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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!

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