It’s Not Always Up to You

God said to Jonah, ‘ Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?’

‘It is,’ Jonah replied. ‘And I am so angry I wish I were dead.’

But the Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.’ 

Jonah 4:9-10

Here Just Yesterday

These last few weeks have been… interesting. A struggle to be sure. If I thought I was getting over my grief before, I was painfully mistaken. If I thought that the bulk of my hurt and anger had dissipated before, I was horribly wrong.

There’s something about the finality of planning a second birthday for Austyn without her daddy. There’s part of my heart that asks what happened to my first love as I begin to know what it is to really love another. There’s a lingering question of disbelief – ‘Was that really it? Are you really gone?’

Learn This

I love learning. Like, L.O.V.E.  learning. I’m one of those nerds that wishes I could go to school indefinitely. I’m one of those bookworms that wants to curl up in a library for days on end. I try to treat every day as an adventure and every minute as a teaching moment. Yeah… love learning. (I even asked learning to be my valentine this year. Smooch! JK. Oh, that was corny…)

So, like I said… I love learning. But…

Some of these recent lessons are heart lessons and all these lessons are hard lessons.

Let me do it

Just as much as I love learning, I love control. Some might call it “picky” but I call it “organized.” (It just sounds nicer, doesn’t it?) I like every thing to have a place and every thing to be in its place. I like schedules and planners and spreadsheets. I like matching my tissue box to the decor in the room. I like being able to look at where we’ve been and where we are going. I want to map it all out. I want to know every turn before I leave the driveway. (I know what you are thinking… Control freak!)

Over the years, I’ve learned (a lesson that I didn’t enjoy – not so much) that I/we don’t always have control. Maybe you’ve come to this conclusion as well? I mean, we have choices. We can decide which curtains we want for the Master bedroom. We can decide whether we make it to the gym today or not. We can choose to show love to our spouses and children for another hard day. We can decide whether to reach out to people. We can choose to follow Jesus.

But, as many of you probably already know, we simply cannot control everything.

Many things are simply not up to me. Many things are simply not up to you.


I’ve read the story of Jonah before… Probably, like, a billion times. (I’m really good at exaggerating. If you ever need an exaggerator, hire me. Pro-status!)

But, I never read that last bit of the story of Jonah the way I did today. Right before the end of the book. Right before we close on this story, this chapter. The Bible says something here that I didn’t think much of before. Something that was profound, for me, today.

As I read the end of Jonah 4, the words changed around on the page in front of me. It went from God speaking to Jonah to God saying something to me:

God: ‘Alyssa, do you have a right to be angry about losing Nick?’

Me: ‘I do! And, I am so freakin angry I wish I were dead!’

God: ‘You have been so upset over Nick, over his leaving you. Though, you did not create Nick… You did not make him grow. He was formed overnight and died overnight. His life was and always had been in my hands, before he was even born. His life was never in your hands.” 

Me: ‘Uhhhhhhh…”(Mouth open…Dumbfounded.)

Cycles of Grief

As I enter my second year without Nick, I am experiencing whole new levels of grief. New levels of confusion and anger as the finality and reality of my life sinks in.

I am overjoyed at the blessings God has given me, don’t get me wrong. I have such an amazing life and great family and wonderful friends. I’ve got the sweetest daughter (two next month!) and an absolutely-amazing boyfriend that showers me with love and affection to share my life with. I am surrounded by love.

But, love has slowly turned into something sinister. It’s become a new fear of sorts. I have been able to choose it everyday (so far) nonetheless, but after loss… Holy smokes. Love is a particularly scary thought. The thought that every person you love… you can lose. At any moment, they could vanish, any one of them. Not just to death, but to life. They could choose to leave you or choose to move away. Or, by no-one’s choice, they could leave this world for the next.

Do you know what I found myself doing these last few weeks? Subconsciously I found myself pulling away from those that I love. Telling myself that it might be smart to not love quite so much. Pulling away so that I could protect this little heart of mine. After all, I told myself…. if I don’t depend on anyone, if I don’t love, then it won’t really hurt if they disappear. Right?

Then God plopped a little quote down in front of me that had a pretty awesome impact. (I needed this, dude. Seriously perfect timing, as usual. Thanks, God.)

“The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love… is Hell.” – C.S. Lewis

Stop for a second. Read that again… Do you get it?

Whoa. I mean, I know “perturbations” is a big word. “Anxieties” is a synonym. Try it with that. “The only place… where you can be perfectly safe from the dangers and anxieties of love… is Hell.” And isn’t that just what this life becomes without love? A form of absolute Hell.

Dangerous Love

Loving another is some serious risky business (much riskier than Tom Cruise’s dance in a movie of the same name). It’s for-real serious. It can feel like life or death… and sometimes it is.

But, I do believe it’s what we are made for. We are made to live with one another and to love one another.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13 

Truly loving another more than you love yourself is exactly that. It is laying down your life, your soul, for your loved one. God poured His very life and love into us so that we can do the same for others.

Walk On

So, as I continue along in this 27 year (so far) long journey, I find myself fighting a new fear; the fear of feeling far too much. But, I am facing it now with determination, with a warrior’s heart. I’m gathering all my strength and I am hard bent to feel. For feeling is what makes up life. Not just the good stuff, but the sad stuff too. Feeling is what makes us human and I don’t want to shy away from my humanness. I want to embrace it.

Think the meaning of life is to be happy? Perhaps it is. But, I think the meaning of life is also to be sad. We are made to feel.

Let me challenge you (I’m speaking to myself here, too). When happiness arrives, be grateful for it! But, do not cling to it. When pain arrives, do the same. Be grateful  for it because it is just a part of this life experience! But do not cling to it. Do not become a martyr or a victim.

When you are sad: have a good cry.

When you are joyful: please, please(!!) dance. 

When you want to care for another: choose to love. 

Sometimes life can start to look like Facebook. We condition ourselves to think of our stories and others stories on certain terms. Polishing them and cutting out the tough spots so that our stories look controlled: pretty and perfect. But, we must remember that real, true life IS. NOT. about creating a perfect, polished reality. Life is hard. And, we shouldn’t be afraid to dive in and to share in even the hard parts. We shouldn’t be afraid to lean on and love each other through the hardest of days as well as celebrate with each other on the happiest ones.

This beautiful life

Life is one big grand surprise. One huge-mongous adventure! No matter how hard we try, we won’t be able to predict what is coming. We can’t sit in the driveway and map out every turn.

All we can do is choose to put the car in drive. We can choose to work our way through our pain. We can choose to be kind. And we can choose to do our best to follow Jesus and His plan for us.

There is beauty in the unknown. And there is a peace in knowing that we are not in control of it all. Let your feelings come. Be grateful to be a part of all of this magic, this good and this bad, life. Be grateful that nothing is permanent. Be grateful for your ability to heal and help others.

Maybe like Jonah a few thousand years ago, we can all continue to walk through this life, trusting God with heart lessons and our hard lessons. Trusting Him to continue to gently lead us to trust Him with even our greatest loves.

Austyn Elizabeth Loves to Swing

Until next time, keep me in your prayers. And, I’ll do the same for you. Feel free to send me a private message (alyssa-dot-magnotti-at-gmail-dot-com) or comment below. What have you been struggling with? What do you feel? Are you overjoyed? Are you sad? A mix of both? Don’t worry. We can all share in this life together. Now, let’s be purposeful about it! 


“Just Be Brave” A Playlist For You

Oh. My. Gosh.

Remember that problem… From a few posts ago… About me having too much to share, too much to write. Holy smokes. I am having a writer’s avalanche. I’ve seriously got a cascade of thoughts coming down on me..

Doesn’t look like I’ll be able to dive into a long post today. I only have a few minutes until my angel wakes up from her nap. Speaking of my angel, she is growing up so fast! Two years old next month!! She is wearing a red tutu today, by the way, that is ridiculously adorable… I think tutus are my mommy-kryptonite. She wears them and those days she gets less No’s. I mean, how can you say no to a beautiful little smiley face like that, IN A TUTU?! She’s too darn precious). Anyway… sidetrack… Since I don’t have much time, I thought I would share a quick playlist with you. Oh, and this picture. I mean, goodness… Where did my baby go? This girl is almost officially a full-blown toddler!

My Adorable Almost-Toddler

Here are some songs I compiled that make me feel brave. I know I’ve got more, but these are the ones I’ve been listening to on repeat this last week where I’ve been battling some of my biggest fears yet.

Playlist: Be Brave

1. Banner by Lights

2. I Believe in You by Tyler Hamilton

3. You Never Let Go by AJ Michalka

4. Fearless by Group 1 Crew

5. Beautiful by Group 1 Crew

6. Golden Thread by Joy Williams

7.  Hold Onto Hope Love by Amy Stroup

8. Beautiful For Me by Nichole Nordeman 

9. Brave by Sara Bareilles

10. Believe by Yellowcard

I use Spotify to make and save Playlists. It’s an amazing app and I use it on my Mac and in my car. You can also follow other people and see what they are listening to and follow their playlists as well! This is one of my Public playlists, so if you don’t feel like going out and finding these songs yourself, just Follow my (Alyssa Magnotti) playlist called “Be Brave” on Spotify. It looks like this..

Be Brave - Spotify Playlist

Hope this playlist gives you some extra courage as you face the week ahead. Sending positively courageous thoughts your way today and always.

Happy listening!


When It Doesn’t Make Sense

The stars aligned when I met Nick. I tell ya. If anything has ever aligned… those stars did. Like, perfectly. Everything. Made. Perfect. Sense.

Three years later, my universe spun out of control when my own personal piece of perfect sense was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

When Nick died, he was 27. And, all he had ever wanted was to be a dad.

Our daughter was 9 months old, asleep and dreaming, when I held my husband as he took his last breath.

All I ever wanted was to be a good wife. And, there I was…26 and a widow.

Weird how things work out sometimes. Weird how sometimes they can seem like they just… don’t.

Life from today’s (or, any given day’s) viewpoint doesn’t always make a lick of sense. But, faith stirs in my heart and somehow I find something that tastes like pure truth. 1. That one day it will work together for good. 2. That all of this messy dark will make sense. 3. That those big promises from the big guy upstairs aren’t just talk. It may be decades from now and I’ve come to accept that it may not be on this side of heaven. But I firmly believe it. Like, in my gut. Deep down. Like when the stars align and you just know that you know that you know: It will all work together for good.

I haven’t always been this way. Full of thankfulness, full of faith. But, I’ve found a few too many stories of mine that seem to make no sense at all, come full circle. And, I’m still pretty young. So, I’ve gotta believe it’s going to happen again. I’ve gotta believe that this is my life (and your life, our lives) if we choose to follow Him.

Say Something

Even when I was a little girl, I always knew I wanted to write. And I read faster than anyone ever believed. Especially my teachers. They would constantly ask: “Are you sure you read that last page?… Ok… Well, what did it say?”

I used to lay awake at night in my teens because I felt like I needed to say something. Like I needed people to hear me. Like I saw things differently and the world, or even just one person out there, needed to know. Like maybe… just maybe, I could help somebody. I felt frustrated at times, for I felt I didn’t know exactly what I should say or who I should say it to. But, I felt born to encourage and I felt underutilized. I wanted to realize my potential and hadn’t.

I’ve practiced my way with words, lingered on the rhythms of sentences, and dreamed up compelling arguments my entire life. As a young(er) adult I wrote about fitness and health, then entrepreneurship, then I started in on marrying young in this day and age (I was 20 when I got married, it was 2008, and it was the best decision of my life), then a few dozen pages on loving your spouse… Back then, I thought I was an expert in all these areas. Now, I claim to know a tiny bit but not near everything (and I definitely don’t use the word “expert” anymore. That’s an icky word. Let’s not use it. None of us are experts of anything if we admit it). Nevertheless, the writing of all of it, of any of it, was ahh-maze-ing.

The dreams God stirred up in me as a young girl, as a (clearly overachieving) teenager, and as a college girl that worked writing into every job she’s ever had… weren’t there for nothing. I think God gave me this mind and these words for a reason. I think I have to tell my story. I think, when I told Nick and my story, that team magnotti helped many who were struggling with similar fights.

And, now, having been through all of this… I think, finally, maybe those dreams I used to dream have tiptoed out into the daylight, to try to become real.

Your Fears Can Only Consume You If You Let Them.

Did you skip over that heading? It’s important. Your fears… those things that keep you up at night… they can only consume you, hinder you, hold you if you give them your permission. You have to let them. You CAN choose not to.

As of late, my world has been filled with fears that have the power to hold me down – under a deep, dark mess of tangled hopes and confused dreams. My fears center around getting my message across pointedly, around building strong foundations in a busted-up-then-mended-up heart, and around being the best mother I can be to a daughter who deserves far more than I could ever give. But, I’ve chosen to follow my God because I DO know that “even if” (even though) it doesn’t make sense now. I know and choose to believe that God has a plan for me, despite the “bad” things that have happened.

I look back on the life I had with Nick and the lessons that I’ve learned, the people he inspired and I see some things that I can’t explain. There are some questions that I truly can’t answer. But, I also see something complete. Something insanely, wildly and delicately beautiful. Something fierce and real. Something that you can feel in your heartbeat, in your breath. Something that meant more than anything else ever has. I see the love and grace and mercy of our Father. I see not the end of a story, but the beginning. The hope: filled, instilled, and spread. ***

And Even If.. It Doesn’t Make Sense

Have faith, dear ones, because I know how scary it can get out there. How we can walk atop the waters… but if we dare to look down, that dark-blue-turns-black can feel way too close.

When this life makes sense, it’s easy to trust God with everything. When it really just doesn’t make sense at all, it can be the greatest challenge and learning curve you will ever face. All I want, in times of awesome… and even in times of utterly-not-awesome… is to be brave. So, I choose to trust. I walk… I fight… And, I write. Choose faith. Choose hope. Choose to see.

What do you think? Share here. Share now. Or… share with those you love. YOU can hold on to hope. I know you can. You got this.

(***Am I saying my husband had to get sick and go to heaven for me to write something that mattered to me? For God to use me? Certainly not!! Am I saying that bad things are God-ordained or part of His plan? NOPE! NO WAY! But, I am saying that He can work the good and the bad together for good. I truly struggled with this concept for the longest time.. I may try to tackle it soon, maybe in a video (good idea?). Its such a tough concept, but such an important one, to understand. The universal, “why do bad things happen?” I think I finally have a general understanding. One that I can live with until I can personally ask Jesus “What up with this ish?”)


Choose Bravely

You have a choice.

Will you fall or will you fly? 

Will you choose to live

or will you choose to die? 

I originally posted this piece on Facebook a few months ago, but I thought it diserved some digging up. I think it belongs on a blog called “Faith Over Fear.” Because that’s exactly what these words are all about.

People ask me how I go on? I wonder how exactly we can’t. I guess I’ve always had a choice. After my husband’s cancer diagnosis, the surgeries, the treatments, the miscarriage, the destruction of his body before my very eyes…. I had a choice. I could lay down and let myself, my hopes, die alongside him. Or, I could look for truth, cling to it, and flight to stay alive. I had a choice. You, my friend, have a choice.

We can die along with our shattered dreams, or we can choose to continue to live. I will not blame God for the difficulties in this life, for the haunting things that I’ve experienced, or for the people that I’ve lost. We live in a broken world and that world produces broken stories. But, we also live in a world where death has been CONQUERED. Where broken stories can be REDEEMED. I refuse to give up, I refuse to give in. Is this real life? It sure is and I’m determined to keep breathing.

If you’ve been let down, on a small or big scale, can I challenge you? I challenge you to let yourself believe in another day. Hope for another moment of joy. Create happiness around you by giving generously, raging against the dark, and choosing to look at life with love.

None of the broken things that I’ve experienced have ruined me. I am stronger now. I believe in real joy. I believe in making the most of every day. And, more than ever, I believe in a God who loves me more than I ever realized before. He loves you too. That might seem unbelievable in face of the deep broken dark, but if you really see the story for what it is, you might find the same light and the same truths that I have.

The truth. It rings. It soars. It courses through me. If you think about it, it courses through you too. The truth is in our being. The truth is in our blood. The truth was in His blood. I have much left to learn, but in the meantime, I’ll lean into Him and continue to seek, continue to breathe. In. Out.

You too? With me now?

Be your absolute best. Be your bravest self. Live your life. If you are breathing, then you are lucky enough to have one.