Saturday, April 19, 2014

What a Life! Day 13

This isn't the type of entry I expected to be writing today; I received some very startling and sad new.

My dear, beloved mission companion, Georgia, lost her mother suddenly today.  She died of a brain hemorrhage, just like my maternal grandmother did when my mom was in her early twenties.  One minute she was there and the next minute she was gone.  My heart aches for my sweet friend and her family.  I can't even imagine the pain she is going through.  I know how much Georgia treasured her mother, just as I treasure mine.  I won't even allow my mind to contemplate a life without my mother.  It's more than I can bear.  I wish there was a way I could ease her pain.  After recovering from the shock, I did the only thing I knew I could- I dropped to my knees and prayed for the Lord to be with her to comfort her.  I am so grateful for the power of prayer that makes it possible for me to somehow express my love and concern from so many miles away.  

I had the privilege of meeting this wonderful, faithful woman when I was in Brasil in January. I have included a couple excerpts from my travel journal that illustrate Irma Gilda's service to me. 


Excerpt #1

Well, we set off for several wedding errands and it was intensely hot.  I didn't bring water and, as I mentioned, I hadn't eaten anything.  We ended up being gone for about 6 hours and by the end, my entire body ached.  The jet lag kicked in, as did the lack of food and water.  My head ached unceasingly and the ride home was one of the longest of my life.  I have been so determined that this trip is about Georgia's wedding and I want to do everything in my power to be helpful and not get in the way; but, when we arrived home, I went straight to bed and her mom brought me water, cooked me dinner, and Georgia gave me medication. Her mom also set up a fan for me and did my laundry.  Talk about a humbling experience...way to not draw attention to myself! Moms are the same all over the world and I was so grateful for Georgia´s mother tonight.  As much independence as I´ve gained, it´s obvious I still need gracious, loving people to help me through this mortal life!

Excerpt #2

In the middle of all of this, Georgia's mother is the one who is making the wedding dress. She is finishing some last minute alterations, but it is beautiful!! She also made her own dress for the wedding. And would you believe that yesterday, she kept making sure I was well fed? I am one of about six thousand people coming in and out of this house and she is concerned because I have been sick. She took all my laundry again and before we went to the church in the evening, she brought me into the kitchen where she and Georgia and fixed an entire dinner plate full of food with freshly squeezed juice just for me. No one else was eating! Talk about good people.  What an amazing trip. What incredible lessons I have learned!

The purpose of these blog entries the past two weeks is to find reasons to rejoice every day.  In spite of such a tragedy, there are reasons to rejoice, thanks to the plan of salvation put in to place by a loving Heavenly Father and made possible by His son, Jesus Christ.  

If Gilda had to go, I am grateful it was on the day before Easter.  I hope that every year when Georgia remembers the passing of her mother, she remembers the resurrection of the Savior which makes it possible for her mother to live again, but this time glorified and perfected.  After I heard about Gilda's passing, I saw a meme that said, "Because of Him, death has no sting." While I've heard this phrase before, it was especially beautiful to me tonight.  Christ overcame death so we could live with those we love forever.  Georgia and her family are sealed for time and eternity in the temple.  They faithfully keep their temple covenants and live worthy of the promise of eternal life together.  While the wait will be longer than any of them hoped, they will be together again.  My mother will be able to embrace her mother. I will get to meet my grandmother face to face.  I've looked forward to that day ever since I was a little girl.  

Christ lives. That phrase is in the present tense! Through Him, families can be together forever.

And that is reason to rejoice!

Friday, April 18, 2014

What a Life! Day 12

Well, my family cracks me up. What can I say.  The first six joyful moments on my list are these little treasures my dad sent to my family via email today. He invited us to create captions, which I have shared below each picture. 

1. Joyful picture number #1:

Katie: "When I grow up, I want to be as fashionable as my big sister!"

Shana: "Kid sister. (Kid sister) Kid sister. (Kid sister) Wherever I go, YOU'RE gonna go. Kid sister...kid sister...kid sister and me!"

2.  Joyful picture #2:

Katie: "My older brother derives subtle enjoyment from my misfortunes. Rude."

Shana: "I may look calm. But I swear I am never having kids of my own."

Estella: "I have spent the day tending a screaming toddler and watching a singing zucchini on TV. However, I am still really hot."

3. Joyful picture #3:

Katie: "Is this seat taken?"

Shana: "I don't know what happened...I just woke up and I"

Estella: "I'm not a morning person.  NO, you don't understand.  I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON!"

4. Joyful picture #4


Katie: "Modest is hottest."

Shana: "I didn't do it. I SWEAR I didn't do it!" Except that I did because my hands are all green and I'm smiling on the inside.

5. Joyful picture #5:

Katie: Neon is the new black.

6. Joyful picture #6:

Katie: "The era when Katie's bangs had not yet been introduced to a straightener."

Shana, from left to right:
"How could something so so small."(bonus points for movie reference - although not a direct quote)
"Please be a good photo. Please be a good photo. Please be a good photo."
"Why are we taking a picture again - they're just eggs. And not even good ones at that."
"This IS my happy face."
"Ah isn't life grand?"

 Side note: I think I just figured out the bonus! "Look at this stuff, isn't it neat?"

6. Today, I slept in! My body is usually not willing.  I think it's because I set aside today aside for doing NOTHING except whatever I felt moved to do at the moment. Knowing I had nothing to wake up for at any point during the day helped me sleep until almost 9:30 a.m.! It was awesome.  A relaxing finish to a fun filled spring break week. 

7. I got caught up on season 6 of Drop Dead Diva. LOVE that show. Truly. Such a weird premise. But it WORKS! I love how this series slaps the Hollywood idea of beautiful in the face and helps audiences see that a woman's shape or size is not the most important thing about her. 

8. I deep cleaned my kitchen today, which definitely brought me joy AND fulfillment.  Cleaning is very therapeutic for me, more so when it's not rushed and I'm doing it because I want to, not because desperation has driven me to it.

9. My roommate and I got ice-cream and chatted about what is going on in our lives. Having a roommate is a huge blessing. I feel very lucky. Michelle is always willing to listen to my concerns and challenges. She always asks me how my day went and she comes to all of my concerts.  Life would be so lonely if I didn't live with a friend! Thanks, Michelle!

10. Tonight was the live broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Handel's Messiah. Melissa Heath, the soprano soloist, was one of the four DMA students who came and performed for my choir department and did a Q&A session with the kids.  She makes it look so easy, though what she is doing is incredibly hard.  It sounds effortless!  She was clearly born with a divine gift that she nurtured over many years and developed into an extremely powerful tool to bless the lives of others.

Hearing the "Hallelujah Chorus" was incredible.  Although I sometimes tend to stay away from oft-performed choral pieces, I realized tonight there is a reason why this piece is so beloved.  I felt the Spirit coursing through me as I listened.  It was powerful to see the audience and the soloists on their feet as the choir sang so majestically about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Although we can never come close to adequately expressing His power and might, that song is about as near as we can get as mortals. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What a Life! Day 11

1. The first thing to bring me genuine joy this morning was a Bruno Mars song.  I was driving along, minding my own business, when I started paying attention to the lyrics of a song I have heard several times:

If you ever leave me baby,
Leave some morphine at my door
‘Cause it would take a whole lot of medication
To realize what we used to have,
We don’t have it anymore.

I think I actually laughed out loud by myself in the car. What? So funny! Why did I never notice the hilarity of those lyrics before?

2. I went to the gas station this morning and all of a sudden I heard, "Good morning!" called out to me from some faceless voice inside the gas pump.  I bet the gas station employees get a kick out of freaking people out by greeting them unexpectedly over those speakers!  It's kind of creepy because they can see you, but you can't see them.  When I finished, the voice said, "Thank you!" and I replied, "You're welcome" to the voice.  I wonder if it could hear me from wherever it is.

3. Before heading back to Provo, I stopped by to say goodbye to Scotty and his mommy (and brought doughnuts as a peace offering for waking them up).  There is nothing cuter than this child when he first wakes up.  I couldn't get enough of him!  He is looking like a red head...I wonder if that will last...?

4. I went up to south Weber today to get head shots done for my auditions next week.  Getting pictures taken of myself felt sooooo awkward- I would make a horrible model! That was not a joyful moment for me.  But the photographer is my friend Phaidra's sister, and she does awesome work!  She was also very sweet and watched Phaidra's kids for an hour before the shoot so Phaid and I could get lunch and catch up.  I miss Phaidra- we always find a lot to laugh about and I'm so grateful for her compassionate heart and friendship.  And, another joyful moment was eating a teriyaki steak rice bowl at Rumbi's. 

5. Today was my final conducting class with Dr. Bradford.  It was joyful for two reasons. First, it has been an excellent class. My eyes were opened and my perspective widened.  Dr. Bradford has a passion for music that is exciting to witness- it is ingrained in his soul.  Second, the last day of this class means I am just that much closer to graduation! It will take me a year to finish everything with my project, but I only have two classes left, which is exciting.  

6.  I was in charge of refreshments for a stake YW leadership training meeting tonight and I came across this strawberry. How cool is that?

7. For the refreshments, we did bread (Great Harvest), water, and fruit.  This scripture, Alma 5:34, was a perfect fit!

8. I had a couple embarrassing "teacher" moments tonight as I participated in the training (I think spring break is not going to be long enough!). I was assigned to talk about loving the girls we teach.  We were reading in Moroni 7 and I referred to "measures" 45-48 in front of everyone.  Then, when the training was over, I had to fill out a reimbursement sheet for the refreshments.  Look what I inadvertently put for the organization! I'm so used to filling out reimbursement papers at work. Opa.

9.  I feel so blessed to work with Janeen, Traci, and Gilary in my church calling.  These women are amazing. They are strong and they are faithful.  They are excellent leaders.  They are devoted wives and mothers.  I am so grateful for their examples of righteousness, dedication, and love.

10. I found myself feeling joyful about the atonement today.  I have struggled this week making bad choices about food.  I have eaten a lot of wheat, which I know is harmful to my body.  I have also eaten much more junk food than I should.  As a result, I haven't been feeling well.  I've had headaches, uneasy stomach, etc.  When I felt tempted to get down on myself today for my lack of self-control and poor decisions, I remembered that the atonement can help me forgive myself and move forward.  Feeling remorse for our wrong choices is good, but dwelling on them is not.  I am so grateful that because of Jesus Christ, I can start fresh tomorrow and be better tomorrow than I was today. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What a Life! Day 10

1. This morning before heading over Tina's, I decided to pick up some breakfast treats. I googled "gluten-free bakery" in Provo and an address popped up very close to my parents' condo.  When I went there, however, it was a regular house with no store front.  I called the number listed and received no answer, but it went to a woman's voice mail.  I left a message and departed.  Later, I got a call back.  It turns out the owner turned her basement into a gluten free bakery! You pre-order items the day before.  Anything leftover after 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. you can purchase the same day.  I meant to go back to check it out after 3:00- it slipped my mind- but I will soon. I'm just filled with joy at the prospect!

2. When I got to Tina's house, she was watching "The Voice." I had never seen this show until the last time I visited her.  I am totally getting hooked! I think it's WAY more interesting than American Idol.  I love the duet battling and the coaching.  It was really fun to watch a couple episodes together and discuss who we liked best. 

3. Believe it or not, today was the first time I flew solo babysitting Scotty. I don't get very many opportunities- sometimes Salt Lake City feels so far away! Because I'm on spring break, I wanted my turn to watch him while Tina got some things done for their new house.  He is at such a fun stage where he is discovering and playing and grabbing and laughing...I love it.  He has recently discovered his little feet!

4. When Tina got back from her errands, we walked to Maverick for Slurpees. It was fun to toss back and forth ideas for her recently renovated blog. Someday, we're going to start a business.

5.  On our walk, we got adopted by a dog.  She didn't have a collar.  She walked along with us for probably fifteen minutes.  Even though I have an irrational fear of dogs and was a little jumpy the whole time, I thought it was kind of cute.  She followed us all the way to Tina's house and even up on the porch.  We had to hurry inside or else she would have followed us there, too! About five minutes later, I wanted to show Tina the motorcycle game I play with Scotty.  She was recording us when, twenty-five seconds in, the dog burst through the front door and started running about the living room! Apparently the door hadn't latched!  I laughed so hard.

Fast-forward the video below to the last five seconds.


6. Right as I was leaving, I randomly decided to take a pic of Scotty and his mommy on my phone because they looked so darling together. How can this picture not fill everyone with joy?

7. Many and I drove up to Park City together to meet Kate and her family for dinner.  The car ride was a joy! Our conversations always bring me strength.  We share very similar experiences because of our careers and the directions our lives have taken us. 

8. We love Kate's family! Kate's husband and parents met us at the Red Rock restaurant in Park City.  We hadn't seen Jan and Al since Kate's wedding almost four years ago! Melissa and I both commented on the way home how valued her parents make us feel.  They ask thoughtful questions about our careers, even seeking counsel from us regarding our professions.  For example, Kate's dad asked how to visually and aurally differentiate between a professional and a novice conductor.  It was a question that not many people care about, but Melissa and I both have experience in that area and it made us feel like what we do matters.  They show genuine concern for the trials we face and sincere joy at our achievements.  It's no wonder Kate is the incredible friend that she is. 

9. I got a bowl of French onion soup before my dinner.  Little known fact: I LOVE French onion soup.  For all you French Onion soup fans out there, you know how it seems there is never enough cheese? Well, that was NOT the case this evening, my friends.  This bowl of soup was half cheese.  It was amazing.

10. One of my favorite shake shops of all time is the Dairy Keen in Heber City, which we conveniently passed by on the way to and from Park City. Melissa and I made a little stop there on our way home.  They load in the toppings and the fruit is fresh.  Incredible!

What a Life! Day 9

1. My (very pregnant with twins) friend's daughter and I went to the Dinosaur Museum so her mom could get some rest.  It was so fun-and eye opening- to step in to the roll of "mom" for a few hours! I learned many important things about motherhood.

First, it might be okay when you're by yourself to park really close to the car next to you because you found a great parking spot. When you have a kiddo in a car seat to get out, it's the dumbest idea ever.

Second, consolidate.  I brought my own purse and the diaper bag and by the end of the afternoon was juggling holding baby doll, dinosaur egg, and the picture we colored.  I shoved my purse in the diaper bag, along with the picture, and even tried fitting baby doll in there (to no avail).  And I had my sweatshirt tied around my waist, people.  That's right- my need to be hip was overcome by more pressing matters.

 I also realized I was trying to micromanage.  I wanted to make sure we saw everything and had the best time ever.  I finally stopped and reminded myself that this child is two and she will have a lot more fun doing whatever it is she thinks is most exciting at this stage of her life. That was a turning point for me.  We didn't end up seeing the whole museum, but neither of us cared.  We went through the star room many times, though.  That was a favorite!

There was a love/hate relationship with this dinosaur turned bunny.  She wanted to be about five feet from him.  No more, no less.  If I got too close, she started panicking.  If I walked away, she pointed back to him until we were close again.But not too close.  It was so funny! In his little basket (or maybe he's a her....) s/he had eggs with baby dinosaurs in them (yep, definitely a female dinosaur).  That was a huge hit with the little one!
 2. My dear friend Emily lives a couple blocks from Thanksgiving point, so we stopped by her house for lunch afterward! There are fewer people on earth who are kinder than Emily.  She is just a good person through and through.  Definitely someone to aspire to.  And look at her newest addition (Scotty's future wife) in the top right corner below! How darling is that child?!  As I was leaving, I just looked at her with her little ones all around her and said, "How are you a mother of three now?"  It really feels like yesterday we were passing around our quotes notebook at BYU, collecting hilarious bits of wisdom from our peers, each other, and our teachers.  Her children are very, VERY lucky to have her. 

 3. On my way from class at the U to Provo, I decided to pump up the jam in my '97 Ford Taurus (it has the radio and a tape deck, so I chose the first) and roll down the windows.  I felt as cool as I could feel in a Ford Taurus with the windows rolled down. Wind in my hair, on spring break on the open highway...freedom.  Independence.  I tried running my fingers through my hair several hours later and was like...oh yeah...I did that.  And I don't regret it.

4. I love the view from Tina and Jer's house.  It reminds me of my beloved alma mater, BYU. 

5. I got to see my nephew in various forms of darling, all in the space of an hour.

6. Tina always says to him, "Scotty, you're my best friend."  That's pretty much how I feel about him, so I guess he has two best friends now. 

7. There is no experience quite like baby kisses. 

8. My sisters and I have been trying for weeks to coordinate our schedules and see Divergent.  We share books, and this was a series we all took turns reading (except yours truly hasn't read number three because a busy mom in the trio has had it for months).  I love nights out with my sisters.  We find each other so funny, which makes being together a party every time.

9.  We threw caution to the wind and ate all the movie treats we could handle. 

10.  I was inwardly complaining about all the driving I did yesterday but at the end of the day, I realized how grateful I am for my reliable old car.  I can count on Marguerite to take me from Salt Lake to Lehi to the U of U down to Provo and around town all in one day.  I can't believe what cars make possible.  I feel very blessed to have one that has served me so well for the past 10 years or so.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

What a Life! Day 8

 Finding joy today was a little harder because I didn't feel particularly well for the majority of the day. But there was still plenty of joy and fulfillment to be had! 

1. I had the whole morning and early afternoon free to work on my homework for my behavior management class.  It was nice to have the time to watch my favorite shows while folding laundry in between stretches of homework. 

2. I took a Sugar House park walk again. The weather is perfect right now because it's not too hot.  Seeing the beauty of God's earth while exercising the body He has given me is invigorating.  I had a bad headache today and the fresh air really helped. 

3. This is kind of silly, but I felt thankful today when a stranger smiled at me as we passed by one another at the park. It's such a simple thing; yet, it brightened my day.

4.  My dear friend Nathan agreed to help me out of a bind. He is a fabulous accompanist and I need someone in a week to accompany my concert choir at festival. I am so grateful for his talents and willingness to share them with me! 

5.  Today was our last meeting in Classroom Management. I learned so much in the class and am grateful for a professor, Dr. Napoles, who is so dedicated to her job.  I owe her a lot, as she has really guided me through this graduate program.  My colleagues are also down to earth people and we always have fun discussions in class. 

6.  I took a lot of pain medication for my budding migraine on a semi-empty stomach today and felt really awful for several hours. I found a lot of joy in filling my empty stomach, as it helped cure the nausea! I was so grateful it wasn't the stomach flu coming back for an encore...

7.  ...which leads me to number 7. Not tossing my cookies today brought me unspeakable joy, as I came dangerously close and we all know how fun that is.

8.  My mom gave me a gift card to Cold Stone just because.  Isn't she cute? Michelle, Jessame and I went today and it was deeeeelicious!

9.  There was a new epidode of "Hart of Dixie" on hulu. Yes!

10.  Crossed one thing off my spring break to-do list- got the shower games ready for Shelly's shower (second twins shower in one month!). 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What a Life! Day 7

1. Today was our ward conference and I was in charge of teaching part of the combined Young Men/Young Women meeting during the third hour.  I loved, loved, LOVED teaching the youth.  The topic was "Joy in the Journey." We talked about three things to help us find happiness during out mortal journey. It was based in large part on President Uchtdorf's talk in the 2008 general Relief Society meeting, "Happiness, Your Heritage." It is a phenomenal talk that I recommend everyone read. Each kid got one of the handouts below with various kinds of chocolate candy.

2. At the beginning of the lesson, I asked two boys to come to the board and each draw a house, side by side.  I told them they were not in competition with one another and it was not a race; however, they had to include a triangle, a rectangle, a circle, and oval, a hexagon, and a square in their individual houses.  After they finished, we compared the similarities and differences as a class.  Then, I asked the kids what the steps are to get back to Heavenly Father.  I erased the list of required shapes written on the board and replaced them with the steps of repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, the temple endowment, and eternal marriage. The last one they named was faith.  I wrote "fe" on the board and started moving on.  I stopped and did a double take as one of the leaders who served in Portugal said, "Uh...that's Portuguese." Seven years later, talking about the gospel still takes me back to my mission! It was a little embarrassing.  Just to finish the analogy, we talked about how the houses were different, but they both fit all the requirements to get back to Heavenly Father. Our journey through life will not be the same as someone else. We will have different trials and different strengths. And sometimes we compare our weaknesses with others' strengths ("his roof is cooler than my roof") and forget to recognize what we do well (one kid had a cool chimney and the other kid added shingles to his roof).

3. I had a really great nap today.  Sunday naps are even more magical when I don't have work the next day because I don't feel like my weekend is almost over when I wake up!

4. Michelle and I watched "Move Over Darling" this afternoon.  That movie is a CLASSIC.  I am a huge Doris Day fan!

5. We had our weekly movie night this week. It's always wonderful to go over to Jessame and Allison's house where I know exactly where the blankets are and I can make myself right at home in my usual spots on either the armchair or the floor. Jessame air pops the popcorn and adds just the right amount of salt and butter.  Tonight's movie choice was "The Single's Ward."  We were admiring all the quirky camera shots, like when he looks down the hole in mini golf and talks into a camera that appears to be inside.

6. Lane and I have some really great, in depth discussions about biannually.  We have been friends for 6 years now, and there are few people with whom I can be so honest.  Our minds operate very similarly, so Lane can understand many of the perspectives I have in a way others can't. 

7.  I love my family and how supportive they are of me.  My parents and every sibling contacted me today to find out how my date went, which I think is so very sweet. 

8.  Michelle shared some chocolate peanut butter eggs with me today, which was a delightful treat.  She is a very sweet roommate (no pun intended!).

9.  One thing I realized I am grateful for today is my new-found ability to back talk negative thoughts.  Whenever I am tempted to get discouraged with myself, I talk back to those feelings and make it clear I won't tolerate them.  I never used to believe this principle worked, but it does.

10.  It is such a joy to remember...and then re-remember....and remember once more...that I have no school tomorrow!!