"Stop and smell the roses" is a great English expression meaning that we should relax and take time out of our busy schedules to enjoy and appreciate the beauty of life (https://en.wiktionary.org). I'm afraid I'm not very good at this. My life is far too busy. There are too many responsibilities and too many items on my "to-do" list to enjoy the beautiful things God has given us, or to even notice His daily blessings.

I'm sure you can relate. With all the problems that are constantly knocking at our doors and taking over our lives, it's a wonder we even notice things as obvious as the passing of the seasons. Take this year, for example. As winter passed into spring, did we notice that the Lilacs were prettier than usual? And what about the trees? I'm sure we all noticed that they came back to life after winter, but did we take the time to observe how each spring day brought change to those stark, bare branches? First the brown limbs became brown-green, then the green spread until it enveloped each and every twig. The trees then took on a bright lime shade as the leaf buds burst forth, and then the shades of green darkened and brightened as the leaves grew bigger and took on their summer hues...

And if we don't notice such beauties of nature and all the lessons God has for us in each one, how can we recognize the other blessings God has for us as well?  

This was a vitally important lesson that I learned in my cancer walk. I had never before stopped to admire the tiny flowers in my lawn. In fact, I had always thought of them as "weeds". Nor had I realized that hummingbirds regularly visited my deck, and I had never simply sat and admired the colours of the dawn. Cancer forced me to take time off--from work, from being a mom, from cooking, from cleaning, and from all the myriads of things that are supposedly so important. As a result, I found myself, for the first time in my life, "stopping to smell the roses". Although there weren't any actual rose bushes in my yard, I literally began to notice and admire God's handiwork; and what I learned was phenomenal: Each tiny blossom, each bird feather, each blade of grass, each butterfly wing--even each tomato worm!--are all intricate works of art, designed in elaborate detail and fashioned in love by the Creator's hand.

As I "stopped to smell the roses"--as I began to recognize the hand of God in the beauty of nature--I also began to notice His hand over my life as well, even in the midst of cancer. In my moments of worst discouragement, He never once failed to send me encouragement. In the midst of my worst fears, I could always see His hand of comfort and strength upon me. And as God brought each of His blessings to my attention, the Truth was solidified in my heart that my God was (and is!) in control of everything, including cancer!

And He is in control of whatever you are going through as well. If you can't see it, put aside a few moments today to "stop and smell the roses". Put up a hummingbird feeder and sit and watch for the tiny "helicopters" to come by. Watch for God's encouragement in your life today. Allow Him to minister to your heart through His nature and through His strength and power. Then, when it's all over--and it WILL come to an end!--don't forget this vital lesson: Always take the time to "stop and smell the roses"!

Isn't this what Jesus meant in His famous Sermon on the Mount? "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life--whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? So don't worry about these things, saying, 'What will we eat? What will we d'rink? What will we wear?' These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." (Matt. 6:25-33 NLT).
 
I encourage you to take about 15 minutes of your day today and meditate upon these words of Jesus. Savour them. Roll them over your tongue. Allow them to penetrate your mind, your soul, your spirit. I can guarantee that you will never look at your problems in the same way again.

And you might just find that you are actually able to take the time to "stop and smell the roses"!

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.