Sunday, June 29, 2014

But as We Listen and Obey, We Know We Can Withstand

The scriptures have an uncanny power to come alive in different ways depending on what stage of life an individual reads them.  Though the words are the same, the Spirit teaches new things about what is written.  I had an experience with this yesterday.

Lately, I've been anxious about current events regarding the church I love so dearly.  I see a divide happening within the membership and it's very distressing. The prophet and apostles of God in whom I have complete faith are under attack by members of the church they lead. The phrase,"The truths and values we embrace are mocked on every hand" from the hymn, "As Zion's Youth in Latter-days" has never held more significance to me than it does now. All of the contention makes my heart ache.  There are people I love fiercely on both sides, who I will continue to love despite our differences.  This disagreement from within isn't unexpected; it is a familiar pattern found in the scriptures and it was prophesied that this would happen before the second coming of the Savior.

My dad said something that hit me strongly when I was home visiting at the beginning of this month.  I was telling him my concerns about these issues.  He said, "At a certain point, you are going to have to take a stand." We can't accept and live what the world teaches, or passively sit on the fence and watch without an opinion.  We have to stand for what we know is right, despite the consequences that may follow by those who disagree.  And that isn't easy.  We need to love and respect every single human being on this earth.  There is no cause to ever treat anyone unkindly.  That is what our Savior has taught us.  But accepting doctrine contrary to what we know to be true to maintain peace and unity is not the solution.  We afford all people the same right to worship as they choose.

Yesterday, I was reading in Alma about the Anti-Nephi-Lehis who were converted to the Lord and decided to bury their weapons of war.  They made an oath not to shed blood anymore.

Alma 24:16  And now, my brethren, if our brethren seek to destroy us, behold, we will hide away our swords, yea, even we will bury them deep in the earth, that they may be kept bright, as a testimony that we have never used them, at the last day; and if our brethren destroy us, behold, we shall go to our God and shall be saved.

I learned something so vital from this passage.  As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who follows President Thomas S. Monson, I will choose to never retaliate with unkindness when people disagree with my beliefs or lash out at me.  But I will also remain with my feet firmly planted in what I believe to be true. That is my right.

 18 And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.

I want to serve and love everyone of all faiths, just as my Savior would do.

21 Now when the people saw that they were coming against them they went out to meet them, and prostrated themselves before them to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord; and thus they were in this attitude when the Lamanites began to fall upon them, and began to slay them with the sword.

But, I cannot deny the things I believe, despite opposition.  I will pray for strength from the Lord to endure and leave the rest in His hands. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Lovin, had me a SPLASH!

Yesterday I had the most delightful afternoon with my sister, my nephew, and my friend's little daughter.  Sometimes, being single, I find myself with a lot of "me" time in the mornings and evenings (especially during summer). I know there are lots of busy moms out there who are envious of all the time I get to myself! It makes me feel selfish; however, it isn't always as glamorous as it seems.  Many times I'll lay in bed and the following phrase will run through my head: "There has to be more to life than this."

Well, I figured out what that "more" is.  It's family; it's children. It's learning, laughing, playing, discovering, running, jumping, slipping, splashing, shivering, holding, kissing, snuggling, floating, playing, sharing, crying, and experiencing life...together.  No amount of alone time can ever beat that.

The reading corner in Scotty's nursery was put to good use!
The Provo Rec Center is incredible- it has both and indoor and an outdoor portion.  When we went outside, we could small Hamburgers grilling. Something about the combination of the water and the BBQ made it really feel like summer!
So lucky my sisters live near. Wish the whole family did!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Letter to Broseph on His Birthday

Prom, 1998

 Dear Joe Joe, Joey, Jasaphary, Jovus, and so on and so forth- 

You have three little sisters who admire and adore you.  I can't imagine having a more loving, patient, forgiving, and gentle brother than the one I have. I particularly enjoy the following picture of you adoring me.

Okay, okay, this isn't about me.  To make up for that moment of vanity, please refer to the picture below (that shouldn't see the light of day, let alone the public eye).

Your H.S. Graduation, 1998 (and the height of my beauty)
But I digress.  

The picture below represents how you show us by example how to be tender and kind; how to put family first; and how to make our dreams come true.

NY trip sometime around 1998 and 1999
In honor of the big 3-4, I have selected 34 memories.  "Here they are, in random order!" (Name that T.V. show that we used to watch together as a family when we were kids!)

1. I remember your tree house with the drawbridge and the dreams that accompanied it.

2. I remember our plans (your plans) to build an underground house and how excited we were.

3. I remember when you put your retainer directly on top of my soft serve ice-cream.

4. I remember when we got in a spat when I was a teenager or maybe even a young adult (I probably instigated it) and you came back to apologize and make things better.  That moment is ingrained in my mind.  I even remember where I was sitting. It was such a profound moment for me.  I don't know if you realize the impact it had.

5. I remember when you got a flat top.

6. I remember when you offered me fifty dollars not to talk for the rest of our car trip to Utah (and there were hours left). I came REALLY close to earning it, too.

7. I remember Christmas mornings when we were little and you would be up at 5:00 a.m., pacing the room, waiting for our parents to wake up so we could see our presents. 

8. I remember Christmas mornings when we were much bigger and you would emerge (after about the third or fourth time we tried to wake you up) wrapped in a down comforter.  You would walk wordlessly upstairs and flop on the bed, remaining silent for at least a half hour.

9.  I remember when you bought our mom the most thoughtful gifts for her birthday and Mother's Day, the most memorable being a rabbit.

10.  I remember when you would search high and low to find just the right panda or stacking dolls for your wife because they held special significance to you as a couple.

11.  I remember when you would make the most incredible pies and enter them in the ward contests.  I believe you won a few prizes along the way!

12. I remember when you would bust out some funky dance moves on some rare, glorious occasions but would refuse to repeat them on command.

13.  I remember how much you loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which is probably why I had a crush on Michelangelo).

14. I remember your creative Halloween costumes when you were a teenager and young adult like the Tin Man and the Paper Boy.

15. I also remember your mummy Halloween costume when you were still in the single digits.  You wore thermal underwear and had our parents wrap you entirely in masking tape.  Trick-or-treating was over when you had to go to the bathroom!

16.  I remember how your poetry always made Mom cry.

17.  I remember you rollerblading in a loop around the driveway.

18.  I remember how cool I thought it was that you were so good at snowboarding.

19.  I remember when we went skiing as kids and you got altitude sickness and they had to put tubes in your nose.

20.  I remember how earnest you were.  You loved things that other kids hadn't begun to understand.  You saw art, poetry, and music for what it was- something exquisite and captivating.

21.  I remember always how much you love and cherish your daughter.

22.  I remember when you worked your tail off to get the funding to make your own game

23. I remember when you took up the unicycle

24.  I remember when everyone thought (thinks) you looked like Brad Pitt

25. I remember going to Mexico together and being so distraught when you got sick (and how funny I thought it was when you told me they had to give you a shot in the butt.  The way you said it was just so hilarious!)

26. I remember when you would (and still do) give me thoughtful, kind dating advice. You're always rooting for me and on my team.  I remember mom telling me one of your indignant retorts when a boy broke my heart. That meant a lot.

27.  I remember "buttercups." Ew.

28.  I remember us memorizing "Baby Songs" after two little sisters watched them religiously as babes.  I think it's possible we may have derived some small enjoyment from them as well...

29.  I remember when we used to tease you for liking exotic beauties.  You were smart and married the most beautiful one of all!

30.  I remember how you didn't throttle me when my guilty conscience would compel me to tattle over and over (and over) again.  I can't believe how annoying I was.  And I don't remember you ever smacking me or trying to intimidate me, even when I was at my worst.  It's so sweet to look back without any awful memories of fighting (Christina and I, on the other hand...ha, ha! But we've made up for it by becoming extra close after we both grew up!). 

31.  I remember you bringing me a particular song you wanted to work on to sing for someone you love very much.  I was thrilled to hear what beauty and potential was in your voice. I wish we lived closer so we could sing together more often.

32.  I remember you proudly sharing funny stories of things Ella surprises you by saying (which comes as no surprise, considering who is raising her!).

33. I remember how you went off sugar for like 7 years and it drove me INSANE because it did not seem like a humanly possible goal. 

34.  In my mind, I can clearly hear the sound of your voice and the melody of your laughter.  I love so much to laugh together.  

Though there are more things, I need to save some for when you get older and I have a longer list I need to create.  Get excited to turn 50!

Thank you, my sweet brother, for always taking an interest in my life, even from so far away.  Thank you for believing in me and focusing always on the good in me (even though you've seen all the bad).

I love you,


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A note from a 20 year old Katie

I am preparing (panicking!) to teach English next year and therefore have gotten out all my English teaching materials from college.  One thing I found was an "About Me" book.  Inside were displayed notes, poems, pictures, etc.  We were creating a model of the assignment to refer to in the future.  It was quite amusing to see what I loved then and compare it to what I love now.  It was also eye opening to read what my dreams were then and contemplate how many I have achieved, not achieved, or shifted in the 10 years since then.

This is a picture of one of the little assignments inside...

...and this is a review of how I did:
  • The longest my hair ever got in the past 10 years (and in my life) was on my mission.  It was not quite halfway down my back, but it was very damaged from the sun and irregular hair cuts.  If I had donated it anyway, though, my hair would have been very, very short! My hair just doesn't grow fast. Period. Interestingly enough, before stumbling across, this I renewed my desire to grow my hair out as long as I could.  Long hair has always been a dream, ever since I watched Strawberry Shortcake's hair magically grow on TV once. I used to wear skirts on my head and pretend it was long hair. 
  • Goal number 2 is done and done. But I was almost 25 when it happened.  Age was so important to me then. I felt so embarrassed that all my high school friends were already done with school. My attitude is very different now.
  • I teach high school music...yee-haw! And it has lived up to my expectations!
  • Going to New Zealand is still a dream.  But I have two things on my "savings" list that have precedence over that vacation: 1) a first time trip to Hawaii (I am going to go when I graduate) and 2) a house.
  • I was a bridesmaid seven times!
  • Being a bride is still a cherished dream.
  • Okay, with the dancing goal. I tried, believe me I did. At BYU, I took two Latin ballroom classes, two tap classes, I went country dancing many times, and even went salsa dancing a time or two.  While my love for dancing has remained, I got to a point where I realized being excellent at it was just not in the cards for me.  Maybe in the eternities!
  • I served a mission in Brasil.  Little did I know at that time what kind of a life-changing experience that would be for me. I had no idea how much I would struggle, how much I would cry, yet how much I would grow and learn to depend on my Savior. I couldn't have guessed I would form precious, eternal friendships.  I was so young!
  • I love this goal about losing "ten more pounds" because that remains (and will remain) a consistent goal throughout my entire life.  It never ends.  It's not always ten pounds...sometimes it's twenty or even thirty...but it seems like women are very rarely satisfied with the body they have when they have it. Sad, right? I should fix that.
  • Have many children...well, it may not end up being as many as I anticipated...but who knows.  Again, it's a dream I still cherish!
  • This dream of being a supporting/lead role in a musical is quite persistent in my little heart. I never can quite give it up.  Since I wrote this list, I was a wife in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat (an ensemble role), and the queen in Doo Wop Wed Widing Hood (a bit of a bigger role, but the show was a short one act).  I haven't yet gotten to sing my own song, which is really what I secretly want when it comes down to it.  I think I may need to move out of Utah to accomplish this goal...the competition is so fierce here! I've gone to many callbacks for leading roles but never quite made the cut.  But you know what? The luster of that dream has faded a lot over the past ten years. I made a discovery about myself during that time. I prefer being the teacher over being the performer.  I had no idea at age twenty that I would ever feel that way.  Being in a band, however, has been a REALLY fun way to tap in to that performer in me.  We have our first gig in August!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summah 2014

Scotty loves the camera.  No, seriously. He poses. It kills me!
Reed and Many and I got together to make dinner.  Reed is the foodie of the group so he selected the menu- green papers stuffed with quinoa, Italian sausage, and black beans.  He found the recipe on a GF website.  I was skeptical, but it was delicious!
Unfortunately, it's hard to tell in this picture, but we were accientally all wearing navy blue on Sunday for Riviera's ward conference.  I guess the purpose of the picture is kind of defeated since the blue isn't visible. But, regardless, I love these two women and all they have taught me over the past 6+ months. Janeen (left) is the Stake YW Pres and Gilary (pronounced Hilary, right) is the Stake YW Secretary. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

It's Shave...not Shaved

So, it turns out I have a new summertime favorite.

Does three times a week constitute an obsession? And my friend Levi taught me that you don't say shavED ice.  It's just plain shave ice. And you haven't lived until you've had one with ice-cream on the bottom.  Reminds me of Bahama Bucks in Arizona (sadly, not of Hawaii, because I've never been...though all that will change once I graduate!).

I love Hawaiian shave ice like Scotty loves Lemus the monkey.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Black Bear, Black Bear, What Do You See?

For all you Eric Carlisle fans out there, it's actually, "Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?"  Today for lunch, however, we met up with my grandma in Sandy at the Black Bear Cafe. It's a fun little place! We had every intention of getting pictures with the wooden bear carvings, but there was a squirmy wormy in our group who desperately needed a nap (my family can't take me anywhere, sheesh!).  What a lovely lunch with my favorite women and my best little man.

Please note that the Houston women are all sporting short hair cuts for the first time in...ever.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

This is a (Gluten-Free) Miracle!

My little sister's friends say, "This is a miracle!" when something is especially awesome.  I feel like now is an appropriate time to use this phrase.

THIS CROCK-POT RECIPE WAS AMAZING!  And gluten-free!! Wahoo!  The name got cut off, but it's called Terisha's Chicken.  It comes from 101 More Things to  Do With a Slow Cooker.

It was sooooo easy.  There are so few ingredients that I actually had them all without having to go to the store.  It took me about ten minutes to defrost the chicken, cut the onions, and put the sauce together.  I actually only had half a cup of soy sauce, so I only used half a cup of sugar as well.  I used four small pieces of chicken and it worked great.  There was plenty of sauce.  Since I was cooking for one, it ended up being just the right amount for dinner tonight and leftovers for a couple more meals. 

So delicious. And easy. That's my favorite combination.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Stake Youth Conference 2014

We kicked off youth conference with a dance, the first our stake has had in a couple years!

Gilary did an amazing job with the "photo booth" backdrop!
Recognize anything from a previous post? :-)

The kids loved dressing up!

I have grown to love our stake YW presidency so much.
Youth conference was amazing! We did it on temple square through a program the church puts on with the help of the sister missionaries, couple missionaries, and the temple square hosts.  Our stake has a small youth program (there were about 40 kids from our entire stake), but they are MIGHTY.  I am so proud to be affiliated with this group of kids. They are very diverse in every way.  Our stake has a Spanish ward, plus kids from all different life circumstances.  For example, we have three sisters from Africa who joined the church 4 weeks ago.  We also have a (very musical) set of Polynesian twin sisters who sang their testimony at the end of the day. It was a joy and honor to get to know these kids.

The morning began with a missionary workshop.  The kids had the opportunity to meet the sister missionaries and ask questions about their work on temple square. Then, they had the opportunity to bear testimony.  It was awesome! The Spirit in the room was beautiful.
After they bore testimony, the kids were privileged to hear an excellent talk by Tamara Hill.  She knows exactly how to connect with youth and address difficult subjects in a candid manner.  We were all captivated and I know some of our kids were deeply moved by her words. She was 35 when she got married, so it was particularly interesting for me to hear the story of how she met her husband.
The kids were given DELICIOUS box lunches.  Janeen requested a GF one for me and it was amazing. The sandwich was lettuce wrapped and I got a rich chocolate mousse instead of cookies.
Next, the kids got a tour of the Church History Museum.  It was so cool.  They learned some fascinating things at each of four stations within the museum.
Next, the kids got to visit the Family History museum and check out their own family trees.  After, they went to a "cooking demonstration" by chef John Bench, which turned out to actually be a workshop bout dating.  He drew them in and wove cooking into dating in a brilliant manner.  He was HILARIOUS, too, so the kids had a blast.  Notice in the picture how he taught the boys how to make the moves while cutting vegetables!  This lecture was followed by a scavenger hunt using a pretty amazing phone app that allowed us to scan our answers.  For example, we had to find the sign for the Lion House and when we scanned it in to the phone, the next clue popped up.
Dinner was breath taking. The testimony that followed was inspiring.  It was an incredibly fulfilling day.
What a joy to spend the day on temple square!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

June is just getting started...

Girls Night!

The girls went to Pizza Factory while the boys went camping.  It may look like it was a special occasion...but no, every day is a Disney day for Princess Paige!  Like mother, like daughter! Everyone thought she was so darling and I was so proud to be part of the group.  Love these girls!
My seniors graduated!  These seniors I had for three years.  Next year will be the first batch of students I've had for all four years!  We sang the Star Spangled Banner and the school songs, as per tradition.  Next year, if all goes as planned, I'll have my master hood to wear just like my buddy Erin, the dance teacher! Let's all keep our fingers crossed...hard.
BYU Dance Lab Performance
It was so fun to see Anna's spring ballroom team perform three different numbers.  She was dynamite. She is such a graceful, beautiful dancer.  As you can see from the video below, Lane (who has become a great family friend) and I needed some serious help in the dancing department so Tina gave us some tips while waiting for the performers to come out.

Home Sweet Home
One thing I love about coming home are all my mother's special touches.  Above right is a little bunny she sewed nestled on top of a shelf in her room.  Above left is a little frog jewelry box she bought when I was working at Present Time next to Longs on Calle Real.  I noticed she strategically put a little crown ring in his mouth, which I know was not coincidental.  She is a lover of fairytales and books!  Below is the seasonal display next to the front door that changes depending on the time of year. I LOVED the beach theme.

While home, I've been doing a lot of reading and watching Hallmark movies. It has been so relaxing and really a dream. I have felt so little stress.  There is nothing quite like being home! I've also been practicing guitar and I went to Super Saturday with the relief society sisters.  I learned about crock pot cooking and helped my mom make the birthday celebrations board above.  On Sunday, I noticed the Young Women board at the church and realized my sisters and I are now all part of it now that Anna has finished YW and is in college. That was sweet to see.
Fav Santa Barbara Spots
My mom and I hit Blenders (every city needs a Blenders) and got pedicures on my first day in town. That was the great start to a lovely vacation.
Cat Love
Before I met my neighbor Allie, I never knew someone who loved cats as much as my mom and my sister, Anna.  When I got home, I decided to show Allie what a kindred spirit she has in Santa Barbara!  I took a brief little jaunt through the house finding any and all cat references. It didn't take long!
This particular collage was all from Anna's bedroom and desk.
Niece and nephew...just because.
No post is complete without a little niece/nephew tribute.  I made a pendant with the little pic stitch above at Super Saturday.  It didn't quite turn out, but I still love looking at this picture. 
As I passed a wall with all our baby pictures, I decided to compare Scotty with his Mommy. Love seeing the similarities!
Birthday Dinner
My Dad took my Mom  out a little early for her birthday (I got to tag along- perks of being the only child at home!) since we will be driving to Utah on the actual big day.  Their coconut cake it TDF, which was awful for me because this is the first time I've been to the restaurant as a GF person.  I couldn't resist a few bites! The flourless chocolate cake made it a little more bearable :-).
 High Tea
We've been wanting to try high tea at Anderson's Bakery for a long time, so I decided to make going together my birthday gift to my mom.  Selfish, I know, but it really was lovely!
They surprised my mom with a piece of birthday cake at the end!
Stake Dance Decor 
I am in charge of the "photo booth" area (just a wall, really) for the stake youth dance this weekend during youth conference weekend. The Aloha sign will go above them, but I thought maybe the kids would want to hold up dorky signs (all of us in the presidency are bringing silly things for them to dress up in like hawaiian shirts, leis, sunglasses, hats, etc.). Any ideas for funny things to put on the signs? I'm not as in touch with what teenagers like anymore!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Selflessness- Part 2

There isn't enough room on this endless blog to list all the times my parents have sacrificed on my behalf.

I remember my dad giving up hours of his life to sit with me while I wept and wailed working on math homework.  I couldn't understand how he was ALWAYS right, and he wasn't even in class with me learning the material.  Those minutes must have been excruciating for him.  But I kept coming back and he was always there to help me. I remember us working on my lunch-making invention in elementary school and my hearing-loss science project in high school.  If I needed his time and help, it was always mine.

It seems half my wardrobe was once my mother's.  Often, she will say, "These just didn't look good on me," when really, she saw how much I liked a particular item of hers and wanted me to have it instead.  Many clothes, shoes, and jewelry items "borrowed" (sometimes without permission) throughout the years by three girls who all admire their mom's sense of style changed ownership at the insistence of our mother.  Seeing her kids happy is more important to my mom than worldly treasures.  It is her priority above her own needs.

Parents truly embody selflessness.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Selflessness- Part 1

Today in Sunday School, we talked about Ruth and her loyalty to her mother-in-law, Naomi. She says the following:

Ruth 1: 16 And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
 17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.

We talked about Ruth's selflessness.  Our teacher, Sister Smith, posed the following question: Have you ever benefited from someone's selfless acts of kindness towards you?

I started reflecting on all the times friends have sacrificed on my behalf.  Be it a little thing or a small thing, these moments of selflessness have remained with me, ingrained on my heart.  There are way too many to name, but here are just a few for today.  I will keep adding more over the next couple weeks.

I remember when I told my cousin, Sheralyn, that I loved her jeans jacket.  She was in California visiting.  After she left, I went in to my room and discovered she left the jacket for me to keep.  She is like that ALL the time.  She took me grocery shopping at Costco when I was a poor student one year and insisted on paying for the whole purchase when we got to the register. She is a huge example of generosity and love.

My childhood friend, Violet, has always been incredibly generous with her time and talents. I can't count the number of times she has done my hair, waxed my eyebrows or applied my makeup for some occasion and not asked for anything in return.  That has always impressed me about her.  

When my engagement ended four weeks before the scheduled day, the relief society came to my family's aid and returned all the gifts and sent out hundreds of invitation retractions.  I was fairly incapacitated at the time and my parents had many things they had to deal with in canceling wedding plans and reservations.  What a blessing the relief society was during a very difficult time. 

Along that line, many of the sweet ward sisters and other family friends purchased extremely generous wedding gifts and asked that I keep them even though I was no longer getting married. I was overwhelmed and humbled by their kindness. I have put those gifts to good use in my kitchen over the past 6 years and often think about the love shown to me as I use them.  

My dear friend, Daniel Sowards, who is like family to me, sacrifices for me often.  One particular memory I have is of me laying on my couch, recovering from something, and Daniel coming by my apartment to bring me frozen yogurt. That's just one instance out of many over the past 4 years of friendship.

When I was on my mission, I suffered greatly from feelings of inadequacy.  During one extremely difficult transfer, my companion, Sister Machado, did everything she could to help me remember I was valued and loved. She would leave me encouraging notes and little treats.  I will never forget that.