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    We Bought (and Sold) a House

    The past few months have been a whirlwind for our family- namely, it started back in May when we decided to sell our “forever” home. If you’d been following me on Instagram for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard that we’re very invested in our friends’ church plant in Portland, Oregon. We knew we wanted to be involved in a big way, and whether that meant 1) traveling frequently or 2) moving there one day, we weren’t sure, but we knew that #1 was where to start. In order to do that, we couldn’t keep our house because, well, MONEY. We could pay all of our bills, but there wasn’t much left over, and we knew that changing that was a pretty important first step. So, we listed our home and, in that moment, traded the American dream for a Kingdom dream. We want to use our lives to bring glory to God, and that is the kind of dream that we want to focus on! Our house sold after just two weeks on the market, and we started to search for the new one quickly!

    We knew we wanted to downsize, both in finances and square footage, and buying an older home we could renovate was really important to us. We found a cute brick ranch built in 1964, and after some back-and-forth with the seller, settled on a sales price and a closing date. Meet the new place:

    The day we moved out, I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed- moving out of our new custom home into a fixer upper that needed a whole LOT of work. It just felt more painful than I thought it would- this was our choice. Why was it so hard?? I pulled into the drive-way to pack up a few last minute things and saw this. What a beautiful reminder of God’s promise to us, and a soothing picture of peace for my Spirit. We were doing the right thing.

    So far, we’ve painted the living room and the boys’ rooms and totally gutted the kitchen. We’ve had a few hiccups (oops, that’s probably asbestos in the flooring we just ripped out!… we need to replace ALL the ductwork?… the kitchen cabinets will take HOW long to get delivered?!) already, but we’re excited to put our stamp on this sweet house and make it our home.

    Here was the living room on moving day. What, you don’t love that gorgeous shade of green-beige on the walls?? I don’t know what you mean.

    The kitchen… these are pictures from our initial tour, so this is not our stuff. It was well decorated, but those are original 1960s cabinets that don’t actually close- you can even tell that from this picture. Oh, and that pink pot holder on the counter? Covering a giant hole in the laminate. Nice. Don’t even get me started on the layer of funk on the drains in the sink. BLECH.

    It had a terrible layout, segmenting a large room into three sections. And always, I love a good ceiling fan in the kitchen. Especially one low enough to decapitate you.

    Here it is the day we did demo on the kitchen. It has the most amazing wide planked cedar wood paneling on the walls. It’s been given a coat of white paint, but definitely needs some significant touch-ups.

    Here it is this weekend after we replaced the subfloor and laid the new Lifeproof laminate (in Essential Oak) from Home Depot. We will be refinishing those original hardwoods (all over the house, bedrooms, too!) to a more mellow, natural color that matches pretty closely with this new flooring, so the transition between the two won’t be so stark later on.

    Tomorrow, our new cabinets, countertops and appliances are set to arrive. We ordered the cabinets from IKEA three weeks ago during the last 48 hours of their kitchen sale. We, along with the rest of the universe, and the local delivery company was so inundated with IKEA packages, that it took them two weeks to sort through them all. Thankfully, the wait is over! We will be installing them ourselves, as well as our new wooden countertops (also IKEA) and totally changing the layout of this room.

    Follow along on this renovation journey with us as we delve into some major DIY goodness (we hope).

    #Whole30 Egg Roll Bowls

    We started on Whole 30 on Monday, feeling like we needed a food reset. I’m already totally gluten free, but admittedly, we’ve been eating way too much cheese and sugar lately! My dear husband is also *perhaps* addicted to ice cream (no judgement, it happens to the best of us, babe). So we decided to embark on the Whole 30 plan, which if you don’t know, is Paleo plus a few restrictions. So you’re eating only whole, unprocessed foods and NO sweeteners of any kind (even natural ones like honey).

    If you like getting new recipes, follow me on Instagram where I share almost-nightly videos in my story about what we’re eating and how I made it. I’m going to start sharing some quick and delicious recipes to get you started on your own Whole 30 (or, just a few clean eating options if you’re not about 30 days of it!).

    Last night, I made Egg Roll Bowls, which are exactly what they sound like: a bowl full of egg roll filling that makes you very happy. My general cooking philosophy is just to experiment until I get it right. So, I like to peruse Pinterest for ideas, I read through several recipes, then I take the pieces that I like, add my own flavors and combine them into my own concoction. This method has served me well!

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    Egg Roll Bowls (Whole 30|Paleo|Gluten-Free)

    Ingredients:

    1 lb ground pork (you could also use turkey or chicken)
    1 12oz bag fresh coleslaw mix (with cabbage and carrots)
    1/2 onion, diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    3 green onions, sliced (white and green portions)
    3 tbl coconut aminos (if you’re not doing Whole30 or Paleo, you can also use gluten free soy sauce)
    1 tsp rice wine vinegar
    1 tsp sesame oil
    1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 tsp ground ginger
    salt and pepper to taste

    Directions

    1. Brown your ground pork in a large pan. Once it’s almost brown, add your olive oil, onion and garlic. Saute until your onion is translucent, about four minutes, over medium heat.
    2. Add your ground ginger, coconut aminos, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and your coleslaw mix. Mix it up and let this cook down for about five minutes or until your cabbage is tender.
    3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
    4. Garnish with your green onion and enjoy!

    It really is that easy! This was so delicious, quick and filling. Totally satisfies the craving for an egg roll without the fried exterior. Enjoy!

     

    Loving PDX

    We got back from Portland on Monday, late, and I intended to blog about it way sooner, but vomiting happened. Lots of it. As we were getting ready to leave last Thursday night, Ford threw up. And threw up. And threw up. Three times total, but then slept through the night. I was doing the typical mother thing of “I’m not leaving this baby if he is sick, you cannot make me, I refuse!” Then, I realized that it was likely the stomach bug that was going around the church nursery, which is a 12 to 24 hour thing. Ford didn’t have a fever, he acted totally fine after that last time and I came to my senses. My in-laws assured me that he would be just fine with them, and I relented. We were off to the airport at 5 a.m. for our 7 a.m. flight to Atlanta. I was so nervous, y’all, I am shocked I didn’t throw up, myself (oh wait… give me a week <– spoiler alert). I haven’t flown in 12 years, and I am the biggest control freak in the universe. Read: I don’t like flying.

    Then, we had to sit and wait, which is great for the nerves. Leaving Ford at home was also hard on me, and I would tell you that I didn’t cry at all, but that would be a large lie. So, the first flight to Atlanta from Columbia was a super short and easy one, which eased my nervousness a good bit.
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    Once we arrived in Atlanta, we found our terminal then grabbed some food and coffee before boarding our LONG flight to PDX. That plane ride was fairly miserable. We were packed in there like sardines, it was HOT and long. Luckily, it was very smooth, which I was incredibly thankful for. I’m very subject to motion sickness, but wearing Sea Bands really helped. I still couldn’t look out of the window for too long without feeling gross, though. The flight there was about 5.5 hours- so I did what I had to do.

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    Also, this view is crazy to me, and it almost made me throw up.

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    I took a picture to show the boys then closed the window and proceeded to pray for the plane to stay in the air. Also, I cried in the airplane bathroom about leaving Ford, then I got ahold of myself and was pretty much fine for the rest of the trip. Mostly.

    Once we got to Portland, it was smooth sailing. The nicest people in the universe work at the PDX airport, and everyone was so sweet to us two clueless Southerners. We picked up our rental car and got a complimentary upgrade to an SUV (thanks, Enterprise guy!). Then it was off to our AirBnB which was ADORABLE. We stayed in a studio apartment behind someone’s house in the Sellwood area of Portland, and it was perfect for us. We walked everywhere, and we loved the community’s vibe.

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    The reason for the trip was to really experience the Portland area, Sellwood-Moreland in particular, because our friends are moving there in July to plant a church. We want to be as much of a help as we can be, and we figured seeing the area was a good start if we’re going to be good advocates for them here at home. It was a great thing for us to do, and we did lots of praying as we walked the streets and saw the sights. Downtown Portland was like a different universe. We saw a lot we’d never experienced here, including an absolutely huge homeless population and a great deal of what I can only describe as a heaviness that couldn’t be put into words. Just certain places you’d walk through, the looks on the faces of the people would hurt your heart. We did the tourist-y things like eat at Blue Star Donuts and visit Powell’s Books, but we also people-watched a lot and just observed.

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    Totally gluten-free bakery. I could have lived there.

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    It didn’t take long to understand why the Lotts chose Sellwood. It was wonderful. It had such a small town vibe, which you wouldn’t expect as a part of such a massive metropolitan area. Kids rode their bikes together down the streets, there were dogs tied up outside of local coffee shops, shop owners greeted patrons by name. It was sweet and authentic. I didn’t really know what to expect, coming from the super conservative Bible belt into a much more liberal and religiously unaffiliated area, but I can tell you this much: if my job as a believer is to show the love of Jesus to others in order to bring them to faith, I don’t think I’m doing as good of a job as the people of Sellwood in loving my neighbor. The kindness and generosity they show to one another is beautiful. The truly love and care about one another. They support local businesses because they support their friends– instead of buying a board game on Amazon they walk down the street to buy one from the local board game store (yes, there was one) for a dollar more because they know the owner and their family. They buy a cup of coffee from the coffee shop around the corner because it benefits the neighborhood (and your mouth, holy moly, best coffee of my life). They fight for equality for everyone because they love their neighbors who are diverse and worth standing up for.fullsizeoutput_22e7

    Y’all, I get it. I don’t think I did before, but even though I may not agree with every bit of the politics or values I saw, I do agree that we need to be loving each other better because that’s what Jesus wants us to do. How am I going to bring people to know a loving God if I’m not showing them that same love? We don’t have to agree to be kind. We don’t have to be the same to love. We do have be the hands and feet of Jesus in a world screaming for a change.

    For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

    – Galatians 5:13-14

    This trip changed a lot in my heart, and I’m so thankful for that. Yes, it was fun, we ate amazing food, drank great coffee and slept through the night (praise Jesus, You are good!). More than those things, we opened our eyes a little wider and saw in a new way. I’m sure I’ll blog again about where we went and what we ate (because food is my happy place), but for now, I just want y’all to know that Portland is amazing and its people deserve our prayers. We can’t wait to see what God does through East Bridge Church in the coming years as they invest in and love the community there.

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    Coming home at midnight and having the boys run into our room the next day while it was still dark was just perfect. Until they infected us with the stomach virus and we spent the weekend throwing up. Welcome home!

    Portland.

    It’s been forever since I’ve written here. Namely because I’ve been pouring myself out each morning in my time spent in Scripture and journaling- I have had nothing left to share with anyone else. The Lord has been working on me in some amazing ways the past few months. Breaking me of my selfish ambition and filling me with the desires of His heart. It’s been a process of pruning and refining, and while I’m still in need of quite a bit more of that, I feel like some fruit is already starting to grow here. A season of quiet is needed sometimes when big things are happening inside of our spirits.

    A family in our church is moving to Portland, Oregon, in July to plant a church. It’s a story that I’ve grown increasingly more invested in over time. It started with a natural interest as I worked with them to create a church logo and some print material. I loved hearing the heart behind the mission: they desire to share the gospel in Portland because it is the most religiously unaffiliated city in the United States, with 42% self-professing to be not religious. Listening to them talk about their trips into the city and how amazing the people of Portland are. The kindness, the passion, the interest they share so willingly, even with people that seem different. How refreshing that openness looks today when so many are so closed off. The more I heard, the more I needed to hear.

    I guess I’ve always thought of missionaries as being so different from me, so to see the Lott family, a couple my own age with four young children making such a huge move was really fascinating. I felt something when I heard them share, and the more I learned, the more I wanted to be a part of it. When I first mentioned it to Trevor, he agreed that we needed to do something. We’ve committed to giving and praying, but how can we really be a part of this at a deeper level?

    I’m not a crier. I’m just not one of those girls that wears their emotions at surface level, and it takes a lot to bring me to tears. So when I sat in church, tears pouring down my face, as our pastor talked about what it means to be sent as a disciple, I knew my spirit was connecting to something much deeper than a missional sermon series. Evangelism scares the pants off of me. I think we all get an image of street preachers hollering and condemning passersby, but that is absolutely not how I want to share the hope and the freedom found in Jesus. It’s about living life as a disciple. Being different. Being kind. Loving people well. Trying to live like Christ in order to show people His love before ever mentioning His name.

    “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

    That’s the kind of disciple that I want to be, and that’s exactly what the Lotts are doing in Portland. I’m learning that all of us are called to go. That going may look different for each one of us, but going isn’t just for a career missionary. It’s for moms and dads. Students. Grandparents. Kids. If you love Jesus, part of that relationship is to tell other people about it. Use your gifts and your talents to serve in a way that’s unique to you- it’s not about doing things like everyone else or emulating someone. God equips each one of us in a specific way, and we are to use those gifts for His glory.

    Friday, we are flying out to Portland. Me, terrified of airplanes and being not in control, is willingly boarding a plane for a 5.5 hour flight—that in itself is a testament that God is in this! Trevor and I are praying about how we can be actively involved. We love a city we’ve never even seen—how does that work? We figured we need to do some seeing. As we walk the streets and pray together, we hope God will reveal His plan for us and just how we can be a part of this amazing wave of goodness for a city that He loves, too.

    Follow the story of East Bridge Church and the Lott family as they prepare to move here (AND… please pray that I don’t have a nervous breakdown when I leave my still-nursing one year-old for the first time and get into a tin can with wings… because the likelihood is high).

    Sometimes, you just have to show up.

    Sometimes, you just have to show up. Have you ever felt like God was about to do something, but you had no idea what it was? I’ve felt that way for months, and it’s been driving me crazy. I’ve had this restless sense in my spirit and just could not figure out what it meant. I’ve been a part of an amazing group of ladies for the past six months, and we meet weekly to study Scripture together (and laugh. And talk. And laugh.). I’ve talked about it with them, they’ve prayed for me about it, and it wasn’t until just over the past two weeks that I have started to gain some clarity.

    I work at a church. An awesome church that I adore being a part of, and I have a great job as a communications director. Seriously, I am blessed beyond reason with this job. Being around ministry every day is so great, and having my work go toward supporting the Kingdom is so fulfilling. Even so, I had this feeling of “I’m supposed to be doing something more” that I didn’t understand and couldn’t shake. I knew it wasn’t discontent with my job… so what was it?? Now I know.

    Our women’s ministry at church needed new leadership, and I have been feeling drawn toward women’s ministry. I love blogging, interacting with you ladies and being involved with the women at my church, and I feel so strongly about empowering women, so I knew it would be something I enjoyed. So myself and two other sweet friends, Karie and Elizabeth, took on this ministry and got to work. We prayed, we planned and we prayed some more as we dug in and sought God’s will for the women at our church. Yesterday was our launch event, and God was all over it.

    You can spend lots of time planning for something, but sometimes, things don’t come together. Then there are the other times, where lots of time and effort come together with God’s favor and everything goes smoothly, but more than that–it goes better than you could have ever hoped it would go. That was yesterday.

    Our goal was for true multigenerational community, and we got it in droves. Women, of all ages and stages, worshiping and fellowshipping together, and it was awesome. When I got up on stage to address these precious women, it clicked for me: this is what I want to do. Authentic community for women is sorely needed- there’s so much fake out there for us, but what we need, and what God wants for us, is to be real with one another. Being a facilitator of that was just beyond wonderful.

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    Our guest speaker was Jess Connolly, and she was perfect. Debbie Hopper of Seacoast Women’s Ministry was planning to be there, as well, but her flight back from Africa was changed, so she was present with us in video form—Debbie is Jess’ mom, which is a hilarious story, because I had zero idea of that when I first talked to Debbie to seek some of her boundless wisdom about women’s ministry. Jess delivered a heartfelt word that resonated so deeply with our women. Then, we had fun and bonded by being creative and learning new things together. One woman after another came up to us, thanking us for the day, and we just kept telling them that we were just doing what God led us to do, and that it was His hand on the day that made it what it was. We showed up, listened to His prompting and He did the rest.

    There’s a verse in Acts that I was reading this week that hit home for me:

    “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.” – Acts 20:7-12

    Paul was doing what he felt led to do, and he kept preaching into the wee hours because he intended to leave the next day. Well, God intended to do a little more than old Paul had planned. Poor Eutychus couldn’t keep his eyes open and passed out, then fell to his death—not exactly what you expect during a Bible study! But God. Paul went down to the man, and through God’s power in him, raised the young man back to life. It wasn’t any power of Paul’s that performed this miracle, but because Paul showed up and was obedient to the call, God did more than he could have ever imagined through him. Sometimes, you just have to show up.

    That’s what I want for us, ladies. I want for us to show up for one another and do God’s will- to grow in community, to grow together and to serve together, because if we’re faithful to that call God is going to move big time through us. Let’s be ready and willing to move into whatever God is calling us to do because he that promised is faithful. Every single time.

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    Elizabeth, Jess, Me and Karie