Sunday, January 09, 2005

What is there to live for?

In Where Love Is, God Is, Leo Tolstoy tells the story of Martin the Cobbler who despairs after losing all of his family to death. A priest tells him that he must trust the perfect will of God.

"As to your despair, that is because you live for your own happiness."

"What else is there to live for?"

"For God. For the glory of God."

"How do I do that?"

"Christ showed us the way."

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Pearl of Worth

The man of God who sells all that he owns to buy the pearl of greatest value does not spend his time bemoaning what he has lost or given up. He knows only simple rejoicing in the treasure of greatest worth - it is his sole sufficiency - he is a very satisfied man.

Saturday, January 01, 2005



Dear Reader,

This book series is about a fantasy land called Entria. The inhabitants of Entria are dwarves, men, goblins, and Iks. I will tell you about these creatures.

The dwarves are like many of their kin in other books, grumpy, but witty. They love to drink a few mugs of ale around their fires and hear stories about the glory of previous battles. These creatures also like to dig in their cold and snowy mountains in the south of Entria for jewels and medals which these skilled smiths hammer into beautiful weapons and merchandise. The dwarves usually do not cause wars, but they do not mind helping to finish them.

The humans in this story are both bad and evil as you shall see. They are the ones usually responsible for the wars that break out in Entria. But there are good humans in this tale and the humans are the most intelligent of the inhabitants of Entria. The humans live in the middle of Entria and have built a wall around their land to keep the unwanted visitors out.

The goblins are the truly evil people in this story; they live in the west of Entria where there are many hills. The goblins forge crude, but lethal weapons and constantly are sending raiders mounted on Lesers against the dwarves, humans, and Iks villages where they attack, plundering and burning villages. Lesers are to the goblins, as the horse is to humans. A full grown Leser is about the size of a Saint Bernard dog, they grow two one foot long horns that grow on the animal’s head. They also have two inch teeth which create long gashes in the enemies of their masters. They are the most terrifying creature in Entria.

The Iks are a small creature about two feet tall with a single hair on the top of their heads; this hair grows a couple inches every day. So every day they line up before their village leader who cuts off the hair with a pair of large scissors. These creatures farm in the east of Entria which has rich farming soil. They grow all manner of produce and sell the extras to the dwarves for small throwing daggers and larger ones. The Iks can split an apple in half from fifty feet away with their smaller daggers.

In the north of Entria lies a barren wasteland where the Lesers live before being captured by the goblins. No inhabitants live there except a few goblins that capture the Lesers. Well I think I have introduced my fictional land to you, dear reader, so I hope you enjoy this tale.

The Author, Caleb Henley Angell

Chapter 1: The Ranger

On the night of Ketenber 12, 1261, a young man that had recently become a ranger of the forest of Lennon (which was situated 100 miles outside the wall that surrounded the farming land and castles of men in the center of Entria) was walking slowly and quietly through the cool of the forest to his small cabin. He soon saw his cabin’s silhouette in the middle of a clearing. A light was on in the cabin, so the ranger cautiously opened his door. The young man then saw a boy in his teenage years he recognized as the son of the village’s chief of the guard who had befriended him from the nearest village 13 miles away. The boy was standing before the hearth shivering; the man could tell the boy was not shivering from the cold, but fright and grief. The ranger had shivered like that the night that his parents had been slaughtered by a raiding party of goblins, the boy then spoke. “The village was destroyed”, he said. The ranger threw a few logs on the fire. Then he asked, “Goblins?” The boy sadly replied, “Yes”. “How many?” he asked. The boy replied, “I was hunting a herd of deer that had passed by our village, when I saw smoke rising in the sky. I ran back to village and hid behind a tree. The whole village was on fire and I saw the goblins riding through the village and shooting the helpless villagers with fire arrows.” The boy paused to wipe a tear from his cheek. “I counted about thirty goblins though and then I did not know what to do so I decided to come to you”. The ranger asked another question to the boy, “What about the village guard and your family?” The boy replied, “My mother and sisters were killed, and my father and the guards went yesterday to another village to help attack a camp of goblins. But I guess the goblins decided to attack our village instead.” The ranger had been taught to be a man of action, so he donned a cloak and buckled his sword that had been given to him when he had graduated from the war college of Onega on. He took down his bow made of the strongest oak that the ranger could find and quiver from where they had been hanging from the antlers of an unfortunate buck that (like most targets moving or still) had been shot down by the ranger’s bow. The ranger motioned to the boy to step outside and handed the boy a cloak. The man then picked up a pail of water and threw it unto the fire. He then picked up his pack that contained everything useful to him and slung the pack onto his shoulders with a thump. The ranger then locked the door and strode of with the boy into the dark and cold of the forest towards the village that now lay in ashes.

Chapter 2: The Village

The ranger and the boy could see the smoke rising from the ashes of the village long before they arrived. The ranger motioned to the boy to walk quietly now just in case the goblins were still looking around for plunder. They both walked silently now walking through the aged trees that appeared to be mourning the loss of the village that they had protected from the wind and weather with their leafy limbs. As they came closer to the village they saw that the goblins had done a thorough job. All that was left was the carcasses of the dead villagers and the skeletons of small cabins. The ranger felt hatred rising in him for the goblins that had committed such an offense to man. Dead bodies lay everywhere with arrows rising out of them, some had long gashes in them inflicted by the Lesers. The remainder of dead had been mowed down by the goblins with swords. The ranger and the boy walked through the bodies of the dead looking for any that had life in them. They finally found a young man lying in a hut; he had an arrow sticking out of his ribs. But the man’s heart was still beating, though the man was unconscious. The ranger pulled the arrow out with a flick of his hand, for living in the forest and building his cabin had enlarged his muscles. He tore off a strip of a dead person’s tunic and bound the wound with all of his experience in medical procedures he had. The ranger studied the man: he had good features and brown hair that was neck length. He also appeared to be in his early twenties. But the strange thing about him was the sword he carried at his side and the dagger that had been hidden in a pocket in the trousers. The ranger then turned to the boy and asked, “Have you ever seen him before?” The boy answered, “No”. The ranger saw on the wounded man’s tunic that a viper’s head (this was the sign of mercenary) had been stitched in it. The ranger guessed that he was a traveling swordsman, who offered his sword for hire. Then the ranger heard gruff talking outside the hut he and the boy were in. He leapt up and cocked an arrow to his bow, then carefully stepped outside the hut. He saw a number of goblins tearing open the dead bodies’ clothes to see if they held any plunder. The man was overcome by hatred once again, and saw a way to take revenge for the slaughtering. The ranger let loose an arrow, which flew into the heart of the nearest goblin. A goblin that had just found a ring on the finger of the body he was searching turned around startled, and was shot dead through the throat. The arrow had come from the boy’s bow, for he too wanted to take his revenge on those that had snuffed out the life of his mother and sister. The goblins saw the man and boy shooting from the door of the hut, and approached the door. Two more goblins where killed by arrows before they could reach the hut. The ranger then pulled his sword and leaped in the middle of the stunned goblins. He killed the two goblins in front of him and dodged a blow just missed him. Then he buried his sword into the side of the goblin on his left. But then the ranger heard a scream behind him and saw a goblin push his sword into the boy’s body. He turned around and threw his knife into the belly of the goblin with such force that the knife passed through and buried itself in the wall of the hut. He finished of the last goblin on with a sweep of his now bloodied sword. The ranger quickly wiped his sword with the tunic of a goblin and sheathed his sword. He then picked up the boy and carried him into the hut, and laid him of his cloak. But it was too late, the boy was. The ranger sat in the hut with the dead boy and wounded man as the sun peaked over the trees.

Chapter 3: Carleton the Mercenary

The ranger worked for the rest of the morning piling up dead bodies. Finally as the sun was halfway through its journey the man drew flint and steel from his pack and walked over to the pile of the dead (among them was the boy). He then picked up an armful of straw and dumped it on the bodies. The ranger then struck the flint and steel together. Soon the pile was on fire and he walked back to the hut where the wounded man lay. The ranger entered the hut and saw that the mercenary was leaning his back against the hut’s wall. The man’s face was pale and gaunt and his expression was firm. But the ranger noted that he had risen even though he had lost a lot of blood, which showed that he was a man who could take a great deal of pain.

The mercenary spoke, “The name is Carleton of Iscaria”.

The ranger replied, “I am Aldred of Braxton, a ranger in this forest.”

Carleton spoke again, “I guess you’re wondering why I ended up here, with an arrow in my side.”

Aldred said, “It’s none of my business, but yes, I am”.

“Well, I was thinking of coming to see how it was in the village for my mother’s sister lived here. So I was walking to her hut when the goblins attacked. Before I knew it I felt a great pain, and everything went completely black.”

“Well, are you hungry? I know I am, I have worked all morning and haven’t had anything since yesterday afternoon,” said Aldred.

“I wouldn’t mind some food.”


Aldred took a hunk of dried beran (that is a smaller version of what we call a bear) meat from his pack, along with a flask of water. He cut two slices off with his knife and handed one slice to Carleton; Aldred then replaced the meat to his pack. Aldred took a long swig out of the flask then passed it to his new companion. They ate in silence, until Aldred said,” I am leaving right now for the village where the chief guard of this town is, to let him know what happened.”

“I will come; I have no other place to go, for traveling is my trade”, said Carleton.

Aldred nodded his head and stepped outside the hut with Carleton and walked away from the village into the forest without looking back.

Chapter Four: The Adventure in the Woods

Aldred and Carleton walked along in silence. The fall sun shone brightly down through the trees. The birds that inhabited the dense forest chirped and the squirrels chatted with eachother overhead. But Aldred paid no attention to the beauty of nature; he was too lost in thought about what he was to do after he told the captain of the guards that his village was destroyed and no inhabitants where alive, including his own family. He couldn’t just go back to his cabin and ignore the world, but then what was he, a mere ranger of the forest, supposed to do. Maybe he could go with the captain to destroy the rest of the goblins and maybe even make a raid on the goblins with the captain. Yes, that was it. It was the best way to show the goblins how to take some of their own medicine.

Aldred was so deep in thought that he didn’t notice an animal leap from a tree on to Carleton. But he was broken out of thought by the yells of Carleton and the growling from the animal. Aldred swiftly turned around and saw a giant tree leopard standing over Carleton. Aldred pulled his sword out of his scabbard and advanced on the leopard. The leopard got off Carleton and turned toward the ranger. As quick as a flash Aldred vaulted into the air and landed with his sword pointed straight down on the leopard’s back, while the leopard gave way beneath him, Aldred jumped off. He then walked over to Carleton who had a gaping wound on his shoulder, compliments of the tree leopard. Carleton slowly sat up, only to sink back down again and faint. Obviously both of his wounds were too much for him to handle. Aldred created a pillow for Carleton with his bedroll and bathed the wound. He then wound a strip of cloth around Carleton’s arm and tied it tightly.

Then the ranger began to cut up the leopard into strips to use as dried meat. When he finished he threw the remains of the big cat over the side of the trail and started a fire to dry the meat. After the meat was done cooking he extracted a block of salt from his pack and began to salt the meat. By this time the sun was about to set and he finished the whole process with wrapping up the strips of meat in a cloth. Aldred tied to bundle up and placed in his pack. As he closed up the pack, Carleton came to and asked for a drink of water. Aldred picked up his canteen that was made of sheepskin and poured its contents down Carleton’s throat. The ranger spoke, “There is only five miles left to go and I will carry you to the village tomorrow morning so you can receive proper care.” Carleton nodded his head and drifted off to sleep. Aldred got up and collected sticks that lay among the trees. He walked back to where his new companion lay sleeping by the fire. Aldred dumped the armload of sticks on the fire, which soon began to crackle. A bright fire was needed in that part of the forest to keep the wild animals at bay. As the moon rose in the crisp night air, the ranger sat looking into the fire and pondering the thoughts that were crowded into his mind.

Chapter Five: Captain Stanley

Aldred awoke when the sun was still sleeping. The embers of the fire lay glowing in the dark. Aldred sat up and glanced at Carleton who was sleeping quietly. He found more firewood among the trees and soon the fire was blazing once again. He took a chunk of tree leopard meat from his pack and began to gnaw on it. When he finished eating, he put out the fire. Then he picked up Carleton and slung him over his shoulder. Aldred walked through the forest on his way to the village, but laden with his burden he came to the town when the sun was halfway on its daily journey through the sky. The entire village was surrounded by a wooden fence. The ends of pointed branches had been stuck in the ground to make the fence. A village guard halted him as he came to the gate in the stockade. Aldred said, “My friend is wounded and sick. I need to take him to the medicine man. And I need to see Captain Stanley.” The guard moved aside and opened the gate. Aldred walked through the gate and quickly found the medicine man’s hut.

He knocked on the door and a wrinkled old man opened it. Aldred spoke, “This man has been wounded by an arrow and bit by a tree leopard.” The man motioned him inside. In the middle of the hut was a table with a white sheet draped over it. Standing next to the table was an old table which held a few tools. Aldred gently laid down Carleton on the table and turned to the medicine man. Aldred pressed ten golden ruppys (this was the currency of Entria) into the man’s hand. “Do whatever you can for him, okay?” The old man nodded, astonished by the money that lay in his hand. It was enough to buy all his possessions twice over. Aldred said, “I will be back later.”

He closed the door and headed for the tavern called the Golden Mug. It was the only tavern in the village, so it did not take him long to find it. He stepped through the doorway and walked farther in. A few serving girls were serving food and drink to their customers. Aldred spotted a man in silver armor sitting at a table in the corner of the room. The man had a brown mustache and a sword hung at his side. It was Captain Stanley. Aldred walked over to the table and said, “Captain Stanley, can I have a word with you?” The man looked up and said, “Hello Aldred, sit down.” Aldred settled into the bench and told the captain all that had happened from the beginning to the end. When he finished, the captain’s face was grim and sad. The captain was not a man for tears, but this was an exception. Stanley said, “I leave tomorrow, come if you want to.” The captain left the tavern. Aldred followed.

Chapter 6: The March

Aldred walked beside Captain Stanley as they led the Captain’s men (three score strong) out of the gate in the wall that surrounded the village. The men proceeded two by two through the gate. The sun had not risen yet, so the small troop was marching in the ghostly pallor of dawn. Entering the forest, they headed west toward the Goblin Lands where they might give the goblins a small retaliatory taste of their own medicine. “The idea isn’t very smart”, pondered Aldred, knowing that they might be doomed facing such greater numbers, “but then I am not in command.” He knew that these soldiers no longer had any wives, children, or land; everything they lived for had been destroyed. He continued in thought, “It is a sad thing when a man had nothing to live for anymore.” But, the men were willing to die fighting goblins – maybe they weren’t the goblins that had destroyed their village, but they were goblins after all.

The troop traipsed through the woods for days only stopping to eat and sleep. One cold afternoon two scouts, who had been ahead of the group looking for a camping ground for the night, came running back to report. The larger scout spoke, “There is a goblin village just up ahead.”

“How far?” asked Captain Stanley.

“Just over the ridge,” replied the smaller scout.

The small troop advanced over the ridge and down into the village. It was deserted and the men began to enter the huts. There were no goblins to be found! Aldred walked over to a fenced-in area. The fence had only one gate, and it had wire strung along the top of it. It was the lesser pens. Apparently, the entire inhabitants of the village had set out on a raiding party. The captain said, “We will camp here tonight.” The soldiers entered the huts and dumped their burdens on the dirt floors. Aldred chose a hut next to Captain Stanley’s and heaved his pack to the ground. He unrolled his blanket and unbuckled his sword, which he placed on the table, the only furniture in the hut. Using his pack as a pillow, he fell fast asleep. He was awakened by shouts and the heavy pounding of feet. Jumping out of his blanket, Aldred quickly buckled on his sword, and stepped out of the hut. The goblins’ raiding party had returned to their village!

Chapter 7: Captured by the Goblins

Captain Stanley’s men were running towards the advancing goblins. Aldred ran to join them. The goblins were five score strong and two score of them rode on Lesers. The goblins drew nearer until they were 30 paws (paws is the equivalent of our meter) away, then 20 paws, then 10 paw, until the mounted goblins crashed into the men. The Lesers destroyed the front line in a couple minutes, only losing three goblins.

The goblins on foot then began to finish off the rest of the men. A mounted goblin drew near Aldred which he shot in the chest. The goblin fell off with a thump unto the ground. Two goblins on foot drew near and held out their swords in front of him menacingly. Aldred quickly blocked their blows, and swung his sword into their faces. One fell down dead, his days of raiding over, but the other goblin was still standing. Aldred swung his sword in an arc blocking the goblin’s blow, and then he carried out a swift lower cut. The goblin blocked the blow, but before he could stop him Aldred had swung his sword up and with a right upper cut, he decapitated him.

Aldred heard movements behind him and he turned around swinging his sword in front of him. His sword shot into the goblin’s chest and the goblin fell to the ground. The goblins had finished off most of Captain Stanley’s men, and Captain Stanley was standing back to back with his second in command. As the captain and his officer fell under the savage attack of the goblins, Aldred ran for the woods, hoping to escape the goblins.

But it was too late. The goblins surrounded Aldred; some had small bows which shot crude arrows pointed (which they didn’t look very hesitant to use) at him. The leader of the goblins made his way through the mob of goblins, roughly pushing them aside. The chief goblin cut the string of the nearest goblin’s bow and roughly shouted in Goblin, “Zix vis lis thet en get." (We take him prisoner). The goblins shoved him into a hut taking away his sword and bow, a little later a dwarf and an Ik were thrown in beside him. Aldred guessed that they had been taken prisoner during the goblin raids. Goblins were known to take the best fighters in villages captive, just to kill them later on.

Aldred turned to the Ik, “I am Aldred the Ranger, what is your name?”

The Ik smiled, “Zik the Thief. I was a thief in the human city of Echnot, before I went back to my village where I was born. I took up farming for a while, but then the goblins showed up.

Aldred asked the dwarf, “What is your name?”

“Kanni”, the dwarf replied. “I was a smith in a village in the Ik lands. At least I was until the village was burnt to the ground.”

As the goblins began to unload their loot into their huts, a nearly full moon rose into the night sky over the prisoners in the hut.

Chapter 8: Escape

The next morning as the sun began to shine, Aldred woke and stood up. Kanni and Zik had already woken and Zik said, “I heard the goblins talking (Zik knew Goblin) and they said we are going to be executed later this morning in honor of a high ranking spy that works for the goblins, who is visiting the village.” Aldred fell back against the cabin wall, stunned. It was one thing to die in battle, but to die with your hands tied behind your back was another thing. Zik said, “Don’t worry, I have a plan.”

Kanni said, “Really?”

Aldred listened intently as Zik unfolded his plan.

Two hours later the captives were hauled roughly out the cabin door. In the center of the goblin village the village leader was sitting next to the guest of honor and was hemmed in by guards. As he, Kanni, and Zik were dragged nearer to waiting goblins, he saw that the high ranking goblin spy was taller than the goblins and was wearing a black mask over his face. In the middle of the ring of goblins a goblin was waiting with a giant battle axe in his hand. Then Aldred was pulled away from the dwarf and Ik. He was forced in the opposite direction of the executioner, toward the spy and goblin chief. Aldred was stopped only a few paws from them. The spy spoke in a strangely familiar voice, “Aldred, don’t you remember me?” The spy pulled away his mask. It was Carleton!

Aldred was shocked. But he spoke calmly, “Hello Carleton, how are your wounds?”

“Quite fine”, replied Carleton. “Thanks to the medicine man, I was completely healed in two days.”

Aldred still had more questions, “How did you get here so fast and how did you know I was here?”

“Lesers are very fast, and as a spy, I make it my business to know a lot.”

Aldred suddenly realized that the arrow he had pulled from Carleton’s stomach had not been a goblin arrow, but a villager’s.

Carleton grinned evilly, “You saved my life twice. But know I will repay you with death. Good-bye, Aldred.”

And he motioned for the goblins to take Aldred to the execution block. His head was forced unto the block. The goblin raised the axe over his head and down came the axe. Quick as a flash, he pulled up his head and put his hands just so that the axe severed the bonds that held his hands. Aldred shot up and grabbed the axe from the startled goblin. Then with a stroke he clove the goblin in two. He ran over to where Zik and Kanni were. He killed the guards that surrounded them with mighty strokes. Then he severed the Ik’s and dwarf’s bonds as they began to run toward the forest. The goblins were startled by this and seemed dazed. But then Carleton’s voice rang out, “Xiv than wev (Kill them)." The goblins then started running and firing arrows at the fleeing figures. Aldred was hit by one in the back, but he kept on running. They ran for their lives, dashing under trees and bushes. The goblins’ shouts faded as the fugitives ran away from them. But the arrow in Aldred’s back caused him too much pain. He sank to his knees. Zik and Kanni turned around and looked at him. They cried out and ran back towards him. Then Aldred hit the dirt and lay there unconscious.

Airport-Accomodations-Area Attractions

Airport Information

The closest airports to Bentley Farm include Albany International (ALB), Newburgh-Stewart (SWF) and White-Plains (HPN). White Plains tends to have some of the best prices. Alternatively, one could fly into New York City's LaGuardia (LGA) and take the M60 Bus to the 125th Harlem Train Station and then take the Metro North train into Poughkeepsie.


Rhinebeck Lodging Guide

Days Inn in Poughkeepsie, NY

Holiday Inn in Kingston, NY

Travelocity Using zip code 12514

Quality Inn in Hyde Park, NY

Area Attractions

Bentley Farm is located in the central region of the Hudson Valley, the home of many state parks and historic estates.

Contact Us

To contact us via email write to:

Salisbury Steak and Gravy

3 pounds ground beef
2 envelopes dry onion soup mix, divided
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 T. flour
3 cups water
3 cans (4 oz) sliced mushrooms, drained

Gently but thoroughly mix beef, 6 tablespoons of soup mix, crumbs, milk and eggs. Shape into 12 oval patties.

Brown patties in skilet; pour off excess fat. Add remaining onion soup mix and flour; gradually stir in water and mushrooms.

Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes 12 patties.

Angell Family Cast

Mom and Dad
Sarah Elizabeth
Isaac Merrill
Nathaniel Newlin
Luke Sewell
Hannah Grace
Jacob Elliott
Rebecca Faith
Caleb Henley
Over the years, our family has enjoyed reading together in the evenings. We usually read about a half an hour an evening. During the course of the past dozen years we have read a variety of literature, fiction and non-fiction alike. The following are the books that we can recollect reading together. Other individual family favorites are listed below.

Currently Reading... In Search of the Source, Neil Anderson with Hyatt Moore

All-Time Favorites…

Bright Valley of Love, Edna Hong
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom
Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck T
The Von Trapp Family Singers, Maria Von Trapp
The Heavenly Man, Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway
Cheaper By the Dozen, Frank B. Gilbreth, Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
All Creatures Great and Small (And continuing series), James Herriot
Little House on the Prarie (And continuing series), Laura Ingalls Wilder
Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

Individual Family Favorites…


The Sword of Fire, William R. McGrath
The Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
Willowbrook Farm, Katherine D. Christ
Jack of the Pony Express, Frank V. Webster
The Hardy Boys Series, Franklin W. Dixon
The Great Illustrated Classics Series


Three Go Searching, Patricia St. John
The Fourth Candle, Patricia St. John
Little Women, Louisa May Alcott


These Strange Ashes, Elisabeth Elliot
Christy, Catherine Marshall
Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt
The Bronze Bow, Elizabeth George Speare


The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien


House Calls and Hitching Posts, Dorcas Sharp Hoover


Shadow of the Almighty, Elisabeth Elliot
A Chance to Die, Elisabeth Elliot
Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Unsettling of America, Wendell Berry
The Poetry of John Greenleaf Whittier, Ed. William Jolliff
A Testament of Devotion, Thomas Kelly
The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
Reflection on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis
The Fisherman's Lady, George MacDonald


Love and Respect, Emerson Eggerichs


Life Together, Deitrich Bonhoeffer
The Cost of Discipleship, Deitrich Bonhoeffer

And Others We Have Read...

Runaway Linda, Marjorie Hill Allee
The City of Joy, Dominique Lopierre
Living Waters, Brother Yun and Paul Hattaway
The Way of the Sacred Tree, Edna Hong
The Little American Girl, Marjorie Hill Allee
Spencer's Mountain, Earl Hamner, Jr.
Christy, Catherine Marshall
I Heard The Owl Call My Name, Margaret Craven
The Baronet's Song, George MacDonald
Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton
Left to Tell, Immaculee Ilibagiza
Miracles on the Water, Tom Nagorski
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
Crum Elbow Folks, Percy R. Barnes
Bears, Bibles, and a Boy: Memories of the Adirondacks, Jesse David Roberts
My Russian Yesterdays, Catherine De Hueck Doherty
Treasures of the Snow, Patricia St. John
The Sojourner, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Little Britches (And series), Ralph Moody
Blue Willow, Doris Gates
The Little Red Pony, John Steinbeck
Smuggler for God, Brother Andrew
The Good Master, Kate Seredy
Singing Tree, Kate Seredy
Jane’s Island, Marjorie Hill Allee
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm,
Kate Douglas Wiggin Oliver Twist,
Charles Dickens Me and Caleb, Franklyn E. Meyer
The Scarlet Pimpernel, Orczy Emmuska
66 Sumac Lane, Edna Hong
From This Good Earth, Edna Hong
The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Cross and the Switchblade, David Wilkerson
The Swiss Family Robinson, Johann Wyss
Heidi, Johanna Spyri
The Yearling, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Pilgrims Progress, John Bunyan
The Friendly Persuasion, Jessamyn West
My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighood George
All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain
Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane
Autobiography of George Muller, George Muller
Freddie Goes to Florida, Walter Brooks & Kurt Weise
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
In the Presence of My Enemies, Gracia Burnham and Dean Merrill Rascal, Sterling North
The Black Stallion, Walter Farley
The House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Tramp for the Lord, Corrie Ten Boom
Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
Life with Father, Clarence Day
Escape from Slavery, Frances Bok
Treasure Island, Robert Loius Stevenson
Ben Hur, Lew Wallace
Quo Vadis, Henryk Sienkiewicz
Eight Cousins, Louisa May Alcott
A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryce
Dr. Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
Belles on Their Toes, Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey
Mother, Kathleen Norris

Compiled Short Stories…

The Book of Virtues, William Bennett
Walk in the Light, Leo Tolstoy
Home for Christmas, Miriam Leblanc and David G. Klein
Candles in the Dark, Margaret Cooper Brinton, et al.
Stories of the Underground Railroad, Anna L. Curtis
Ghosts of the Mohawk, Anna L. Curtis Eight of a Kind, Betty M. Hockett
More than Empty Dreams, Betty M. Hockett

Streusel Blueberry Buckle

2 cups – flour
¾ cup – sugar
½ cup – milk
¼ cup – butter
1 egg
2 teaspoons – baking powder
½ teaspoon – salt
¼ teaspoon – nutmeg
1 cup – fresh or frozen blueberries

½ cup – sugar
1/3 cup – flour
½ teaspoon – cinnamon
½ teaspoon – nutmeg
¼ cup – butter

• Heat oven to 375°F. Combine all cake ingredients except blueberries in large mixer bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1 to 2 minutes). Gently stir in blueberries by hand.

• Spread batter into greased and floured 8-inch square baking pan. Stir together all streusel ingredients except margarine in small bowl; cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

• 9 servings.

Turtle Cheesecake

Preheat oven to 300 °F. Grease 9-inch springform pan.

Crust -
1 ¾ cups- Chocolate graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup- Butter or margarine, melted

Combine crumbs and butter in medium bowl. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of prepared pan.

Filling -
3 packages (8oz. each) - Cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz.) – Sweetened Condensed Milk
¼ cup- Sugar
3- Large Eggs
3 tablespoons- Lime juice
1 tablespoon- Vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (9 oz.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
2 tablespoons- Chocolate Syrup
2 tablespoons- Caramel Syrup
½ cup- Coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup- Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini Morsels

Beat cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in large mixer bowl until smooth. Add sugar, eggs, lime juice and vanilla extract; beat until combined. Microwave the morsels on high. Stir 2 cups of cheesecake batter into melted morsels; mix well. Alternately spoon batters into crust, beginning and ending with yellow batter.

Bake for 70 minutes or until edge is set and center moves slightly. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes; run knife around edge of cheesecake. Cool completely. Drizzle syrups over cheesecake. Sprinkle with pecans and mini morsels. Refrigerate the cheesecake for several hours or overnight. Remove side of pans. Makes 12-16 servings.

The Rearview Mirror

As you scroll through the past, you will find that the text becomes hyperlinked at Christmas 1993. The links are to the Christmas letters that were sent out that year.
It all began here. Two people fell in love.
June 16, 1979
Christmas 1983 Christmas 1984
Christmas 1985

Christmas 1986
Christmas 1987
Christmas 1988.
Christmas 1989
Christmas 1990 Christmas 1991
Christmas 1992

Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins

2 cup- sugar
1 ½ cups- margarine, softened
2 cups- sour cream
6- eggs
4 teaspoons- vanilla
4 cups- flour
2 teaspoon- baking soda
2 teaspoon- baking powder
1 teaspoon- salt
approx. 3 cups- blueberries


½ cup- butter
2 teaspoons- cinnamon
1 ¼ cups- flour
1 ¼ cups- sugar
1 cup- nuts


1 ½ cups- powdered sugar
1 ½ cups- margarine, softened
1 to 2 tablespoons – milk
1 teaspoon - vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 °F. Combine sugar and margarine in large mixer bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add sour cream, eggs and vanilla; continue beating until well mixed. Add all remaining ingredients; reduce speed to low, stir to smooth. Spoon batter into big cupcakes holders. Top with streusel. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Spread glaze on warm muffins.

Makes 16 servings.

Rubin Scones

Preheat oven to 375°.

2 cups – flour
2 tsp. – baking powder
½ tsp. – baking soda
½ tsp. – nutmeg
½ tsp. – salt

Mix and sift the above ingredients well.

4 oz. – unsalted butter (leave out ½ tsp. of salt if using salted butter)
½ cup – raisins or chocolate chips
4 T. – sugar
1 egg – separate egg yolk from egg white
¾ cup – buttermilk (3/4 cup milk and 2 tsp. vinegar)

Cube butter and work into the dry mixture. Stir in raisins and sugar. Whisk together egg yolk and buttermilk and stir into mixture. Turn out dough on floured surface and knead 10-12 times. Cut in half and pat each half into 6 inch circle. Slice the circle into 6 wedges. Beat egg white and brush it on the scones. Bake for 18-22 minutes until lightly brown!

Christmas 2007

Dear Friends and Family,

This Advent Season we celebrate the Gift of Life! We rejoice at the response of the Virgin Mary who opened up her womb to the Savior of the World, by exclaiming “Let it be done to me according to your word.” We are humbled by the courage of Joseph who risked scandal and disgrace, to be a father to God’s Son. The Nativity Story is familiar but timeless. We can picture a cool, starry night and the angels singing “Glory to God in the Highest.” We hear the cries of the baby Jesus as Mary gives birth in a stable of low estate, but now see Him smiling in the manger being worshipped by shepherds and friendly beasts. His tears piercingly remind us that life is frail, painful, hard, and ominously real; but His smile poignantly reveals that life is a miracle, a gift, a treasure, a luminous reality. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Celebrating the Season of Advent as a college student at Princeton captures some of the emotion of the first Christmas. Unlike my good friend from Alaska who relocated a Christmas tree outside a dumpster to his dorm room, we have no such boughs of holly in Hamilton 324, yet our merriment is not limited by lack of decorations. The Jingle Bell a capella arch sing, carol singing around a blazing fireplace in Murray Dodge Hall, candlelit Christmas Vespers with scripture lessons and choral music, and a holiday party where five students adorned me with wrapping paper, tinsel, ribbons and bows in a human Christmas tree competition, are all ways to enjoy the Yuletide here. Of course there is school work, but the good news is that Handel’s Messiah is an excellent study companion, and singing along with teenage rock stars to an upbeat tempo version of “Angels, We Have Heard on High” is a proven way to relieve stress. These are special times. Just the other night, we turned our large common room into a movie theater and invited friends to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” and served a seasonal cup of eggnog. George Bailey, the Messiah, jingle bells, and candles are not just my favorite tokens of the season – they are universal yuletide treasures that resonate among human hearts the joy and hope of the season. For unto us a child is born...silent night, holy night…please, God, I want to live again…all I want for Christmas is You.

Back on the home front, all is calm after a year of change and growth. Much of the growth was precipitated by our family’s desire to keep multiple generations of the family together. Last year, to our joy, Grandma and Grandpa decided to move from Minnesota into our home. The project of building an addition to our house is nearly complete and Grandma was able to move into her new home just before Thanksgiving. Grandpa, on bedrest suffering from advanced stages of Parkinson’s Disease, moved into the main house. It has been inspiring, to see from afar, how especially Mom’s life has been rearranged by love to care for her dad’s high level of need.

In many ways, the construction of the home addition was done in the spirit of an old-fashioned barn-raising, as the building of the new home turned out to be a cross-country and local community effort. The project was spearheaded by a neighbor and phenomenal craftsman, Lawrence, beginning in March. Lawrence’s relatives, friends and neighbors all pitched in. My brothers and I installed a sidewalk, and built a long retaining wall (fondly known as the Great Wall of Bentley) as well as a flat, accessible parking place in the front of the house. We were joined in the heat and fun of summer’s outdoor labor by my friend, Tsheko, from Princeton, by Jake and Mariah, our friends from Oregon and by Sarah’s good friend, Adam, from Kansas. Meanwhile, the girls were joined in their projects of interior design, painting and shingle preparation by neighbors and friends alike.

At Bentley Farm, our neighbor Hans finished building a vintage Dutch model house and has received approval to build twenty-three more homes on Bentley Farm. The houses will all be built in the back woods, and the farm land is now protected under a conservation easement.

In addition to the community and familial efforts of this past year, we have all celebrated and shared with each other in the joys and challenges of our individual vocations and occupations.

Sarah invests much time in the lives of her family members, friends and chemistry students. She continues to travel from coast-to-coast for both the continuation of friendships and professional development, but I think some of her favorite trips involve visiting her brothers at college! Sarah enjoys savoring every moment of life through writing and is largely responsible for the upkeep of the Bentley Farm Gazette (

Isaac is so honored to be pursuing his dream of becoming a rural vet practitioner at Cornell’s School of Veterinary Medicine. All of those years spent reading James Herriot’s classic series are now becoming a living and breathing reality for Isaac. He says that he never knew, when reading Herriot’s books, how much time studying was required to get to the stage of owning an old pickup to make the farm rounds.

I am in my junior year at Princeton University, pursuing geological engineering and a certificate in teacher preparation. This summer, two Princeton friends and I embarked on an epic adventure to hike Mount Washington, the tallest peak in the Northeast. I also had a very special trip to the British Isles over the week of fall break with three other juniors and a German professor. We learned how to punt (navigate a flat boat along the Cam by poling off the river bottom), attended a vespers service at King’s College, and went into London for a day trip.

Luke began his college experience at Dutchess Community College this year. Luke pours his heart and time into his studies, always keeping in the forefront of his mind his hope of becoming a pediatrician. This summer, Luke helped Isaac restore our great-grandfather’s 1956 outboard motor. With the purchase of a 1968 row boat, we spent a few idyllic summer nights on the Hudson River. Luke also enjoys working around the farm in a new John Deere tractor complete with cab, radio and air conditioning.

Hannah joined her older brother Luke this fall at Dutchess and they enjoy taking several classes together. They even look forward to transferring to the same college after graduating from Dutchess! Hannah’s friends, Allie and Madeline, make her college experience fun and meaningful. Hannah also likes to spend time with her sisters, be it on outdoor hikes and picnics or day trips to New York City for such events as watching Laud M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables in the theater.

Jacob is now the oldest at home during the day and is reforming his reputation as a mischievous chap, looking forward to the day when he is the junior law partner in Angell & Angell. This summer, Jacob enjoyed mowing the many lawns of Bentley Farm and working on outdoor projects with his older brothers. Jacob was the most successful Angell in history at the Dutchess County Fair by winning Junior Champion as well as placing first in his showmanship class with his heifer Vanilla.

Rebecca brightens up the Angell household with her smile and affectionate ways. She is very kind and tender and serves the occupation of the family nurse. She reminds us all of Beth in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Rebecca has recently acquired some of Hannah’s milking skills by helping out at Clarence Knapp’s dairy farm every evening.

Caleb is a passionate, caring young man who has an opinion on just about anything. He is an avid Yankees fan, Redwall book series aficionado, and clever thinker. Caleb enjoyed playing on a church little league team this summer and always will take me up on a game of catch. Caleb bonded with Tsheko—who visited us for a month this summer—and had many heartfelt conversations with him. Uncle Mark is a mentor to Caleb and recently set up a paper and pencil version of fantasy baseball with him and Jacob.

Dad and Mom continue to pour their lives into the Kingdom of God on Earth by serving the growing family with love and dedication. They have seen the family through much change and found that dedicated parenting does not allow for waning of duties with time. Mom and Dad’s desire to make our family life an active Christian community has required much vision and dedication. In his outside-of-home activities, Dad continues to find meaning in his efforts to creatively work for justice and mercy within the criminal justice system. He also serves on the Town of Stanford Planning Board and Zoning Committee where he brings his vision of agrarian values in the midst of progress to bear.

Earlier this semester, Princeton’s Evangelical and Catholic fellowships hosted a weekend series of lectures and discussion entitled the Christian Worldview Conference. During a bioethics panel discussion, the distinguished scholar Nigel Cameron presented a simplified Christian case for human rights. On the blackboard he wrote Homo sapiens on the left, Imago Dei on the right, and drew an arch connecting the two under which he wrote JC. This truth that humankind is created in the image of God, not only informs our understanding of human dignity and worth, but actually tells us of the uniqueness of our Savior. It is, as the Apostle Paul writes, Jesus Christ who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. The truth and joy of Christmas is that the preeminent Imago Dei became a member of Homo sapiens. Jesus Christ was born, God became man, Emmanuel dwelt among us. This reality gives us the reason to live, to embrace life, and to adore God.

Merry Christmas! Nathaniel Angell

Chicken Stuffing Dinner

1 can – cream of cheddar
½ cup – milk
7 ounces – Pepperidge Farm Country Style stuffing
(Prepare the stuffing according to the directions on the bag)
4 ounces – sliced baby Bella mushrooms
3 pounds – boneless chicken tenders

Lay the chicken in a 9x12 pan. Top with mushrooms first. Mix the cream of cheddar with the milk and pour on top of the mushrooms. Then top with stuffing.

Bake 40 minutes at 410°F. Cover after 30 minutes with aluminum foil. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and bake 20 minutes more still covered.

Christmas 2005

We greet you this Advent season, with the joyful testimony of Peter, “We have beheld the majesty of the only begotten.” This greeting is chosen with intention and with a spirit of hope for many have recently disparaged the existence of God, summing up their doubts with the simple question, “If God really existed, would not he make his existence more obvious?” Many make sense of tragedy and evil by concluding that a good and loving God has not trumped the persistence of evil. What do we require as evidence that God exists? Perhaps we demand an audible voice, a message in the sky, the end of suffering, the triumph of good, the reign of peace, the fulfillment of desire, a miracle of healing, the answer of a desperate prayer, the presence of love or an explanation for all that is obfuscated. We greet you with hope, confident that no matter how long the list grows, we remain, in every instance, eyewitnesses of his majesty. For who would have ever demanded of God, that to make real his reality, he must take upon our flesh and live and walk and die as man among men? An outrageous request. Would he who made us become us? This is our God.

The work of God among us has been present in many ways throughout this past year of change and rebirth. This spring brought a change of ownership to Bentley Farm. A Dutch investing group bought the farm with hopes of building a small Dutch style settlement. The sale of the farm brought many changes. In April most of the animals were sold. The dairy herd was temporarily relocated to a neighboring farm. Soon after the animals left the farm, everything that was not built on a foundation was auctioned away. When the creaking old hay wagons were driven away from the auction, I felt like my childhood memories were undergoing painful surgery. A lump settled in my throat as I remembered how I passed many hot summer days sitting on one of those wagons awaiting the somewhat irregular throw of the baler's kicker. A family friend brought us several packets of seeds with prayers for rebirth and new life for the farm.

These prayers have been answered in many ways, as the farm is truly undergoing a transformation. We are enjoying relationships with our new Dutch neighbors and still hoping that the Dutch Settlement will include an agricultural sector.

In a sense the changes on the farm have most significantly influenced the youngest five members of the family. Luke, as the oldest child at home, has taken a large initiative in making many of the changes on the farm. Luke is very handy and would prefer to work outside at all times. He works most of the day with our Dutch neighbor, Hans, repairing the barns, demolishing old sheds, removing fence line, and plowing snow. It could be said that Luke has spent this year undoing that which we spent our previous years doing. If before we put up fence, now we are taking it down. If before we repaired, now we remove. Luke requested two gifts this year that he has been extremely pleased to receive: a motor for his Gravely and a miter saw.

Jacob follows suit with Luke’s occupations and was thrilled to spend much of the summer mowing with a LT-190 John Deere tractor. Jacob, Caleb and Dad took a special camping trip to the Catskills over Labor Day Weekend. At the Dutchess County Fair, Jacob and Rebecca’s cows competed and Jacob walked away with a blue ribbon. Jacob and Luke worked at a new event at the Dutchess County Fair: a cow maternity ward! Every week Jacob looks forward to attending an older boy’s youth group with Luke. When Isaac is home, Jacob is his shadow and helper. Jacob is always at the center of action and likes to make people laugh.
Hannah went to Camp Cherith with Rebecca this summer and traveled to a Girls of Faith convention with some of her girlfriends this fall. This summer our family friend Trip provided weekly guitar lessons to Hannah and her friend Olivia. Hannah is truly a dairy maid at heart. She is a faithful attendant at the 4:00pm milking event at our neighbor Clarence’s farm. Hannah is very good with children and takes care to make special events for Rebecca and her friends. Hannah said recently that she may enjoy being an elementary school teacher when she gets a little older.

Rebecca has become quite socially active this year. When she is not working on their school work, or doing laundry for the entire family, Rebecca spends most free moments with other farm neighborhood children. Rebecca enjoys her Friday nights with the Pioneer Girls at the local church. Rebecca has a very nurturing spirit and fulfills the family nursing role. She is not squeamish and particularly impressed us with her kind washing and care of Luke’s post-wart removed feet. She thinks that she would like to study nursing in college.

Caleb is an independent spirit and impresses us with his sayings. He has recently started reading through The Chronicles of Narnia series and reports that the books “sharpen the imagination.” Indeed his imagination has been sharpened. He writes journals and draws pictures about Lego Land including detailed descriptions of economic transactions.

When the cows moved to a neighboring farm this spring, Isaac moved with them! Isaac woke up at 3:45am every morning this summer with Luke to milk cows with his friend Clarence. He repainted all of Clarence’s barns and enjoyed using big equipment that worked. Isaac is enjoying the academic challenges of studying animal science at Cornell in Ithaca. Isaac is working three jobs at Cornell including a job that requires him to walk a mile every morning and arrive at work by 6:00am to, yes, milk two dairy cows. Isaac always communicates such a zest for life. His motto in life could be succinctly described by the title of his favorite song: Just Another Day in Paradise. He calls home more than he thought he ever would to keep in touch with the changes on the farm. He recently told Mom, “I’m living my dream.”

Mom and Dad don’t hear as much from Nathaniel. In his own words Nathaniel is “a farmer at heart posing as a scholar at Princeton.” After spending a very full summer working for our new neighbor, Nathaniel quickly adjusted to his new surroundings, beginning with an orientation week spackling houses with other students in an urban New Jersey community. Nathaniel has become involved with a very vibrant Christian community at Princeton. In addition he was accepted into the James Madison Young Fellows Program. Nate’s involvements have given him audience with many statesmen, including Condoleeza Rice and Karl Rove. Nathaniel’s friends, Clint (Alaska) and Tsheko (Zambia) came for the Thanksgiving holiday along with all of Dad’s siblings. Our family was entertained with stories of bear hunts and hippopotami chases. Nathaniel is very social and keeps hours that would lead one to believe that he is more than posing as a college student. Nate has been known to say, “I love Princeton, it’s just too bad that I have to take classes.”

This year has been one of my most academically intense years. I spent the summer writing my chemistry thesis and defending it for my Master of Science degree. Soon after, I started student teaching 11th grade chemistry and 8th grade physical science as the last requirement for my Master of Arts in Teaching degree. Student teaching has definitely convinced me that teaching is my vocation. I am eagerly anticipating moving home from Binghamton at the end of this month to look for a chemistry teaching job in the Hudson Valley area. Thankfully this year did provide some time to be with friends. This past semester a childhood friend roomed with me in Binghamton. In January, I was in Oregon for my friend Trina’s wedding. While visiting, I went back to George Fox University to present my graduate research. October brought another trip back to the West Coast where I got to spend time with friends Trina and Kristiane. One of my lifetime dreams came true this summer when Nathaniel, Hannah and I went camping in Acadia National Park. We went on the scariest hike of our lives up the Precipice Trail where only hot iron bars separated us from F=m(9.8m/s2). In my return home, I am looking forward to being a part of the spiritual community that family provides.

Mom and Dad are steady and faithful. Throughout all of the change of this year, they have been bulwarks of comfort, love and direction. One may think that parenting would be less of a challenge as we get older, but we look to Mom and Dad for more wisdom and counsel than ever before. The sacrifices that Mom and Dad make for the family have only increased. Dad and Mom have faced the changes of the past year with faith and trust. Dad continues to assume more responsibilities with Dutchess County Public Defender. But his favorite occupation is still spending time with Mom. In my four years away from home, I have often thought about the work that my parents intentionally pursued in raising family. In their efforts to train children to love God and neighbor, I have concluded that Mom and Dad have chosen one of the most influential careers of all. I am completely convinced that the fruit of their labor and love will have an impact on many generations to come.

In fact, it has often been this story, the story of my parents dedication to God and family and the loving community that I have witnessed as a result, that has spoken to me of the existence and continuing work of God in this world. For as much as I value and cherish my parents’ faithfulness, the glory belongs to the One to whom they have been faithful.

And as only eyewitness of His majesty, we wish you a Merry Christmas,

Sarah (for the family)

Basil Pesto Pasta

1 lb. (ziti or penne) noodles
1 lb. package of bacon, cut each stripe into fourths
Approx. 2 lb. of chicken, sliced and chopped
1 medium-large tomato, chopped and seeded
7 oz. basil pesto
1/3 lb. feta cheese (1/2 of a block)

Mix chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Shake the chicken in flour and fry in olive oil. Fry bacon. Cook noodles and immediately combine with pesto and crumbled feta cheese. Stir in chicken, bacon and tomato. Serve while warm. Makes about 6-8 servings.

Christmas 2004

Christmas 2004

Dear Family and Friends,

We greet you this Christmas with cheerful tidings. Another year has passed, the first snow has arrived and the days are short and cozy. Life is joyously full on Bentley Farm after a year of family gatherings and birthday parties, hay baling and John Deere driving, greeting new neighbors and bidding adieu to old friends. As we consider the memories of the past year—the peaceful walks through the woods at Thanksgiving, the determined Dutch Belted oxen pulling the bobsled through the freshly fallen snow in January, the triumphant thrill of surviving an overwhelming rainstorm the day of the surprise square dance for Sarah’s 21st birthday on the 21st of August—we find ourselves thankful for a year of grace. But what is it that especially warms our hearts as we celebrate this Advent season? Maybe it is the fun of Hannah driving the family behind the pasture to the evergreen forest for the selection of our Christmas tree. Perhaps it is the sweet aroma of the pine and the warmth from the woodstove as we string lights and decorate the house. Maybe it is the smiles we see as we sing carols at the Clinton Historical society at their December meeting. Perhaps it is the anticipation of the sweet, delicious cinnamon buns Mom bakes before we all awake on Christmas Day. We know that Christmas is coming because of these Yuletide treasures. But our hearts are full not only because Christ was born in a manger centuries ago, but because the living Christ may still be born within welcoming hearts today.

Our lives have been incredibly blessed this past year. Sarah continues to balance the pursuit of two Masters degrees at Binghamton University, the experience of teaching science to third graders at Benjamin Franklin elementary school, and the long ride home every other weekend to Bentley Farm. She has really enjoyed the interaction with the young kids she teaches. Sarah’s highlight of the year was the evening square dance on the front lawn of the farm house. The logistics for the party were daunting: Mom baked tons of food and went shopping in advance, the boys hung light bulbs from the barn to the house, mowed the lawn and cleared out the carriage house, and Dad arranged for the Walker family to come and provide the music. The biggest surprise of all was the weather. After a day of torrential rainfall, the sun came out a few hours before the dance and dried up the lawn. Sarah’s friends came from far and wide. Sarah had lots of fun and her heart was touched.

Isaac and I are a team. We continue to wake up every morning at 5:00, but in our old age we roll out of bed about 5:30. We joke that Isaac is going bald, but his hairline is just receding. Isaac and I get confused daily as twins at Dutchess Community College, where we both go to school. Isaac is a hard worker at whatever he does. He is excelling in his studies and carries a backpack that literally weighs 75 pounds. Isaac hopes to transfer to Cornell University to study agriculture next fall, and I have been accepted at Princeton where I plan to pursue civil engineering. During the summer, Isaac and I went to work on Bentley Farm plowing, planting and making hay. I was also able to accomplish my dream hike of climbing the tallest mountain in New York with Dad and Hannah. Unfortunately, Isaac was not able to join us because he was too busy working. Isaac will never be unemployed.

Luke, Hannah, Jacob, Rebecca and Caleb are my heroes. On a daily basis they hold down the fort at Bentley Farm. After their studies in the morning, they walk down the lane and work on projects of every kind. Luke and Hannah are the leaders. With their willing adjutants, they feed the animals and milk the cow every day. They have made friends with our new Bentley Farm neighbors. Luke has recently acquired a new flock of chickens. He is a young man of tremendous strength and courage exemplified in his refusal to let any obstacle prevent him from achieving his goals. Hannah owns a sweet pig named Rutabaga and playfully rides her everyday. Hannah is a bright young woman with many gifts and talents. This summer Hannah filmed a classic videotape of activities on Bentley Farm. It will provide great memories for years to come. Jacob and Rebecca showed their calves at the fair for the first time this year. Jacob had a real winner, with his calf receiving the title of Reserve Junior Champion. In the spring, Jacob had the opportunity with Mom to visit her family in Minnesota. Jacob has lots of spunk; he is an energetic individual always available to help and especially likes working with Dad. Two of Rebecca’s favorite things are to spend time with Sarah and giggle with her friends. Rebecca is a blossoming flower. She is amazingly friendly and cheerful everyday. Caleb learned how to swim this summer. He readily overcame his fears and realized how much he liked the water. Caleb is a studious boy whose reading skills are extraordinary. Both Jacob and Caleb really enjoy their new roommate, Uncle Mark, who has been volunteering at Ferncliff Nursing Home.

Mom and Dad are mentors, friends, and leaders to all of us kids. On a regular basis, I am taken aback by Mom’s love and care. Mom goes the extra mile every day. I always look forward to her great meals after a long day at school. But Mom is so much more than an excellent cook and exemplary role model, she is always there for me. She is interested in my life and enthusiastic about my future. Growing up, I saw Dad as a prototypical Atticus Finch—a country lawyer, compassionate father and big hearted hero—only without the glasses. Dad has accepted a new leadership role at the office but ironically now wears glasses—at least when he reads. One of Dad’s goals ever since he was young was to read the entire Bible in the King James Version. He bought new Bibles for each family member and now we are beginning to realize this vision. In June, Mom and Dad celebrated their silver anniversary, taking a long overdue week’s honeymoon to Acadia National Park.

This past Thanksgiving weekend, my uncle and I were walking home on the road after a long hike through the woods behind the farm. A car pulled over to the side of the road and a hunter sporting camouflage and a goatee walked over to us. I recognized him as an old timer and the three of us spent several minutes reminiscing about times gone past. His final comments were about the last election, prompting a further conversation between my uncle and me as he drove away. After we arrived home and started to load up the car for the town dump, our conversation led into a discussion about Christ’s statements, message and gospel. As I look back on the thoughts we shared with each other, I realize the hope that Christ offers to the world. Christ was born at a time of Roman rule in Israel, but he was not born as a king of the world. He chose a manger as the lowly place of his birth to signify his reign as the Prince of Peace. Politics are important, but they are also transient and often futile. Jesus offers us something more concrete and solid, a gift this Christmas that we can all accept, the gift that Isaiah foretold “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.” Christ was born for the reason of communicating his love and gospel to a needy world, and to the extent we accept Him today we will have peace in our hearts.

Christmas Cheers, Nate Angell

Christmas 2003


There are many ways that I could begin this seasonal greeting. Often Advent dawns on Bentley Farm with a burst of joyous enthusiasm. The carols, the many candle lights, the oxen pulling a bobsled of smiling children through that fresh first snow often usher feelings of euphoric happiness. We speak of joy and hope, peace and goodwill unto all men and once again remember that life has more meaning than the small cracks of everyday living allow us to realize. But I do not wish to be another clanging cymbal, masking the weariness of this life with a hurried, “Merry Christmas.” God became man because the hurt in our lives was real. The gift of Immanuel speaks to the life that knows its need for a hope as real as the hurt. It is as Isaiah foretold it, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.” I greet you this season, mindful that God With Us is not a phrase of abstract hope but the very gift that offers wholeness to the brokenness of our lives and to the reality of our sickness, healing.

Two years of life in Oregon, away from the family at Bentley Farm, certainly opened my eyes to the prominence of “the-way-things-ought-not-to-be.” My return home has provided much rejuvenation. Family is a haven of sorts, a place for a remembrance that love can and does exist in the world.


Dad missed me a lot when I was gone. I missed him a lot too. If asked about the highlight of his year, Dad will recall the trip that the nine family members made from New York to Oregon for my graduation from George Fox University. For several months preceeding this trip Dad would call me and always say, “I’m coming to take you home with me, baby. You’ll be ours again.” My heart has so much love in it for Dad. Dad has always been a man of commitment to high ideals, even bringing some to believe that his middle initials, N.N., stand for No Nonsense. And while Dad has certainly not compromised his ideals with time, I was very aware, in coming home, of a patience and a gentleness that trust in the sovereignty of God has added to his deterministic idealism. When Dad and I were hiking in the Shawangunks this summer he made the comment that one of the most encouraging things for him is to see are the ways that, in every day life, people respond with a “Yes” to God. This made an impression on me, especially given that Dad spends the in and out of his days working with criminals who often have a much less than encouraging past. When Dad was five he had determined that he wanted to be a lawyer and a farmer. The farmer side of Dad increasingly takes form as his sons get older and start embracing new projects. Dad has almost become the hired hand of my brothers. Now that Isaac and Nathaniel can drive the tractors, Dad gets the sometimes less than desirable job of stacking the hay in humid one-hundred degree barns. But Dad doesn’t mind a good day’s work. In fact, whenever one of us starts to complain about a job, Dad always says with a little smirk, “Tell me one job that I don’t like.” I think that we’ve yet to answer that question.


Mom possesses so many gifts of tenderness. Mom is an especially good listener. All nine of us would readily agree to this, and when nine people agree that someone is a good listener, you know that someone does a lot of listening! Dad and I are the biggest talkers and often it does happen that we get slightly possessive of Mom’s very gracious ears. The problem occurs when I am on the phone with Mom and Dad can’t hear the conversation. Somewhere in the conversation comes the sad voice in the background, “Jan, I want to be with you too.” When I am physically home the problem isn’t quite the same. Mom and I will be talking with our feet up on the fireplace and somewhere in the conversation Dad will poke his head in and ask what is going on. This is our cue to invite him into the conversation, which we do gladly. Truth be told, Dad is usually just the first one waiting to be invited into the conversation. Given enough time, the crowd of Angells, gathered around the fireplace grows until all ten are accounted for. But Mom would say that she loves it, just as she would say that she finds joy and meaning in all of the other incredible acts of service that she does for the family. She does more food service now than ever due to the new Amish table that seats anywhere from two to twenty people. She likes the twenty people idea much better than the two, and so a visitor to our kitchen might think it consists of predominantly table and food. But that idea always meets well with the nine of us. Yet one not need this big table to experience Mom’s generosity, for Mom’s kindnesses usually extend to hot hay wagons with gifts of lemonade and cookies. A big change for Mom this year was that all of her children have reached a stage of literacy. That may sound funny, but it is a big jump, signifying the changing nature of our family. One of Mom’s best friends since third grade came to visit this summer, which was a fun occasion for all of us. In addition, this year has been a special time for Mom to enjoy her siblings; she was especially grateful, this year, for the return of her brother Mark, a trip to DC to visit her brother Jeff, the many visits of her sister Joanne, and the soon anticipated arrival of her brother Scott from Azerbaijan.

Sarah Elizabeth

While a lot could be said about the many changes that this last year has held for me, I think that simply saying that I am close to home summarizes them all. After a whirlwind of graduating and welcoming my two special Oregon friends, Kristiane and Trina, to the East Coast for a tour of Bentley Farm, New York City, Boston and Washington DC, I settled down on the farm for the summer meanwhile working at the Bangall Country Store. In the beginning of August I moved to a suburb of Binghamton, NY. I was hired with a National Science Foundation Grant to teach third-grade science in two Binghamton School District classrooms. This job has been wonderful. At times I think that I learn more teaching third-grade than I do in my graduate chemistry classes at Binghamton University. It has been a different experience to live alone; I am so grateful to be close to family and I am often able to at least make it home for church on the farm.

Isaac Merrill

Isaac has to be the hardest working guys I have ever met. I was astounded, this summer, by the hours that he put into farming. The responsibility of the farm rested pretty squarely on his shoulders this year. There has been a lot of change on the farm due to Farmer Henry’s recent struggle with cancer. It has been a difficult experience to see the duo that was always Henry and Isaac change its nature and form. What was always such a vivid physical partnership (whether it be in the barns doing the chores, in the fields: one mowing, one raking, fixing the old farm equipment together, or restoring old buggies) can now be characterized by a very young man holding the hand of an elderly man on his bed. It is so hard to see the suffering of someone whom we all love so dearly. Isaac has certainly risen to the occasion and continued to keep the farm operating. This has been in addition to starting college. Isaac decided to go to Dutchess Community College and study biology. He hopes to transfer into an agricultural program when he is done. He works so hard on his schoolwork. He is determined to do everything that he does to its fullest. I often get calls from him as he works on perfecting his papers, wanting to know if a certain paragraph would sound best with which of the three sentences that he has carefully developed. Isaac takes a break from school only to continue to help on the farm or with a house project. I have come to believe that there is nothing that Isaac can’t fix. From electrical wiring, to plumbing, to car, tractor and lawnmower engines, he does it all. Isaac is very generous when he is working and often works with many of the younger children crowded around him. Luke has especially learned many of Isaac’s mechanical skills. Thankfully, between his summer semester and fall semester he was able to spend the last week of August with his heifers at the Dutchess County Fair.

Nathaniel Newlin

Nathaniel describes the best sense of the word “classic.” He, too, started attending Dutchess Community College this year. He thought that he might be interested in a history major, but has since chosen to follow his love of math to pursue an engineering major. But he surely doesn’t forget his historically minded side and definitely continues to follow politics very closely. Whereas college prohibits him from turning on the radio to catch the news every hour, he continues to be very faithful to this love. Along with Nathaniel’s historical/political side comes his love of baseball. He actually got me to drive him down to the Bronx and take him to one of several Yankees games that he attended this year. He was a very committed fan, following every move more closely than a cat watches a mouse. I was amazed. His cheering that was louder and longer than anyone else’s in the whole stadium; he even had me standing and cheering, which is a big accomplishment given that baseball does not usually excite me. The game was a ton of fun, but I must confess that I am thankful that Nate is getting his license soon because driving in New York City doesn’t easily fit into my comfort zone. Nathaniel has a very original sense of humor and is very sensitive to all of the things that are going on around him. If someone is the least bit perturbed by something that has is done, he is always desirous of a quick reconciliation. Nate is a thinker. He has the mind of an apologetic and the tenderness of a mother; a rare combination.

Luke Sewell

Luke has taken on a new role as he is often the oldest male home. He has taken over that which Isaac has had to let go of to attend college. This translates to a lot of responsibility on the farm. He is very strong, and I always love to see what he can do. Luke is a confidently small guy and it is to be understood that his size does not stop him from doing anything. One of my favorite memories from this summer was driving down to the farm to find Luke fixing the hay baler. The only problem was that all I could see of Luke were his feet that were barely sticking out on the kicker. The rest of Luke was a mix of a lot of hay and hard work. He continues to be the faithful caretaker of seventy chickens. This is a hard job. Not only does Luke have to work with the chickens, but he also has many dozens of eggs a day to wash, sort and clean. But this is a good job for Luke, and very slowly he has even made some money selling his eggs, which is a rare accomplishment in farming these days. More exciting than having money is spending it. Normally, Luke would save his money, but he is starting up a little side business mowing lawns and wanted to buy a motor for an old mower that we have. He shopped for this motor for about a month and finally found the exact motor that he wanted on an E-bay auction. He had a certain money limit, though, and was very concerned that he would be outbid. I have never seen someone more nervous about an auction and more jubilant about winning, than Luke in the moments preceding and proceeding the time of this sale. In addition to being the proud owner of a 12hp engine, Luke also now owns his own chainsaw and loves any project involving cutting wood. He hopes to own a sawmill in his adult life. I can guarantee that he will be the best saw mill owner that there will ever be given how faithful he is to that chain saw.

Hannah Grace

Hannah and Luke are still each other’s side-kicks. They work together a lot, Hannah usually spearheading the academic division and Luke the manual labor division. Hannah has very definite opinions on the way that things ought to be and will stick by her cause till the end. I always love listening to her express her ideas, especially since her expression is much more poignant than mine tends to be. When I am not home she makes sure that we have dates to talk on the telephone. She knows more about what is going on in the community and the lives of all of our friends than the town crier of days gone by ever knew. Hannah is a very dedicated student and is very self-disciplined in her studies. She is certain of her desire to study biology when she goes to college. Hannah has become a traveler this year. Not only did she get to see Portland and the surrounding suburbs when she attended my graduation, but she also traveled with me down to southern Oregon to briefly hike (what I believed to be one of the most beautiful places in the Northwest) the Rogue River Trail. In the summer she flew to Minnesota to visit Mom’s family and a friend in Wisconsin. Her trip back was unique. She flew into Chicago to visit some other family friends and then took a sleeper car back home with Grandma. This fall she and Mom went down to Washington D.C. and had several very full days of touring all of the museums and galleries, meanwhile visiting Uncle Jeff.

Jacob Elliot

Jacob has been characteristically described in the past as the one up to tricks. While Jacob has not managed to masquerade that irresistible smile that turns his eyes into crescent moons, he has definitely laid aside some of his more mischievous tricks. He is especially fond of working with Dad, and where Dad is there Jacob is too. Jacob likes to talk. So, where Dad is working, there is Jacob talking. Jacob does have many fun things to talk about and does not forget that his older sister needs someone to talk to, as she is living alone in an apartment after all. Many a voicemail say, “Hi this is Jacob. Give me a call as soon as you can.” I must say that the ensuing conversations are usually fairly short, but nevertheless Jacob always has something important to say. Jacob has become increasingly dedicated in his reading. Dad promised Jacob that when he had learned to read the first chapter of Farmer Boy perfectly, he would be awarded with his own calf. Jacob met the challenge this year and is now happily in possession of a calf that he bought at an auction in Rutland, Vermont this fall. Owning one’s own calf is a key milestone in the journey toward manhood at Bentley Farm and Jacob is a noble recipient of this good mark. He is working on training this calf very faithfully.

Rebecca Faith

Rebecca is a very loved sister. She does a lot of special things for all of us, can always be counted on to help when an extra hand is needed, no matter what the task. She is very versatile in her helping abilities and can clean, entertain younger children, organize and farm very well. When I make it home for part of the weekend I can always look forward to Rebecca’s enthusiastic response to my arrival. After a quick greeting she usually wants me to immediately do science experiments with her. We have had some fun times, making water travel against gravity, and across empty jail cells; building buzzing sound machines; playing with goop that is both solid and liquid; and taking quizzes and tests that I give my third grade students. Rebecca does a lot of reading and I usually get frequent phone updates on the progress that she has made in a particular book. But best of all, Becca fits like a puzzle piece in my lap, such that whenever I see her she certainly fills a special love debt carved out just for her.

Caleb Henley

Caleb has a very unique role in the family. He is the youngest. I guess that seems overtly obvious. But I always wondered what it would be like to be the youngest in a family of eight, especially since I was never younger than any of my other siblings. I can only guess that it is a very unique role given that it seems that Caleb storehouses all of the energy that age has taken from the rest of us. When I was six, I remember that my energies were devoted to toys, books, and little games and that my conversations reflected my involvement with these toys, games and books. Not so with Caleb. He has seven older brothers and sisters that talk about a whole lot more than toys, games and books. Caleb refuses to be left out of these conversations. What he lacks in experience he certainly tries to make up in insistence that he is right. During any family conversation you will find that Caleb holds the most definite opinion about the way things should be (rivaled only by Hannah). He has a very sharp mind and exercises it by asking for spontaneous word problems in math. He has listened to countless chapter books on tape this year, finally to learn that he could read himself. This has been a great excitement to him and when asked about his highlight of the year he immediately thinks of the fact that he too can now read from the Bible during our morning Bible reading.

Merry Christmas

Truly these reflections remind me that family does provide a refuge of hope. Yet I am also very mindful that God desires us to hide ourselves solely in Him like I so often retreat from the weariness of this world to the nine open arms at Bentley Farm. I imagine that the day will come when there will be no refuge but Christ, no haven but the mercy of God. And surely that day is here already. Family is a beautiful type or shadow of this refuge. But certainly not the substance. For upon Christ “was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.” That is the hope.