his first day of nine


Today he turned nine.  I can’t believe it.  I remember the first moment I held him in my arms in the operating room.  I remember holding him for hours the following days in the hospital.  I remember snuggling him in the middle of the night in the NICU for a week.  I’m wondering if this is why he’s such a great hugger.

We had our typical birthday breakfast, he picked long johns.  The decorations were all gold for our golden boy for his golden birthday.  It was so great that Darin was home with us.  It happened to be his GEL program at school, which worked out nicely.  We loved seeing him give his presentation and having lunch with him.  We went and got birthday ice cream after school.  It’s all about the treats on your birthday.  Evie got him a chess set.  He loved it.  He got a Kindle.  He can’t wait to read on it.  He requested pizza for supper and then we had his birthday cake….red velvet with chocolate frosting that Evie helped decorate.  His neighbor friends enjoyed some cake with us and then they played chess with him on the living room floor.  There were a few tears at bedtime because he didn’t want his special day to be over.  He was all smiles today and gave out hugs like gifts, even a big snuggle and hug when I tucked him in for bed.  He’s good like that.

Happy Birthday to my sweet boy.  You are such a great kid.  And you are incredibly loved.  I thank God every day for the gift of you and your hugs.  xo

his last day of eight


Say it ain’t so.  The night before his golden birthday.  Nine.  Tomorrow my sweet baby boy will turn nine.

As per tradition, I took a few minutes this evening and captured the very last of him at eight.  He’s starting to look like such a little man and I just love this kid so very much.  He easily obliged with the photo taking and even gave me the biggest hug when we were done.  He always gives me hugs.  He gives the best hugs.  Will he still hug me like that at nineteen?

Gosh I hope so.

(I just had a nice little cry when looking at last year’s last day photos.  Click here if you want to see just how much he’s grown the past 365 days.)


that feeling when your heart could burst


That’s the feeling I get when I watch her by the water.


She points out every little beautiful thing.

She jumps and isn’t afraid when the water splashes and gets her all wet.

She pauses to pick up the tiniest of shells and then asks if I’ll hold them in my pocket.

She lists off every color she sees in the sky.

She notices the little bird prints in the sand.

She holds her arms wide open to the waves and the wind like she wants to give them a hug.

She tells me how pretty the clouds look.

She runs and runs and runs.

She stands still and just takes it all in.

She watches patiently as the sun slowly makes its way under the horizon.

She stays until the light is gone.


Heart bursting.


captiva love

Over spring break we returned to Captiva Island, Florida. We had been there two years ago and fell in love with the quiet tiny island and it’s shells and sunsets and decided to go back.  God knew we needed a little break together as a family and it was the perfect getaway.  It pretty much is our happy place.

When people ask what we did while we were there I tell them.  We went back and forth from the beach and the pool.  That’s about it.  We ate lunch in our screened in porch at the condo.  We walked along the beach to get ice cream in the afternoon.  We grilled freshly made crab cakes.  We went out to eat.  We collected shells.  We had donuts for breakfast.  We walked into town to get coffee.  We swam. We threw around the football in the sand.  We made new friends. And we watched sunsets.  Seven incredible sunsets.  I love that my kids are content with just this.  No thrills, just some sun and water and sand and they are happy.  It’s simple and wonderful and fits our family perfectly.

The last day of our trip was the only day without sun.  It was overcast and windy and we spent the afternoon inside playing cards. We returned from dinner that night and I was really praying for the sun to emerge for one last sunset to end our vacation.  We walked over to the beach as the time approached and then the light appeared, changing by the minute, from gold to pink to purple.  The kids splashed in the big waves with their new friends as we stood in awe watching the colors in the sky morph.  It was one of the most amazing sunsets I had ever seen and my photos do not do it justice.  It’s a scene that I will never forget, my sweet family on that beach and that sunset that I prayed for.  I’m incredibly grateful for the time we had there.

We can’t wait to go back.


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