In July, 2012 I hopped on a plane in Las Vegas, headed home to Seattle. Having sprinted from security to my gate, I found myself quickly apologizing to the beautiful young woman in the seat next to me as I wiped sweat from my face, hoping none of it would drip on her.
Sometime while on that plane...much of it is a blur to me because it felt like days of conversation that were somehow magically condensed into 2 hours...we connected on Facebook and a friendship between Alyssa and Brook began.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the Celebration of Life service for Alyssa's husband, Nick. Let me start by saying this next, as it was said at the service: "It might seem that cancer won. It did not. Nick won."
Check this out. A letter by Nick, printed in yesterday's program:
"I told Alyssa from the beginning, if I can use this to change just one person's life it would be worth it. If I could bring one person to the Lord, all the pain and discomfort would be worth it. I focus on that every day.
How can I use my story to change lives? I tell anyone and everyone that will listen to my story. I show them how, even when looking death in the face, I still have a big smile on my face. How could a person do that? Be told their life will be cut short by decades and still be smiling? The secret is God. His strength, His love flows through my body every day. He takes away my worry, my stress, my pain. I'm still blown away every day at how good He is at giving me peace.
I can honestly tell you that I don't fear that this cancer is going to kill me because God has given me that peace. Every morning when I open my eyes, He takes that on for me. There are times it brings me to tears to think how much He loves me and how much He is willing to do for me. I'm no one special; I haven't done anything extraordinary in my life. But yet, He is there for me and my family every day. I'm telling you right now that this blessing of peace is one of the best blessings God could have given me. And I am so thankful for it. I truly am."
Nick Magnotti, January 30th, 2013
I never did meet Nick in person on this earth. I learned yesterday that many, if not most, of the hundreds and hundreds at his service had never met him in person either. He touched more lives than I'm sure he ever imagined he would. In his letter, he said it would all be worth it if he changed one life, but through his faith, he did so much more.
Sometimes great big things rock our world and we can use them as a platform to share God's love and hope with others. But it isn't always that way. Sometimes we're just living our regular, everyday life. The one that seems not-so-exciting, and we feel like, in Nick's words, we're "no one special." Clearly, Nick was not no one special. And neither are we. God's purpose for each of us is different, and we're called to represent Him every day...on the loud days where everyone is watching, and on the quiet days where we wonder if we're all alone.
When Nick's pastor asked him, shortly before he went to his forever home in heaven, what he would want to tell people, Nick said this...
Tell them I'm blessed.
Tell them I'm not afraid.
Tell them to trust in God.
What beautiful words to leave his mark, for the glory of God, on this world.
The Magnottis, through their difficult journey, adopted the family motto God's Got It. Because of Nick's life, I will remember that motto in my own.
...God's Got It...
I can't say how glad I am for the seat God picked for me on that airplane 18 month ago. And for His reminder that every day in our lives counts. We may be touching people we'll never even meet on this earth, because God's impact, through us, is farther reaching that we can begin to imagine.
I can't wait to meet you in heaven someday, Nick Magnotti.
For more about the Magnotti's story ... www.teammagnotti.org