Julia Nielsen moved to Portland about the same time I moved to Portland. We friended each other on facebook first due to knowing we were becoming colleagues. We had a few mutual friends in Ohio and they were cool connections as she was moving from Ohio and I went to seminary in the midwest and…United Methodists can usually find cool people in common.
I was being appointed to Rose City Park in NE Portland and Jules was getting appointed to what was University Park UMC and is now Portsmouth Union Church in North Portland. When we were both in town and could make a date for lunch, we did. I remember this day so clearly because it kicked off an amazing friendship.
We met at a place that no longer exists and separately we ordered the same thing, the brussel sprout sandwich. We didn’t know it until we compared our order (we ordered at the counter at this place). The sandwich was phenomenal and we couldn’t stop talking about it. We also talked about so many other things in a way that meant that we both were looking for friendship and depth to friendship.
At the end of the lunch we looked at each other, and because I think we were both in the same spaces in life, we both said at about the same time that we wanted to be friends. We then outlined what that meant for each of us. It meant making time for the other. None of this “sure! Let’s get coffee!” And then it takes forever to do. No, we would be in it for coffees and deep conversations and showing up for each other.
We have held extremely true to that first conversation. We meant it. Jules and I have a weekly facetime date and we talk almost every day in other ways. She has visited me in Berlin and I met her in Copenhagen. I try to stay with her each of my visits home so that we can have coffee in the mornings and wine at night so we can talk for hours.
Jules is married to Chris who is amazing too. Jules is an ordained deacon of the UMC and is passionate about housing for the houseless. She is a co pastor at Portsmouth Union Church with a Disciples of Christ pastor and together they have lead their church into visioning out what it would be like to build affordable housing on their church grounds. She is passionate about her people and creative as well as organized. She is getting certified in the Enneagram and loves to outfit their house with plants, good food, and just the right cool touches. She is obsessed with Christmas during the appropriate season and loves God. Jules and I have laughed so hard that we hurt, wine tasted all over the valley, eaten way too much crab on the coast, and have stayed up late just talking. We have prayed together, gone to many a board meeting together, and have cried together. She cares deeply about the world.
I could go on and on but mostly this is to say Happy Birthday to Jules!