Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Tribute to Dewayne Block

This tribute was posted to the Standing Stone Honey Products Facebook page this week.  Something you find with a home business is that many people have helped in getting you to where you are in your endeavors.  It's not just money that is important in a business, but the encouragement to keep going on.  Dewayne was one of the people who gave me encouragement on a regular basis.  

A Tribute To Dewayne Block

     As this new year begins, I want to acknowledge the help and encouragement of a friend who tragically passed into eternity last year. Dewayne Block became a friend of mine soon after I began participating in the Homer Farmers Market. He was an older gentleman in his early eighties. He lived by himself just down the street from the farmers market. For his age, he was very active. I became accustomed to seeing him walk up the street week after week to the market. He would come directly to my table of honey bee products. Then we would chat, and he would tell me story after story.
     Dewayne didn't have much money. He told me once, laughing, that he went to the bank to withdraw cash so he could get some products from me, but learned he only had $3, so he thought he better not take it out right then! He was a handyman for his landlord, and was given a discount on his rent for his work. One month he informed me that his bills were less, and he would be getting more products from me. He looked for opportunities to use my products as gifts for his family.
     People have complemented how nice an oak display is that I set products on at the farmers markets. Dewayne made that stand. One week he promised that he would make a display for me. Another week he came with that beautiful piece of craftsmanship. It is a gift that I cherish.
     One year, upon learning it was my birthday, Dewayne left the market and came back with some muffins for me. The week before Dewayne died, he came to the market looking for me. I wasn't there, but my Dad was there in my place. Dewayne informed him that my birthday was coming up! It was a pleasant surprise that he had remembered.
     Dewayne was known for being a handyman, and was often seen working on the apartment he was renting. One of the primary things he talked about with me was the many jobs he had throughout his life, and the interesting people he worked with. He called me up a couple times to see if I could help him with some of his projects. Dewayne was a pleasure to work with on those occasions.
     I learned of the fire that took Dewayne's life the day it happened from a customer at another farmers market. The fire had closed Main Street, and the building was a historic one. I learned that there was a man unaccounted for that evening, and presumed dead. As more details emerged the next couple days, I became convinced that it was my friend, Dewayne, that died in the fire. After a few days, it was confirmed that it was Dewayne that had died. Someone told me they had heard that he almost escaped because emergency personnel found him near a window. It was figured that he had responded too slowly because he was hard of hearing, and had taken his hearing aids out for the night. The fire happened around 3 AM. The fire was started from another resident that was making methamphetamine.
     I take comfort that Dewayne professed Jesus Christ as his Saviour. I had shared a Christian booklet with him and asked if he was a Christian. He assured me that he was. Dewayne couldn't drive, but made efforts to walk several miles to a church fellowship. Sometimes people from the church he attended would see him walking to the assembly, and they would stop and drive him the rest of the way.
     It is still easy to think about Dewayne coming up that sidewalk. Dewayne is going to be missed. He certainly had a part of making this business a success because of the powerful encouragement he gave.
The following is a poem that Dewayne copied by hand from an old book at the library. He knew I would like it because it was about bees. He gave me his handwritten copy, and read it to me. Perhaps it will be a blessing to you also:
The Wild Bees' Home
Wild Bees' of the wood are we;
  But our Hives you must not see,
Here behold our Happy Home,
  Where we labor, where we Roam;
Brooks that on their shining bosoms
  Catch the overhanging Blossoms;
On the banks all bright with clustering flowers.
  Here is where we pass our hours.
Seldom on this solitude,
  Does a Boy or Girl intrude.
Let the children fly their kites, and play their games,
  While we make them Honey Day and Night,
The children, all are happy at their play,
  While the Bees' flit from Flower to Flower,
While on to make sweet Honey every Day.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

When is it Right to Die?

J.J. Hanson is an advocate for life.  He gave me permission to
take this picture of him and his wife as a photographer was
taking their picture.
     Assisted suicide goes by a number of terms that work as euphemisms like: death with dignity, mercy killing, the right to die, etc.  Last year, I heard a news program from a local television station where local people gave their thoughts on assisted suicide.  People sent their comments by email.  Most people seemed to side with assisted suicide.  Those that were against assisted suicide made it clear that they thought only God should determine when a person should die.  One woman found herself divided on the issue.  She said that her mind told her that it was wrong, but her heart told her it was right.  She might be helped to understand that she can't depend on her "heart" as peoples' hearts are "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked."  When these subjects are presented, the tendency is for people to depend on their feelings rather than firm principles established by the Creator and a "sound mind."  Others use their mind to justify evil things as their understanding is "darkened."

      Last month, I went to our state capitol to join with hundreds of other freedom loving people to learn state issues and to share truth.  The event was organized by New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms.  A topic that is important in our state at this time is assisted suicide.  A number of people, including myself, carried signs through the state capitol to announce our opposition to assisted suicide.  There was a speaker, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  His name is James "J.J." Hanson.  J.J. has started an organization to combat assisted suicide called the Patients Rights Action Fund. J.J. was diagnosed with the same type of cancer that Brittney Maynard had.  Brittney was popularized by the media because she decided to commit suicide after learning her diagnosis.  The media tended to praise her as a hero instead of lamenting her hopeless outlook.  The voices she heard were saying, "You can't beat this."   She succumbed to those voices and propagated hopelessness to many people.  J.J. determined that he would beat the cancer.  J.J. fought depression himself, but had people that supported him, and found hope. He recognizes that cancer will likely come back, but he is grateful for every day he has with his family.  He knows that not one of us is guaranteed another day, but each day is a gift.

     One thing that occurred to me is the fact that many people who support assisted suicide are strongly against the death penalty for criminals.  They make a lot of noise about the botched lethal injections that have happened, yet the poison that is used on death row convicts is the same poison they use to kill people with assisted suicide.  To say this mildly, it is inconsistent, and in truth it is hypocrisy.

     Another concern is the position this puts doctors.  Doctors have the reputation of helping preserve life.  Legalizing assisted suicide  would change the role of many doctors to that of destroying life. In Canada, the medical schools are changing the curriculum to make way for assisted suicide which is scheduled to become legal there this year.  Among the courses that will be changed will be those dealing with medical ethics. 

     What it boils down to is that God is the giver and taker of life.  Without His sanction, life should not be taken.  Life cannot be devalued without sour consequences which many cannot foresee.  Call it unintended consequences.  History has shown repeatedly that those that hate Wisdom love death. 

     The state of New York is a primary place the assisted suicide proponents are aiming to change to embrace death for those that desire it.  It is still suicide even if it is assisted, and assisting suicide only lays the guilt of this awful crime on more people.  While many are suffering, to open assisted suicide as the solution is not going to help as all of human life will be devalued in the process.  Those that suffer need to have genuine care.  It is my hope that we will address real solutions to human suffering rather than seeing people as animals that can simply be destroyed once they have lost functional value.  Human life is a gift and has intrinsic value.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Home Business Ventures

One of my brother's bird houses and a wooden bird he carved.
     Home business ventures are becoming more popular as technology makes it possible to do many things from home that were not possible years ago.  Some people may be looking for some ideas, or just some inspiration to make something happen.  I hope to be able to provide some inspiration for someone who has had this desire, but doesn't know where to start. 

     To start a home business you need a product or service to provide that is of value to others.  It could start with growing a pumpkin seed in your back yard.  It could be a skill that you are able to teach others like the use of a popular computer program.  It could be a service like cleaning out gutters, or walking dogs.

      I remember years ago, when I was a teenager, Dad had an idea of starting a lawn service business.  He had an old lawn tractor, and a trailer.  He made an ad with Mom's help, and put it in the classifieds of our local newspaper and we waited to see how many responses we might get.  We received one.  It was a number of miles away, probably around 15 miles.  We knew we were not going to make much money from the venture, though gas was cheaper back then.  We decided to do it anyway as a way to start our venture.  Dad figured it would be good to add up our expenses over time so we could figure out if it was worth making a trip like that.  He knew that there was the added cost of wear and tear on the equipment.  The venture was also a way we could work together as father and son.  The neighbors to the place where we mowed saw our work and asked if we could mow their yard also. That's something that is true of many businesses.  The customers come more from word of mouth or from watching the work being done at their neighbors than they do from costly advertisements.

      The venture didn't last long.  We once found it hard to get our payment, and the man of the house decided at one point it might be worth mowing himself. The neighbor didn't need their yard mowed after we had cut down some extremely high grass that they were unable to do.  It was a good experience despite it being so short lived.  Dad and I took turns using the riding mower which was fun to ride when it worked.  Sometimes our maintenance time seemed to be as much as our mowing time.  The push mower was good exercise, and for me, any amount of money was a great thing.

     It is great when people can do something that they really like and sell it.  Often times the product a person likes to make just doesn't have a market demand.  I think the lawn business could have really taken off if we knew how to market it because a large portion of the population has a lawns,  and many people don't have much time to work on them.  We also tried another venture that probably had much less demand even if we marketed it better.  Dad had a scroll saw, and we would make lots of cut out ornaments with it.  I remember making some wooden chipmunks of my own design and painting them with some delicate features.  We went to a craft sale and tried to sell the various wooden items our family had made.  We probably hardly came away with more than the cost of setting up our table.  Dad really enjoyed working with pine wood and a scroll saw, and the whole family seemed to find some enjoyment from it, but it didn't seem to have much of a market.  I was so happy that one of the few things that sold was one of my wooden chipmunks.

      My younger brother also had a love of producing things with wood.  There were barn ruins behind our house that had lots of barn board.  It was kind of like the idea of finding diamonds on your own property instead of searching for them abroad.  My brother came up with the idea of producing bird houses and feeders with that wood that would otherwise go to waste.  He did some marvelous work.  We took some of his bird feeders and houses to a local festival to sell them.  His handiwork received some good compliments, but few were sold because people at festivals have a hard time carrying things very far.  Once again, the trouble was marketing.  I knew a young man who was very successful at selling some fancy bird houses, but an advantage he had was that he lived in a densely populated area.

     Today I have a home enterprise of selling honey bee products.  When I first started beekeeping I remember a man from the honey industry say that you didn't have to worry about marketing honey because honey sells itself.  Such did not seem to be necessarily the case, and after years of producing honey I came to recognize that one of the areas of weakness for the business was marketing.  I made it a fervent prayer that I could learn to market my products.  That prayer was granted especially on a local basis.  For how rural our area is, the amount of honey that I've been able to sell has been tremendous.  It could be better, I'm sure, and it will need to be if I am to succeed in the future.  One thing that helps with marketing is to believe in your product.  Another is to be very familiar with it, and to share what qualities it has with others.  I went to local farmers markets with brochures that I had made, and told people how good honey is. Many people really don't know how good honey is.

      I've watched people go week after week at a farmers market trying to sell craft products that don't seem to sell.  They've had some great products, but they were at the wrong place.  Some don't mind as they are retired and vending gives them something to do.  People at farmers markets are mostly looking for food.  When selling a product, keep in mind who it is that you are selling to, and try to go where they are at.  People that are looking for crafts to buy are often thinking of getting them as a unique gift for someone.  The place for this is often a craft fair, or holiday event rather than a farmers market.  Even if you find that your product isn't received well at one place, don't get discouraged right away.  Some products need to be seen a number of times before people think of their value.

     Don't be afraid of starting small.  Debt is something that causes many businesses to fail.  By starting small, your mistakes are likely to be less costly.  "For who hath despised the day of small things?" Zech. 4:10.

     A business can start with putting a sign outside your house telling what service or product you can provide.    It can start with telling your coworkers, family, and friends what you have to offer.  By talking about your business aspirations you can get advice from others, knowledge of pitfalls in that venture, encouragement, and even possible sales leads.  This is a subject I could go on and on with as I've spent a lot of time studying it, but I hope these thoughts helped the wheels spin for someone.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Christian Freedom Under Fire in Norway

     I just signed a petition to tell the government of Norway to return children back to their natural and rightful parents, Marius and Ruth Bodnariu.  I'm requesting all readers of this blog to sign this petition. Please go to this link: .   It is very easy to do.  This is an issue that must not be ignored because of the ramifications of  the government of Norway not hearing outrage over it.  There have been protests throughout the world for the Bodnariu family that had their children stolen from them simply because they are Christians.  They have done no wrong.  The charge brought against them is that they are "too Christian."  
You have an opportunity to express your thoughts on the petition.   My comments are the following:
"This is outrageous.  Children belong to their parents.  Send them back!"  Several people have already signed it and made comments since I have.   Let's keep up the momentum.  At the bottom of this post are video clips that show protests and some of the deep felt concerns for families in Norway.  You can do your own research on this subject.  It is my hope that many more people sign the petition and that protests would continue throughout the world.

      The children were seized without prior notice from the parents in November of 2015.  The children were put up for adoption.  There are five children, and one that was only three months old when they were stolen from their parents.  The children were split up into three homes. 

     One video on this subject brings up the popular poem by  Martin Niemöller who was a Lutheran pastor that spoke of the cowardliness of German intellectuals that would not stand against Hitler.  The poem goes like this:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."

     Something you can also do is make this family a prayer request in your church.  Prayer changes things.  This is part of a spiritual battle and must also be fought that way.  

     Please forgive the poor English grammar contained in the following video.  Those that made it had a heart to share real concerns.  It is not just about the Bodnariu family, but others also that had children snatched from them.

     The following radio program by Janet Parshall interviews a lawyer who has been speaking up for parents like Marius and Ruth Bodnariu for a number of years.

You can learn more from this website:

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Freedom From Death

"O death, where is thy sting?"

   There are many freedoms to learn about, but ranking near the top must be the freedom from death.  Death is the common denominator for man.  The good, bad, rich, poor, big and small must face death.  Many of us have been shielded from it by our culture as it is not pleasant to think about.  From the Bible we see it as an enemy and intruder, but not the victor.  "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

     Something that comes to my attention again and again lately is the thought of the need to evaluate my life in the light of eternity.  Scripture says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).  These thoughts change how we act in everyday decisions and change our values from the earthy to the heavenly.  It makes the saying, "The best things in life aren't things," have a richer meaning. 

     "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" Sometimes not much. For some it may be little more than a passing pleasure or a bowl of pottage. Yet an inward knowledge lets us know that there are things worth giving all we have and even dying for.  Jesus Christ gave an illustration of that when he said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."  Then he did it.  He gave his life for His own, and then showed His victory over the grave.

  Isaac Watts, a master hymn writer, shared how the more educated and less educated people have the same promises when facing death.  He shared these words with a friend just before he died:

  "I remember an aged minister used to observe, that 'the most knowing and learned Christians, when they come to die, have only the same plain promises of the gospel for their support as the common unlearned;' and so I find it.  It is the plain promises of the gospel that are my support; and I bless God, they are plain promises, that do not require much labor and pains to understand them."

   One plain promise from Christ to believers is His words "because I live, ye shall live also."  He is the first fruits of this promise.  The last enemy will be death and the following promise will be fulfilled:
"I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction..." Hosea 13:14.

 The following is a video that gives some of the last words of a large number of people.  The emptiness of those that scorned Christ is seen.  You can also hear the messages of hope from those that took Christ at His word. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Shemita Pototoes!

These are just a few of the potatoes that came up voluntarily.
     Last year was a great year weather-wise in our area.  The garden did quite well even without the attention it needed.  Our family had lots of red potatoes that came up voluntary from the year before.  They produced bushels of potatoes.  Dad called them Shemita Potatoes.  The name does not completely fit because the ground was plowed, but was a fun reminder of a Jewish practice that was popularized last year.  The Shemita is an agricultural practice to let the land rest for a year in a cycle of seven years. The Shemita would be the seventh of the seven years.  By letting the land go fallow for a year it was a reminder of needed rest, and it benefited the land.  It is the opposite concept of a lot of modern farming where there seems to be little rest for the land.  Minerals are taken out of the soil and not returned.  What is added back is often just three necessary nutrients, but trace minerals are left out.  The plants we eat can only provide the nutrition that they find, and if it is not available, people suffer a deficiency of important nutrients.

A number of these pole beans came up from last year.
      Potatoes were not the only things our family was able to enjoy that came up voluntarily last year.  I had some pole beans that planted themselves and came up in the spring.  This is the first time that this happened for me.  I sheltered them from frost and they did very well.  Not much more was done with them as I found myself busy with farmers markets and other work throughout the growing season.  For weeks on end, despite much neglect, I was able to eat these beans.  Often, after coming back home from farmers markets, I would take a walk up to the fence and just snack on the voluntary beans.

This wild apple tree was so full of apples that it pruned itself.
     Another free food for us was some wild apple trees on our property.  We have a number of cultivated apple trees that did not do much of anything last year, but the wild trees did great with little pest trouble.  We made lots of cider with the wild apples.  My sisters made apple sauce and dried apples for snacking.  One wild tree was so full of apples that it had a large branch break off causing the tree to essentially prune itself.

     These free foods are a small reminder to me of God's grace that comes without merit.  There are so many object lessons found in nature if we take the time to look.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Planned Parenthood's Bullying Tactics

      For a number of weeks last year (2015), there were a number of undercover videos that were released that exposed Planned Parenthood.  It was evident from the videos that a number of Planned Parenthood's top employees would be willing to sell unborn baby body parts which remains illegal in the United States. The Center for Medical Progress released the unedited versions of their videos around the same time as the edited.  They have been falsely charged of heavily editing the videos to distort the meaning of the Planned Parenthood employees.  The full videos are available to anyone to see on You Tube.  Editing is necessary for any videos like this to see the important segments.  They were not edited to take people out of context.    Planned Parenthood would not let its reputation be damaged without a fight, and they announced that they would file a lawsuit.  When I learned this, I sent the following letter to our local newspaper:

     In an effort to squelch public outcry to its barbaric acts and stop future disclosure, Planned Parenthood just announced that it will sue the group that released videos that indicated that Planned Parenthood sold baby parts illegally.  A couple of young men decided to reveal the true nature of Planned Parenthood.  They formed a group called the Center for Medical Progress.  The Center for Medical Progress released a number of videos where they did undercover interviews with some of Planned Parenthood's top employees that expressed a willingness to sell human body parts.  The videos became very popular on You Tube.   Many people became aware that their tax money goes to this national abortion provider and have asked that this end immediately. 
     The real tragedy is not that unborn baby parts are sold illegally, but that unborn babies are being killed legally.  The young men that exposed Planned Parenthood had the purpose of sharing truth, and their voices should not be stifled. These men do not have much money, but they have a heart for the unborn and those that don't have an ability to speak for themselves.  Planned Parenthood receives millions of dollars in taxpayer money every year.  Planned Parenthood, which is suppose to be a non-profit organization, has a CEO that has a salary of over $400 thousand.  Planned Parenthood does not need millions of dollars of our tax money to promote their ideal of death on demand.  Let's give the money back to the taxpayers, or at least give it to those that would receive unwanted children into their homes.

     I knew when I wrote this letter that some have claimed that taxpayer money that goes to Planned Parenthood does not go toward abortion, but other expenses of Planned Parenthood.  This is smoke and mirrors.  If money goes toward paying Planned Parenthood's light bills they have more money to apply towards abortion.  If someone sent money to support a terrorist group, but specified that the money was not to go toward the direct killing of civilians, the benefactor would still be supporting the killing of civilians.

      Shortly after I wrote this letter, the Center for Medical Progress and Planned Parenthood were in the news again.  I was listening to the news on a local Christian radio station when I heard that Planned Parenthood was found innocent of selling fetal tissue by a grand jury in Texas, but two people from the Center for Medical Progress were found guilty for wrongdoing.  I questioned what I heard, and wondered if they had really done something wrong, but that sense of disbelief of what I heard remained with me.  When I was able to dig deeper into the issue it was obvious that they were falsely charged.  One thing that shows the complete incongruity of these charges is that they were charged with buying and selling fetal tissue which is the very thing they were trying to expose!  They were also charged with producing artificial driver's licenses, or false IDs.  This would be necessary to produce the undercover videos as Planned Parenthood would not freely give this information to them.  While some may find fault with their method, it is obvious that their intention was to save unborn babies from wholesale slaughter.  Those that indicted these young people follow the same mindset as those that sent the people who saved the Jews in World War II to prison and death camps.  Killing people and harvesting their property was legal, but those that produced false IDs to save a few innocent people were considered lawbreakers to be punished.

     A couple of Cornell law professors, Sherry F. Colb and Michael Dorf wrote an editorial for CNN and expressed that even though they support the work of Planned Parenthood that they found "the prosecution of these citizen journalists, however self-styled, deeply disturbing."  They recognized that the prosecution of these young journalist could chill undercover journalists everywhere.

    Why do I write this?  It was a concern that others will unjustly question the integrity of the journalists from the Center of Medical Progress and discount the value of their hard work.  Their work is not in vain, and neither is the work of anyone who makes their voices heard. We will not be silent till we see the unborn granted the right to life.

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