Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Music and Celebrations

Clarence, the local dairy farmer, joined us for Christmas dinner. He is a man of few words. He enjoyed working on a 3D puzzle with Hannah after dinner.

Nate wants to learn to play the guitar. I held the chords and Nate strummed. It kind of sounded like music.

Tsheko and I played a lot of music for the family over Christmas break. Singing was one of the best parts of Christmas.

Christmas was very nice this year. The day was made special with a lot of singing and music. We were joined for the Christmas season with Nathaniel's friend, Tsheko. Clarence, the farmer, came to visit us for dinner. It was special that Christmas fell on a Sunday. On Christmas Eve, the family took the annual pilgrimage across the Hudson to Clintondale Friends for a candlelight service. In the early hours of Christmas, Isaac, Nathaniel, Luke, Hannah, Tsheko and I all attended a very meaningful midnight mass with our friend, Trip Sinnot, at St. Joseph's in Millbrook. In the daylight hours of Christmas Day, the entire family had a gathered meeting for worship in the home. We were happy to be together.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Oakwood Friends School

I just arrived home on Tuesday night, and while unpacking Wednesday I got a phone call from Oakwood Friends School offering me a job interview. Today (Thursday) I was offered a job teaching Algebra II and Geometry. Wow! A lot of change at once. It looks like I will be starting January 4th.

A Laugh

When we were looking at shots from this year's Christmas photo session (many are required for a large family), this one showed up and made us laugh. If you click to make the picture bigger, you will see that everyone looks desperately ill except for Rebecca who looks perfect. We have no idea what happened to make us all appear this way. It was definitely candid.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Powerful Word from Pastor John Piper


In the Minneapolis Star Tribune on December 12, 2005, Paul Garwood reported the following:

"CAIRO - In a tape that surfaced Sunday, Osama bin Laden's deputy urged all Muslims to take up arms, saying a refusal to join the fight against "THE CROSS and ZIONISM" was a "malignant illness" that would lead to the defeat of militant Islam. Egyptian-born Ayman Al-Zawahri said the global Islamic community had "no hope for victory" until all Muslims signed on to the Al-Qaida-led jihad."

The most important word theologically, politically, and personally in that paragraph is the word "Cross." In this context it is a word to be wept over. The apostle Paul said in his day, "Many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18). Tears are not the only proper response to militant Islam, but tears are right when a group of people declare themselves enemies of the cross.

The tears are not for fear that we will be hurt. They are for sadness that Christ's sacrifice and God's love are so dishonored, and that so many enemies of the cross will perish. The Bible says, "The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing" (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is a huge sadness when God shows his love for people and in return they despise it. That is what God did on the cross: "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us [on the cross]" (Romans 5:8). To hate the cross is to hate the demonstration of the love of God, because the cross is the greatest display of God's love that ever was or ever will be.

The cross was the climax of Christ's obedience. It is as though all his obedience was summed up in those final hours of final testing. No obedience compared to the obedience of staying on the cross in fulfillment of his Father's will. The apostle Paul said, "[Christ] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:8). It was the Father's will that Christ die for sinners. Christ obeyed. That's why Paul calls the cross, astonishingly, a sweet aroma to God: "Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:2).

Most precious to broken-hearted sinners is what the cross achieved in canceling all our shortcomings and opening the way to God. Paul said in Colossians 2:14 that in the death of Christ God was "canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 1:14). And when all our failures were nailed to the cross, the way was open to God himself. "Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).

The cross is our life and our joy and our only hope of fellowship with God. Therefore it is a great sadness when militant Islam calls all Muslims everywhere to fight the cross. But it is not new. Acts 9:1 said that Paul was "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," and Jesus said that "the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God" (John 16:2). It is breathtaking to read the transcripts of Al-Qaida tapes giving thanks to God for the successes of their killing.

My greatest longing in response to this enmity is that Christians walk in the way of the cross. Yes, militant Islam is big and threatening. It may even be the true Quranic Islam. There are alarmists whose whole tone seems to awaken political and even militant responses from Christians. My concern is that as the church we distance ourselves from this kind of response and focus on the truth that we will never spread the Christian faith by the sword. Some Muslims may kill to spread their faith. Some Christians have. But it is not the way of Christ. It is not the way of the cross.

Let us heed what Peter said, "But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps" (1 Peter 2:20-21). Militant Islam may call the Muslim world to arms against the cross. But the followers of the
cross will never take up arms to proclaim or defend Christ. We will die to make him known. But we will not kill to make him known. And even if there be but a remnant of Christ-followers left, the Lamb himself will stand forth at the end and win.

Pastor John

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Season of Snow

This has been a very snowy December. Luke has been happily plowing away with his Gravely snow blower. His engine (Sept. 27: Luke's Very Special Request) is being put to good use.

A Season of Change

(Katherine and I enjoy the Advent season in our Endicott apartment. We got a Christmas tree to celebrate.)

Today I handed in the last paper for my Master of Arts in Teaching degree. I have three more days of student teaching left. I am planning on moving home on December 20th. I was recently asked by a teacher whom I respect tremendously to apply for a chemistry teaching position that just opened up in this Binghamton area. It was a wonderful job but at this point I have really decided that it is a priority to move home. (Like a bird that strays from its nest is a man who strays from his home. -Prov. 27:8) I plan to substitute and work on curriculum development during the coming semester. I am definitely anticipating spending more time with family. Student teaching has been very hard in many ways. I am grateful for the prospect of rest.

A Season of Reflection

Dad takes a moment to enjoy his First Things magazine. Dad has recently graduated to the reading glasses phase of life. He has not conformed to the conventional practice of wearing the eyeglasses over his ears. We tend to tease him about this.

A Season of Projects

Isaac's winter break started on Monday and he has not stopped working since he got home. He has been waking up at 3:45 am to go milk the cows with Clarence. In the afternoons and evenings, Isaac has been servicing the home. He installed a new bathtub faucet and drain in the downstairs bathroom and is now working on preparing my bedroom for my return. I am moving home in 5 days and Isaac is very lovingly doing a ton of construction work to prepare my bedroom. He is pictured above working on the installation of a new door.

Friday, December 02, 2005


We continued the Angell family tradition of getting our Christmas tree on December 1st. This year the tree was a Bentley Farm special - locally grown and raised. Hannah was in charge of decorations. Rebecca celebrates the season with (Hawaiian?) spirit.

Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room

Caleb, Rebecca, and friend Ethan celebrate advent with a reenactment of the manger scene. Notice the lamb on the shepherd's shoulder.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Princetonian Visitation

Tscheko, Nate and Clint come home for Thanksgiving and plan a hunting trip (with a pellet gun).

The result of the hunt? A pigeon. In delicate terms we would say squab.

Squab kind of looks like beef.

Squab tastes like a cross between beef and chicken (or so I hear).

Nate brought back two of his friends from the James Madison Young Fellows program for Thanksgiving. Clint, hailing from Alaska, and Tscheko, from Zambia, joined Nate for the train ride Wednesday afternoon. Our family was in stiches (laughing) as soon as the crew arrived. Clint and Tscheko both have stunning adventure stories. Tscheko had been chased by a herd of hippopotami into a river. I am still not exactly sure why jumping in a river helps a man escape a hippopotamus. Normally Zambians don't jump into rivers from fear of the snap of an alligator jaw. However, apparently hippopotami and alligators don't keep the same company, so it was safe to jump into the river in this instance. Clint had startling stories of bear hunts and rafting trips and cold nights spent in logging cabins.

The stories were somewhat incredulous, but the reality of these alternative lifestyles became very evident on Friday with a pellet gun hunting trip. As a Quaker family, we have never been too enamored with guns. A couple of years ago, however, we did purchase a small pellet gone to ward away squirrels from the garden.

Clint deemed that it was altogether necessary that he eat game caught with this pellet gun. Clint, Tscheko and Nate started the Thanksgiving hunting trip in search of squirrrels with no success. Nate and Tscheko retired from the hunt, but Clint was joined by Jacob and Rebecca. Out of desperation or fervor or both, Clint ended up shooting a pigeon in the barn.

Our family was relatively enamored by this new game, and apparently it is a delicacy at some restaurants known as squab. Clint proceeded to skin the pigeon, clean the pigeon and subsequently eat the pigeon for lunch. He generously offered portions of his meat to others to try. All taste reports came back positive.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thanksgiving Snow and Hikes

Kaaterskill Falls. A beautiful Thanksgiving hike.

Nathaniel and Clint hike in the snow at Kaaterskill Falls.

Caleb and his friend Daniel hang like little monkeys from the rail gaurd at Kaaterskill Falls.

Hannah, Clint, Tscheko, Jesse and Rebecca are on top of the fire tower at Stissing Mountain.

Thanksgiving dawned with a nice snow cover on the ground. It lasted through Thanksgiving weekend. We went hiking with our Thanksgiving guests on Friday to Kaaterskill Falls. Kaaterskill Falls is apparently the largest waterfall in New York State (even including Niagra Falls) but we weren't exactly certain how you would measure the height of the waterfall since there were so many little ledges. Nathaniel's friend, Clint, had no grip on his cowboy boots and scared us all by slipping and sliding so close to the cliffs. Saturday we ventured up Stissing Mountain in the snow. Nathaniel's friend, Tscheko, who is from Zambia, did not like the cold. Can you tell from the picture?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

An Angell Family Reunion

The Thanksgiving spread! (Twenty-four people in all.)

Sandra, Marjorie, Jim, Steve and Grandad wait for the food to be served.

Uncle Sam and Cousin Christopher wait their turn in the Thanksgiving Dinner line.

We were twenty-four this holiday and feasted at the Bulls Head Quaker Gathering Room down the road. This Thanksgiving was made very special by the visit of Dad's father and all of his siblings and their spouses. We were also graced with the additional presence of a local cousin, Mom's mother from Minnesota and two of Nathaniel's friends from Princeton. Dad said that whenever his family isn't present for Thanksgiving, he feels like something is missing. Everything was as it should be this Thanksgiving because Dad's family came back to the farm. The last time that all of Dad's siblings had been together was about six years ago for Grandad's 80th Birthday Celebration.

After the traditional Thanksgiving farm walk, Grandad led the family in some parlor activites. One game was a complicated version of a Koosh ball concentration exercise. Approximately ten Koosh balls were in play at one time

Monday, November 21, 2005

Thanksgiving Preparations Begin

Our Thanksgiving prepartations have begun. We are expecting a fairly large crowd as all of Dad's siblings are coming to the farm. We are also expecting three of Nathaniel's friends from Princeton, a local relative, my dad's father and Grandma Farmer. Grandma Farmer arrived early and is preparing our 'spirit of thanksgiving' as she plays the piano during evening vespers.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sixteen Years and a Miter Saw Later

Luke turned sixteen today! He can be pictured above lugging his own birthday present into the kitchen with family and Perukel neighbors present. He opens it (all smiles) and it is a miter saw!

For those of us who don't know what a miter saw is, Wikipedia provides the following information: A primary distinguishing feature of the miter saw is the miter index. The miter index allows the angle of the blade to be changed relative to the fence. While most miter saws enable precise one-degree incremental changes to the miter index, many also provide "stops" that allow the miter index to be quickly set to common angles (such as 15°, 30°, or 45°).

Well, that's my brother Luke. He always likes it when his gifts give him more work to do. That's pretty untraditional.

In line, however, with American teenage tradition, Luke is planning on going to the DMV tomorrow to take his permit test.

Ye Ask Not

Lately I have been aware of how much havoc we reap upon ourselves for lack of patience. We have a desire and then quickly conceive our own means and methods to fulfill that desire. These quick fixes are, frankly, destructive.

For instance, yesterday's New York Times carried an article about children who were conceived from sperm bank donations. The article highlighted the childrens' desires to know their fathers, to find family, connections and roots. It even made reference to different families. that had used the same sperm donor. who vacationed together in search of familial bond. Obviously the desire for children is a God-blessed desire, but we so quickly forget that God's ways and timing are not our own.

The pain faced by the offspring of sperm donor banks is in marked comparison to some other stories of parents who awaited the arrival of children. The Scriptures record that Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth all waited, often in the agony of suffering, to see their desire for children fulfilled. I find it no small coincidence that the children borne of their waiting were tremendously blessed by God. The patriarch, Isaac; the prophet, Samuel and John the Baptist were the fruit of years of waiting.

It doesn't even take historical examples to see the power of patient waiting. Friends, Reg and Annie Varghese, went through seven years of pain and anguish in waiting the birth of a child. The recent miracle of their son Timothy's conception and birth was a very powerful testament to the power of a living God. Many who had prayed with this couple and perceived their faithful obedience were touched by the fruit of their patient faith.

The births of Isaac, Samuel, John the Baptist and Timothy point us to the Kingdom of God. They point us to a kingdom that isn't established by the work of our own best contriving, but through the power and might of a God and the perseverance of the saints in obedience. And while we celebrate the miracle of all life, the children of Donor 150 experience not the fruit of patient obedience, but the confusion and loneliness that is the sure result of our feeble attempts to play God.

The Scriptures express these thoughts more eloquently:

After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Ye lust and have not: Ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and later rain. Behold we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the end of the Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy. (Selections from James 1 and 4)

Yea in the way of thy judgments we have waited for thee; The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. (Isaiah 26:8)

When situations arise in which we become aware of our distinct desire, two simple queries often allow us to discern whether we desire mammon before God:

1. Am I following the path of obedience, as entrusted to me in the Scriptures, and willing to wait in patience for the fulfillment of desire?

2. Am I contriving, manipulating and scheming as best as I know how, so that my desire is fulfilled in the shortest possible length of time?

But lest we believe that our desires will be fulfilled, as we have them planned, so long as we just wait long enough, may we not forget that in the letter to the Hebrews we are told that many saints died without recognizing the fulfillment of desire. "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth." (Hebrews 11:13)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Farm House is Resided

The farmhouse continues to undergo renovation. Gray wood siding is replacing the gray shingled siding. This returns the farmhouse to its more original condition. The side of the farmhouse shown in the picture is going to get extended to make way for a greenhouse that will enclose an indoor pool (that was not a part of the original construction!).

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A Visit From Old Family Friends

Our friends, Herb and Renne Lape came to the farm today with their daughter, Jenny, her husband, Ken and their two grandchildren, Luke and Adam. After an amazing lunch (Dad made Lentil soup, Mom made homemade Italian bread and I made apple pies), we took a walk through the Bentley Farm woods and fields. Adam (above) led the way.

In the Fullness of Time

Family friends, Nicholas and Natalie Pascale, wed this weekend. Theirs is a beautiful story of waiting for the fullness of time.

"This is the Lord; we have wiated for him..." (Isaiah 25:9)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Luke's Project

Luke loves working with construction vehicles and has been diligently excavating a ditch so that a waterline can run from the farm house to the carriage house over to the barns. When Luke went down inside his ditch, just his head stuck out.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lord, I thank you for a brand new dawning

We broke out into dance this evening (Friday) to the Times Square Church Live Worship. As Mom, Dad and I danced, Rebecca and her two little girlfriends peered from behind the living room wall into the kitchen with wide eyes.

Lord, I thank you for the morning
Lord, I thank you for a brand new dawning
Lord, I thank you for another day to sing your praise!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Before the cold blast of winter...

Make sure that the fuel source is ready and waiting! (Nate is home from Princeton this week.)

Don't forget to blow the leaves away! (Jacob is happy to be working.)

Make time to climb in the tree house with a friend!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Bentley Kitchen Facelift!

For about the last fifteen years we have talked about getting a new kitchen floor. Our old floor was showing a lot of wear, and the linoleum was starting to deteriorate around the edges of the floor. So why did we just talk? Well, the family could never quite decide that the right time had come. Ideally Mom wanted a ceramic tile floor, but ultimately she wanted to lay the ceramic tile after she had knocked down about 3 walls of the house and completely changed the kitchen layout. Ceramic tile doesn't come up easily (and we discovered that linoleum doesn't either) and because we never knocked down 3 walls, we never put in a new kitchen floor. But finally the day dawned and the family decided that it was time - walls or no walls. The family worked hard together, first scraping away the old floor and then priming the plywood floor and finally laying the new creamy brown linoleum tiles. It was truly an exhausting project (and I say that just from a picture analysis, as I haven't even been home to watch!).

Rebecca starts by scraping away the old linoleum. It sticks!

Bit by bit, the floor emerges. Caleb surveys the work left to be done.

Jacob takes the honors of priming the floor. This is easier than painting walls!

Early this morning, Dad (in bathrobe), Luke and Jacob (in pajamas) start laying the tile.

Later on today, Rebecca and Caleb continue tiling. Mom supervised this project and did an A#1 job! Go Mom!

Ah! We can eat in peace once again.

Monday, October 24, 2005

For The Joy of Human Love

Student teaching has been an incredibly draining (and also rewarding) experience. I have had many busy semesters, but this certainly wins the prize for mental taxation. The weekends have been pretty busy too, trying to catch up with homework for my grad classes. However, this weekend my friend Debbie and baby Melody came to visit for supper. It was such a wonderful break from work and school. Both Melody and Debbie exude joy and little children have marvelous powers of restoration!

For the joy of human love
Brother, sister, parent, child
Friends on earth, and friends above
For all gentle thoughts and mild
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise

~Folliot S. Pierpont

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Cottage and Farmhouse Transform

The farm continues to change, right along with the leave colors and dropping temperatures. The cottage at the end of the lane recently turned a deep green, and the farmhouse lost an indoor/outdoor room to make way for a greenhouse that will soon house an indoor pool.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What wondrous love is this?

I normally don't find airplane travel to be a very spiritual experience. In fact roaring engines, jolting wheels, cramped space, long waits, stale air, precarious heights, motion sickness, and heart-thumping deceleration rates have made travel, in my book, a very survival-based exercise.

However, I was broken out of my most recent survival mode trance, in flight to Seattle, by a father who sat in the seat in front of me with his two twin sons who looked to be about three years old. His wife and third child sat in the adjacent row. His sons were sick with a cold and I think that some of my fellow passengers were annoyed by the fact that sick kids were sitting around them in a plane.

But, being accustomed to large families and third-graders, I didn't find the sniffling and dirty tissues to be a bother. What I did notice, however, was that this father had the most amazing expression on his face every time he looked at one of his sons. His sons were very affectionate toward him and behaved well for the entire 4-hour flight. From time to time, the sons would playfully pull the father's hat down over his face and the father would pop out and play along with them.

I was touched by the very evident love that was present in these relationships, and I think I would have just passed it by with a smile and gone back to sleep, were it not for a very simple image that I have not forgotten since. At some point along the flight, one of the sons fell asleep. You would think that the father would finally be happy to get some rest himself, but surprised, I looked up ahead of me to see the father just gazing at his son. It was the most wonderful expression of delight that is too hard to tell in words. It was as though the father thought that his son was the choicest, most beautiful object in the whole world. Somehow this image, still seared in my memory, spoke to me of a Heavenly Father that delighted greatly in his children (James 1).

If an earthly father's love is so great, how incredibly excellent is our Heavenly Father's love toward us (Matthew 7:11).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


Surprise! The Three Peas Unite.

Kristiane and Trina make pancakes, but take time to smile for the camera.

A relaxing day must incude massages. A fancy vibrating instrument helps!

In the middle of my very busy semester of student teaching, my teaching fellowship hosted a meeting in Seattle that I was required to attend. It was an excellent meeting about teaching science as inquiry. The conference lasted for two days. Following the conference, I had arranged to spend Saturday evening and Sunday, with my friend Trina Davis, who was one of my senior year roommates from George Fox University. We were so excited to see each other. Of course we were a little sad, though, because our 'third' senior year roommate, Kristiane, wasn't going to be with us due to a very intense medical school schedule. Saturday morning I woke up at Trina's place, and who would ring the doorbell but Kristiane! She had flown up to Seattle from southern California to surprise me (turns out that Trina knew)! I was so overwhelmed by her surprise! We had a wonderfully special day together - it was so relaxing, complete with Kristiane's homemade wheat pancakes, a long autumn walk, a special afternoon hot chocolate with Trina's grandmother, massages, Tillamook ice cream, Mother's Taffy cookies and tons of catching up. Oh, the joy!