What I Learned This Fall

It seems a bit strange to write about fall now that the house is decorated for the holidays and Christmas music is blaring from the living room stereo 24/7. But technically, it is still fall. And, as is always the case when I start evaluating the past three months, it seems I learned more than I thought during this season of brilliant colors and too-high temperatures.

thanksgiving-family2We’ll start off with this family picture, taken by my younger sister on my parents’ back deck. Besides screaming “fall,” it reminds me of Thanksgiving Day—the first in many years that someone else did most of the cooking (thanks, sis) and I got to sit around all morning and finish reading two overdue library books.

The lesson in all this: Sometimes, it’s good to ask others to do something that you normally do (and it’s a huge blessing when they happily agree to do it).

• • •

My new love language is effort. I know it’s not one of author Gary Chapman’s famous five, but it really is a thing for me. My birthday was on an unseasonably warm Saturday in early November. I spent most of the day outside, building a stepping stone path around the side of my house. Meantime, all kinds of surprises were under way in the house. Like the Happy Birthday banner, made out of recycled blueprints, that stretched from one end of the balcony overlooking our living room to the other end.

birthday-banner

Each letter was surrounded by adjectives that started with the same letter (such as “Bomb” for B and “Iffy” for I). I don’t use this word lightly, but it really was amazing. Besides bringing fresh meaning to the phrase “go big or go home,” it warmed my heart to think of all the time, care and thesaurus usage my girls put into making the display. Yep, for me, effort equals love.

• • •

While the girls were making homemade cards (my absolute favorite) and the fabulous banner, Randy was decorating my birthday cake. (I should pause here and mention that before I got married, the three big items on my husband list were that he had to be a Christian, he had to be taller than me, and he had to be able to fix things. The fact that I got a man who also knows how to decorate cakes has been an unexpected and tasty bonus.)

cakeAnyway, Randy tried something new this year—big flowers on top of a layer of chocolate frosting, on top of a devil’s food base. The cake was beautiful. Even after 22 years of marriage, he still surprises me with his creativity. But I also learned something that day: It IS possible to have too much frosting.

• • •

One of the highlights of November for me was meeting a World War II veteran at Kohl’s on Veteran’s Day. As his hat proudly stated, he served from 1941 to 1945, starting out in Africa, then moving throughout Europe as the war unfolded. I thanked him for his service, and he told me he didn’t regret a bit of it.

The store was crowded, it was past lunchtime, and I was a bit distracted, so we spoke only briefly. As I got into my van, though, I was almost moved to tears when I considered all he had surely experienced and witnessed as part of the Greatest Generation. I wished I had thought to inquire about his age and perhaps ask for his perspective on the election just past. I resolved that, the next time I have an opportunity to engage in a conversation like this, I would ask more questions and listen more carefully. I missed my chance that day, but I won’t make that mistake again.

• • •

When you care for someone I love—in tangible, practical ways—I feel cared for too. There’s more I could say about this, but it’s not my story to tell right now. So I’ll leave it at that.

• • •

When one of my favorite authors shares her story of faith and heartbreak on Focus on the Family, how can I not tell you about it? I first wrote about Tricia Lott Williford when I did this Author Note about her book And Life Comes Back: A Wife’s Story of Love, Loss, and Hope Reclaimed. To this day, it’s one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. You can hear her Focus interview here. Even during this busy holiday season, it’s well worth the time investment. (But be sure to have tissues handy.)

• • •

One of the best parts of my Faith, Fear & the Life of a Writer series has been the comment section. Seriously, I’ve learned much and been encouraged more by interacting with readers (perhaps even you) about light and airy topics such as pride, working through fear and how to be more transparent in writing. So you can imagine how delighted I was when my friend Bethany took my post “24 Ways to Keep Your Writing Real” and turned it into an amazing graphic, which I’m now sharing with you here: 24-ways-to-keep-your-writing-real (Stay tuned for more of the writing series after the holidays.)

• • •

Classical music is my happy place. OK, so music isn’t really a place. And I only listen to this genre when I drive to pick up Lilly from her ballet class on Wednesday evenings. But no matter what my day has been like, the moment I hear Bach, Beethoven or Mozart drifting from my van stereo, the stress just melts away.

• • •

Nov. 15 is National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. I didn’t learn this until that afternoon, when I received the daily homework email from Molly’s social studies teacher. (Besides informing parents about assignments and such, Dr. M keeps us posted about all the “holidays” that apparently litter every day of the year.) I wouldn’t have paid attention to this particular observance if not for the fact that, earlier that very day, I had helped my 83-year-old dad clean out and organize his freezer. “What happened, I believe, is called serendipity,” he said when I told him.

That’s it for me. What did you learn this fall?

Lois Flowers

P.S. Linking up this week with Jami Amerine at #RaRaLinkup, Jennifer Dukes Lee at #TellHisStory, Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart, Lyli Dunbar at ThoughtProvokingThursday, Crystal Storms at #HeartEncouragementThursday, Crystal Twaddell at FreshMarketFriday and Dawn Klinge at Grace & Truth.



32 Responses to What I Learned This Fall

  1. Lois, I love your humor and your insight. What precious acts of love from your family…Happy belated birthday! I’m glad you got to share it doing what you love and with those you cherish. It seems we share a love of classical music. It’s also my happy place. I seem to have missed “Clean out your refrigerator day” but then I always do:)

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Ha … somehow, “Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day” has bypassed my house too, Crystal. Not that a good fridge cleaning isn’t needed, of course, but there’s no time for that right now! It doesn’t surprise me that you like classical music … the music on your blog always soothes my spirit too. 🙂 I’m so glad you stopped by this week and hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  2. Lillian Flowers says:

    That was the bomb mom ?

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Hi Lilly! What a nice surprise to find you in the comment section this afternoon. 🙂 (And thanks again for making my life a little sweeter with that awesome banner!) Love you!

  3. Lois, this whole thing is just precious. And I hear your heart on the story with the WWII veteran. Our across-the-road neighbor was a vet, and I loved pumping him for stories whenever we were together, but he has passed away, and I feel the empty space in the universe where all those brave men stood.
    Thanks for sharing your fall.

  4. I disagree: there is no such thing as too much frosting. 🙂

    Something I have been learning is faith and waiting patiently. This lesson will continue the rest of my life though!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I laughed out loud when I read your comment the first time, Sarah! Thank you for bringing a smile to my face during a very busy week. And yes, I agree that those lessons in patience are lifelong. I’m enrolled in that same class, I think. 🙂

  5. Lesley says:

    I loved reading about your month! The cake and the banner are fantastic and the family photo is lovely! I agree, it means a lot when people put in time and effort to show us they love us.

  6. My heart melted while reading this! The banner, the cake, the vet. What a fall! My fall was a time to embrace hope. While circumstances continue to be less than ideal, I enter the winter season with hope for signs of life to come soon. Blessings from #HeartEncouragement Thursday.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Kelly, your words really struck me this morning … hope really is something we have to embrace, isn’t it, rather than something that just sort of comes upon us through osmosis. I pray that you will see signs of life soon, and that God will sustain you with His peace as you wait for Him to act. Thank you for your kind words here this week!

  7. Liz says:

    This is delightful, Lois! I totally get “effort” as a love language. But I still don’t know if it is really possible to have too much frosting! Your cake looks perfect to me! LOL You make such an excellent point about learning for the generation before while we have the chance… Blessings!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Ah, a fellow frosting lover! I’m so glad you revealed yourself as such, Liz. 🙂 I’m also glad you enjoyed the post and hope your holiday season is full of sweet surprises!

  8. Love your family photo and the fact that “effort” is one of your love languages. 🙂 And your husband can decorate cakes! Wow!

    I learned more joy, to slow down a bit and enjoy my daughter while she’s still at home, since I don’t know how long that will be. I think I’m learning more about love, how much people really do need it. 🙂

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks for sharing what you’ve been learning, Betsy. I appreciate your thoughts about love … I am learning some similar things myself, I think. I hope your week is off to a good start! 🙂

  9. Hi Lois,
    I love the beautiful photo of your entire family — so nice to meet the other members that we read about! 🙂 How wonderful that your girls made you that banner and how sweet that your husband decorated that cake {he is a wonder!} for your birthday!

    I think it’s really fun that your friend made that lovely graphic (I clicked to see it) and she is quite talented! You have stirred the grateful fires in my heart today with all that you’re thankful for and I am thankful that we’ll be reading more of your writing series after the holidays — I really am enjoying it! xoxoxo

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Good morning, Valerie! I have been so busy lately that I haven’t had a chance to read your latest posts … they are waiting in my inbox and I hope visit them soon! In the meantime, thank you so much for your kind words about all the birthday surprises. And yes, I agree that Randy is a wonder! 🙂 I hope that you are having a wonderful Christmas season, my friend!

  10. Linda Stoll says:

    Your beautiful family. A husband who bakes. And 24 Ways.

    What a bounty!

  11. I love your new love language! I wish I had recognized it’s potency years ago. The “small” can become great when done and received with hearts of love. Thanks and blessings from your neighbor at Holley’s.

  12. Cheryl says:

    What a sweet banner! I know it must have meant the world to you to see that! And that cake! So beautiful and thoughtful of your husband to create something like that for you. You are very well-loved, my friend. I am visiting you from Jennifer’s link-up. God bless you and your sweet family with a Merry Christmas!

  13. Trudy says:

    Wow, Lois! Your girls’ and your husband’s efforts to make your birthday special turned out so beautiful and creative. I love your family photo, too. And all the other things you learned or experienced, too. Also the “Help From Heaven” song you shared on Sunday’s post. Advent blessings to you! Hugs!

  14. What a beautiful fall! First, that cake. Kudos to your husband on that work of art – just lovely. I loved your writing series too and I’m so excited to hear that you’ll be bringing us more of your wisdom and experience.

    I think the biggest lesson I walked away with this fall was to not overcomplicate things – to embrace simplicity and not get stuck in my self-imposed box of rules. Life isn’t black and white, but God is always right. So, there’s that!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you, Tiffany! I love your lesson about simplicity. I’m learning that too … there is a part of my life right now that is complicated and partly out of my control, but I’m finding it a bit easier to handle when I seek simplicity in the things I can do something about. That self-imposed box of rules you wrote of needs to get tucked away in the storage room sometimes, doesn’t it? Wishing you a peaceful weekend, my friend!

  15. Aww, Lois, those pictures! My love language is effort too- even if it’s not official!! That banner and cake are fantastic- so sweet (haha!)

    Thanks for the wisdom, encouragement, recommendations, and good humor! So glad the Lord could use the graphic!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Maybe we should make effort an official love language, Bethany. … There, it’s official! (If only everything were that easy.) Glad you enjoyed the post! (And thanks again for the graphic.)

  16. Hi Lois! I so enjoyed reading what you learned and experienced this fall. I especially loved the photo of the birthday cake your husband made you! That’s incredible! I’m thankful I’m following you this week and was able to “walk in your shoes” for a few minutes today. Thank you! Blessings! #RaRaLinkup

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thanks, Julie! I just started doing these seasonal recaps recently, and I’m finding I really enjoy them. It’s fun to capture brief snippets of daily life in writing, and I always find much for which to be thankful (like that cake). 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend!

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