TRAVIS & EMILY’S STORY
“My water just broke.” Travis Bucholtz was groggy and not entirely sure what he had just heard. It was 2 a.m., and he was scheduled to leave on a business trip in three hours. But it sounded like Emily had said that her water had broken. Half awake, he tried to reassure her, “It must be a false alarm; the baby isn’t due for three more months.” But Emily knew something wasn’t right. She dialed the doctor and after a brief discussion turned to Travis. “I’m not trying to alarm you,” she told him, “but we need to go to the hospital now.” Travis was stunned. Racing out the door, he grabbed his keys, his phone and his Bible. Little did he know, that last item would become their lifeline for the next few months.
STARTING LIFE TOGETHER
When they met during college at Bob Jones University, Travis and Emily never expected their journey would lead them to the NICU. Travis, a BJ Academy graduate, and Emily, a Hampton Park Christian School graduate, didn’t come together until after their time at BJU when Travis was set up with Emily on a semi-blind date by a group of mutual friends. They eventually married in 2007 and moved to Simpsonville. Travis worked in the medical apparel sales business. Life couldn’t have been more perfect.
“A BAD SITUATION”
The moment Travis and Emily hurried through the hospital’s revolving doors, they were instantly surrounded by medical personnel who ushered them to a room. Desperate to accelerate the baby’s development, doctors immediately started Emily on steroids. With such a premature infant (3 months early), vision impairment and even blindness can be caused by the early exposure to oxygen. Working tirelessly, the staff was able to delay the birth for most of the day. Every moment mattered. But that evening, Owen was born. He cried once—an exhilarating moment, Travis recalls—and then went silent.
In his career as a medical apparel sales rep, Travis had spent enough time around doctors and nurses to know that something was wrong—really wrong. The nurses and doctors instantly swarmed Owen. The anxious new parents watched, helpless to do anything but pray. Complications had been anticipated, but the current situation seemed to well exceed those expectations. As a first-time dad, Travis grabbed anyone he could and began asking questions. No one would say what was happening. Finally, the head NICU doctor, Dr. Ohning, came over to him. Without offering specifics, he said: “Travis, this is a bad situation.” Travis told him to do whatever had to be done to save Owen’s life. Immediately, the team rushed Owen from the room, and chaos turned into solitude. It was then that Travis remembered his Bible.
WE NEVER EXPECTED THIS, BUT GOD DID
Travis remembers: “I don’t know why I had grabbed my Bible in our rush out the door.” But now he knew it was exactly what they needed. Thoughts racing through his mind and without looking for any particular passage, he began flipping through the pages, landing on Psalm 23. “I remember thinking: ‘What do you say to your wife at that point?’ I was shocked, scared, and unsure.” When confusion and fear threatened to overwhelm, Travis and Emily found eternal comfort in those familiar words.
“I remember one thought going through my mind: ‘I’m scared but we need to give Owen Elliot to God.’ ” Through the tears, the adrenaline, anxiety, and the anguish, Travis and Emily began to pray. As they committed Owen Elliot Bucholtz into the Lord’s care, Travis recounts that they felt an “unexplainable peace” in the midst of a scary time. A nearby nurse joined them, and together they continued to pray for Owen.
“THERE WERE TUBES EVERYWHERE”
Travis and Emily waited for what seemed like an eternity. In reality, only 30 minutes had passed since Owen was rushed from the room to the NICU. Neither Travis nor Emily had even held their son. Doctors and nurses surrounded Owen so quickly and closely after birth there had not been an opportunity. But the longer they waited to hear anything, the more Travis began to have hope they would see Owen alive. Time moved at an agonizing pace. Finally, Dr. Ohning came back to them and said seven words, that to this day, they have never forgotten: “We got him stabilized, and he’s alive.” Immediately, Travis and Emily asked to see him.
When they walked into the NICU there were tubes everywhere in Owen’s crib, Travis recalls. One leg was a deep shade of purple, and he remembers wondering if Owen’s leg would be alright. Only later would Travis and Emily discover what caused the leg to discolor. During the rush, the medical staff had repeatedly tried to intubate Owen (placing a tube into Owen’s throat to administer oxygen), but nothing worked. Everyone had given up hope when Dr. Ohning decided he would give it one more try. Owen had gone nearly 20 minutes after birth without breathing. It was that last attempt that saved Owen’s life when everyone had given up hope.
Over the next 51 days, Owen, Travis and Emily lived in the NICU. During this time Travis had to quit his job due to the travel requirements and his need to stay close to Emily and Owen. The bills piled up, and it became Emily’s full-time job to track the paperwork and negotiate payments with insurers. Travis’s high school summer jobs on the BJU painting crew enabled him to find temporary work closer to home as a painter, and family helped, but the strain took a toll on the new family—and their finances.
SHINING THE GOSPEL LIGHT IN A UNIQUE WAY
As God always does, in the midst of this trial He gave an escape and an opportunity to shine a ray of gospel light into the darkness. A local radio station conducting a fundraising event for the Children’s Miracle Network learned about Travis and Emily’s story, and they invited Travis to share their story on the air.
“I got to use Owen’s story to tell about God and Jesus to thousands and how He gave us peace through the storm.”
A lifetime of biblical teaching at home and BJU came flooding back. Amid the struggle, to an audience that may never have listened otherwise, Travis shared of God’s faithfulness, His provision, the power of prayer and how their faith in God had sustained him and Emily through the trial.
As time progressed, Owen’s health improved and Travis worked his way back to his original career in medical apparel sales. Owen became like many little boys—interested in everything that moved, a toddler full of boundless energy. Aside from a few learning challenges, most would never know he had a brush with death. The family moved to Charlotte, NC and joined a Baptist church in their area.
As the years progressed, they were blessed with a daughter, Addyson Grace (without birth complications!). Though active in their church, Travis and Emily began looking for creative opportunities to be a blessing to others. It was at that time that one of their pastors introduced them to a ministry of their church called “The Mosaic Store.” “Foster children move frequently,” the pastor explained, “so they rarely have much to call their own.” The Mosaic Store gives each foster child three sets of name-brand clothes (favorite brands that they select), gender-based accessories and a new pair of shoes. Travis and Emily knew they had to help, and they knew exactly how to do it.
“THE ARCHIVES” IS BORN
Before learning about the Mosaic Store, Travis had a lifelong love for candles. But he had discovered the candles he loved to burn around the house made it difficult for Owen to breathe due to the complications from Owen’s premature birth. One day while reading a candle’s ingredient label, Travis concluded that if he wanted to keep burning candles, there was only one option: he would have to make them from cleaner ingredients.
Like many classic entrepreneurial stories, Travis experimented with various methods and scents on his kitchen stovetop. It was arduous work. In the early days, making three candles could take most of an afternoon. As his skills improved, the Lord opened doors; they began to sell his candles and a new business called “The Archives” was born. Instant successes in pop-up stores led to opportunities in brick and mortar retail shops. The small business grew beyond Emily’s kitchen pots and pans (much to Emily’s relief) and required an industrial candle maker and 200-pound shipments of candle wax. Their garage became the headquarters and production facility. “We have the best smelling garage in the neighborhood!” Travis jokes.
Today, The Archives candles sell in stores such as Paper Skyscraper in Charlotte and Village Grind in Greenville, in addition to selling online through their Etsy store. Travis has received orders for up to 1,000 candles, and his candles are frequently given as sought-after housewarming gifts to new residents by local high-end apartment complexes. They have also been given as gifts at BJU events, where Travis first learned the principles of business.
BUSINESS WITH A MISSION
From the beginning, Travis and Emily wanted to use the business as a way to be a blessing to those in need. A childhood spent observing the faithful service of family on staff at BJU ingrained in Travis the importance of service. Now aware of a ministry to support foster children, the Bucholtz’s set aside a portion of their profits and give to help foster children enjoy gifts of new clothes. In this way, they fulfilled scripture’s command to care for orphans (James 1:27). With all that has happened, the chance to give has proved to be a greater blessing than receiving. Better than all the opportunities presented by the business was the chance Travis had recently to witness foster children picking out their clothes. “The fact that they get their dignity back, that’s just awesome,” Travis says. They have also invested in hosting an exchange student from China—another way to use what they have to minister to others.
When Travis and Emily look back on their journey, they see the providence of God. Emily recounted, “I don’t know how people get through life without faith in God.” Their story is a testament to God’s faithfulness to his everlasting promises. As Travis says, “What may be a surprise to us was already planned and known in advance by God.”