A Real Life Do Overz

By Shelly Thompson
Publisher, The Notebook Café

Cheryl Ross-Riker, owner of Do Overz, is one of the warmest, kindest, woman of great faith, you will meet. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Cheryl for several years. She allowed me to share her journey to becoming the owner of Do Overz. Like the book Entwined…Cheryl’s journey is a real life Do Overz…where God wrote…her perfect life story.

As you enter the doors of Do Overz on this particular day, you are greeted by bright sun rays streaming across a large harvest table boasting the splendor of colorful decorations displayed on its beautiful wood surface. This display is surrounded by many other wonderful pieces of furniture and home décor items. While there is beauty in these many cherished items…the deeper beauty lies in the story behind all that you can see. A story that will inspire and reassure you that God always has a plan. It’s a story that was years in the making. A journey that had steps of tragedy, testing, and then triumph for a real Do Overz in life of owner Cheryl Ross-Riker.

Cheryl and her husband Bob Ross were enjoying life as empty nesters. Bob in the business world and Cheryl working as Ministry Director at Hope Lutheran Church in East Des Moines. Their lives were happy as they fully engaged in their church, family, and enjoying the small things in life. One of those small things was Cheryl’s frequent trips to Corner Cottage in Ankeny. Some women enjoy a visit to the spa…Cheryl went to Corner Cottage. “I loved going to Corner Cottage. It was sort of a joke in my family. I would often meet Bob for lunch and then go to Corner Cottage. It was my Friday routine. On every visit the store would be decorated differently. I remember thinking how fun it would be to work there, but I knew God had given me the opportunity in the ministry at Hope Lutheran and that’s where I was to serve…but, I used to think one day…one day…God might open that opportunity for me,” smiles Cheryl recalling her visits to Corner Cottage which closed in 2010.

In early 2007, just turning 49, Bob was diagnosed with Parotid Cancer in the salivary gland in his neck. “The initial prognosis was very optimistic. We were reassured that following treatment Bob would be fine. Not long after completion of his treatment, the cancer began to reoccur in other areas. In the spring of 2009, the prognosis changed from treatment options to terminal. We were out of human options. Our family knew that most likely by Christmas Bob would be celebrating in heaven,” said Cheryl thoughtfully sitting on the warm brown sofa in Do Overz. While they continued to celebrate each day, they slowly began saying their temporary good-bye to the man who was their husband, father, and grandfather. It was during that time, a friend of Cheryl’s began meeting with Bob. They met to start writing down his thoughts, perspectives, and memories of his life. She spent months collecting the tiny moments he treasured in his life before he went to share in the joy of the Lord in August 2009. Cheryl received the book from her friend at Christmas that year, a gift she still treasures.

While it was a difficult time, Cheryl’s faith and trust in God gave her strength to continue on this journey. Even that was a gift from Bob, as he had shared his faith in Jesus with Cheryl before they were married. Shortly before Bob passed away, their son moved up the date of his wedding allowing his Dad to be part of the celebration. Cheryl and her new daughter-in-law had a common interest…their love of repurposing furniture. At a sale, their first purchase was ten old cupboards for $10.00 each. They began to restore and paint them in Cheryl’s garage. “We restored and painted those cupboards moving them in all different arrangements in that garage. We even tried stacking them! We were really enjoying spending time together and having fun at the same time,” laughs Cheryl. They tried selling them at a sale, but ended up bringing them back home. Not to be discouraged…they kept on buying and restoring.

Then the waters of the flood of 2010 rose up in Des Moines. East Des Moines was hit especially hard. It was then that Cheryl began a furniture ministry to gather furniture for those in the community affected by the flood. Families were in great need and that need was met through the furniture ministry. Semi’s of furniture were parked outside of the church allowing people to begin the difficult task of starting over. The furniture was even delivered to their homes when they were ready. Cheryl’s friends were invaluable in this phase of her ministry and worked tirelessly collecting and delivering furniture to those in need.

Realizing her true passion and love for repurposing furniture, Cheryl began to fill her time at sales buying furniture to restore. Cheryl and her daughter-in-law would work on the furniture in Cheryl’s garage. She continued buying, restoring, and painting…until her garage was almost full. Two things happened, she decided she needed to purchase a truck to transport her ‘finds’ to her garage and she met Bob Riker. While his love of restoring furniture didn’t equal Cheryl’s he was all in to help her. Cheryl laughs as she recalls Bob seeing her garage full of furniture. “He definitely saw my garage and me at my worst many times. Moving furniture, sanding, and painting left me pretty dirty. But, he continued to spend time with me anyway. He encouraged me to continue…even with my garage overflowing with no real outlet to sell the furniture we were repurposing,” she again laughs recalling the memories that seemed so insignificant at the time. It was through those moments God would open the door for her to pursue her dream. He was beginning to part her Red Sea, blowing the wind so she would cross through on dry land, or at least an empty garage cement floor.

Bob realized Cheryl’s talent of repurposing furniture and sought out a local consignment shop for Cheryl to begin and sell the furniture pieces she had given new life to. He helped her take care of everything. Including marrying Cheryl in October 2011, who had somehow managed to capture his heart dressed in paint splattered clothes covered in sawdust…with an overstuffed garage full of furniture.

Although Corner Cottage had closed, Cheryl again began to feel that familiar stirring in her heart that she would love to work in the consignment shop where her furniture was now being sold. She didn’t know how that could ever happen. Then one day the owner of the consignment shop asked Cheryl if she could do the furniture displays and if she was interested in working part-time at the shop. The Red Sea was beginning to part…she accepted. Cheryl had some doubts about leaving her ministry position, feeling that this was where God could use her the most. But after praying…she knew that while this opportunity was a mystery, it was somehow part of God’s plan and she accepted the part-time position.

Cheryl loved the job at the consignment shop and realized God was using her to minister to people even in this capacity. Her furniture was selling and she was learning so much about the business. In early 2014, an unexpected offer came. “The owner of the consignment shop was going to give up the consignment part of the business and thought it would be a perfect fit for me. She asked if I wanted it? I thought…could I do it? This was a dream. I asked for a month to think about it. Bob and I discussed it and began praying over it. Within two days we had an answer…YES!” They were excited about this new chapter in their journey. “We were involved in a ministry at the women’s prison teaching Financial Peace. The last class was focused on Christ and the opportunity we have in life because of the do-overs He offers us. In fact, one of the women in the class shared that what had the biggest impact on her…much more than budgeting…was that she had an opportunity to start over…a do-overs because of Christ. We told the woman about our business opportunity and after we returned home that night we knew…Do Overz was the perfect name. A reflection of Christ and the material things we have been blessed with also have a Do Overz,” says Cheryl with a warm smile.

There were so many times, at different seasons in the journey, Cheryl could have given up. Starting when she learned that the hope of her husband surviving cancer might not happen, through her husband’s death, and being alone. Even when her first cupboards didn’t sell, she kept buying, moving, and restoring the furniture even though it wore her out physically. She remained faithful to the journey God had placed her on. “There were times when doubt would creep in. Especially when we decided to purchase the business, which seemed like a dream. I remembered when my husband passed away; I never thought anything like this was even possible. But, God did. He knew the exact path He was taking my journey on and it has been beautiful. He has been part of this journey in every small detail, even when I purchased a truck. He knew…I was going to need it in a big way! When I left the church ministry and accepted the part-time job at the consignment shop, I didn’t understand why God allowed that. But today, my ministry reaches people that come in Do Overz. Many have lost a parent or a spouse and they want to sell furniture that contains wonderful memories to them. They take some comfort in knowing it will be loved and given a new home, with a new family creating new memories. These people become our family. The people that work at Do Overz are a family, including my daughter-in-law! It’s a joy to see all the ways God works right here, in this store, every day giving us each a Do Overz,” says Cheryl as she looks around at all that God has entrusted to her over a journey of many years.

There’s one person that perhaps had a hint at God’s plan before he left the earth…Cheryl’s first husband, Bob. In the book made by Cheryl’s friend before he died, when Bob was asked what Cheryl’s favorite thing to do was the book says, “To visit Corner Cottage in Ankeny.” The Corner Cottage in Ankeny has been closed for five years, but when it was open inside the store sat a cottage porch…Cheryl purchased that porch at a sale and it now sits in Do Overz. A reminder of God’s faithfulness. A reminder that God does indeed have a plan. Cheryl may never have worked at the Corner Cottage, but oh, did God have something even better planned…a real life Do Overz.