Monday, January 9, 2017

Why I Love Cactuses (Cacti?)

Image result for cactuses and sky

Drew and I were at the NC Zoo a couple weeks ago and the desert exhibit was my absolute favorite. There were cactuses (that's the English plural; the Latin plural is 'cacti') EVERYWHERE and I decided last year that I loved cactuses/cacti but didn't have much of a reason except I love most things southwestern (and work at a school called Southwest, where our mascot is a cowboy and we display all kinds of southwestern symbols, including the cactus plant). Over the summer, I bought a tiny cactus in San Antonio and have managed to keep it alive somehow. I named her Polly and adore her. 

ANYWAY, as we were leaving the desert exhibit, there was a really pretty desert scene poster with a quote on it:
"Where life is more difficult, it acquires a higher value."
That quote immediately struck me. I almost took a picture of the poster, but didn't (instead just tweeted the quote so I'd remember it) and now I wish I had. I can't find that quote anywhere when I Google search it! I don't know who said it, but I'm so glad I saw it that day. We had just looked at all the desert plants and animals and read about how they survive in the harsh conditions of their environment. There was even an adorable sand cat that apparently doesn't need water daily to live! How awesome that God designed all these plants and animals to be able to survive that way! 
(So thankful He designed a plant that doesn't need water often because I always forget!)
I thought about those plants and animals and how tough life is for them, so life means a little more to them maybe. Because they have to work harder to survive, the fact that they do survive is pretty amazing.

But when I first saw the quote, I didn't think of the desert at all. That was the cool thing. I guess that quote maybe wasn't even about the geographical desert in the first place, but a spiritual desert. Or just life's tough times in general.

The word 'desert' has meant something to me lately. The first thing I think of lately is a spiritual time of need, or going through a hard time in life. A time where trusting God is crucial, and when "all that's within me feels dry." Apparently I'm late on this one, but I never knew the song "Desert Song" until this past fall, and ever since then, I've been obsessed. I've been doing so much reflecting on the seasons of my life and studying how the desert seasons grew me spiritually and the harvest seasons filled me and prepared me to go through more desert seasons, and how all this has been a part of my testimony and helped me help others.

I've been thinking a lot about the rough patches in my life, and how those are the times that brought me close to the Lord. Sadly, it took those times to get me to surrender myself fully to Him, but for that reason I am thankful for them. It's sometimes hard to appreciate life as much when everything is going well, but when life is harder, it seems to mean more. That's what that quote suggests.

Even looking out the window right now and seeing everything covered in snow and the trees completely dead, it's literally a season where plant life is difficult. And historically, Januaries are really difficult for me personally. I feel gloomy in the winter months, and some really terrible things that have happened in my life have happened in January. Fortunately, those times have contributed to spiritual growth - even if not immediately - and made me appreciate the happier seasons in life that much more. 

There's no way we could fully know the value of life if we didn't go through situations that tested our faith and endurance.

More on this later.

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