Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Day Off

I spent the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah, which celebrates the creation of the world), harvesting the last fruits of our garden. I combined the basil that I had prepared earlier in the season with a tomato sauce that I made today.

We still have peppers, carrots and a small harvest of edible-pod peas in the garden, waiting for maturation. I picked the last of the lettuce and tomatoes today.

Oh, and today, I also took Dad to the Culinary Institute of America for his birthday lunch, I completed a lot of grading, I almost finished reading Orwell's 1984 and I made my own mayonnaise from an egg yolk, olive oil and dijon mustard!

Vanilla's Itch

Some delayed footage from the Dutchess County Fair. Thanks to Mr. Rubin for capturing the moment!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dad's 52nd!

Happy Birthday to our dad who turned 52-years-old today amidst family, presents, cards and delicious homebaked pies!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


The life that intends to be wholly obedient, wholly submissive, wholly listening, is astonishing in its completeness. Its joys are ravishing, its peace profound, its humility the deepest, its love enveloping, its simplicity that of a trusting child.

-Thomas Kelly qtd. in The Voice of Evangelical Friends in North America


Thankfulness is the key that unlocks the storehouses of all God's blessings.

- Dr. Roland Naglieri

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Young Couple's Evening

It was a young couple's night at the Angells! Emily & Ben and Allie & Isaac came for dessert and devotions. We had so many laughs!

In Utrisque Caritas

In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas.
(In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.)

Rupertus Meldenius

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This is the Way. Walk in It.

Doesn't it seem like there are just some moments in life when you are overcome by the pressing need to be faithful in the details of life without fully understanding the greater purpose of your involvement in those details?

In my frequent familiarity with these types of moments, I have found myself grateful for some simple words of solace from the prophet Isaiah, "This is the way. Walk in it."

That's it. Nothing fancy. No great revelation. Just strength for today. Just assurance that I am walking on the path meant for me. "This is the way. Walk in it."

Though the path may be surrounded, in the day by day, with many trees that block all sight, the Good Lord knows the way. "This is the way. Walk in it."

One day, perhaps, I will reach the ascent that makes all of the little steps on the hidden path up the wooded trail make sense. But for now, I trust. "This is the way. Walk in it."

Isaiah 30:21

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Driving Half-Way Across the Country... and Back

Mom, Dad, Jacob, Rebecca and Caleb returned late last evening from their 2490-mile car trip to Minneapolis, MN. It is my expressed opinion, upon considering the details of their trip, that my three younger siblings do not actually understand what it truly means to travel.

When I was young, the family traveled to Minnesota in old vans that had transmissions that were about to fall out, that stuttered and stalled and jolted up every Allegheny Mountain and that had dysfunctional gas gauges that left us stranded on the side of the highway. Jacob, Rebecca and Caleb went to Minnesota in a rented 2008 Chevy Trailblazer (with leather seats and power windows) that conquered every hill with cruise control like it was flat land.

When I was young, we drove to Minnesota straight-through (a twenty-four hour trip) and slept in the car. My younger siblings stayed two nights at a hotel.

When I was young, we packed our food and made sandwiches in the van. Jacob, Rebecca and Caleb ate food cooked hot at establishments off the highway.

When I was young, Isaac and I played the alphabet game and looked desperately out the window at license plates trying to find the letter "Z". Jacob, Rebecca and Caleb watched about twelve DVDs on a laptop computer.

Ah, well, such is the luxurious life of my younger siblings!

Anyhow, in all seriousness, the trip was reported to be very restorative. Mom and Grandma were so especially grateful for the tremendous amount of love and support shared throughout the days of remembering and celebrating Grandpa's life.

Monday, September 22, 2008

But for Today, Summer and Autumn Were Friends

There are some days that are so completely full of beauty, that they must be marked with care and delight. Today was such a day.

Hannah and I started our three-mile run in the late afternoon. A glance to the right of our path showed that the corn harvester had started its circular rounds to capture the yellowed ears of corn that summer had meticulously wrapped in green packaging and autumn had carefully tied with brown silk ribbons. Only two or three circles had been completed by the machinery, and so, in striking contrast, the green and live plants stood towering over the down-trodden golden stalks that had already yielded the gift of their harvest.

The sun was at that exactly obtuse angle in the horizon where the green and yellow and orange hues are scattered so professionally that every molecule of the air seems to dance with color. And, yes, the air was perfectly warm and cool at the same time, almost as if summer and autumn had declared a truce and agreed to shake hands peacefully, forgetting last evening's loud war with its cruel weapons of thunderclouds and lightning bolts. The air retained just the right proportion of water - wet enough to soothe the lungs as it passed in and out with the increased pace that followed the clip of our footsteps against the ground, but dry enough to wick away any trace of wetness that threatened to gather on the skin as we ran.

The road took us through a serene pasture where bucolic cows stood calmly, unaware that autumn will soon break friendship with summer and betray their field to winter's death. But today, even the yellowing grass, not richly green but certainly not a crackled brown, understood that summer and autumn were presently friends.

Shaded trees stretched over the road that passed through the residential area of our running trail. The leaves were showing their first hints of yellow, not yet having surrendered fully to the coming oranges and reds that will eventually crown their noble descent ground-ward to leave our running path without a canopy.

We passed over a small creek, still busily returning water to the rivers, reminding us that even as recently as last night, summer and autumn had collided to drench the land with rain.

It was a day to be captured, to be framed if at all possible. It was a picture to be remembered on that awful day when autumn abandons its flirtatious courtship with summer, only to find itself conquered by the sterile cold of winter.

But for today, summer and autumn were friends, and their handshake, fleeting as it will be, set all the countryside alive with joy.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Updated Status of the Husband Training School

Isaac recently installed an upgrade to the culinary arts division of his husband training school. Since the date of the last reporting, the dinner menu has expanded to include, not only spaghetti, but also sauteed chicken.

This boost in the dinner menu, however, is not without danger or cost.

So this evening Isaac set about the maiden preparation of his new entree by covering a cooking pan with canola oil. He put the lid on the pan and set it on the stove. He turned the stove on high. About a minute later, he returned to his pan and reduced the heat to medium. And about a minute after that, he returned to his pan, expecting to find sizzling canola oil.

Instead, he opened the pan lid and found burning canola oil flames. Big ones.

To avoid the end of burning his house down (and ruining the reputation of his one-of-a-kind school), Isaac quickly removed the pan from the stove and plopped it in the sink. The oil kept burning and so, instinctively, Isaac turned on the water faucet!

So, throwing water on burning oil doesn't turn out to be the best idea (or, actually, even a remotely good idea). Upon contact with the water, the flames leaped five feet into the air! Desperate, Isaac grabbed the pan and ran it outside where the oil eventually stopped burning.

The event was not without damage: the smoke alarms were triggered, the ceiling was blackened, Isaac's forearm hairs completely vanished, his eyebrows singed and his hands received some minor burns. All for the sake of a dinner upgrade for the culinary arts division of the husband training school!

When I talked to Isaac this evening, the conclusion to his story revealed that the heart of husband training school is not about domestic perfection. This school is really about understanding and sympathy. "And what if I had two little toddlers at home too?" Isaac asked, "Imagine how hard that would be!"

Yes, I guess that the work of domestic sympathy has taken place. If Isaac ever comes home to a wife and a burned ceiling and no dinner, he now knows to say, "Been there. Done that. I love you. Let's go buy pizza."

Isaac, you deserve a medal for effort! And I hope that you eventually got to eat dinner.

Friday, September 19, 2008

True Merriment that is Uniquely Italian

With many excited conversations*, and much laughter and the true merriment that is very uniquely Italian, my friend Emily celebrated her twenty-fifth birthday today!

*This very Anglo-Saxon girl has noticed, to her great delight, that at an Italian celebration, one no longer wishes for many multiple hands, but for multiple ears and mouths. To enter fully into the gaiety of the occasion, one must strive to simultaneously engage approximately five very lively, extremely interesting and coincident conversations. I will never tire of experiencing this wonderfully thrilling exercise, even if I am limited to two ears and one mouth. It is hard to describe the joy present in the midst of so much good conversation; I will even dare to say that an Italian family celebration is a little foretaste of Paradise itself!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Most High is Sovereign Over the Kingdoms of Men

Governments and politicians might set their own agendas, but vision comes from God alone. He is in charge of the whole world. The arrogant King Nebuchadnezzar was so proud that it took seven years of being humbled by God before he was finally able to declare, "The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes." (Dan. 4:32)

- Brother Yun, Living Waters

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

World Cup Training...

...Almost! Becca and Caleb have started their autumnal soccer practice with a small church league. So far the practices have been accompanied by humid and sticky weather. Not the ideal conditions for fall soccer!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Love and Kindness are Not Coterminous

The more I think about the following quote, the more I discover the truth of its claims. I find, especially in my busy everyday interactions with people, that it is easy to be kind, without truly loving. As Lewis says, it is quite a simple thing to show kindness with indifference, with drowsiness. Love is a much harder and harsher ideal than kindness. Yes, love and kindness are not coterminous. In the concentric circles of love, kindness is simply a small inner ring.

There is kindness in Love, but Love and kindness are not coterminous, and when kindness is separated from the other elements of Love, it involves a certain fundamental indifference to its object and even something like the contempt of it.

When Christianity says that God loves man, it means that God loves man; not that He has some 'disinterested,' because really indifferent, concern for our welfare, but that, in awful and surprising truth, we are the objects of His love. You asked for a loving God: you have one. The great spirit you so lightly invoked, the 'lord of the terrible aspect' is present: not a senile benevolence that drowsily wishes you to be happy in your own way, not the cold philanthropy of a conscientious magistrate, not the care of a host who feels responsible for the comfort of his guests, but the consuming fire Himself, the Love that made the worlds, persistent as the artist's love for his work and despotic as a man's love for a dog, provident and venerable as a father's love for a child, jealous, inexorable, exacting as love between the sexes.

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Eternity in the Human Heart

God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

- Ecclesiastes 3:11

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My Grandpa Farmer, 1929 - 2008

This post was a long time in the making, but a life's journey of pictures and information isn't easy to compile! My favorite memories of Grandpa always include his enthusiasm and zest. For instance, whenever Grandpa was in a car and went under an overpass or through a tunnel, he would always honk his horn to my great delight! When Grandpa got sick with Parkinson's, his mind eventually turned off, but I will always remember my last conversation with him. During that conversation, Grandpa said to me, "Sarah, what's really important in life is integrity." And I think Grandpa's life spoke to that ideal very well.

Ross Jeffrey Farmer was born on April 2, 1929 in Moore, Montana, the son of Abraham Jeffrey Farmer and Ida Larson Farmer; and the younger brother of Raymond, and Idamae, who was his half sister. His father was a millwright, and his mother was a teacher.

The family moved from Montana to settle in south Minneapolis when Ray and Ross were babies. During high school, Ross enjoyed playing football for the "Roosevelt Teddies;" became an Eagle Scout; was involved with assorted YMCA activities; was a counselor at Camp Warren in northern Minnesota; and in January of 1947 was elected president of his class. He went on to the University of Minnesota where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Master's degree in Public Administration. Ross met Elizabeth at school and married her in December of 1951.

Immediately after graduation, in June of 1951, Ross joined the Air Force and commenced his two-year commitment. In the autumn of 1952, Ross went to Officer Candidate School in San Antonio, TX. He was stationed in Valdosta, GA, as a lieutenant and he left the Air Force in the summer of 1953 and joined the Air Force Reserve where he eventually earned his final title of "Major."

Ross and Elizabeth started their family in the spring of 1953, while still in Georgia. Soon after Ross was discharged from the Air Force, he and Elizabeth moved their family back to the Twin Cities in Minnesota, where they would eventually raise five children. Ross began his career in insurance, and was an actuary for Mutual Service Insurance Company for most of his professional life. During his young adult years, Ross and his family became faithful members of the Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church in Minneapolis.

After raising his family, Ross traveled to Botswana in the 1980s to conduct an insurance study for AID (US Agency for International Development). His travels to Africa extended via South America where he took an especially memorable trip to Macchu Picchu.

In 1992 Ross and Elizabeth joined Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, where they received the sacrament of baptism and became grateful partakers of the rich gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the joyful fellowship of King's Friends (their class of senior prayer warriors).

At sixty-six years of age, Ross was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease at the Struther's Clinic and received care from his daughter Joanne for many years in Minneapolis. The last eleven months of Ross's life were spent at Bentley Farm with his daughter Janet's family in upstate New York.

Many family members stood by Ross's side on September 1, 2008 when his breathing slowed and his color began to fade. He surrendered his spirit peacefully and now knows the true mystery of Christ's victory that has overcome death. "'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:55-56

Ross left behind a large and thankful family:

Wife - Elizabeth Merrill Farmer

Children, Spouses and Grandchildren -

Jeffrey Ross Farmer m. Marilyn Mauren
Rita Mauren Farmer m. Andrew Brantingham
Anthony Mauren Farmer

Mark Raymond Farmer

Scott Merrill Farmer m. Kamila Agayeva Farmer
Elizabeth Nanash Farmer
Yusif Afrayil Farmer

Janet Farmer Angell m. Thomas Nathaniel Newlin Angell
Sarah Elizabeth Angell
Isaac Merrill Angell
Nathaniel Newlin Angell
Luke Sewell Angell
Hannah Grace Angell
Jacob Elliott Angell
Rebecca Faith Angell
Caleb Henley Angell

Joanne Farmer Hager m. Michael Hager
Benjamin Ross Burton
Katherine Elizabeth Burton
Amelia Juliet Hager

The pictures below are accompanied by notes of explanation. Leave your mouse over the "Notes" section below to see the text that explains the pictures.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Let Me Sing

I wanna open up my eyes
And see a more beautiful world
Let the hand of God Almighty
Sweep His colors through my life
I wanna hold tight to the laughter
And ride it like a child
On the winds that billow joyful
Through the sky

I wanna open up my heart
But you know, sometimes it's hard to find
Because I've buried it beneath the selfishness
That I've hidden behind
I wanna stand my ground unshaken
But I wanna tremble when I kneel
And let my song remain unbroken
Through the tears

So let me sing for the love
Let me love for the lost
Let me lose all I have
For what I found on the cross
Let me trust You with my life
Let me live to give You praise
Lord, let me praise You
For the grace by which I'm saved
Lord, let me sing

I wanna open up Your word
And let the thirsty enter in
So they can drink deep of the water
You have given to them
I want to run the race with vigor
I want to fight the fight with strength
And let my song rise from a whisper
To a scream

I wanna open up my arms
And embrace that old rugged cross
I wanna take pride in the reason
And be humbled by the cause
And when this lisping, stamm'ring tongue
Lies silent in the grave
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I'll sing Your praise
I'll sing Your praise

- Words and Music, Andrew Peterson

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Fresh Heifer Calf and an Open Field

A new calf was born to Bentley's Buttercup on Monday.

The new calf has been named after our friend, Allie. The calf's name is Callie.

Meanwhile, Jacob has enjoying operating an excavator...

...and preparing the land at Bentley Farm for a winter grass covering.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Firm-Rooted in the Faith that God is Good

We live by Faith; but Faith is not the slave
Of text and legend. Reason's voice and God's.
Nature's and Duty's, never are at odds.
What asks our Father of His children, save
Justice and mercy and humility,
A reasonable service of good deeds,
Pure living, tenderness to human needs,
Reverence and trust and prayer for light to see
The Master's footprints in our daily ways?
No knotted scourge nor sacrificial knife,
But the calm beauty of an ordered life
Whose very breathing is unworded praise!-
A life that stands as all true lives have stood,
Firm-rooted in the faith that God is Good.

- Requirement by John Greenleaf Whittier, Nineteenth Century Quaker Poet

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

To the Rock that is Higher

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.

From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.

I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah (Psalm 61)

- Picture taken at Olympic National Park, WA

A Question Concerning Wealth

Is the impetus for financial giving as exemplified by Jesus in the gospels due to (1) the need of the poor for wealth, or (2) the need of the rich for wealth's absence?

Monday, September 08, 2008

While I Draw this Fleeting Breath

The following piece was written by Nathaniel, the day that Grandpa left us.

The death of my grandfather today--who's been living with our family for the past 10 months--left me with much sadness, but also the hope of eternity. Even though Grandpa's debilitating Parkinson's disease rendered him incommunicable for the last few years, there was a moment this past winter I'll never forget. My mom and I had just tucked him into his bed and as we were leaving the room I whispered in his ear, "I love you Grandpa". Then barely audible, but clearly and distinctly I heard "I love you too". That meant a lot to me. His passing left a hole in our hearts--we loved him dearly. From a hymn we sang tonight:

While I draw this fleeting breath
When my eyes shall close in death
When I rise to worlds unknown
And behold thee on thy throne
Rock of Ages cleft for me
Let me hid myself in Thee

Obituary for our Dear Grandpa

Ross Farmer, age 79, of Clinton Corners, New York and Minneapolis, MN, died peacefully at home on September 1, 2008. Ross is survived by his wife: Elizabeth; children: Jeff (Marilyn), Mark, Scott (Kamila), Janet Angell (Tom), and Joanne Hager (Michael); and grandchildren: Rita, Sarah, Anthony, Isaac, Nathaniel, Benjamin, Luke, Katherine, Hannah, Jacob, Rebecca, Caleb, Elizabeth, Yusif and Amelia. Ross' family remains grateful for his integrity, sense of honor and compassion; he led by example. Services will be held at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis at 11am on Monday, September 22. Memorials preferred to the church.

- Published in the Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Blueberries and Brace Mountain

Mom was given the fullfillment of her summer's dream today when we picked wild blueberries at the top of South Brace Mountain. We almost made it to North Brace Mountain (the highest point in Dutchess County), but we were pretty plum tuckered out as it was. I have never fallen so many times descending a mountain. I think I am getting old.

(My nicest camera came up and down the mountain with us, which is unfortunate because I put a nice big scratch in the lens when I slipped on one of the steep and wet rocks. The story gets even more unfortunate because I ran out of batteries before I even took a picture! )

However, the wild blueberries were probably worth all of these dificulties!

When Methodology Gives Way to Intimacy

A couple years ago, our family read out loud a most memorable book, The Heavenly Man. It was a simple testament to the power of God expressed through the life of Brother Yun, a dedicated Christian who has suffered much persecution from the Chinese Three-Self Government. We have just started to read a second book by Brother Yun, Living Waters.

The following excerpt is taken from the forward by Paul Hattaway that we read together this evening:

I am constantly amazed at the number of people [Brother Yun] introduces to Christ. Whether at airports, restaurants, or in hotel lobbies, I frequently find Yun kneeling on the floor and praying with a tear-filled individual who is opening his heart to the Lord.

Occasionally, I step back and try to analyze the difference between his soul-winning methods and those commonly employed by most Western Christians. I have come to realize that it has nothing to do with methodology at all, but everything to do with relationship. Yun walks closely with Jesus Christ, and it is natural for that intimacy to spill over to others around him.

Reflections of Life in a Veterinary Jeep

The following piece was written by Isaac to remember one of this past summer's favorite memories.

It had been a long day, and yet it was still only 11am. At 5am I had been awakened by a firm grip on my shoulder. It was Dr. Ben who had just received a call that a heifer was having trouble calving at a farm about a half an hour away.

An hour and a half later we had delivered a live calf and had found another sick cow on the farm that had a LDA and required surgery. We concluded that the operation should be postponed since it was already 7am, and our stomachs were not letting us forget that breakfast had not been consumed.

As we were driving back to the clinic, Dr. Ben called into the office on the radio. It was still only 7am in the morning, yet there were already at least ten calls that had come in. Seemingly everyone had waited for the worst day of the year to need the vet, as there were only two vets working in what is normally a four man practice.

It seemed that every time we got back into the jeep after completing a call, there were at least two more calls that had come in. Everyone, everywhere, needed the vet. As the receptionist read off the list of calls that needed to be attended to, I wondered how many things could possibly go wrong for a farmer in just one day.

There was a heifer that had a 16-inch gash along its shoulder, there was a cow that had a calf coming out backwards, there was a heifer with a dead calf hanging out of her which must have been hip locked and at another farm there were two cows down with toxic mastitis.

It was now 11am and we had a scheduled call from the week before that needed attendance in the midst of this busy schedule. So as Dr. Ben and I traveled from an organic dairy where a Jersey had milk fever to Henry Hazinger’s place, the scheduled call for the day, Dr. Ben gave me a synopsis, and a brief biography of Henry Hazinger. “With Henry Hazinger, you don't strike up a conversation about the weather because he won’t reply," Dr. Ben said. “Henry is the type of man who wants to talk about what is important in life, he doesn’t care just to make small talk." Driving up the rough dirt road to Henry’s farm, with the glass bottles chinking up against each other in the back of the jeep, and the warm air coming in through my window, I was thinking to myself that I kind of liked this farmer already.

Our mission was to do a herd check, so we loaded up with supplies, gloves, lube, and a pail of soapy water and headed into the barn. No one was around, so we decided to take a look. The barn was set up in a tie-stall fashion. There were about 150 cows in the barn which seemed to stretch on forever.

We took a walk down to the far end of the barn, where we could hear the faint noise of a steady chop/chop. As we walked down the center aisle of the barn, I noticed that this Mr. Hazinger took good care of his animals. The cows looked in good bodily condition and the stalls were well bedded. As we approached the end of the barn we could see two men working on a cow’s hooves. I had never seen anything like it. The cow was tied up in the box stall standing on a sheet of plywood. There was an old man, with obvious signs of wear and tear from back-breaking labor who was doubled over and trimming a cow’s front feet with a hammer and a rubber mallet. At the back of the cow, a man who must have been his son was grabbing a hold of the cow rear legs, picking them up and trimming off the bottom of the toe with a sharp chisel. It was amazing and painful to watch. These two men were wearing themselves out just trying to trim a cow’s hooves, using no trimming chute or ropes. After watching this spectacle for a time, we headed back down to the other end of the barn.

As we approached the other end I could see a big man giving the heifers silage. Dr. Ben called out, “Hello!” as we got closer. It was Henry. It was obvious that Henry had to feed his heifers before he would have time for the vet. As we waited, I continued to look at these big beautiful cows.

At some point my admiration was interrupted with a call from the hoof trimmers. I didn’t really catch what they were saying, but apparently Dr. Ben and Henry did because they ran again to the back of the barn. I followed quickly behind. Dr. Ben was walking up the center aisle, I was right behind him, and Henry was walking up the aisle in front of the cows.

As we were walking, Dr. Ben called across the cows, “Henry I would like to introduce you to Isaac, a veterinary student who is riding with me today.”

From in front of the cows Henry, replied in the nicest sort of way, “Formal introductions will be done later.” All I could do was just smile.

We got about half-way down the barn, when I saw what the commotion had been about. There was a cow, who, in the short time period since we turned our backs, had gotten herself caught up in her tie chain and stall loop. Dr. Ben and I took hold of her tail and gave her a tug, as Henry heaved her head around.

Leaving the cow in a more organized fashion, we headed back to the place where Henry was feeding the heifers. When Henry finally finished his feeding, he came around to the center aisle, and proceeded to come up to me, stretch out his hand and say, “Hello, I’m Henry Hazinger.”

I reached to shake his hand and looked up to introduce myself. Henry must have been at least 6'4". I felt my hand disappearing in Henry’s hand which had to be about twice or thrice the size of mine. His hands were obviously hardened with years of farm work. I figured that he must be in his late 50s or early 60s.

As I stood there looking at him, I thought to myself, "He kind of reminds me of my Henry Wheeler, the farmer I grew up with." Mr. Hazinger's body was bigger than Mr. Wheeler's, but the way he dressed, with his plaid button-down pocket-T and his pair of Levis, and the way he cared about meeting a stranger bore remarkable resemblance to my own Henry.

Mr. Hazinger was very interested in who I was and how Dr. Ben’s wife and baby daughter were. And as Dr. Ben and I began palpating his cow, Henry started to talk about what he thought mattered in life. His questions and thoughts that day revolved around a central theme of relationships of fathers to their sons and daughters, and the relationships of sons and daughters to their Heavenly Father. He took great joy in this.

One of his many thoughts that day was his concern that too many fathers try to live their dreams through the lives of their sons. He remembered how one time he was at a wrestling match at a school where there was this kid who was winning a lot of matches, but after a while lost a match. The kid was obviously trying very hard, but was just out-powered. Henry remembered going behind the school building after the match was done, only to see the father of the kid who lost the wrestling match chewing out his son. Henry said if there was ever a time where he was tempted to hit a man in the face that would have been it.

Henry, then related this story to his life, and said how he had desired to farm with his son, but not wanting to push farming upon him, he let him have his space. After many years off the farm, the son came back. It was very apparent how happy he was that his dream had come true. There are many things I will remember about the conversation that late morning.

As Dr. Ben and I said good-bye and hopped back into the jeep to go to the next call, I was reminded of the verse in Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” And the verses in Proverbs 16:21-24, “The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction. Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it, but folly brings punishment to fools. A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

I thought to myself, "Oh how easy it is to make small talk and discuss things that do not really matter in life, but when discussions are focused on heavenly things, how rich are the rewards. I was thankful of the reminder that day that words are indeed a gift from God."

(By the way, it was 9pm that day when we decided to quit, yet there were still ten more calls on the books. Needless to say, the cow with the LDA did not receive its operation that day.)

- Isaac Angell

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pondering Work

I have the unique advantage of having a "seasonal job." I work ten months of the year which means that I get the distinct advantage of having two months of the year to reflect upon my work.

As I ponder the purpose of my work, I have recognized that I often approach my reflection from the lens of the question: "Do I like my work?" or, similarly, "Is my work fulfilling?"

However, this week, the day before I started teaching again, a different, and more profound question came to me through my friend Emily: "Is your work sanctifying?"

My heart leapt when it heard that question! It is such a better question then the one that I often settle for when I reflect upon my work.

To be sanctified is to be made holy, to be made righteous, to be put in right standing before God, to be set apart for a purpose. Sanctification is a very primary goal of the Christian walk, laying a necessary foundation for a loving and right relationship with both God and humanity.

Does my work make me more holy? Does it put me in right standing before God? Does it set me apart for a purpose?

The beautiful and hopeful answer to these questions is always the same, "It certainly could."

I don't always like my job (although many times I do) and I don't always find my work fulfilling (although many times I do), but I think that it is always possible for my work to be sanctifying. If only I choose to let it be.

Yes, this is my challenge for the next ten months of my labor: I want to look back on these ten months and simply know that they were sanctifying.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Turning Twenty-Three in Style!

The Hunt family and Neil spoiled Isaac for his birthday! His birthday gift of a "Chief" shirt betrays his common nickname, "Chief," so named after his striking strength of command.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Turning Twenty-Three Only Happens Once!

It has sure been busy around here, but it is good to take time to celebrate the joys among us, even in an hour of tears, because Isaac will only turn twenty-three once!

I opened my day-by-day calendar and today's message said, "Work is a blessing. God has so arranged the world that work is necessary, and He gives us hands and strength to do it."

If there was ever someone that delighted in their work, it would be my brother Isaac. What a perfect birthday message just for him.

Happy 23rd Birthday, Isaac! Not only does your dedicated work inspire us, but your attentiveness to the people surrounding your work leaves us feeling so loved and valued.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Reflections by the Doorway to Eternity

Our family was with Grandpa in our living room when he died today.

His death was fairly sudden although Grandpa had been virtually unable to move, talk, eat or interact for the last five years. He woke up this morning congested, and by late this afternoon his body, normally rigid with Parkinson's, was completely limp. At supper time, I started to move Grandpa into the living room so that he could sit with us for dinner and evening devotions, but I did not make much progress, as it became immediately obvious that Grandpa's breathing was becoming slow and unsteady. The whole family stood by Grandpa's side as his color left him; tears were streaming down our faces as we began to pray to our Heavenly Father to receive and love our Grandpa. We continued to pray and hold him as he breathed his last breath. He surrendered his spirit so peacefully. How I dearly hope that he knew of our love as he left this earth. What a tearful, tearful time.

And what a reflective time. Nothing speaks of the mystery of life more than death. One moment the breath of life is here; one moment the breath of life is gone. How tentative. How short is the time that we sojourn upon this earth; how massive is the eternity that is before us. How unimportant so many of our daily thoughts become in light of what we face when the bell tolls; how important are our efforts to enter simply and solely into a life of love.

When we finally did gather for devotions this evening, Grandpa's silent presence among us was so glaringly absent. I could no longer sit beside him and stroke his hand while we sang and read and prayed. You wouldn't think that a silent gentleman, who spent the last five years just sitting or sleeping could leave such a huge hole. But Grandpa did.

Caring for one who is frail and dying is a tremendous privilege. It is sad that so many of our elderly are tucked away beyond our view. It is the presence of the frail and dying in our daily lives that provide needed windows into eternity; we see and understand the closeness of life eternal and we are taught to live our lives in reverence of a coming day.

It is also the presence of the frail and dying among us that brings us closest to the body of Jesus. When we feed the hungry, comfort the sick and clothe the naked, we feed, comfort and clothe Jesus. What an absolute privilege. Thank you, Grandpa, for the humility that you adopted to so take upon the life of Jesus. We know Him more through you.

Grandpa, you are dearly missed. I love you so much. May you fully know, without the chains of body and disease, the depth of your Creator's delight in you.

I will be yours
You will be mine
Forever in eternity

Our hearts of love
Will be entwined

(Details concerning funeral arrangements will be listed in a later post, along with a commemorative piece celebrating the life of our Grandpa, Ross Jeffrey Farmer.)

Laboring Over a Motor

Isaac's Labor Day Weekend was spent on Seneca Lake with his roommate, Eric, and Eric's non-working boat motor. By the end of the day the non-working motor was more working than non-working. That is an improvement!