Yeah. That’s kind of a neat internet community that I didn’t anticipate I would be a part of it at some point, but it’s pretty cool.

Michael: Yeah, and so I do that. I put in a lot of pain and suffering, and it’s not necessarily inexpensive Tyler like you mentioned. Sometimes I’m like, why am I doing this? I enjoy working on it, but it’s not enough in and of its own. Then when I get up into the mountains somewhere typically it’s in the summer, so I’m escaping the heat of Texas for a bit. I get up into the mountains and I’m in my Jeep and it’s almost like backpacking because you can go places with less physical exertion in that moment and just go into places that would be very hard to reach otherwise. In a day I can get somewhere that would take two to three…

Tim: Arguably, also hard to reach in a Jeep.

Michael: Still hard to reach but doable. The grandeur of God’s creation is just overwhelmingly beautiful and getting to see places, parts of it that you wouldn’t easily be able to see otherwise is really meaningful to me and it reminds me, oh, this is why I work all year long on getting my Jeep ready so I can go do this. Then I go up there and drive it around until something breaks and drag it home and fix that thing over the next year so I can go back.

Tyler: Are there stressful sides to working on the Jeep? I would imagine there would be some stress, but maybe that sounds stressful to me. 

Michael: Yeah. Tim hates working on cars. Is that a fair statement, Tim? 

Tim: You say that, but I think the time that I’ve spent with you is rubbing off on me. I’ve also started looking at car fixing videos on YouTube. 

Michael: Yes, yes, I’m winning.

Tim: I’ve had people over to the house recently to help me fix problems, but both of those times that I’m thinking I probably could’ve done that by myself which has not always been the case. I’ve normally absolutely hated working on cars. I think I’m slowly getting over that phobia.

Michael: That is fantastic, and I am thrilled to hear that. I don’t know if I’m one of those people, but recently I was over at your house and helped you work on a project and l feel like that was the lightbulb moment for you in part. You’re like, oh, this isn’t that hard. There are six bolts. We did the thing and then put the six bolts back.

Tim: Like you said, it’s a logical process. I can handle those logical processes and it’s just the fear of if I don’t do this right how do I get to work the next day? 

Michael: That is the most stressful part. So, Tyler, yes, there was a period of time where my Jeep wasn’t working, and I wasn’t able to get it fixed. I was rebuilding the transmission and I will never do that again. I enjoyed getting to do it and learn it, but once was enough I saved a bunch of money doing it that way actually. So, I bought some tools with that money, which is a cool thing of the hobby. I use that as an excuse to buy cool tools, but for a while, I couldn’t get to work except using public transportation. I was fortunate enough to be able to have it where I could at that time but that was weird not having a car because the transmission is on a bench and I’m trying to get it put back together. That’s stressful and then also trying to get it ready for a trip. I have got a leave date and I’m getting everything ready and then right before, oh no, I, I haven’t finished this yet or I caused another problem. So, there were times right before leaving on a trip where I’m working and it’s like 2:00 AM and I’m racing to try to get something done. But I like that too a little bit. It’s stressful but I also enjoy that. 

Tyler: That’s something I’m even fighting with my hobby of working with the telescope is that I almost need to guard against that it can be a stress inducer rather than a stress reliever when I take on that hobby and maybe to the point of it becoming an idol for me, where I’m so focused on, I finally have a clear night. Forget what else I have going on I have to get out there even if that means I’m going to be super exhausted for work in the morning, which is also a God-given responsibility I’ve been given…

Michael: Yeah, that’s true because…

Tyler: …and trying to find that balance.

Michael: Well, yeah, your hobby is like, you have to do it at night. So, you’re always up late doing your hobby right? 

Tyler: Well, that’s actually a blessing, was a blessing for me. It does have that challenge, but that was part of the solution for me of wanting to guard my time with my family and stuff is like, well, I can do this when my daughter goes to bed and, and I can still spend quality time with my wife. Then when the sun goes down, I go outside, and I take my pictures and then I come in and go to sleep while it’s taking more pictures. So, there’s a way that I can kind of fit it in. But at the same time, yeah, there is that sense of, oh, I have clear skies. I have to get out there no matter what costs and I have to catch myself, guard myself against that. So, I wasn’t sure if you had anything similar with Jeeps of stresses that you have to protect against, or just in general, what you think about that hobbies and stress.

Michael: Yeah, I do and that is a good, good point because it is relaxing until now, I need to rely on it. So, for a while, I mentioned it was my daily driver. It is not anymore. So that made it stressful. I had to fix it every time I needed it because I need to go to work. So, you’re starting a project on a Friday as Tim, you just mentioned, right. I got to get it done. That was stressful. Now it’s less stressful because I don’t have to drive it every day. It’s become more of a special toy-type item. So, I can have it down for a while. But then also just keeping in balance too. You can spend tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of dollars on Jeeps and people do and I don’t know that that’s right or wrong for them, but for me to spend that much money would be wrong because of my family priorities.

So that wouldn’t work but it’s easy to do so. And there’s lots of marketing saying, oh, you need this upgrade. In Jeeps, you want them to go slower and so there is an upgrade you can get that slows down the gear ratio between the transmission and your transfer case so that you can actually go slower. With most cars, race cars at least you’re trying to move the top speed to the highest it can go. With Jeeps specifically, ones for off-road one of the objectives is to make the bottom speed as slow as possible so that you can move at very high torque, slow pace, crawling up something really steep. So, there are upgrades you can do like that, that I have not yet done.

Tyler: Upgrades other people would consider downgrades. 

Michael: Exactly. Yes. All right, Tim. So, what are you into these days? 

Tim: Here in the show notes I’ve got my list of things and Michael maybe narrowed this list down. So, I think the overarching word I’m going to use is maker. That’s the trendy thing that we say for people at tinker on things these days. For me, that encompasses woodworking, everything for furniture building to building catapults for my kids in the backyard.

Michael: Where do you catapult your children to?

Tim: Over the fence. It’s a trampoline in the neighbor’s backyard. I built a flight simulator, an F16 flight simulator, which is kind of a cool thing that I have in my garage. I do 3D printing. I build plastic model kits that kids build that I still build as an adult. Then, I mean, there’s the honorable mention list too, things that don’t fit in that category. I like to shoot long guns, play really long distances. I like to go hiking and camping and also, I do art. So, I mean, there’s just this like wide swath of things that I’m into. But the majority, I think focuses around that maker title.

Michael: That seems fair. I’ve known you for a while. That rings true to me. 

Tim: Yeah. And Tyler also has been roped into a lot of my maker projects from high school and college even. 

Michael: So, what’s one of those things? What are you talking about roped in?

Tim: We made chain mail, night chain mail for like a breastplate type thing.

Tyler: Maybe we could edit some of this out in editing later on

Michael: Some of the list of things you’ve created.

Tyler: We did… What was that thing we were trying to make? Was it a helmet? We had a vacuum cleaner. We were going to suction something to mold plastic to make a helmet I thought Do you remember that?

Tim: I remember the process. I don’t remember what we’re trying to make.

Tyler: Yeah, me either. Then I remember the Lord of the Rings board. So, a big foam board that we had to play games on and made it look realistic and stuff.

Tim: And to be fair I mean that was high school days. So, we’ve moved on from some of those things. 

Tyler: Yeah right. You know you wish you had that in your basement. 

Tim: Ah, well. 

Michael: I do feel like, for Tim, I feel like your maker-ness is a perfect intersection of engineer creativity and mischievousness. 

Tim: Oh, absolutely. 

Michael: And there’s a mischievous light that comes on in your eyes when you’re making something that has a certain purpose or intent and I’ve seen that light click on multiple times.

Tim: Yeah. Funny enough I actually have what I would consider being my dream job now. I worked for a large company here in Fort Worth and I get to make models for them. That’s my regular job. So, I’m an engineer, but I design and build prototypes and concepts and testing apparatuses and such but I’m a professional model maker. So, it’s funny because a lot of people are like, oh, well, once you get this job, you’re not going to want to pursue model making at home anymore. That really hasn’t been the case at all. I actually still like what I’m doing. I’ve been working this job for four years now professionally and still enjoy coming home and getting to tinker on my own stuff.

Tyler: So, Tim, I have a question for you because you have maybe the answer to what I had been wrestling with my hobbies all along which is how do I balance the time spent with a hobby well amidst all of the other responsibilities that we have as men? You have a lot of responsibilities between work and family and church, and I see how well you handle those and pour yourself into those. Yet, I see the pictures of the things that you work on and I’m thinking where in the world do you find the time to do all that? So, I’m curious, how do you juggle all of those hobbies that you just listed and all the other things that you have going on?

Tim: Well, the answer to that is by getting it wrong a lot? My wife has been extremely gracious to me in our own personal growth because she has her hobbies and I have mine and I think those are both very healthy for both of us to have. But there have definitely been friction points in our marriage when I’ve allowed things to not be in the right order of priority. So, it’s really just one of those communication things where I’ve got to be communicating well with my wife and make sure all those priorities, as you mentioned, are taken care of in the appropriate order before I start disappearing in the garage. I need to make sure that my kids have gotten attention and my wife has gotten attention and I’ve checked all the boxes and things that people are counting on me to get done. But yeah, that’s kind of a driver for me is to make sure I’m squared away, as we like to say in the army, that all of my ducks are in a row so that I can go off and have some dedicated time in the garage, which is my spot in the house. 

Tyler: Nice.

Michael: I think that’s. Go ahead Tyler.

Tyler: I was just going to agree about the communication because I think for me, I for a while had just assumed oh, my wife wouldn’t like it if I was spending all my time doing these things, but when it finally came up, she was like, yeah, that sounds awesome. You should go do that and she was very understanding. So, like you said, just communication and making sure that you guys are both on the same page. That’s cool.

Michael: Yeah, and I was going to say, I think that’s part of the love, deeply idea. The idea is that we as men love others, love them deeply. That means it should cost something and hobbies can be largely about us. That’s how we’ve been talking about it now and so we need to be careful that we are intentional to love others deeply. It should cost us something. That might mean it costs us time with our hobby. It has for me at times, and I know it has for both of you. I’ve seen it cost you time with family or that you choose family over your hobby, and it costs you time working on your things you want to work on. 

Then I think the other way you can do it is you can use your hobby to love deeply. So, for example, again, I’m not a car guy. Don’t call me to fix your car but I did recently do a project with you, Tim, on your car. Just the other day I helped my neighbor actually. He had some problem with his car, and I was able to diagnose it and fix it for him for a 10th of the price that it would have cost him to get it fixed at a shop and quick and fast. He learned something because we did it together. I got to spend time with him and build a relationship deeper with him. But that costs me because I was working on his car. I don’t like working on other people’s cars. I like working on my Jeep. I don’t even like working on it, I don’t even like working on my wife’s car because that’s not fun. I like working on my Jeep.

Tim: Yeah, and that’s a good point too is I’ve some of the times that I’ve enjoyed the most in my hobbies are times that I got to spend working shoulder to shoulder with another guy doing those things. So, Tyler, whether that’s you and me as seven-year old’s building Legos to, more recently, Michael, you and I welding up some tubular steel in the garage because it’s time you get to spend with your friends and it’s time you get to build something together. There’s something about that process I absolutely love and being able to do hobbies with other men is pretty cool. 

Michael: Yeah, and for them. So, Tim, this is a good time to mention you recently completed a hobby craft that was a gift to me. We’ll have to post a photo of this, but my grandfather was a B-17 bomber pilot in World War II. It meant a lot to me and so Tim built a scale model. Tim, this thing is amazing. The detail of a B-17 and it’s got my grandfather’s numbers on it and insignia and the detail that Tim has gone to with this thing. I’ll have to show you some photos because it’s astounding. The level of detail and it’s such a blessing to me. Tim, you used something that is a skill of yours and gave it to me and it means a lot. I have it right here in my office and it is special, one of my most prized possessions. One because you made it and two, because of kind of what it signifies to me in my relationship with my grandfather, who’s not here anymore. But this was a big part of his life, and I can immortalize that.

Tim: Well, thanks. Yeah. That was a huge blessing for me actually to be able to make that for you. I really enjoyed that process and doing all the research with you and figuring out, okay, what were the serial numbers on the airplane? All the little minutia that we had to dig into to make it just right. That was a fun process for me. But yeah, that’s something I’ve kind of committed myself to for the next couple of years. I’m trying to build a model for some of those men in my life that have been there for the longest period of time. So, I built one for my dad. That was my grandfather’s airplane during the Korean war, I built yours, which is your grandfather’s airplane. I’m building Ruedi’s UAV that he flew in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s this year’s project and then we’ll figure out who’s next in line after that. But yeah, that’s my thing. Once a year, I’ll build a model for someone else and that’s been fun.

Michael: That’s really cool. I think it’s a great way to love deeply. I mean, you did truly deeply because I remember when you gave it to me you said you know, don’t take it apart. It doesn’t come apart and there are not very many windows, but if you took it apart, you would see that the inside is fully painted with extreme detail. I believe you. There are not a lot of windows to look in but the detail that exists on the outside means there’s got to be that much detail on the inside too. 

Tim: It’s a sickness really, I think. Well, it’s there. I might as well paint it and put some wires in here. That’s why the late nights. 

Tyler: You said something when you introduced your hobbies, Tim, about being a maker and I can’t help but my mind goes to that being a title we often use of the Lord as being our maker. I just want to get your thoughts on that because I’m sure you’ve had those thoughts as well of how that ties in with the Lord as being the ultimate maker.

Tim: Yeah. So, when God says we’re made in his image we know that God isn’t visible. So, in his image means it’s talking about his character and who he is, and all that image was bestowed upon us as humanity. Not all of it but a good portion of it to give us a picture of who he is and what he’s like. That idea of creation is I think one of the coolest things that I think he’s allowed us to have that separates us from every other thing on this planet. Sure, animals can create like places to live but they’re not creating paintings. They’re not creating structures and bridges and all sorts of other cool types of things. That’s unique to us as humans. 

Actually, the second word in the Bible when you look at Hebrew is created. So, I mean, right in the very beginning we see this element of creation and that’s something that, draws me to the Lord especially in those times of monotony when you’re standing on something or just spending hours and hours of doing the tedious work that no one will ever see but it’s part of the process. Just that process, it’s good because it allows your mind to kind of drift to places. Oftentimes I find myself thinking of like, I wonder what Jesus was doing because it talks about him being a carpenter and that could be translated as like a woodworker or a stonemason, but somewhere along those lines is what we know that he did with his profession, and it just makes you think what was his day-to-day like. What would it be like to work with Jesus in the shop next to you? And just thinking in those terms of how, how this part of my hobby is on a very, very small scale what God does, It’s pretty cool.

Tyler: I’m even noticing a theme across all of our hobbies that in one way or the other we’re worshiping the Lord as our creator. Tim you in the creative ways that you make things and the detail that you pay attention to that God loves detail. He loves doing things that blow your mind with the detail that people wouldn’t even see that amount of detail, whereas I’m enjoying the beauty of the universe as I capture those. Michael, we talked about your hobby with going to Colorado and getting out there and being able to see parts of God’s creation that others don’t have access to because you’re taking your slow Jeep up there. But that’s just cool as I think about how our hobbies help us get in touch with God as our creator and worship Him more because of that.

Tim: Yeah, and the cool thing about that is the intentionality of pursuing something that is difficult to understand or find like those hidden parts of the creation like the mountain tops in Colorado and the galaxies that are billions of miles away, light-years away. When we take the time to go and look at those things and investigate and study them, I think God is honored by that. As a model builder, Michael, when you were pouring over that model when you first got it and looking at all the intricate details and everything that meant a lot to me because it meant that you were interested in what I had made. So, I can only imagine God’s heart in that is the same where he enjoys us looking into all those different things that he’s made and all those different things that he’s created for us to enjoy and us worshiping because we are enjoying the creation. So, I think there’s a lot there to be said about his heart and even us pursuing the creation.

Michael: Yeah, and it’s interesting. So, Tim, your hobby is working with things that are really small. The detail you’ve put. You’ve got oil drips on the ground underneath the engines on this model that you made for me and wear spots on the Bombay doors where they theoretically would have been open and closed over and over so the paint is worn down. You’ve put so much effort into the little details. Then my hobby feels big because I’m way out in the mountains and they’re just huge and grand. So, it feels large, but really, it’s maybe medium because we’ve then got Tyler who is looking at things that are just so large that we really just can’t even fathom them.

Yet God is there in all of those things, or He cares about all of those things and God cares about what we do with our time. So, He is pleased when you think of small detail on the plane model that needs to be there, and He is pleased when we look at the grandeur of his creation whether that’s apparently relatively tiny mountains that we see as we go by very slowly or its massive nebulas that are just so big. I don’t really have a frame of reference for how large those things are. Tyler, you capture them in ways that we can see them.

Tyler: My hobby, in particular, makes me realize just how small we are in the grand scheme of things, and yet, because of that, to think about the verses that talk about how God cares deeply about us as small as we are thinking about some of those small details that Tim is working on. We are some of those small details and yet He chose to make us in His image, as Tim said, and to because of that place value on us, not because we are worthwhile, but because He chose to love us and because He ultimately chose to display His glory by making us the objects of His mercy and His affection

Michael: Wow. Who knew conversational hobbies could get so heavy and deep. But I think it’s true. God cares about all the things we do, and it reminds me of a quote that someone taught me a long time ago from a guy named G. K. Chesterton. He’s in the ilk of people like C. S. Lewis, for example. G. K. Chesterton says, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”

Tim: Will you go ahead and explain that because on the surface that doesn’t really sound great.

Michael: Right. Yeah, I thought that might bother the perfectionist engineer there just a little bit.

Tim: It does.

Michael: It bothered me a whole lot the very first time I heard it too. “If the thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly,” because that’s not what our mom says. At some point your mom probably said to you, the thing worth doing is worth doing diligently or well or something. My mom certainly did and she’s not wrong. But what G. K. Chesterton is talking about is if something is worth doing, if there is value in it, if it is worthwhile then it’s worthwhile, whether you are good at it or not. If the thing in and of itself pleases God and has value, then it’s worth doing, even if you’re just starting out at it. So, if making a painting is good, then also when you’re seven and the best painting you can make looks like garbage, it is still worth doing. Here’s the thing for all of us, regardless of how good you are at your hobby compared to God, we’re all seven-year old’s just scratching at it.

Tyler you’re taking amazing photos, but God made the thing. So, no matter how badly we are at it, it is worth doing something until we get better at it or maybe we never get better at it but if it’s good in and of itself, it’s good to do even if we do it poorly.

Tim: We do everything as unto the Lord. 

Michael: Exactly. 

Tim: Well, thank you everyone for joining us today. We really enjoyed having this talk with you guys and hope you guys enjoyed it as well. We’d love to know what you guys are into, what some of your hobbies are, and how those things draw you closer to the Lord. As always, thanks again for listening to the Ironcenturion podcast, a Christ-centered adventure into leadership, manliness, and brotherhood. We’ll see you next time.

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