lessons from the cactus


Last week I went with my sister to go visit my dad in Arizona.  It was a wonderful time in the sun and warmth and fresh air.

While on a lovely family bonding experience (the hike that I forced them to go on with me), I was mesmerized by all the cacti.  Such a unique plant that grows under the harshest of conditions.  I’m currently reading The Hidden Life of Trees which is all about how trees are like human families and they support each, communicate with each other, and even warn each other of danger.  Which got me curious about the cactus.  So I did a little research.

Here are a few facts about the saguaro cactus, a popular Arizonan cactus that only grows there (and the one pictured above)…

  • They take a very long time to grow.  In the first 8 years of a saguaro’s life, it’ll only grow between 1-1.5 inches.
  • A saguaro goes through its longest growth period transitioning from an unbranched cactus to a branched one.
  • A saguaro is usually 50-70 years old before it grows its first branch. And this is if the arm grows quickly. It may take 100 years before a saguaro can grow its first arm.  100 years.
  • A saguaro must be 35 years old before it can grow any flowers.  35 years old.

Are you picking up on a theme here?

And then I did a little more research on the actual word “cactus”.  I blame Evie’s spelling tests where she has to know what the Greek or Latin root means.  Or the Beth Moore Bible study I’m currently doing where she obsesses on the Greek or Hebrew origin of every little word.

The word “Tzabar” is the Hebrew term for a cactus.  Tzabar comes from the Arabic root “sabr” which means “patience“. Both terms are cognate to the Biblical Hebrew שבר and Aramaic / later Hebrew סבר – which mean “to see“.

I know, a lot of mumbo jumbo.  But essentially it means, “One who has patience in watching to see what will happen.”

Now you may be reading this (if you have even gotten this far with my boring facts about the cactus) and be thinking wow, what a cool coincidence. Cacti take forever to grow, forever to bloom, forever to sprout branches and cactus means patience.  Cool.

My over-analyzing serendipity sensitive Stacey brain thinks differently.  I think, wow.  Actually, I don’t think.  I cry.  I cried when I read that because I could use a little lesson in patience right now.  And I felt like part of the reason God sent me to Arizona was to learn about the cactus so that I get this little lesson.  Yes, it might be a bit of a reach, but this is how my crazy brain works, and lesson learned.  Cue parallels to faith journey here…

The cactus is a very patient plant.  Very patient.  I could learn a lot from the cactus.  I am not a very patient person.  And I do not like to just sit around and watch to see what will happen.  I’m the furthest thing from Type A, but I do like to have a plan.  I like to know what to expect.  I like to know when things are going to happen.  And I like them to happen in a timely manner.  Branches and blooms should not take forever.  But that’s not always how God works.

The cactus also grows where no other plant will grow.  It does not complain when the sun bakes it or when the wind whips it.  It stores water when it rains for the hard times to come.  It protects itself from danger, but harasses no other plant.  It enjoys solitude, perhaps even thrives in it (now that’s something I can relate to).  It trusts that God will provide, even in the heat and dessert, and that a bloom will come…even if it takes years.  More parallels to faith journey.  Boom.

So from now on I will look at that above photo and not only think about the hike I took with my dad and sister, but think about the cactus.  About patience and trust, about beauty in waiting, about how God taught me a little much needed faith lesson through this desert plant.


Tracey - I LOVE THIS. I remember reading about the saguaro when we were on our way to Sedona and I was astonished at how long they took to grow. But I love the meaning of the word cactus. Praying for you and the patience you need. xoxo

what i want her to know



This past weekend we continued a tradition we started last year with the kids… Evie and I spend a night at a hotel and D and Eli do fun boy things together while we are away.  These special times with our kids are fleeting, and I’m realizing as they are quickly getting older and taller and bigger that the most valuable thing I can do is to just spend time with them.  And as they are getting older and taller and bigger we have to be a bit more intentional with the time.  So we plan these dates in hopes that they will create a lasting memory of us, and of our conversations, and that we did something special that was just for them.

Evie and I had a great time.  We went to a movie and out for dinner and did a little shopping.  She held my hand in the mall and wanted to make sure we had a big king sized bed in our hotel room instead of two queens because she wanted to snuggle with me while we watched TV with our cheesecake that we picked up to go.  And I always try to have some talks with her during our time together about some things I want her to know.  Because life is hard and complicated and I want her to know what is true.



Of-course our conversation usually gets cut short by the tween eye roll.  Or the, “okay mom, I get it”.  Or the smile and then the change of subject.  Like she’s trying to be respectful of what I have to say but so wants to move on.  So I smile back and we move on.  We go back to watching Fixer Upper and sipping our white mochas that I went and picked up for us.  She goes back to watching slime videos on her phone and I pray that she knows all those things I want her to know….how loved she is, how special she is, how amazing she is.

I want her to know that she can talk to me about anything.

I want her to know that she is so beautiful. And that she doesn’t have to be into doing her hair or wearing makeup or impressing boys like some of her classmates are.

I want her to know that it’s okay to be different.  That even though being different might sometimes make her feel alone, that being different is so much more awesome than being the same as everybody else.

I want her to know that God has given her this amazing gift of observing and noticing and seeing the beauty and detail in things that so many people take for granted.

I want her to know that even though she feels like she gets picked last for most things, or that sometimes she feels left out or forgotten, that she will always be my number one choice. Always.

I want her to know how God has answered our prayers for her and that we are constantly praying for her.

I want her to know how proud I am of her for how wonderfully she has transitioned to middle school, for how she has learned to advocate for herself, for learning to deal with anxiety and for trying new things, for working hard on things that are hard for her.

I want her to know that even though she is growing up and that things are changing that my love for her will not change, that her God does not change.

I want her to know that it’s okay to be an introvert.

I want her to know that being compassionate and showing gratitude and being generous will get her farther in life than good grades and athleticism and popularity.

I want her to know that God has an amazing plan for her, and that I’m so blessed that I get to be her mom and see that plan develop.

I can try to tell her all those things in one over night trip to a hotel, but my hope is that I’m telling her those things every day in some way or another. Although an over night trip to a hotel with cheesecake and white mochas doesn’t hurt, either.  :)


Heather M. - She is so very lucky to have you as her mama. I’m so glad you had this time away together.

Carla - Love, love, love this, Stacey.

674 days later


Below are some photos of sweet Olivia.

Olivia was placed in the foster care of an amazing family from our church at just a month old.  Her foster mom asked me to pop over and snap a few pictures of her for her birth mom so she could have documentation of this sweet little joy when and if she went back to her.



A year later, still in their foster care, Olivia had turned one.  And this foster family was now working to adopt her as their own.



And last week.  After weeks and months of prayer and petition and 674 days as their foster daughter, Olivia was officially made a part of their family.

I had the honor of being there to photograph this sweet girl again.  An answered prayer captured.

Olivia’s story gives me hope.  Fills me with joy.  And reminds me that we serve a God that sees us and fights for us and loves us fiercely.  Congratulations to this wonderful family who is an example to me of sacrificial love and faithfulness.  Olivia’s story has now become a part of mine because it has changed me.  We can’t wait to see her next chapter.  xo


gina - You captured this wonderful day so beautifully. What a wonderful, inspiring story. xo

andrea - this is very sweet. what a wonderful day you were able to witness and capture for them.

another christmas with my little family


I love Christmas at home with my little family.

This year we went to go see a movie together on Christmas Eve (maybe a new tradition?).  We went to Christmas Eve church at Homestead.  Eli and I read a part of the Christmas story together.  And Evie was a shadow puppeteer for the little kids’ portion of the service.  We held candles and sang Silent Night together and I got teary like a usually do.  Then we came home and had our fancy Christmas Eve dinner with my grandma’s china and linen napkins and our names written by Evie on our plates.  We let the kids open one gift before tucking them in and Darin and I sat on the couch and watched a Christmas movie together (maybe a new tradition?).

Christmas Day was our traditional cinnamon rolls and presents and coffee and PJ’s all day.  This year Eli got a guitar and Evie got a special theater date with dad.  I loved it all so much.

I love them all so much.



I love traditions.  I especially love the ones around this time of year.  And as my kids are getting older I’m learning just how precious they are, and it makes my heart happy when one or both of the kids ask to do something that we’ve done year after year.

One of those things is making our favorite almond barks treats and sprinkling them with Christmas confetti.  Yesterday I melted the chocolate and the kids went to town, possibly getting more on their fingers than the actual crackers and cookies.  But we laughed and smiled and sampled and marked another tradition in the books for this season.

I soak them all up.  They are growing up before my eyes and I hope they never tire of these traditions.