Austin’s Priceless Gifts to Me…

Since today is a significant day for us, I decided to post my blog today instead of on Friday…

Today, two years ago, is a day in history that we will never be able to forget; it has forever changed our lives. It is the day that our son, Austin, very unexpectedly went to be with Jesus. Even though it has been the most heart-wrenching sorrow that we have ever faced, we have seen God’s hand leading us and have felt Him carrying us through these two years of grief. I have found that writing is healing for me, and I decided to share the letter that I have written to Austin on this two-year anniversary. This day has forever changed our lives, but we have experienced that ALL things DO work out for our good. Even this!


Dear Austin,

How do I begin to express all the emotions that I feel on a day like today? I have been dreading this day because it still feels excruciatingly painful to me. However, there is no way possible to avoid it. I know that continued healing will come as I embrace this journey, in the midst of the pain. Austin, I miss you immensely! In some ways, it seems like it has been much longer than two years since I have felt that daily hug from you or heard your laughter and teasing fill our home. I can hardly believe that we have been able to survive this long without your daily presence. You see, Austin, you are my firstborn and only son, and you gave me three very special gifts that no one else has ever given to me…

When I first heard your little cry and held you close in my arms, I was in awe of the love that filled my heart. I saw the matchless and everlasting love of my Heavenly Father just a little clearer. I was so overwhelmed by this precious demonstration of His love to me. As you grew and started trying to say your first words, my heart was thrilled as you began calling for “Mama.” This was your first gift to me! You gave me my first priceless gift of motherhood. 

I loved to care for you, and it nearly broke my heart when I had to helplessly sit in agony and watch as you faced your numerous health challenges. I don’t know of anyone else who survived not only two heart transplants, but also two deadly cancers-all by the time you were 16 years old! I am still amazed at the grace of God that was so evident in your life. I never once heard you complain about all your hospital experiences and pain, rather, you were always so optimistic and thankful for what you had. Because of you, I saw that suffering, grace, and royalty (as God’s children) are so much more than what our human eyes can see. I still can’t help but cry when I picture you sitting in your hospital bed as a happy, peaceful, sixteen-year-old awaiting your second heart transplant. Even though you were dependent on the IV medicine to keep you alive, your joy and happiness was in NO WAY dependent on your circumstances. Austin, you chose to live ABOVE your circumstances, and because of your faithfulness, we have seen so many people drawn to the Lord. I can only imagine the reward you are experiencing in Heaven! You showed me such a clear picture of what God’s grace looks like. This, my dear son, is another gift that I will always treasure and hold near to my heart.

My heart was crushed countless times when I wanted to take your pain from you, but couldn’t. It seemed extremely unfair for me to be healthy and pain-free, while you were suffering. I begged God to allow me to carry your pain so you wouldn’t have to, but He never granted my plea… until now. Now I realize that He has done just that. As I am typing these words with tears streaming down my face, I am again carrying the intense pain that threatens to suffocate me. However, I am also thrilled with the realization that YOU are now healthy and pain-free, enjoying the most wonderful and indescribable life in the presence of Jesus. I can see you laughing and dancing with the angels as you glorify your “Daddy” for always carrying you through your difficult trials.  I know, Austin, that you are also helping Jesus prepare for our family’s “home-coming”. We are all greatly longing for that glorious day! The third gift that you have given to me is the gift of a greater longing for Heaven. Although God still gives me purpose for each day He allows me to live here, I live with a much greater awareness and longing for eternity.

God’s grace has now taken on a complete new meaning to each of us. We miss you, Austin, with each breath that we breathe, yet we are so grateful for God’s goodness to us. We have seen how God has been taking our suffering and tears and has been making something beautiful out of our devastation and loss. God’s purpose and plan is so much greater than our brief time here on earth.

As you look down from Heaven and see us continuing to cry because of missing you, I hope you can also see that we are committed to the fact that God is still good and bigger than even THIS mountain. Each of us are convinced of this without a shadow of a doubt.  

We will continue to cry because we miss you. I will continue to feel your hugs as I go to sleep each night, wrapped in the blanket that you gave me. However, most of all, I will continue to feel secure as I rest in the embrace of my Heavenly Father. He is still in control, and He is worthy of my trust!

I can hardly wait until God calls each of us to Him, and we can worship Jesus together. Until then, we will continue our feeble attempts to worship as best as we can while you worship Jesus so perfectly and completely. Until then…I will savor  these gifts from you.   

I love you!


  • Martha Cherry
    Posted at 08:37h, 01 November

    Thinking of you today. I’m so thankful for the healing and grace that God continues to give. It is so good of Him to give peace in the storm and joy in the tears. May your day be extra blessed!

  • Duane & Cindy
    Posted at 12:45h, 01 November

    Martha, Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. We are so unworthy of God’s love and the care of His people. God is good…ALL the time! ~Cindy

  • Judy
    Posted at 14:49h, 01 November

    Thank you for sharing this letter. I just recently finished reading “Big Mountain, Bigger God” and was so blessed. You have been on my heart and in my prayers as I knew Austin’s home-going anniversary was coming up. Thank you for allowing God to use your pain to bring Him glory.

    On a different note…years ago you were ministering at Gadsden here in N Fl. and myself and another girl from church, Pam Smith, went into the prison with you, then later the two of us, along with the two of you went to McDonalds….not sure if the two of you were “courting” yet or not! Good memories.

    Judy (Yoder) Belc

  • Suzanna Weaver
    Posted at 15:49h, 01 November

    I cannot imagine having 16 yrs of love, memories etc to remember.. It wold make it even harder i think. I grieved the loss of twins 3yrs ago this week. They left the womb before we ever got to see them, hold them …and yet I miss them. I wonder what it would have been like to have them running thro our house, adding to the everyday clutter and choas!

    Bless you as you remember and miss Austin!

  • Judi Overholt
    Posted at 16:06h, 01 November

    Cindy, such a beautiful article you wrote. It is very heartfelt and touching. Tears are a language GOD understands!! He as well as your family have touched a lot of people. Hang in there. Love and prayers….Judi

  • Kim Borchers
    Posted at 17:52h, 01 November

    Cindy I want to Thank you so much for sending us the book. Olivia has been reading every waking moment about your amazing journey and how truly blessed your family was to be able to care for Gods beautiful gift. I to wonder sometimes how such a hard life for something so precious. Through Gods grace each day we also take step by step and thank God for letting us take care of his greatest gift to our family. I so long for the day for our savior to bring us home for no more suffering and sadness there shall be. May God continue to bless your family. May your continue to serve and love him. I know Austin is looking down on you and so proud to have been part of your wonderful family! God bless you for sharing your story.

  • Duane & Cindy
    Posted at 14:12h, 02 November

    Hi Judy! We are so encouraged that our book was a blessing to you. We are also keenly aware that it is not because of who we are but it is because of WHO God is. He has been so incredibly faithful to us and we praise Him for it! As far as the McDonald’s meal after the service at Gadsden…there has been “a lot of water over the bridge” since then and I’m afraid that we don’t remember these events as well as we did before. =) Sorry! We would love to get re-aquainted, however, if it works for you to look us up some time when we are in your area. Thanks for your comment. ~Cindy

  • Duane & Cindy
    Posted at 14:32h, 02 November

    God bless you for your response and words of encouragement. Sixteen years of having someone a part of your family does make a big difference, however, I know losing your twins had to be very tough. They were still a part of you, even if only for a short time. I have experienced three miscarriages and I know how hard those were for me and I think it would be so much harder to lose twins. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss and will pray for you as you continue missing their presence. ~Cindy

  • Duane & Cindy
    Posted at 14:36h, 02 November

    Thank you, Judy, for that lovely reminder and for blessing us with your comment. We appreciate your love and friendship. We hope your family is doing well. Blessings! ~Cindy

  • Duane & Cindy
    Posted at 14:41h, 02 November

    Hi Kim!
    We are glad that our book has been a blessing to you and we desire for God to receive all the glory. We are who we are because of His faithfulness and grace. He is truly bigger than every circumstance we have faced and we praise Him for that! God bless you on your journey as you serve Him in the calling that He has for your life. Heaven will be worth it all! ~Cindy

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