Letter to Zack on his 16th birthday

zack today

Dear Zack,

Today is your birthday. Your sixteenth birthday. And I wonder…

I wonder how tall you would be now. I wonder how your voice would sound.  I see your friends and how much they have changed. And I wonder…I wonder if you are still twelve in heaven. I wonder what heaven is like. I wonder what you are doing right this minute.

I remember rocking you in the middle of that first night sixteen years ago. Just you and me and the dark. Those precious early moments…never knowing that twelve years, eight months and eleven days later, you would be gone. If I had known, would I have lived the moments of life differently?

I miss you Zack.

I miss your smile.

I miss your hugs.

I miss your messy room.

I miss your humor.

I miss your voice.

I miss you waking up before anyone else. – I’m convinced now that you somehow knew you needed to get all your living done instead of sleeping.

I miss your blue eyes.

I miss having to tell you to stop pulling your brother’s ear.

I miss seeing you and Daddy wrestling in the floor with Nick.

I miss your dirt bike races and your dirty face and clothes.

I miss tucking you in.

I miss everything about you.

I miss you.

I am quite certain I always will. Missing you has not been erased by the passing of time. But, I know – God sees what we cannot see.

We just passed the half-way mark with this pregnancy. This precious new life growing inside of me has stirred up many emotions for me.

Nick will make a great big brother because he learned from the best. He talks to the baby a lot – remember how you used to tell him to be quiet? He still hasn’t learned how. J

He says this baby will be his best friend just like Bubby.

This baby – this blessing – will know all there is to know about an oldest brother.

Today is your sixteenth birthday.

To celebrate, we are going to Granddaddy’s restaurant to have dinner with family. We will sing happy birthday to you. Nick will blow out your candles and we will eat your favorite cake. Then, Nick is going to open the sealed envelope and announce if we are having a boy or a girl!

We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate you.

We love and miss you with every breath.

Happy 16th birthday Zack Attack!

Click here to see Zack’s last birthday – celebrated at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital…

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Zack’s first birthday – celebrated on Grandma Bonnie Mae’s front porch…

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Zack’s 3rd birthday – celebrated at Granddaddy and Ebie’s house.

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Zack’s 11th birthday – his last healthy birthday – celebrated with 11 boys sleeping over at our house.

 

Life After Death

cropped-zack54.jpgOur 12 year old son, Zack, moved in with Jesus just over three short years ago.

And while he is physically gone, he is always with me.

The pain of losing him is not as raw as it once was, but it is painful just the same.

When we found out I was pregnant, we felt this was truly a gift from God.

Baby Mayo

Baby Mayo

And then someone asked me if I was worried if this baby would get cancer too.

And someone made a comment about my age.

And someone said something about Zack being reincarnated in this baby.

Some people always want to take the wind out of your sail.

And there is always someone waiting to be negative because negative people need drama like oxygen.  But if we just ignore them, it takes their breath away. The less we respond to negative people the more peaceful our lives will become.  (and then there is always the “defriend”option – J)

This life…this life we have learned to live without our Zack is harder some days than others. This new life, this miracle, this gift, growing inside me will never take his place.  But this new life has breathed a new joy into our family.

Each time I feel a kick, I smile.

This video of Nick finding out about the baby will surely make you smile too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODtOCet5x78

God’s people have only one way to face life – confidently.  So, we will continue to live this life after death with confidence – a moment at a time.  I pray you will too.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.  ~Lamentations 3:22-24

PS – September Marks National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – please support childhood cancer research by making sure you KNOW which organizations truly fund the research and only supporting those organizations.

big brother Nick

Bears on the Mountain

20140319_180234-1My friend is going through a hard time right now.

A life or death kind of hard time.

And as much as I want to tell her everything’s going to be okay –

I can’t.

Because you know what? It might not be okay.

At least not the kind of okay we want it to be….

Or the kind of okay we hope it will be.

God never promised everything would be okay. But, HE did promise we would never have to go through it alone.

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Nick and I are reading a story about an 8 year old boy, Jonathan, who has to go over a mountain alone.

His mother tells him it will be okay because there are no bears on Hemlock Mountain. But, she was wrong.

There are bears on Hemlock Mountain.

At one point in the story, Jonathan feels very alone on that mountain.

Don’t panic. I’m with you.There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. – Isaiah 41:10

Part of Nick’s “dig deeper” assignments in his study guide for this book include looking up scripture and answering questions about it…and I love to hear his child-like faith responses.

God’s word assures us we are never alone – even when we find ourselves facing bears on the mountain.

And even when things are not the way we want them to be and all is not “okay”…we can trust His way is perfect.

This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. – Psalm 18:30

Be a blessing, trust HIS perfect plan and live a moment at a time…

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Brothers posing on a mountain hike…Mommy in the background up the trail.

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A Moment She Remembered

Earlier this month, a friend of Zack’s assignment for her 9th grade English class was to choose a moment in time that she remembered in detail and write about it. She chose to write about Zack. She was kind enough to share her writing with us.

We are honored that she selected him as her moment and thankful to know his friends still remember.

I thank my God every time I remember you. ~Philippians 1:3

May you all be blessed by our friend, Abbey Crisp, today.

Abbey Crisp
February 3rd
Honors English

At the end of my 5th grade school year something happened to someone I cared about and it changed me. I met my friend, Zack Mayo in Kindergarten and we were good friends throughout elementary school. We both attended Parsley Elementary and had most of the same teachers. We became pretty good friends and hung out together sometimes! I even had a crush on him in 2nd grade. He was in a horrible accident and from then on, his life was different.

I remember exactly where I was when I found out that he was hurt. I was in the car at an intersection in Crosswinds taking my sister’s friend home. I remember my mom stopped the car on the side of the road and we prayed for him. I was really scared for him. I hadn’t talked to him in a while because I had just moved schools the year before and I didn’t know what to think about the whole thing! The thoughts that were running through my mind were scary and sad. I had never known anyone my age that had been hurt really badly before and things just seemed to get worse and worse. Zack’s mom was updating everyone on Facebook and I just remember looking for her updates so often. Zack almost died several times. It felt like we prayed for him all of the time. We were all so worried about him. He was taken to Chapel Hill where they found out that he had liver cancer and the scooter accident had punctured his tumor.

He fought the terrible disease for such a long time. He was so strong and brave and taught me so much about finding the best in even the worst things and about having hope and faith. His family was with him every minute and never gave up on him. His younger brother, Nick, loved him so much and looked up to him for so many things. I learned to appreciate life, my family, my friends and just everyday things. I know that Zack is in heaven and that I will see him again one day. I still think about him often when I hear certain songs like “I Can Only Imagine” or when I remember back to elementary school. The day I heard about his accident was a day that I won’t ever forget. It seems etched in my brain along with great memories of him.

Thank you Abbey for allowing me to publish this on my blog. You are a blessing!

Abbey and her little sister.

Abbey and her little sister.

zack today

Wise Old Oak Trees

20140122_14144220140122_142217Landmarks, museums and other interesting sites are usually on our list when we travel in our motorhome to supplement our learning on the road. This trip has been different.
Because we came to attend the RV Supershow and purchase a new motorhome, we have spent a lot of time at our dealer’s campground here in Florida.

During the winter, most Florida campgrounds are the destination of “snowbirds”- a term used to describe retired people who flee the snow for warmer weather. They travel here from all over the coldest parts of the U.S. and Canada.20140117_161852

Someone messaged me and asked “how can you stand being around all those old people (at our campground)?”

The oldest trees often bear the sweetest fruit – German Proverb

We have met many incredible “old” people in the last couple of weeks here in Florida.

Yesterday, we enjoyed coffee with a sweet elderly couple (from Missouri but live full-time in their motorhome). Mr. Noel is recuperating from knee surgery. He explained how his knee troubles all began with a downed helicopter in Vietnam. Nick listened intently and asked questions about the war, the rescue and more about his knee and broken back. Mr. Noel also shared stories of his dad’s participation in World War II and his survival of the Normandy invasion.

For a little boy who loves to play battle with friends at home and who is studying World War II, this was an incredible learning experience. This kind of learning is better than any book we will read, better than any research on the internet – this learning is the gift of incredible living history.

“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.”—Deuteronomy 32:7

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Several days ago, another man, Mr. Walt (from Colorado – wintering here), saw Nick eating a lot of fruit one morning, and told him it was good to eat so much fruit. “You will grow up to look like Charles Atlas” he said. The look on Nick’s face revealed he had no idea who Charles Atlas was so Mr. Walt encouraged him to find out about him. Nick researched Charles Atlas on the internet and sought him out to share what he had discovered.

And just in case you don’t know who Charles Atlas is… As a youth, he weighed only 97 pound and a bully kicked sand into his face at a beach. Charles was humiliated which lead to him doing numerous exercise routines and becoming obsessed with strength. According to several stories, while at the zoo, watching a lion stretch, he thought to himself “Does this old gentleman have any barbells, any exercisers?…And it came over me….He’s been pitting one muscle against another!” He concluded that lions and tigers became strong by pitting muscle against muscle. It was this idea that lead to his dynamic tension program that made him so successful and earned him the nickname of “The World’s Most Perfectly Developed Man”

Nick has given lots of sweet hugs to grandmas and grandpas and watched them dance together in the clubhouse. He has entertained with his keyboard and exchanged stories about the Titanic (his obsession for over a year now). He is currently working on a math problem involving our motorhome’s length and the Titanic. (Mr. Joe asked him last night how many 45 ft motorhomes would fit lined up straight on the Titanic.) I made him go to bed before he completed his living word problem but I guarantee Nick will find the answer this morning so he can share the answer with Mr. Joe.

The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.~Proverbs 20:29

Learning, sharing, exchanging…

Yes – that is how we can “stand” it – that is how we can accept the wonderful gift – the privilege – of spending time among the old old oak trees…

We are making all the moments count… A Moment at a Time.

Be a blessing to someone today!20140117_16190920140118_16072720140122_14063620140117_16200820140112_155558 (1)

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.

Merry Christmas!

Love never dies…

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! We miss our Zack but continue to honor his life every day and trust our Mighty Savior’s plan for our family. Cherish every moment during this season and the upcoming year!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!