Stephenson Family Ties The Barn Burnt Down
And Now I See The Moon
God is pleased to dispense himself variously.  But while
I fill up my mouth with prayers, they bring no comfort.
My words rattle against each other like the beech leaves
on a winter branch, and though a hard wind scours the 
forest, it cannot free them from the bough; it will not lift
them upward into the wide white sky.
from: Caleb's Crossing
by: Geraldine Brooks


Do you know what song I keep hearing in my head over and over and over again?
"Jesus take the wheel...take it from my hands...I cant do this all alone..."
(Carrie Underwood right?)
Over and over...

But Im think'in  He's not too interested.

Or, I guess its possible I just dont recognize Him or the direction He's having us go.

Then about a week ago BF Jude gave me a vignette  she'd heard in church that Sunday.  She thought of me when she listened to it and found me a copy.

A Tandem Ride With God

I used to think of God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there, sort of like the President. I recognized His  picture when I saw it, but I didnt really know Him.

But later on, when I met Jesus, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Jesus was in the back helping me pedal.  Ididnt know just when it  was He suggested we change, but life has  not been the same since I took the back seat to Jesus, my Lord.  He makes life exciting.  When I had control, I thought I knew the way.  It was rather boring, but predictable.  It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places  and at break-neck speeds; it was all I could do to hang on!  Even though it often looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!"  I was worried and anxious and asked, " Where are you taking me?"  He laughed and didnt answer and I started to learn to trust.  I forgot my boring life and entered into adventure.  And when I'd say, "Im scared."  He'd lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy.  They gave me their gifts to take on my journey, our journey, my Lord's and mine.  And we were off again.  He said, "Give the gifts away; they're extra baggage, too much weight."  So I  did, to the people we met, and I found in giving I receive, and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life.  I thought He'd wreck it, but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear rocks, fly to shorten scary passages.  And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and Im beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when Im sure I just cant do any more, He just smiles and says..."Pedal."

(author unknown)

Im working on the trust and the enjoyment of this ride. Stay tuned.  

Mini Vacation With Mimi...and Popa too!!

I havent scaled the cliffs of knowledge, only meandered
in the foothills.  If I have reached any heights at all in
learning, it is as a sparrow-hawk who encountered a
favorable breeze that bore it briskly aloft.
from: March
by: Geraldine Brooks

Do you believe in Karma
or The Power of Attraction...which is..the belief that "like attracts like" and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results.
I've been trying to find my way in the world with my new life...life after St George.
I've been pondering and reading and on some days giving a valiant effort in trying to change my course and attitude.
This will soon be a post about my favorite things...which are those blessed family occasions and vacations...but Im going to come to it around the back door this time...so you can understand a little better whats going on in my head. If thats even possible.
My Tumblr is full of quotes about our power to choose happiness. Etc etc. Im desperately trying to put what I believe to be true and want to be true into practice.
I have returned to Logan. A leap of faith. A leap full of confidence and hope that it's the right thing to do. I missed My Builder.  Healthy relationships are difficult at a distance. And Im trying not to think about winter. Not yet.
Instead we were all thinking about the huge Pet Convention in Las Vegas...getting ready for it...preparing in every way we thought we could...and then some.  David and My Builder had it all under control. There was no last minute running around wishing they'd done more.  They were ready!! Until we decided to  redesign the booth.  The redesign was a GOOD thing!! And we were thrilled with the results. But it was while we were building said display that something happen to me that made me question my karma or the "law of attraction".
It was a 'simple' accident. A large wooden pallet fell on my big toe. No shoes protected my piggy. I cant begin to explain the pain I felt. Except to admit to you that I cried like I might be dying, for over and hour. I now understand the term...withering in pain...for that is what I did for what felt like eternity...until the pain killers kicked in. Babies came into the world for me easier than dealing  with that pain.   Immediately I'm  asking the universe why this happened to me? Why did I 'attract' such a mishap? What was the universe trying to tell me?
And wait!! It gets worse!!!
My Builder and David headed to Vegas a few hours before we did..so they could set up shop.  Anna and I headed down later.  We had to stop in Moapia cause the kids needed a break. And low and behold..the car wouldnt let us put it into park or reverse. Uh oh. We were in trouble.  Why oh Universe?! Are you telling me something?  We made our way to Vegas on a wing and a prayer...pulled into the resort parking lot...knowing we couldnt park or reverse..so Anna jumped out to check us in while I would drive around the parking lot with the kiddos. While she was rummaging in the backseat for the paperwork..I must has lifted my foot from the brake a tad..and rolled on to her foot!!! OMG!!! I couldnt back off her foot!! So I had to continue to roll the rest of the way over that tender little foot!! She got into the car...crying like I had been crying just 2 days before..with the added effect of actual tread marks on the top of her foot!!! I had done this to her!! I knew with recent clarity just how badly it HURT!!! I forced 4 Advil down her throat and waited for our men to come rescue her from her masochistic mother!! Ok Universe...this IS NOT FUNNY!!!
I went to my room and wept bitter tears at what I had done.  All the while wondering why I was 'attracting' such mishaps. Were my negative thoughts about life really expressing themselves by negative events? I truly had been working hard to be positive on all fronts. And yet my daughter now had black tire tracks on her foot...and possibly broken bones to boot!!
Bri tried to calm me...Anna assured me after an hour or so that it really wasnt so bad.  I bought Anna and I big, juicy, expensive, pool side burgers to help ME feel better.  And it helped. And miracles of miracles...the next day Anna was happy to report that she couldnt feel any pain in her foot.  (maybe she was a great liar...or there was an actual miracle there..for she never limped.  I on the other hand am still limping a week later. wah wah)
From that new morning on, after realizing that Anna wasnt seriously hurt...my favorite things started happening again.
 The next morning...after foot incident..not limping...just hungry!!
 Our brave and ridiculous adventure to the Pet Convention..to see our men and the show!! This "adventure" could and should be a whole blog post in and of itself!! Never again will we venture the strip with 2 kids, no stroller and a wickedly sore toe!!! The shuttle was free...but the walking still did us in. Bad idea!! We called a taxi to get us home!!!
 The rest of our days were spent pool side..not 20 ft from cool, refreshing water made just for kiddos!! I couldnt rustle up much guilt about this either..for our men were giddy with excitement about the show and the contacts they were making!! I saw it as a win win for us all!!!

 If you were to ask the Grands what their favorite part of the vacation was...it would be eating pizza each night by the pool!! Yum!! Plus...movie night..watching Lego Movie IN THE POOL with free popcorn and lemonade and a glow stick too!! Good times!!!
 5:00pm rolled around and the guys joined us poolside!! Popa is the bomb!!


 Drunk on fun and pizza...water and sunshine!!!
Going home morning.  Im happy to report that the show was a success. We feel that great things will come of it!!
Favorite memories of this simple family vacation...
Sand between our toes!
Lazy River waterfall wars with Lachlan. Who could pull who under the most waterfalls!! Lachlan always won if I was in a tube!!
Sand and water mixed together makes for a gleeful Benjamin!! He jumps for joy spontaneously!!
Swimsuit 24/7!
Our taxi driver had a story...one that has changed how I think about things.  10 min ride...a little life changing. Who'd a thunk!!?? (I may try to write about it sometime.)
Wish I'd had a camera for the sight of Anna and her boys wedged in each others laps in a bright orange tube taking on the lazy river together. Priceless!!
These are definitely my favorite things!!
If I just concentrate I can walk into memory's store
and find the right shelf with the right film and 
disappear into it and still feel in my body that ride...
from: Out Stealing Horses
by: Per Petterson





While lounging by the pool with Lachlan the other day...(more on that occasion later) he asked me a question.  "What's your favorite thing Mimi?"
I ran thru several responses in my mind before replying.
Artichokes
Pizza
Good sheets
Which are all good things, but things I could live without  if required of me.
But my answer to Lachlan and the true answer is this:
Its family vacations and family occasions.

A week ago we had a wonderful family occasion. It was Evelyns blessing day!! She is a blessing and a gift...and this was the day to bless her back with wonderful  promises from her father and God.  Its a wonderful tradition we Mormons have...giving our children and name and a blessing with priesthood power from on high.
This particular Sunday began with a delightful 2 hour drive from Logan to Lehi. And the morning only got better as we sat strategically placed to view all the folks streaming into the chapel.
First was-
Anna and David with Ben and Will.
Then came Brian and Mericar. (such a cute new couple!)
Next..
My brother Joe and Debbie with cute Amber in tow.
Then came the Andersons, Steve and Jenny and their handsome boys and sweet Daisy.
By now Im thinking, "Oh my,  how blessed I am to be a a part of such a magnificent, supportive, darling family."
Then in comes Kelly and Jace and Aly!
And then we see Paul and Ben and Matt too!!
Wow!! Its true! Our family really is the best!! And Im so lucky to be counted among such a fine group of people!

I should have counted how many menfolk stood and walked to the front of the chapel to "help" Joe bless princess Evelyn. I didnt count.  But I do remember wondering if there would be any room for all of them to stand shoulder to shoulder around that sweet baby girl as her father pronounced a blessing.  I believe they ended up standing 2 deep...a double ring around sweet girly...for of course there were plenty of good men from Natalie's side of the family too!!  Im also happy to report that Evelyn didnt squeak or cry during any part of the blessing. What a girl!!
Joe's blessing was beautiful, eloquent, from the heart and sweet as can be.  I dont remember many of the words..but I remember thinking and realizing once again how lucky Evelyn's going to be to have a daddy such as Joe.  Joe is so calm, cool and collected. He never causes a ruckus.  Im afraid he's a master of being overlooked.  We all know how blessed those dear kids are to have Natalie as their mommy...but Im guilty of not remembering the quiet goodness and power that Joe has in his possession ...all the way down to his toes.  He's a rock. And I loved being reminded of this at  special family occasions..which are indeed my very favorite things!!
If you know its going to be a slog anyway,
why not choose to slog your own slog rather
than slogging someone else's slog?
from: Put a Cherry On Top
by: Ben Behunin 
    

Change is inevitable. And things are ALWAYS changing. Clark woke up one morning this week and said it was time for a change. ...that it was the day for a hair cut.
Many, many people are so pleased by Clarks 'transformation'  I love this mug no matter what.  I loved his long curly locks...and I now love this GQ look too.  And I love imagining their future... the changes that are in store for them as school begins soon..in far away Kansas City.

Big changes are in the works for me too.  They feel like big changes...again.
Im packing my bags..saying good-byes...and will be heading north again on Thursday.  I tell people that Im either landing in Salt Lake or Logan this time.  But deep in my heart I think Ill find myself back in Logan with my Builder...where I belong. (NOT in Logan...but with My Builder.) The 'experiment' of long distant relating didnt work as well as I expected. Marriage is hard enough..putting 600 miles between us was just not healthy or helpful. Im hoping for what wont feel like a step backwards, and find myself residing in Logan again..but if its necessary I will find a way to be happy about it!! There are two adorable grands there..and people I love very much.  There are probably 2 more months of decent weather in Logan...I should take advantage of that. But  I'll be doing my best to find our way to Salt Lake before winter hits in any way I can too.
If I 'feel' it in my future...it'll happen.
Get a plan.  Follow it until you run out of road. Then get
a new plan- or build a new road.  Build a fire in your
belly that no one else can extinguish.  Stoke it daily. If you
dont already have one, get a dream.  A big one.  Bigger than
you believe is possible.  Do everything you have to do to
achieve it.  Then do more of the same stuff until you're an 
expert.   Stop being afraid of challenges, dead ends and
 mistakes.  You will run into all of them.  Decide now that
they wont keep you from running onward.  Dont you dare
accept mediocrity.  Dont you dare deliver it.
from: Put A Cherry on Top
by: Ben Behunin
Sweet Jenna has a bucket list.
"THINGS TO DO IN AND AROUND ST GEORGE BEFORE GOING OFF TO THE GREAT ADVENTURE CALLED MEDICAL SCHOOL."

I've had a glimpse of the list. It looks something like this:
See Las Vegas
Hike Angels Landing
Eat at Cafe Rio
Learn to knit
Hike Subway in Zion
See the Grand Canyon
Hike with Cindy
Have a good time
etc
etc
etc

Its been my pleasure to be included and to participate by playing a small part in helping her plans to come to fruition.  Wishes coming true is a beautiful thing to behold.
Sunday my folks and I and Clark and Jenna all piled into my dads Jetta and headed to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. (The best Rim I might add!)



My fear was irrational!! I know!!! But I couldnt let her go!! She wanted the edge!!! I would have nothing of it!! The thought of it literally made my stomach hurt!!





We thought it might take 2 hours of driving to reach the Rim. In actuality it took 3.  Three hours of beautiful scenery, good conversation...and the ultimate destination!
There were buffalo, and wildflowers, clouds that preformed, and vistas worthy of being one of the 7 Wonders of the World!!
Oh what a marvelous world we have been given to love and appreciate!!
Thank you Spark..for the time lapse. It makes me so happy!! Sitting on the deck with you while your camera clicked away...priceless!!
It was a summer that sent the dizzy pulse of fever into the sky,
in which even rules and laws that usually stood straight and 
purposeful grew limp, like plants exposed to the afternoon
sun and grow weak.  The heat softened and spread the roads into
sticky pools of pitch and melted the grease in the Brigadier's
mustache so that it drooped and uncurled, casting shadows
on his fine, crisp presence.  The bees flew drunk on nectar
that turned alcoholic...
from: Hullabaloo in the Guava  Orchard
by: Aran Desai





The week started with Jenna joining me on an early morning hike. She lucked out...we had Camelback on the schedule! ....a favorite hike among guests and guides alike.  It was a beautiful morning. Jenna was quickly loved by one and all of those hiking with us. This was the beginning of the end of my VERY short stint at FR.  It was to be my last week hiking with them...and their last week of being associated with Biggest Loser. What an ideal gig I had out there. Im so grateful for the opportunity to re associate with the good folks.  And hiking with Jenna is always a treat!!

We next  celebrated the 4th of July!!  First by going  bowling!! Once again..dear Jenna is the party planner and instigator of all good times!!










After bowling we took the kiddos swimming and killed some time before the evening fireworks. The fun really didnt stop...until we dropped into bed!!












Live is good in St George, Utah!! Life  is better spent with grands and lots of family!!