Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Abortion Where Is The Church

 It’s July 19th 2007 4:50 a.m. and I just woke from a dream.  I was working at an abortion clinic!!  I was working in the waiting room and when I realized where I was I wondered how I got there, how was I working here.  Then the reality hit and people were buzzing around inside with me and outside the door some people began meeting and walking around the entrance.  My manager told me that they were the “protesters”  I realized this was the “religious” people and suddenly felt very uncomfortable, what if they saw me,  I felt a sense of guilt.

Things started getting heated and two of the employees went outside with them under the guise of having a cigarette to see what they were saying.  The manager came over to me and said “aren’t you one of those Christian people? Maybe you could go out there and settle things down.”  Before I could do anything the door bust open and in came some of the protesters. 
  The first two I encountered were men.  The first man was Hispanic, dark hair and a goatee, not that it matters but I vividly remember what he looked like.  He was wearing a leather jacket and jeans and was very angry.  He got in my face and started blaming me for killing his child.  I assumed he didn’t know his partner had an abortion and started to tell him I understood that many men don’t know when their baby’s life is being taken.  Then to my surprise he got in my face and told me NO they were both in college and she got pregnant and they had an abortion.
  I remember being confused that he was mad at me and then the second guy came behind me he was African American in his 20s’ and now I was sandwiched between the two of them.  He looked like he was going to hit me and I said wait a minute, if I worked for this man (I pointed to the man on the other side of me) and he told me to slap you and I did what I was told, which one of us would you be mad at.
  I have no idea where that analogy came from and as I write it it sounds lame but that’s what came out of my mouth.  He seemed to understand this chain of thought and stopped to think about it.  Actually they both stopped to think about it and I woke up.

 After I went over the dream in my head I realized I was more upset with the Christian people outside the clinic then I was with the people working in the clinic, was I confused?   I asked the Lord “where the heck did that come from?”  This began my memory of the Life’s Choices Pregnancy Center journey.

I started thinking about when I was on the board for Life’s Choices a Crisis Pregnancy Center.  When we first started trying to raise money and awareness in Lake County we naturally figured the “churches” would be the ones who would be the most help.  They are Christians after all so this need for healing women who have had abortions and trying to prevent more abortions from happening would surely be something they, our church family, would jump right on board with.  Well let me enlighten you dear reader they were not.  To our utter surprise we couldn’t believe how many churches would not respond to our plea to visit their church and speak to “our” family.   As a matter of fact a prayer meeting was scheduled for 7/7/07 to pray about ending abortion and 65 pastors were invited and 0 came.  It’s not just Pastors there are 365 people on the mailing list and only 12 showed up!

 We realized that abortion was a huge issue and apparently the ultimate sin but NO ONE wants to talk about it.  It was not being brought up from the pulpit in any church we found and when it was mentioned it was a condemning message and NOTHING about healing!!!  

Next we started fund raising and once again not much help from the “Christian community.”  The truth is it was the business community that was the most supportive financially, praise God for them.    I was on a fund raiser committee for an auction and I was also the only person on that committee that actually went to church.  I was also one of the few on the committee that was pro life.  Chew on that for a moment will you. The words of one of the volunteers at a committee meeting have penetrated my thoughts and are the same words that God reminded me of this morning.  She said to me “have you contacted the churches?  Isn’t this a church issue?  I would have assumed they would have helped you.”  I responded quite disappointingly that not many of the churches would even talk to us.  I went on to tell her that abortion wasn’t a church issue it was a society issue.  She seemed content with that answer but I wasn’t.

 At the auction, once again there were not a lot of “church” people there it was more the community and get this the two people that gave the most items to auction and the same two people that spent the most money were both pro choice!!!!  Even as I’m writing this I’m asking myself how can this be??  Well I’ll tell you what I think and you can do with it what you want.

 We have no idea how much abortion is affecting our walk with the Lord.  I’m not just talking about the act of abortion I’m talking about the ignoring of it.  We keep talking about healing in our land and we don’t even have healing in our churches.  Statistics say that one out of every THREE (it used to be four) women/girls, I was a girl when I had an abortion, have had an abortion.  Wake up Christians that number applies to your church too.  It is the ultimate best kept secret in the world!!!  Guess what Christians, men and women who know the Lord and go to church have had or are still having abortions.  Why?  Ill tell you my thoughts, since your this far into this you might as well keep reading.
First let me tell you a few of the goals of Life’s Choices Crisis Pregnancy Center and my personal goal. We want to give free pregnancy tests in a non combative environment to girls and women and their partners.  You see many people still think abortion is a woman’s issue but it affects men too, they also are losing a child and some of the time they don’t even know about it until it’s over.  Our goal is for the person to know that we love them and care about them no matter what the result of the pregnancy test.  If the test was positive, and they were indeed pregnant, we would give alternatives to abortion like keeping their baby, in which case we would help them evey step of the way.   If they (in most cases both parents decide) choose adoption we have attorneys that are willing to help. If they choose abortion we do not refer them to an abortion clinic because we believe Jesus tells us to choose life, however we would be there for both individuals should they decide to come back and need to talk about it, which they will! You see we think getting rid of the pregnancy will solve the problem, the truth is it only starts a much bigger problem but that is not the case I want to focus on right now.
I want to go to the healing part.  How can we as a church body help our community heal if we the church aren’t healed or even seeking the great physician on our illness. We have this imaginary list of the worst sins and abortion is close to the top.  As if God were saying if you just lied or committed adultery I can help you but if you had an abortion you’re on your own.  It carries such guilt and shame and robs you of having a life of abundance the life the Lord promises.  And the worst part is the enemy is thrilled and he NEVER even has to deal with sending his evil spirits on you because we are doing it for him.  This frees them up to rob you of something else.  Am I getting a little “freaky” on you?  It is freaky going places your not comfortable with but I pray you will continue on this journey with me.

Why is it that women won’t tell their very own church family that they need healing from an abortion.  I don’t think I have to answer that, unfortunately we all know why.  I’m not here to slam the church or the members of it please hear my heart, I’m here to wake us up together to allow women and men to start the healing process.

When we did get into a church to share our mission, and there are churches involved, we were overwhelmed by how many men and women shared with us about their abortion.  We just sobbed with them and most all of them had taken place over 20 years ago.  Sisters and brothers that’s way too long to carry such a burden.  It’s not even that most of them didn’t think God might not forgive them as much as they couldn’t forgive themselves and had NO ONE to talk about it to.  Let me ask you if there were an alter call at your church this Sunday and the pastor said if you or your partner now, or from the past, has ever had an abortion please come down the center isle to the front of the church so I can pray for you.  How many do you see running to the front?

 Well I want to tell you Jesus is calling out right now He is standing with open arms and a loving forgiving heart and He wants you to run to him so together you can be healed and set free.  Churches, Pastors, Priest, congregations let’s get on board with Jesus.  Let’s start talking about abortion from the pulpit and allow freedom to begin.   Let’s let people know that God still loves them and have healing programs in place for us to go to for counseling.  Let’s get rid of the stigma of the “Scarlet Letter” and start embracing our wounded so we can then go into the “un-churched” community and begin the society healing we so desperately need.

We cannot be effective if we are in chains and holding such heavy guilt I’m speaking from experience.  It took me years to even say the word abortion never less publicly speak about it.   It took years before I allowed the Lord into this “highly restricted” area so I could receive His forgiveness.  Receive is the key word here. People can’t receive the Lord’s precious forgiveness if we don’t let them know it’s available to them. Jesus died on the cross for ALL our sins!  Please get involved and lets get the revival started!

My role as a board member of Life’s Choices Crisis Pregnancy Center has ended but my battle for freedom has just begun.
Gena  Duran
Forgiven and set Free       

This is a personal letter and not written on behalf of Life’s Choices of Lake Co. or any other organization.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Burning Ship

A friend came to visit me recently and as we were catching up, she shared she was going to a church that we worshiped at together many years ago. She was updating me on mutual friends who were still there and then she said something that has been an ongoing struggle in my life.
She said, when people ask her, "what is Gena up to?" she then looked at me and said, “trying to answer that is always tricky, saying you are waiting on God is never an acceptable answer.”

A few days later I was at an event and ran into a woman who used to attend one of my bible studies. We too were catching up and the same question arose “what have you been doing?” Again, always tricky to answer, so I give a few cliff notes about my life to which she responds “you should be missionary” I replied, “I am” and went on my way.

Gems, telling you God stories and giving testimonies of the miracles God has done in my life is the easy part. Bragging on the goodness of God is simple, people want to hear the supernatural stories, it’s silent times they have trouble with. It's here, waiting on God some how is not an acceptable answer.
Ironically when I’m working for the world and life is “easier” as far as pulling into a gas station and putting fuel in my car just because I can or buying groceries or a  shirt I like that’s on sale that I feel the furthest away from God.

I long for times of “normal” then beg Him for more intimacy. As I shared in my last jewel, I was working with Beverly Bakalyar for about 6 weeks and truly thought the job would last at least 6 months. The Lord gave me a sweet apartment and although all my bills were being paid it was nice not to have to wait til the 9th hour for that to happen. 
I was enjoying simple things like setting up my new home. I was moved in, had a bit of a “normal” routine and while enjoying my days with a sweet group of women I was also receiving a paycheck!  
Close to the end of the 6 week mark I began to feel the familiar stirring in my Spirit that my time was coming to an end with faux painting. Not gonna lie a bit of dread came upon me.
I knew this wasn’t the end all job for me, as much as I appreciated the opportunity, I know it’s not my calling. However, jumping back into the unknown so soon was a bit of a surprise.

God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began

I’m going to be real honest here, I was angry. You see my sister Mindy was coming to visit me from New York in a few weeks and I had such great plans for us. My sister ALWAYS blesses me. She is so generous to me and my children and for the first time in a VERY LONG time I was in a financial place to spoil the heck out of her. I couldn’t wait! I was going to buy her gifts she didn’t need, take her out to eat, plan day trips whatever she wanted, I wasn’t going to let her pay for a thing. 
But as the days drew closer so did the looming realization that my employment would end before my visionary plan.

WHY GOD? Why won’t you let me have this just one time!!!

A flood of questions once again filled my mind, where are we going, when will we get there, how long is the layover, can I keep my stuff, where should I look, how do I explain????

Sure enough the job ended, my sister came, we still had a sweet time without all my grand plans and days turned into weeks. I did a few jobs on the side, had the privilege of doing some counseling and gave a word at a local church but still no clear destination.

I have some powerful prayer warriors in my life and the word from all of them was, the Lord said clearly “Gena, Gena, Gena WAIT” not like wait your turn but WAIT!! Like don’t step off the curb or you will be hit by a truck kind of wait.

A part of me just wants to scream at the message and slap the messenger (no offense messenger.)

Trust me in the flesh I’m awesome 😊 I’m a great sales person, I have phenomenal outcome with difficult customer service, I’m efficient to a fault and apparently I can paint and do home improvements. My qualifications are endless, I wouldn’t believe my resume if I didn’t know me, but it all means nothing if I’m not following the word in 2nd Timothy.

I like you have a holy calling for God’s own purpose which He gave me in Christ before time began. No matter the circumstances, disappointment, long suffering or being misunderstood I refuse to move without the fire before me.

My daughter Amanda told me she heard in a sermon if you hear God calling you by name, like when Jesus called Zacchaeus, it means He is personally inviting you into something He is getting ready to do. A few days later my sweet son-in-love Claver gave me a Spirit filled word, he said the Lord is getting ready to use you in a supernatural way.

Gems, it’s hard to hear those words when you are in need of the supernatural in your own life!

In the waiting I have sweet time with the Lord in prayer and worship, I have time to devour the word, I can write a jewel not knowing if it will help anyone, but it appears to be good therapy. Other than having to use a dinosaur computer that takes 3x as long to work as a new one I’m blessed to share my words.

I have to be intentional about waking up with a purpose and thanking God for another opportunity to be in His presence and make myself ready for my marching orders.

I will to do it pushing back negative thoughts or giving into depression. I will to do it choosing not to be offended with outside comments on how much better my life could be or how I wasted such talent and opportunity. I will do it in isolation or surrounded by men. I will do it because there is no other option.

In 1519 Cortes set sail for battle to Mexico with his crew. When he got there Cortes men understandably became weary and scared wishing they could go back home to their old life. Legend has it Cortez had the men burn their ships leaving no option but to press on! The option of retreat or comfort of a safety net was removed.

This move forced them to not only complete the mission, it allowed them to become something greater than themselves.

I want to be part of something bigger than myself, don't you?

I guess the best answer to the looming question is this, If you want to know what I'm up to just look for the fire.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Little Drummer Girl

I was visiting a church service recently and was fortunate enough to sit in front of the drummer. I love the drums, when I get to Heaven I will know how to play the drums and I’m going to be awesome!

I was engrossed in the song as I followed the drummer’s hands, observing the results of him hitting each piece of the drum set in an order that made magical sounds. As I was watching him, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper “that’s how we do your life Gena.”

This of course got my attention and I asked what He meant? I still haven't learned to leave well enough alone.  He went on to show me that the drummer hit different parts of the drum kit to play different notes, but one drum he hit consistently was the snare drum (thank you Braxton Bisceglia for telling me what that was called).

In my life I’m never quite sure where I will live or what job I will be doing, but, the one consistent in every verse of my song is God. He sets the tone for the song and keeps me on beat as I walk through each assignment. The Lord sends me to different places meeting different people to compose a new melody.

For instance, while I was in Tennessee part of my country song was to work for Nash Painting, it was here that I had the honor of meeting Linda! She is now my sister for life.
With this new song came the usual challenge of learning new computer software. If you know me at all you understand that is a HUGE undertaking for me as computers and I have a love hate relationship that leans more toward hate….

As always, I asked the Lord to open my mind and help me figure out the program so I wouldn’t have to constantly ask Linda questions over and over again. I was super surprised to see how quickly I was navigating the system. Little did I know that just a few short weeks into the job Linda would have to go out of town and I would be command central! WHAT!

I had enough knowledge to be dangerous but not enough authority to completely screw things up. This allowed Linda to leave with one less thing on her mind. We were all playing our part and trusting God for the outcome.

I was a bit nervous about this solo but I knew as long as I stayed in beat with the Holy Spirit it would be OK.

During this cantata I was also bartering for a temporary place to live and to my surprise found myself tending chickens and goats at Stoney Creek Farm. 
I never thought I would hear myself say things like “I need to get home before dark to feed the chickens.”  I wore a straw hat, mud boots and flannel to fit the part.

I neither confirm or deny getting the gulf cart stuck in a 2 inch creek after feeding the goats…..

If you’re ever in the Franklin TN area make sure to stop by this sustainable gardening farm and say hi to Leigh and Olin Funderburk.

I also played some spiritual tunes in Tennessee working part time as a prayer counselor for the Christian Broadcasting Network in Nashville.

In between all this I took a side gig in Mississippi and volunteered at Mitchell Farms Pumpkin Patch. Will work for food took on a whole new meaning, it was dark when I went to bed and woke up. I sold admission tickets, painted signs, picked up rotten pumpkins (actually I watched Beverly do that it was very stinky) helped with the corn maze

or whatever else needed doin at the moment.

It was a great experience spending time with the Mitchell’s and participating in pumpkin and peanut farm living.

After 7 months of TN drum playing the Lord was sending me back to Florida. My sweet friend Linda said “now that you worked for a painting company maybe you can find a job for another one back in Florida” to which I replied “I won’t get a job at a painting company because I hate to paint and won’t be applying to any.”
The only thing I painted at Nash Painting was my nails, don’t tell Bill.

Famous last words, I won’t work for a painting company.” 
Little did I know the Lord had my next arrangement in place with Beverly Bakalyar Faux Finish Artist. I didn’t even know how to spell faux.

Now Gems this is where things get a bit crazy even for me. I go from Sweet Home Alabama to Bohemian Rhapsody!

I would soon embrace the title of “Highly Trained and experienced Gilder” along with facing my fear of heights in a tune called Beverly and her sidekicks.
I knew I could handle the spiritual side of this instrumental, building relationships and praying for people, I could play that drum solo all day long, but the natural side was another story. I can’t even color in the lines and did I mention I hate painting and heights?

Lord how did this happen??? How did a hard hat and steel toed shoes become part of my wardrobe? 

I arrived at the site ready to pray with the rest of my band who each would play the instrument God designed them for.  As I stood in the circle alongside this group of truly qualified women I reiterated to the Holy Spirit that unless we could use the “trunk” system (private joke for Betty Cardel)  I had no idea how I was going to pull this off.

Here I was day one being handed a paint brush and placed on a lift about 28 feet in the air!  Talk about playing the drums, my heart was beating so hard I WAS a snare drum! I hoped I wouldn't throw up as I threatened my coworker that if she made any sudden moves, I would inflict bodily harm to her. Swaying this high off the ground was not what I signed up for, to say I was terrified would be an understatement! How was I going to paint anything while holding on for dear life!

The Holy Spirit brought to my mind some verses from Exodus 31
Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you: the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law with the atonement cover on it, and all the other furnishings of the tent— the table and its articles, the pure gold lampstand and all its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, the basin with its stand—10 and also the woven garments, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when they serve as priests, 11 and the anointing oil and fragrant incense for the Holy Place. They are to make them just as I commanded you.”

I, like these men, was doing what God commanded me, so, I figured if it can work for them it can work for me.

I began fervently praying that the Holy Spirit would supernaturally touch my hands and give me creative ability with artistic design just as He gave His other children. I knew that part of this musical was to play it with excellence not just for the company I was representing and the customer who hired us but for the Lord as well.

I was highly trained alright hovering over the earth where only birds belonged, however, in just a few short days, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I was living up to my title! I was painting and gold leafing too!!!

It was truly a miracle happening right before my very eyes!  My friends and family would say things like “I didn’t know you could do that” to which I replied, “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Not only did the Holy Spirit train my hands He handled my fear of heights. I went from heart palpitations and almost vomiting to dancing on my lift we affectionately called Buster.

Gems the moral of the story is when the Holy Spirit puts you in a concert and requires you to write a new song, He will give you the ability to play all the notes. I'm never sure what the peace will be that He is orchestrating but I have decided I won't let fear make my decision on if I'm going to play. I would have missed out on meeting so many cool people and seeing awesome places if I quit the band. I hope this encourages you to keep playing your song.

For this concert, I learned all my lines and saw some of the fruit of my labor, the rest will be played when I get to my final symphony.

Rock on Gems!

My new sister Linnnnndaaaaaa 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Moving Heart

I was reading in Exodus 25 where God is giving instructions on how to build the tabernacle.
Three of the verses I want to share with you are,

Exodus 25:2 “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.

Exodus 25:10-11 “And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it.”

Exodus 25:40 “And see that you make them after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain.”  (God speaking to Moses, as always I suggest you read the entire chapter for yourself)

The first verse God is asking for anyone who is willing to give toward building the temple,
a man whose heart moves him. I realized that request has not changed in all these years.
The first temple of course was a building where God would dwell and meet with His people.  
The temple today is our bodies, we are the temple where God dwells but to become that
you still have to offer “a heart that moves” you toward Him.
It is your decision no one can make you have a relationship with your Creator. Over time
you have to have this same heart to grow toward a more intimate relationship with God.

For me personally there have been some pretty hard times of deciding to have “a heart that
moves me” to draw closer to God. I was reminded of such a time a few days ago.

It was about 13 years ago, I felt like the Lord was asking me to move from Florida to
Johnson City TN. The circumstances to that decision are too many to tell but there was a
definite series of events pointing to that decision.

My youngest daughter was in elementary school and I think my youngest son may have just
started middle school. I called my ex-husband and wanted to set up a time we could talk
about it and figure out a plan that would work for both of us.

Instead of talking to me he spoke to an attorney and days later I was summoned to court. My oldest daughter Amanda came with me for support and I thought for sure the judge would tell me to go. It was God’s plan after all so what could go wrong???
I was told by the judge that I was not allowed to move my children to TN and was given
a warning of jail time if I didn’t obey the law.
As you can imagine I left the courtroom with a flood of emotions! I won’t go into all the
logistics of the relationship with my ex or his with the kids but keeping them apart was not
my ultimate goal.

I cried and prayed all the way home and as I pulled into my driveway I heard the Lord say
again "I have a plan, do you trust me?"

I sat my sweet children down and explained to them I knew I had to follow God. I would trust
on His mercy for my heart as He knew better than anyone how important being a mother to
my children was to me.
I continued to pack up my house and make a plan for Johnson City. My ex saw the boxes
when he picked up the kids that weekend and called to remind me I couldn’t
move to which I responded, “Yes I can.”
He reminded me I could not move the children to which I responded “I won’t be.”
I told him I had to follow God and I would be bringing the kids to live with him.

Gems if you think that was an easy decision you are WRONG! It about broke me. The thing
is like the temple that was being built with wood my temple was currently made with wood,
worry, fear, doubt, BUT God  eventually covered it with pure gold inside and out. He filled
me with His Holy Spirit to have the power to follow Him. He also took my offering of
obedience and returned it with mercy. After I let go of my children the Lord changed the
plan and moved us to Tampa, Tennessee would come later.

I think the “heart that moves Him” is a constant development. How close you want to be with
God begins with a decision of going from wood to gold and continues as you walk out your
journey with Him. I believe going to court was part of God's plan to test my faith. I needed
to see there was no way this would work out without His intervention.

In the last verse God is talking to Moses and He tells him to make the pattern of the temple
like he was shown on the mountain.

We know God didn’t give him a Polaroid or an architect design to show him so it must
have been a vision or mental picture, I don't know for sure. I do know the people had to trust
that Moses knew what God showed him.

This same passage also applies today. Gems God shows you things at times that He
doesn’t show anyone else. You have to trust that you saw the whole picture when you
can’t even figure out how to make the first piece work.

On my last adventure in Tennessee the Holy Spirit told me to meet with a man He
introduced me to on my  journey 4 years prior and pray with him. I was like OK Lord but I
have no idea where to find this man and just out of curiosity what do you want us to pray
Gems this wasn’t just any guy, this man is very well known in the Messianic community
both in the U.S. and Israel and did I mention I had no idea what we were supposed to pray
The only thing I knew for sure was I had a vision in my minds eye of us praying and trust
me, it had to be God because there was no way this man would even listen to me without
the Holy Spirit's leading, it had crazy written all over it.

A couple of weeks later I was visiting a church with a friend and guess who was the guest
speaker….. I spoke with him after the service and told him we needed to meet and pray,
the Holy Spirit did what He does best, makes what the world thinks is crazy and turns it
into His plan. We both had to trust we saw something from God.

I love that while God is working on our wood temple it’s just between the two of us. He
works on the inside of us with the power of the Holy Spirit and then when we have passed
that test he covers us with gold, inside and out for the world to see His masterpiece.
He even puts gold molding around it!

I recently moved back to Florida from Tennessee. After 14 months of "sleep overs" the Lord
showed me an apartment and told me to move in. He supplied a job but it would be a
couple of weeks before I would get a pay check. I went to the apartment complex in faith,
wearing my gold, because I knew the Lord said "don't delay."
I was given my first months rent free as part of a leasing promotion. When we move with a
heart for God He is all we need.

Gems I pray this will encourage you to keep your heart moving toward God.