Jesus is Like a Chicken

March 3, 2008

“Dad”, Hyrum, my 7 year old said, “Jesus is like a chicken.”

I was a little shocked by the comment.  We’re not in the habit around here of making jokes about the Savior.  Nor do we normally compare Him to things like stinky farm animals. Just something, well, not sacred about it.

My first thought that he was making a joke and a reprimand instantly jumped into my mind. But then I looked closer at his eyes.  He was serious.

Still, I wanted to make sure I had heard him right… “What was that?”

“Dad, Jesus is like a chicken.”

“Oh, really. How’s that?”

“Well, not like a rooster dad, more like a mother chicken.”

Now he really had me. Where was this all going?  What crazy idea was running through this 7-year-old mind?

Putting my arm around him, I said, “Ok, what do you mean, son?”

Without flinching, and looking rather serious and grave, and keeping his eyes locked with mine, he said…

“Well, today I read a story about a mother chicken. When there is danger, she gathers all of her little chickens in under her wings to protect them. I even read about a chicken that was in a forest fire and the mother got burned and died, but the baby chickens were all saved under her wings. A fireman saw that burned mother and thought she was dead, but then he saw something move and realized that those cute little chickens were all still alive so he helped them get out.”

It was said all in one breath, but not rushed, and with total sincerity… just like a 7-year-old would.

I was shocked – stunned really. It was a little boy speaking to me, but the words were deep and profound.

“Ok”, I said slowly, “how is that like Jesus?”

“Dad, when there is sin or danger nearby, Jesus wants to reach out to us and help protect us. He even loved us so much that he protected us by dying, just like that mother chicken. He really loves us, doesn’t He dad?”

Now, I was fighting tears from springing into my eyes. My chest was feeling tight and my stomach was dancing around with emotion.

Reaching out, I took this sweet boy into my arms.  “Yes, son, he really, really does love us.  And I love you.”  “I love you, too.”  And he was off, as if nothing had happened.  And I was left to reflect on the power of the Savior and His example for me as a parent.

Wherever my son picked up that striking analogy, I don’t know. But it left me wondering, “Does Hyrum and the rest of my children know that I love them that much, too?”

As a parent – especially as a dad – do they feel my love? Does it resonate with their soul? Do they wake up in the morning, firm and solid in the undying love I have for them? And when they go to bed, does their head rest softly on their pillows, comforted by the peace of my love surrounding them?

And if they can – or more especially, if they can’t – how can I more strongly transmit my deep love to them?

The answer came to me in the middle of the Arizona high desert while attending the burial services of my wife’s 97-year-old grandmother… a secret I’ll share with you next time…


Capitol Parenting

January 8, 2008

The doctor’s appointment was at 7:50 a.m… and it was an hour away from home.

Several years ago, we noticed that our son Joshua had an eye that was crossing hard.  The ophthalmologist in Montana diagnosed it as strabismus and indicated that Joshua would likely need glasses for the rest of his life.

That prediction proved to be false while simultaneously proving that God does care for and helps His children.

But that is different story for another day.

Margie came into my office at 6:10 a.m. and wanted to know if one or two of the other children could go with us to Salt Lake.  I said sure!  I’d love to have any of them along.  As she turned to leave, the idea to take all of us flashed through my mind.

“Margie, why not take all of us?  I’ll call the school and let them know Isaac and Hyrum will not be coming today.”

In that instant, the house went from enjoying a routine, run-of-the-mill morning, to a high-pitched, fevered, code red environment.  Ten heads of hair needed to be combed. Ten pairs of pajamas needed to be swapped out for traveling clothes.  Ten coats and ten sets of hats, gloves, and scarves needed to be rounded up.  The table needed to be cleared of the breakfast dishes, dishwasher loaded, and ten voices still yet needed to be raised in morning prayers… family prayer could be done in the car.

All in about ten minutes.

The chaos was wonderful!

In the end it all got done and we suddenly found ourselves in  the big brown van on the way up to Salt Lake City.

Following the doctor’s appointment, we resolved to make a full field trip day out of it.  The vote was taken and it was agreed that we’d go over to the Capitol building and learn a bit about government.

Little did we know that the Capitol had just re-opened a few days before, after several years of extensive remodeling and restoration.  The workers had indeed done their jobs well… the place was striking, beautiful, and majestic.

As we entered the House of Representatives’ chamber, the tour guide there drew our attention to several sets of five point stars embossed in granite on the walls.  One set had the foremost point directed upwards, throwing our gaze up and out of that legislative chamber.

Then there was this one lone star which was pointing downward, encouraging our eyes to return to the rich cherry wood desks and deep green carpets.

“The one set of stars pointing upward, reminds us that we should ever turn heavenward to receive help in crafting and building our great government ‘for the people and by the people’.

“The other lone star, with the star tip pointing down, stands as a constant reminder that God is mindful of the actions of men and is ever ready to return supreme wisdom and knowledge in exchange for our petitions.  What’s more, we must never forget that He will hold us accountable for governments we craft and the affect it will have on His children.”

The symbolism inset into the walls of that chamber by a generation 100 years younger than mine, reminded me of the startling differences between their thoughts and attitudes, and those found among mainstream governments today.

And then I realized that, in some ways, the differences were not just to be found in our legislative halls, but, in far too many cases, within the walls of our own homes.

One of the fundamental rules about parenting that I learned a long time ago – and which I was taught again standing in the House of Representatives – is that as a parent, I’m not nearly good enough to raise these children.  I’m not strong enough. I’m not wise enough. I’m not disciplined enough.

This realization demands that I turn to a power stronger, smarter, wiser, and more resolute than I am.  That power, of course, is the Father of us all.

Within the walls of my home, I have resolved to turn my voice and thoughts continually to my real Father, and fervently hope that He will answer my petitions with the wisdom, power, strength, and insights I need, to be a successful parent in today’s complex world.

As a family, we are ten stars pointing heavenward, hoping that One Star will turn His attention downward.  No doubt He will.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords

January 2, 2008

For two weeks I have totally and completely submerged myself in family gatherings, events, dinners, parties… and countless hours of quiet home time with my dear wife Margie and our children.

Projects have been shelved.  Work has been set aside. Urgent church matters have been deferred to another day.  The rush and rumble of daily life has been quieted and slowed down.

And I have just basked in the warm glow and the happy rays of my family’s light.

During that time we have given many hours of thought to a small Babe.  He was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.  We know a little about that here at our house.

There is a barn full of animals in the back yard.  Each morning and each night Jared and Hyrum make their way to the back acre and milk, clean, feed, and water.  There is a manger there that the animals feed out of and a small pile of hay and straw that the hens use for bedding and laying their eggs.

It is not totally disgusting, but then again, it is not a nice Holiday Inn with Serta Plush-top mattresses either.  There is a strong, sickly-sweet smell of animal manure, alfalfa hay, mixed grains, molasses, and common, everyday dirt.

I paused a moment the other day when I happened to be out there and considered this tiny Babe.  None of my children have been born in such a lowly, dirty, and humble room.  They all took their first breath of life in posh, modern hospital rooms, fully equipped with complex machines and intricate medical equipment.

And what of that precious and sweet youthful girl named Mary that carried and delivered the tiny Babe?  The mind cannot imagine her humility or anguish of soul at bringing this Babe into the world in a place like that.  Perhaps only God and she will ever know the emotions that stirred in her heart at walking to that stable heavy with child.

Staring at the straw, the manger, the feed, the animals, the dirt, and the manure, the words of Isaiah came rushing into my mind, as set to music by Handel, “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords!  And He shall reign forever and ever!”

Even now my heart beats wildly at the thought.  My mind reels with the splendor and the awe of it.  My eyes weep unrestrained at the emotion.

You see it was for me – for me personally, and individually that the great God of Heaven and Earth, the Almighty Ruler and Creator of the Universe descended from an eternal throne to subject Himself to a dirty, smelly, lowly stable.

For my sins, my weaknesses, my stupidity, and my arrogance He humiliated and abashed Himself.

For the hope of my joy, my peace, my happiness, and my safe return Home he came to this earth as a helpless Babe, trusting his glorious Being into the hands of parents just like you and me.

But, while all of this (and so much more) was done for me personally and individually, it was not done for me exclusively.  He came for you, too.  He stooped below all things for you, too – for all of His children, everywhere and in every time.  He came for His children.

Yes, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords came for us.  His birth was a call for each of us to come to Him, to embrace Him, to serve Him, and perhaps, most importantly, to follow Him and be like Him.

Can you hear that wee Babe calling to you from that humble stable?

Does the sound of His tiny, pure voice reach out to you and pierce your heart as it does mine?

Does the longing to go into Him, hold Him, and feel of His endless love, consume your heart and soul the way it does mine?

And, my friend, looking on Him – the Father of us all – does a burning erupt in your heart to become a real parent like He is?

Oh, how my whole soul longs to be a real parent like He is!  I wish every flaw, every inconsistency, every act of stupidity, would melt away and vanish from my being so that I could take my children in my arms and love them endlessly and perfectly – just as He loves me.

I want to be a parent like my King, my God, my Father.

So, the modern world rushes and swirls around each of us.  Today, I will be forced to enter those turbulent waters once again.  But through it all, the lowly, dirty stable, with its straw-filled manger stands unmovable, firm and consistent.

The Babe that lies there still calls to us.  He yearns to have us embrace all that He is and all that He teaches and all that He offers us.

Today, I may not be able to do it all, or become all that He wants me to become, but I will try.  I will try.

I will give my heart to this King of King and Lord of Lords who came to earth as the precious Babe Jesus Christ.

There IS A God, And He DOES Answer Prayers – Part II

September 13, 2007

Both the doctor and Margie felt that she would be fine being induced.

I had zero reservations also.

Margie had been induced on all but one of our children and each time it went smooth. In fact, the most nerve wracking experience we have had in bringing our then seven children into this world is on the one that was not induced and did not have an epidural. Isaac, our fifth child, was turned sideways and we wondered if we were every going to get him out. The pain was unbelievable and caused Margie to nearly faint on several occasions. So, my apologies to any “all natural” believers out there, but that is just our experience.

At any rate, we felt that being induced would be just fine.

And after 6 hours of sitting in the hospital, everything was fine. The oxytocin was flowing nicely. The epidural had Margie resting comfortably – even taking 20-30 minute naps here and there! We read together, napped together, talked about the other children and really enjoyed the private time we had (minus the occasional nurse that came in to check on us and that ultra aggravating blood pressure cuff that automatically kicked on every 15 minutes… Margie hates that thing!)

At about the seven hour mark, is when things began to get a bit dicey. As the contractions got stronger and closer together, Sariah’s heart rate would drop out the bottom. 135… then drop… 105. Back up to 123… then drop… down to 85. Slowly back up to 118… then drop… 61.

With the sound up on the heart monitor we could hear the tones drastically change from a high-pitched, swishing sound, to a slow, monotonous pulsating sound. With each drop our anxiety grew and my concern for both mother and child knew no bounds.

Over the next 60 minutes they dropped the oxytocin levels, inserted a head fetal monitor, and watched everything very, very carefully. If these kinds of decelerations continued, the only option left on the table was an emergency c-section. Oh, that dreaded word. We thought, with the good news of the placenta moving up and away from the cervix, that we were past worrying about that word. But here we were again. And this time, it was not just a formality to avoid complications with the placenta, it was a life or death emergency situation for the baby.

Now, to understand what happened next, I need to give you a bit of scriptural background. If you believe in miracles and Godly power, then our experience will not be surprising to you at all. However, if you do not believe, then you are likely to be dubious about what I’m about to tell you. So be it.

In ancient days God granted man the power and authority to act in His name and to be protected by or perform miracles with that power. We see things like Moses parting the Red Sea, Daniel walking out of the lions’ den unscathed, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego standing unharmed in the midst of a fiery furnace, and Elijah calling fire down from heaven, blessing the widow’s flour and oil to last throughout the drought, and finally raising her son from the dead.

Likewise, in the New Testament, Christ is seen healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, causing the lame to walk, casting out evil spirits and raising the dead. After His Ascension, the Apostles are found doing similar miracles.

All of these things were done through the power and authority of God. In our day, God has likewise given that power and authority to man. Through his authorized servants, many, many miracles are performed and people around the world are blessed, just like in days of old.

It has been my lot in life to be among those authorized servants, and to receive the power and authority to bless and heal and act in the name of God. And so, in this very scary situation, where the health of my dear wife and the life of my precious, unborn child hung in the balance, I felt no hesitation is giving my wife a special blessing. Together, we prayed – fervently – and then I blessed her.

The effects of that blessing were immediate and real. It was now about 10:40pm. Immediately following the blessing, the nurse came in (not knowing anything about the prayers and the blessing) and turned the oxytocin completely off. By all reason, this should have almost immediately stopped the contractions – and of course that was the point. The decelerations only occurred during a contraction, so they wanted to give Sariah time to recover and get the heart rate back up.

But, in that blessing, Margie was promised that the delivery would go quickly and everything would be just fine. At the time the oxytocin was turned down, Margie was dilated between 4 and 5 centimeters and about 50% effaced. By all accounts and standard measurements of delivery, she had a ways to go.

With the oxytocin off, the nurse left, confident that we could all take a breather. But God had other plans. Within 2 minutes I noticed that Margie’s whole body position and dynamics began to change. She felt little more than some extra pressure because of the epidural, but I could sense something significant was happening. I watched her for 2 more minutes and knew for sure that she had just gone complete and was in full transition. She knew it too.

I quickly went out and got the nurse. Skeptically, she returned and checked Margie… only to discover that the baby was crowning. The doctor was just down the hall and within another 5 minutes, Margie was ready to push. And one solid push was all it took.

The doctor saw a contraction coming on and said, “Ok, Margie, you can push now.” Margie knew that Sariah could not last long in the birth canal and that she needed to get out quickly. During all of our children’s birth, I have been amazed and stood in total wonder at this stage of delivery. A powerful, glorious, eternal fire ignites in Margie’s eyes as the final, great effort of delivery comes. There is an incredible power of creation that comes over her, as she partners with the Creator of all things and breathe life into a helpless baby.

But, this delivery was unlike anything I had ever seen in Margie before. The look on her personage was indescribable. The power consuming her was tangible and made the air around her tingle with intensity. The light that entered her body shone from her face and radiated from her eyes. And it all was focused and channeled into bringing Sariah safely home.

Sariah did come safely home to us. Today, seven days after her delivery, Sariah and Margie are both healthy and strong – in fact, Margie is enjoying her best recovery yet.

My gratitude to God knows no bounds. I have, on many occasions, since that experience, reflected with tearful eyes, on the miracle that I witnessed. And if you had been with me in that hospital room… and seen the light and fire in Margie’s eyes… and felt the charge in the air as God granted life… and held that tiny, precious baby in your arms… then you, like me, would be compelled to exclaim that there is a God, and He does answer prayers.

There IS A God, And He DOES Answer Prayers – Part I

September 12, 2007

It was one of those things that you really don’t like to hear – didn’t want to hear.

The light in the small room was dimmed so that the ultrasound technician could see the screen better. With Margie lying on her back right next to the machine there was no way she could see the monitor. I guess the doctors got tired of women twisting their neck around to see what was going on, so they mounted a good sized TV on the wall where Margie could see everything the technician was seeing.

As a registered nurse, Margie knew what he was seeing before he handed over the bad news.

Marginal placenta previa.

Since Margie was only in her 20th week, the tech said that there was a good chance the placenta would move up as the baby grew and developed. Still, there was just as likely a chance that it would continue to slide down – which would mandate a c-section… an experience Margie did not want to have. The risks were even higher considering that one of her sisters had the same thing, and it DID move down and she DID have a c-section.

We came home that afternoon and sat all the children down to explain things to them. As a family, through previous experiences we had learned the power of prayer. So, we decided to include a sincere petition in all of our family and meal-time prayers that the Lord would help that slippery placenta move up and not down.

So, over the next 15 weeks adult voices and young voices and tiny little toddler voices rose to heaven eagerly pleading and begging the creator of Heaven and Earth to just help that placenta move up. Some of the children never quite got the name of it right – “Please help the macenas move” or “Please bless the bamestar to go away”.

Well, even if they didn’t get the request right, these 3 and 5 year old boys of ours got spirit of it all right. They love their momma with all their precious little hearts and they really, really wanted her to be healthy and strong and safe.

Most inspiring to me, was the unwavering and consistent faith of all 6 of our children (Mary, our seventh, is still a wee too young to talk, but I’m sure she has great faith too!). In every prayer, in every situation, they ALWAYS remembered to ask God to help their dear momma.

The day of the second ultrasound came and found our family kneeling in the front room with me, once again, lifting my voice to Heavenly Father. Please, please, bless my dear wife and the wonderful mother of these sweet children.

We returned from that visit with hearts lifted and souls satisfied. God had heard our prayers and, at least for the time being, all was well with Margie and the baby – the placenta had moved.

Now, some may say that it was coincidence, it would have moved all on its own. Maybe. But if you had been there and heard those tender voices and heard the love they have for their mother… and if you had been in our home on the day that we returned from the second visit to the ultrasound tech and seen the sublime joy and happiness in their eyes as we told them the placenta had moved… and if you had felt the intense feelings of peace that came over all of us BEFORE we went to the doctor… then, I bet, like us, you would be compelled to acknowledge that there is a God, and He does answer prayers.

There is a wonderful – though scary and nerve wracking – sequel to this story and how Sariah Marjorie Boswell came to our home….

Were They Born for Greatness?

July 13, 2007

Were They Born for Greatness?
In my wanderings through different self-help seminars, books and lectures, I have discovered some remarkable information about the times and seasons that we live in.

As a daddy of 7 (almost eight) wonderful children (yes, all from the same wife, and no there are not any twins… just thought I’d get that out of the way!) I am constantly on the search for way to be a better dad, better husband, better man. This pursuit has lead me down some wonderful paths and I have learned a great deal about how to raise children. I don’t hesitate to say that our children are not perfect – that’s because they are human and have absorbed a good number of my errors. But, that aside, I also don’t hesitate stating that, by most standards – Godly and worldly – my dear children are rising to levels of greatness earlier and faster than I ever obtained… though they still have a ways to go before they catch up to my dear Margie.

It has been said that each generation faces their own set of challenges. I believe that to be true. But, a quick review of history shows that some generations have faced much larger challenges than all the rest. Consider the Founding Fathers and the enormous challenges they faced. They rose to that challenge and created a type of government that had NEVER been created before in the history of mankind. Amazing. And what about the men and women that came through World War II? They thwarted a great evil and rescued us all from a hideous, cruel and violent tyrant. And had the boys in blue not done their duty, my colored friends may still yet be confined to live under the whip and labor under the taskmaster.

Looking at these times of crisis, it is clear to see that there are definitive patterns in history. It is that pattern that I have become fascinated with. It is that pattern that has spawned this blog and may yet grow into a series of books, ebooks, lectures and seminars, for I intent to expand and spread and – dare I say – proselyte?? – this message far and wide.

Let me explain…

Have you noticed that we are not living in the days of peace that many have enjoyed? More than that, have you noticed that globally there is a tide turning and we are rapidly approaching a number of major challenges on multiple fronts. If you are a Christian – which I am happy to confess that I am – you will recognize that many of these events are not news, but part of the course of our earth’s life.

Skipping all the details for now, suffice it say that we are coming into a serious crisis period that will likely equal… no, I should say exceed… the past challenges faced by our nation, and indeed the whole world. If that is true (and I believe without reservation that it is) then those of us with children have an unusual duty and opportunity on our hands.

The children of history that awake into the world just before a dreadful crisis must be stronger, brighter, endowed with more wisdom and trained to live in a different world than most generations. They must be bold, noble, godly, firm and steadfast in their values and leadership… otherwise evil, greedy, destructive men will step in to take the reins of leadership and suppress our freedoms and our liberties and our hopes of peace. This is precisely how Hitler came to power. WWI left a massive void within Europe and particularly within Germany, and there were no great, good leaders to step in and rebuild in positive ways. So, Hitler – a man of enormous leadership, but zero morals – and his Nazis entered a field ripe for cultivating and controlling. Consider this… Hitler and Churchill were both boys and young men just prior to the global crisis.

Our children stand at that same crossroads. And their values will be fashioned in the homes and the environments that we provide for them today. They were born for greatness – of that I am certain. So, as parents we have a charge to both prepare them for the task at hand and embed in them a sense of morals and values so that they will not only assume leadership, but they will assume good leadership.

So, my friends, as parents today, ours is an opportunity to build a new world – to raise greatness in our homes so that they might lift the world to greatness during a dark and troublesome period. And like our Founding Fathers, we should understand and know that the world is watching us and history is poised to record with sharp clarity if we faithfully fulfilled our duties… or if we shunned them.

This blog and the other resources that I will either create or recommend from time to time, are dedicated to raising greatness… to raising children that will reshape our world of chaos.