You make the reservation, we'll supply the facility and romance.
Al & Linda Ballard, 2008
About Us, The Ballards,“Tea House and Special Events Center”
Our names are Al and Linda Ballard, our story begins in 2002, when we were semi-retired in a townhome in Westminster, CO. To most of the world it appeared that we had arrived after thirty year tenure in the corporate world, a red Pontiac Trans and a custom Harley Davidson in the garage. In fact, we thought that very same thing, "what a blessing and good time to be alive, two grown and educated children, seven wonderful grandchildren."
And then we read the book, Purpose Driven Life, which shook up our lives as it made it clear that we were "consumers," not servants in this world. While we had been faithful church attendees, even taught small groups, we were struck with how our lives had become focused on our security, safety and ease of living. Both of us were touched, at the same time, so we thought it best to take this seriously.
I asked Linda what she wanted to do, since she had followed me around during my thirty year career; moving the family eight times. And she said, "I would like an old Victorian house to remodel (Linda is an interior designer by degree,) and then turn it into a Tea House. Well, I had no idea what a Tea House was, however, I knew that she took her mother, my mother, our daughter, daughter in law, grand daughters to Tea Houses throughout the metropolitan Denver area. So she enrolled me in a conference for Coffee, Tea Houses and I attended my first event.
I must inject that I have been married to Linda for 40+ years and she has faithfully followed my lead, so now it was her turn and I was committed to make her dream come true. Little did I know that the journey was going to take close to five years to get operational, but that is the story, the journey.
We talked about how impossible it would be to make the dream come true in metro Denver as the price of real estate was completely out of control, so we took a string that represented two hours drive time and made a circle on a map. The circle took in Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska and the mountains of Colorado. We drove the mountains one time and came home as it was not what we wanted, nor did we want the harsh winters.
As we began to be gone on weekends and our children started to question why we were going on these trips, it came time to tell them of our journey. Without a doubt it was the hardest thing we have had to do, as we were parents who taught families stuck together and that included geography. And, as expected they thought we were completely insane, which may have had some basis for reality, however, we were on a journey to find that old Victorian house which we could remodel, live in and turn into a Tea House; serving others vs taking from others.
The journey had periods of fear, doubt and even questioning our own sanity, however, longer periods of anticipation as to where we were going to land and how all of this is going to unfold. During the last quarter of 2002 we found this old 1889 Queen Anne Victorian house in Cañon City, CO. We came down to look at it and it was a disaster, a bank repossession that no one had lived in for a couple of years; however, both of us could see the potential. We made an offer and thought it was ours, however, the realtor called to say we had been beat by one day, they had another offer. That was devastating, however, Linda was convinced that if it was to be it would have been so, we forgot it until December, at which time we were told the deal fell through and we made a lower offer, which was accepted. We closed on the house December 23, 2002, the same month and day that my father had passed away in 1970.
We began our journey in January, February, 2003, which a whole new chapter to write about in the future.
The Cañon City Queen Anne Tea House was completed, licensed, insured and began operations on December 10, 2007.
We have served over 2500 customers since opening; we have dealt with housing my mother in an on site carriage house, a fire that destroyed the second floor bathroom and a large number of blessings to get to this point in time. We will write more of the story as time is available, and we can say it is true that to follow in faith, to serve vs consume, is an incredible journey; not a simple journey, but one filled with joy, pain, stress and a certain level of peace you can't get sitting on a couch watching a football game.
January 14, 1966, I was introduced to Ms. Linda Brenning, it was her 19th birthday. I was smitten by her beauty and genuineness. I took her home, from a dancing facility, not realizing she lived on one side of the tracks (white collar) and I was on the other side (blue collar.) I asked her out for the next night and she agreed. I ran out of gas on my way home and had to call my father to come get me at 1 a.m.
January 15, 1966, I went to the Denver Dry Goods and asked what was the most popular perfume, they said Channel #5. I pointed at one of the bottles and said, “I’ll take it,” not realizing it would cost me three days wages. It was worth it as she was so surprised. That began a two year courtship where I ran away time and time again; my father and mother fought all the time and that was what I thought marriage was all about.
Then one evening her best friend, Sharon, stopped me as I was cruising through a drive-in, pointing her finger at me and warning me that I was going to loose her if I didn’t straighten up and fly right. I was afraid of Sharon and didn’t want to loose Linda, so I began to change, resulting in my asking her to marry me, by letter, when I was in the Marine Corps. boot camp.
I have been truly blessed by this woman of faith, she is my helpmate with a servant heart, she has a deep love for her savior resulting in her being a woman of faith. Her Jesus example; a very sick daughter; and the witnessing of a man die, right in front of me, led to my acceptance of a personal savior, July 23, 1973.
It has been a blessing to celebrate every birthday with my bride, all 44 of them. She continually amazes me in the depth of her love for the trinity, me, our children, grandchildren, church, personal friends and Queen Anne customers.
I never did anything to be worthy of such love, however, Linda knew the depth of her saviors love and has transferred it to me. I love you Tea Lady, may we be able to serve others, side by side for the next decade or more.