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.

Don’t Feel Sorry for Me

I don't need your pity - I need your love.

DSC_5504My heart quickens when I meet a new person because I know the inevitable question is coming. These days I am usually holding or holding onto our littlest who is now approaching 2 years old when I meet someone new. His presence spurs on the question “Is he your only one” or “how many kids do you have?”



My answer is always proud and straightforward. ” I have 2 boys here and a 12-year-old son in heaven. ” I don’t add unnecessary details unless they ask. Some do. Some don’t.  But, I have come to dread the looks of pity and awkward discomfort that follow my response.  Watching them avoid eye-contact and squirm and fidget….I almost feel sorry for them.


I don’t want them to feel sorry for me.

When we feel sorry for someone, it doesn’t help them.  We have to push past our own feelings of fear uncomfortableness in order to connect with someone… this is almost always easier said than done.

Because everyone is going through something and we can be a blessing when we exchange that “feeling sorry for” energy to “doing something for energy.”

If you meet someone who tells you about a child who died (and yes it is ok to say they died – they are not going to fall crumbling to the ground) , please at least take a minute to acknowledge their loss.

  1. Exchange your awkward smile for truth.  For those who are speechless, I have some suggestions… “I have no idea how to respond but what you are going through/have been through is horrible.” “I can’t even begin to imagine how you must feel.”  Let the person know you acknowledge their pain and aren’t just showing them “pity.” I despise the looks of pity.


  1. Ask a question. “What do you miss most about your son?”  “What was your daughter like?” “What makes you smile the most when you think of him?” When you allow a grieving parent to share even a tiny bit about their child, you are giving them an unbelievable gift.


  1. Whatever you do – RESIST your urge to runaway. Don’t cut the conversation short or switch it immediately to a different subject or runaway in fear that you might “catch something”.  If you are feeling awkward and uncomfortable, suck it up!  When you ask someone a personal question, be prepared to follow through – otherwise keep quiet or stick to “safe” topics. Safe topics are things like “it sure is hot outside” or “these apples are too ripe.”



  1. God calls us to love each other. People are going through all kinds of stuff – divorce, sickness, financial difficulties, loss of a loved one, (insert whatever you’re going through right now because we’re all going through something however big or small if may seem).  When we put ourselves out there and ask a question – we had better be prepared to respond with love when we get a “real life” answer.

  1. Pray for God to use you to see beyond ourselves and lift someone up today.

“We rise by lifting others.”  – Robert Ingersoll

It doesn’t take very much effort to lift someone up and don’t worry – it won’t cost you much…just a piece of your heart if you do it right.

Words.  Simple, heartfelt words. The right ones can make a difference.

Can we all strive to be difference-makers?

“I don’t want to end up having simply visited this world.” – Mary Oliver

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Be a difference for a family who is facing this journey.  It can be a lonely journey. Let them know they are not alone.

Be blessed and be a blessing as we live and love a day and a moment at a time without our son, Zack.


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



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!


Team Wilmington!

Team Wilmington!


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.


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.


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