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Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light

A Day To Remember

Life is precious. It’s short. We get old and talk about how quickly life passes us by. A loved one dies and not matter how old that person is, it simply wasn’t enough time with them.

I went on a walk with my dog today. We cried. Okay, I cried. I cried because I’m so proud of my oldest son, Christopher. He’s been in Georgia at boot camp then his cavalry scout training. I’m so happy for him and I’m so sad for me that I couldn’t also be there. (Truth be told, I’m struggling with feeling angry, left out, and jealous about the whole thing, too. Yes, I realize it’s wasted energy to entertain those emotions.)

Winter sent me a short video clip of the end of the graduation ceremony. I cried then, too. My little boy has become a man. The baby picture of him is when he was 10 months old on our first Mother’s Day together. Now, he’s a 20 year old military man. I don’t know how these 20 years have past so quickly. One day he’s here cuddling with me on the couch and the next day he’s a soldier. One day he’s telling you all about Star Wars characters and the next day…oh wait, that hasn’t changed. He can still talk all about that.

This day feels important. A day that we’ll come back to.

Life

We never know how much time we get to be in relationship with the ones we love. This photo is such a good reminder to me.

8 years ago I was given this card, flower, and key ring full of encouragement from my friend Sarah. She had enlisted the help of another friend, as well. Here’s what I wrote about this in a previous blog:

This is a gift I found on my table one morning after dragging myself out of bed. In fact, it was the Fourth of July. I had kept my kids up really late the night before so they would sleep in and not be so tired for the celebration that night. I also wanted to sleep in. I did hear my door open, but I thought perhaps the kids were letting a cat in or out of the house. I had no idea that I had a visitor. She let me sleep. This friend knew I was having a hard time getting out of bed each day so she came up with 32 reasons why I should. I keep them with me. I pressed the rose petals in my Bible where they remind me of the love of my friend. The still smell good. I cried as I read them out loud to my children. When I am stuck in my cave, afraid to move, I look at these to remind me why.

Sweet Sarah went home to Jesus 3 years ago today. I think of her crazily dancing with our Jesus and making people laugh. I love that she was never afraid to ask the hard questions and loved you even if the answers weren’t pretty.

Another dear friend of mine, Elaine, went to be with Jesus recently. I’m nearly laughing at the thought of those 2 together! It’s a riot up there!

Daniel and No Excuses

Just now I took several hours to get around to exercising. I had already decided to do it. I had already chosen the workout for the day. I just didn’t want to do it! I do want a strong and healthy body. Sometimes I just don’t want to put the effort into it. As I was working out I was thinking of the consequences of not exercising today or any other day. The first thing that came to mind for me was depression. What a slimy black pit that is. When I stop taking care of myself and start spending hours watching tv shows I feel depressed, then I start isolating myself, which then makes me lonely. It’s a horrible cycle. I’d even go as far to say that it’s a deadly cycle.

*disclaimer: for me this is only one of the factors that lead me down the road of depression. Others include: eating poorly, allowing myself to get offended easily, not reading the Bible and practicing gratitude, filling my head with negative and mindless things (whether that comes from music, movies, reading, or people)

On August 1st Lennox and I began to read the book of Daniel together.  I remembered that an author, speaker, and sister in Christ – Jennie Allen – is doing an online Bible study of Daniel this month. It’s called “Humble & Bold: How to Love God in a World That Doesn’t“. So, we started that together, as well. Today we discussed the first several questions in the study for Daniel 1 and 2 this morning. There’s some deep stuff there, people. I highly recommend doing this study and talking about with a friend. Jennie will also do live videos on Sunday evenings where we can all chime in via the comments.

Daniel chose to set himself apart from the rest of the nobles taken into captivity. Daniel 1:8 (HSCB) says, “Daniel determined that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or with the wine he drank.” God then granted him favor and compassion from the chief official. Daniel is confident that he would be strong, but for the sake of the official he tells him to test it out for 10 days. If it doesn’t work, then Daniel and his friends will eat what the rest of them did.

Guess what happened?

Daniel and his friends looked BETTER and HEALTHIER than all the other young men! 

God gave these four young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. On top of that, Daniel was given the gift of understanding visions and dreams of every kind. (That saves a bunch of lives later on!) When the king interviewed them he found none equal to these 4 men. In fact, they were found to be TEN TIMES better than all the diviner-priests and mediums in the entire Babylonian kingdom! What????

This has me thinking about us, the people of God. Who are we? We are tourists here. Jesus tells us we are pilgrims and that while we are in this world we are not of this world. The word “holy” means set apart. Daniel set himself apart.

I think too many times we know what we are gifted in or called to do, but we just won’t step into it. We refuse to set ourselves apart and do what others aren’t doing. I think about the kind of life I want for my children and I know that it’s not going to magically happen. I know what I want my marriage to look like. I want it to be extraordinary. In 50 years I want Lennox and I still be glowing and look at each other with that twinkle in our eyes. I want my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren (they’ll call me G-Lola) to have incredible stories of God’s faithfulness. I want to hear the stories of their faithfulness to Him.

My excuses get in the way of that dream. My shortsightedness robs me and my future family of some incredible gifts. We wait for that magic moment when we feel like doing the thing we don’t want to. Or, if we’re real spiritual we wait on God. We say that, but sometimes that means we don’t want to actually put in the work. So we wait and get disillusioned and bitter. We sit at home waiting for something when we simply need to get up and move.

As people of God we should stand out in the world. I don’t mean stand out because we wear different clothes, cut our hair, don’t cut our hair, etc. I don’t mean outwardly at all. Stand out by loving better, being more honest, having a better work ethic, kindness should be our normal, that sort of thing.

As Lennox said this morning, “Discipline leads to distinction.”

Guess What Day It Is???

It’s the day we celebrate being married for 2 full months.

It’s also the day we welcome our Zurvita team to Dallas, Texas for the 2016 Zurvita National Conference!

I’m sitting at a desk in my hotel room at the Omni here in Dallas, Texas. My room is comfortably cool, yet when I walk outside it is oppressively hot. Several team members have arrived while some are waiting in airports or airplanes. Excitement is rising in the air. We’ve seen so many people from our Zurvita family so far. Lots of hugs, squeals of excitement, and hearts connecting. I’m so looking forward to what this weekend has in store for all of us.

What do we expect to get out of it? What do we expect to contribute to it? How can we add value to the people around us? Who can we build relationship with? How can I help my team become who they dream to be? I have so many thoughts and questions as I sit here.

For now, I’m going to venture out into the halls of this hotel and find more people to love on!

Challenge!

Life is FULL of challenges. If it weren’t, we’d be continually bored and boring! Well, because we don’t want to risk being a boring sort of people Lennox and I are challenging one another in a fitness challenge.

Welcome to the first installment of our very first joint 90 day challenge video series!

(pardon the freeze frame, i tried SEVERAL times to change it)

Mensiversary

That is to say, it’s the one month anniversary of my wedding. I can’t really say “anniversary” can I? After all, it hasn’t been a year. According to the website Grammarphobia, the correct word for monthly anniversary is “mensiversary”. Honestly, it sounds too much like a female bodily function for me to be comfortable in using it. So, I’ll just continue using the word “anniversary” incorrectly.

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I had to run in my heels through rough terrain from my camera to Lennox in only 10 seconds since I had set the timer on my camera to get this shot!

I cringe a little when I begin to say this has been the best month of my life. There is pain in that statement. There have been amazingly great things about it, but there have been some challenging and downright scary moments, too.

If you’ve been reading my blog or know me at all, you’ll recall that a few of my children are adopted. With that comes some emotional and mental challenges often caused by early childhood trauma. They live in a constant state of fight or flight and any sort of change can trigger it.

Marriage is a BIG change! I knew there would be rough times. The kids and I have been together for 10 years, I know their triggers. I know that having a dad in the home will be scary since they’ve never had one stick around. In their minds they wonder if they are the reason they’ve never had a dad. As adults with life experience we know that’s not true, but their little hearts don’t. There is the fear that they will, once again, be left by a man who promises them he’ll always be there. So, they yell and scream and demand my attention late into the night.

I may have been a little naive to think that this wouldn’t be such a challenging month. Police were called and DHS came for a ‘friendly’ visit. I was afraid. Other foster/adoptive parents assured me and let me know that I had a good clean 10 year run with no investigations, it was bound to happen. I’m not sure that it was put quite like that, but that’s what I heard. In this world of parenting kids from hard places this in not unheard of. Our kids are literally running scared. It can cause PTSD and secondary trauma in us parents or other siblings. I can feel tears rise to the surface and my heart clench as I wrote that last sentence.  I went over to the blog: Confessions Of An Adoptive Parent to link back to their latest post about trauma. I looked through the post only briefly as to not get distracted, but my heart was in my throat and I wanted to cry.

Why do I want to cry right now? Is it because the weight of my children’s heartache is too great for me to bear? Is it relief at knowing I’m not alone in this journey, that we’re not alone? Am I worried for my new husband? What if he starts showing signs of PTSD or secondary trauma, what then? Or is it simply the realization that this unrest and pain is real? I’m not making it up.

Maybe it’s all of the above. 

Here’s what I do know as truth.

We were all meant to be in this family together. God is in this and with us. His word says He will never leave us. This battle is spiritual. Therefore, my weapons need to be out of this world, too.

Lennox and I have a great routine of reading the Bible and praying together each morning. I’ve been writing in my gratitude journal and steeping myself in the Word. I am listening to other believing men and women who encourage and teach me. There is hope beyond hope. I think it’s in Nehemiah where I read something to the effect “we are prisoners of hope”. I read that many years ago as a young woman, it has stuck with me. We cannot escape hope. Christ is our Hope.

It is so good to have a husband. I feel stronger. I am able to face battles that I couldn’t withstand before. This marriage thing is good.

I am happy. I’ve never known what that is before.

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Whew! I made it this time! 

On the 14th of every month we will dress in our wedding attire and take some pictures. Today we went to therapy and the DMV before stopping in a field for pictures.

(Lennox isn’t wearing his wedding shirt because it’s at the cleaners. Oops.)

 

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!

family

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!

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