Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My biggest blessing to date...

(minus 12/23/08--the day I received my endowment)
FAIR WARNING: this sucker is long...but, I think it's worth it.

Well friends and neighbors...the time has come! You asked for it. :) By an overwhelming vote of 12-0 (plus 2 "what the?"s which I counted in the affirmative), y'all have ratified my decision to share my secret. (Hee hee!) In truth, I actually asked and found out what is deemed sharable and what must remain unknown. (Not that I don't trust you, my's just...technically you didn't have authority to make the decision. That's all.) :) So, without further ado...

The Story: (btw, even if you think you already know the story...keep readin', you may find something new)

My life changed (once again) last semester...basically a "hard left" in my road that I had no idea I was ready for, but eventually successfully navigated after a few near-overcorrections. No worries: I'm now coasting safely down this new road, on the ride of a life-time, hoping beyond hope that this trip continues to be as surreal, yet undeniably awe-inspiring as it has already proven to be...

There sat Student Karen, awaiting yet another insanely boring guest speaker at my "class for lunch" Wednesday seminar. Bah. At least this time I didn't have to dodge the stupid video camera...wait, why weren't they taping today...little did I know... This particularly cold Wednesday in October happened to be the most exciting class I've ever attended. (And that's saying quite a lot, given my years o' experience in a classroom setting.) As I watched the presentation, I glanced around the room thinking, "Does anyone else hear the choir of angels singing?!?"

I'd found it. I'd finally found what I want to do when I grow up (knocking on the door of 31 years old...nice). I couldn't believe it. I also couldn't bring myself to approach the presenter that day. I was too dumbfounded by what he does for a living...who was I to actually talk to this guy?! Well, turns out they didn't tape this presentation because the content wasn't allowed to be re-broadcast ...sounds cool, huh? It is.

Well, a few days later I decided to do my waste-of-my-time "interview a professional" assignment with this guy. If I was going to do such a pansy assignment, it was definitely going to be worth my time. (Oh holy gracious, the underestimation...) He was very obliging and worked his hectic schedule out to be able to do the interview via Skype from California, as he had to fly out right after the presentation. Whoa. This guy is busy/important.

By the end of the interview, Gutsy Karen had infiltrated Star-struck Karen, "Well, Brother R, if I'm entirely honest...I would REALLY like to work for you when I graduate." "Oh?" "Ya, so, in light of there any chance for internships in your office?" To my shock and surprise: "Sure! Just give us a call when you're ready to take those credits." Whoa! I should have fastened my seat-belt right then.

A few weeks later, he emailed the IP&T grad student listserv the following: "If you're interested in message content development for the Church, please contact Brother J." Well, Professional Karen mandated that since I had expressed my interest to Brother R, I had better follow-up to this email so that he would know I was serious. The following email dialogue chronicles the timeline of my brain exploding...imploding...and then exploding again.

11/23/10 email from Bro J: "Thank you for your interest in this project. I am currently compiling the information and will send it out first thing next week. In the mean time, if you haven't already, start thinking about how much you will quote per hour for your time."


12/2/10 email from Bro J: "Karen, see attachment 1 for an overview of what we are looking for. See attachment 2 for a review of 2 focus groups given to members and nonmembers to know more about the culture and beliefs. After reviewing the scope of the project please send me your acceptance and fee and I will get the contract paper work sent out to you, and start as soon as you can because we are working on a tight timeline. Thank you for you interest, and help on this project!"

What the what!?!? WHAT did I just get myself into... (yes I'm keeping it from you...keep reading...)

12/2/10, 2 minutes later, I email Bro J: "Hi Brother J. After reviewing the information you sent, I have a few questions/concerns. I simply do not want to take on a project that I may not be qualified for. Is there any way that we might chat over the phone for a bit, simply for clarification before I send back my answer? If so, please let me know when the best time to call might be. Thank you very much."

12/3/10 I call Bro J. He reassures me that I should give it a shot, even if I feel entirely inadequate. In the middle of said phone call, I notice a PS on his email that I had completely missed the first time: "By the way, do you have any relatives in the Ogden area? My mother's maiden name is Cottle?"

I know, you're thinking, are you friggin' kidding me? No. I'm not.

12/5/10 I email Bro J: "Well, here's how we're related: We're actually related more closely through Leah Griffin Cottle. My parents were the third Cottle-Griffin marriage in Trenton. Apparently, Martha Griffin married Lee Cottle, Leah Griffin married Gordon Cottle, and my mother Janet Griffin married Edward Cottle, Leland and Clara Cottle's youngest son. Leah is my great-grandfather Aubrey Griffin's baby sister. My mom knew Aunt Leah and Uncle Gordon very well! Remind me, is Leah your mom or your grandmother? Oh how small the world is! My goodness...

PS. I've attached a picture my Aunt Shirlene (Griffin) recently sent out of your Uncle Jo and Aunt Bernice (ages 98 and 95) from their Christmas party."

Seriously. Could this get any more uncanny? I don't think so...

12/10/10 I turned in the hardest thing I'd ever done (up to that point): "Here is my first attempt at this enormous and amazing opportunity. I would welcome ANY feedback that might be available. The term "rough outline" plagued me throughout the process. I swayed to and fro in trying to decide if I'd included too much detail for this level of proposal, but each time I started to consider what might need to be expounded upon, I decided this was truly a "rough" design. Therefore, as I stated above, I would definitely welcome any feedback, regardless of whether I am considered further at this time. Thank you so much again for allowing me to try my hand at this. This area of instructional design has recently become the end goal of my education."

I truly did not expect anything but useful feedback to apply to the rest of my schooling. That is all.

12/16/10 MINDBLOWING email from Bro J: "Karen,
Thank you for your ideas for how best to present the gospel in the
Rome Temple Visitors’ Center. We especially liked your idea involving the Christus presentation, as well as your ideas for the “Creativity” exhibit. I would like to ask you to expound on the “Creativity” exhibit idea. If you would like to work on this further, I will work with you over the next couple of days on a contract..."

Yes, it again. I've re-read it about 12,000 times (give or take). I can't believe it either, and at times, I've wondered if I was dreaming through the whole process. But, in fact, they took a chance on crazy ol' me. So, in my spare time (ha!) I am now working with the Missionary Department/Exhibits Division to design one of the displays for the Rome Temple Visitors' Center. I know, right? CRAZY-PANTS! (as I used to say constantly) (Who needs sleep, eh?)

The craziest part: last week they emailed me and ASKED ME TO DO IT AGAIN! Wwwwhhhhuuuuuutttttt??!!? Seriously. And...yesterday they accepted that one!!! Somehow, this topic was even more difficult: The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel. And this was to be designed so that it can be used in a variety of future VCs. (Yes, technically I know the locations, but that part isn't sharable...sorry.)

There you have it, peeps. That is the craziosity/ time-suck that has overtaken the life o' Karen in the best way possible. In the past few months, I have pleaded with the Lord for an understanding of people I've never met and places I've never been. I have grown in ways I never even dreamed of. Most of all, my relationship with my Savior is leaps and bounds beyond anything I'd ever imagined. And for that, I am so grateful...words fail.

Thanks to all for caring enough to read this horrifically long rant. Here's hoping the secret was worth it. ;)


  1. Oh my! Look at you! That is amazing!!! Karen I'm so excited for you! I think you should book a ticket to be at the dedication. I think I should book a ticket too so I can see your awesome work firsthand. Wowza!

  2. Oh how I love you! Thanks for sharing.
    Wowza is right!!!!!!

  3. Even though I may have had a little insight before- I'm so glad I read it again. How amazing to be involved with this!! And, of course, I think it's a little EXTRA amazing cause it's in Rome :) I'm already planning to be at the dedication.

  4. Awww, thanks guys! I'm glad it was worth the read. :) It's seriously be out-of-control amazing. Most people's first question is: "does that mean you get to go!?!?" I have no idea at this point, but...I do have an interview to get my passport on Saturday, and I've started saving up. :)
    Sara: I may need a translator...
    Anna Maria: are you gonna be living over there anyway?!?
    Kell: wanna come along? ;)

  5. Karen! That is so awesome! Look how much you rock the world. You go!

  6. Holy Sh!t!
    See, I'm trying to be good! ;)

  7. That is so exciting! I would love to see your work sometime

  8. Thanks folks!
    Trace: thank you!!
    Kalliope: ha! you slay me.
    Em: woman! thank you! Hope the wedding plans are going well...

  9. This is SO awesome!! Congrats. You are so deserving and I'm SURE will make a valuable contribution to this project. What an amazing opportunity! Keep us posted.'

  10. That is so awesome Karen! I'm so glad you shared. Isn't it amazing how quickly and drastically life can change? So, so, cool!

  11. I do NOT know how I missed this post. Although I already knew most of it except for the end result. Honestly, not surprised at the outcome.
    I think we should ALL save and go together. How awesome would that be?!

  12. Ky: I saw your mom in Logan a while back and my mom "made me" share the news. I was like, "Ok, but I haven't told Ky yet, so please don't say anything!" HA! Thank you!
    Wend: Yes, life can change quite dramatically in the blink of an eye. Stay tuned for more about that...
    Rachie Kay: Woman, how come you keep missing my posts?! ;) I agree! We should all go!!!! :D (here's hopin')

  13. Wow. I haven't talked to you in eons because this is BRAND NEW INFORMATION!!!!!! Just wow, yo!!!!

  14. Brother LiddiardJuly 18, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Thanks for sharing this with Sister Liddiard and me. We are very excited for you. What an opportunity to serve the world. We wish you well as you continue in this event in your life.