Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light




Many of us despise it or at least don’t like it very much. I’m totally fine with Mondays, usually. Today it’s been more of a challenge to be productive. I texted a friend to say that every day I have mini-depressions that I have to pull myself out of. I think perhaps I was melodramatic in saying that. Maybe.

I have moments of  catastrophizing things. I’m getting better at not doing that. I recently had a few moments of doing so and asked my friend, “I’m being slightly unreasonable, aren’t I?” The answer was a simple, “yes”. Honest friends are a treasure. I mean that.

hairSunday started off wonderfully. I prepared breakfast the night before so that our morning would run more smoothly. (Stellar mom/home maker move right there.)

We head out to church, still a few minutes late because I tried to blow dry my hair! It didn’t look nearly as nice as when the hair dresser did it on Friday! I’m pretty sure I need to hire a professional to do my hair every single day.

I love walking into my church. There’s just something about it, I’m not even sure I can explain it. I’m beginning to feel connected to people there and am wanting to build relationship with them. I don’t want to just go to church each week and not know who the people are. I know I can’t have deep relationship with everyone there, but I want there to be some level of friendship. I’m finally learning that I need a tribe. I’ve always had a tribe, but I haven’t always reached out for help. I now have the desire to lock arms and walk this life with others. I don’t want to stand alone and look like I’m strong when really things are falling apart for me. I’ve walked that road, it’s not pretty.

I was looking forward to a relaxing Sunday afternoon. I was disappointed in hearing my children bickering in that way where you know that they’re not going to stop. I was sitting at my table eating lunch and taking deep breaths, trying to figure out how to carry on the day peacefully. About that time I received a call and invitation to a friend’s house. Awesome! Chaos averted….or so I thought.

I will say that I am so sure I turned the stove top down. I had a chicken cooking in some broth. Only problem is that I came home a few hours and that was not the case. When I got out of my car I heard the smoke detectors so I ran to the door and clumsily unlocked it while calling for my dog, Ginger. She ran out as I ran into the house. The smoke was so thick and I’ll admit right now that maybe I 07should have waited. My only thought was to get that pot out of the house. We opened all the windows and got the fans going. I didn’t panic, but I wasn’t thinking clearly. I called a friend to come get the kids then I sat on the porch with Ginger. When asked if I had a plan for the night, I just shook my head. The kids and I spent the night at a friend’s house while my house aired out. We’re back home now and using diffusers with essential oil to clear the air. I’ll have some other cleaning to do to get our house smelling better, I’m sure.

I am so grateful that my house didn’t burn to the ground and that my animals are alive! 

I kept asking Ginger, “Are you ok? Can I do anything for you? Wanna snuggle?”  She said, “No, but don’t ever do that again and please don’t give me a bath.” I’ve gladly agreed to her demands.
burnt chicken

Here is what was supposed to be our chicken basil soup. I even bought fresh basil for it. I haven’t tried cleaning my pot, but I’m really hoping that it isn’t ruined. It’s one of those really nice enameled cast iron ones that are quite spendy. If the only thing I lost in that preventable mistake is my nice pot, then I’ve come out ahead.

In other news, I’m releasing a new video tomorrow! It’s the first one of 2015! Last year I did a 90 day challenge with weekly videos.

Here are links to a few of the most popular:
Week 1- The Journey Begins
Week 10- The Heart of the Matter
Week 13- The Finale! 


…and the days are blessed

in the meadow


It’s nearly 10:30 p.m. at the end of a Sunday filled with so much love I can hardly stand it.

Randomeness follows:

My good friend’s birthday is today and I witnessed him be blessed by a large group of people who love and honor him. Then another good friend shared her testimony and the vision God has given her for building His Kingdom and making disciples.

I feel like I have so much to say, but I don’t think words can encompass what I’m feeling inside. I feel tender and mighty strong at the same time. I remember when God called me out of hiding and told me I was a woman of valor. I didn’t believe him, but I wanted to. I wonder if that’s how Gideon felt when God called to him, too. Worship is doing something different in me that it used to. It calls to something deeper than I can express. I feel emotional, but not in that crazy bad way.

It only now occurs to me that losing this weight is uncovering something. It’s been a battle, I won’t lie about that. Some of my weekly update videos have shown my disappointments. Yet, I feel so strong.

Friends, you are such treasures to me.

New Beginnings!

 “Here we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush. Here we go round the mulberry bush early in the morning.”

That’s what it’s been like for me. I’ve been circling that same damn thing over and over again. (Pardon the language, please.) My song would say, “Here we go round the weight loss bush, the weight loss bush, the weight loss bush. Here we go round failing again, just like every time.”

I’ve written countless posts about weight loss, fitness, working out, and the spiritual aspect of it, too. I’ve embarked on this journey so many times, I can’t even count them. Some of the times I’ve been public about it, other times I’ve been secretive because I was afraid of failing in front of the entire universe. Years ago I lost 47 lbs in a biggest loser contest, but gained 35 of those back over the following years. Talk about embarrassing. Each time that happened a great big heap of shame was added to that.

I’m done with that cycle. I’m 80 days from turning 40. I absolutely do not want the second half of my life to be spent the same way as the first half. How boring! Moreover, I want my kids to stop going around in the same cycle with me. Gorgeous landscapes are being created especially for their eyes. I’m gonna do everything in my power to put them on the path to those!

On July 14, 2014 I began a new journey. Again. Oh wait, I guess you can’t start a new thing again…it can’t be new if you’ve been there before. Let me rephrase that.

I’ve embarked on a brand new journey.

One that I’ve never been on. It’s uncharted territory. I’m already seeing new landscapes here. I can feel that this is different. The temptations that plagued me in the past are no longer temptations. In fact, everything about this feels so much easier than ever.

Why is it different this time around? 

Well, I don’t rightly know. I reckon it’s because I’m different. My friend says it’s because I’m finally on my side. I was divided before so I couldn’t go anywhere. There is a shift in my thinking. I’m not sure I can even explain it. It’s not like I have this gritty determination. It’s more like a calm confidence.

Would you join me on my journey? Would you like to support and watch me or would you like to begin your own journey? We can travel together. I would very much like that. I’m passionate about life now. We are not meant to travel alone in this world. We did not come here to just survive! Let’s really LIVE together. Call, text, email, comment, message me!

There are several ways you can join me.

  1. Subscribe to this blog. I’ll be posting updates throughout the week.
  2. Facebook 
  3. Twitter 
  4. Instagram 
  5. Pinterest – Though I haven’t integrated that into my journey yet.
  6. YouTube 

I posted a video a couple of days ago as an introduction to the challenge and to give my one week update. If you haven’t already, please take a couple of minutes to see that first video. Video updates will be posted weekly. Don’t miss out.

Darlene’s Intro Video to the 90 Challenge!

Go out there and be awesome. Be clothed in Strength & Grace

Duck Faced Pub Mamas

Close friendships with women have eluded me for many years.  According to some other blogs I’ve been reading over the years, I’m not alone. I saw this amazing thing happening in the blog world of women. I saw real friendships growing over the internet and spilling into every day lives. I learned about suffering and joy. I began to learn how to really give more of me in my friendships by watching women I had never met.

Then one day I was invited by a friend to join a group on Facebook that was just a place to ask for prayer. I stayed in it because I liked hearing about what was really going on in the lives of my friends. I knew most of the women, but there were several I didn’t know on there, too. I was going through some rougher times a couple years back. I was scared and desperate. I began to share my story and ask for prayer from women I didn’t know well or had never met.

Something amazing was happening when I began to pray for these women I didn’t know well or at all. I felt a love for them. I actually cared about what was going on in their lives. They began to care about me, too.

I keep wanting to use the word amazing, then I refrain because I don’t want to over use it.

However, my God is AMAZING!

I decided that Chani and I would go on a retreat in Canada with other mamas of adopted kids. I didn’t have the money so I did something so out of my character. I asked friends for $10 to go. I needed over $500.

Guess what happened? 23 people joined forces and gave me a total of $576. 12 of them were part of that group, too. I don’t think they even realize how much that still blesses me. Going to that retreat made me feel normal.

It planted a seed of hope.

The facebook group isn’t still around, but there are a few of us that message one another and do silly things. One day we freaked out the teens by posting pictures of us posing with duck faces. Christopher kept asking, “Is this a thing??? It IS a thing!!!! Someone else just posted a duck face.” It was pretty awesome.

This group makes me laugh. The day we thought of that was a day I needed a good laugh. It had been a hard day for me and I was sad. Laughter healed my heart. We get some good laughs, but we also get in plenty of prayer and support. We speak the truth and encourage one another to look to Jesus.

One day we decided to get together. Actually, one day we decided to get together about a month after we decided it. A few of us were able to make it and it was great. Love you gals!

the group


I am focused. Multi-tasking is overrated. Yes, I just said that. I used to think I did that very well and in some areas I do. I also know I’m great at procrastination and will often use another task to put off something I should be doing. I am not giving up multi-tasking, of course. What I have been becoming is more focused.

I have finally come to the to realize that I can’t do everything. No, not just realize, I actually believe it and don’t bother to strive for it. For years there was something in me that would say, “A good mom does (fill in the blank)”  or “Maybe I am not good enough at (fill in the blank)”. Perhaps both of those statements are even true, but just because I don’t do something doesn’t mean I’m not a good mom and I don’t have to be good enough at everything.

There are a few things I am focusing on (or trying to focus on), these are not in any particular order:

  • building my business
  • becoming financially fit – budgeting (and sticking to it), saving, tithing, paying down debt, building my business
  • becoming physically fit – exercising, Isagenix shakes, really difficult weekend hikes with friends where I want to cry and throw a fit, eating well.
  • Managing my family and household. Even in doing that I have to choose what things to let go of and which ones to press through.
  • Maintaining relationships around me. Not all of them, but the ones that are important to me.
  • Finishing up a photography project and not taking on any new ones.
  • Relationship with God. Trusting. Praying. Hearing. Reading.

Boy, that’s a lot to focus on, isn’t it? It’s also my life. In all of those areas I have or am in the process of streamlining or cutting out some things and adding in the things that will propel me toward my goals. I like this feeling of being focused. Monday I was not. I was blessed, but certainly not focused. Yesterday I was more focused, but feeling anxious about the upcoming hike and I let that steal some joy from me. Fortunately, I caught it quickly before much damage was done.

So, here’s to a day of being focused on whatever it is I am doing at that moment and not trying to solve everything at once.

Where is your focus today?




That’s my spare tire. My flat tire is in the back of my car. Lovely, eh?

I. AM. SO. BLESSED. Blessed beyond measure. I feel two things. One, I feel like I am so undeserving. Two, I feel like “of course, this is the way it should be”. It is true, I am undeserving, but you know what? My Father has finds me worthy and that means that I am deserve everything He gives me. Not because of anything I do or what I am in myself but because I am valued by Him. 

My last post talked about the day I got this flat tire and what transpired in the couple of days following. This story is longer than just a few days, it covers the span of years. I’ll try to be brief.

My journey of walking with Jesus began in December of 1989, but trusting Him for all my needs didn’t actually begin until about January of 1998. I remember telling God that I knew He provided for missionaries and pastors, but would he miraculously provide for a normal family like mine. My husband was going to a Bible School and working full time while I stayed home with our baby son. Guess what happened? Amazingness, that’s what! I’d pray something in the morning and God would provide that. We’d wake up with food on our table or envelopes of cash. I didn’t tell a single human soul of our need. I wanted it to be just between me and God.

I’ve spent years watching God do amazing miraculous things in my life and the lives around me. At this time last year, things got shook up a little. My car was broken down. [Sidenote: my car breaks down EVERY summer!!!] I got pneumonia and incurred a medical bill that caused my account to be overdrawn by a bunch of dollars. I cried. I was miserable. I couldn’t understand why it was happening. Guess what? Friends stepped in, got me the meds I needed and another friend sent me the money of what my appointment cost and the amount I was overdrawn.

So, I have flat tires and am pretty much house bound. So what? I wasn’t even worried. I figured that it would work out. I didn’t know how, but I just knew it would. While at church today someone came up to me and gave me an amazing hug and asked about my week. I told her about the tires and how God made a way for my kids to see fireworks anyway and how I thought that was pretty cool. Later that day she and I play some phone tag and when I finally get in touch with her she tells me that she and her husband are going to buy me new tires.

What??? Uh…oh…wow….thank you!

Thank you doesn’t seem like enough. I know I’ve prayed and asked for a way to get the van going again. I wasn’t in a hurry. I wasn’t sad. In fact, I hardly thought about it. I just kept thinking how good God is.

This past week I’ve been talking to Him more. Well, not just talking, I do that a lot, but I’ve been asking Him questions. I’ve asked God things I’ve never dared to ask before. I’ve been brave and taken risks. I want a hope that doesn’t waver. Why should it? He is faithful and unchanging.

I don’t know much, but I do know this:

I am loved with an everlasting love and underneath are His everlasting arms.

What Can I Say?

It is difficult to know where to begin. I haven’t written a single word  here in over 4 months. Do I give you a quick overview of each month with an accompanying photo? Or do I just start talking now and pretend that everyone who reads this post has also been keeping up with me in real life via phone, text, or facebook?

Well, I can tell you this. I am not the same woman I was in October.

My emotions were all over the place. I had found out, after my return from my b-day get away, that my bio dad from Philippines had died. Something in me kind of shut down. I shared that fact with only a few people. It’s not really something I actually want to talk about with..well, pretty  much anyone. [Don’t worry, I have a therapist. I have to share her with 3 of my kids, though.]

November brought 2 birthdays and Thanksgiving. I loved Thanksgiving this year. There have been some rough ones for me, but I stuck it out. This year, even in October, I was wondering if my family would have to begin a new tradition. That was heartbreaking since it’s the last “normal” thing left from since Kelly, my ex, and I separated. However, this Thanksgiving was sweet, tender, something to be cherished. It felt like a treasure.

Still, my heart was in a downward spiral. My heart was tender. I felt like I was being pulled in and pushed away at the same time.

I don’t think anyone knew. At least, I’m pretty sure my closest girlfriends didn’t know. I remember saying something stupid and realizing that part of me was asking for help, but couldn’t just say it. The comment was awkward and ill-placed. It was met with shifty eyes, awkward silence, and comment that hurt. I knew I was in the wrong and been put in my place. I also realized in that moment that I needed I needed to not be quite so open.

December was upon me. Christmas. Overdue bills. Winter break. Visions of a meager Christmas, disappointed kids, and a break full of behavioral challenges. You know, the normal run-of-the-mill life when you have kids with attachment issues. {They’re now going to term it: developmental trauma syndrome or something like that.} I didn’t even decorate for Christmas. I knew it was my own issues with the holiday(s). Turns out that by me not changing a lot of things in our home for the holidays was actually the best thing for my kids. My friend had been told by our brain therapist that often Christmas brings on too much stimulation, and thus, a bunch of acting out.

I was reaching the bottom, quickly. Little did I know that I was about to turn a corner. 

Christmas was good. Very good. Our dear friend, Levi Finley, spent December 24-26 with us. We cooked and cooked and baked and watched movies and went to see the Hobbit and laughed. We laughed. My heart was made merry by such a visit. We don’t get many visitors these days nor do we get invited places so having a good comfort friend was refreshing.

Then something happened.

I was remembering how in years past I had blogged a year end summary. I wondered if I would do that this year. So, I thought very cynically about our  year. I didn’t have to think very long when things began looking up. I began comparing life from a year ago.

December 2011

  • living in someone else’s home
  • days away from a huge…um, trauma trigger for my eldest daughter
  • days of continual arguing ALL of the time
  • mourning the loss of the home I built with my husband and all the ideal that held
  • the beginning of me feeling cut off from friends…ok,  maybe not the beginning, but sharing a home with someone else sure deepened that

December 2012

  • a rented home with inexpensive rent and an incredible landlord
  • heat
  • a girl who isn’t arguing all of the time
  • a young boy who rarely rages, it used to be daily
  • we were half way through our winter break and NO BIG BAD behaviors had occurred
  • Christopher had played chess with all his younger siblings

So then I began to think of even more things concerning my kids and realized that in the months since we had started doing neurotherapy last summer, our home lives had drastically improved. More good progress had happened in those months than in the previous 6 1/2 years.

This IS huge! HUGE! Do you hear me??? HUGE!

{Bear with me, I was intending for this to be a short update!}

Suddenly I realized that things are changing and the changes are good.

I had spent a several weeks wondering what I had done that was so wrong that God wasn’t providing for me the same as He had before. Now I realize that things were just changing. I was being equipped differently than I had before.

While I’m not one to do New Year’s resolutions, I knew that something new was coming. So I made the declaration that 2013 would be a year like none other.

And so far, it has, but you’ll have to wait to hear more about that.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a photo of my beautiful dog, Ginger.


some days

Some days are so hard. I can’t breathe and I scream at my children. I remind my oldest he is not the dad and that makes him cry. He says, “We have no dad. We don’t even have one. Who else are they to look up to? I am the only thing they have.” We sit silently at the table. Tears silently fall. I can’t look into my kids’ eyes for two days. I tell my Mac therapist that I hate all forms of therapy. I want to call her and tell her that I hate therapy, but I love her. Then I wonder if that is too crazy.

I’d like to blame it on too much neurofeedback, but the truth is that I’ve done this before.

I know the culprit.

Fear. The Bible says that perfect love casts out all fear. I would venture to say that fear snuffs out love if we let it.

Tuesday was therapy in Salem. RAD therapy. Chani and I get to talk alone (together) with our therapist, Chris. The more we talk, the more I want to stop talking. At one point I just want to cry. I hear us moms talking and I hear the therapist’s questions. At some point we talk about my Ireland and her attachment. My heart breaks. I can’t decide if Chris is right. I want her to be wrong. Totally wrong, but I don’t think she is. I’m not convinced that she’s all the way right, either. I am being more vigilant.

But I am scared.

Scared that I’m not enough. Scared that my kids are so damaged that they can’t find healing. Scared that I can’t see the needs of my children. My big boy growing up into a man. What am I to do with that? I pull away when I’m scared.

Dusty hugged me 3 times this week. Truly and for real. She let me bless her and pray for her. That is a gift. I know it’ll get worse before it gets better. It’s like that with healing.

Tuesdays are hard. Brain work and heart work. My kids do art and I look at it and feel sadness. We made masks a couple sessions back. I did one child at a time. They laid down on the couch while I laid strip after strip of plaster onto their face. I spoke loving words to them. I told them of what I hoped for them, what I saw in them, and how I love them. They had the option of having their eyes covered. Dusty was the only one who chose that. I did her eyes last. I had to keep telling her to open her eyes so we could have eye contact while I spoke truth over her. It hurt. I hurt for her. Last session the kids painted them. Looking at Sage’s and Dusty’s made me sad. I didn’t know what to think when I saw Ireland’s. I wonder if I know anything when it comes to her now.

My brain map shows that my fight or flight part of my brain is as active as can be. Not surprising. This brain mapping is so interesting.

Over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday my friend spends countless hours on the phone talking with me or texting me. I laugh. I cry. I wonder aloud. As Wednesday comes to an end he lowers his voice and says, “It’s time.” Time? I hear it. I know what he means. It’s time to stop wallowing in the muck and stand up.

I am worth so much more. My kids are worth so much more. 

I have so much to say, but I am weary.

Little People

“Mommy, will you please play Little People with me?” Her sweet little voice asks me as I’m trying to put our home back together after my weeks of being sick.

I want to say no. I’m not good at playing. I’m really good at games and reading and snuggling. Yet, I remember how my fondest memories are when my dad played with me. He didn’t do that often, but I treasure the times he did it. I remember playing Monopoly with him. I probably cheated. I also remember him playing remote control cars with me. That was my favorite. I don’t remember any other adult playing with me. Oh wait, my dad’s best friend’s wife taught me how to play solitaire and a couple of other card games. The men would talk while the old woman and the little girl played card games. 

I play, of course, because I love her and I know these days are fleeting. She is my youngest. Soon she will be 16 like my big boy and I will wonder where the years have gone. She will come in after a rough week and I may not know what to say to her. I hope that by the time she is that age I will know what to do. Christopher gets a lot of blank scares because all I can think it, “Do I say something? Do I not? What do I say? Does he just need to talk? Does he need me to talk?” 

So anyway, we play and Sage joins us. We’re playing with toddler toys. Does my 11 year old son realize that? But then I remember that in so many ways he is a young toddler. He was 4 when he came to me. He didn’t come with his own toys, he entered a world where cool boy toys already lived. I didn’t realize early on how important it was for him to have his very own legos or whatnot. I just thought, “Ok. We’re family and we share.” Ah, I’ve learned so much in these years, but yet still not enough I’m sure. 

We are going to OMSI tomorrow. Our membership runs out this month and we have 10 Omnimax tickets to use. I told them we might have to watch 2 movies tomorrow since we won’t be able to go up again before the membership expires. Someone asked, “Can we go play and do the fun stuff all over? Can we see the submarine?” We may tour the submarine and only do one movie. I’m just not sure I want to be on a submarine. It’s so…well, closed in.

We may walk through Saturday market, too. They’d love that. I plan on making our lunches and having a picnic somewhere. 

Anyway, I’m up late cooking my sprouted garbanzo beans so I can make hummus. I made refried beans and have started my kombucha. This day has been long, but quite productive. I am starting to feel like a real person again. 

I am also feeling tired. I hope I sleep in! 

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: