Fifty years ago today this happened:


Mauri married Margaret-Rose at Newberg Friends Church.


Two families joined together—the Williamses and the Macys.


She feeds him.


He feeds her. Keeping the traditions.


For those of us who still walk in and out of these “bell tower” doors, this is a familiar spot.


Honeymoon over and settled into their first apartment above Dr. Root’s dental practice in downtown Newberg. That’s their VW bug, yes.


They hoped for at least 50 years together, but life turned an unexpected corner in 1988. We could view this day with sadness. But as I remembered what would have been 50 years with Paul two years ago, I decided to be happy for the years we had as the Carlson family, I’ll do the same for the Macy family. After all, they gave the world Rachel, Peter, and John and in turn, Oscar, Sage, Will, Brynn, and Lincoln.

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the rest of the story

For a few days I tentatively perched on second place in Gregg’s March Madness bracket, so of course I had to share that remarkable feat with you. It was short lived, as I slipped down several places soon after.

On Monday, the day of the final game, I Google-mapped Villanova, figuring if I planned to cheer on my chosen winner, I should at least know where the school is. I felt a bit sheepish because their opponent was Michigan!

Well, Villanova won — and I won!

bracket finish 2018

You can see that others in the 110-member bracket chose Villanova as well, but I took the first prize because of my picks leading up to the final game.

Hall of Fame 2018

“First prize” means taking my place of honor in Gregg’s Hall of Fame!

But let’s put this all in perspective: I ranked 41,403rd in the overall ESPN March Madness Men’s Tournament Challenge. No big deal.

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rabbits and eggs

I’ve never understood the connection between Easter bunnies and Easter eggs and how they fit with the Resurrection story. Don’t worry, I’m not an Easter Scrooge; I get a kick out of watching the local family egg hunt and our long-distance littles fill their baskets via texted photos and videos.

But on my calendar, that part of Easter began several weeks ago.


Brynn had a birthday. And because part of her (and her sister’s) gift from us included


a book of creative masks, she asked her mama to help her become a rabbit!


Is she cute, or what?

bunny ears

Time out for a rabbit joke.


Across the country to see three Carlson kiddos pose with the Easter Rabbit and not a single tear. A first!

family on Easter

Then a few days later before (or after church), the family posed for the annual Easter shot. Oh well…

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Back in Oregon, this was happening at NFC. See my dear man directing the handbell choir? He isn’t 100% recovered from his back surgery, but moving in the right direction. I like to answer people who ask how he’s doing with: “A few days ago he spent $400 at Costco!” Let me tell you, it takes a lot of energy to spend that much when $20 is your biggest item!

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We had a glorious Easter morning at NFC! “Made like him, like him we rise!” Oh, what a day that will be!

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After a delicious potluck lunch at Pete and Linsey’s, all the kids are hyped to hunt eggs in the backyard. If you look close, you’ll see all five of our local grands.

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Lincoln gets a head start. I watched from the window.

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She’s counting (each kid gets 15 eggs).

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You might get whiplash as we zigzag coast to coast! So I’ll close on the East Coast with the three Carlsons and their cousins. This is Declan.

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Emery. Look at those teeth!

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Christ is risen! Just as he said . . .

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andersons take europe

While grandson Bailey spends a semester in Spain with the “Semester in Spain” program (yes, I really wrote that), the rest of his family made plans to visit him over Spring Break.

It’s history now, but they’re all still walking on air, having had the time of their lives together in a new place.

I was invited to go along. OK, not really, but I was invited to follow along. I didn’t need a passport, only an invitation to join their shared Google Photos account. I was an easy guest and didn’t even require captions to enjoy my travels. Evident from my choices, I don’t care much about the backdrop; my interest is in the people in the pictures.

But first, here’s their itinerary. You get to guess from the scenery where they are.

Saturday, March 17 Phoenix to London
Sunday, March 18 London to Rome
Wednesday, March 21 Rome Ciampino to Seville (find Bailey)
Sunday, March 25 Seville to Barcelona
Tuesday, March 27 Barcelona to Seville (for Bailey)
Barcelona to New York (JFK) / New York to Phoenix (for the others)



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You get the idea—those Andersons really like each other, no matter what country they visit.

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connect the dots


This was Erik Platz in 1962. Erik lived with his grandparents kitty-corner from my family’s house on Forest Avenue in Wheaton, IL. I remember that picket fence and the sheep that once pastured on that land before it was developed for homes. I remember feeding Erik’s grandparents’ cat and watering their plants when they went on vacation and I remember soaping their car windows one Halloween in my adventurous adolescence.

I do not remember Erik.

1962-Sherry Nill ladder pose

This was me in 1962, which likely explains why I don’t remember Erik. As a junior in high school my focus was directed more on myself than on a cute little boy who lived across the street. Too bad, right?

Several years ago I joined the “You know you’re from Wheaton if . . .” Facebook page, and Erik replied to one of my comments about remembering the skate key I wore around my neck on a long shoelace as I skated up and down the neighborhood sidewalks. His reply was a YouTube link to an old but new-to-me song titled “Brand New Key.” And to that I asked, “Are you by any chance related to the Wheaton College band director Russell Platz?” Yes, his grandson! He went on to explain that after his parents divorced, Erik and his brother were raised by their grandparents.

All this happened under my radar.

Platz family

Erik and his family live in Florida, but getting to know this now-grown man through Facebook has been a favorite redeeming feature of Facebook. Along with our history we are connected through our strong Christian faith. He never shies from sharing it with his Facebook community. (This is their 2016 church directory photo.)

Now hold that thought while I pull another element into this story.

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A few days ago I wrote about Bill Jolliff and his daughter Anna coming to lead us in worship at NFC last Sunday. And I told about finding a sample YouTube video to send Craig and how I couldn’t stop replaying it.

That’s Bill’s son, Jake, in the foreground playing mandolin.

I’ve been waking up every morning with Anna’s voice ringing in my head. Could be I replayed it a few too many times. And of course I had to send it to Erik. After all, he’s the one who introduced me to “Brand New Key”! And he’s a musician who would surely appreciate some Oregon bluegrass. So off went a story and a link to him on Facebook.

Here’s his reply:

That’s great! Jake is one of the finest mandolin players in the country. He plays with Yonder Mountain String Band now, which is one of my favorite festival bands. Deanna and I saw them in Miami a couple years ago.

You likely have your share of small-world stories. You should start a blog so you can tell them. When you do, send me the address! I’ll subscribe!

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craig preached

By Thursday my boss, our interim pastor at Newberg Friends, knew he was too sick to preach on Sunday. Normally it would not fall to me to make other arrangements; I’m hired staff and concern myself with what happens in the background. But everyone on committees who plan and expedite what happens in worship were heading out for Spring Break adventures. So I voiced my idea to Mauri for what is commonly called “pulpit supply” then called* two committee members. (*I am a tenacious phone avoider, so when Dave heard my voice on the other end of his line, he know something serious was up.) Go for it, they both said.

And that is how it came to be that my long-time friend Craig MacDonald and his wife, Pam, drove two hours from their home near Eugene on Sunday morning to preach at NFC. Pam and Craig have visited us several times, but this is their first experience being inside the sanctuary of our church. [We get down to their place from time to time.]

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They arrived in time to walk around a bit and to see the Palm Sunday signs made by our children in Godly Play. Craig was quite taken with our old historic building and took some pictures to share with others. Here’s what he wrote about the whole experience.

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Craig wasn’t the only guest. Bill Jolliff and his daughter Anna led our worship singing. Bill is an English prof at George Fox University but is also a bluegrass musician and songwriter. To give Craig a taste of who would share the platform, I had shopped for a video, finding this (which I keep clicking replay).

I took the picture while they rehearsed, so I could get up nice and close.

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It isn’t my habit to post blurry pictures, but this is the best I could do in the moment, inconspicuously. Craig chose a universal topic: the wages of sin and our only hope for survival from it. It’s been years since I’ve heard him preach, so I was especially glad for his willingness to come.

The podcast isn’t up yet, but when it is, you could listen if you want. Click HERE.

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After all was said and done, we enjoyed lunch together then sent our friends on their two-hour ride home.

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While I can, before it’s too late, I need to share that I am in second place on one of my two ESPN March Madness brackets. We’ll just have to wait and see how long it will hold.

Note my bracket handle: Gussing Game. It really isn’t a typo; it’s a spin-off from my “grandma” name, Gus.

But a Guessing Game it was! Even it I wasn’t making my picks late the night before the deadline (with Mauri’s surgery early the next morning) I couldn’t have made even educated guesses. The end of the occasional Duke game and March Madness represent the sum total of my interest in basketball. But even the most educated fans are still guessing. The equilateral nature of this contest is what attracts me to it.

Posted in in the neighborhood | 1 Comment