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



Dear Winter – Happy Mother’s Day


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.



The Arrival


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.


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.


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!


All Things New

A couple of days ago I sat down with my new wall calendar, planner, computer, and a variety of pens to begin sketching out the new year. Armed with the kids’ school and scouts calendars I began filling in the blank spaces of our lives. Time passes quickly. Before I knew it I had scheduled a couple of out of state trips for me, camp for kids, and summer vacation has arrived. My children will turn 12, 15, 16, and 19. Wow. WOW! That just happened. My kids are already grown and yet those days of toddlerhood and of hard things seem to last so long.

The days are long, but the years are short.

I have spent much of my life trying to control and predict the outcome of nearly every situation. Even as I attempted it I knew it wasn’t possible. Yet, I would remain paralyzed by fear of the unknown while life just kept on going without my consent. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

That changed for me in 2014. Somewhere along the way I began to learn to embrace the unknown and plow ahead. Lots of change happened. I completed a 90 day challenge and made weekly videos of the journey. That was a huge thing! Then November hit and I opened the door to fear. I stopped making videos, I stopped losing weight, I was waiting for the holiday storm to hit my home. You see, in the past I have had a really hard time when the holidays approach. I kept saying that this year would be different, but I felt powerless when the old feelings came. While I was beginning to go down the old path, I was also wanting something different.

Then something amazing happened on Thanksgiving. I woke up that morning, remembered that it would have been my 20 year anniversary, and I felt nothing negative. I thought I’d feel sad at least for the fact that I had lost my ideal life. I didn’t feel sad, angry, or regretful in any way. I felt joy and freedom for the first time since my husband and I separated. I am healed and that is beautiful.

Later that day I sat at the table of my good friends as we celebrated our traditional Thanksgiving meal. I couldn’t even tell you how many years we’ve been doing that, but I think it’s over 10 years now. We all sat there with our growing children and 3 new guests talking and laughing. I sat there watching all these people I love so much. Some have walked with me through my darkest moments. These are my people, my tribe representing dozens more that I’d love to share a meal with.

Thanksgiving 2014

How did I get to be the luckiest girl in the world to have such friends? 

That day I knew that the rest of our year was going to be stellar. Guess what? I was right. I believed it and so it was. Were things perfect? No, not at all. I felt some stress due to finances and other family issues. I often went back to read my gratitude journal to see how God had provided for me in the past. I saw again the evidence of the amazing friends I’m surrounded by. I began to text several of them to let them know how grateful I am for them in my life. Financially things worked out over and above my expectations. Then I came down with the flu only a few days before Christmas. I wasn’t able to do everything I had dreamed up to do, but again, it all worked out splendidly. It was our best Christmas ever!

Tree Decorating

Now here we are in 2015!

I am hopeful, but better than that I am excited. There are so many things I am looking forward to! First of all, I’m shooting the wedding of a good friend of mine today. In the beginning of February I’ll be heading to Tennessee for the Zurvita national conference then later that month I’ll be heading up to Washington to the Refresh Conference for foster and adoptive parents. I’m continuing my health and fitness journey, as well. I’ll begin making videos in the next week so stay tuned for those! I’ve made some goals and the one I’m most excited/nervous about isn’t something I can predict or control because it involves building relationship with someone in my family. Guess what? That’s okay. I’m embracing it, all of it, even the ugly parts.

Thanks to all of you that made 2014 my best year yet. You know, to be perfectly honest I’m pretty darn proud of myself for all the changes I made last year. I used to think it was arrogant to say that, but I did the work. I had a strong support and couldn’t have done it without that, but while that support has always been there I’ve not put the work in before. This time I did and will continue to do so.

I’m not the only one making changes. Ireland and I spent a couple of hours changing her hair color. We did it last summer, but I did a pretty poor job and then she went swimming in a chlorinated pool so it faded pretty quickly. This time I did a great job and she won’t be swimming anytime soon. She’s my sunshiny Strawberry Shortcake. She’s also my biggest fan and I’ve gotta say that I love how much she loves me and likes being with me.

Ireland's Red Hair-5091

Won’t you join me in embracing 2015? What story are you writing in this coming year?

May it be of peace, forgiveness, joy, gratitude, and facing those challenges courageously.

I’d love to hear about what you’re looking forward to this year!

Love to you all…

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

How Getting Laid Off Freed Me…

I am amazed by all
That I have seen from You
Teach me Your Way

Show me your face
Oh Lord

excerpt from the song Whisper Lennox Fleary

It is the third Saturday of 2014.

In the first full week I created my financial goal plan for the  year. I was so pleased with it. Yet, I kept hearing a quiet sort of voice in my head encouraging me to not hold on to that plan too tightly. So, when I had finished it and saw it was good I told myself, “Self, this is a direction, not a plan set in stone. This may not happen and it’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t.” So that was that. I hole punched it and put it in my handy dandy financial binder.

The following Monday I had the thought, “You’re getting laid off…” Okay. That’s interesting. An hour later I received a call letting me know that I was being laid off that day. I turned in my time card almost immediately and began to process this. I was sad. So very sad. I loved my job and the people I worked with. I enjoyed connecting with the customers and getting to know them a little. I worried. I wondered how I was going to make it financially. I do not want to go back on food stamps. I do not want to be cold or afraid that my water or electricity will get turned off. I tried to sleep the day away, as is my custom when I’m stressed; that or binge eating. I couldn’t do either. I knew that I wasn’t actually despairing, I was just sad and that’s ok.

By the end of the day I was good. The kids and I all sat around as I read parts of the book of Job. I realized that getting laid off is merely a small bump in the road. It doesn’t change me or what I am called to. I do not have to be afraid. I do not have to fear neither poverty or wealth. My circumstances do not change who I am or who God is.

When we prayed that evening Christopher thanked God for me getting laid off because we know God has something else in store for me.

From that moment on I’ve been excited. My heart has opened up and I feel a softening. I have options open to me, this is not the end of the road. I didn’t feel burdened by my job, but I feel so free right now. (Mind you, if my job was offered back to me, I’d take it, but I’d also keep this feeling of freedom.)

Getting laid off didn’t actually free me, what it did was show me the freedom I had all along. I have had an INCREDIBLE year. My complete mindset has changed over the past year, but I could only realize that and walk in that after I was laid off.

I have spent the past year listening to and meeting some amazing personal development speakers every week. I have learned, little by little, how to take my thoughts into captivity and not let all the negative thoughts rule. (Truth: sometimes I do let them and I need someone to snap me out of it!) I have so many things I’ve learned from so many people. I can’t possibly list it all here.

I have so many things I am looking forward to in this next year!

What are you looking forward to? What direction is God calling you?


Ramblings: Swift Days and a Trail to Blaze

Days move swiftly as Spring gives way to Summer.

We’re only a week into Summer break and so far, so good. I used to dread breaks when I’d remember the ones from years past. They involved lots of yelling, kids breaking glass, doors slamming, kids arguing, group therapy, broken down appliances and car, and me fantasizing about going for a long long walk except that I was too tired to go anywhere.

However, and this is a big however, I now know that I can’t judge today on the happenings of yesterday. Each day is new and full of incredible possibilities. I don’t dread days to come, but look forward to them. We still have plenty of bad days, but we are all so different than we were a year ago. I’ve never seen such growth in any of us as I have this past year. It’s been work, a lot of hard work. But guess what? I am so thankful for it.

I’m sitting here at my desk in the quiet of the morning wondering where my journal is. It’s been so long since I’ve written. I want to write of all the changes; tell of all the things God is doing in me and how easy it is to move forward when we finally buckle down and give in. It’s all about trust and surrender, giving up the “this isn’t how it was supposed to be” song, and moving forward. There was a time when I felt stuck in this life and would give up at any sign of failure. Shoot, it took me 3 years to make my first quilt because every time I made a mistake I put it away. The only  reason I finished it was because my sweet friend paid for all the material and taught me how to do it. I didn’t want to waste that gift. Thanks Beca!

I went to San Diego for the first iLivingApp conference. Something in me has been different since then. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it changed, but I think it was about halfway through the weekend. I was nervous going there to meet a bunch a people I’ve never seen in real life. I wanted to document the whole thing in photos, and I did that to some degree, but it wasn’t what I was envisioning. I would sit in my seat to take photos and many of those are good, but I’d look around thinking of where I would be sitting or standing if I could get the shot I wanted. I’m pretty shy about taking event photos when I haven’t been hired to do so. However, there was a point on Sunday when John Marr got up there I was like, “Man, I am NOT going to miss this.”

You know what I think happened there and in the couple of weeks following? I’ve given myself permission to be Me. Not the “me” that I think I need to be or that others expect me to be. The Me that God is growing me into. I’m much more comfortable with myself and I’m sleeping better. I am not conflicted. I am quieter, can you believe that? I am more calm and confident.

I did a photoshoot of our associate support team yesterday. That felt good. I knew I did well. I was only unsure of the photos with me in it. Which brings me to the next point.

I am only unsure in a few things now. One of them is my constant battle with weight  Thanks to a generous gift, I have everything I need to assist me in the weight loss. Why is is such a struggle? I know that some women just settle and enjoy the body they’re given. I don’t despise my body and I don’t think I’m ugly because I’m fat. However, I do know that this weight loss with unlock something in me. I know it’s a battle I must win. Days go by and I begin to wonder if this is something I can really do. I can feel myself trying to do better in other areas of my life in order to cover the fact that I’m failing at this one. Some of my friends are even giving up on really believing that I can do this. It’s ok, they’ve watched me for years. My track record in this area isn’t exactly great. Le sigh.

Daily I am reminded of gracious and generous God is. I had an old tax debt from when my husband and I were together. It would wipe out over half my earned income for a month. I received a cash gift to pay for that debt. I didn’t even know what to say about that one. I’m also surrounded by some pretty great people that love me. There is a peace about my friendships that wasn’t there before. A year ago I was struggling in letting go of some friendship and making some new ones. I felt vulnerable and afraid. This year I am sure in the friendships I am nurturing. It’s a good place to be.

All I know is that my life is not what it was a year ago. My family is on a journey, you may join us if you wish, but I won’t wait for you to catch up.

See you on the trail.


This is a continuation of my last post, found HERE.

After that tantalizing email from Matt I had to call him to find out what he was talking about! The conversation went something like this:

Me: What’s up?!?!
Matt: You  don’t know?
Me: NO!
Matt: Aren’t you good friends with the Rodgers?
Me: Uhhh, yeah.
Matt: Aren’t you good friends with the Marrs?
Matt: Ok, well….

Then he begins to tell me how how John Rodgers and John Marr brought together the mobile app industry and the opportunity to build your own business. I’ll tell you right now that I’m not a professional network marketer. I join things like Melaleuca, Mary Kay, Creative Memories, Usborne Books, and Isagenix for their product. I never even had a clue about how the compensation plans works. (Well, except for Isagenix. That’s a product I can stand behind, but that’s a different post.) I had no idea what I was getting into, but I knew that it was going to be good.

By the time I got off the phone with Matt I knew that God had opened a door for me. I also knew that this would be a challenge for me. I’d need to move out of my comfort zone and be brave. I know that John and John are good men with good values, amazing character, and a heart for people. I’ve known them most of my adult life. I knew that no matter how difficult this might be for me, I wanted to stand with them and support them. Here was the kicker. They had opened pre-enrollment on January 2 to people John R. knew in the network marketing business. It was now January 4 and 3000 people had enrolled! I stood at my sink doing dishes while talking to Matt and I distinctly remember pausing and thinking, “Those people know network marketing. Those are some successful people. I think they know more than I do about this, I better get on it.”

That day I went to my computer and signed up for something called iLivingApp. That night I told my good friend Lennox about it. He signed up the next day. He’s a smart guy, yo. He didn’t sign up because he loves me and wants to make me feel good. He’s not like that at all. Lookie there! I have my first personally enrolled sponsor and all I did was read information from the website and say, “I don’t know” a whole lot!

What is iLivingApp? Well, to put it simply, it’s the marriage of the multi-billion app industry and home based network marketing. It’s the first of its kind. The app that pays in so many ways.
What is the app? What’s so great about it? (I just have to tell you right now that I LOVE it!) It revolves around personal development; goal setting, sales, time management, parenting, leadership skills, communication, and the list goes on. Weekly videos delivered straight to your smart phone each week. Don’t have a smart phone? Well, we have that covered! You can also access the web app. Right now there are videos in the archive from John Rodgers, Greg Reid, and Scott Duffy. I have especially appreciated the ones by Scott Duffy about setting goals. John R. is currently doing a series on success. What does that mean to you?

I’ll tell you what success doesn’t mean to me. Success doesn’t mean that I’m wealthy and everyone knows my name while I work 24/7 and my kids slip away. As you well know, if you’ve been reading my blog for any period of time, that some of my kids have some big hurts to overcome. Simply put, success means choices. Maybe success isn’t even the word I’m looking for here. I know the vision I have for my family. Maybe vision is better word. I envision healing the hearts and brains of my family, hearts loving and seeking after Him. I don’t want the paying of the monthly bills to be a burden or even a concern. For me, I see myself as fit and healthy. No debt, oh for all that is good and lovely, I want to be debt free. Not only do I want to be debt free I want to go beyond that and be financially prepared for the future. I want to teach my kids to dream, but not in that wishful thinking. Not in the way where a fairy godmother comes down and grants your wishes. I want them to dream and then get moving. Want to travel the world? Ok, what’s the first step? Want to pack up the kids and travel in an RV? Ok, how can we make that happen? We are not victims of circumstance here.

Oh, I have so much more to say! 

Guess what happened on January 9, 2013? I get a phone call from Matt again. “Hey Dar, sooo what do you think about doing customer service for us?” You serious? I know have an hourly paid job for more than I’ve ever been able to make before and I get to work from home and chose my own hours? Um, hello, YES!!!!! If you’re friends with me on Facebook you’ll get to see how much I love my job. Here’s another perk for you: I get to work with 3 of my best friends on our customer support team! I also get to talk to the greatest people on the phone and in emails. People from all over the world!

Last night was our first LIVE iLA event in Salem, Oregon. I cannot tell you the feeling I have when I see John R. up there sharing his heart and vision with all of us. I won’t lie, I get choked up.  His heart for people like pure gold. He wants to see good things for people, he want to help them be who they are called to be. I’ve seen him in action over the years, pouring his heart into the lives of people around him.

I am with you John and I feel so privileged to be part of what you’re doing here. Thanks for letting me be part of it.


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