From Little Things Come Big Things

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.

Monday, April 21, 2014

My Easter Gifts


It's a hashtag you've probably seen all over social media this past week, as members of the church worldwide have taken some time to remember how the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has changed their lives.  It has been a beautiful way to celebrate Easter.

I haven't participated in these posts, partly because I wanted to make sure I wasn't doing it just for the sake of doing it with a lack of sincerity behind my convictions, but I think there are other reasons, too.  I suppose it's because I'm in one of those weird phases where my testimony of the Savior does not feel as strong as it has been at other times in my life. I know He is my Savior, but I haven't felt His love or power as much lately because I have not been seeking it like I have in the past.  In some weird way, I have been missing out on feeling His love for me and for others because I feel like I don't deserve it.  It's weird.  I know Jesus Christ has changed and continues to change my life.  But some silly thing in my brain keeps me from recognizing His blessings because I haven't been praying very hard, or studying very dutifully, or serving others how I'd like to.  I start to see blessings and then I think to myself, "Nope, I don't want to know that I'm receiving this great thing, because I don't deserve this great thing."  I make soooo much sense. :)

The reality is that Jesus Christ's perfect life, Atonement, and Resurrection change and affect my life whether I'm deserving of it or not.  The blessings are all around me, and choosing not to recognize them because I feel unworthy does not mean they are not there.  He loves me whether or not I take the time and effort to know Him better.  He loves me no matter what.

In the gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a fine line between complacency and being way too hard on ourselves.  Satan can use both of these as a powerful to destroy us, but that's a post for another day.  Just know that when I say I have been selfish, and I can be better, it's not because I don't think I'm good enough.  It's not because I expect perfection of myself today and am overwhelmed by how impossible it feels.  It's simply because I want to be better today. Because of Him, I can be better.

Yesterday I celebrated the Savior's gift to me.
Today, I will give two gifts to him:

#1: I will stop cutting myself off from the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ by choosing to not let myself see them. 
I will seek to recognize the Lord's hand in my life, and I will keep a record of His daily help, as President Eyring encouraged in this talk.
(If you haven't listened to it for a while, now would be a good time for a refresher.)

#2: I will recommit to "Mainichi, Mainichi, Maishu."
Let me elaborate on this one...

A friend on my mission told me about this phrase which means every day, every day, every week in Japanese.  This friend, Shaun, encouraged the investigators and members on his mission to commit to praying every day, studying the scriptures every day, and renewing their covenants at church every Sunday.  Obviously, it's not breaking news that we are supposed to do this.  I kept that commitment during my mission (it's kind of hard not to, I suppose) and committed to keep doing it when I came home.  I did well for several years, didn't miss a single day or week, but somewhere in there, I got distracted.  I never strayed too far, but I let less important things took priority.  Since then, I've had ups and downs in this regard, but I lost the consistency I'd had for years.

Elder Bednar said the following:

Were the five wise virgins selfish and unwilling to share, or were they indicating correctly that the oil of conversion cannot be borrowed? Can the spiritual strength that results from consistent obedience to the commandments be given to another person? Can the knowledge obtained through diligent study and pondering of the scriptures be conveyed to one who is in need? Can the peace the gospel brings to a faithful Latter-day Saint be transferred to an individual experiencing adversity or great challenge? The clear answer to each of these questions is no.
As the wise virgins emphasized properly, each of us must “buy for ourselves.” These inspired women were not describing a business transaction; rather, they were emphasizing our individual responsibility to keep our lamp of testimony burning and to obtain an ample supply of the oil of conversion. This precious oil is acquired one drop at a time—“line upon line [and] precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30), patiently and persistently. No shortcut is available; no last-minute flurry of preparation is possible.
THIS is why my mainichi, mainichi, maishu starts again today.  I want to know the Savior.  I want to be prepared with knowledge and faith and peace so that when hard times come, I am ready.

Happy Easter, Jesus.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Adventures

Remember how last year was kind of a whiny pants year?  Yeah well, it's a new year!

This year, all of my little resolutions fall under one big resolution: strengthen my faith.
It's sort of been weakened lately, not because of any crazy things I've been through; ironically those are the things that seem to strengthen it most. (Uh, just a disclaimer to Heavenly Father that that was not an open invitation to put me through blegh stuff this year for the sake of fulfilling my 2014 resolution.  Haha I'm so moldable...)  Nah, it's because I've chosen to let the little things slip, and over time, it's really taken its toll on me.

So... while I know I'm not going to be perfect any time soon, not even this year, I am taking this chance to renew my effort to try a little harder to be a little better.  I want to be kinder and more patient.  I want to care more for others and show that care in ways that means something to them.  I want to be consistent in obeying the commandments of God, big and small.  And most of all, I want to seek to recognize God's hand in my life daily, in the big things and the little things.... I know He cares, but I've had a really hard time seeing and feeling that lately.  It's hard to be grateful when you're too busy feeling sorry for yourself.  So, no more of that!  I still want to be real and genuine, and sometimes that includes hurty things which I will inevitably express on this blog, but there will always be something to be grateful for.

Like last night... my future roommate and I went to a fabulous New Years party at a cabin in Midway.  Not everything went quite as planned - maybe there was some whining and tindering involved (I don't recommend tindering at 2 am, it's just not smart), and maybe my Mormon hangover was kicking my trash today (I should never stay up past 11... never), BUT... it came with much giggling over our first adventure of the year.

This girl is the biggest answer to prayer!

The night Whitney learned not to trust Katie with important decisions.
"You seem like the kind of person I'd trust to give the news."

We met completely randomly during a year that was super confusing, and then we discovered we were basically the same person.  It started with bonding over Diet Coke and developed to things like being kitchen clean freaks and not being chatty in the mornings.  She has been the friend I so desperately needed at a time when unexpected changes seemed to take over my life.  We just get each other.  I am looking forward to many more adventures with her this year!

PS.   Check out the bookcase at this cabin... I LOVE IT.

In other news, I hope that when I'm 72 years old, I'll have children to take ugly pictures of me sleeping, because they're hilarious.  I also hope there will be a wiener dog on my lap in these pictures, because duh.

Mom is one of those every day blessings, especially today, when she took a couple of hours from her best laid plans to save my bacon!  I take her for granted a lot, but secretly I don't know what I'd do without her.

See?  Blessings.  Tender mercies.  Every day.  I've just got to have the eyes and heart to see and feel them. 

Happy 2014!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Celebrity Crush

Most my friends had normal celebrity crushes as kids.

Uncle Jesse from Full House.
Johnny Depp.
Leonardo di Caprio.
Zach from Saved by the Bell.

Not this girl.  I'm the girl who came out of the womb a music nerd, and if we're being specific, a choir nerd.  At the age of 4, my mom realized I had a gift and love for music theory, and once I learned the whole concept of how to read music, my favorite pastime was sight reading.  For fun.  (For those that may not know, sight reading means to perform music without sight, so without ever having seen it before.)  I loved to open the hymn book to a hymn no one ever sings at church and try to sing the alto, tenor, or bass parts perfectly the first time I ever saw them.  See?  Nerd.

Naturally, my first celebrity crush was a singer.  I'll give you a prize if you know who this guy is before you keep reading...

Guys.  I know.  As a 6-year-old, I just had a thing for older men, apparently.  Older men who could sing, obviously.

I still remember the day I fell in love with Stephen - or as I liked to call him, Stevie.  I was sitting on the 6th row of the tabernacle, watching the King's Singers perform... Christmas music, was it?  I can't remember, because apparently I was too distracted by the undeniable chemistry that was being passed between me and Stevie as he sang.  IT WAS ELECTRIC.  We made eye contact during the first song.  And then again, and again, and again... and I just knew, he was the one.  He obviously felt the same way.  (Or probably I just happened to be in his "stare into space as I sing" line of sight.)  Either way, I felt SO special.

Well, I never saw Stevie again.  It was pretty heart wrenching, though my obsession with the King's Singers remained steady and constant through the years.  I am pretty sure I know every word of every one of their songs from the 90's - I can still sing the part of any instrument in Freddie Feel Good's five piece band.  I also got to sing the solo for "M.L.K." in 9th grade madrigals during my wannabe alto phase.  (Sidenote: this phase is still kind of occurring - altos have more fun, musically and otherwise.  They just do.)  As a missionary in Pennsylvania, I was never really homesick, until I heard the King's Singers would be the MoTab Christmas concert guests.  Imagine the TERROR!  I count staying on my mission that month one of my greatest lifetime accomplishments!

That's my Stevie on the right.

What I'm trying to say is, of all the King's Singer fans (er... stalkers) in the world, I'm probably the most obsessed.

On Sunday morning, 23 years after my first encounter with the King's Singers, I GET TO BE THEIR BACK UP SINGER.
(Okay, me and 360 of my MoTab friends.  BUT STILL.)

AHHHHHHH.  I might be freaking out a little.  Guys.  This is a DREAM COME TRUE!

No, Stevie will not be there, but there will be some other handsome singers, for sure.  So what if they're married or engaged or who knows what?  So what if I will approximately 2.3 miles away from them, in the tall first soprano section we fondly refer to as outer darkness?  The distance may be great, but I am certain they will feel my love from afar.

So, while I should probably be memorizing one of the 22 Christmas songs I need to know next week, I think I'll spend my Saturday jammin' out to "Good Vibrations."

And Stevie, if you are out there, just know, you made a little 6-year-old nerdy music girl's day.