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

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

Don’t Waste Your Pain

blood drive2013

If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing nothing for nobody.” ~ Malcom Bane

My chair had to be leaned all the way back with my feet in the air.

Nausea hit me. Hard.

“You are a fast bleeder”, she reminded me. “Breathe deep”.

And I breathed deeply and smiled thinking of Zack laughing at me saying “Mommy I can’t believe you feel sick from giving a little blood.”
And I thought of the color returning to his face after a blood transfusion and kept squeezing the thingie in my hand.

My friend in the chair next to me was having her own issues with the needle going in. And I laughed at her. And she laughed at me. And Mayo kept taking my picture.

.20130731_203107

We were the last of the blood donors at a drive that honored the memory of our 12 year old son, Zack. I spent the day humbled by the overflow of love from friends, family and strangers who came and waited and gave so that another might live.

A precious technician named Cynthia came over to check on me and shared her story with me. Her teenage son was murdered. His name was Rodney. It was in her darkest days, she explained, that she grew close to God. My heart hurt and rejoiced as she shared her precious story with me.

Because don’t we all have a story to tell?

Tragedies. Disease. Financial troubles. Prodigal children. Job loss. Relationships.

Some stories we share with the world.

Some stories we keep secret.

And if you have not been broken by someone or something – just wait – because eventually, you will have a story.

You can’t really plan for them.
They sneak up in the middle of our nights, or they steal our happiest moments, or they destroy our happy ending.

But if we seek comfort from the world rather than from God, our trials will surely be wasted.

And our hurt is healed best when we reach out to others who are hurting.

The apostle Paul wrote that God who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:4-5
Don’t waste your pain.

God can use me.

God can use YOU.

To help someone else.

He can open up our heart and give us opportunities to minister to people in ways we never have before.

Giving blood – giving life – in the very room where our sweet Zack graduated fifth grade fills my heart with joy. It was the last day we would share as a family before our journey with liver cancer began.

Watching others give their own blood, in honor of his memory, assures me he has not been forgotten. And his memory will flow through the veins of others.

Thank you all for remembering with us.

Be blessed.

~~~ Thank you to Parsley Elementary School and Principal Robin Hamilton for allowing us to hold the blood drive there. Thank you to WECT and TV14 for promoting the drive. Thank you to all the family, friends and strangers who donated here. We collected 118 units of blood!!

Zackery Ernest Mayo 9-17-1998 ~5-28-2011

Zackery Ernest Mayo 9-17-1998 ~5-28-2011

 

carolyn cline

carolyn cline donated near her home in Charlotte. I have never met her but she is very precious to our family!

blooddrivenick

a little brothers delivers fliers promoting a blood drive in memory of a big brother

blood drive

blood on the way to save lives…

Slapping Her Did Make me feel Better…

“They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite” ― Cassandra Clare

Someone said to me recently – “Time heals all wounds and it is coming up on two years so I’m sure you are feeling like your old self again. You know,”  she continued, “feeling better.”

And I did feel better.

Right after I slapped her.

20120722-074150.jpg

Okay.

I didn’t really slap her.

But the vision did flash through my mind as I wondered if people really think you can feel better – ever – after burying a child?

And I wondered if there would  ever come a day in this life when I wouldnt shed a tear?

My days are not spent sitting in a corner crying for hours on end  – although there are times when I have to admit that does still feel like a good option.

But smells, sounds, thoughts or even ordinary things like unloading the dishwasher or folding clothes can bring tears out of nowhere.

Sometimes one or two. Sometimes a bucket full.

Because the missing isn’t erased by the space of time and grief cannot be put away on a shelf.  Grief is ugly. Grief is beautiful. Grief is confusing.

Grief is at best, managed.

Sometimes graciously. Sometimes poorly.

Grief is not an outfit. Grief is a permanent accessory.

Grief is lived…

photo (46)

And I am convinced that grief does not change you.

Grief reveals you.

And grief reveals others to you.

And time cannot possibly make me “feel better.”

Only God can.

“His is a joy which consequences cannot quench. His is a peace which circumstances cannot steal.” – Max Lucado

May you seek HIS joy in the moment – no matter what today brings.

And remember today is only temporary…

“There is a spot, mid barren hills,
Where winter howls, and driving rain;
But if the dreary tempest chills,
There is a light that warms again.”
– Emily Jane Brontë

(And if you run into someone who has lost a loved one, please do them and yourself a favor and think carefully before you speak. Open mouths are dangerous and grief is very unpredictable. You never know when a slap just might slip out.)

be blessed…

photo (45)

zack24

photo (50)photo (48)

Gun Control, Childhood Cancer and Voices

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

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

How many children have to die?

I listened to a clip that featured Gabby Gilfords testimony in hearings on Capitol Hill last week.
“Too many children are dying. Too many children,”she said.

YES!! Too many children are dying!!nick stand

“We must do something,” she said, “It will be hard but the time it now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”

And my stomach ached.

Because the passion she and others are displaying for children is only for children who die from a killer with a gun.
There is a heated debate among our politicians for and against gun control. All of our media outlets are covering these highly charged debates.

And I love living in a country where we can express our passions and get things done using that passion as fuel.

But I can’t help but ask “Where is the passion for the 7 children who die every single day from childhood cancer?” Those numbers don’t seem to matter – we rarely – if ever – hear about it on the national news.

But these numbers matter to me and the other parents who lose their children to cancer.

Where is the passion for stopping the killer who murdered our 12 year old son and 6 other children on May 28, 2011? Where is the passion for stopping the killer who is still on the loose taking 7 children and rolling the dice on 46 more every single day?

These numbers are shocking to me.

In 3 days, more children die from cancer than were killed in the recent horrific school shooting.

“Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future” – JFK

Kayne Warters  dob July 6 2008.  Currently fighting Metastatic Angiosarcoma.  If you research this cancer, you will see that the prognosis is poor. His twin brother, Ashton, is being monitored for lesions present in his liver.

Kayne Warters dob July 6 2008. Currently fighting Metastatic Angiosarcoma. If you research this cancer, you will see that the prognosis is poor and options for treatment are very limited. His twin brother, Ashton, is being monitored for lesions present in his liver.

And people, rightfully so, are outraged at the killer at the school – the gunman – and want to do something – anything – to prevent it happening again.

But are we numb to childhood cancer?
Have we just become accepting of it?
Are these children any less important than children who are gunned down?
Don’t they deserve a voice?
Why are we not demanding more for them?

Why?

Are we all willing to continue to gamble that it won’t happen to our children?

Don’t all of our children count?

Our sweet friend Kyle Williams left this world shortly before our own Zack. He died of neuroblastoma

Our sweet friend Kyle Williams left this world shortly before our own Zack. He died of neuroblastoma

Don’t children with cancer deserve a full fledge commitment to a “War on Childhood Cancer”?

Fact: The incidence of invasive pediatric cancers is up 29% in the past 20 years.
Fact: In 20 years the FDA has initially approved only two drugs for any childhood cancer – 1/2 of all chemotherapies used for children’s cancers are over 25 years old
Fact: On the average, one in every four elementary schools has a child with cancer. The average high school has two students who are current or former cancer patients.
Fact: Despite these facts, childhood cancer research is vastly and consistently underfunded.
Fact: Research and development for new drugs from pharmaceutical companies comprises 60% of funding for adult cancer drugs and close to zero for childhood cancers.
Fact: NCI (our tax dollars) spends 96% of its budget on adult cancers and only 4% of its budget on children’s cancers.

Fact: Childhood cancer is ugly.
Fact: There is no known cause for childhood cancer. This means EVERY child is at risk!! Even yours.

And if we believe the evening news, then we know that children being killed by guns can be prevented if we ban this or that. And people are willing to spend money – whatever it takes – to prevent such killings.

Meanwhile, the lack of available successful treatments for children with cancer is beyond outrageous.

Our son Zack, at age 11, was given smaller doses of adult treatment because not enough children get liver cancer to deserve treatment specifically designed for a child’s growing body.

Side effects of the available treatment are horrible. Children get to spend their days and nights attached to an IV pole and suffer nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, muscle and stomach pains. Children with cancer suffer from swelling, peeling blisters on their skin and sores in their mouth and throat. Children with cancer eat through a feeding tube. Older children with cancer are reduced to wearing diapers again as they lose control of their bodily functions. Children with cancer watch as their families struggle to balance jobs, finances and the daily demands of caring for a child with cancer.
They become sterile from their treatment, they go deaf, they go blind, they have brain damage, they have heart damage, they have speech problems – the list goes on and on…

Fact: Children with cancer want to live.
Fact: Children with cancer deserve a chance.

How many children have to die from cancer before we consider it too many?
And does it only become too many when it is your child?
And you may ignore this blog post and go on about your “normal” life with your healthy children and you may only stop and think you need to take some sort of action when it becomes your child.

Or you can help by contacting your political representatives and tell them that ALL children count and demand more funding for pediatric cancer research. You can contact your representatives with the following links: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
You can also help by making a donation to organizations that support research for childhood cancer. Organizations like St Baldwicks, http://www.stbaldricks.org/filling-the-funding-gap
Alex’s Lemonade Stand http://www.alexslemonade.org/ both focus on childhood research.

I will be a voice.

I will be a voice for those who cannot speak.

I will be a voice for Zack.

I will be a voice for your child and mine.

Because one person can make a difference and every person should try….

And if it makes a difference for just one, then that will be all the difference in the world.

Because don’t all of our children matter?

I have never posted this picture before because it is so personal. This is the last picture taken of our precious Zack only hours before he would leave us.  But this picture matters so much. Our children should not have to suffer and die from cancer.

I have never posted this picture before because it is so personal. This is the last picture taken of our precious Zack only hours before he would leave us. You can see his jaundice was severe(as his liver quit functioning), he was weak and his belly was so swollen… But this picture represents so much…How many more have to die before you do something? None of our children should not have to suffer and die from cancer.

Sleeping in a Brother’s Room…

20120722-074150.jpg
Nick wanted to sleep in Zack’s room last night.

And as hard as that was for me – could the answer be anything but yes for him?

That’s the privilege of being a parent – we get to do what is best for our children but not necessarily what is “best” (convenient, easy, etc) for ourselves.

I’m pretty sure that’s called sacrifice.

Jesus sacrificed it ALL for me. Even though I didn’t deserve it.

Nick inspires me to push through the hard and do the things I must – not because I have to – because I want to. Because I love him.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:7

 

And my heart hurts that he grieves for an older brother. An older brother who was a best friend for nearly 7 years. An older brother who taught him so well. An older brother who taught us all the ultimate lessons of living.

Seeing Nick hurt is worse than my own pain.

And that fuels my strength to do whatever I must.

And we lay and read together in a big brother’s bed where countless stories were read before.

And we talk about the glow in the dark solar system carefully hung by a big brother and we turn off the light just to see.

Because the stars shine brightest in the darkness.

And Mayo and I tuck a little brother in and I remember an older brother and kissing his warm, living skin and I am thankful he was never too old to tuck in.

As long as your children are in your care, tuck them in – kiss them, hug them – no matter their age. They need it as much as you.

And we all prayed together. And we all learn together.

And we leave a little brother and his dog to sleep in the living memories of a brother’s room.

And I stare at the empty page of my daily journal and see the lack of answers, the lack of my desires, the lack of control.

And I look all around and see people with normal lives, normal families and my heart longs for that normalcy.

But this is MY life. My new normal. The life HE has laid out for me. The beautiful gift HE has given me.

And I cannot see the bigger picture that HE has painted for my life. But I know it is there.

And so I write the joys moments of the day. And in focusing on being thankful, my trust is once again strengthened.

And I know HIS plan is perfect.

I just can’t see that far ahead…

(and as I get ready to post this entry this morning – Nick has just awakened after sleeping ALL night – the first in a long while…)

20130117-071456.jpg

Half-Empty Bottle of Scope

scope

Cleaning up Nick and Zack’s bathroom, I see the half-empty bottle of Scope tucked in the back of the cabinet.

And it tears open my still healing wound.

I pull it from the cabinet and stare.

But I cannot bring myself to throw it away.

And I wonder how strange that is.

I remember Zack asking me to buy it for him – Spring of 5th grade (2010). And I remember thinking he must be starting to get interested in girls.

That cherished memory makes me smile at first but then it makes me cry.

Because that bottle of scope is so much more than just blue/green breath-freshening liquid…

It is the young man our son was just starting to become and a future that would be robbed. A future of voice changes, shaving, wearing deodorant without being reminded, a first kiss, holding a girls hand, a first date, first dance, the prom, first love, marriage, family….

And so I sit on a bathroom floor and smile and cry.

In a bathroom where toothpaste still gets left in the sink, on the counter and sometimes even on the floor and repeat showers still take place after I discover a dry bar of soap. Where a toilet seat is still left up and clothes are still scattered across the floor instead of in the hamper. And while I still offer gentle reminders, I don’t complain about it.

Instead, I give thanks in a bathroom for the simple reminders of life.

May we all count it all JOY a Moment at a Time…

scope1

Hope in the Fog?

No other place feels quite like this.

Morning time in the country where I was raised…

I rise early for quiet time and writing and to take a walk in the familiar fields and woods down by the creek. The perfect start to an imperfect day of living.

Yesterday morning was foggy.

Just like my life?

Fog surrounds me.

Fog makes it hard to see.

Faith is like radar that sees through the fog. ~Corrie Ten Boom

Does fog makes it easier to listen?

Leaves crunching under my feet.

Birds singing their morning song.

Roosters crowing

One owl screeches while another one hoots.

Each one, along with me, hopes for visible sun’s rays?

And do I desperately squint to peer through this misty fog?

Am I relying too much upon sight?

“When I see it, I’ll believe it?”

I cannot see my path clearly. Sometimes I think I can and other times I am at a loss for which way it turns.

Fog covers the path.

And the world continues to spin.

And people live their lives.

Faith is certain of what we do not see.

And in trying to see through this fog, do I hear Him?

My Fog horn.

My Sound of the bell on the buoy.

My Guide.

My Strength.

If only I will still and listen.

“… if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts …” Hebrews 3:7-8

And in the stillness of this foggy morning, peace fills me.

Because the closer I get – the better I can listen and the better I can truly see.

Will the fog rise?

Or will it remain my close friend for life?

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

Seeking hope.

And finding it in God soaked clouds?

There is Hope is in the fog.

For me.

For you.

Listen for it.

And I will continue to listen for it and find joy in this life without Zack…A Moment at a Time.grace is sufficient

zackattack

Miss yuo Zack Attack…

Hand-me-downs….saved and surrendered


Nick needs summer clothes. I realize this as I pack for our trip to Florida.

Hand-me-downs. A link to yesterday.

What our heart has once known, it will never forget…

I open the plastic tub marked size 8. Saved clothes for a little brother. An older brother always hesitant to surrender his outgrown clothes.

Are we willing to surrender?

In a few short years, Nick will be out of hand-me-down clothes. He will have passed the last size his brother would ever wear.

Jeans and shoes were never saved…only worn out. Surrendered only out of necessity. Zack put them always to maximum use. Playing and living every moment to the fullest.

I gently unfold the shorts. Shirts.Pajamas. Bathing suits. I close my eyes and remember. I almost forget to breathe. So far away – yet always with me.

These clothes. These hand-me-downs. These saved and surrendered clothes. They touch me because they touched him. So alive with him. His things that only tell part of his story. These things that we can hold in our hands.

“The past is not a package one can lay away” ~ Emily Dickinson

These saved clothes bring joy to Nick. He loves hand-me-downs from Zack. They are “cool” clothes. His brother’s saved and surrendered clothes.

These saved and surrendered clothes bring no tears today. They bring smiles to me. And to Nick.

A shirt takes me back to a place and a time. A memory.

A shirt brings Nick to the present and to the future. He will wear the fabric that touched his brother. A fabric worn with love…woven by the fine thread of a memory.

The past, the present and the future all becoming one. All becoming today.

This moment.

Living in the moment of a memory. Making a new one.

Does love of our past give us faith in the future?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” ~ Romans 15:4

Our past brings us to where we are but we must be present in the moment. Right where we are. In the middle of these saved and surrendered clothes….where our hands and our hearts touch a piece of the past and hope for the joy in today.   

This life is but for a moment, a vapor. And then it is gone.

Saved and surrendered?

How else can we live fully in the present moment?  Saved. Surrendered.

Willing to surrender. To do the will of God. Willing to love even when we don’t want to love. Willing to serve even when we do not  feel like it. Willing to be kind, gentle and patient when we feel tired, cranky and impatient. 

Setting aside self. Making choices consistent with His word. Searching for ways to honor and glory Him in the midst of our trials….in the midst of life when we are scared and don’t feel like it.

We must surrender to live fully in the present moment.

Saved by HIM. Surrendered to HIM.