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Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light

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Mother’s Day 2014

Traditionally, Mother’s Day has been a source of pain and chaos in our home. Old hurts weigh us down like anchors. Our fears and hurts about mothers and mothering rise to the surface and we attack. I attack. Sometimes kids attack with their words and actions. The day has been a royal pain. Last year I called my best friend from my van crying, “I am a horrible mother. These kids are hurt. I am hurt. I said mean things. I can’t make this better. I’m never going back inside.” Well, I did. I can’t make it all better, but I can try.

A few days ago as I was driving along the highway I came to the realization that I needed to deal with some unresolved feelings. So I started talking to God about that. I am sad that I don’t have a mom to celebrate. For many years I tried to stuff that sadness. I mean, she died 30 years ago when I was 9, surely I should be over it, right? Well, get this. Being over it doesn’t mean not being sad. I gave myself permission to be sad. I talked to my kids about that. I said, “Hey, so this Mother’s Day thing is hard, isn’t it? Well, it’s not going to be hard this year. I’m sad. It’s ok to be sad. I know that you might be sad, too, and that’s totally ok. It is not ok for us to hurt one another because we hurt. This year, we are going to rock this Mother’s Day!”

My mama and me. Look at that hair. Seriously people! Those are some pinchable cheeks right there!
My mama and me. Look at that hair. Seriously people! Those are some pinchable cheeks right there!

I became a mother when I was 21. Christopher changed the way I looked at life. Suddenly I had this little baby who would quickly grow into a man. I felt so honored to be the one chosen to raise him. I still feel that way even though I fall so short. I thought that having a child meant that my Mother’s Day would be magical. I had an unrealistic expectation and because of that ideal, I was often hurt. However, my first one was very good.

A page from my scrapbook. This boy wasn't thrilled with the sand, but he got over it.
A page from my scrapbook. This boy wasn’t thrilled with the sand, but he got over it.
A close up of little Christopher. Look at his cheeks! Oh, that boy. I am still smitten by him. He has always been such an incredible gift to me.
A close up of little Christopher. Look at his cheeks! Oh, that boy. I am still smitten by him. He has always been such an incredible gift to me.

I think I’d mostly get money from my dad to buy mom some perfume or something.  However, when I was 9 years old I decided to do something a little different. I remember heading down to the local department store. I’m sure it had an official name, but we simply called it “The Department Store”. You could buy anything there! I chose a light blue felt rectangle, some googly eyes, white yarn with a silver thread running through it, a fake flower, and a needle. I have vague memories of my best friend, Peggy, being with me. I don’t know that she did the same thing, but we were often together. I can’t imagine that I did it without her there for at least some of the process.

I didn’t know this would be the last Mother’s Day gift I gave to my mom. [hug your mom, your friend, your kids, blah blah – no really, do it – i think these are things we say when we’re getting to be about 40]

I have NO idea why I wrote "We Love Mom". Who is we???
I have NO idea why I wrote “We Love Mom”. Who is we???

I was so proud of that thing. I had never done anything like that before, or since. (Though I sometimes imagine I’m a fantastic embroidery artist. I just think it’s something I would enjoy doing as long as I could do it well!

So, this year rolls around and we’re going to have an awesome day. I didn’t entertain the thought of it being anything other than spectacular!

Guess what??? It was! My kids blessed me in so many ways!

We went to the Cheesecake factory and walked around Washington Square. We met lovely people at Lush.

This is a card from Sage. I thought it was the most adorable thing ever! He loves me more than the rest of them! Haha!
This is a card from Sage. I thought it was the most adorable thing ever! He loves me more than the rest of them! Haha!
Ireland's card. The "raining" part is supposed to go with the "love". She asks me, "Do you like the raining Love part, mommy?" Yes, sweet one, very much.
Ireland’s card. The “raining” part is supposed to go with the “love”. She asks me, “Do you like the raining Love part, mommy?” Yes, sweet one, very much.
What a little gift giver Ireland is. She made me a calm down bottle. It's glitter and water. When you're angry you shake it and wait for the glitter to stop swirling. By then you should be calm. Hilarious. She knows I need it.
What a little gift giver Ireland is. She made me a calm down bottle. It’s glitter and water. When you’re angry you shake it and wait for the glitter to stop swirling. By then you should be calm. Hilarious. She knows I need it.
Breakfast of Champions & Warriors. Oranges, scrambled eggs, and ice cream prepared by Ireland. She had the first and last bites of my ice cream...and several in between!
Breakfast of Champions & Warriors. Oranges, scrambled eggs, and ice cream prepared by Ireland. She had the first and last bites of my ice cream…and several in between!
Christopher made art for me. (He tells me this picture is upside down.) I love that he made me this.
Christopher made art for me. (He tells me this picture is upside down.) I love that he made me this.

 

I was loved on and well cared for this Mother’s Day.

Total win. Choices matter.

I chose love over fear.

Love Wins.

Always.

 

Stitch in Time

Many years ago I made a quilt for Christopher. I traced and cut out each piece by hand. I carefully wove the needle and thread through the fabric to create a blanket to cover his bed. My dear friend Rebeca bought all the material for it and helped me pick out the fabric. Another friend, Michele, taught all us young girls how to quilt by hand. I missed most of the lessons because I needed to stay home with Christopher, I learned everything second hand. That quilt took me 3 years to complete. I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d make mistake after mistake, get frustrated, and finally put it away. Eventually, I’d drag it out and get on with it. I didn’t know how hard it would be for me to make that quilt. Had I known I wouldn’t have done it. Back then I didn’t do the things I thought would be hard, I did what I knew I could be good at.

That quilt hides away in a box now. It is threadbare and worn by love.

Several years ago I bought fabric to make another quilt, but it wasn’t for anyone in particular. Soon after that, we built a house and moved. Then we added 3 kids to our family. I’ve moved twice since that time. The fabric stayed hidden in a box.

A couple of years ago I decided I’d make pillows for the girls so I used that fabric to make Dusty’s pillow. I’ve since then pieced together a couple of more blocks. It’s been in my head that I’d make a quilt for her out of that fabric, but it’s been in the back of my mind until recently. My friend, Erica, hosted a DIY project day at her home. I started planning the quilt and even cut out pieces for 2 more blocks. (One of them is nearly pieced now.

As I did, something began to change in my heart. It began with a conversation on Facebook. I took a picture of table of contents from Michele’s quilting lessons and posted them on her wall. What happened next warmed my heart. Several of us began commenting on that thread planning a get together for May. We set a date, time, and place. Here’s the thing, as we were commenting my heart began to long to see these women and share some of our lives together at the same time and place. I don’t know the details of all of our lives, but I know we all fight hard battles. We’ve been able to come along side one another at times because of how we can stay connected via facebook. I want to hug everyone, especially the ones I’ve not seen in so long.

My heart is daily being softened. I’ve been feeling it over these last few weeks. I’m not all that happy about it, but I think it’s a good thing. I don’t tend to be a cry-er, but these days my eyes are wet with tears often.

Today was a rough day with one of the kids. It started of being rough with 3 kids, but 2 changed themselves around and were so very pleasant and helpful. The one, though, he had a chip on his shoulder all day. I didn’t want to deal with it. I wanted him to go away, he even asked if he could go somewhere else for the day, but I said no. As I said that I wondered if I had just lit his fuse and should brace for impact. Fortunately, I found a way to maneuver through that; we made it through the day without any huge blow ups.

We even made memories and connected. At least I’d like to think so. Dusty and Ireland stuck pretty close to me today and were helpful without being asked. When I reminded them of one of my expectations there weren’t any arguments or attitudes, for the most part. Dusty has been watching me piece her quilt. I’ve been very intentional about it. I want her to know that I love and value her enough that I am willing to make her a quilt. I worry about her feeling valued. I know there isn’t anything I can do to make her feel anything, her feelings are totally up to her.

I’ve also prepared myself to face the fact that she may never appreciate the quilt. As I was thinking about that, I realized that Jesus still died for us knowing that many of us wouldn’t appreciate it. I don’t mean just the unbelievers, but the believers, too. I’m talking about me, too. He died for me so that I could have relationship with the Father, yet sometimes I choose to sin. I choose to fill my emptiness with something other than Him. And you know what? Recognizing that has actually softened my heart more toward Dusty.

So, today I sat on my office floor sewing. She comes in to watch and says, “I’m so excited” and my heart sang. We spent much of our day like this. Me sewing, her coloring or doing something else. I’d look up and she’d be looking at how it’s all coming together and I wonder what she thinks.

I would pray for her, “Lord, as she wanders through life with this quilt, let her know she is loved with an everlasting love and underneath are Your everlasting arms. When she covers up, let her feel Your love for her. She is a gem.” My eyes would fill with tears as I imagine the life she may live and the loneliness I know she feels.

Then I would look at my quilt and think, “Oh my word, look at those corners. They are not perfectly aligned. What? How is this piece longer than that piece, are you serious?!? I can’t do this. I don’t even know how big to measure the batting and the backing. I don’t know what I’m doing.” My eyes would fill with tears and I’d take a breath.

This is life. It doesn’t all line up. I am doing this for love, not for an award. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It’s ok that I don’ t know what I’m doing because I have friends who will walk me through it when I need them to. I’m not alone.

I look at this girl and remember how much I love her. How much we’ve been through together and maybe one day we’ll be best friends. She’s going to be amazing. I wrote about her a few years ago. Things were breaking in a terrible and scary way. We have made our way out of that dark place. I think the moment I realized we were indeed in a dark place was the moment light began to shine. You can read about that in a post titled, Mothering.

A Memory in the Making
A Memory in the Making

Silly Things

My sweetest Ireland labels her drawers then STUFFS her clothing in there and not always putting them in the correct drawer. Then she’ll open her drawers and not close them until I tell her to do so. I’ve stopped telling her because I realized that it doesn’t matter. She’ll figure it out…or she won’t.

thedresser

 

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!!!

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leaves_WM

The photo above is by my 12 year old son, Sage. I found our little point and shoot camera and gave him free reign with it. Sometimes I gave him a  little direction. I’m looking forward to seeing what my kids come up with and what they see.

I love the Autumn. This year, more than most, I feel alive. I don’t know if it’s the bright days and cold nights or if turning 39 did something magical for me. All I know is that I feel different. The other night as I was falling asleep I wondered, “Is this what JOY looks like?” You know the kind I mean? Not “I’ve had a good day I feel happy” sort of joy, but the “My day was cruddy, but I am not without hope” sort of day. I didn’t want to announce to everyone that I think i know what joy is just in case I don’t. It’s stuck around for a few days so far, maybe even longer. Is that to say that it’s been easy?

No. I don’t think that anything worth having is easy.

We have many hard days. There are moment where I wonder if I can walk this road, but then I remember that of course I can walk this road. I was chosen to be the parents of these 4 children and to be exactly where I am in life at this moment. I also know that I’m not meant to stay right where I am so I dust off and keep moving forward.

However, there was time that I didn’t move forward. In fact, I’d get knocked down and I’d stay there until someone made me get up. Once I learned to stand, I counted it as “moving forward” when I was no longer losing ground. Now moving forward means exactly that. Sometimes I have days when it’s a snail’s crawl and other days when it’s a more like a greyhound. Actually, I don’t think I’m moving forward quite that quickly and I don’t know that we’re meant to.

All I know is that for as long as I remember I’ve wanted something different than the lives I’ve seen around me. Some part of me knew it was possible, but I wasn’t living that because I didn’t believe it. I now know and believe for better things.

Today’s ponderings: Proverbs says in chapter 19 that the one who keeps the commandments keeps their soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die. I find it interesting that “keeping” your soul and dying are opposite. I don’t know about you, but I want to keep my soul. I have been careless in my ways and I now know what that feeling was when I woke up in the mornings. It was my soul dying. This spurs me on to thinking about verses in the new testament about being watchful, diligent, putting on the armor of God, taking thoughts into captivity, etc. I think that being careless doesn’t need to mean that we’re out bar hopping and smoking dope. It can simply mean that we’re being watching and diligent, we’re just coasting along not putting forth any thought or effort.

Today I choose to not let my carelessness guide me, but to be thoughtful in the steps I take.

October and Jesus

japanese_maple

It is dark and quiet outside. I’m drinking tea and listening to good music.

One of my very good friends is in the birthing center laboring to bring her baby boy into this world. I’m so excited to hold that boy and look into the face of my brand new mama friend. I will write about her someday.

My house still smells of chicken. The kids watched White Fang while deboning 3 chickens for me today. Now what is left of the carcass is in the crockpot making broth. My kitchen is a mess and I’m half hoping that the cat will come in and lick the chicken juice off of the table.

My birthday is in 6 days. Some friends and I will be running a 5K called the Color Vibe that morning. [By running, I mean that I’ll be dying trying to jog and they’ll be leisurely walking along side of me.] I’m excited and nervous about that all at the same time.

I’m going to be 39 and I don’t mind one bit. I don’t mind that I’m going to be 40 next  year. In fact, I’m excited. I like myself more than ever before. In fact, 2 years ago I wrote about how I wasn’t looking forward to my 37th birthday. [That month I wrote every day as part of a blogging challenge, you can find those links HERE.] I wrote all about me and I just have to say it was kind of depressing.

Yet, it was also joy giving.

Here’s why: I am not that scared woman anymore!!! 

So many things are the same, but so many things are different. My perspective has changed. I’m no longer looking at life through a lens of hopelessness and fear, but of hope and joy. You heard me, I said JOY. I have plenty of bad days, shoot I had a bad 6 weeks recently, but I found my way back. I am not so desperate as I once was and there’s only one answer.

JESUS

There is so much I could say right here. Too many things, actually. But I’ll stop.

Ok, maybe I won’t. It’s relationship with Jesus. It’s believing Him and walking with Him and trusting Him and listening and taking risks. Scary ones. They’re not risks if they’re not scary. It’s choosing Him every day and all that comes with it. We don’t need fortune tellers or horoscopes to give us direction. We need the Word of God.

He is Faithful.

Now I’ll stop.

What do I do, you ask?

For years this has been an uncomfortable question to answer. I used to proudly say, “I’m a stay-at-home wife and mom of 4.” Sometimes I’d say something like “domestic engineer” or something more biblical like “keeper of my home”. Then, I became a single mom and I didn’t feel so proud to say that I’m at home with my kids and not working. I felt shame. I was so ashamed that I couldn’t keep my husband. I might be a keeper of my home, but I wasn’t a keeper of my husband.

So now I took on a new title:

Single mom with 4 kids. Then after a year or so, I went on foodstamps. That  made me a single mom on welfare. Ugh and double ugh.

Every time I messed up I gave myself a new title. What do I do? I mess up. I do dumb stuff. That makes me a dummy.

Then I moved on to saying things like, “I parent my kids with special emotional needs because they came to me broken and another one has been through the ringer.”

But mostly I thought things like:

  • I mess up my kids. 
  • I’m a sub-par photographer.
  • I’m a fake.

Now, I have a different answer. Go ahead, ask me, I dare you?

So Dar, what do you do?

I am building a legacy of dream achievers.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, several years ago I was told to by someone to not tell her son to dream because he’s just going to be disappointed. Wow! Really? It took me years to  realize that while I recognized that concept was not truth, I still lived there. I’d have these ideas, but always shoot them down for one reason or another. No longer will I claim that. All things are possible with God. That’s in the Bible, people, so it’s truth. ALL. What does that mean, exactly? Does that mean I can climb Mount Everest? Maybe not for me, but maybe it is for you. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Maybe he’ll start to spur you to travel the world with your children. If so, do you just wait around and hope it will magically happen? Or do you start planning? Yes, the Lord directs our paths while we plan our little lives away, but I think we can get to where He has for us a whole lot quicker if we just start moving. 

My children are amazing. They are fighters and survivors, they have skills that astound you. One of my kids can walk into a room and personally make contact with every person. Another one is skilled at getting the attention she wants while some of the people around her are so charmed by her. I have a sweet boy who is growing up and learning to talk to me about tough and uncomfortable things. Maybe one of my kids will put their skills to use in a courtroom or be an advocate for the forgotten people. Perhaps she’ll be the next Amy Carmichael. My children will be have the skill and hopefully the compassion to look someone in the eye and say, “I get it. We’re all hot messes up in here, but God loves me and He loves you, too. He has plans for good and not evil for you. Would you like to get to know Him?”  I have creative kids and kids who love to read. Others prefer to listen to a story, while others pretend they don’t like either.

I am inspiring not only my children, but others, to carry on when they think they can’t go any further. Christopher, my son,  once said to me that he admired me because even when things are hard, I keep going. Sometimes I’ve felt like it’s because I don’t have a choice, but that’s not true. I always have a choice. You always have a choice. That’s perhaps one of the most powerful gifts I’m giving my children, a Choice. They are learning about Jesus and the plan that the Father has for them, but they  may not choose that. They are not powerless to follow the path of others before them. They’ve had it tough. They’ve been neglected and bounced around, then came to my home. They are blessed. They don’t even have a clue how blessed they are by not bouncing around in the foster care system. I am teaching them to not take that victim role. Yep , crappy stuff happens, but guess what? That doesn’t make you any different than anyone else. We all have something painful.

Hey, look to this Jesus guy. He’s the real deal. He’s better than Disneyland. Listen up, He’ll give you dreams and desires and then get this, if you choose to follow Him, those things will actually happen. Renew those minds, be transformed. Hang with people who you want to be like. You want to be amazing, then do it!

Watch out world, my little Taylor Tribe is gonna learn to dream, then they’re going to believe it, and finally achieve it.

Dream
Believe
Achieve

I learned that from Mary Kay Ash, “If you dream it and believe it, you can achieve it.”

P.S. What are you doing today to move you toward you goal, vision, dream? I’m going to be early so I can rise early. [edit – I wrote this last night and I did wake up early, but then I fell back to sleep.]

This is part of the Blogging Every Day in May challenge. Hundreds of others are answering the question, “What Do You Do?” over at Story of My Life. Have a gander, look around, spread the love.

My Friday

 

Thursday afternoons often find us at McMinnville farmer’s market. Peaches, coffee, and worms. Yes, worms. I took it upon myself to buy a  pound of worms; roughly 1000 of those babies! Dusty and Sage were intrigued. What are we going to do with them? Well, we’re gonna restart our can-o-worms! Vermiculture at its finest!

When the kids had finally tumbled into bed I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning processing apples, pears, and plums for all sorts of deliciousness.

It is now Saturday and I know I can go pick some more apples, but I am tired. My kitchen was VERY sticky, it is now less so. Lunch is about ready then the 2 kids that have earned computer time can have it, then quiet time. Hmmm, maybe I’ll do quiet room time then computer time. Easier on the brain, I think.

Oy vey. So tired!

Sweet Days

Bea and Dusty getting applesauce ready to go into the waterbath canner.

Autumn is here. I know that it’s tradition to Spring clean, but I always get  more of the bug in the fall. I think it’s because we’re getting ready to hunker down for the wet winter. It’s harvest time, which means it’s preserving time. It’s been years since I’ve canned. This year I was given pears, apples, and plums. We also have a pear tree out behind our house and I couldn’t just let those go to waste. We now have some pearsauce, applesauce, dried plums, and pears waiting to be canned next week. I plan on trying to gather as many free fruits as I can. Apples and pears grow in abundance around here, so it isn’t too difficult to do so!

My kitchen is full of dirty dishes and the fruit flies are in fruit heaven. Right now they’re mostly hanging around my kombucha, though.

Ireland is outside squealing with her friends.
Sage is backpacking with some friends of ours.
Christopher has begun Nutcracker rehearsals.
Dusty is wandering around the house and yard being bored.

I’m about to set my timer and start cleaning. I tried to use last Saturday as a “do nothing” sort of day, but it all backfired. I ended up feeling discontent and unsatisfied, which isn’t restful at all. If I remember correctly, there were grouchy kids involved in that mix, too. This time I decided there would be some relaxing and doing nothing involved, but not to the extent of last week. I also won’t order my kids around and try to get things super clean. I will do what needs to be done, but mostly I will rest my mind. I won’t think of the things that stress me out.

I will focus my mind on the things of God.

I will take the time to listen for His voice in the hubbub of life. I will stop to jot thoughts down in my journal. I will pray to the One who holds all this in His hands. I will go to His word. I will write down how He blesses me daily.

Pears – friends – 2 weekends away in October – apples – the ability and the equipment to can – words of friends to bless me

First Day of School

It happened last week and it occurs to me now that maybe I should’ve taken a picture of Christopher on the couch in his pajamas. That’s what school at home looks like around here. I prefer that we both get up and get dressed, but that doesn’t always happen and I’m chill with that. Our school year has begun, commenced, taken off before I was ready. I know that I had all summer to get used to the idea of school coming around again. My heart felt torn. I’m ready for schedules and routines and some break from my kids, but not quite ready for them to be gone away from me and our rhythm of summer. Our brain exercises have hardly been done and our afterschool routine isn’t quite set into place yet. Overall, though, things are going quite smoothly. Each week, I’m trying to implement a little more into our routine.

I don’t have much to say these days so I’ll leave you with the obligatory first day of school pictures of the younger 3. I’ll have to take one of Christopher and title it: First Week or Two of School.

Dusty: 13, 8th grade

Sage: 11, 5th grade

Ireland: 8, 3rd grade

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