Are you Ready for the new year?

A new year is upon us.

We hear much about the plans, goals and resolutions people are making for their lives.

Eat less. Exercise more. Drink less. Spend more “quality” time with family. Achieve more at work. Make more money. The list goes on and on…

We hear nothing about people planning to die.
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People don’t talk about death in our culture. It is a morbid topic and people avoid it. People don’t like to think about it so don’t until they have to plan a funeral for someone they love.

But, shocking statistics reveal that one out of one people will die.

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” ~ James 4:14b

That includes you and me.

Over 150,000 people in this world will have no tomorrow. They will die today. And most will have no warning – no diagnosis of terminal illness. Most will die suddenly.

Will they be ready? Where will they spend eternity?

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:10

If we want to make the most of life, we have to face the fact that it will end.

“Only those who are prepared to die are really prepared to live.” ~ Dr. L. Nelson Bell

Am I ready? Are you?

What are we doing today to prepare for eternity?

Will we be prepared to meet the Master at any moment and answer for all we have done for HIM? Or will our answers be filled with all we have done for ourselves?

Every day of our life, we are just a breath away from eternity.

How can I be a difference-maker?

How can I impact even one?

What can I do – what can you do – to be salt, and light, and to be a difference-maker?

How often do we fail to make a difference because we don’t even try?

We have a choice every day to be a difference.

How will we make a difference for HIS kingdom this year?

A new year lies in front of us. Are you READY?

God help us to live now in the light of a REAL tomorrow.

Happy New Year – may you all be blessed and live for HIM a moment at a time…

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Nick reads about the Titanic with a resident at Lake Shore Commons Senior Living Center.

Nick reads about the Titanic with a resident at Lake Shore Commons Senior Living Center.

Be the difference

christmas card100Christmas.

The time of year when we remember.

Each ornament we hang has a special memory. Each song we hear sparks a feeling.

And my mind spins dizzy with the thoughts of my oldest son’s birth and of his death 12 short years later.

And I think of how all the more precious Christmas has become to me.

Remembering HIS birth.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6-7

Because without birth, there would be no death.

And in HIS dying, we were saved.

We, undeservingly, were given the greatest gift.

Our family has enjoyed a special month of giving to others. It has blessed us immensely and helped us keep our focus on the true meaning of Christmas. We pass on many life lessons to our younger son, Nick, by involving him and helping him learn to make sacrifices and give with us.

Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for many.

Look around. We all have a neighbor in a valley right this very moment. Can you take them a meal? Can you bake something? Short on cash – no problem! Visit or call! Give a smile and an encouraging word. Show them that they are not alone. Show them that you care.

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” – Mother Teresa

What can you do?

What will you do?

To make a difference for even one?

HE made a difference for me and for you.

Be the difference maker this Christmas season.

It will make a difference for you.

Be blessed!
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Don’t Waste Your Pain

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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.

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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!

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

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blood on the way to save lives…

The Courage to Give

People sign up and line up to give.

To give their life’s blood.

Most not realizing the impact of the life giving power…

Giving to strangers. In honor of a little boy they may or may not have known.

In a school he loved. In the very room where he graduated from fifth grade.

And that very next day he fell in our driveway.

The fall that ruptured a tumor in his liver. A rupture that pumped every precious bit of his own blood out into his abdomen.

Causing his heart to stop.

Fifty-four units of life-saving blood pumped back into him over the next 48 hours before they could finally stop the bleeding in his liver.

Fifty-four units that gave us almost another year with our son…before the cancer stole him away.

People.

Giving.

Sacrificing.

A part of themselves.

So others might live.

Shedding their own blood for strangers.

Power. In their blood. Giving. For you? For me?

HE shed HIS blood so that we ALL might live.

My back ached from standing and talking to people for nearly 8 hours. But, my heart was full from the sharing….stories of hurt and hope. Stories of how our son, how our family, touched their lives.

And it is ME who is encouraged.

I think about the many people who write checks everyday that help feed, clothe and assist less fortunate or victims of natural disasters.

But giving blood has nothing to do with wealth, money or social status.

The poorest man in the world can save the richest man in the world simply by giving something his or her body produces naturally. He has the power to save…

And who benefits most – the giver or the receiver?

Chris Pipkin

Doesn’t the fragrance linger in the hand that gives the rose?

Can we ever sincerely try to help another without helping ourselves?

Will you have the courage to give this year? In honor of a memory of a little boy you may have known or you may not have known.

Your blood may even save the life of someone you love…

God bless you all for your support!

waiting to donate…

carts loaded and ready to roll with life-saving blood

Zack’s first grade teacher, Emily Ann Wood Jones, couldn’t make it to the blood drive so she went to the center in her town to give. Love you Emily Ann!

Teresa Dunn was such a good sport despite problems with her “sticker”. Thank you friend!!

Thank you all for giving!

Red Cross Blood Drive in Memory of Zack Mayo

WILMINGTON, NC, July 22,
2013 – Three years ago 12-year-old Zack Mayo was diagnosed with liver cancer
which was discovered after a tumor on his liver ruptured during a fall.  The
rupture caused a horrific bleed out that resulted in cardiac arrest among other
medical complications.

That day the team of doctors and professionals at
New Hanover County Regional Medical Center saved Zack’s life. This would not
have been possible without blood donors who supplied the 50+ units of blood Zack
received during his first 24 hours in ICU.

Throughout the next year of
his cancer treatment, Zack would receive countless amounts of blood and
platelets. Sadly, the cancer proved to be too much for young Zack and he passed
away on May 28, 2011.

“Even though the cancer ultimately took his life,
we are grateful for every moment we had with him and we know his life was
extended thanks to generous blood donors,” said Wendy Mayo, Zack’s
mother.

In memory of Zack, a blood drive is being held in his honor on
Wednesday, July 31 from 1:30-7:00pm at Parsley Elementary School (where Zack
attended K-5th grade) located at 3518 Masonboro Loop Rd,
Wilmington.

Those interested in donating blood can make an appointment at
redcrossblood.org/make-donation and use sponsor code PARSLEY or call Shannon
Pipkin at 910-443-0534.

The American Red Cross issued an emergency
request for platelet and blood donors of all blood types to roll up a sleeve and
give because many fewer donations than expected were received in June and the
first week of July.

Nationwide, donations through the Red Cross were down
approximately 10 percent in June, resulting in about 50,000 fewer donations than
expected. The shortfall is similar to what the Red Cross experienced in June
2012.

Schedule an appointment or visit a blood drive near you and help
save lives by calling1-800-RED CROSS or visit redcrossblood.org to schedule a
blood donation appointment.

About the American Red Cross
The American
Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of
disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that
save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military
members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that
depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its
mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter
at @RedCross.

blood drive2013

Come and Knock on My Door

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The deadbolt lock was turned to the up position. He had turned it himself and now the door was locked tightly.

And he could hear the knocking and desperately wanted to open the door.

But he was only 3 and could not figure out how to unlock it.

All of the kids had been in our motorhome changing into bathing suits. In the midst of their excitement to go tubing behind the boat, he had been left behind.

His mother called out to them as they boarded the boat. Where is he?

“We don’t know.”

But we knew.

She went to the door but it was too late. He, in attempting to open the door, had locked it instead.

And now five adults and five kids stood around a door knocking and asking him to unlock the door.

Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice,
and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and
he with Me. (Rev. 3:20)

Jesus is knocking at the door of our hearts.

And we somehow think because we have already answered the door, he is not knocking again.

But the knocking continues!

Revelation 3:20 shows us what our relationship with God should look like.

We should be continually answering the door when Jesus knocks. It says we’ll hear His voice. He’s always speaking.

Am I listening?

Are you?

Or do we remain behind a door? A door that we ourselves have locked….

Mayo retrieved a ladder and started checking pointlessly for unlatched windows.

A mommy continued to stand patiently at the door and knock on the same spot beside the locked deadbolt.

“Turn this one. Right where Mommy is knocking,” she called gently.

There was no panic in her voice so there was none in his…just continual calling out to him. Calling and urging him to listen to her instructions.

And just as Mayo was deciding which window we would sacrifice, the door opened!

And a little boy jumped straight into his Mother’s open arms.

And he was free.

Because he listened.

Will we listen?

I Chose Daffodils

A friend posted recently that she would have to stock her liquor cabinet because school is ending for the summer and her kids will be home all the time.

And this week, while she was out shopping for liquor, I was shopping for flowers for my twelve year old son’s grave and desperately wishing for one more summer…

I chose daffodils.

Not because they are my favorite. Or his.

I chose daffodils because they make me feel hopeful is a world filled with hopelessness.

They are messengers delivering the news of winter’s end.

Renewed life. Renewed hope.

Their delicate blooms do not linger long.

But they give us hope for the coming spring and summer.

And when winter lingers, we all need reminders that spring is coming.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
that floats on high o’er vales and hills
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils’
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
-William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

I am incredibly grateful for our littlest one and I am looking forward to all of the moments of summer with him.

Cherish every moment…

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Just One Word

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It doesn’t matter what we look like, where we are, what we think, or what we’ve done. HE sees it all – even the stuff others do not know – and still wants us just as we are.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”~ Jesus, Matthew 11:28

HE says “Come”.  And we can choose to go to that place where we are loved not because of what we have done but in spite of ALL we have done.

Come in the middle of the night when you cannot sleep and the voices remind you of all that is wrong.

brothers sharing life together...

brothers sharing life together…

Come in the morning.

Come straight out of bed with your puffy eyes and your morning breath.

Come with your crazy hair.

Come in your pajamas.

Come throughout the day when life demands and difficulties bear down on you.

Come in the middle of chaos when you just need the quiet.

Come even when your mind is filled with doubts and uncertainty.

“The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness. Come overwhelmed with life. Come with your wandering mind. Come messy.”~ Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life

And even when you are filled with hurt…

And even when you are filled with anger…

And even when you are filled with ugly…

Come anyway.DSC_5502

Come reluctantly or expectantly.

Come when you are filled with hope.

Come when you are hopeless.

Come wide awake or half-asleep.

Come when all is right.

Come when all is terribly wrong.

Come when you are whole.

Come when you are broken into ten thousand pieces.

Don’t wait to be worthy.

Don’t wait to get your life together.

Come just as you are.

Because HE wants us just as we are.

HE says “Come”. And when we go to the only place our hearts can be healed and our soul can be quenched – to the place where we are loved unconditionally – we will find everything we will ever need.

Don’t wait.

Listen.

One word.

“Come.”

Just Come…

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Nick and mommy

Nick and mommy

A Walk in the Woods

photo (32)Leaves crunch under the weight of our feet.  And even in their death, the leaves are beautiful and useful – providing a blanket of protection for the forest.

And my littlest one chatters on. And I pull my drifting mind back to him so I can be present in the moment of the chattering that is everything to him.
And he points out everything he sees. And he sees everything – especially the details I walk right past.

Nick sees a tiny spider web in a dead log.

Nick sees a tiny spider web in a dead log.

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Nick points out the smallest mushrooms.

Children will show us everything if only we take the time to see.

And together, we love to explore these woods. Because we don’t want to just read about nature. We want to experience nature. And can we ever have enough of nature?

“Reading about nature is fine, but if a person walks in the woods and listens carefully, he can learn more than what is in books, for they speak with the voice of God.” ~ George Washington Carver

Nick enjoys a gift in the woods...

Nick enjoys a gift in the woods…

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These are the woods of my childhood. These are the woods where my horses and I shared many adventures. These are the woods that kept secrets and the woods where my brothers and I built forts and tree houses with no help from adults. These are the woods where our imagination ran as wild as the creek that borders it and the animals who live in there. These are the woods that would call to us and keep us until our momma rang the dinner bell. And these are the same woods where my future husband and I took long walks. These are the woods my grandfather and my father explored when they were boys. These are the same woods my Great-Great Uncle purchased, explored and planted walnut, peach, apple and pecan trees. They are the same woods we would share with our two sons 5 generations later. These are the woods where tobacco beds were raised up for planting because too many weeds were growing in the field. These are the woods that provided natural protection for livestock. These are the woods that provided food in the hardest of times. And now, these are the woods that provide a world of comfort, of familiarity, peace and escape…Escape from a too noisy world of expectations and busyness.

And I never tire of the same forest because it is never the same.

They are the woods I know and love. No matter how long I have been away from them. They are still home. They always welcome me.

And even though I know them by heart, they are always changing. And always offering a special something to each time I enter.

And in the winter, these woods can appear lonely at first glance. Trees stand tall and naked looking almost lifeless. But they are not lonely or dead. They are very much alive. Waiting to dance with us.

And morning time in the woods in my favorite.

heading out to the woods...

heading out to the woods for an early morning walk…

Alone – breathing in the fresh morning air. Watching and listening for the forest to speak.

“If a person has nothing but nature, then nature is enough to reveal something about God.” ~Max Lucado

And in the woods everything is perfect and nothing is perfect. Trees and plants grow twisted and crooked from past storms and winds they survived. Tree tops are bare of dead leaves but full of life. Birds move excitedly along the branches singing their songs of joy. A woodpecker drills for bugs. An owl hoots in the distance. Squirrels rustle the leaves and tree bark. A rabbit hops out of my way. Turkeys call and answer.

And I give thanks for the tuning of my senses in the forest knowing HE gave it all for me to see.

(click the link to hear a little of the sounds from one of my early morning walks this week)

http://youtu.be/Gl4ERYinInw

And though the woods speak to me like an old friend, they do not question. They do not offer opinion. They do not tell me how I should be. They simply let me “be”  in this very  very moment.

And I remember a 12 year old boy who loved these woods as much as I do.  And I remember a boy who wanted to go into the woods but did not have the strength to walk. And I remember a daddy and a little brother cutting a wide-enough trail to the exact place an older brother wanted to go – determined to not let childhood cancer stop the life we enjoyed living together.  And I remember a beat up golf cart taking him to the place he wanted to be. And I wonder now if he knew that would be his last visit to those woods? And I wonder if we knew?

And my heart aches.

Because time doesn’t erase the missing.

I amble on through the woods quietly. And I speak no words. But, HE hears. And in this stillness, I feel HIS whisper breathing power in the broken places in me. And my heart expands fully.

I see signs left behind by bear and coyotes.

It stops me from going any further alone.

And I turn back.

Back to the direction of roosters crowing.

…Determined to somehow be a testament to HIS goodness and to live this day as deliberately as these woods.

brothers learning together...

brothers learning together…

Nick and Miley

Nick and Miley

Miss you every second Zack Attack!

Miss you every second Zack Attack!

brothers sharing life together...

brothers sharing life together…

brothers headed to the woods for a hunt

brothers headed to the woods for a hunt

 

Sleeping in a Brother’s Room…

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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…)

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