Growth.

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A few weeks ago I found some little pots I bought a few years back.

In college I used those little things to plant herbs on my apartment balcony and I felt the urge to do so again… except on my front porch this time.

I had forgotten that when herbs are planted with just a seed, it actually takes time to grow. 

I found myself walking outside my house every morning looking at those little pots of soil and hoping that one day I would walk out and everything would be fully grown and perfect and beautiful and I could cook everything with cilantro and basil. wrong.

Sometimes I would try not  to look but I couldn’t resist.

It was that hopeful side of me I guess.

The side that hoped I could see a miraculous fully grown plant overnight.

Let me tell yall, real gardeners are golden saints.

Then one morning, walking outside I saw a little green leaf peeking through the top of the soil.

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I stopped in my tracks, sat down on the front porch and stared in amazement.

Silly right? It’s an herb … chill.

But there was this feeling inside me that was SO proud of my little basil plan trying to make it’s first debut.

I left town for the weekend and returned only to see that cilantro came along in those days.

I stopped and stared again.

Within days, more and more have grown and I find myself getting so excited over my little plants blooming so beautifully.

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Then, something struck me.

The plant had to root itself in the very thing that gives it life before even scratching the surface of growth. 

I feel that my millennial self pushes to see growth, movement, and immediate result instead of loving the time and work it takes to achieve the better goal.

It is lovely the way the Lord shows His goodness in the time of stewarding relationship in closeness to Him, partnering with Him for our dreams and vision rather than sprouting out success with no roots.

Those little plants aren’t even fully blossomed into the best version of what they will become, yet the pride I have for them and what they are today is a little weird, but so real.

How much more pride do you think King Jesus has for us in the places that feel slow?

The slow is the growth, I think today is a day to remember that growth comes in the best form when it is rooted in the greatest place.

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Happy Anniversary MTCC.

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It was a morning that was set for a thunderstorm but instead came with unlikely cool weather for an August day in South Alabama.

Cody Bell and I spent weeks promoting the coming of our little business and opening day came faster than we thought it would, but we weren’t upset in the least about it.

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My parents slipped into our little apartment around 5 am that morning to help us kick start the day and take pictures of us like it was our first day of Kindergarten all over again. 

We promoted all over social media about this grand opening and couldn’t get ourselves to our little corner fast enough.

colorboxphoto_9-2We were at our spot, barely open, when our friend and fellow food truck owner drives by… we could hear her screaming with excitement before we actually saw her mini van pass us by.

11781855_1180532731963354_1620536956098167734_n(one of my mama’s drive by “LouLou look over here and smiiillleee”)

We had friends line up for coffee, encouraging us, praying for us, and loving us and our business really well.

We got crazy looks from the folks who worked in the tower we resided outside of… Little did they know we would become great friends.

The new stations debuted us multiple times, bringing us more traffic than we even anticipated or prayed for.

11825150_10206358799941329_6605303762714127793_n11800526_10103377326507675_6985353404462714518_n(notice me and cody bell keeping it real awkward with our matching “I’m so nervous ill just cross my arms” arm cross.)

We met the homeless of downtown Montgomery, the artists, the politicians, tourists, teachers, and state workers.

People would stop and ask us questions, sometimes they would sit with us or our co workers and ask for prayers.

We would find ourselves doing more than selling coffee or selling Jennie Weller treats, but rather meeting the community we live in and learning how immaculate their hearts really are 🙂

We trained ourselves to nod and laugh as the public occasionally liked to mention how horribly hot it was outside as they made their way into AC, while we let our pours sweat every ounce of sweat we have ever had in the Alabama heat.

It was all for the cause and totally worth it.

11903737_1489029724727752_3992566793674359622_n11990591_10206546045742357_4654660230393503222_nWe gave away over $1,000 in funds to organizations and gathered christmas presents for victims of human trafficking.

The community in Montgomery really rallied around loving the victims of human trafficking in the Christmas season and gave so willingly, giving us the opportunity to travel, meet the women who are being healed and cared for, and share what our city chose to give back to them!

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We were given opportunity to speak at a local college and share our coffee with their students.

11870751_10206133448507806_3458508271573051680_nEvery 5k that ever happened from August 2015-August 2016 (well a lot of them..), we were invited and the runners really appreciated that extra ounce of energy.

13102755_10207872101653048_1366704574312932638_n12508823_1124336574267907_3635033788470671247_nEvery day felt like a different adventure, a day of opportunity, and was so much fun.

We would spend hours talking with folks and learning their hearts, where they were from, and what they dreamed of.

We met tourists from all over the country who came to experience our city.

IMG_0010(this group^was from New Hampshire and had our cart featured in their local paper… do we serve a crazy cool Father or what?)

We partied with the City of Montgomery as we transitioned into the year 2016 and we really think we were a hit… well maybe we were just photographers, but either way, new relationships were formed.

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We catered coffee to a local pop-up holiday shop and eventually were invited to participate with Southern Makers.

13072861_10103975027779535_8262978587385716009_oIMG_6018The idea of events struck a chord within our customers leading us into the event part of our business. We started catering weddings and transitioned our business to events only, giving us opportunity to travel and meet new people.

We catered in Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama and even had an inquiry from Dublin, Ireland… oh you know, just a hop, skip and jump across the pond.

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Our co-workers became our best friends, well really, they became our family.

IMG_0006IMG_0007IMG_0011IMG_0012We watched them get engaged and get married… they even wanted MTCC at their wedding… they just couldn’t resist. 🙂

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13879419_10154224547120605_8211866058589105431_nWe celebrated their wedding days, being honored to be in their wedding parties and stand by their sides as they married who God chose for them.

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God, in His infinite kindness has done more than we could have ever dreamed of with Market Town Coffee Company.

He gave us a family.

He gave us a community.

He gave us customers.

He invited us to events.

He taught us to be tough.

He taught us to rest.

He gave us grace in hiccups.

He gave us humility in victory.

In one year with Market Town Coffee Company, we have experienced extreme high and extreme low.

But in one year with our little business, we have gained more than we could have ever imagined, we have been taken through an extreme journey to discover more than just business skills, but rather the beauty of waiting, willingly following what God has asked of us.

It is in the places of willingness that we find rest in the character of who He is.

I am humbled to be a co-owner with my incredible, hardworking husband.

I am beyond blessed by the connections and friendships made.

I am completely blown away at the Kindness of the Lord in just one year of business.

If you have a dream, whether a coffee cart or a cruise ship, follow it, pursue it, and I promise Jesus will take you further than you will ever imagine and it will look nothing like you plannedbut that’s the best part. 

Happy Anniversary Market Town Coffee Company, you have given the best adventure.

When Love Collides: A challenge to rebuild

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I just want to be where You are, I just want to be near Your heart, ’cause there is NOTHING like Your Love.

Yesterday as I was pulling out of the parking lot at work my phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hey LauraBell (at CGM it’s almost as if my first and last name are one word, it’s funny + endearing all at once), It’s Pastor Austin, I wanted to steal you for a second to show you the food pantry, can you swing back by the office?”

“oh yeah, sure thing, be there in a sec!” I said as I turned my car around to meet him.

Pastor Austin is the Community Development Director at the Non-Profit ministry I work for in West Montgomery called Common Ground Montgomery.

Pastor is called Pastor because he is the Minister at a neighborhood church in Washington Park.

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The name just kind of rolls off the tongue.

I picked him up at the office and the two of us drove two blocks over to a little house that lies across the street from the church where Pastor preaches.

This little house may be seen as just another house, but Pastor made it something better.

Over the course of time and ministry, Pastor Austin found that there was a need in the neighborhood for a place of refuge for people to hang out in safety, a place for families in crisis to come and get free groceries as they needed, as well as hot showers. His knowledge of the community and the needs they have stretches far beyond what you or I could ever imagine.

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So he did it.

He created a little space inside for people to relax, hang out, or get food if they were in crisis.

He created a relationship with the Montgomery Food Bank and began purchasing items from them to store in this space, making it more conducive to the needs and transportation of those living in the neighborhood.

There was a pool table, refrigerators, central heating/AC installed to keep fresh produce and shelves stacked FULL of food and necessities.

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Everyone in town was raving about the new food pantry that Pastor Austin started.

People within the community would come and serve their neighbors, Valiant Cross Academy spent time there in service weekly helping sort canned goods, and families in crisis were helped with grace and so much love.

But then… 

One night, a group of people came in and stole everything.

Y’all, I mean everything.

All the way down to the Heating/AC unit.

Pastor went by the next morning to check on things and the place had been emptied.

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Being the man that Pastor Austin is, he rolled up his sleeves and went to work rebuilding and reconstructing what was stolen.

Using his own money and resources to do the job became too much for him to handle on his own.

Pastor and I walked through the house looking at all that he has done in replenishing what was stolen but there are major needs left to make this place really shine.

Kindness came to the rescue when Tyler Vittitoe from Saint James United Methodist Church stopped by to tell Pastor Austin that their church wanted to partner with him to help minister to the community of Washington Park through this food pantry.

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Tyler gathered up a group to help donate the funds necessary to fix the roof of the house, the walls, and the central heating/AC unit (as well as a guard to keep it protected.^^ as noted above)

My two favorite fellas came by (in the blazinnnnnn Alabama heat) with their hard hats to check the foundation of the house and try to figure out some plans to level the floors and secure the house.

Y’all these two are pros. Southern Foundation Solutions for the WIN!

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We walked through the house and let Pastor show us the needs.

As he showed me around, I looked over to see a sweet mother from the community organizing the place and two young girls hanging out with one another and finding a haven at this house.

This place matters and makes a huge impact to the people who live in the community.

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Pastor looked at me and said “LauraBell, tell everyone you can! We want to make this place great for the community!”

So I am. 

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So much has been sacrificed in the process of making this place wonderful, but there is so much more left to be done.

Two full bathrooms need toilets, sinks, and showers.

The floors need to be redone with new tile.

The exterior of the house needs a little fixing with uneven sidewalks (easy to trip/stumble on).

The foundation of the house is in need of repair.

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We have a hope and desire to see people from the city come together to rebuild something really amazing.

Adopt a bathroom with your small group at church, help gather resources to provide a toilet, sink, and tub and help dozens of families in need.

Adopt a floor and donate tiles with your friends to create a living room space for a fun, safe place for people to gather together.

Adopt a sidewalk Bring a group together to fix the sidewalk of this home to make it easily accessible for those bringing boxes of goods through the door.

Collaborate with your family, friends, and church congregations to fund the new foundation on the house so that it stands strong and stands OUT in the community.

We need you.

This community needs you.

In a time where our world wants to divide, let’s work together!

Montgomery, Alabama, let’s extend a hand of help to a man who has refused to relent in loving this community.

When love collides with love, you don’t have to look any further to see Jesus.

If you have an interest in getting involved in helping this food pantry rebuild itself, please let me know! Comment below or contact me at Laura@CGMLife.org