Exchanging Brokenness For Beauty

I want to share an incredible story of how God can use the tough times and the sufferings in our lives to shape us into beautiful “gems” if we allow Him.

Yesterday, I was going through the basket of the many cards and letters that we received when our son, Austin, went to be with Jesus. I cried as I realized again how many people have shown God’s love to us during the past year and a half. This time when I read them, I was able to be ministered to in a completely different way. The initial stage of shock has worn off and I believe I can think more clearly than I did around the time of his passing. Thanks to each of you who have lifted us up to God and interceded on our behalf. We are walking in His’ grace but appreciate your continued prayers.

There was one card in particular that meant very much to our family. It was from a nurse who worked in the small hospital where the ambulance took Austin after he stopped breathing, on that early Sunday morning. This card was personalized, and on the outside it said: “As you remember Austin…A young life has passed from our sight, but never from our hearts.” On the inside of the card, she wrote, “I met  Austin briefly on Oct. 31, 2010. I was able to hold his hand for a moment, a small gesture compared to the depth that he touched my soul. He was (and is) a true angel, a miracle unlike no other. I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through. Your family is in my prayers and thoughts every day. You are blessed that you now have the most special guardian angel watching over you.”   Sandi Mazer (Hartwell, GA)

We knew that everyone who was working with Austin in that small ER, seemed to be very considerate and caring but we didn’t realize how God’s presence was at work there as well. I remember after they got Austin’s heart started again, one of the paramedics commented to us, “I can tell that God has His hand on this one.”

The most incredible part of the story of what took place in the ER was how Sandi shared with us later in another letter of how Austin helped to reach her and put her back on the right path with God. You have to realize that Austin did absolutely nothing! He wasn’t even breathing on his own, and she knew very little about Austin. (His journey of two heart transplants and two different kinds of cancers) How could God use Austin’s life while he was in this condition? I believe that the presence of God and the angels were in this small emergency room and it is a wonderful reminder of how God can use any of us when we are surrendered to Him. Austin never complained about all the physical pain that he had to endure in his  sixteen years of life and the many boundaries that surrounded him. He struggled with issues like each of us do, but he had such a beautiful and complete trust in his Heavenly Father, and it was such a challenge to us. Austin knew the importance of having a clear conscience. He was quick to say that he was sorry and ask for forgiveness if he had wronged someone in our family. Austin had come to the place of full surrender to what God was doing with his life.

Sandi and her children blessed our family on that first and extremely difficult Christmas without Austin. They found the perfect and very meaningful gifts for each of us and had them delivered to our door. It seemed as if Austin sent them our way because it was something that he loved to do for us whenever he had any significant amount of money. In fact, the previous Christmas was spent in the hospital while Austin was waiting for his second heart transplant. We didn’t have the time or the money to purchase many gifts. Austin had received some money with some of the cards that were sent to him for his birthday.  He had the time to get on the internet and order special gifts for each of us. He enjoyed seeing our surprise and the girls delight over their gifts.

As we were working on our last book, we asked Sandi if she could share what God had laid on her heart. She replied with this beautiful letter: “I met the Mullett family on what would be Austin’s last day among us. The atmosphere in our small ER was tense. We all knew that he was very critical. Despite their emotional torment, I vividly remember Duane and Cindy telling Austin not to worry because God was with him, with them. They also frequently told all the staff, ‘Thank you for all that you’re doing.’ I cannot describe the resolve that was shown on their faces. They knew Austin was in God’s hand and His’ will would prevail. Their faith never faltered. Seeing this, and simply being there and holding Austin’s hand touched my soul deeply.

Though I feel unworthy, I believe the Lord reached out to the Mulletts through me. I simply could not stop thinking about them nor remove the sorrow of their loss from my heart. I felt a strong need to send holiday gifts to the family. It was something I believed that Austin would have been looking forward to doing. I honestly felt like we had guidance from above as my children and I picked out what to send. We never had to search. It was as if the right gifts to send were set out for us to see. Sending them filled my heart with pure joy…heaven sent happiness. Years from now, when I look back on the many ways that God has touched my life, I will always thank Him for the blessing of Austin Mullett and his family.” 

Some time later, Sandi again shared something special with us. She wrote: “I collect sea glass anytime that I find myself within driving distance of a beach. Most people see it as junk…broken and discarded but I see it very differently. I believe it starts out completely intact and ordinary. Only when it is shattered and tossed about, enduring harsh sands and battered by waves, does it’s edges soften and it becomes a unique “gem” unlike any other. It is much stronger than it was before. I see us navigating our world in much the same way….” 

I have looked at these beautiful pieces many times, while we’ve been on this journey of grief, and have asked God to use our broken lives and shattered dreams and to soften and mold them into “gems” that are beautiful to Him. I can see that each piece is different and the journey hasn’t been completely the same, but it is only through being broken and facing the difficulties of life that they have any beauty at all!

Are you allowing God to start this process in your life or are you trying to resist Him? You can allow the trials you face to sand those rough edges, or you can be like sharp and broken glass as you become angry and bitter.  You will pierce those that you love by your sharp words and angry spirit, and, in the end, be nothing more than a broken piece, that simply needs to be discarded. We can’t choose our journey but we can choose whether we will be a beautiful and unique “gem” or a useless piece of “junk.”

  • Tammy
    Posted at 20:55h, 10 April

    Cindy this has truly touched my heart. thank you so much for sharing this with us. i have been thinking lately too about different trials i have been facing and have decided that instead of taking me away from God they need to be drawing me closer to Him. It has been so neat to me to see the many ways that God truly does care about me and each one of us. thank you again.

  • Duane & Cindy
    Posted at 17:24h, 12 April

    Hi Tammy,
    Thank you for sharing that with me. It reminds me of what we told the girls soon after our son, Austin, passed away. We said that we can choose to trust God and be convinced that He is still good or we can can become bitter and walk away from Him. The first option brings peace and the end result for us some day is Heaven. The second option brings turmoil and ultimately leads us away from God and we will never be able to see Austin again or Jesus. ~Cindy

  • Marlene
    Posted at 14:21h, 15 April

    Your response to losing Austin has been an encouragment to many , myself included. I love your comments about the seaglass. Heaven will be worth it all !Praying for you all.

  • Duane & Cindy
    Posted at 10:49h, 18 April

    Hi Marlene! Thank you for your words of blessing. It is by the grace of God and because of our hope of eternity. You have also seen how God has been faithful to us by reaching out to us through His children. He is so faithful! Thanks to you and Leonard for your love and support to us over the years.

  • Rhonda
    Posted at 14:54h, 18 April

    Amazing Blog and amazing stories of Faith and Courage! We are praying for You!

  • Duane & Cindy
    Posted at 23:38h, 18 April

    Thank you, Rhonda. We appreciate your prayers.

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