Killing Orchids

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My thumb is not a nice dark green.  I suppose it’s more of a seafoam or chartreuse color.  What I am trying to say is that I seem to have about a 60/40 chance of growing beautiful things.  Many of my plants do indeed thrive.  They have deep, robust color and if a bloomer, they have plentiful and hearty offerings.

Then there are those that start off with a bang, bring me viewing pleasure for months and then die a slow and pitiful death right before my eyes.  Others limp along, making little progress only to become diseased.

In the past I attempted to grow orchids.  My sister does a great job with them and hers always look beautiful.  My friend, Rudy has several that thrive.  She shows pictures of them on Facebook and I gaze in wonder at their beauty.   One of my uncles used to have many different varieties and he also seemed to believe they were not hard to grow successfully.

I have brought several of them home with high hopes and visions of grandeur, imagining an entire shelf popping with several blooms in every shade of color in various heights.  I have cringed as I watched one after another succumb to my inefficient treatment (and they aren’t cheap!).   Much to my dismay, I’ve never seen one last for more than a month or so.  Yes, I have read about the lighting, fertilization and watering and I have also solicited advice from the above mentioned orchid hall of famers.  All to no avail I might add.

Then, I read something the other day.  It was about how when the bloom falls off; you can cut the stem a little below the bloom and wait.  Often, although it can take a long time, your orchid will bloom again.  No one told me this.  I always thought that once that flower was gone, it was as good as dead.  Now I learn that as long as my leaves still have some life to them, it is very possible that my orchid will rise again to its former splendor.  I just needed to wait!  Isn’t the waiting always the hardest part?  I’m sure some of you are laughing at my ignorance right now and I can’t say that I blame you.

So, I considered my hydrangea which is my favorite flower ever and not the easiest to grow this far south (at least not for me).  All the leaves had fallen off.  I could barely remember the last flower.  But, I haven’t had much time for yard work lately so I hadn’t dug it up yet.  I went out and took a peek and lo and behold, there are several green leaves gracing that once barren little collection of sticks.  Therefore, I will wait.

In life, one of the things we have the hardest time with is waiting.  We wait for the phone to ring, we wait for the water to boil, and we wait in line.  We wait for the answer to that prayer.  We hear, “good things come to those who wait”, extolling the virtue of patience.  And in our exasperation, we throw out the orchid, we dig up the hydrangea and we avoid the plant aisle for fear of another failure.

I have learned today in my mediation on this topic and my prayer is that you have too.  We will have to wait for the fruition of good things.  We might have to look at an ugly barren stem for a while before we realize the beauty.  May we be more patient with things, but more importantly with people.  Let’s set our sights on the coming growth and glorious blooms instead of the dead branches of the now.  I want to see what God see’s when He looks at me; His plan and the possibilities.

Forward progress

13511042_10154214939926763_6505748762857644676_nWas the game called Sorry where you move game piece forward or back based on where you land?  The other day my daughter said, “Two steps forward and ten steps back” and I visualized that game.  She was referring to her baby’s progress this week after three months in the NICU.  She was frustrated, exhausted both physically and mentally and was exaggerating just a tad.  It would have been easy for me to say something trite like, “Well, it could be worse”, or “All in good time”, but I knew it was better to just stay silent and try to rub the knot out of her neck.  I know my daughter and her patience level was waxing thin on that particular day.

I have learned that sometimes it is just better to say nothing.  I should say that I am learning this, because I certainly haven’t mastered it.  I have an entire library of “go to” clichés that are completely useless or even irritating in situations that I fail miserably at recognizing on occasion.  Sometimes a smile or a hug or just your being there does more to ease the angst of the weary than a thousand words could ever do.  Often, just listening is all that is needed; we don’t always have to feel compelled to “fix” things.  This is hard for me, I will admit.  I want to give advice, answers, help resolve and implement ideas!  But, as I said, I am learning.

I don’t have the time or inclination to delve into the multitude of issues that I’ve been faced with in the last few months.  However, suffice it to say that I understand being too tired to talk or too mentally exhausted to answer a simple question without emotions turning into teardrops.  With that said, I know in whom I trust and I can approach my trials and tribulations without fear and with faith.  This doesn’t mean I won’t get bone tired sometimes and need to seek a quiet peaceful place to re-fresh myself for the next battle.  (Yes, there will be more this side of heaven.)

What always compels me though to think I have to have an answer or suggestion for every tough situation I see others going through?   I don’t know.  Most of the time, I truly believe it’s that I really do want to help and soothe someone’s heart and I’m just not always sure of how best to accomplish that.   I do know that I had NO idea what people were going through when they spent months at a hospital with their child until our precious Cali was born.

Sheepishly, I think back at how silly or even heartless some of my pre-Cali comments must have sounded to others.   The thing is, we really do not know what anyone is going through unless we have walked in those same shoes and even then, experiences still vary from person to person even in the same scenario.

It amazes me that even in the tough times; God teaches us if we let Him.  As we go through pain, if we follow His lead, we can grow in the midst of it.  We can come out on the other side with a better understanding of mercy, with more empathy.

The other day as we pulled into the hospital park lot, my daughter (who still needs to learn patience) was complaining about the SUV in front of us.  She was anxious to get up to the 2nd floor and love on her baby, and this car was too slow, and in the way.  She spouted off something negative and I found myself right smack dab in the middle of a teaching moment.  I gently reminded her that the person in the car could be arriving at the hospital for the first time with a sick child, or leaving alone, never to bring theirs home.   She got my point and I have noticed her growing in grace through all of this.

So, have patience with me and I will try to have more patience with you.  Forgive me when I say all the wrong things or end up doing nothing because I didn’t know what to do.  As for me, I pray to practice giving people the benefit of the doubt, to recognize that their day might be going worse than mine and to try not to offer up trite, commonplace sentiments when a hug or a prayer might serve them better.

Beneath the surface

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Today as I looked out over the black, murky waters in the swamp at Jean Lafitte National Preserve, I thought about how you have no idea what is under the surface.  In the picture above, the gator popped up and started swimming toward us.  One minute the water was calm and the next, he surfaced and caused a wake, the black water rippling out around him as he swam right toward us.

My husband and I are both Florida natives and are no strangers to alligators and their habits.  We aren’t afraid of them as some people are, but we respect them.  However, as my husband knows, I’ve never been a fan of swimming in the swamp like a lot of people do on occasion.  This is definitely because I am not privy to what is below the surface.  In my most likely, overactive imagination, I envision not only gators, but snakes; and not just a snake, but nests of them and all manner of slimy creeping things and flesh eating parasites.  This is in all probability not the case, but until I know that for a fact, my body will stay above, thank you very much!

The water makes me think of people and personalities and how unless we know them extremely well (and sometimes even when we do), we don’t always know what is beneath the surface.   We don’t know of the private struggles, the personal failures, the pain kept inside.

We are only able to observe and glean from that which surfaces.    It’s only then that we see the emotion, thoughts and actions they allow to break through the outer wall and be felt and heard and viewed.  For many people, more walls go up with every infraction felt against them, so what we see may be very carefully wrapped up and concealed.

Knowing this, I often wonder why we aren’t all more patient with people.  We generally judge from first glance, make our minds up after a first encounter.  Have we even unveiled the first layer at this point?   I know I am thankful for the friends and loved ones in my life who took the time to search me out, to find the gems and ignore the ugliness.  It reminds me of how our heavenly Father takes the time to search our hearts; He doesn’t look on the outside, but at our heart.  Of course, we don’t have the privilege to look there with omnipotent, all-seeing eyes, but we can take the time to at least search it out to the best of our limited human ability.

I know I’ve touched on this before here, but it bears repeating.  Why don’t we try to take more time with people, to show love and kindness, offer consolation and prayer and who knows, we might unwrap something of vast beauty!

Valentines shoe box

Puppy Love Valentine CardsI remember when my girls were young and we had to buy or make valentines for the entire class.  There were big decisions to be made about who got which one.  Patience was a necessity as they carefully pondered the possible ramifications of each selection. “But mom, if I pick this one, he might think I like him”, and “Which one should I give my teacher?”

Some years we would carefully transform a shoe box into a glittering, shimmering, pink or red valentine mail box.  After the inevitable Valentine party with punch and cupcakes, they would bring it home and excitedly show me all of their cards. I would catch them perusing them again later in their room and maybe tucking one in the frame of their dresser mirror.

We used to make some of them together with construction paper and doilies.  We would cut out shapes, make drawings and pen our own verse, then deliver to family, friends and neighbors, often along with valentine cookies. Their smiles were the only reward I needed for my help. I imagine I could still find some of these treasures if I looked in the right boxes.

Time passes and those memories grow more precious to me as I try to hold on to every one of those sweet moments.  Love grows and changes and those precious little children, who captivated us at birth, weave their own unique and precious pattern deeply and permanently into our hearts.  Once again, I am so grateful for all the times I took the time to really enjoy them, to look in their eyes and listen to them.

Time flies and you never know what is waiting around the next corner. Live well and spend plenty of time with your family.

Frustrating Friday

Traffic lights

What a day!  It seemed like from the moment I left the comforting walls of my humble abode, nothing was going to be easy.

It started with the package my daughter asked me to mail; an odd shaped present for her boyfriend stationed in Texas.  With the proficient help of the postal service, that gift was on its way.

I headed towards town, knowing the traffic would be atrocious, but having no idea how much so.  It was the kind of traffic where you sit through a red light more than once.  My patience was already being tested.

First stop was the bank, where I tried unsuccessfully to get some copies of missing statements for an account that I am a signer on so I could get balanced.  They informed me that I’m not listed on the account, so therefore, they couldn’t help me.  It’s strange, because I’ve been the sole signer of the checks for several years now.  Things that make you go Hmmmm….  They said I could wait for a manager, and I did, but after 30 minutes, I gave that up for another day.

Second stop, auto parts store for my husband.   I hand them the note he thoughtfully penned for me, knowing my lack of knowledge in this particular area.  It wasn’t enough; they needed to know how many axels on the truck?  I said, “Do I look like I know anything about axels?” with a smile of course.  So, I sent a text to the hubby, who was out in the boat.  No answer, because he doesn’t have service….On to next stop.

Things were looking up at the car wash when they advised me I had met the requirement for my free wash.  A few minutes later, I had a shiny, freshly vacuumed ride, and oh, how I love my ride.

I figured I might as well stop at the department store and look around since I was still waiting on that return text.  I was almost tricked into thinking the day was getting a little brighter as I found a few things on sale, until I went to check-out.  The lines were 20 people deep and I am not exaggerating.  I sighed and settled in for the wait.  It’s funny watching people save their spot and get really close to the next person in front of them, like someone is going to take it away.  And some of this was over gaudy baubles and tacky looking (to me anyway) tops.

I finally decided to proceed to the grocery store and head home since it didn’t seem like my husband was going to get in an area where he could respond.  Fast forward thirty minutes and I had fought my way thru the aisles of Walmart like a trooper, weaving my basket in and out of others like a pro, waiting with a smile while people sauntered along in front of me like they didn’t have another thing to do in the world……ever!   I finally reached the register where the young man who took my money waited.  And trust me, other than slinging my stuff in the bags, all he did was take my money.   I got the feeling he was irritated with me for daring to enter his line, and taking up his precious time.  Goodbye, grumpy, young man.

As I was about to reach the car and head for home, for shelter and solace, my husband texted me and said to go back to the parts store.  Translate, fight the traffic again and postpone your much anticipated arrival home.  Of course, when I got there, they didn’t make it easy, but I finally left with the goods.

On the ride home, I managed to find myself behind a huge truck carrying concrete blocks and any time there was a dotted line for the pass, there was oncoming traffic, so I settled in behind him for the 45 mph haul.  At least I was only number 2 in a line of 20.

I finally drove into my little neck of the woods and was abruptly reminded that this is the weekend that we have over 40,000 visitors for the local seafood festival.  Yay, just what this introverted, quiet girl wants to deal with.  Oh well, at least its blog fodder J  Hope your day rocked!

Oh no you didn’t!

Different speed limits apply for day and night...

Patience is the companion of wisdom.”  Saint Augustine

This may sound very strange, but today my patience has been sorely tested by people with no patience.  You may say it was to be expected and is somewhat deserved.   After all, it was my decision to do some shopping and fight traffic the day after Christmas.

It seems that today, the spirit of Christmas was greatly lacking by some of the road warriors I shared the pavement with today.  I heard more than my share of horns honking and saw incredulous and hateful looks exchanged.

To finish out the day, I was driving in the direction of home where there is a slow zone for a few miles.  I was obeying the speed limit and the driver behind me was risking life and limb trying to find a way to get around me without colliding with oncoming traffic.  He finally passed about the time the speed limit returned to normal, and when I sped up to appropriate number, I found myself stuck behind him going less than the speed limit, for the most part.  Maybe he just had a thing for being the first car in line?  I am not going to lie, it took all I had not to put all of my 420hp to use and blow right past him, but then I would have been exhibiting the same behavior as he.

We ended up arriving at the same place at the same time which was no surprise to me.  I am not without fault as far as pushing the speed limit goes and I can certainly admit to many times when I was in a hurry and pushed my luck.  However, watching people today, I was once again amazed at how ridiculous full grown men and women can behave over a parking spot or a car that doesn’t have its wheels rolling within 1 second of the light turning green, or how some will risk their own and others safety due to short tempers.

I wonder if all of the honkers and passers and eye rollers behave that way all of the time or if they are just human like me, and struggle worse on some days than others?

We need to plan ahead to alleviate the stress of running late, realize that our fellow humans aren’t holding us up intentionally; there isn’t some premeditated, devious plan to keep us from getting to our destination.  And finally, sometimes you just need to stop and breathe.

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