Sunday, January 28, 2007

St. Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowng you are a child of God. Let this presence settle into your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

Theresa of Ávila, 1515–1582

Saturday, January 27, 2007

American Life from the Grocery Aisle

While typical frustrations in the grocery store mount from what one cannot find, I found myself recently disheartened by what I did find. I was cutting through the pet food aisle, en route to the dairy section, when I realized that about halfway down the aisle, the merchandise brands changed from Alpo and Purina to Gerber and Pampers. It seemed an unintentional, but telling, sign of the times. Have we come to see the upbringing of children as a pursuit and hobby that is equivalent to pet care?

Perhaps the grocery aisle is not very compelling evidence concerning the devaluing of children, but what about the number of children raised in daycare? What about our increased demand for two-income homes?

Why did we decide to sell our children to daycare and spend our working hours doing a man's work? Why did we despise the labor of the home, fields and child rearing to prove our equality with men? Why did we think that equal meant same and that to be fulfilled as women we must compete in a man's world? Why did we think that submission was an enemy that must be fought in the name of feminism? Why did we despise honor? Why did we forsake the reverence of our men as our treasured earthly aim? For what reason did we decide that the hand that rocked the cradle had no rule in this world? Why did we scorn the woman who poured out her life in service to her family and label her used and abused? Why did we think that supporting ourselves took precedence over supporting our men?

For whatever reasons we had then, it is good that our ideologies be revisited now. In the living reality of the consequences of our crusades I believe that we stumble upon the death of many dreams crucified in a war of progression. I remember first being aware of this death many years ago when a doctor beginning her career turned to my mother of eight young children and remarked, "What I would give to be able to live as you do." I remember my mother clearly explaining to me after this conversation that decisions have consequences and that you make decisions in life that fall in line with your priorities.

This comment from the doctor that was made many years ago has resurfaced time and again of late. I have heard it take the form of a young mother saying, "I would stay home with my children if I could, but I can't." Why? "Well, the house we just bought is a fixed expense and we have so many fixed expenses that it just makes only sense for both of us to work. And then there's the daycare cost, that's so expensive just for one child, and now I will have two and the price will double in cost. I have no option but to work."

What does it profit a woman to have all manner of success in the wage-earning world to scatter the money to the winds and have daycare centers raise her children? If we have abandoned our children, what else do we have? Decisions have consequences and decisions are based on priorities.

May we consider our priorities. I would pray that we take residence in the most humble of abodes before we surrender the immeasurable riches of laughing with and running with and teaching and training our children in the everyday moments of life. Would that our delight would be to place our finely pressed suit on the closet hanger to pick up our food-stained apron and serve and nurture our families. Would that we take up residence with the paupers and count our treasure that of eternal consequence. Would that we put aside our rights and serve and aim and please our men. Herein are found the joyful accolades of those who have lain down their life and in doing so found it.

And to my generation of single young women, may we consider our end and be wise. While the time of singleness affords us the experience of work outside the home, may we not forget our end. Do we seek a rich and vibrant Christian family life? If so, let us not seek an education and profession that will not allow us to surrender it for the sake of supporting our man and children.

Winter Finally Arrives

Even though the snow is still delayed, the cold weather has certainly set in and some classic winter activities have been in place. Ice skating on the back pond has proved excellent. The neighborhood children have joined us and we were able to get in a good game of ice hockey.

Meanwhile, the boys, inspired by Nate's week-long return from Princeton, have been doing some more backwoods logging. Wood is that magical device that stores the heat of summer for the cold of winter. We have been taking advantage of that storehouse a lot lately as the old wood stove in the basement is getting continually stoked.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

March for Life

Yesterday, Dad, Luke, Hannah, Jacob and Rebecca traveled to Washington D.C. on a chartered bus from the Hudson Valley for the annual March For Life.

Before the March For Life started, we went to the American Indian Museum. Friend Monica and Rebecca, above.

Jacob and friend Joseph enjoying lunch.

The family met up with the Townes (with all seven young children) right before the March began.

"Stand for life 365." Hannah and Rebecca sport "Brownback for President" leg stickers.

The Sunset Over the Catskills

To Think I Have Anything

In the middle of winter it is sometimes fun to relive summer's best memories. I was recently replaying one of my favorite summer memories that was formed during a camping trip to Maine in 2005.

The memory starts on an early Sunday morning when Nathaniel, Hannah and I woke up to watch the sun break its first rays over the ocean. The walk on the stone path up the breakwater and back was breathtaking. The lighthouse at the end of the breakwater was gorgeous and we all stopped to sit on some slippery rocks for some morning reflections. Arriving back on land, we decided to pick up some bagels before finding a place to attend church. The bagels were delicious and there was a church that was conveniently close to the bagel shop. We parked my car in the church parking lot only to realize that we had locked the keys in the ignition. Thankfully, we realized that I had stowed away a magnetic key holder under the trunk for times such as these.

Relieved, we went into the church. It was small and the congregants greeted us warmly. The time of worship was reverent and peaceful. Toward the end of the service it was announced that there would be a special sharing. A middle-age man, with long dark hair held in a ponytail and a rather gruff-looking first appearance made his way to the front of the church. It became evident that he had prepared a song to sing for us. The music to "Much of You" by Steven Curtis Chapman began to play and the man in the motorcycle attire started to sing. His voice was off-key and I began to feel nervous for him that he may be embarrassed. My feelings were short-lived, however, upon realizing that his heart was not at all in the appearance of the situation. In fact, by the time that cues for the second verse* had been initiated, he was not singing at all. He was weeping and managing whatever words that could break through his tears. Through the intermittent and choked strains, my ears witnessed one of the most beautiful songs of worship that has ever been sung. Nathaniel, Hannah and I left that service quite moved that the love of God can break through the toughest skinned person to teach us that the Spirit of God dwells with the broken and contrite of heart. What a good summer memory.

*And how can I kneel here
And think of the cross
The thorns and the whip and the
Nails and the spear
The infinite cost
To purchase my pardon
And bear all my shame
To think I have anything worthy boasting in
Except for Your name
Cause I am a sinner
And You are the Savior and...

I want to make much of You, Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today and give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used
To make much of you

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Hope of Good

If I had not the hope of one day being good like God himself, if I thought there was no escape out of the wrong and badness I feel within me, not all the wealth and honors of the world could reconcile me to life.

- Malcolm to Lady Clementina in The Marquis' Secret (George MacDonald)

Life on the Farm is Kinda Laid Back

Isaac has been enjoying his last days of intersession break with the children and his projects. His oxcart is nearly finished and functioning with full dumping capacity.

Some moments of farming life were captured at Clarence's today. In addition to the ever present farming chores, Isaac and the younger children have started training the young calves to lead on a halter rope.

Well life on the farm is kinda laid back
Ain't much an old country boy like me can't hack
Its early to rise, early in the sack
Thank God, I'm a country boy!

- John Sommers

Saturday, January 13, 2007

New Roads

Logging in the back woods has continued and the roads for the Waterlands project are beginning to appear. Isaac, Hannah and I enjoyed a walk on the new pathways. Although our old walking trails were a little hidden with the new developments, we enjoyed the opportunity to spot some new tree groves. We found ourselves lingering along one of the north roads which was surrounded on either side by stately hemlock trees. The smell of the freshly shorn pines was delicious. If we could have taken a smell snapshot, like we did some photos, I would post the scent for all to enjoy.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Off To Cornell's School of Veterinary Medicine

A dream that has been fourteen years in the making came true for Isaac today. We all were so excited when we found out that Isaac was accepted into vet school! Thanks be to God!

We are all so happy. We know that he will do such a good job and interact so well with the animals and their owners. Congratulations!

Kisses of congrats from Hannah and Becca:

In celebration, Mom baked a cake: I. Isaac M. Merrill A. Angell Vet-To-Be!

Celebrating with Martinelli's and balloons:

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Contradictory Signs

We enjoyed a hike along Peterskill Falls in the Schwangunks today. On the way home we stopped to check out another park site called Jenny's Lane. We saw the following signs posted and thought them somewhat contradictory.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Oh, The Weather Outside is Delightful

When the temperature on January 6th is 65 degrees Fahrenheit, some special activity is definitely in place. Dad, Hannah, Rebecca and I decided that our warm weather activity would be a nature walk around the farm.

Dad has been inspired greatly by the naturalist John Burroughs in recent months. Dad declared, "Girls, we are going on a John Burroughs nature walk. On a John Burroughs nature walk you must be quiet and listen. If you hear a bird you have to stop and see if you can tell the direction that that chirping is coming from. But above all, you must be quiet."

The quiet part was a trial for Rebecca who was laughing throughout the walk. After we found some token nature pieces (hawks soaring overhead, some white birch trees and bird nests), Dad decided to give in about walking quietly and proposed a race.

I have never raced barefoot through the Bentley fields in January. But today I did. I'm not so convinced that I miss the snow if the alternative is running barefoot through the fields with my sisters in January.

At least today, skis seemed like foot vehicles of the past.


Taking in the warm breeze.

My new winter boots:

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ox Cart and Beaver Tales

Isaac has enjoyed his time away from the stresses of college life and has spent his break in typical Isaac-fashion: cutting and hauling logs, milking cows and attending to the various farm chores that arise with the new day. A couple of fun recent activities were added to Isaac's life.

(1) Isaac was the recipient of a book dedication and reading. Caleb dedicated his first book about the tales of a beaver to "Isaac, who has always inspired me." Because Isaac was the recipient of the book's dedication he was also privileged enough to be read the entire story by the author himself.

(2) Isaac has picked up an old project and continued building his ox-cart. Though he doesn't own a team of oxen currently, he has thoughtfully considered the design of this cart and engineered it to have a "dumping functionality" so that some pitchfork handling work may potentially be avoided in the future.

When the Puzzle Pieces Fall Apart

Hannah has been working on a 1000-piece puzzle of a country farm scene since Christmas. She set up shop in the living room on our old card table and has impressed us all with her ability to methodically piece together these 1000 pieces. Today, with about 100 pieces left to be placed, the puzzle broke back into its component elements when the table unexpectedly gave way as Rebecca tried to move it.

So, when the pieces that have been so painstakingly organized are subjected to a world where entropy often dictates spontaneity, what can be done? Hannah demonstrated grace and strength in her ability to start all over again. That takes some determination.