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!

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Team Wilmington!

Team Wilmington!

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A Team of Strangers Saved His Life

Our seemingly healthy 11-year-old son fell in our driveway three short years ago today.

An hour later, in an emergency room, his heart stopped.

I remember organized chaos, booming voices and noises in a room overflowing with medical personnel.

And I remember feeling that everything was in slow motion…almost like a dream – a dream that quickly became a nightmare from which I would never awake.

We watched as strangers fought ferociously to save our child – a child they did not know.

A breathing tube was forced down his throat.

Resuscitation of his heart was in full force.

And desperately seeking answers, they slit open our son’s abdomen from his sternum to his pelvis.

Twelve long minutes of resuscitation and a multitude of other procedures from a medical team who did not – who would not- give up on our son, brought him back to us.

Almost a year later, our son would ultimately die from the liver cancer that revealed itself that day….a day that started like any other ordinary day.

But a team of strangers at New Hanover Regional Medical Center was the starting point that gave us nearly a year of precious moments with our child.

To say a simple thank you to them somehow seems incredibly inadequate.

And I have no words to express or explain the gift they gave to us that day.

The same gift they give to so many others every single day.

They started us on a journey that would test our faith and take us to Chapel Hill and on to Cincinnati.

And I am forever grateful…

Please take a minute this week to thank a doctor and a nurse. Thank them for all they give and for all they do in an incredibly rewarding but overwhelmingly difficult job. A job where their abilities and emotions are tested daily as they face life and death in ways that very few of us can even begin to imagine.

And join me in praying for them, and their families, daily.

Not what we give,
But what we share,
For the gift
without the giver
Is bare.
~James Russell Lowell

Be blessing and look for joy in living a moment at a time…

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Thank you in a Parking Lot

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I was standing in the check-out line at Harris Teeter when I saw her.

Her face was familiar but I could not be certain. She, and 3 girls, stood in the line next to me.

I looked again, trying not to be obvious, but trying harder to remember.

Then I heard her speak to one of the girls.

And I knew.

Her voice.

And I remembered and I swallowed hard. Swallowing down the memory of that day.

That day in June.

She was the voice that called out to us in the emergency room.
She was the voice that was commanding, yet kind.
She was the voice that told us our 11 year old son had no cardiac activity.
She was the voice that ushered us to a small room.
She was the voice that announced he had been resuscitated.
She was the voice that stayed late into the night to care for our family needs in the beginning of our darkest hours.
She was the voice of compassion.

Her name I could not remember.But I did remember her voice…

I hurried to pay – hoping I could leave before her. Instead I followed her out of the store – purposely keeping distance between us. Afraid she would recognize me? Purposely avoiding her? Purposely avoiding the still raw emotions from that day nearly 2 1/2 years ago…

Groceries loaded in my car, I wanted to jump in and speed away.

But a voice inside me urged.

Find her.

Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone. ~G.B. Stern

And I found myself across a dark parking lot standing face to face with the voice who was loading groceries in the back of a car….asking if she worked at New Hanover Regional? She said yes and told me I looked familiar. And I said I am Zack Mayo’s mom.

And she hugged me.

Tight.

And I told her I would never forget her kindness and thanked her for all that she did for Zack and for our family.

And she shared some of her life with me.

And we hugged some more.

And I know God put us together. Not just in that Emergency Room – but in that parking lot at that very moment.

And two grown women, who barely know one another – bound together by the memory of a boy loved – stand hugging tearfully, sharing life and death in a Harris Teeter parking lot.

And I return home – car full of groceries. Heart full of joy.

And I whisper a thank you to Him.

Grateful that I didn’t miss an opportunity to say thank you to Karen.

Who will you thank today?

Not just a day – A Life of Being Thankful

Thanksgiving.

What do our children see?

Football games. Overeating. Shopping. Complaining. Hurrying. Family. Moments. Love.

Thankfulness?

Our children mimic us.

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” ~James Arthur Baldwin

And I remember the days before Thanksgiving 2 years ago…

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and another hopeful round of chemo.

And a visit to the gift shop for some fake moustaches to make a terminally ill older brother laugh.

Six year old, Nick put his on in the shop.

And on our way back to Zack’s room. We can’t help but see…

A bald child in a wheelchair and a mother pushing- both of them in tears.

And the look on the mother’s face said everything I had felt.

And we had to stop.

Because we know like in a child’s game of hide-and-seek, finding joy a in a place that all too often tried to steal our own family’s joy, can be an overwhelming task.

I learned a mother had shared with her child all that a doctor had said.

And an overwhelmed mother – hopeless by words spoken from a doctor.

And an overwhelmed child – hopeless by words spoken from a mother.

And while I encouraged a weeping mother, Nick encouraged a little girl by making her laugh with a silly fake moustache.

Do we nurture and train and influence our children with our own strengths and our flaws?

And do they absorb all of our own energy – good and bad?

Because they see us and learn…

Because they see us and learn be afraid.

Because they see us and learn to be courageous.

Because they see us and learn to be kind.

Because they see us and learn to be cruel.

Because they hear us and learn to guard their tongue.

Because they hear us and learn to gossip.

Because they see us in moments of hopelessness and learn to be hopeless.

Because they see us on our knees and learn Who to find hope in.

Because they see us giving thanks and learn to be thankful.

In everything?

Can we be proud of what they see?

Can we be proud of what they hear?

Always?

We are the teacher…

We are the example…

Of what?

In teaching them about Thanksgiving, what did we teach?

And is real living for Him not just in a day of Thanksgiving, but in a life of Thanksgiving?

Because when we trust and live in Christ, every day becomes a day of Thanksgiving.

Because when we count blessings, we remember Who can be counted on…

And in trusting God and giving Him thanks in everything, it becomes possible to live through anything

We are grateful for memories and for the 12 ½ years we had with Zack here in this life and continue to count blessings and find joy A Moment at a Time…

(In case you have forgotten how Thanksgiving came to be in our great nation (I know I had), scroll down past the photos for some great information that Nick and I found in our homeschool weeks leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday.

 

Mayo and Nick around the fire at Dawson’s Creek…

All my boys around the fire at Dawson’s Creek…

 

~~~ We traced this historic American Christian tradition to the year 1623. After the harvest crops were gathered in November 1623, Governor William Bradford of the 1620 Pilgrim Colony, “Plymouth Plantation” in Plymouth, Massachusetts proclaimed:

“All ye Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House, on the hill… there to listen to the pastor, and render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.”

On November 1, 1777, by order of Congress, the first National Thanksgiving Proclamation was proclaimed, and signed by Henry Laurens, President of Continental Congress. The third Thursday of December, 1777 was thus officially set aside:

“…for solemn thanksgiving and praise.

Then again, on January 1, 1795, our first United States President, George Washington, wrote his famed National Thanksgiving Proclamation, in which he says that it is…

“…our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue is… our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experienced…”

Thursday, the 19th day of February, 1795 was thus set aside by George Washington as a National Day of Thanksgiving.

Many years later, on October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed by Act of Congress, an annual National Day of Thanksgiving “on the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.” In this Thanksgiving proclamation, our 16th President says that it is…

“…announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord… But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own… It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people…”

And we still celebrate that same Thursday today. Have too many forgotten what it is really all about?

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So thankful and blessed God provides friends who always show up and say the right things at the right time…”A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” ~- Bernard Meltzer.