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Happy Birthday, my love, my friend.
I miss you.
Today, your daughter sat snug in my lap while we watched morning cartoons. We were 30 min away from having to leave and I was still in my pajamas, breakfast uneaten, makeup not done… But I couldn’t get up. Because, as I do many days, I was SOAKING her up.
Every so often, in between her crunching and munching on apples, our 3-year-old tilts her head back far and looks up at me. Her eyes sparkle and a grin spreads across her face. Oh, how that grin reminds me of you.
This is the third year that we are celebrating your birthday without you here. That seems impossible, for two reasons. 1. How could it be 3 years? On one hand, it feels like you were here yesterday! And, 2. How could it be ONLY 3 years? I’ve lived a lifetimes since I last saw your face.
Things have changed around here. Your girls have moved 4 times since you left, we’ve crossed from one side of the country to the other; twice. We’ve adopted a new man into our little family and we are working hard to make it the best little patched-up glorious family that we can.
Almost all the furniture is different. My style has changed a bit and I gravitate so much more to the things that I love instead of the things people always told me I should.
I do still decorate for all the little holidays. The fall stuff is up now. I remember how you always told me how much you loved that I did that. Back when we were dating and I lived in that tiny apartment, I remember how enamored you were that I decorated. At the time, I thought it was silly. But, now, I love how much you loved it. I love that you noticed and smiled that I took the time and spent the money to get dollar store autumn leaves on the window, because it made me happy inside.
I’m so different now, too. Not just where we live. As a person, I am different entirely. I’m not sure you would recognize this soul so well. It’s old now. Weathered and strong. I’m BRAVER now than ever before. I’m not scared of anything. Literally. Isn’t that crazy? Remember when I told you that I wouldn’t be able to live without you? I told you (and believed) that if you died, I would die. But, you swore to me I wouldn’t.
You said I was stronger than I thought. That God would carry me through. That our little babe needed me.
I cried then, in your arms, imagining the nightmare that loomed ahead and wishing with all my being that we could switch places. Oh, how I longed to switch places with you.
It’s crazy now, looking at what you said. That I would be okay. You said it with such confidence. How did you know? You knew that you knew. And I had NO idea. I truly think that ONLY God could have helped you see and given you that peace. It was ALL true. Now, I see what you saw then.
I think, I kept on living at first mainly because, I took a long, hard look at your short life and figured that… You wanted to live SO BAD and you didn’t get to. So, I better truly LIVE my days out in your honor. Not surviving, but thriving. Not wallowing, but celebrating. Not wishing I was dead, but creating a life I WANTED.
Like you always said He would, God came near during the darkest times. That day they told us your cancer was back and I collapsed to the floor, clutching the new life in my stomach as if I could somehow protect her from those words. That day 3 years ago, almost to the date, that you started hospice when your eyes were glazed over from the pain and yet you still breathed the word “blessed.” That day that they came and took you away and your hospice bed lay empty, all of you GONE in a single day.
In the end looking days like today straight in the face, can be hard for me. Only because I wish that maybe, as some sort of birthday miracle, you could come down and give me a little sign. But, I know how selfish that is. I’m lucky enough to have seen signs of you often and feel your love settling down on us every single day. Like gently falling snow, you are here.
It’s different now. But, our love is the same. It’s different now. But, you’re smile graces my presence every day. It’s different now, but somehow, it’s all okay.
It’s been 5 years since I celebrated a HEALTHY birthday of yours with you. 5 long years. And, though, the many healthy happy birthdays spent with you were FUN, none of them actually compare to all of these since. Because, once you got sick. EVERYTHING became clearer than it’s ever been.
God opened up my eyes to LIFE because of YOUR life. He showed me what being grateful truly meant. That life is so much more about living for people, for love, for hopes and dreams than it is living for money, or boats, or houses, retirement or things.
Your love, our love, has wings.
I’m so grateful I get to see it fly.
Happy 30th, Nicholas. Forever and a day.
Dear Future Husband,
I’ve gotta warn you about me… I’ve got scars on my scars and rips that cut deep from words that felt like teeth.
Sometimes, my heart tears right through. No, I’m not a victim. Most all of the time, I conquer… But, sometimes my past haunts me. Memories uncontrollably explode through me… no matter how hard I’ve tried to heal. They rip and roar and relentlessly crash.
At first, it’s just a sudden intake of breath, a hard crack in my chest, where my heart is. But then, suddenly, I feel it shatter. A million tiny pieces thrown onto the floor, rolling, bumping into each other, and then resting in every far away corner.
Don’t worry, it’s not your job to find them all, pick them up and put me back together again (God’s the only one big enough for that). But, I will need you to do something. I’ll need you to be prepared to catch me before I hit the floor, to push my hair back from my eyes so I can see yours through my tears. Let me see your love for me, your compassion, your “want” to be my protector. Hold me until the blackhole that consumes lets me breathe again. And then please just love me anyway.
Please don’t despise me for my pain, instead despise the pain itself. I despise it, too, that wretched pain.
You might not have signed up for this. You might have thought I was just a bright and shiny thing. A person whose happy fills up every room. And, on a good day, I think it does.
But, not every day is a good day. Not every day looks new and shiny. Some days, sometimes way too many in a row, look grey, broken, and all-around god-forsaken. I hate the grey days. I loath the dark. And, I rage against both.
Fight those days with me. Don’t give up on me. The shiny days are lasting longer now. Sometimes, they string together in beautiful rows, all lined up with colorful, sparkling layers, like a perfect rainbow. And, because of the rain that preceded them, the rainbow days are that much more beautiful. Just wait till you see!
I may look young. But, my heart feels about one hundred years old. I feel like I’ve lived two lifetimes over, at least. Be aware of this. And please love this old, tired heart anyway.
If we’re going to the alter or we’ve already been then you can rest assured that I adore you. I cherish you. Because YOU are an answer to a prayer that I wasn’t sure would ever be answered. You are “the dream” that I never thought would come true.
Dear future husband, because I’ve seen what I’ve seen and know what I know, I can promise you that without a doubt I’m your ride or die chick. That I will be there for you through your dark days, your callouses, and your hidden hurts.
I will hold you together if you ever fall apart. And, no matter what, I will always love you anyway.
Sincerely and always,
Your Future Wife
PS: One last thing…. I tend to get hangry. VERY HANGRY. So, for your own benefit, and mine, feed me often. (Disclaimer: I am not responsible for the things that I say when I’m hungry. And, love me anyway. tehehe)
When Nick first passed and I had to fill in paperwork for doctors visits or emergency contacts or school registrations, it felt like torture. I would see the space where I was supposed to write my husband’s name, where I was supposed to put my daughter’s father’s info, and feel a hot rush of anger. I’d fight back tears and ball my fists. How can he be GONE?
Then, I kind of got used to it. Or, something. Numb to it, really. I would see the blank space and a jolt of “this is just plain wrong” would shoot through my heart. But, I’d move on quickly. It’s fine. I know I can do it alone. I wasn’t going to let myself wallow over the absurdity or the unfairness of my situation. It was just how it was. Single mom. “I’m fine.”
For example: When one of Austyn’s teachers in Florida suggested I “put another contact down for emergencies. Her father, maybe?” My response was flat. “He died.” I’m sure I came across rather blunt. Possibly morbid. I didn’t mean to. It had simply become a fact of my life. I have blue eyes, brown hair, and I’m a widow. Normal. Totes.
Only recently have I realized just how much I had buried my feelings of loss. Not so much the feelings of loss for ME, but the feeling of a completely devastating loss for HER. My daughter, who deserves more than I will ever be able to offer her, whom I love so desperately much. I felt a loss too, for her… A longing and desperation to give her the experience of having an earthly father, protector, influence.
Sitting across the desk from a medical provider last week, I completely missed a full sentence when I accidentally caught a glance of a particular paper as she went through one of Austyn’s files.
Scrawled hastily into the box that’s supposed to list her father’s name was a quick note. “Deceased.”
The familiar jolt came. And, then so many feelings I hadn’t expected instead of the usual numbness. Sadness, heck yes. But happiness too! Soon, she will have a daddy on earth to fill that space in her life (and on her medical forms).
Grief is a strange beast. Not easily figured out. As I reflect on my own journey, I see some places where I’ve suppressed and I’m sure I’ll find more as time goes on. To think that, just this week, I’ve started experiencing new emotions. Two years and a month later.
So, my big point in this blog post? That grief is funny sometimes. That our brains do miraculous things for us when we are faced with tragedy. That God has a plan all along. And, dang girl, if you are raising your little miss or mr on your own, I’ve been where you are and the road ain’t easy but God will handle it and He will give you the tools you need to succeed.
God is coming full circle. He won’t leave any of us hanging on with too much to hold and not enough. He will always give enough. (Or help us forget just enough, for the time being.)
Friends… Keep on keeping on! You guys amaze me. I love hearing your stories and seeing your comments. You guys bring me JOY and I know you bring your creator even MORE. Do you. Be Brave. Follow HIM. Live well. Until next time… xo
Somedays it feels like my heart splits right open…
Yesterday a SENSELESS shooting and 13 DEAD, just a state away.
This morning the news of CANCER returning to a friend’s husband who is “Daddy” to two young girls.
Today, the DISCOVERY of a high schooler who is afflicted by horrible tumors consuming her abdomen.
I DONT GET IT!!!
I hear the news of all three and I can’t help but shout, “NO!” and “WHY?!” My voice crackles and splits. I didn’t realize that my heart would sound so shaken, so bent.
Some days…. Things feel HOPELESS. Things feel DARK. They feel scary-as-hell. Some days, it feels like we are ALL DOOMED.
But, somehow… After prayer, reflection… I can still find THE LIGHT. Let me share… I read this in today’s devotional, by Ann Voskamp:
When things go wrong and we are pushed outside our comfort zone, it is a GIFT. BUT!!!…. “Can you really say that to the girl who doesn’t wear her engagement ring anymore, to the beautiful mother whose husband left and the cancer has come, to the bent widow sitting next to the empty chair? Can you really say that to them, to the world? That the greatest gift we can ever receive is the gift of losing our earthly security and comfort? So that we can unwrap the intimacy of the Savior and His heavenly comfort. I swallow hard…”
And, so do I, Ann… I swallow hard. And the tears come. These emotions all CHOKED up in my chest, in my HEART.
I AM THE WIDOW.
I AM THE MOTHER WHO LOST.
I HAVE EXPERIENCED “CANCER CAME BACK.”
I’ve lost EVERY security I thought I had when I lost my 27 year old husband and father to my daughter.
I’ve had my PEACE falter. I’ve had my FAITH shaken. I’ve had my world SHATTER. I’ve had my life IMPLODE.
So…. Can I say that people should be thankful? Heck no. I would never say that… Not to them. But, I can say, that after going through it all, I AM thankful. I still hurts something awful but…
I. AM. THANKFUL.
I consider myself blessed.
Because, NOW I KNOW!
I KNOW that I can do ANYTHING with God by my side.
I KNOW that God TRULY WILL NOT leave me.
I KNOW THAT GOD. HE… IS… ENOUGH.
Praying for all of those affected by loss today. All of those affected by lost dreams, prayers unanswered, lost loves, lost children, broken hearts, broken homes, unwanted diagnoses… The list goes on and on. But, I am praying for YOU. Praying that you come to a place one day, where YOU SEE and YOU KNOW the truths.
Someday I hope you can see that even though this world sometimes doesn’t make a flipping bit of sense to us… That WE CAN TRUST GOD. That He GETS IT. And, HE LOVES US, DEARLY… Even though sometimes it can be so undeniably hard to fathom.
My heart aches for you. It aches for us. God, be with us.
BE STRONG. DO YOUR BEST. BE BRAVE. The world needs to see your SMILE today, if you can. <3
That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?
The words speak to me. They jump at me. They hit me square in the heart. It started when today’s service opened up with a verse that spoke directly to my situation. The lead pastor said “This is for someone here today.” Roger, that was me…
Then, I read the outline and the message was titled “Why Are You So Afraid?” Now, folks, let me tell you… I could have sworn the Pastor was speaking right to me, the entire message. In reality, he was speaking to an entire room full of people… But, I know that God WAS speaking… right to me. “WHY are you so afraid? Do you STILL have no faith?”
The word “still” in this context seems to imply that something had changed over time. And, it had. The disciples had spent a lot of time with Jesus… they had been through too much to doubt. Hadn’t they? Haven’t I? Bah! You would think. (Big sigh…)
When Jesus asked this of the disciples, I am sure the questions echoed in their hearts, too. I am sure that they wondered the same thing, “Is my faith still really so small?”
At this point… The disciples had spent days upon days with Jesus himself. They had seen Him teach to throngs of people and perform one miracle after another. They had traveled thousands of miles with Him, trusted in Him for their care, left their jobs, and their lives to follow Him. He had befriended them, become like a brother to them. They had been walking with, talking with, and living with God Himself. And, yet, they still felt immense fear. They still let themselves worry.
I get caught up in worries, anxieties, and fears far more than I would care to admit. But, I am trying to look at God’s track record in my life, instead of looking at an unknown future. He has always been faithful, even in the very worst of things.
I was speaking with a trusted friend and loved advisor recently and he brought up an incredible point. God can’t be in your made up future. Worry is simply letting your mind think about circumstances or events that have not happened and may never happen at all. While God promises He is here for us here and now, He never promised us He could be here for us in a future that hasn’t even happened. Does this make sense? It’s kind of a hard idea to follow the first time. Let me try again…
When we worry about tomorrow, we are worrying about a time that hasn’t happened. Jesus isn’t in it. We are worrying outside of His grace and outside of His presence. You really can’t do anything about a scenario that might not ever happen… and, neither can God… because it hasn’t happened. Do you follow? God’s grace and love are sufficient for you here, right now. For any scenarios that you imagine in your future, you aren’t imagining that scenario with God’s grace in it. You are imagining it outside of Him.
What can we do? Well, as the Bible states over and over again, we really should try not worry or fear. We should try to trust. We should not falter. I know… easier said than done. (By the way, did I ever tell you that I have to go back and read my blog posts over and over sometimes? I am ALWAYS preaching to myself on these things. So, don’t think I’ve got this all nailed down. We are all in this together.)
So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Philippians 4:6
And those are just three of the verses in the Bible that mention worry. There are many, many more (1 Peter 5:7, Luke 12:11 & 22, Matthew 6:25 and so on).
But, what else can we do? I mean, not worrying is all well and good, any other tips? Turns out there are… along with casting out worry, we can aim to persevere, to ask for wisdom and to believe. Check out these verses from James 1.
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. James 1:2-8
I mean, jeeze, James… That was a little harsh dude. But, here’s the thing. I can’t argue with God on this one for I know all of this to be true. Not just because it’s in the Bible… But because I have experienced it firsthand. When I am letting doubts creep into my mind and into my heart… I AM like a wave in the sea… A whimpering wave, a scared little wave… Tossed around by my emotions and others’ reactions. I become double-minded. I become unstable and… it really ain’t pretty. It ain’t even a hot mess.
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9
I almost gotta put this one into context for myself to really hear it… “My grace is sufficient for you, Alyssa. My power is perfected in your doubt, your grief, your frustration, and this journey.” Try it with your name too. Try it with some of your weaknesses. What do you think? Do you think God can work beyond your unbelief? Beyond your doubts? Beyond your fears? Beyond whatever you are struggling with?
I believe that He can. I believe that He is. I am already thanking Him for His hand in my future, because I know He will be in whatever comes my way. I don’t aim to try to figure out what that future will be anymore. Not because I don’t want to know. But, because I know that worrying doesn’t help a thing. In fact, it often makes things worse. And God cant be in my made up future.
Live in the moment. Breathe in the blessings of today. Expect God to show up in all of your unexpected future. Be brave. Be strong. Do NOT give up. And know… It’s okay. You are not alone. (Psalm 31:24)
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.
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?”)
Funny isn’t it? How a beginning of one thing requires an end of something else.
How we must open up our hands and let go to be able to grab on to the next thing? It can feel impossibly difficult to let go, especially when you are at the end of your rope. Especially, even more so, if the rope you’ve been holding onto is actually just a thread.
More often than not, these ropes and threads are made of fibers of fear. Our fists are tightened resolutely around what we fear we might lose.
We cling to our jobs, to our image, to our children, our spouses, or our bank accounts. What we want is control. What we want is security. We believe that if we hold something close enough there is no way it could break. But, what we tend to forget is that we aren’t gods. There are things we can’t control. And there are things that if held too tightly, and we aren’t careful, could shatter into a million pieces.
There is a time for everything. And, I think our time has come. To give up control. To let go and let go again. It’s time for you to be who you were made to be. It’s time to be brave. It’s time to open up those hands, drop that thread of security, toss those fears, and throw your empty hands skyward. Lift them and open them up to whatever it is that God wants to give you. Whatever it is He wants to show you.
Is it scary? Heck to the yes. Sometimes it seems like the scariest thing in the entire world. But, there just isn’t another way to do it. Living this life in fear… I promise you… isn’t what we are meant for.
Bravery is woven into our very being. Fear causes flying wings to flutter and falter. We must make the decision to let go of your fears if we truly want to fly.
You… You were meant to jump, friend. You were meant to live by faith.
What if you fall?
Oh, but what if you fly?
Your soul was made to soar.
This summer I let go of a few fears myself. I wish I could say that it was easy… that I was a natural. But, I wasn’t. Oye. I had to pry my fingers up one by one. It was painful and it sure wasn’t pretty. Living scared can feel a heck of a lot easier than living free.
Back in May, I was beginning to feel like God was telling me I was ready for a new relationship. And, I was scared out of my mind. Mainly for what people might think. Nick had told me over and over again at different intervals through his two and a half year illness that if he died he would want me to find someone again. Near the end he made sure to tell me again, except he didn’t say if, he said when. Inhale. Exhale. Yeah, that was hard. Overtime he told me, I fought him. I said I couldn’t imagine it. And, I honestly couldn’t.
But, once he was truly gone (and I realized that I was only 26 and not 76 like I had felt), I felt God telling me it was time to really consider being (or trying to be) in a relationship again. I had lost parts of Nick and parts of our relationship over such a long period of time and I had grieved those losses every second of every day for years. The thought of beginning again was scary, especially so soon. I was so fearful of what people might think. (And, that is a blog post in and of itself. The fears that one faces when you know what God is telling you but know that it may not be a “popular” path. Maybe I’ll go over that at some point soon.)
I remember putting Austyn down for a nap and going to my room to pray. My dad was living with me at the time, but he wasn’t home. And, that was definitely a good thing, because I collapsed. I couldn’t even make it to the couch. I fell on my hands and knees and the tears began to flow (that sounds dainty… It was more like pour, rage, cascade, gush…. Gross). The gravity of what I thought God wanted me to do felt too much to bear. How could I go on when I had finally begun to understand that there really was no going back?
I cried out to God and I prayed a big prayer. I asked God to look after whoever He had in mind for me next. I poured out to Him and my heart spoke. I knew that the only relationship that could sustain me at this point would be one that pushed me closer to Him.
So I asked God for that. I told Him that if I was to ever be in another relationship, I wanted one that brought me closer to Him. That made me stronger in Him. That made me more like Love.
Secondary to that, I wanted someone who could truly love me and love my daughter.
“And nothing else matters.” I proceeded to tell God what didn’t matter… Career. Money. Looks. Location. Dog or Cat person (I took that one back… He has to be a dog person… Just kidding).
After some time on that floor, I finally felt like I could pick myself back up. From there, I knew that God had it in His hands. I felt complete peace that He had a plan. And I didn’t know if I would meet this guy soon or in a few decades but I knew, as Nick had known and even shared with our pastor, that God had someone else in mind for me.
Fast forward a week or so. Life had gone on as normal, which included about a million diaper changes (tad exaggeration) and many wonderful moments spent staring into my sweet daughter’s eyes (when she would sit still long enough that is).
I had decided to create an account on a Christian dating site. And, let me tell you creating that profile was scaarrre-ey. Some of the emails that followed were downright horrifying (I kid… sort of). After just a few days, I was about ready to delete the whole thing when a message caught my eye.
There is so much I could tell you from there… About all of the things that God did to even get me to give this guy my number, let alone my real name. He lived in Florida so a quick coffee date wouldn’t work but we were able to get to know each other through email and, eventually, long phone calls. Then, he came up to Seattle for a week. We hung out and he was exactly who I thought he was. A strong man of God that had been through a lot, like me (well, not the man part).
This summer, I had the opportunity to take an extended vacation. I had been thinking about Southern California, but decided to change my plans. Instead, I went to Pensacola, Florida unsure of what would transpire. The month was lovely. I spent time and made time. And then spent it again.
And a good portion of that time was spent in the company of my new friend. As we grew closer, I knew that God had some kind of plan and, though I was so tempted to run in the other direction, I held on.
After much prayer on both of our ends, we became official (I felt like I was in high school again… I have a “boyfriend”… It felt like it had been ages) in August. And, before I left for Seattle, we began praying about our next steps. Neither of us wanted a long-distance relationship and we didn’t think God necessarily wanted it for us either. But, we were on literal opposite ends of the country. How in the world would we make this work?
It would be hard to write out what transpired in those last few weeks. But, God made it clear in our hearts that we were supposed to be in Florida. He started with me. And I tried so hard to ignore it; to pretend I didn’t hear or feel His prompts. But, eventually I gave in and admitted it. It felt like making that leap (or many leaps, across the stinking country!) was God’s best option for me.
Now, let’s take a detour for a second here. It’s not that I believe that God wouldn’t have blessed me had I decided not to move. God works in mysterious ways, that is for sure. And we definitely have a choice. We can follow what we believe is God’s voice or we can turn away. We can attempt to listen, or we can listen to the world. It’s really up to us and was up to me, but I felt like God’s best (read: best, not only) option for me was to make this move. Ok, back to the story.
Instead of holding onto my fears and refusing to believe He could be asking for such a thing, I decided to take a step. And, as soon as I made the decision to trust, I was given peace again.
When I told my family and my closest friends what was on my heart, they confirmed what I was feeling. That scared little voice inside me (you guys have one too, right, that’s not just me?) was actually hoping that at least one of them would think I was crazy. That at least one of them would beg for me to change my mind. But, honestly, they showed care, asked the right questions, said they would miss me like crazy but supported me through and through. I really do have the best friends in the entire world. (Why do they have to be so awesome?! I miss my Washington mountains, dangit!)
I sold my home.
I sold about a third of my furniture.
And, I signed a lease. (And, God worked crazy miracles – yes, plural – into each one of those events. Oh how I wish I could tell you fast enough!)
There you have it. I’m now living in an itsy-bisty Florida town on the Gulf of Mexico so that I can be closer to the one I love. So that we don’t have to be long distance. So, we can see what this is all made of. I took the leap.
Let’s fast forward again (because, let’s face it, I’m long-winded… I start a short storytelling bootcamp next week – psych!).
This move has taught me so many new things. It’s challenged me in ways I never imagined. It’s required bravery on days when I was sure I had none left. Though I can’t say that I know what God is doing or if this is a final destination, I can say that this adventure has brought me so much closer to God. And, if we remember from my uber blubbery prayer sesh on the floor back in May, that is exactly what I wanted.
And, my new relationship? It’s certainly pushed God and I closer still. It’s helped me see myself clearer than I have in a long time. I have an absolutely amazing man in my life. His heart is humble but brave, strong but loving, determined but gentle. He is certainly committed to a life filled with God, committed to me and committed to my little girl. This was my second request. I’m enjoying that for now.
So, here I am in a new city (on what feels like a different planet). Trying to be brave and aiming with all my might for hope. Working through a new, amazing (and different) love. I’ve got a beautiful daughter with a fighter’s heart. And, I’ve got a God on my side who I know will always have my back… I truly am blessed.
Unfortunately, I still can’t see the future (I know… shocker, right?!). I still want to clamp my fists so tightly around what I know. I’m often tempted to run headlong to my fears, grab on tight, and let all the things that could go wrong take over. Sometimes I long for the old, the remembered, the comfortable. But, then I remember something that someone very special to me used to say all the time… We aren’t to worry because “God’s got it.” (That would be my dear sweet late-hubby’s wonderful quote).
Whatever you are facing, whatever challenges, whatever fears keep you up at night… Maybe you can try, like me, to choose faith over fear. To cast aside your worry. To lift those wings, weightless, with nothing to tie you down. After all, that’s what you were made for.
Being brave is a choice. Choosing hope is courageous. I’ll let go if you will. …You first! ;]
PS: Stay tuned for more posts and videos coming soon! If you haven’t yet, follow me on Instragram and my other social media profiles to be updated of new happenings. The links are the beautiful blue icons to your left… No, your other left… ;]
PSS: I built this site on my own, but I had some major awesome help from two very awesome people (who both actually worked on the TeamMagnotti project with me too)!
BIG HUGE THANKS go out to Kyle Chicoine for his amazing logo design. He took my concepts and sketches and turned them into a little bit of delicious digital eye-candy. The logo is so perfect and cute, I could wrap it up and sing it a lullaby!
ANOTHER HUGE THANK YOU goes out to to my friend Jordan for his mastery of web design and superb coding knowledge. Without him, my site logo would probably still be in a very obscure and unflattering locale. Thank you, friend!