What an Orchid taught me about Christ

I don’t have a green thumb.  In my life, I can count the times I have gotten flowers on one hand, and the times I have killed them on the same hand.  My rose from Dad on Valentines’ day is always the first one to die in the vase – even though I swear I do nothing different to it than anyone else’s.  Each year at the bank I work at, our boss gives us Poinsettias about a week before Christmas.  Mine is dead by Christmas Eve.  The plant that lived in a pottery vase that I was given for my graduation is now just a pottery vase that holds my pencils, because the plant has not been with us for over two years.  The little potted plant my best friend gave me is dead (sorry Mary) because I didn’t think it needed water.  Don’t ask me why.  I just don’t have a green thumb.  And that’s ok – to each his own, everyone has a set of talents and gifts.  Plant care is not one of mine.

So this little orchid that a fantastic guy gave me may have a short lived life in my house, by no means will it be intentional plant slaughter, it’s just something bound to happen.  Yet during it’s (possibly short) life here, it has already taught me quite a bit.

For starters, let’s just take a moment to appreciate how little gardening work an orchid needs.  You feed it by ice cubes (the water, not the rapper) and sit in a a partly sunny place.  Check.  So this can’t be too much – although I’m sure I’ll forget it’s water supply and pass by it one day as it is breathing its last.  But, on the optimistic side, it’s little purple flowers are nice and bright and death has not cast it’s shadow over the door of this little plant.

Here is the phenomenal, mind blowing part.  Look at this little plant.  Just look at it.  See how straight it is standing, reaching up for the sun? (It’s normally in my room, but it came outside today for a photo shoot).  How neat is that? It knows that it grows best standing up, and so it stands.  Check this out, it gets cooler:

Not so straight, right? Despite all the ice cubes I have fed it and sunshine it has eaten up, this little orchid still likes to slump to the right.  
Let’s use the orchid as an analogy for our faith.  (if you think it’s a stretch, bear with me for a second). I grew up in a super Catholic house.  I’m the oldest of eight, I was homeschooled K-12, I knew about Theology of the Body since eight grade confirmation, and I’ve been schooled in apologetics at the lunch table since my freshman year of high school.  I graduated high school two years ago, went to a non-Catholic college, but got involved in my Catholic Campus Center and have made my best friends there.  I’ve grown in my faith through defending it through classes and interactions with other students, Catholic and non-Catholic.  All in all, if my life is that little orchid, I’ve gotten a really good amount of ice cubes and my sunshine tank is pretty full. 
But I still slump to the right quite a bit.  I don’t have it all together (despite appearances) and sometimes my stress levels hit the roof.  I have a horrible temper (it’s beast) and can be insanely judgmental.  Pride is something I consistently have to confess, and I always have fuel for spiritual direction.  I do not know anything but a teeny-tiny percentage of my faith life, and praise God for friends who are knowledgeable in the faith.   Now, take a look at this little baby alligator clip:
That is the only thing that is keeping the orchid from slumping to the right and growing horizontally instead of vertically.  It’s not incredibly strong on it’s own merit, but it’s grip on the orchid keeps the orchid growing tall and sticking up for itself. 

                       

So despite all the good things that I can surround myself with, I still need a little baby alligator clip to keep me straight.  What is my little baby alligator clip? God’s grace.  Something I don’t have to deserve to receive, something that God is constantly just pouring down on me through the sacraments and grace and the time that I spend just looking at His amazing love in adoration.  Something that I see in the faces of those I interact with, and the love of the friends who reach out and sit me down when they know something is wrong.

An orchid growing horizontal is pretty cool – not something you see everyday.  But an orchid that knows its mission and purpose and loves reaching up to the God who made it? Now that my friends is a sight to see.  So, seriously, if you want to come see it, you better stop by quick. Because it may be reaching for the ground in a couple of days.   But until that day comes, I’m really enjoying the blessing of a good reminder of how it’s ok to not have it all together, and the importance of a little baby alligator clip.

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      I’ve had so much coffee today that picking just one drink isn’t going to be easy.  Ok, honesty hour, I’ve had so much coffee this week  that all the drinks blend into one (no pun intended).  Yet the root of the extra caffeine is simply because my increase of coffee is making up for a decrease in sleep hours – which happens to be nineteen hours of sleep this week.  That is a new record if anyone is counting.  Thankfully homework has settled down, midterms are done for the most part, and I am ready to embark onto another week of coffee sipping and hopefully sleeping.

     Where was I? Oh right, coffee reminiscing.  Can you tell I’m still a little sleep deprived? I’m going to have to go with the new spiced pumpkin latte from Panera with my “What I’m Drinking” for the week.  Every Saturday night I swing by that bakery and this week I saw that their coffee menu had changed to include this beauty.  Guys.  It’s amazing.  And call me the typical white girl as long as you want (minus the Starbucks, more on that later) but there is nothing quite like a pumpkin coffee as you watch the leaves off your back porch.

Ah, a site of beauty. 
Would you look at that? Just look at it!

      Now onto the thoughts of my crazy, jumbled brain, if that wasn’t crazy and jumbled enough for you.  My little sister is eighteen years old, which is a fact that usually blows my mind.  It doesn’t seem that I’m old enough to have a little sister who has also crossed the bridge to the adult world. Yet, eighteen years old she is, and I’m incredibly proud of her.  It’s an incredible blessing to go to the same college as her as well – we share a professor this semester and it is exciting to know that when he talks about his ‘Freshman class,’ he’s talking about her.  

     Earlier this week she came home from classes and said that she wanted to go to Nicaragua over the winter break.  This floored me – because she’s not a super adventurous gal.  Yet she was not only wanting to go on this trip, she was excited about it.  She pulled up pictures, schedules, and sent off her request for a passport.  As I’m typing this, she just came home with her passport picture all printed and ready to go.  Her deposit was put down Tuesday.  Talk about delving into something that you are passionate and striving after a goal that you’ve selected for yourself.

                                             

 
     She is going to be able to expand into a better version of herself on this trip, and it all stemmed from the ability to get out of her comfort zone.  Getting out of your comfort zone is what I’m thinking about quite a bit this week.  Mady is taking a leap of faith and adventure that I wish I would have had the bravery to do in my freshman year in college.  Not that my freshman college experience was horrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it was safe. 
     Our faith life isn’t meant to be ‘safe.’ Or ‘convenient.’  Instead, it is a call to get out of our comfort zones and interact with other human beings on this road to Heaven.  It means talking to people, and being vulnerable.  It means admitting you don’t have it all together – and realizing that perfection is a goal that is only reached when Heaven is attained.

    Take a lesson this week from Miss Mady.  Side not – she also blogs, I am beyond excited to be able to follow her adventures.  Get out of your comfort zone – and apply that to faith and general life goals tat you have in mind for yourself.  You do not have to travel internationally to accomplish amazing things for Christ.  You can be His hands and feet here with your own family, campuses, friends and workplaces.

    Saint Teresa of Avila (yet another one of my favorites up in Heaven) once said, “You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him.”  Don’t be afraid to ask God for something that seems out of your reach.  If it is in His plan for your life, it’s going to work out.  Awareness that the answer could be ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ or ‘Maybe’ is also 

     I wrote about this earlier this week, but it’s still relevant.  Get into the trenches.  Get out of your   comfort zone.  Life is too short – take it from the twenty year old who is realizing that my life could be over twenty percent lived.  Honestly, who knows? It could be that my life is already ninety percent completed.  But I know this – I don’t want to look back on my life (however much of it God gives me) and think “Wow, I could have done so much more for Him if I’d only put my plan aside and let Him take over.”

Be bold.  Jump into the deep end.  Drink some coffee.  Be Not Afraid.