Tag Archive for: Divorce

Christmas Eve.


It’s all drawing to a close. Like the end of summer, I will the season to last longer. Yet, I know what often makes something special is the absence of it. I love the seasons and the fresh perspective that each season brings to my life. I don’t want sunshine 365 days a year, and I don’t want glitter and Christmas melodies 365 days a year. With both sunshine and Christmas, I mourn the loss, yet adjust quickly, and by the time each is in sight again, I find myself gleeful with delight and embracing it all over again. There are aspects of Christmas I dislike. But the sparkle and music are in full force in my life at the holidays. Couple that with the sobering reminder that Jesus is God’s son, and that his birth brought hope to a broken world. There have been times when those two awesome components couldn’t rouse me into merry making. But this year, I enjoyed fun time merry making and my heart overflowed with joy at the thought of Jesus’ birth and his impact on our broken world.

Our Christmas cards aren’t yet finished. They’ll go out between Christmas and New Year’s.  I’ve done something unique with my (our) Christmas cards since I was a young adult. Each year as the mom demands got greater, I would toy with the idea of not doing a card. But old habits die hard. I’m still not sure what I’m doing, but I’ve invested enough time into them that I’ll finish them some how, some way…it may have to be minus my printer… we will see.

The season brought our house to a place of home. When the decorations come down, I hope I still like it.  Christmas decorations have a way of camouflaging the flaws in a home.  With the decorations up and the living portions of our home feeling cozy, we had a few friends over.  I got to use my kitchen to cook, not just put together food, and I loved it!  I was just glad it gets dark about 4pm.  No one could see the yard that so desperately needs improvements.

Today was a bit of a scramble as I made Chex Mix goodie bags for neighbors and friends.  I always start that piece of Christmas giving later than I’d like. Ultimately, we made it to our church’s 2pm Christmas Eve candle light service.

I love our Christmas eve services at Beaverton Foursquare.IMG_9396

As I sing and listen, I wonder how I can say “Thank You” enough to the producers of this particular service. It’s engaging, entertaining, and edifying in the deepest sense. It brings me to a place of gratitude for this day because of what Jesus means to us. We end it with about 1200 people holding lighted candles, and our Pastor reminds us to be the light of the world, and we all, in that moment, believe that we are the light of the world, and that we will carry our light with us where ever we are throughout the year.  In a world of darkness, that is no easy task, and I appreciate being emboldened for such an endeavor.

A good friend joined us today. She doesn’t attend our church, and to have her beside me and share what Jesus means to me was intimate, and a gift unto itself. It was a shared memory that I will treasure.

Afterward, the kids and I delivered some of the goodie bags I’d scrambled to prepare earlier in the day. Then I took them to the Ringside Fish House for a special dinner to celebrate Christmas eve, and to celebrate my new job. It was a big deal night. We had great food with great atmosphere. I did ask to be moved from a back corner.  I’d been told the extra room that they were seating in was going to be nicely decorated, but when they seated us, my heart sank as I looked at the four bare walls.  I couldn’t stand to spend our Christmas eve night in an atmosphere that didn’t shout Christmas.  The hostess accommodated us, and all was good. Although, I feel badly for whomever got placed where we left.

We came home, opened PJ gifts, and settled in with “It’s a Wonderful Life” and some of the goodies we’ve been getting from friends. We all fell asleep early and decided to get to bed, and that’s where I am right now.  It’s our first year where we didn’t read “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Things are changing, but I’m satisfied nonetheless.

I will get up early to fill stockings and then make a new recipe from Yummly called Cinnamon Roll Pizza.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Before I get to the job interview (Believe me, I’m not stalling. There’s just a lot going on!), A Merry Hour it was!  Last night we had a great time in the spirit of the holidays eating, talking, drinking, and barking. My dogs wouldn’t be left out, and above the laughs and Christmas music, I could hear (probably better than anyone) our two dogs, Rocky and Winky (short for Bullwinkle), barking, barking, barking.  Yesterday, when I was on my hands and knees mopping (I can’t figure out an efficient way of mopping floors!), and my dogs ran back through the house brushing the dirt from their paws and low profile bellies, over my newly cleaned floors, I prayed: “God, I am hoping for extra credit for committing to these two varmints!”

My friend pouring from her "bottle" of wine she won at a recent senior class fundraiser

My friend pouring from her bottle of wine she won at a recent senior class fundraiser. You can’t see in this picture, but it was big enough to “feed” all of us.

A favorite Blogger, Emily Jones, featured a card I loved in a recent post. I decided to print it, add a little glitter, and give it to guests when they left last night’s Merry Hour.  The lights and sounds of Christmas fill us with emotion. Depending on our circumstances, those emotions are usually heightened by our circumstances.  Every person wants to shout from the mountain top, Joy to the World! But some Christmasses, it’s all we can do to sing, Peace on Earth. I loved this card Emily gave us for free, so I could share it with my guests. Also, no calories!  Click on this link to download the card.


And finally, the kids are off to Chicago with their dad. It’s the part of a divided family that I don’t like. Yet, what I want is for them to have fun and enjoy what is, and not linger over what is not. So, with a prayer and enthusiasm, I sent them off for four days. God is with them here, and he’s with them there. Amen.

The Best for the Last. My Job Interview:

My appointment started at 2:30. It ended at 4:15.

I met with the owner of the company, which is an insurance brokerage firm. His assistant (I’m not sure her title, but she’s definitely his right hand woman) joined us.

I’d prepared myself with responses to the two most asked interview questions: 1) What would you say is your biggest strength? 2) What would you say is your biggest weakness?  They never asked the questions.

Instead, it felt like three people getting to know each other. How can one not like that (if you’re me)?  We talked about where I am in life, and why. We talked about where I want to be. We talked about their business model and how they do it. We talked about logistics and goals. We talked about their commitment to giving back and the causes they serve and the energy they put into them. We discovered we go to the same church (my friend had told me that, but during my own internal conversation when she told me about a job in insurance, I didn’t hear that).

They asked about the last books I’d read and why I liked them (WILD, Bread and Wine, Unbroken). It’s been since last March, but they didn’t seem to mind that, and I was relieved. It’s hard to believe someone loves to read, when it’s been 9 months since they picked up their last book. Well, picked up isn’t accurate, but anyhoo… Then they asked what my favorite TV shows are. Yikes. I thought I was done. I don’t watch much TV. Not because I don’t enjoy it. I do. Honest! I feel like I’ve got to convince someone that I’m not anti TV, kind of like I’m not anti children, when I interviewed for the H.S. secretary position and they asked if I liked holding babies.  My TV answer was CBS’s Sunday Morning, which is the absolute truth, and then, The Bachelor. The Bachelor? Did I say that? Oh jeeze. It’s true. I can get caught up in those Bachelor shows, as much as I hate them, I am mesmerized by them. I did forget to tell them that I like Dateline, but I haven’t watched an episode since we moved into our house in August. Oh, wait. I haven’t watched The Bachelor since then, either! See, I struggled. I could have answered a question about my biggest strengths and weaknesses with more authority. I’m glad I didn’t remember Dateline.

But, if I was concerned about those tidbits of personal information, I was horrified when I got teary eyed in the interview. I don’t know what prompted the emotion. I was embarrassed and got out of the tears as fast as I accessed them.  I apologized. The owner said it was okay, telling me that he wanted us to be authentic. But does he really, I wondered? I replied, “Well, I’m done being authentic.” We laughed and moved on to questions about how I would manage receiving instruction (orders?) from someone younger than myself.

The conversation made sense. It wasn’t about my skills, whether I knew Razor’s Edge (something on my “to learn” bucket list since I’ve been researching jobs), or any other program. It was about me, them, and their business model and how we fit together.

I communicated what I was looking for in my job search:


Opportunity to grow and learn new skills, so in less than three years when my support fully stops, I can use the skills I’ve learned to continue with them, or carry my skills with me, so I am employable, able to be completely financially self sufficient.


I want health benefits that will allow me to discontinue paying them now, so I can invest that money, and retirement benefits for the same reason.


The recognition and understanding that I’m a single mom. That is scary and bold, but I’m not going to pretend it’s something else. If I feel I’m needed, I can accommodate my children, and make up the time by coming in early or staying late.

Before the interview, I asked God for clarity. Before I left the interview I said, “I would like to work for you” and meant it without hesitation.

I realized that in looking for the dream job, I’d found the dream company.  I understand it’s early to know if this company will meet my needs. But the clarity I had came from peace I had, in both my head and my heart. There was no conflict between the two. Nice.

I have an appointment this morning at 11am to pick up my compensation and welcome package. I am scheduled to start insurance school on January 5th, 2015.

At the beginning of summer I had three goals.  I’d hoped for all three to come at the close of summer.  The first two did.

1. Buy a house : DONE

2. Sell my SUV and buy a smaller car with much less gas mileage : DONE

3. Get a job : DONE

My friend pointed out last night how it’s interesting that the job starts in January, of 2015. I hadn’t considered that. While I thought I was way behind, I’m really right on schedule.

Thank you, Lord. Welcome, 2015.

Merry Hour, as defined by Joni Frances (Thurber):

The term used during the Christmas holiday season to define what is typically called “happy hour.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 9.00.47 AM

Isn’t that cute?  I’m not saying I’m the first person to coin this phrase, but I’ve never heard it before, so I’m going to claim it.

So, I’ve been sick, in bed, since Sunday. I say “in bed” because it gives a whole different level of sick.  Let me clarify.  I think there’s “not feeling well,” which often means we can manage our day to day, but with less energy and gusto than we’re used to, and then there’s “sick.” To me, “sick” usually means, “in bed.”

It started last week with a raspy voice. Friends and family, myself included, laughed and wondered why I got sexy voice for free. I wasn’t sick. I had no symptoms. Each day was productive, holding nothing back, which was a good thing, because it meant I still worked and I had my interview on Friday.

But BAM! After a long Saturday, sexy voice turned to scratchy burning throat that kept me up all night, and the rest is history. So, for the next three days this was my view:

Warning: Don't zoom in.

Warning: Best not to zoom in.

I know I’m sick when I miss:

COFFEE: Three days without it. It doesn’t sound good.

FOOD:  It doesn’t sound AS good, but I still get hungry. And when I get bored, I walk around in the kitchen trying to find something quick. But the pain of swallowing isn’t worth eating. We have a tradition in our family when we’re sick. We make brownies. I know it’s weird. It started because long ago, like before children, living on my own, when I was sick, even with a high fever, I would get bored and make brownies, then go back to bed. This first morning I was sick, I found Bridgette (my wonderful home from college daughter) in the kitchen making brownies, adding walnuts just for me. The walnuts made it harder for me to eat them, which was a good thing. I’m the only person I know that can gain weight when sick, just by eating out of boredom. I have to say, this time around, I didn’t eat my usual sick diet.

SHOWERS AND MAKE UP:  OK, I missed the showers, but I was perfectly fine not donning make up every day and blow drying my hair.

WORKING OUT:  Yes, I missed a few days of preparing this body for battle. Not a battle as defined by most, but there are many days this body feels like it’s in a battle, with consistent aches in various parts. Doing physical therapy several times a week, and getting in some cardio is essential for my over all well being. It’s what I do to ensure I will be around and in good shape for my children, and my children’s children.  I’m hoping I can help Bridgette and Bradley take care of their children, creating a stronger family support than what they’ve experienced. It starts here. It’s okay that I missed though. That also meant I didn’t have to make hard decisions about getting up at 4:30 or 5:00am. Another battle.


Dinner with a dear friend.

A friend with whom I hate to miss anything. Someone recently called her a “kid whisperer.” She deserves that title. But she could also be called the “friend whisperer.” She’s got a way with all people, bringing out the best in everyone she meets. Last Christmas we met for lunch and she gave me this Christmas Mickey hand. I wear it and send her pictures occasionally and she sends them back to me with her hand.

This is my Christmas Mickey hand driving to OSU to pick up Bridgette.

This is my Christmas Mickey hand driving to OSU to pick up Bridgette.

I couldn’t go to dinner, but my good friend took the kids to dinner without me. As much as I missed out, my kids were blessed, which trumps my loss. My friend was her usual jolly elf, bringing her assortment of Christmas accessories. If I were to ask Bradley to take a photo with reindeer antlers, I’m fairly certain it wouldn’t happen. But I have a picture with both kids in antlers and Mickey hands. I decided not to post, but please imagine it, because it’s really really cute. The kids came home having spent time with an awesome friend and a full sized pizza, for me. I wasn’t able to consume the whole thing like my reputation would lead her to believe, but what I’ve eaten in the last couple of days, excluding two pieces of brownie, was her pizza.

Bradley singing in Les Miserables.

WAHHHHH! For months, the Sunset Choir has been preparing for the Les Mis Christmas performance, which is one of my all time favorite stories, along with It’s a Wonderful Life. I love to see Bradley’s musical side, as well as all the other kids I’ve watched grow up in music. Plus, I’d emailed about twenty families, inviting them to watch the show, because there was no cost, other than a donation. And, I was scheduled to do concessions.  Missing out on last night’s event was heartbreaking. I shed about two minutes of tears over it.

By the way, speaking of two favorite stories… I think I mentioned this before, but it’s timely to mention it again. There is an author named Bob Welch who has written books based on our favorite classic stories, like It’s a Wonderful Life. He gives us 52 messages we can all learn from these stories. I think anyone who watches Les Mis and It’s a Wonderful Life (thus far, my son may disagree when it comes to It’s a Wonderful Life… I have hope) leaves feeling hopeful about life. But then we forget what we learned and what we felt.  These books are good to keep on our bedside table to be reminded of the goodness in the face of desperate and dark. I’ve never met Bob Welch, but he’s a friend of a friend, which is cool!


I had picked up a sub job that isn’t easy. It’s manual labor that requires attention to detail. I got a friend to do the job with me. We both sub for the district and I decided it would be much better to do a job like that with a friend by my side. It was much better last week when we got to do it together. But when I was sick, the friend I recruited worked the job while her friend (me) lay in bed. Ugh. I felt bad for that. She’s a workhorse and handled it like a trooper, but I still wished I could have been a workhorse next to her. Not to mention, I didn’t pick up any other jobs.

Merry Hour.

I’m scheduled to host Merry Hour at my house tomorrow night. I believe it’s going to happen. I don’t mean for it to be a big deal. But I’ve had to adjust to not having people over like I once did. So many factors have gotten in the way of that. Our house is feeling like a home. I want to take advantage while people are taking time out for friends and when the Christmas decorations are up. A group of moms (but not myself… I couldn’t do the movie) were scheduled to go see WILD, but it’s not playing tomorrow after all (except at one theater in NW PDX). Instead of canceling altogether, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to have that same group over.

So, if I had had to cancel that due to sickness, I would have been beside myself with grief! Once I post this blog, I’m taking a shower and cleaning house…

The good thing that happened while I was sick in bed? I got offered the job for which I interviewed on Friday! I will post about the whole experience soon. The clarity wasn’t just on my end. The interviewers and interviewee clicked. After I go in on Friday and receive the welcome and compensation package, I’ll consider myself hired. I’m scheduled to start January 5th. It’s a new world for the Thurber Threesome. Oops. Fivesome. The dogs (darn it) are very much a part of this life, and I’ve still got to figure out how to manage them when we’re gone all day!

One night a friend called to tell me that she had a friend, who was also her insurance agent, who would be adding to his team in the capacity of a Customer Service Representative.  I love this friend and trust her. I know instinctively based on who she is and our relationship, that her words have value. These same words spoken to me by another person may have held little value.

She gave me a few more pieces of information, but because I was having a conversation in my own head, I heard very little. What I heard was:  INSURANCE. He’s a CHRISTIAN man, he’s a big supporter of YOUNG LIFE, his office is CLOSE, you don’t HAVE to sell, but you’re good with people, and I thought I’d just let you know about the opportunity.  In my own silent conversation I was considering what life could be like working for a Christian.  But working in insurance has never been on my radar (except for two good friends who have found a lot of satisfaction working in insurance for years). Would I be settling? Should I wait for the secretary job to open up at the local grade school my kids attended, being part of a schedule that allows me to share my son’s schedule, and the district benefits. I thought about my efforts in the last year to learn Spanish, which is a real desire, but a slow progress.  Would I be learning something new that has never been on my “Professional To Do” list, and would these be skills I could use in other professions that would qualify me for other jobs in the future?

I considered all these things as my friend kindly told me about this opportunity. I appreciated this gift, but would it look good when I put it on? Even though my own voice was louder than hers (it usually is), I heard enough to know, I was to pursue the job.  So, it was in obedience that I submitted my resume and proceeded with an interview.

My prayer was this: God, give me clarity.  A concern I’ve had in my job search has been that I would be too particular.  I often hear people struggle over “God’s will for their life.”  I understand their confusion. When we want one thing, but it doesn’t make sense because we’re limited by health, family circumstances, finances, etc. it can be hard to reconcile our desire with our resources.  Aren’t desires placed in our hearts by God?  My own Bridgette had the desire to be a swimmer, but no matter how much PT we engaged in, how much she worked around an uncooperative shoulder, after three years of pain and complicated circumstances, she gave up swimming. It was a huge loss. The same was true for her other injuries and running. It was torment. She finally adjusted and gave up her dream of running in college.

I think many of us have had those moments where we feel “called,” only to discover that the calling evades us. So, comes the question, “What is God’s will for my life?”  The answer came to me about 10 years ago.

My mom

My mom

My mother was mentally ill. When I was about 10 years old, we were taken from her. We were also taken from her when I was about five, but that was a short lived period of time.  She came back into my life when I was 35.  At about age forty my husband and I took on the responsibility of taking care of her. For five years I looked after her until she died. I did that while my husband traveled extensively and my young children required a lot of attention.  I had very little time to relax or have fun with other women.  I attended a bible study every Thursday morning, but it was often interrupted by the unpredictable fire that needed my attention, often ignited by my mom.

I recall a particular morning that I had looked forward to bible study. But my mother was persistent that I come over and help.  It was a juggling act in those days, trying to decipher an “emergency” from something that could wait.  My heart felt for her, knowing how hard it was that she face her limitations.  I also fought resentment with frustration that she didn’t value my time, or desire my life to be less burdensome. She was expectant and entitled, and legitimately needful at the same time.

That morning I found myself cleaning her shower.  The water from the shower head mixed with the tears that fell down my face, as I thought about bible study, what I was missing out on, including the social interaction. “Why Lord, wouldn’t you allow me to go to bible study? Why aren’t I able to cultivate the relationships that allow me to be blessed, and to bless?” I considered the other ladies who attended bible study without the weight of burdens that required them to miss out.  I was envious of women who organized church events or lead worship.  Both things for which I was equipped. I begged God for answers.  He created me to love interaction with people. I love to give and to get. It’s a two way street that I find invigorating. It’s been hard wired in me from the day I was born. Why then would God place me, me? “of all people”, in a musty shower, in a home that smells, with piles of junk mail that I’m prohibited to touch, with a mom who I felt was siphoning me dry.

The water ran longer than it needed to. I meticulously scrubbed the grout as I cried and sorted through my emotions.  I didn’t want my mom to hear my crying. Anything that pointed a finger at her would require more of me. As I lifted my aching heart before the Lord, somewhere between the tiles, the grout, and the sobs I heard him say, “You are right where I want you. There is no better place for you than here, in this moment, serving your mom.” It was a defining moment for me.

God’s will: That we serve him, wherever we are, wherever he needs us.

In Matthew 19 a rich man asks God how to be assured of eternal life, and Jesus says, “Obey my commandments.”  Then the man says, “and what else?”  I would have been like, “Grrr… isn’t that enough? I answered your question!”  But, Jesus says, “To be perfect you must give up your wealth and follow me.” The man walks away sad, because he has great wealth.

I don’t believe Jesus was speaking only to people with great wealth. What else must we give up to serve Jesus? I find it interesting that Jesus didn’t say we have to be perfect. He first said, “To gain eternal life, follow my commandments.” Since we’re incapable of being perfect, I’m not going to walk away sad, because perfection isn’t my aim. I am joyful that I can look forward to an eternal life with Jesus and I’ll do my best to follow God’s commandments.

I think we confuse God’s will with our own personal ambitions. I get it. I’ve have ambitions that haven’t been fulfilled. If you’re a dreamer with a lot of ambition, it’s hard to be confined. But when health or finances or divorce get in the way of a dream, isn’t it God’s will that we take care of those things first?  Isn’t God’s will that we provide for our family?  Shouldn’t we take care of our bodies, so we can serve others (for me, my concern is that I’m available to my children, and my children’s children). As a parent, wouldn’t God’s will be that we nurture and grow our children, to prepare them for a life of self sufficiency, according to God’s word? For some, these things get taken for granted. For others, they are the dream.

Did the realization that I needed to serve my mom remove my desire to be and do more? Absolutely not. But this is my perspective: God’s will in my life, wherever I am, is following submitting to his will, which I find in his word, the bible.

So, when I consider potential jobs, I must be mindful not to reach for a dream that will cause me to miss out on the basics that are the stepping stones to our dreams, not to mention, the most fundamental form of glorifying God.

In obedience I went to the interview where I would be entertaining a job in insurance. I was uncertain of what to expect, but asked God this:  Please give me clarity. In no uncertain terms, God gave me clarity, in spite of myself. I look forward to sharing more with you, but for now, I will finish so you can get on with your life on this day, and return to mine, on another.


Two nights ago I picked Bridgette up from OSU. What is normally a 1 1/2 hour drive took three hours, due to the wind storm that caused power outages and damage. This picture below was/is a tree in my friend’s yard. On her way home from work she got a call from her son, “Mom, you know the tree that was half dead? Well, it fell down and took a power line with it.”  The small tree that fell in our yard during the last storm  (to the tune of a $300 removal) is small in comparison to my friend’s tree!  It’s been a windy few weeks in the Portland area. You may remember the tree that came out of the ground at the house I’m managing.


I’m so happy to have Bridgette home.  She’s not far away, so her return isn’t the same desperate feeling of getting her in my arms as some of my friends’ daughters.  Admittedly, I’m happy not to contend with that issue at this point in my life.  Plus, texting, FaceTime, and social media keep us up on each others’ lives. But given all those modern advantages, there’s no comparison to spending real time with each other.

The kids and my relationship hasn’t been easy.  I don’t think it’s ever easy raising children, even in the best of circumstances. So, given that, I believe that it’s doubly hard when the circumstances are complicated and when life gets hard.  The three of us have given much effort navigating our way through disappointments, misunderstandings, expectations, hopes, and just plain human shortcomings in how we treat one another.

We’ve had a lot of victories. As I anticipate the upcoming Christmas holiday with Bridgette home, I’m hoping one victory we can enjoy is the simple presence of each other’s company, minus so much energy and effort toward understanding each other. We’ve been at this for awhile now; I’m ready to enjoy the rewards of our efforts.

I worked four days at three different schools this week. I took Friday off, primarily because I had an interview (which I’ll talk about later), but I also needed to catch up on the pile on my desk, check in at the rental property, and other things that can’t be done when I’m at a school.

Things are coming together more and more at our new home.  I found a very reasonable handyman who installed an attic ladder, eliminating the need for us to hall the one million foot ladder from the outside to the inside back to the outside each time I want to store or remove something from the attic.

Then, there’s the fun thing I had done. I had a metal wall created!  Our refrigerator is non magnetic, so what do I do with all those coupons, fliers, announcements, the Boy Scouts Tree Removal envelope, the mini pictures that come in Christmas cards, quotes that inspire me?



It’s like a 7′ tall bulletin board that serves functionally, as well as looks great.  And, it allows me to remove the nice (but too small) bulletin board on the wall across from it, so I can now install a coat rack type thing, that we need for coming in and out of the garage. No mud room in this house, so improvisions are needed.  Because my friend’s husband came over a couple of weeks ago and helped me, I’m going to try to tackle installing the coat rack based on his tutorial he gave me that day. I don’t know that he knew he was giving me a tutorial.  It was more a “watch and learn” as I hovered over him.

I’ll come back to the interview another time. It was such a great experience.  I want to save that experience for its own blog.