two brothers

Our December calendar started out with two consecutive weekend visits from two beloved brothers.

You can see the blur of Darcy’s tail as she greets DK (younger brother of Margaret-Rose, once known to her as Daryl). 

Darcy knows she’ll get a power walk out of DK and didn’t even protest the foot cleaning on their return.

DK’s visits involve checking in with “the kids” — his own and ours while he’s in town. We “worried” that when Mom Edna died he’d stop visiting us from all the way up in Winthrop, WA. We’re glad that didn’t happen. Mauri likes making breakfast and coffee for our guests.

And then he was off to build a deck on another “kid’s” house. Hurry back, DK!

A few days later we welcomed brother John from Florida. Darcy wonders if she might get a walk out of this stranger.

This visit included lots of show and tell — some of my photo book projects, my graphics/editing/photography work for Friendsview Retirement Community, and I think most enjoyable to him my seven giant notebooks of family archives and memorabilia. The contents brought on much conversation and remembering together. He probably won’t appreciate this photo, taken without enough warning to remove his reading glasses. It seems reasonable to me that an 80-year-old would need reading glasses.

Just like old times, we sang together. Our mother used to accompany us, but Mauri filled that role nicely. He knows all the songs we love and can play them in whatever key our aging voices need.

We got to hear Mauri’s two brass groups play Christmas music at Chapters, a local bookstore.

And got treated to a candy cane by a passing Santa Claus!

He posed with me for the requisite “remember when you visited us?” photo…

… as we headed to George Fox Bauman Auditorium for a wonderful Christmas concert.

The next morning we had just enough time to attend the worship portion of NFC’s morning service and hear the handbell choir and Mauri lead singing with the men’s quartet — then head toward the airport in the first Oregon rain of his whole visit.

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don’t give up

Several years ago in our small town of Newberg, OR, signs started showing up all around, mostly in the grassy medians between street and sidewalk, with messages of encouragement to passersby.

The curious could easily google “don’t give up signs” and find THIS and THIS

Daughter Erin put feet on the idea and ordered signs to post throughout the colonias outside Juarez where we build a house every Thanksgiving. We weren’t aware of her plans until the end of our visit with Jasmine, when she tried several places to post a sign along the road outside her home, finding the dirt concrete hard.

The persistent will always find a way!

Then these signs showed up beside the house we built.

The next morning as we shared highlights in our team gathering we learned that Leo had driven Krista and Erin around the neighborhoods sharing encouragement. 

You can see they found unforgiving dirt everywhere.

Erin shared her story on the Don’t Give Up Facebook page: 
“After seeing the Don’t Give Up signs in my own community and hearing and reading stories about the true impact they were making and the opportunity for conversation they were creating, I was inspired to share this movement with another community close to my heart. This Thanksgiving the encouraging messages of hope—No Te Rindas (Don’t Give Up)—and intrinsic worth—Vales Mucho (You Matter/You Have Value) were shared in the colonias of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. This is a community where it may seem difficult to see where hope exists, but there are glimmers all around. May these signs add to the voices of those who are already partners in the good work being done there.”

We always leave a little piece of our hearts behind. This year we left tangible hope. Thanks, Erin!

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a ninth home for the holidays

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I begin this post with a view of retirement.

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Now that we are both retired, we can enjoy extra days at the beginning and end of our annual Thanksgiving adventure to Juarez with our family. We will count and name our blessings one by one until heaven is our home. How blessed we are the Andersons let us crash in the comfort of their home in Queen Creek, AZ, several days prior to our drive to El Paso — and even provide a furry companion!

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Attending church with them is always a highlight.

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. . . and sharing in whatever happens those particular days. This year it included watching Quinn and Marissa help Sarah assemble “Save the Date” announcements.

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Soon we were on the road to El Paso, where we enjoyed what is now a tradition of Texas Roadhouse food. You know: “When in Texas . . . ”

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As always, we meet the rest of the team — this year thirty-two of us, up from the original thirteen — at Harvest Christian Center to shift supplies and our necessaries to the Missions Ministries trailers.

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It’s always a great reunion as we reconnect with family members and meet new ones.

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After final shopping at Walmart, we cross the border. This year was seamless, with minimal “taxes” paid for the contents of the trailers. In fact, it went so well the end-of-day light provided new vistas as we head toward the colonias.

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I won’t lie. Unloading the trailers and displaying all the diapers and formula donated to the work of Babies of Juarez remains an annual highlight for me. But this is a year-round effort, and other groups get to do the same thing, giving Quinn regular opportunities to offer supporters visual results of their donations. It’s a beautiful sight!

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Helpers Sage (and Brynn, who scooted off before this picture) have learned the importance of stacking the supplies to exact specifications (labels facing forward, nothing upside down, etc). We might have missed one or two, but there’s grace at this hour of a long day.

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And then, the haul back to the storage room,

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a community effort that always brings an even bigger smile to my face.

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And to Cassidy’s face too. She knows her Gus needs pictures!

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We just keep making back/forth trips until it’s all moved.

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There she is! We found Brynn . . .

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Last spring this activity center was added to the mission team center. It’s a wonderful space for morning “assembly,” when we start each day with highlights, worship singing, and devos without the distraction of kitchen sounds. We did miss the wafting smell of bacon though.

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After breakfast we’re transported to the job site and gather around the pre-poured concrete foundation with the family whose home we will build. This year we got acquainted with Carlos, Rosa, Carlos (Charley), and Bianca.

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Quinn checks in with our beloved Leo.

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The work gets going. I climbed a dirt hill to get this shot.

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Randee caught me in the act.

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Pano view of the job site.

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The Hatch women.

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My girl swings a man-sized hammer with the best of ’em!

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Cousins who swing hammers together . . .

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You can hear the cacophony of hammering sounds, can’t you?

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Krista and Rafa from the Mexican crew teamed up — he got the nails started and Krista pounded them home.

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Time to raise the walls!

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Bailey holds the outer wall while Leonel braces it with the interior wall.

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Hardworking Tera takes a break.

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Add a roof . . .

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Time out for Rock Paper Scissors.

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Now the dreaded insulation.

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And the brave team who stepped up to cut and install it.

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Inside the windows are cut . . .

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. . . while the inspector/catcher waits outside.

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Team Macy installs windows.

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While up on the roof . . .

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. . . preparation for a new kind of roofing, one that will last years longer.

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Hey, up there!

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Hello down there!

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We found photographing these two irresistible. Fifty years from now they’ll be saying, “Remember when we caulked windows together?”

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With such a large work team, Mauri and I could take observation breaks as needed.

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During one observation break, Emmanuel told us his remarkable story of war and loss and refugee camps and redemption and hope.

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And by the end of the morning, we had a house with four insulated and windowed walls, three rooms, and a metal roof!

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But wait, a high spot still needs a bit of caulk and the ladders are all in the truck.

Are you hungry? Let’s head back to the team center to see what delicious authentic Mexican food the cooks have prepared for us.

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OK, so this picture is really a breakfast shot. What can I say?

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Afternoon on the first day brings multiple options, so I showed up first at the clinic, hoping to get a shot of Cassidy helping in the pharmacy, since I missed her on the job site. But it was hard to be disappointed when I had these two willing to pose — Doctor Scott Finkbeiner and Nurse Sarah Morrison. They offer medical help to the community mornings and afternoons while the rest of us build the house.

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Soon we loaded ourselves into the vans and headed for a few visits.

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First a quick stop at the house Cassidy and Maycee (and Quinn and a group from Gilbert Christian Schools) built in October.

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Of special interest, Carmen, the grandmother raising her 14 grandchildren. She always welcomes us with open arms.

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Last year we learned it was her birthday, so this year we showed up with a few presents.

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And we stumbled through “Happy Birthday to You” in Spanish. Sage and Brynn are learning Spanish in school and loved getting to use it on this trip.

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Next, a stop to see Jasmine and her three children. Hers was our second build, eight years ago.

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We especially love to see how Fidencio is doing, each year an obvious improvement over the previous. He’s become a happy chatterbox though his cerebral palsy inhibits his ability to walk.

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Still, one of the biggest improvements noted over time is Jasmine’s brilliant smile. We count on Krista to fill us in later on all Jasmine and Fidencio had to say.

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And then the whole team heads to one of the local churches for what we call a food outreach.

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After everyone who comes is fed, they gather ’round tables for crafts . . .

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. . . or head outside for soccer or giant bubbles.

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We wonder what Dusty would do if no one brought a baby to the outreach.

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Back at the job site the following morning the inside crew put their muscles to work on the sheetrock.

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Outside it’s all hands on paint rollers!

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Progress inside, a crew of happy mudders!

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Carlos is a sheetrocker by trade, so he (I’m sure) appreciated this opportunity to show his son how it’s done.

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Did I mention Bailey and Sarah are engaged to be married in June?

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Jonathan is still smiling as we near completion.

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Emily poses by the door trim she meticulously painted. (We’re instructed not to paint the screen door.)

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Super cute cousins!

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I must have had a premonition about the house color choices.

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A dirt-pile view of the finished house.

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While the family waits next door, we take in all the items Lea gathered stateside to make the house a home.

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You see here that John manages to do both photography and work!

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Mauri in thoughtful repose waits for the interior decorators to finish their magic.

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The house is wired for electrical, though not hooked up yet. Also, the mud has to dry before the interior can be painted.  And now everything is ready for the dedication.

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Pastor Luis joins the family, and with translator Olga’s help they hear from members of our team and we hear from them. We pray together and dedicate this new home to God.

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We can only imagine how this might feel . . .

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(Thanks, John, for these great shots!)

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Just a few pictures of the afternoon trip to the orphanage.

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That’s Krista reading scripture in the evening church service. The team also went to the front to sing “This is Amazing Grace!” In English, of course, but then the locals sang it in Spanish.

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Our ninth family Thanksgiving build came to a close on Saturday morning.

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Each of the three mornings we gathered in the blue activity center and everyone took turns sharing highlights from the previous day. As we left for breakfast the final morning, I snapped this picture of the expansion of the team center and imagined what would happen here only a few days later. Quinn would return with another team, this time made up of the pastors, elders, and staff of her church: Redemption Gateway. Their 2017 Christmas offering would fund what they built on that concrete slab last week — additional accommodations for future teams. CLICK HERE to hear their lead pastor, Luke, tell a bit about their time here. Careful now, you might get hooked on his excellent teaching and go back for more every week. I should know . . .

It will surprise you, I’m sure, to learn I have many more pictures I could have shared. But I do have one more related story I’ll post separately. Thanks for joining us in spirit through this illustrated story. We know many people prayed for us and gave from their resources to make it happen, and we are grateful.

Posted in family matters, travels | 4 Comments

on the pot

Bob Hampton sleeping

Our plumber and friend, Bob, posted this picture on Facebook this morning with the caption: “I’m hoping not to fall asleep on the job today, as I was caught on camera a while back.”

Of course it got a lot of laughs out of me, especially when I noticed his mom (also my friend) had tied him to the pot with a towel. Not a bad strategy, Maribeth! Raising four sons requires creativity.

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You might imagine I’d have a matchup! Taylor fell asleep in the most unreasonable places (yes, I have a series of Taylor sleep pictures!), here shown waiting for me to brush his teeth. While there are differences in the two pictures, I see so many samenesses I had to share it.

Posted in nostalgia, series / match-ups | 1 Comment

paying tribute to a tree

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This old apple tree has made an appearance on this blog numerous times. To the average passerby, it’s just a gnarly and gangly eyesore, its better days far behind. It’s been dismembered for overhanging the property line and for taking up space needed for housing growth. It has given shade and fruit for much longer than the 38 years Macys have inhabited “514.”

To Pete and John Macy it’s also a playhouse. Well, a former playhouse also shared with their sister, Rachel. But its time has come and we’re very close to saying goodbye to it (in its current standing form).

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So the local kids and grandkids showed up to pay tribute to this old climbing friend. Here’s a side view of the photoshoot.

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And here is the front view. At first it was a little too high for Lincoln.

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All is well.

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Happier on his own.

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Lovely Sage. Pete upper right.

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Around all the hubbub of climbers and observers, Mauri and I each caught these two in a candid pose — in which, if I had looked at the Macy album photos in advance, I might have requested they switch spots.

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Still, I’m completely enamored with this matchup. But wait! There’s more . . .

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A friend asked me on Sunday what I love. My first answer was words, which brought a quizzical response. My second answer was photo match-ups.

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I’d give anything to have a match-up of this but will settle for the smile that comes to my face as I think of the joy Rachel would take in seeing this post.

Posted in 514, family matters, grandkids, nostalgia, series / match-ups | Leave a comment

october 31 revisited

Photos started arriving three hours earlier from the East Coast.

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The elephant, with his years of experience trick or treating, might be more excited about Halloween than his two peanut sisters.

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Yep, takin’ it in stride. Sorta.

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Me, I found the polka-dot overload right there in my closet. Who knew?

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Yes, even the pants are.

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Like son, like mother, I suppose.

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We decided to stay home to answer the doorbell. It paid out in a visit from our new pastor and his family, who live in the neighborhood.

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The local grands — oh yes, they were out too.

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Can you guess who they are and who they’re pretending to be?

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it was a ruse

On September 3, Erin sent out a local-family-wide invitation that went like this: “Hey all! We JUST accepted a great offer on our house! 😊😭 Holy cow… and our closing date on the new place is Oct 12. SO we were thinking of having you guys over for a last family get together at our Coffey Lane house. We have shared significant times here with you all and thought it would be nice! Can you make it on Sat, Oct 6 at 5:30pm? I know it’s a ways off but it’s gonna go quickly!”

Sage’s birth then Brynn’s birth and then Rachel’s death all occurred in the Coffey House living room. Surely these significant events will always be part of our family story. And I moved on an idea for the perfect gift to honor the occasion.

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I sent this listing photo to my friend Susana as the starting place, commissioning her artistic efforts. She makes one-of-a-kind shadowboxes with peg doll people. Check out her website.

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I also sent her a few photos of each person in the family.

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First she tackled the backdrop.

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And then the people. I also sent Susana a photo of the kids’ backyard, asking her to add some scenic mountains (some might call them hills) behind the house.

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It was SO fun to work as a team, Susana so patiently interpreting my suggestions.

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She regularly sent pictures of her progress.

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The final decision was how to include the from/to dates. Of course! The girls loved to fill the sidewalk and driveway with chalk art. Perfect!

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I could hardly wait to pick up “our” masterpiece, but then I could hardly wait for October 6 to give it to John and Erin and Sage and Brynn at the family gathering!

But it was all a ruse. A crazy ruse!

As children and grandchildren from far away showed up at our house to surprise me I kept thinking I need to let Erin know the family gathering keeps growing! Ha! The “family gathering” was only a placeholder, a ruse to keep me from making plans that evening.

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Our final meal together before the travelers headed out provided a perfect time to present the Coffey Lane gift.

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Not everything works out how we plan; sometimes the outcome is ever so much better than we could possibly plan.

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