When assessing the maladies that ail our society, the cornerstone that is the family is turning to dust. The demise of the cornerstone is due to crumbling fathers, and parents in general. A society is built of families, a structure of micro-cultures that will only be as successful as each individual brick.

As bad eggs only yield stinky omelets, so the decay in families will mean a decaying society. Apart from the grace of God, broken homes simply produce broken people and communities that come unglued. We wring our hands over statistics on drug use and teen suicide. We cry out for protection from mass shooters and mourn over human trafficking. Who will deliver us from this imbroglio? There is no hope in the band-aid of the state. Simple schooling devoid of Christianity will not rescue us. More money in the state budget is to no avail. Our only hope is Christ in families. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who labor, labor in vain.

It is far too easy to take fathers and mothers for granted. It is equally too easy to fail in appreciating our children. As a fish knows nothing other than the water it lives in, as we also presume on the air we breathe and the beating of our hearts, so we do with the ones who gave us life and give us joy. It is time to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. This is the only hope for a bright Montana future.

My own parents will turn a young 78 years this spring. Larry DeVries is my father. He is the man I love the most in the world and respect more than any other, though I’ve never looked him in the eyes and spoke it. I believe he is wiser than I ever will be, even with the efforts I exert that direction. He formed the bedrock of our family, the solid ground upon which my mother, Joan DeVries, was able to cultivate and nourish her garden of boys. She is truly a woman her children rise up and call blessed. She is the down mattress on the hard brass bed.

My dad is of the factory generation, where he labored his entire working career. He never complained in my hearing of difficulties with work. Steady and resolute, because of him, our family lacked no good thing. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, often through fathers and mothers, and so it was with Dad and Mom.

Equally uncomplaining was my long-suffering mother, alone in a world of males. Her only gripes arose from the dullness and missteps of the five “boys” in her life. My kids remain firm in the belief she is a sinless saint, and I will let them continue.

Dad and Mom settled not six miles from where their own parents raised them. They grew roots, like those of an oak tree, deep into the community in which they were born. Sacrifice was for them a reflex, an innate desire to give their boys and consequent grandkids and great-grandkids better lives; to provide richer soil in which to raise their own children.

Sending four boys through Christian school from kindergarten through graduation is an incredibly costly investment, which meant foregoing the pleasures of the world. It was never a question, however, and when Mom would balance the checkbook at the table, there was no hint of how many pennies were actually left at the end of the month. There was no hint either of any difficulty between Dad and Mom, or in the family’s future as we ate family dinners and Dad read the Bible and prayed. That is the mastery with which they navigated their family through the difficulties that were undoubtedly present at stem and stern, unknown to us boys.

They will celebrate 58 years of marriage in April, in spite and because of the hardships that come with “wedded bliss.” A cord of three strands is not easily broken, and the one they’ve fashioned with the Lord steadies their boys come wind, come weather.

Nothing makes me more proud than to know that my Father in heaven and my father in Michigan (through the miracle of the internet) watch my work at the Capitol, my mother looking over Dad’s shoulder, wincing and mincing.

I raise my glass, my heart, and my gratitude to my father and mother, and bid you all do the same. Love your children and honor your parents. God bless Montana and her families.

Rep. Greg DeVries (R-Jefferson City) represents House District 75. Contact him at greg.devries@mtleg.gov and via his Facebook page “Greg DeVries for Montana House District 75.”

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