Cave to Cliff

One woman's journey from darkness to light



Rambling Thoughts on the Passage of Time

Have you ever tried Tabata? It’s an form of torture exercise! Here’s how it works: you do an exercise for 20 seconds on with a 10 second rest for a total of 8 rounds. The 20 seconds of pushups, squats, or whatever form of exercise you choose feels like it last forever. Your muscles are quivering and sweat is dripping off you. Yet, those 10 seconds are over in a literal blink of an eye. I’m dead serious here! 

While life certainly doesn’t pass as quickly as the 4 minutes of Tabata, it does go by quickly.

In 8 months I’ll be 44. FOURTY FOUR!!!!

What? I’m gonna need a second to pick my jaw off the floor here. 

My 21 year old son is now a daddy to 2 year old and a 7 week old, both boys. I hold his newest baby and think, “Has it really been that long ago since I held my own boy?” I look into the eyes of this baby and see his daddy. It’s trippy.

A few weeks ago I attended the memorial of a woman, Clara, I met 28 years ago. As I was sitting there I began to look around the packed church. I wanted to get a glimpse of some of the people that had impacted by her. That’s when I saw my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Nash. Tears immediately sprung to my eyes. I don’t have many memories of that time in my life, but I have a lots of good feelings about that year.

The winter before I entered kindergarten the school burnt down. I cried as I watched the flames from my kitchen window. I was 4  years old. I was devastated! I vividly remember a firefighter carrying me out of our house as I kicked and screamed that I wanted to stay. The idea of never learning how to read devastated me. My 4 year old self would have rather died than live with never learning how to read.

I know now that the school would be rebuilt, but I didn’t know that then.

So, I did the only thing that made sense.

I taught myself to read. 

In the fall of 1979, 6 weeks before my 5th birthday I walked into that kindergarten class pleased as punch that I already knew how to read. Being smart was (and still is) important to me.  I don’t know how Mrs. Nash did it, but she fostered a love of learning in me.  I am so grateful for that.

We made these little hand prints as Christmas presents. I remember making mine with such pride. I could barely contain my excitement and I can pretty much guarantee that I didn’t keep it a secret from mom and dad.

This hangs on my wall today as a reminder that I was once a small child full of imagination and dreams. I loved my mom, dad, and stuffed bear. I’d sing songs of my love for them.

At the memorial a friend encouraged me to make a point of getting together with the friends that are important to us every month so we’ll never have any regrets when one of us leaves this world. That has been on my mind for days now. So today I called up a woman I love dearly and we scheduled a time to get together. I don’t want to be so busy living life that I neglect the building and nurturing of relationship.

Who is the person you run into at the store or text and say “we need to get together someday” and mean it? Do it. Get it scheduled right now.

Time passes quickly. I want my time to be invested in building something that lasts. What about you?



Total Eclipse of the Heart

Today is the first time in 38 years a total eclipse has been visible in our part of the world. There are countless memes, millions of travelers, and lots of money exchanging hands to capitalize on this event.

Yet for me, I’m remembering a different kind of eclipse. 33 years ago on this day I woke up knowing it was the day my mom would die. My 9 year old self just knew. My dad asked me that morning if I was coming with him to the hospital to see her. I replied, “No, I don’t want to see her die. She told me not to.” His eyes were sad as he turned to leave. He simply said, “Okay, if that’s what you want.” I did want to see her, but she told me not to so I didn’t go.

I spend the day 4 houses down from my own house. We were sitting down to eat dinner. I remember looking around the table and feeling like everything was quickly fading away. I started crying and screaming, “She’s dead!”. I have a vague memory of my friend’s dad carrying up the stairs to her room. I must have fallen asleep. Next thing I know, my dad is at the front door. I take one look at him and run home. I burst through the door to see my sister and her husband (at the time) in our living room. I think he told me mom had died, but I can’t remember the words.

Anguish overtook me. The world literally went black for me.

Nothing was the same after that.

I had already spent my early years feeling out of place as the brown adopted kid that wasn’t wanted. The days and weeks after that only confirmed the lie I believed about not belonging. It followed me around for decades and even now will rear it’s ugly head. Only now I can recognize it as a lie and dispel it before it has any power over me.

I spend the next 6-7 years crying myself to sleep every night. In fact, I think I’ve spent more than half my life crying myself to sleep. I spent decades entertaining suicidal thoughts and basking in depression. A quiet rage filled me. Sometimes it wasn’t so quiet.

I missed having mom at my highschool graduation. When she was in the hospital she told me to promise her that I’d graduate from highschool and not do drugs. I was committed to that. I was the first girl in our family to graduate from highschool. I don’t know if she did and I can’t imagine her mama did either since it wasn’t so common for a woman to do so back then.

I missed having her as a grandma to my firstborn.

I missed holidays. They pretty much quit after she died.

I missed watching Portland wrestling with her. My dad would watch it with me, but it wasn’t the same.

I remember her and a friend, Lois, singing Goodnight Irene. We were sitting at the kitchen table. I was in my dad’s chair as the two old ladies sang Good Night Irene. For some reason, it’s this moment that stands out to me. Her laughter came easily that evening and her green eyes shone brightly. I was sent to bed soon after that. I loved falling asleep listening to them laugh together.

I recently went to Buck Hollow Cemetery where my parents are buried. As I entered the graveyard I could clearly remember that first moment at the funeral. A group of people gathered, lots of flowers, and people looking at me with sad eyes. I’m seated in the front row. I look at the flowers and think, “Mom would like those flowers.” Then I remember why we’re there. I can’t remember crying. I don’t think I cried much in front of people. I’m more of a lone cryer.

Who was going to take care of me?
Who would love me?
How am I supposed to live without her?

I really did feel like life stopped for me.

I was surviving until I died and I hoped that happened sooner than later.

Those feelings have changed now. I don’t want to die. More than ever, I want to live fully in this life I’ve given.

I still wonder what it would have been like having a mom in my teen years. Yet, I’m also incredibly grateful for my life, even life without her. My dad was the best dad ever. I miss him more than I can even describe.

I will watch this eclipse with my family and friends. I will fully enjoy every moment with them.

What are your plans on this eclipse day?






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.

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.


Embracing the Change

Spring officially begins on March 20th this year. Spring is one of my favorite seasons!

I live in the north western part of Oregon. It usually rains a lot here. Right this second it isn’t raining, but earlier today I could hear it pounding down on the roof. When I was a kid my parents used to say that if March came in like a lion it would go out like a lamb and vice versa. So, if it was a mild day on March 1, March 31 would greet us with a raging storm.

A memory came to me as I was writing. March also makes me think of kites. My dad would take me to the field across the street and show me how to fly a kite. I’m pretty sure he would’ve stood there for hours with me. Later, when it was just the two of us left at home, he’d take me to the beach where we would watch all the kites. We never went to a kite festival down there. I think he would have liked that very much.

March brings change.

The rains are now accompanied by breaks of bright sun. Robins begin to show up in force. My lawn suddenly needs a good mowing. That will happen as soon as it stops raining long enough to dry the weeds disguising themselves as a form of grass.

My daffodils have bloomed in force and are now on their way out. I loved walking out of my house each day to be greeted by such vibrant beauty. I now have several primrose plants I’ve received as gifts that need to repotted. They’ve been sitting in their original pots on my table for the past couple of weeks. They’re little reminders of a beautiful life.

A year ago I met a young woman that is now my daughter-in-law. That sounds so legal. I onced mocked when people would days “daughter-in-love” instead. However, I kind of like that term. I love her. She couldn’t be more perfect to be the wife of my son.

Christopher has enlisted in the US Army and will be shipping out to boot camp in Georgia later this month.

I’m in the midst of planning a going away party for him. Days later we will take him to Portland and enjoy our last moments before he leaves.


It occurs to me that I’ve never been apart from him for very long. This is part of our growing up. I’m proud of him.

I love you son, I’m excited for your journey! 

Day 6: Never Going To Be Good Enough


Cottage Street. A house I dearly love. I haven’t lived there in over 20 years, but as I drove up to it today my heart felt full. So many great memories were made there.

After Bible school I moved back home with my dad in Willamina for a while. That was a good time for me. I had a full-time job, babysat on the side, and had a little more time to be with my dad. Yet, I was growing up and it was time to move to Salem to join Our Father’s House Church. In the early 90’s this was a hub for house churches and a few ministries.

I learned SO much here.

I learned that you can have green hair, dreadlocks, and so many piercings and still love Jesus. I learned that if something feels a little off then it’s probably off. I was naive and robbed by addicts more than once. I learned that Salem has a lot one one way streets and its best to not go down them the wrong way!

This is also the place where I met the man I would marry. He was tall, thin, and played guitar. I met him before I moved in. There was a fundraiser for a girl who was heading off into missions. I walked in and he looked at me, laughed, and said, “Those have got to be the ugliest socks I’ve ever seen!” You see, I was quite the sock lover. I shopped at stores like “Socks From Mars”. This girl didn’t wear ordinary socks. I was the only person I knew that had rainbow knee high toe socks. (They were so uncomfortable, but original for that time.) Despite our initial meeting we became friends. He encouraged me to be that writer I dreamed of being and not let anything hold me back. He’d say, “You want to be a writer? Then write. Writers write.” Back then I was too scared to write anything outside of my journal or letter to a friend.

By this time I had decided that I wanted to become a missionary. I wanted to pursue a career in nursing so that I had a way into any country. I didn’t want to go on short-term missions; I wanted to go live somewhere and influence the community around me. I had an opportunity to go to a college in the Midwest that I thought was perfect for me. There was classroom work, but there were also several ways to get experience in the field. It was time for me to go.

One day I went to this young boyfriend of mine to tell him of my plans. I told him I would be back. He looked at me and said, “Don’t expect me to wait for you. Absence makes the heart forget.” Like a flash of lightning a thought seared itself into my brain. “If you don’t marry him, no good Christian man will ever want you.” So, I stayed. I chose him.

One day we were driving along in my ’76 Dodge Dart when the “Going to the Chapel” song came on the radio. He looked at me and said, “Let’s go to the courthouse!” We got our marriage license and married 2 days later in my pastor’s living room.

The day before we were married he was asked why he wanted to marry me. He listed a lot of great qualities and characteristics he saw in me. When I was asked the same question it was one thing: because he loves me. Terribly unhealthy and not something easy to recover from…for either of us, I’d guess. I imagine that stung him a little.

We are no longer together. Last Thanksgiving would have been our 20 year anniversary. While I have no regrets, I sometimes wonder what pain I could have spared all of from had I known my worth back then. What if I was confident in the fact that I do hear from God? What if I knew that following my God-planted dream would get me the love I so desired?

Tomorrow I wrap up week 1 in the series “Am I Enough?” I’m excited to hear what week 2 brings us.

If you’d like to see the other posts, please click the photo below.


To read more posts from other Write31days writers please click on the following photo:

Let It Begin

Sage: Mama, come out front please!
Me: Uh, why? [in a frightened tone of voice]
Sage: Just do it. I want to show you something. Close your eyes.

I walk out to the front porch then insist on on opening my eyes. Both he and Christopher are “helping” me out there and I am wary of their help.

What’s that? My beloved bike!?! WHAT????? He had fixed it up for me all on his own!

We then went on a very short bike ride. Ginger decided to come along. I don’t know what it is with riding the bike, but she turns into psycho dog. She jumps back and forth in front and on either side of the front tire LOUDLY and somewhat frantically barking. I was afraid she’d get hurt because she’d run a circle around me with cars coming from all directions. Also, I really didn’t want to run over her leg and then have a vet bill.

When I was young I was in a very bad bike wreck. I still have some anxiety over that. I didn’t know that I did. I mean, I rode bikes for YEARS after that even though I was scared. I wanted to keep up with my friends. As I was riding up and down the hills around my house I kept thinking, “I’m not wearing a helmet. Oh, I like this shirt. What if I rip up my jeans? Does it hurt more to skid down a hill than it did when I was kid?” I went home shortly after that. I’ll ride my bike to the gym in the morning if it is light enough. I need to replace some reflectors and I should get a helmet, my brain is rare and precious.

It was just yesterday that I was saying I need a bike. I’ll still need a different bike for what I’d like to do, but this one is good for around town. I’m so THRILLED to have her back. The brand of the bike is Free Spirit. As I was riding her I thought that her name should be “Susie” or maybe “Suzie”….maybe “Sally”? I don’t know yet. I’ll have to ride her more.

my bike

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!

Show & Tell: Remembering High School

I somehow ended up this blog called From Mrs. to Mama. I don’t know how I found it, that happens in the blog word. It was the day after I wrote a letter to my jr. high self. This week the theme is about high school and I figured I’d do it since all my photos are out anyway. Besides, it’s kind of fun. I guess I can say high school was fun because I was treated well.

1. Tell us what kind of student you were in high school {popular, nerd, sport obsessed, choir, etc}
I wasn’t one of the popular kids, that’s for sure. They had nicer clothes. I wasn’t one of the ignored kids, either. I’d like to say I was well-liked. 

2. Share with us some high school pictures. We know you have them somewhere!

I have something to say about this picture. Happy people to the right, serious people to the left. Hello, MY name is misspelled. I was in yearbook. Which one of  you spelled my name wrong. Hello, you just needed to ask. We had a hard year? I guess I don’t remember it being hard. Probably because being in all the clubs and going to all the sporting events was FUN. 

3. Tell us about your school. Private? Public? How many in graduating class? Mascots? School colors

We are the Bulldogs! The mighty mighty bulldogs! Our colors are black and orange. Small public school. Only about 50 in our graduating class. I wish I could remember what the valedictorian, Steve Werth, had to say at graduation. I really liked him. He’s a great guy. I’m sure it was something like, “Hey, this is not the end of the line. Highschool is just a tiny blip of your life.” I don’t remember. I do remember loving what he had to say and being so very proud of him. 

4. Tell us about some of your favorite memories of high school. Or what stands out the most? Any teachers? Specific classes.

There were some painful times. There were some great times. Pretty much like my life now. I remember many friends dying, mostly due to drunk drivers. I remember asking my dad how he dealt with people dying all the time. He quietly said, “Oh honey, well, in the war we’d be walking along and suddenly our buddy was gone. He’d fall into a booby trap. There was nothing you could do. Just keep going.” That wasn’t comforting at the time. Actually, it’s not that comforting now. 

I also remember standing outside my spanish I classroom handing out bubble gum to each and every student. We weren’t supposed to chew gum in class. The teacher would catch a kid chewing gum and she’d say, “El chicklet in la basura, por favor.” Then when she’d turn around we’d all chew loudly. She’d spin around to try to figure out who was doing the chewing. Did I mention that she was a first year teacher? Exasperated,  she says, “Dolores!” which was my spanish class name. She knew I was the one that handed out the gum. I was not nice to her until I met Jesus. Thankfully for her, that happened only a couple months later. 

Before Jesus I showed up to school drunk. I know that at least one teacher knew, but nothing ever happened. I wanted to get caught. 

I once convinced some kid that Tom Keifer of the band Cinderella was my brother and that he was stopping by our homecoming game, but had to leave before the dance. (You gotta click on those names/links. Don’t you just love the hair!)

Then, I met Jesus and everything changed. I stopped drinking and making up stories.

5. Tell us a piece of advice you would pass on to your children or any child entering high school.

I don’t know what to say. I think I want to say to take it serious, but not too serious. School might be the hardest thing in your life up until now, but in the whole scheme of your life it’ll be the easiest thing. Work hard. Create good habits. Those things will follow you around forever. Be kind to everyone. Know that there is a whole lot of life after school. Listen to people wiser than you. Even me.

I’lll never rock hair like this again. A friend on facebook told me that I had the biggest hair in the school. This photo was taken in 1992. Big hair was on the decline. I was just thankful that I didn’t have perfectly straight hair. Those people got the most awful perms. (My teeth look really yellow there. Must’ve been the lipstick. Or my teeth, but I’m a little more careful that my lipstick doesn’t clash against my yellowed teeth.)

Also, legging made a comeback, but I won’t have any. I dream of having smaller thighs so that I can wear awesome leggings. One day I’ll dress like I really want to, but I’ll worry that I’m too old trying to dress as a teen. So I won’t really know what to wear. I’ll wear [mom] jeans and a t-shirt ALL OF THE TIME.

Oh yes, and that HUGELY oversized shirt. Yeah, it makes me look shorter and fatter. Sort of like a dwarf.

Ladies and gents, this concludes our Monday Show and Tell. Find more great stories over here! 

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.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: