Recently that distant dream of starting a coffee shop was written into the universe and at that very first word, began to take form into something more. Something breathing. Something alive. Something that had to be spoken in a deliberate way, in a course that made it real. It may seem silly, but we had to come to terms with the weight of the dream. We want this. I want this. A coffee shop is more than a distant dream. It's something that I have wanted since high school—something I never thought I could have. And, if I'm being completely honest, something I never thought I deserved.
I can trace it back to ninth grade in Crossville, Tennessee, but maybe it started before then. Every Monday morning at 6:00 am, a group of girls from my church would meet together at Perks Coffee Shop and share our hearts as we sipped on white chocolate mochas, dirty chai teas, and hazelnut lattes. During these sacred Mondays, we would strengthen our relationships, discipline, and our faith. Led by our Women's Leader, Joanna, we would talk about an array of topics, but the center of our mornings was always the same question: "How did you see God this week?" Some saw Him during yesterday's worship, others during scripture reading, others after a merciful conversation or apology, and some of us saw Him in the ever-changing colors of the Tennessee sky. Our conversations would motivate us to seek Him out daily. I remember it as one of the first chapters in my walk when I experienced real community and saw real faith in that small group of young women.
Perks became my spot. I remember sitting there with Joanna one day, talking my heart out (as I often did) about what I wanted with my life. I said I wanted to travel. I remember I was obsessed with non-profits and their causes. I so badly wanted to grow up to take a job at Toms Shoes or work for Invisible Children (Oh geez, I know!) But it would drive me crazy wanting to get out and travel and do things and meet people! I wanted to have a coffee shop in Portland-- like every other 16 year old theatre kid with multiple peace sign t-shirts, a journal full of dreams, and an ever growing collection of Simon and Garfunkel. I was hungry for more of life's adventures and desperate to do something amazing with my life.
I wish I could go back in time and tell 16 year old, slightly naïve Courtney that some causes aren't all what they appear to be. Some adventures take time and others catch us off guard. I wish I could tell her that she's going to do all of these things and meet a goofy and charming bearded man who's going to help her do even more. I wish I could tell her that there are storms up ahead—very many storms, and to brace herself because they're coming up quick. I would tell her to keep her head high and feet planted. I would tell her to have the faith to jump when you're scared because God really does have a plan, and it really will work out. I would tell her that she's going to have that distant dream—that it's going to be a reality.
And it's going to be amazing.
So much has happened already just because of making the decision that yes, we are doing this. That distant dream has developed into a rough timeline and an even rougher sketch of a floorplan. That distant dream called up handymen to get plumbing and renovation estimates. It met with the bank and the economic developer of Martin. That distant dream met with the owner of the Looking Glass and soaked each word of one who had come before and made her own transition from dream to reality. That distant dream sat on the clever names of other coffee shops and tried each one, turning them over, and seeing how they fit until coming up with it's very own name.
The community's coffeehouse. Their place to have their own 6:00 am meetings. Their place to meet with friends for a quick visit before passing through town. Their place to drink my coffee made with all of the love and hope that has been building up inside me since that first cup of coffee I had in Perks ten years ago. Their place to write out all of their distant dreams, and maybe (hopefully) their place to see God.