The Story  

Posted by Cyndi Lou

Everyday Greatness - True Stories about Real People  

Posted by Cyndi Lou in

I have just finished reading a book that has inspired and encouraged me with uplifting stories about real people! I love the way the book is broken out into different sections on different areas of life. The book is a compilation of Reader's Digest stories, with commentary and insight added by Stephen R. Covey. The book is well put together and is a great place to go to read true stories about real people.

The book is well put together and broken out into meaningful sections. These are just a few of the inspiriting topics covered.

Some of the sections (from the Table of Contents)-

Taking Charge-

  • Responsibility
  • Courage
  • Discipline
Starting Within-
  • Integrity
  • Humility
  • Gratitude
Creating the Dream-
  • Vision
  • Innovation
  • Quality
This book is an excellent motivational tool. Knowing that the well respected Stephen Covey gives his commentary and insight made the book even more interesting to me. I love the fact that so many inspiring stories are together in one place for me to reference when I need to see how someone else handled trial or adversity. It is a great tool for me to use with my children, too!! I highly recommend this book. You must know that it is a compilation of Reader's Digest stories and not a new book written by Covey. He is a contributor. But,it is well done and worth having on your bookshelf!

While there is NO substitute for God's Holy word that He wrote for us, this book is a great secular tool for motivation and encouragement through the stories of perseverance in other people's lives.

Pay Attention & Gain Some Perspective  

Posted by Cyndi Lou in , ,

I know, I know, I need to finish posting journal entries from Austin's surgery, but today, for this post, I plan on writing a book review. I just finished reading a wonderful little book titled 'The Noticer'. It was written by Andy Andrews.

It is a powerful little book all about paying attention to the little things in life and about gaining a proper, fresh perspective for any given situation you may be facing in life. This book is about a man who is a 'staple' in a small town in Gulf Shores, Alabama. He has been coming and going in and out of this town for years and years. No one knows where he lives, nor do they know when he'll leave or when he'll return. But, he always shows up at just the moment someone needs him.

He seems to have this amazing wisdom that really helps a person see their life, dilemma, problem, or grief, in a whole new light. I was intrigued by the characters in this book and by his unconventional wisdom. The author did an amazing job of giving the readers enough detail to allow us to empathize with and care about each character, and that is saying a lot. See, there are many different characters woven in and out of this little book and I grew to care about each one of them. I loved reading about them and seeing their perspective change once they spent time with this wise man. There are a few sayings that I took away with me that will not leave me. Some of them are:

  • "There is absolutely no power in intention. There is no difference in the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place. How often do we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions? Yes, intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you." (Italics mine)
  • "Most people think it takes a long time to change. It doesn't. Change is immediate! Instantaneous! It may take a long time to decide to change... but change happens in a heartbeat!"
  • "There are generations yet unborn, whose very lives will be shifted and shaped by the moves you make and the actions you take... tonight. And tomorrow. And tomorrow night. And the next day. And the next. No matter your age, physical condition, financial situation, color, gender, emotional state, or belief... everything you do, every move you make, matters to all of us-- and forever."
  • "If you set your mind on loss, you are more likely to lose... But a grateful perspective brings happiness and abundance into a person's life."
Reading this little book helped me to NOTICE several things in my own life, and not all of them were particularly good. I found a bit of myself in more than just one of the characters in this book. I promise you that you will not regret reading this gem of a book! It blessed me tremendously and I have decided to pay better attention to the people and places around me and to gain some fresh perspective as often as I can!

Trust & Simply Rest on the Journey  

Posted by Cyndi Lou in

Dear Family & Friends,

During the days right around Austin's surgery, we were unable to spend time on our laptops, and in a few instances, we were unable to even get internet access. So, since I couldn't update the blog regularly (in "real time"), I kept a journal of what we did each day, what we were feeling, and what we experienced each step of the way. Over the next few days, I will 'transcribe' this journal to an electronic format via blog entries. I kept this journal so that Austin can see it when he is grown and so that it will be a reminder to him of how faithful our God truly is! I also hope that it can serve as a reminder to him that he was very strong and courageous through it all. My hope & prayer also is that some of our friends and family will read these entries and find encouragement in them...

Because He Lives,

Joe & Cyndi

June 9th, 2009- Pre-Op Day

Today, we reluctantly left our comfortable, safe home and we headed for UAB Children's Hospital in Birmingham to get Austin ready for his shunt placement surgery tomorrow, June 10th. It was a long day that started at 6 AM, on the 9th, and concluded around 1 AM, the morning of the 10th. Though, we were busy and on the go from doctor's appointment, to anesthesia, to the lab, Austin never complained once. He was calm and peaceful and a joy to be around.

We had a 1 PM appointment at the neurosurgery clinic to see Dr. Oakes. This was our opportunity to ask more questions and to learn more about Austin's shunt placement surgery. We also completed an anesthesia consult and then went to the lab to have blood drawn.

The visit with Dr. Oakes went extremely well and helped answer a TON of questions for us. We were able to ask him more specifics about the surgery and we learned more about the placement of the shunt and he explained how it will work & exactly how they will place it in his brain. We also saw the actual shunt (a replica of the actual of course) and it amazed us that this will be placed into Austin's brain in less than 24 hours. WOW- modern technology is unreal! I found that it was a humbling experience to realize that we cannot fix this for our son. We need to trust our Heavenly Father and this talented neurosurgeon to 'fix' our son's brain. This put us in a place of complete and total humility like nothing we have ever experienced before.

We are trusting God's hand in all of this and we can see His provisions at every turn! It is unfathomable to me that He pre-destined this day and June 10th as well. He knew everything that would happen to Austin in these days and He has been there. So, knowing that our Heavenly Father, who loves Austin so much more than we do, has already seen what tomorrow holds, we know we can trust His heart, even when we can't see His hand! We would not have chosen this path for Austin, but we are earthly, imperfect parents with earthly eyes and a love for our children that wants them to endure as little pain as possible. But, our God knows the plans He has for our family and our son and we know He is faithful to see those plans to fruition, pain, joy, & all! We also know that He knows what will make us stronger and prepare us for what He has in store. So, we will go to sleep tonight, albeit for only a few short hours, trusting that He will meet us there, at that hospital, tomorrow!!

I have put together a video below of our day on Tuesday, including pictures of the shunt and some explanations about how it will work. I plan on updating the blog again tomorrow, and in the days ahead as well, with pictures and descriptions of each day, including the surgery day, and recovery days that we have in store.

The video is accompanied by one of Austin's favorite praise songs, "How Great Is Our God". It is so true, that we serve a Great God, so it is only fitting that this song is sung each time this video is played.

You will notice at the beginning of the video that both of our children were sleeping peacefully on the ride over earlier today. They didn't have a care in the world. They simply knew that they were with their parents, whom they trust to take care of them, and they rested peacefully along the way. They knew they were on a journey, but they trusted us and simply rested. Oh, how I need to "trust and simply rest" on this journey that I am on! How hard that is for me to do- trust and simply rest in my Father's loving hands!


Posted by Cyndi Lou

I am going to sleep SOON! We need to get some rest before 'Surgery Day' starts early- at 3:45 AM. We are trusting HIM & blessing His name!

The Tooth Fairy is coming to town...  

Posted by Cyndi Lou in

It has been since December, I think, since Austin has lost a tooth! WOW!! Those teeth are hanging on in his little head for dear life! I think 3 have been loose since that time. :) But, today, one finally met it's match. He lost his 3rd tooth today- on June 5th! And, he was SO PROUD!! After being a bit scared to pull it out, he actually pulled it out himself!! Way to GO!!

And, since we have this nifty new little gizmo called the 'Ultra Series Flip Video', I was able to capture it on video! What a day!! It was awesome to just pick up this little gadget and record away within seconds. I will have to blog about that little genius of technology over the weekend... we purchased it for the upcoming stay at the hospital and recovery time. Anyway, way to go Austin! And, in our home, that means that the Tooth Fairy is coming to town! Yep, I did it, I used the 'Santa Clause' song to sing about the Tooth Fairy! And, I sang it in my head while I typed. Well, since I have multiple jobs around here, one being that I stand in for the Tooth Fairy, I better get busy finding some cash! Enjoy the video....

"Oops... It Happens!"  

Posted by Cyndi Lou in

Don't you just love your perfect little life and the perfect little world we all live in? Oh, and the way we all go around portraying, to some degree, that we have it all together and everything is perfect in our own perfect little wonderful worlds?

Come on, you aren't buying what I am selling? Really? OK, OK... I KNOW our lives aren't perfect and I know our world isn't perfect and I surely know that I am not perfect, but doesn't it often feel like we are all trying to go overboard to make everyone else believe that "all is perfect and easy and well" in our little corner of the world? Well, contrary to all of this perfectionism, I saw something so refreshing last Sunday that I just had to talk about it! Go with me there, in your mind's eye, while I tell you all about the "perfect" performance I witnessed...

Imagine that 7 or so people are on stage performing, leading others into worship. They are all working together in harmony to create a beautiful song, using whatever instruments are appropriate. They are following the notes written on a page, laid out before them. The notes were written on that page by a composer and when they are played, or sung, or chimed, or rung

  • at just the right time...
  • with just the right rhythm...
  • with just the right tempo...
  • with just the right cadence...
the sound produced is a beautiful song pleasing to the ear, sounding just perfect, flawless and wonderful!!! It is amazing to hear and beautiful and splendid and, well, if performed correctly, PERFECT! But, last week, I saw something SO much more beautiful take place before my very own eyes. Now, go back with me and let's imagine it a little differently....

These same 7 or so people are on stage performing. They are all working together in harmony to create a beautiful song, using hand bells. They are following the notes written on a page, laid out before them. The notes were written on that page by a composer and when they are rung at just the right moment, the music sounds beautiful. But, imagine that the song and the notes and the tempo are a little faster and stronger and quicker than most songs usually are. Imagine that the 'performers' (if you will) are caught up in keeping the time, remembering their notes, counting out for themselves in their heads, working so quickly to keep up and ring at just the right time... and then they get ahead of themselves (or behind) and they start to count out loud (*gasp*), they start to ring when it isn't their turn (*the shock*), they are ahead of the music and they know it, and so does everyone else.

Finally, their leader speaks, during a performance where no speaking is required! The leader says, "Oops... We messed up! It happens! Let's start over! We are sorry." In the sanctuary, you could hear a pin drop, they all take a breath, pause for a moment and then they start again. Their song starts anew and it sounds beautiful, in tune, in time, the ringing of each note at just the moment the composer intended!

Did you see what I saw? Did you witness what we so often do not see? Or did you miss it? I saw it and it made me smile. It gave me chill bumps actually and it caused me to be so proud of the leader , who happens to be one of my dearest friends! I saw someone being real and being honest and saying, in front of a room full of friends & family (sometimes the worst critics around), "Oops, we messed up! It happens! We are going to try this again! This is new to us! Okay, here we go!"

Jennifer, my dear, sweet friend, had the courage to say it. She had the courage to say, "We messed up and we need to regroup and start over." Well, start over they did and the music was beautiful, wonderful, magnificent and played perfectly! When the music was finished & the people were ready to worship, there was applause! Not half-hearted "it was just okay" applause, but real, genuine, "we loved it" applause! I was so proud of ALL them and they did a fantastic job.

But, what I was most proud of and what we see so little of these days is their honesty! They didn't try to cover up the fact that they messed up. They took their chance to lay it out there, take a breath, regroup, and start over. You see, those were the only 7 in the room even brave enough to get on that stage in the first place. So the way I see it, they were the risk takers and the bold ones in the room before even the first note was rung. The rest of us knew we would mess up and didn't even want to take that chance, so we sat comfortably in our pews watching and well, most of us can't read music anyway, myself included!!

My point is this... how refreshing is it to know that we can be honest and say, "Oops, it happens! I AM NOT perfect. I AM going to fail sometimes, but I AM going to keep trying and I AM going to get out there and give it my all!"

Am I being REAL? Are YOU being REAL? Are we getting out there and taking chances, realizing that nothing and no one is perfect! Take the chance to be REAL with people and you will see what a refreshing change that can be!! You will be amazed at the applause, admiration, & respect you receive at the end of the song you are singing called your LIFE when that life is lived with authenticity, realism, imperfection, & the ability to admit, "Oops! It happens!" Thank you Jennifer for the reminder that none of us are perfect and that is OK!

But, what I was most proud of was the fact that they admitted they messed up, they regrouped, and they went on with their performance, playing every last note! That is pure, real, genuine, & refreshing! How often do we mess up and hope no one notices because (*gasp*) they might find out we are NOT perfect! They might find out we don't know all the notes or we missed our cue to come in. Well, you know what, neither are the people out there you are trying to be "perfect" for! They mess up, too, every day and you just don't know it!! Don't be afraid to be real and live authentic lives!!