Each year we chronicle our journey together. Enjoy another chapter in the lives of the Thurstenson Family!
2019 has been noted by many of our friends as the longest year ever. For whatever reasons, we all felt ready to put the old year to rest and look forward to 2020! This may be a long one so get comfortable and buckle up!
We can’t honestly say it has been a bad year—there have been blessings too many to count—but it has been a year of unusual challenges for sure. Sarah’s father passed away Dec. 29, 2018 and was laid to rest Jan. 4, 2019. Shelly experienced her first year of living without Dan. We experienced many firsts right along with her as Sarah’s siblings waded through paperwork, memorabilia, and grieved through the many good memories we were fortunate to have with him! Despite missing him this year, we have met many new friends, renewed friendships, and connected to family through his passing. We have had to pull together as a family to meet Shelly’s health needs due to a series of mini strokes that are under control now. Stories of the past have surfaced in sharp detail and bring joy to her as she recalls their life together!
As you may recall, Sarah’s Aunt Sandy (Dan’s sister), lost her husband December 11, 2018. We have enjoyed being able to visit her often this year in Pensacola, Florida. She needs less help physically than Shelly, but has needed and enjoyed more family in her life—we know we needed more of her, too! Chris has been able to help around the property and deal with items as she is ready. We don’t like the reason we are closer, but we are delighted to spend more time with this lovely lady!
Sarah’s year has been one of travel and some trips alone—something way outside of her comfort zone. After her father passed away, she looked at things from a different perspective. She took advantage of the opportunities as they arose to invest in people she loves. She traveled to Kentucky to pick up her dad’s car in June and back to KY in September for a mini reunion of her college friends. Then she flew to Colorado to visit her sister Becky’s family. There she was honored to lead a canvas paint party for her nine year old great niece, Evelyn! In July she went with Chris to Indianapolis and visited a high school friend while he attended a trade show. Then back to Kentucky after Christmas to remember Dan. She did all of this while running her graphic design business, 17 canvas paint parties, leading a networking group for local business women, and working in the toddler nursery in Mothering Matters ministry. In November, she began working part-time for Arcom Printing in Fayetteville and has enjoyed the challenges and the friendship of working with colleagues and serving customers.
Chris, after much heartfelt deliberation, left Custom Electronics and has been working for Willtech Enterprises again in Siloam Springs. He enjoys being closer to home with less stress. In July, he was able to take on a project dear to his heart. Family missionary friends in Kenya, Africa, the Kejrs, use his construction skills to be of service to his African community and earn the privilege of sharing Christ with them. Their shop was vandalized and all their tools were stolen. Chris led a way to provide tools and donations to replace the stolen tools with improved or new versions. Our church and community of friends responded with enthusiasm! It was a devastating heartbreak that God, as he so often does, chose to bless and improve their situation!
Chris’ brother, Rick, was in the hospital a week in November. His initial symptoms centered around respiration, but it was eventually discovered that along with the COPD & pneumonia, Rick was struggling with Type 2 Diabetes, an enlarged heart, a fatty liver, an enlarged pituitary gland, and extreme sleep apnea. We were very thankful he could pray over the meal from the hospital via Facetime for a very thankful Thanksgiving dinner! He has made some drastic life changes that are resulting in dramatic health improvements.
David has enjoyed living in Fayetteville, and we have loved having him near! He has been excelling in his work as the computer programer for Keystone, an audio visual installation company, and received a promotion and raise to a salaried position. He and his company worked on the newest theater in our area. Theatre Squared is a beautiful facility with trending, state-of-the-art technology and is the pride and joy of the arts community. He also traveled to Wyoming, Indiana, and Kentucky installing AV in hotels and a large ranch. We helped him celebrate his 26th year and love supporting him in his accomplishments!
We are happy to announce that Abby and her fiancé, Chase Chapman were engaged May 4th! Chase graduated from University of Arkansas in May and entered UAMS Medical School in Little Rock in August. Chase traveled to India on a mission trip with Lightbearers in the summer. They have enjoyed traveling to Kansas City and Iowa to spend time with Chase’s family, visiting each other at school, and being in multiple weddings for friends. They originally had plans to marry in March, but will be taking more time to allow for Abby’s graduation from UofA in May and transition to blend their lives in Little Rock in the future.
Abby was recently honored to receive the UofA Seniors of Significance Award for the class of 2020. 71 students were selected, from over 600 nominations, based on their academic achievements, leadership skills, and extracurricular campus and/or community activities. She volunteers at Loving Choices pregnancy center and champions women (and men) in unplanned pregnancies. She founded Students for Loving Choices on campus, tutored in physics, and is involved in Lightbearers Ministry all while maintaining her academic excellence. We are so happy she was recognized for her hard work and dedication!
With so many things being “firsts” for us, we never seem to know how things will go or what to expect. From grieving to celebrating, we navigate all these new things with blind faith. We don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future! With faith, friends, friends-like-family, and biological family, praying for us, supporting us, and celebrating life with us, we know we will survive 2020!
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Graphic Designer with awesome clients, happy wife, mother of two with a thought about this and that, Sarah is also the owner and instructor for Something From Nothing Paint Parties-On location custom canvas painting parties.