January 22, 2016

It has been a year since Paul went home to God, and a group of us were happy to get down to the farm to visit Ann and the kids recently. She has had quite a lot of visitors over the course of the year, and the prayers and support of so many have been a great gift to her. Among all of the visitors, there were no more than Paul's family! Everyone in his family has returned to the farm-some more than once-to meet Blaze, visit with Annie and the kids, lend a helping hand, and provide good company. When we were there, the kids were keeping a countdown list and marking off the days until Uncle John returns to the farm! Ann treasures the Coakley family visits in special way, as you can imagine! 

Annie misses Paul terribly, but her faith and positive attitude are absolutely awe-inspiring. If you don't follow the "Team Paul and Ann Coakley" group page on Facebook, it's highly recommended. Ann shares beautiful insights, memories, and thoughts there. As someone recently said: "Each post is like a prayer." She is so proud of her husband and the impact that the has had on so many people. You can feel the love pouring out of this woman at all times!

Paul Blaze-"Blaze" (9 mos) is just as cute as the pictures indicate. He has the most beautiful strawberry-blonde hair, eyes that captivate, and an infectious smile. He loves being with mama, but if you're lucky enough to get a good cuddle from him, it's heavenly. As Ann has said many times, the blessing that Blaze has been to her and the family is indescribable. What a gift--this precious life!

Caeli Grace (2 years, 8 mos) has always been called "Daddy's Princess" and she surely is a little princess, ruling her castle. She is imaginative, confident, and an excellent role-player! During our visit, she was everything from a baby to a hostess, serving her guests slices of banana. Caeli's smile and spirit are contagious, as you can see!

Damian (4 years, 9 mos) is a miniature version of Paul with boundless energy, strong hugs, and a sweet demeanor. In the pictures below you'll see him jumping around in a netted trampoline that Paul found and bought a few months before he passed. It fits perfectly on the covered porch out front-making the perfect place for Damian and his siblings to expel energy, even on a rainy day! During the visit, we were looking at pictures of Paul and emotions were running a bit high. Damian, in his own world playing on Ann's iPhone, was sitting on the end of the table. During a quiet moment when you could only hear sniffles, a loud rumble came from Damian's end of the table. Hysterical laughter came soon after--leave it to Paul's mini-me to perfectly time a good toot to lighten the mood!

Christian (7 years, 4 mos) is one of the smartest boys you'll meet! He's an absolute joy and fits into the leadership role that he has taken among his siblings perfectly. He took great pride in showing us his room, his toys, and teaching us how to build with a magnet building block set that members of the Camp Gray team sent as a gift. It won't be long before he towers over Annie-he's growing like a vine! When we informed him that more girls were coming to the farm soon to pay a visit, his response was that they surely would be "troublemakers." Then he laughed at his own wittiness. Like Damian, Christian has a lot of energy and loves to ride his bike, play games, and play with the many cousins he has on the farm!

Ann's maiden name is Brindle, and the Brindle family is one of the kindest, most welcoming crews you will ever meet. Her sister, Maria, and cousin, Katie, moved from NC to TN and in with Ann as soon as they could when Paul got sick, and they were a HUGE help to Annie and the kids over the course of this year. Imagine the selflessness it took to pack up their lives and move home to help Ann--and they did it without blinking an eye. They are now returning to their lives and careers/school, and Annie and the kids are starting to establish their new family routine. Don't worry--she has plenty of hands and hearts helping her still: 

Down the road in one direction is her brother Daniel, his wife Kaitlyn, and their 4 kids. Down the road in the other direction is her brother Michael, his wife Ashley, and their 3 kids. A few miles away on the "other" family farm is her mom and dad's place-where her brother Chris lives as well, and her brother Joey, his wife Emily, and their kids live in another house on that land. Not too far away is her sister, Peggy, and her husband, Mark. It's truly beautiful to see the love and support that surrounds Ann. Like the Coakleys, the Brindle family is a glowing example of what family is all about.

Annie's mom, Susan, is a saintly woman, and she treats every guest as if they are part of her family. She is a photographer at heart and she has documented the entire house build (from the beginning-when it was just the Brindle men getting started in anticipation of Paul and Annie's return), Paul and Ann's last weeks together, and life on the farm since. She is a true artist, and is finishing a book where she used Paul as her model for Christ, and we can't wait for her to finish so that you all may have the opportunity to see the finished product as well. She is incredibly talented and I can't express to you the joy that this woman radiates.  

When you are with this family, you experience an abundance of love and warmth that comes from a place of deep faith and trust in God's will. If you comment on the beauty of something, if you comment on something they have created, or something they have done, you will likely hear "God is so good" in response. Annie has experienced a great deal of suffering having to watch Paul struggle the way he did, and in the grief that came when he passed. Amid that suffering and grief, she believes wholeheartedly that God's will is in action in their lives, and she relies on that belief.

If you read her posts on the "Team Paul and Ann Coakley" page, you will see that Ann reminds us all that Paul is in Heaven, and it should be our goal to join him there one day. She walks the talk in her life, and inspires us to do the same.

We will make efforts to keep you updated as time goes on! Please check back and please continue to keep the Coakley and Brindle families in your prayers!