A Whole Year

When I think back...
waaaaay back to when the first seed was planted of Portland,
it seems so crazy to me.
Portland, a place that was merely a potty stop on road trips to California.
I remember it having a lot of bridges, and it does.
I had never given it much thought, 
let alone considered a possible home for my family.

And yet...
it has become so much apart of me, of my family.
The experiences, the places, the people
have really shaped every aspect of my life
way more then I ever imagined possible.
I am really into being comfortable.
Stepping outside of my bubble makes me really nervous.
So my plan was to move,
put my head down and (I was hoping to work),
not make too many connections.
I had friends, and I absolutely hate good byes.

Spencer and I in the first few weeks we moved. Little did we know at that time how the Gorge would be our backyard!

As it turns out, I would never have made it without the friends I made.
I quickly became friends with Marissa and Michelle, 
whom you have heard about through this blog I am certain. 
Those two became my life raft through the crazy journey of doctorate school.
Together we learned the balance
of giving our husbands space to study,
letting them have 'guy time' outside of school,
and pushing them beyond the textbooks into having some really fun adventures.
We occupied each others time as we waited for them to come home.
We each learned what our men needed to study best.
And we filled the voids of loneliness as we each had moved away from our families
into a whole new world.
What would I have done if I stuck to my terrible mentality
that I didn't "need" anymore friends? 
I can't imagine...
Those girls, among others I met through UWS, became such
important people that I really did need.
We were in such unique situation that no one else could really understand. 

Camping trip May 2011
School Christmas banquet, December 2012
 Girls night out! Por Que No. With some of the girls that are usually in class with our guys.

The three of us girls, 
talked every angle of life together,
we all had babies together,
we went through new life, getting married,
growing our marriage through the busyness of school,
becoming moms to little girls,
death of family members,
drama with friends.... the list goes on.

These three all have their birthday within three days of each other.
May 2012
 Welcoming baby Lola, our third American girl. To think we are all moms of two girls.
 The Sandstone Manor (where we lived) pool! We spent plenty of time here, and we sure miss it this summer!
 Last Spring, all our girls.

One of my fondest Portland memories is the walks Marissa and I would take on the paths by her house.
She lived in the cutest area called Fairview. By her apartment there were two lakes, which had paths around them,
that would lead to Target, and also into the little village.
It had my favourite library, park and of course, Target.
Marissa and I would walk here several times.
To encourage both our labours, with our babies,
spending too much time (and sometimes money) at Target.
We even once walked there in a hail/snow storm.

On top of that, 
within the first year of us living there I joined a moms group
from the recommendation of Sharla.
MOPS, which was held at a church, 
became so much apart of my life.
It stretched me as a mom,
it stretched me spiritually,
it encouraged me and made me feel so normal
in those early (and later) days of parenthood.

Claire and James. These two became quite good friends.
Leslie, James' mom, and I had our babies just a few days apart and were in the same hospital! 
I knew her from MOPS, but our friendship didn't take root until that day in the discharge class at the hospital.

Here I made some deep connections
with some amazing, friendly and Godly women.
They showed me ways to be a support to my husband,
to be the example of Christ to my daughter,
to raise a purposeful family.
Many days I left the morning with tears in my eyes.
Marissa joined me when she became pregnant,
and it lead us to have some deeper discussions about motherhood too.

Through MOPS, I learned more about the church it was held in.
We had attended two other churches before,
none of which really felt like home.
Later, and unfortunately not sooner,
Spencer and I walked through the doors of East Hill on a Sunday morning.
I left Claire in the nursery with workers she already new,
and walking in the halls it felt so good to recognize and know faces from MOPS.
It felt like home.
That fall we joined a small group,
many of the moms I had known for months already.
Spencer made connections with their husbands,
and we all became a tight knit group of families.
We didn't leave our baggage at the door,
we all brought it with us and helped each other pick it up.
We prayed over each other, 
we fasted for each other,
we shared our sin, our struggles and our triumphs.
It was such authentic community, it blew my mind. 

Thanksgiving Dinner 2012

By this point I am sure you get the picture,
that when I left Canada with this idea in mind,
God laughed at me.
He showed me what He had planned and, of course,
it was way bigger then I could have imagined! 
Portland, its people, have become so ingrained into my life.
It has shaped the way I pray for others,
the way I worship,
my relationships.
Its where we grew our family.

It is hard to believe that it has been a whole year of us living back in Canada. 
A year ago we packed up the trailer with all our stuff
and drove back to stay.
Spencer and I both get bouts of homesickness.
When we here of people visiting,
see Portland friends,
get updates on Facebook
 we cry a little inside (sometimes outside too.)

Packing, packing, packing
(Look how little she looks!)

 Little helper
 And its all ready to go... but are we?!

It feels good being back here, in our own home,
with Spencer working as a chiropractor.
If we weren't, it would mean he wasn't successful in school.
We have received such a warm welcome
from family, friends and our church.
There are so many pros to living back here.
Having family near by while we raise our kids is so important.
Living close to our friends is amazing, getting to see them way more often! 
The list goes on.

The day after we moved home, at Dad's first ball game.
Reunited with Auntie Whitney.
 Claire's adjustment to the big move.
The first two days she kept asking if we can go home, it absolutely broke me.
She dry nursed for five nights before bed.
Thankfully there was so much fun summer activity happening,
she was easily distracted and seemed to settle quickly.
It was the weeks leading up that proved to be the hardest for her.
Now she doesn't remember living there (again, heartbreaking),
but we show her pictures of our friends there often.

We are so excited to see what else God has in store for us.
I trust it will be as good as the last year has been,
and the three years before that.
(Especially since we have a little package coming soon!)


  1. Lovely Michelle. It's about being able to get out of our comfort zone and allowing God to work. I have learned much from you and Spencer and your life together.

  2. You're making me tear up! Loved out Portland adventure. Life was so good


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