Friday, September 30, 2005

Dress Up Days

Mom recently cleaned out the attic which was quite a big accomplishment as it serves as the storehouse for the extra belongings of ten people who live in a small house (well, some of us live at college - but we still manage to contribute to the accumulated stuff). When mom cleaned the attic, she found her old wedding dress, yellowed from years (26!) of age. Anyhow, mom cleaned up her dress and Rebecca had fun playing dress up with Caleb. I think that she looks more like a radiant sister of a religious order than a bride!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Dad Turns Forty-Nine

Dad celebrated his forty-ninth birthday today complete with garden-fresh carrot cake (Dad made it himself), many cards and four gifts: two shirts, a tie and a new mailbox! We all love Dad very much and hope for a very happy fiftieth year of life (and fifty more!).

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Luke's Very Special Request

Luke has worked very hard all summer with our new neighbor, Hans. Hans very generously offered to compensate Luke for his work. Luke had a very special request: he wanted an engine. The engine had to make his multi-purpose Gravely work again. The Gravely can mow grass, plow land and blow snow. Luke's present allows him to do more work. But that is what Luke likes to do.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friend Gary

(Mom shows off Gary's new pet lizard. Gary doesn't know what to think. Scary?)

(Caleb and Gary play with Gary's new toy: a slinky!)

We have a friend named Gary that Uncle Mark met when he went he worked at a group home in the Hudson Valley area. Gary has two particular loves: food and presents. Before Gary comes over, he puts in an order for food. This time the order included baked potatoes, meat, salad and apple pie. He already mentioned that next time the order will include blueberry pie. He got twelve gifts. One of them was a slinky. Another was a mean looking plastic lizard. Gary got excited and thought it was a little scary.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Celebrating the First Renovation

The outside renovations on the Carriage House have been completed. The inside is still under construction. The upper floor will be redesigned so as to become one entire room.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Hannah's Day Camp

Hannah had five girls making goopy goo in the living room today. In addition to the stretching maneauvers manifested above, the goo also has the unique ability to blow up like a balloon. Hannah said recently that she may enjoy being an elementary school teacher when she gets a little older.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Demolition Derby Team

The upper carriage house is now in the demolition stage. Rebecca, Caleb and Jacob have all assumed roles in the demolition process. Luke (not pictured) is the head of the destruction team. The demolition of the upper carriage house is a little sad, though. The upper carriage house was always like a time machine to me. Walking up the stairs to the different rooms with wood-sided walls and old sleigh runners and neck yokes and desks from the old one room schoolhouse felt like experiencing a past that no longer existed. The wood-sided walls are coming down and the desks are long gone. The sleighs were auctioned away and the neck yoke disappeared one day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Changing Face of the Farm

As the summer turns to autumn, Jacob, Caleb and Luke work on scraping the paint off of the porch on the white house. The floors will soon be sanded and the house painted. It has a new name. It is now longer "The White House." It is now, "The Guest House."

The Carriage House also has a new look - a parking lot has been added along with some shrubbery. Garrage doors will be installed tomorrow. The new paint job adds a nice touch.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

How can people do this to each other?

This is the question posed by a friend of mine from college who is currently witnessing great turmoil and unrest in Iraq where he serves with Christian Peacemaker Teams.

I subsequently reflected on how this question sometimes meets us in places that we do not expect it to show up. For instance, last night, below my apartment window was the most full-blown and loud display of anger and hatred that I have ever heard. Every word that was uttered was dripping with hate. In disbelief, I wondered "How can people do this to each other?"

Sometimes I think that the world is better than that - it takes an event as such to remind me that that the Kingdom of Darkness is a very real entity. I guess that was why I was struck in a particular way by a phrase in the 2nd chapter of John this week. John writes that "Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man." During those stressful moments last evening of wondering about the fate of these angry people below my window, I thought, "What is it that I am called to do?" Pray?

To the unbelieving, prayer sometimes seems like the sissy way out. But I am compelled to think otherwise. Jesus marveled at the faith of the centurion who said, "But say in a word and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it." The centurion understood that requesting God's Kingdom to come to earth was not a matter for sissies but a matter of power.

And so last night, amidst the swearing and the anger, I was simply prompted to pray for the presence of love. And not too long thereafter, it was quiet.

May God's mercy give us sustenance. And may I remember that I need God's sustaining mercy just as much as the angry man and woman on the street corner, just as much as the Iraqi bureaucrats and just as much as the desperate insurgents.

Love through me, Love of God.
Make me like thy clear air
Through which, unhindered, colors pass
As if it were not there.
--(Amy Carmichael, Toward Jerusalem)

Princeton University Welcomes Nathaniel

Yesterday Nathaniel moved in to his new home - Blair Hall (featured above). Yes, it is just like a castle.

He moved in after spending a week rebuilding homes in Trenton, NJ with a group of Community Action students from Princeton. Mom, Dad, Hannah, Jacob, Rebecca and Caleb all helped Nathaniel move in and set up his dorm.

Mom writes: We had such grateful hearts leaving him yesterday; he seemed so settled in already. He has a wonderful roommate, (Ariel), a conservative Jew who spent the last year in Israel. Ari is such a comfortable guy to be around from the start - no pretense, no walls that have to come down. When I was closing the door to leave, he said to me, "Nate and I are going to have a great time."

And Nathaniel writes: Yesterday I got back from a weeklong community action trip. My group of 15 went into the inner city of Trenton to a Catholic ministry called Martin House and we did activites ranging from sorting clothes to spackling walls. Our leaders were very fun people to be around and our group got along very well. Probably one of the highlights of my trip was pushing some kids on the swings at the learning center. Needless to say, I am still tired, but I am thankful classes don't start until Thursday. This morning I had a beautiful run around campus. The sun was out and the architecture of the buildings blows you away. It is like a dream.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Quaker Barn Sale

Mom is an excellent baker. And she bakes a lot. We are all excellent eaters. This forms a little bit of a problem. The problem is featured above. In our house we call it "Quaker Barn Sale." This term reflects the chaotic nature of the annual barn sale that occurs the instant that the holding rope is cut back - buyers run into the buildings and grab whatever items are of their liking. Do you see the correlation?

Monday, September 05, 2005

A Simple Prayer


Your will,
Your way,
Your best,
Your time.

A Simple Life

(Caleb sports his walking stick.)
(Dad rests. Jacob waits for Dad to be done resting. It can be hard to have enough energy to keep up with two young boys.)

Jacob and Caleb went with Dad on a camping trip in the Catskills (home of the Washington Irving story settings) this Labor Day weekend. Since Jacob and Caleb had not been able to go on the big camping trip to Acadia, Dad had promised them a substitute camping trip that took place this weekend. The New York Labor Day weekend was picture perfect - crisp weather and blue skies, a true "Dutchess County Day."

A Simple Hope

Dad's job as a defense lawyer requires that he spend a lot of time investing hope in people that would commonly be deemed 'hopeless.' Dad said recently that he has two pillars that guide his work.

(1) It is always possible for someone to change, even if it is only one client in one thousand, you never know which one it will be. You work diligently, knowing that very few will change, but that one in one thousand is still worth the effort.

(2) The truth will always conquer.

In Dad's office for many years was a small piece of paper with the words, "There is no saint without a past and no sinner without a future."

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Two is Better Than One

No, I am not married, but I have a roommate! Katherine and I have known each other since we were three years old and met at the Rhinebeck Library Story Hour. At the Rhinebeck Library Story Hour, Mrs. Briggs read us stories and taught us to dance to the tune of "Knees Up Mother Brown." We would march around and make sure that as we marched our knees went up really high! Katherine and I both attended Chancellor Livingston Elementary school. We spent many school afternoons together and whatever Katherine needed to do, I needed to do in the same moment, at the same time. When we were ten we volunteered together at the local nursing home, visiting residents just to talk and laugh with them. In our younger adolescence we went on a couple of vacations to New Jersey's coast together. Our paths have intertwined again as we both work on our Master of Arts in Teaching degrees at Binghamton University. Our Endicott apartment is a happy place!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Ponder Anew

The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy.

Psalm 119:64

In times of tragedy, such as have been brought to our attention recently in Iraq and the southern United States, shifting faith quickly questions the sovereignty and mercy of God. The Scriptures, however, refocus our vision and cause us to remember that the earth is truly full of God's mercy. How incredible is it that:

Water is recycled?

That plants can take a material of such low chemical potential energy, like carbon dioxide, and make energy-rich carbohydrates?

The planet Earth does not move closer and closer to the Sun, making the Earth uninhabitable?

The air is made up of such a perfect ratio of gases?

Though we have all acted foolishly and in selfish ambition and interest, rejecting our Creator, we are still offered the opportunity to live in right relationship with Him, to love Him and be known by Him?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Happy 20th Birthday, Isaac

Isaac could not make it home to see friends on this special day so Mom and the family sent him an array of "Happy 20th Birthday" pictures. Clarence Knapp, the farmer with whom Isaac worked this summer, is featured above exhibiting the "Happy 20th Birthday" sign.

Isaac celebrated his twentieth birthday today with a long-awaited trip to the Syracuse Fair. Isaac and I made the hour and a half trip to Syracuse to take in the massive State Fair, arriving minutes after the former President Clinton and his wife left the fair. The fair was huge and it took us over an hour to find our destination: the dairy cow exhibit. I was surprised because the dairy cow exhibit did not begin to compare with the Dutchess County Fair in terms of overall pleasantries and atmosphere. The highlight for me was the Agricultural History Museum, featuring an old-fashioned log cabin with antique furnishings. I really liked the old washing machines that were operated by the strength of the arm. Especially with the rising price of energy, I am thinking that it would be worthwhile to check out some of these options. The draft horse competitions were also a hit. Isaac really enjoyed catching up with some dairy farmers that he knew from the Hudson Valley. The State Fair was definitely a once in a lifetime event for me. The local Dutchess County Fair comes out ahead in my book, even if they do not invite stunt divers and dancing chimpanzees.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

End of Summer on Bentley Farm

The end of the Dutchess County Fair always signifies the end of summer for our family. The celebration was accented by a fun visit from some of my college friends, Matt and Marilee, and their dog, Dakota. We watched three cows go through the agony of labor at the Dutchess County Fair during their visit.

The week after the fair is usually spent in restful recovery from the fair and anticipation of another school year. This year is particularly unique because Nathaniel graduated from Bentley Farm Homeschool and is starting a new educational journey at Princeton. So what activies are included in 'restful recovery'?

Rebecca plays the role of loving caretaker for baby Elliot and catches a cool summer breeze.

Luke thinks that life can't get much better than driving the John Deere tractor with Dutch sitting on his lap.

Digging in front of the newly painted Carriage House, if not exactly restful, is at least productive.