Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Do SOMETHING!

Once, after the kids were gone to school, and Derek was off to work, I was trying to decide what to do.  There are always plenty of choices and, as is often the case, I was trying to decide which was the "right" one.  I had been feeling a little low for a few days.  Should I read a particular book?  Should I study the scriptures more?  Should I exercise?  Work outside?  Write? Play an instrument?  Go do some grocery shopping?  Call someone?  There are always things to choose from.  I was feeling frustrated and discouraged.  What should I do? 

Finally, I desperately sent up a prayer asking what I should do and, in one of the most clear answers to prayer I have ever received, I heard the words, "Do Something!"  It was so clear that I laughed out loud.  I knew I had been over thinking things again.  I immediately got busy doing something.  I don't remember what.  What I do remember is that the discouragement I had been carrying around disappeared, and I was happy.  Sometimes, the right thing to do, is to simply do something!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How to Make Summer Awesome!

I thought this morning that this would be a great topic to write about even though I'm not perfect at it and everyone is different.  Still, I have learned a few helpful things over the years so I'll tell you those.

1.  Be flexible.  The weather might not be the way you want on a particular day, friends may or may not be available for playing, your energy level might be higher or lower than you thought, and any number of other variables may change.  We have the capability to change our plans to better match the reality of the day.

2.  Do the important things.  Decide what things are the most important to you, and make sure you do those.  These may be every day things like praying or watering the flowers, or they may be once a summer things like a trip to see cousins.

3.  Choose happiness.  Remember that everyone is responsible for their own happiness and you can't make anyone be happy.  Therefore, we need not to fall into the depths of despair when someone turns tragic over chores or something. (I'm not so good at this one, but it's a great idea!)

4.  Enjoy your children!  If you have children, you get to have them home with you!  This is a good time for teaching things you want them to know before they get old enough to leave home.  I have discovered that children grow up awfully fast.  This is your chance to teach them, and to enjoy being with them before they go off to be adults.

5.  Reasonable Expectations.  Have good expectations, but not impossible ones!  "Awesome" = Doing some of the things you want and being really happy at least some of the time.

6.  If things aren't working out like you hoped and planned, go back to #1.  It's okay to scrap the original plan for one that works better.  I've made lots of plans that haven't happened, but I've had lots of awesome Summers too.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Grandma Heelis

Grandma Heelis was an excellent communicator.  We lived close enough to her for much of our married life that I had many opportunities to see her, and talk to her.  Grandma was good at writing notes, and letters, and I was blessed to receive many of these.  I was her first granddaughter-in-law and I always felt welcomed and loved as a member of the family.  Family was important to Grandma.

Grandma Heelis had many health challenges that kept her home, and not at all of the events that she would have liked to attend.  The thing I loved about Grandma, is that even though she couldn't often physically go and help people, or be at their special occasions, she helped many, many people from home.  Grandma sent us, and countless other people, notes for birthdays, and every possible occasion including holidays like St. Patrick's Day.  She loved giving gifts, and she didn't need a special occasion to give them.  I feel like we rarely left her home empty handed.  We'd get a treat at the very least and maybe a book, or some other little thing she thought we would like.

When I had to stay in bed during my pregnancy with Trisa, Grandma would call and check on me.  She did this even though, at the time, she was dealing with breast cancer and radiation treatments.  The day Trisa was born, Grandma was at the hospital having a treatment.  She and Grandpa stopped by my hospital room before they left.  They had just come in when the nurse brought Trisa for me to see for the first time (about four hours after she was born).  Trisa was their first great grandchild.

Grandma Heelis lived long enough to meet all of our children except Dan.  They all loved Grandma and Grandpa Heelis, and Dan sometimes talks about them as if he can remember them too.  We all liked to visit.  We knew we would be welcomed with joy, and that they would stand on the porch and wave as we left.  Grandma Heelis was a wonderful person.  She often did not feel well, but she never used that as an excuse to do nothing, but continued to help many people, including me.  Her calls, letters, and notes shared her faith, and her love, and let us know that we were important to her.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Grandma Christensen

Grandma C. and Trisa
Grandma Christensen was the Grandma that I knew for the shortest amount of time.  By the time I joined the family she was quite old, and she passed away before Derek and I had been married three years.  I only know a few things about her, like the fact that she loved music, and that she believed in making beds properly.  She had an old ironing machine in the house that was used to iron sheets.  I'm assuming that ironing the sheets made them softer because that is the only reason I can think of that would tempt me to iron sheets!

As senior citizens she and Grandpa decided to take a painting class.  They knew they were not too old to learn new things.  As a result, there were several paintings around the house that they had done.  Grandma took Derek and me on a tour of the house and showed us which paintings were hers.  I was impressed, and told her so.  I also told her that I didn't think I could ever paint anything so well because my drawing skills are not good.  She assured me that I could if I took a class.  She was so certain sounding that if I ever decide I want to paint, and get up the nerve to try, it will be, in part, because she said that I could do it.

I really did not know Grandma long, but I was convinced that she really liked me, and that meant quite a lot to me. She must have known how to sew because I have a little sewing box that belonged to her.  I like it because it reminds me of a lady who was old enough when I met her that hearing, seeing, remembering, and moving around had all become difficult, but who was still, inside, the very capable, loving, knowledgeable person that she had always been.  She was frustrated with being old.  She missed reading, singing, painting, and so many things that she had enjoyed, but she had faith that life continues after this one, that there is a resurrection, and that she would, one day, again be able to do all of the things that she loved.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Mamaw (Grandma) Cain

Mamaw Cain is my Kentucky grandma.  My parents did all they could to visit as often as possible and so I do have memories of my sweet Mamaw who tended to call me "honey" or "sugar" and ask if I would like a treat (Yes!), maybe some ice cream? (Of course!)  Mamaw was a nurse, and I remember her taking me with her on a walk down the street to give a man the shots that he needed.  It was then that I was positive that I did NOT want to be a nurse, but I thought my Grandma was smart, and brave, and I was right about that.

My Mamaw and Papaw did not have easy growing up years, and got married quite young.  They both worked very hard and they did their best to teach their children what was right.  When my Dad served a mission in Kentucky he baptized Mamaw, Papaw, and their three children, including my Mom.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was not a popular church to join, and it took courage to do what they thought was right.  They were the pioneers in their family, and I have been blessed because of them. 

Mamaw and Papaw were generous, and liked to help others.  They loved their children and grandchildren.  I remember when they added a room to their house so that some of my cousins, who faced a hard situation, could stay with them.  This was at a time when my grandparents were older, and it was harder to find energy for children, but they welcomed them into their home and took the best care of them they could.  Mamaw and Papaw loved them, taught them, and worried over them.

When my Uncle and my Papaw both died of cancer Mamaw was very sad.  I admire her because she still had faith, and courage, and she went off to serve a mission in the Atlanta, Georgia temple.  She loved that mission but still faced many years without Papaw that included her own trials with cancer. 

One fun thing about Mamaw is that she just couldn't wait to open presents.  My family sent her the 12 days of Christmas once, and my Mom reported that Mamaw sat right down and opened everything at once.  I think my Mom is like her in many ways, including this one, and perhaps that's where I get the curiosity that makes me rattle, feel, and weigh in my hands every gift I am given trying to guess what's inside!  I love my Mamaw.  I wish you could hear her sweet southern accent calling you sugar, and could know her kindness, and her ability to be bold in doing what is right.  I honor the sweet, smart, bold, kind, remarkable woman that is my one and only Mamaw.

*The top picture is my Mamaw and Papaw in May 1937 two months before their wedding.
**The second picture is my Mom, my sister Jenny, my niece Audrey, and Mamaw around 1995

Monday, May 20, 2013

Grandma Fuller

Grandma and Grandpa Fuller

This week I want to post some of what I have learned from Grandmas -- both my own, and Derek's.

Grandma Fuller is the grandma I feel like I knew the best during my growing up years.  When we went to Grandma's house, I remember running right to the pantry to see what she had made for us to snack on.  I particularly loved her applesauce cake, but I remember liking her cookies too.  She made delicious fruit leather, and I often went down to the storage room to raid her dried fruit.  I always felt like Grandma was glad to have us at her house, and she was kind, though I do remember her being frustrated with me for being afraid of her vacuum when I was little!


For many years Grandma sent birthday cards to each of her grandchildren.  I got my last one when she was almost 81.  She lived until she was 93 and 1/2 and her family was important to her.  She came through the temple with me when I went for the first time, was at my wedding, and even came to my little apartment when Derek and I were celebrating our graduation from college.  She has many grandchildren and I think she went to as many of our important events as she could manage.  I remember hearing at her funeral how important she had been to a cousin of mine.  She had written him letters that were important to him.  I think she was inspired to know when people needed her, and she supported her children, and grandchildren the best that she could.

My grandma had a lot of skills.  She could cook, and bake.  She was an excellent gardener, a seamstress, a teacher, and she served the Lord in many ways, including two missions.  My Grandma was a very hard worker.  I have a quote from her journal on my desk.  It was written when she was 88.  It says,
"Haven't been feeling very ambitious.  I polished the bathrooms so they're clean.  I cleaned the floors, vacuumed the rugs, mopped the halls so they're dusted, did a couple loads of wash, then I did some mending and fixed two dresses so they would be more comfortable and this morning I did some irrigating and pulled some weeds.  All together I guess that isn't too bad." 
 Somehow this quote never makes me feel discouraged.  I just smile, and remember my wonderful, hard working Grandma, and her great example of love and service.
Grandma Fuller and Trisa, February 1991

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Life of Quiet Service

President Monson's wife, Sister Frances Monson, passed away this morning.  I have thought of her often over the last few years, and though I do not know much about her, I know enough to love her, and to admire her.  I am so sad for President Monson who will miss her so very much.

When Derek was the Bishop, it was hard for me.  I was thankful that he could have new opportunities to learn, and grow, and to help people, but I was a bit sad for me.  I am jealous of Derek's time.  I like it to be mostly spent with me!  During those years I often thought of the wives of the apostles and Prophets, and I thought of Sister Monson specifically.

President Monson was a bishop at a very young age, and he spent hours and hours helping people.  What did Sister Monson do?  She took care of the children, and taught them well.  She loved them, she loved her husband, and she supported him in his efforts.  From the time he was Bishop until now, President Monson has had callings that have required immense amounts of time and energy.  We have heard of the wonderful things he has done to help groups and individuals.  But all along, there was his wife that I rarely heard a thing about, in the background, taking care of home and family, and supporting her husband so that he could go to the rescue of those around him.

When Derek was Bishop I learned to pray, not just for my priesthood leaders, but for their wives and families who are there in the background living lives of quiet service.  So today I will send up one more prayer of thanks for a wonderful lady, Sister Frances Monson, who did so much good beside her husband, who I love and honor as a prophet of God.

**Picture from http://mormonsoprano.com

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Regrets

Yes, this says, "Those were the droids you were looking for." 
This is not one of my regrets, but I did think it was funny.
I've been trying to think of other lessons that I learned when the girls were little.  Time flies so quickly, and memory dims.  One thing I do know, is that I have regrets.  I'm human.  There are so many times when I wish I had been more patient, or loving.  I wish I had put my book down more.  I wish I had listened better, and given more hugs.  I wish I could have done better at not feeling overwhelmed by responsibility so that I could have enjoyed those I felt responsible for more.

Regrets are normal since I am imperfect.  But what is the best way to deal with them?  I feel guilty multiple times for each mistake I make, and each imperfection that I have.  I have beaten myself over the head with them, felt sorry about them, and cried about them.  However, I have found that the most productive thing I can do with my mistakes and imperfections is to learn from them, and to move on. 

Sometimes when I am down I dredge up all of the old regrets and start feeling bad about them again.  It is times like this that I remember to chant in my head the words, "Don't look back, don't you ever look back!"  This only works if I know that I have done what I can to undo any harm I might have caused.  It is okay to apologize to our children (or others) when we goof.  It is good for them to know that we are learning too, and that we recognize that sometimes we fall short.  It is okay for them to learn that we have regrets, and to see that something we regret can cause us to learn, and to do better next time.
**Picture from Google Images

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Had To Laugh

Shannon (right) and her girls Megan (middle) and Chelsea
Over the many years that I have known Shannon, I have heard her say many times, "I had to laugh, or I would have cried".  Her happy outlook, and her way of laughing through hard things is one of the things that I admire about her most.  Her reaction to things is often not like mine.  I cry.  I cry when I am too tired, or too hungry, or in too much pain.  I cry with frustration and discouragement.  I even cry when I'm really happy sometimes!  I remember asking Shannon how she managed to laugh instead of cry.  I don't remember exactly what she said, just that she preferred to laugh, and so she chose to do that instead of crying.

There is a quote by Marjorie Hinckley that I have heard a lot.  She said, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”  The first time I heard this, my first thought was, "Wow, Sister Hinckley is quoting Shannon!"  I had heard this idea first from my friend.

This past General Conference one of the things I felt impressed to work on was on choosing to be happy more often.  Now, I make myself sound kind of weepy and unhappy, and I do not think I am really like that the majority of the time, but that does not mean that I can't choose happiness more often!  I have worked on this for years, and I can look back and see improvements.  I have come to understand myself better, and in realizing that I am often crying just out of exhaustion, I can find it in me to laugh instead.  There is so much in life to be happy about, and so much help available for hard days.  I hope to find myself, when telling a friend about a frustrating situation I faced, saying, "I had to laugh!"

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Single Mother Specialist

Once when my girls were little I was asked to serve as "Single Mother Specialist".  I accepted the calling because I have been taught that we are called of God and should serve where we are asked, but I sure did not feel qualified!  I am not a single mother, nor have I ever been.  I don't even think I knew any single mothers at the time.  I felt about as far from being a specialist as it is possible to be.

As a part of my responsibility I was to visit teach all of the single mothers in our ward.  One of these ladies came to church regularly and was fairly easy to talk to.  One was sixteen.  She felt that rather than be helpful to her, people had judged her, and treated her unkindly.  The rest were a collection of ladies who didn't know me, weren't interested in coming to church, and weren't excited to hear from me.

For a few months in a row I put off calling these ladies all month long until the end, and I dreaded doing it all month long until the end.  If I never called I felt guilty, and then a new month would begin and I would begin dreading these calls again.  This made for some uncomfortable months!  However, I finally figured out that if I called at the very beginning of the month, I could skip a lot of dread.  It turns out that doing a dreaded task right away instead of putting it off makes for happier days!

I also learned is that I could be helpful just by being kind, and non judgmental.  Nobody wants to be known for the mistakes they've made, or even the hard situation they are in!  They want to be known as a person, who is loved for the good things they do, and the unique person that they are.  I did not know what to do for these ladies, and no doubt I could have loved them better, and helped them more.  I really don't think I ever became a "specialist", however I was thankful to learn from the young girl's mother that I had made a difference to her, and certainly trying to fulfill this calling made a difference to me!

*Picture from http://americansfortruth.com

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Little More Energy and a Little Less Cranky


I have always heard that exercising gives you more energy -- but I never really believed it.  I ran track one year in high school and I was tired all the time.  This reaction to exercise happened often enough in my life that Derek came up with an incentive plan for me a few years ago so that I could get myself moving.  After about a year I could finally tell that exercise was helpful.  I had slightly more energy, and was a little less cranky.

Looking back now I can see that I get more tired if I am doing exercises I do not like.  I really do not love running, though I have found that I don't mind it so much if I am playing futsal, or even basketball.  I get tired from running around after a ball too, but it doesn't seem to make me so tired that I have to have a nap!

If I do an exercise I enjoy, I notice the energy gain more easily.  I love dancing.  I took lots of ballroom dance classes in college, and never felt too tired.  I go do zumba occasionally and usually come home feeling a little wired -- which is rather new for me.  I love riding my bike, and as long as I'm not riding for miles up hill, in the cold, with no snacks, I generally enjoy myself.  I may get rubber legged but not too exhausted. I can do things that I don't like, and it still has a good affect, I just have to look harder for it. 

I've also found that it is possible to have a day where I honestly do not have the energy to exercise and handle the rest of my day gracefully.  When I start crying on the treadmill because I feel too tired, that's usually a good indication that it is one of those days and I should try again tomorrow! 

The most important thing I have learned is that exercise really is beneficial (I guess I didn't really believe all the scientists) and to never give up.  A little more energy and a little less cranky is always good!

*picture from www.beavercreek.k12.oh.us

Sunday, May 12, 2013

25th Anniversary / Mother's Day

 Yesterday, the 11th, was Derek's and my 25th wedding anniversary.  We celebrated with a great trip to St. George.  On our hike in Snow Canyon we were talking a little about our aches and pains as we walked, and then about all of the things we had gained in the last 25 years.  We would not trade all of the gain for our younger, less achy bodies!

We have gained 6 wonderful children, several brothers and sisters-in-law, 60 nieces and nephews (we already had one).  We now have a much nicer house than our original basement apartment, and more nice things to enjoy.  We have multiple cars and they all work (for the moment).  We have college degrees that we didn't have, and work experience.  We have more friends, and more happy memories.

Along with all of those things, we have learned through our experiences to better trust in our Savior, and to have greater faith in God.  We are very blessed indeed!
Today is Mother's Day.  On the right is a picture of my Mother with her children.  I have been blessed with an incredibly wonderful mother.  I love her.

During church today the story from the Book of Mormon (Alma 56) about the Stripling Warriors and their mothers was told three times.  I want to be like those mothers!  I want to have shared my testimony of the Savior so well through my words and actions that when my children are faced with impossibly hard circumstances, they will stand with faith, knowing the Lord will be with them. 

My Mother is like that, as is my Mother-in-law.  Derek's and my Grandmothers were faithful, hardworking, loving women too, and they made a difference!  I am very thankful for the Mothers and those who are motherly who have blessed my life.  Happy Mothers Day!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Birthday Pictures

Derek's birthday morning was spent at church.  He planned, and with the help of Connor and his friends, performed a puppet show for the kids.  The pictures below are birthday present opening after church (2 pics), an evening trip to our property in Elk Ridge (2 pics), birthday dessert at Derek's parents house (rootbeer floats), and finally one picture of the Monday party we had here with Derek's parents on Monday.  The piƱata handle broke after Dan's two hits right at the beginning and Derek started tossing it up and letting people hit it.  Kayli's was the final, powerful swing that let all of the candy loose.
 

 




 
 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lunch or Laundry? My Brain on Vacation.


Today I went to a friend's house to take a movie back, and to borrow another one.  My friend surprised me when she opened the door and asked if I would like some lunch.  I responded in just the way I was hoping to never respond to an invitation again; with silence, and perhaps my mouth slightly agape.  I was taken by surprise. I don't even think I said anything to her invitation.  Then she invited me again, and to my shame, I didn't respond a bit better!  I finally made a lame excuse about laundry (because laundry can't wait a half hour?) and went home.

Why?  Why did I respond that way?  I felt awful about it, so why did I do it?  Perhaps I fell prey to the idea that I must protect her from her own generosity.  I mean, what if I ate more Hawaiin Haystack than she wanted me to and kept her from important things?  More likely, I fell prey to my own habit of keeping to a schedule, even a made up one that could easily be changed because -- really -- could laundry possibly be that super pressing?

Less than a week ago I was telling someone that I wanted to learn to respond to invitations with enthusiasm.  Unfortunately, responding with silence and my mouth slightly agape seems to be a bad habit of mine!  Then, at my first opportunity, I fail.  I fear that I left my friend, or her daughter, thinking that I love spending time washing dirty socks more than I like eating free food and enjoying their company!  I love my friend, and her daughter.  I even like their food.  Visiting is one of my favorite things to do in the whole world.

So, NEXT time I get invited to do something, even if it surprises the brains right out of me, I am hoping to remember to respond graciously, with enthusiasm.  When I am brave enough to invite someone to do something with me, I love when they respond with joy -- or even gentle kindness!  If I really had needed to be somewhere I could have responded, "Wow!  Thanks so much for inviting me.  I would love to stay if I hadn't promised to be (insert important thing here) in ten minutes."  That would have been infinitely better than what I did.

I want my friend to know that I love spending time with her, and her daughter, much more than I like spending time with dirty, or even clean, laundry.  This is true even if I have a fun movie to watch while I fold clothes.  It is a good thing that I have kind, and forgiving friends, who (I hope) realize that occasionally my brain steps out for a vacation without warning me.

*Picture of Hawaiin Haystack from recipedutchess.blogspot.com
*Picture of Laundry from puzzlingcreativity.blogspot.com

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Joy of Possibilities

These fields are not by my house -- they are in Switzerland -- but it's the only picture of me and fields.

Today I got to go for a walk in the beautiful spring weather out into the quiet fields that are nearby.  As I was nearing home I was thinking of how, just last night, I was worried that I had so many things to get done today that I might not enjoy the day.  When I am tired, it is so much harder to see the happy possibilities in a busy day!  And yet, on the way home this morning, I could see how many blessings this day could hold.  I could feel joy, and knew that the day could be full of happy things.

I have loved the word possibilities since a time a year or so ago, when I felt trapped by pain and couldn't see much possibility for anything but more pain, and more things I couldn't do unless I wanted to add to the pain.  I was a bit depressed about this, and was feeling stuck.  Luckily, I have a good friend, who helped me to see that there were possibilities:  possibilities to feel better, to find solutions, or even to refocus on things that were in my life that were joyful.

Often I am overwhelmed because I fear that I will not have enough energy for the day instead of moving ahead with faith that there will be tender mercies along the way -- happy things to see and do, and good people to meet and learn from.  I believe that Heavenly Father is a God of happy possibilities and that every day has potential for good.  There is a chance to improve, to feel better, to find a friend, to discover a useful idea, and to be helpful to someone else.

I love the joy of possibilities.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Thursday / Friday Adventure

BYU Women's Conference! 
Therefore, continue your journey, and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end.                Doctrine and Covenants 100:12

Here are some of the best things about Conference this year (for me):

1.  My sisters-in-law.  Laura and Mandy were with me on Thursday and Angela and Tanya joined us on Friday.  They are good company, and easy to get along with.  It was fun to spend time with them with no kids to interrupt!

2.  The instant choir.  Laura braved the super early hour of 5:45 a.m. Thursday morning when we left home to practice for the choir that was performing in the 9:00 a.m. session.  We were in our seats before the appointed hour of 6:30 a.m.!  We enjoyed it, and thought it was a great experience -- but not great enough to want to get up that early next year!

3.  Stories.  I love it when presenters tell stories.  I particularly enjoyed one about a boy who made a difference my making a hobby out of making friends.  Sounds fun!

4.  Sunshine.  In between sessions we walked in the beautiful sunshine.

5.  Pho Noodles.  We have a sign above our pantry that says, "Christensens Try New Things".  I made the sign but don't like to do what it says.  However, I decided to be brave and eat what Mandy and Laura were eating.  It was messy while standing in line, but it tasted good.  I dripped broth all over the ground but luckily missed Mandy's head while she was sitting on the steps.

6.  When one of the speakers was a bit soothing and I got super sleepy in the Marriott Center, I did not fall forward!

7.  The concert.  Thursday night Laura and I stayed for the concert which went until about 10:15.  We were sleepy but the music was beautiful.

8.  Good ideas and the opportunity to feel the spirit.  There were many good presenters, including President Eyring.  I even had my brush with fame as I almost ran into Michelle King as I came out of the restroom.  I was surprised and said something like, "Good talk today" and then spent an hour or so thinking that I hadn't sounded enthusiastic enough (I wasn't prepared!) and that I hope she wasn't feeling bad about that.  I overthink things regularly:)

9.  P.F. Changs with Laura, Mandy, and Angela.  Good food and continued good company.  Trying something new means I didn't like mine as well.  Orange Peel Beef is not my new favorite, but Derek, Connor and Jake love it!

10.  Safe travel and a family who was happy to see me home.

*Picture of the Marriott Center is from Google images.  I was in the blue seats when I was sleepy.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Thinking the Best

When I had the chance to share something from my marriage that might be helpful to others, I spoke about time, because it is important to me that I get to spend time with Derek, and have time to talk to him.  However, when I had time to ponder, I came up with what I wish I had said.  What I said was fine, and true, but in considering what I could have said, I was reminded of something that Derek has always done for me that makes a big difference in my life.

Derek always thinks the best of me.  He finds me to be a good person even on those occasions when I have let myself down, and know that I have not been as good as I want to be.  He believes in me all of the time, and seems to see in me the person that I really want to become.  This is a great gift to me.  Sometimes people act how you expect them to act, and I like that Derek expects me to do the right thing, and the good thing, but that when I fail, he still believes that I am the person who, in the end, will not fail at what is important.

Derek's birthday is on Sunday.  I am thankful for him, and for the gift he gives me of thinking, and believing the best things about me.