Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light

Freedom and Waking Up

While most are gearing up to celebrate our freedoms or perceived freedoms on the 241st birthday of the United States of America my mind drifts back to a morning 9 years ago.

My life had been turned upside down and my heart was wounded. I didn’t know how I would make it through this time in my life. I didn’t want to wake up. I dreaded mornings. On some level I knew we would make it through, but it felt like I was swimming through liquid lead. 

July 4, 2008 I walked out of my bedroom to find this on my dining room table. This gift of beauty, so thoughtful and much needed. It was like water to my parched soul. 

What do you do when you feel like you can't ever get out of bed again? Life has you beaten, or so you think.

I had kept my kids up really late the night before so they would sleep in. I was tired and wanted to sleep in and have peace in the morning. My friend, Sarah Nichols, had walked into my house that morning and left this gift on the table.

I had heard the door open, but thought that maybe it was Christopher letting the cat in or out. I didn’t think much of it at all. I didn’t know someone had walked into my house, only a few feet from my bedroom door and left a gift that changed my life.

I had previously told Sarah that I was having such a hard time getting out of bed. She wrote 30 or so reasons of why I should most definitely get out of bed. I remember calling all four kids into my room to hear these reasons. I wept as I read them:

  • Dusty
  • Sage
  • Ireland
  • Christopher
  • There’s something new to learn every day
  • His mercies are new every morning
  • “…for He Himself is the giver of life and breath and all else.” 
  • because if you do it today, you can do it tomorrow
  • You don’t want to miss out on life.
  • Sunrises!
  • All things work together for good to those who love God
  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made
  • Because fact is, Jesus loves Dar!
  • Music (esp. 80’s rock)
  • You’re beautiful
  • Because of His grace!
  • The love of Christ compels us
  • Because even dandelions and thistles are resplendent with God’s glory. 
  • Hot chocolate!
  • Facebook [it was fairly new back then]
  • Freshly picked blackberries

There are several more. 

You know what that did for me? It really did give me some reason to get out of bed even when it’s SO hard.

I am grateful for that gift. It stays in a drawer right next to my bed. I think of it when I am sad or feeling overwhelmed. That simple gift has catapulted me into the life I have now. 

Sarah has left this world to be with Jesus. Though she is so missed, it’s the perfect place for her. She has impacted hundreds of people by the way she walked in love.

I want to be like that, too.



New Starts

Today is the beginning of the first full week of no school for the kids. In my mind it marks a new start. It’s a clean slate. The summer days are calling out to be lived to the fullest. I think of planning my summer and it already feels full. I have thoughts of lots of beach time or a few lovely waterfall hikes. Maybe we’ll go back to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and explore more of Newport. There are also growing things to be watered, weeded, thinned, and planted or replanted. We have a fire pit out back that beckons me to sit around on our cool summer nights.

Today Ireland had friends over for a hot dog roast and water balloon fight. She burned her school papers and laughed a lot. I like the laughing and playing. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, chips, and salad. It felt like summer. I like being the home the kids like to hang out at. It can be tiring, but the memories are so worth it.

Close up of poppies, orange and yellow.
Beautiful sunlit poppies on my table. I love them!

This morning I walked around my house and looked at all the growing things. Later on I did a little weeding and thinning. Weeding is taking out the things I didn’t plant and don’t want there. I thinned the carrots; there were about 10 seedlings growing in a little clump. I tried choosing all the smaller ones and leave the larger one. I’m hoping I’ve thinned enough so the remaining carrots can flourish.

Gardening makes me think about my life and how the Lord works with us. I think sometimes He does the weeding and thinning, other times we do it ourselves.

Weeding: As we grow we start seeing the things in our lives that are holding us back. For me, I find that I must limit or eliminate time I spend with negative people. I simply don’t have time for it. I don’t spend much time with them and I don’t follow them on Facebook.

Also it’s time to eliminate sugar, that dreadfully addictive substance that is slowly killing us while we encourage it!

Thinning: Maybe we simply say yes to too many things. There’s a lot of great things we could be doing with our time.  Yet, I’d venture to guess that we can’t do it all.   Lysa Terkeurst wrote a book called The Best Yes.  It’s on my reading list for this year. It’s an important thing to understand.

New starts. Growing. Starting over.
A blossoming potato plant growing in my compost.

So, as I come to the end of my day and beginning of my work week I wonder how this week will be better than last.

I recently did a live video on Facebook talking about starting over. It’s humbling to put it all out there. I have all these doubts and questions go through my head. I won’t let them take up space or energy. I’ll abolish them and move on. Starting over means starting brand new, not starting up where I left off.

With that, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’ll be starting a new blog. This one has served us all well over the past 8 years.My first blog didn’t say much, but it was my hearts cry. That was a new beginning for me. A journey in finding who I am and whose I am. I didn’t know I was I loved or even worthy of it. Wow! I’m temporarily speechless…

I’m excited to start a new blog. I have much to learn about creating the new site, but it’s going to be great! I did almost cry today because I didn’t know what to do, but thank goodness for Pinterest! I’m slowly learning all about self hosting, themes, and plug ins. Also, there’s about a ZILLION fonts to choose from!

I’ll blog here until I get that one all ready.

I’m so grateful for each of you who continue to read my incredibly sporadic writings. Many of you have been faithful readers from when I started on Blogger, then Homeschool Blogger, then here at WordPress. Thank you!

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March, in which new life springs

Today I told 2 of my friends in Bible study that I was going to post a blog tonight. I’ve been feeling the urge to write for months now. I filled a page in my planner all about blog subjects. In November I wanted to blog about how much I loved Thanksgiving. Then in December I wanted to write about how good things were and how grateful I am. I had the idea of doing an overview post on the last day of the year.

In January I kept thinking of how I would start all fresh and new. But I didn’t. By February I had no such thoughts. Why bother?

The truth is that I love to write. My heart opens. I listen to piano music and the words flow. My defenses slowly fall away. Therein lies my reason for not writing. I simply didn’t want to share myself.

I’ve cried a lot in these last few months. The heartache of the miscarriage in September is sometimes too much to bear. (You can read about that here, if you’re so inclined.)

I remember one Friday in particular. I sat at table with 3 of my pregnant friends. Seemed to me that on this particular day we talked more about babies and pregnancy than any other. Two of my friends at that table were among the first to know of my miscarriage. I told them to not avoid talking about pregnancy related things. This is our life. I want to experience and take joy in all of it. This day it stung. Later in the day I cried as I prepped a chicken for baking. I texted friends and told them I hurt. They wrote that they also think of my baby. It helps me to know that.

The due date for this baby I no longer carry is drawing closer. I feel the weight of it in my heart while my friends feel the weight of their babies in their bodies. I will be at 2 births this month. I’m so honored to have that privilege. I love everything about babies and labour, but it will sting a little. Maybe a lot. In either case, I am grateful for close friends that carry this with me. We don’t even need to talk about it, but I know it’s okay if I do and it’s okay if I don’t.

I didn’t mean for this post to also be about loss and sadness. There’s SO much more that’s been happening, too.

In January I was offered a position at Lutheran Community Services in McMinnville as the assistant of the Safe Families For Children program. I’m sure I’ll write more on how that all came about at a later time. Like every God story, it’s an incredible one. I’ve been there 6 weeks now and I love it. It’s stretching me and causing me to grow in many ways. When I feel like I am not enough for this job I remember how God so clearly set this in my lap.

Ireland has become quite the athlete and that keeps us busy. She did school volleyball and basketball. Next Monday she starts track. All this while doing club volleyball, as well. She’s played 2 tournaments in Vancouver and have a couple more to go before club volleyball is over. I can’t tell you how much fun it has been! I told some of her friends today that I had no idea that I’d be “that” mom. You know the one, right? The one that yells from the sidelines. Yep, that’s me. One of her friends came into my office, hugged me, and turned to the other girls saying, “She’s my biggest fan.” Yep, she’s right. I yell all kinds of encouragement to them. They tease me, but I can see that they love it.

Ireland is so focused on the court. I had a couple of videos from her last game for Lennox to see since he was out of town last week. It was so fun to watch her zipping around the basketball court. She’s so fast. I had no idea she was so fast. Now, let’s see what she can do in track.

It’s late now. Time for me to wind down and go to bed.



Thank you for coming back here to spend a few minutes with me. I appreciate it.

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Remembering My Dad

I woke early this morning feeling bright and hopeful. It’s a new month, it’s a new day, and I get to spend some of this day with my good friend, Debi.

Then I remembered that 16 years ago today my dad quietly passed away in his bedroom as I sat on the couch reading my Bible and journaling.

I count it a joy that he spent his last year and a half in our home with us. He felt like he was a burden to me, but I never felt burdened. This is what we do for those we love when they have poured out their lives for us. He and I were related only by adoption. He married the woman whose daughter would birth me and not be able to care for me.

He taught me so much.

He taught me to not borrow money. He also taught me that when I lend money to do so without expecting it back. The only time I borrowed money was to pay our phone bill that was roughly $35. We paid him back less than a week later. I couldn’t go without  a phone since my dad I talked on it daily.

Notice a couple of things here. Look at how stiff my dad is holding me. He held all babies like that. He was afraid to break a baby. I always laughed. Also, see how I’m looking at him.  I love that man.

He was a giver. He was also a forgiver.

I once asked him about how he could take how my mom used to talk to him. She died when I was 9 so I don’t have many memories of her, but I do remember her calling my dad names. His reply was, “Oh honey, she had never been loved by a man before. I don’t think she knew what to do with it.”

As a teen I remember being so full of self hatred and shame. I was awful to him, too. He never held it against me. He never withheld affection or his presence from me.

I’m not like him. At all. I think of how ungrateful and hateful my children can be. I think of how I react to that. It’s not at all like my dad.

I am so incredibly grateful that I was gifted with such a man for my father. Not everyone gets one.

For a little more awesomeness about my dad be sure to check out my Father’s Day 2012 post. It made me laugh.



Time passes.

The stabbing pain of grief lessens.

Through it all, I am whole. Broken, yet still whole.

Awe and Joy overwhelm me as I see the two pink lines on the pregnancy test. I quietly slip back into bed, holding on to my secret for a few more hours before Lennox wakes. I can’t think of how to tell him without blurting it out. We’re awake for 2 hours when I put a lentil in his hand as he’s getting ready to head out the door. He’s confused. I start laughing. I tell him it’s the size of our baby. Baby Lentil. Due mid-April.

I tell my closest friends first. Chani sends me the cutest pictures of baby pandas. She and I lovingly refer to this baby as “Baby Panda” because it’s black, white, and Asian.

Baby Lentil grows to be the size of a raspberry.

I notice spotting, then bleeding. I text friends about my concerns. I’m not cramping so I should be okay. Right?

Ireland and I travel to Texas with Winter and baby Christopher. We leave on a Friday. That night as I lie down I turn to Ireland and tell her, “I’m going to cry. Please don’t be alarmed. I’m concerned about the life of this baby.”

I cry. I sleep. I wake in the morning knowing he was gone, but wondering if I was just giving into fear. I call Lennox. I tell him, “The baby isn’t alive anymore. I can feel it.” He says that until we know for sure we’ll pray as if he’s still alive. So I do, but I know.

We make it to Texas. It’s so hot, but the house is air conditioned. My Christopher has the air conditioner turned so low that I tell him I’m freezing at night. I use his army sleeping bags, but I shouldn’t need to. He laughs. I laugh. I love this grown man boy of mine.

Tuesday, September 20 I write:

My bleeding has gotten progressively heavier and the blood changed from pink to a deep red. I’m downstairs and I tell Winter that I’m going to stay home when she goes to get Chris for lunch. I could feel myself bleeding. I go to the bathroom and there’s a large red clump in the bottom of the toilet. I start saying, “oh my gosh, oh my gosh” repeatedly. Winter knocks on the door. I can’t remember what I said. I then reached in the toilet to see if it is merely a clot. It wasn’t. It felt, well, a placenta. I snapped a picture of it in my hand and started weeping. I get cleaned up as Winter knocks again. I tell her I miscarried. She hugs me and strokes my head as I cry.

I knew Lennox was with someone. I called twice and texted. He called back. I told him our baby died. I can’t remember what he said. Then I hear Christopher come home. I get off the phone as he comes into my room. He rushes to my bed and holds me as I sob. Deep, heart wrenching, loud sobbing. My firstborn comforts me.

I begin to tell friends. Lennox had begun telling people. Texts, messages, and phone calls pour in. I speak only to Lennox.

Still, I get up to eat quesadillas for lunch. Then I sleep before we go to Popeye’s and the park. Then I sleep more.

I cry. A lot.

I sleep. I cry. I get up. I’m in Texas with my first born, his family, and my youngest child. I’m aware that I can’t lie in bed all day. I’m here to experience life and make memories with the living.

Lennox asked me if I felt the arms of God holding me? Did I feel Him with me in this? I didn’t, but I knew. Knowing is different. It’s more permanent. It’s real. I never felt alone or abandoned. I knew He was with me in all the love being poured out on me through text messages, facebook, and phone calls. It was no coincidence that I was in Texas and Lennox back home in Oregon. It was God’s grace and care for us.

The next day I write:

Today is harder. I announced it on fb. “It”. The thing I can’t say aloud. It hurts too much. I’m crying more. I’m thinking about going home. It feels so safe here where nobody knows me. My people here love me, know me, and grieve with me.

I was safe. Neither Ireland or Sage are very good at handling sadness and grief. It scares them. They, in turn, antagonize one another. Here we are thousands of miles away. Each of us can grieve in our way. Ireland could be sad then go play with the baby or hang out with Winter and Christopher. Sage could be home in his normal routine and quietly deal with it at home. We are grateful for all of this.

We get back to Oregon late Friday night.

Saturday I write:

We got home late last night.

It was a relief to see the faces of Sage and Lennox. Ireland spied them first. She, too, was looking for our men to take care of us.

We went to Salt & Straw for ice cream on the way home. It’s all about making memories. I don’t want our loss and my sadness to color everything. Yet, I think it does. I’m trying to engage while also giving me room to heal.

I stayed home all day today. It was good. Lennox protected me from even the kids. This morning we prayed together and he read my words of affirmations reminding me who I am.

Krystal brought me ice cream.

We ended the day with chicken & rice, cheetos, and ice cream while watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I feel like our family has bonded. It’s strange that we were apart, yet now are so much closer. I think we care more.

There still has been a level of tenderness and care that wasn’t there before. Kids still shirk on doing jobs and rages break out. Yet, I still feel something different in the atmosphere.

For me, I love more deeply. I’m more focused. I’m also more introverted and being in social situations drain me in ways I couldn’t even imagine before.

Something beautiful has happened in all this. I found myself letting Lennox care for me. I entrusted myself to him in a deeper way. Not just him, but also to God. It was this deep knowing of their love for me. Nothing can harm me. I may hurt, but I am not destroyed.

I look at my husband and see my champion. I look into his eyes and see his incredible love for me. A lump forms in my throat. I am grateful.

Lennox and I are closer than we were before. I thought we were close then, but it has grown. He is tender and strong. He knows when to let me cry and when to make me get out of bed. We are unstoppable together. He is so good to me.

Monday morning we began our daily walks together. It was slow going at first, but then faster as my body healed. We talked about this loss and our hope. Our joy over that fact that I could get pregnant in the first place. I was pretty sure it couldn’t happen. Joy over the fact that we are now stronger.

We both felt that our baby was a boy. Lennox said, “Let’s name him John. He’s not the last baby. He prepared the way.” Yes, yes he did. There will be more.

At church today we read from the book of John. It’s my favorite of the 4 gospels. I think of how this John is so loved. He calls himself, “The one Jesus loved”. I love that so much. Was he loved more than the other disciples or was he simply more sure of that love?


We didn’t get to know our own John, but he too is so loved.

As I’m ending this post my heart aches with pain, but also throbs with joy. This is a good life. God is a good God. Always.


I needed to get away. I long for a place where water, sun, and nature live in harmony. I’ve been feeling boxed in by my house, car, buildings, and pavement. I needed to go to a place where I could listen to worship music and sing loud if I felt so inclined. I needed to sing my little heart out in a place where it didn’t matter that I can’t sing on pitch. Ginger, my dog, was with me, but she doesn’t mind my singing.

We get out of the car and immediately I feel a calm come over me. Ginger was excited by all the new smells. I was excited about the way the sun lit up the blades of grass and the trees reflected on the water.


We walked. She sniffed. I sang, “I Exalt You” while the sun was rising higher in the morning sky. Everything was so perfect.

Then I saw a couple of birds. My heart leapt. I love birds. These 2 looked like some sort of crane. I’ll go out with my camera and telephoto lens next time so I can get closer to them. They were sure to keep their distance. I saw them do a little dance together. It was so simply beautiful to me.


At one point Ginger was pulling so hard on the leash that I let go. She ran into the pond, swam about 20 feet out, then circled back toward me. I laughed. I’ve never seen her go swim into the water on her own. I’ve walked in rivers and taken her with me, but she wasn’t a willing participant at all.

When it was time to leave neither one of us was ready. It was time to move on to the rest of the day. I’m thinking that next time I’ll get there earlier and bring my camera and journal. Maybe I’ll even do my Bible reading out there.

These warm summer days will quickly fade into Autumn. I want to soak up every piece of goodness that I can.

What brings you peace? When you’re feeling wonky and way off center, what do you do to get right again?


Three Months

Well, we’ve made it to the 3 month mark, people! You know what that means, right? On the 14th of each month we dress up in our wedding clothes.

So, here we are after church with a small group of people that we had lunch with afterwards.

Church was special yesterday. It was an all worship day. The musicians are skilled with hearts for worship. Lennox does a brilliant job of bringing people from different backgrounds to mesh beautifully into one amazing worship band. We had visitors from several churches blessing us with their voice or instrument.

Afterward, we threw together a potluck with several of the visiting musicians and some new friends that came down from Portland. If you ever have the chance to meet Edwin and Lisa, do NOT pass by that opportunity! Their story of how the met one another and how they met Jesus is nothing short of amazing.

I left with my heart full. I love how sitting around a few tables sharing food can bring all our hearts together. There is purpose in eating together.

Our hearts bond. Our tummies get filled. We get to know people outside of rushed conversations after church. We begin to dwell together.


Summer Pears at 90 Days

Many, many years ago I learned to can pears. My Christopher was only about 2 years old at that time. I remember thinking how magical this whole food preserving thing is. For a little hard work you can feed your family yummy summer goodness in the dead of winter. Of course, we now live in the year 2016 where you can pretty much buy any kind of fruit all year around. We ship it in from all kinds of exotic places. I am grateful for that. After all, I’d never know the taste of a pineapple or avocado since they don’t grow here in Oregon.

I feel such pride and joy when I put up food. I’m not even particularly a huge fan of pears, but I certainly won’t pass them by. We have a tree in our backyard where hundreds of pears have already fallen. My husband, a man who grew up in a family not given to waste, took it upon himself to get into that pear tree and start picking. We don’t have a ladder, but he came up with the idea of driving my Yukon under the tree then putting a plank of plywood across roof rack. When he had picked all he could from that spot, he climbed into the tree.

I laughed.

I laughed because I never thought I’d see him up in a tree.

I laughed because seeing him up there made me so happy. It’s another way of him loving me and providing for our family. We’ve picked strawberries and cherries together. Now he’s up there picking pears. (I”m really hoping we get to pick peaches soon. We missed the blueberry picking time.) He later asked me what he could do to help get them ready to can. Right now they have a little more ripening up to do, but then we’ll get to work on it.

Even now I laugh out of sheer happiness because he’s so willing to do these sort of things with me. This life with him is good.

That, my friends, is how day 90 of this amazing marriage started out.


Today’s the Day

The alarm sounds off early today. Today is the day I get up earlier for some alone time. I will pray and exercise before sitting down at my computer or doing dishes.

I have a lot of those “today is the day” moments. Yet, days often fade into obscurity. At the day’s end I lie in bed wondering where I brought value to anyone and how can I do better in the morning.

Really, though, it’s those old lies that whisper to me as I lay my head on my pillow, “You’re not good enough. Look at you. Your desk is a mess, your house is a mess, your kids are out of control. You can’t write well (nobody looks at your blog), you’re a terrible photographer (remember that one time you royally messed up), and you can’t at all sing (off pitch and a nuisance to the people in your life who really can sing. Oh, and you’re STILL fat.” And so, I drift off to sleep with a weak reply of, “That’s not true. I mean, all those things are true, but I am more than that….right, Lord?

Do you have those moments where you forget which way is up and where to go next? In those moments I remember a poem I heard of many years ago. I would spend my days listening to Elisabeth Elliot on the radio and on tapes at home. She would say, “When you don’t know what else to do, do the next thing.” For 20 years I’ve had a little poem from an unknown author up on my fridge. Part of it says:

Do it immediately;
do it with prayer;

Do it reliantly, casting all care;j

Do it with reverence,
tracing His Hand

Who placed it before thee with earnest command.

Stayed on Omnipotence,
safe ‘neath His wing,

Leave all resultings,

I laughed as I wrote that last line. I can still, after all these years, hear the voice of Elisabeth reading that poem and telling us all, “You are loved with an everlasting love, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

I pull out my Bible turning to 1 John to read all about the great love that God has for us.

JWrigley - 01 (10)

I light candles, pet my dog, and look at pretty pictures I’ve taken. Then I remember the beauty of all that is around me and I suddenly feel lighter.

Today I’m grateful for:
* my dog
* friends coming to visit today
* the rain
* the sun
* my Christopher


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