September 30, 2008

Happy 60th!

Last week we celebrated Jeni's dad's 60th birthday at Tuscany, a great restaurant in Holladay, Utah. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and a very touching tribute to Mike. It was really nice to have his sister Kathi and her husband there with us all. Happy Birthday dad!

September 20, 2008

George Winston

Last night Joey and I had the rare treat of going to a George Winston piano concert in Provo (of all places.) He was performing his "Summer" tour at the Covey Center for the Performing Arts and played some selections from his "Winter into Spring" and "Summer" CD's, not to mention a few songs on his slack guitar and harmonica (amazing). This was especially fun for me because I had seen him in concert in Seattle nearly 20 years ago and I've wanted to see him again ever since. And, it was George Winston's music that helped inspire me back onto the piano bench after years and years of lessons that I didn't particulary enjoy. So to attend his concert now with Joey who is doing really well and loving piano was especially meaningful.

My top 5 favorite George Winston songs are:
1. Thanksgiving from "December"
2. Prelude from "December"
3. Sleep Baby Mine from "December"
4. The Cradle from "Forest"
5. Black Stallion from "Summer"

September 17, 2008


Last night Joey advanced to the rank of Tenderfoot at his Troop's Court of Honor. Some of the requirements for this rank included sleeping in a tent he helped pitch, assisting in preparing a meal during a campout, demonstrating how to whip and fuse the ends of a rope, explaining the rules of safe hiking, showing improvement in a list of several physical activities, and identifying local poisonous plants, etc. The two other boys that joined the troop when they were 10 1/2 also received Tenderfoot so they all seem to be motivating each other. Congratulations Joey!

September 14, 2008

Quote 18

There is a difference between doing some particular just or temperate action and being a just or temperate man. Someone who is not a good tennis player may now and then make a good shot. What you mean by a good player is the man whose eye and muscles and nerves have been so trained by making innumerable good shots that they can now be relied on. They have a certain tone or quality which is there even when he is not playing, just as a mathematician's mind has a certain habit and outlook which is there even when he is not doing mathematics. In the same way a man who perseveres in doing just actions gets in the end a certain quality of character. Now it is that quality rather than the particular actions which we mean when we talk of "virtue."

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 77

September 07, 2008

Quote 17

The idea of reaching 'a good life' without Christ is based on a double error. Firstly, we cannot do it; and secondly, in setting up 'a good life' as our final goal, we have missed the very point of our existence. Morality is a mountain which we cannot climb by our own efforts; and if we could we should only perish in the ice and unbreathable air of the summit, lacking those wings with which the rest of the journey has to be accomplished. For it is from there that the real ascent begins. The ropes and axes are 'done away' and the rest is a matter of flying.

C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, p. 112-113

September 03, 2008

Count Joseph

We've always known that Joey was a math whiz but his most recent achievement has left us in awe, excited about the opportunities. Maddy had an orthodontist appointment yesterday and as she went to the back of the office, she saw a large picture of Joey's face on a poster announcing that he had won the August office competition. His guess of how many jelly beans were in a huge jar had been the closest, beating out hundreds of other entries. As you can see from Joey's entry slip, he guessed 550 and he ended up off by 8 - only a 1.5% variance.

For his reward, he received a coupon for a pizza and drink at a local restaurant. He may be thinking dinner, but we're thinking much, much bigger. Price is Right? I can see him calculating the odds of hitting exactly $1.00 on the spinning wheel or adding up numbers quickly in his head in the Showcase Showdown. Wheel of Fortune? He'd know exactly how much pressure to put on his spin to get $10,000 per letter. Deal or No Deal? He'd know the banker's offer before it was announced. Jeopardy? He'd know right where the daily double would be every time. Move over Ken Jennings. Who is "One smart kid?"

September 01, 2008

Backing Up

Many years ago, Jeni's sister-in-law Carin took a series of pictures involving our children as either missionaries or grown-ups and the poses were hilarious. I think she intended to make them into greeting cards and I'm sure they would have sold well. The picture above was one of these. Joey's friend Tyler was pretending to be a missionary backing up his car with the help of his companion, Joey. If you served an LDS mission before 1992, this sight may not look familiar to you. But look at the missionaries serving now and you will see them all doing this as a hard-fast rule; a rule intended to prevent missionaries from backing into things they can't see; a rule I may have helped to create.

While in my first area in Quantico, Virginia, we lived in the basement of a wonderful member family's home. I had been in the field about 3 months when late one evening my Senior companion was on the phone with the District Leader, and the member needed us to move our car that was blocking the way out of their one-lane driveway. Now this home was nestled slightly back into the woods and there was very little light outside. My companion motioned for me to go ahead and move the car and threw me the keys. I didn't think much of it at the time. I was helping out my Senior companion, a charitable thing to do! So I got behind the wheel and carefully started driving in reverse. About halfway down the long driveway, the car just kind of slowed to a stop, even though I hadn't pushed the brake. I was going slowly and I thought this very strange. I drove forward a few feet and then put it in reverse to try again. Same result. One more time. Same result. The car just slowed to a stop. I got out of the car and saw nothing behind me. Then I walked over to the passenger side and found that somehow a large tree had stuck itself to the side of the car. A little nervous now, I got back in the car, moved it off the remainder of the driveway, allowed the member to leave, and then pulled it back up by the house. I got out, tried to assess the damage and in the very limited light it seemed like the car was fine. I went back inside the house and didn't mention any of this to my companion.

The next morning we went outside and as I walked over to the passenger side, my heart sank. Unseen the night before, the whole side of the car was dented in, scraped by the tree I was unknowingly running up against. My companion came over to look and suggested we call the mission president, the last thing I wanted to do as a new missionary. On the phone, I explained what had happened. My mission president, who was as strict as can be, said "Elder Shearer, lets count how many rules you broke." He explained that I had 1) Driven the car without permission (I wasn't the designated driver), 2) Driven without my companion in the car, 3) Left my companion alone, and 4) Not reported the incident immediately. He paused for a few moments and then expressed his confidence in me as a missionary, but suspended me from driving for 6 months.

Within the next few weeks, we were informed that a new rule had been implemented nationwide for all missionaries. When backing up a car, the non-driving missionary had to stand behind the car to help direct the missionary driving, just in case there were any cars present that the driver couldn't see.... or trees. Come to find out, the same week as my accident, a sister missionary in Canada had done something similar and those two incidents had been the final straw for the Church to change its policy.

So, if you were a missionary wondering why you had to stand outside the car to back up your companion, now you know. I'm sure you were a much safer driver as a result and my accident in some small way probably prevented you from getting into one of your own. You are welcome.