Barista

 

What I’ve Learned So Far

A little over two months in VA and the question is usually…

What have you learned so far?

Well… a lot. This is just going to skim the surface but here’s a bit of an overview.

Bar / Barista

From what a café dos leches is to how to make a double shot cappuccino with extra foam to how to determine the right coarseness of the grinds for an espresso shot, my knowledge base of all things coffee has grown exponentially. Words like portafilter and tamper no longer make my head spin and steaming milk to the right temperature and consistency no longer gives me anxiety. I’ve “successfully” made a painfully weak chai latte for my boss and so now I will never make that mistake again. While all that is not saying much since my knowledge was prettyyyy limited, I’m impressed with myself nonetheless. If I can learn these things- anyone can! (Cue casual hint to anyone who may want to join me in this endeavor 😉).

Kitchen / Cook

If we head into the kitchen, I’ve learned what’s easy to make, what’s a pain in the butt to make, the intricacies of the cooking, heating, and cooling health code requirements for foods, and have gotten into a rhythm of determining when things need to be defrosted and cooked based on when certain items are going out and how much time is left until closing (circle back to health code requirements). Inventory is another delicate dance that keeps you on your toes but I have yet to tackle that one.

Market / Shop

In the market/shop, I’ve learned how important that form of supplemental income is, a general idea of which products sell well, and how much work it takes to know when to order items, how many to order, and where to order them from. This is another area I’m looking to dive a little deeper into.

Employee Relationships

Something else that I’ve witnessed throughout my 2 months is employee relationships with each other, with customers, and with management. Even in different fields, much of it has been very similar. It’s been really great to see how certain needs, crazy scenarios, and let’s call them opinionated customers have been handled across the board by the staff. From fridges breaking down to a light switch catching on fire to staff not feeling well during their shift, there’s never a shortage of thinking and problem solving on your feet. It calls you to a new level of selflessness and self-giving. But there’s also been the less stressful, more life-giving moments as well. Such as, the invention of fun new drink flavors to seeing the absolute glee on a customer’s face as they rave about the curried chicken salad or the encouragement amongst staff when sales are way up that day and praising how well everyone handled the influx of customers.

As an employee who is new to the café, new to the industry, and only staying for a limited time, I’m trying to do my best to soak up everything everyone is showing me. Interestingly, sometimes that leads to me asking questions about things that haven’t been thought about, done, or explained in a long time. This has led to some great conversations and learning experiences for me and other staff members. I’m recognizing how easy it is to fall into a routine that isn’t quite meeting the standards we’d originally set for ourselves at the start or even how some of those standards may prove unnecessary after all. In such a fast-paced environment when there’s always something to think about, this makes sense. Doing those extra tasks or rethinking how to better address XYZ rightfully get pushed to the back burner. I’m seeing how having fresh eyes that require you to slow down and talk through or explain things is such a good thing.

Deeper Reflection

Beyond these practicalities, I had another experience that actually helped me reflect on God’s mercy a little bit more. Back when I was first given this opportunity to work at Trinity House for the summer it was discussed that a month or so in I would be given a promotion to Shift Supervisor. This was something they assumed I could handle (based on my age) and would enhance my experience and reason for coming for the whole summer (based on my desire to run my own café). When I received this promotion, one of my coworkers, who has been working there a long time, was a little frustrated by this.

Now, I understood where they were coming from because I hadn’t earned this promotion in the way most employees would be required to. While reflecting on this scenario, I realized a connection to God’s mercy. His mercy is never anything that we can earn. It’s a gift that is freely given based on His generosity AND on our specific needs for that time, place, situation, etc. In addition to that, His being merciful towards one person does not negate His ability nor His desire to be merciful or generous in anyone else’s life. In all reality, my promotion did not take away from this specific employee’s chances at being promoted. It will, however, have a big effect on me and my own specific and separate mission.

This is the same with God’s grace. Someone else’s grace-filled gift, that I may not agree with based on my limited vision, really shouldn’t any negative bearing on my own life if I’m focused on my mission rather than theirs. I don’t have to understand all the intricacies behind the gift, but I do have to accept that God is the most generous giver and will give His gifts often to those who are open to receiving them (He gives even to those who aren’t- they just won’t receive them because of their full hands).

All this is to say that we waste so much time looking at other people’s lives, wanting what they have or complaining that they don’t deserve what they have, rather than actually living our own. I am not immune to this in any way. In fact, these last few weeks I’ve found myself weighed down by similar sentiments towards others who “don’t deserve” or haven’t rightly earned certain gifts they’ve been given or who may have even squandered those great gifts.

As I continue on this journey to opening a Catholic café, just know I’m figuring out this life just as imperfectly as the next person. I haven’t found my “holy grail” because I’m going after a dream, have seemingly less responsibilities (for the moment), or get to be in new places this summer, etc. My holy grail is not here. It is in Heaven. So, I will be continuing this journey with the goal of keeping my eyes set on the true end- which is not a café, a family, financial freedom, or traveling around the world- but rather on the one place where there is no need for mercy and yet mercy is the only means to arrive there.

How will you focus on the gifts God is giving YOU and how will you go a step further and thank Him for the gifts He’s given OTHERS?

P.S. Check out this fun little reel I made showing some of the  “behind-the-scenes” of  a day in the life of Melissa at Trinity House!

 

Be Not Afraid

 

Get Uncomfortable

As I was driving back to Massachusetts after two weeks in Virginia (for a quick trip to be present for a friend being ordained a priest!) I inevitably spent some time reflecting on those first two weeks working at Trinity House Café and living in Virginia. The theme that came to mind was this… GET UNCOMFORTABLE.

This theme has only intensified since that trip.

Recently I’ve done quite a few things that I knew would make me uncomfortable: namely leaving my job of 5 years, doing a Tough Mudder, moving to Virginia, and starting a new job I have no experience in. Those were things that I knew were bound to cause discomfort simply because of the dramatic nature they held. What I didn’t expect were some of the basic things that caused me to get uncomfortable over these last five weeks. Things like…

  • Having to drive at least 15 minutes to get to church, a grocery store, or really anything
  • The setup of my bedroom being different and affecting my morning and night routines
  • The physical and mental fatigue from being on my feet and interacting with people all day (shout-out to my naturally inclined introverts!)
  • The flipped script of high school and college students teaching me now 😉

Don’t get me wrong- I’ve been blessed with a very comfortable life down here and I’m especially grateful to my aunt and uncle for not only hosting me but truly welcoming me into their life, but change naturally brings discomfort and that’s ok to admit regardless.

I distinctly remember one of my shifts at the café during my early weeks of work. I definitely didn’t have a confidence in myself in this role or a full grasp of all it entailed yet. (Did you know in ironies of all ironies I’m not really a coffee drinker so I didn’t even know the majority of the drinks 😂). At one moment, feeling particularly uncomfortable while trying to figure out how to make someone’s drink order in the midst of a rush of customers, I paused and realized how good and how important it was to feel that way. I didn’t avoid it, I didn’t run away from the situation, I breathed it deeply into my lungs and let it fuel me. I hadn’t felt that kind of discomfort simply due to my lack of knowledge/experience in a long time and while it felt unpleasant, I could feel myself growing and expanding with my lungs and breath in that moment.

I think we rob ourselves of so much growth, joy, and new insights when we settle into our comforts for too long. While of course comfort is good as it allows the growth to really settle and solidify because we aren’t on such high alert, too much of it is a true stunt to our hearts, minds, and even bodies.

Being uncomfortable is… uncomfortable! But we need to learn how to embrace it because that is the ONLY way we grow. You’re going to stifle yourself if you try to stay comfortable or attain comfort your whole life. You’re going to miss out on the God-ordained opportunities for you to make a good and lasting impact in this world and in yourself because they always require growing pains. Let the discomfort be a moment of prayer- a way to relate to God.

I just finished reading In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Marc Batterson. He’s the author of one of my favorite books, The Circle Maker, which I’ll write a blog post about at some point as well. He says,

“The cure for fear of failure is not success. It’s failure. The cure for the fear of rejection is not acceptance. It’s rejection. You’ve got to be exposed to small quantities of whatever you’re afraid of. That’s how you build up immunity.”

This whole experience is one of facing my fears and failures (and potential failures) and allowing them to stretch me, guide me, and help me love myself and others more, even when it’s uncomfortable.

More than I’d like to admit early on during this transition I turned to watching TV or scrolling social media endlessly to numb my mind to the discomforts of these many changes, unknowns, and some unexpected heart-hurts. We all find ways to numb but we all also have the capacity to embrace the discomfort and growing pains. We’re called to battle this urge to numb, but to do so without condemning ourselves for the times we “fail” and rather using those “failures” to fuel our growth further.

So how will you get uncomfortable? You could shake up your routine- whether that’s the schedule you live or die by, your physical space, the church or stores you frequent, or fasting from certain go-to comforts you have. You could let someone younger than you teach you something you have no background in- meaning you have to rely on and trust their knowledge and experience over your own. You could learn a new skill that may seem frivolous or intimidating or fun! You could cancel your streaming service subscription *gasp*. You could initiate that conversation you’ve been avoiding…

Getting uncomfortable also means not being afraid to ask the questions we don’t have the answers to (or we do but don’t want to admit to).

Do. Not. Be. Afraid.

Ask the questions. Of yourself, to others, to God.

In the Gospel reading a couple weeks ago from Luke chapter 5, Jesus healed a paralytic man who was lowered through the roof of the house Jesus was in by a group of this man’s own friends who were determined to have him healed no matter the discomforts they faced in making it happen. Before Jesus healed him physically, He healed the man of his sins and spiritual illnesses. Then Jesus cured his paralysis, citing that as the easier healing to bestow. This man’s story didn’t end at a “simple” healing of his legs leading to a perfectly comfortable life there on out. No, there’s much more to it. We fail to recognize that the healing of his legs would have actually presented him with a whole slew of new uncomfortable situations. While he was paralyzed he couldn’t go anywhere on his own, always relying on friends to carry him, bring him food, perhaps even bathe him. This inevitably led to comfort in the routine of it all. Now, he could do that all on his own which means facing a whole new world full of uncertainties and challenges. And not only that but facing it with the call to go home and glorify God which would bring discomfort for anyone facing a society that actively lived opposed to Jesus’ teachings.

So, as you think about the kind of uncomfortable opportunities you want to take advantage of, remember that sometimes even the comforts we pray for bring with them unexpected discomforts we weren’t anticipating. Don’t let this fuel fear of praying for these healings, dreams, and necessities because as Mark Batterson says, “As we grow in a love relationship with God, we unlearn the fears that paralyze us and neutralize us spiritually. That is the essence of faith.”

Maybe that man wasn’t only paralyzed physically but spiritually or emotionally by what the world offered that he had stopped trusting God and praying for healing and it wasn’t until his friends brought him face to face with Jesus that he then faced his fears (namely God Himself) and allowed his love for God to begin growing again. Facing those fears opened up a whole new world and freedom to be loved by God and to honor God in bigger, more exciting ways.

Take time in prayer to place your life, or particular areas of your life, at the feet of Jesus and ask, “Is this something you still want for me?” Then be open to whatever His response is. If it’s yes, find ways to get uncomfortable within that area. If it’s no, then joyfully surrender that area to Him trusting that you could never give up more than God will give to you.

One last point- this passage also goes to show the importance of friendship and leading one another in love to face our fears. So, try something completely out of your comfort zone and bring a friend along with you or listen to that crazy friend trying to get you to do a Tough Mudder with her (shout-out to Steph for taking on that adventure with me 😉)! It’ll be worth it. I promise!

 

June 7th

Have you ever had something so significant happen in your life that the date is forever engraved into your mind? That date is June 7th for me.

It’s the day that changed my life forever with one phone call and two words. Those two words, “I am”, shattered my heart to pieces, but more importantly set me on a path of making decisions that would alter my life’s direction forever. Decisions to leave a ministry that I loved, decisions to painfully offer my will and desires to the Lord in place of following and wanting His, decisions to invest in myself financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and decisions to follow a dream that is just crazy enough that following it only makes sense once those blind steps of faith have already been made.

June 7th, 2020 wrecked my world.
And I couldn’t be more grateful.

It loosened and revealed so many of the negative ties, attachments, and prideful ways I’d chained myself to over the years. It introduced me to what following the Lord actually means and looks like. It taught me how to pray through the immense suffering and torrential tears blocking any vision of life up ahead.

But what’s an added bonus to seeing the goodness unfold in my life since that awful day? Having God so beautifully redeem that exact date that was so painfully seared into my mind…

A little more back story- The only ounce of joy I had felt in a week following June 7th, 2020 was when I providentially came across Trinity House Café/Community on Instagram the following Saturday. It’s what re-sparked the Catholic café dream. (I’ll share more about this story in another post).

That brings us to June 7th, 2021- I was down in Maryland/Virginia visiting friends and family as I got ready to attend the GIVEN Institute Forum. Without planning it, of all the days I was there, I found myself in VA visiting Trinity House Café for the second time ever on June 7th. I took these photos and captioned them with these words- already feeling the redemption of that date one year later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  1. I was blown away by this gift as the pains of that day a year earlier were still reverberating within me.

  2.  

Today, June 7th, 2022, I sit in further awe of God’s goodness, vision, and generosity. I find myself in Virginia again, having quit my job, moved down here for the summer, investing in my dream, and ready to take on my first shift as a barista at Trinity House Café tomorrow and incredibly gung-ho about learning all that goes into running a Catholic café! Once again- this was completely unplanned because if you knew my schedule (leave job on 3rd, do a Tough Mudder on 4th, drive to VA on 6th, drive back up to MA on 16th and back to VA on 19th) it’s quite clear this was not the most convenient of times to get down here! Despite all that, my jaw dropped when I realized the coincidence (God-incidence) with this date once again.

The worst day of my life is being redeemed two times over with an incredible dream I never would have dared fathom would actually come true. And to be honest, even with all the unknowns still surrounding this dream, I’ve never felt more at peace than I do now. (Ok, I definitely have nerves about tomorrow and all of it because I’m HUMAN but overwhelmingly it’s peace and excitement 🤪).

All of this is to say, I don’t know what you’re going through or have gone through but if you have a June 7th in your life (whether that’s an actual date or a person, place, memory, phrase, song, etc.)- ask God to redeem it. He 100% will and He’ll blow your mind with how He does it!

View from my last trip to Virginia

I Did a Thing…

I did a thing…

I quit my job and I’m moving.

That sounds pretty dramatic and well, it is and it isn’t.

I wondered if the time would ever truly come for me to share this with the world. Now the day is here, so grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and settle in!

No, quitting my job and moving is not that dramatic because I’m not actually leaving until the end of this month. This wasn’t some “peace out, watch me jaunt away” kind of scenario. I thought and prayed long and hard about when I would leave my job and God led me to this timing. I tried to leave at other times, hence the “Be Still” verses being a favorite of His for me haha. When I finally acquiesced to His timing it seemed like the end of this academic year was where His “ready, set, GO” was culminating. My original plan was to give my notice after Easter so I could tell the students in person but to stay until the end of June. In an ironic twist, God’s call to “be still” in this situation was apparently no more and He actually moved up my departure date even sooner. I sure love His irony 😊 It’s His irony that brings me to the moving part…

Again, not as dramatic as it sounds because while I will be moving 8 hours away, it’s only for the summer and then I’ll be back up here. (That is unless God has something else in store but that’s NOT my plan. And yet, I have to be ready for anything because I’ve seen where clinging to “my” plan gets me 😉).

So now that I’ve knocked down the drama level a bit, there actually is quite a bit of drama behind all of this too.

I’m not just leaving my job and moving for the sake of something new. Far from it. Every bit of this is God-ordained and dates back nearly 2 years (really more but we’ll start there).

 

  1. To cut to the chase, I am pursing the call and personal desire to open a Catholic café in MA!

 

What’s a Catholic café? I’m glad you asked 😉 My tagline is this: A place of beauty that provides community, nourishment, and simple encounters with God.

Building community, especially faith communities, has always been a passion of mine. I’ve also always loved the café vibe and the space it can provide for friendship, reflection, innovation, and joy. That mixed with the absolute beauty of the Catholic faith and its ability to introduce you to God in such unique ways feels like the perfect fit. And come to find out, God agrees!

When I tell you that I never would have actually gone for this dream if it were just mine, I’m not kidding. It would’ve remained a pipe dream that I brought up in starry eyed conversations until the day I died (and then it would’ve disappeared completely!). It wasn’t until God elevated it to a dream He had for me that things shifted and I began intentionally and deeply pursing this.

That all began nearly 2 years ago with a random thought about this old dream and then providentially coming across Trinity House Café on Instagram. And that’s where we come to the moving part…

I’ll explain more of the Trinity House backstory in another post but it’s a Catholic café in Virginia where I’ll be working this summer! I’ve been in contact with the owners, Soren and Ever Johnson, since Summer 2020 and they beyond graciously offered me a job with them as a barista and the chance to learn all I possibly can about running a café. I’d also like to point out that this was offered to me after I had already decided to leave my current job and live off savings for a bit. God is so good and when we surrender to Him, He always provides in ways above and beyond what we could have ever imagined.

So, that’s my big dramatic news- 2 years in the making. Now you know the dream I’ve been elusively mentioning 😊 I cannot wait to share more about the 2-year process in getting here and how it is all going to continue to unfold!

I invite you to follow along through this blog and IG page and to pleaseeee pray for me as I transition out of one dream and take a big step into the next one- into my own Jordan River, trusting God will fight for me and part the sea after my obediently being still these last 2 years.

Exodus 14:14

*The picture is from my last trip to Virginia at a winery my aunt and uncle brought me too. Cannot wait for more of that this summer too 😉