Located in St. Louis, Missouri, Maypop Coffee & Garden Shop is a little hideaway on the outskirts of the city straight from the pages of a fairytale book.
The old brick house, where the baristas work their magic, is charming in its own way. It’s filled with nooks to test out until you find your favorite spot to cozy up with a book. A menu full of coffee drinks and teas ensures you’ll get your beverage fix while you’re there.
After stopping by the house to order your usual, you can pass through the backyard and shortly emerge from a frigid Midwest day to a tropical forest trapped in a room.
Stepping into the greenhouse feels like entering a secret world.
Tables and chairs in the greenhouse are all set for those who want to enjoy their drink among the botanical wonders. Hanging planters and enchanting string lights lace the ceiling above.
The greenhouse is brimming with life in every shade of green. You’ll find trees with fairy lights, palm leaves overhead, and potted plants of all kinds — each with a personality of its own, like the cheerful lemon tree in the corner.
Soft chatter echoes through the room, along with the stream of a watering can.
Choose your favorite plant as a souvenir.
You’ll find delicate, painted pottery strewn about to keep it in.
The do-it-yourself terrarium bar is another option to take a little piece of the wonder home.
To make it a day trip, if you live in the Midwest like me, head to The Book House nearby.
Messy stacks of every genre litter the floors and the shelves are so tall you’ll need a ladder. This Beauty and the Beast experience is the perfect way to cap off a day at the greenhouse coffee shop.
Today marks 14 years since I decided to follow Jesus. I was sitting in church on Easter and the pastor explained salvation in a way that clicked in my 7-year-old mind. After I made the decision, I remember feeling the weight of sin’s power lift away. I even felt physically lighter inside, like I could float away. That first day, I knew there had been a change in me and He was present in my life.
In the years following that, I slipped into the belief that yes, He had saved me that day, but after that, it was up to me to keep it that way. Following God was an exhausting duty I put on myself to be good. It was miserable to live with the belief that I could never fail and, when I did, God was watching me in utter disappointment. Of course, I constantly failed.
I lived in a relationship with Him but it was cold and distant, strangled by fear and shame.
He didn’t let me stay that way, though. He met me where I was. When I was about 15, I was sitting on the rug in my room like I always did to read the Bible in my dry and lifeless way — to simply check it off my to do list to appease Him and get on with my day. Dry and lifeless was how everything felt when it came to following God. What was the point?
That specific time, there was a moment when it felt like time stood still and I felt as if He said, “I just want to be with you.”
That was the point — to be with Him. The point of following Him had been choked away by my dependence on myself. In my self-righteous pride, I was making it all about me and what I did, whether that was good or bad.
Take away all the good works, all the attempts to never sin, all the striving to please, all the things I thought would make me worthy, and there was just me. And my flaws. And my messes. My weakness. My fear and my shame. That’s who He wanted. That’s who He loved.
He wanted me to spend time with Him as that true, utterly powerless version of myself. Then, He would be the one empowering my life and giving me the ability to choose the good. The pressure was off of me because He had taken it that day I decided to follow Him.
I was free. I just didn’t know it.
I still wrestle with attempting to live life on my own, the way I want to, in my own strength, every day. It’s only when I stop wrestling and let Him fight for me that I find true freedom — freedom to follow Him imperfectly. Freedom to mess up every day, but still be with Him and still be loved by Him.
And that’s the point. That’s what it’s all about.
P.S. This is actually the short version. The version with all the details is in the works, so stay tuned.
It was a few months after I turned sixteen when the golden day came. After a lifetime of anticipation, it finally happened —
I got my driver’s license.
And a car (shoutout to the ‘rents!). I was free. Suddenly, I could go to my best friend’s house or meet the squad for ice cream anytime I wanted. I also didn’t have to wait for my parents to pick me up after school anymore. Talk about independence.
When I first started driving, I thought I was invincible. I would fly down the road in my little Toyota Camry, blasting music and feeling like the coolest kid around. I would swing into any parking spot, never doubting that I would be able to fit and make it out like a getaway driver.
This one got me into trouble.
One day after school, I hopped in my car with my Christmas pajamas (it was pajama day — the icing on the cake). I had pulled through, and was facing the car line for the parents. I thought there was surely enough space for my car to turn out of the spot and slide past the parents’ cars.
Only there wasn’t.
I misjudged my turn and scraped my car against my friend’s car. Not just a little scrape, either. I made it alllllllll the way down the left side of my car. Then, it dawned on me that my car was a little too close to hers. Somehow, I didn’t hear or feel a thing until that moment. It was a very graceful scrape.
I was about to call my friend and explain what had happened, when I saw her walk out of the school with a confused look on her face.
She was in for a surprise.
We examined the damage. Thankfully, her car wasn’t damaged at all (a miracle from above). My car, however, had a huge dent brushed with a million little black scrapes. It was quite the masterpiece, if you ask me.
When I drove home and explained what had happened to my parents, they were very forgiving. But, being that the damage would cost about two grand to fix, they decided it wasn’t smart to get it fixed.
Fast forward to the present (four years later), and I’m still driving my lovely Camry, dent and all.
For a while, I was really embarrassed by it. It was like driving around with a big label saying this girl does not know how to drive. Or park.
I tried to figure out ways to save up enough money to get it fixed, or get a new car. Every time I came up with a plan, I decided I would much rather use that money to go on a cool trip or something. Not that I’m very good at budgeting in the first place.
So, I let it go. I learned to embrace the imperfection.
For some reason, anytime I meet someone new, my car dent story is often one of the first stories I tell them. I figure they’re going to find out at some point, so I should probably prepare them.
If I forget to prepare them, it’s an excellent conversation starter when I roll up.
You know what? I’ve learned that people love that story.
It shows that I’m human. I’m broken. I make mistakes.
I tend to think people will like me better if they think I’m perfect. I try to make sure my hair isn’t too frizzy and my clothes are in style. I try to get perfect grades, do lots of cool things, volunteer, always say the right things, and get lots of likes on Instagram.
I end up living like I’m walking on a tight rope. And I fall off a lot.
In reality, people don’t like that girl as much as the real me. The real me who is always running late, has an offbeat sense of humor, and can’t remember if she wore the same t-shirt the last time she saw you. The real me who gets cranky when she doesn’t get enough sleep and sometimes can’t stop laughing about something that happened months ago. In the middle of class.
The real me who has a very dented car.
I’ve also learned that the Lord likes the real me the best.
He can’t use me when I’m not being real with Him. He can’t be close to me when I’m putting on a show. He just wants me to be real. Only then can He help me fix the messes I make.
He loves to hear our stories of brokenness, because those are the stories that reveal our weakness and magnify His strength.