Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Big Red Letter Day!

In the last twenty-four hours we found out that Luke, Hannah and Allie were all accepted into Cornell University! This is a huge dream come true for all of them, especially since they all applied to only one school! We are so proud of all their hard work that has brought them to this great and exciting point! And Isaac is especially excited to have company for his last two years!

Hannah and Allie were both accepted into the Applied Economics and Management major and Luke was accepted into the Animal Science major.

What a day of joy and celebration! Mom is currently planning a big barbeque with desserts galore to increase the festivities. How fun!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Whoa! Don't Skip Spring!

The weather in Los Angeles was great - balmy with highs in the 70s, just how Los Angeles should be in April. The crazy thing is that today, at my high school back home, the high was 90 and we were sweltering even with my bedroom fan (transported to the school) on high!

What ever happened to the idea of spring? It's only April!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I was already so excited to go to Los Angeles on business, because I knew that I would get to see my wonderful friend and college roommate, Kristiane, but, little did I know that my other wonderful friend (and other college roommate) Trina would totally surprise me and pop out of the shadows of the hallway when I was returning to my hotel room! What an absolute blast! I was so surprised and absolutely thrilled that all three of us could be together just like the old days! So happy! The pictures above were taken at Manhattan Beach.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sunny Southern California

NYT on the Renovation of the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railway Bridge

From the fourth floor window of my dad's law office, a perfectly scenic view of a large expanse of the Hudson River is visible. Two bridges are situated in this landscape. One is the Mid-Hudson Bridge, busy with traffic. The second bridge, older looking and from initial appearances, deserted, is the focus of an article in today's New York Times. This rather abandoned bridge (opened in 1889) was the first rail crossing north of the Hudson. By 1974, rail traffic had diminished and a fire finally closed the bridge. But recently the federal and state government, along with local philanthropic groups have started a $35 million restoration project of this 6,700 foot bridge. It will hopefully be open to pedestrians and bicyclists within a two-year time period.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bentley Farm Prepares to Welcome a New Family Member

For the first fourteen years of my life, the most exciting days ever were the days where Mom and Dad would surprise the rest of us children with the news that another sibling would soon be joining the family. Sometimes Mom and Dad would just tell us the news and other times they would wrap up a present, and after opening the present we would be so, so excited to find the little piece of paper that said that we would soon have another brother or sister. We were always so, so excited! This was the best news ever! It was truly difficult to accept that eventually there would be a youngest and that these pieces of news would not continue forever.

But, here's the good news, in recent years our family has, once again, welcomed new members into our home with great's just that the age of the new members has slightly shifted! First it was our dear grandpa, then our fun-loving grandma....and now, one more is coming! Grandpa Farmer's first cousin, Maryella Strane, is planning on moving into the room that Grandpa vacated. Maryella is 92 and one spunky and clever lady. Our family will never be done growing!

The five Farmer siblings with Maryella at Grandpa's funeral: Mark, Janet, Scott, Maryella, Joanne and Jeff.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Irony of "Free" (TOTB Part VI)

TOTB Resources; TOTB Intro; TOTB Part I; TOTB Part II; TOTB Part III; TOTB Part IV; TOTB Part V

The joy of the truth that Jesus Christ was raised in the body is that we, mere mortals, have a means, a mechanism, by which to enter into the fullness of the love that we were created to experience. Because the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, our mortal bodies are quickened to live a life of wholeness and of fullness (Romans 8:11). The next four posts regarding Theology of the Body will look at how we can mirror the free, total, faithful and fruitful love of God in our bodies.

One of the most ironic words that we encounter in our language is the word free. The irony is not that free always has a catch, because truly, for us, free doesn’t always have a catch. The love of my mom for me is free. I’ve tested it enough to know that it doesn’t have a catch. My mom doesn’t love me because I look or behave a certain way. Her love, as given to me, is truly free.

The irony of the word free is found in the fact that free always has a price tag – it’s just that free means that the price is paid by someone else. My mom’s love for me has a price tag that’s truly expensive – her free gift of love has cost her sleepless nights, hours of listening, hours of counseling, hours of chauffeuring, hours of encouraging. Her love is really very costly – but, when I receive it, it is given to me freely.

I think it could be said that it is for lack of understanding the irony of the word free, that we misinterpret the nature of sexual love as it was created to be. Free love as promoted by the sexual revolution allows me to believe that free means that I can give my body away to a man or woman or myself (it’s my choice) free of emotional entanglements, free of stiff religious prohibition, free of societal norms, free of judgment, free of commitment, free of fear that I will have to raise a child, free of anything but my immediate desire for my own pleasure.

But free always has a cost and someone is paying the cost of our current understanding of free love. We have lived with this active definition of free love long enough to realize that distributing our bodies "freely" eventually has a pricetag that is paid by someone. The cost that society pays for free love is steep. Suffice it to say that the first group of people who pay the price for this misleading definition of free are children. Children conceived from "free" love face historically unprecedented rates of murder before they even take their first breath.

But the problem is not that we have mislabeled love as free. Love is meant to be free. God in Christ taught us this truth.

But the nature of God’s free love is diametrically opposed to the nature of free love as promoted by the sexual revolution. The nature of God’s free love requires that I give freely; the nature of the sexual revolution only requires that I receive freely.

Truly free love between a man and a woman means that a man and a woman will commit to the cost of love, so that they can give love that it truly life-giving. Truly free sexual love means that we learn to cherish a whole person to the point of committing our whole lives to that person before we receive the gift of their body. Dr. Janet E. Smith, professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, calls this truly free love natural sex. She says, “We have very few people in this world who have an experience of what I want to call natural sex. Natural sex is the sex that a man and a woman have with each other when they are in love with each other, when they’ve made a commitment to each other and they’re open to having children with each other. That’s natural sex. It’s really incredible and wonderful sex. Those who have that will testify that it’s way better than any other kind of sex.”

The irony of free thus continues – they who give the most costly love will find love to be most free.

We Do Not Lose Heart

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
- 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

And This is Grace, An Invitation to Be Beautiful

We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold

Redemption comes in strange place, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside

It comes in small inspirations
It brings redemption to life and work
To our lives and our work

It comes in loving community
It comes in helping a soul find it's worth

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside

This is grace, an invitation to be beautiful
This is grace, an invitation

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out our best

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside

- Sara Groves, Add to the Beauty

Sunday, April 19, 2009

More Weekend Snippets

Nathaniel was so thrilled to get a visit at Princeton from Uncle Sam, Christopher and Daniel. Nathaniel said that their visit (and outdoor concert) capped one of the best days ever at Princeton. Did I mention that Nate just handed his senior thesis in? Bentley Farm - trees are just about to burst forth with all of summer's greenery.
Dad, Jacob and I spent a bit of the day cleaning up around the model home. After the development project ended, a lot of organization was left behind.
Jacob drove the trailer to a less conspicuous spot.
Dad and Jacob (it took two tractors) moved the dumpster.
And here I am in my silly sun hat. I moved a ton of branches, big tires, electrical wires, bramble bushes and silt fencing. It's definitely looking better!

I can never, ever be too busy to catch a picture of the sun setting in the Catskills!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Snippets From the Weekend

Uncle Mark planted lettuce in the garden. Did you ever see such a happy gardener?
Dad mixed composted soil into the garden. Dad has accomplished a lot of work this week on his vacation, most signicantly clearing a tremendous amount of field brush that had been deposited after this winter's icestorm.
Jacob (see him in the back right window?) cleaned the Honda Pilot with his heavy duty shop vacuum. Oh, and Jacob (kindly) took me on a date to Foster's in Rhinebeck!
A number of us (girls in picture with Elizabeth) attended the 23rd annual CareNet Banquet Friday evening where B.J. Weber, the former chaplain of the Yankees, gave a hilarious and powerful keynote address. I had my best run in a couple of weeks with Hannah this morning. My lingering cold had made it really hard to run recently but I was so pleased to run 3.5 miles (walked the last 0.5 miles) of our morning running route to Middlevale. I also read Khalid Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns today which was a sobering reminder of the immense and unimaginable evils that exist in the world, but also (as with the The Kite Runner) the possibility of finding both self-sacrifice and love in the darkest pits of earthly hells.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Inauguration of Spring

Emily & I this evening - on the banks of the Hudson - savoring every last bit of a beautiful and warm spring day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Loving Him Before All Else

This season of the year gets me so pumped to live. I am actually always so grateful to live, but as soon as mid-April hits and the sunshine and the warmth thaw winter's chill, I find myself so extra excited about life. I am excited about warm weather, sunshine, outdoor barbeques, fresh vegetables, the upcoming end of another school year, getting a tan (or a burn as the case may be), swimming, late evening concerts in the grassy parks along the Hudson, trips to the beach, camping under the stars, parades in the streets, picnics in the fields, summer reading...

I love these little pleasures of life so much, and it really is truly quite exciting to anticipate the gratification of all of these delights. I am so thankful, too, that these excitements are not without meaning and that somehow in the midst of enjoyment, in the midst of gratitude, in the midst of the savoring of the moment, I find myself a recipient, not only of temporary happiness, but of the eternally marvelous imagination and creativity of God who beheld this world and pronounced it good. Yes, that is a gift of grace.

But, in the midst of the goodness of so much, it is also easy for me to get so, so excited that I need to intentionally be quiet, to pause, to remember to say, as with the psalmist, "I have set the Lord always before me." The pulse of life is wonderful and good and a great gift, but all of these wonderful things are but a drop in the bucket of pleasure compared to the fullness of satisfying my created purpose: to love God first, to love Him before all things.

So as I find that my appetite for sunshine and warmth and life grows with the changing seasons, I do well to ponder, again with the psalmist, the truest source of all praise, "Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips will praise thee."

His love is better than life. Loving Him is better than life. And life is really good. How much more His love.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

No Simple Pleasures?

From the May 2009 While We're At It section of First Things Magazine:

The circus came to town yesterday. At midnight on March 23, ten elephants walked through the Midtown Tunnel and along 34 Street, on their way to Madison Square Garden: the 139th annual Animal Walk of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's Circus. The great gray legs of the pachyderms, their swinging trunks, that strangely rapid shuffle that they do: a simple pleasure to see. Except that the animal-rights activists were out in protest at the entrance to the tunnel. There are no simple pleasures remaining in our puritanical times; each human pleasure is run through the great fires of human guilt, where it must be consumed. Or perhaps I mean each small and innocent joy must be consumed. What strange days: The complex pleasures of human sexuality are declared simple and guilt-free, while the simple pleasures of a circus parade are rendered complex and guilty.

Don't Forget the Lovebirds!

Isaac and Allie spent the earlier part of the Easter weekend together in Cornell. A sampling of pictures (thank you, Allie) are below, but may I recommend that you point your browser to the newly unveiled Blue website for more?

Ray, A Drop of Golden Sun

To a true Sound of Music fan, creativity and ingenuity can't get any better than this. If you haven't seen this yet, watch it twice. If you have already seen this, watch it twice again! (Thanks, Donna, for the recommendation!)

Cleaning the Fields

Jacob and Dad have been working on a farm spring cleaning project that involves burning a lot of fallen field brush. Jacob manages the excavator and Dad operates the tractor and together they have successfully converted a lot of tree debris back to carbon dioxide and water. Katie and I enjoyed the warmth of the fire.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Amenia to Millerton and Back Again

Becca and Caleb and I biked from Amenia to Millerton and back (16 miles round trip) in today's beautiful spring weather. We ate lunch (and ice cream!) in Millerton and stopped at the children's book store where the counter lady was extremely friendly, and especially loved imaginative hats!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Memories

It was a beautiful and very cold Easter! We braved the sunrise service in sunny, but 32 degree weather at the Nine Partners Meetinghouse cemetary. Singing "Christ the Lord is Risen Today" somehow has a little more meaning when sung in a graveyard.

Clarence joined us for one swell ham and potato Easter dinner which was followed by an amusing round of games including a very difficult chocolate egg hunt (led by Rebecca), a game of nine books (led by Luke), a game of Indian Princess and a game of word magic (led by Jacob). Crazy! Check out the very eclectic photo documentation.

And I Know My Redeemer Lives!

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
and Who told the ocean you can only come this far?
and Who showed the moon where to hide 'til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?

Well I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives:
All of creation testifies
This life within me cry
I know my Redeemer lives, yeah.

The very same God that spins things in orbit
runs to the weary, the worn and the weak
And the same gentle hands that hold me when I'm broken
They conquered death to bring me victory

Now I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creation testify
Let this life within we cry
I know my Redeemer, He lives
To take away my shame
And He lives forever, I'll proclaim

That the payment for my sin
Was the precious life He gave
But now He's alive and
There's an empty grave.

And I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
Let all creation testify
Let this life within me cry
I know my Redeemer,

I know my Redeemer
I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives
I know that I know that I know that I know that I know my redeemer lives
Because He lives I can face tomorrow
I Know I know
He lives He lives yeah, yeah I spoke with him this morning
He lives He lives, the tomb is empty,
He lives I gotta tell everybody

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Behold the Place Where They Laid Him: The Body is Risen! Hallelujah! (TOTB Part V)

TOTB Resources; TOTB Intro; TOTB Part I; TOTB Part II; TOTB Part III; TOTB Part IV

The whole point, from the very beginning of this story, has been that our bodies reflect our created purpose - our call to enter into the eternal union of love that existed in the Godhead before all time. We royally fell from our intended purpose, but because God's love is so faithful, God the Son, in the man Jesus, radically showed us the way back to abundant living. Tragically, we responded by killing him, thinking that if we could rob God of his body, we could continue to grope in the darkness without facing the truth that our lives had no meaning apart from their created purpose.

If the story ends here, however marvelous the story is to this point, the whole story is in vain and worthless. Everything is void and we are done and we have no hope. Death ends everything.
  • If death is the end of the story of God the Son, then there is no eternal communion of love, and hence no purpose to this life. The grave is all-consuming and there is no reason to live with intention. There is no reason to live at all.
  • If death is the end of the story of God the Son, then God's love is not total; it is, in fact, limited by a grave.

  • If death is the end of the story of God the Son, then God is powerless to save, and we are stuck, forever stuck, in the futility of our bodies, forever seeking self-gratification, rejecting self-donation.

Everything is at stake in the remainder of the story!

We can relive the wonder, the relief, the incredulity, and the awe of joining Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome upon reaching the tomb of Jesus on the third day after the crucifixion. Mark's gospel reports, "The stone [of the tomb] was rolled away [and] a young man [was] sitting on the right side clothed in a long white garment.... And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazereth, which was crucified: he is risen: he is not here: behold the place where they laid him."

Hallelujah! They place where they laid him contains no dead body! The end of the story is resurrection! The body of Jesus is alive, to this very day, alive! There is a communion of love! God's love is total! God's love is powerful to save! There is hope! There is a victory! We have a purpose in this life because death is not the end of the story! There is hope for our bodies! God's salvation is mighty and will not allow our bodies to live in the tragedy of self-gratification! The power of the resurrection is available today to raise our bodies to live again as we were intended to live!

(I had originally hoped to complete my Theology of the Body summary in celebration of Easter, but I realized that to be truly and appropriately timed, this fifth summary should really fall on Easter. So what started as a Lenten project will hopefully be continued through Pentecost.)
* Image source here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Place Where Dreams Come True

I spent the last couple days in Oriskany Falls, NY with my girlfriend, Rachael and her husband, Steve. Rachael has been a close friend for the past fifteen years, and we were especially able to spend a ton of time together in our teen years. Our teenage friendship was filled with fun, laughter and dreams...a lot of dreams. It was so, so wonderful, now in our adult friendship, to see Rachael with her husband in their beautiful home. It truly felt like visiting the place where dreams come true.