You Are Flammable

It is both a terrifying reality and a wondrous opportunity when we come to know that we are flammable. Everyday we have the capability of burning with love and kindness or with destruction and hate. We can choose to carry a fire that spreads ferociously into the hearts of those we love. This flame eradicates darkness and showers the world with warmth and light. We are also capable of infecting the world with a fire, which has an end goal of covering everything with a cloud of ash. 

Being on fire hurts. Because when we are on fire, we are allowing ourselves to wither, our pride melts away, and we are transformed into who we are meant to be. St. Catherine said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Yet, it is so easy to seek to be a log our whole lives: safe and hidden. 

There is a holy fire ablaze within each of us. There is no need to harness it.

Let our love be boundless. 

“In your nature, eternal Godhead, I shall come to know my nature. And what is my nature, boundless Love? It is fire, because you are nothing but a fire of love. And you have given humankind a share in this nature, for by the fire of love you created us.”

St.Catherine of Siena

 

Girls Don’t Deserve Roses

I repost this every year because it is important. 

 

Valentine’s day cards, chocolate, teddy bears, and especially roses.

Lots of pink and red everywhere.

The first couple years of college, I thought about how special this day was for a lot of girls all over campus (some do not care much for it). I knew the feeling of being noticed and getting flowers meant so much to certain girls that did not have a special someone in their life. Even as a guy I can empathize. To be given gifts and to be noticed feels good.

Gifts demonstrate acknowledgement. 

Gifts illustrate that someone cares.

Gifts make us smile. 

Therefore, for the last couple of Valentine’s Days, I decided to give many of the girls in my life flowers. Cause why not right? Not necessarily in a romantic way (well, maybe a few) but just to show them that someone cared on this day. I loved seeing them smile. I loved making it a surprise. I loved letting them know someone was thinking about them on Valentine’s Day.

However, my attitude has changed this year.

This year I will not be buying flowers.

This year I have developed a new motto,

“Girls Don’t Deserve Roses.”

Before anyone gets angry at me…let me explain.

I am not anti-rose. I think flowers make a beautiful gift.

As I sit with friends and joke about the Bachelor, every once in a while a sadness strikes me. I observe all of these beautiful women stare at a single rose that some guy is holding. The way in which they stare is as if the rose is the last antidote and they are ill. When they do not receive the rose I can see their hearts shatter.

They feel rejected.

They feel lonely.

They feel like they messed up.

As I reflect on this, it is very much like Valentines Day. Some women in my life will feel hurt because they did not receive a flower or gift from a man in their life. Others may not care at all. However, to the one’s that it does impact they may feel as though they are not attractive. They may feel like something is wrong with them. They may even feel like they did something to deserve loneliness.

I am here to tell you today that girls do not deserve roses:

Girls deserve much much more.

As we see in the Beauty and the Beast roses die. Roses and other gifts are a great way to show appreciation but to me….that is too easy.

I want to and I hope all men want to live in such a way to show all the women in our lives that they deserve so much….every.single.day.

To all my women readers.

You are worth more than a few petals and a stem.

You are worth more than a few chocolates.

You are worth more than a nicely written card.

I encourage you to wait for a man who keeps on giving gifts. Each and every day.

The gift of treating you like a best friend. 

The gift of listening to you.

The gift of having deep conversations with you.

The gift of cheering you up.

The gift of being there for you, praying with you, praying for you, etc. 

 

Girls. You do not deserve roses. You do not even deserve a bouquet.

You deserve gifts that won’t wilt.

Do you have a screw loose?

Yesterday, after going for a walk, I see a giant box outside my door.

What did I order?

As I get closer I realize that it is a new chair.

This is my last semester of medical school basic sciences. Basically, this means in May I have a test called the USMLE that plays a big factor in what type of doctor I can be. With that being said, this semester calls for a lot more studying than usual. I wanted a chair that would allow me to study for long periods without feeling like I got hit by a train.

I opened the chair and realized that the chair needed to be built. Great. Reading and following directions have never been something I do very well. I started using the tools given and placing the screws where they needed to be. I had to unscrew them and redo it because I put the base of the chair on backwards!

The process was not going very well.

 

 

Eventually, I asked my fiancee for help. Yes, I definitely did feel humbled. After we finished we had one screw left. However, the way the chair was assembled it was impossible to put the screw in. The two holes would not line up. After some time trying it was either rebuild the whole chair (hours!) or leave it. The chair was still sturdy. It could function as any chair would.

However, it was just missing one screw.

Later my fiancee said something to me that struck me.

“The chair is like people. If we focus on our missing screw we will never be able to do our purpose. However, just because we are missing a screw does not mean we cannot do what we are meant to do in this life.”

We all have our missing/loose screws. Areas in our lives that we are ashamed of. Aspects of our personality or character that we wish would change.

This story is a reminder to not lose heart. You can be missing a screw and still pursue your God given purpose.

Focus on your goals not your unfilled holes.

Why I Love Her

Relationships teach you a lot about yourself.

The good one’s teach you about where you fall short and what to do about it.

A solid relationship is built on growth.

Not on personal growth, but on helping the other to be the best version of themselves.

A year and a half ago I was blessed to start dating someone who would do just that for me. Someone who has killed off my vices day after day.

Most of all, she has brought me closer to my King.

Reminding me of His goodness, in every single moment.

Here are 3 reasons why I love her.

Hopefully, you have found or will find someone that can love you in this way.

1.Christ in everything

I had a tendency. To get uncomfortable when Jesus is brought up in conversation’s that are not really about religion. Give me a beer or a coffee and a table and I can talk theology all day and night. However, when asked about my day I never seem to bring up what God has done for me. It was uncomfortable for me to recognize Christ in the littlest of moments. Why? Because I was hiding from the reality. The reality that my prayer life needed changing. The reality that my focus needed shifting. The reality that life was not all about me. She reminds me daily that the words of the mouth, come from the heart.

2. Smile Through the Pain

Life is hard. Most days I have fishing weights attached to either side of my lips, preventing my smile. She taught me to smile in all circumstances. To be even more grateful in the pain. To be transformed by the joy that is God. We are called to rejoice always. Always. In all circumstances. It is a skill as well as a virtue. One must foster the gift of gratitude.

3. Unconditional Acceptance

I have a lot of flaws. I might need a whole room of people to count on their fingers and toes. I am human flaws and all. However, the feeling of inadequacy runs deep in my core. She reminds me daily that no matter how much I mess up I am stilled loved. This unites me with the message spoken through the Gospel that I always neglect to hear. God loves me unconditionally. He cares for me. He always accepts me as I am.

If you are just starting a relationship or looking for someone I encourage you to seek an individual with these qualities. Someone who makes everything about God, proclaims gratitude, and accepts you unconditionally.

Now, it is your turn.

To do the same.

Happy 1.5 B

Fighting the Prayer Battle

If you read any quotes, books, or stories about the saints you will see a common theme.

    1.Prayer is always the answer.

And also.

    2. Prayer is not easy.

For many of us we understand #1 but we have great difficulty implementing it into our lives #2.

 

Hopefully, my story can give you hope and allow you to keep persevering in prayer.

________________________________________

I remember sitting outside of my university’s science building a few years ago. I was talking to a friend and asking for some guidance on prayer.

Our conversation went a bit like this:

Me: I’m having some trouble praying. Like I want to pray, but when I do, I don’t feel right.

Friend: What do you mean?

Me: I want to pray but I almost feel restless whenever I do. I feel this deep unrest, and it makes me not want to pray. 

This was a few years ago and it did not get any better. It got so much worse.

Whenever I prayed, I was restless. I felt uneasy about myself and almost felt more unsafe. I felt intense guilt.  I didn’t like it one bit. I felt like a horrible person for it.

Why when I try to draw close to God do I feel horrible?

My folded hands were almost a stimulus for my anxiety.

This “feeling” took a gun to my prayer life. Over the past few years, I prayed a lot less. My nighttime routine seemed to fade away. Praying the rosary became a less frequent occurrence. Even during Mass, I resisted finding a quite place in my heart to talk to God.

My lack of prayer was not apparent. Looking back, I realize this now; however, it was very camouflaged.

Instead of prayer, I would use other “stimuli” to capture my attention. I would jump into the world of social media. I would post funny things in group chats. I would watch a lot of useless youtube videos.

I was constantly distracting myself from this earthly unrest by not living.

Well, this all took a turn the over the last few weeks.

After much reflecting on God, reading about the lives of the saints, going to Mass often, Christ-centered conversation, and more reflection I realized what was going on.

I lost the fact that I was just a human. A human jailed in the flesh, constantly being attacked by the devil. Prayer would not always come easy. The devil wants nothing more than to take us away from our King. The devil wants to destroy our relationship with Christ.

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41.

So I decided to prayer. I decided to lose my life in order to save it.

I decided to feel the horrible unrest. I decided to feel the guilt and the lack of peace.

I decided to do this all for Him. I decided to fight this battle against the enemy and praise my Lord Jesus Christ even if it did not “feel” correct.

And you know what happened.

Last night, I was praying the rosary.

And out of nowhere, I was hit by a deep peace.

Whenever, I am hit with despair and distress I am inclined to pray. I am drawn to let the Lord know what is going on in my life.

St. Padre Pio once said,

“Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.”

And he is right. My soul was gasping for air the past few years. Each time it got a breath,  I allowed “my feelings” to drown me. I let the voice of the devil and the unrest placed in my heart to stop my lungs from working.

If any of you out there have had a similar experience or are going through a similar one, I encourage you to pray.

Pray even when you have insane doubts.

Pray even when you don’t want to.

Pray even when you feel won’t be heard.

Because prayer is a fight.

And the good news is.

Christ has already declared victory.

 

 

 

God told me I was His branch

Before Church yesterday, I saw my Bible chilling on my desk.

I had not touched it in over a week.

Before I opened it, I prayed that a verse would strike my heart.

Immediately, a verse came into my head so I opened my Bible up enthusiastically.

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I was then disappointed because the verse really had nothing to do with my life. It was an OT passage discussing politics. Could not relate to it whatsoever.

After my disappointment, I continued to flip through the Bible and eventually my eyes were caught on John 15:1-8. 

BIBLE VERSE

I encourage you all to read it.

In this Bible passage Christ is explaining to the disciples that he is the vine and we as His followers are the branches. Those who detach themselves from Christ will die just like a branch detached from a vine. Christ explains that those who bear fruit will be pruned to bear more fruit.

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I was really drawn to the pruning part of this passage. For me this is exactly how the past year has felt.  In my undergrad years I thought I did a good job bearing some fruit; however, now it was through God’s love that he continued to trim me (LOTS of trimming) in order to do more of His will.

I reflected on it a bit and then didn’t think much of it as I shut my Bible. I then went about my day. A few hours later my friend texted me to see if I wanted to go to Church with him and his wife.

Why not? I was procrastinating anyway (he caught me midway through a youtube binge).

So, I went and right before the Mass started I had a thought.

“What if the verse I just read is the Gospel passage. That would be pretty crazy!”

I brushed it off and continued singing along to the songs and listening to the first 2 readings.

The priest then went up to the pulpit and sure enough, I heard a story about vines and branches.

And as the priest was finishing the Gospel, I heard the final words of John 15:

 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you”

At this point I was frozen. Was I crazy? Did I really think that thought at the start of Mass? Did I really read that exact verse hours before?

The doubts flooded in, as they do in this human condition.

Yet, peace consumed me. Because I knew God was speaking directly to my soul.

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God spoke to me and reminded me that I am attached to Him. I can bear no fruit, I cannot grow, I can do nothing unless I remember IN CHRIST ALONE I will grow.

We live in a culture so obsessed with control. We want to be our own branch. We want to shout to the world that we deserve this fruit.

We worked for this fruit! We earned it!

God reminded me yesterday that we are all His branches.

By accepting this we must allow God to do His will in our lives.

Whether that be to cut a few of our leaves off or not.

We must allow God to do this. To do everything necessary.

Friends, I encourage you today to reflect on the pruning that has occurred in your life.

How has God trimmed you up so you may bear more fruit?

When in your life have you tried to cut yourself off of God and be your own branch?

Are you so obsessed with bearing your own fruit that you forget only God can do this for you?

God told me I was a branch.

Not just a branch, His branch.

And my friend, so are you.

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Talking to Yourself

I went on a run today. Instead of bopping to some rad music, I shut off the music and decided to pray. What a perfect opportunity!

All of a sudden, I am back at my front door.

My 3.5 miles are finished.

Did I pray? Nope.

Why not?

Well, I decided to pray. Then I saw an interesting sign on the road I had never seen before. Then I starting thinking about my upcoming test. Then I thought about the two cows in the field staring at me. Then I made sure not to step on that ant pile. Then I thought about what I was going to eat when I got back. Then I thought about finishing up writing my book/books this summer.

So essentially, I chose to talk to myself. 

I chose to talk to myself instead of talking to God.

When I was a kid I always remember people getting made fun of when they were caught talking to themselves.

I specifically remember a teacher saying, “If you talk to yourself you are crazy.” 

Yet, humankind is obsessed with hearing our own voices inside our heads.

Are we crazy?

Talking to ourselves can lead to a lot of problems.

Here are 3 that I have seen in my life.

1.Problems and Snowballs

Problems begin to have the snowball effect. We start out at the top of the hill with a little snowball like “studying a textbook chapter” and then by the bottom of the hill  we “failed out of school and have no job.” In prayer, we offer up the snowball to God and he makes it into a snowman. God takes our problems and creates them into something beautiful.

2.  Track Path

A lot of internal processing involves looking for the right path to take. Trying to find the right answer. Hoping to not miss a step. However, what ends up happening is that by talking to ourselves we end up back at the same place we started. We are walking on a high school track. Through prayer, we stop. We see our surroundings. We reflect. We are shown truth and perspective. Through prayer, we can understand that the path we are walking is just a giant circle and are given the courage to leave it. Through prayer, we can find meaning in the journey.

3. Disobey Yourself

We disobey ourselves constantly. We tell ourselves to JUST DO IT. Whether that be at work, at school, or cleaning the house. But yet, we do not listen. However, when someone of notable authority recommends or insists you do something, usually you can find enough strength to get it done. This is exactly like prayer. If you talk to yourself you are helpless. But through prayer and conversation with God, we enable ourselves to hear His instructions and follow them wholeheartedly.

 

Friends, I leave you with a challenge.

Pretend the picture of me is saying this to you.

This week will you talk to God more than you talk to yourself?

 

 

 

Pray more than you ponder. 

 

 

 

 

Girls Don’t Deserve Roses

To all my women readers,

In a few hours it will be Valentine’s Day. Ever since childhood, we have engrained images in our our minds about this special day.

Valentine’s day cards, chocolate, teddy bears, and especially roses.

Lots of pink and red everywhere.

The first couple years of college, I thought about how special this day was for a lot of girls all over campus (some do not care much for it). I knew the feeling of being noticed and getting flowers meant so much to certain girls that did not have a special someone in their life. Even as a guy I can empathize. To be given gifts and to be noticed feels good.

Gifts demonstrate acknowledgement. 

Gifts illustrate that someone cares.

Gifts make us smile. 

Therefore, for the last couple of Valentine’s Days, I decided to give many of the girls in my life flowers. Cause why not right? Not necessarily in a romantic way (well, maybe a few) but just to show them that someone cared on this day. I loved seeing them smile. I loved making it a surprise. I loved letting them know someone was thinking about them on Valentine’s Day.

However, my attitude has changed this year.

This year I will not be buying flowers.

This year I have developed a new motto,

“Girls Don’t Deserve Roses.”

Before anyone gets angry at me…let me explain.

I am not anti-rose. I think flowers make a beautiful gift.

As I sit with friends and joke about the Bachelor, every once in a while a sadness strikes me. I observe all of these beautiful women stare at a single rose that some guy is holding. The way in which they stare is as if the rose is the last antidote and they are ill. When they do not receive the rose I can see their hearts shatter.

They feel rejected.

They feel lonely.

They feel like they messed up.


As I reflect on this, it is very much like Valentines Day. Some women in my life will feel hurt tomorrow because they did not receive a flower or gift from a man in their life. Others may not care at all. However, to the one’s that it does impact they may feel as though they are not attractive. They may feel like something is wrong with them. They may even feel like they did something to deserve loneliness.

I am here to tell you today that girls do not deserve roses:

Girls deserve much much more.

As we see in the Beauty and the Beast roses die. Roses and other gifts are a great way to show appreciation but to me….that is too easy.

I want to and I hope all men want to live in such a way to show all the women in our lives that they deserve so much….every.single.day.

To all my women readers.

You are worth more than a few petals and a stem.

You are worth more than a few chocolates.

You are worth more than a nicely written card.

I encourage you to wait for a man who keeps on giving gifts. Each and every day.

The gift of treating you like a best friend. 

The gift of listening to you.

The gift of having deep conversations with you.

The gift of cheering you up.

The gift of being there for you, praying with you, praying for you, etc. 

 

Girls. You do not deserve roses. You do not even deserve a bouquet.

You deserve gifts that won’t wilt.

100 words to fill you with zeal.

I know life is hard. But know, you are built to break down walls. You were made to conquer with love. I know you are sad. But you have joy resting in your veins and peace sleeping in your mind. You are strong. Braver than a front line soldier. You face your day with a sword made of trust and a shield crafted with confidence. The morning sunrise is your battle cry. The night stars are your spectators. You plant flowers of compassion and shout echoes of empathy. Today is not your day. All days are your day. Go now.  

 

*Follow me on Instagram @n.J.bellacicco

 

 

I Know

In the past I had a serious entitled “I Just Don’t Know.” I believe I did 3 posts with this title.

If you check out my past posts you might be able to tell that these words came at times of extreme confusion. Times of immense uncertainty. Times where fear coated my core.

I still feel this way a lot. Not gonna lie. It is the human condition.

However, it is time I write about what “I Know.”

 

 

I know that true friendship is what makes me smile. I know that God hears my prayers. I know that I have a roof over my head and food on my plate. I know oxygen fills my lungs. I know joy can be found. I know love is a leap of faith away. I know uncertainty sucks but love rocks. I know fear is not from God. I know light always wins against darkness. I know that procrastination is my art form. I know that creativity always shows. I know that family is the foundation. I know that the Holy Spirit is present. I know  the difference between bad and good vibes. I know I have gallons of water. I know I have clean clothes. I know that I have an intellect. I know birds are beautiful creatures. I know the sun sets on all bad days. I know that good days make great memories. I know that memories are more important than money. I know that all loans will be paid. I know that true faith is awesome. I know that good people are awesome. I know that bad people are good people with a lot of fear. I know when love knocks open that door fast. I know a clean house is a clean mind. I know the world needs some encouragement. I know a lonely man is a sorrowful man. I know making friends is as easy as saying their name. I know books need to be read. I know naps bring about a new attitude. I know warm showers are always the answer. I know prayer is always the answer. I know to Praise Him. I know that the poor need love. I know that your parents need love. I know that the world needs a whole lot of love. I know motivation rests in your heart. I know you have the ability to use your talents wisely. I know you are ready. I know you love adventure. I know you enjoy peace. I know it is time. I know it is your time. I know you have some great ideas. I know you know the answer but you act like you don’t because you are scared. I know the world is scary but God’s will makes the earth tremble. I know life is short. I know love is eternal.