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Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light

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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.

baby-me-and-dad
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.

 

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,
“DO THE NEXT THING.”

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.

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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

 

Dear Winter – Happy Mother’s Day

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Dear Winter,

Remember this day? It’s a memorable one, for sure. I don’t know what you were feeling and thinking, but I was thinking “I can’t believe I’m becoming a grandma! I felt so  unprepared.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t love you and the baby enough. As soon as we knew the baby was going to be a boy Christopher told me to call Lennox. I remember having to force out the words, “It’s a boy!” as I held back tears. Love for you and this baby flooded my entire being.

_MG_7610A few days later we went to an Iris Festival. I think we were all underwhelmed with the entire experience, but maybe we were there for just this shot. It’s one of my most favorite pictures of you.

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I couldn’t resist this one. Erica is telling you stories of bears in Canada where she grew up. I love the look on your face. I feel like this was our first field trip together! I think we need to take a trip up to the zoo again!

family

Ah, my son’s first Father’s day. I know this is a Mother’s day post, but I had to include this one. This is beautiful to me.

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Ah, dearest Winter, you are a warrior. I can’t look at this picture without feeling intense pride at how strong you were through labor. I feel like those days laboring together bonded us. It revealed to me what incredibly strong women we both are.

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Winter, I love you so much. You have brought so much joy into our family. You’ve reminded me how to laugh and relax a little.My son is a better man now than he was before you. He is doing many brave things these days. My children have learned to expand their love and not be afraid.

Happy Mother’s Day, beautiful one. You are such an important part of who we are as a family.

I’m so grateful for you.

Love,

Ma!

My Good Life

What did you feel when you woke up this morning? Do you even wake up feeling a little blah then feel guilty for it knowing you have an incredible life? Do you ever look for the one thing that will make it all better? Where is that magical moment, anyway?  Continue reading “My Good Life”

My Heart Is Full

It is 12:50 a.m. early Sunday morning. My day began at 9 a.m. Saturday. I am beat, but too excited to sleep yet.

I cannot begin to express what an amazing day it has been!

First I had the opportunity to sit at the feet, so to speak, of 4 Zurvita Ambassadors via skype and phone. They talked to us about how to build our business and answered any questions we had. I haven’t had a chance to process that, but I will soon and am looking forward to it.

Next up was the wedding of my beautiful friend, Susan. I have been so honored to have a behind the scenes look at their relationship as it has been unfolding over the past several months. Today, I was able to stand by both Susan and Mike documenting the celebration of an incredible love story. I’m so grateful to my good friend, Lennox, for offering to be my second shooter. He did an incredible job and made my day more enjoyable.

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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

Father’s Day 2012

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This morning while I was sitting in church listening to Jim encourage the fathers in our church I was thinking of my own dad. I loved him a lot. He wasn’t perfect, but he was mine and he loved me a lot. The memory that came most to my mind was where I was sitting in his chair with him. I’d snuggle right in there. He was definitely my favorite. I remember being sad when I got too big to fit next to him. I wonder if he felt a little sad, too. I bet he did. I’m starting to feel sad when Ireland can’t fit on my lap like she used to.

Here are some interesting things about my dad:

  • I can tell in the photo above what part of the year it was by his clothing. He wore flannels in the Fall and Winter. Always with his “long underwear”. In the Spring he would change to his “shorts” (as in whitey tighty underwear and a white cotton undershirt). He’d do it whether the weather dictated it or not.
  • We’d go blackberry picking together so my mom could bake a pie. I’d get paid a quarter for filling the bowl. I never filled the bowl. He always did. I still got the quarter.
  • He taught me how to ride my pink bike with the banana seat. He’d hold on to the back of my seat and run alongside me until I got it. I didn’t ever want him to let go.
  • A few years later when I was in a terrible bike wreck I stood by while he insisted that they call in a plastic surgeon. He didn’t want me to have a big scar across my face. (Thanks for that, dad!)
  • He made sure I got back on that bike. I was never without a bike. If he were here today, none of my children would be bikeless.
  • He came to every single softball practice and game. Then took me out to eat afterwards.
  • He would wind up my teddy bear over and over and over again. Complaining the whole time and telling me it was the last time.
  • I remember walking between him and mom holding both of their hands. I preferred his.
  • He loved my friends and would go to their games, too.
  • His love was unwavering. He loved my husband even when he could see how wrong he was sometimes. He was a good father figure to the man who molested me and went to prison for it. I’d like to think that somehow my dad helped this man in some small way be a better man.
  • I loved watching Hee-Haw with my dad. LOVED it! I would’ve really enjoyed being part of that show. I had dreams of being a guest on that one and the Muppets. I was going to be a country star, you know.
  • When I’d climb an old maple tree across the street he’d bring the ladder over so I could get down.
  • Once I fell off a horse in a field across from our house. He took me back over there and told me to get back on and to not be afraid.
  • I love how he loved my first born nephew, Dustin. He teased him a lot. They had something special going on.
  • I was the first girl in our family to graduate from highschool. I remember the proud look he had in his eyes. That’s all I wanted. I graduated to see that look. Later, as I walked past him in our house he quickly said, “Hon, I wish your  mom was here to see you.” I mumbled, “Me, too” then went to my room to cry.
  • We had the same conversation after Christopher was born, only I didn’t run away to cry. I just cried right there.
  • When I was pregnant with Christopher my dad compared me to Keiko the whale. I was not impressed. Dad tried to get Kelly to laugh with him. Kelly was wise enough to decline that invitation.
  • Bonanza. I watched that with him, too. When he came to live with me Christopher took my place next to my dad in his chair to watch his favorite shows.
  • As a grown up I called my dad every day at the same time. It was our tradition. Sometimes he’d beat me to it.
  • Everybody loved my dad.
  • He bought me a kitchen aid secretly hoping I’d cook more like Martha Stewart. He watched her every morning only because she was on right before The Price is Right.

You know, I look back on that year and a half that my dad lived with us and can only feel a happiness about it. It was hard for all of us, but we made it work. I got to know him so much better. We were together 24/7. We fought, we laughed, we tried to figure out little Christopher. Dad and Christopher would argue like two 3 year olds. I’d have to separate them sometimes. I made baked tofu for my dad. He ate it. He didn’t understand it and wasn’t crazy about it, but he ate it. I remember the day he said, “You remind me of your mom….except for the cleaning part.” haha. Yes, housework was hard for me.

During this time I learned to read my dad’s facial expressions. Maybe it was because I was growing up and beginning to understand how a parent feels toward their child. I’d find him watching me and sometimes I’d ask, “What?” He’d shake his head and say, “Just watching you, honey.” It made me uncomfortable and I didn’t quite get it. I do now. I watch my kids and think that good or bad, this time is quickly passing. Oh, and how in the heck did the time pass so very quickly?

So, I sit here on this day set aside to remember our dads and feel very blessed. My dad was a very good man. Honest and giving. Imperfect and flawed like the rest of us. But really, I think he was better.

I am sure of one thing.

My dad is better than your dad!

Perfect Sunday

Yesterday was amazing!

  • church was really good; healing to my hurting heart
  • i hosted a potluck at my house
  • it was awesome because the people who came are awesome
  • i had a time of great conversation
  • someone loaded my dishwasher!!!!!!!!!!
  • made a quick trip to the beach with a car full of people
  • walked around the beach by myself taking pictures
  • stood on the edge of a not very high cliff, but high enough that if I slipped I would fall
  • I was a little scared on that cliff. The wind was blowing. I couldn’t see well and sand is slippery.
  • levi bought us all warm drinks after we all huddled back into the van
  • we laughed a lot on the way home
  • we made funny noises with our cups
  • i asked the other levi lots of questions
  • the levi(s) are now named “FINicky and “WInicky” so we can tell them apart
  • WInicky doesn’t like music or movies. He almost had to walk home.
  • We sang songs we didn’t know the words to.
  • I’m really awesome at doing that.
  • I let Ginger off her leash. She chased sea gulls and plunged into the ocean. She loved it. I started to worry when I thought about how horrible it would be to watch her be taken away by the waves. She then thought about chasing a horse and that made me even more nervous. So then we put her back on her leash.

It was a happy heart day. A day of memory making. I think I even heard the sound of hearts being knit together.

I am easily distracted. I started this blog hours ago. I wasn’t sure where to begin so I decided to go find a photo. I found a beautiful photo taken by my beautiful 12 year old daughter. Then I have 3 kids standing around me asking me about the process or asking me if they can do such-and-such tomorrow or next week. My brain bounces back and forth between photoshop/photography thoughts to the social lives of my kids. Looking up I realize it’s time to go pick Christopher up, but I want my kids to brush their teeth first so that when we come home they can dress for bed, pray, laugh, and get their last drink for the night before heading to bed. Today I need my quiet evening. I tried taking a little quiet rest time in the middle of the scorching afternoon, but somebody kept “forgetting” that some of us were trying to rest. Somehow Sage slept through the ruckus.

I registered kids for school today. It costs a lot of money. Not more than some of my homeschool years, so I can be thankful for that. I’m signing 2 of my kids up for fall sports. I’m thinking that football will help Sage work out some of that anger that seems to burst out all over the place. I know when I’m consistently doing hard work outs that I’m much more sane and calm during the day. Ah my dear Sage, I wish I knew what went on in the heart and head of his. It is a hard thing for a young boy to not have a father. He’s only called a couple of men “Dad”, but he doesn’t know what that means. I can see him watching the men and older boys. He is learning how to be a man by the men that surround us. Do they know that? Do they care? Sage needs them to care.

Ugh. Distractions. So, I checked my email and joined pinterest after I book marked something in delicious. Is Pinterest the new Delicious? Is Google+ the new FB? Do I join or do I wait? I join because I’m a sucker for technology and social media.

Today was a good day and yet as it wore on I felt more stressed. There weren’t any major meltdowns ending in thousands of Legos littering my floors, but there was this feeling of…well, I’m not sure how to describe it. I think it’s just life. There are fees to be paid, papers to be turned in, bills to be paid, cars to maintain, laundry to be done, menus to be planned, schedules/routines to create, photo projects to finish and/or begin, and the list goes on. It’s life. I’m not complaining, or at least I’m not trying to. I get worn out with the day-to-day stuff. There is much to be done.

Then there are those voices questioning my every choice. Am I good enough? Am I enough?

Well, am I enough? Can I properly raise these children to be productive adults who are not a drain on society? Will they love and serve Jesus? That’s what I’m really asking, isn’t it? Will they be good spouses and parents? Will they know they are loved? Will they love as we’re called to love when their mother feels like she knows nothing of love?

A good friend texted me today, “Been thinking about you & praying for you…I want to encourage you to be brave when you’re afraid. Love you.” I needed to hear that right then.

Later I read a blog that makes a reference to the hymn “Jesus Paid It All”. I begin to listen to it and so many emotions wash over me as I hear, “I hear the Savior say, ‘Thy strength indeed is small, Child of weakness watch and pray, find in Me thy all in all.'” Ah, that’s right, He doesn’t expect me to be strong. I pray and watch. That’s all. Oh, I guess there is the receiving, too. I don’t exactly understand why, but it makes me want to cry when I hear it.

Time is quickly passing me by. My children are growing and I wonder if I am missing out. I remember that there are women who don’t get to have their children in their own homes and then I remember to be thankful. I remember that a friend of mine has a son who had cancer. I wonder if she forgets to be thankful for his life or if the fact that she gets to see his face every day is a reminder of what a gift she’s been given.

Last night I went to dinner with a friend I don’t see very often. At one point she tells me I’m brave. I laugh and tell her, “I’m not brave. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t choose to be a single mom.” She replies with, “You chose to adopt the kids.” Indeed, I did. [I realize that some can contend with whether or not I chose singleness. That’s not a discussion I care to have. Mostly because it’s moot.] That word: brave. I don’t equate myself with such a word. My computer dictionary says it means, “ready to face and endure danger or pain” or as a verb, “endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behavior) without showing fear”. So, is the key to being brave not in whether or not there is fear, but in not showing that fear?

As I watch The Lord of the Rings where Eowen kills the Nazgul I would say there is fear and courage present. She is terrified, but still she faces the monster and kills it.

In Deuteronomy Moses tells all of Israel, “Be strong and caourageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Then immediately after that he calls Joshua to him and repeats the same thing in front of all Israel. If that’s not enough, after Moses dies God himself tells Joshua about 5 times to “be strong and courageous”. Sometimes he tells him to be “very courageous”. I figure that God wouldn’t need to tell good ol’ Josh that if Josh didn’t have any fear, right? David repeats these same words to Solomon. And finally, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” Oh love. That thing. Perfect love casts out ALL fear.

What is love?

God is love.

Oh yeah, that’s right.

 

 

 

 

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