You lost your best friend, your spouse. You’ve experienced deep, deep pain. There’s an elephant in the room that you can’t seem to hide, no matter how hard you try. It feels like everyone must see it (even strangers you’ve just met): there is a horrible gaping absence right next to you. Nothing feels right.
I feel you, I do. But, I don’t pity you. I really don’t. Not because what happened to you isn’t in every way horrible (it is!!!), but because I have been through this walk, too. And, I know that pity just isn’t helpful. Friendship, yes. Companionship, duh. Empathy, abso-freaking-lutely. But, not pity.
I’ve found through the years that those friends (many) who have gently encouraged me to take a good look at myself, to tally up my strengths, and to become more self-aware…. Those encouragers, their words, have been the most helpful. Especially those who have walked this path before me. They speak of heartache, but they speak also of growth, of unprecedented strength, and profound opportunity. I’ve found their words to be true. And I want to share my own encouragements with you here, today.
The word “opportunity” might seem absolutely crazy to you right now. You might be wondering if I’m out of my mind. Especially if you’re in the beginning of this journey when the only “opportunities” around might seem to be negative ones. Like the “opportunity” to break the world’s record for how many nights in a row one can cry herself to sleep. Or the “opportunity” to observe how long a human being can exist with a black hole that opened up right where his heart used to be. Yeah, it might super sound like a REALLY crazy idea right now. To consider this purely horrible situation an opportunity would be to consider it a foundation you can build upon. It would be to consider it a starting point for improvement. Opportunity??? REALLY?!?!? Yes. Really.
At some point, dear one, you will be able to get out of bed. You will be able to get off the couch. It will be hard. It will feel like your limbs weigh 500 lbs (each!) and you’re walking through the thickest tar. But, you must remember, that with time, it will get easier. I promise.
Sure, you’ll have up days and down days. Up weeks and down weeks. Good years and horribly crappy ones. But, overall, your trajectory will improve (if you let it, but we will get to that).
As these steps and days eventually get the tiniest bit easier, widowhood will finally present its beautiful sparkling face of opportunity. Whether you like it or not, whether you plan to or not, this opportunity will force itself upon you in one way or another. And, then, you’ll just need to decide.
The choice is yours and yours alone. Will you take this opportunity for all its worth?
Being forced into autonomy is not an easy transition. It’s hard. It’s lonely. It feels downright barbaric really… Like a torture of the most horrible kind.
But, during those long, cold nights, you’ll learn something about yourself. You’ll learn who you are… and, more importantly, who you want to be.
That person you’ll come to know will be a different version of the “self” you knew before your loss. (No matter what, great love and great loss will forever change you, alter you, it’s unavoidable.) But, get to know the new you… Believe me, you are worth knowing.
When you were married, your “i”s became “we”s and your “singles” become “pairs.” You had a date for every wedding. A companion for most meals. A person to look over you. Gosh, even just someone to just talk to about your day! (Ahhh… How I missed that, so!)
When you’ve been widowed, those things are suddenly (and seemingly irreversibly) stripped away.
Now, it’s just you.
Alone in a huge, unfamiliar world.
Along with that empty space in the bed next to you and the closet full of shoes that won’t be worn again, everything has changed. And, your plans for today, for tomorrow, for next week, and for a decade from now? They are different, too. Entirely.
So…. What are you to do with yourself? What really matters now? Who are you anyway?
At the beginning (and there’s no timeline here…. sometimes the beginning could last quite some time) the answers to these questions might be, simply: 1. Nothing. 2. Nothing. And, 3. Who cares?!
But, eventually (and you’ll know when you get there) you’ll start to wonder about these things.
You had plans before but they changed. You were you before but now you’ve changed. Maybe changed most of all is a truth realized:
You didn’t know how short life was but now that fact is FOREVER implanted in your skull.
So, what do you do?
This, my friend, is where the choice arises. You have been given a unique gift. A chance to rediscover yourself. To fashion a life you want. To do that thing God’s always called you to do. You’ve been given a wake up call. Answer it!
Not because your late spouse wouldn’t have let you go after these things before (quite the contrary;they probably would have encouraged it), but because you finally got the kick in the pants that you needed.
It’s a swift and devastatingly beautiful truth. THIS is the ONE, precious short life we have.
How else is there to live, I wonder, than to make the most of every single day?
I once was blind but, through my husband’s death, now I see.
**My kick in the pants has pushed me to finally begin a journey towards my lifelong passion and the calling I believe God has always had on my life. I am in the process of writing a book (anyone know any awesome literary agents?)! Please Subscribe via Email to this blog in the upper left hand corner (below the fold) to receive my posts (via email, hehe, as stated), so you’re sure not to miss a thing! :]
Sending you all my gratitude for reading and sharing,
There was a time… not very long ago… when I decided that I would be just FINE. No matter what. And, I was.
I was just fine with so little of what the world thinks women my age need to be happy. I knew I didn’t NEED a husband, I didn’t NEED a house, and I didn’t NEED a normal full-time job. I knew that the ONLY thing I truly NEEDED was JESUS. And, at risk of sounding like a religious freak, I’ve honestly found this to be true. He is truly all that I need. He is truly, as odd as it may sound, ENOUGH.
You guys… I’ve been told over and over again (especially since finding a new, wonderful, beautiful love) that I am so lucky. And, while I do agree, I HAVE to say that I was lucky and blessed BEFORE all this. And, no, I don’t mean because I had the memory a husband who loved me, or because I had a bomb career, or owned a beautiful house… (though those things were blessings as well). But, I was blessed… Because, I chose to see what was real.
I was blessed because…
**I KNEW that the love of Jesus would hold me, no matter what this life held for me.**
So much of finding new love, new light, and new joy in this life is about CHOICE. These choices aren’t always easy to make.
LIVING after MAJOR LOSS is DAMN HARD. Heck, living life on this planet is equally as hard. People are broken. Times can be dark. Choosing to LOVE and LET LOVE can be the hardest choice you’ll ever make. The choice to LIVE instead of cower could bring a person to their knees.
Love is the *perfect* gateway for hurt.
Choosing to live will result in gut-wrenching changes.
Going after the things that your soul has always longed for will open you up to criticism and doubt.
Yes, God HAS blessed me. But, I had to make a VERY conscious decision to allow Him to do so. I had to make a decision, out loud, to let Him take over, no matter what. I had to DECIDE that I would be happy with WHATEVER He provided. Whatever the next step on His path for me might be. And just around the corner of that choice to live my life, God has lined up some of those blessings that I already decided I could and would live without.
Jay and I will be married this June (wooohooo!) AND (we are so happy to announce) we’ve purchased a HOME that is scheduled to be completed in May!!!
(The story of how and when we landed this beautiful place is a doozy… It’ll need its own blog post. Holy smokes! God is TOO good!)
Tears of joy have been running rampant as 2015 came to a close…. Equally so, tears of loss, as we approach two years without my sweet husband,Nick Magnotti. Life is so much of both kinds of tears. Always a contrast. Always happy with sad.
But, the good and the bad, that beautiful contrast, is what makes everything in life SO MUCH CLEARER. It gives DEPTH to that which used to be flat. It gives EXPANSION and SPACE to things that used to feel cramped.
I still don’t understand so much of the bad, but I will thank God anyway. I will thank Him for that which I do understand and I will thank Him for the hundreds of things that I don’t. Because, in the end, I know that God holds my life in His hands. I know His plan for me is beautiful and full of hope and promise. I will thank Him and praise Him on days filled with pain and on the days that are filled with unfathomable Joy, for He is worthy to be praised!! heart emoticonheart emoticon
Wow… You guys… Where do I begin? What do I say? How can I convey to you ALL of these FEELINGS when I can barely identify them myself? Well, I’ll try…
How Did Jay and I Meet?
Jay and I have technically known each other for 8 years. If you haven’t read it elsewhere before… He was one of Nick’s best friends back when I met Nick all those lifetimes ago. Jay and Nick had owned a small business together in college and hung out a lot at work events and at various “guy nights.”
I remember telling Nick when we were dating that I wasn’t too sure about his friend, Jay. I suggested that maybe he might not be the best influence for Nick’s life. But, Nick would go to bat for him EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
“Jay is one of the truest friends I have.”
“Jay is one of the nicest guys I have ever known.”
“Jay is loyal and trustworthy. I won’t ever give him up.”
Jay and I didn’t hang out much because, well, I wasn’t so sure about him. But, Nick hung out with Jay whenever they could make it work. And, Nick ended up choosing Jay as one of his groomsmen in our wedding.
From that point forward, I only ended up seeing Jay a couple of times, though I heard about him and his life often, through Nick.
Fast forward to 3 years ago, when Nick got insanely sick and received his diagnosis of a horrible cancer recurrence. We had just gotten the horrible news and were trying to process all that was happening when Nick got a phone call that contained some very good news! Nick couldn’t wait to share it with me.
“Alyssa, you’ll never guess! You know Jay? He just got saved! He accepted Christ!” Nick’s smile was wide as ever. His eyes glistened with tears.
We high-fived each other and said a prayer of blessing over Jay and his commitment to Jesus. I was truly happy to hear that Nick’s friend’s life was moving in the right direction.
Where “We” Began
So… How did this all begin with Jay and I? Well, I hadn’t seen Jay since Nick’s Celebration of Life in January of 2013. But, this summer, I had asked Jay if we could meet up to discuss local churches. I had recently returned from Florida and was looking for a new church home and was stalking my community for any helpful input anyone might have. I reached out to multiple people in my network over the course of a month or so, looking for the perfect new place to call my church home. It just so happened, that I saw a post from Jay about his church and wanted to know more.
When we met for coffee, we unexpectedly hit it off as friends. We had never said much more than “Hey, how are you?” in the years before, but conversation came so easily this time and we decided that we should get together again soon. This started a great friendship. And, it took me only a little while, but I started to see some of the things in Jay that Nick had seen years ago. And, I began to see other desirable things in him too. His life was on the right track. He had made incredible changes to his life. He was motivated. He was insanely generous (a characteristic that reminds me so very much of Nick). And, much more attractive than I had remembered or ever noticed. (Blush!)
It took some clearing up for Jay of what Nick wanted, of what God says about all of this, and of how I felt about love after Nick. But, eventually, Jay saw me in a new light too. And, our friendship began to develop into something deeper.
Do You Like Me? (Check Yes or No.)
So… On July 14th, Jay brought flowers and, cute as ever, asked me to be his girlfriend. He had come prepared with a list of reasons he thought he would be the best man for me. Ten items were on his list and they were as precious as can be. He included being a good father figure for Austyn as long as we wanted him, leading me ever closer to God, putting our relationship above all others, and other absolutely honorable and perfect things. I said yes (under two conditions: 1. Absolutely No Clown Pranks. (I hate clowns.) And, 2. New Boyfriend Must Kill All Spiders. No exceptions.).
The rest honestly, already feels like history. (He’s kept both of my conditions thus far as well as all of his beautiful promises to me.) We’ve had an amazing 5 months! I know… that seems so fast, huh? But, I guess I’m just the type… When you know, you know, you know?! (Nick and I got engaged back in the day after just 6 months. And, yeah, that was one of the very best decisions of my whole life! DUH. )
Jay and I have spent these last five months doing so very much: learning how we might fit as a family, how we fight, how we love, how to listen, how to hold each other’s hearts and hurts, we’ve traveled locally and internationally, we’ve spent days on end together, met and spent time with each other’s families (including Nick’s family who will forever remain mine), celebrated both of our birthdays, taught Austyn to pee in the toilet (and celebrated accordingly — this was a HUGE deal so potty dances are now a “thing” in my house), and lived the monotonous as well as the adventurous.
He Popped the Question!
I know, I know… you want to know about the engagement!! Well, here it is!
Last night was our official 5 month anniversary. December 14th. Jay had planned a “surprise date night” and I had a guess that a sparkly thing might be on its way, but quickly the thought was dismissed. (We had discussed marriage and so many things related, but I try hard these days not to get my hopes up too high. I’d rather be surprised than disappointed, you know?)
When Jay showed up at my house to pick me up for our date night, he handed me a beautiful bouquet of 18 red roses. GOORRRgeous! We gave our hugs and said our goodbyes to Austyn and my dad (who was over to babysit Austyn for me) and made our way to the car.
Jay opened the door for me as we walked out of the house and ran ahead to get the car door as well. (This is a normal occurrence… He is so good at that!) My sweet guy! We showed up at the Bellevue park and I knew what we were doing for sure… Finally! Ice skating! I’d been wanting to go again for years and had mentioned it before to Jay. “This is gonna be so fun!” I thought. It was the cutest little rink set up right in the pond in downtown Bellevue park. We had hot cocoa to warm up first and then got our skates on and slipped out onto the ice (not so gracefully, BUT we didn’t fall!). As expected, we had so much fun! There were about a hundred people there but we had a blast anyway and we were even able to pull off a couple spins!!
I was starving so we left right after skating and headed across the park to a “mystery” restaurant. (He wouldn’t tell me where.) We walked and talked (at first about Austyn’s latest poopy accident LOL) and then about the last five months and all the wonderful things that have been happening. We slowly made our way up the steps at the North end of the park, hand in hand. It was cold and we could see our breath but luckily, we both had good jackets on. Once at the top of the stairs, I noticed a man playing Christmas music softly on a guitar behind one of the light posts facing the park but couldn’t see his face. It was beautiful and I commented on the fact. “What a perfect night!”
I was honestly still completely clueless. Suddenly, Jay stopped me. We were standing under a tree and Jay pointed up. “Oh, look! Mistletoe!”
I didn’t hesitate or want to miss the chance, so I kissed him immediately. (Duh! He’s so stinking cute and I love him so much! Any chance to kiss and I’m in! 100%!) When I pulled away, I finally started to put two and two together realizing that the smooth Christmas performance and mistletoe randomly hanging from a tree in the middle of the park aren’t really a “normal” thing.
Just then, my suspicions were confirmed. Jay reached his hand into the tree… And, out came a ring box! He got down on one knee and…
You guys… I couldn’t stop jumping from that point on! I was so insanely happy!
His words were perfect, the ring was perfect, and I couldn’t help but feel God was smiling down on us!
I screamed YES with all my heart and kissed him hard!
Just as he stood up and slipped the ring on my finger, I noticed the guitar guy walking towards us. I looked at his face and it registered… It had been one of my best friends, Sean, playing guitar!!! And, he was still playing and singing “Jingle Bells!” Then, out popped Andy from the next light post over, one of Jay’s good friends! And, as I turned to see him, I saw Cat (one of my other best friends, who is married to Sean) come from behind the next pole shaking some actual jingle bells (Seriously. Cuteness.). And, then out came Jacki, Jay’s best friend and girlfriend to Andy!! Oh my goodness! All four of them had been waiting for us to arrive, setting up and then videotaped and photographed the whole thing from a distance. I couldn’t believe it!
I was so surprised and my voice was uncontrollably squeaky as I asked for details and stood in disbelief! It turns out that these two couples, plus some of my family and friends, and many more had kept this secret for a while now! Jay had been planning the proposal for weeks!! Jay had even asked my dad for his permission to ask me to marry him almost a month ago!
My favorite Prosecco was brought out and we toasted and the night wasn’t even out of surprises yet. Jay and I hung back, hand in hand, as I asked him so many questions about the night and our friends led the way.
Jay had gone to great lengths to plan a perfect dinner for right after our engagement. We got to Palomino’s downtown with all our friends and we sat and ate dinner while watching the Snowflake Lane performance on the main stage right outside our window. Jay and Jacki had scoped out the perfect place to eat during Snowflake Lane and it really was! There was snow, christmas lights, dancers and drumming nutcrackers. Seriously magical…. Not to mention, complimentary champagne, appetizers and dessert!!
Seriously… What a night!!!
Now, after all has settled down, and I look back at last night, I can’t help but want to write down every detail. I know I will want to remember last night for the rest of my life. <3
Austyn was incredibly excited this morning when she woke up to see such a sparkling ring on my finger. I FaceTimed Jay into the conversation and we told her what the ring meant. That Mommy and Jay were getting married and that Jay was going to be her new daddy. You should have seen her sweet little face!!! Austyn’s eyes lit up and her smile was as wide as her daddy’s the day he found out he would see his best friend in Heaven again someday. I saw Nick’s smile then, in Austyn’s smile now. And, just, whoa. SO. Many. Feels.
Jay and I both started crying… My goodness. We were just a big sloppy mess of beautiful and joyous tears over here!
I won’t EVER tell you that any bit of sickness or death is a part of God’s plan. Because it is NOT. I won’t ever tell you that there is a REASON for hurt or heartache, pain or disease, broken marriages or lost lives. But, I will tell you… God CAN and DOES work ALL things (the good and the bad) together for ULTIMATE GOOD for those who love and believe in Him.
Two years ago today, I was just weeks away from losing my husband, my very best friend. Today, I rejoice in finding a new best friend to spend the rest of my days on this earth with (God willing).
Nothing will ever change who Nick was to me. Nothing will ever take away from our love. And, no wedding will ever revoke my widowed title to Nick. But, now I am “fiancee” to Jay and I just couldn’t feel more blessed to start planning for the day I become his wife.
I have had the love of two absolutely amazing men in my life and, my goodness, I know I don’t deserve it, but I’m going to enjoy it just as much as I possibly can. <3
Here… In my OWN home: Too Much Death. My first baby died in my belly. My husband died of cancer.
GOODNESS, SO. MUCH. BAD.
And, here’s the thing… We can get ADDICTED to it.
Some days, I want to hole up in my house and bawl for hours. I can’t imagine standing up and I can’t get my mind off of the horrible, the horrific and the unimaginable. For all the weight that the Far, Near and Here tragedies and evils bring on me… I worry that I won’t ever get off the floor.
BUT, THEN… There are moments of light. Moments of TRUTH.
Sparkles in my daughters’ eyes hinting at her mischief. Her smile that so much looks like her dad’s. The safety found in the arms of a man who loves me fiercely. The quiet words of my closest friend, telling me to trust in God. The smell of pine trees on a walk in the soft wind. A cup of coffee and a warm blanket. The unconditional love of family.
GOODNESS, there is SO! MUCH! GOOD!
It’s easier (for me) to focus on the bad. BUT, I consciously make the choice (and sometimes I have to make it hourly) to focus on the GOOD and spread AS MUCH of that GOOD around as I can.
Because we need to REMIND each other…. There IS GOOD after bad. There is LIFE after horrible, disgusting death. There is SEEING after blackness surrounds. There is LIGHT when all you felt before was crushing dark.
For instance… My husband died and I never thought I would find true love again. After months of battling with myself on if I should even allow myself to be happy again… I heard God’s truth over my life. I heard His call to LIVE. And, now, I can say it…. I AM TOTALLY, COMPLETELY IN LOVE.
At first, I wasn’t going to say it… quite like that. I even went back and deleted that sentence for a minute. I mean, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you might have guessed… But, the people who come right out and say things like this might be viewed as unwise, or childish, or foolish. Better to simply use a hashtag, right? (#inlove)
But, no, I’m putting it back. And, saying it again. I AM IN LOVE and IT IS GOOD. I don’t think good things are ever said enough. We are seen as silly to comment on the good and maybe seen as somewhat unrealistic. But, I WANT people to know the GOOD in my life, too. And, I WANT TO KNOW THE GOOD IN YOURS! I don’t think enough LIGHT is broadcasted in this world. All the DARK overshadows and the light is covered up. But, the LIGHT is JUST as REAL and as TANGIBLE as the DARK.
Here’s the thing about the bad. We don’t have to fear it. Because… GOOD ALWAYS WINS. LOVE ALWAYS WINS.
For all the wretched days that I watched my husband battle an invisible and terrorizing illness, I wouldn’t have traded an hour to have missed out on his love.
For all the blood that gushed from me, I wouldn’t trade a drop for the love I felt for that first soul I carried in my body.
For all the hurt of the excruciatingly, lonely, cold, horribly dark nights, I wouldn’t trade even one of them for the love that I’ve found in another true friend and beautiful soul.
So, I beg you… As you watch the news. As you think over your life. As you encounter the hard things today… REMEMBER the HAPPY. REMEMBER the GOOD. REMEMBER the JOY. And BELIEVE with ALL of your heart, that these things WILL return to you.
We want evil vanquished.
We want darkness squashed.
But, we forget to remember what eradicates this evil and what beats out the darkness.
Only the GOOD, the LIGHT and the LOVE can overcome the bad, the dark and the hate.
And, the best part is, that even in the valleys, I know that LOVE HAS ALREADY WON.
I pray for every single soul reading this. That YOU will know the power of God and His light and His unfailing, ridiculous, amazing LOVE.
THIS HOPE, THIS LIGHT, THIS LOVE… WILL redeem all things.
I’ve seen it before and I’ll see it again. <3
SHOUT YOUR GOOD FROM THE ROOFTOPS! Write it in the comments below. Tell it to the next person you meet. Write it on your Facebook. What is good in your life? SPREAD THE GOOD!
P.S. I’ve added a handy space to the LEFT where you can add your email address, click subscribe, and then get notifications of new posts on this blog via email. :] So, SUBSCRIBE if you’d like. xo
So, back in 2011, I spent a week arguing with my husband about whether my “outdoor kitchen” (even those words make me cringe now!) should face East or West. Seriously…. Seeeerrriiiooouuusssllyyy. BAH! My 24th birthday rolled around and I realized just how insane the argument was! NOT because I was 24 and was bestowed upon by the wisdom fairy… But because I found out that something was seriously wrong. My husband was diagnosed with cancer and my life would never be the same…
(I know I said 23rd birthday in the video… my math was off. I was actually 23, turning 24. Whoopsie. I never said math was my strong suit! teehee)
Comment below and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to my page and share as you wish (little Share button that looks like three connected dots in the upper right corner of the embedded video).
Sending love and TONS of light. And, all my wishes for you and yours to wake up to the real fight… Spreading LOVE far and wide!
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.
LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
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.)
Be less concerned about others’ opinions and more concerned about God’s.
Have more fun.
Be a blessing.
I know I could do so many things better. So many things. I could be such a better person. When I pay attention to my thoughts… I can hear it. I can hear the person that I don’t want to be. The one that worries constantly, that judges others, that blames herself most of all. But, most of the time, I’m not paying attention to my thoughts. I’m just letting them run. Im just being “me.” Im just being my “normal” self. The self that I’ve become in twenty-seven years of living and sacrificing and striving and wanting.
As much as self-reflection hurts, as much as it stings… It’s necessary in this journey if we want to be better. It would be SO much easier for me to say, “Well, this is just who I am. I can be selfish, I can be jealous, I can be petty, and I can be stiff. I guess you all just have to deal with it.” But, I CAN also change.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s too late. I’m in my late-twenties (too funny! I totally just typed “mid-twenties” and realized that almost-twenty-eight is pretty far past that. Nice try, darlin!) and my life has shaped me. The culture I’ve grown up in, the parents I had, the situations I’ve faced, the deaths that I’ve seen, the books that I’ve read, the propaganda that flashes before my eyes, the truths I’ve experienced, the lies that I’ve trusted, the way my thoughts have twisted realities… the list goes on and on.
It’s true to a degree that no one can deny… that we are shaped by our circumstances. Not entirely, no. But, at least markedly. Growing up in the Seattle is different than growing up in Taiwan. Growing up in a nice house in a good neighborhood is different than growing up in a mobile home park governed by drug lords. Growing up with parents who cared and tried their best is different than growing up with parents who remained painfully disinterested.
We all have things that mark us. We all have things that scare us. Things that scar us.
Our choice is how much we heal. Our choice is what we do about it. Our choice is looking past what we “know.”
step it up
We can decide to unlearn the things our heart has grasped onto.
You CAN be loved again.
You CAN be happy.
You CAN succeed.
You CAN trust in the goodness of God, even when you are standing in the broken mess of your life.
So, you haven’t made it as far as you would like by now? Yeah. Me neither. You feel older than you’d like? You feel like you haven’t made a difference? You feel like time is passing too quickly and your soul isn’t catching up? I feel those things too.
But, no matter what you see, what you feel. If you try and believe it will work, you WILL make progress. I believe it.
Big changes can be so entirely overwhelming. How can I alter my fast-pace to a life lived in slow, trusting, seeing peace? How can I go from loud to quiet so others can have a voice? How can I stop caring what the world may think and start caring more about God? How can I have fun when I know the accidents that can occur when we let down our guard? How can I change from living every hour for myself to living every hour as a blessing to others?
You might have different things that you know you could improve on. Maybe you want to be a better person and to do that you know that changes must be made: to your health or your relationships or your thoughts.
Feel overwhelmed? Like the drastic end result that you are trying to achieve is just too far away, too far off from the person you are today? Just remember that God will help you if you ask. We can’t sit back and not make changes and expect God to do all the work, but we CAN do the work with God by our side. All it takes is a prayer and a single step. Every. Step. Counts.
Even if you take only one step forward and end up falling two steps back… at least you are moving.
I know what I want. And if it takes me a lifetime of trying… only to eventually fail, at least I’ll know that I tried. One baby step at a time. Focused on the God who tells me I can walk on water. I can trod on my mistakes. I can step on the lessons I’ve learned and use them to propel me ever-forward.
I believe in a God who is constant in His ability to love us…. His love molds me, teaches me, shows me.
I don’t HAVE to be better for Him. He loves me already. I don’t HAVE to do anything, but I want to.
I want to be more like the person I was made to be. I want to be changed by Him from the inside out. So, I pray for Him. I pray for more of His presense. More of His peace. And, then… I walk.
Three shaky steps.
I am on my way! I’m in motion. Let’s hope our momentum propels us forward. Wish me luck!
I share these thoughts not for me, but for you. I shared this post in my personal journal and decided then that it might be something to help another. Did it help you? Any thoughts? Please share this post as much as you’d like. Let’s move together. There’s no use in going it alone.
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.
You were put here for a reason. I believe that, wholly. And I believe that purpose isholy.
I believe that every day that you are here is a day that was created with you in it on purpose.
Some days that can be hard to believe.
But, hold on, dear one. And, know that your purpose isn’t to be discouraged or let down or defeated. You are alive and you ARE victorious.
Trying to find your purpose? I think God has made it pretty clear. Whether you believe in the Bible or not, even the Universe points to it. Anything that makes this world a better place is full of love. Love is something (and possibly the only thing) that is worth living for. It’s worth breathing for. It’s worth even the grey-ist of days.
If I give everything I own to the poor… but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I am nothing without love. (1 Corinthians 13:3 MSG)
And, I’m not talking about the kind of love you see on most television shows. Or the kind of love splashed on the front pages of magazines. I am talking about real love.
A love that never gives up. A love that cares more for others than for self. A love that doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. A love that doesn’t strut. A love that doesn’t have an ego, that doesn’t force itself on others. A love that isn’t always “me first” and doesn’t get angry easily. A love that doesn’t keep score. That doesn’t keep track of the sins of others. A love that doesn’t revel when others grovel. A love that takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trustsGodalways, sees the best, never looks back but keeps going to the end. A love that never dies. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 MSG) Love is an infinite victory.
We are not called to judge, or to wield our opinions as swords. We were called to come alongside our sisters and brothers, every single one. We were called to show love. Smile at that stranger. Forgive the person that said the wrong thing at the exact wrong time. Offer an encouraging word to the parent trying to wrangle their small child at Target (chances are it’s me, anyhow). Send a note. Give a hug to someone you love.
Meet each and every person with kindness and with overflowing love. For every single person you encounter is facing a challenge that you know nothing about.
Be brave. Live to love.
My prayer for purpose:
“Lord, be with me. Help me to emulate light and love as naturally and effortlessly as you do. Amen.”