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Ellé Bell Café

A Coffee & Gift Shop

111 W. Main St., Union SC

The Haven Coffee House

Have you ever had one of "those kind" of weeks ... Would this week never end? Would there ever be a sign of hope for the weary who just yearn for the simple pleasures in life? A smile from a stranger, a hug from a friend...

I needed TLC, and I gave it to myself. I took a couple days off of work. I slept in. I either spent a day in my pajamas or slept in my clothes, I am not sure which one... I long ago had decided that on vacation days, clocks do not exist. I eat when I am hungry, I sleep when I am tired. I was a teen mom, so this is the first time in my life I am actually experiencing personal freedom as an empty-nester. I felt chewed up and spit out by the world. Restoration, I needed it...

So, I took a road trip.

I hopped on a highway framed by brown, leafless trees. The dreary terrain was speckled with green and blue pines. The highway blurred by and time seemed to disappear. The knots in my shoulders began to loosen. The more asphalt my car rolled over, the lighter I felt. The further I drove, the better I felt. My shoulders relaxed as I realized Angus And Julia Stone's Acoustic version of Big Jet Plane was playing on Pandora, my version of musical comfort. I decided to head to a coffee shop. If I ever needed to feel safely snuggled into a coffee mug, it was right now. As the tension melted away, the anticipation began. Whirling butterflies spun on glittered magic wings inside my tummy. Butterflies of anticipation, hoping to find just the perfect place where people choose to be kind to one another. Where nobody knows each other but everyone feels knit together as friends. That's what coffee does, it knits us together. All I really wanted was a quiet place to relax, catch a sweet, feel-good, coffee-inspired moment that would warm my soul like coming home to a crackling fireplace after a long walk during a cold Wisconsin winter.

The Haven Coffee House

121 East Main St

Lexington, SC 29072

(803) 356-1402

Mon-Fri: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Sat: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm

My first visit was in December. The chill outside couldn't hinder the welcoming, familiar whurr of warm espresso magic that had me swooning as I walked through the front door. It felt like home. The Haven is a blend of an interior design studio and coffee shop. I fell deeply in love with a cozy sofa and rustic coffee table, with coffee at my side this was the oasis I was seeking amid islands of modern retro tables and chairs.

It felt like home to me. I could breathe again...

I felt myself unwinding as I talked to Zach, my talented barista who whipped up an Almond-Milk Gingerbread Latte to accompany a scoop of their vegetarian Greek Salad. I took the above picture after I told myself I would eat just one tomato from the very top that nobody would notice missing in the photo. The salad was monumentally better than I gave it credit for because it was almost gone by the time I remembered I wanted to even take the above photograph.

Feeling the Love

I made a return visit to The Haven, months later. I was greeted by smiling patrons and the familiar delicious coffee sounds and smells. Approaching the front counter, Zach was there. I couldn't help but smile as I watched him say goodbye to an equally adorable young woman. He hugged her tightly, telling her he loved her- then let her go. Smiling she turned on her heel, walking past me to leave. Zach's gaze followed her until the front door closed behind her. He took a deep breath, and smiling back at me said, "I love my wife". There was an unmistakable twinkle in his eye that left no doubt that he truly believed he was the luckiest man in the world. With all that love in the air, I realized I was too in need of some love, coffee love!

Zach and I chatted as the enticing aroma of my Dirty Chai wafted through the air. He remembered me as though we had met just the day before. Being indecisive, I opted for a red pepper soup with a fresh baked, honey drizzled croissant to accompany my coffee.

Chatting with the patrons while enjoying the peaceful atmosphere- I felt like I was home.

To me, in that moment, the Haven had proven true to its name.

The Haven Coffee House is home to beautiful trinkets, candles, soaps and art- all tastefully displayed with the eclectic coffee connoisseur in mind. Hand made jewelry and unique home decor had me captivated in this warmly seasoned, coffee sanctuary. I had the pleasure of meeting Buba and Kelli Limehouse during my first visit, two of the owners of The Haven. I learned that this coffee shop was non-profit, focusing on women and children, domestically and abroad.

 Karen van Heerden, co- founder, has ties to South Africa. The international component of the ministry helps many people, including orphans through MEC Ministries. A safe home, called The Sunshine House has been established for abandoned and abused children. Their mission is "to provide a stable, loving family home to babies and children in need. To love the unloved and give hope to the hopeless. To bring healing to the brokenhearted and feed the hungry. to see the light and sparkle return to empty, lifeless eyes. To be a family..."

It started when Kelli Limehouse and her friend Karen van Heerden co-founded Life Restored International ministry. The Haven is an integral part of the ministry's focus to mentor women who are going through divorce or other hardships. Knowing the pain of divorce personally, I remembered it was a women's shelter that helped me during those dark hours. Living in that shelter, I found the strength to heal, go to college and stand on my own. Having walked a mile in those shoes, I understand how life-changing a small seed of empowerment can be. For these women, the world is far less frightening with a place like The Haven in their corner.

The love and support poured from each fresh brewed cup of coffee is healing broken homes, restoring hope amid loss and protecting children from life in the street, predators and human trafficking.

The Haven has truly captured the heart of coffee love.

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