From Little Things Come Big Things

From Little Things Come Big Things
From Little Things Come Big Things

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fall 2014 General Conference Reading Challenge

General Conference = Better than Christmas. 

Prophets of God, sharing the word of God to US, the people of THIS day and age.  Personal revelation.  Just that feeling that comes when the prophet walks in and 21,000 people isntantly hush out of respect.  Watching all the general authorities' wives greet each other with love and excitement.  And the music, of course.  Ahhhh, the music.

Of course, there are the talks with the soothing voices that inevitably make me fall asleep. There's the purse full of Sour Skittles and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups that get me through Sunday afternoon.  There are the box lunches between sessions on Sunday (if you're lucky, sometimes you get an extra cookie or candy bar), and the aprons over the MoTab dresses.

 Errr... forgot my apron on that day.  Yes, I'm wearing a pink dress.  No need to comment.  Really though.

Maybe this sometimes happens during breaks. These Mormons like to LAUGH!

I love it all!

One of the things I've done to prepare for general conference the past couple years is take some time each day to study the talks from the last conference. As conference is approaching, I put together a reading schedule so I can focus on one talk per day, leading up to the day of the next conference.  

Some days I listen to the talk.  Other days I study it for a long time, or there are the crazy days where I just skim through.  And sometimes, I just get way behind and don't quite finish.  Mostly, I just try to do the best I can.  This has become one of my favorite traditions because it helps me refocus spiritually (something I need to do OFTEN) and simply invites the spirit so I can have guidance from the Lord, even though half the time it has nothing to do with any of the talks.  That's the best kind of guidance!

I invite anyone who feels like doing this Conference Prep Challenge to join me.  You can click on this link for the reading schedule.  And please, let me know about your experience along the way.  What are you learning?  What are you feeling?  I want to hear it all.  Comment on this post, send me a quick text message, whatever. 

If you're in, let me know!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Life in MoTab: Favorite Songs

One of the questions we are often asked  as members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is, "What's your favorite song to sing?" While my top favorite has not changed since the day I first sang it (more on that later), this is sort of a moving target for me.   Picking a favorite is hard because here are so, so many that I just love.  (There are some songs I'd be okay never singing again - let's be honest, we all have them - but I'll refrain from sharing those!)  I know not everyone "gets" choir music, but to me, it is a heavenly gift. My favorite songs are the ones that have the ability to transport me to another place spiritually and emotionally, the ones that help me feel and express things that I cannot share any other way.  

So, while my list might be different tomorrow, here are my top five songs and the reasons why I love them:

5.  Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Favorite lines:
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Why I love it: It starts as a quiet and simple prayer and grows to great pleading.  I once heard someone describe it like this, "Here's my heart, Lord.  Take it, break it, mold it into whatever You need it to be."  That's easier said than done, but it's something I want to work towards daily. This song reminds me that I can choose to surrender my will to God's, any time of any day.

4. Pilgrim Song

Favorite line:
My soul doth long to go where I may fully know the glory of my Savior.

Why I love it: Sigh... I still remember the day I came to my second week in the Temple Square Chorale rehearsal and saw this song sitting on my chair.  I don't know if I've ever been so happy!  I'd heard it sung many times and been transported to this heavenly place, but never had the chance to sing it, yet here I was singing it with the composer himself as the conductor.  It was one of those moments where I asked myself, "Is this real life?!"  This is the happiest dying song I've ever known!  Okay so, it doesn't have to be a dying song, but it reminds me that this life is temporary, it's not home.  That home is joyful beyond human comprehension.  I once had the chance to sing these precious words to a woman who was on the last leg of her journey to that eternal home, and it was an experience I will never forget.  If I can sing during my last breaths, this is the song that will be sung.  If not, I hope someone will sing it to me.

3.  Battle Hymn of the Republic

Favorite line:
I don't have a favorite for this one.  I love it all!

Why I love it: Because it's the Battle Hymn of the Republic!  Need I say more?  One of my favorite things is when we sing this on tour - during that last chorus, while the audience joins with us, it is impossible not to stand out of respect for our country and for God.  It's just... that FEELING. :)

Also... if you've never watched MoTab singing Battle Hymn for President Reagan's inauguration, you probably should. 

2.  I Stand All Amazed

Favorite line:
Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me enough to die for me.
Oh, it is wonderful to me.

Why I love it: This has actually never been one of my favorite hymns until Ryan Murphy arranged the most simple, yet profound version of it for April 2014 General Conference.  Because I had lost my voice, I was just listening when the choir first rehearsed it.  It was a sacred experience for me personally as I was simply reminded, Jesus loves me.

And last but not least...

1. My Song in the Night

Favorite line:
My comfort and joy, my soul's delight,
Oh Jesus, my Savior, my Song in the night.

Why I love it:
From the moment I first sang this song, I just knew it was my song. When I put up a wall spiritually, this is the one song that will break it down, every single time.  The minute the beautiful strings start, I feel hope, and an ability to surrender my stubbornness that I can't seem to find any other way.  The orchestral introduction has just a little bit of dissonance, enough to make me feel the sorrow of knowing that wall was built by me, but hope of knowing I can choose to break it down.  I feel like I'm saying, "Heavenly Father, I'm ridiculous sometimes.  But I'm here now."  In other words, this is my "coming home" song.

What about YOU?
What are your favorite MoTab songs to listen to or sing?

Friday, July 25, 2014


Hi, I'm Katie, and I'm 30 years old.

The older I get, the more I realize that I actually have no idea what I'm doing with myself or my life. I just skimmed some journal entries from years last and I was just so... Sure of myself. I really thought I had it all figured out. I defended my life path decisions because I just KNEW to the core it was right, yet I look back at those same decisions and ask myself, "WHAT WAS I DOING?!"

Yet, I know that Heavenly Father accounts for a lot of special things when designing this master plan He has. He accounts for my ability to choose, and for my lack of wisdom, understanding, and willingness to submit at various times in my life . He knows I'm just a baby spiritually, in the grand scheme of things, and He sure isn't gonna hold back blessings and opportunities from now because I just didn't get it yet five years ago. And in some weird way, that path I took years ago - the one that probably wasn't the smartest one but I was too stubborn to recognize it? It was still somehow the right path, because it led me to be here, now. And you know what? I like it here, and I like being me.

I just hope that 30-year-old Katie is wise enough to not think she's got it all figured out anymore. If I've learned anything, it's that I've simply got to take one day at a time and hand my life over to God, as cliche as that sounds. Sometimes that means letting go and trusting Him enough to guide me, and other times, it means allowing Him to trust me to figure it out and make my own decisions. 

There's a new kind of freedom that comes with admitting I don't have all the answers, or any of them, really. I like to think I have opened my mind and heart enough to let the Spirit squeeze in just enough to guide me on the best paths, one tiny path at a time.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Trip to the Temple with Nana Kelley

So here's the thing.  My grandma is one of my best friends.  She's definitely my favorite human on this earth.  Growing up, I never thought I'd be super close to her, but ever since my mission, we've sort of just... needed each other.  The poor woman just wants to be with her husband again, understandably, but I'm so very grateful I've had the past 6 years to become buddies with her.  She is amazing.

The thing about Nana Kelley is she thinks she is always inconveniencing people.  She NEVER is,  but she doesn't like to go places or do fun things, not because she doesn't want to, but she thinks she's gonna put people out.  We tell her every single day it's not like that, but... she's just Nana Kelley and that's how she is.

One example of this is that she's really wanted to go to the Brigham City temple, ever since it opened, but anytime we got close to doing it, she bailed because she was worried about being too slow and stuff.  Brigham City has a special place in her heart because that's where my grandpa grew up.  So, a few weeks ago, I called her and said, "Grandma, we're going.  July 5th.  No matter what."  Of course she put up a stubborn fit a couple times, insisting that she was just too old (even though she secretly really wanted to go), but luckily, I have inherited her stubborn genes times five.  So I won.

On the way there:
Me: Grandma, out of all the things I could be doing on a Saturday, this is what I want to be doing more than anything.
Grandma: Well, you're a good granddaughter and I love you for that.
Me: I'm gonna get a little sappy for a minute, Grandma.  I had a little revelation a few months ago that one of the main reasons it hasn't been the right time for me to be married and have a family yet is because we needed each other, and we never would have gotten this close if that had happened.
Grandma: I suppose that could be true, but it's awfully selfish for me.  I hope you can find someone to love soon.
Me: Me too. I hope I can find someone that I can love as much as you love Grandpa.
Grandma: I did love him a lot and I still do.  Sometimes I disgusted him, and sometimes he disgusted me, but we kept loving each other through it all.
Me: How did you do that?
Grandma: I don't know, love just keeps going no matter what, I guess.

Being at the temple with Nana Kelley and having the opportunity to help her through the experience was really special and sacred for me.  I can't think of a better way to celebrate the last week of the first century of her life!  She was treated like royalty by all the sweet temple workers, and the whole experience meant a lot to her, especially because she felt like Gramps was close by the whole time.

Of course, we had to stop and have a gourmet dinner at the Maddox on the way home, and then we were both all tuckered out.

1 week until she turns 100 years old!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Wiener Dog Life Lessons: Fireworks Edition

Meet Zoe.

The best Christmas present I ever got.
My twin in wiener dog form.
My child.

Seriously though.  I love this little dog, especially because she has helped heal parts of me I didn't know were broken.  People who know me probably think of two things when they think of me: music and wiener dogs.  There's a reason for the borderline creepy obsession, people!  Who knew a tiny little sausage shaped dog with legs a few inches long could teach me so much?  Sometimes, when I really need to learn something important, I think Heavenly Father knows the only way He is going to get through to my stubborn heart is through a wiener dog, so He gave me Zoe.  I sound ridiculous right now, I know.  But hear me out.  I'm gonna tell you all about Wiener Dog Life Lessons.

Lately, I can't seem to turn off my brain.  At any given moment there are a million little tasks and goals and all sorts of random things sort of swirling around my head in a terrifyingly overwhelming tornado, largely thanks to the constant distractions that seem to be unavoidable in this day and age.


Tonight, I took my little dog outside, threw out a blanket, laid on my back and looked up at the stars while I started to have a little chat with God.  I needed to be still.

Normally, when we're outside chillin', Zoe meanders around the yard and sniffs everything, checking in with me about every minute or so.  But today is the 4th of July.  Today, there were fireworks - the quickest way to get a snuggly dog!  She quickly nuzzled between my waist and my arm and put her head down on my shoulder.  Every time a new group of fireworks would go off, she'd lift her head and look around, slightly distressed.  I'd hold her tightly and whisper, "It's okay.  I've got you.  You're safe with me."  She'd breathe a deep breath, and back to my shoulder her head would go.

I'm a lot more distractible than Zoe.  I'm not always as faithful in checking in with my Master.  That little dog cannot be in the same vicinity as me without being with me literally every single minute, yet sometimes I go days without really turning to God.  Sure, there are the routine prayers, which are better than nothing.  But lately, it takes a firework to make me REALLY run to Him - a firework like not having a clue where to go next in my life, or trying to decipher between the spirit and my emotions when making decisions about where a relationship is heading (or not heading), or feeling like worldly things are taking over my life.  And while I know that God is patient while I'm not desperately running from the fireworks, it's me that's missing out on the peace, joy, and calmness that comes from being close to Him.

The good news is, no matter when those fireworks come, or even if they don't, I can ALWAYS turn to God.

It's okay.
He's got me.
I'm safe with Him.

So tonight, when I go to bed, I'll take a deep breath, close my eyes, and let those reminders sink deep into my heart.

He's got me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

O, Love That Will Not Let Me Go

Music is the language of my soul.  I can't remember NOT feeling that way, even when I was a teeny tiny little girl.  Sometimes, I just feel like there's all these feelings inside wanting to explode out of my heart but not knowing how, and then the perfect song comes along and sets all the feelings free.  All the happiness and sadness and hope and fear and vulnerability - all of it - it just bursts out.  All at once.  And that's probably the best feeling ever felt by any human.  I'm sure of it.

This is the story about one of those songs.

George Matheson was a Scottish minister who gradually went blind during his early years.  By the time he was 17, he had lost his vision completely.  Years later, he fell in love and was engaged, but his fiancee ended the engagement because of his blindness.  Talk about heartbreak!  He continued as a very successful minister, thanks to the constant help of his sister.  Eventually, the time for her to leave and marry, leaving him alone and hopeless.  He wrote the following the night before his sister's wedding:

"My hymn was composed in the manse of Innelan on the evening of the 6th of June 1882, when I was forty years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s marriage and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me, which was known only to myself and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression of having it dictated to me by some inward voice rather than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes, and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have written are manufactured articles; this came like a dayspring from on high.”


And here are lyrics:

O Love that will not let me go
I rest my weary soul in thee
I give thee back the life I owe
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be

O Light that foll’west all my way
I yield my flick’ring torch to thee
My heart restores its borrowed ray
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be

O Joy that seekest me through pain,

I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head

I dare not ask to fly from thee
I lay in dust life’s glory dead
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

I sure can't wait to sing this one at Music and the Spoken Word on Sunday; Ryan Murphy arranged it so perfectly.  Every time I see it sitting in my choir music box, it's like Christmas!  I encourage you to follow the lyrics while you listen.  Check out your viewing options here.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happiness and Messes

Today, I didn't wait to be happy. Usually, I do. I didn't wait until I didn't feel scared or confused. I didn't wait until everything aligned so it felt like it all fit like a perfect puzzle. I didn't wait for everything to feel like it "should."

Instead, I rolled down the windows and just drove and drove and drove. And I smiled. And I just let myself feel happy, even though I was feeling all the other things too.

Rhapsody in Blue came on and I sang along. I remembered the disaster that was called piano lessons from Mom. I was 4 years old. I yelled and screamed because obviously having to practice was some form of parental torture. I remembered how I procrastinated practicing for every single piano competition I ever entered, and then threw a fit and almost gave up, and then somehow flourished under the pressure and rocked it. I thought of mother daughter piano recitals in the future and was grateful for how my mom has always inspired me with her talent.

Then it was Tik Tok by Kesha. Ah, a classic. I thought of that time a few years ago that we played at high school assemblies until we got in trouble for playing music that encourages drinking, and I giggled. I thought about how terrified I used to be of those assemblies. There was so much anxiety I thought I'd throw up right in front of an entire school. Now, I know every detail that just makes an assembly work. In that last minute before it starts, everything seems to stand still for a minute. I watch the kids; breathe in, then out. I feel the energy and soak it all in. It's game time. I walk out in my high heels with a big fat smile and decide, right then, there's no where I'd rather be than with those kids.

Next, BYU Singers sang an Eric Whitacre song. I recalled all the times I went to see my sister sing with that choir. She was my hero. Being in that choir became my life ambition, because that music spoke to my soul. I just wanted to wear one of those black dresses and sing for Dr. Staheli and maybe, if I was lucky, date one of those handsome men in the choir. One of the dark haired ones. I never sang In that choir, but now I sing in a different one. I thought of that part in my patriarchal blessing that says how the musicians I respected most would someday appreciate my musical gifts. I thought that was fulfilled when I was 14. 

When Rolling River God by Mindy Gledhill started playing, I was transported to that room in that house on Mt. Zion in York, Pennsylvania. I almost gave up in my first transfer as a missionary. I sat in that room "exercising" in the mornings, or crying, rather. I wanted to go home but knew I couldn't. 6 months later I sat in that same room, listening to that same song, realizing that I'd made it through, just by getting through one day at a time. By then, I loved being a missionary.

Hilary Weeks came on. I remember that time when "He Hears Me" came on while I was driving in the car with my mom. I was 12. Life was hard, at least harder than it should have been for a 12-year-old. I wanted to give up but didn't know how. My heart hurt. I felt like a failure at basically everything. I didn't belong in my own family. But that song came on, and little tears streamed down my face as I looked out the window up at the moon, because He heard me, and I knew it. I was a mess, but that was okay with Him.

That's why I don't want to wait to be happy. Maybe today, I feel like a mess, and I worry too much, and I don't understand my feelings, and I am scared of making decisions, and I'm impatient and critical and sometimes sort of lazy. But I was a mess when I won those piano competitions. I was a mess when I learned to love entertaining hundreds of teenagers at a time. I was a mess when I knocked on those doors and found those people who were ready for the gospel. And even in my mess-like state, I find a way to do hard and awesome things. I learned that God can give love and peace and happiness to imperfect people. 

So, if you feel like a mess today, just remember...
God loves you anyway.
You can do hard things.
Even really, really hard ones. 
And you can feel messy and happy all at the same time.