Wishing Away Life for the Weekend?

Everybody's Working For The Weekend

Everybody’s Working For The Weekend

A friend made a simple comment today on Facebook that prompted a thought that I’m sure I’ve had plenty of times before, but it prompted a response today in the form of this post. His comment was simply, “Gonna Be a Long Day”. I’ve also heard others say (and I know I’ve been one of them) things like, “I wish the weekend would hurry up and get here,” or “it’s gonna be a long week, dreaming of the weekend.” It makes me think, “how much of our lives are we wishing away only to spend a Saturday in uncommitted, lazy bliss and the next day dreading the return to the life (week) that we dread?”

I believe that through some of my own struggles, that God has ignited a passion in me to see people break out of leading the life that they dread and go after the life that they look forward to and love! I hate seeing people drudge through their day to day lives with their only relief being the weekend or some short vacation. If this state of life is not identified, then one day, these individuals that are aimlessly trudging through existence, will come to the end of their lives and realize that their God-given potential has gone untapped. Life is way too short to dread the day to day.

In the Bible, James 4:14 says, “Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air].” Given that passage and the short amount of time that I have, I want it to count for something. I don’t want to let fear cripple me into a safe life. Let’s be honest, if you were to ask 10 people if they were happy and fulfilled in their life, I’d bet 8 or 9 of them would tell you “no”, that they’d really like to be doing something else with their lives. The inspiring truth of the matter is, there’s really nothing or no one standing in our way of pursuing that greater purpose or that dream of an existence. Now, don’t confuse that last statement with a declaration that achieving your dream life will be easy because it most likely won’t be, but during the process of going after a dream or a life you love living you will experience what it really is to LIVE.

You may not know what your dream is or you may have just had a dream and lost it. I was one of those that had a dream growing up and then lost sight of it. When I really started asking myself what I’d like to be doing with my life, or what I felt like God had put me here for, I had a real hard time answering that question. Through continuous searching and a real craving for that purpose, I feel like God has once again restored a dream inside of me and I know he will do it for every single person that really seeks out his perfect plan. I have to be honest, the dream that God gave me isn’t one that I would’ve ever dreamed up for myself and that’s one of the things that really makes me believe it’s from him. The cool thing however is, even though I wouldn’t have ever dreamed of this dream on my own (and it seemed really random at the time) it has the potential to involve all the things that I dreamed about and enjoyed when I was younger. Pretty cool how that works out.

So, I say all that to say this; don’t let any “man-made” obstacles (you) get in your way of living a life that you love EVERY day. We are so much more powerful than we realize and we are bigger (through Christ) than our circumstances. God did not send his son down here to give it ALL, so we could live a mediocre existence. So have a serious heart to heart with God and let him know that you’re ready to live your life with purpose and then look for his answer.

I’m not there yet but I’M GOING FOR IT!!


Day Two – More, more, and more Information

Today started off much less intimidating than yesterday but of course ended up with plenty of financials and reporting. We discussed things like Menus, products, recipes, and pricing. We discussed finding good employees and methods on interviewing and training. We talked a lot about pre-opening strategies, marketing and advertising, and branding.

One point the instructor emphasized several times was that, “the 3 things you have to do to be successful in this business are: 1. control costs of goods, 2. control labor (costs), and build sales.” He mentioned this several times so I figured those were were important things to keep in mind.

Tomorrow begins the real fun. For the next four days we’ll be learning how to make these great specialty drinks. SUPER PUMPED!

I wish I had the mental capacity to talk more about what we did today but it’s late and I’m beat. More to come tomorrow.

“Coffee….. Why Coffee?”

Morning Cappuccino

Ok, so I guess some of you may be wondering what it is exactly that I’m doing here in Portland and what the story behind all this is. Well, I guess I’ll back track a little bit and share what my motivation has been. Now watch out because I’m about to get transparent.

Let me start off by saying that I’m an incredibly blessed man. God has provided me with a beautiful and supportive family (my wife has to have a sense of humor and God like patience to put up with me), a great home, and a job that provides for us well and leaving us wanting for not much. So I must say that I’ve got it rather good for all intents and purposes but there has just been that “something” missing for a while. That something has been a real sense of purpose; a sense that I’m doing something that makes a difference not only to the world but also to God.

Like I said, God has provided me with a great job. I’ve got flexibility, great benefits, good pay, and educational opportunities, (my employer has footed the bill for me to complete my bachelors and masters degrees) but with all of that, after I’ve been there 20 or 30 years what will it really amount to? Will I have made a real difference for God or will I have fulfilled his ultimate purpose for my life? I’ve had a feeling deep in myself that feels like there is just something else, something more that I’ve been put here to do. I think God has given me certain abilities and talents and I’m not sure that sitting behind a keyboard and a couple of computers screens baby sitting servers is really the best way for me to use those abilities that God has given me.

So for the past several years I’ve been asking God to please show me what it is that he’s put me here for. I’ve been asking God to show me his purpose and really direct me to fulfilling that purpose. Well, it seems that over the past several months God has allowed me to make some breakthroughs. I’ve gotten to the place where I understand that the “American dream” that we’re all brought up to strive for is a bunch of bunk really? No, I don’t mean that having a great job and a living in a wonderful place is bunk, but in our society we’re brought up to chase after the high paying job, the job with the most prestige, to live in the biggest house you can possibly afford (or not afford as we’re seeing so commonly today), and to drive the new expensive car or have the latest water toys or whatever. This is what our society equates success too. Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not judging anyone because I’ve bought into this whole idea too, until recently.

God has shown me recently that “real success” is not all of those things that the world tells you they are. Real success in life is being where God wants you to be which ultimately means being where you feel real purpose and fulfillment. Nnow, the hope is that God will allow that thing that brings you purpose and fulfillment to also bring you a comfortable living, but the truth is, that may not always be the case. You know what though; I have friends that probably don’t have that big of a bank account, but they have a joy that some folks I know with huge bank accounts don’t have. The reason they have this joy is because they’re where God wants them to be and they’re working to fulfill his purpose. Not to say they don’t have bad days or days where they doubt what they’re doing but in their gut they feel that they’re where God wants them.

So let me get to how I ended up at the place I am today. I don’t recall what it was that necessarily gave me this thought (I guess it was just a God thing) but I was really searching out the answer to the question, “if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now, what is it that I’d want to do?” That question had been so hard for me to answer for some reason. I knew that I wanted to do something that would make a difference; something that I could really enjoy. So while, driving through “old downtown” Conway I was just looking around as I drove and noticed an empty store and for some reason I thought, “it’d be cool if there was a cool, trendy little coffee shop there,” and I thought, “ hmmmm… maybe that’s it.”
“Coffee….. Why Coffee,” is typically the question I get when I share this idea with most people. But, what came to mind when I thought of a coffee shop was a coffee shop out in Georgia that my cousin works for currently. They buy “fair trade” coffee from Rwandan widows and then roast it here in the States and sell it to support a ministry that the owner of the shop (who’s also a pastor I believe) has. So by purchasing this coffee these Rwandan women are afforded a better way of life and something to take pride in. When I heard that idea I loved it because it was making a difference in the life of people a world away, but I also want to make a difference where I live, involving the people in my community.

So, I thought, I want to provide a place that is a positive place to be. A place where people can hang out and relax, that has a good and uplifting environment. So, the idea of opening a coffee shop really started to come alive in me. The thing is though, that for a little while, I had the hardest time answering the question, “Why Coffee.” Then it hit me. Coffee shops tend to encapsulate many of the things that I grew up enjoying and appreciating when I was younger, and that I still enjoy. Those things are: art, music, people/relationships, and generally a cool place to relax. That was it! That’s why the idea of a coffee shop really appeals to me. All those things fit into that desire I’ve had in me to be an entrepreneur. All those things if put together correctly could allow me to create something positive for people in my community, and all at the same time providing a living for my family.
So, okay, that’s it in a nutshell….. hahahahha….. that’s a big nutshell huh? So that’s why I’m in Portland, Oregon, to learn a little bit about this business and how I could implement it myself. Portland after all is the independent coffee shop capitol of the U.S.

Day One – Coffee Business school

Day One

Ok, so where do I start? I’m exhausted, hungry, my back is sore, and I was totally overwhelmed with information and I had a Venti, full fat, cup 0’Reality, and it was oh so good. Today was my first day of class and it was really good. Our instructor today is the co-founder of the company Bellisimo that offers the Coffee business and Barista training and he’s got 20+ years of operations experience in the food/beverage industry.

I think the instructor was worried about me a couple of times because I unconsciously sighed heavily several times. Hahahah….. it was funny because he’d look over at me and say, “What do ya think Jon?” I think he meant, “Are you alright?” I think that having a healthy amount of fear and caution is a good thing. It means that I’m taking things seriously and really weighing the positives and negatives. If I was running full speed at the idea of opening a coffee shop with reckless abandon then I’d think that something was wrong with me maybe. I think I was taken back this afternoon at the sheer number of things that have to be considered. I mean I kinda expected it but I don’t think you can really prepare yourself for the massive undertaking that opening a food and beverage establishment is.

The business planning (both the presentation and financial plan), the ergonomic design of your shop, the equipment, the lease negotiation, dealing with contractors, vendors, local bureaucracy (already experienced a little of this), location, location, location, build out allowances, negotiating a rent moratorium while you’re building out your space; and the list goes on and on.
Then if that’s not all enough for the first day…. then you have to consider the current state of the economy which my instructor says is not really all bad for the coffee business. He told us that Jim Kramer (you know the crazy investing advice guy on TV that yells and screams and stuff), advised that in the current economy that if you can’t “eat it, smoke it, drink it, or medicate with it, then don’t invest in it right now.” Well, a coffee shop offers three of those four things. In a coffee shop you can get food (eating), coffee or other drinks (drinking) and offers caffeine (medicating). Our instructor also mentioned this: “Coffee is the most popular beverage on earth behind water and the most heavily traded commodity behind crude oil.” I’d never really thought of coffee like that.

Anyway, here’s looking forward to Day Two.

The Count Down To Portland!

Latte Art

As many of my close friends know, God has put a vision in me and on Feb. 8th I take the first “real” step on that journey.  The step takes me to Portland, OR for some training.  I will be blogging and video blogging the whole time while on my trip and updating those of you that read this as to what I’m experiencing and learning.

Exciting things are sure to be in store!  Scary things…. but exciting none the less.