What I Learned this Summer

This has been a summer for the books. And by that, I mean actual books.

Our unexpected summer included one familiar tradition—visiting Randy’s parents in North Dakota in early August. Here, we’re relaxing before bed in their cozy guest quarters.

As in, if I ever write another book, what I’ve been learning these past few months will permeate the pages in ways I can’t even imagine right now.

When the summer began, my mom was living at home with my dad. Now—following a bad accident, a few weeks in the hospital, a couple of surgeries and almost two months of rehab—she lives at a long-term care center about 10 minutes from my house. (See here for a bit more on all that.)

There’s much more to the story, of course, and I have a feeling it will take a long while to process it all. For now, though, here are a few lessons I’ve already gleaned from this season none of us were expecting.

• God’s peace is real.

Apart from that, I can’t explain the calmness I felt during some very intense situations this summer. By my mom’s bedside, in meeting rooms full of highly trained medical professionals, waiting for surgical teams to do their work, driving home after an exhausting day at the hospital—the peace that surpasses all understanding was guarding my heart and mind in a way I’ve never experienced before.

• God’s healing power is real.

The doctors said my mom might never walk again, that she might only eat regular food again in small doses—maybe even just for pleasure. Now, she can walk short distances with assistance, and she eats normally, without the feeding tube. Less than a month after she left the hospital, a physician’s assistant described her progress as “really remarkable healing.” My response (then and now): “There have been a lot of people praying for her.”

• You stop worrying about making the most of teachable moments when all of life becomes a teachable moment.

I don’t know about you, but as a mom, I always feel a certain amount of pressure to make sure everything is covered when it comes to spiritual guidance and teaching my children to look at life through the lens of the long view. I rarely achieve this goal, but I feel the urgency.

This summer, though? Not so much.

For the last several months, my girls have had front-row seats as I’ve struggled to figure out how to help when someone you love is in crisis. I haven’t always been the best example, but along the way, I think we’ve all learned some lessons about how to love, how to communicate, how to be patient and maybe even how to trust God.

• There’s comfort in order.

I didn’t always have the energy this summer to maintain my house like I usually do. But I did find a certain amount of satisfaction—perhaps even peace?—in things like an empty dish drainer, a made bed, a clean bathtub and cleared-off countertops. And who knew picking hedge apples up off your patio after a big wind storm or cleaning a dust-caked ceiling fan could be so rewarding?

• “How is your mom?” is not a question I can answer honestly in a few words.

This isn’t so much a lesson as it is a realization, one that has opened up a Pandora’s box of other questions—about myself, my mom, other people, where we now find ourselves—that I don’t want to think about right now. (Plus, I think some pondering is best done in a prayer journal, rather than in a blog post.)

• Love is a gift that grows as it’s given.

I’ve felt this paradox unfold in my own heart over the last several months. Even better, though, is watching it play out as my girls interact with their grandma—kindly, gently and without complaining. They’re pretty awesome, those two.

That’s a bit of what I learned this summer. How about you?


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33 Responses to What I Learned this Summer

  1. Thanks for sharing your story! I love how there is a thread of peace woven through your summer that is definitely only one that can come from God. It’s amazing how (with God) we can walk in peace even in the midst of trials and pain. I also relate to not being able to honestly answer how your mom is doing in a few minutes. My mom has had health issues for several years now and I often have people ask me how she is doing. I have to honestly say that I don’t always know, but I do know that she is (slowly) getting better. Blessings to you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m sorry that your mom has had to deal with health issues, Rosanna. It’s hard to see our parents struggle, isn’t it? I’m glad she is getting better … I hope that the improvements continue. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here this past week!

  2. Joanne Viola says:

    Lois, there are not enough words to express all that this post means to me. We’ve been on a very similar journey with my BIL While I cannot share the details here as they are not mine to share, he has had a feeding tube as well for a lengthy time and has not had anything to eat or drink. This post brought so much encouragement. May God continue to be with you all in the days ahead. May we hold onto the faithfulness of our God, who is faithful in ALL things! Blessings!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Oh Joanne … I’m sorry to hear about your brother-in-law. It is so hard to sit nearby and watch a loved one go through something like this, isn’t it? I’m thankful these words were comforting to you … let’s hold on to God’s faithfulness together, my friend.

  3. Tracey Cross says:

    Hi Lois – that’s certainly some valuable things gained from what sound like incredibly challenging difficult circumstances. Except that God walk with us how would any of us get through what life sends our way. Thank you for the wisdom shared and this peek into your summer. Glad your Mum is surprising the doctors with her recovery. Linked up not far from you at Chasing Community. God bless

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Good point, Tracey … I can’t even imagine what it would be like to go through a season like this without the awareness of God’s presence and a belief in His sovereignty. So glad you stopped by last week!

  4. What a heavy summer. May God’s peace continually flow through you and your family and may your mom continue to heal!

  5. Laura Rath says:

    Beautifully written! I was reminded that like manna in the desert, God gives strength and peace for each day…strength and peace that I knew were not coming from myself.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Isn’t it wonderful when you realize that’s what is happening, Laura? Just enough peace and strength for each new day. Even on days when we feel we didn’t get enough, we can look back and see that we did. 🙂

  6. Lois, I’m so glad to hear of your mom’s “really remarkable healing!” I love that your daughters are on the front row to witness the power of prayer and the faithfulness of our God who answers. Prayers for continued recovery and supernatural healing!

  7. Having so recently just come through a rough time with my own mum’s health and her passing, my heart goes out to you. The things that affect us can’t help but affect our kids, and we want to model right responses for them while at the same time being completely genuine. Thanks for sharing your experiences of the summer. Some things are just messy, and so we trust.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      “Some things are just messy, and so we trust.” Yes, Michele … that resonates after a weekend when the responses I was modeling were not always the right ones. This season of life isn’t one we can prepare for ahead of time, is it? It is such a comfort to sense understanding from those who are a bit further down the path …

  8. Leslie says:

    Lois, I loved this and found it comforting. Thank you for sharing!

  9. Dear Lois, God surely beams with pride when He looks at you! What glory you are bringing to His kingdom by taking this hard and taxing thing, and purposely gleaning the Lord’s lessons He embedded in it. Blessings and prayers for your family.

  10. Lois, I’ve thought about you often this summer. I was so happy to hear about the great progress you mom has made.

    For me the surprising lesson I learned (that I had to re-learn) is how desperately I need time with God every day. The summer chaos depleted me. As the boys started back to school, I’m being intentional to spend time with Jesus most days.

    This is such a beautiful post, my friend.

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I know what you mean about the “summer chaos” depleting you, Jeanne. Different sets of circumstances, same result. And same need for that daily time with God … absolutely! Thank you for your encouragement, my friend … here’s hoping (and praying) for a fruitful fall for both of us!

  11. Lesley says:

    I loved reading your reflections, Lois. I’m glad you’ve known God’s peace in the midst of all the pain and challenges, and that the healing your Mom has experienced has been so much better than expected. I love your quote about love growing as it is given too!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed these bits and pieces, Lesley. The writing process has been a bit hit-or-miss for me lately, but if I still to what I know to be true and real, that helps! Blessings to you this week, my friend!

  12. Trudy says:

    I LOVE the photo of you and the girls, Lois. Such togetherness. I looked up that devotional your daughter is holding. Focusing on the attributes of God must be so helpful. I recently finished a devotional by Michelle Cushatt, also called I AM – I AM: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is. I really loved it. I love what God taught you through such a heavy trial. God teaches us the most lessons in the dark valleys, doesn’t He? And sometimes it takes a while to really process it all. I’m so glad your mom recovered from the accident, but I’m sure her Alzheimer’s continues to be a heavy trial. I pray for strength for you all. It really moves me that your girls treat her so kindly and gently. I’m sure that’s also due to your nurturing, Lois. 🙂 Blessings and hugs to you!

    • Lois Flowers says:

      Thank you so much, Trudy, for all these kind, encouraging words! I know you speak from experience when you talk about how it takes awhile to process it all … God is faithful to keep the wheels turning in that regard, isn’t He? I’m glad you mentioned that devotional book … it sounds like one I would enjoy too. I hope your week is off to a good start, my friend! Hugs back!

  13. Marilyn says:

    Love the picture of you and the girls. Wonderful news about your mom. Hugs.

  14. Thanking the Lord for your Mom’s “really remarkable healing” progress. Thank you for the real observations. Amen to love growing as its given. Too often I’ve found myself waiting for it to grow before I give it- and that doesn’t tend to work!! Much love, Lois!

  15. Linda Stoll says:

    Your family portrait is beautiful … it captures the essence of togetherness, Lois.

    And yes, yes, yes to all your observations, particularly about peace in the chaos, having no easy answers, and trying to create some semblance of order and rhythm in the midst of the transitions, the turmoil.

    I am absolutely resonating.

    Giving you a hug from afar this morning …

  16. Lydia says:

    Very well said, Lois. Thank you!

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