Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light



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


Take Action

“You are coming into a season where you are joyfully going to take responsibility for your blessing. You’re going to seek it, you’re going to go after it, you’re going to explore it, you’re going to discover it and you’re going to take steps of possession to take hold of it. Your inheritance is coming to you in Christ Jesus.”

My friend texted that to me the other day. It’s was a facebook status from Graham Cooke.

I have a vision of what I’d like my life to be. I used to imagine great things, but they were just useless dreams, right? I don’t come from a family of dreamers and achievers. My goals as a kid were to graduate without having a baby and to not have that baby until after I was married. I accomplished those things, but then what? I was operating in the mindset that I’ll do better than the rest of the girls in the family to make my daddy proud, but then what? He was proud and I was without goals.

I’m going to be 40 this year. I’ve spent much of my life trying to be just good enough. I don’t want that anymore. I want to live an extraordinary life story. I want to really fly like the eagles,  not be stuck pecking the ground like a chicken.

Many have come to me telling me that I’m a warrior or telling me of  a vision they’ve had of me. I wasn’t carrying the weight of another person on this body. Even in one of my healing prayer sessions I saw that God was giving me a gift of health. My excess weight is no longer needed to protect me from the hurts of the past. I am free. Yet, I wasn’t losing the weight. I thought it would be easy after that.

I was talking with my friend, Michelle, about that. She said many things that day, but the thing that stood out is, “Make your outside match your inside.”

That made me think about who I am? Who does God say I am? Who is the woman I want to become?

set up

These days you’ll find me toting an orange purse I recently bought because it caught my eye & cried out to me. I almost didn’t buy it because I wanted to be practical, but then I decided that I wanted to be surrounded by things that make my heart sing. My purse is like a little pocket of joy reminding me of who I am when the harshness of this life blinds me. You’ll also find me hitting the gym each morning and fitting in a couple of shorter workouts throughout the day. I’ve recently made it a priority to read books. I love to read. I also enjoy writing a lot. Both of those things have been pushed to the side, but I’m realizing that when I make them a  priority the rest of my life actually feels more manageable. I was going to say balanced, but I’m beginning to think that being balanced is a myth and maybe we’re not meant to be.

My biggest challenge is transforming my body into the best version of me. I’ve been discouraged because I’ve walked this road before and never made it to my destination. I’ve allowed myself to beat me up about that. Yet, there’s this verse I have posted on my wall that says, “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. – Philippian 4:8”

I spend a lot of time talking to myself. Today I was working out and I started thinking, “This is too hard. I am too heavy for this. My shoulders are tired. I can’t go on.” Then I quickly changed it to, “This IS hard. I’ve done this before. I was able to do more than this. I can do it again. I am strong. I am getting stronger. It’s okay to cry.” I think I even let out a little whimper then. I really thought I was going to cry, but I couldn’t figure out what that would accomplish so I didn’t.

Here’s the thing, I don’t want to live a life of  limitations. If it’s true that nothing is impossible with God and that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, then that’s the life I want. The Bible says that God gives us the desires of our hearts. I don’t think that means He gives us what we want just because we want it. I think it means that He puts desire in our hearts. Then we pray for it and work toward it and seek Him in it.

I also want my kids to be dreamers. I don’t want them to play the game of being just good enough. I don’t want them to think, “Well, at least I don’t….or at least I…..” you can fill in the blank. I want them to have a dream and go after it. I want them to love Jesus and have good relationships around them. I want them to have healed hearts and transformed lives.

I want the impossible things. I want my life to tell the story of how the Lord did impossible, crazy, and amazing things in my life. So, I’ll fight for it. I’ll go after it. On those days that I think what I do won’t matter I’ll ask to be reminded of people who obeyed the Lord and changed His Kingdom. I will choose it with joy. A joy that may involve a lot of sad tears because really, this life is hard and fighting battles all day long make me weary.

Still, I will choose Jesus.

Still, I will choose to exercise though my body feels frail, I know i am getting stronger. My first week back at working out was hard. The second week was better, but I was discouraged. The third week was much better. I can see progress in my strength. I didn’t see myself getting stronger. I saw myself struggling. Then one day I noticed I was stronger than before. 25

Let me ask you some questions? Who are you? Who does the Father say you are? Are you walking in that? What are you doing to be who you are called to be? What is He speaking to you these days?


Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

Vegas and Ireland snuggling. This would've been in the Spring of 2010. She would let him lay on her lap, too!
Spring 2010 – Ireland is 7 and Vegas is old. This was not an uncommon occurrence in our home. Sometimes she’d sit on the couch and he would lie across her lap. She’d say, “He’s squishing me.” Yet, she didn’t want him to move.

It’s Thursday. The day is bright and the air is cold. My office is warm. All of January’s bills are paid.

I had my first financial freak out last night. Christopher points to a spot on his arm and says, “We need to get this checked out. It might be staph infection.” I ask him where his antibiotic cream is. He doesn’t know. Mind you, we went through something similar a couple of months back and got the cream at that time. It’s not cheap. I just got laid off. An appointment at urgent care is $125. I have money saved for his eye appointment and glasses, I can’t use that money. I say, “What? You can’t find it?!? Do you realize how expensive that is? I DON’T have a job. I don’t know what to do and I’m certainly not going to tell anyone so that they’ll pay for it!!!” So, I  had a few moments of despair and pride. The room went silent. I went into the bathroom and started cleaning and organizing the drawers. He comes in there soon after and quietly says, “I thought it was up here behind the mirror.” Yep, that’s where it’s been. Sweet relief.

Here’s the thing, though. I didn’t trust in that moment. I feel good because my bills are paid for the month. One small bump in the road and I freaked out. (Although, I did get an organized bathroom out of it and that had been on my to-do list for about a week.)  I want my trust in God, my Provider, to be unwavering. I look back at last night’s scene and know I could have reacted better. I reacted in fear.

The verse I’m focusing on for this week is from Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Emphasis mine.)

Throw off – something you do on purpose, it takes effort, it’s a choice.
So easily entangles – it’s like when you’re traipsing through the field with  your dog and kids and suddenly you trip because a sticky, prickly vine has grabbed hold around your ankles. You didn’t even notice it until it was too late.

The Bible also tells us to cast our burdens on Jesus. When one goes fishing you do not simply drop the line at your feet when you’re standing on the shore, do you? You cast it. Throw it out there. (And this is where the analogy breaks down because it’s not helpful to reel your burdens back into you! Though, I guess I could say that in return He gives you peace so you can reel that in and take it.) The point is that to cast our burden, it takes effort. We have to make that choice to do it.

I have more time to think these days. I’m mostly thinking about what it looks like to throw off everything that hinders.

A few weeks back I had a weird dream. I have those quite often, this one made me laugh. I saw myself on sort of a mountain or hill, but it wasn’t a snow-capped pointy one, it was made of red clay and they were more flat. I saw that I needed to leap over a canyon to another place. The only thing I remember is that I was unzipping something and taking it off of me. Here’s the silly part…it looked like a light purple penguin sort of costume. It was puffy. I remember thinking that I couldn’t go on if I had that on so I unzipped it, shrugged it off my shoulders, and stepped out of it.

It seemed so easy. I guess it is simple, right. Oh look, this hinder me. Shrug it off, step out of it, and walk on. I’m wondering if it’s a trick of the enemy that makes us think that we need to actually struggle with it.

I think we need to recognize it and release it. Tell ourselves the truth. Walk in that.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!!!!

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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.

Favorite Tuesdays

massage table_wm

On every other Tuesday you’ll find me making my way to my old stomping grounds of Willamina. Not only that, I’ll park right across the street from the church that taught me that memorizing God’s word is so important.

I step out of my van and enter the building that was once my highschool Sunday school room. I’m greeted with a chipper, “Good Morning” by my former highschool Sunday School teacher and youth leader. She’s been my ever present friend for over 20 years now. I’m older now than she was when we met. I remember telling her I loved the “Oldies” station on the radio. When I tuned it to that station she adamantly said, “Hey! Those aren’t oldies, that’s what I listened to when I was your age.” I remember looking at her and saying in a slightly confused tone, “Yes, that’s why they’re oldies.” Duh, didn’t she know that?

Teresa has been a good friend to me over the decades. As a teenager, she taught me to accept a compliment with a simple, “Thank  you”. I learned that you can be a Christian AND have fun! Imagine that! It’s ok to drop a cheesecake, made from a box, on the floor and still serve it to the hungry teens in the next room. There was a time that I turned my back on God, but Teresa kept praying for me and loving me. When I finally turned my eyes back to Jesus she bought me the exact wide margin NKJV Bible that I wanted for my studies at the Great Commission School.

My  new husband and I moved in with Teresa’s family when we were kicked out of our friends’ apartment in Salem for reasons I can’t remember now. She was super sick when she was pregnant, my only memory of her from that time is sitting on the couch or throwing up in the bathroom. She watched our rocky baby marriage grow and eventually dissolve.

It is so strange to think about this now. I really set out to write a blog about how I get massages on every other Tuesday from her and how much I like them. Then the memories come flooding back. More memories than I can recount here, and really, most of them wouldn’t be funny to you. We have one of those friendships where we can say one sentence and start laughing.

 As a kid I thought she must have the perfect life. As an adult I can look at it and honestly say that she does have a good life, but it is by no means perfect. She has heart aches like the rest of us, but you know what’s different? She carries those things with grace. She keeps laughing and loving and serving. She is seeking God and hearing Him. I love to hear her stories.

So yes, I get to see her every other Tuesday for much needed massages that have revolutionized how my days progress. It used to be that I couldn’t get through a day without being in so much pain. That is changing. Days, sometimes nearly 2 weeks go by before I need to sit down due to back pain. You know what else, I come away happier. There have been days when I’m driving there and I’m really struggling and when I leave things seem much more aligned. Sometimes we chat the time away, other times I fall asleep where I drool and snore. It’s a beautiful site. Other times I just relax and pray.

Teresa, I’m going to make you read this. Okay, I can’t make you, but I can post a link to it on your wall!

I love you. Thank you for all you’ve been to me.

Mostly, thank you for taking me mall shopping and introducing me to Cinnabon!



It is hard to believe I have completed 39 years of my life and am now on the journey to my 40th. There are some amazing times ahead, people!

There are so many things brewing in my mind on this day after my birthday. I am not going to say much, though.

I must say that I have the bestest friends in the world. I hope that everyone has people like I do in their lives. I really do. I feel so rich. My birthday was amazing. A group of some of my closest friends came to run/walk the Color Vibe 5k with me and another friend came along just to hang out with my kids and take pictures! Then I spent the rest of the day with another best friend who took me out to eat, managed as my personal photographer , took me to the mall so I could look at and try clothes, and I got my eyebrows threaded – all the things I never get to do without children. What a gift!

I am very loved. I used not know that or believe it. I do now. Four of my friends paid money to run/walk with me. Another would have except it was too close to her due date. [Turns out that after a series of blessed events her baby was released from the hospital a couple of hours after the run!] A great many people invest in my life in ways that I don’t deserve. They spur me on to better things. I can sit here today  and see how amazing my journey has been and tell you that I love the direction that my life is heading.

Thank you to so many women and a few great guys that enrich my life every day by supporting and encouraging me in my parenting, fitness and health, finances, relationship building skills, on-the-job training, and so much more.


Bring on this 40th year. I am so looking forward to it!


My days are filled with laughter and crying and yelling and squealing and silliness and seriousness and busyness and harsh words and kind words.

That’s a lot of “and”s.

It has been a whirlwind of a day. My sweet Danae finally had her baby today after 48 hours of labor. The baby is in NICU because he’s not breathing well. Please be praying for that. I haven’t even met him yet, but I love him.

I felt kind of stressed through the day, not in a super bad way. There was just a lot to manage and I was concerned about the baby and Danae. It takes a lot of energy to keep reminding oneself that worry does nothing and that God is here in this. My thoughts are like 2 year old kids constantly needing to be re-directed.

My day is ending splendidly, though. I have this zany group of friends that I do know in real life, but we really never are all together. In fact, one of them I’ve known for years and I’ve only seen her at Grocery Outlet. These friends make me laugh so much and I am so very thankful for them. I needed them today in that way and I didn’t even know it until it was all over and done with. We pray for one another and we laugh with/at one another.

It’s life giving and a saving grace.


Peace out, friends!

Fleeting Moment and Flying Thoughts

IMG_5985 Mornings come early, days move swiftly, bedtime can’t get here soon enough, yet I find myself up way too late.

 How is it that we get so caught up in the mundane things of our life and we overlook the things most important to us? I know I’m not alone in that feeling. Luke 17: 21 tells us that the Kingdom of God is in us and I have to ask Him, “What does that look like?” I know what it doesn’t look like. What I want to know is what it does look like. I don’t have the answer to that.

 My heart is torn between this world and the next. A woman I treasure very much died last month. I pretty much lost it. All of August and some of September was a total mess in my home and I don’t just mean what you see when you walk in. I mean it in that way that suddenly something shut down in me. An old hurt resurfaced. I was blinded by the pains of of young 9 and 10 year old girl who had begun to lose the people she held dear to her. That young girl normally seems so far from who I am that I hardly recognize her. Yet, suddenly, there she was shutting all the doors and locking them. She was going through every part of me locking windows, closing shutters, slamming doors, and looking for the door to the bunker. I didn’t seem to know how to stop that from happening. I was sad and I was angry. I also felt very very foolish for behaving this way because my friend was gracious and loving, bringing life into every conversation.

I kept telling myself to stop it. My friend kept telling me to stop it. I couldn’t seem to stop the anger and spewing poison all over my family. I seriously felt like my words were poison acid to them. Nobody could help me, so I wasn’t really very honest in how horrible it all was. One day I was told, “You’ve really got to be done with this.” So, I called a family meeting to apologize to my family, but guess what? I couldn’t remember what I called them together for so I didn’t apologize. I asked them questions on how our home can move more smoothly. They had great ideas, by the way. So now when I implement them, they’re not just my ideas. So, the next day I remembered why I had called them together in the first place and I did a do over. This time I apologized and every single one of them were so gracious in forgiving me and moving forward. There weren’t any glazed over eyes telling me what they were supposed to say. It was beautiful and humbling.

IMG_5989We made some changes. I have this incredible and amazing opportunity to work from home which means I can make my own schedule. I decided to stop work for a bit when the kids get home from school. We’ll talk about their day, get snacks, make lunch for tomorrow, jobs and homework happen, and I make dinner. This has been a beautiful thing. Beautiful, I tell you. My home has been cleaner, the kids have been calmer, I’ve been calmer, dinner has been a better quality, and somehow I’m getting more work done at my job. (My job that I love, by the way!) I’ve been getting in more consistent Bible reading times, I’m also reading a Maya Angelou book (that’s messing with me and my white-ness), back to exercising, and I haven’t had any huge melt downs.

Humility and repentance are so healing.

I want my kids to feel special and loved and wanted. I don’t want them to feel like they are inconveniences, even though they can be inconvenient. I want them to feel worthy, not because of anything they do, but because I value them. Isn’t that how it is with God. We’re not worthy of His love. We can’t earn it. He loves us and values us so highly that he’d come down to this filthy world in human form and die for us. He values me so very much. That makes me worthy.

This week I had a conversation with one of my children letting her know that I love her so much and want amazing things for her that I would fight for her. I won’t let her just slip into the pattern of settling. Drug and alcohol addiction, jail, broken relationships, and victim mentality will not be the norm for my children, though I am fully aware that they may still choose that path. Yet, I will show them something different. There is something bigger here. There is something greater calling us out to be who He has created us to be.

My friends lost their oldest son this past weekend. My heart hurts for them. Another friend of mine lost her son earlier this year. On Sunday I laid on the couch with Sage and we just talked. I held him close. He’s my only youngest son, you know. As my biggest boy left the house to spend the day at his girlfriend’s house, I held him just a little longer. I took the two of them out to breakfast that morning and snapped some photos so that I wouldn’t forget these days. Their first, and hopefully only, love.

In all of this suffering and injustice I can still say God is good. I am confident in that. His word says that His plans for us are good and not evil all of our days. He has good plans for us.

I heard a song lyric today. It says, “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders”! Yes! That’s it. Complete, absolute trust. God has never failed me. I don’t understand Him all of the time, but I’m ok with that now.

Surrender it all to Him.

Perfect golden rays on our first rainy fall day!
Perfect golden rays on our first rainy fall day!

Isabody Challenge

Well, it’s now publicly official. On Wednesday, July 17, 2013 I entered the IsaBody Challenge. Okay, I’ll be totally honest here. I’ve joined it before. Three times to be exact. My friends took my measurements and took my “before” pictures. I even sent a video of the very beginning to a couple of my friends last fall.

I wasn’t ready then or any of the other times I started. I struggled a lot and was encouraged to record those times. I think I did, but I didn’t do anything with the footage. I’m going to start doing that again, though. I now understand that it isn’t just about me, but it’s about others like me who want something different and are discouraged. That discouragement doesn’t last forever, unless you let it.

So, what’s different this time around? Why have I decided to go public?

  • I know that that I’m beautiful no matter my size.
  • This isn’t a matter of my perception of my worthiness.
  • I’m not doing it because I think it’s expected of me or because I’m afraid of disappointing someone.
  • Going public helps keep me accountable.
  • I like following people’s journeys, I thought you might like it as well.
  • I’m not afraid and I’m not ashamed.
  • 2013 is MY year, it has been amazing so far – why not make it the best ever?
  • I have some friends that are so amazing and have been a huge support to me over the past year: David, Erica, Danae, Lennox, and Chani. They have seen me lose and gain. They’ve listened to me complain. They’ve joined in my successes and been part of my gorging (just the ladies, that is). The point is that they’ve all been right here with me. Now that I get their love and devotion to me I feel so much more empowered.
  • I love challenges.

There are more reasons why I’m going for it, too. Did you visit the page? I could win money and prizes, including an all expense paid cruise for me AND a guest. (I wonder who my guest will be?!? You guys can all duke that out!)

So, each month I will do pictures and measurements and post those here. I want to be more honest about the journey. I’m super proud of doing that hike last week. I love that I’m strong and determined. This is actually bigger than just the weight loss, but I’m not ready to put that into words yet.

July 17, 2013
July 17, 2013



Weight – 238
Bust – 43.5
Chest – 39
Waist – 43.5
Abdomen – 58
Right Thigh 30.25

Goal is to lose about 2 lbs a week and exercise 5 times a week. Erica and I haven’t been super consistent about exercising. I’ve been using shakes from a company called Isagenix. There are shake days and cleanse days, I’m not going to get into that much in this post. I have all my cleanse days planned out. If I don’t plan them, I won’t do them.

I started a 90 day blitz last Monday. It’s a time to focus. Last week felt like a week to get centered. I have been documenting what I’m doing to move myself toward my goals, both financially and in fitness. I have goals listed for each week in my little 90 day blitz binder. (Yes, I  have a binder because it’s pretty and I like being organized.) Guess what day the first blitz ends? October 12. Guess what that means? That’s my 39th birthday AND some friends and I will be participating in the Color Vibe run in Salem, Oregon. It’s only a 5K and looks like so much fun. What a great way to celebrate!!! So far I have yeses from Erica, Nidia, Katie, Lennox, Rachel, and Aaron. Will you join the team, too?

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