Guest Post – What Happens When You Give God The Pen

Hey everyone – in honor of today being Valentines Day I have asked my good friend Julia Carvalho (a name you might recognize from a previous post) to write a guest post for my blog. Her story is truly amazing and a testimony to God’s goodness and faithfulness! She has a love story that only God could’ve written and the first time I heard it, I was beyond inspired – and I believe that this story will inspire you the same way it inspired me!

So, without further ado, here is her incredible post and story!

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Once upon a time, there was this girl. When she was thirteen-years-old, she read this cheesy romance novel and the main character mentioned that she had letters for her future husband. As a thirteen-year-old, nothing sounded more romantic than writing letters to a man she didn’t even know existed. However, even though she didn’t know who he was, she knew that God had already set him apart for her.

So, her first entry in her designated “Dear Future Husband…” notebook was not a love-letter, but instead, a prayer. A prayer that God would bring them together in His perfect timing, a prayer for strength for both of them to stay pure and follow His ways, and of course, at thirteen, a prayer that he was the most handsome man on the planet.

As the years went by she continued to write prayers and letters in this little notebook. She would write about her day, what was going on in her life, her struggles, her victories, really wishing she could look into his eyes and speak to him instead of gliding her pen through her pages. Fast-forward to holiday season 2017…or maybe a little before then. She was eighteen- years-old now, and it had been three months since her family had moved from the one city she had ever known, and she was still heart-broken.

Finally, by November, Jesus worked within in her in ways that only He could move, and she realized that she was never alone, that through it all, Jesus was right beside her, holding on to her and guiding her. So, despite craving a romantic relationship so badly, because all her friends were starting to date, she decided that she was content with just Jesus. If that was all she had in her whole life, she would be content.

The same book she read when she was thirteen came out with a continuing series of the
main character’s life following her through her college years. In the second book of the college series, the main character tells God that she no longer wants to hold the key to her heart. She no longer wanted to decide which guy could come in, because they ended up just leaving a mess in there. So, the character gave God the key to her heart and decided to let Him decide when the time was right.

The girl from our story thought that was beautiful, and it was the same sentiment she was feeling in the weeks before, so she prayed the same prayer. For the first time in her life, she truly felt satisfied. And honestly, she thought that since she had prayed that prayer, God’s perfect timing would be lightyears away and she wouldn’t have to worry about boys for a very long time, but, my friends, was she so very wrong.

Not even two weeks later her parents tell her that one of her dad’s lifelong friends from Brasilia (the capital of Brazil) was going to be in Orlando during Christmas time and they would be spending Christmas together. She was so mad. Finally, Christmas Eve arrives and the families are introduced.

Long story short, girl meets boy, girl hates boy and thinks he is a stuck-up brat (boy also dislikes girl). Next day, boy is super sweet and genuine and girl’s heart melts, girl says boy looks like a homeless man who found his clothes in the dumpster (hey, I guess no one told him you shouldn’t wear a super hole-y shirt on Christmas), girl is embarrassed she just called the cutest boy ever a hobo, boy laughs and thinks girl is so incredibly cute and loves her honesty, boy and girl try to get families to hang-out as much as possible during the holidays, boy falls in love with girl, girl falls in love with boy, boy flies 2,000 miles back home to California… *record scratches* wait, what?

“Jesus, now what? That’s all I have to say, now what?”

So, in case you haven’t caught on yet, the girl in the story is me, and we are at the most heart-breaking part of my story. I had finally met a boy who had the same passions as I did, who loved Jesus as much as I did, and who actually liked me back, but now he was flying across the country to go back to school. He would probably forget all about me as soon as he landed. He would definitely find a girl who was prettier than me and funnier than me. Why would he even want to be with me when we lived 2,468 miles apart (yes, I actually looked it up).

I definitely knew I wanted to date him, but I was so fearful that I was just falling into feelings and not into God’s will for my life. I was scared because I had never felt this way about a boy before. I had never been in a relationship before him, so everything was new. It was beautiful, and exciting, and terrifying.

Now, mind you, before he went back to California (and in the span of ten-days from meeting him to him leaving) God answered so many prayers about this boy. Like, so many. (To be honest, if I were to list all the prayers that God answered in those ten-days, we would be here until Valentine’s Day 2020. So, I’ll list the ones that were the most impactful, but if you want to know them all, just ask Courtney for my DM and we can talk.)

I was not afraid to ask God for big things. Things that couldn’t happen unless God was involved. For example, right after he left my house on Christmas, I realized we hadn’t shared any of our contact information with each other. So, I told God that if this boy found a way to contact me within 24 hours, that I would let him continue pursuing me. (keyword: him pursuing me, not the other way around.)

Eleven hours later, he found me on Instagram and sent me a DM. But then I was like, “Okay, God, but come on, it’s social media. Anyone could have found me there. So, if this boy asks to pray with me, then I’ll let him keep pursuing me.” Because what twenty-three-year old boy asks a girl he likes to pray with her?

Three days later, he asks if I would be okay with us taking turns praying every time we talked (we sent a lot of audio messages praying to each other). “Okay, God, I see You. BUT I’m not sold yet, so, if he asks to read the Bible with me, I’ll let him keep pursuing me.” 24 hours later, he asks me if I wanted to start a devotional with him on YouVersion. And my prayers went on for weeks, each time I was bolder and I was more specific in my requests. God never ceased to amaze me. He answered every single one of my crazy prayers within 24-72 hours. It was mind-blowing to me.

Little did I know, that by answering those requests, God was allowing me to be pursued by a man that I deserved.

One month and half of texting constantly, facetiming for 4-6 hours at a time, and tagging each other in memes on Facebook, he flew back to Orlando to ask my dad if he could date me. (Girls, take notes. Men like this actually exist in the world. Wait for them.) Tomorrow, February 15, Davi and I will have been dating for one year. I can honestly tell you that there were moments in my life before him that I wanted to date any boy that looked at me just because I wanted to be in a relationship. And I can honestly tell you that I am so glad that I gave God the key to my heart in those moments instead of letting my flesh takeover.

Women, I beg of you, wait for the one who God has set apart for you. Wait for the man who will take you to Magic Kingdom on your first date because you love Disney, even though he couldn’t care less for the Mouse. Wait for the man who will fly out and surprise you to help your family move. Wait for the man who will hold you while you cry, but who will look you in the eye and tell you the truth even when you don’t want to hear it, just because he knows it will make you a better person. Wait for the man who sees your beauty in Christ, and who wants to treat you with honor and respect. Wait for that man, because he is out there and so worth it.

Men, I beg of you, wait for the one who God has set apart for you. Wait for the woman who will go to a double-header soccer game to watch your favorite team with you, even though she doesn’t really understand the game. Wait for the woman who tells you what you are worth, because you deserve to be treated like a king. Wait for the woman who buys plane tickets to fly out to your sister’s wedding in Brazil. Wait for the woman who sees and respects you as leader in Christ, and who wants to trust and follow your lead. Wait for that woman, because she is out there and so worth it.

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Where Your Heart Is

“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion. It is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.” – Billy Graham.

As Christians, we spend a lot of time talking about outward ministry (as we should). How we can be an effective witness to others. How we can share Jesus in our circles of influence. How we can shine our light for Christ. All of this is great, please don’t misunderstand this – I hope that these are questions that you are asking yourself every day. However, if we are going to be effective witnesses for Christ, we must first start inward—with the condition of our heart. We must first start with seeking after God’s own heart.

Jesus talks about this very concept in John 15. He says, I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches.[e] As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words[f] live powerfully[g] within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!

“I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts. If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love. My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness! John 15:5-11 (TPT). 

As Christians, we are called to be so full of love and so full of Jesus that it is contagious, and it spreads to those around us. People should look at us and see something beyond ourselves – they should see the love of Christ moving in and through us. Jesus talks about this in John 13:35 when He says “For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.” (TPT). We are called to fall in love with Jesus and spread this love to everyone that we know.

If you’ve been a Christian for a while than you’re probably familiar with terms like “falling in love with Jesus” or “it’s a relationship, not a religion“. These are terms that I personally have  heard since I was nine years old. However, there have been points in my life when it’s been hard for this message to really get through—for me to really understand this on a heart level. It is easy to go through the motions in our faith; reading our Bible, praying, going to church and Bible studies. It is something else entirely to maintain a relationship with a God that we cannot see. But once we encounter the width and depths of His love, our relationship with Christ will never be the same. 

As humans we are wired for relationships. We are wired to be connected to people in a deep and personal way. It doesn’t take more than a simple observation of children in a Kindergarten classroom to know that there is something in us that longs for connection. It is only in our older age, and acquired hurts that we start to believe the lie that we can go at it on our own. Christ wants us to approach our relationship with Him with the wide eyed innocence of children—throwing off chains of legalism and “religion” that too often characterize our approach to God. God wants your heart – not your perfection and not your works. He simply wants YOU! 

This Valentines Day, I want you to take some time reflecting on a different kind of relationship; whether you are single, dating, or married. I want you to reflect on your relationship with the God who loves you with an everlasting love and who left the glories of Heaven to pursue you. Who wrote love letters to you through His word and who continues to chase after you daily. I want you to see and experience the “overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, who chases you down, fights ’til your found and leaves the ninety nine”* – Fully embracing the fullness of God’s love, mercy and heart and sharing this breathtaking love with the world.

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God still loved us with such great love. He is so rich in compassion and mercy. Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, he united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by his wonderful grace!” – Ephesians 2:4-5 (TPT). 

*Words courtesy of Corey Asbury.

What Is Love?

Philosophers have been asking it since the beginning of time, and with Valentines day only two days away, now seems as good as ever to discuss the meaning of love on my blog.

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As a Christian, my first and foremost source is the Bible—which contains everything we need to know about some of life’s greatest topic. Mixing poetry with history and truth, the Bible covers a wide range of some of our most explored topics—including identity, faith, grace, relationships, life, and death. Furthermore, when it comes to love, there is no shortage of Bible verses to guide us in navigating this difficult and ever explored topic.

In Scripture, we learn that we’re supposed to love our enemies (Luke 6:35), our neighbors (Mark 12:31), and Jesus (Matthew 22:37-38), our friends (Proverbs 17:17), and if married—our spouse (Ephesians 5:33). We also learn in John 15:13 that Jesus showed the ultimate demonstration of love— by laying down His life for each and every one of us, making us friends of God.

We are also given a description of what love, ideally, should look like in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, which reads that love is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, and rejoices with the truth. It always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres, and it never fails.

Please note that this is not some sort of impossible standard that we’re supposed to keep 100% all of the time. Some people have said that if your relationship with someone you loved didn’t perfectly match this standard, it wasn’t love. I don’t believe this is either true or Biblical. The only one who fulfills all of these things all of the time is Jesus Christ—who is the personification of love in flesh. Jesus’ standards are always something we should aspire to, but as humans, we will never be able to love perfectly all of the time. All of us are living in the in between, where our ability to love is both broken and beautiful at the same time. We’re affected by the fall, but we’re also new creations in Christ, created to do good works and make this world a brighter and better place and point others to a perfect love in the form of Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, as likely many of us are aware of, even on a subconscious level, there are different types of love. C.S. Lewis breaks these types of love into four different categories—Storage, Philia, Eros, and Agape. According to Lewis, Storage is a general kind of love—the kind that we’re supposed to have for the world, Philia is friendship love, Eros is romantic love, and Agape is an unconditional love—like the kind that God has for us.
These different kinds of love each play a part in our life in various ways—from our close friendships, to our families, to our desire to reach lives. Each of these different kinds of love were created for a specific purpose, to touch the world in a unique way when used right and according to God’s purposes. Furthermore, the Bible gives instructions on how to wisely steward each of these loves—teaching us how to love in our greatest capacity and in the most beautiful ways.

This Valentines Day, let us strive to be people who love well. In our families. In our friendships. In our communities.

Let us be known as people who love, and people who serve the God who created it all.

How To Cope With Heartbreak

This post may seem like somewhat of a downer at first sight, in light of the fact that one of the most relationship-y holidays is on the horizon. Nonetheless, recently God has put it on my heart to address those who may be struggling through this Valentines Day. Thus, I put together some tips that I believe are helpful with sort of thing and wrote a post for all of those who are dealing with a lost relationship (or crush) this Valentines Day.

Valentines day can be one of the worst days of the year if you’re going through a recent heartbreak. Everywhere you look, there are candy hearts, gifts for your significant other, and too many cards to count. Combined with the fact that after a heartbreak, everything seems to remind you of them, this is a very bad combo.

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Though, like I’ve admitted before, I’ve never been in a relationship, I have dealt with heartbreak in the past. It’s ignored or forgotten too often in society, but sometimes a crush gone wrong can cause the same sensation. There were real feelings involved and somewhere along the way, they got squashed. Stomped on. Broken.

It’s a feeling that can feel almost like an illness. Your stomach hurts, your throat feels swollen, and you don’t want to move out of your bed. You listen to Taylor Swift songs on a loop, as the situation goes from “sad, beautiful, tragic” to hating on his “stupid old pickup truck” (If you’re a Taylor Swift fan, you saw what I did there😉). You feel like you’ll never recover. You do, but you certainly never forget. Even years later, you’ll still remember the sound of their voice and meaningless details about them, but that’s OK. It’s a part of your past, and those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.

Because heartbreak is such a universal topic—and ever so relevant around this time of the year, I decided to write a post about it, and give some advice on how to get through it.

Pray about it 

This is something that, admittedly, I didn’t do enough during my times of heartbreak. I journaled about it. Boy, did I journal about it! As a writer, my journals were the first thing I ran to when I faced heartache and my first one got quite a bit of air time, looking back. Nonetheless, I believe I may have healed quicker if I had prayed for God to take the pain away. As embarrassing and painful as heartbreak can be, God already knows about it, and as our friend, He’s a safe person to talk about this kind of thing with. I tell my earthly best friend practically everything, so why not do the same with our Heavenly friend and Savior?

Let yourself Rest

Going through heartbreak can be physically exhausting. One of the most tempting things during this time is to turn into a vegetable—lying in bed in sweats and watching too many episodes of Gilmore Girls. We should never remain in this position, but it’s OK to give yourself a break. You’ve been through a lot and your body needs time to recover just as much as your heart. Be nice to yourself during this time and give yourself a little thing we as Christians like to call grace.

Be wise

Thankfully, during the times that I went through heartbreak, I didn’t have social media. If I did, I’m almost positive I would have at least been tempted to pull the “social media stalking trick“. But please do yourself a favor—don’t do it! Looking at their pictures and status updates is only going to make this thing a hundred times worse. You don’t need to give this person that much thought. They’re a part of your past, and right now, your job is to find your way into the future. Which brings me to point #4.

Focus On Other Things

You don’t need another person to make you happy. The only one who can fill the emptiness that often accompanies heartbreak is Jesus. Turn to Him! Read your Bible, and maybe some good books. Hang out with some friends. Take up a hobby. Too often, we can make a person into an idol, and let them take up the place that only God should have. Never forget that another person doesn’t complete you—God does.

Allow yourself to remember and move on

The truth is, if the relationship/crush/person was significant enough, you’re never going to entirely forget about them. From time to time, you’ll wonder what ever happened to them and who they became. That’s OK. Like I said before, you’re going to remember them. They were an important part of your life, and hopefully, you learned more about life and yourself through that experience. You can’t live in the past, but you can be thankful for the lessons learned—and choose to move forward in your life.

When I first started this blog, I often used to post a song at the end, and for this post, I believe it will be especially fitting.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Pslams 147:3