Monday, November 15, 2004

The mean is not the end I was continuing with my study of Colossians this morning and was meditating on the third verse, speaking of Christ:
Col 2:3 ...In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Paul states here that within the person of Christ is the full explanation of reality; the "treasures" thesauros, deposit or wealth of both "wisdom" sophia and "knowledge", gnosis, meaning to know, or speaking of science. This statement speaks volumes; within Christ can be found the exact essence of what both philosophy and science are striving for. The word "philosophy" is from philosophia, a conjugate of philos, to love, and sophia, meaning wisdom. Thus philosophy is nothing more than the pursuit of wisdom, i.e. to understand reality by studying it. The statement "wisdom and knowledge" embodies the fact that all of humanity's desire to obtain wisdom and knowledge is founded on a desire for an accurate understanding of reality, to find meaning for that which is. As is evident by the multitudes of scientists and philosophers coupled with their diversity of opinions, philosophy and science by themselves cannot satisfy the burning questions that trouble humans. Philosophy and science, when used properly, can certainly be a means to learn about God. But like any hammer, screwdriver or can opener; they are useless if not detrimental tools when used for something other than that for which they were intended. In other words, the tool is not an end unto it's self, they are but a means to an end. Without it's proper end, the use of a tool is at best unfulfilling and at worst engendering of dispair in the user. Christ alone provides meaning for reality, and only through faith in Him can a true understanding of all that is be obtained. Christ is alone completely and totally sufficient. Praise the Lord for His never ending love and mercy.

ah... nothing like blankets over vents to foster family togetherness ;^).
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Saturday, November 13, 2004



All Rights Reserved I was reminded the other day that I hadn’t made a post in quite a while… and so I haven’t. Life has been so busy- same old story. On walking worthy. I’ve been studying the first chapter of the book of Colossians lately- something I read this morning struck me. In Colossians 1:10 it says
"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God"
It seems to me that this is the true reason for desiring the knowledge of the will of God, to "walk worthy" so as to please the Lord, being fruitful in every good work, becoming ever more familiar with who God is. To "walk" is, according to Strong’s (peripateo) to live, deport oneself, follow (as a companion or votary) to go, be occupied with. This is the same word used many places to denote both physical action as well as ideological direction (John 11:9, John 11:54, Romans 6:4, Romans 8:1, I Cor 7:17, etc). The word translated "worthy" here refers to that which is appropriate, as becometh saints, etc. In other words, to walk worthy is to fashion one's life to be obedient to the will of God, and this is borne out in the second half of the verse: unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work. Here in school there is a constant thrust towards getting us to behave like professionals, we take courses in professional ethics, professors are constantly reminding us of the need to uphold the ideals of our profession… essentially admonishing us to “walk worthy” of our vocation. It seems to me that it would behoove Christians to adopt the same attitude: caring what we look like to the world, being consistent, watching how we talk, with whom we talk, the things we allow ourselves be associated with… the things we are willing to have Christianity associated with. We are Christ’s hands and mouth in the world… how easy it is to forget that. Christians should feel burdened not to perform, but to be obedient. If a man is thought of as godly, it is not as much a measure of his skill or ability as much as it is an indication of his level of obedience to the will of God that has been made evident. Christians do great things because they serve a great God. I thing Paul said it best in the last verse of the first chapter of Colossians:
"Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."
If we are overwhelmed, let us look again at what we are laboring towards… doing great things, or doing the will of God. If we wish to be effective in our world, to experience peace amidst the storms of life, to maintain joy despite all disappointment, let us do the will of God, He is worthy of a walk of complete obedience. In other news… There always seems to be something going on- we’ve almost finished renovating our house. Heather did the majority of the work in our bedroom, filling in all the cracks in the walls with drywall joint compound, sanding, painting, etc. I ended up replacing the floor after I went through a rotten spot (a rather disconcerting experience I assure you). We even installed a new window- quite the home owners we are… lol. Now just the bathroom is left…

Oh what a life...
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It's a new window!
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The renovator returns
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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Here we are... Heather, Tia (the great dane) and Ben... on a recent trip to a state park

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Well well welll.... he IS still alive...
Yes indeed- the reclusive vet student is still here- but much better off than the last time he posted. For those of you who haven't heard yet- I got married! You can read all about it on our wedding website that my brother in law Stephen kindly put together for us (lots of pictures folks... feast your eyes- just click on the link to Ben and Heather's wedding page).
The semester is going well- keeping very busy, etc etc etc.... yea, pretty much I LOVE being married... thats about the best way to say it :^). Grace and peace until I get a chance to post again. Ben

Monday, June 21, 2004

Updates, changes...
Well, I finally got the chance to update my website :^). In addition to this, I'm working on getting some pictures posted... look for them on the photo page sometime in the next week.
~Ben

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Finally... I had a chance to write about my experiences in SD. See what you think.
A culture of progress
I was awakened by the sound of my alarm on my cell phone shrilling a reminder that it was time to get up… it was 6:00 am. I rolled over on my side and groped for my glasses on the coffee table where I had left them the night before. I laid there for a few moments waiting for my brain to get the messages of wakefulness to the rest of my body- my eyes shifted to the window, where the amazingly blue south western South Dakota sky was as fantastic as ever. I was on vacation, a short three day vacation, but a vacation nonetheless- Susan, a friend and classmate, and her husband had invited my friend Tom and I to spend the weekend following finals week at her family’s 2000 acre black hills ranch. We were going to help brand for the neighbors… and being as I had never seen cattle worked thus, it promised to be quite an experience.
I heard Tom rustling around in the bedroom next to mine and I decided to get dressed and ready for the day… as I stood in the shower allowing the steamy water to wash the sleep from my eyes I contemplated just what I was getting myself into. I’d practically lived with these friends for the past year, and had come to know them quite well… as such I’d heard many stories about the life and culture of this place- the annual job of doing without an abundance of water, the constant dust, the blistering heat, the tradition of the family cattle company.
We all sat down to a heartening breakfast of crispy bacon, light as a cloud pancakes and delectable scrambled eggs washed down with boiling hot coffee… Susan’s mom was a fabulous cook- and no one let her forget it… the pride showed on her face as we rapidly decimated the stacks of pancakes and her homemade preserves. We piled into the venerable old ford pickup… bearing many battle scars and calluses reminiscent of much work and many summers… and journeyed out down the gravel road to the branding. I could see the dust before we pulled into the farm, there had to be at least 10 pickups and horse trailers parked in a row with a small crowd of people gathering beside the fence. I got out and slathered myself with as much SPF 45 sun block as my skin could absorb… and we joined the group. We were instantly welcomed by a group of old cowboys… long past their prime, but nonetheless involved and important looking… A man named Ed came up and introduced himself to us, as I returned his firm handshake I noticed his tight wrangler jeans with high cowboy boots, his colorful western shirt with a few buttons open at the top, making room for the bright blue bandanna he wore… the entire outfit made a fitting pedestal for the enormous hat, stained shades of brown bearing witness to many long hours of perspiration inducing work. Ed was intrigued by Susan’s introduction of me- letting the man know that it was my first time at a branding. I visited with the man for a spell while Susan and Tom moved on, the fellow seemed to sense that I was a little uncertain of what I was about to witness… granted I’d worked with many cattle, but not like this. I asked him why so many people were there- there must have been close to 40 or 50 standing around talking… I thought perhaps the owner of the ranch just had a great deal of hired hands that had all brought their families. I offered this idea as an explanation of the large crowd to Ed, in response to which he burst out laughing. “Young feller”, he said, “none of these people are getting paid ‘sides with food”… these were just neighbors, here to help where they could… it was an event. Ed told me of how each family goes to all the brandings as part of an unspoken law holding that if one desired help on their ranch, one must be a help on the other ranches. It seemed that the system was working.
Finally it was time to begin. I was informed that I would be working as a “wrassler”… and that I’d pick it up as I went… not knowing exactly what I was to do, but getting a good idea as time passed, I joined one of the two parallel lines of young men standing on either side of an open gate, on the other side was a large group of bellowing calves, seeming rather upset at being separated from their mothers. Suddenly a horse and rider blew past me, heading into the calves with lasso flying overhead… before I knew it he had the calf by the hind legs, dragging it out of the pen. The two men first in line moved in unison… one grabbed the rope just beyond the calf’s struggling feet, the other grabbed the tail, they followed the horse till just before it stopped, when the fellow holding the tail nodded to the one holding the rope and simultaneously they flopped the calf down on it’s side while the horse stopped, the rope holder sliding down to hold one leg back while pushing the other forward with his foot, the tail holder quickly scooping up one of the calf’s feet while landing on it’s neck with one knee as the calf hit the ground, quickly pulling the foot up to his chest. It was all done so quickly I hardly knew what happened- looked so easy… figured I could do that. Finally it was my turn, as I had seen the other fellow do, I grabbed hold of the tail and followed the rope holder… suddenly he shouted “now!” and before I knew it he had yanked the rope, and I was out of synchrony. Suddenly the horse stopped and I found myself spread eagled on top of a scrambling fury of sharp hooves and screaming calf… I fought valiantly to subdue the wrathful animal and finally succeeded, sitting triumphantly on its head with its foot held tightly to my heaving chest. Just as if nothing had happened, a young boy, about 6 years old came to take the place of my hind end person- he was going to learn to hold the calf. Proudly holding firmly to the hoof and shoving his little cowboy boot into the other leg, the little guy did an admirable job. Suddenly I noticed a group of old men advancing towards us… one had an enormous multi-dose syringe in his hand, another was carrying a red hot branding iron… one fellow, who I later found out was almost 90 years old, came and stabbed his needle right beside my leg to vaccinate the calf… a disconcerting experience to be sure. This scene repeated itself dozens of times, with the old men spelling each other off, and the young boys all taking turns helping with any job they could. Finally, what seemed both an eternity and a moment later we were done. 175 calves were sent back to their mothers where the cows worriedly checked their little ones over to ensure their safety and absence of harm.
We left the cows to their calves and all moved eagerly up to the house where it was rumored that dinner was ready. This was an understatement. I entered the house to the wonderful smells wafting from the table, covered only with food- all the chairs were moved outdoors to accommodate the large numbers of people present. The spread was something to see- huge bowls heaped with creamy white mashed potatoes, rivulets of butter making little gullies down the sides of the mountain, there were salads of any conceivable variety… macaroni, potato, egg, lettuce, bean, cucumber… a huge basket held a pile of wonderfully golden brown buns, accompanied by jar upon jar of homemade raspberry, apple, strawberry, and peach jams and preserves… and at the end of the table… just as my nose had told me was one of the largest roasts of beef I’d ever seen on one table… these women must have been cooking all day. I looked over to the side of the kitchen where a section of counter top had been cleared off and an end table from the living room brought in to help hold the bounty of deserts that covered the surface… there was apple, peach, blueberry, and cherry pie, rhubarb cream cake, cherry cheese cake, poke cake (a marvelous concoction made from a white cake, jello, and real whipped cream), double layered iced cakes, baskets of chocolate chip cookies, and bars of all sorts and kinds. Suddenly I was very glad I’d come… it was quite apparent that this was the goal of the cooks for everyone present. After I’d made it through the line with my plate piled high, I joined the growing group on the porch. I sat down next to Tom on the edge of the old wooden structure, white paint faded with age and the footsteps of many tired ranchers glad to be home for the night. He looked up from his steaming meal with a happy grin on his face… “Have you ever seen anything like it?” he asked me in a confidential whisper; I replied that I certainly hadn’t… and we both lapsed into silence as we tended to the more important matter of guarding our food from the cats which apparently figured that we’d come down to their level for their convenience.
As we bounced over the country roads in the pickup truck on the way home everyone was very quiet… it had been a long, hard, rewarding day. I was thinking to myself about the system I’d observed… mentally comparing it to the system I was familiar with back home. I was fully aware of the fact that at home we could have done the same amount of work in half the time with about 3 or 4 people using a decent cattle handling system… there would be no need for neighbors…no need for community work days… no need for horses and ropes and small children and old men… the calves would be less stressed and the profit margin would be much better off…
What is it that makes some groups of people willing to shun certain technologies in favor of traditional methods? Why will an Amish farmer purposely turn down some labor saving device when he knows full well that it would increase his efficiency and maximize his productivity? We live in a culture that has adopted a policy of rugged individualism… of lone ranger complexes… of a chronic obsession for the minimization of dependency on others… entire groups of industries died as the age of machines and mechanization took over… as the country and western song lamented… the little man’s days are numbered. Indeed the time when family businesses were the norm are gone… when grandpa ran the tractor because we needed him to. When we taught children the value of hard work and respect for oneself through the encouragement of hard work and respect for others. When we were willing to move slowly enough to be able to see where we were headed. Is this progress?
I had been witness to a culture that respected 90 year old men, because they had something important to say. Where young children were encouraged to help where they could, because everyone knew they’d soon be grown. Where young men who were just moments before “rough and tumbling” with one another were the absolute picture of manners and chivalry when the ladies of any age were around. Where young ladies were absolutely thrilled to be responsible for the best meal their men folk had ever seen. Where everyone bent over backwards to make sure that from the child that the rest of the world would have in daycare to the old man that most people would want in a nursing home felt useful, needed, and most importantly, wanted. I realized that we were almost back to my friend’s ranch… and tomorrow I’d be on my way back home… I remained pensive as we wound our way down the steep hillside to the valley beneath the vast black hills sunset, resplendent in fantastic golds, shimmering pinks, deep blues and deeper purples. I asked myself… which system is truly progress?
* Names, exact locations, and some details have been changed to protect privacy.
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Sunday, June 06, 2004

Aggravated Consistency
Well, I am most definitely still alive- and working. I'm staying very busy at the clinic these days, not much time to do much else. I'm not necessarily reversing the flow of funds from my account, but at least I'm stemming the flow somewhat.
I was thinking today about how the little continuity factors in life keep us going sometimes- say for instance a job or friends. It seems that in my life I'm prone to developing a sort of mental and spiritual forced march... where I temporarily lose sight of the fact that there is truly a bigger purpose and reason for what I do than just the ordinary goals most people associate with life. I need to be reminded often that God must be my continuity- without a vision the people perish. Only in this realization are my days filled with the purposeful strides of progress towards the fulfillment of God's will for my life.
Persevero,
Ben

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Now this is interesting...
Vaccine, Preservative Do Not Cause Autism
This has been a subject of discussion for a looong time in some of my family's circles of friends... always fun to find more material. Why is it that anecdotal evidence is so powerful to so many people? If science is merely inductive reasoning from data, why are so many people content to make decisions based on tiny data sets with often faulty lines of thinking... maybe I'm just dense.
Does this surprise anyone?
Gays Vow to Press Marriage Fight Nationwide
This just further proves that this is not just about "equal rights", this is about culture change... whats next-protection for multiple member "couples"? Why not pederodasty... bestiality?! I'm sorry (actually I'm not... but you know...), but God has standards for a reason... morality cannot be relative. Discrimination is not a dirty word- it's a necessary part of living in reality.
Tolerance... oh for the days when we truly knew what it meant.
An update... at last an update...
Yes I am most definitely still alive- rather black and blue at the moment, but still alive. Lol... today was my second day back at work, spent all of it out in the countryside with our senior vet working herds and vaccinating horses. I really do enjoy my job, though I'm positive I don't want to be a vet assistant for the rest of my life- lol. I'm looking forward to the day when I'm the one the assistants ask for instructions... in time :^). It's finally starting to warm up here in the Red River Valley- when I came home last week I honestly felt like I'd taken a step back about a month in time. When I left Iowa it was sunny and 75, the corn was about three inches tall in most places. Here it was sleeting, muddy, and 35 degrees. Sigh. Oh well, the snow melted, the land dried, and now most of the fields have little shoots of green coming up- not much corn though, lol... we leave that to our neighbors to the south :^). I've enjoyed the last few mornings on my walk, watching the new crops beginning to emerge beneath the vast blue of the North Dakota sky... and they say it's big in Montana-lol. I had a lovely time in South Dakota helping with a branding, that was quite an experience... have never witnessed that way of working calves... have to say I still prefer the headgate and chute to this whole rope them by the hind legs and drag them into a pen where people sit on them thing we did in the black hills. Oh well, the tradition was interesting... I'll try to write more on that later. Finals week was at least as fun as we thought it was going to be... of course you realize I'm being sarcastic... right? I have to say that this was the most difficult finals week I've ever had- 6 exams in 4 days. But, praise the Lord- I passed everything with more or less leeway, depending on the class... which is a good feeling. I must admit that my brain felt like a quivering bowl of jello after that experience... felt wonderful to have a break.
I'll also have to post later about my brush with sky diving... yes you read that right.
that's about it... will post more later... with pictures if I'm not too tired the next few evenings.
Grace and peace,
Ben

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The computer is... not healthy...
Yes, a pop, and a little whirrr... and ye old desk weight is just that... I think my motherboard died. I go to visit the computer doctor this evening. Thank God for good friends that fix computers :^)
For those of you who were wondering, I'm not ignoring my comments... well actually I am just a little ;^). I realized that to a very real extent I was responding out of my extreme sleep deprivation and stress, and this is never good. Thus I have taken a break from the current discussion for a time. Perhaps I'll bring it up again when I have time, perhaps not. NBP, you are right, I shouldn't have reacted thus and for this I apologize. David, I appreciate your concern, and do certainly agree that friends can have lively discussions- though I would suggest that "lively" need not include the accusatory spirit I kept on detecting (again, I blame this on my own state of mind rather than any immaturity on your part). Obviously I don't think I violated the 2nd commandment (though the real issue here is a discussion of theonomy, not the ten commandments or "the passion"- a subject I have neither the energy nor time to debate right now). To qualm any fears, I am not now, nor have I ever begin "worshipping the actor", and to the contrary of some of the posts, my faith is as strong as it ever was- ludicrous as it may seem to you, watching a film is not going to make me fall away or lose my faith or any other horrible disastrous end. lol. Again, I appreciate your concern. And yes, I did know that the film was based on catholic visions- I didn't go see the film for the purposes of getting a better understanding, I went so that I could talk semi intelligently about it when asked. And yes, I think the Catholic influence was very evident- though generally speaking I found the events to be accurately depicted. Subject closed :^D. No I'm not sorry I brought it up.
God continues to be so gracious, here it is at the end of my first year of vet school. It's been intense yes, but I feel like I have grown more in grace and my relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ than I ever have, and for His faithfulness I am grateful- even though the changes were difficult to adapt to at times. Finals are still looming, though I feel better prepared today than I did at the beginning of last week, there is still however much work to do- perseverance. Yes.
Time to get ready for pathology lab.
Grace and peace my friends,
Ben

Thursday, April 22, 2004

So I finally went to see the Passion of the Christ...

The evening was a cool one, the gentle early spring breeze playing lightly with the new bright green leaves on the trees outside my house, darkened by the recent rain. But I didn’t notice. I bustled around the house, having just spoken with my mum about my financial woes (end of the semester is always fun for a student on a financial aid budget). I must admit I was feeling mildly annoyed with God… the One who said that He’d provide all my needs… to say the least it’s been tight lately. Yes I know I was being silly, so much like the Israelites am I… recipient of so many blessings, yet so quick to complain and question when a new trial comes up. I was mildly peeved, tearing through my desk drawers and pant pockets, searching for the 10 dollar bill I was almost certain I had somewhere.
I had been invited to see a showing of Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ” at the local theatre… and the show was to start at 7. Heather said she’d come pick me up about ten till, so I was hurrying so as to be ready by then. I didn’t find the money by the time Heather came, and I almost decided not to go… but for some reason I felt like I needed to. So checkbook in hand and a not so good attitude in heart, I ran out the door- slamming it needlessly. We went into the theatre and took our seats in arguably the smallest room in the place… there were only 4 other people besides the three of us. We were joking around, as usual, discussing what other people had thought of the film, why it was this, why it was that… you know the debates that have occurred. Suddenly the lights dimmed as the previews for the next blockbusters and the advertisements for the advertising space ceased… the show had begun. What took place in the next 2 and ½ hours is difficult for me to describe… by the time Jesus had been carried off to the temple from the garden I noticed tears in Heather’s eyes. I thought that I’d not be so affected. I’d rather not talk so much about the rest. I wept.
I thought back to when I was very young, how my mom and dad had so painstakingly taught us about God, and His Son. Although I’m sure I’d heard the message many times, when I was five years old I gave my heart to the Lord Jesus and believed Him to be who my mama said He was. I grew, and we attended church, my parents continued to teach me to seek the Lord with my whole heart, to lean not to my own understanding, to refer to the verse oft quoted by my dad for as long as I can remember. When I was older I drifted some… becoming like many young people raised in Christian homes, rather complacent, and taking that gift that I’d received so very much for granted.
I was jolted from my reverie by the screams of the actor portraying my Lord as the cat o’nine tails tore jagged clefts in his flesh… I felt my throat tighten. My thoughts skipped ahead a few years, to my departure from home to enter the university… I though of those dark years… my faith almost faltered… I thought of how I had denied the faith of my youth… how I had almost turned my back on the One my parents had said was the meaning of life. I felt the hot tears come again to my eyes. I thought of how deep I had sunk, how far I had run… then the flashback of Jesus writing in the sand as the accusers of the guilty woman stood on with stones in hand, I cried again as he raised the woman to her feet- her condemners gone. I thought of how far the Lord has brought me in the last two years… since He became real to me… since I had accepted His hand and began the long journey out of agnosticism. The film continued and so did my thoughts… I watched with horror as they slowly murdered Him… as you and I slowly murdered Him… we all gasped as the nails were driven… at the gut wrenchingly horrid thud of the cross falling into the hole prepared for it… as He looked up to heaven and asked His Father to forgive them. I stared quietly as He died.
Suddenly the film was over… the lights came on, the credits were rolling. I got up with the last scene of the risen Lord walking from the open tomb emblazoned on my mind… even now it still lingers. As we walked out into the clear Iowa night air we were all completely silent beneath the vast array of God's handiwork… there was nothing to say that would fully do justice to what we were all thinking. We rode home, mumbling goodnight as we parted company… all of us with our own thoughts… none of us particularly wanting to interact with anyone.
I half stumbled over Charlie as I entered my darkened house and hit my knees… I didn't bother to get up... I started thinking of the earlier flashback to Peter… so zealous… yet denying his Lord. I was ashamed of myself, for complaining, for doubting, for the times I’d compromised… the times I'd skirted the subject when I could have said something... the times I’d denied Him by my silence. I cried.
As I asked His forgiveness for my failures, for my errors, and expressed my gratitude again as best I could during this time of acute cognizance of what my Lord had and has done… I felt a new peace sweep over my being as I was reminded again by the Holy Spirit of the love that drew Christ to His sacrifice… the love that would not let me go. I felt clean and new inside as I looked up from the couch I’d crashed face down on… I owe Him everything.

"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things have become new." -II Corinthians 5:17

"He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay…"

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Discount Electric Wheelchairs??? Where do they get some of these ads?! I just happened to notice two for wheelchairs in the header of this page... so much for site specific advertising- LOL.
Hail Caesar, we who are about to die salute you Finals are coming... Like a bomb shell whistling through the air towards the entrenched soldiers, like the mournful shriek and terrifying rumble of the oncoming train to the ears of the distressed damsel tied to the tracks ... Impending, though not yet present... Approaching, but not yet upon us. Run for your lives!!!!!!!!!

Ok... Drama is now over. I'm truly not horribly worried about finals, I've kept up pretty good on my studies (good grief, if I were paid to study I'd not be concerned about my mounting debt load). I will admit that this will be a very intense week and a half before my finals week- the schedule is a bit daunting: Histophysiology on Monday (my birthday :^) ), Immunology and Pathology on Tuesday, Gross Comparative Morphology is on Wednesday, and Neurobiology and Case Studies II is on Thursday. Most everything is comprehensive. It should be fun. ... Yes that was a sarcastic statement. I was trying to come up with something interesting to write about, but it seems like I've been rather devoid of inspiration these last few weeks... Perhaps it's because I've been using all my neurons for other things. The sleep deprivation can't help any either. I did get home this weekend, for several reasons. First, I needed to exchange my van for my truck since the van needed new wheel bearings and I needed the truck to haul a headgate back (that I bought from a classmate and friend of mine). I also needed to ultrasound our cow, Mrs. T- who...... is to be a mother again. Lol... Providing everything works right- I found an amniotic vesicle in the right uterine horn about 5 to 7 mm in diameter- which is indicative of a 25 to 30 day pregnancy- and the day I checked her was day 29 post AI (I did that the last day of spring break). At any rate... as long as she doesn't resorb the embryo, we should be in good shape. I'll check her again in May when I head home for the summer.

A diller, a dollar, a ten o'clock scholar...
Yesterday was interesting... We had a thunderstorm here, and I suffered from hypersomnia due to acute chronometrical dysphonia associated with undulatory electrical stimuli. (I slept in too late because my alarm clock didn't go off because of the power outage ;^) ). Thus, I didn't go to my first class.... Pause for everyone to gasp in horror... Thank you. Turns out to be a good thing I didn't walk in late... Dr. H (teaching bovine and equine reproductive physiology and theriogenology right now) finally got fed up with people walking in late to class and had quite a fit with anyone late that morning. Now normally I am never late for class, I think my house could be on fire and I'd still run to get to class on time... Enter this morning. Call it sleep deprivation, call it laziness, call it "Ben should move the alarm clock farther away from the bed so he can't subconsciously hit the snooze button too many times"... I was almost late for class. I know Dr. H pretty well, and he most certainly knows me... Who should I run into as I'm making my head long dash for the class room? You guessed it... Dr. H. Well, I've now got less than a minute to traverse the length of the mausoleum (affectionately named thus I assure you ;^) )... And Dr. H wants to visit. Yes... The same man who was VERY upset at people being late yesterday... Now I'm going to be late if he doesn't let me GET TO CLASS. Oh the irony...

Maybe I should get another alarm clock.
Off to path lab.

~Ben

Monday, April 19, 2004

Yes, I am here... I will post more soon- have a lot to talk about... I've just been incredibly busy.

I've not forgotten about this place ;^).

~Ben

Friday, April 09, 2004

Happy Easter!
He is Risen. I'm off to a friend's farm for the weekend where I'll celebrate the resurrection of our Lord with his family. I hope you all have a blessed and meaningful weekend as we think back to what God has done.
Grace and peace,
Ben

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

There are good days ahead...

"Why hello there young man"... the prematurely old man sat interestedly up in bed to shake my hand as I approached the side of the hospital bed, seemingly enormous in relation to the diminutive patient. The bed was positioned in the old trailer house beside several large windows in the living room, allowing Jim to look out and see the day from the vantage point of his deck. The morning was young yet, the birds singing in the clear Alabama air as the sun beamed down on the budding trees of the awakening city. Jim was still in the white gown he had passed the night in, sleeping when he could, but this could not keep him from enjoying the gift of my visit. I hadn't seen Jim for almost a year, and although I had heard he was failing, I wasn't aware just how far he had fallen. I sat down in the chair next to Jim's bed and chatted with him for a while. "How've ya been doin Ben?" he slurred with a smile, I strained to make out the words... "I'm a little down of late... but one day at a time... one day at a time". I laughed in spite of myself as I agreed with him- he smiled as his daughter came in behind me to see if he needed anything. I got up to give them some privacy as Jim needed to "use the washroom", though he could not leave the bed... I walked into the adjacent room and looked around at the relics of a life gone by. A gun cabinet with several fine old specimens bearing witness to happier times, fall duck hunts, camouflage, and long walks through the woods. An old motorized wheel chair sits unused in the corner... It's previous inhabitant long beyond it's help. I swallowed back a lump in my throat as I turned at the sound of Jim's voice... "You like my guns there?" He asked with obvious pride in his voice, I responded quickly that indeed I did, I didn't need to be in the room with him to see the smile on his face. At his daughter's cue, I re-entered the room to be again at Jim's side, I faked past my ignorance as I began talking to him about the firearms. He became animated, telling me stories of where each gun came from, the trips they'd been on while using them. How this child learned to shoot on that gun, and that daughter got her first deer with this gun... he went on, looking off into the distance as his eyes misted over while talking of the "good old days"... how the Lord had been good to him, so many memories. We talked about hunting, about family, about what's important... We talked as though there were still many deer seasons ahead, many trails to hike, many springs to feel the warmth of the new sun on our shoulders as we walked beneath the cloudless sky. I remember when I first met Jim, years ago when he still could drive his big red dodge pickup truck, traveling around with his wife, just enjoying their later years together. Jim was never a big man, though if his character and attitude and zest for living were the only measurement he'd be a giant. I remember when I and my brothers were visiting to help my uncle build a deck, Jim was right there "supervising", until he'd get tired enough to need to go back and sit down. I remember the tender love in Jim's eyes when his granddaughters would come near, the spark of humor that was always present, the love for His Lord that had grown so strong in his later years. Suddenly I was taken back to reality, and the fact that I needed to go, my time to visit was short, and I had more people to see in the time I was allotted. I held Jim's hand for a moment as I bid him goodbye, "Good luck and God bless", he said with conviction... "come back and see us some time... there are good days ahead". I smiled as I agreed with him and walked out the door as he watched me out the window. As I felt the fresh spring breeze and the sun on my shoulders I thought again about the indomitability of the human spirit liberated by grace, the limitless joy of a man who in spite of the unfairness of life, faced each day with an attitude brought about by a faith in the One who cares most. I smiled to myself as I walked on, indeed Jim, there are good days ahead. ~Jim Robinson passed from this earth to the embrace of his Saviour on the afternoon of April 5th, 2004 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. He left a loving wife, several children (including my Aunt Tina, who is married to my Uncle Sam, my mom's brother), and grandchildren, and countless others influenced and inspired by his life. We have no guarentees friends, no promises of tomorrow. Are you ready? If you haven't already, trust the One who can make you free... as Jim is today.

Grace and peace,
Ben

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Thursday, April 01, 2004

Studying... not so much...
My intentions truly were good to begin with.
Even though it had been a super long day with a difficult immunology exam and monotonous instructors droning on while the day was gorgeous outside and pathology lab lasted very long and the instructor tried to tear me apart in front of the class because I said fatty change instead of fatty accumulation (though I'm pretty sure it was fatty change and not fatty accumulation... semantics- sigh) and I realized that I was supposed to make a main dish for the Christian Vet Fellowship potluck at 5:30 when I realized the potluck was at 6:30 so I hurried and made Italian meatballs with oregano and basil cream sauce and was nominated to be president of the CVF at Iowa State CVM (which I have accepted... now to see who votes for me ;^) ), and even though I had to make about a zillion copies of my review materials for anatomy for friends (actually it ended up being about 360 pages)..... (pause while Ben gasps for breath)...... I still met up with my buddy Zac to study anatomy tonight. Yes. I am such a good vet student (the appropriate response from the audience at this point is to begin laughing hysterically).
(you may stop laughing now). It all would have gone very well had Zac not brought up the subject of sustainable agriculture, which got us talking about family farmers, which led to discussion of some of my business ideas and dreams, culminating in a very good conversation regarding the philosophical chasm separating agriculture based on a philosophy of western industrialism and one based on a philosophy of Christian agrarianism (which I think is more biblical and definitely preferable). It was fun, and come to think of it I do think we both needed the mental respite.
You may have noticed that Apricotpie is still down... I have no idea what has become of it.
Well... I think it's time to turn off my Bach CD (Bouree of the Orchestral suite No. 1 in C major) even though I love it, and put "ye old desk weight" to sleep... yes it is definitely time for sleep.
Grace and peace my friends,
Ben

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Apricotpie
Well, it appears that AP had a crash... I'm waiting to find out what happened, hopefully they won't be down too long. It's been a very long day here... much studying to do yet before the week's over. I have to keep sight of the big picture... God truly is so very good to me. I can't but praise Him.
To bed...

~Ben

The reasons why...

All truth is but rooted in wisdom, the light of the eye can't but see, though shrouded in myriad puzzle, the knowledge of God is to be. Ancients to age calls to answer, the brightness of that which is made, yet their eyes being blind, their feet go in kind, till the days of their liveliness fade.
Were evidence suddenly found lacking, were all of the truth proof denied, Were all of the thinkers left doubting, and everyone else mystified. If all signs were thoroughly silenced, the light of the years put to naught, still I would believe, for in faith now I see, is the basis for that which births thought.

I was thinking about philosophy again today... really, I don't have too much time on my hands... seriously, some days I feel like I meet myself coming and going. But anyhow, I've been reading a book by a man named William Lane Craig, its called "Reasonable Faith... Christian Truth and Apologetics". I've enjoyed the little I've read of it thus far, it's a bit heavy for bedtime reading- but I'm working my way along. Dr. Craig discusses some of the philosophy of Augustine and Aquinas, one thing particularly stood out that I had heard before. fides quarens intellectum or "faith seeking understanding". At first glance a great deal of truth may be overlooked here.
...I must admit, through my darkest moments of agnosticism- one of the major redeeming truths that my Lord revealed to me was this one fact... that Christianity is rational. When I was questioning, I was liberated through the realization that I could test the claims of Christianity, it was not some untouchable, improvable, untenable idea to be relegated to the confines of some sacred temple in the land of irrelevance... Christianity was and is real. You may be wondering right now why I'm bringing this seemingly obvious point, but it is nevertheless necessary to the next... there comes a point where the skeptic must be silenced and fall on his knees and repent. To me this is why so many skeptics remain thus... people inherently understand that to embrace the claims of Christianity is to accept it's profound implications on the way they live their lives. Thus, it is definitely true that some people can never be presented with "enough" evidence to facilitate their conversion. Truly we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God... the point is, when sharing my faith with a skeptic, I must be congnisent of the fact that although I may have a perfectly flawless apologetic, although I may be absolutely ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within me, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to save souls, my words are but one of His tools. I required some of my doubts to be silenced before I could believe, but there did come a time when I had to simply believe... it almost seems to me like a fly wheel on an old style tractor, it took a couple spins for the engine to start running, but the manual spinning could only go on for so long... eventually it had to run on a power source other than the hand running the crank. In the same way, I may have needed more factual evidence for the claims of Christianity than many people, but at the same time- we are saved by faith, not by evidence. I praise God for His attention to detail... any unbiased observer of the evidence cannot help but render a response to the, as one of my favorite writers says, demand for a verdict. I've said this before, and I'll say it again- I serve a God that challenges believers to think and thinkers to believe... truly faith should be seeking understanding, not for maintenance of that faith, but for maturation of our witness.
To God be the Glory, great things He has done.
Grace and peace,
Ben

Saturday, March 27, 2004

It's raining it's pouring... But this old man is far from snoring... it's storming today, raining to beat the band. We're even under flood watch. I attended a mini-seminar on swine production system ventilation, it was interesting- I do think I learned a lot. The fellow who did the presentation was definitely knowledgeable about the subject, he's with the Ag Engineering department I guess. Unfortunately they served pizza for lunch... I had a couple pieces... now I feel terrible... I think when I'm used to eating well consuming stuff like that affects me more than usual- super processed and refined food just doesn't agree with me very well :^).
I got all my pictures from my trip uploaded to my computer and edited (some were rather dark), now I've just got to put some of them together into a webpage and I'll post it on the main website... patience... it will come soon :^).
I was excited today... I've embarked on my classical guitar journey... as many of you know I already play the guitar, but not very much in the classical and fingerstyle field, hopefully this will now change, I've purchased several books and plan to work on it in my spare (har har har) time.

I guess thats about all for now... time to study immunology.

Grace and peace,
Ben

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Good food, warm nights, long days, exams... the saga continues.
I seem to be getting into a groove... these long days are beginning to wear on me. I guess they just feel the need to sock it to us for these last weeks of the semester.
I stayed very busy at school today, I had a break from classes for about 3 hours this morning and spent the time with my buddy Zac working up equine lameness cases with the senior students and clinicians- lots of fun! I need to see many more cases before I feel competent at diagnosing lameness, it's amazing how such a little tiny variance in a horse's gait can indicate so many greater problems. I guess thats what I'm here to learn about. Today, being Thursday, was professional dress day, so Zac and I were of course in compliance... as fate would have it, this was also the day that we were asked to help load a horse with an essentially nonfunctional left front limb. This horse did not want to move, so essentially one person pulled on the front while... you guessed it... Zac and I linked hands behind the horse and brought up the rear (quite literally). About 15 minutes later, we were both nearly covered in horse hair and sweat, and smelled quite like it. Ah what a life. I spent most of the afternoon, after pathology and morphology, in dissection in anatomy lab- I really am starting to feel ready to be done with this class; in many ways I still enjoy it, but on the other hand I feel ready to progress to different things. I guess there's only about 5 weeks left anyway (yaaaaay!). It's kind of strange... like many of my colleagues I talk with, vet school and I have almost a love-hate relationship- there are parts that I very intensely dislike, at the same time I can think of no place where I'd rather be than right here right now. Obviously I don't want to spend my life here, but for the time being I know that I'm exactly where the Lord wants me. Thats a good feeling.
I spent a while this evening looking into consolidating my college loans, it seems that I'll be able to lock in an interest rate of about 2.81% (as opposed to the 5 or 6% it's currently at) if I do this before the end of this school year. It sounded like a good idea, at least it will save me significant amounts of money. I have to say that were it not for the fact that I'll be able to command a very decent wage directly out of school, I'd never even think of going this far into debt. I was thinking of this very thing recently, is there such a thing as "good debt" vs. "bad debt"? I tend to think there is. It almost seems like a person's debt (like his expenditures) reflects on his character... for instance, to me, taking out a loan for college is enormously different than taking out a loan for a brand new boat, motorcycle, or snowmobile. I guess it would technically be possible to buy the latter things with a loan and still have the right attitude, but I doubt it. If I'm discontent, and greedy for material wealth, very likely my debt load will reflect that. On the other hand, I think its entirely possible to be a good steward with loans and actually use them as powerful tools towards the accomplishment of goals important to the accomplishment of the Lord's will. I think the key is the attitude. Of course all debt is slavery, but not necessarily bond slavery... only when it gets out of hand is there a problem (again, usually linked to greed). I seem to be rambling about this, but I guess there is a point to it all- it's definitely good to stay out of debt, but when/if we have to enter therein, we need to be good stewards (which of course we should be regardless of our financial status).
Well, I'm kind of excited about something new thats come up- I am officially going to take riding lessons. (I can hear everyone gasping in the background). Yes, I worked out a deal with my aforementioned friend, Zac, that I will teach him everything I know about the guitar in exchange for him teaching me to ride/handle horses. I do really enjoy the animals, and working on them is a great pleasure for me, but I've never really had any formal training as to actually handling or riding. I'm looking very much forward to the opportunity... I think we're going to head up to Zac's farm next weekend (they've invited me up even before our "deal" was forged- lol).
I happened upon an interesting article on a discussion forum I frequently visit... I thought you all might enjoy it (or at least comment about it ;^) ).
click here.
Basically this article is arguing for earlier marriages... interesting concept. I don't see any problem with getting married in the early 20's, I don't know that I'd be strongly in favor of getting hitched before that... though I suppose it would depend largely on the people involved, as the author concurs. What do you think?
Enough for tonight.
Grace and peace,
Ben

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Just another day in the life of Ben.

Whew what a day. Wednesdays are always fun- was up reaaaaaly late last night for various reasons. Then I had class at 9 and I was busy with school related activities until about 5:30 or so. Yes. Besides all this, I find myself remarkably rested and quite peaceful... I'm relaxing in my clean house, eating my supper of fresh seasoned hamburgers, listening to the sounds of evening outside through my open windows. It's still 65 degrees here... simply lovely. I do have to go participate in a study group soon, but thats ok. I'm listening to Nickel Creek at the moment, the soft strains of Chris's mandolin plinking out the melody of "reasons why". The Lord has really blessed me with a spirit of contentment lately, something for which I'd been praying for a long time. Its so easy for me to keep my eyes on the future, the problem with this is that I often miss the present at the same time. Yes I still can hardly wait for the day, if He wills, that the Lord sees fit to bring the one He's prepared to me, I still wait with great anticipation for the day when I hear the precious sounds of happy children playing and laughing to welcome me home. I still have the strong desire within me to get on with life... but I seem to have hit a "cruise" phase, where I'm content to wait and trust on the Lord to work on me as I continue to prepare for the next step in my life, whenever the Lord may present it to me. This actually brings up an interesting point I was thinking about in my devotions the other day. Proverbs 14:12-13 says;
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness."
The world would have us think that the ultimate goal of life is to be happy... but the pursuit of happiness is a fleeting one, true happiness and fulfillment is to be found only in the pursuit of God's will. Indeed, the journey should be half the fun if not more. To me this is the point of life... to learn to seek God's will not only in the long term, but in the short term- in my daily life, in my conversations, thoughts, and deeds. Thus, while, as I said, I can hardly wait for what God has next, I am content at the moment to learn what He has for me where He has me. I await His guidance with gratitude and expectation.

I still am working on the pictures from my trip as well as my post to go with them... patience, patience :^)

It's off to study for a while.
Have a lovely evening.
Grace and peace,
Ben

Sunday, March 21, 2004

The van can finally rest...
Yes, I'm back... rather tired, so I'll not post much tonight- don't worry though; I will give a full report in the near future with pictures :^). I had a lovely spring break, thanks to the Lord's guiding hand the trip was uneventful so far as accidents and mishaps are concerned. I learned a lot, met many interesting people as well as enjoying visits with family and friends, I sampled cheese at a neat little family run cheese farm in Southern Tennessee, saw parts of North and South Carolina (places of jail sentences for speeders and continuous road work), toured the Kentucky Horse park in Lexington, as well as many other adventures, of which I will tell you more the next time I write. One interesting note... that isn't necessarily meant for all you readers... Remi, I finally figured out who you are, we could just say a little bird told me I suppose- lol.
I enjoyed getting to see the rest of your family again this past weekend... while at home with them, I was enlightened as to the identity of this mysterious person who both signed my guestbook and visited my blog. I am happy you chose to grace my webspace with your presence, and would love to hear from you via email or instant messenger should you ever find time to drop a line or two (smile). I hope all is well "across the pond" (wink).
I hope everyone is enjoying the warmer weather, I know I am... 60 degrees is in the forecast for the near future here... Albeit accompanied by thunder storms, I'll not complain though- thats the way the grass gets green. I enjoyed listening to MPR's pipe dreams program this evening for the latter half of my trip back from North Dakota, it was the celebration program for J.S. Bach's birthday, which is tomorrow. A number of his "greatest hits" were featured, including my favorite toccata and Fugue in D minor, as well as the less famous, but arguably equally fantastic Fugue in C minor. There were many more... I loved it. Pipe organ music has always fascinated me, and to have it coupled with my favorite composer was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.
Enough for tonight... sleep calleth rather efficaciously. (grin).
Grace and peace,
Ben

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

And we're done. Yes, I have successfully found the end of my journey through this pseudo-finals week (pseudo because it's not actually finals week, but boy it sure has felt like it!).
I had another lesson in patience today... I would have a packed van with fresh oil in the engine right now... but alas and alack, it is sitting in a body shop waiting for the morning when the technician will complete the repair on my door. Which brings up the other lesson... when it is reeeealy windy outside, it's a good idea to hang onto your van's door when opening it into the wind. Yes. $320 some dollars later, the bent hinges, popped spot welds, and twisted latch will be theoretically fixed... at least thats what the estimate says. In the mean time I'm driving a "loaner car"... a rather non-descript generic car... greenish... I think it looks like a catfish kind of car. I guess it is nice of them to provide me with transportation whilst my van is indisposed.
You may have noticed... there's a comment!!! See now, Remi didn't find it that painful... I'd love to hear what the rest of you think- lol.
In other news, this will be my last post for a little while... a few days at least, I'm embarking tomorrow evening on a little road trip with my friend and colleage, Zac. We're going first to Knoxville, to participate in the conference and symposium of the student chapeter of the american veterinary medical association. Then we're going to journey further south, me to Alabama, he to North Carolina... then we'll meet back up, and drive home together, after which I will be heading home to ND for the rest of spring break. I know it sounds tiring... but I think it will be fun- hey, I have to do a few crazy stunts while in college ;^).
At any rate... I believe it is time for bed- I didn't get to bed until 3:30 this morning last night (lol), and I'm feeeeeeling the effects.
May you be ever blessed with our Lord's endless love.
~Ben

Sunday, March 07, 2004

This is the way we pass the test, pass the test, pass the test...
Another long day studying past... it seems like I've done nothing but study for the last week- I had an anatomy exam on Thursday, then it was time to study for case study quiz on Friday and start preparing in earnest for neurology and histophysiology; on Monday and Tuesday, respectively. What a life. Neuro and histophys were the subjects today, I studied for the morning with some friends, we took a break for a couple of hours and then studied for another stint until we decided to go to the movie, Hidalgo. Visit the site if you'd like information about it- I enjoyed it, was fun to get out of the books for a couple of hours. I was talking with one of my friends on the way home, he was talking about how he liked the film, but thought the guy should have "gotten the girl" at the end... I have to say I'd agree- we both decided we're quite hopeless romantics. I'll admit it... I love a good warm fuzzy now and then- lol. I refuse to watch "serious" movies; drama, horror, science fiction, etc... I seldom watch movies, but when I do, I want to either be left laughing or siiiiiiiighing (in a sappy, this is so beautiful, I'm so happy they're going to live happily ever after kind of way). Now, that said, I don't mind movies with action in them, but a good love story underneath the surface never hurts ;^). I have noticed that I think differently than a lot of men... I like cats, I don't particularly enjoy extreme sports, cars and "toys" are not my passion, I enjoy cooking, and I don't mind having beautiful things around... maybe this is just my opinion, but I think that the stereotype of males being rough tough boors with no interest in the finer things of life is a terrible tragedy. That said, before I shock any of you too terribly, I do believe 100% in true Biblical masculinity and gender roles (due to God given differences, not a relative importance of the given gender) , but I don't think that precludes men from being able to appreciate things besides war games, football, big trucks, and power tools (not saying that any of those things are wrong in their own right of course ;^) ). Cultured, thoughtful, American men... what a concept- lol. Enough for tonight. May you all be blessed with much grace and peace in our Lord,
~Ben

Monday, March 01, 2004

What do you know... I've been accepted for inclusion as a monthly writer at ApricotPie.com. You'll have to take a look and see what you think.
This post and the one below are a sneak preview for you regulars... keep checking back or head on over to AP to see the new writings, which will also be posted here.

~Ben



An easy kind of gray. Here I am… sitting to write again. I just returned from a walk with Charlie, as is our habit, we journeyed around the little road that curves through the neighborhood where I live. We followed the road around to the little ageing office building on Mulberry Street, with its faded brown wooden shingled false front, bearing witness to the temporary wonders of the pre- Vietnam era. There are large full wall windows with crazy swirling cleaning streaks glinting in the morning light, reminiscent of multiple repairs of the transient marring of the translucence by wet canine noses and children’s fingers, happy and tired from their play at the adjacent playground. The windows are covered with various and sundry advertisements hailing the benefits of various pieces of real estate, the wonderful prices of certain handymen and their services. There is a Laundromat in the building, a small one at that- with old wheeled laundry baskets and clothes racks bearing the old Permanent Pressed emblem, bearing witness to the age of the implements. An enormous garbage can is in the corner, bearing the potential for myriads of low interest, pre approved credit cards, temporary 100% free subscriptions to playboy and reader’s digest, coupons for supermarkets, the bin overflowing with the seemingly hundreds of unwanted and unopened bulk mailings advertisers are sure we must be dying to see. There are rows of mailboxes along two walls… I am represented by a little oblong aluminum box in the lower left corner… seems strange to be living such an existence. I had a check I had to mail. I accomplished the task I set out to do and followed Charlie back out into the gray Iowa day. I thought as I walked about how the day started; there was a gorgeous blue sky, almost like the fantastic blue expanses of home, a wonderful little crisp breeze was breathing thoughts of green grass, budding leaves and flowers, growth and life, reminding me that spring was on it’s way as I walked to class this morning. But the glorious morning has faded to a gentle gray, reminding me with the gathering clouds and increasing wind that a storm was forecast for today. As I walked in time to the clickety click of Charlie’s nails on the pavement, little spotlets of water began to fall upon my favorite old flannel jacket and the increasingly wet pavement splattered up on Charlie’s underside as he bowed his head to the growing wind as we both instinctively increased our pace, neither of us overly anxious to be caught by the steadily increasing rain. We had just ran up the little sidewalk, pitted and worn with the memory of decades of changing seasons and owners, jumped up the stairs of the deck, and my key inserted into the walk as the storm hit… I threw open the door and we both leapt inside simultaneously; safe from the gale that now raged, dripping on the cheap green doormat, a relic from some bygone Wal-Mart sale. I told Charlie to sit while I went to the bathroom to retrieve a towel to dry my dripping dog. As I rubbed the little fellow down I marveled again at how much beauty is to be found in the daily practice of life, I thought about how easily the continuity of hope and the quality of grace is obscured by my taking for granted the easy sort of habit, the “gray days” inherent to my daily living. I am again aware, and I am thankful.

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Saturday, February 28, 2004


Life.

“Life is a journey”, such has been said by some in times belonging to the more or less distant past. A continual path they say; this dusty road of life.
Through the relentless progression of history and lives lived there has coursed a constant stream of humanity across the undulating sands of this our existence. Wars have been waged, peace has been garnered, wounds have been inflicted, and healing has been ministered, for nations yes, but for individuals more. Men wish for purpose, while some find more than any could hope for. They desire hope, while some discover the essence thereof. They long for love, while some live its very definition. Ages pass as many hazard a guess at this mysterious idea… the “purpose of life”.
A baby is born, parents rejoice in the pure newness of existence… rich possibility in a new life; bright promises for a new future; consciousness of a cause greater than their own subsistence. A baby grows to a child, a family watches his growth; fosters his development; dreams of his future. Why? When the slate of life is clean, before any pages of the book are written, before the first stanza of this poem is composed… the cause exists… every human knows it. Why?
If life is a journey, where is the destination? If existence is a road, where is its end? If thought is a ferry, where lays the shore? If time is a foretaste, what is to come?
There exists a sacred sort of hope, a blessed sort of expectancy, a beautiful sort of contentment… reflected as a shadow in all who live, born in the heart of all who find the source.
The landscape has changed, the topography evolving with time, the old cast has gone on, the players in this great game constantly being replaced. The circumstances are shifting, much is different; nothing remains untouched. Yet there remains a marvelous order, a beautiful continuum, an everlasting testament, a constant display, a repeated newness, a genuine support… “Grace for today and bright hope for tomorrow… Great is thy faithfulness”.
Tis a grand sort of poetry.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Content. Full. Relaxed. Happy. I'm trying to think of more descriptors of the way I feel at the moment... I'm coming up short. I just got back from a quick trip with some friends to a restaurant in Des Moines- the Big Steer, as it was called, was excellent. There are few food items I can speak of more fondly than a truly exceptional steak. My ribeye was quite satisfactory. :^).

You may think it strange that I'm talking about beef this way- but you have to realize that I've been eating my own cooking for the last looong while. Now I should note that I'm reputed to be an excellent cook- and I do think that I do a good job when necessary... But there seems to be a strange phenomenon associated with my "bachlorhood"- my culinary drive just doesn't drive. It doesn't seem to matter how many people are eating my cooking (though I do enjoy serving a crowd), even when there's just another person and myself I can feel my creative juices moving.

I think I need a room mate... living alone is for the birds.

In case you haven't noticed- this is the first time I've posted here in quite a while. I suppose I could plead my case on the grounds that I've been incredibly busy for the past several weeks with my first round of exams (histophysiology, neurobiology, veterinary immunology, and comparative (gross) anatomy to be more specific), but I won't. I just haven't felt particularly philosophical or clever as of late. I think I need more sleep. Why is this feeling so familiar... (you'd think I'd have learned my lesson last semester).
I enjoyed a quick trip home this past weekend- turns out I and the friends I traveled with left just in time; another person from our class apparently left about an hour after we did and had to turn around at the Iowa/Minnesota border due to nasty roads and weather. Praise the Lord for His guiding hand.
Oh well... I think thats enough for now. I'm going to take my own advice and go to bed :^). Grace and peace,
Ben Oh yes... here's a picture I took of Charlie... for your viewing pleasure (isn't he just so cute? ;^) lol ).


same as before... all rights reserved

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Saturdays. Warm beds, heavy feather comforters, no alarm clocks, late risings, soft fluffy slippers, hot tea brewing, fresh sausage and eggs sizzling, quiet breakfasting, pleasant scripture readings, lazy afternoons with nothing but nothing to do, crisp crunching and deep breathing of long afternoon walks in the newfallen snow, quiet evenings reading... Saturday.

I had a lovely day... as per my ramblings, I and Charlie the Basset Hound slept late. I did some light school work in the morning and since my wander lust was rising I bundled Charlie and I into the caravan and departed countryward. We drove for about a half hour- just enjoying the absence of city; the feel of the gravel under my wheels, the open expanse of field in every direction, the glorious shimmering of the sun on the fresh snow, the fluttering of gold and brown as a flock of pheasants were surprised and rousted by our passage, the friendly unhurried wave of a farmer checking his mail as we pass. I remembered my camera in it's snug compartment of my thick air force coat, and decided to stop a few places on our route and capture some of the peaceful solitude of the day. You may enjoy some of the fruits of this venture below. I made roasted Greek chicken with angry baby portabellas with hot buttered garlic asparagus on the side for my dinner... seems rather pitiful to be cooking for myself... I usually don't go to such lengths... it just isn't as fun when there is no one to share it with. I'm in a bit of a contemplative mood tonight- sitting here typing as a candle flickers with a warm sort of glow beside my stack of papers and mail needing attention at some point or another. God is so good to me, so ready to bless, so constant in love, so generous in grace... it seems to me to be almost too good to be true- that a God of such power should care for such as I.

Even when it seems my work is in vain and my life is without influence, I am reminded that mine is not to ask why, but to trust and obey... there are good days ahead.
Grace and peace my friends.
~Benjamin




As usual, all of this stuff belongs to me, if you'd like to use any of it- let me know

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Heh heh heh.... just figured out how to post pictures correctly. ;^). Simple man... simple pleasures (rofl). ~Ben
I decided tonight that it had been altogether too long since I had updated my readership (I know you're out there because the counter keeps going up- are you all just shy? ;^) ). I've been incredibly busy since I last had time to post, mostly preparing for my first exam of the semester, which occured yesterday afternoon covering the rather broad subject of comparative anatomy. This has been an interesting semester for me thus far- many new experiences. I can say though that I've enjoyed the experiences I've had this semester more than I did at this point last fall. I think the reasons for this are multifaceted- in the first place, last fall I did not have the foggiest idea of what being a veterinary student was like- I didn't know how the classes would be, where the rooms were in the school (our school is notoriously difficult to navigate for newcomers), where I would fit in relative to the other students, etc etc etc. I had only just been introduced to the idea of owning a place of abode a few months earlier, I think I'm only just getting used to the concept now. Anyway, I can say with absolute certainty that my stress level was much higher then than now. This past year has been difficult for me in many ways- to a very real extent I've felt like I've aged more in the last year than I have in the last four combined. A huge factor in this was the fact that I no longer am able to go home every weekend- now granted during my undergrad years I worked every weekend and so didn't really spend very much time at home, I still had the weekly contact, not to mention the ability to participate in our home church meetings. Leaving all this was very hard for me at first- I still don't enjoy the separation, but if there's one thing this past year has forced me to do, it's to become closer to the Lord. I do appreciate this. It's interesting to notice that sometimes God can use physical change to be just the catalyst needed for spiritual change... I know this has been the case in my life. While the experience of having to leave the familier and head into the unknown alone is, at least for me, unpleasant, very uncomfortable, and downright scary at times, I've realized that the greater good that God can bring through these changes is bounded only by my willingness to learn what He has to teach me. How great is His faithfulness.

I spent most of the afternoon today freezing my nose off at my sheep rotation for my clinical foundations course- it was fun getting to be back in the country for a while, but boy was it difficult standing around discussing sheep medicine and production... my feet were fast becoming amnestic concerning feeling. It felt good when we were able to do more physical activity while performing exams and such. Oh the joys of living in the south (wink wink... lopsided grin... etc.).
Enough for tonight... it's off to bed for me. ~Ben

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Updates...
I realized as I was looking through the new website that some of the information contained therein was from a previous version... thus I was still an undergraduate at ndsu. (horrors... ;^)... just kidding).
Anyhoo... I fixed the problem and everything should be just dandy. Now I must go or I will be late for my beef rotation this afternoon. ~Ben
Winter has returned!
No more of this 50 degrees in the middle of January business... there is now about 8 inches of snow, a temperature of -2 and wind to go with it. Sigh... almost feels like home.
I'm the proud (?) owner of about 30 various, sundry, and assorted statistics and higher math textbooks... a professor in my department (he's a biostatistician) was cleaning out part of his library... and me, book addict that I am could not resist the offer. Yes.
Maybe I'll find a use for them somewhere. Anybody need any textbooks? Lol.
-Ben

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

It's blue... Its true ;^).
Better run on over to the main site and tell me what you think of the face lift. I of course am enthralled... to borrow the phrase, which in this case is entirely accurate...You Da MAN David :^).

I spent the afternoon out at the Ankeny dairy with my clinical foundations class, we had lots of fun learning how to do physical exams on dairy cows, collecting blood and urine samples, how to not (hopefully) get kicked... sigh... I remember again why I'm going into this business. I simply love vet medicine.

Yes I know that sounds sappy... but tis true nonetheless. :^D

I was amused to hear my Vet Immunology professor insert a little philosophical digression into his lecture on antigen antibody interactions... he was talking along about the basic structure of antibodies (IgG, for those of you who were wondering), when he stopped... got a funny look in his eye and launched into an altogether too lengthy commentary on how the antibody evolved. Can you believe it?

I almost asked him how he figured the animal survived while the antibody "evolved"... I'm sure he would have tried to give me some nonsense about the bacteria evolving at the same rate as the antibody... but of course this is bunk- if we truly believe in survival of the fittest, there must be something around to challenge the population, i.e. to kill off the "non-fit"... however, I would challenge anyone to explain to me how the structure of the antibody could ever have evolved while the animal was under challenge. Either the antibody is present and there is protection against the invader, or it isn't and the animal is susceptible. The same is true of any component of the immune system... so the argument that other defenses kept the animal safe falls on it's face right there. Wonderful little problem for macroevolution... that tricky subject of irreducible complexity... the whole thing has to be working in concert or the whole function is negated. Why is it so hard to just admit that there is an Intelligent Designer who cares and loved us so much that He sent His Son to die?! I know the answer to my own question... Permit me to quote:

"Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."

- Evolutionist Richard Lewontin (as quoted on this website)

How succinct. Lets face the facts shall we?
Let the whole earth Praise Jesus for His truth that sets us free.
Grace and peace,
Ben

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Life...


I was jolted awake this morning at quarter to 6 by Charlie running his cold little nose along the bottom of my warm foot. There's nothing quite like it believe me.

I decided that rather than getting back in bed I'd head out to the kitchen and feed the cats. The day was yet very young, with that quiet blue and gray silence that seems to be so typical of early morning in Iowa. The house was quiet, with only the steady hum of the refrigerator and gentle shhh of the floor vents to disturb the solitude. Fat Cat was sprawled on the back of the couch, very comfortably extending one arm over one side and the other under his head, both legs were stretched far out behind him and I wondered that he did not tumble off. Pipsqueak I saw in my desk chair, curled into an amazingly tight little ball... it remains a mystery to me how cats can bear to be so contorted. As I took a can of food from the cupboard and began to open it, I was jolted from my reverie by the cats springing to life at the crrrreeee... ptunk of the tin can's lid being peeled back. Instantly they were about my legs, swirling round and round at ever increasing rates of speed while the cacophony of their hungry voices rose in chorus... I placed the dishes with a portion of the food on the floor and they were soon engaged in the activity they had so eagerly anticipated... all the while Fat Cat attempting courageously to loudly purr his gratitude while busily engulfing the food on his plate. Pets can be so satisfying.

I set about to prepare for the day and suddenly the thought of tea drifted pleasantly into my consciousness... without too much further ado I had a hot mug of peach blossom tea sitting before me as I sat at the kitchen table in my flannels and slippers as the dawn gave way to the gentle bustle of morning around me. I took my favorite old bible with it's soft navy blue cover, worn pages, and myriad notes and markings and read from the Proverbs, the fourth chapter, and felt my self relax as I allowed the familiar words to wash over my mind again..."My Son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh". I pondered this for a while and thought about what the words meant... I have known for a long time the value of wisdom, but only within the last year or so have I felt that I truly grasp how wisdom interacts with knowledge. Many people, especially here at the university, have great knowledge and learning... and yet, I am reminded that though their education and learning is so advanced, they are as fools... for many of these deny the One who made them. The Lord by wisdom founded the earth... wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. When all is said and done, all the research accomplished, all the texts written, all the lectures exhausted... The fear of the Lord is still the beginning of knowledge. All basis for knowledge apart from this simple truth is true folly, for we deceive ourselves if we think that true understanding of reality can be obtained from a source outside of the Founder of that reality.

As I sit and write, I think again of the verse God gave me at the beginning of this new year... Philippians 3:10. It's so easy to get out of focus concerning what things are really important... especially when I consider that every earthly thing I do... including breath, is a temporary activity. The principle thing is exactly what that verse is talking about... "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death..."
I must remember, as per the words of Proverbs 4:26, to ponder the path of my feet, and let all my ways be established. Let us not turn to the right hand or the left my brethren- but let us press on for the goal that lies before us... God's will for our lives, not only in this world we now know, but in the wondrous world to come.

Grace and peace,
Ben

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Changes... etc. I was fiddling around with my website today to see if I could get a hit counter to work- I got one loaded, and uploaded the changed page to the server. Alas, I uploaded a pre-server crash version, and my lovely link to this blog from my website was gone. Following a brief but intense period of great panic and near hyperventilation, I realized that I could just put a link to the blog in my "news" section and kill the proverbial two birds with one stone- I could make my old "news" section available for your viewing pleasure (hehehehe) as well as connect my weblog to the main website. So... thus I did, and so you know if you went through the website to get here :^).

In other happenings, I discovered one of the not so lovely sides of home ownership today... ah the joy of frozen pipes. Yes. It was all the way up to 6 degrees above zero today and apparently I found the limits of my heat tape's abilities. Sigh. I noticed that not all my pipes are frozen however, just the supply line to the kitchen sink, the toilet, and my washer... the sink, shower, and tub in the bathroom all work. Go figure. It's supposed to warm up a little tomorrow, so I'm hoping that the pipes will thaw (ever wonder why some people say "un-thaw" when they mean "thaw"? Just a curiosity that I've noticed from time to time- heh) on their own. If not, I guess I'll be soliciting the services of a space heater or something to stick under there and restore movement to my water. I was going to do it today, but since I didn't really need the services of those water sources, and because there was about a -10 windchill outside, I did not relish the prospect of spending an hour on my back beneath a frozen pipe. Honestly, I think I gave my neighbors enough entertainment to see me wiggeling underneath my skirting to see where the trouble was... not exactly my idea of a great time... my jacket steadily sliding up my back, leaving my shirt stuck to the semi muddy/frozen ground (with my skin getting ever closer to the aforementioned ground... not a pleasant sensation, trust me) , and looking up to see the mirthful face of the person next door peering out her living room window down at me. Ten years from now I will think of this and laugh. (I hope). At any rate, I had no sooner forced my half frozen legs up my steps and into my house when I noticed this strange looking "cheapcollegestudentesque" black station wagon with an enormous red white and blue "VOTE FOR HOWARD DEAN" sign in the back and side windows. I thought to myself... oh no... they're going to want to talk to me... So I ducked into my back bedroom peeking out from behind the doorframe to see if the election stumper had seen me through my open living room curtains. I started becoming annoyed (well, slightly more annoyed than I was outside on my back on the ground)... how terrible is it when you have to hide in your own house?! Somewhat emboldened, I went back into the living room and realized with some chagrin that it was only my next door neighbor's roommate- a ISU pol sci croney stopping for something at his house. Lol... what a neighborhood. Thank God for His sense of humor... just when I thought my life was getting monotonous. Grace and peace friends, Ben

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Grammer... oi. Well, if you read any of the new articles you may have noticed that there were some errors (ruefull smile). They're fixed now... I guess thats what I get for working on it so late at night.

I went for a walk with Charlie (my basset hound) today. Last semester I had never had a chance (or the motivation it seems) to see more of what Ames has to offer in terms of walking trails, so I thought we'd explore the extent of the trail that goes behind my house. We walked and walked... and walked... and walked. We walked close to 3 miles, and still didn't come to the end of it. We both decided that we should try again another day (Charlie was so tired he couldn't even hold his tail all the way up in the air... he just sort of hobbled along behind me at half mast- lol). Then I realized we still had to walk all the way back home. Anyhoo... the long and the short of it was that Charlie got a 6 mile walk today... we're both a little out of shape it seems :^). I do love walking for excercise though- it's a rare treat that I get to do much walking in the middle of January (I'm used to -15 and a couple feet of snow this time of year :^) ), it was up to almost 30 today, and for all practical purposes we don't have any snow. Walking seems to have a wonderful effect on stress, it helps clear my mind, and puts me into a good mood for prayer and reflection. I've found even back at home that some of the times when I feel closest to God is when I'm out walking with nothing to distract me but the wind in my face, the birds singing quietly in the trees, and Charlie's soft clickity clickity of his nails on the trail. God is certainly good to so richly bless us with this earth, for all it's problems- there is no reason for despair. God is still in control (smile). It's time for supper. Grace and peace, Ben

The commenting feature is back! Due to some untimely server problems, BlogSpeak is no more- but HaloScan very nicely allowed the transfer of all BlogSpeak's accounts over to it's service. The long and the short of the matter is that you can comment on The Blessed Habitation again. Yaaay. ~Ben
Hi, I just wanted to update you all with some new happenings on the website. First, you will notice that I've changed the title of my blog... and hopefully my attitude with it ;^). The Lord had been convicting me lately about being content with wherever He has me... and although I'd like to be back in ND, and feel God calling me there eventually, now is the time to be in Iowa. So here I am :^). In other news, you should go check out the articles and papers page- there are several new papers posted, not all newly written- but new to the site. Of course if ever anybody has any questions or comments on what you find written there (or here for that matter) please feel free to email me! I love hearing what people think about what I think (lol) and I'd appreciate any feedback you have (don't worry about offending me- lol).
Well, I guess thats about enough for tonight.
Happy reading :^). Grace and peace, Ben

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Greetings friends!
I have returned to the little city among the corn fields :^).
I had a wonderfully restful Christmas break at home with family and friends. Our family was alone for Christmas eve and day, but as per our tradition we again had our new years eve party- we had over 30 people over for homemade pizza (thanks to the Friesens for their wonderful desem crusts!), games, music, dancing (Thanks to Mrs. Johnson for the Virginia reel lessons!), and fellowship followed by a time of prayer and reflection as we watched yet another year of the Lord's faithfulness begin. It was so good to see what the Lord was and is doing in our midst, as my dad likes to quote "...This is the Lord's doing, it is marvelous in our eyes...". God is so good to us, I marvel at His love and mercy in my life. I hope you take time in this new year to get to know Him better- it is such a privilege to serve Him! Classes have started out well, I'm adjusting quickly to the new schedule- It's good to be back at the "grindstone", the time till graduation seems so much less when I'm in the middle of classes (smile).
As I've told many of you, God has really been teaching me a lot lately about doing everything "as unto the Lord", you know- I need to have the exact same attitude shoveling stalls or shredding paper as I do assisting surgery or going on farm calls. I need to always bear in mind that any activity I do, including breathing, is only temporary, and that God is using every situation in my life for some good purpose, to the glory and praise of His will. It may seem like a trivial issue, after all- the job is getting done isn't it? Ah, but the Lord has been showing me that it is really a lack of trust on my part to feel disgusted with a less than pleasant job- that really is the key issue... Do I truly trust Him. It's easy to think I do, easy to tell people I do... But do any of us really know what that means? What a great and good God we serve, when I am faithless, He is faithful, when I move away, He draws me back to His side, when I fear, He is Love... Selah (pause and calmly think of that ;^) ). At any rate, I am grateful to Him for His blessings, and I encourage you to think again of His goodness in your life. It is time for Bible study... And I said I would be there... Thus I must depart (smile). Be blessed my friends.
Grace and peace,
Ben