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Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light

Woop Woop! I’m Married!

Well, as of today I’ve been married for 9 days! Eeeek!!!

I don’t even know what to say about it! There is so much in my heart to say! I love being married. My wedding was amazing. I have so many friend that helped make it a stupendous day. I feel so loved. I am so loved. There were so many people there! There wasn’t even enough room for people to sit or even be in the same room. Standing room only that poured out into the foyer! Wow!!!!

I have heard stories about weddings being so stressful. That wasn’t my experience. At one point I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me because I didn’t feel stress. Then I realized that feeling stressed was totally unnecessary! We’re having a party! We’re celebrating an incredible story of healing, redemption, and restoration!

Here’s a short clip of a fun time of us dancing during the ceremony.

I have much stirring in my heart about getting married and the changes that are already happening, but those will have to wait. I have a bedroom to rearrange!

You can read more about us from Lennox’s point of view over on his blog at lennoxfleary.com

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Blurry Days

Days are passing by so quickly. So much is happening and yet, there is still so much to be done. I am awake at 1:30 a.m. It is now Wednesday. Monday and Tuesday literally flew by. 

I can barely remember Monday! I do know that Ireland, Chani, and I got pedicures together. I also got some fake nails so my hands will look nice for photos. I had no idea that my fingers would ache when I got home! I laid in bed wondering if it was worth it! The pedicure was nice, though. Ireland thought some of it felt funny, I think it tickled her. At one point she reached over to hold my hand. Sweet memory right there. 

Tuesday morning Lennox made breakfast for his mom, dad, and I. Since they’ve been here I haven’t cooked. So I told them that I really did know how to cook. Lennox said I’m busy planning a wedding so I’m off the hook. 

After breakfast my friend, Alex, came over and helped out SO much! The night before she had texted to see what I needed help with. I told her I was doing alright, I would just be cleaning. I hated to ask someone to help me clean and organize, but she jumped at that idea. I’m so glad she did! I got to spend time and get to know her more in addition to having cleaner cabinets! She also attacked Ireland’s room. So that was a huge burden off of me. 

Alex took Marcella (Lennox’s mom) and I out to lunch while Lennox and his dad, Leo, went to fetch a nice fridge for us. There was lots of rearranging and cleaning happening today. Lennox kept escorting me out of the kitchen and telling me that it’s all going to be alright. It was chaotic and I was having a hard time envisioning the end result. 

There are so many amazing things happening! I don’t even know if I can possibly express all that I’m feeling. I want to be so present in what’s happening each day while not losing sight of my goals ahead. 

For now my next goal is sleep. By the time this is published I will have been up for awhile already!

We Survived Mother’s Day 2016

I’m just gonna say it right off the bat. Sometimes Mother’s Day is really hard. I’ve written about it on this blog many times. Neglect, foster care, adoption, and other traumas can leave their scars on us. I wrote blog in 2014 of how good Mother’s Day was. Last year wasn’t a disaster, either. This year wasn’t too terribly trauma inducing.

Listen, I have a wedding coming up. My parents are dead. I’m feeling rather orphaned at times. Then I come home and kid acts out and I’m so over it. So the other kid and I get away for some time together. It was a blurb of sadness and frustration in a whole day of goodness.

First of all, Christopher calls me from basic training. It’s Mother’s Day and he gets to call his mama. I’m so glad to hear his voice. He tells me of how he wants more mail and how he earned the rank of expert in marksmanship. He’s working hard and keeping his head above water. He has no idea when I’m getting married or if I am already. I think he’s lost track of time. It’s so good to talk with him. When we get off the phone Ireland and I sit together crying because we miss him so much.

Lennox made us a good lunch! There were pigeon peas grown by his father, pumpkin also grown by his father, fried potato, fried plantain, rice, and a drink made from sorrel that his father grew. It was so good. His father told him, “You did good, son.” That was a beautiful moment right there. What son doesn’t want to hear that?

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After our lunch some of us rested for awhile. When I woke up I went to go see Winter and the baby. She gave me such a lovely card and gift. I reread the card just a few minutes ago and I wanted to cry. I love our story and how our family has been formed over this past year. It’s so beautiful. I’m so grateful!

_MG_0516Then for our final meal of the day, Mom and Dad make what Lennox called “bakes”. It’s a bread that is lightly fried. It’s thicker than an elephant ear. It’s more like a bun or biscuit. Lennox tells me that he would eat it with egg, cheese, or peanut butter. What he didn’t tell me is that he’d eat it with cheese AND peanut butter. He sliced that baby open, covered the inside with peanut butter, then layered cheese on it. What kind of crazy is that? I tasted it. It wasn’t horrible so I had to taste it again!

It is Monday the 9th. I marry Lennox in 5 days. It’s coming up so fast. I am soaking in these last few days before becoming a Fleary. I want to remember so many things. I don’t know if I can. It feels like this is a sacred time.

Dear Winter – Happy Mother’s Day

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Dear Winter,

Remember this day? It’s a memorable one, for sure. I don’t know what you were feeling and thinking, but I was thinking “I can’t believe I’m becoming a grandma! I felt so  unprepared.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t love you and the baby enough. As soon as we knew the baby was going to be a boy Christopher told me to call Lennox. I remember having to force out the words, “It’s a boy!” as I held back tears. Love for you and this baby flooded my entire being.

_MG_7610A few days later we went to an Iris Festival. I think we were all underwhelmed with the entire experience, but maybe we were there for just this shot. It’s one of my most favorite pictures of you.

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I couldn’t resist this one. Erica is telling you stories of bears in Canada where she grew up. I love the look on your face. I feel like this was our first field trip together! I think we need to take a trip up to the zoo again!

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Ah, my son’s first Father’s day. I know this is a Mother’s day post, but I had to include this one. This is beautiful to me.

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Ah, dearest Winter, you are a warrior. I can’t look at this picture without feeling intense pride at how strong you were through labor. I feel like those days laboring together bonded us. It revealed to me what incredibly strong women we both are.

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Winter, I love you so much. You have brought so much joy into our family. You’ve reminded me how to laugh and relax a little.My son is a better man now than he was before you. He is doing many brave things these days. My children have learned to expand their love and not be afraid.

Happy Mother’s Day, beautiful one. You are such an important part of who we are as a family.

I’m so grateful for you.

Love,

Ma!

…and the Greats meet

What glorious days we are having! The weather has been warm these past couple of days. When mom and dad came over yesterday they talked of the lovely weather and how they are now warm. Tomorrow it will dip down into the 60’s. They’ll wear layers of clothes to keep warm.

Joy abounds as we gather for a meal made by Lennox. I brought Winter and baby Christoper over so we could have a family meal. I arrived home to find Dusty had also stopped by for a visit. Hugs and smiles were abundant through out the evening.

_MG_0486Baby Christopher keeps us all entertained simply by his eager exploration of all that’s around him! At first he wasn’t too fond of our dog, Ginger. She’s quite a bit bigger than the dog he’s used to. Just look at his face as he looks at great grandma! I wonder what he’s thinking!

We fed him farm fresh strawberries and freshly whipped cream. He loved it! He just kept chomping down on those strawberries. I love being a grandma so much! It isn’t so much that I’m thrilled to have another baby in my life. I also love the relationship I have with my daughter-in-law, Winter.

My wedding is getting nearer and I know there’s lots of things not ready. I have spent today chilling out with Ireland, cleaning, and reading. I find it hard to believe that a week from today I will be married.

The Arrival

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Balloons, flowers, excited family, and hugs! What more could you want when you step off the plane after over 3 days of traveling?

Lennox’s parents arrived early Wednesday morning. Mom said they left their home in Carriacou on Saturday. They were weary, yet their faces lit up when they saw us standing there.

We’ve all been looking forward to this day. It’s been on our calendar and this week it was on our whiteboard under the “coming events” column. Ireland has been telling everyone how excited she was for Tuesday because that’s the day her Grandma and Grandpa would be arriving. She insisted on bringing balloons and a dozen white roses.

We expected them just before midnight on Tuesday, but their flight was delayed so they arrived at nearly 2 a.m. on Wednesday. Ireland was so excited that she flitted around like a little bird, dancing and chattering away. I tried to rest, but it’s not easy to do so when I’m also trying to keep an eye on her. The guys, however, had no problem in sleeping.

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As 2 o’clock was drawing near we were all awake and waiting for their arrival. We laughed, we paid too much for snacks, we played. We had fun making a memory of being at the nearly empty airport! It was so fun. I am loving my family!

I want to soak it all in. These moments are the so good.

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Ireland practices the art of taking selfies with Lennox and showing him all her creations on some app she loves to play on. (That made me feel old saying “some app” just now.)

With Mom and Dad Fleary coming I’ve found myself realizing this is all so real. Lennox’s sister, Di, will arrive next Thursday. I’ve never met her and I’m so looking forward to it!

I have so many things that I’m thinking and feeling. I can’t seem to express them. I stand at the stove making breakfast, listening to worship music and crying. I think of the line in song that says, “Cause I loved you before you knew what was love” and think of many of the ways God has shown me His incredible love throughout my entire life. In the live version of Kim Walker’s “How He Loves” she says, “The love of God changes us…we’re never the same when we’ve encountered the love of God.” I first heard that song soon after my first marriage broke up. In fact, I just remembered that I posted the video of that song as my first blog post here. I didn’t understand it yet. I knew God loved me. I don’t think I could accept it.

That’s all changed now.

I’ve encountered it. I see it. I’ve been changed by it.

Becoming A Fleary

In nine days I will become Mrs. Fleary. 

I don’t even know how to start this post. I am overwhelmed with emotions. I mostly feel gratitude. I have an incredible retinue of friends. In fact, I believe I have the best friends in all the earth. I’m sure of it! I can truly say there has never been a time where I have been devoid of such loving people in my life.

My wedding is quickly approaching. As it does, I hear of friends coming from Canada, Maine, and California. Then I have friends here who spend an entire day shopping with me and carve time out of their busy schedules to get our nails done. So many people are helping the wedding come together so wonderfully. We have musicians, shoppers, cleaners, decorators, and food servers who have all volunteered to help. I am humbled by all that love being poured out. Sometimes I am puzzled by it. Yet, I am always blessed by it. For a girl who grew up wondering where she fit in and if she was loved, this certainly answers that question.

This morning as Lennox and I were walking it hit me that the countdown is now in the single digits. It now feels so real. It’s actually happening!

Now I sit here on my bed overwhelmed with emotions. In the last week or so I’ve had so many moments of tears. Some are tears of gratitude, while others are tears of grief. I am missing my son, Christopher, who is away at basic training.  I am missing my mom and dad. Yet, I am grateful. In marrying Lennox I am gaining a mother and father.

I’ve met them a few times before, but this time it’s different. We were sitting at my table sharing a meal when I felt my heart swell with love for them. I hear more of their story and get to share in making memories with them.

Just look at how Marcella looks at her son!

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Restore Retreat 2016

I’m sitting at my kitchen table reflecting on this past weekend. My heart is overflowing with a tender compassion for 48 other women, many of them I didn’t even get to know.

Restore Retreat is an annual event for foster and adoptive moms to get away for the weekend. We laugh, cry, eat too much chocolate, and share our life experiences as moms. Us 49 moms birthed 82 kids, adopted 113, and have fostered over 700 children. Did you see that? We have impacted nearly 1000 kids and we are just a small number of people who do this every day.

I stood in the back of the room watching these women worship. Hands raised. Heads bowed. Silent tears slipping down cheeks. I heard them sing “You are perfect in all of your ways” as I watched one woman’s face and had this overwhelming sense that the Lord had been doing some deep work in her. These were not easy words for her to sing. She believes they are true words, she proclaims them, but her heart is hurting. There are stories of trauma all around. Not just the trauma of our kids, but the trauma either created or triggered by them, as well.

This was the third year Chani and I attended this retreat. It’s been at a different location every year, but this one was by FAR the best location. It fostered togetherness and yet there was enough room to be alone when needed. There were 24 new women this year. That’s an amazing number. I watched their faces and remembered that first year that Chani and I went. We were scared, too. We felt like this year we were really able to connect with people. It takes time, but it’s so worth it. In fact, I feel like last year was the beginning of a healing for me. I went there cynical and judgey. I came home with a few new heart friends and an appreciation for other women.

If I could have, I would have scooped them all up in my arms and quietly declared over each of them, “You are enough. You are more than enough. You are not alone. You can do this. In fact, you ARE doing this. YOU are the right one for this job. You are the exact mom this exact child needs in this exact moment. Rise up warrior woman. There is a battle raging and you’re the one to fight it right here alongside the rest of us.” _MG_0318

Embracing the Change

Spring officially begins on March 20th this year. Spring is one of my favorite seasons!

I live in the north western part of Oregon. It usually rains a lot here. Right this second it isn’t raining, but earlier today I could hear it pounding down on the roof. When I was a kid my parents used to say that if March came in like a lion it would go out like a lamb and vice versa. So, if it was a mild day on March 1, March 31 would greet us with a raging storm.

A memory came to me as I was writing. March also makes me think of kites. My dad would take me to the field across the street and show me how to fly a kite. I’m pretty sure he would’ve stood there for hours with me. Later, when it was just the two of us left at home, he’d take me to the beach where we would watch all the kites. We never went to a kite festival down there. I think he would have liked that very much.

March brings change.

The rains are now accompanied by breaks of bright sun. Robins begin to show up in force. My lawn suddenly needs a good mowing. That will happen as soon as it stops raining long enough to dry the weeds disguising themselves as a form of grass.

My daffodils have bloomed in force and are now on their way out. I loved walking out of my house each day to be greeted by such vibrant beauty. I now have several primrose plants I’ve received as gifts that need to repotted. They’ve been sitting in their original pots on my table for the past couple of weeks. They’re little reminders of a beautiful life.

A year ago I met a young woman that is now my daughter-in-law. That sounds so legal. I onced mocked when people would days “daughter-in-love” instead. However, I kind of like that term. I love her. She couldn’t be more perfect to be the wife of my son.

Christopher has enlisted in the US Army and will be shipping out to boot camp in Georgia later this month.

I’m in the midst of planning a going away party for him. Days later we will take him to Portland and enjoy our last moments before he leaves.

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It occurs to me that I’ve never been apart from him for very long. This is part of our growing up. I’m proud of him.

I love you son, I’m excited for your journey! 

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