Choose Kindness

in a world where social media rage has become the new road rage

Really? I wonder if some of my “friends” would be so outspoken if they were not hiding behind the safety of an electronic device.  Social Media Rage (mostly revolving around but not limited to politics) has become the new road rage – where seemingly normal people (whom I thought I knew) become people I hardly recognize.

Vicious personal attacks can contain extremely hurtful words, pictures and symbols. Others sometimes join in the online assaults and people even publicly proclaim they don’t want to be “friends” with anyone who doesn’t vote for (insert your candidate name here).  Ugly exchanges force bystanders to ignore, “unfriend/unfollow” or block.

What are we thinking? Or not thinking?

It. Makes. Me. Sad.

While you’re busy getting angry and attacking someone for having a different opinion, another child is being diagnosed with cancer, another woman trying to conceive is disappointed yet again, another aging parent is being loved out of this world, another family is experiencing unimaginable and sudden tragedy and a lonely human soul is searching for hope in a horribly broken world.

And when they look at you – when they look at me – what will they see?

We all get so caught up in our world of standing for this or that and we forget the very circle of influence – our family, our friends and people who we come into contact with on a daily basis – who are watching carefully and desperately need us to be a beacon of light in a dark world.

Our children are watching. They are listening.  They are learning.

Brothers….looking very serious and always watching their parents.

And what about the impact of their actions as business associates, potential or existing employers can see some of these very public “expressions”?

We may not always agree but we always have a choice to be kind.

Agreeing to disagree is ok. And we don’t always have to be right

“Choose to be kind over being right and you’ll be right every time.” ― Richard Carlson

Let’s choose to be kind.

Be Blessed and be kind as you live a moment at a time…

Still Standing

Happy

Happy

It has been 5 years since Mayo and I attended an Express International Leadership Conference “Evening of Excellence”. It is a black tie affair and the evening is filled with fancy food, great networking and top offices are recognized with awards for various levels of achievement. Getting awards was always fun for us in the past, but after Zack died – it lost its appeal…

Everything changed after he died. We have had to learn how to live in a world where loss has transformed us. Loss forced us to adjust to a new normal….things and places aren’t the same; relationships with others are not the same; our relationship with God is not the same and the way we see ourselves is not the same.

And here we are.

Almost five years later (has it really been that long?).

After a record-breaking 2015 (with an incredibly committed and tenacious team), we decided to attend this year’s Evening of Excellence in the great city of Dallas, Texas.

I’m glad we did.

We are part of an amazing organization that has loved us through our loss and continued to celebrate our office’s success – even when we weren’t there to celebrate it ourselves. Saturday night, they cheered us on as Mayo and I took the stage to accept our award for the first time since Zack’s illness and death.

And we felt the love of our Express Employment Professionals Family (yes we are!).  This family was there for us in our office – in the hospital – at the Ronald McDonald House – at our home and at a funeral for 12 year old Zack.  They encouraged us, prayed with and for us. They believed with us and pushed us onward.  They cried with us and they grieved with us. They loved us.

And after being knocked down, they, along with so many others, helped us get back up.

And we are still standing

Even on the hardest of days.

We are truly blessed to be loved and to be in the business of changing lives daily and making a difference A Moment at a Time

Ready for the stage!

Ready for the stage!

This award will look great in our office!

This award will look great in our office!

ilc20163

Team Wilmington!

Team Wilmington!

ilc20165zackcadescove

Let God Fill the Empty

gravesite at christmas

The soft ground presses down under my feet. Perfectly placed poinsettias dance in the wind. Nearly every grave site shows signs of Christmas. Someone still remembers. Someone still misses.

We stop in front of Zack’s headstone and Mayo squeezes my hand. That squeeze shouts to my aching heart but quiet fills the air around me.

I wrap the tiny strings of light around the green wreath. The emptiness of the battery compartment is obvious and I wonder if emptiness is always obvious.

A tear slips out as I push in the batteries to fill what is empty.

Empty.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1

And the lights on the tiny wreath twinkle full of life.

Full.

Mayo lovingly attaches the Christmas wreath to a plaque stand next to Zack’s headstone then he grabs my hand and squeezes. Again.

And I feel love. I see love. And there, in that moment of love, I spot God, enthroned in the emptiness.

When we let God fill our empty with His presence, He equips us to face the physical and emotional emptiness of loss.

You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand there are pleasures forever. Psalm 16:17

How can you let God fill your emptiness?

The Empty Chair

Holiday Grief

Grief is so unpredictable.

Emptying a dishwasher, it crashes over me like an ocean wave.

Friends celebrate kids home from college, school being out and loved ones being together and all I can think about is the empty chair that will be at our table.

I have so much to be thankful for but I am deeply sad for what is missing. I miss our son. I miss his smile. I miss his voice and his silly jokes. I miss him picking at the turkey before it was time to eat. (Sigh)…

The empty chair waits for all of us who grieve. Thinking about sitting at the table of thankfulness without them is almost unbearable.

Please remember those who grieve as you celebrate with your healthy and living children.

And don’t forget to say Zack’s name to me. Please. Don’t be afraid to say it. I need to hear it. Because he is not forgotten.

And be gentle with all who are grieving this holiday season because the missing doesn’t go away.

The empty chair is there.

Be blessed.

dr nickboys pumpkin

Take Off Your Mask: It’s Time to be Real

DSC_5633I stopped by the store earlier this week and was bombarded by the huge display of Halloween paraphernalia. The aisles were filled with Halloween costumes and masks; some scary, some funny and everything in between.

Halloween is approaching and whether you participate or not, we are all aware of the multitude of masks that will be worn to parties or trick or treating.

And I am reminded of the masks I sometimes wear.

I have many. There’s one that smiles and says all is ok.  There’s  one that looks like “she has it all together”. There’s one that (insert your answer here)…

Because don’t we all wear a mask at one time or another?

New Season of Writing

I received many messages regarding my absence in blogging over the past year. Although I have continued to write (because writing is where I find my greatest healing) it has been better for me to keep my writing between God and me.

Mostly, because He is the only one who can handle all I had to say.

Because the world does not understand the reality of being a bereaved parent and the fear of loss again is real.

But, here I am ready to pour out words from my heart with whoever will read them.

Not because I am eager to share words – but because it may help even one.

And because we are called to be faithful to the task and leave the results of our training in the Lord’s hands.

May He find in me – and in you – faithful stewards.

I pray He will give me fresh courage in this new season of writing and the courage to keep seeking Him where I doubt He is and the courage to be part of a better story.

Watch for new posts coming soon… I hope you will be blessed.

Wendy

(And here is the newest picture of our Baby Sam – he turned 10 months old yesterday!)

Sam turned 10 months old yesterday!

Sam turned 10 months old yesterday!

Welcome Baby Mayo!

All my boys...

All my boys…

After being hospitalized for a week with pre-eclampsia, I was induced and gave birth early to Samuel Hugh Mayo on Saturday, December 20 at 10:29am…. 1 samuel 1:20 – it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived that she gave birth to a son and named him Samuel saying “Because I have asked him of the Lord.” (Born in answer to prayer and dedicated to God). Thank you Lord for this blessed baby boy…truly an answered prayer for our family.

Samuel was not due until January 30 so he was born early at 33weeks 5 days has been in NICU since his birth and our family is pretty much living there with him.  He is doing well but is still taking most of his breast milk through an ng tube (feeding tube through his nose) and he has to be able to eat on his own before going home. He is also experiencing apnea/brady epsiodes (where his heart rate drops) but he is able to bring it right back up on his own with no outside stimulation. Both of these are normal and expected for babies born this early. He is 36weeks gestational age today so we hope to see a lot of progress this week and hopefully take him home in another two weeks or so.

Thanks for your prayers for continued progress for him and for me as I continue to deal with lingering high blood pressure from pre-eclampsia.

We are truly blessed and are enjoying each moment of this new season…

Words can not express the joy of new life.

newborn samuel7

Nick holding Samuel’s tiny foot

newborn samuel1newborn samuel5newborn samuel6newborn samuel3newborn samuel4newborn samuel

Samuel Hugh Mayo

Samuel Hugh Mayo

newborn samuel9

Nick visiting me in the hospital before Samuel’s birth.

newborn boys

All my newborns…

 

Permission to Grieve

A little brother visits an older brother's grave...

A little brother visits an older brother’s grave…

Some friends I care about deeply have recently experienced tremendous loss and are now navigating the “grief journey.” It is a journey I know well and is not an easy trip or a short one. My family and I have learned some things about grief that we never knew before losing our 12-year-old son, Zack.

Grief – at least in our society – is completely misunderstood.

One out of one people will die in their lifetime, yet, the vast majority of human beings do not want to discuss it or even think about their own death or someone they love. Inevitably, we will all experience the loss of someone we love – yet for most of us – growing up, no one teaches us about that experience and what to expect. Then, when we do experience loss, we are faced with an unfamiliar, unexpected and difficult emotion…Grief.

Grief, like death, is hard for people to discuss and even harder to understand. As a result, society does not give us permission to grieve – society just wants us to return to normal just as we are discovering life will never “get back to normal.” We find ourselves settling in to some kind of “new normal” and that “new normal” may continue to change for a long time. Work doesn’t give us permission to grieve. Work is demanding and performance requires focus and attention – neither which can be found for long periods when we grieve. Daily life doesn’t give us permission to grieve. Dinner must still be prepared. Laundry must be done. Hair must be combed and teeth must be brushed. Even friends and family don’t give us permission to grieve. Sure they support us and encourage us – but some may have expectations that we need to “snap out of it” or get back to our old “self” or “move on” and those expectations can be hurtful and make us feel guilty as we struggle through grief.

If we give ourselves permission to grieve, we can find the other areas of our lives will give us permission to grieve also.

 The only cure for grief is to grieve. – Earl Grollman

We may try to separate grief from the rest of our life or try to fight it somehow but that just makes grief mad. We may try to hide from grief by pouring into our work or staying busy with life and we may put on an outward appearance of being “just fine” and try to ignore grief.

But, grief refuses to be ignored and pain demands to be felt. And, like it or not, grief becomes a new constant companion after a loss. (And if we don’t acknowledge grief during the day, grief will surely come to visit at night.)

Grief is personal: It is as individual as a fingerprint. The way you grieve will be different from the way anyone else grieves. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Don’t be sorry that others might be uncomfortable with your grief. Even among families who grieve together, they still have to grieve individually. This individual grief can cause strain and even confusion between family members because we may not understand the way they are grieving. No one can do any one else’s grieving. Your grief is your grief. (Don’t hide grief from your children. Our children need to see us grieve and heal so they know it is okay to grieve.) Find a way to express your grief during the season of heavy grief. Talk about it with someone you trust. Write about it. Join a support group. See a counselor. Help others. Draw comfort from your faith. Pray. (For me, it is my faith, expressing myself through writing and helping others that helps me most.)

Grief is powerful: Grief has the power to give us sorrow, uncontrollable tears and unbearable pain one moment and then swing over to anger, guilt, fear and anxiety in the next. (And yes – grief can make us feel like we are going crazy.) The powerful impact of each of those emotions can knock us down and shake us to the core. We cannot ignore these emotions because if we try, they will just seep out all over the place and make grieving all the more difficult. We must face these emotions head-on and fully experience each one. I remember in the days after our son died, my husband and I looked at each other and asked if we would ever be “happy” again.

Grief is unpredictable: There are triggers for grief everywhere. We expect it with holidays and special occasions – it is the ones we don’t expect that take our breath. A picture. A song. A smell. A memory. Unloading the dishwasher. Folding laundry. Walking in the office. Hearing a joke. Exercising. And most of the time the triggers are not what we expect and it certainly is not when we expect it. Not too long ago, I was a mess in the grocery store (the cereal aisle) as a boy begged his mom for a specific cereal. Memories of Zack asking me for his favorite cereal came crashing down (with the tears).

Grief is a process: There is no timeline for grief. Sure, some people may think that you should be done grieving by now but I don’t even know what that means. It is not as simple as saying “I’m done grieving now.” Grief is not a virus that runs through your system and is done. It is not a disease that can be treated with antibiotics. Grief is a process that takes time – longer than people expect. Here I am, 3+ years later and I still grieve for my 12-year-old son, Zack. I still grieve because I still love. My grief is not like it was in the beginning, but grief is still my companion. And just because you have a good day doesn’t mean you are done grieving. It may take weeks, months, years, or a lifetime. But, grieving does not mean we don’t go on living. We continue to go to work or school, we get our children up and ready for the day, we cook dinner, we shop for groceries and we can still do all of those things well. We just have to understand that our lives may look different from the inside out because priorities change during grief. The way we see life changes during grief. The way we see each moment changes during grief. Some things, that used to seem so important, won’t even matter anymore. Most importantly, the way we see ourselves changes during grief. Grief forces us to not only acknowledge the death of someone we love, but it forces us to face our mortality. Grief may cause us to look closely at our faith, ask lots of questions of God and question our own purpose in life. (At least it did for me.)

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey. ~ Kenju Miyazawa

Grief gives us a path: Believe it or not, grief actually helps us. Grief is a natural, healthy process that helps us to recover from terrible emotional wounds. Grieving is a necessary part of God’s path to healing. Grief may change us, but that doesn’t mean it changes us in a bad way. Grief has changed me. My relationship with God is stronger now than ever in my life. I don’t worry about the “little” things like I used to. I cherish each moment with the people I love. I care more about others and less about myself. I miss Zack and will miss him every day until I am reunited with him in heaven. That will never change. Part of our path to healing has included our family finding ways to honor and remember Zack. Doing this, helps us to know that his memory will live on and lets the world know he is never forgotten. Find a special way to honor your loved one. It doesn’t have to be something big or elaborate. It can be whatever is meaningful to you. Whatever you do, don’t stop talking about your loved one. Even if it makes others uncomfortable – who cares? They may be gone, but our relationship with them has not ended. In our house, we speak about Zack all the time. Sometimes speaking about him may cause my voice to crack and sometimes it brings tears, but that’s ok too. Mostly, we laugh and talk about things he would like or not like and what he would think about something we are doing. We celebrate his birthday every year and his little brother always gets a gift from Zack at Christmas and birthdays. When someone we love dies, they remain in our hearts and they should remain a part of our lives however you decide that should look.

 “Grief is itself a medicine.” ~ Will Cowper (English hymn writer)

Grieving is not easy.

Giving yourself permission to grieve and heal from the hurt of loss takes great courage. Be gentle with yourself during the season of heavy grief.

I have listed some resources below that may be helpful to anyone who is grieving. If you know someone who is grieving, be sure to love on them.

Be blessed as you live and grieve A Moment at a Time.

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning. ~ Psalm 30:5

compassionatefriends.org

griefnet.org

onlinegriefsupport.com

Zack Mayo September 17, 1998 - May 28, 2011 Cause of death - liver cancer

Zack Mayo September 17, 1998 – May 28, 2011
Cause of death – liver cancer