A Hat in a Hospital

My Grandpa always wore a hat.

He was a farmer by trade but he kept his family fed hunting the woods and fishing the waters that surround our family farm. No matter what the activity, those hats offered relief from the intense sun that blesses our coastal North Carolina town.  Our 12 year old son, Zack, died of liver cancer 6 years ago. He didn’t love a hat as much as my grandpa but he did love to hunt and fish and knew a hat was a necessary part of that uniform. 

With a Childhood cancer diagnosis, our lives were forever changed. Blonde locks scattered across a pillowcase could not be ignored and hats became a part of a new everyday uniform. Generous people from all over the country sent hats to Zack. Some of the hats were autographed, some were goofy, some were sports themed but they all made a Cancer-filled little boy smile.

Hats made life a little more normal for a little boy who would never know normal again. 

How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about. – Phillip Treachy

One of Zack’s best friends, Sam Schmidt, is a freshman at NC State. Before he graduated high school last year, he hosted a hugely successful hat drive in honor of Zack. Those hats were donated to UNC hospitals to be given to sick kiddos desperate to feel just a little bit normal.  


Sam is hosting another hat drive right now and YOU can help spread JOY this Christmas season. Please consider making a donation of ANY amount by following this link. https://www.gofundme.com/zack-attack-hats

Help Sam make a difference this Christmas.

Be blessed and be a blessing! 


My ‘almost’ Trump Twitter Moment

what kind of mother am I?

Today I almost had a Trump twitter moment. But, thankfully, I thought better of it. So, I decided to vent on my blog  express myself positively on my blog instead.

While I love all most of my social media friends, I  occasionally receive unsolicited advice and opinions which I  am certain come from well-meaning hearts (at least that is what I tell myself).  But, after receiving 15 similar messages in the past few months, today was the tipping point.

The messages go something like this – Wendy, when are you starting Sam in preschool? Wendy, have you signed Sam up for preschool yet? Some of them go on to remind me he needs socialization. Today’s message pointed out a study that showed children who start preschool early are less likely to do drugs or jail time.

So… does this mean if I don’t send my 2-year-old to preschool now that he is MORE likely to do drugs or jail time?

What kind of mother am I?

Here’s the kind of mother I am….

I am a mother who birthed 3 beautiful sons. I am a mother who buried the first one when he was 12. I am a mother who worries about childhood cancer. A lot. I am a mother who wants my boys to love God more than this world. I am a mother who used to compare herself to others. I am a mother who doesn’t do that anymore. I am a mother who loves her husband, the Father of her boys, and treats him with kindness, love and respect. I am a mother who requires good manners and clean hands. I am a mother who believes in dirty clothes, shoes and feet. I am a mother who believes in more books and less television. I am a mother who believes boys should be allowed to run wild and free. I am a mother who believes boys should learn self-control from their parents.  I am a mother who wants the very best from and for her children.

I am the mother God made me to be.

You are the mother God made you to be.

Mothering is work. Mothering is hard. Mothering is rewarding beyond measure.

Don’t compare yourself. Don’t second guess yourself. And never attempt to make another mother feel less than when they don’t “do life” the way you think it should be done. There are exceptions when children are abused or not cared for. But, sadly, I think we are all more inclined to push our advice and beliefs on those who need it least.

The beauty of being a parent in this great nation is that WE get to choose what is right for OUR  children.

I am a 50 year old momma with a 2 year old and a 13 year old (boys). I have been broken to the core by the loss of our first born. I have made decisions no mother should ever have to make.  I don’t doubt for a minute my mothering skills. For now, for OUR family, we are all the preschool he needs. But, thanks for asking.

Be blessed!


sam in the tree

Nick and Sam

Nick and Sam

Hiking to Help

a message from a little brother

Hello friends.

My big brother, Zack, died of liver cancer on May 28, 2011. He was only 12 and I was almost 7. Childhood cancer is a terrible disease and affects too many kids like my brother. Childhood cancer isn’t something that happens just to the kid with the diagnosis, it happens to the whole family. I spent most of a year in a hospital room and in the Ronald McDonald house with Zack and my parents. Sometimes it was hard but I was happy we could all be together.

My parents friend, Mike Owen, has been hiking in Zack’s memory since he died. We decided to join him this year to raise money to help cure cancer for kids.

I am participating in a true ultimate challenge – hiking to raise funds for children’s cancer. The money I raise will support CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, a national non-profit foundation whose mission is to fund and support targeted and innovative children’s cancer research, with measurable results.

We chose this hike for a couple of reasons. Since it is a 12 mile hike, we thought it would be great to hike a mile for every year Zack lived on this earth. Also, this hike is held the weekend of Zack’s 19th birthday so we thought this would be a great way to celebrate his birthday.

Additionally, they are a great source of information and resources about children’s cancer for families. With your help, I can exceed our family fundraising goal of $2,500! Please, donate and make a difference in the lives of the 43 children diagnosed with cancer each day. Click here to donate now:  http://www.curesearchevents.org/goto/mayofamily

Five of the 43 children diagnosed every day do not survive. Please, support me (and my family) as I help change the odds for those children most at risk.  No kid should have to watch their brother or sister die. Any amount you donate is greatly appreciated!

Thank you for helping me work tell children’s cancer to take a hike!

Nick Mayo (age 13)

Nick and Sam

Nick and 2 year old Sam always remember a big brother…

I Poisoned My Child

And I haven’t been arrested yet.

A big brother with liver cancer gets a sweet hug from a little brother.

If you don’t live in North Carolina, you may not have heard about our Cape Fear River water supply crisis. Apparently, the chemical that replaced C8 (used for Teflon) was replaced by a chemical called Genx. This chemical has been pouring into our drinking supply for years. DHHS says rates of liver cancer were up in our area during the time that our 11 year old son, Zack, was diagnosed.

And sure – lawsuits will be filed and there will be years of litigation and money will eventually be trickled out to people impacted but really? Money? Blah blah blah!
Criminal charges should be brought against anyone who knew this and didn’t make the public aware. Dumping it in the Cape Fear River for years – knowing it is the water supply for towns downstream…..I cannot begin to wrap my head around it! If I fed my kids poison, I would be arrested. But it’s ok for for a company with a permit to release unregulated chemicals ( chemical that they know cause a variety of health issues and death) into water supplies so I can unknowingly feed that poison to my kids? 
The thought of me giving my children poisoned water makes me sick. I remember insisting he drink water instead of soda because it was better for him. I remember encouraging him to swim in our city water supplied in ground pool because exercise was good for him. I remember making him bathe daily because he was dirty from doing little boy things.  I remember watching him die. He was only 12. He died from liver cancer….liver cancer likely caused from this?


His life mattered

How can this continue to happen all over this great nation? Water supplies contaminated and poisoned (knowingly) by US companies! When I google it – I am dumbfounded that it is happening again and again. Our water is being poisoned by US companies – not by hate filled terrorists – these are US companies! How is it that we are not more outraged? Our communities, our children, our pregnant mommas and future generations are counting on us to stand up for them. 

If we don’t insist on better, it will never get better.

It’s time to fight!

Zack smiled as I fed him poisoned water.

Happy 13th birthday Nick

imageMy cup ran over with JOY 13 years ago today as we welcomed a precious baby boy to our family.

A baby brother.

my boys

Meeting big brother…

Truly, a gift from God.

He is a beacon of light that would draw me from bed in my darkest days of grieving through the loss of a big brother.

He is medicine for my grieving heart.

He is a thousand reasons to smile.

He was an amazing little brother and he is an extraordinary big brother.image

His love for God and love and compassion for others inspires me to be a better me.

Thank you LORD for this gift. This blessing.

Ps 23:5b “…my cup runneth over.”

We love you! Happy birthday Nick!imageimagezack10001.jpg2010-05-09-13-13-302.jpg

My friend Grief

Making the most of every moment.

My friend, Grief, is visiting today.  He woke me up by banging intensely on my door last night. He likes to wake me up. We have become steadfast friends. Sometimes he stands in the corner and watches me. Sometimes he leaps suddenly into the middle of whatever I am doing – unloading the dishwasher or the washing machine, sometimes in a song or in a smell and causes tears to flow for seemingly no reason.  Sometimes he whispers to me but last night he shouted until I got out of bed. His persistence in being acknowledged is aggravating.   

I wondered if 330am was too early to drink coffee but Grief didn’t think so. Coffee always helps me pay attention and he wanted my full attention. I pulled up a chair and invited him to sit with me.

Sometimes he makes my stomach hurt. Sometimes he makes me cry. Sometimes he makes me question everything I believe about life and death. Sometimes he makes me feel guilty for feeling happy. Sometimes he makes me feel better about my new normal. And sometimes he makes me feel worse about my new normal. Sometimes he dances at my pity party.  Sometimes he just watches me cry. Sometimes he nudges me if I smile too much.

In the wee hours of this morning, Grief reminded me that today at 4am- Nick is 12 years, 8 months and 11 days old – the same age Zack was when he died.

I didn’t think I could bear to go on without Zack yet here I stand with my friend, Grief.

He reminds me I will always be broken. I tell him I don’t need reminding.

He points out people who are complaining about everything and nothing and I feel bad for feeling resentful toward them. “Perspective,” my friend Jennifer points out. I don’t like my perspective.  

Grief points out my weakness and my flaws. He knows me well. Sometimes he fades into the background but he never goes away completely.

Today, he is here.

Today, Nick skis on a mountain that a big brother loved.

Today, a little brother Zack never met, plays in the Utah snow that Zack loved.

Today, a mommy and daddy choose to live fully and intentionally because a little boy died.

Today, we still celebrate the short life Zack was given.

Today, we press on through the pain of losing him and use that pain to fuel our journey.

Today, I am thankful for the 12 years, 8 months and 11 days I got to be his mom.

Keep watching, I tell my friend, Grief. Watch me shine bright! This pain, this pain which isn’t as raw as it once was, will not be wasted.

2 Corinthians 1:4-6

Zack skis Deer Valley with his Daddy.

Zack skis Deer Valley with his Daddy.


Grief cannot steal our joy!

Grief cannot steal our joy!

Nick on the mountain at Deer Valley - wearing Zack's old ski pants.

Nick on the mountain at Deer Valley – wearing Zack’s old ski pants.

Mayo and Sam playing in the Utah snow.

Mayo and Sam playing in the Utah snow.

A Moment in the Junk Drawer


As I dug through the mounds of items,  I could hardly believe how much junk stuff could be in one drawer.  I forgot what I was even looking for when I spotted the shiny object. Wondering how this tiny camera made it to our junk drawer, I switched the power to on. Nothing happened. So, I dug around a little more, searching for the matching cord. AHA!   

A minute or so later, my busy morning was interrupted by his beautiful, eleven-year-old blue eyes watching quiet tears roll down my face. His blonde hair was combed perfectly to disguise his Daddy’s trademark cowlick. “Take my picture mom,” I heard him say. He needed a picture of himself and since selfies weren’t cool yet in 2010, he still needed his momma – if only for a few minutes.  

I vividly remember that ordinary moment.

Moments don’t last but they become part of our story.

Does each moment count more than we realize?  

Why do we rush so many moments? 

If we are hurrying to get to the next moment, we might miss the ones we live in right now.

“Forever is composed of nows.”  – Emily Dickinson

I wipe my tears and cram all the junk back in the drawer. A messy moment waits for me.    

Grits wait to be cleaned off my cabinet, off the dog and off a tiny, giggling face with those “same” blue eyes. When mommy is distracted by shiny objects, moments tend to get messy.  

Cherish all the moments.

Even the ones covered in grits.

How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. – James 4:14

Be blessed in all of your moments!





Bring on the Scary

We overcome fear when we keep God near...

Kings Dominion  roller coaster

Kings Dominion

Halloween brings out the scary.  Scary costumes. Scary movies. Scary stories.

A lot of things used to scare me.

But, I’m a lot braver than I used to be.

I used to be scared terrified of roller coasters. 

When our younger son, Nick, was too little to ride, he was my excuse.  I had to wait with him. And we would wait and watch.  Zack, our oldest, would exit the ride with my husband and he would be crazy-filled with excitement – telling me all I had missed. Once Nick was big enough to ride, I had no excuses. That’s when Zack laid on the guilt trip – saying he would have to ride by himself or with some stranger if I didn’t ride with him because Nick was riding with Daddy. He would tell me not to be scared and insist it would be fun.  Reluctantly, I would agree to ride.

If you give in to fear, you will miss the moments.

The “click” of the bar made me realize I was strapped in so tightly I could barely breathe. Suddenly, the ride began to move and I realized I was holding my breath.  My heart pounded wildly as we inched slowly up the hill. Zack giggled beside me as I quoted scriptures-convinced my life was at stake.  My stomach remained at the top of the hill as we descended at a rapid rate! I screamed so loudly Zack covered his ears. I strained to see what was ahead as we started up yet another hill. I couldn’t see what was to come.  I could only look behind and around me to see how far we had come. It was a brief distraction from the rising hill but it didn’t stop the hill from coming. I leaned in hard to Zack’s shoulder with my eyes squeezed tight. Uncontrollable screaming and laughter flew out of my mouth as I held on to him for dear life. Up and down – this way and that way…never knowing when it would end.

Screaming. Laughter. Scared. Excited.  

Then it was over.

And I wished it wasn’t. 

And then Zack was gone but I wasn’t alone.

We overcome fear when we keep God near.

I suppose once you have ridden the scariest roller coaster of all, the other ones aren’t so scary anymore.

We must trust that the Lord is with us on this roller coaster called life….even when it doesn’t feel like it.  

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. – Isaiah 41:10

Fear is powerful.  Fear can stop us or get us started.  It can push us to chase that dream, ask that girl out on a date, write that book, teach that Bible study, quit that job, ride that roller coaster. Fear can push us to living fully or it can keep us simply existing.

God didn’t put us here to simply exist. He has a beautiful purpose for your life – for my life – our precious, loved and purposeful lives. And – yes, there is purpose in the ugly, the painful, the unbearable and the frightening… and even in our shattered hearts.

Living in fear is like being in prison but our faith in God is the key that set us free from our fears. His Word tells us not to fear hundreds of times in the Bible but our human nature is to fear. There will be times in life where our fear paralyzes us and we can’t read our Bible, we can’t bear to think of what lies ahead and we can’t even pray… but God still hears us and we can choose faith over fear.

I sought the Lord and He answered me.  He delivered me from all my fears. – Proverbs 34:4

We overcome fear when we keep God near.

What fears are holding you back?

Ernie and Nick

Ernie and Nick

Roller coaster ride of pediatic cancer...

Roller coaster ride of pediatic cancer…

I Remember when 30 was old

30 things I have learned from 30 years of Marriage

October 5, 1986

Do you still remember when thirty was old?  I remember!!

And now I have been married for thirty years. When I say it out loud it sounds like a long time but it doesn’t feel that way.

We have survived working together, laughing together and crying together. It is by God’s grace that we have stuck together through the best of times and the absolute worst of times.

The year was 1986. Robert Palmer was still ‘addicted to love’. Top Gun ‘took our breath away’ and Bon Jovi was giving ‘love a bad name’.  Stirrup pants, leg warmers and shoulder pads had a home in my  closet. My hair was big and permed. The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff and Oprah started her own show.  Ronald Reagan was President and gas was $.89 a gallon.  I was not old enough to drink but I was old enough to vote.  Madly in love with my older brother’s friend from Mesic, I could hardly wait to become his wife.  I was fresh out of high school and he was an “older” man of twenty-six.

God blessed us with our first-born,  Zack (in 1998),  after twelve years of marriage and Nick came along almost six years later. Our precious Zack moved in with Jesus just after our 25th wedding anniversary.  Then, I gave birth to Samuel shortly after our 28th wedding anniversary!  Being parents to these boys has brought us indescribable joy and taught us strengths we did not know we possessed.

In honor of our 30th wedding anniversary this month, I have compiled a list of 30 things I have learned along the way.

1: When the honeymoon ends, true love begins.

2: Sex gets even better with age (I know I will embarrass my mom for posting this – but it’s true)

3: Time goes by fast.

4: Make good choices.

5: You can survive bad choices.

6: Keep your husband’s secrets.

7: Never badmouth your husband. Never!

8: Give compliments.

9: Say thank you! (often)

10: Take vacations without the kids.

11: Share hobbies. (your kids don’t count as a hobby)

12: Bad things sometimes happen.

13: Fix your hair every day.

14: Keep your legs shaved.

15: Dance together – even if it’s only in the kitchen.

16: Keep a sense of humor.

17: Back rubs never get old.

18: Hold hands.

19: Don’t let your kids run the show.

20: Guard who you allow in your life.

21: Go to sleep first if your husband snores.

22: Be spontaneous! (It’s fun to keep him guessing & being open to trying new things).

23: Be an encourager!

24: Read great books together.

25: Pray & worship God together.

26: Never stop dating.

27: Be willing to say I’m sorry.

28: Be a work in process with a lifetime contract (because happily ever after is a choice!

29: Never give up.

30: Be your husband’s biggest fan!


Bonus item: Don’t throw the ball any farther than you are willing to go and pick it up.  (This one comes from Mr. Duval Hardison , who ran a service station in the little town where we got married. Mr. Duval was old my whole life. I don’t know how long he was married, but it was a long time. I did not understand this advice at the time but I do now.


Happily ever after is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice. – Fawn Weaver


I am blessed to call Ernie Mayo my husband. I am his biggest fan! What have you learned along the way from your marriage? Leave a comment and let me know.


Be blessed in your marriage – a Moment at a Time!


The Storm is Coming

Are you prepared?


A storm is coming! A storm is coming!

It is on the horizon. A state of emergency has been declared in various parts of the east coast and here at my home in Wilmington, North Carolina.

The “experts” provide us information on the storm path and on hurricane preparedness. We anxiously monitor the forecast for up-to-the-minute coordinates on the path Hurricane Matthew is taking. We take action to prepare. We board up our windows, stock up on bread, milk, water (and in our case – diapers). We fire up our generator to make sure it is in working order and we fill our gas tanks. We test our flashlights and buy extra batteries, candles and matches so we will have light in the darkness of the storm. We secure our home and our business. We are in preparation mode.

Because we want to be prepared…

And we are as ready as we can be if the storm hits. Because we are prepared. Because we are warned. Because we know it is coming.

But, what about the storms that strike without warning?

Cancer. Health crisis. Death. Job loss. The affair. The spouse who leaves. The child who rebels. Disappointment. Depression.

Can we be prepared for these storms? The storms of life?

Because these storms will come. And they strike when we least expect it.

Just like preparing for Hurricane Matthew while the weather is still calm, we can prepare for the storms of life when life is calm.

Because the storms are coming! To you. To me.

And we can prepare…

  • Have a relationship with God. Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Are you walking with Him daily? I cannot begin to imagine surviving one minute without God. My Hope is in Him. That Hope is what gets me out of bed every morning and allows me to smile. His Promises. Knowing this life is not all there is and this is not the end of my story.
  • Use the Bible as your guide for living life. Set aside time each day to read even one or two verses. Pick one to memorize. Write it on an index card and keep it with you. Memorize with your family. Even just one. Because in hard times, the very scriptures we memorize can ring out loud and clear and can hold your foundation steady as the storm hits you hard and rocks you harder than you can begin to imagine. Storms delight in testing our faith. Start today. Pick one verse. Do it now. Make it your life verse.
  • Prayer. This is our direct line to God. He wants to hear us – not just during the storms of life but every day of our life. He wants to hear our praises. He wants us to confess our sins (we are ALL sinners). He wants to carry us when we lack the strength to walk. He wants to celebrate our successes. He wants to comfort when we hurt. Pray. Start today. Schedule 5 minutes. He wants to hear from you. If you don’t know how to pray and need help, send me a message. I will pray with and for you. Start with honesty. Honesty with yourself. Then share all of it with God. Start now.

Because the storms are coming…

To you.

To me.

Matthew 8

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

When life gives us a big enough crisis, we need something that is solid. Something to hold on to. Something that will not crush under the stress of the “storm.”  Something that will not let us down. Ever.

Jesus is that “something.” Jesus is the one we want to know, when life brings us storms.

But Jesus says, “Where is your faith? Why are you afraid?”

We can have peace. Even in the storm.

Maya Angelou once said, “When you know better, you do better.”

So the question today isn’t about whether or not the next storm is coming. It is coming. No doubt about it.

The real question is this: Do you know better? Are you ready?

Be blessed and be a blessing – A Moment at a Time.

–          wendy

Our boys braved the "Titanic"in our lives together...

Our boys braved the “Titanic”in our lives together…

Stay in the word.

Stay in the word.

Our sun still shines after the storm.