By: Tiffany Pearl
Stop and smell the roses…
Take the time to watch the flowers grow…
We’ve all heard these phrases used before. Actually we’ve probably all said or thought at least one of these phrases once in our lifetime. And although it sounds like just a silly phrase that people probably use far too casually without actually following, I think whoever came up with this advice may have had a few things figured out when it came to being in the present and slowing down.
Over the past 15 years I have had to learn this the hard way. Motherhood has brought on busyness. And when our family started pulling back on things a few years ago, I thought I was doing a pretty good job of reducing our busy schedules, saying no more than yes and reducing the amount of weekly activities we commit to. I thought at least, until our world completely got turned upside down on Feb 4 when we learned Bella had a brain tumor and needed immediate surgery. From that moment on many things have moved fast, such as surgeries and cancer diagnosis, but over the last 4 months life has had to slow down completely. In fact it’s almost had to stop. But we are counting this as a blessing because it is allowing us to be present with each other much more than before. It is giving us the opportunity to take the time to smell the roses, and what a beautiful sweet scent they have.
Many people have been asking us for updates on Bella, and we have purposely not put anything on this blog for a while to allow us to be completely present for Bella and Julianna during Bella’s brief time off from treatment. Since we have returned home from New Jersey where Bella received her proton beam radiation for 6 weeks, we’ve had to be a little bit more intentional on making sure we are slowing down and spending time together. Bella’s side effects began to wear off a little more each day (thank goodness!!!) and she started back up to school the week after we returned, started back up singing at church and has increased her time hanging out with friends. She went back to being a “normal kid,” as she likes to say. Oh…yeah, and I went back to work. Life sped up…quickly. Seems like we were being thrown back into the normal rhythm of life as before but with a lot of additional doctor appts. However, as you can imagine, the moment you hear that your daughter has cancer , priorities dramatically change. The things that seemed so important before, just don’t anymore. The exhausting weekly activities schedule just seems to be not as necessary. The social commitments that you looked forward to before, become less significant. All that matters is spending time with the ones God has given you to love and care for on this earth. Those moments become more sacred. Maybe it’s just a movie night on the couch or a night out playing mini golf. Maybe it’s taking the time to set up a lemonade stand on the front lawn or an extra tens minutes to rub your little ones back before bed. Or maybe it’s taking an hour just to talk to your kids about something important to them. Whatever it is, THESE are the moments that count. The moments where we put the phones down and slow down to just take the time to be in the moment….physically AND emotionally. To enjoy every second of it, breath it in, watch the flowers grow.
As Spring came upon us, it brought up a lot of yard work to do these past couple weeks, which might have a little to do with my gardening references. I usually dread this every year. We have a significant amount of landscaping in our yard, and the weeds don’t tend to stop…EVER!!! But for some reason, this year I’m actually enjoying it. I’m deeply taking it all in, the sweet little forget-me-nots, the heavily scented lilacs, the whimsical lilies of the valley. It’s been fun finding the frogs hiding under the bushes and watching a spider spin it’s intricate web. I’m watching things grow, even the weeds that don’t belong, they still have their place.
And I thank Jesus for all the moments that He has allowed us to slow down over the past few months, to just enjoy the day He has given us. To not look forward as to what’s to come, to not fill up our social calendar, to take time to breath and enjoy every second of it, even through the darkest valley we are currently walking through. He tells us “THIS is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad” not tomorrow, not next week….TODAY.
Jesus did this. He slowed down, He took time to pray (a lot of time). He broke bread with His friends, He said no sometimes. He spent time to talk to people different than Him. He stopped what He was doing to heal someone. He allowed margin to helps others. He was not in a rush, ever. How is it that Jesus, the King of the universe, had enough time to do those things, but we have created schedules so jam packed that we can barely catch our breath, let alone, be completely present for those who need us.
The to do lists will never be checked off completely, there will always be endless piles of laundry, the weeds will keep growing in the yard, and there will always be more groceries to buy. I get it. I’ve been there, I’m there. And we obviously can’t ignore these responsibilities and just expect they will get done for us! But let’s be honest, those are not the only things filling our schedules. Those are not the only things pulling us away from being fully present for those we love. What could you release? What could you start saying no to? What of your kids activities could you let go? What is pulling you away from really just being in the moment? As I said a few years ago, we started asking ourselves these questions to reduce our load, but our recent news took this to a different level. My hope in writing this is that you might look at these questions to see where in your life could do the same.
Bella will begin chemotherapy at Roswell this Monday, probably as you read this she is sitting in a hospital bed after her mediport procedure and first day of chemo. This will continue through the remainder of 2022 for Bella. The reality that your child will be going through chemo is something that is hard to say out loud , it stings every time. We are afraid of the side effects for her , mentally how she will handle this, and of course the big question, will it kill the cancer completely? However, we are still staying in the present, focusing only on the day ahead. We know tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone, but the moment we are presently in is. Jesus tells us “ therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34) so we will leave this in His hands, take each day one at a time and focus on our day ahead being fully present to the ones God has so graciously blessed us with. I pray you will do the same today…but just for today, because tomorrow is not here. Stay in the present. Put your phone down. Watch a sunset. Play in the sprinkler with your kids. Grab coffee with a friend. Stop to help a neighbor. Call a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. Take a hike in the woods.
Smell the roses.
Watch the flowers grow.
These are precious moments that will not last forever. Don’t miss them because your to do list is too long. I promise it will be there tomorrow but those moments may not.