Tuesday, December 30, 2008

To Pray is to Change

To pray is to change.
Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us.
If we are unwilling to change,
we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives...

Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Franklin Roosevelt's Childhood Home

It figures that since (1) I love the National Park Service and (2) I live in the Hudson Valley, I should spend more time appreciating local history. I hike at the Franklin Roosevelt estate often, but Uncle Sam Angell's family provided the impetus to tour the inside of the estate today. (I think the last time I toured the house was when I was in elementary school.)

The lighting in the house is dim which makes it hard to see some of the exhibits, like Roosevelt's stuffed bird collection, but it is awe-inspiring nonetheless to see the lifetime home of a man of such influence. (Roosevelt was born in his Hyde Park home and retained his Hyde Park home throughout his life span.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Post-Christmas Delights

Sharing old pictures of Isaac with Allie!
Stiching more pieces to my quilt - almost 3/5 done!

Tossing a football with big brother, Nate!

"Are You Waiting for the Princess?"

Isaac and Allie spent a very special day together at Mohonk yesterday to celebrate Christmas in nature, beauty and class!

One of the best parts of the day (so we are told) occurred when Isaac and Allie were preparing for their fancy dinner. Isaac was waiting outside the changing room for Allie in his suit when a woman walked out of the ladies' changing room, saw Isaac and then said, "Oh, are you waiting for the princess?"

Isaac beamed and said, "Yes, I am."

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Evolution of a Lover's First Christmas

Isaac and Allie went all out for their first Christmas celebration! The pictures below show the development of Isaac's gift: a beautiful red oak (cedar lined) hope chest. The photos follow the progression from plans to wrapping to secret delivery! Isaac is also featured receiving his early morning phone call from Allie after she opened the big surprise, followed by his great delight (and applause of the whole Angell audience) in opening a wonderfully prepared scrapbook displaying hours on end of Allie's artistry.

Christmas Eve and Morning

What a special time of year! Jay Kawk came up from Princeton last evening and then we joined the Blues and some of the Walkers for eggnog, singing and laughs (Isaac was given a cow alarm from Andy Blue!). We headed to midnight mass at St. Joseph's with Trip Sinnott and finally got to sleep about 1:30am! Christmas morning came early with so many special festivities and a lot of tasty food!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas Fun is Beginning!

This was Hannah's gift to Allie: A mug bearing the inscription, "I used to milk cows, but then I got what I wanted." Guess what she wanted? Look at who has his arm around her!

Isaac and Allie are so excited for Christmas. They both made some pretty impressive surprise gifts for eachother. Tune back tomorrow to see pictures of their handiwork!
A little different than Hawaii! Nate loves iceskating almost as much as sandy beaches!

Squares and Stars Forever

Well, I have two of the five big rows of this enormous quilt done and that is only the beginning. Quilting is very time consuming! The two rows in the last picture are not stitched together yet, but at least the idea comes through. More pictures will follow as the development continues.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

But Because the Lord Loves You

For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.

The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage... (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

Snow Run

Hannah and I decided that running in the snow should officially double your mileage count!

Yesterday the roads that we ran had a good 1/2 inch of snow that had not yet melted and it was amazing how much more difficult it was to propel oneself forward because the coefficient of friction between our shoes and our running surface was so reduced! For every two feet forward we moved, we always felt like we lost several inches backward due to sliding. Especially on hills!

Monday, December 22, 2008


The northeast received an impressive snowstorm over the past weekend, leaving us delightfully snowbound (see picture from my bedroom skylight).

I decided to start a long-awaited project (my sisters are helping me): a huge 109" x 109" quilt. I have cut over 200 squares in the last 48 hours and my bedroom is showing the effects of having been converted into an impromptu sewing room. I have a new-found appreciation for the Amish who do this without electricity.

Merry Christmas 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

May this Christmas season find you filled with joy and thankfulness for the Incarnate God who is still with us and among us to this day! With what humility God Almighty entered the earth so that we could know Him, so that we could behold His nature. What great cost He paid to live among us and to pursue us, so that we could know that He first loved us, so that we can find our joy in Him and experience life in all of its abundance.

Yes, life is abundant here at Bentley Farm. Our hearts are overflowing with thankfulness and with contentment, grateful for the consistent and new mercies of our gracious Heavenly Father. We remain honored to share with you, in this Christmas season, the highlights of our year and are grateful for your interest in taking the time to share a portion of our lives through this newsletter.

Caleb is the most imaginative child among us. As a family friend recently pointed out, “In the salad of Angells, Caleb is the jalapeƱo pepper!” Yes, he is! His major fascinations include reading fantasy novels for hours on end and inventing medieval Lego sets. Caleb lives a life of adventure and competition and turns out to be a big sports fan. He has completely devoted himself to the Yankees and doesn’t miss a game! He played both baseball and soccer in a local church league this year. Caleb recently bought himself a bow and arrow set and has had a lot of fun living his boyhood to the fullest possible extent. He is developing his agricultural side, little by little, and cares for the only remaining farm animals at Bentley Farm – a flock of chickens.

Rebecca is a very sweet, compassionate, cozy and cuddly sister. She still is so excited to be a nurse one day and she does a great job practicing at home, bandaging up all that is cut and sore. Becca loves soccer and was thrilled to play soccer for the first time with a league. Rebecca is an extremely responsible member of the family and does so much organization in the home – she washes our clothes and cleans the house and keeps us all on schedule – with a lot of smiles and hugs! In addition to her dedicated work at home, she also continues in her role as local dairymaid as she and Caleb spend several hours every afternoon milking cows on Clarence Knapp’s Middlevale Farm.

Jacob was able to live every man’s dream this summer when he operated an enormous excavator that was at use on Bentley Farm to move big stumps to clear land for the planned development project in the back woods. Even though the project has currently been halted due to economic hardship, Jacob continued to make himself quite useful, mowing lawns and tilling fields. Jacob loves being in the center of any action and doesn’t mind working hard to get there. He is still involved in agriculture and is a member of a local 4H chapter. His cow, Vanilla, placed quite well in this year’s Dutchess County Fair, winning Ayrshire Reserve Junior Champion. In the home Jacob practices his skills of oral discourse (he loves to input ideas and share information) in preparation for his hopeful legal profession! He also has a very humorous side and he particularly enjoys entertaining the family by mimicking the joking German juggler from the county fair. Jacob also has enjoyed being the right-hand man for Grandma (Mom’s mother who lives with us) and it is a very common scene at our house to see them both laughing together about a shared joke.

Hannah excels at taking on tasks and accomplishing them effectively and efficiently. She is bright and very quick and is excited to be applying to Cornell as a transfer student in business and economics. She says that she would one day love to be the organizational manager of Isaac and Luke’s combined medical and veterinary offices. Hannah and I have enjoyed running together a lot this year and we are finding it bonding (especially the night runs with the coyotes) and a lot of fun. Hannah has a great gift of enthusiasm and often finishes her run saying, “That was just great. That was the best run ever!” Hannah is quite committed, even in the midst of her studies, to the agricultural life in our hometown. At least three evenings a week she can still be found milking cows.

Luke is an extremely diligent student. He still is dedicated to the pursuit of medicine and is working hard at Dutchess Community College with hopes of transferring to Cornell in the fall with Hannah. When Luke has a break from school, you can be sure to find him outside on a tractor. He put his skills to great use early this summer, together with our Oregon brother, Jake, and did an incredible job landscaping in our yard which was suffering the consequences of last year’s major addition to the house. There is no one I know who gets more excited about food than Luke, and lucky for Luke, the production of sweet baked goods at the house has exponentially increased due to our dear grandmother who makes us feast after feast! Luke is also a country music enthusiast and one of my favorite emails is Luke’s “Country Music Song of the Week” selection.

Nathaniel is in his senior year at Princeton and is a little sad that college is only four years long. He has discovered an amazing community of friends (many of whom he has persuaded to spend time at Bentley to try their hands at dairy farming). Nate is savoring every remaining moment of college life and he just spent part of his Christmas break with a professor and some college friends in Hawaii where he ran his first marathon! Nate has been interviewing for many jobs recently in the field of engineering and just received an international placement offer from an oil field services company, Schlumberger; Nate has a bit of George Bailey in him and is pretty thrilled about the option of working overseas. After attending a month long geology field course in Montana this June, Nathaniel brought back his cowboy hat and spent the rest of his summer, working with fun-loving Jake, to reside the south side of the house, cedar shingle by cedar shingle.

Isaac is in his second year of vet school at Cornell. He still says, “I’m just living my dream.” He spent most of the past year in Ithaca and stayed through the majority of the summer to work the fields of a huge dairy farm in the Tompkins County area. Isaac left his work early, however, to come back to the farm and run Clarence’s thirty cow dairy in the height of the summer season when he found out that Clarence was ill. This, as Isaac says, was the turning point of his year, because it was then that he fell in love with the girl of his dreams - a beautifully sweet local girl, Allie Blue, who didn’t mind waking up at 3:45am to milk cows! Isaac has kept us entertained throughout the course of the past year with what he calls his, “Husband Training School.” This is a unique school because Isaac is both the teacher and the student. When Isaac started dating Allie, he finally gained an appreciative audience of one for all of his efforts in cleaning, cooking and tenderness!

I continue to find, even in my third year of teaching chemistry, that education requires a lot of focus and energy. I have great students (mostly juniors and seniors) and a supportive teaching fellowship through the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation that continues to help me grow in my profession through a large amount of continued education in universities all across the country. I am so grateful for the gifts of family and friendship, especially with my seven younger siblings who are growing into amazing adults. When I am not teaching, or with family or friends, I enjoy swimming and running (I did my first sprint triathlon with two girlfriends this year!), and National Parks (I hiked Mount Garfield at Crater Lake this summer), reading, singing and playing guitar and piano (slowly learning piano), and blogging. Many of my life’s greatest joys continue to come through my relationship with the most honoring, patient, enthusiastic and energetic young man in the whole world! Adam and I are so excited for the time to come when the distance between us isn’t so great (Adam is a youth pastor in Kansas), but in the meantime we are grateful for each other and for the grace to live each moment to the fullest.

Mom is absolutely the most self-giving person that I know. She is the fan club and the great encourager for the rest of us. Mom spends her life doing the little things that keep this world working, that tend to go unnoticed in the hour by hour play of life. She cooks the best food for us, she makes the house look beautiful, she teaches us how to think (although only the three youngest of us are still homeschooled), she shops for us and organizes our schedules and makes our phone calls and counsels us for hours on end through all of the transitions of adulthood. Not only does Mom give all of us this love and attention, but she and Grandma graciously extend their warm hospitality and good food to a steady stream of house guests. The doors of our house are constantly swinging, and we like it best this way! While Mom loves to host a big group, she also cherishes the one-on-one times with her husband and children; I was particularly excited to get to spend a long idyllic weekend in the San Juan Islands with just Mom this summer! We were all so blessed to have Mom’s father in our home with us this past year. Grandpa suffered from advanced stages of Parkinson’s and in early September, surrounded by prayer and family, he left this life.

In addition to continuing his criminal defense work, Dad continues to be very involved in the life of our small-town community and has spent many hours of this past year rewriting the zoning laws for the Town of Stanford. He is also a member of the Dutchess County Agricultural Society and the Town of Stanford Planning Board and has a special interest in land conservancy for agricultural purposes. Dad has an amazing combination of vision and steadfastness and despite his busy schedule, continues to put his wife and family first in his focus. Sometimes this search takes extra creativity and discipline. For instance, to spend quality time with Mom, he wakes up with her at 4:45am and walks with her for two miles through the dark countryside! That’s dedication!

Through the course of the year, through the fluctuation of the seasons, through the constants and through the changes, we remain extremely grateful that The Creator of the Universe has intentionally given us life, and that our lives are given to us for a purpose. We pray for humility and grace to recognize the specific calling of His purpose for our lives. Yet we also pray that we many never forget that we are ultimately created to simply receive and surrender to the pursuit of the God who pines for our hearts to such an extent that He humbled himself to be born of a woman in a Bethlehem stable so that we could begin to understand how much He longs to love us.

As the angels cried “Glory to God in the Highest!” proclaiming the birth of Christ so long ago, we now exclaim “Glory to Jesus!” in worship of the God who stooped from his exalted place on High to become our Savior, Redeemer and Friend. Merry Christmas! Sarah (for all the Angells)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

To Become Like a Child

"We seek a humble way. We seek a childlike faith. How can we love God if we do not love our brothers whom we can see?"

These were the words spoken to me this evening by a brother from the Bruderhof community at Maple Ridge. Our family joined our friends at the Bruderhof for a feast of Swedish meatballs, cherry pie and a very hearty carol sing. Different families of the community had made very special decorations for each day of advent that were hanging from a beautiful star in the center of the dining hall (see hanging of the corn star below).

Where else does one go in the world to see a large community (300 people live at the Maple Ridge community and there are a couple dozen communities world-wide) of people seeking to live the Sermon on the Mount in such a united way? The Bruderhof, with their testimonies of simplicity and their attention to the least among us, shine a bright light and challenge all of us to live our faith intentionally, with simple child-like love for God and fellow man.

Their mission statement is posted in the main gathering room. It is very focusing.

We declare ourselves in unity under God's judgment and mercy.

We vow that we want to live in reverence for God, for Christ and for his Holy Spirit.

The cross, where the forgiveness of sins can be found, is the center of our life.

We declare war against all irreverence toward God, his Christ and his church.

We declare war against the misuse of the name of God, of Christ and his Holy Spirit.

We declare war against all irreverence toward the childlike spirit of Jesus as it lives in children, and we want to fight for those older children in whom the childlike spirit has been partly lost.

We declare war against all emotional or physical cruelty to children.

We declare war against the search for power over the souls of other people, including children. We seek the atmosphere of the church and of the angels of God.

We vow to pray for the light of Jesus so that all who are in bondage or tormented by evil thoughts may be freed, and so that all those who serve darkness may be revealed and called to repentance.
We declare war against the spirit of mammon and all false love connected with mammon.

We declare war against all human greatness and all forms of vanity.

We declare war against all pride, including collective pride.

We declare war against the spirit of unforgiveness, envy and hatred.

We vow to lay down before the cross our own power and our own "greatness."

We declare war against any degrading of others, including those who have fallen into sin.

We declare war against cruelty to anyone, even if he has sinned.

We declare war against all kinds of magic or curiosity and satanic darkness.

We ask for courage to rejoice in suffering and persecution for the cause of right.

We ask for forgiveness of our sins because without Jesus our hearts and our actions cannot be pure.

We pray to live for the world as Jesus expressed it in John 17: that we may be one as Christ is one with the Father, so that the world may believe that Christ was sent by the Father. With Christ we ask not to be taken out of this world but to be protected from the power of evil.

We ask Christ to consecrate our brotherhood through his truth. Christ's Word is the truth. We ask that he may send us out to be a light in the world.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Hannah and her friend, Elizabeth, made these today and they are absolutely amazing! - Sarah

½ cup – margarine
1 ¼ cups – sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon – almond extract
2 ¼ cups – flour
¼ cup –baking cocoa
1 teaspoon – baking powder
¼ teaspoon – salt
1 cup – sliced almonds

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Beat butter and sugar until blended. Add eggs and almond extract and beat well. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture beating until smooth. Dough will be thick. Stir in almonds using wooden spoon.

2. Shape dough into two 11-inch-long rolls. Place rolls 3 to 4 inches apart on large ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake 30 minutes or until rolls are set. Remove from oven. Cool on cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Using serrated knife, cut rolls diagonally using sawing motion into ½ inch-thick slices. Arrange slices, cut-sides down close together on a cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 9 minutes. Turn slices over. Bake additional 8 to 9 minutes.
Remove from oven. Cool on wire rack. Prepare chocolate glaze. Dip end of each biscotti in glaze or drizzle over entire cookie. Garnish with additional almonds, if desired.

Chocolate Glaze

Place 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon shortening (do not use butter, margarine or oil) into small microwave safe bowl. Microwave at high for 1 – 1.5 minutes or until smooth with stirred. Make about 1 cup glaze.

Makes about 2 ½ dozen cookies.

Reporting from Kauai, This is Nathaniel Angell

Nate is currently in Hawaii with Professor Jamie Rankin (of famed Bentley Farm scone making) and other friends from Princeton. Here's an update along with some pictures! I am so proud of Nate for his marathon finish despite some pretty nasty conditions! - Sarah

Here are some photos of our adventure so far. I finished the Honolulu marathon in 5:15:23, about an hour later than what I was shooting for. I ran a 2:06:16 first half, but then slowed down considerably about mile 15. The weather was raining, humid and warm, and I essentially overheated! But the good news is I finished and we are all safe and sound, albeit sore ("very" as in the Biblical sense) sore.

After the marathon, we flew to the island of Kauai. Our accommodations are idyllic with access to beach and beautiful scenery. Today we went to Waimea Canyon ("Hawaii's Grand Canyon") which had red clay and green vegetation that reminded me of Christmas! We have had sporadic rainstorms that at times are torrential, so we're hoping the sun will come out to stay soon...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mohonk: An Icy Wonderland

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Luke and I were in charge of inside Christmas decorations today!