Kathleen Gilbert

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Virginia winery a delicate blend of faith, family, and love of the land

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
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HUNTLY, VIRGINIA, July 6, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) - The view at Rappahannock Cellars is breathtaking. An afternoon in late June brings a cooling mist that hovers just above quiet hills blanketed in bright green vines. The remote locale, with quiet, homey rooms and giant windows overlooking the countryside, seem to breathe: peace.

Inside, after popping open a bottle of Merlot, owner John Delmare tells of how he once described the somewhat grim reality behind it all to an audience of prospective vineyard owners whose ideas were still a little too romantic.

“I just got done processing 80 tons of fruit almost by myself this year,” he told them, “I work 12-14 hour days, dripping wet. I’ve still got this massive cold. I haven’t got a haircut in six months - and I got a bump on my head because I was trying to get some wine down and a bottle fell off, and I figured the best way to catch it was with my head.”

Rappahannock isn’t nearly the size of many of its neighbors in the highly competitive Virginia winery market, certainly not big enough to take the bulk of work off the shoulders of Delmare and his family. Yet it is one of the most successful, with careful, sustainable growing practices, producing 6,000 barrels a year from its 20 acres.

Although clearly passionate about the vintner’s art, even optimizing different grape varieties within the property’s many “micro-climates,” Delmare said the key to success has been his homeschooled family of 12 children - which brings its own unique bragging rights.

“Most wineries brag about being family owned and run, but not many can brag about their young children (ages 9 to 14 at the time,) working joyfully on their hands and knees, planting our original 15 acres of Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Viognier, and Cabernet Sauvignon,” states the vineyard’s website.

Business is booming at Rappahannock despite a difficult location - the winery is a 1.5 hour trek from D.C. - and even less glitz: Delmare noted that the rustic Rappahannock lacks the “Taj Mahal kind of building that others do.” Meanwhile, the winery boasts 1,100 members, including some who have been with Rappahannock since its beginning 10 years ago - something “unheard of,” according to Delmare.

“Why are we more successful than most out there? We make really good wines, and I think we provide an atmosphere that people don’t get anywhere else,” he said.

While other wineries are often implicitly adults-only, the family orientation at Rappahanock is noticeable from the first: a corner full of toys immediately greets visitors with children. Although most of Delmare’s children are now grown, he started out, he says, as “the guy in the tasting room [with] my younger kids” keeping him company.

Maintaining a family life at Rappahannock is no easy task:. The winery is open 360 days a year, leaving only five days each year for everyone to relax together. But the work means more than just a business to Delmare, who says his journey of faith was what cemented Rappahannock’s foundation.

“God has blessed us here,” he said, “so we’re trying to give back, first and foremost.”

The couple originally hails from California, where John Delmare first fell in love with the winemaking industry, but as an unbeliever: “I didn’t come into the Church until my fifth child was in the oven. Here I was, an agnostic at best in California with a fifth child on the way.”

Although his wife Lisa was raised Catholic, Demare said she was “was voted in high school the least likely ever to get married or have children.” It was his wife’s reversion to her Catholic faith that sparked Delmare’s own conversion, and the family suddenly found themselves seeking richer spiritual soil. Although the California climate is far more favorable to grapes, they settled down to begin again near the Catholic homeschooling hub of Front Royal.

“Tending a vineyard, you can really understand why Our Lord chose it for so many parables,” said Delmare. While “not all crops are beautiful,” the vineyard is a very different story. “When you’re up [working] at six o’clock in the morning…you can’t help but raise your eyes to Heaven and praise God.”

“It was so clear that God just opened door after door…there’s no question in our mind that God put us here.”

The Delmares have made their vineyard home a site of gentle evangelizing. Above one large window framing a view of vine-covered hills is written, “Introibo ad vineam Dei, ubi copia faetitiae est”: “I shall go into the vineyard of God, where there is great rejoicing.” Crosses here and there, and a Sacred Heart statue on the far side of the barn, also give clues to Rappahannock’s religious roots.

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“We really don’t cram our family or our faith down people’s throats, but we don’t hide it either,” Delmare said. “Every once in a while you get that one person who will never come back as a result.” But for the most part, regarding their faith, “people I think have a certain warmness in their heart, whether they’re believers or not believers.”

Perhaps Rappahannock’s staying power comes from the fact that, unlike other destination spots in the D.C. area, what it offers is truly exotic to an isolated modern society.

“People don’t have families anymore,” said Delmare. “People come here and they feel like they’re a part of the family. And they connect with that.”

 

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

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By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

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Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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