Monday, January 25, 2010

This is Matilda...

She is the cutest baby in the world. Really, she is. Matilda is my first Grandbaby. I got to be there in the room when Matilda was born, so she and I have a special connection. She can say Grandma now, kind of. Her mommy's first word was "Seven-eleven" and I am guessing we went there too often because her second word was "cookie".

Grandkids are the best. I miss Matilda, she lives too far away. I live in Poland and she lives in Kansas. This is not good. Kisses on skype are not the same as kisses in person.
Matilda likes kisses.

I love Matilda!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

And the winner is....

The give away for the angel is over! Tonight we put all the names in the BIG RUSSIAN FUR HAT and mixed them up real good. (My husband actually wears this hat, it is sooo cold here.)

The winner of a stained glass angel is....

Leeann@encouragement is contagious!!!

LeeAnn is a great blogging friend who always has something good to say so pop on over and give her a comment. Congratulations LeeAnn! Please leave me your info and I will send this little beauty as soon as possible.

For anyone that might be interested, these angels are for sale through Sweet Surrender gifts. They are all handmade, and one of a kind. The cost for the angel plus shipping is only $10 and you will be supporting a wonderful Polish artist, my friend Renia. 100% of the purchase price will go to the artist. Renia is a single mom who raised four children by herself during a very difficult time in this country. She is a beautiful woman and someone who I count as a friend. The angels come in many colors so just specify what color you would like and we will do our best to please you.

Thanks everyone! I enjoyed all your comments and your support. I just love you!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


After winning the giveaway from Rural Revival I have decided to do one of my own!

Here at the coffee shop I work with many wonderful artists. My friend, Renia, makes the most wonderful stained glass angels. Each of these angels is made by hand and is completely unique. No two angels are exactly alike. I know that you will love them! I am posting a video of this artist at work (I am sorry, the video doesn't fit to this blog :)

So, if you leave me a comment, I will put your name in the drawing. If you become a follower I will put your name in the hat again! I will choose a winner on Saturday! Although I live in Poland I will send this angel to the winner no matter where you live.

Best wishes! I have loved getting to know all of you, and I appreciate each and every comment you leave.

You always make me smile!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Coffee Shop - The Makeover

Today I thought I would share some before and after pictures of the coffee shop. I can tell you that almost everyone seems to feel it is a warm and happy environment. I am happy that the younger generation has really taken to this place and yet the older generation enjoys the place with its vintage feeling.

It was not an easy process, but we did manage to keep it on the cheap side for such an endeavor.For around $25,000 USD we transformed the space you will see into the coffee shop. The money was raised by friends in the USA and we had special work teams from Chicago, Texas and Denmark who came to help work on it. The only part of the job that was done by professionals were the electrical and interior walls that had to be built. The entire design was "schemed" by my hubby and myself, and the work was all volunteer.

Room by room

The bar:
Before renovation this space was a small apartment used as a residence. The bar was built in the living area of this one bedroom apartment. There were some walls built in the kitchen space and the bathroom was renovated to become the staff bathroom. We used some existing cabinetry and removed the doors. We added scraps of wallpaper behind the cabinetry. Two small fridges were purchased and we built the bar around them, because we could not afford an expensive refrigeration unit. We "shabbied up" the bead board that we used around the bar and hubby framed out the entire project. We added a nice thick bar top of dark wood (the most expensive part of the bar area) and it made ALL the difference! Our friend Klaudia had just closed her coffee shop and so we were able to purchase her coffee machine and many other items for the shop at a very discounted price.
Above the bar you will see a tryptic. It is our friend, Spencer Green, a young musician and pastor's son. He inspired my husband and myself to develop the thoughts behind coffee shop ministry. We had so hoped that he would be able to be the first musician to play at the shops. He died of cancer, at the age 23, before the first shop was complete. We named the shops "Sweet Surrender" after a song that Spencer wrote about his faith.



The crazy wallpaper room:

Before renovation this room served as an English as a Second language office and classroom. It was a fairly institutional environment, and a bit sterile. While in Copenhagen I was in a coffee shop that had a wall of mismatched wallpaper and I had an inspiration of doing such a thing in this room to warm it up. The night before our volunteers hung this paper I had second thoughts. However, because I had already purchased twelve kinds of mismatched wallpaper, and hauled it all the way home, I decided we should just take a chance and go ahead. As it turns out this room is one that everyone talks about! The plates on the ceiling are cheap white plates from Makro (our Polish Costco)and they cost about $2.00 each. I saw this in a magazine somewhere. We cemented them with bathroom tile cement to the cement ceiling and it would take a hammer to get them off now. I do seem to remember that Katie, our amazing volunteer, had quite a time getting them to stick until we decided to tape them to the ceiling after cementing them. I love the way they pick up the light from the chandeliers. We did have to replace each light fixture in the whole place and we chose to use six completely different fixtures throughout the space. Another thing I love about this room are the vintage furnishings which were purchased at the local Flea Market. Our poor station wagon has looked like a gypsy cart more than once as we left the market, but we saved a TON of money by going vintage. I love the clock faces on the old mirror. I think I paid maybe $3 for the clock faces and then hubby found the mirror for $3, we put it all together and think it looks pretty special.



Music room:
This is the room where we have a small stage area for musicians. Part of our business strategy is that we want to reach out to musicians and have them play at the shop in a very intimate and friendly environment. The stage was built by a volunteer, James from Texas, and hubby carpeted it. The walls were all painted a very dark color called mulled wine by Dulux. It is a stunning color, very dark but warm at the same time. The bead board was applied by a group from South Texas, who also installed the art lighting and the art shelves. All the bead board was painted first with a gray green color and then whitewashed and distressed then waxed. The tables were an IKEA "hack" idea and were worked on by women from South Texas. They started out as just plain unfinished IKEA tables. We used soldering irons and burned the tabletop with patterns which were then painted and distressed and then topped with glass. No two tables in the shop are the same, and underneath each of the ladies who worked on the tables signed their name with a soldering iron. They are works of art! Again all the furnishings were flea market finds including the old sofa, which we bought for the equivalent of $70 USD.



The conference room:


Some part of the kitchen


The ceilings in our shop are amazing and have intricate plaster moldings and beautiful plaster floral details. We have worked very hard to maintain anything in this historical building which was original to the house. The space is still heated by the original radiators and at times in winter we must use extra heating sources.

There were so many days when it felt we would never be finished.

Then one day...we were! :)

Thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers who made this place happen! God bless you for your gifts!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Today is a lazy Saturday in Poznan. My hubby (soulmate) and I are huddled on the sofa wrapped in warm quilts and reading our email and the news. It is cold outside and the snow just does not seem to go away. I am drinking my latte from my new red Starbucks mug. HAPPY!

Anyway, it has just been decided that today we will go and shop for a soft and cozy ottoman to go with our Italian MUST HAVE, HUGE sofa. This sofa is a wrap around dealy with the softest microfiber fabric that feels like suede. I have always been very picky about sofas and this is not one I would normally choose. However, when you lie upon this wonderful piece of furniture you feel like you are floating on a cloud! There is also the added bonus that the fabric is like magic when you clean it and almost anything comes off, and I mean ANYTHING!(no details, but we do have a puppy) We had this sofa cleaned several months ago and it still looks like new, even though we have had it for three years. I love it!

I told you I am considering moving and this new purchase is part of our move. We want hubby to be able to put his feet up at night and something to put computers on, trays etc... So now I am sitting on the sofa dreaming of a HUGE furniture store I know of in town. Torture for hubby, heaven for me!

How is your Saturday morning going?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My trip to Berlin...

Most of you know that my lovely daughter, Viola (her Polish name) visited us over the Christmas holiday. It was so much fun to be together again and she and I spent some great time just chatting and catching up. She has a new boyfriend whom I adore. We learned alot about his family and how my daughter is adjusting to dorm life at school in Idaho.

All too soon her visit came to an end. Today she flew out of Berlin, to Dusseldorf and then on to Chicago. I will miss her so much, and just walking by her room will make me a bit tearful the first few days. However, I am blessed to know that she is making good choices in her life and she has done very well in school. (She had only one B and the rest were A's!!! YAY!)

We decided to take Viola to Germany because the trip to Berlin in the van she usually takes would have left her at the airport for much too long. Instead we rented a nice hotel room and had one last fun night as a family before her departure and even the dog, Ollie, came along! We had a huge European supper in our room. (Deli meat, yummy cheeses, fruit,fresh bread...MMMM!) We watched a show called "Chuck" online and several cake decorating shows (Can't remember the name, but the bakery is in Baltimore). We stayed up late and laughed and had a great time. I fell asleep as we watched the "Chuck" episode, all of us cuddled on the BIG KING SIZE bed, even Ollie. None of us slept very well because she had to be at the airport so early and we were all nervous she would miss it if we overslept.

So, at 7 a.m. I kissed her goodbye. She and her Daddy left for the airport. :( As I write she is somewhere in the air and headed for the USA. I can only pray that she is safe and that God is watching over her. This is something we knew when we committed to Poland would be part of our lives, but it is never easy.

Both of us, feeling a little depressed, decided we needed a pick me up after the drop off. SO we headed to STARBUCKS!!! Yay! There are not any Starbucks in Poland near us yet and so when we go to Germany I am ALWAYS ready to go. We got to the cashier and my hubby said "I want to buy you one of these!", a bright red mug that says Starbucks and Berlin on it! I was so happy. We have traveled to so many countries and I often thought of buying one of these mugs, but had not for fear I would have cupboards FULL of Starbucks mugs. But today it seemed right. I ordered a caramel SAUCE latte, he ordered a vanilla latte and my sweetie and I sipped a great cup of coffee at my all time favorite coffee shop, besides ours. LOVED it!!!!

My diet, the one I started before Christmas, was kind of blown by this cup of coffee. (And by the cheese the night before, and several treats I made while she was here, hahaha!) Tomorrow I wake up to the harsh reality that my baby is indeed gone and that I cannot eat my way through this emotionally trying time. I am hoping my resolve is strengthened before morning arrives. I still have my beautiful Polish daughters who will stand by me, but a part of my heart will be in Idaho with my baby girl.

So there it is...
the good
the bad
the ugly
it's all there, and was a long day.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Don't we all read those give aways on blogs and wonder who actually ever wins such things??
Well, I DO! My friend Andrea over at Rural Revival asked for our help in choosing a button for her blog. I never thought she would send a giveaway to Poland but she CHOSE ME!
I LOVE to be picked, don't you?
Anyway, Andrea lives in a great old farmhouse in the country in Canada. It is beautiful. She has her own skating pond (jealous). If I could I would live there. For now I am just happy to hear from her and to read about her life on the farm. Check her blog out...

Thanks Andrea!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Home is where the heart is...

We have been in Poland now three years. We are currently living in a flat two floors above the coffee shop we are building in Poznan. This next year will bring many changes for us. We are hoping to open a third location of "Sweet Surrender Coffee Shops" in Krakow and in Copenhagen, Denmark. This will mean a lot more travel for us.

I have a love/hate relationship with my current apartment. It is lovely in so many ways. The high ceilings with the ornate plaster moldings are beautiful.I love the original wood floors that are 100 years old. I love the painted bead board in our hallways and bathrooms. I love the BIG windows which fill my flat with so much light. I love the terrace outside my kitchen where I grow herbs and geraniums in the summer.

I hate walking three flights of stairs with heavy things like water, and laundry detergent.
I wish I had a dishwasher. I don't like my miniature oven. The big windows which let in the light are over 100 years old and they let in all the cold as well, and all the dirt. We live on a very busy street in the city and so it is very noisy where we are, lots of trams and cars etc.

SOOO...we are moving. We will have an apartment which has a dishwasher, is modern, new and clean. It does have an outdoor space and the oven is regular size. The kitchen is shiny and new, I really love that! There is an elevator and underground parking for the car so we will not have to hunt for a parking space. The only drawback to the new place is the space issue. I am giving up a place that had three bedrooms for a place that has one. The living area is small and our very large MUST have sofa will fit but will not leave room for much more.

It is funny how life changes for us over time. At one time I dreamed of having an apartment in the city, right in the hustle and bustle of life. Original wood floors and bead board with high ornate ceilings would have been frosting on the cake. Today, I long for a quiet place away from the noise where I can find rest. I am trading an historical building for a modern large apartment complex, a new kitchen for an old kitchen, parking for no parking.

Still, in the back of my mind I wonder if I am doing the right thing... what do you think?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why we started building coffee shops in Europe

My husband and I used to pastor in the USA. Our churches ran anywhere between three and five hundred people. We had staff people who worked with children and music and teens. We had a big house and two cars, a good salary, credit card debt and a life that often seemed overwhelming. Life was full of meetings and retreats and services and events. We started out believing that we could help people find Jesus only to find that the bigger the church the bigger the machine, and fewer people actually came to know Christ.

At some point we both heard God telling us that He had something for us to do. Something bigger and far away. We sold our house, our cars and our stuff. We quit our jobs. We paid off our debt and left our families. We moved to Europe and we started listening to people talk about what was important to them, all over Europe. Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Italy, Kosovo, Poland, Norway,Denmark and Germany. We met new friends and we asked many questions. We tried to figure out why so many young people did not go to church anymore. We prayed about how we could bring them back to a place of worship once again, a place where they really felt loved.

When we moved to Poland we started building our first coffee shops. We have never run coffee shops, but we felt God compelling us that this could be a really different type of place. We could welcome ANYONE. It didnt matter where the came from, we could offer a place to be real and safe. A place to find and discover FAITH.

It is hard to describe how it all happened and what it is like. But I think it was worth it all. This is what Helka thinks:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

hope floats...

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul
and sings the tune without the words
and never stops at all...
(Emily Dickinson)

When you are so busy singing at the top of your lungs you will not be able to hear when someone else does it wrong. SING! DON'T STOP...

I watched a movie once called "Hope Floats". Great mother/daughter movie. I liked how when the characters resolved the imperfections of their relationship. I liked how even with the imperfections of their family bond they were able to learn from one another. When something went wrong they were there for each other, even when they weren't sure they would be or could be.

I want my hope to float. I want it to rise above the mire of the world. I want my hope to change the world...even if it starts with me! I want it to be that song I sing so loudly that I cant see how badly everyone else around me is singing, because maybe my hope will change things for them.

Hope floats...