March 31, 2020

Sharing my struggles & triumphs in hopes of inspiring others to seek hope. I am on a continual journey towards a simpler life - filled with opportunities for growth.










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Why We Didn’t Open a Coffee Shop

Most of the time for me prayer is a one-sided conversation, which technically isn’t a conversation. I do all the talking. I’ve learned that I’ve been missing one of the most important aspects of prayer. There’s the talking part—I’ve got that down—and then there’s the listening part. That’s the more difficult aspect. We have a tendency to assume we’ll only hear crickets…but we’re wrong. He hears us, and He answers us. But it’s hard to hear a whisper when you’re expecting the answer to be as loud and alarming as an Amber Alert.

A wise man once shared with me that sometimes when he is praying about a particularly difficult decision, he will pray for ambivalence. He prays for the grace to personally not be invested in either outcome so that the slightest whisper, the slightest suggestion will nudge him in the right direction. Wow. That inspires me deeply. If only I had the courage to pray that way.

In the summer of 2017 my wife and I decided that we were going to open a coffee shop together. Until that point it had always been a fun little pipe-dream that we shared, but one morning, bright and early, sitting on a blanket in the park watching the sunrise, we decided we were going to do it!

After nearly a year and a half we had reached a crossroads. We had worked tirelessly on our new venture building a business plan and doing extensive market research—which involved literally going door to door and grilling the businesses in our target neighbourhood with questions. We interviewed different experts in their fields; lawyers, accountants, property managers, realtors, building owners, business owners, coffee shop owners, coffee roasters, equipment dealers, food suppliers, you name it. We didn’t leave a single stone unturned.

It was certainly difficult. There were times when we thought, “This is too much.” Then we would scold ourselves for complaining. “Of course it’s hard,” we said, “if it was easy everyone would do it!

Keep in mind throughout this 18-month span we were still working two full-time jobs, still trying to start a family and still trying to achieve and maintain that balance in life that we all dream of.

We picked a location, consulted contractors about renovation costs, even talked to the owner about leasing options.

We were there. We were so sure this was what we wanted.

It was a Saturday night. We had been talking about our future, about having a family, about our fertility. It was one of those deep conversations. We had prayed about these things before, however, mostly in a superficial way, in a selfish way; “God please give me these things that I want.” Being aware of this we decided to do something different. We sat down on the floor together, joined our hands, and began to pray…but this was different from the usual prayer routine. We prayed for direction. We prayed for discernment. We prayed for clarity. We prayed to be detached from the desire of what we wanted and for the grace to desire what God wanted for us… whatever that may be.

It was a deeply moving prayer, yet there was no immediate answer. No fireworks. No eureka moment. No epiphany. But we felt good. We’d gotten it all out, placed it in His hands and went to bed.

The next morning we went back to work on the business plan. It seemed like any other Sunday but we had no idea our world was about to be turned upside down. Suddenly an obstacle popped up that we couldn’t quickly rectify. This was big. The gears in our heads were squealing and smoking like old carnival equipment. So we went for a walk to talk this thing out. Walking always helps us to get perspective and clarity. As it happened… this was just the first domino and it had already been knocked over.

We were feeling it all, the weight of everything. It was overwhelming. We knew what we needed to do so we sat down on the bed and prayed once again. For a while we just sat in silence, waiting for the words to come. Eventually, they did…and they came in a flood. I found myself asking God these profound questions… Why did you give us this deep desire for children if you didn’t intend to use it? What do you want us to do? Is our infertility part of your plan? Are we going to conceive naturally? Are we supposed to adopt? Is the coffee shop what you want for us? Is the coffee shop just another distraction? Another way for us to try to control our life?… We prayed and cried for a long time.

Our walk had been just after breakfast, by suppertime we knew it was over. In the span of less than ten hours we went from being sure the coffee shop was our future, to being certain that it was not what we were meant to do. It was a tectonic shift. The day had been a long, emotional, rollercoaster. My bride lamented that it felt like the rug had been pulled out from beneath us, and I agreed. The weird part was how we had come to the decision. It wasn’t that we couldn’t get the loan from the bank, or another business stole our location or anything like that. It happened internally.

There wasn’t just one reason to justify it. A big one was financial; the economic climate of our city, the result of our market research, our financial calculations and sales projections. It appeared that one of us would still need to keep our full-time job in order to make it work, and that was a serious deviation from our original vision. This was always something we wanted to do together. (That was the first domino.) There was also the result of our job research. We had interviewed several coffee shop owners and learned what it’s actually like to own and run a business in the food and beverage industry. The business becomes your life. Most of the people we had interviewed had no personal life, no holidays, and worked very long hours and still struggled financially. One owner suggested we would need three locations before we could expect financial security.

But the biggest part was that we had realized that the coffee shop just didn’t fit with our life goals. It didn’t fit with our future. We knew that the most important thing to us was to start a family. Early on in this journey someone gave an invaluable piece of advice. They said, “Before you do anything come up with a vision for your business, then every time you are considering something major, return to that vision to see if it fits, to see if it’s compatible with the vision of your business.” It was an incredibly beneficial practice. That Sunday, I suggested that we do the same thing but for our life. Then we could determine if the coffee shop was compatible with the vision our life. The result was shocking.

Looking back, I am so grateful for this journey. I feel very strongly that we needed to go through this adventure to find out what was most important to us in our life. We started this journey thinking we knew where we were going and ended it knowing where we are not going. On the surface it may not look like it, but I think there’s more security in the latter.

We took a week to be sure about our decision and at the end of the week we knew it was right. We had to mourn it in a way, we had put a year and a half into it, but what we both felt in our hearts, something we could not argue or deny…was peace. That peace was the confirmation we needed to know we had made the right decision.

So our future is unknown to us, but that’s okay. Wherever our life takes us we will experience it together. Wherever we end up…we’ll arrive together. Whatever challenges, obstacles, struggles, or sufferings come our way we will get through them.


And that’s all that matters.

Written by Kyle Helmer



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