Taking Time to Smell the Roses is Spiritual Indeed – Ephesians 5:15-16

AMH Series // His Word is Written Across My Heart

How a fancy charcuterie board taught me to do the little things well

My Grandma often scolds me that I do not take time “to stop and smell the roses”. She’s right. I don’t. I like to keep busy and do as much as possible. Even when I’m spending time with the people that I love,  I like to squeeze in the memories and “maximize” the time.

Thankfully, I’m married to a man who knows how to slow down. He helps me stop and notice the changing seasons, roll the windows down, take a deep breath, and pay attention to the budding trees in the spring.

Making the Most of It

Just two weeks ago Joseph and I celebrated four years of marriage.  On the day of our anniversary, we set the whole evening *mostly* aside (*he didn’t study until after dinner). As we washed the grapes, cut the meats and cheeses, and beautifully displayed them on our charcuterie board, we were reminded not to rush on to the next thing.

But even he has struggled to slow down these days.

We’ve been in a season of high stress, hard work, and isolation from family and friends. Joseph is finishing his Master’s Degree to be a Physician Assistant with another year and a half of schooling. With the stress of work and school, we have to take turns reminding each other to do the little things well…

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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

When we were dating, we chose Ephesians 5:15-16 as our theme verse. Joseph went to school five hours away and would only come back into town every six weeks. We had very little time, much like today, so we wanted to make the most of every moment together.

We kept a silly little list of activities, called our “Epic-er Adventure List”, in a bright purple journal to reference whenever we were together. It contained everything from watching fireworks and eating with chopsticks to bog jumping and carving a rubber stamp.

We still have the list. Except, these days, when we get a chance to catch our breath between homework assignments, new job schedules, and ministry responsibilities, we are usually too exhausted to check anything off of it.

More often than not, we end up laying next to each other and simply existing. It sounds boring, I know. But God’s grace meets us right where we are. I’ve needed to learn how to find beauty in the mundane and the ordinary…. how to make a picnic basket full of grocery items into an evening to remember… how to simply enjoy being together even if it means doing nothing… how to stop and smell the roses… how to make the most of the little things.

You see, I use to think “making the most of every opportunity” meant “doing a lot of stuff”. Sure, it helped us make a lot of valuable memories, but I confused “productivity” for “purpose.” I didn’t really understand what that verse in Ephesians meant.

Redeeming the Time Isn’t about How Much You Do but How You Do It

The phrase “make the most of every opportunity” (NIV) in Ephesians is translated more literally as “redeeming the time” (ASV).

To redeem doesn’t mean to maximize. It doesn’t mean to capitalize on every moment with productivity. And it definitely doesn’t mean to do as much as possible. In Greek, the word “redeem” means to “rescue from loss.”

Redemption is kingdom work. It’s nitty, gritty and all encompassing. It’s purposeful.

When God transcended the heavens to enter this world in human flesh, He gave us His all (Romans 8:32). Redemption isn’t a check list of activities. It’s an all out act of complete devotion. That’s what God calls us to in our everyday lives. It’s all of our life, all of our time, used up for the glory of God in every little moment.

It’s not about doing more. It’s not about doing less. It’s about doing things well.

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Every Little Thing That You Do….

There is something in every moment that needs to be redeemed.

Over the past four years, we’ve learned that marriage is the perfect stage for an all out act of redemption to play out. It demands all of you all of the time. The everyday, ordinary moments teach you the most about redemption.

What does everyday redemption look like? It’s often unglamourous, sacrificial and small, but nonetheless it requires all of us. And that’s the best gift we can give to each other.

  • Redemption chooses kindness over crankiness

When Joseph gets tired of studying, he could get snippy with me but redemption chooses to speak with kind words.

  • Redemption chooses selflessness over selfishness

When I’m tired  after a long day at work, I could refuse to make dinner. But then we would never eat at home because, let’s be honest, I’m always tired after work. Instead redemption chooses to see the value in a home cooked meal prepared with love.

  • Redemption chooses purpose over productivity

I could plow through my own to do list rather than take the time to help Joseph study for his test. But redemption chooses to laugh together when I try and pronounce the names of the medications he has to memorize.

  • Redemption chooses effort over efficiency

We could save time driving to school and work separately, but we choose the inconvenience of sharing the morning commute so we can talk in the car about our days before we go home to the list of homework assignments waiting for us.

  • Redemption chooses joy over stress

When Joseph sees me getting too intense, he sprays me with the sprinkler, reminds me to turn on the radio, and tells me to stick my head out the window just because it’s fun. And when I see him getting stressed, I give him a shoulder rub, show him a funny youtube video, or surprise him with a yummy snack.

Joseph and I may not have a lot of time to spend together, but we can do the little things well. That’s what it means to “redeem the time”.

We can be part of God’s redemption in every little thing we do.

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This year, with the little time we have, we’ve learned to make the most of it – not by doing more, not by doing less, but by doing the little things well.  

When I’m released from the burden to constantly be productive, I am free be a free spirit in my yellow bohemian dress, laying on our picnic blanket under the shade tree. I’m free to embrace the moment. I’m free to “smell the roses” (though I prefer daisies).

We pack picnics and make charcuterie boards because it’s everyday, little moments that build a life together. We take turns reminding each other to “stop and smell the roses” because every little moment matters for eternity. Every little moment can be redeemed.

Happy 4 year anniversary, Joseph. I’m looking forward to redeeming more moments and making more memories…together.

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