Saturday, March 31, 2007

In Lancaster County

Around the age of twelve, we are all given the opportunity to pick a destination to spend a weekend with Mom or Dad. This weekend is quite anticipated and the destination is quite painstakingly chosen. Rebecca decided to spend several days with Mom in Lancaster County this week. From sipping cold homemade rootbeer, to smelling the consistent odor of manure, to browsing in small shops, to enjoying the premiere showing of Sight & Sound Theater's In the Beginning, Rebecca and Mom had a wonderful time.

Friday, March 30, 2007

City of Brotherly Love

This past weekend, our family (all except Sarah) gathered for our annual family reunion with uncles, aunts, cousins and Grandad in Philadelphia. We enjoyed a tour of Independence Hall. On the following day, we attended Quaker meeting and dined at the Kendal dinning hall. Thanks to Uncle Jim for the photo!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Hopes From Bentley Farm Part II

Often the consideration of the question, "What do you have hope for?" brings to mind not a list of bulleted postulates, but a series of snapshot pictures that summarize hopes where words are simply inadequate.

If Isaac's hopes for the future could be painted, I believe that they may be of a similar genre to a scene from one of James Herriot's picture books. The painting shows the morning light just creeping over the hillside with scattered sheep grazing in the distance. A calf stands in the forefront of the picture, safely delivered, and now sucking milk from its mother. Isaac, off to the side, hands still dirtied from the delivery, stands smiling and gathering a few last words with the cow's owner before jumping in his truck to head back home for breakfast and another day of veterinary rounds.

While Isaac heads to work in the fields with the injured and ill cows, we turn a page in the book and find another scene requiring some medical attention. This time the patient is a little doll that a young girl holds for the doctor's attention. Luke plays along, and laughs his hearty laugh, loving his job as a pediatrician (even if it is for dolls).

The picture on the next page just might resemble Hannah or me. A woman sits stiching baby clothes, wearing the smile of the happiest person in the world - she is joyful to be a keeper of the home and hearth and to simply look upon the innocent infant face in the cradle at her feet.

Nate is found sitting with his daughters at his side. His big arms are holding them close. He sits with them like he sits with his sisters now. His office shoes are still on as he has recently arrived home from the office where he was working to meld land conservation efforts with new developments in Dutchess County. But he is most content now with family near.

Caleb, a brave young spokesmen, appears like the central figure in Rockwell's "Freedom of Speech." He speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves, and his particular burden is for the unborn. His lifestyle and words seem so completely convincing.

Oh, and there is Mother and Father. I think that they may be reminiscing. Dad (sans the pipe) still just likes to sit with Mother. They are hoping that the children and grandchildren will soon be home for a big family dinner.

(While we hope and dream and imagine the future of our lives together with expectancy and joy, we understand that insomuch as these are only our hopes and dreams, they are meaningless. Only that which is part of the divine plan is worth our hope, and that is why hope must depend so heavily on trust. Given that this life is temporary, our hope is not an enduring hope unless it extends beyond the fading flower of this present life and into the eternal. So whether in life or in death, we hope for that which is everlasting throughout time and available to all who receive - living in the presence of God.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spring Building

The new home on Bentley is certainly taking shape. The classic Dutch style is really beginning to show.

Muddy March

Spring has arrived, but maybe not. Because you can never quite predict the weather in this month. Although today, we enjoyed the first signs of spring: the turkeys in our yard, the snowdrop flowers, the MUD, the warmer temperature and, of course, being able to go outside just wearing a T-shirt! - Hannah

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hopes From Bentley Farm Part I

Perhaps because spring is dawning, or perhaps because the time change made the day seem longer, or perhaps because the windows are beginning to open and disperse the long-contained winter air, we here at Bentley have been talking a lot about hope recently. Hope is a gift of new-found life and expectancy. It is a blended mix of waiting, of longing, of trusting, of focusing, of praying, of releasing and of finding fulfillment. Without hope, life is without meaning. With hope, living is purposeful, time is hallowed, and prayer is earnest.

What is it that we hope for? We have been answering this question in our conversations of late. I think that we have strong unity of hope between family members, but there is definitely variation on the theme. The theme? Our deepest and most abiding hope, as Mom so accurately says, is for the reign of Christ and for the triumph of good over evil.

What does this translate into for our lives?

The conversation this evening began with Jacob. Jacob hopes to live at Bentley Farm for the entirety of his life. “I haven’t found a place that is more interesting than it is here,” he said. He hopes to graduate from college, although he said that he doesn’t think about college too much at his age. He certainly does think about his farther-ranging goals, though, and often looks forward to becoming a lawyer so that he can practice law with Dad in Poughkeepsie. Dad and Jacob have a hope of opening a law firm to represent the poor. They have already borrowed the motto, Pro Deo, for their law practice from Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country. When he’s not practicing law or worrying about graduating from college, Jacob hopes to find a wife. “That can be hard,” he said. He would like to have his own family, but he adds (with his classic eye smile), “I think no more than twelve kids!”

While I must admit that when I am asked about my hopes, I typically think of dreams that in some way include me, Mom has a very special gift of hoping for other people. Knowing the power of the hope of God in her own life, one of Mom’s greatest hopes is that people who are without hope will find hope. She especially cares for those whose marriages have been wounded and broken, and daily prays for the restoration of these marital unions. When thinking of her future, Mom cherishes the hope of grandchildren. She speaks often of running an annual “Cousins Camp” for the grandchildren to experience the joys of life together in the great outdoors.

Rebecca is hopeful that she will one day be a nurse for children. Since one of Luke’s goals is to become a pediatrician, she and Luke often dream of working together. In the meantime, Rebecca said that she would like to be a blessing to others, which she does quite joyfully already. And, in Rebecca’s words, “I would like to have kids one day.”

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spring Cleaning

Some days are like the dark night sky: they make other days seem occasion-filled and bright. It's not that they don't have their own glories (the night sky certainly has its beauty) it's just that there's not a whole lot to report about, save those events that seem somewhat commonplace... like some good spring cleaning.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Our God is In Heaven

Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.

Why do the nations say,
"Where is their God?"

Our God is in heaven;
he does whatever pleases him.

But their idols are silver and gold,
made by the hands of men.

They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but they cannot see;

They have ears, but cannot hear,
noses, but they cannot smell;

They have hands, but cannot feel,
feet, but they cannot walk;
nor can they utter a sound with their throats.

Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them. (Psalm 115)

It is certainly easy to become so dependent on the material cause and effect of the daily events around us, that we forget to make supplication to the God who is in Heaven. He is not likened unto other gods or idols that we have created. He works on the behalf of men to evidence his love and faithfulness. We have seen God answer many prayers, the proof of his mightiness is in the very breath of life. But how prone our thoughts are to wandering and to doubting. And even in these times we gratefully remember, God shows himself faithful to them who are faithless, for he cannot disown himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

Sunday, March 04, 2007

On the Bentley Hills

Saturday, March 03, 2007


One lesson of early adulthood has been coming to understand that decisions that I make have consequences that impact not only my life, but the lives of those around me and the lives of those who come after me. While this realization has an overwhelming effect at times, it is also cause for celebration. Today I am especially grateful for the legacy that has been passed down from my parents to the eight of us children. As a family we recently listened to an audio sermon titled The Overtaking Blessings of the Second Generation. It was the testimony of a son expressing thanks for the gifts that had been passed on to him through the decisions and lives of his godly parents.

There are, likewise, many untangible gifts that have been imparted to us eight children as a legacy from our parents. Among so many others, we have been given gifts of godly example, of deep self-sacrificial love, of discipline, of prayer, of hospitality, of financial stewardship, of marriage, of child-rearing, of home-making skills and of trust in the faithfulness of God. The world will not be the same for the offering that my parents, and so many others through the ages, have offered their families.

During spare moments in college my roommates and I enjoyed listening to the music of Sara Groves. I have been thinking of her song, Generations, as I have been thankful to God for the gifts of generational blessings.

I can taste the fruit of Eve
I’m aware of sickness, death and disease
The results of her choices are vast
Eve was the first but she wasn’t the last

And if I were honest with myself
Had I been standing at that tree
My mouth and my hands would be covered with fruit
Things I shouldn’t know and things I shouldn’t see

Remind me of this with every decision
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those I will never know

She taught me to fear the serpent
I’m learning the fear myself
And all of the things I am capable of
In my search for wisdom, acceptance and wealth

And to say that the devil made me do it
Is a cop out and a lie
The devil can’t make me do anything
When I’m calling on Jesus Christ

Remind me of this with every decision
Generations will reap what I sow
I can pass on a curse or a blessing
To those I will never know

To my great, great, great grand daughter
Live in peace
To my great, great, great grand son
Live in peace