Stephenson Family Ties The Barn Burnt Down
And Now I See The Moon

From the Files of Grandma Sharp

My dear mom...our grandma Sharp...left two file cabinet drawers brimming with lessons, talks and thoughts saved since 1977.  I thought I would have no problems deep sixing all that paper and effort...for everything can be found on Pintrest these days right!!?? Wrong!! As I began flipping through those files I realized there was a treasure trove of insight seen through my mothers eyes. And I determined right there and then that I would share what I could from the things she saved.  We'll call it...FROM THE FILES OF GRANDMA SHARP

The words given voice inside the mind are
not always clear, however, they can be 
gentle and elliptical, what the prophets
called the "bat gol" the daughter of the
voice of God, she who speaks in
whispers and 'half-seen images.
from: The Beekeepers Apprentice
by: Laurie R King

The first lesson I came upon was entitled...What Do You Have to Declare?

Grandma asked- "How many of us have been through customs after taking an international trip?"

She answers her own question by reflecting on her experiences  with Russian customs in the early 1980's.   The Cold War was in full swing...and so we can only imagine how painstaking, thorough  and troublesome customs must have been.  Who likes having ones luggage rummaged through by strangers..made even worse by it being a grumpy Russian official??  She made the comment that she was grateful that her clothes were clean and that there were no embarrassing items to be ashamed of to be found among her things.

Wise travelers, who like to expedite the length of time one has to stand in line for customs can make a list of all valuables they carry with them. This helps when the question arises, "what do you have to declare?"
Grandma would have us think about our destination after this earthly trip and what we will have to declare when we reach those pearly gates.
Apostle Paul states that our list wont be written in ink..but with "the spirit of the living God; not on tables of stone, but in the fleshy tables of the heart." 2 Corinthians 3:3
I think we all know what Grandma Sharps 'list' looked like.  We are asked to be full of Christlike love..check.  A good heart...check.  have Unconditional love...check.  Compassion....check.  Mercy...check. Courage...check.  What do we wish  our list to contain?

Who is our customs official?
 "Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it by the gate: for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.  2 Nephi 9:41

Being free from sin is requisite as well.  As is having a repentant heart.  Grandma Sharp found a wonderful quote from Orson Whitney on the subject of sin.
"Sin is the transgression of divine law as made known through the conscience or by revelation.  A man sins when he violates his conscience, going contrary to the light and knowledge. Not the light  knowledge that has come to his neighbor but that which had come to himself.  He sins when he does the opposite of what he knows to be right."
We need to listen to our own inner conscience. Thats doable right?
Our 'trip' here on earth is more treacherous than it is carefree. But we have been given a inner light and knowledge. We need to use it.   We need to learn from our mistakes.  We need to 'go within' and listen to our heart. And follow it.

"There was an old and very large inch cape rock.  It got its name from being located just one inch below the water's surface where it couldnt be seen and it lay dangerously  in the path of the mariners returning from  sea.  Many seamen had lost their ships and their lives because of the rock, especially in times of storm.  There was an abbot in the small seashore town of Aberbrothok  who devised a solution to this life threatening hazard.  With great care and in the face of considerable danger, the abbot fastened a buoy  with a large bell on it to the inch cape rock.  From then on the bell rang continuously and faithfully with the motion of the waves of the sea.  Ralph the Rover was a bit of pirate and he disliked the praises the abbot received from the mariners whose lives he spared.  So one day,  Ralph the Rover cut the bell from the inch cape rock."

"Down sank the bell with a gurgling sound,
The bubbles rose and burst around,
Quoth Sir Ralph.  "The next who comes to the rock,
Won't bless the abbot of Aberbrothok."
Sir Ralph the Rover sailed away,
He scoured the seas for many a day."

"On his way back it was night and the sea was high and he thought the moon would be up. In the darkness, he said with great anxiety but only to himself,  "I wish I could hear the bell of the inch cape rock." and the rhyme continued:

Sir Ralph Rover tore his hair,
He cursed himself in deep despair.
The waves rushed in on every side,
The ship sinking beneath the tide."

(The Inch Cape Rock,  Robert Southey)

Grandma wants us to listen to our inner bell.  Sometimes its difficult to listen and do what that inner bell would have us do.  And sometimes we wish we could hear it more clearly.
For life is a journey...and in the end we must all pass through those pearly gates..and just as we have to declare our possessions at customs..we will be asked what we can declare to let us pass through to God and his Kingdom.

There are 'riches'  to declare that help us to pass through to God.  Listening to the still small voice, 'the bell,' and acting upon what we know we should be doing will get us there.
Water is pure after flowing over 21 stones.
(My talk for my mothers funeral)

Our dearest mom, wife, grandmother, great-grandmother is no longer pounding her forehead wishing for a brain transplant.  She is new, she is reborn.  She is sharp, smart, alert and better than ever now.  We are so grateful for this knowledge that all is not lost…just added upon.
Those of you in this room knew my mom well…for you are pay honor to her and to my dear dad.   You loved her…and undoubtedly you admired her.  You have  probably wished, as I have, that you could be more like her.  Not many people we know were as truly selfless as she.  She did not care one wit for the things of this world.  She had beautiful homes and they were filled with beautiful things that over a liftetime had been gathered from all around the world…but those “things” weren’t important to her.  She loved the history behind them..the stories they held….but her joy in them came souly from sharing the stories about them with anyone interested. Mom was a most humble servant of  God. Serving God and her fellow man was where she found her peace and contentment.    
All of us learned what true religion  is by her quiet example. For true religion is nothing more than love. …unconditional love…utterly selfless love; a love that seeks no reciprocation, and  no thought of reward.  Her love impelled her to action…all of her life.  That is the love God expects us to hone and develop.  Pres. Eyring said it perfectly-  “God loves his children.  They have great needs.  Everything belongs to God, so there is not much you can give HIM, after you have given him a repentant heart.  But you can give kindness to His children.  If you were my earthly friend, you would win my heart by being kind to my children.  God loves His children more than any earthly parent, so think what your kindness to His children means to God.”
In the obit I mentioned that her middle name should have been “volunteer” and that  her mantra in life was…”how can I help.”  Whether it was across the fence with a neighbor or across the world in Russia…she took EVERY opportunity to help someone- somehow.  Im not exaggerating when I estimate that  she knitted or crocheted literally 1000’s of hats and scarfs, blankets and sweaters for  the needy. Her needles were always clicking away…and Joe and I were duty bound to find homes for the bags and bags of beautiful warm results.   She was resourceful and persistent in finding places for them to go. Mexico, Africa, Russia and who knows where else  these little hats can now be found. And of course there are a dozens to be found on our own shelves and on the heads of grands and great grands too.  And we mustn’t forget our beloved pumpkin hats. There is no possible way to calculate the countless hours of volunteering she has done throughout the world and in the communities she lived in. From the red cross to emergency preparedness with emphasis on Earthquake preparedness to using her nursing skills, standing on sidelines cheering folks on and I could go on and on and on…she just wanted to help.

Mom LOVEd to learn!  Nursing was a love and she graduated   with honors from the UofU…and she was filled with awe as she watched the practice of nursing change thruout the years. Watching the world change filled her with  wonder, especially the technology aspect.   Education was important to her and to my dad…and I  think we’ll never really know how many young people my folks have helped along the way to a better education.  I have found Letters of gratitude  tucked away all over the house.
Mom was always learning. My earliest recollections of this was, when we were little and living in DC , mom volunteered to be a docent at the National Zoo.  She came home with THICK note books…not one, but many notebooks full of amazing information about the animals at the zoo…and she was to learn it…for Im sure she wanted to be the best docent she could be.  Later in life she took classes  in sign language and became dang good at it…and helped people that needed  the translating.  Who does that in their 40’s…learn something completely new!? 
Mom LOVEd the great out doors and all things that God and Nature provided.  Im surprised sometimes that she didn’t turn out to be a bigger hippie than myself.   She was a conservationist without the rebel hair, and peacesigns  or the attitude.  She taught us quietly and by example to LOVE this glorious world in which we live.  All of our kids remember and loved the hikes we’d go on with her.  There were also the personal  trips that each of the grands were privileged to go with her to places of interest that were personal to each grand..  Those trips  were learning experiences and filled with good times.  When growing up it wasn’t  junk tv we were allowed to watch….at night we sat down.. sometimes.. and watched shows like Mutual Of Omaha Wild Kingdom  and National Geo and the likes.  Or it was the Olympics. Oh how we all loved to watch the Olympics together… the appreciation of the spirit of man  and  wonder of what the human body can do was instilled in us early.
Mom loved anything that came in miniature. Her home is full of all things miniature. And no one could make cuter things from an ity bity pine cone.  But as we all know, her heart was Huge.  I can confidently wager all I have that none of you in this room have ever heard an unkind word pass her lips.  Im betting that no unkind thought was ever  formulated in her mind either.  And I may have stumbled on more proof of this fact as dad and I have discovered some journals this week, of hers…that neither of us even knew existed. You’re gonna love these Joe. I don’t know what your journals look like…but mine are disjointed and a mess…AND sometimes full of angst…and some venting…But NOT MOMS!!   Her journals are full of peace and  calm and extremely reflective.  Just as mom was.  The pages  are full of the quiet ways she tried to help people and of her struggles of inadequacy as she tried to serve in the church…3 times as YW president and 3 times as RS president.  She was a wonder and a pile of anxiety about whether she was doing enough  and doing it well enough.  
Oh mom…you’re “not enough” puts the rest of us plebes to shame. 
She may have been loosing the present…but she certainly was clear and joyful about her past…she loved remembering her childhood and could recall things from her past that most of us with healthy brains couldn’t pull from our own brains even now. She loved remembering the time she had with her good, adoring brother. She loved remembering her ‘orchard’ in California, that produced the most amazing, delicious peaches. Oh how she loved canning and eating those peaches…and all the gallons of applesause she made from the apples they grew.  She loved to entertain…she loved a good dinner party and having people in their home.  She loved living so close to the temple here in st geroge…and loved serving there…in any way she could.   She loved watching Wheel of Fortune and Jepordy with dad every night…and was very skilled in coming up with the answers.  Dad was always impressed.
But moms greatest joy was her family.  Family dinners happened every night as we grew up…dinners often shared with fascinating people.  Family dinners were her pride and joy.  Her greatest joy was a table full of family…grands with their beautiful wives and husband, and greats on down. Her grandchildren brought her such joy and pride…the good kind of pride. Her great grands filled her with wonder…mostly that she could be so blessed to have so many. 

The blessings of Moms life and her  passing are disguised in our sadness today, this week, and for a while…but there is no doubt that moms wishes have been fulfilled…by a loving God and her adoring family.   This is our gift and blessing this day.  The plan of Salvation is real.  Thank  God for that. 
We dont go to God as a way to ignore our 
 pain.  We go there to give Him our pain,
that we might soften around it as we relax
 into our trust in Him.  We then become bigger
than the pain and thus able to absorb it.
from: Illuminata
by: Marianne Williamson

(Mom's Obituary, written by me)
Pauline Burnham Sharp, age 80, passed on Feb 21, 2015 in St George Utah with many of the 4 generations of her family surrounding her in love.  Pauline was born in Washington DC to Paul Franklin Burnham and Ida Schofield Burnham on April 19th 1934.  She married Joseph C Sharp in the Salt Lake temple on June 7th, 1956, after having completed her nursing degree at the University of Utah.
She lived in Washington DC, Maryland, New York, Northern California and Utah, all places of which she enjoyed and made a better place for having been there. She enjoyed the adventure of exploring, walking, traveling and to take any willing child, grandchild or great grandchild in tow with her…all of whom had a hard time keeping up with her along the way. 
‘Volunteer’ should have been her middle name.
“How can I help” -her most common mantra.
Pauline was creative, selfless and an untiring example of service.  Her greatest joys were found in her family and in service to others, whether it be in the temple or holding the hand of a  neighbor or sitting quietly knitting the countless warm hats, scarves and sweaters for the needy.  People from Russia to Korea to St George, Utah benefited from her talented hands and needles. She was generous beyond description and wouldn’t hesitate to literally give someone in need the very shirt off her back.
She loved to learn new things…and could whoop most anyone at Jeopardy.  Pauline truly enjoyed new ventures as she traveled the world with her good husband and her family. It was especially sweet for her if she could do humanitarian work along the way.
Pauline practiced what she preached as she nursed, toiled and searched for ways to help others. She served often and faithfully as a Relief Society president 5 separate times and as Young Woman’s President 3 separate times both in California and in Utah.
Pauline is survived by her husband Joe and her 2 children, Cindy Sharp Stephenson  and her husband W Robert Stephenson  who are currently residing in Logan Utah and her son Joseph Clemensen Sharp and his wife Debbie Filler Sharp living in Highland Utah, and her 8 grandchildren and their families,  Robert John Stephenson, Joseph Val Stephenson, Anna Christine Stephenson Sherwood, Clark Vernon Stephenson, Brian Romney Stephenson ,  Joshua  Joseph Sharp, Meagan  Melissa Sharp, and Amber Alyse Sharp.  She found great joy and pride in her 12 great grandchildren as well.

In lue of flowers please feel free to make a humanitarian donation to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
How do you know when you think 'blue'-
when you say blue- that you are talking
about the same blue as anyone else?  You 
cannot get a grip on blue.  Blue is the sky,
the sea, a gods eye, a devils tail, a birth,
a strangulation, a virgins cloak, a monkeys
ass.  Its a butterfly, a bird, a spicy joke, 
the saddest song, the brightest day.
from: Sacre Bleu
by: Christopher Moore

I  love kids art.  I love it all bunched up in the different hallways of probably every elementary school in America.
Im an amateur PE teacher...but being an amateur art teacher would probably suit me better.  I like the mess...the freedom, the creativity.  I'd find it more intriguing.  At least thats what Im  thinking as I sit here in my tiny home contemplating my future and what makes me happy.  Creativity makes me happy.
 lovely self portraits
this is JOEL

 The seasonal stuff is darling!!

Opps...there's an "elementary" work created by me. One of my New Years resolutions has begun..being more artistic...
Writing makes me happy.  But topics elude Im taking up watercolors. This is my first attempt at a tree.

Brian and Mericar are in California...looking at property... and picking up a clunker mini van. Im already packing my bags in my head. Who knows what the future holds...I would love to have California in the mix. That would make me happy.  Im tired of the cold. So tired.  Here's wishing on the moon.
One must train the habit of Faith.  The first step is to
recognize the fact that your moods change.  The next
is to make sure that, if you have once accepted
Christianity, then some of its main doctrines shall be
deliberately held before your mind for some time 
every day.  That is why daily prayers and religious 
readings and church goings are necessary parts of
Christian life.  We have to be continually reminded
of what we believe.  Neither this belief nor any other 
will automatically remain alive in the mind.  It must
be fed.  And as a matter of fact, if you examined a 
hundred people who had lost their faith in 
Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn
out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument?
Do   not most people simply drift away?
from: Virtue and Vice
by: C.S. Lewis

If one were to seek the praises of men...I suggest you wear these boots!!  Perfect strangers would and did stop in their tracks and compliment my fun, new boots.  (That just doesnt happen to frumpy Logan Utah.)  I do NOT seek after the praises of men. Not much anyway.  But I DO enjoy a great pair of shoes/boots!!
Thank you Margot and Natalie for your help and guidance in obtaining such praiseworthy objects.

I do ask myself...often of late...what is it that I should be 'seeking after'?
The answer of course is- The Kingdom of God. But this is too grand a seemingly unattainable.  So Im looking to be more realistic.
I am seeking for meekness, for patience. I seek for holier Sabbaths, and meaningful prayer. Most especially Im seeking for joy and peace in my day.
This week we read in Matthew 6:
Take no thought for your life, what  ye shall ear tor what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 
 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 
 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 
 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 
 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 
 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Its so easy for me these days to get sucked into the worries  of the become overwhelmed with concern about the future. More  often than I care to admit, I am filled with bitterness and hopelessness. I have learned that I am weak and that my foundation was mostly a sandy one. I have also learned that My Builder is the rock.
But  I do not want to be thought of as a quitter. I dont want to give up. I intend to find my way back to the spiritual being that I once was.
I've been looking in many other places for enlightenment, besides the scriptures. I have found great instruction in learning about meditation and the practices of Buddhism.  (Mormon friends..dont freak...there is truth everywhere!)
Here's a dumbed down version of my new journey-
If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not "washing the dishes to wash the dishes." What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink.  If we cant wash the dishes, the chances are we wont be able to drink our tea either.  While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of the other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands.  Thus we  are sucked away into the future,  - and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life. 
from: The Miracle of Mindfulness
by: Thich Nhat Hanh

All in all Im seeking, no, longing for peace. Peace with our circumstances. If I can find peace, I can have joy. If I can learn to live in the present...I can feel joy again. I know these things...but living them is a whole different matter.
The very first telephonic conversation, between Bell
and Watson, standing in separate rooms, contained
these words; "come here, I want to see you." In the
uncountable human phone conversations since then,
that concept has never been far from our lips. "Come
here. I want to see you." Impatient lovers, long distance
friends.  Grandparents talking to grandchildren. The
telephone voice is but a seduction, a bread crumb 
to an appetite.  "Come here.  I want to see you."
from: The First Phone Call From Heaven
by: Mitch Albom

Presidents Day was spent down in Salt Lake partying with some of the grands.   It was Beckhams birthday ...a few days before...and we wanted to add our two cents to the celebration.
Having Benjamin join us was a small bit of spontaneous genius.  Ripping him from the clutches of his mothers arms...was a small miracle.

All in all it was a wonderful day...a break to remember.  These faces never fail to melt my frozen Logan heart....every single time we see them.  What a blessing each one of them are to our lives.
This is a glimpse of the day:
Mommy told Ben to take a nap while driving down to Salt Lake.   Ben closed his eyes before we even left their parking lot and pretended to be sleeping, until he was in fact sleeping. Such obedience...a rare thing indeed.
Next we met at THE HABIT for yummy burgers and those delicious tempura green beans...a new favorite of mine.  Ben had his 'mommy-made' PB and honey sandwich, apple slices, and red pepper wedges, which completely satisfied him.  (again...who is this child!!!??)
Then we walked across the parking lot to Scheels.  There's always call to see the gigantic fish tank..full of Nemos, and the fun zone to play in.  Fun was had by all!!
Then we said our good-byes...oh how we love these kiddos...and its hard to say good-bye.  Even knowing that I'll see them again..sometime soon.
Next were some business errands to run...which included a cool pet store of course.  Our little man Ben was great company.
The only 'fail' of the day...not being able to meet up with Brian and Mericar as planned.  Darn work, Darn reality.   Disappointing.
But all I have to do to cheer myself up is to look at this pics...and then Im feeling grateful once again.
The drive home seemed quicker than normal...for Ben was talkative...and half-way thru he requested some MJ.  MJ???? What does that mean??  Could it possibly be Michael Jackson!!?? Indeed it was little man is a M J fan!! How can I not adore that!!!???
Patience is the calm acceptance
that things can happen in a different
 order than the one you have in mind.
-David G. Allen

Our tiny home didnt come with a koi pond ...(someday I'll have the pond of my dreams.)
So there's a Plan B.  My Builder and I are now the proud owners of a 40 gallon fish tank..which is the perfect  thing for our tiny home.  We've decked it out in minimalist style and we are very happy with the results. We went to the local PetSmart and picked out a few new, wet friends:  Gerald, and begin with. Welcome to our tiny  home beauties!!
Bringing these  creatures into our home  caused me to feel remorse and  even guilt  for having banished Alfredo the Dove to the Mill since moving to the T.H.  I had felt that there was no room in our inn for a dove and his bulky cage.  But alas...he was he has now joined us here in our small, green metal house .  Our tiny home is indeed Im not sure yet where he'll stay...for every nook and cranny is precious...but he has been restored to his proper place.  He's a beautiful bird and I am soothed by his cooing, so he's a welcomed addition to our home.  His beauty and consolatory ways were wasted at the Mill. Guinea Pigs and hamsters cant possibly appreciate his many attributes. His talents were wasted there! Now there is no more guilt in knowing that he wasnt seeing sunshine or in being denied the freedom of hanging out on the back of the couch watching life happening around him.  How boring it must have at the Mill..watching My Builder and David weigh and measure rodent food for all the furry critters there.  He and I are now going to try and patiently wait for warmer that we both can spend more time hanging out outside again. Patient we are going to have to be.
Unless you are good looking,
extremely funny or otherwise
incredibly charming, plan on
bringing something to the party.
from: Put a Cherry on It
by: Ben Behunin

This is dear Beckham...and he IS charming, funny and he's THREE today!! I want to party with him until I can no longer party!!

This little handsome man is always happy to see me!!  He loves having books read to him...and most endearing of all...he likes to sing the songs from the movie FROZEN.  I wish all could hear his raspy, deep voice, singing words we cant quite understand but are still in perfect harmony with the song LET IT GO!! Priceless!!!
He's always smiling...and he loves his little baby sister.
I think he may be perfection...with those big brown eyes and a tender disposition. I'd be happy have him as my shadow, anytime!!
And right now he LOVES Mickey Mouse!! Not Iron man or Spiderman or all other things Marvel and testosterone riddled...just sweet, adorable Mickey Mouse for sweet adorable Beckham

But there's not way to avoid regret.  Dont let
anyone tell you different.  Regret is just life's
aftertaste.  No matter what you choose, you're
gonna wonder, if you shoulda done things
different.  I didnt necessarily choose wrong. I
just chose. And I lived with my choice, aftertaste and all.
from: A Different Blue
by: Amy Harmon

Tues brought snow-blindness.  We had that pea soup fog I mentioned earlier..for about a week,  Monday evening we had was snowing hard when I went to bed...Tuesday we woke to a winter wonderland.  That afternoon the clouds parts and the sun shone and I was dazzled and blinded as I fulfilled my recess duty.  We were blinded by the whiteness, the brilliance,  of the pure driven snow.
Im here to also report that kids are oblivious.  All they saw were the slushy puddles to soak their bootless feet in and snow to kick at one another or to use to construct snowmen.  I wish I had thought earlier to take out my camera and take more pics of the variety of snowmen built that afternoon. I was too concerned about the wet, cold feet and the soggy clothes on these kids...all things that they would surely regret  having to  endure throughout the rest of the day.  I for one think there cant be a worse discomfort than wearing wet shoes and clothes all day long. I personally avoid those conditions like the plague!!  Bless their sweet, smiling faces...AND their immune systems!!

A Weekend of Gifts

You loved Ferris Wheels more than roller
coasters because life shouldnt be lived at
full speed, but in anticipation and appreciation.
from: Making Faces
by: Amy Harom

I know, I know...Christmas is over.
But I love the weekends that still feel a little like this last one most certainly did!!
Gift  #1 arrived in the mail ...from far off  Blessed St George!!
There's nothing better than homemade granola ...blended together by the loving hands of 'grandma' Stephenson.  Thank you dear dearest mother-in-law and grandmother to my kids and great grandma to my grands!! Thank you!!  (I think I was lucky enough to snag one bowl of the divine concoction before it disappeared.  Rationing next year....hiding it under the bed!!!)

Company arrived!! We LOVE company on the any time!!

Gift #3-
Soup!! But in truth..the word soup is not adequate enough to describe our Sunday meal. Im sure there's a better word...probably in Italian...for the bowls that were placed before us last night.   Soup is just to simple a term. For when you think soup you probably think of Campbells or even Top-Ramen,  But this 'soup was food fit for the gods...starting with Brazilian gods...for it was a Brazilian dish, tweeked by Mericar.  You SHOULD be JEALOUS!!!

Gift #4-
Fog is a gift.  All weekend it was foggy...pea soup foggy. Fog is so much better than snow and freezing temps.  Every mild day in January is a gift.  Any day that  isnt like lasts years January is a gift.  Thank you God!

Gift #5
We had game night...and day!! First bowling...then the kiddies went to bed and we played Phase 10! It was fun!! Why dont we do it more often??!!  TV always sucks us in.

Life is good!!
Learning sleeps and snores in libraries,
but wisdom is everywhere, wide awake, on tip toe.
-Josh Billings

Dearest Clark and Jenna
I know it didnt take a lot of arm twisting to get you out to beautiful Utah for Christmas break...but it did seem a bit tedious for you once you got here, maybe...due to flu and an overwhelming amount of family wishing to spend time with you both.(But cafe rio was worth it alone right!!??)
O how very grateful we all are that you came!! My guess is that  it'll go down as one of the more memorable holidays for most us us. How often will we get the whole family together again?  Hopefully many, many, many, times..but one never knows when the Universe is in charge do we?
If I were in charge  we gladly  eat, visit, watch movies and visit some more..for it should happen as often as possible!! When the Universe is in charge we learn to grab every opportunity to be together...for time seems to whizzz by and we always seem too busy for our own good...except maybe for you two at you make your way thru medical school.
Every moment with you was a treasure. The cold temps were bracing, the flu sucked, and the constant questioning about your schooling may have been a drag...but all in all we hope the week was as good for you as it was for the rest of us.
I loved visiting, eating out, playing games, watching movies, and just hanging out doing make-up. I loved that we were together for New Years Eve...thanks always to Hotel Ehlert and friends!!
Family Family Family!!! Its ones greatest we thank you for the  sharing of yourselves! Thank you for the memories! Hopefully your batteries have been recharged, and your burnout and fatigue have been extinguished.  And that  you will once again enjoy the rigors of school.
You are a remarkable couple.   Your strengths and your weaknesses will all  work for your betterment if you let them alchemize into something rare and precious. I see glimmers of greatness  and beauty already. Be patient with one another. Find your path...your happiness...and live in the present....for that is our own greatest gift.
Nobody knows where your journey  will lead you....but as it has been made blatantly apparent to you again over this break, we all want to watch, learn and encourage you along your way....whereever it may take you.
Happy New Years you two!
You are loved!!

Success isnt a result of spontaneous
combustion. You must set yourself on fire.
- Arnold H. Glasgow

Tonight was date night with my daughter. We try to go out together once a week.  Girl time is important. Tonight I drove her to Ogden to the train station. But first I took her to her favorite fast food joint...IN&OUT Burgers. She said it was the best burger she'd had in YEARS!! How about that!!?? She even regressed to her 'childhood' and dipped her fries in her chocolate shake!!  Simple pleasures are the best!!
Speaking of simple pleasures...driving her Acura...with 2 new CD's of Michael Jacksons greatest hits cranked up till I could feel him...dancing in my seat...sipping a Pepsi...(a rare treat now) watching the most brilliant new full moon rise over the mountains...and sending my silly, teenage crush love to Michael in heaven...were all beautiful things for me tonight!! I LOVE road trips! I love MJ!! And I love Pepsi!! And of course I love my dear daughter!  It was a great couple of hours!!
Im learning  to find supreme joy in the simple things again!! For this I am very grateful.

Bereavement is the unwelcome current that forced you
 to an unintended harbor.  But, here, perhaps, the 
 vessel lies that will carry you onward
 to the place where you were always meant to go.
from: Caleb's Crossing
by: Geraldine Brooks

Those that know me..have known quite plainly that My Builder and I have been on a tempestuous journey these last 3-4 years.  I havent been quite silent about our woes.
Nothing has gone as we envisioned. This road is unfamiliar...and sometimes difficult....and long, long, long--requiring much patience.
Having said this about myself I realize as the same time that most people I know can say the exact same things.  I am not unique.  (no kidding)
All us seem to be saying these same things:

"nothing is for sure."

"Who pulled the rug out from under us!!!??"

"Why us!!??"

I add to the list of questions, this poignant inquiry:
Why does the most faithful, devout, valiant man I know and love, My Builder, have to struggle so??!!

....and on and on and on I can go...and have gone.

There are still no answers coming my way. Heaven is silent for me.  But Im assuming that its mostly my fault that it seems this way, for I have NOT remained valiant, faithful, humble or devout.  I have struggled mightily with hope, faith and patience and understanding.

But I feel a glimmer of light on the horizon...for no apparent reason. There is no explanation or change in me, except for a softening of my own heart.  The reasons for this warming of my heart may be mystical/spiritual or worldly...for both  are connected...for everything is spiritual. After 3 years of what has felt at times like outer darkness...I feel a me.

Here are a few things I may attribute this change of heart to:

#1 a better job.  I do miss my friends at The Grill, but I do NOT miss the work. Every day I appreciate my PE job. What a great gig it is!!  And I choose to believe that it was the 'inspiration' of a great lady to tell me to apply.  How glorious it is to fall in love with 340 kids!! How can that not do anything but soften this heart of mine?

#2 winter began mercifully mild this year.   I know it will get already has...but I appreciated every warm, sunny December day.

And lastly, but probably most importantly, we have our own little home. I call it fondly- our tiny home.
I will probably always feel just a tinge of shame (for pride yet yields its ugly head) when I have to say out loud that I  live in a trailer park, in a puke green mobile home, 8th down on the right.  But as soon as I step indoors, its home, its cozy and nice.

So dont tell anyone...but Im truly enjoying our tiny home!!

It turns out that the simple life is good for me.
I enjoying lessening our footprint and letting go of stuff!!
I enjoying even more having no cause to accumulate stuff either!! For there is no room!!!
Tiny home is easy to keep clean.
We have amazing views here..of both mountain ranges. 360derees of beauty!
The financial freedom is liberating and a gift. We have no worries on that account. Its payed for!!
Rain on the tiny homes' metal roof is a lovely thing.
The tiny home has someone else to take care of the yard...mowing and watering are no longer our responsibility.

I havent a clue, not one morsel of a clue what the future holds for us...but...Tiny home is a blessing..and Im grateful for it right now.

Gracious God
It is so hard to wait. 
To wait for new things to happen in my life.
To wait for Thee to answer my prayers.
To waitt for the open doors than may lead me into a new way of being.
During this time of waiting, it seems that all I can think of is having what it is Im waiting for.
At times I am weary of of asking and waiting, and wonder if Thou hears my prayers.
I do know that Thou wants what is best for me, and that Thy time is not my time, but Lord, it is so hard to wait.  Deepen my trust please, especially during the times when my heart longs for what can come by only Thy will.  
Give me a calm assurance that Thy will for me is grander than anything I could imagine. 
Please still my mind and heart in Thy love so that I am mindful of the grace  Thou art draping around me every day, every moment.

Winter is Arrived - Sergey Andreyevich Tutunov 1960
I realize I've forgotten how very simple
a little straight-up love can be:
"I am the leg of you."
from: Driving Mr Albert
by: Michael Paterniti

 Christmas morning...bright and early!!  But so grateful we could share it with the little boys and Lucie...with some family!! 

 You will notice that there is one less beautiful face missing from all these pictures...and that would be Mericar!! She was the photographer...and we're grateful...but sad that we didnt make sure she was in some of the pics!!

Hardware Ranch was a lovely little outing too!  We bundled up...expecting the worst...and instead we had sunshine, no crowds and lots of elk to see.  The 'sleigh' ride was really a wagon ride...but our trusty guide...named Cheeseburger...was a wealth of information about the elk.  William and Ben were warm...but the little girl from another family on our 'sleigh' wept the whole time...because her feet were so cold she couldnt feel them or wiggle them as her daddy was always suggesting her to do...poor thing.
Oh how I love this family of mine...