Monday, February 26, 2007

Thou Art the Same

Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands:
They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;
And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. (Hebrews 1:10-12)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

BFG Rates Amazing Grace: Clever and Inspirational

None here at the Bentley Residence pretend to be experts at movie review, but as fairly strong critics of most movies that we see (and that isn't many!), it is a rare day that we would all give a movie such a strong recommendation as we've given Amazing Grace. The life of the eighteenth century British abolitionist and member of parliament, William Wilberforce, spoke to our hearts, souls and minds.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My New Favorite Quote

I have always enjoyed Christmas carols and, in fact, I was listening to Bebo Norman sing Silent Night, today. Christmas carols are definitely my favorite part of Christmas festivities, but they are also one of my favorite reasons to listen to music at all. It will not be a surprise, then, that my favorite quote of the month comes from Joy to the World. Isaac Watts penned, "He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found."

Snow Does Not Deter Construction

Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor doom of night stays these construction workers from the swift completion of their appointed duties.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

When the Man Comes Around

Spending fifteen or more hours in the car with a big family over the course of one weekend provides many opportunities for enjoyable things like sitting between Mom and Dad, playing tic-tac-toe, eating Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits, having speaker-phone conversations with brothers who are away at college, sleeping on each other's shoulders, laughing at our own family jokes, listening to audio books (like Elisabeth Elliot's Shadow of the Almighty) and singing along with the songs playing on the car's speakers. When you actually have a minute to listen to a song in silence (as opposed to listening while washing dishes) you sometimes think new thoughts that you have never thought before. At least, such was the case as I listened to Johnny Cash's, When the Man Comes Around, on our trip down to Gettysburg.

Grumbles against God often tend to maintain the complaint that if God existed, He would not allow evil to exist and prosper. Johnny Cash drives home the truth of the matter: God does not allow evil to exist and prosper. In fact, His judgment is a very great and terrible thing. It is just that God's timing is slightly different than ours. In our view, if God existed evil would be vanquished now. I think, however, that Cash cuts to the truth of the matter: when the Man comes around and evil is finally vanquished, it will be a day that we all plead for mercy and, oh, for very great grace.

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million angels singin'.
Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin', voices cryin'.
Some are born an' some are dyin'.
It's Alpha's and Omega's Kingdom come.

Friday, February 16, 2007

From Hallowed and Icy Ground

We are enjoying President's Day Weekend together in Gettysburg. We had some lively tour guides who made the battlefields and Eisenhower's farm seem alive with history. However, the best part of the day was discovering that we could ski down the snow and ice covered fields with our shoes!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

White on the Outside, Pink on the Inside

I am not quite sure why the colors pink and red have become so closely associated with love and St. Valentine's Day. Perhaps their vibrant hues symbolize the passionate nature of love. After today, though, I am sure that white is an equally appropriate color for St. Valentine's Day. A thick covering of white snow fell like a cozy down comforter all day long and made me snuggle further into the warmth of hearth and home. The white snow was pure, as all love should be, and peaceful as well. It was a gentle combination. We accentuated the snow-bound feeling of the day by completing a new John Deere puzzle. And Mom, careful to preserve the holiday's traditional colors, left us beautiful cupcakes with classic pink hearts to enjoy for dessert while she and Dad left for their Valentine's date.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Posts and Beams

The wood package that was customed designed for the model house has finally arrived and is currently being assembled at the sight of the old Yellow House. It is currently estimated that the house will be enclosed by March 1st. These are some fast moving craftsmen!


Mom recounted a humorous conversation at the dinner table tonight. Earlier in the day she had called a fancy restaurant that accepts customers on a reservation-only basis.

Having memorized the number, she dials the restaurant and says, "I would like to make dinner reservations for two."

"Oh, you don't need to make reservations."

Mom, sure that reservations are necessary, persists, "But, I would to make dinner reservations for two on Monday, February 19th."

The voice on the other line repeats, "Well, it's okay, but you don't need to make reservations."

Mom, quite confused, wonders if the woman doesn't understand. "Yes, okay, I'd like reservations for two on Monday, February 19th at 6:30."

The woman on the other end is giving up at this point, "Okay, thank you."

Mom, about to hang up, decides to ask, "By the way, what restaurant is this?"

The woman responds, "This is the pizzeria."

Monday, February 12, 2007

Clearing the Banks

Luke and helpers, Jacob and Dad, celebrated President Lincoln's birthday today by clearing the briars from the banks of the creek that passes through the Diversion Ditch field and the old cow pasture. The foreground in the picture used to be infested with thorns.

Like a Puzzle Piece

There's nothing quite like a little eleven-year-old sister who curls up on your lap at the end of a day and makes you feel happy on the inside.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

As We Forgive Our Debtors

For all of the time that we spend perseverating on the injustices and injuries of what we have known, seen and heard, the Apostle Paul presents quite the simple spiritual solution that seems to eliminate the need for further psychological analysis and angst.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phillipians 3:13-14)

Forgive Us Our Debts

"I do believe that when a man confesses to his neighbor and says he's sorry, he thinks more of him than he did before. You see, we all know we have done wrong, but we haven't usually confessed it. And it's a funny thing, but a man will think it grand of someone else to confess, when the time comes when there's something he needs to repent of himself, he hesitates for fear of the shame of having to confess it. To me the shame lies in not confessing after you know you're in the wrong."

- Alexandar Graham to Lady Clemintina in George MacDonald's The Marquis' Secret

Hitting the Cornell Slopes

This weekend Isaac and roommate, Eric, took advantage of the steep Cornell slopes and the fallen snow. Oh what fun it is to ride on a light-weight plastic sled!

Saturday, February 10, 2007


On Groundhog's Day, Mirriam-Webster's Word for the Wise radio program visited the meaning of the word shadow. The initial exploration begins with the following attempt to shed light on a somewhat difficult word:

[A shadow] isn't as easy to describe as you might think. The sort of shadow associated with today names the partial darkness or obscurity within a part of space from which rays from a source of light (the sun) are cut off by an interposed opaque body (the groundhog).

It is interesting that while a shadow is defined as a part of space where something is missing (light), that something present is left in its wake. What do I mean? It has been evident in our recent walks through the fields that where a shadow has fallen, there the snow remains. Where there are no shadows, the snow has disappeared. The presence of nothing leaves something. No wonder shadows are hard to define.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


The same old baffling questions! O my friend,
I cannot answer them. In vain I send
My soul into the dark, where never burn
The lamps of science, nor the natural light
Of Reason's sun and stars! I cannot learn
Their great and solemn meanings, nor discern
The awful secrets of the eyes which turn
Evermore on us through the day and night
With silent challenge and a dumb demand
Proffering the riddles of the dread unkown
Like the calm Sphinxes, with their eyes of stone,
Questioning the centuries from their veils of sand!
I have no answer for myself or thee,
Save that I learned beside my mother's knee
"All is of God that is, and is to be;
And God is good." Let this suffice us still,
Resting in childlike trust upon His will
Who moves to His great ends unthwarted by the ill.

- John Greenleaf Whittier

Monday, February 05, 2007

Family Story Hour

Our family just finished reading Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country and is searching hard for the next book to start reading for our evening family devotions. We have enjoyed many books through the years and since it takes a while to read an entire story outloud, we tend to have quite the intense family discussion every time that there is a vacancy for a new position. Dad brought home The Last of the Mohicans from the library today, but received some critical feedback from Caleb who said that he already knew the ending. I was hoping to read a book by George MacDonald, but the library didn't have many of his works, so I am currently awaiting an arrival from Interlibrary Loan. In the meantime, Dad pulled out a compilation of short stories called, Tell Me A True Story. The book was written for children, but I have found that I have an increasing love for children's stories, and the story we read was no exception.

Dad turned to the story of George Mueller, a nineteenth century man of faith who worked extensively to create a Christian home for orphans. This particular story found Mr. Mueller on a bridge speaking to the captain of the ship. The story was short so I will relay it below:
"Captain, I have come to tell you I must be in Quebec by Saturday afternoon."
"It is impossible," said the captain.

"Very well, " said Mueller, "if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way--I have never broken an engagement for 57 years. Let us go down into the chart-room and pray."

The Captain wondered which lunatic asylum Mueller had come from. The Captain had never heard of such a thing being an answer to a physical impossibility.

"Mr. Mueller," he said, "do you know how dense this fog is?"

"No, my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life."

Mueller then knelt down and prayed such a simple prayer, that the Captain thought it would be more fitting coming from a children's class "Oh Lord," he said, "if it is consistent with Thy will, remove this fog in five minutes. Thee knows of the engagement Thou hast made for me for this Saturday. I believe it is Thy will."

When he had finished the captain was about to pray, but Mueller put his hand on his shoulder, and said, "Do not pray. First, you do not believe He will remove the fog, and second, I believe He has, and there is no need whatever for you to pray about it."

The captain looked at Mueller in amazement.

"Captain," he continued, I have known my Lord for 52 years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to get an audience with the King. Get up, captain, and open the door, and you will find the fog has lifted."

The captain walked across to the door and opened it. The fog had lifted. On Saturday afternoon, George Mueller was in Quebec.

From My Heart, I Will Bless

Living in a large family certainly provides many opportunites to realize how easy it is to be self-focused and consumed. There are always opportunities (sometimes more than we would prefer) to give up the will of self and adopt the will of another. It is natural to experience frustration with a sibling's quirky habits and it is unnatural, at times, to forgive and live harmoniously. Because it is so easy to center on ourselves, Mom and Dad have continually emphasized throughout our lives, the concept of blessing. To this day, it is quite typical to hear Mom and Dad encourage us saying, "Bless your brother/sister." Often that means pitching in to help with a chore, letting go of rights over a certain toy, taking a younger sibling for a car ride, relinquishing some relished food item or giving up the comfortable seat on the couch. In each instance, the will of one must be surrendered to accomodate the preference of another. These little preferences, that must be released, are often surprisingly hard to let go.

I was remembering back to a point in our early childhood when we had a group of siblings living with us for nine months while their mother completed a drug rehab program. Mom and Dad, with seven small children under the age of ten, felt that we especially needed to grow in offering one another blessings. So, creatively, they posted two huge banners on our hallway walls with, what seemed at the time anyway, hundreds upon hundereds of small boxes. On top of each banner read the phrase, "From My Heart I Will Bless You." Each child that was old enough to draw a heart, would be appointed by Mom or Dad the privilege of taking a marker and placing a colored heart in a small box of their choosing after recognition for an act of blessing. Oh, how long that chart seemed to contain so many small empty boxes! But slowly, as the work of crucifying will began to take its work, the chart began to fill. How fun it was to lend a helping hand to a sibling as they carried around the laundry cubbies to their destination when it could be followed by a colorful sketch on the wall.

And what excitement it was to hear Mom tell us one very hot summer day that if we could finish filling in the few remaining boxes on the wall, we would celebrate with a trip to the local waterpark! How dilligently we searched for garbage to take out or towels to help fold so that those last few hearts could be placed in their vacant boxes.

I believe that death to self and life to Christ will be my work until death. But this childhood memory will always serve as a reminder of the joy found in the experience.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Long Awaited Snow

We waited long for this season's first substantial snow fall. There is somehow something fulfilling about this first snow, something that seems to say that winter is finally back and that the seasons will continue to change and usher in their characteristic glories. We stepped outdoors this morning to a brilliantly lit world. The white snow, unmarred by boots and plows, reflected so much sun that Hannah ran inside for her sunglasses.

Winter's Campfire

Although roasting hotdogs and marshmallows around a campfire tend to be characteristically summer activities, we braved the cold to join a group of friends for an outdoor skating and campfire party. The temperature was quite low and the warm fire was quite comforting in comparison to the bitter cold that made our toes freeze and our noses run.