Posted tagged ‘Starbucks’

Remodeling Starbucks and Un-remodeling Church

February 16, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            February 16, 2019

                   

I arrived at MY Starbucks this morning to find a trash haul-away and a Mobile Mini storage unit. In fact, they were flanking my usual parking spot. I had to park three spaces over! Very inconvenient!

I didn’t think the haul-away was for coffee grounds, so I asked Megan, the barista, what was going on.

“We’re going to have a remodel starting next week.”

Michael, one of the regulars like me, then told me. “This is the third remodel since I’ve been coming here. Not fun! Although they are putting in a nitro cold brewing system.”

“What’s that?” I asked, and he explained it to me…and I still was wondering what it meant!

New furniture, new brewing system, lower serving counter for the increasing number of people who do mobile orders…same coffee!

Three remodels in about six years! Hmmm! I remember the struggle to get the last church I pastored to remodel the sanctuary. The dark wood that covered the walls resembled a scene from the old TV sitcom “Happy Days”. I think it actually pre-dated “Happy Days”! We went round and round about the need to update, replace the lights that I referred to as “the celestial balls”, and change the seating pattern. Finally, enough people supported the idea and we used volunteer labor to do most of the work. It had been transformed into a place that was appealing to walk into…not depressing, or as if you entered a time warp. 

And here’s Starbucks remodeling for the third time in six years! BUT same coffee!

I sense a lesson there, more for the church than Starbucks! Hold firm to the purpose of your existence, navigate the best way to present it, and negotiate about the packaging. 

In my growing up years our family would travel to Kentucky on Christmas Day to see our relatives. Our first stop would be in Wittensville to see Granny Wolfe and my Great Aunt Lizzie. I still remember Aunt Lizzie looking at the wrapped package sitting in her lap and saying- every year, mind you- “This package is to pretty to open!” We’d coax her into breaking the ribbon and actually seeing the contents inside the package.

There’s been a few times when the church I pastored became a little too enamored with the packaging at the price of never seeing the contents. That is, the wrappings around Jesus, but not Jesus; the wrappings of the church at the expense of the purpose of the church.

On the other hand, the church has sometimes used the excuse of not changing the packaging because it’s about Christ, when it actually is about not changing anything! 

Starbucks has its deficiencies, but if you stripped everything away from it you’d still find that coffee is at its core. 

In like manner the church has it’s sore spots. The question is if everything was stripped away would the core be the gospel of Christ?

Looking Back: Rookie Substitute Teacher

January 10, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          January 9, 2019

                           

Today is the two year anniversary! On January 9, 2017 I entered Room 306 at Timberview Middle School- a classroom in a portable structure outside the building, mind you! I would be teaching 7th Grade Social Studies for at least a month and maybe the rest of the school year. 

There had been a sudden resignation during the Christmas break and the other three teachers on that team (math, science, and language arts) had requested me for a long-term sub.

Carol and I had flown back from Phoenix the previous Wednesday and there was a message on our voicemail from the principal’s secretary to call them. It was too late to call that day and then the next day school was cancelled because of the weather. Friday, January 6, I drove over to the school and met with the assistant principal.

“Bill, we’d like you to consider doing a long-term substitute position for 7th Grade Social Studies.”

“Okay!”

“And we’d like for you to start Monday!”

“Ooo…kaay!

That next Monday was the beginning of one of the best months of my life. I went into it like someone who has never tasted coffee suddenly working as a Starbucks barista. I was about as raw and wide-eyed as a rookie can be.

And I admitted it! Each class knew that this guy in front of the class could be seen as being fresh meat to chew on or the new guy to simply enjoy and even teach. Thankfully they took the second approach. They enjoyed me as much as I enjoyed them.

On that first day there were high winds in the area that measured up to 109 miles an hour at Cheyenne Mountain. A window blew out of the library at a high school two miles away from Timberview. Afternoon buses were cancelled because of the fear of them tipping over…and here I was in a portable classroom! I remember the windows sounding like they were doing a drumroll as they rattled, but inside the classroom I was teaching kids about the meaning of “Coats of Arms”. 

I put two headings on the board…DON’T KNOW and KNOW. Under DON”T KNOW I drew about 20 lines, and under KNOW I put two! 

“This is me! I’m going to be your teacher for at least the rest of the month, and maybe longer, and this is about how much I know in terms of teaching a class. And all these lines under DON”T KNOW, that tells you how not-with-it I am in regards of your culture, words and sayings you use, and stuff. So…you’re going to teach me each day just as much as I’m going to teach you!”

Each day when some new term was mentioned that I was unfamiliar with I’d add another line under DON”T KNOW. For example, several students used the term “memes”. I had no idea what a meme was. They were astounded. Was I really a person? Had I just been unfrozen from the Ice Age? 

My cluelessness extended into their music world. I didn’t know what song was being sung by what singer or group. On the other hand, when I mentioned “Three Dog Night”, “Steppenwolf”, or “Jethro Tull” they were as clueless as I had been about their music. 

I gave them nicknames. Kids who did not have nicknames would come to me whining and say, “Mr. Wolfe, I don’t have a nickname!”

I taught them about inflation, using a DuckTales video clip. I had them look at the different kinds of taxes that would be added onto a purchased plane ticket, and also a rental car at the airport. We talked about how different things are valued differently by different people and why that is. Each day was a journey into discovery…for all of us!

I don’t think I’ve worked so hard in my life. After the school day I’d be preparing for the next day, and then I’d go to officiate a high school basketball game, come back home, finish getting ready for the next school day, and then fall into bed.

I loved it! When Jenn Dilger was hired to be the next teacher, beginning in early February, I was disappointed. She is an awesome teacher, who, in fact, recently I subbed for the last week before Christmas break,break, and am subbing for her three days this month. I just missed the kids, the students, who had taught me so much. I missed the day-to-day interaction and humor. Laughter was a part of the educational adventure for each of my classes.

A couple of weeks ago Carol and I went over to watch a Liberty High School basketball game and three of those students I had on January 9, 2017 met me by the bleachers. We relived those days once again. One of them said, “Coach Wolfe, those were the most fun classes I’ve ever had!” 

“For me, too! I’m not sure how much you all learned, but I had a great time.”

“I still remember when you showed that DuckTales video. And do you remember Abby’s flying lego car? And when Dominick couldn’t answer any of your questions about Iran, the country he was doing a presentation about? And Jonah telling you that you could just call him “G.O.A.T”, greatest of all time?” 

I nodded my head. I remembered and I was very, very blessed to have been a part of it…and still miss it!

When Someone Invades Your (Starbucks) Space

October 6, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            October 6, 2018

                        

It’s a dilemma that is rapidly becoming a problem! Someone has been sitting on my stool at Starbucks, the last stool on the right at the counter that looks out towards Pike’s Peak!

It’s where I almost exclusively write my blog post! It’s my space to create, my stool to be cool!

What should I do? The man who has been sitting there doesn’t understand the history. It’s like the three bears coming home and finding Goldilocks eating their porridge!

I’ve thought about yellow caution tape wrapped around the seat, but, of course, the Starbucks corporation would probably frown on that idea. I wouldn’t want it to become another national news story about putting someone in his place…that is, anywhere that is not my space!

I mentioned it to one of the baristas who knows of the guy’s error in java judgment. She knows that stool is where I sit and gives me a look of disbelief and sympathy each morning it happens. 

“Can you tell him to move?”

She looks at me with concern and compassion and says, “No.”

“Well, what time did he get here this morning?”

“I don’t know,” she responds. “He was here before I got here!”

Perhaps that’s what I’ll have to do…arrive earlier, be standing at the door as Starbucks opens at 4 A.M. Then I could take note of when the trespasser arrives and snicker! Of course, I’d have to go to bed about 8:00 the night before and Carol would be asking what in the world is going on with me?

“I’ve got to get to Starbucks when it opens. There’s a guy who’s been sitting on my stool!”

Carol will look at me like a DMV license renewal clerk. “What is this, Bill? Some kind of coffee version of Black Friday? Are you going to rearrange your whole life around the need to sit on a certain stool at Starbucks?”

“Yes!”

“Just find a different stool!”

I gasp at the idea. “That’s like me telling you to find a different husband!”

“No, it’s not even close, but if you go looney over a coffee shop stool it might be a possibility! Doesn’t this sound a little bit like when one of the grandkids is playing with a toy that one of the other grandkids wants to play with? All the one without can think about is that one toy, even though she’s surrounded by a roomful of other toys.”

“No, doesn’t sound like that at all.”

So I guess I need other options! Perhaps I could carve my name into the wood on the counter with the words “Space Reserved For” etched in before it. 

Here’s the thing! I’m substitute teaching 3 to 4 days a week, so I’ve become inconsistent in my occupying of my spot. I’ve just come to expect that it will be there when I’m there, like a college student returning home on break and expecting his old room to still be the same, and to be his!

Next week, however, I’m teaching Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesday is the only day, except for the weekend, where I can get to my stool. HE will probably be there, and I’ll sense the creative juices draining some my existence.

We humans are creatures of habit, some good habits and some bad…and some just plain weird!

Substitute Teacher Day Off

September 18, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     September 18, 2018

                                    

I did not get a too-early call this morning from Timberview Middle School. No phone ringing at 5:30 with urgency! I get did four phone calls from another school, but I ignored them. It’s gotten to the point where I rarely substitute at any other school besides Timberview. I’m like Andy Griffith in the midst of middle school Mayberry. Everybody knows me there! I coach three sports there, with this being my 18th year of coaching boy’s basketball.

So today is a day off! Yesterday I corralled 7th Grade language arts students the whole day, keeping them focused on verbs, mis-spellings, and the green grass of literature. I’ll giddy up the same herd two days from now. 

Today, however, I’m relaxing…kinda’! When I leave Starbucks this morning I’m going up to the school to take care of a couple of details and surprise a coaching teammate with a cup of Americano with a little bit of cream. She deserves it for having to teach 8th Grade math all day.

Since retiring from being a church pastor close to three years ago (Doesn’t seem possible!) my understanding of “a day off” has been altered. It used to be that Monday was the designated day off after the hyper-speed pace of Sunday. Now it’s whatever day I’m not substitute teaching. 

Could be Monday, could be Thursday, but it’s almost never Friday! 

And what do I do on whatever day it is that I’m off? I think about what’s going on at the school, wondering which students will make unwise decisions and which teachers will be ready to pull their hair out. I’ll wonder what new color of hair will appear in a classroom that day and what 8th Grade girls will look like their jeans were vacuum sealed around them. I’ve noticed- and maybe you have also- that my middle school experiences are filtering more and more into my writing. In the first month of the school year I wrote 7 blog posts related to middle school. Today I’ll write 1,000 to 2,000 words in the third fiction book I’m writing and the story will have been influenced by my recent middle school experiences. One of the two main characters is a 7th Grade boy! That’s what I do on my day off! I write about middle schoolers.

I’ll also eat a more substantial lunch today, maybe a luncheon date with Carol. I won’t need to “wolfe down” a Tupperware bowl containing cottage cheese and cucumber, or a PB&J sandwich while gulping a bottle of water. Today I won’t even have to use a plastic fork!

I’ll be able to talk in a normal voice, use the bathroom when I want to, wear a pair of shorts and a tee shirt, and sit in the swing on our back deck and read Vince Flynn. I’ll be able to enjoy a third cup of coffee on my writing stool- the last stool on the right looking out at Pike’s Peak! I can stop at the supermarket and check out the “day old food” discounted rack and play Words with Friends. I may even run by Penney’s and see if they have underwear on sale!

And in the midst of all those opportunities and “down time” I’ll be thinking about Timberview, like a kid wondering what might happen in the next episode of my favorite action TV series. 

Crazy, I know, but it brings a smile to my face! And I’ll ask myself “Was I that dorky when I was in middle school?” 

Absolutely!

Being Taught By Special Needs Students

September 1, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            September 1, 2018

                               

I was asked to substitute teach one day this past week in the classroom that serves as the base for the students at our middle school who have special needs. As the day went on I realized that I was the student and they were my teachers. 

They treated me special!

One young lady let me join her in the morning for a few minutes of lego-building before she headed to class. I built a Starbucks drive-thru, which she flashed a smile about, but then threw me a look that told me that I needed to get back on task and stop goofing around.

A boy drew me into being a customer at his pretend restaurant, but when I didn’t put both of my legs squarely under the table he gave them a slight shove to get them where they are suppose to be…before taking my order of a pretend double cheeseburger and onion rings. A couple of minutes later when I had gone to the pretend restroom and then back to the table he repositioned my legs once again under the table like they are suppose to be.

Another young man drew an amazing picture of a mountain nature scene. His classmate flashed a “dab” for me a few times and explained to me what each of the three rubber snakes draped around his neck were with accompanying vital information that might save my life if bitten. 

Towards the end of the day the lego-building student “instructor” was working on math problems. She pulled another chair up close to her and smiled at me. 

“Would you like me to sit down?” She smiled, nodded her head, and patted the seat. Since my lego-building skills were suspect in her eyes, maybe I also needed math help.

Let me interject here! The para-professionals who work with the students are awesome. They guide them towards success in its various forms, whether that be improving their organizational skills, completing assignments, or relating to the other 1,200 students in the middle school. Every day is punctuated with the extreme emotions of tears and laughter. 

The students who take on the role of “peer partner” during each class period of the day are just as incredible and important. They walk with their students to class, help them conquer difficulties, and bond with them in lasting friendships. 

Last year an 8th Grade special needs student was on the school basketball team. Coach Achor told him he would play in a game sometime during the season. His anxiety was evident as he faced the possibility of that, but then the day of the game arrived. All of the special needs staff- para-professionals, teachers, peer partners, and other special needs students- were there. When he went into the game they all cheered. 

And then when he made a basket they all cheered…and cried!

Last week I went back to school for a day to be taught. By 2:45 I had learned a little bit about acceptance, grace, the love of life, and the humor hidden in the simplest moments of life. 

The next day after that I was the guest teacher for 8th Grade science. The student who had drawn the incredible picture of nature was in one of my classes. 

“Hi, Mr. Wolfe!”, he said immediately upon entering the class. “What are you going to do this weekend?”

“Well, (his name) I’m going to do some running, some reading, some relaxing, and some writing.” I should have added, “In fact, I’m going to be writing about you!”

Grandparents Sleepover Weekend

August 19, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           August 19, 2018

                              

Our oldest daughter, Kecia, and her husband, Kevin, ran in “The Beast” this weekend in Breckenridge, Colorado. The Beast is about a half-marathon, but includes a multitude of obstacles and challenges throughout, like climbing walls, jumping through mud, and walking on hot coals! Okay, just kidding on the hot coals part!

Meanwhile Grammy and Granddad did another form of The Beast at home. We kept the three grandkids- ages 3, 7, and 10! Like our daughter and son-in-law we also had a multitude of challenges and obstacles. Our challenges included keeping the house from looking like a war zone, teeth brushing time, meltdown moments, and striving for most of the food on their plates to actually be eaten.

It’s Sunday morning and I’m “on break” at Starbucks at 7 AM before heading back to the fray and facing the next obstacle of getting everyone in the car to drive 45 minutes to Simla, Colorado for church. The ride home from there will be comparable to coming down the home stretch of our “marathon grandparenting” race! I’m doubting that there will be a water station and available Powerade at the finish line! That’s okay, we just need a bed!

Carol and I love our “grands”, even hoping for more! We also recognize that we’ve both been like “grandparenting sprinters”, not marathoners. We’re used to two hour stints, not 48 hour ultra events. Like an actual marathon it has been a weekend of exhilaration and exhaustion. 

Like the three year old singing with revised lyrics as she played with Play-Doh. 

“This old man, he had three; he had three on my knick-knack…and a knick-knack patio, give a dog a home, this old man comes running home.”

Or our ten year old grandson watching an international fencing competition on TV and figuring out the scoring system they use. 

And our seven year old helping her little sister, and playing “McDonald’s drive-thru lane” with her.

On the exhaustion side there was bedtime! But bedtime at the grandparent’s house is seen as being more like a sleepover, full of giggling and getting their second wind. There’s a lot of movement and talking..and movement…and “I want a drink of water”…and movement…and threat of being duct taped to the bed…and crying…and finally…finally sleep! During the night, however, like chess pieces, there’s a rearranging of where each of the slumberers ends up by Saturday morning.

Last night Carol looked at me and said “I don’t remember being this tired when we were raising our three kids.”

“We’re out of shape, dear! A bit flabby in the grandparent mid-section!”

On the positive, we took them to Noodles for Saturday night dinner and each one of them ate EVERYTHING on their plates…well, except for what the three year old dropped on the floor beside her chair! I ordered an extra plate of pot stickers because they were still hungry!

When I was growing up my parents would take my brother, my sister, and me to our Mamas and Papaw Helton’s for a week in the summertime. They had a farm in the eastern part of Kentucky. If nothing else this weekend has given me a new appreciation for their stamina, patience, and strength. 

And they had 12 grandkids! I feel a bit wimpy and weak being exhausted by three!

I’ll try to be in better shape for the next “Beast”. Kecia and Kevin are doing another race for insane people in a month. They’ll be gone a little longer next time, so for us it will be like doing the grandparenting “Ultra Beast”! 

One thing’s for certain for that next time! We’ll be at Noodles again!

Last Stool On The Right

June 13, 2018

There are certain habits in our lives that bring comfort and consistency. They are the frame that support the structure of our life. Like the links of chain for a playground swing, habits bring a swaying rhythm to our life.

One of my habits involves a stool, a laptop, and an early morning cup of coffee. Where I write my Words from W.W. blog almost without exception occurs at the Starbucks in Colorado Springs on the corner of Union Boulevard and Briargate Parkway from the last stool on the right, facing out with a view of Pike’s Peak. It is where I ponder, create, and edit, sometimes slowly and other times at a frenzied pace.

Kathy Buchanan, who is one of the writers for the Focus on the family long-time series, Adventures In Odyssey, sits on the last stool on the left with six stools between us. We joke with one another about our ingrained habit for our writing. When someone is in one of OUR spots we give a look of dismay to one another.

“You going to be able to function today?” I’ll ask her. She sighs deeply and replies, “I’ll try!”

MY stool is the launching pad for discovering. It’s even come to a point now where some of my friends know where they’ll be able to find me at 7 A.M. on mornings I’m not substitute teaching. Some days my writing takes a series of breaks for stop-by conversations. My stool, however, draws me back to why I’m there.

I sip the coffee as I search for the right word. A second sip is required when I’m slow in figuring and finding. My third cup means I’m approaching the finish.

Jim Ryun, the famous track and field miler, once said “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going!” My stool is my habit.