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I never thought I would be lying awake again, in the middle of the night, worried about the health of the one held dearest to me. No, Austyn is not “extremely” ill. But, she has been sick. And, this momma is having a hard time with it. And “hard” is most certainly an understatement.
She’s suffered from quite a few respiratory infections since she was little, with coughs seeming to hold on longer than they should. Over the course of the last few months, she has been sleeping with a cough on and off almost continuously. I’ve taken her to the doctors and done all that I could think of. They suspected childhood asthma and now, it’s all but been confirmed.
She also has some pretty nasty allergies. Tree pollen, grass, weeds, animal dander and yellow food dye 4 and 5. Her asthma seems to be induced by her allergies. When the pollen counts are high, her cough is much worse. I’ve been in the process of planning a move back to the Seattle area, and it seems that it couldn’t be coming at a better time (allergens are much less prevalent in the Pacific Northwest).
She will grow out of it, more than likely, the doctor suspects. She seems and acts fine during the day, smiley and cute as ever (albeit a bit overtired). But, some nights… the bad ones… like tonight… She coughs incessantly, no matter what I do. It feels as if I’ve stepped over the edge of a cliff and that the fall will never, ever stop.
I’ve been doing everything I can think of, everything I can find, I’ve taken her to the typical Western medicine doctors and to a Naturopath. I’m doing showers immediately after being outdoors, essential oils, cough medicines, chest rubs, and even a low dose of steroids (with extreme caution and after much internal debate). What less would I do for one that I love? No less than give anything and everything I own to make her well. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that, even everything you’ve got isn’t always enough.
People used to tell me when Nick was sick that I was, “So brave.” They said the same thing at his funeral. And again when I moved from Washington to Florida with my little girl. They tell me I’m brave now that I’m moving back. I don’t mean to be argumentative, but I normally respond with a “It’s not me.” Or, a “Not really.”
Because…. in all honesty…. there are days, and especially nights, that I just don’t feel brave at all. Or, any version of the word. I’m scared. I’m trembling. I’ve felt a few monumental losses so I know there is probably some overreaction here… but even my baby’s painful coughs rip right through my heart. Each one reminds me of what I’ve lost… Reminds me of what I could lose again.
So, how do I do it? How do I smile? How do I make it through the years of seemingly endless nights? Here’s the thing… The thing that brings me through. When I feel like I can’t do this. When I feel like I just can’t live this life filled with pain, suffering, loss and darkness. I look to the Light.
It is in our deepest and darkest nights, that our Light can be brightest. We must only remember to look.
The journey I’ve been on these last
few (almost) five years has been nothing short of staggering. I’ve experienced things that I wouldn’t wish on the devil himself. But, I’ve also been blessed beyond my wildest dreams by coming to know the One that my soul lives for.
I’m still on this journey to figure out exactly who He is, because I don’t believe that journey ever ends… But, I’m working towards really knowing my Creator, my God, my Jesus. And, I can tell you one thing.
He is here.
In the broken, bitter dark.
In the endless nights of tear stained pillowcases.
In the scraped knees and wheezing breaths of our babies.
Even in the horrendous massacres of our fellow brothers and sisters across the oceans.
He is here.
And, he is there… with you. Too. Right next to you… Right now.
Sometimes, He can feel like He’s a million miles away. (Believe me, I experience this, too.) But, most every time, I have found, especially as we’ve grown closer that… when I call on Him, when I tell Him that I need His bravery, His wisdom, His courage tonight… He ALWAYS answers me.
AND… When He speaks, His answers don’t echo from millions of miles away. They are soft words, breathed so near to my ear, that I’m sure I am wrapped in His embrace.
So much of this world is hard. So much of it is broken. So much of it doesn’t make a damned bit of sense (I’m sorry for the language, but I mean, really!).
But, there is so much in this world in the way of Lightness, too. So much Bravery in His Glory. So much Honor in His Love. So much to Cherish in His Creation. Find the Light. Find Him…
Remember that it’s okay to ask for the Light. It’s okay to open your eyes and look. And, it’s okay if you are finally WILLING to SEE.
(*Sidenote: I fully understand that MANY parents have to deal with sicknesses, allergies, and asthma with their children… Or far worse. It breaks my heart. And I am so sorry if you are in that place with a child, or a loved one. May the Light guide you to peace.)
Having a hard day? A hard week? A hard year? BELIEVE that your hard days will end. Your Friday WILL. END. And… Sunday WILL. COME! Believe with me, will you? The light IS coming!
0 A.D. – Calvary
Only when she breathed again did she realize that she’d been holding her breath for far too long. The moment of shock finally passed. The clouds rolled in. And, she realized that it wasn’t all just a nightmare after all. That this was real life. That the very worst had just happened. He was gone. And, there was nothing in the world she could do about it.
That Friday was the worst day of her life. He had died. The man she had come to love and know as her beloved friend. The man whose every word brought relief and light; whose very presence made the world a better place. His smile had been bright, his hugs had been sincere, his laughter was contagious. She chastised herself for believing in the first place. He couldn’t have been more than any other man she had met. How could she have fallen for that? He couldn’t have loved her *that* much. How could he save her if he couldn’t even save himself?
The tears came as her dreams crashed all around her. She saw her future implode. Everything a shade of grey, everything a shade of ash. That Friday brought a cold darkness that threatened to crush her very soul. How long would this grief last? Would she ever be the same?
After seemingly endless days of a broken and bitter dark, Sunday came. Oh, sweet Sunday came…. And, that Sunday brought a joy and a light unlike that that she had ever seen. It brought a miracle she had already given up on.
Her hope had been lost, but He was back… He had conquered the impossible! He had risen! No, his death wasn’t a dream. The torture she’d witnessed wasn’t an illusion… But, NEITHER. WAS. HE.
He was REAL. He really WAS who He said He was. He was the best friend she could ever hope to have, the realest man she had ever known… And, He came back for her. Just like He said He would. He was here and He would never leave her side again.
“It is me.” She saw His hands, looked into His eyes… And He held her. That very embrace gave her strength enough for the rest of her days…
He might have moved on, but He never actually left. He was with her. He was alive and He was with her. And, it would always, always be so.
We never know how long our Fridays will last… But Sunday WILL ALWAYS come.
“He saw and believed.” John 20:8
“I am always with you.” Matthew 28:20
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!