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Now that our herd has achieved immunity, we've opened our doors wide and filled all the beds and bays

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Holly McLaneOur house has never been so full of family! When we bought this Noah's ark of a nest back in 2004, we knew it was quirky, and the layout had a Swiss Family Robinson vibe. With lots of entrances and add-ons that had the kids saying, "how do I get there?" when told to put something away in the "bonus room" or the "sky-bridge."

But, somehow, this place spoke to us, with a promise of life-giving gatherings in its sprawling spaces - and enough 4-H animals, forts and farm dogs to help raise the kids and all their friends. We've had the honor of nursing a dying parent within these walls, hosted retreats with old college friends, replicated high school and college graduations, with all the pomp, circumstance and speeches that COVID tried (but failed) to steal from us.

Of course, one sacred service we never expected to need from this old house was the ability to quarantine family members for 10 days during a global pandemic! But it was able to handle that challenge, too, in comfort and style (and without any access to Uber Eats).

Now that our herd has achieved immunity, we've opened our doors wide and filled all the beds and bays. We're hosting two family members waiting for a home sale to close, one waiting for a new job assignment in a far-away place, and two more hoping for the Central Oregon real estate market to quit being so greedy.

And it's been glorious! This house is living its best life, as if the walls are shouting, "give me your gifts, chaos!" And, as long as one of those gifts isn't an overflowing septic tank, we will keep doing what my favorite author, Ann Voskamp, says that families do: we will "family" each other – a verb, something active – like leaving the porch light on and fresh sheets on the beds.

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it's that our houses can be an oasis or a lockdown lair. And if we are privileged enough to have a roof over our heads, maybe we want to consider how to nurture others with it? I know not all of us are called to host humans, but making, and taking, dinner to the neighbor or storing extra toilet paper and cans of tuna in the garage for when Costco runs out can be the "porch light" in someone else's darkness. So, let these words awaken your creativity for what your four (14 or 40) walls will speak of when all is said and done.

Now, it's time for me to wrap up this reflection because, as if this abode wasn't already brimming enough, we added a new puppy to the brigade, and keeping her from chewing the whole place to the ground is a full-time job.


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