One Way to Respond When Life Looks Uncertain

Emergency vehicles filled our street on New Year’s Day. We later learned that my neighbor’s father, who had been living with her for the last few months, had passed away unexpectedly. He had been doing well, she told me, and it was a shock.

The very next day, my own mom was admitted to the hospital for what was eventually diagnosed as a stroke. In the weeks before and after Christmas, family members from across the globe had come to town, and she’d spent hours laughing, talking and enjoying all seven of her children and many of her grandchildren.

I could have said the same thing as my neighbor—my mom had been doing well, and the stroke was a shock.

These events are sobering reminders that life is uncertain, that a person’s entire life world can change in a moment, that our existence on this planet comes with no guarantees.

Only God knows the number of our days, and He rarely reveals that figure ahead of time.

So far, my mom has experienced what her doctor described as a miraculous recovery, at least compared with her condition on the day she went into the hospital. We’re thankful, prayerful, hopeful.

With Alzheimer’s, though, nothing is certain. We simply don’t know what her recovery will look like or what her future holds.

As a result, all the familiar adages about being present, savoring what’s right in front of you and loving the ones you’re with mean more to me in now than they did even a few weeks ago. And not just as they relate to my mom.

The truth is, we never know when we are going to do something for the last time. Like holding a child’s hand, for example. One day your girl lets you grab her hand as you cross a parking lot; the next time, she doesn’t. This is a good and proper part of growing up, but we don’t get advance notice of it.

When a season is over, it’s over. There’s no going back, no rewinding the tape, no do-over available.

I’m not trying to be dramatic or cliché here. This is a real and relevant message, one that applies as much to young parents of growing children as it does to middle-aged children of aging parents (not to mention people of every other age and family demographic).

Life as we know it today may not be life as we know it tomorrow.

So, if we have something we believe God wants us to do or people He has put in our lives to care for, let’s get after it.


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

24 Responses to One Way to Respond When Life Looks Uncertain

  1. I’m so sorry for all you are going through but glad to hear your Mom is better. Yes, we should all savor the moments we have as none of them will happen again, at least not the same way. Praying for your Mom now!

  2. Dear Lois, what a pivotal period of life for you. As a young bride facing a crisis for the first time in my new family, Mama reminded me that people do/say things they normally wouldn’t during those times, for good and bad. Your faith and love have come through loud and clear since your mom’s Alzheimer diagnosis. While it may seem so hard for you, I’m betting to your girls you seem like a superhero. Continued prayers and blessings!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Alice, that wonderful advice that your Mama gave you is something I often tell my girls … when people are acting in a way that is uncharacteristic of them, there’s often something else going on, isn’t there? I know God has allowed us to take this journey for His good purposes, and my prayer is that what we all learn from it will serve us well in the future. For now, I’m thankful that my girls are always willing to extend forgiveness when I ask for it! I’m thankful for you and your prayers, my friend!

  3. Linda Stoll says:

    Oh Lois, I’m so sorry about your Mom. This has been such a difficult season for your family. I’m thinking that your writing has been a comfort, a release for you, even as you’ve encouraged us with wisdom and grace.

    And this?

    ‘The truth is, we never know when we are going to do something for the last time.’

    Etched on to my heart. Thank you for putting it there.

    I hope your weekend gives you a bit of a break, a portion of hope, friend …

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Yes, Linda … the writing has been a release, and so has the realization that if the writing doesn’t happen, that’s OK too. I sometimes wonder whether I should be so “current” in my blog posts … thoughts are in process about all that and where to go this year. 🙂 Thank you for your encouragement, my friend!

  4. Kristi Woods says:

    I’m glad to hear your mother is recovering in unexpected ways. Praise God. Lois, I am sorry to hear, however, that the new year started with this unexpected bang. May His righteous right arm continue to pull you close and lead you and your family well.
    I love your encouragement at the end. Yes, let’s get with it. #chasingcommunity

  5. Lisa notes says:

    Praying that your mom continues to recover well from her stroke, Lois. And I pray for her deliverance from Alzheimer’s as well, even though I don’t expect God to answer that one until she’s safely on the other side. 🙁 Blessings to you, friend!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you for your prayers, Lisa … and the encouragement that can only come from someone has has walked the same path. It’s sad to contemplate, but I do look forward to the day when my mom is fully restored. Hugs, friend!

  6. Hi Lois,
    Your mom’s stroke sounds as if the holidays were quite stressful for you but how wonderful that she is back on the road to recovery. I love your wisdom about enjoying what’s in front of you, even if it’s for a short time or it’s the last time, since things change. But isn’t it amazing that God does bring something new to us, even when it feels like we’ve lost something? Praying that promise for you for 2018! Happy new year, friend! xoxo

  7. Lois, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s stroke. You are so right. We never know what life holds even in the next moment. We do need to savor each moment. We don’t know when it’ll be “the last.” As my boys grow more toward manhood, I am seeing some “little boy” tendencies disappear. This is good, but there are a couple of cute mannerisms that I miss/will miss.

    Thank you for this reminder, my friend. I’m praying for you and your family.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m right with you when it comes to watching those childish tendencies disappear, Jeanne. It’s bittersweet, isn’t it? So grateful for your prayers and friendship …

  8. Trudy says:

    I’m so sorry for your mom and your neighbor, Lois. Such a difficult way to start out the New Year. It’s so true that we never know if we are doing something for the last time. Thank you for this real and relevant message that each and every one of us needs to hear. It reminds me of James 4:14 – “You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.” I’m so glad your mom is making a miraculous recovery. I hope you may enjoy her words and laughs for a long time yet! Love and hugs to you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      That’s a thought-provoking verse, Trudy … especially the last part: “Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.” We just never know what the coming days hold for any of us, do we? Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, my friend!

  9. Lesley says:

    Lois, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom’s stroke, but I’m glad she is recovering well. Will be praying for her and for you and the rest of the family.
    It’s true that there is so much about life that is uncertain (more than we often like to think) and we do need to make the most of the moments we have with those we love.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Lesley. I think you’re right … there’s much more to life that’s uncertain than we like to think! I’m so grateful that God’s sovereignty and love covers all of it!

  10. Amen, Lois. If you listen to country music, do you know Brad Paisley’s song “Last Time for Everything?” It echoes this truth for all generations, too. Thank you for this important reminder!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I just listened to the Brad Paisley song for the first time yesterday, Bethany … thanks for mentioning it. The message is relevant for sure (and the Youtube video definitely triggered some fashion flashbacks to my teenage years). 🙂 Hugs, friend.

  11. 2017 certainly prepared me to receive the truth of your words today. And this past week, two elderly relatives passed away, leaving me with the conclusion that being related to me is not a safe thing.
    So glad your mum is recovering from the stroke, but my heart aches for you over the dementia, because it’s so hard to know from day to day what your mum’s needs will be. Blessings to you as you ride all the bicycles at once.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Michele … I’m so sorry for the loss of your elderly relatives (though I had to smile at the conclusion you’ve drawn). 🙂 The bicycle analogy continues to encourage me … I’m so thankful for your empathy and presence in this space.

  12. Lois, I’m glad your mom is recovering. One of the most valuable lessons I learned when my life changed unexpectedly when my daughter passed away was cherish every moment. Be present. Even the hard things, the annoying behavior, the parts of a person that irritate, are missed when they’re gone. Treasure the things that make your loved ones who they are.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Oh, Debbie … what perspective you offer to this conversation. In a few short words, you’ve given me much to ponder and evaluate as I look at my own attitudes and heart. Thank you, my friend!

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