How One Word Made All the Difference

It’s time to revisit my OneWord for 2017.

By revisit, I mean here, on the blog. Not in my heart and mind, where the word has been present, active and possibly even prophetic since it was impressed upon my spirit sometime last fall.


It made no sense when I first thought of it. Out of all the adjectives I might use to describe myself, it never would have come to mind. And yet, there it was.


The sense that this was to be my word only grew stronger the closer we got to the new year. So I dutifully wrote my OneWord blog post (which was mostly about the previous year’s word) and went about my business.


The thing about choosing a word for the year is that you never know if it’s going to turn into something meaningful or just fade away like the morning fog. My two previous words—fruit for 2015 and satisfied for 2016—both were connected to scriptures that I prayed daily, a discipline that kept them front and center for me throughout the year.

I had no verse or prayer for 2017. All I had was a song that describes God’s relentless pursuit of His children in terms of His “fierce” love for us. (Listen here.)

As I explained in that first post, the idea that God’s love for us could be fierce made me start thinking that maybe our love for others could be fierce too. And if love can be fierce, why not patience, joy, gentleness and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit?

Fierce, as in an attitude that is persistent. Deep. Intense. Determined. Intentional, fervent, unwavering.

“As I look ahead to a year that promises to be challenging—perhaps even transformative—for my family, I’m starting to get a feel for why God may have impressed this word on my heart last fall,” I wrote. “I don’t know exactly what the future holds, but I know how I need to conduct myself on the way there.”

I read that now and almost have to laugh. I sound so sure of myself, so in control of my feelings, so certain of how to proceed.

I had no idea.

The year began with confirmation of my mom’s Alzheimer’s and took an unexpected, mid-year plunge with an accident that landed her in the burn unit of a Kansas City hospital followed by two months of rehab and (now) long-term care.

Challenging? Transformative? That’s putting it mildly, I think.

I’ve done things this year that I never pictured myself ever needing to do. Daily trips to the hospital with my dad. Discussions with hospital staff members about living wills and nursing-home care. Family meetings with surgeons, internists, nurses, social workers and palliative care doctors. Hashing through what to do next with my dad and siblings when none of the options seemed very promising. Conversations with my girls about what was happening to grandma, and what it’s like to be the grown daughter of a mom who is in crisis. (This was all just in June, by the way.)

There I was—the one who hates change and avoids confrontation—trying to cope with this new situation one setback at a time, one decision at a time, one day at a time.


Looking back, there is no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit was the One who planted that word in my heart. A word from the Word, if you will. And there was power in that.

Every now and then—as I awkwardly juggled all this and regular life too—I’d think of my OneWord and somehow, my confidence would grow. I wasn’t fierce before (maybe I’m still not), but having this word in my mind—and believing God put it there—gave me courage to act. To push open doors not knowing what lay beyond them. To listen to hard diagnoses and even harder prognoses, to engage in hard conversations, to pray hard prayers.

Ironically, the fierceness I had planned to display when it came to the fruit of the Spirit didn’t always pan out. Stress, uncertainty and sleepless nights can bring out the worst in people, and I certainly wasn’t immune to that.

I’m thankful for grace, for morning mercies, for opportunities to model brokenness in front of my girls.

I’m thankful for God’s healing power, for my mom’s resilience, for Randy’s listening ear, for my dad’s faithfulness, for my girls’ companionship and my family’s encouragement.

I’m also very thankful that lately, the main thing I’ve had to be fierce about has been figuring out how to keep my mom from losing her hearing aids.


Looking back, there is no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit was the One who planted that word in my heart. Click To Tweet

P.S. I’m linking up this week with the RaRaLinkup, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community, #HeartEncourgement and Grace & Truth.

32 Responses to How One Word Made All the Difference

  1. Lisa Appelo says:

    I love your 2017 word. We’ve expressed to our kids since they were little that we “love you fierce.” So that word holds so much meaning. To think that God loves us fierce in the fullest sense takes my breath away. Wow. Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      What a beautiful way to express love to your children, Lisa. You’ve had to be fierce in so many ways that I can’t even imagine, and I am so blessed when I read your stories of how God has expressed His love and faithfulness to you and your children over the years. Hugs, friend!

  2. Ahhhh, sweet friend. You’ve had a year….. I remember your post about your 2017 OneWord, and I remember it being an unusual one. Isn’t it interesting how God sometimes helps us grow into our word for the year?

    I don’t know about you, but I’m discovering that God molds and changes me in the most unexpected ways as I contemplate my One Word each year.

    I’m continuing to pray for your family, my friend. I’m guessing this season is a little bittersweet this year. May God be your strength and fill you with His joy each day.

    Hugs, friend.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Oh Jeanne … those unexpected God-ordained changes are the best, aren’t they? At least in retrospect … during the actual molding process, they often don’t feel like it! Thank you for your prayers, my friend … I hope this Christmas is filled with sweet memories for you and your sweet family too. 🙂

  3. Lois, what a year of fierce-living you’ve had. Just this morning I was thinking about my One Word (and those from years before) and how God took me through journeys that I didn’t expect but were just what I needed. Sometimes it wasn’t comfortable but in the big G0d-scheme of things, they really helped me to grow closer to Him. I know He’s doing the same for you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      So nice to see you here last week, Marva! I hear what you’re saying about how God uses our One Words to guide and grow us through the year. I know what my word for next year is supposed to be, and I’m sort of nervous to see where it’s going to lead. But I also find comfort in knowing that He goes before us and is already preparing us for what comes next, even when we don’t realize it. Many Christmas blessings to you and yours!

  4. You have definitely had a year that required ferocity, and it was so good of God to plant that seed in your heart early on. Smiling about the hearing aids and your mum — but at the same time realizing that the truth is, it’s in these little frustrations that we find grace to be fierce in all the right ways.
    Blessings to you, Lois.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      So true, Michele … maybe because it’s those little frustrations that throw us (maybe just me?) off our game more than anything else and require that daily relinquishing (not my will, but yours be done)! Blessings back, my friend. I’m so thankful for your faithful encouragement.

  5. SUSAN SHIPE says:

    Lois, WOW! I love when our word is Spirit-given and then we see it manifested in our lives. Another WOW. Did you read Holley’s book Fiercehearted? IF NOT, I’d love to send you a copy. Let me know. Email me. xo

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Susan! I received the book yesterday and have already started reading. So good so far! I’m going to send you a proper thank-you note, but I’m so blessed by your thoughtfulness! Hugs, friend. 🙂

  6. Dear Lois, how exciting that the Lord has grown you into your word. Don’t you love it when you can look back on a pivotal time of life and see when He planted a seed for the very thing you would need most? What a blessing you surely are to your family with your fierce love and devotion! Keeping you and yours in my prayers for a Christmas that will be different from years before. XOXO

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Alice, I do love looking back and seeing how God has gone ahead and prepared the way, even when it comes to a single word! That’s such a wonderful faith builder, isn’t it? I hope this Christmas season is full of joy and blessings for you and yours … and just so you know, I’m putting “get together with Alice” on my list for January. 🙂

  7. Laura Rath says:

    “Looking back, there is no doubt in my mind that the Holy Spirit was the One who planted that word in my heart. A word from the Word, if you will. And there was power in that.”

    Amen! God’s Word is powerful, and so is one word from Him. Over the years, my words for the year have given me courage, kept me going, challenged me, and taught me so much about myself and God. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  8. Linda Stoll says:

    There is a gentle fierceness that wells up when it comes to the wellbeing and care of those dearest to us. I’ve experienced that with my mom as well this year, Lois … it’s a feeling, a call that just can’t be described.

    I honor the way you’ve lived out your word this year, your devotion to family, your steadfast faith.

    Thank you for showing us how to do this oh-so-hard season well.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Oh Linda … I often feel like “well” is the last word that should be used to describe how I’ve done this season, but I am grateful for your kind words and encouragement. Although there are many things I wish I could do over prior to my mom’s diagnosis, I’m grateful that God has given me another chance to try to love her well now. Praying for you as you care for your own mom in ways you’ve maybe never experienced before … may God go before you and give you peace and strength for each new day.

  9. Lisa notes says:

    You definitely are fierce, Lois! God knew that was the word you would need this year. I love how he knows ahead of time. Praying for this journey you are on. I know it is difficult. The progress of my mother’s Alzheimer wasn’t an easy thing to watch, but there were gifts of grace all along the way. Praying the same for you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Aw … thanks, Lisa. I know what you mean about those gifts of grace long the way … my mom still remembers us and appreciates our visits so much. I might be stressed and busy when I stop by to see her, but I always leave feeling thankful that I went. Thank you for your prayers … it’s like so many other things … only someone who has been there can fully understand what the journey is like!

  10. Trudy says:

    This is such a beautiful testimony of how God gave you a word you needed this year, Lois. His fierce love got you through, and He worked fierce love in you to pass on. I second what Debbie says – “And I think modeling brokenness is fierce. It’s in brokenness that the Source of our fierceness shines through.” So true. I’m grateful things have calmed down, though I’m sure it all has shaken up your life big time and it’s still a challenge. Love and hugs to you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you, Trudy! I’m grateful things have calmed down too … I’m trying to learn to enjoy the days and weeks when things are going smoothly and pray a lot when issues and problems pop up unexpectedly, as they sometimes do. 🙂 I’m so thankful for YOUR fierce encouragement over these past months … many sweet blessings to you and yours this week!

  11. Lesley says:

    It is amazing how powerful a single word can be, and I love how although you didn’t really know why God gave you that word at the time, you can look back and see how he has used it to sustain you through the tough times. It’s a reassuring reminder that although the future is uncertain to us he knows exactly what it will hold and he will equip us to face it.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      That is so true, Lesley. God knows what we need, when we need it–even when it comes to words! I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey with your word too, and I’m looking forward to seeing where God leads you next year. 🙂

  12. karen hopkins says:

    Lois, reading your post after Mary Mcully forwarded it this morning, made me stop and take a deep breath..deep breathing lately in circumstances in life here has become my norm. As I read your word ” Fierce” , and remembering
    your words of faith , found coupled with strength in the early days of your adoption experiences, as you wrote your story, fierce is appropriate to describe you. Determined..Stubbornly relentless. Deep..all those describing you as a woman of faith. I will be lifting your family in prayer as you walk with your parents thru the journey with your mom. Our “Abba Father’s ” Fierce Love will guide you in steps of Grace and compassion.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Karen! It was so good to hear from you last week. Thank you for your kind words, your prayers and your friendship across the years and miles. I’m sorry that you’ve been needing those deep breaths lately … praying for you right now … that God will sustain you and be your very oxygen during this Christmas season and beyond. Love and hugs to you!

  13. Lois, I’m sorry that it has been such a hard year but so glad for God’s goodness through it! What an apt word of the year, looking back. Amazing how He prepares, plants, and then produces much through just a word : )

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Bethany, I’ve been so thankful for your long-distance prayers and friendship this year. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you and Matt in the coming days … 🙂

  14. Joanne Viola says:

    Lois, it is amazing when we look back at our “word”. But you put it well > “A word from The Word.” Prayerfully asking Him to show me my word for the new year. Beautiful post!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Joanne, I will be looking forward to reading what you (and the Holy Spirit) come up with for your word for 2018. 🙂 I know what mine is going to be, and after this year, it makes me kind of nervous! But God knows what we need, doesn’t He, including words!

  15. Mary Mc says:

    Lois, as I read through your blog of fierce determination, love, constant strength through God’s Word and the mental challenge to maintain a fierce walk “for such a time as this” I sat at the table with you, drinking in a beautiful testimony that even I at 75 felt new revival for where I need to be in the new year we are soon to enter…except I began today. You have always been an inspiration to me. I think of you and your family every time I go into our cabinet to get out a special dish as the ones you gifted me with are lovingly setting there with the others. May our Fierce Jehovah Rapha protect you and your family and cover you with His wings.
    Loving you forever,
    Mary McCully (now 75!)

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Oh Mary … you don’t know what it did to my heart to see your name here and read your encouraging words last week. I wish we actually could sit at a table together again … what a precious conversation that would be. Until that happens, please know that I treasure your friendship and am so thankful for the investment you have made in my life of the years (and the lives of my loved ones)!

  16. Ah, Lois, I know the struggle of having a mom who has both physical difficulties and Alzheimers. My sister took on the bulk of caring for Mom, but it was a difficult two years. Praying for you and your family.

    And I think modeling brokenness is fierce. It’s in brokenness that the Source of our fierceness shines through.

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