Good Night Home…

September 22, 2007

The small cuckoo clock in the front living room rings every hour and half hour.

Actually, its not a cuckoo clock at all – it is an old Dutch sanse clock that I got from a flea market just outside of Nijmegen, Netherlands. It has the mystical god Atlas mounted atop a chime – and of course, Atlas is holding up the world.

The chime is small, but clear and beautiful. The truth is we have gotten so used to it, that I’m not sure anyone in the house really notices it anymore. But, I do… at least I try to around 7pm.

Seven chimes are important around our house. They tell us that the afternoon is spent, the working hours are past and it is time to “put the house to bed.”

The chimes are almost always heard while we are sitting at the dinner table, finishing up our evening meal together. “Hurry guys! We’ve got to get this house put to bed!” Everyone knows that is the call to arms.

Esther snaps to attention and grabs the broom and begins sweeping the floor.

Joshua slowly but surely takes command of the sink and dishwasher.

Jared – when he finally stops playing around and making everyone laugh – starts heading out to do the evening chores with Hyrum.

Hyrum grabs a half gallon pitcher and goes with Jared to do chores… that would be milking the goat for Hyrum and feeding the animals for Jared.

Isaac and Brigham pick up the floor and clear the table.

Mary gets a bottle and heads down to bed.

Sariah and Margie quietly sit in the rocking chair singing lullabies and nursing.

When it is all said and done, the hustle, bustle and clutter of the day are swept aside. The dishes are done, the floor clean, and the table cleared. The cushions on the couches (always in a state of disarray from pillow fights, tickle time, naps, and fort making) are fluffed and put back in their proper place. The bathroom is straightened up and the library floor is cleared of the countless books that have been pulled off shelves by little hands and eager minds.

In short, our little home is ready for another day of chaos, fun, learning, eating, playing, and resting.

Pajamas are on and everyone goes down the staisr to start the bedtime ritual. With the upstairs empty, I make the rounds, turning out lights and inspecting the night’s work. More often than not, I find myself pausing at the light switch between the dining room and hallway. From there I can see into the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, down to the bathroom and a small glimpse of my office. Call me a romantic, nostalgic fool, but in my mind I can see the little feet pattering over the tile floor… I see the older children learning, reading, writing, and learning at the table… I hear the voices of laughter, and yes, sometimes frustration and anger, as my children learn to get along together… I see the bright eyes of home and the mess of living with 8 children.

A sense of awe and wonder always fills me in those reflective moments. “How can life be so rich, so full, so exciting, so wonderful?” I wonder. It’s times like this when the goodness and greatness of God simply overwhelm me.

With that, I sigh, reach out and turn out the last light. In the darkness, peals of laughter and the sounds of bedtime come drifting up the stairs, beckoning to me like an irresistible siren’s song.

As I reach the stairs, that old Dutch clock in the living room peals its own quiet note of laughter – 7:30pm and all is well. As the sweet sound reaches my ears I whisper, “Good night home,” and I eagerly head down to join the fun.


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….


A Peaceful Farewell Born of Confidence

July 19, 2007

The red rock and sands of the Kanab, UT valley crunched under the van tires as I gave three short honks of the horn.Margie’s window was rolled down so that she could both extend her arm out toward our daughter Esther and be heard as she called out a final farewell.

It would be almost a full week before we could hold, interact, and enjoy our oldest child. For some, 6 days does not seem that long, but for us, it felt like we were losing a part of us as we drove away leaving her standing in our sister’s driveway. At just 10 years old, this would be the first time she spent more than a day or two away from home.

The three honks have become a tradition for us whenever Margie or I go anywhere. It represents the kind phrase, “I love you” and leaves a lasting impression in our minds of the love we have for each other.

As we drove away, I did a quick self-check of my emotions. “What am I feeling right now?” I wondered to myself. Anxiety, fear, relief, sorrow, happiness? What?

Peace. That’s the first thing that hit me. “I’m feeling peaceful.”

I lingered on that thought. Why was I feeling peaceful at letting my 10 year old daughter go down to Mesa, AZ for 6 days for a summer camp where she would be exploring remote caves in the Red Mountains02, learning to water ski on large reservoirs, hiking rattlesnake infested desert trails, and doing service projects outside in the blistering 104 degree summer heat?

On the surface, it did not make sense… but a quick look at my dear Margie told me she was feeling the same thing.

Why?

I thought about that during the 4.3 hour drive home and discussed it with Margie.

Confidence – that was the source of our peaceful feelings.

It was a confidence born of daily routines in our life that have instilled in our daughter a solid knowledge of right and wrong. More than that, this young girl was proven in converting information into wisdom and keeping her head about her in difficult situations. And while she is pure in heart and mind, she is by no means naive. She knows that evil and dangers are lurking out there in the big, wide world, but her faith in an all-powerful God allows her to face it with unwavering courage.

In our journey toward the “Land of Family Greatness”, we have discovered that a simple daily routine filled with some essentials – not just good things – is making all the difference in how our children face the world.

Here is what our morning looks like each day. I’ll give it to you with very little commentary and leave it to you to see if there is value in this:

  • 6:00 am – wake up, get morning outdoor chores done (around here this includes milking the goats and getting feed for the goats, chickens, and horses.)
  • 6:30 am – breakfast
  • 7:00 am – Family scripture and prayer time. This is not just reading a few verses and call it good… this is typically a pretty in-depth discussion (sometimes we get hung up on half a verse, spending 30 or 40 minutes applying it to our lives… VERY rewarding)
  • 7:45 am – morning indoor chores (this is basically cleaning the kitchen and house – they’ve each got their areas of stewardship and it goes pretty smooth)

In the summer, the rest of the day includes a wide range of activities and during the school year they are off to school.

Now, here is what happens every night…

  • 7:30 pm – get the PJ’s on and head down to bed.
  • 8:00 pm – tuck everyone in and spend a few minutes with each child. “What was the best part of your day? What did you learn? How did (fill in the blank) go for you today?” etc… If I’m not too tired, I let them pick a song and I sing them each something – usually a hymn, but sometimes a funny song that gets everyone laughing…
  • 8:30 pm – “Zip the lip” time – everyone is quiet now, but me. I lay down in the hallway and read to them. First, I take 10-15 minutes and read a scripture story or something else morally and spiritually meaningful to them. Often, I’ll ask questions and we briefly discuss it. Then, it is time for a novel. Over the years, during those evening reading sessions, we have enjoyed books like, “Swiss Family Robinson”, “The Secret Garden”, all 12 of the Elsie Dinsmore books, “Five Little Peppers”, all 7 Chronicles of Narnia, “Robin Hood”, and many others. What a joy this has been… and what a treasure of wealth we have acquired from these classics!
  • 9:30 pm – One final drink of water, a good night kiss, and lights out.

Peace – that is what we felt in sending our 10 year old off into the big, wide world for the first time.