Stephenson Family Ties The Barn Burnt Down
And Now I See The Moon
We meditate to discover our own identity, our
right place in the scheme of the universe. 
Through meditation we aquire and eventually
acknowledge our connection to an inner power
source that has the ability  to transform our outer
world.  In other words, meditation  gives us not
only the light of insight but also the power for
expansive change.
from: The Artist Way

I cant put my finger on why it is that hiking inspires me to blog.  I miss, miss blogging.  I have missed, missed hiking.  Weight lifting is a gas...I really love it...but I guess there are no gorgeous vistas to down time to just take in the scenery and to breath. Too many sweaty, straining faces at the gym...who wants to see that!!??

I am so, SO grateful that Brian and Mericar are in town now...for now we have plans!!! Lots of plans for hiking. I almost feel reborn.  Hopeful.
Today we picked a moderate hike...for we had grands in tow. Anna and David are rock stars! They toted those kiddos on their backs and in their arms most of the time!! Thanks Blacksmith Barbell for the strength training there!!

It was a beautiful Labor Day Monday. Even My Builder joined us!!  I think the grands would follow him anywhere!! Even up a mountain!!

William may grow up to be a rock hound.  He was always on the hunt to find a precious rock to put in his pocket. I believe the headboard of his bed is lined with such treasures.  He is our treasure!

 Did I mention that the morning was glorious!! The clouds...the tint of fall colors on  the trees in the distance.  It  rained  last night...and everything smelled amazing...the grass was bent over with the weight and coolness of the moisture! Perfection!!
 This little grand is a talker!! Hiking opens up his mind...even more...and he talked to all of us about anything...things that most four year olds dont articulate.  What a boy!!  Growing his legs stronger so he can be an even better hiker!!

And look what we found as the hike drew to a close. A lovely "St George" colored caterpillar!! He was a tickling treat!!
Mountains are giant, restful, absorbent. 
You can heave your spirit into a 
mountain and the mountain will keep
it, folded, and not throw it back as some
creeks will.  The creeks are the world 
with all its stimulus and beauty; l live
there.  But the mountains are home.
from: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
by: Annie Dillard

It was a glorious afternoon, sweating, and huffing and puffing and mostly watching the rear ends of those I love recede before me.  But I was out on a trail!!!
Now that Brian and Mericar have moved back to Logan...I hope to hike at least once a week with them before the snow flies!! Today I am sure I hiked about 8 miles round trip. We were on the Bunchgrass Trail..a little east of Tony Grove...up Logan Canyon.  We got to the top...or at least we thought it the top...before it began to head down again, with no lake in sight...and thats when  I knew it was time for me to head back to my car. I was spent!! BandM continued on...for they had plans to camp somewhere up there in the quaking aspens. I DO NOT sleep on the it was my cue to turn around and high tail it home.
Really!?!?  Its only Sept 3rd  for petes sake and leaves are already beginning to change up here. How will an old lizard like myself deal with this reality!!??
No more coral dust between my toes either. Up here it seems its going to be alpine dust mixed with cow dung...oh boy.  We shared the whole live  long trail with lots of cows...all of which were less than happy we were disturbing their fall fattening on the slopes.
Cows to the left of me,..jokers to the right!!!
The skies were constantly changing as we trudged along.  I trudged...they seemed to glide across the trail...even with their huge packs!!

see...not one speck of coral dust....
Only brown dust and sweat...
change is good...thats what they say...
Throughout your life you're smoldering
gently with a fire that will eventually
consume you.  Some fear it as mortality, 
others embrace it as passion.  You have
no way of knowing how much fuel you have.
Some people burn like a bonfire and die
peacefully at 94.  Some people burn like a
candle and die before they are 30.  When it
comes to life, there's no justice or logic when
 it comes to length, There's only the ability to make
the best of if.  -Theo Lister

Its no small thing to have a cop for a son.  No small thing.  I may have an inner battle  with this for   many years to come...for he was to be a NURSE,  dagnabit!!...if I was in charge of the world.
And now 14 whole days have passed.  They have passed quickly...for hes not actually been on the streets...until today.  14 days ago he was awarded his shiny star and can now carry a gun.  In fact..he has to carry a gun 24-7. In and out of uniform. gulp. I've had  14 days for it to sink in.  What will it take for it to sink in?
Today he gets in a cop car with a partner and begins to see the streets of Vegas through a policeman's eyes.  (but seriously...I dont want to think about this yet.  Ha I dont think about it every waking moment!!)
Today i want to remember the celebration!  To remember the overwhelming show of support from dear family.  I want to remember the high that I was on watching Rob reach the end of his grueling training...knowing to my toes just how well he has been take care of himself first and the community next.  I will try to remember that all the family and friends that were there  will also be praying for Rob as much as me!! What a blessing!!
It was a beautiful day, a proud day, a day I wont soon forget.
I try mightily to not think about whats in store for him in the coming years.  I try to remember how happy this makes him.  How hard he has worked for this.  He and Chelsea have done much together...for he couldn't have done it without her support and encouragement.
God bless you Rob, this week and always!! Please!!!

Color Guard...opening ceremony

Waiting for his turn to get his badge...perfect attention!!
Police Chief pinning on Robs star/badge.

Its Official!!

proud Mom and Dad (with prankster brother in the background...way to go Joe!!)

Before he was even allowed off the stage I snagged a pic!!

Look at those proud of their daddy!!

Couldnt be prouder!!

Joe and Natalie...all the way from Lehi, Utah...Robs next younger brother.
Clark and Jenna...all the way from Kansas City...taking a break from medical school.

My brother Joe...or to Rob...Uncle Joe...all the way from Highland, Utah...interrupting a family vacation to join us and congratulate Rob.

Brian and Mericar...all the way from Coalville, brother.

Scott and Trisha...all the way from St George, Utah!! Bless them!!
J.J. Rogers and Kim and Sharon Rogers...all the way from Arizona for the festivities!!

Lisa and Janessa....Chelsea's mom and sister...all the way from North Salt Lake!

My dad!! Or to Robby...Grandpa Sharp...all the way from St George, Utah.

What a great bunch of them all!!  BLESS YOU ALL!!  Anna...this is the only pic I have of you!!! Sorry
 When we ask for God's blessing, we're not
asking for more of what we could get for
ourselves.  We're crying out for the  wonderful,
unlimited goodness that only God has the power
to know about or give to us.
from: The Prayer of Jabez
by: Bruce Wilkinson

I know Christmas is about Jesus...I know this well. And my journey to know Him and love Him better is a good one.  My concerted efforts to study  and learn about His life and Gospel has become a beautiful thing for me.
But what is Christmas without family?  Family was a little sparse this year...with it being an 'off' year...But there is nothing "off" about having Clark and Jenna and Gideon here and with celebrating with grands. William and Ben's enthusiasm and wonder are the reason for the season as well.

Im not embarrassed to admit...whenever we go to the DI we find a treasure. This time if was an armful of grandma furry hats!! They made us happy..all those hats and fur collars...that smelled like a grandmas drawer...talcum powder and musty perfume. We think we sport them well, dont you??!

 You gotta love Old Main Hill at the University!!  And the sunshine on this day was heaven sent!!  It felt like it had been months since the sun had shone around here!! A perfect day for sledding!! PERFECT!!!

 I love these people!!
 I challenged David to a race...he started of strong....but I beat him in the end!! Good times!!!

Im so grateful for my good, good family. They bring me such joy and happiness, and fun times.

And words cant express how very proud I am of of these two kids. Medical school is a challenge I cant possibly comprehend...and to have them both so challenged is remarkable to me.  Their being able to relax for a time was such a gift ...for I know not what else I could do for them.... God bless them.
And she felt it. Her father's heart beating there
inside of him.  It felt very certain, very strong,
and very large. Just like Dr. Meescham had 
said: capacious.
from: Flora and Ulysses
by: Kate DiCamillo

This boy of mine has gone and done it..again.
He has married well...not so very long ago.
And he provides well.
And above all, Joe is a family man.  All that he is and does is for his beautiful family.

Joe is a man of quiet greatness.
Like his mom...he'll never be known as a conversationalist. But he is a rock!! Wherever he goes he quietly makes his mark, and quietly rises to the top. He quietly gains the admiration, respect and love of all who know him. Everyone wants him on their team!!
  He has used his natural propensities to grow and develop into a very talented and gifted sales rep and manager. And when I say natural propensities I mean it!! From a very early age this guy had the eye of a classy dresser. (And we all know he didnt learn this from his parents!! ) When I was buying jeans at Target for his brothers and sister...he insisted on paying his portion to 'upgrade' to the best jeans that money could buy. Here is proof positive that kids come to us with their own distinct gifts and personalities!!  What we were willing to pay for a piece of denim and a zipper was far less than what was acceptable to him.  His passion for appearances is paying off well for him!! Way to go my love!!
I joked with him the other day when we visited his store. I speculated that he could find us a real source of embarrassment as we come traipsing into his store in our outdated, frumpy clothes. He just smiled and said no. (Isnt that sweet of him?) This 'good fruit' did seem to fall a little further out from the tree as far as 'care of raiment' is concerned.

 (he's wearing a tux!!!)

The night of the Jos A Banks Christmas party our Joe was given an award. His store and two others made over $500,000 in sales in a years time. Only 3 people out of 200 won!! And to think that he's only been with Jos A Banks for less than 2 years!! He's got a good thing going on!! So very, very proud of him!! And proud of gorgeous Natalie for her support and being such an amazing mom to their beautiful kids!!

I am out for a bargain; the object should be
desirable from the standpoint of its social
value, and at the same time should want me,
considering my overt and hidden assets and 
potentialities.  Two persons thus fall in love
when they feel they have found the best 
objects available on the market, considering
the limitations of their own exchange values.
Often, as in buying real estate, the hidden
potentialities which can be developed play
a considerable role in this bargain.
from: The Art of Loving
by: Erik Fromm

Many of we  Stephensons have been talking a lot about marriage around here.  We  belong to a spectacular family and extended family.  And we have marriages…as our darling nieces and nephews  find loved ones.  Marriages are joyous occasions and a cause for reflection.  Last weekend dear Mikele and Seth were sealed….for time and all eternity.  It’s a beautiful thing…for I do believe that when we bring God into this ‘contract’ we  broaden our chances to have an enduring marriage…we see that  our purposes are higher than  just outward appearances. 
Do we realize how unique we Mormons are?  Very few  religions teach the truth or even believe that marriages can be eternal.  So few teach that that is what God intends for us….for our families to be eternal.  We aim for the eternities!!  At the risk of sounding over the top…we aim for thrones, principalities and powers in eternal worlds.  I think most folks do believe that we are all made in the image of God who is eternal…so why not us!!??
But I stray from the subject at hand.  Pondering marriage.  Theories abound about what makes a good marriage and what qualities are required for the best mate.    My thoughts are always drawn back to the idea of  arranged marriages.  I realize that this is  a strange platform to begin with  …for it seems such a foreign concept this day and age.  But the ‘ancient’ practice  gets one to thinking about what it is that makes a marriage successful.  What are the elements of a good marriage?  (please note—this post if for ME!!  I have much to improve on)

We all want happiness. 
I have learned that it is NOT my spouses responsibility to bring me happiness.  I am in charge of my own happiness.  And the only way to find real happiness is to serve one another.  Service in marriage should be easy!! There are so many diverse ways!!  When we serve Love grows.  We must always be on guard for our acts of  selfishness.  Arranged or not…we can always serve. ..and love will grow.
Did you know that  one can literally become addicted to the state of unhappiness……..or to happiness. 
Did you know that our thoughts are real, tangible objects, not just fluffy, ethereal stuff?  Here’s what I  have come to understand.  A Dr Pert did some studies, and found that every thought you have has an unique neuropeptide associated with it, and your body, in turn, produces that unique  neuropeptide every time you experience  that particular thought, and the emotion associated with it. A neuropeptide  is a simple, protein based amino acid and is produced by your hypothalamus,  the “control center”  at the base of our brain.  So every time we have a thought, our hypothalamus ‘translates’ that thought into billions of neuropeptides that are uniquely associated with the emotion you are experiencing because of that thought.  And then our bloodstream is flooded with billions of the unique neuropeptides  associated with the emotion you have just been experiencing.  My thought, translated into a neuropeptide, literally becomes a molecular messenger of emotion.  When in my bloodstream, these neuropeptides are physically  assimilated by your body’s cells. The neuropeptides join  with your cells by inserting themselves into a special receptacle on each cell’s membrane- like a key fitting into a keyhole.  Each neuropeptide receptacle on a cell’s membrane is specifically designed to fit just that one particular peptide and no other. So once that peptide finds the right receptacle on the cell membrane, that amino acid is absorbed into the cell. 
Over time, this Dr Pert found that our cells develop more and more unique receptacles on their membranes to capture the neuropeptides to which they are most often exposed.  Dr Pert also found that over time, our cells begin to crave the neuropeptides to which they are most often exposed (and have built the unique receptacles to receive.)  In fact, she found that our cells become so accustomed to the unique peptides to which they are most often exposed that the cells cover their membranes with nothing but those receptacles for those neuropeptides!! Which in turn actually shut down other vital functions, and our cells become  nothing but vessels to ingest the unique peptide they most often experience.   This means that our cells start ‘telling’ our hypothalamus to produce these particular  neuropeptides because they have developed an actual physical need for them.  Many, many times I have become addicted to Pepsi; to the point of breaking the Sabbath to obtain one.  This is how these cells feel towards their neuropeptides!!  Its daunting to think now with this information, that the only way our hypothalamus can produce the peptides that my cells are now physically addicted to is for me to experience the emotions that will create them!! And the only way my brain can experience the emotions necessary to create those neuropeptides is for it to see and experience a physical reality that will create for those emotions.  If I have felt sad these last several years….my cells are now essentially dictating to me what Im experiencing is indeed sad, because they are controlling my emotional state. My body may actually be physically addicted to this emotional state…even though I know these emotions are painful for me.
Here’s to building new peptides and receptacles!! And  Im guessing service builds amazing, new neuropeptides too!!

Next there is loyalty in marriage.
Loyalty means to be faithful and true. It means  fidelity in all we do.  A marriage before God calls us to be both loyal and true.  The world would have us not worry about  such things.  Being virtuous and responsible for our actions is not encouraged. 
We should be the best we can be. To ourselves and to our love. May I quote here: “ We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and it’s never to be undone.  Every small stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never-so-little scar.   The drunken Rip Van Winkle, in Jefferson’s play, excuses himself for every fresh  misdeed by saying, ‘I won’t count this time.’  “  A psychologist has this to say about  our justifying our actions especially those actions of least resistance, and us believing it doesn’t  really count-  “You may not count it, and a kind Heaven may not count it; but it is being counted nonetheless.  Down among our nerve cells and fibers the molecules are counting it, registering  and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes.  (our physical bodies are such a wonder!!) Nothing we ever do is, in strict scientific literalness, wiped out.  Of course, this has its good side as well as its bad one.  As we come permanent drunkards-as in Rip's case, by so many separate drinks,(acts of omission in case of marriage)  we become saints(do-gooders) in the moral sphere, and authorities and experts in the practical and scientific spheres, by so many separate acts and hours of work (good deeds).  Let no youth have any anxiety about the upshot of his education (or marriage) whatever it may be.  If he keeps faithfully busy each hour of the day, he may safely leave the final result to itself.  He can with perfect certainty count on waking up some fine morning, to find himself one of the competent ones of his generation, in whatever pursuit he may have singled out. ( a good marriage)  Silently, between all the details of his business (marriage) the power of judging in all that class of matter will have built itself up within  him a possession that will never pass away.  Young people should know this truth in advance. The ignorance of it has probably engendered more discouragement and faint-heartedness in youth embarking on arduous endeavors than all other causes put together. (Psychology  William James Henry Holt 18920
My dumbed down version:  Marriage is work.  Put in the time and  effort…lots of effort…and you will wake up many a morning and be ever so grateful for and more in love with the one you love. It will be worth it.  It will bring much joy and satisfaction.  Send good and positive vibes down to those very molecules that make beautiful you!! Be loyal to thyself and to the one you love.  If your marriage was arranged…you worked at it every day!! There was no other option!! The same applies today!!

Next helpful tip:  Continue the wooing!
Just because there’s a ring and a sealing doesn’t mean the fun can end.  Wooing should never cease.  Have fun together. Keeping dating.   Remember kind words,  and  appreciation expressed often, and  courteous acts mean so much.  It is always about the small things.  Love feeds on kindnesses and courtesy.
 And you ladies remember- Dr Laura is oh so wise when she counsels us to LOVE them, intimately,  feed them and tell them how great they are.  It is that simple!!

Next is practicing self-control.
My mother and your mother taught you  that ‘if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all!’  Biting ones tongue becomes a fine art…if practiced!!  If we refrain from saying hurtful words..we gain much happiness in our marriages.

So in the end what is it that this old lady wants you to know? 
-we overthink
-we underthink
-have faith
-we  need to practice the Golden Rule
-we are responsible for our own happiness…even in marriage. 
-when we serve…love grows….and grows…and grows.
-work at it!
-find out what your lovers Love Language is. Then shower it upon them!!
-be true to yourself
-remember, God is there to help 
-take  Hollywood and the world out of marriage mores.  Bring God in.

-Glory in the wonder of it all!!