For those of you who know us personally, or for those who have followed along on this blog journey for some time – know that we were called to (and did!) start a coffee shop with the intention of building community and connection, a place to belong.
Well…not long after opening, a little less than 2 years (most of that in COVID land), we felt God calling us elsewhere. And it made no sense. In fact, 3 months later, I still can’t give a solid reason as to why He did.
I do eventually want to share how successful and amazing the coffee journey was (and yes, that coffee shop is still going strong). But, for today, I want to share the story of why we aren’t there anymore…
A few days before Easter 2021 (yep, mid pandemic), as we were prepping for our annual Egg My Yard fundraiser, Justin received a phone call that would forever change the trajectory of our lives. It was a job offer, quite honestly, out of the blue…and out of state. We didn’t ask for it, we weren’t looking. Justin sat down to tell me and was shocked when I replied, “let’s see what God is doing…” He was absolutely certain I would reply with a big, fat, non-negotiable “NO!!” We have learned over the 10+ years of our marriage that when these things happen, when one of us expects the other to respond a certain way and they don’t, that we need to lean in.
The next few weeks consisted of us telling some very trusted friends, family, and mentors so that they could be praying for discernment. My heart and gut both said to stay. I didn’t want to leave my family, I didn’t want to take my children away from their grandparents and cousins, I didn’t want to leave my friends and the amazing community we had surrounded ourselves with. Start over? Where we knew very few people? Where I literally knew no one in our phase of life? Um……no….
But we kept praying. And the more we prayed, the more God spoke to our hearts. We continued to seek wisdom from mentors in our lives, we talked through all of the things that didn’t make sense (and still couldn’t make heads or tails of it). It took months and a final decision wasn’t made until shortly before October. It was time for us to move. Literally.
Why didn’t it make sense? We had just started a ministry that God had been calling us to for the past 4 or 5 years. We had relentlessly given most, if not all, of our free time in the past 4 years to ensure that the plan God placed in our hearts would come to life. We had sacrificed much only for COVID to derail our best efforts at building community. But we kept moving forward, we kept going. And just when things seemed to be getting back on track, this bomb was dropped in our life. Not to mention the people we would let down or upset or offend in the process…. What would people think?!?!
Not only that, but we had a fantastic community of people surrounding us, pouring into us, loving us, and so much more. It was something we had longed for, for so very long. Why would we leave that?!?
I’m not sure I have ever wrestled with something so much.
But little by little, God kept nudging and confirming that moving was our next step. There weren’t neon signs or jaw-dropping moments, but it was a still small voice confirming our direction.
I struggled so much with not being able to explain why. I wanted to be able to say we had this huge ministry opportunity God was calling us toward. But Justin was taking a secular job and I would be staying home. It sounded lack-luster in the realm of God’s calling. And it sounded very much like we were taking a better opportunity and leaving for money or riches. But I can say with confidence, that had Justin’s offer been less than he was currently making, we would have still gone – we were that convinced that God had placed this all before us. Part of me still fears that people think otherwise, which I have to let go of….
What I know now is that God has confirmed continually that we are where we are meant to be. I still don’t have the big “why,” maybe we never will… But I do know, for a fact, that He is working this all for our good AND He is working this for the good in all that we left behind: the ministry, our friends, our family, etc.
I do grieve what was, especially what I thought my life was going to look like, but we are fully embracing this new season. There are certainly days I wish that we could be back in the trenches of coffee ministry – I had some incredibly amazing conversations about faith (and other things) and we made some fantastic friendships that never would have happened otherwise. It was hard to pass the baton on. It was like taking my 2-year-old and leaving them, permanently, in the care of someone else, with no say whatsoever how they would be raised. Letting go was hard. We had gone through the labor process and the trial filled land of infancy. We had survived! I was so excited to see how God was going to move now, now that we were almost on the other side of the pandemic and entering a new season. I don’t get to see that play out the way I wanted to….
BUT, I 100% believe God has used that shift to fulfill dreams we wanted but hadn’t quite reached. From the beginning we had wanted multiple churches involved (not just ours) and we had started in a space much smaller than we had hoped. While we had tried to pull others from different churches to be on the board, we just couldn’t get a firm commitment. Our volunteer base had originally been very diverse: many churches, unchurched, etc. But during the height of the pandemic that drastically changed, and we were operating mostly with a bare bones crew, all from the same church.
Now, now it looks SO different. And I can’t take any credit! The board is made up of MANY different churches as well as the volunteer base. It’s exciting to see some of the people who had been on the fringes become a part of making
our that community better! AND, they are moving to a bigger space that is OWNED by the non-profit, not just rented. Because my dad is still very involved, I also know that they have had many things donated for that space and some miraculous financial situations take place in a time when everything is still so uncertain.
It’s still hard for me to hear about it sometimes. I think that’s grief. It’s so bittersweet. I am beyond excited to see God bringing visions we had 4 years ago to completion today. I’m a little sad that we aren’t a part of it. But I am thankful for the season we are in.
I think God knew we needed rest more than we realized. Building a ministry (almost literally) is no joke. Add two kids (one of them born right in the middle of that), making a living, my chronic illness, a pandemic, other responsibilities, and so much more….I’m honestly not sure how we survived. It had to be by the grace of God.
And it is by the grace of God that R&P Coffee Co. continues today (in a bigger way!) and that we, as a family, get to more fully depend on Him in this brand new and uncomfortable season.
So… this probably doesn’t give you the “why” you were looking for when you started reading…but hopefully you can see our heart; hopefully you can see how God was involved every step of the way. We wouldn’t have done ANY of this without His leading.
Listen for His voice, pay attention to His movement in your life. What is He doing? Where is He leading? Join Him! I promise you won’t regret it. I don’t.