BigKath: Just in case you were wondering, "bigkath" is made up of the first part of my last and first names and has nothing to do with my size. :o)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Did Christ find your home this Christmas?

Each Christmas my family lights luminaries in the front yard to "Light the Way for Christ."  It is a beautiful tradition that got me thinking as we braved the cold and lit around 60 candles.  Am I letting Christ into my life?  Am I lighting the way so He can find me?  Am I reaching out to Him and asking for His help?  Am I welcoming Him and His love into my heart?  Am I making Him the focus of all of my thoughts, desires, and actions?

I sang with my parents in the ward choir on Christmas Day.  I hadn't been particularly excited about the cantata we were singing.  But my heart was changed.  The spirit was so strong as we sang of Christ and the joy that comes because of His birth and life.  Tears came to my eyes as I thought of His suffering for me.  I want to be so much better than I am.  Thanks to Christ, I can change, repent, and become the woman He knows I can be.  As I looked around the chapel at the faces of the people, I was filled with a little taste of Christ's love: I just wanted to give everyone a hug.  I send my love and a big "Christmas Hug" to all of you and hope that Christ has found His way to your heart this season and stays all the year long. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Is it better to Give or Receive?

Imagine that it is your birthday and everyone gets a birthday present EXCEPT for you.  How would you feel?  Sad, confused, left out, unappreciated?  Is this how we treat Christ on His birthday?  How do you think He feels when everyone is running around worried about getting the perfect gift for everyone else and forgetting Him, the very person whose birthday we are celebrating.  What gift are you going to GIVE Jesus for CHRISTmas?  Perhaps a gift of time, love, service, giving up a bad habit or sin, improving a charateristic to become more like Him, or developing a talent to help serve others. 

Christ has given us the greatest gift of all: He conquered physical and spiritual death.  He suffered for our sins, pains, and sicknesses so that we can be redeemed, so that we can have peace, and so that we can return to live with Him.  He made it possible to be with our families and loved ones forever.  He and Heavenly Father will not abandon us, but are ready to help and counsel us with whatever we need.  This GIFT is available to each of us, but we have to RECEIVE it! 

Doctrine and Covenants 88:33 says it perfectly: "For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift."

How do we receive this gift from the Savior?  We accept the Savior into our lives, reach out to Him and seek His guidance, do our best to obey His commandments, learn of Him through studying His words and strengthen our relationship with Him, serve our fellow men, acknowledge the hand of the Savior in our lives, humble ourselves and allow the Savior to take our burdens. 

So is it better to give or receive?  Both!  We need to remember the Savior always, especially during this Christmas season and think of ways to GIVE to Him as we follow His commandments, try to do His will, and serve and love the people around us.  We also need to RECEIVE in our hearts the gift of the Atonement that Jesus Christ gave to all so willingly.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Are you twins?"

I stopped by to visit my brother in the store where he works.  A lady asked us, "Are you twins?  You look a lot alike."  I love it when people say that.  Because, little do they know that my brother was adopted.  We usually don't say anything, just smile, agree with them, and say, "Yep, we are brother and sister!"  It is another testimony that he was meant to be my brother.  He just came a different way!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I am grateful for

The people in my life:
  • Mom: for doing so many little things to make my life better and always loving me no matter what
  • Dad: for being the most patient person I know and for his example of diligence and faith
  • Joseph: for being such a hard worker and being an example of service
  • Jeniel: for helping me learn to balance life and school and have fun, and for helping me stay motivated
  • My grandparents: who are now gone, but I continue to be blessed because of them
  • All of my extended family and great friends who bring joy and meaning to my life
Health:  I'm grateful that pretty much worst thing I have to suffer is the occasional cold or flu.  I am blessed with heath both physically and mentally and I am so very grateful for it.

Education: I'm grateful for a mind that is alert and that can learn.  I'm grateful for the means to attend school and earn a degree.  I love being able to learn new ideas, figure things out, and increase my skills.

Utah: A lot of people often express their dislike of Utah for various reasons.  Utah isn't perfect, by any means.  But there are lot of things that I am very grateful for about Utah.
  • Temples everywhere!
  • Mountains: beautiful sites and hiking
  • Most of my family is here
  • 4 seasons (weather is never boring)
  • Relatively safe: kids can play outside, we don't have to have bars on our windows, or fences and gates around our houses
  • No hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunami's, or other huge natural disasters  (but probably a big earthquake someday)
  • Wonderful people from all different backgrounds: lots of talent!
  • Temple square events
  • Southern Utah sites: beautiful!
  • Missionary opportunities
Most of all, I'm grateful to my Heavenly Father for blessing me with everything that I have: my life and the opportunity to serve the people around me.  I'm grateful for His love which is brought to me through those around me. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Temple time!

I am so grateful for temples!  Since I moved home for the last few months, my routines and schedules have changed.  Not having roommates or much of a social life as well as being overwhelmed with my thesis and studying for the Praxis test has made me feel bogged down and discouraged.  I realized that my temple attendance (along with other things) was lacking.

One morning that I didn't have school, I decided to go to the temple first thing.  I didn't get up as early as I planned (Satan gets to me that way a lot).  But I got dressed and headed for the temple, only to find that it was closed for the yearly cleaning.  I felt defeated.  Satan was working hard on me.  I was stressed with school and time was precious.  It would have been so easy to just go home and study.  But I couldn't give in that easily.  There were several more temples within a 30 minute drive.  I thought of all the many people throughout that world who are lucky to go to the temple once a year or even once in their entire life.  Surely I can drive a few extra minutes to get to another temple.  How blessed I am to be so close to so many temples!  So I went to another temple.  It ended up taking a huge part of my day, but it was worth it.  I conquered Satan, at least for that day! I felt the beautiful spirit of the temple as I served and was reminded of Heavenly Father's love for me.

I have wanted to be a temple worker, but it hasn't worked out so far.  I decided that for the rest of the year I would try to spend about as much time in the temple each week as I would if I were a temple worker, which means going at least twice a week.  I have already noticed a HUGE difference in my life.  I feel better.  I feel happier!  It is a little easier to get out of bed in the morning.  It is a little easier to stay motivated with my school work.  It is a little easier to feel loved by Heavenly Father, others, and myself. 

I am so grateful for temples!  I know that the covenants and ordinances of the temple make it possible for us to be with our families and loved ones forever.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

"I'm a Mormon" profile

I finally did it!  Check out my profile by clicking the "I'm a Mormon" button on the right.  Learn more about what I believe and why.

Life . . . it's like a Disneyland ride

Do you remember the ride "Autopia" at Disneyland?  As little kids, we were so excited to actually get to drive the car, control the steering, and push on the gas or the brake.  We felt so grown up!  Of course, there was a track there to keep all of us young and inexperienced drivers on course.  It was a bit bumpy but oh, so fun!

In a class I attended recently, we talked about how life is a lot like this.  We are all Heavenly Father's "inexperienced" children here on earth to learn and gain experience.  Heavenly Father has provided the "track" to guide us where we need to go.  He knows the amazing potential that we each have and how to get there.  As long as we stay in the car and keep our foot on the gas, we will get there!

So how do we stay in the car?  By doing our best to be obedient to the words of the prophets and living the gospel of Jesus Christ, by never giving up, by continuing to move forward despite discouragement or uncertainty, by doing our best to prepare ourselves to be able to serve Heavenly Father by serving the people around us.  So get your engines ready, stay in your cars, and keep your hands on the wheel and your foot on the gas!  It might be a bumpy ride at times, but Heavenly Father will not abandon us.  And don't forget to laugh and have fun along the way!  Make everywhere you are, the "Happiest Place on Earth." 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Getting the rug pulled out from under

My professor pulled the plug on my thesis project and told me I should start over on a different topic.  So now it is back to square one.  I got the original topic for my thesis about a year ago from the professor I decided to work with.  I knew nothing about the topic: Automated grammatical tagging for Spanish language sample analysis (doesn’t that sound like fun?).  I have been researching and writing on this topic ever since, especially these last couple of months.  I have been trying hard to understand what my professor is talking about and how he wants me to extend his research.  Well, after reading another one of my drafts, my professor said that the topic was “too hard” for me and that he “recommended” that I do something else if I want to graduate.  I thought I was doing what my professor wanted.  But apparently it wasn’t enough.  So he gave me another topic option that is supposedly “better.”  Now I get to start from scratch on another topic that I know nothing about and try to understand once again what it is that my professor wants me to do. 
Be Not Afraid by Greg Olsen

What exactly is a THESIS?
Dictionary definition: A long essay or dissertation involving personal research, written by a candidate for a college degree

Katherine’s definition: a requirement for graduate students to do the grunt work for their professor’s research on a topic dictated by the professor :-p

As I sat there in his office, I tried hard to hold back the tears as I felt the rug being pulled out from underneath me.  But, I realized that I have a choiceI can choose how I will react to this.  I can be angry that I did all that work for nothing.  I can be sad that my professor didn’t think I was capable of completing the project.  I could have all kinds of negative thoughts. OR . . . I can be grateful that I still have time and that my professor is still willing to work with me on another topic.  All I can do is move forward.  And I can either do it grudgingly and angrily, or I can be positive about it. 

Setbacks happen a lot in life, things we don’t expect.  It is our chance to show our faith in Jesus Christ and trust His plan for us.  He sees the big picture.  The trials we face are often blessings in disguise; we just don’t realize it at the time.  As I read in the New Testament, I was reminded that “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28) and it is up to me to make it work for good.  God will help me if I allow Him to guide my life, even when I don’t understand the reasons. When life pulls the rug out from underneath me, I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are always there to help me back up. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dear Warmness . . .

Why did you leave me?  I thought we were getting along just fine.  I love it when you are around.  I feel so much more comfortable and Warm in your presence.  I can just be myself and I don't feel like I have to cover up who I really am with a bunch of extra layers of clothing.  You make me want to smile and go out and conquer the world.  But now that you are gone, I just want to curl up in a blanket and stay inside.  I miss you already.  Will you come back soon? Pretty please?  Maybe you'll come to visit a few more times before the holidays.  But I have a feeling you won't be around much for the next 6 months. I know you too well.  I get chills just thinking about it.  Well, if I can't convince you to stay, then I will have to make some new friends while you are gone.  Thermals and Leggings will become my constant companions.  I know I can count on them. Maybe I should try to get to know a new Jacket and get out some more.  My old friend, Hot Chocolate is always there to help.  And my favorite down Blanket is by my side whenever I need it.  Well, Warmness, until we meet again next spring.  I'll miss you. 

With love and shivers, 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Making a difference, one snail at a time

I was walking on campus after a rainstorm and I noticed a girl in front of me stop and bend over to pick something up off of the sidewalk.  It was a snail.  She then gently carried the snail over to the flower bed where it would not be stepped on.  I was touched by this small act.  Many of us might think, "It is only a snail.  It doesn't matter."  But I bet it mattered to that snail! 

With life's unpredictable turns, I have found myself back home with my parents and back in the local singles ward.  I avoided it for a while, knowing that 90% of the people in the ward were younger than my little brother and the rest had very little motivation to get an education and make something of their lives.  Even though I am almost a decade older than most of them, I had the wrong attitude about the whole thing.  I was, once again getting caught up in the stresses and pressures to meet people, date, and ultimately, get married.  Knowing that there wasn't much marriage potential in that ward was discouraging.  But I was going about it all wrong.

It isn't about what is in it for me.  It is about what I can GIVE to the ward.  How can I serve them?  How can I touch someone's heart and make their life better?  How can I build God's kingdom?   This ward is full of little "snails" who need help and encouragement so that they aren't "stepped on" by the trials and temptations of the world.  Heavenly Father needs me to serve Him by serving His children.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Giving Service and Feeling Love, with a little Hot Fudge on top!

I'll get to the hot fudge in a minute . . . but I've been thinking a lot about giving and serving.  I give a lot (maybe too much sometimes).  I give of myself, my time, and means for just about anyone.  I would drop anything to help someone, even if it isn't convenient for me.  I do it without even thinking.  I hold back my own desires in order to help or accommodate others.  I love to serve the people who are around me.  I look for little things I can do to help them, make them smile, or make their life easier: even if it is just a phone call to say hi, a note of encouragement, a treat, doing a favor for someone, making dinner or cleaning, stopping by for a visit, or helping a stranger in the parking lot.  Doing things for others makes me happy.  It helps me forget myself and remember the Lord and all that He has given me.

But Satan sometimes gets the best of me as negative thoughts enter my mind like:  "Why are you sacrificing so much of your time and means for others?  Why are you giving up your own conveniences?  No one really appreciates you. No one cares enough about you to thank you or serve you back." Or thoughts like  "She never even noticed what you did for her . . . Why did you even bother?  He didn't even say thank you."  These negative thoughts make me feel depressed and I start to feel unloved and unappreciated.

I thought of the Lord and His example.  He served others His whole life.  He even gave His life for the people He loved (that would be us!).  I thought of the time when He healed the ten lepers and only one of them came back to thank Him (Luke 17:11-19).  He asked "But where are the nine?"  I imagine that Jesus was disappointed and saddened that the other nine did not return to give thanks and to glorify God.

I also thought of all the mothers who give so much of themselves and rarely get the credit and gratitude that they deserve.  I'm so grateful for my mom and all that she has done to serve me.  

So I have been trying to figure out how to keep the joy in my heart that serving others brings, whether or not the people I serve appreciate it, or even notice the sacrifices I make.  Because, let's face it, I'm still human and I do like to feel needed, appreciated, and loved.  It is a basic human desire to be loved.  (That reminds me of one of my favorite songs "Everybody" by Ingrid Michaelson.  Click on the link if you want to listen to it.  "Everybody, everybody wants to love.  Everybody, everybody wants to be loved . . ." :).

Some scriptures came to mind as I struggled with the Lord in prayer and pondering.  Mosiah 2:17 " . . . when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."  When I serve others, I am really serving God.  It doesn't matter how people respond to my service.  Heavenly Father knows my efforts and desires and He will bless me.  And when someone does notice and appreciate what I do and make me feel loved, then it is icing on the cake!  (or how about hot fudge on the ice cream!  Even better . . . since I don't like cake that much.  ha ha  :o)

I also thought of Matt. 25:40 "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  I am merely an instrument in God's hands.  I am doing His work.  I love the talk that Elder Uchtdorf gave, "You are His HandsI am acting as the hands of God when I serve others.  And when someone rejects me or my service, or doesn't take time to thank me, it is Heavenly Father who they are rejecting and being ungrateful towards, not me necessarily.  

I have been reminded that I need to be grateful for the service that people do for me and tell them so.  I need to find ways to show my love and appreciation for them.  Because I know how good it feels when someone notices and appreciates me.  But most of all, I have been reminded that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are the true source of love and appreciation.  That is where I must turn for peace, comfort, confidence, and love.  I'm not perfect.  People aren't perfect.  But my Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ are perfect.  They can take away disappointment and negative thoughts and bring peace and joy to my heart which will allow me to continue serving and loving His children even more

Monday, May 23, 2011

Thanks for a Wonderful Birthday!

Happy Birthday

Thank you to everyone who made me birthday so great!  It was the best birthday I have ever had.  I loved the letters and emails that I received.
Breakfast in Bed

My day started off with breakfast in bed, cooked with love by my darling roommate, Jeniel.  That was a first for me!  I had never had breakfast in bed before.  I then found my room decorated with notes of love and things I have accomplished. 

Before church, Jeniel sang a song and played the guitar. She had rewritten the lyrics for me for my birthday.  It was BEAUTIFUL and almost made me cry! 

I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting and I spoke about the Sacrament.  It added some stress to my weekend but it ended up being a blessing.
I have the best parents!

I have the best brother and friends!
I have the best roommate!
That evening I had a yummy dinner with my family and some friends.  We played games and had a great time!  I feel very blessed to have been born at such a time that I could be with my wonderful family and meet the amazing friends that I have.  I feel so grateful to Heavenly Father for the blessings He has given me. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Katherine's Birthday Wish . . .

My birthday is in a couple of weeks and I have a birthday wish.  One of my most favorite things in the world is getting a letter or note from someone I love.  So for my birthday this year will you write me a letter?

And in that letter will you tell me what you appreciate or admire about me, what you see as my strengths, how I have helped you or influenced your life, something you have learned from me, a memory you have of me, or anything else you want to tell me.  And also, will you give me some advice, perhaps about a weakness you have observed or something else you think I can change and improve upon

You can make it long or short, simple or cute.  You can type it and email it to me, print it and mail it, or go the extra mile and hand write it!

(This whole thing is OPTIONAL.  I'm not going to make anyone do it. :o) 

I just wanted to do something different for my birthday this year.  Thanks for helping me make it more meaningful and memorable and for making all of my dreams come true!  It is a great blessing to have you in my life.  Yes, YOU!  You are the best family and friends anyone could ask for!

I love you all!


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Egg Wars

Easter was a wonderful day!  Because next week is Stake Conference, it was fast sunday.  It was special to have Fast and Testimony meeting on Easter.  I got up and bore my testimony.  I talked about how this morning on the classical radio station they played the "Hallelujah" chorus.  Hallelujah is the perfect word to describe Easter.  I also talked about feeling Heavenly Father's love the Savior's love and how I can show my love for them.  One of the best ways is through service.  I went to the stake service project yesterday and we were clearing a lot of overgrowth from a big ditch to help prevent flooding.  It was rather complicated to find places to actually pull the branches out of the ditch.  I was working with on of the counselor's in the Bishopric and he just kept saying, "Do your best.  Whatever you think is best."  I learned from that experiece that even though we didn't clear the whole ditch, and even though it wasn't perfect, we did make a difference.  Every effort we make to serve anyone and build Heavenly Father's Kingdom in any way DOES make a difference.

That afternoon I tried to be more social.  We had a ward "Break the Fast" and several of us ended up just stitting around and talking for two hours.  A little later we invited people over to our apartment to decorate Easter Eggs.  That was a lot of fun to bring back childhood memories and get the creative juices flowing. 

Egg War!  I think I lost this one.

I then experienced a new "first" to add to my list of things I've done for the first time.  Egg wars!  I had never done egg wars before.  It is a much more exciting way to crack a hard boiled egg.  So you each hold an egg with the "pointy" end forward and on the count of three you smack the eggs together.  The one egg that doesn't crack wins!  Then you can turn the eggs around and do it again on the other end or the side.  Kind of fun!  he he he
The Plan of Salvation (we didn't plan this :o)

After that a group of us went to another apartment to play games.  All in all it was a great day, filled with the spirit, remembering the Savior, and spending time with great people.  That is what this life is all about: building relationships with people.  As we come closer to other people, we also come closer to Christ.  What a great Easter!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Conquered Clinic!

I finished my university clinic work!  This is a HUGE step and a big relief since clinic was so stressful for me.  Wow!  I made it!  There is still A LOT left to do (one more term of classes, two internships, and a thesis) but I have accomplished a lot and I haven't given up! 

When I came home I found this sweet surprise . . .

My roommate, Jeniel had "heart attacked" my room.  My floor and bed were covered with hearts and showered with "kisses" and mints and there was a sweet note congratulating me on my accomplishment.

That really meant a lot to me.  I almost cried when I saw it.  Thank you so much, Jeniel!

To celebrate finishing clinic we went to the BYU creamery to get a kids meal (they are cheap and yummy, especially the fries!).  This was kind of ironic since my building is right across the street from the creamery.  You would think I would want to get away!

That night we went to a Jon Schmidt piano concert with some friends.  As I listened to the music I was thinking about how far I have come.  A year ago I never thought I would see light at the end of the tunnel and I was looking for any excuse to quit this program.  But I never did give up.  I am still working hard and I keep thinking how good it is going to feel when I finish!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

California Road Trip!

My roommate Jeniel and I made a quick trip down to San Diego! One of her mission companions was getting married. Jeniel asked me, "Hey, do you want to go to California?" I don't know if she was expecting me to take her up on that but I said. "Sure!" I didn't want her driving down there alone. Plus I have a fabulous cousin in the area so she wouldn't have to stay in a hotel. So with some planning and a lot of homework cramming (and not getting much sleep the week before) we were off to the sunny state of California! To keep this story short, I will list a few of my favorite moments on the trip:
  • Singing in the car! We tried to learn the lyrics to a few songs (Life is a Highway, Defying Gravity, Si Vas Para Chile, the "Potato" song :o)
  • Doing a session in the San Diego Temple with Jeniel. That temple is so gorgeous and it was so wonderful to be there with a great friend. I love the temple!
  • Seeing my cousin, Janine! I love her so much. She is one of my most favorite people in the WORLD! We were hardly around to see her and the family. But we were so grateful for their kindness in letting us stay with them in the beautiful house. Thanks Janine, Paul, Paul, and Carlie!
  • Taking jumping pictures on the beach (lots of good laughs)
  • Having a "reflecting moment" at a reflecting pool in Balboa park one night. I love meaningful conversations with a close friend.
  • Listening to "Narnia" in the car

A special thanks to "Vinnie", Jeniel's faithful car who got us there and back safely without any problems. (No, I am not texting and driving in this picture. Even though I do look "intexticated." We were safely stopped in a parking lot trying to set the GPS to find the nearest Costco or Maverick to fill up . . . This was a common occurance during the trip.)  I was also very grateful for the GPS and internet on our phones.  Without that we would have been lost and confused a lot more.  Thank goodness for technology!  I'm grateful for opportunities to go new places, see new things, gain experience, and strengthen friendships! 

Monday, March 7, 2011

just another Manic Monday

Mondays are really stressful for me this semester because of my clinic schedule, classes, etc. The stress of Monday spills over into Sunday night as I dread the next day.

In my scripture study today I read the scripture D&C 38:30
"I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms . . . if ye are prepared ye shall not fear."

If I take the time on Friday to prepare for Monday, then I won't fear it so much. Preparation dispels fear and strengthens faith. The way to prepare is to "treasure up wisdom" through studying, pondering, and gaining knowledge and understanding. This applies to spiritual and temporal preparation. Both will help rid my mind of fear and bring confidence and faith as I face Monday Madness.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A little tender mercy

As I was walking into my building on campus at 7:45 a.m. with a banana peel in my hand from my breakfast on-the-go, a guy was walking out the door. He looked at me and said, "Hi, how are you?" as he waited so he could hold open the door for me. I thanked him. He then said, "I hope you have a great day!"

I have never seen this person before. He was just being nice and I really felt his sincerity. It made my day! I felt the Spirit and the love of Heavenly Father through the kindness and optimism of another one of His children.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

From Bach to Beiber . . . The Opportunity of Diversity!

I like to think of myself as a well-rounded person. I not super good at any one thing . . . but I am "sort of" good at a lot of different things. For example, I'm not a concert pianist (I wish!) but I really enjoy playing the piano. I'm not an amazing dancer, but I love dancing (all different kinds: latin, ballroom, tap, clogging, country, etc.). I'm not amazing at sports, but I like playing everything from basketball and volleyball to frisbee and badminton.

I am also trying to be more well-rounded when it comes to being open to new things, ideas, and perspectives. As I have become more open I have learned to be more appreciative of different things. It is amazing what happens when you are always looking for the good.

So tonight I went to a classical music concert. It had a wonderful variety of pieces from a Mozart string quartet, a beautiful Brahms piano solo, violin and cello solos (I'm going to play the cello someday!), a Bach prelude, vocal pieces, and the INCREDIBLE Widor organ piece (one of my favorites!) Toccata from Symphony #5. It was very well done with excellent performances from the students in my stake. Good music always brings the Spirit powerfully into my heart. I love classical music!

After the concert I went to opposite end of the musical spectrum and joined a Justin Bieber birthday party. :o) The music was loud with a hundred people people dancing, screaming, and having a great time in a small room of a house. You couldn't help but move your body to the beat of the music!

As I contemplated the musical diversity I experienced today, I realized how grateful I am for variety! I love music. It is a HUGE part of my life and I am very musically minded. Lately, I have become more open to appreciating different kinds of music. I am so glad that there are different kinds of music. It makes life so much more interesting!

I am learning to embrace the good in all things and not reject something out of pure ignorance. As long as something is good and doesn't cause me to lower my standards, I can embrace it, learn from it, and enjoy it! Diversity is gift. It is an opportunity to learn and gain experience in order to be better able to connect with people, love them, and serve them.
Picture: My cousin Brittany and me at the Bieber party.

For those who think Classical Music is boring . . .

Duetto buffo di due gatti
by Rossini
"Humorous duet for two cats"
I heard this piece performed and LOVED it! I was laughing so hard! :o)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Being Yourself

Yesterday I went to a piano performance at an assisted living home. The pianists were were excellent and played some incredible piano duets by Debussy, Rachmaninoff, etc. But the most memorable part of the concert was not the performers, but the audience. Maybe a dozen silver and white haired ladies were scattered about the room patiently, but not so quietly waiting for the performance to begin. The performers were setting up and went to take the giant flower arrangement off of the piano so it wouldn't rattle around while they played. This created an uproar from the audience. "No! Don't take those flowers off. If you take those off I'm leaving!" So they left the flowers on the piano. When they started playing the piano the not-so-quiet comments began: "Too loud!" "Oooh, they're good!" "Are they sisters?" "We've had piano performances all week." One man said to his wife, "If this is bothering you, we can leave." There was one lady on the front row with a big smile bobbing her head to the music, having a grand old time. And then two seats down was a lady plugging her ears.

I was smiling and giggling inside as I sat there listening to the music and to the ongoing conversations around the room. I contemplated living and getting old. As people age they seem to revert to childlike ways: not worried about what other people think, saying whatever is on their mind, comfortable with who they are. There is something to be learned from this. We often are too concerned about what is proper, what others might think, always comparing ourselves to everyone else.

I need to be more like these elderly sweethearts. Not necessarily shouting out in a performance. But not being afraid to be myself, my own person, and not comparing myself to others.

1. Me and my Grandmother Babcock in 2005 before I left on my mission. She died while I was gone.
2. Me (with my pudgy post-mission face) and my Grandpa Bigelow in 2007 before he died that year.
All of my grandparents have passed away. I love them an miss them, but I know I will be with them again. If you are reading this and your grandparents (or parents) are still alive, please don't take them for granted. Spend time with them, learn from them, love them.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Conquering Social Fears

I went to my stake Valentine's dinner/dance. And I have many things to be proud of as far as conquering social fears goes:
  • I initially went by myself. (That takes guts. I don't like big crowds of new people where most people are already with their own group of friends.)

  • While driving there I made the goal of talking to at least 5 new people. I at least tripled that! I talked with a lot of new people.

  • I had some extremely awkward moments talking with new people. But in the words of a friend, "It build's character!"

  • I stayed for the whole activity! (6:45 - 11:00 p.m.)

  • I sang Karaoke for the first time in my life with my fabulous roomies!

  • I joined a group of ward friends and attempted to "dance." (I really dislike the way young people in the U.S. dance, a.k.a. jump up and down and act all crazy like. It makes me really uncomfortable. But I tried! Maybe someday I will be able to just let loose! There is a crazy side of me somehwere deep down inside.)

  • And last but not least . . . I survived! I went. I made an effort. And it didn't kill me!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Conquering Graduate School (a work in progress)

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." - Ether 12:27Whenever I hear someone say, "I like graduate school. It is so much easier and better than undergrad." I have two reactions. First, I want to ring their neck. And then I want to plop down an cry. Because my program is the hardest thing I have ever done.

Me in my "element" as a graduate student
 I am in the Speech-Language Pathology Master's program at BYU. I ask myself every day, "Why am I doing this?" And I haven't come up with a very motivating answer. But because I haven't been able to find better alternative, I continue to move forward, with faith and hope that things will get better.

I often wish I had gone to U of U (which is where I wanted to go initially, but I felt like I needed to come to BYU which was the LAST place I wanted to go).

One of the hardest things about my graduate school program is the constant feeling of panic and confusion, never knowing what is going on or what I need to be doing.

So why am I doing this?

  • Education is never a waste of time and I don't have anything else to do. We are encouraged to get as much education as possible.
  • Nothing else worked. I considered and tried so many educational/career paths: music, photography, child development, psychology, social work, nursing, child life specialist, autism aide, pipe organ building, Spanish interpreter, and so much more. But all were "dead ends".
  • Speech Pathology was one of the the paths I tried and I haven't hit a dead end yet. I told Heavenly Father that I would move forward with faith and take a step into the dark, trusting that if it wasn't right He would stop me and I would be guided to the right path. I'm still here, moving forward . . . hoping that someday the lights will come on.
I must be in this program and this field because it IS hard for me. I am being forced to face some of my greatest fears and weaknesses. It is a refiner's fire: an opportunity that Heavenly Father has given me to grow and become stronger. Maybe I would have been happier at a different school, or a different career. Maybe there would have been an easier option. But this life isn't about finding the easy way out. Heavenly Father doesn't usually let me take the easy path. He wants me to struggle, learn, grow, rise above, and become the best Katherine I can be. Because this is what brings true joy in the end. The trick is being happy and hopeful during the journey. That is what I am working on. (Any ideas?)

My roommates, Jeniel, Rachelle,
and I (dressed up for Harry Potter).
 I have been looking for tender mercies and possible reasons that I am at BYU. The biggest tender mercies I have received have been the people I have met. I love my classmates! They call us a "cohort". There are 15 of us and we have been like a family since day one. We are all in the same classes, same room, every day. We are the perfect mix of personalities which helps keep us all sane. I LOVE my roommates! I have lived with Rachelle for a couple a years and she has been a great blessing in my life! It has been blast to get to know Jeniel who has helped me balance school and play, reminding me to look for the good and choose to be happy.

The "cohort"

Monday, February 7, 2011

Conquering Snowboarding!

When I was about 13, I went skiing for the first time. My dad took me straight up the lift, and to make a long story short, after attempting to ski down the slope and getting scared and humiliated, I ended up taking off my skis, walking down the mountain, and sitting in the car the rest of the day. My 13 year old pride was crushed. I was embarrassed and angry with myself. Needless to say, it was bad experience.

So when some friends started talking about going snowboarding, I was apprehensive, but I wanted to overcome my fears and just DO IT! And I did. I'm not going to lie, I prayed a lot that I would be humble and teachable and that I wouldn't get overwhelmed emotionally. I had to let go of my pride and let someone teach me how to do it. I also had to let myself fall and get up again, knowing I wouldn't and couldn't be perfect at it right away.

It was hard not to compare myself to everyone else. They all seemed to be able to snowboard so much better than me and were learning so much faster. But as soon as I started thinking about this, my own confidence would drop and I would crash harder and more often. So I would tell myself as I started picking up speed on the slopes "Yes, Katherine. You can do this!" It was a mental game.

I crashed a lot. :o) But I was not about to give up! And I had a blast! The second time I went snowboarding, I was trying to learn how to turn and carve so I fell a lot harder (thankfully I was wearing a helmet!) I got a 7-inch bruise on my rear end and it was the coolest bruise I have ever had! And I couldn't even show it off (no one wanted to see it . . I wonder why :o). I still have a lot to learn in order to be good at snowboarding. But I will get there little, by little. And now I want to learn to ski as well!

I'm so grateful for the encouragement of my friends who have helped me overcome this fear! I wouldn't have been able to do it alone!

Picture: Me and my great friend, Jeniel, who helped encourage me to conquer snowboarding!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Conquering My Fears!

This has been the year of conquering my fears! I have been a "first timer" for a lot of things lately. Some aren't exactly "fears" but they are things that I have never done before. Doing things for the first time causes some fear because I have to swallow my pride, humble myself, and be teachable. Some of these things have been a real struggle for me. And some have been just for fun (to help me get through the harder things). This is just the beginning of a list that I hope will continue to grow as I learn and accomplish new things.

First year of graduate school
First time snowboarding
First real blog
First time seeing all the Harry Potter movies
First time driving a manual transmission car
First time tap dancing
First time writing a prospectus/thesis
First time watching all of "My Fair Lady"
First time giving speech therapy to real clients
First time reading the Narnia series
First time giving a presentation in a graduate class
First time singing Handel's Messiah

Other things that aren't "firsts" but that I have been doing and trying to improve:
Basketball with the ward (this can be pretty intimidating)
Piano Duets
Talking with and meeting new people (overcoming social fears)
Organizing and participating in social activities (watch a BYU game, cook dinner, game night, movie night, etc.)
Playing guitar
Learning to WORK hard and PLAY hard.

Next "fears" to conquer:
Rock climbing
Being more optimistic and outgoing
More consistent and meaningful scripture study
Expand circle of friends

Why a Blog? To Build God's Kingdom!

I know people who are way into blogging. I also know people who are very anti-blogging. I always enjoyed reading other people's blogs but never felt the need to have one myself. But my perspective changed after attending an institute class which focused on using positive media to help spread the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world. This is just one way that I can show the world (or the few people who might read this blog) who I am: that I am a daughter of God who knows that the purpose of this life is to learn and become like Him. And that this is only possible through our Savior, Jesus Christ, who loves me so much that He made it possible for me to repent and overcome my weaknesses so that I can be clean and have joy and happiness now and for eternity.

My perspective on the media and technology in general has changed. It used to be that I would resist new technology for as long as possible (like getting a cell phone, for example). And when I finally gave in (because technology has a way of forcing you to keep up whether you want to or not) I would feel guilty about getting a new phone, or facebook page, etc. But now I have realized that so much good can come from these things. I need to embrace them and use them for good.

Yes, it is true that much negative and evil can come from the media. One can become addicted to facebook or social networking while forgetting to nourish real live friendships with real conversation and quality time. One can become overly competitive with their blogs, comparing their lives with the lives of the other bloggers who have cuter kids, more creative meal ideas, and better photography skills. And not to mention all of the immoral and evil things in the media today.

But I am the one who decides how I will use and participate in the media. Therefore I am deciding to use this blog and other forms of media and technology as tools to help serve Heavenly Father's children and build His Kingdom. I will do this one post, one text, one phone call, one email, one chat, one video, one kind word, and one smile at a time. These things may not go much farther than the minds and hearts of my friends and family. But by sharing my thoughts with the people I know and love, they in turn might share their thoughts with the people they know, and thus begins a chain reaction. This is how the world can be changed and influenced. This is how the message of Jesus Christ can be spread to everyone who wants to hear it.

So please read the things I have to say. They are well thought out and straight from my heart. :o)