• the little things •

  • studying for an economics test when the guy with a deep voice from your math class (but with the personality of a puppy) begins telling you how he couldn’t sleep last night, so he watched Howl’s Moving Castle instead and you find out he is also reading The Lord of the Rings
  • complimenting someone on their outfit and them saying, “I needed that today; thank you”
  • asking someone whether or not you should get chocolate chip cookies or M&M’s and they take the time to seriously help you out
  • going to the drugstore because you need/want new mascara + eyeliner but meeting a person with a lovely personality and giving them eyeliner tips
  • seeing your friend who says, “how did your economics test go? I remembered and prayed for you.”
  • getting to the chapel a bit later than usual when a woman walks in, kneels down, and begins crying. You wait a few minutes before handing her a tissue and holding her hand. She continues to cry and squeezes your hand back. You sit beside her and hold her. She asks for prayers for her son, Steven (Stephen?). You give her your Pieta prayer book (which you didn’t think you had anymore) and dog-ear the prayers which offered you the most comfort in your time of need.
  • she thanks you for being there for her; you think, “no one should have to cry alone”
  • realizing your iPod was in your pocket so you plug it in on the way home and listen to Kim Jae Joong and G-Dragon before feeling happy enough to sing with Taeyang
  • getting home and realizing your computer is being used, so you draw instead
  • once you’re done drawing, you read Not God’s Type

the little things are often ordinary, everyday miracles

pay attention

Love,

Rana || xoxo

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• no rain, no flowers •

It’s my birthday.

I’ve been breathing for 18 years.

In the eyes of the law, I am now an adult and will be held accountable for my actions; because up until today, all my bad choices could have only been marked down to immaturity. Obviously. So if anyone needs a crime committed before I’m an adult, let me know yesterday.

But law and life are two different things.

• Education •

I’m expected to have a plan for the next 40 – 50 years of my life. And there’s been a lot of pressure because I don’t.

I’m often jealous of my friends. They don’t have the pressure like I do. Their parents don’t pressure them to go to college; they’re chill; they’re open to other options. If the kid wants to take a year off, that’s totally fine. But I’m expected to have it all planned out with a college picked and scholarships lined up while staying on top of school and, oh, I should get a job too.• no rain, no flowers •

It’s stressful + it’s painful mostly because I’ve always been expected and told to go to college all my life; make lots of money, support myself… but I don’t think that’s what I’m called to do. Not right now. All these things are fine, but it’s so shallow and not satisfying to me. I don’t mean I don’t want to go to college, so I say “I’m not called to do it” as an easy way out. I like school; I want to go to college. But I just don’t think it’s what I’m supposed to do.

• Friendship •

I’ve been learning lately that I’m looking for love in the wrong places. I want the things I don’t/can’t have. I want a friendship like that. I want to be so individualized like that. I want to stand out like that. But if I am like that, then I am not who I was created to be which is not that. It’s this. Maybe I’m not supposed to have those things at all or maybe I’m not supposed to have them until I’ve learned that I can’t be truly happy as I am if I’m only half myself without that.

I wasn’t created for partiality. I was created to be whole + when you’re supposed to be full, it’s lonely to be only halfway there.

• no rain, no flowers •

All this context to say that I believe that my life will ultimately be a garden. Trial results in rewards if we handle it the right way. I have faith and I have hope that this struggle now will be useful to me later. I give it to God, the One who loves me more than I can love back, the One who doesn’t pressure, doesn’t confuse, doesn’t go on vacation, doesn’t get too busy, doesn’t leave empty.

As an 18-year-old, I strive to grow in that love, not love to be loved, not even hope for love/friendship. I strive to let go of the things that don’t matter to me + to be okay with disappointing others if it’s what I’m supposed to do. I strive to learn, grow, and make my soul a garden.

I wasn’t created to follow the path laid out for me by those who do not know God’s plan; neither were you. Let’s be okay with that. Let’s be okay with letting others down because, ultimately, we weren’t created to please them, were we?

I strive to love God more than anything else; I pray for the strength + grace to allow no human ties to separate me from Him. I pray for the grace to rid my heart of fear.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

– 1 John 4:18 –

Peace + blessings,

Rana || xoxo

P.S.

I can now reply to comments! Comment away, friends! I look forward to meeting you all. ^_^

• stük, Johnny, + twigs •

It has been eleven days since my last post which is shameful.

But I think you’ll excuse me when I give the excuse of (a) finals, (b) being out of town with no internet, and (c) being ill. Terribly ill.

I still am, so this post will reflect my lack of mental capabilities. Sorry.

I want to focus on (b) though! Waffle-Shake Girl, whom you will recall from this post, is so done with me. After four days and nights with basically me 24 hours a day is enough for anyone methinks. But, to be fair, I had to put up with her too. So I think we’re even.

We took a trip up to Maryland with another friend’s parents and little sister to witness her continue her journey into a religious order (Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará). She knew ever since she was eight years old that she was called to be a bride of Christ; twelve years later, it came to pass!

You would not believe how absolutely nuts these religious sisters are!

(Note: nuns and sisters are different. Nuns are cloistered and spend most of their time in prayer. Sisters do prayer + missionary work – like Mother Theresa.)

It’s really crazy how human they are. You think “religious sister” or “nun” and go “oh, yeah; boring, prayerful, holy” but really this is the farthest thing from reality. At least with this order.

The Sisters Are, In Fact, Human

  • First thing when we see Kristina (now Sister Mary Crown of Purity), she goes, “where’s Dad?” He’d been abducted by a seminarian like five minutes earlier.
  • When we get to the car (which will take us to the convent), she immediately overwhelms us with stories of how the other sisters make fun of her for this or that.
  • All squirrels are named Johnny. Don’t question it. They just are.
  • The brothers (basically the male version of this order) call soda “stük” and the sisters call candy “stük”. Sounds like drugs, but I promise it’s not.
  • Sister Karitatis ran up to me and goes, “you know, I wish I’d met you before I entered this order. We’d be like the greatest friends.” Me: “We can still be friends…” Her: “Oh! That’s right!”
  • Sister Passie is the bomb diggity. She has to shower NOW.
  • Sister Purity’s job is to push people on the tire swing. And to stay out of the kitchen because apparently you’re not supposed to use four cups of yeast for a saint’s favorite rolls… The baker in me cringed + is still cringing.
  • And we can’t forget Father John Paul. Who mentions Doctor Who in his sermons. And goes all out with the fanboy hand motions.
  • Or the seminarians of IVE America who create parodies such as Star Weirds.

See what I mean? So human.

Okay. Sounds like fun, right? It was a blast! So why would Waffle-Shake Girl be so done with me?

Because weather, twigs, people get to live here, trees, I can see my breath, and look at that sunset!

I have never been so excited that I literally hop from foot to foot because I can’t contain myself. Never. I am probably one of the most generally chill people you will ever meet. Ask Waffle-Shake Girl. (I want confirmation of this statement in the comments.)

I would double over, run my fingers through my hair, and whisper, “people get to live here.” Then I’d look at the sisters and say, “you get to live here.”

Needless to say, I was exhausted because being that excited is draining.

Cold weather makes me so happy. You have no clue. I look best in winter clothing and I’m a much nicer person when I feel cute.

• stük, Johnny, + twigs •

Highlights

  • Eating before our flight; Purity’s dad is going around asking for trash to throw away; WSG girl goes, “that’s a rude way to talk about Rana.”
  • This happened multiple times over the course of the trip + it didn’t get old.
  • Getting my hand cream confiscated. Because yes. I will do something dastardly with Sweet Pea perfume. I, the five-foot-nothing minor.
  • Cold weather (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • Heading to a military base where Purity’s parents met and seeing where they first saw each other, where her dad proposed to her mom (the first time), picking up a twig and screaming, “this twig is prettier than anything in Florida!” Also, evil faerie kings, bad wishes, “bop, bop, bop”, and “buzz, buzz, buzz.”
  • Going to Five Guys. When they called out Purity’s dad’s number, he shouts, “BINGO!” and everyone laughed.
  • Getting sick in China Town after getting a Chocolate Peppermint shake from Shake Shack. Blaming WSG forever.
  • Discovering that sushi trucks are an actual thing. The future is here.
  • The first thing when we get to the China Town in D.C. and some guy is getting arrested outside a McDonalds.
  • D.C. is “…like Santa’s workshop except everyone here is scary and they look like they want to hurt me.”
  • The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. So many chapels, so much reverence, so much history… I was in total awe. My heart didn’t know how to heart and my lungs kind of forgot how to lung too.
  • Witnessing one of my oldest friends continue to follow the path of her calling was so beautiful. Cardinal McCarrick celebrated the Mass and blessed the Miraculous Medal I purchased from the gift shop. The amount of faith and love for Christ is overwhelming.
  • Sarcastic goats.
  • Sister Guardian of the Child Jesus. I love her so much. She is so gentle. So kind. So patient. So faithful… ❤
  • Sister Karitatis. Hilarious and a maniac-driver.
  • Passing through the Holy Door on the day of its opening.
  • Oh. And Purity’s biological sister bedazzling e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. It was like Tinker Bell barfed all over the place.

Conversion

I’d been going through a spiritual dryness period. You know the kind. You don’t feel anything. You don’t feel a sense of conviction. You know you believe, but you’re going through the motions. I prayed for a long time to feel my heart stir again with that love I wanted to have for Christ, my Lord and my God.

Even through prayer and Adoration the first morning, I felt nothing. But Mass started. And the first reading was from Isaiah. It was a reading of love + mercy. Something I needed to hear and be reminded of. It was like a dam broke and my heart beat again.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for the opportunity, for the graces You have showered upon us. Let us be open to your love, mercy, and kindness.

Peace + blessings,

Rana || xoxo

• test the spirits •

• College • Friends • Food • Job • House • Fashion •

These are just some of the areas in which we need to make decisions. But how do we make them? How do we know when they’re right?

A few years ago, I attended a Sunday service held by Sarah‘s dad, who is the pastor of her church. I stumbled upon my notes from his sermon and found so much truth in those words. We read 1 John 4 that day and I recommend you do as well. There is so much hope, truth, love, and words of advice in those few pages.

I’d like to share my notes from Mr. Wragg’s sermon and thank him again for speaking on this when he did.

• test the spirits •

>> Don’t believe every spirit. <<

>> Test the spirits to know if they are truly from God. <<

>> Do not be gullible + naive. <<

>> Be skeptical + stubbornly resistant of new “truths”. <<

>> Verify this new “truth” + weigh it out. <<

>> Study this new “truth” to make sure it aligns with the teachings of the Bible and Church. <<

>> Reject every idea that falls short of the Truth. <<

>> Abstain from every form of evil. <<

>> Know that false prophets will be very popular and influential. <<

>> Remember: Jesus, Peter, Paul, and John all said false prophets would come. <<

> How to know if a spirit is of God: <<

>Answer:<

1) Is Jesus confessed/acknowledged?

2) Does this work present a greater sense of movement [toward Christ]?

3) Does this work/teaching give us a greater desire to be like Christ?

4) Does this idea/work give me a desire to be where Jesus is?

5) Does this message create within me a desire for the Word of Christ?

>> We need to be concerned with holiness; not wild, secular passions. <<

>> Jesus needs to be more regularly proclaimed. <<

//I feel like He is now. In such dark times as these, where Jesus is cast aside by this culture of death, we are made stronger by the temptations we say no to. We are made stronger by the grace of God. Embrace it, dear heart. And if you can’t, but want to want to, pray for the grace, as I do, to have the courage + wisdom + strength to accept His mercy and love.//

This life is short. The harmful and damaging things we enjoy now will pass away. But we never will. We are immortal by design. How do you want to spend eternity?

It’s a choice.

One we all must make.

One we do make with every decision.

I pray for the grace that we may have the courage, wisdom, and strength to make the right ones.

Love always,

Rana

P.S.

I have a favor to ask. I’m applying for a scholarship and would love your help and support. It takes next to no time and would have a lasting effect if I got it. Here is the link. It takes next to no time (30 seconds, tops, but should be around 15  + another 5 to share)! Promise. 😉

Thank you eternally for your help in advance. x0x0

Some Two Thousand Years Ago Today

It hit me yesterday a few times.

Especially during our Holy Thursday Mass.

Jesus is real. And He’s not a pie in the sky, abstract being with no concern for us.

See, this is the danger of falling into checklist love. I prayed multiple times today, check! I said, “I love you,” check! I did something nice for someone else, check! Etc.

That ain’t love.

But, often times, that is how I love.

I do it out of habit.

What’s more is the fact that I think I do it to not go to hell as opposed to doing it to get into Heaven. It’s a dangerous lifestyle and I need to change it. I don’t want to be a checklist lover of Christ. Because that’s not what He is for me.

What’s the most striking thing is the fact that, at this very moment, some two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ was hanging on the Cross, dying, hurting, suffocating, in mental agony. He saw us all when he was in the garden, praying. And He loved us.

In those raw moments of agony, He still loved.

Mark 15:25 says, “It was nine in the morning when they crucified him.”

Nine.

And He died at three in the afternoon. That means He hung for six hours.

Do you know the history of the cross?

It was a means of torture and humiliation invented by the Persians and perfected by the Romans. It was used for the worst criminals. They died by suffocation. See, they would need to pull themselves up in order to breathe. And if they didn’t die fast enough, their legs wold be broken, taking away their means of pushing up to breathe.

Jesus was already dead before his legs could be broken.

It must have been around midnight when the soldiers came into the garden and arrested Jesus. (Jesus – the God of the Universe, of Heaven and earth, the Creator.) From then until nine the next morning (this morning), they spat on Him, taunted Him, beat Him, scourged Him, pounded a crown of thorns onto His head.

This is real.

This happened.

And it happened today.

How great His Love must be to still care and want us with Him after we’ve hurt Him over and over again.

I’ve been hurt and the last thing I’d want is to be around the person that did the hurting. The last thing I want to do is forgive them and love them.

But this is what God does. After everything we did to Him, He still loves with a perfect love.

And that’s what we’re called to do.

Keep in mind that, just because Jesus is God, He was still human. 100% God, 100% man. He still felt pain, temptation — the difference is that He didn’t give in to it.

I know many of us would like to say that, were we there when He died, we would have stood up for Him. But I think that I, at least, would have doubted His divinity. I would have doubted.

But in three days, He defeats death.

He gives us another chance every second of the day.

If you ever find yourself checking off a prayer list without really thinking about how much love you’re putting into it, stop. Say a prayer to soften your heart. Ask Him to give you the grace you need to be a saint.

At least for today.

Our Constant Choice

Good morning, darling!

I hope you had a phenomenal week. ^_^ I’ve been fighting some sort of sickness. Maybe the flu. I’m still not over it. Oh, well.

Today, I just wanted to share something with you. I was reading my Bible last night and stumbled across Sirach 15:11-20.

11 Don’t blame the Lord for your sin; the Lord does not cause what he hates. (He may allow undesirable things to happen, but He Our Constant Choicedoes not cause them and will not lead you into temptation.)

12 Don’t claim that he has misled you; he doesn’t need the help of sinners to accomplish his purposes.

13 The Lord hates evil in all its forms, and those who fear the Lord find nothing attractive in evil.

14 When, in the beginning, the Lord created human beings, he left them free to do as they wished. (“Free will, though it makes evil possible, also makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.” – C.S. Lewis)

15 If you want to, you can keep the Lord’s commands. You can decide whether you will be loyal to him or not.

16 He has placed fire and water before you; reach out and take whichever you want.

17 You have a choice between life and death; you will get whichever you choose.

18 The Lord’s wisdom and power are great and he sees everything.

19 He is aware of everything a person does, and he takes care of those who fear him.

20 He has never commanded anyone to be wicked or given anyone permission to sin.

What struck me was the fact that life is a constant choice. Being a Christian is a constant choice. It’s not a once-and-done sort of thing. You can lose your salvation (Matt. 7:21-23; 2 Peter 2:20-22; 2 Tim. 2:11-12 …)

But you know what? You can also get it back.

Salvation is a process and God wants to help us through it. As a proud (practicing) Catholic, I believe that I have been saved (Mark 16:16; Eph. 2:8-9; Romans 6:3-4), am being saved through cooperation with grace (I Cor. 1:18, I Cor. 15:1-3; II Cor. 6:1), and I will be saved if I persevere in the Faith (Matt. 10:22; Romans 2:6-7; Gal. 6:7-9).

You see, if I say I’m a Christian, but go and murder someone, I’m not acting like a Christian; therefore, I’m not a Christian. Actions are more important than words. You can say whatever you want all day long, but in the end, what matters is what you did.

We’re not saved by our works, but without them, we’re useless. (Contrary to what many believe, Catholics do not believe works save them. We believe they are necessary, but we cannot earn salvation.)

In James 2:17, we’re reminded that, “faith of itself, if it does not have work, is dead.” And in verse 24, James says, “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” And later: “For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (2:26).

I encourage you all to choose life with me. 🙂

God bless!

Rana