Saturday, July 8, 2017

God is Sometimes a Fourth-Watch God

Christ walking on the sea, by Amédée Varint
Oh how I wish God was always a first watch God! Don't we all!!  Sometimes He is! I have countless experiences, as I'm sure you all do, of  God hearing and answering a prayer or a pleading immediately.  But sometimes, that is not His will. Sometimes the Lord's will is for us to experience some struggle and for things NOT to go the way we expect. If the Lord was there to answer  our prayer RIGHT when we wanted, and exactly how we wanted,  there would be no growth.  Our roots would not dig down deep, and when storms came, we would not have the faith to with stand the winds. I know its in the 2nd and 3rd watch that I am really tested and really grow to become who God needs me to be. He comes in the 4th watch when it really matters, and He. does. come. 

6 months ago, my husband's employment of 18 years, ended. Since then, we have struggled to understand the whys and how comes, and now whats? We have come to the knowledge that the  Lord will try His people as we have tried to be disciples of Christ. Because of that, I know the Lord is with us, and has a plan for the sudden upheaval in our family's life. Until then, we wait on Him, and turn over every stone, and go down every path we know of to find new employment.

The idea of God sometimes being a 4th watch God comes from the New Testament, and came to me from a friend who knew I needed to be reminded of how God does deliver His people in our times of trial and waiting on Him, but it is sometimes in the fourth watch, when you think the time is past.

For information purposes, the Hebrew nights was  roughly divided into 4 watches:

  • 6:00 PM-9:00PM = 1st watch
  • 9:00 PM- Midnight= 2nd watch
  •  Midnight-3:00 AM= 3rd watch
  • 3:00 AM-Sunrise= 4th watch

In the days of Abraham and Sarah of the Old Testament, God watched Abraham and Sarah carefully
thru their righteous, faithful lives.  Abraham was 99 and Sarah 89 when God made the Abrahamic Covenant with them that they would have an increase of seed without end.  Sarah was 90 when she gave birth to Isaac, a time in a womans' life when it is way past the child bearing years, she delivered her first-born child and became a mother. Isaac was later also saved from death when Abraham was commanded to sacrifice Isaac in what would appear to us to be the last minute, the fourth watch.  (Genesis 21)

In another time on the sea of Galilee we see the disciples on the water.

The term "fourth watch" comes from an account in Mark in the New Testament when the Savior came to them in what was the literal "fourth watch". After the Savior fed the 5,000 he sent His Apostles away down to the Sea of Galilee. During the night a storm comes up. It was a bad enough storm in John's account the Apostles row for the equivalent of approximately 75 football fields against the wind. They are exhausted, tired, and their hope is starting to grow thin. Sound familiar?

Mark 6:48
And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them. 

This is such a perfect phrase, the wind was contrary to them, and that they toiled in rowing. I know I toil in rowing against the wind.  We are fighting and pushing through our trials, we want it to be over, but its not yet, so we have to keep rowing until relief comes.

John 6:19
  So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus        walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 

Thirty furlongs is the equivalent of 75 football field in  length against the wind. That literally exhausts me thinking of that, but we've all been there before in that type of struggle through a trial or hardship.
The Savior saw  them in their struggle on the sea and was looking down on them from the mountain area he was in near the sea. Don't you think the Lord looks down on us in our struggling?  He's watching us toil in our rowing in contrary winds, and we may not know He sees us.

Then in the 4th watch of the night, He came unto them walking on the water. 

The Lord is sometimes a Fourth-Watch God.  I know there have been many times when the prayer was answered in the 11th hour and 59 seconds! There must be something to the timing of God waiting, and us waiting on Him, toiling in rowing, contrary winds, then the rescue comes. Before that hour, we may assume He will not bless us, He is not there, He is not listening, or we aren't worthy or good enough in some way. 

We need to remember we ARE good enough, He is there watching and waiting.  We have not yet reached the fourth watch, and when we reach it, He will come. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

General Conference Links

All of my previous links to Conference food and journals will be at the bottom of the post. Feel free to use and share those all  you want. That's the trivial part of conference and I would even say the "fun" part, although I love all of conference and feel it is the best kind of "fun" there is!!

  • As you prepare for Conference, begin making a list of questions you would like answered. Then as you listen to conference, you will be amazed how your questions are all answered. 
  • Next, listen for the testimonies of the leaders, any warnings, and how they testify of Christ. 
  • Finally, write down inspiration you receive for yourself throughout the talks.It's good to write down awesome quotes and teachings from the leaders, but YOU will get messages for YOU in those talks. Listen for that, and write them down!  That becomes  your personal scripture for your life. 

Conference Links:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Understanding Christ's Love for Us media images
Interesting fact:  the term "unconditional love" appears no where in scripture. Did you know that?  It's not even an actual scriptural term.

 Instead, you will find words like great, wonderful, perfect, redeeming, and everlasting to describe the kind of love that Christ has for us.

The word unconditional is an adjective meaning; not subject to any conditions.  That does not coincide with what I understand about God, His laws, principles.  His love is everlasting and great, but He will always love us, but God does not tolerate any and all behavior.

There is a mistaken impression in the world today that God tolerates and excuses anything we do because His love is "Unconditional" or that God makes no demands upon us because His love is "Unconditional" or we are ALL saved because His love is "Unconditional".

Loving Christ, coming unto Him, and letting our will be swallowed up in His enables us to reach our full potential as children of God, to eventually, become as He is.

  •  This means we have to accept needed correction at times, 
  • Submit to His will
  • Love and serve others
  • Ask "What Lack I Yet?" 
  • Know that just being a good person, isn't enough. We have to be willing to make needed changes in ourselves. 
  • Faith plus action is key

Christ's love for us is such a redeeming love, meaning He wants to make us BETTER, higher, stronger, and greater than even we see ourselves as being.  

See Elder D. Todd Christofferson's talk Abide in My Love

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kindness Matters- Eliminating Contention

Heceta Lighthouse Head, Oregon Coast

There is nothing I dislike more than contention and anger. It hurts, it cuts, and it destroys peace, love and the spirit. 

Most of the suffering I have gone through in my life can be traced back to contention, anger, and of coarse pride .  I was blessed to grow up in very peaceful home with  laughter rather than contention. My mother didn't put up with much contention, and I try not to either.  In my home I have strived relentlessly to teach my children to get along, love each other, and speak kindly to one another.

I have a sign that sits on my entry room table that reads "Kindness Matters".   I couldn't agree more. Kindness is the one thing that always matters.

Contention is wrong and is of the devil (see source)

Strife, arguing, and disputations. Contention, especially ...between family members, is not pleasing to the Lord.
  • Let there be no strife between me and thee:Gen. 13:8;
  • Pride causes contention:Prov. 13:10;
  • If any man have a quarrel against any, forgive as Christ forgave:Col. 3:13;
  • Avoid foolish questions and contention:Titus 3:9;
  • The Lord commands men not to contend with one another:2 Ne. 26:32;
  • Ye will not suffer your children to fight and quarrel with one another:Mosiah 4:14;
  • Alma commanded that there be no contention among Church members:Mosiah 18:21;
  • Satan spreads rumors and contention:Hel. 16:22;
  • The devil is the father of contention and stirs up men to contend with one another:3 Ne. 11:29; ( Mosiah 23:15; )
  • Establish my gospel, that there may not be so much contention:D&C 10:62–64;
  • Cease to contend with one another:Doctrine and Covenants136:23;
Elder Robert B. Hales said in his conference address on Sunday how parents are to be loving teachers in our homes.  
"The most important work we do in our homes is through the power of the Holy Ghost. Whenever we raise our voices in anger, the spirit leaves our companionships, and our families."
Teaching moments to teach gospel truth and morals to our children- arise and we should take advantage of those moments.  I have had many such moments with my family, and they are the richest most joyful times of parenthood.

There are teaching moments however that should never happen. Moments when the parent figure loses their temper, and instead of teaching in love, they use guilt trips, needless scolding, putting someone in their place, belittling, and hateful comments said only to cut and hurt, and control. These, my friends, are not teaching moments. They are contentious and not of the holy spirit, and do not build a family. They tear a family and build wedges in relationships.

In strengthening us in our most  important role as parents and helping us overcome the contention that can arise in any family or relationship, several conference talks come to my mind:
The Merciful Obtain Mercy ( President Uchtodorf's famous "Stop It" talk)
What Lack I Yet? (Elder Larry R. Lawrence)
Beware of Pride (President Ezra Taft Benson)

To name a few.

In 2009 President Thomas S. Monson gave a great talk titled
"If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry."
“Anger doesn’t solve anything. It builds nothing, but it can destroy everything.”
"We’ve all felt anger * It can come when things don’t turn out the way we want *It might be a reaction to something which is said of us or to us * We may experience it when people don’t behave the way we want them to behave * Perhaps it comes when we have to wait for something longer than we expected * We might feel angry when others can’t see things from our perspective "

"The Apostle Paul asks in Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 26 of the Joseph Smith Translation: “Can ye be angry, and not sin? let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” I ask, is it possible to feel the Spirit of our Heavenly Father when we are angry? I know of no instance where such would be the case."

School thy feelings, O my brother;
Train thy warm, impulsive soul.
Do not its emotions smother,
But let wisdom’s voice control.
School thy feelings; there is power
In the cool, collected mind.
Passion shatters reason’s tower,
Makes the clearest vision blind "
                                                                                        -Charles Penrose 

From 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, we read:
“There shall be no disputations among you. …

“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
“Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”
To be angry is to yield to the influence of Satan. No one can make us angry. It is our choice. If we desire to have a proper spirit with us at all times, we must choose to refrain from becoming angry. I testify that such is possible.
Anger, Satan’s tool, is destructive in so many ways.
Contention hurts.  I hope none of us are people who stir up contention, hold grudges, or choose to be offended easily. Life is hard.   We may not get our way. We may have to roll with a new plan, we may have to bite our tongue and choose peace when we want to yell. However, we must be kind and we  must choose the Savior's way of peace and wisdom.
Regrets are hard to retrieve, and even harder to erase.  Let's be loving, forgiving, and kind.
In the words of Elder Hales from his latest talk at General Conference:

"You lift me and I'll lift you and we'll ascend together"

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Checking in Again with Hope

Checking in again...  it's been a while.

What busy blessings we have been busy with!!  Missions, Marriages, and Babies.

In the past four years, we have had three daughters serve missions.

It was so incredible to watch each of them grow, stretch, and become while on their missions. Missions are great, but they aren't easy. Each of our daughters had moments when they theoretically walked through their own Gethsemane. What awesome growth came through their experiences! It was also the greatest mother moment ever, when they each returned  home! 

 We also in the past year and a half , had 3 daughters get married.

 The weddings were beautiful!! Each one I learned a little bit more about  weddings and how to plan them! More importantly though, it was special to prepare my daughters for marriage and marriage covenants.

The Young Woman Theme is actually reciting in my head...
"...we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation."

                                           There is a collective "YES"  enthusiastically spoken by all mothers who have nurtured their children toward these gospel milestones. The real cheering happens when those children in turn, choose the path that leads to the temple and to covenants on their own, and have chosen the person most likely to help them achieve it all.

And in the past year, we have had our first 2 grand babies born. 

I have come to know that  THIS is what life is all about, THIS is what matters, and THIS is my joy! That joy which gives me so much hope!

I have been pondering the Christ-like attribute of HOPE lately and what it is exactly and how to live with hope.

As I sat down to write this long over-due post, I kept having analogies of a rusty old bike and how it relates to hope. (RUST is good by the's our last name)

I feel like that rusty old bike sometimes. I've been through some trials, I'm a  little out of shape spiritually some days, a little broken and in need of the Savior, and a little worn out. I wonder if I can keep up with what is expected of me, and in some cases, still do what I once did before? 

Through the Savior and His Atonement He can take the rusty old bike side of me, and make me radiant and new again.

 "Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill His promises to you. It is manifest in confidence, optimism, enthusiasm, and patient perseverance. It is believing and expecting that something will occur. When you have hope, you work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for your good. Hope helps you conquer discouragement. The scriptures often describe hope in Jesus Christ as the assurance that you will inherit eternal life in the celestial kingdom.
There is a wonderful talk by Neil A. Maxwell , Plow in Hope, Ensign May 2001

  This talk is full of incredible quotes that could make a great quote book. Each quote paints an interesting and faithful picture in our mind.  The title of Plow in Hope is interesting enough and intriguing to our senses. Here's a few quotes that touched me:
"...the world is “in commotion,” but the kingdom is in forward motion as never before! (see D&C 88:91; D&C 45:26). Its distinctiveness is being more sharply defined by adverse trends in the world, where traditional values are not fastened down by the rivets of the Restoration. They are sliding swiftly" 
"Yes, we have unprecedented mass entertainment and mass communications, but so many lonely crowds. The togetherness of technology is no substitute for the family. "
  "The Lord is always quietly refining His faithful people "
"Since faith in the timing of the Lord may be tried, let us learn to say not only, “Thy will be done,” but patiently also, “Thy timing be done.” 
"Failure to serve the Master in small ways estranges us from Him" 
"Given the “fierceness” Christ endured for us, we cannot expect a discipleship of unruffled easiness. " 
"...let us not, as some do, mistake the chips we have placed on our own shoulders for crosses" 
"If, like the Savior, we do not “shrink,” then we must go with the demanding flow of discipleship, including where the tutoring doctrines of the Master take us. Otherwise, we may walk with Jesus up to a point, but then walk no more with Him " 
Thus within the discipleship allotted to us, we are to overcome the world, to finish the work we personally have been given to do; to be able to partake of a bitter cup without becoming bitter; to experience pouring out our souls; to let our wills increasingly be swallowed up in the will of the Father; to acknowledge—tough though the tutoring trials—that, indeed, “All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” 

I don't know all the ways that this talk may touch you, I just know it will. So I hope you decide to experiment upon the word today and read it. It's a great one.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mothering Teenage Daughters

One of my favorite mother quotes is the one pictured to the left "Life doesn't come with  manual, it comes with a Mother".

Isn't that true?! I know I have had a few mothering moments, that I wish I had a manual for.

The best things I had going for me when I became a mother, was that I had a great mother myself.

When we mother, we are mothering generations.

When I started having all girls,( we have 8)  I received a lot of comments about how terrible the teenage years were going to be for me. Our first four daughters are 3 years apart due to having our first two  15 months apart, and then twins. I  had so many sympathy blessings given to me in dread of what was to be the worst and most painful part of my whole mothering career: the teenage years.

I am embarrassed to admit, when my children were little, I lived in fear of those years.  How was I going to safely navigate that time safely with my sanity it tact??

I am happy to report that after successfully navigating the waters of 6 teenage daughters so far, that it has been a pretty good experience. I have been pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed my teenage daughters, and their friends. In fact, I can honestly say, I feel it is one of my favorite stages of motherhood, instead of my worst, which I feared it would be. 

The teenage daughter years can be great!! Here are some ways we found to navigate the waters successfully.

1.   Begin early to have a positive open relationship with your daughters: 

A primary goal we should have as parents, is to have the kind of relationship with our children, so that they want to be with us, and want to talk to us, sharing many feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
That creates a rich, close family bond.  It is really the ideal family experience that will only grow with time.

Don't you want your children to talk to you?  Don't you want to have a relationship with them, where they will come to you for needed advice, counsel, or the best- maybe just to talk  for fun? 

You shouldn't wait until your children are teenagers for that kind of relationship.  If they talk to you, it is because that is a relationship skill you have developed long before the teenage years.  It starts early, so that the flow into the teenage era goes naturally with out a hitch. 

Keep in mind that, girls like to talk. Make time for it. It is usually after school, when you are busy doing something, bedtime, and anytime! That is one way they deal with their day to day experiences.  They are complex, and sometimes they are seeking for answers, but mostly they just want to be understood.  It has taken my poor husband 25 years to understand this, and sometimes he still forgets. 

My daughters all want to talk  and discuss with me (and their dad) their problems.  We know a lot when it comes to their personal lives, because they tell us almost everything. They want to talk to us! Now, I am not naive enough to think they tell us EVERY-THING. I know they don't. I do know, however, that they feel we are a safe zone if they need to talk.

What does a safe zone look like? 

A safe zone is a place where your children can come and talk and you : 1)listen more than you speak. This creates a feeling of safety that they are not going to be attacked with words or punishment before they get their story out  2) you won't rush to judge or condemn unnecessarily  3) love them through the conversation with body language, facial expression, and an attitude they will feel that they are loved no matter what, and 4) when the conversation ends, they somehow feel in charge, and ready to handle their own problems with tools and advice you have given. Sometimes just listening, helps them discover this on their own. 

2: How to keep your children from NOT talking to you:

Before writing this post, I asked my adult daughters, what keeps kids from wanting to talk to their parents about things? Their answer surprised me a little, but then it made total and complete sense. Keep in mind this is geared to the teenager-adult children spectrum, but it's good advice for anyone.    When parents start controlling their children's decisions, kids withdraw, emotionally and physically. It could be a self-conscious instinct.  

We all seek to be able to exercise our own free will to choose. It's a super tricky parenting skill, and relationship skill in general. Tell your children what to think, control what they do, cut them off as they are talking to tell them what you are thinking instead,rush to judgement on their ideas, or make them feel stupid for an idea they have. They will make a note to themselves: "Don't tell mom or dad.... (fill in the blank) " and they will start keeping information from you.  These are  tricky waters to navigate, and it is our human nature to want to control (help) our children. 

When they are young, we do need to govern their lives,  but this needs to change when they get older. When our children  marry our role changes up a bit again. We sit back more, letting them figure things out with their spouse, but being ready for advice when they come asking for it.  Invite but don't control.  Definitely don't control, scold, or put them in their place. At  this point, you are building on the friendship side of your relationship you built and invested in earlier in life.

 It is a hard part of good parenting.  There are of coarse, tough parenting situations, which I don't feel qualified  to speak about. We have been blessed more or less, with not too hard of kids.

3. Have fun and lighten up  a bit

Don't forget to enjoy the ride of parenting.  If you are too overloaded with too many one is having any fun! Believe me!  Focus on the most important things and enjoy the journey a bit.

4.  Have expectations & Have your own family rules: :

It is a proven fact, that a person will rise as far as he is expected to rise. We have always had high expectations for our children, and boundaries they needed to stay within. There is safety in that concept.  Don't worry about what all they other neighbors and parents are doing or not doing. Do what is right for your family. 

Have chores, cooking, and family responsibilities for your family.

But remember: your children are always watching to see if you are practicing what you preach! Live the rules you are asking them to live.  

Come up with rules of living,  to be a strong happy family. Don't give in to the pressure to follow society or neighborhood trends. Good parenting comes in having good relationships.

An example of having your own family rules for us would be sleep overs. We used to be a huge sleepover family when our four oldest were younger. I never really loved them to be honest. I liked knowing  my children were safe in their beds at night, and I wasn't a big fan of sleepovers at my house. Many times, the kids coming over were hoping for a rule-less night of fun, and that always clashed with our family dynamic. We don't have a lot of harsh rules, but we have a sense of order we like to function by.  I found sleep-overs stressful for me on both ends.

Everyone is doing it. But we decided to not to.  We still have family sleepovers with cousins, and we have sleepovers occasionally if a friend needs a place to stay, or their parents are out of town, etc. It's not a never, but we generally don't do them.

This is just an example. Look at your family and make sure you know why you are doing what you are doing, and you aren't just following a trend.

5) Be Prepared for the Hormones

All jokes aside, its a real part of life with teenage daughters.  Once a month the hormones will hit. Usually it is not the emotional aches, but the body aches.  Be prepared with the obvious supplies, plus medication if needed. We always have a quart jar for really severe tummy aches.  The weight and heat of the jar-  together -soothe when nothing else will.  (fill a quart jar with water, microwave for 3 minutes, add lid and ring and put on lower tummy area)  We have had cysts, and surgeries for cysts, etc. It's a real thing! Watch over your daughters health in this regard.

6) Love your girls!!

We love our girls more than words can say!!  We have built our lives and house around raising them. Every part of the journey is fun and memorable. When they leave the house, it doesn't stop! Then you have son-in-laws and grand-babies. Family is a wonderful investment!  It is what we are here for. Be grateful for who the Lord gave you to raise and love!