Monday, December 1, 2008

"Are We There Yet?"

Any time my kids asked that on our historic family road trips, I slipped ye olde cassette tape of "Paul Simon's Greatest Hits" in the venerable car deck and played a particular song. The song that was best fitting of the temporary/eternal dilemma being felt by all was a ditty called "Slip Slidin' Away." All 5 of us would jump in at the chorus and sing with empathetic passion; "Slip slidin' away. Slip slidin' away. You know the nearer your destination, the more you're slip slidin' away." It sure feels that way when you are eager to get where you're headed.

We keep anticipating on "opening in a few short weeks" (when people ask us) - but those few short weeks keep "slip-slidin' away." It has to do with getting the last 1/3 of funding, hearing back from the architect, signing the lease, scheduling the upfit - plus other unforeseen shtuff.

The words to the final verse go:
"Whoah God only knows, God makes his plan. The information's unavailable to the mortal man. Were workin' our jobs, collect our pay. Believe were gliding down the highway, when in fact were slip sliding away."

Amazing on those trips of old we eventually got where we were headed. We learned patience then and we're still learning it thanks to your prayers. We really believe we're getting close - but we will see.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Bit of a Miracle... this day and age.
Yesterday (after the challenge of the morning seen in the previous post) I was given a name to try to see if I could find a contractor and architect at a more affordable rate. Our commercial realtor went out on a limb (as they're not really supposed to recommend one business over another) and dropped the name of another property owner who knew how to cut corners but get a quality job done. All I would have to do is go to one of the business tenants and get the name.

The 2008 version of a miracle? - Four contacts developed in a very short 24-hour period. First - the owner of the business we were told to visit was actually there visiting from his out of town location. He had the number of the property owner and gave it to me. I called him and had a good conversation with him. He recommended a contractor to call and gave me his number. I called him and had a good conversation with him. He recommended a retired architect and gave me his number. I called him and had a good coversation with him. So what's the miracle??? Everyone I tried to contact - I actually connected with. One person was in town who normally isn't - and even more amazing - three answered their phones YES - answered their phones in 2008! - and took an interest in our endeavor.

The result is that the contractor and the architect will meet us at the site on Friday morning.

Thanks for your prayers. They seem to be working rapidly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Our business plan for Java Journey called for 36% of our budget to be used for upfitting. We are at a critical point since we have the remainder of our savings plus an equity line. There is nothing else to draw on to get started for the first year. A personal loan offer we thought we could use has now been withdrawn. That was a tiny setback today.

Then we had a zinger of a reality shock this morning. The initial 2 estimates of architect & contractor will require about 127% of the budget. Needless to say, we're both disappointed and fighting off discouragement. From a human standpoint the passon and vision looks like a misguided pipedream presently. We were informed that we would have these moments. This is a most challenging one. Please pray earnestly for us.


He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
-1 Cor 1:8&9

Monday, November 10, 2008

No Turning Back

Here's an excellent visual in video form of what Reggie McNeal means by the "Come and get it" approach of the conventional church!

It just doesn't dawn on us that we will impact very few if we depend on one place - one day - for an hour or so.

So where do we have a chance to get 2 minutes from someone who has designated the majority of their alloted 10,080 per week? Hmmmmm.... I think I know. I think.

Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
-Luke 9:62

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"It's Perfect for Us"

...quoting Tessio (Abe Bagota)...

We haven't let interested readers (all __ of you) know that we diverted from the place we were looking at in August to another place right across the street from it. We were given a heads-up by the realtor about it since it had not yet been listed.

The space is much larger on one level and offered at a bargain basement price. It's also on the morning commuter side of the busiest north/south artery in Hickory. We will also be in advance of 2 major competitors who have challenging in/out access (although one purchased a drive-thru kiosk just north of us on the same side - but you can't come in and experience ambiance).

We had to pay for a second inspection that occured today. The personnel who were at our first inspection affirmed that the second space is much better suited to what we envision doing. It used to be a lamp shop called "The Shade Parlor." How do you like the photoshop insertion of our sign above the door I put in place of theirs?

As soon as we get the $$$ either from the approved loan we are awaiting, or word back from one that will give us more (?) we will set up signing the lease and then start doing the build-out.

As always: Pray - Pray - Pray. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Barista Diva

Gaby switched jobs from Barnes and Noble Cafe in downtown Walnut Creek to Peet's Coffee in downtown Danville. After a bit of a paradigm shift, learning curve and personnel adjustment, she discovered a place she loves working at. It's refreshing that her conscientiousness and work ethic are recognized instead of taken for granted.

She just recently was given a promotion to being shift lead which brings her a few more dollars and some benefits we've been praying she obtain. She was recognized as "Peetnik of the Quarter" recently.

We often call on her to give us guidance on coffee blends and various beverage recipes. She rocks!

"Mommy" Rachel

We welcomed Lucy Olivia Matthews into the world on Wednesday, September 10th at 7lb, 6oz, 19" long. So we are grandparents for the first time. Noah kept us updated on progress by texting a bunch of family and friends. What a difference from the old days. When I was born, they didn't even know I was entering the world. My mother had a boy (my twin bro - Jay) and were surprised when I followed him 5 minutes later. My father had to make long distance phone calls twice.
Teena got to go out and see the new fam about a week and a half after Lucy was born. I'll be heading out in January. We love Lucy!

Our Two Growed Up Ladies

We have 2 daughters, btw - who get very little press here since they have long been off the dependant list on our taxes. Our apologeez goils for neglecting you. We do love you!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Job(s)

Jordan got the job with Namco. We're telling everyone he'll be working for Pac Man (not to be confused with the troubled Dallas Cowboy). He starts tomorrow (11/3) with training. It's a probationary format, but with a high retention rate. He informed us that he may be working 55 hours per week. That seems like a good thing, given he's single, he's got the energy plus mega school loans to pay off. We're extremely thankful and ask you to pray for him to work diligently for the one he represents as well as for those who are giving him a chance.

Teena starts tomorrow as Office Manager at Church of the Ascension Episcopal Church in Hickory. Teena was called by a temp agency that saw on her resume how she has worked in parish and ministry settings. The rector of COA googled "Teena Stewart" and asked to interview her. She met last Wednesday and was called Thursday to learn she was selected.

God's providence is curious. Teena was brought up Southern Baptist - But she met and married a man who's ecclesiastical roots were steeped in the "Whiskey-palion" church ("...wherever 2 or more are gathered, there's a fifth" - - bu-doomp Cheee!). Teena really enjoyed her conversation with the rector, Karla Woggon, and is enthused about working at COA.

We continue to see dispatched boats and helicopters. Thanks for your prayers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Italian Made

What a stride hit today. When we left CA last year, we had worked out a deal where we would get a one-group espresso machine (a "Conti Bar") along with the deluxe automatic one we purchased from a previous coffee shop owner. We hit some snags in trying to get it as we had to arrange for the shipping. Surprise! - a few hundred denari to have it toted across 3 time zones. OK. Let's bite the bullet and we'll take it out of the crate, hook up the water and fire it up.

Doh! Water spraying out like a fountain. Let's open it up and see what we can find. "I think it's got a few parts missing." A phone call to the left coast to hook up with Fabrice Moshetti (espresso coffee expert extraordinaire) and after much guidance and a few more hundred bucks in parts (solenoid valve, spray nozzle, collar gasket, head gasket, filter, o-ring), Jeff actually learned his way around an espresso machine and got it going.
Now - to learn how to create a fantastic-tasting espresso/latte. First attempt was OK, but too thin and not enough crema. Our family barista (Gaby - down there to my left in the grad picture) informed that my grind was too coarse.

The stride is not only getting the machine going, but doing coffee shop work. It feels right.

Back to CA

We just returned from Jordan's Graduation in CA. Couldn't wish that long trip on anyone. Talk about jet lag. Teena never could sleep on a plane.

Jordan now has BSGSP, a Bachelor of Science in Game and Simulation Programming. Up until just a few days before graduation he had no place to live and we were teetering with anxiety, even called some friends in Benicia to see if they could be a temp residence if nothing worked out. But as always, God came through at the last minute exceedingly above all we ask or think. God provided a friend in Redwood City who is in the military and has an efficiency apartment. So the afternoon of graduation we moved Jordan into Eric's apartment (that's Eric looking like Secret Service). Jordan planned to stay the weekend with friends in Vallejo which is near Benicia so we were en route back in that direction in our borrowed car and had just split off from him to take Gaby back to her place when he called us to tell us he had a literal blow out (not a grad party). This car is Nissan that was donated to him and it was working fine until the past month when suddenly two major things went wrong. He had to sink $1500 into it to replace the catalytic converter and then 3 days later transmission. And the tires were retreads. Evidently a tread separated. He was fine and we drove back to where he was on the busy 880 freeway south of Oakland He sat there as cars whizzed by until AAA could put the car on a tow bed, get to a safe location and change the tire. Then he had to pay another $300+ for new tires. All he needs now is a job :). He is interviewing today for a game testing position with Namco (creators of Pac Man) after posting his resume on Craigslist yesterday. Please pray for him because he only has a small window before his reserve funds run out and his loan payments begin.

We are proud of him. He's grown into a very independent young man and his faith in God remains strong. I joked with him that people would die for a job where they play games all day. He promptly informed me that it probably wouldn't be that glamorous and that he would most likely be testing the same thing over and over ad nauseam. Anyway, that's the latest on Jordan. Latest on coffee shop. Still waiting on BB&T bank. Called and rattled their cage yesterday. This is a real test of patience.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Update Bonanza

We got the message and are pleased to know that folks are actually keeping up with this. We DO encourage you to sign up for updates in the box to the left of the latest blog entry (this one until the next one comes) or at the website top right.

We will follow this with our current progress on a space (different than the one mentioned before), a loan, our equipment and new coffee supplier - plus other stuff.

Thanks for your patience and above all your interest.
PS: I think Ben was 15 when Adam was born. ;-D

Monday, August 18, 2008

Innocent, But "Savvy"

In 2 places, Jesus makes reference to a special type of wisdom. It's what translators do with the Geek word - er I mean Greek word "phronimos." Sometimes the word is translated as "wise" - but that's confusing since "wise" is also rendered when the Greek "sophos" is used.

There are 2 places where the word "shrewd" is used. One is Matthew 10:16, where Jesus says:

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."

The other place is in a parable about a fired worker who lies to former accounts to win their favor. It's found in Luke 16. Jesus' very perplexing conclusion is:

"The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light."

Here we go - like I love to do when I teach - - (I'm having serious withdrawals not having the opportunities now) I tear into both words. Sophos means "expert knowledge" - Phronimos means "practical knowledge." Anyone who knows me is acquainted on how I jump all over the opportunity to shuffle function high above form. Here's another chance.

Let's call the unnecessarily highly-paid engineer the sophos-user. He draws out and designs something that is supposed to fit or work effectively out in the field. Let's call the contractor or more appropriately his highly underpaid day-to-day seasoned foreman the phronimos-user. He takes his Saws-all, drill and screws left over from another project and ("There's your problem right there") gets the thing working correctly.

I like the phronimos version better.

I think the translators did only "OK" with using "shrewd." There's a much better word in our current vernacular that is more functional. It's the word "savvy." Let's try it:

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as savvy as snakes and as innocent as doves."

That's better. A snake is savvy. That's how it survives. It knows where to go or be in order to stay alive.

"The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted savvy. For the people of this world are more savvy in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light."

Teena and Jeff are learning how to be more savvy. We wrote up a business plan in order to apply for a loan from a bank. Our small business consultant knows that we want to do ministry and that we want the coffee shop to be a major hook. But when he saw all the references to how we are going to go about ministry - blah, blah blah, he realized that the bankers probably won't get it. They think like snakes - survival, where to go and be.

So we've now revised our business plan since the people of this world are more savvy in dealing with their own kind day to day than are the people of the light. But we're maintaining a pure and innocent approach.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sinai Road Atlas

We're still making progress and finding timely streams of water and morsels of manna along the way. We're in good company as Israel did not have the crow-flight ability in their adventures. We still have our butts perpendicular with the ground as one foot is being placed in front of the other. And from time to time we catch ourselves bellyaching - only to wind up with providence running out of our nostrils.
Pictured with this post is the space we're currently looking at. It is less than a mile north of Starbucks and another individual coffee shop, but on the busiest road in the area. We're confident that there's enough traffic to share and that the coffee shop presence is still a ways off from a saturation point. Besides, both the aforementioned have their own limitations and we believe we have something unique to offer the culture around here. This place is about 1450 sq. ft. upstairs and has an equally sized basement. If we figure in the entire sq footage by potential, the price comes to be a little less than $7 per. But we're only going to start out with the main level. Still - under $14 is not bad. We've visited there now about 6 times. The last 2 were with contractors. Seems consistent from both of them that we've skipped a step (Gee, how could that happen being the novices we are?). We will have to contact a few of referred architects.

All this looms. That's the word. It's bigger than we are and what we have. But we really, REALLY believe that God is much bigger than this and much more. All we need is the strength, persistence, faith, patience and the intercessory power that comes from prayer. We're certainly in much more conversation that we have been our entire lives. And we depend on your help.

Thank you for all of your support.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

We wish that we could...

Staples is very clever with the "easy button" hook. But we've discovered that there is no such button that can be conveniently pushed when pursuing a dream that has business and ministry intergrated with limited resources.

We looked at the newly available property on "127 Hwy" (as we heart of America folks would say). It has great potential, but needs plenty of elbow grease to get it in shape. No build-out and perhaps a month free of setting up.

Yikes! Could we afford to not "work" and live off of some of the reserve intended to fund this while we sweat it out cleaning and setting up? Will we be able to put forth a convincing business plan to secure a substantial loan? Will others help us?

Since we cannot push the four white letters on red background to streamline the whole process, I guess we'll just have to resort to - ah - that thing called prayer which necessitates faith.

Join us, will you? - with prayer and help. We need both big time.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Consultant, The Conti One Group & Coffee Shop Storefronts

We spent Monday with John Bunn a consultant from Elizabethton, TN. John owns and manages The Coffee Company and also does his own roasting. He's in his 12th year of business and has helped launch several other coffee shops. He understands coffee and ministry (until recently was also serving as the minister of music at First Bapt Church in Elizabethton.)

We took John on a whirlwind tour of our top remaining potential locations. And when all was said and done we narrowed it down to two before he left. The one on Grace Chapel road had already been ruled out on Friday. We'd discussed rezoning it with the local city planning person. He said it could possibly be approved for rezoning from residential to commercial but to increase the likelihood of that happening, we'd have to keep the natives happy by blocking off the current entryway on the residential street and get permission from the convenience store next door which faces Grace Chapel road to use their parking lot as an entrance to our lot. Well, the door slammed on that one when the owner of the convenience store said, "No..." leaving out the obvious "over my dead body" which he could have easily added.

The second of these four locations is a house on an acre and half of land that is stratigecally placed on N second street off of hwy 321. Prime piece of land on a busy street that crosses 321 and takes commuters into Hickory. Potential for a drive through, but it is the land that is the selling point and not the house. And after calculating cost of paving the front yard and adding pavement for drive through plus additional updates to very dated house with small rooms, it was just too much work and too expensive to sink money into.

So that left three standing. We looked at another nicely refurbished home zoned commercial in downtown area. Jeff had been very keen on this property but John broke the spell. He said he felt it would be too small for what we want to do with ministry. Then we jetted over to 127 to take one last gander at the one store front we had liked all along but hadn't put in the forefront of our options because of concerns about parking. It has about two spaces in front.

We had a nice surprise. That store front is still available but the one two doors down is now available. It has an upstairs and downstairs with a garage. It has the square footage we want AND it is easier to access and has additional parking. Both are very reasonable. So we shifted our focus from store A to store B on that one.

The final place that took us by surprise that John liked was on 321, a former Nature's Supermarket. Teena kept bringing this one up to Jeff but he said, "Woman, are you nuts? That doesn't inspire me at all." But on closer look with John he changed his mind. Who said women are fickle?

It has ample parking and one side inside is already walled in and is about the space we need. The rest is vacant.It also has the potential for a drive through which is a big plus. But after going inside with a realtor today and getting all excited because the price sounded right and the location looked good, he burst our bubble by telling us that he was sure that MDI, the owners would not sub-divide. We certainly don't need 7100 sq feet or to pay $4200 in rent per month. So, unless they change their mind or we find someone to go in on the space with us, that one looks like a pipe dream.

So, the last location standing is the surprise new availability on 127. It is a high traffic area and there are several coffee shops along that route. Seems like everyone gravitates to that location. John felt that an added plus was the fact that the shop sits between a caterer and a restaurant and they are both busy which will draw people in. We might benefit from this and may even be able to work out some collaborative work with them. Who knows?

Other news -- Just had a single group espresso machine, a Conti, shipped to us from CA so now we can practice making our specialty drinks.

Next big news. We meet with the Computel folks in Charlotte on Friday, a group that recycles computers and works with charitable organizations. We hope they will be able to help us with a computer recycling fundraiser to raise additional funds. It could be a substantial amount.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


In order to reach a broader scope of people other than just coffee drinkers we are rethinking the Java Journey name. (We'll carry tea, cold drinks, perhaps sandwiches and even some gifts.) We don't want to mislead people so that they think we only serve coffee.

We invite you to send us your name suggestions. You can send as many as you like. If your name is chosen, you will win a coffee mug and free bag of coffee. All you have to do is send us suggestions for a name for our shop. Though we are a Christian coffee shop, we don't plan to be blatantly Christian in name. Send your suggestions to Be sure to send you name and mailing address along with your suggestions.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bits & Pieces -- Inching Slowly Forward

Moving forward on the business plan -- Last Friday we met with the Small Business Development Center here in Hickory. The meeting covered what we are doing. We talked about the many places we've checked on for location. They were impressed at our progress and research. (Guess we must be doing something right.) And the one place on 127 (next to Ace Hardware) remains a question mark. The price is right, size is right, location is great. But we've got concerns about limited parking in front. Will this be an issue? We believe that we can work around it since our heavy traffic in and out will be in the morning before the other stores next to ours open their doors. One of the guys at SBDC said he drove by that and another location we'd looked at nearly every day along the same routeand he'd scope it out as well and give us feedback.

The pros at SBDC took our copy of the business plan we've managed to come up with thus far, are going to look it over, and then meet again once they are ready.

Location, location, location -- In the mean time we continue to look at locations. There are quite a few. But there was another one that stood out to us yesterday. It is a charming refinished home in the downtown area on 4th Ave currently used as a real estate office. Beautifully refinished with hardwood floors, fireplaces large front rooms . Possible side area that can be converted to drive through. If we do this, then the traffic will have to come in the back way. Upstairs, partial attic, with some work might be reworked to be a usable room, but the stairs are very narrow. Stairs could be reworked, but could be expensive.

Here's where Teena and Jeff disagree. There is ample parking in back and the property's driveway adjoins another business driveway nextdoor, making for a wider entrance and exit along the side. It is wide enough for coming and going. However, there is absolutely no parking in front. No street parking allowed and a small spot of grass in the front that could possibly (we need to look further) be paved for a couple of spaces. But people might have to back out onto a busy road.

Jeff says no problem. Teena disagrees. The house is for sale or lease so that's a nice option. We also don't know what type of traffic there would be after business hours.

Fundraising -- When we first started our Java Journey Teena set up Escrip a fundraising program that has not worked all that well. Though they claim to be nationwide, the bulk of the stores you can shop at is on the west coast, so we've not earned much from this program. To help us pay for start up costs and operations Teena has been researching alternate fundraising options. She saw potential in the volumes of used electronic items people have laying around and has managed to set up a recycle program for collecting used ink jet cartridges, cell phones, ipods, palm pilots, and more. We've just signed up with Kopec. This program is nationwide and people can collect anywhere. If you would like to help us out by collecting yourself or getting other groups and businesses involved, please email Teena at It's as easy as putting a box out with flyers. She is also checking into recycling cars and computers. So keep us in mind for those. We'll update our website regarding this soon.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Are We "Anxious?"

...Biblically speaking? - - yes.

Fear (Hebrew - "yare' ") has its dichotomous encouragement/discouragement rendering in the scriptures. Doing a smidge' of research, I learned that the word can either mean dread or astonishment. The word implies what we would call a "quake."

I can see how that could come out with various meanings based on context.

A moment in my memory bank recalls the time Teena took me to board an Amtrak train in Erie, PA when I was traveling to Chicago for a conference. The boarding time was in the very early hours of the morning. My young children wanted to see the train so they got up to enjoy a 3 AM adventure. The most indelible part of my recollection was when the train was approaching the station. The sound of the engine and air horn grew louder and louder as the light grew brighter and brighter. I looked down at my young son (5 or 6 years old) watching his face beam with excitement - that was until the locomotive made its large and voluminous appearance yards in front of us. I was surprised at its size and power from our track-level viewpoint, but he was astonished! His jaw dropped open and he began to tremble quite noticeably. He was quaking with intermittent awe and dread.

When we say we are "anxious" it can mean we are eager, worried - or both.

We are both quaking right now as we consider the reality of the commitment and work required to realize this vision we have. We are doing our best to fight off the dread part, but frankly it can create inhibition.

Keep praying as we are looking at a few potential spaces, networking for a loan and looking at purchasing equipment and the like. It's a bit awesome for us right now creating mingled fright and fascination.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Preparation, Property & Patience

No one told us how much patience it would take to make a vision a reality. Though we know God remains in control, to us if feels that we are progressing at turtle pace--a real test of our patience. Right now we are in a bit of a holding pattern.

We continue to labor, and we mean labor, at creating a business plan. For this we use Nolo Business Plan software. Thank goodness for a software that is smarter than we are, but even so, sometimes we respond to its prompts with a big "huh?" To two creative people the process is YUCK. Teena has threatened to chain Jeff to a chair in front of the computer to make him finish the plan.

We are at both the breaking point and break even point. The break even point is the point where, because of all our previous investigative work figuring out the cost of start up, we must determine how much product we must sell in order to just break even.

We are waiting for a call back from the Shield Foundation, so that we can set an appointment with them to talk through this plan and hopefully work with them to get funding and financial counseling. But due to Rusty Shield's busy schedule, we again find ourselves in a waiting pattern. The good news is the delay allows us to finish up the plan, and investigate potential coffee shop locations.

Teena continues to call on a variety of locations. We are looking at one building for sale today--a house formerly used as offices--on busy 127. It include a vacant lot to the side which can be developed but cost is nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

We've lined up several other lease properties to view tomorrow. We find it similar to our house shopping experiences where we see something that will do but find no real twang of the heart strings that produces excitement that verifies that the location is, absolutely, without a doubt the right place. Rather than responding like the aging single woman who ops to marry because she's been asked and doesn't want to wind up an old maid, we're waiting for the twang of the heartstrings for both of us so that we that we know that this indeed is THE ONE.

The cost remains a challenge and God will definitely need to provide another miracle in order for the size space we have in mind to become a reality. But He is a big God and he continues to surprise and amaze us with His providence.

As for the Cup of Life Sunday Evening community which began several weeks ago, it is a bit of a challenge. We've met primarily with one other couple and due to their schedule for the next month or so, it looks to be primarily us for a while. We've posted info regarding the meetings online and in the paper, so the next move is to do face-to-face invites. We may just have to put the community on hold for a while until we can get the business plan and property search completed because juggling jobs and other duties is very exhasting.

If nothing else, we can see where God is building character, and most of all, patience.

As always, we appreciate your prayers. At times we feel like Noah and his wife, what was her name? Joan of Ark out in the desert building an ark. Is there any body out there? Anybody? Let us hear from you. We could use the encouragement.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Cup of Life -- Coffee Shop Community Launches

Rather than retype the announcement we put out to the public, we're running it below. If you are local and think you, or someone you know would like to participate, be sure and give us a call.

We are in the preliminary stages of launching a Christian Coffee Shop ministry to minister to unchurched people. Though we do not yet have the coffee shop facility, we've decided it's time to launch the community aspect.

First gathering is this Sunday evening, April 13 in our home at 6191 Mountainside Drive off of Grace Chapel Road.

Format will be small group, interactive, relaxed environment. Starts at 6:30 pm and goes until 8 pm. First half hour is for drinks, snacks and fellowship followed by brief teaching and discussion and prayer. Even if you can't make the full time, come when you can.

Everyone is welcome but we ask that you call in advance to let us know if you plan to attend. It will help us gauge how many to plan for. For more info, call (828) 431-7937.

So. What's the Latest?

If you wonder why the delay in posting, we assure you we've been very busy. We've been doing a lot of plate spinning, still getting settled in our new home, managing the storage rental facility for part-time income, Jeff doing games, Teena working on new book manuscripts and reseaching all of the coffee shop ins and outs. Here's the Reader's Digest Condensed version of everything that's happened.

We had what we feel was a pivitol meeting with Rusty Shields of the Shields Foundation, a local Christian business entity dedicated to helping launch and fund charitable businesses. We are not sure how this will turn out but good things have come from it already. One of the most important, is the decision to move from the non-profit model we were trying to make work (and which wasn't for a variety of reasons) to the Charitable Business model. This gives us much more freedom to do what we want to do and stay out of trouble with the IRS. With the Charitable Business model there is a governing Board that oversee operations and how charitable funds are spent. And we determine to give a percentage of what we earn through coffee shop sales to charities. How much and to whom is up to us.

We've been doing lots of networking, meeting with a variety of pastors who lean more toward out-of-the-box ministry, plus a variety of other people connected with out type of ministry in some way. They seem to be seeking us out more than us seeking them. We are still wondering how God will put all of these pieces together and are waiting on His timing and guidance.

We've also worked hard at looking at prospective locations. Lots to choose from but we want to be sure to select the right place in order to ensure our survival. In addition, we've been locating suppliers and think we've found a couple of good ones for coffee. Each week moves us closer to pulling it all together. The business plan is still being hammered out. Once we finish that, we feel we can move ahead with a loan.

In the mean time, we've felt God urging us to start our community, though we don't yet have a retail location. First week will start this coming Sunday. The post above tells more about that venture.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

"Oh Auntie Em..."

One month and we can echo that cornball line that preceeds "The End" of the 1939 Garland classic.
We're at about 85% of having things in place. Once it's all clean and then it gets messy again is really when we officially live here. Notice Jeff's truck in the driveway. It's very handy for moving furniture (it's a mecca out here with warehouses), but has been a challenge as far as transporting humanoids.
God is good. We'd love to pass on his favor with an open invitation to stay with us in your travels to the Atlantic area of the US. We are one hour from Winston-Salem, Asheville and Charlotte - all places with cool stuff to see. We're also less than one hour from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Give us a call and let us know when you'll be here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bean Busy

Ba-dump, cheee! (or) "Another Miracle in the Works?"

We closed on the house on 2/29 and promptly started moving in. It took all of Saturday and Sunday (3/1&2) to transport our temporal goods from the storage facility to our house (about 12 miles apart). We had friends and family help us on both days. A huge thanks to Jeff Hines who logged several hours of moving and truck-packing only to reap the reward of Dominos Pizza (we did buy meat special and extra cheese).

Over the past 3+ weeks we've been emptying boxes and putting things in place. Between working at Newton-Conover Self Storage and Jeff beginning umpiring High School baseball out here (quite different than in CA) the creation of "home" is progressing slower than we hoped.

Last week we posted on (Hickory) the fact that we had free moving boxes available. One person merely came and took about a third. A day later, another woman was sent by God to come and take more. Why such a distinction? - I heard Teena in the garage (as I worked inside on stuff) engaged in conversation. About 5 minutes later she came dashing in with this caffeinated look of joy and immediate mission on her face: "I can't believe this; I can't believe this" she kept saying, as she grabbed a pen, paper and business cards and left a jet-trail going back out to the garage. Jaw-dropped, I sensed the need for patience to learn about what was developing. I'll let her tell the rest.

Teena's take...

First, let me explain what came before. I had kicked into high gear last week checking on several vacant retail stores for a potential location. Though several looked feasible, I walked away feeling overwhelmed by the cost." I had also spent time on the phone with the small business development center and the IRS trying to figure out the ins and outs of setting up a church (non-profit) that charges for coffee. How would all of this work with the existing church status for Living Hope Covenant Church, the church we are working with? At times it felt like a dog chasing its tail trying to get firm answers.

When it came to the retail space, here is some of what we experienced. One ideal looking former bank building with second story was $4,000 a month. (Gag.) Other strip mall store fronts were in the $2,400 range. " We need more than just coffee shop space. We need extra space for meetings and worship. How could we be sure we could afford these places? The estimate needs to be based on how much coffee we think we will sell. We really needed expert advice.

Between the figuring out the non-profit ins and outs and the cost of what we could afford for rent, I felt that the only way it was going to happen was if God sent another miracle. So I started praying. "God we need a mentor, someone who can guide us regarding setting up the non-profit so we do it correctly. And I just can't see how we will afford this retail space."I began praying one of those Abba Father kinds of prayers and I kept at it. "Lord, we need a miracle, work something out. Give us a place. Send us the people we need." Jeff joined in the prayers. He says his were more like "God. We're clueless. We need some insight and direction soon!"

At the end of the week is when God decided He couldn't take any more and sent an answer in a big way.

I had posted the info on and had gotten several email responses. After giving some boxes away to one lady, I still had a bunch more boxes left and the email responses kept coming. I skipped over several people who emailed about boxes, for some reason feeling led to respond to Brenda Barnes. We set up a time for her to come and get boxes. When Brenda arrived, she and I chit chatted and she asked me where I had moved from. I said "California." Brenda got this incredulous look on her face and said, "Are you the people who are with Java Journey?"

It was my turn to have my jaw drop. Brenda went on to explain that just that morning she'd been searching on-line and ran accross our website. (I never did find out why she was searching on-line.) She was intrigued by our story and wondered how she and her partners could help out. She went on to explain that they are connected with a local multi-level ministry in Hickory owned by a trio of Christian business partners whose mission in a nutshell is to provide Christian outreach through acts of compassion to a hurting world. This includes having their own business center with storefronts which sends contributions to poor children in Africa and other local missions. One of these store fronts is cafe called Hungry Planet...more on that later in another post.

Brenda filled me in and my mind raced to process it all. "We have our own coffee roasting company and a coffee bar in our office complex, which I think we might be able to let you use. We also have additional space at the complex. It's warehouses we haven't developed yet and, oh yeah, we offer financial funding. I really think my boss is going to want to meet with you. Let me see what I can arrange."

The long and the short of it is that this Friday, at 2 pm we have a God-ordained meeting with Rusty Shields, the boss of this 3S operation and we can hardly wait to see where this leads.

In addition, God also set up a meeting with pastor David Henson of Crossfire Church, a connection we made while living in Lewisville with Teena's mom. This small group of out of about 50 attendees found an immediate connection with us. And they want to talk more about how they can help us. We meet with him next week.

So... I am sure there will be plenty more to post after these meetings. Stay tuned for, "As the Coffee Roaster Turns..."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

God is Faithful--Even in the Small Stuff Too

We've got lots of things to share today. God is in the big and small stuff.

  • House Update. First, our house closes on Friday, Feb. 29. Looks like it's a go. The only concern was a higher radon reading during the inspection with a rather odd reading that started at around 14 and then plummeted and bottomed out. Radon is fairly common around these parts, especially in finished basements and the safe level is between 1-4. We asked the seller to take care of the problem. He agreed to pay for a second test, since no one is sure what the problem was. If it fails this second time, he will put in a venting system to take care of the problem.

  • Movin in Date. Our move in date to move into our house is March 1. So if you're in the area and want to help well be starting at around 8:30. We are still a bit short on strong-armed help. If you'd like to pitch in, drop us an email at Jeff at (replace the at with the @ sign). Our new address will be 6191 Mountainside Drive, Hickory, 28601.

  • Coffee Shop Locations. We've called on several potential locations and have peered in the windows of a few more. The one that looks most interesting is a closed Chinese Restaurant on Hwy 321 which is not far from our new house. The building is on an end unit in a small strip mall and would even allow room for a drive through window. We learned that someone is already interested in that side of the building and the owner is willing to divide up the space. So we are not out of the running yet. We were told to check back with them in a few weeks to see what the latest is. This seems like an ideal location as it is on a route with plenty of traffic, no coffee shops, quite a few business including offices and has nearby neighborhoods--just the mix we are hoping for.

  • Coffee Shop Stuff. We continue to work on the business plan and are down to the nitty gritty of figuring out cost of supplies and potential suppliers. Think we may have found a nearby coffee roaster which we definitely need since our coffee supplier in CA has decided to close up shop. For furniture, we like the look of the school house style chairs. These are sturdy, slat-backed chairs. Teena stumbed on to one set of dining chairs that were very close to this style at Goodwill. They just need a little touching up with stain but she was thrilled to find 5 chairs that might serve our purposes. They just need some of her famous refinishing tlc.

  • Fundraising. As you probably already know, this coffee start up will not be cheap so the more we can whittle down the amount we need to take out in loans, the happier we will be. Teena put into a call to an organization through the Escript site. (Escript is one of the ways we are asking our supporters to help us at no cost to themselves). The auto auction folks take car donations and then give the bulk of the income raised back to the charitiy. Many schools and other non-profits use this organization to raise funds. Looks like it might bear some good financial fruit. More on that in a later post. But if you know anyone with a car, boat or even airplane they might want to donote on our behalf, tell them to contact us. We haven't yet set up our account with them but hope to very soon.

  • Networking. God is doing some amazing things in the realm of networking. We have been invited to share the Java Journey vision with First Baptist Church in Taylorsville (just outside of Hickory). We have also been attending a young church in Clemmons, NC called Crossfire while we waited to settle on a house. Today pastor David asked us to share a bit about Java Journey with their congregation. What a nice surprise. He wants us to have lunch with him soon to discuss possible ways the church can support the coffee shop ministry.

It has been such a delight so far to see how diverse and loving the body of Christ is. We hope Java Journey will be a ministry that allows many different Christians from many different churches to pull together to reach people for Christ. It is exciting to see the possibilities.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Maybe, Perhaps, Possibly...

We're feeling positive about this one. Inspection revealed no major problems. We only have one inspection left and that has to do with the septic system. We're away from the city, but not far. We'll tell you more when we proceed on this.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Your Mind on Caffeine

A good friend of ours (Tom Lindholtz) passed this along from a good friend of his (John Fischer). He describes very well what we've been conveying to others about the passion we have in our vision.

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have released a recent study showing that caffeine makes people more open to logical argument, even when it runs counter to their previously held opinions. The caffeine group, across the board, tested out as being consistently more open-minded than the decaf group. This would definitely lend new credibility to the belief that conversations over coffee are a good thing. An open mind is necessary for any relationship to grow. You have to be open to another way of thinking to relate to someone, because we are all different – we have different backgrounds, different gifts, and we see things from different points of view. Lasting relationships grow out of accepting one another's differences. We appreciate each other more through consensus than through conformity. This kind of open-mindedness in relationships is important for more reasons than just our differences. It is important because we are always changing, and since we are all in process, we have to remain open to that process in each other. My road will not be yours; yours will not be mine, even if we walk together. God has different plans for each of us. Jesus Christ did not die to create clones. He died so He could fill each one of our unique natures with Himself. And finally, part of who we are becoming involves those closest to us. We are not who we are in a vacuum. We are a product of the people we know and how we have grown together. We shape each other. When this aspect is strong, there is a healthy push and pull at work. "As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend." (Proverbs 27:17 NLT) Belief has commonly been associated with a closed mind. This is unfortunate because nothing could be further from the truth. Belief opens you up to God and gives you his Spirit to help reinterpret the world around you. Belief is all about discovery, and just as our relationships with each other are not static, neither is our relationship with God. We are constantly discovering more about God and his world, and we are constantly discovering more about ourselves and those around us. So pour another cup of brew for you and that friend. Open your hearts and minds to each other, and get ready for a surprise.

Wow! Very profound that "We appreciate each other more through consensus than through conformity." And all these years we've been working with the premise that inviting them to come to a place we like to gather for one hour a week will cause them to reconsider whether God cares and actually lives or not.

This is why we are rethinking "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."

Jeff and Teena

Bulk Coffee Alert


Saturday, February 9, 2008

...Michael Finnigin...

Mercy! You probably remember the old song well, we've gotta "beginigin." Thank God for revealing mercy.

Much has happened since our last post. NO GO on that house. We have been so busy with all the hoops of financing and having the house inspected, that we didn't take time to journal all the steps involved. Long story short - the inspection revealed some much need major repairs - we asked for them to be done, the seller did very little to correct what was asked or to even offer some type of reasonable and agreeable solution. All the goings on dissipated our trust and so we decided to bite the bullet (2 inspection fees and the essence of time) and walk away.

We were both upset about this for a very short time. It amazed us how quickly we recovered sensing a very powerful potion of inner peace (the one that boggles the mind passing all understanding- - -). In unison we've assessed that "God is watching our butts."

We were able to go on a blitz tour of homes with our persevering realtor (Theresa Harrison of Property Shop) over a few days and made an offer today on a Williamsburg-style house northwest of Hickory ("Northlakes" in Caldwell County). It's a lovely home near Lake Hickory in a very pretty part of the area. I will not post a picture until we know that we're clear of all obstacles.

We'll let you know when we're "in" probably after the first load gets shuttled inside.

As for coffee shop progress, we've started working on a business plan and have called on a few possible locations. We've decided the ideal footage would be about the size of a Burger King or Arby's, a bit bigger than some of the small coffee shops you see. This would give us enough room for worship and possible separate space for small meetings.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Hickory Dickory House

Teena's idea on the title. Jeff wanted to put "In a quadrant" due to the curious layout and addressing system of this town.

Sorry for the delay in posting, but we wanted to wait until information of major significance was ready to share.

We are scheduled to close on a house in Hickory next month (2/22). We opted for a classic colonial style older home that has large rooms, a cozy family room with fire place and a sizable rec room or whatever you want to call it that is a converted garage. The house meets our needs for a large kitchen and entertainment area that makes it possible to host family gatherings and house church meetings. It’s also got a large lot and is centrally located, an added plus which makes it easy to get to work, downtown, or even to our future, still yet unspecified coffee shop location.

There were a few God-things that happened as we were considering making an offer. When we were pre-approved last week, the interest rate was at 5.5. First of all, we didn't expect the owner to come down much, but he did come exactly half-way from his asking price and what we thought we could afford. That seemed like an answer to prayer knowing that we will still be leaning on God to supply our needs. Before we made the offer, we checked back with our lender and asked if the rate was still good. She called us back a few hours later and informed us that it had dropped to 5.125! She told us that she had not seen that type of drop in quite awhile. We locked it in and that is where our rate will be for 360 months. It amazes us to think how the rate was 10% with the first house we ever bought.

So, what’s happening with the coffee shop?

We’ve been concentrating on getting settled into our part-time position as managers of the storage rental facility and on securing a home.

Now that this hurdle is out of the way we can begin laying the groundwork for the coffee shop. Currently we feel it best to work on relationship-building with the small congregation of Living Hope Covenant church, the church we are working with.

So, last night we went with their small youth group to nearby Morganton to do community service work. There we helped carry bagged groceries to people’s cars and pray for them. There are many people out of work because so many furniture factories have closed. Jeff met a man who worked for Drexel Heritage for several years and retired just prior to the industry relocating to China. He was much better off (but still in need) than many who had their jobs whisked away without having other skills. Many never finished high school in order to secure work at the plant. The Outreach Center (where we volunteered) has their hands full helping people pass their GED’s and training them to learn basic computer skills. We learned much from “TOC” and think we will be doing more of this type of service via the coffee shop.

We’ll meet with some of our core leaders this Friday night to get better acquainted.

We may also have a Superbowl gathering at another leader’s home as sort of mixer.

All this is leading up to future small group meetings, which we feel will be a good start on our coffee shop foundation.

Goals for the near future in addition to this include making contact with a NC non profit assistance organization to help us determine the legalities of this type of ministry, write a business plan and perhaps apply for a loan.

Once we figure out how we will operate and how much we need, we’ll start looking for an actual location.

Current needs to pray for:

Truck or van for Jeff for transportation
Lawn mower for our house since we had to leave ours behind
Knowledgeable person to help us determine business plan and business aspect

Friday, January 11, 2008

AC on!?

It's January 11th and we've got the air conditioner on in the office at Newton-Conover Self Storage. It is currently 74 degrees outside. Is global warming really a crisis? Kinda feels nice to me (The "grandchildren Jeff!" "Oh, sorry").

We went house-shopping today and have narrowed our search down to a "high-five" list. We're hoping to be able to make an offer by this time next week. We value your prayers.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


We're starting to catch our breath, though not completely.

The storage business is very fascinating. People rushing to pay for the month before late charges are imposed have kept these brand new plates of ours spinning. Plus learning the format; plus unloading our trailer and packing our things into 3 10' X 10' storage units. With the latter completed and the customer rush dropping off, we have a bit of time to reflect and do other things.

This afternoon we will be looking at 5-6 houses as we try to transition into the dwelling place God will provide for us for the next few years (hopefully). In the meantime, we are making 2 one-hour trips each day to and from Teena's mother's house in Lewisville to Newton. What a contrast to commuting in the Bay Area. We actually cover more mileage, using less gas (at about 20 cents cheaper) and enjoy much more beautiful scenery in the 120 minutes we trek. Jeff is hoping to get a vehicle in the very near future. Please pray about that.

It is also much more enjoyable having conversation with each other in the car instead of wasting oxygen, carbon dioxide and vocal chords with other drivers. The most astounding aspect of travel is that 99% of the people out here actually use the passing lane to pass. As hard as it is to believe, they return to the right lane when they're finished passing - as does most of the nation, from my experience. One of the biggest frustrations I had with folks in CA was getting them to understand this. A majority used the wimpy rationale: "I'm using the fast lane since I'm going fast" (which would vary anywhere from 62 to 76 mph). I'd like to find the CA driver's manual to use for kindling - that is if we get a house with a woodburning fireplace. ;-D

Weather out here is more variable, but within a moderate range. The temperature dipped down to about 20-some a few days after we got here. All the papers made headlines about it, so that gave us a perspective. Being in northwestern PA for 13 years easily gave us tolerance for that type of chill. Yesterday, we had the AC on in the office as it hit 70 (don't recall doing that in January anywhere I've lived). It's supposed to be like that for a couple more days here.

We have the espresso machine set up in the office. We need to get a 220v outlet and a water supply before we get to learn how to use it. After we find a home, we will look for space to lease so that we may prepare for launching. Keep praying. It's working. We both have a powerful sense of peace and a "right as rain" sense to what we're doing with our lives currently.

May you be blessed with the same!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Major Day

Today marked a major day for us as another burden was relieved. With the help of some of our new friends out here in NC and Teena's sister and nephew, we unloaded the ABF trailer with our furniture into three storage units. That process went much faster than loading the trailer and we were done by 3 pm on Sat.

Everyone joked about not answering phones when the next need rolls around for moving from the storage facility into a home.

With this big hurdle out of the way, we can now concentrate on looking for a home and we ask for your prayers in finding the right place and not rushing into purchasing because of desperation driving us to make a rush decision. Teena keeps praying for God to do exceedingly above all we ask or think when it comes to finding us a new home.

---New needs to pray for. We ask for you to keep our house search in your prayers.

Another need is for a truck or van for Jeff to replace the one he relinquished when we left CA. Of course it would be awesome to have one donated. But if anyone knows of one that is in the range of a few thousand dollars, please let us know.