Friday, March 27, 2015


          Recently God has been teaching me about giving. Giving is a beautiful thing. I think God enjoys it when His children give, because He’s a giver Himself. You see, in our natural world giving is not generally seen as something useful or profitable for any purposes other than being kind, but that’s because the world functions under scarce resources. God does not. He has unlimited funds, unlimited goods, unlimited resources. So while the world’s rationale may lead us to believe that when we give, we lose goods, God’s word says our blessings are multiplied! Deuteronomy 15:10 says “Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” God promises to bless those who give, and when God’s promises are involved, then you know it’s a good investment!
I’ve seen this play out in my life. I love giving, and I do it as frequently as I’m lead to. However, when I signed myself up to go on a mission trip to South Africa, God did not allow me to fund myself (it’s not the first time He’s done something like this to me). However, He did allow me to give to others going on this trip. This may seem redundant, but there’s an underlying principle behind it.  If I just funded myself, I would be neglecting dozens of people the right to bless me and be blessed through their giving. But when I helped fund someone else, I was blessed through the giving and the person receiving was blessed by my giving itself. In that situation alone, the blessing was automatically multiplied. But it doesn’t stop there; the person I gave to was so touched by my gift that she decided to do the same to someone else going on the trip. My one simple gift created a culture of giving within the mission team group.
          Though this sounds all good and dandy, the place where I was really pushed out of my comfort zone was in receiving. I would much rather be in the giving end of the stick, but God was teaching me how to receive. It was difficult. My least favorite activity is fundraising. So needless to say, I was really not looking forward to asking almost everyone I know to help me with this trip. Nevertheless, God was more than faithful once again, surprising me with His generosity. People I hardly expected to hear back from were among the first to give. I felt so incredibly loved. And that’s a blessing. Those who gave showed me love, and I got to feel it. My favorite story is perhaps one involving my aunt and uncle. One of the people they work for randomly gave them $100 because something in her spirit was saying that they had someone in need, and they automatically thought of me. I was already amazed that I was the one they chose to direct those $100 to, but on top of that they gave me additional money out of their own pocket! I felt honored beyond words. I almost felt the urge to tell them it was too much, but once again God did not allow me to turn it down, because if I did, I would be keeping them from the blessing He promises to those who give.  
          Through these experiences I’m reminded of Proverbs 11:25, “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” From experience I know this to be true, because God is just. I can recall times when I’ve intentionally surprised people with generosity, and now I myself am surprised by others’ generosity.
           I have one specific kind of giving I also wanted to mention. This type of giving is controversial and always gets a bad rap. Tithing. Yes, giving 10% of your income to your church. I don’t want to get too deep into the theology of tithing, but I do want to bring up Malachi 3:10, “’Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’“ This is a very powerful statement, and it makes me very excited! God asks us to test Him in tithing, saying that he will “throw open the floodgates of heaven”! Remember, in God’s kingdom, resources are not scarce. Therefore, this verse has strong implications for those who tithe. Yes, there are plenty of arguments concerning tithing, especially of scandals about what is done with that money. Nevertheless, in His holy word, God asks us to tithe, and regardless of whether it’s required of us or if the tithe money is used appropriately, the fact that God very clearly asks us to tithe says something about His character. He promises blessings for those who do. A friend once told me that I’m the only person she ever knew who tithed. That broke my heart. Churches are being neglected of their blessing and people in churches are keeping themselves from being blessed as well. I’ve heard so many testimonies of how God had provided for those who tithed faithfully despite the circumstances they faced; my family is one of those examples. I for one, am overjoyed when I tithe! It means that God provided me with a paycheck! And being joyful when you give is scriptural, as 2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “God loves a cheerful giver.”

          Lastly, I want to mention that the most important factor in giving is not the face quantity, but the heart behind the gift. The best example I can give is of the widow whose story is told in Mark 12:41-44. Jesus was more pleased with her small offering than of the Pharisees’ large offerings, because of her heart; the value she gave was small, but it was all she had, and she trusted that God would provide for her. So I guess my punchline is, surprise God with generous giving, and He will surely surprise you right back with His.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Pursuit of Beauty

Originally I was going to post something very quickly but everything I came up with seemed half hearted. So now, instead, I decided to look through some old journals and see if maybe God would like for me to post one of those. And I think He does. 
I will admit this one is hard for me to post because it's about my weakest point. I feel intensely vulnerable, but I believe it's worth it to get the message out there.
I have always struggled with my image. Everyone in my family knows that. 
            See, God had been working on me for months on the issue of believing I am just as beautiful as He sees me. And we had gotten pretty far. I began believing I was beautiful and began liking looking at myself in the mirror. I had stopped comparing myself so much, and I even started seeing more beauty in others! But all it took was a few comments, as well intentioned as they may have been, and all the insecurities came rushing on back. Now I didn’t want to even show them how it hurt me, because I was already vulnerable enough around them. So I swallowed it until I could sneak into the bathroom and cry to God.
            As I cried the Holy Spirit instantly reminded me of His love. And I knew it, I felt Him there, but all I can think of was to apologize. I apologized for letting a few comments backtrack what we had progressed so far on. I apologized for feeling so crappy when I knew how He felt about me. You see, I am well aware that satan is taking advantage of the situation to take me down. I am also well aware that I am not a very good warrior in this field yet. The Holy Spirit, being the comforter that He is, just stayed in the bathroom with me, loving me as I weeped, which is exactly what I needed right then. I wish I were able to say that this situation was a success story on my part, but I don’t believe it was. I believe that I should have immediately shot down the destructive thoughts in my mind and began declaring what His Word says about me. Nevertheless, I believe I will get there, and soon. I also believe this situation wasn’t a complete failure either. It wasn't just a pity party I had for myself. God taught me something through it as well.
            After my crying in the bathroom, God said “now go to my Word and read what it says about you. Read Proverbs 31”. I knew what Proverbs 31 was. It’s the chapter about the virtuous wife. I thought it strange that God wanted me to read about being a virtuous wife when I’m not even in a relationship. Regardless, I obeyed, because He was really just training me so that I could begin to practice virtue. As I began reading God said “Is there any part of this chapter that says a noble wife is thin?” And I said “no”. “What does it say?” And then He began pointing out the characteristics I did have, such as bringing good and not harm (v. 12), working diligently (v. 13), helping the poor and needy (v. 20), being clothed with dignity (v. 25), giving faithful instruction (v. 26). Then, came verse 30: “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”. God showed me that my value did not come in what I looked like, but that true value came from fearing and honoring Him.

            I’d love to say that now all my issues are solved in this area, but I know that’s not true. I need to continue clothing myself in the strength that comes from believing what God says over me OVER what humans say.
            In complete honesty this post is a cry out to the young girls of my generation. One of the devil's master plans this century is to make girls think they're ugly. Satan is convincing us of a lie. Don't let him have his victory. We need to see the beauty God sees in us, and we need to tell our sisters of the beauty we see in them, because encouragement goes a long way! Just as one comment was so destructive for me, one (truthful) complement can be incredibly constructive!
            So join me in this battle and let's fight together rather than against each other. Let's stop comparing ourselves and start preparing ourselves for our wonderful Groom that is Jesus Christ! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Finding Your Identity

Ever since I started college, I constantly hear the phrase "college is a time to experiment and try new things". Though it may sound very true, I find that most students use this as an excuse to do any stupid thing their mind can think of. They use this excuse as if what we do in college won't affect our life long term, as if college somehow makes you immune to all consequences of your decisions. I think this is the very opposite of true. College is the time to get it right! College is the time to define who you'll be for the rest of your life, because it's usually the turning point of our lives. We should be discovering, not experimenting.

Imagine your entire life is a room. And sin makes it dark in the room. You need to find out who you are, and if you could just understand what that room looks like, you would know! Guess where you can find the light switch? That's right, Jesus Christ, the ONLY way. (John 8:12)

You see, experimenting everything this world can offer you is like trying to learn what the dark room is like by scrambling in the dark, stumbling and searching for ANY clue. And lets face it, no one has their life in order without Jesus, so that room would be a MESS! But discovery is turning on that light switch and SEEING what it looks like. Not only is it more efficient, it's a lot less frustrating!

Trying to find out who you are without Jesus is like trying to find out what a room looks like when the lights are off. 

Now, chances are that when you do turn the lights on, you will see one messy room. That's what sin does. It makes a mess of everything. And then, in your silly efforts to figure out what the room looks like in the dark, you probably messed it up even more (that's what experimenting does).

(Kind of like this mess. Except I'm thinking probably a lot more disgusting.)

BUT GOOD NEWS! The light switch is a package deal, and you get someone WHO KNOWS WHAT THE ROOM IS SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE BECAUSE HE CREATED IT!
And He won't leave you to clean your room alone. He will help you through it. Don't be fooled, it's still hard work. You have to allow Him to open up moldy drawers and clean them up! And that's hard because you're exposing yourself. You have to face everything that caused the room to become a mess in the first place.

It's a process, but boy is it worth it! See, the fun part is that you get to hang out with the Holy Spirit as you clean! It's difficult work, but it's not boring because you'll be cleaning with the your best friend, the best person in the world!

(You'll be looking victorious like this!) 

So if you're in college and you want to experiment, EXPERIMENT THROWING YOURSELF IN JESUS' ARMS! It's the best experiment you'll ever make, and I assure you it'll give you the best results!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Story of This Blog

This blog actually started about 3 years ago while I still lived in Brazil, and of course, it was in portuguese. I wrote it as a young high school student and then I moved to America and became "too busy". Time just passed by and surely enough it has been 3 years since I last posted something.

 I started my freshman year at Cornell University in August 2013, which is HUGE blessing from God. If you're familiar at all with Cornell, you know it's a pretty huge campus, so I walk about 15 minutes to class everyday. Last semester, as I walked I frequently saw pens and pencils on the floor and I would always pick them up (most of them were fully functioning). I didn't think much of it until I finally heard the Holy Spirit say "Why do you think I'm putting all these writing utensils your way?" and suddenly I understood and thought "Oh! You want me to write!" And that's exactly what it was.

So I decided to obey, and I started to set up the blog and I told my mom I was reviving my blogging days. Nevertheless, it is now the second semester of my freshman year and I still have not posted anything new. It's the whole "too busy" thing again. It's also a lot of "Oh, I don't know where to start" and a lot of "during such and such break I'll write a lot!" But see, God told me to write and I said I would, yet I didn't. It's like Matthew 21:28-31 I don't want to be the servant who says he will obey but really disobeys.

You know, I constantly ask for God to use me, yet when He told me to do something as simple as write down my experiences with Him on a blog I take 6 months to do it! It's actually ridiculous. If I'm not faithful with the small things, how will He trust me with bigger tasks? (Matthew 25:23)

God will not allow His work to go unfinished. If I didn't write this blog, God would use someone else to do it, but I know that I would have to give account of my disobedience. This truth became very vivid yesterday night as I listened to John Bevere (I'll probably be mentioning him a lot) preach on his book "Driven by Eternity" and I realized how my delayed obedience would cause me to lose an opportunity to serve the God I love. The thought shook me to my very core.

 So here I am, the very next day, finally obeying. And it's not that I suddenly have time on my hands. In fact, I have an exam I need to be studying for. But when God tells me to do something, He wants obedience regardless of my schedule. I sincerely hope that what I post will be helpful to someone. If not, at least I'll have obeyed.