Straight out of a Novel

Xmas. Jackets2


Daughter Shelby called me this morning. Or maybe I called her (who can remember these things after watching The Great British Baking Show, which, yes, I know is an oxymoron).

Today was Shelby’s last day at the law office where she has worked for the past seven years.  Family law. Not the job she thought she’d be doing when she finished up that graduate program at George Mason University. She was sure she would be working in publishing. So was I.

But that’s not how it all turned out. Life rarely turns out the way we anticipate, does it? She applied for hundreds of jobs, interviewed for dozens all across the country, but the economy had taken a hit. Shelby found herself competing for jobs along with hundreds of other candidates. Oh, it was all so stressful.

Eventually, she landed a job at a law firm in Bend, Oregon. Not the place she imagined herself living but if you have to live in a certain community for work, Bend ranks right up there with one of the most wonderful places to be “stuck in a job.”

The first firm she worked for turned out to be one of those straight out of a Grisham novel. Cut-throat, sleazy corporate office that overcharged and over-litigated. She hated it. If you have ever met Shelby, you understand. She is pure-hearted like her daddy. Ethical in all things.


So she lasted only a short while there before she bailed and went to one of the best law firms in Bend. She ran the office for attorneys who had a like-sense of values. (Yes, there are good attorneys out there, folks, even in family law). She could not have asked for a better work environment.

Still, we always knew it wouldn’t last. The attorneys were both approaching retirement age, and it wasn’t the best place for Shelby’s true talents. She longed to work in publishing.

So when a friend called her a couple of months ago and asked if she could submit Shelby’s name for a possible job at a publishing house in Eugene, we were hopeful that something good was on the horizon for Miss Shelby.

It was.

Come 2016, Shelby will be leaving Bend and moving to Eugene where she will begin a position at Harvest House Publishing. 

I took the girls to Hawaii in Sept. 2001 for their high school graduation present. We'd spent 10 days reliving the history of life with my father and the impact of war. On our last morning in Hawaii we woke to the news of the attack at the Pentagon. My girls who had never known war became the generation of people who have lived with unceasing wars ever since.

I always knew Shelby would end up in publishing, somehow. It’s a job she’s been training for her entire life. I always seek her advice on my work.  She’s worked independently for several years with a variety of different authors. This new job at Harvest House is going to be great for them and for her.

Still, goodbyes are difficult. Shelby will be leaving behind a good church (Antioch), a great community of friends and loved ones, and, well, Bend, which is simply one of the West Coast’s finest communities.

I am sure Eugene has its wonders and wonderful people, too, but I’m partial to Corvallis, myself. And I’m kind of bummed that she will be further away from me. Shelby and I spent a lot of time together in 2015. More time than she probably preferred, given I lived with her while helping care for that new grandson.

That grandson and the one that followed him in May were the highlights of 2015 for me. As far as my lifetime goes, 2015 has to be among the top greatest years of all.

It started with Sawyer-bean, of course. A child much longed for and prayed for, including by many of you, thank you. He is a great joy, as is all of our grandsons (can I get a girl, somebody?), and a constant reminder that God, sometimes, gives us the desires of our hearts. How many years did I catch the tears of my daughter who longed to be a mom and reassure her that one day, she would be.

Today is the tenth anniversary of Sullivan and Austin’ s mommy and daddy. Hard to believe that ten years have passed. Harder still to fathom how fast it all goes.

“All my friends are moving away,” Konnie lamented, expressing her sorrow at seeing her sister move off.

“Well, when you get my age, they all start dying away,” I replied, laughing, sort of.

Loss has been a part of 2015 and there is nothing more to say about that than I hate it.

Death. Dying.

I am never happy that others have gone on to be with Jesus. I mean I’d rather they go be with Jesus than the alternative, but, damnitall, I much rather they stay here and keep me company.  I miss them all so much.

When we spoke this morning, Shelby said she was having mixed emotions about moving. “I’m sad and happy. Sad to be leaving my friends, my home, my job. But excited for the adventure. Oh, I don’t know, I have so many emotions about it all. Don’t make me talk or I’ll cry and ruin my makeup,” she said. (See, I taught my girls my Southern values well, even though I raised them among the earth muffins in the Northwest).

“Well, I’m just happy you aren’t headed off to prison,” I said.

Shelby laughed, “Oh, Mama!”

“Well, it’s true!” I said. “I would really hate it if that’s where you were going. And listen, I have known mamas who had to deal with that – in my own family, mind you.”

Shelby laughed harder. Which, naturally cheered this mama’s heart because you all know that laughter through tears is my favorite emotion. And that’ s exactly how I’m feeling about saying goodbye to 2015.

I’m sad to see this year go. It’s been such a good year. A year that brought us new grands and new jobs to every single person in our family, including me. I finished out the grad school program I started when my kids were all in elementary school (Earning those 4.0s that eluded me when I was younger). I had a new book published (you should read it, it’s delightful) and started another one. I had a mammogram scare that turned out good. And I had a novel adapted for the stage (Ohmygosh, it debuts in 2016!!!).  Call the Springer Theater and get your tickets now! 

New adventures await for 2016. Some will be hard. Some will be grand, but in the midst of them all will be a great story, a story I’ll undoubtedly share as opportunity permits.

My wish, my prayer, my hope for all of us in 2016 is that we live a good story, the best story, the sort of story that our loved ones will repeat to one another year after year, through the hard times and the good times.

The kind of story that makes others laugh through the tears.

The kind of story that even Grisham might repeat.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Burdy (Mercer University Press). 


Karen Spears Zacharias

Author/Journalist/Educator. Gold Star Daughter.

1 Comment


about 9 years ago

Well said, my friend. I love the stories you tell of the stories you live. Miss Shelby is about to begin a wonderful story of her own, one that has been prayed over, hoped for, and now a reality. I believe in her!


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