Saturday, November 14, 2015

Planning In Pencil

Paul is a great example of someone who learned to make his plans in pencil.
In his letter to the Philippines from prison he writes Phil 2:19 “I hope in the Lord Jesus to send timothy to you shortly” v 23-24 “Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me; and I trust in the Lord that I myself also shall be coming shortly."
"I hope"  Paul's not sure it's going to happen, he's not sure what's going to happen with his court date. He "plans" on sending Timothy first then coming himself. Even though he doesn't know what God is going to do he is still making a plan, in pencil. Paul states I'll send him soon God willing and when you say go it will be immediate.

Paul would be ready to move as soon as he got the green light. Paul had a plan but he was willing to wait on God to see if He wanted to change anything..
Paul didn't know what was going to happen but he doesn't sound pitiful or desperate. He's submitted and surrendered to God's sovereign plan because he knows that's more important than his agenda.

Too often we will feel like God told us to do something but if it doesn't happen in the time frame we think is appropriate we either bail or stop getting ready. When that happens the “immediately” part of the plan doesn't happen because we are battling between our time frame and God's perfect timing.

Planning keeps you from becoming stagnant, Paul is ready as soon as God gives him his answer he is ready to move immediately.

Gems I'll be honest with you from the time God told me I would move to TN til the time it actually happened was seven years! I took a lot of grief from people along the way and a lot of negative comments but I never gave up on the plan. In my heart I was always ready. When the Holy Spirit finally said “let's go” it was pretty much immediately.
Then just as quick as it happened it ended, seven months later He spoke again “it's time to pack up, your going to New York, Haiti then back to Florida.”
I'm now back to the, I hope to move shortly, but it's been 5 months and no word yet but I'm ready when He gives the green light. It's not always easy. My things are in storage in TN. I have as many clothes as I could fit in my car and I'm always looking for something that's still in storage. I left furniture with the sweet couple that sublet my apartment and have to get it by the end of December and I have no idea how that will happen. 
I do know that when I start trying to plan how all that will happen I get stressed and I'll tell you why. When I plan too far down the road the Lord is not there with me, I'm trying to do it all in my own strength and abilities.

I have heard many times that this life style only applies to some people, strange people maybe even unstable people but I say if you are a believer in Jesus Christ it applies to you. Yes the journey may be different but the same Holy Spirit speaks to us all its just some listen and some believe they have a better plan. Not everyone will allow their heart and mind to change. We can usually
tell when we are in the presence of God the hard part is knowing
where you are going with God. 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God. God will be constantly crossing our paths and canceling our plans by sending us people with claims and petitions. We may pass them by, preoccupied with our more important tasks, as the priest passed by the man who had fallen among thieves, perhaps — reading the Bible. When we do that we pass by the visible sign of the Cross raised athwart our path to show us that, not our way, but God’s way must be done. It is strange fact that Christians and even ministers frequently consider their work so important and urgent that they will allow nothing to disturb them. They think they are doing God a service in this, but actually they are disdaining God’s “crooked yet straight path” (Gottfried Arnold). They do not want a life that is crossed and balked. But it is part of the discipline of humility that we must not spare our hand where it can perform a service and that we do not assume that our schedule is our own to manage, but allow it to be arranged by God. -

When you plan in pencil and not stone your available to other doors being opened or closed. It keeps you from breaking down doors yourself that weren't meant for you to go through.

Back to Paul, it was a desire of his heart for a long time to go to Rome.

Romans 1:9-15 The Message

8-12I thank God through Jesus for every one of you. That’s first. People everywhere keep telling me about your lives of faith, and every time I hear them, I thank him. And God, whom I so love to worship and serve by spreading the good news of his Son—the Message!—knows that every time I think of you in my prayers, which is practically all the time, I ask him to clear the way for me to come and see you. The longer this waiting goes on, the deeper the ache. I so want to be there to deliver God’s gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don’t think I’m not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you.
13-15 Please don’t misinterpret my failure to visit you, friends. You have no idea how many times I’ve made plans for Rome. I’ve been determined to get some personal enjoyment out of God’s work among you, as I have in so many other non-Jewish towns and communities. But something has always come up and prevented it. Everyone I meet—it matters little whether they’re mannered or rude, smart or simple—deepens my sense of interdependence and obligation. And that’s why I can’t wait to get to you in Rome, preaching this wonderful good news of God.
He does finally get there because it was God's plan for that to happen, but guess what? I'm sure it didn't happen AT ALL the way he thought it would. The Bible tells us in Acts Paul gets beat up by a mob, thrown in prison, endures an earthquake, is shipwrecked on an island and finally arrives in Rome in chains.  If the Holy Spirit would have shown him all that was involved I'm sure he wouldn't have been as eager to get started.

 Gems I don't know where you're at in  your journey right now. You may feel the Lord's presence, you may not. You may know that you know you're where your supposed to be or you may be asking daily where am I going? Whatever your doing don't get stagnant keep planning in pencil and keep your heart open to the Holy Spirit and you will end up right where your supposed to be, in the center of God's will.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Remembering Victor Vasquez

Two years ago my friend Stacey's only son was killed in a freak accident. It has been a really hard 2 years and saying life will never be the same is an understatement.
A couple of weeks ago we had to go to the final sentencing for the young man that took Victor's life. Part of the process, for lack of a better word, was a time for family and friends to share their thoughts about Victor with the Judge before he gave his final verdict to the young man who was charged with the crime.

When Stacey told me about the letters that would be read, she would be writing too, my first thought was how can she or any of us put into adequate words the plethora of emotions we all felt. How do you put a broken heart into a letter?

As I entered the court house I had an instant flashback of Victor's funeral service. There were so many people lining the walls of the hallway . So many of Victor's friends huddled together once more to experience yet another emotional ride of unbelief. Many of these young people have graduated and gone on to college but they made a point of honoring both Victor and his mother and coming home for the final sentencing.
In some ways it was like the final moment we would share as a group with one common hurt, the loss of a loved one.

I sat next to my daughter Jessica who is the same age as Victor if he were still alive. My stomach was in knots and my heart ached for Stacey and her family. Stacey was the first one to go up to the podium and address the judge and read her letter.
As you can imagine we were all in tears as she spoke and gave us just the slightest indication of the unbearable grief she is living with. Next her parents, Victor's grandparents....
One by one each person shared the void that was left in their lives from this senseless crime. 
When it was my turn Jessica came up with me, this was my heart in words.

My daughter Jessica and I met Stacey and Victor while volunteering at a local soup kitchen. We were both single parents with kids the same age so it was only natural that we would bond. Before long we moved into the same apartment complex with Stacey and Vic and the four of us started doing life together. We had become family, Friday night dinners, volunteering, attending church and youth group events, cheering for Vic at football or wrestling events or just spending time alone together growing as friends. Stacey and I shared our concerns for their future, our prayers for good friends and advice on how to raise them in a single household. We were dedicated to being the best moms we could be for our own child and each others.
I can't begin to express the horror of getting the phone call that Vic had been involved in a hit and run collision and ironically he wasn't even driving, he was in his parked car! In a blink of the eye it was over, Vic was gone.
The heart ache of seeing my best friend's world explode was a pain I had never experienced. Not only did she lose her son, she lost her ONLY child through no fault of hers or Victor's.
The loss of Vic impacted the whole community but the loss of Stacey was not something we recognized at first.
Every life event that would happen for Jessica, the same age as Victor, could no longer be shared with Stacey without a shadow of pain and despair that loomed over it. Buying class rings or cap and gown for graduation. Walking across the stage and receiving her high school diploma, graduation parties with friends and applications for college. Every one of these anticipated events that Stacey and I would have shared together as mothers and friends was now another painful reminder that Vic's life was snatched away from him and his future gone.
Every story, every memory we shared was made up of 4 people Stacey, Victor, Gena and Jessica. For Stacey even seeing us is a constant reminder that half the picture is missing. A reminder that far too often continues to rob her of peace never mind joy, a reminder that robs Jessica and I of being with Stacey and the dread of knowing there will be no future memories with Victor.

But what about the future? Victor was Stacey's only son. There will be no college graduation. She will never experience his first real love, the girl he will want to marry. Picking out engagement rings and making wedding plans. There will be no mother son dance or family dinners with the new in laws.
My friend will never experience the joy of knowing Victor will have his own son or daughter or holding her first grand child. There will be no more birthdays, mother's day celebrations or ANY grandchildren events.
But a tragedy even greater than all of the above is the fact that the pain of all these hearings and court dates, of facts and testimonies, of letters and sentencing WILL NOT bring Victor back. Stacey Vasquez will leave this court room without her only child, Victor Vasquez. A sentence will be read, the courtroom dismissed the friends and family will leave and Stacey will still go home without her son. Victor's voice will never be heard again and we will all continue to grieve the loss of two lives and an entire generation.
The only sense of comfort for Victor's mother, his grand parents and the rest of his family and friends is for our judicial system to handle this horrific situation with honor. For crimes to have penalties that deter others from committing the same acts so that other families do not stand before you, or find themselves writing letters that in no way truly express the magnitude of pain and grief for what has happened. That life still matters and there is a cost for taking it.
All that is left is to continue to pray and remember the lives of those we have lost in such a senseless way and hope my friend learns to how live not just exist with half her heart.
Jessica and I went back to our seat and listened to those who went after us. I started looking around the room and noticed something so odd. It was the 
people that were wiping tears from their eyes. As you can imagine family and friends but it was the deputies that caught my eye. These men have no doubt heard many horror stories in their line of work yet here they were openly crying as each letter was read. I then looked over at the inmates lined up in their orange jumpers handcuffed and weary and they were crying too. There was an inmate on the end that was just sobbing.
These people didn't even know Victor. Unfortunately this was not an uncommon case, a drunk driver killing an innocent person, but here they were weeping.
I asked the Lord about it and He showed me a common thread in each of the letters that were read.  I realized each of us talked about our faith and prayer. Victor was a believer in Jesus Christ and his life showed it. The Lord showed me that even though 2 years had passed Victor's life was still bearing fruit.

The Holy Spirit was moving not only among His people but to the lost that surrounded us. The reminder that God catches every one of our tears and our lives matter to Him. With God forgiveness is possible, second chances are possible and that His love in unconditional. The open display of emotion by these "strangers" can only be explained by the power of the Holy Spirit.
At the end of the trial even the judge commented on what transpired that afternoon. He stated that Victor was clearly a young man that had a positive impact on our community. He asked each one of us to allow Victor's memory to continue by sharing the tragedy of driving while intoxicated. For us to live the motto of friends don't let friends drive drunk. To share our personal testimony of a life destroyed by careless drinking.
Victor was an amazing young man and he will be greatly missed. I would ask that you help us keep his memory alive by not drinking and driving and don't let your friends drive buzzed. 

We left that day with no great feelings of triumph or victory but I know that seeds were planted and I'm praying for those seeds to take root in every person that doesn't have a relationship with my sweet Jesus. I'm praying that lives will be transformed and new fruit will come from it. I left with the reminder that only God can make something good out of the worst of tragedies.

The emotional day ended sharing a meal together, supporting each other and allowing God to continue mending our broken hearts. Stacey was surrounded by people who love her and the knowledge that because of what Jesus did on the cross she will meet her son in Heaven. Until then Victor will live in our hearts.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

What Happened in Haiti?

I recently returned from my fourth trip to Haiti. I was honored to once again travel with Schools for Haiti as part of their ministry team. I was also honored to serve with these amazing people.

On this trip the Lord shook things up for me. God showed me I was becoming a paper person. 
I had drawn a picture in my mind of what the mission would look like and what we would do based on what we had done before and assumed was working.
On each trip I am blessed with an interpreter that obviously translates what I'm saying in English to Creole so I can communicate. This past trip I was blessed to once again minister along side Gerald.
It had become kind of a joke between the team that I could ask Gerald to translate “good morning, my name is Gena” which took a few seconds for me to say and the translation seemed to go on for so much longer. I wondered, what is he saying?
The thing is I never knew exactly what Gerald was saying and this is where God shook things up for me.
Through a chain of events that can only be orchestrated by God Himself we met a sweet Haitian couple, St. Mark and Bridget, from Atlanta that just “happened” to be staying at our hotel.
Bridget decided to join us at Vacation Bible school and we were excited to have another translator on board. Me again, being the paper person, was thinking about her translating English to Creole.
As Gerald got up to give the greeting I laughed to myself thinking how long “good morning” was going to take to say. As Gerald began to speak I leaned over to Bridget and asked her what he was saying.
And so it began.... Every time Gerald would speak I actually got to hear what he was saying. His words were beautiful and so full of love and excitement for the children. I had a whole new appreciation for this man of God. 
It didn't stop there, I would also ask her what the children were saying. I was blown away by what I was hearing, we came there to share Jesus with these children but they had a deeper knowledge and love for our sweet Jesus than we realized. It was humbling to say the least.

I realized that we had an agenda based on our experience with Western children that needed constant stimulation. We had games and videos, crafts and skits, snacks and music. Not that any of these things are wrong but how we used them may have been.
For example it goes without saying it is HOT in Haiti! When we were all packed in a small area and WE were sweating to the point of feeling sick it didn't mean the kids were. They were used to the heat and having children sitting so close they were touching. They were OK.

We are all about our space but they are not offended by not having “acceptable personal space.” You know how we are, if there's a row of seats there is usually an empty seat between people and an unspoken rule that you only sit there if there is NOTHING else available. Even if it means separating you from your friend.

We have to be told to move over even in church services to make room for late comers.
I want you to get a mental picture of the scene. At our last school we showed up expecting maybe 70 to 80 kids and ended up with at least 200 children!!! 

Just children not counting parents and older kids. Getting 200 kids all seated is a task on it's own Western or Haitian.
We give out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches after we get the kids seated,for many of the children it may be the only meal they get that day. (we make an assembly line and make hundreds of sandwiches each morning)
My paper person wants to get all the sandwiches to the kids then immediately do something while they are eating. A song a video, start speaking, but the Holy Spirit kept reminding me, ask Gerald what we should do next which I did, and he would look at me confused and say we will eat. Should we sing? Yes after we eat.
For these children if we started another activity while they were eating they would think they needed to be finished eating and start cramming the sandwiches into their mouths. They were OK with just eating without being entertained, enjoying the blessing we had just thanked our Lord for.
Just eat. What a concept.
Later we were teaching the children a Bible verse in English. They love learning English and learn so quickly. They wanted to say it over and over but again we were applying our western thinking and trying to push them onto the next activity assuming they were bored, they weren't. Gerald had to remind us again that the children weren't done. I'm sure that God Himself was so enjoying hearing the sweet voices of his little children speaking His word in two different languages. I bet if He had a refrigerator in Heaven each one of their pictures were on it from this very day.

With the go ahead from Gerald our team got busy figuring out the next activity with the understandable chaos all around us. While the children waited Gerald was letting them come up to the microphone and speak into it, something most of them had never done before. Bridget pulled me over and once again translated what they were saying and I was again blown away. A little boy, could not have been more than 8 years old, was praying the most powerful prayer I had heard since I arrived. He was speaking a revival for Haiti! That Jesus would bless Haiti and his people. That they would live for God and be Holy. 
Here we were trying to entertain them with a silly video and they were praying for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit!
Gems I'm not telling you this to say we did everything wrong. I'm sharing this because God was trying to teach us something so we could be more effective with our time there. There is nothing wrong with having fun and sharing “Western” things with the Haitian children. Honestly seeing their faces when they saw a video for the first time, even if it was on a cement wall and poor quality, was awesome. I felt so blessed to be a part of that. The excitement was contagious.

But these kids could definitely share some things with us. It was a great reminder that we had to meet in the middle and really listen to what the need was for the Haitian children not our well meaning Western agenda. We, I, needed to slow down and listen.

The memory verse God gave us for the children was
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come
which we shortened for learning sake to
I am a new creation in Jesus

The Lord reminded me that speaking His word over His children would have an eternal impact. His word was more important than a new song a snack or playing soccer.

One of the many things I love about Schools for Haiti is their love and dedication to children. They make it possible for children to go to school. In case you didn't know school is not free in Haiti as it is here in the United States.
Not only do they build schools they sponsor children to attend for free and PAY teachers a salary to teach.
They put love in action by providing uniforms, books and food. They incorporate the love of God to the children and remind them they are not forgotten. Schools for Haiti is Jeremiah 29:11 in action.
Gems I guess the moral of this story is whether God sends you on a mission to another country, another state, another neighborhood, or your own family, leave room in you your agenda to hear the Holy Spirit.
We limit our trips to 15 people so if you are interested in joining us on one of our trips, please contact us at If you can not join us please consider making a donation to help support someone who is going.
Gil & Bonnie Bailie

Saturday, July 18, 2015

On The Road Again

I read a devotional that said “the Holy Spirit is like the wind and when He changes direction we need to be ready to change with Him”
I knew already this was for me as I felt that familiar stirring that things were getting ready to change. Another move…..
My time in TN was closing, for now any way.  I began praying for confirmation and further instructions. I asked my warriors to begin praying with me. I got a text from my sister in Christ Cynthia, it read “when the Holy Spirit moves we have to be ready to move with Him” Now where have I heard that before J
I began praying and asking what the plan ahead was. You see I still had 6 ½ months left on my lease and if I broke the lease there was a $1000.00 fee. Granted the 3 months’ rent I would be responsible for and fee totaling over $3000. would have to be paid by my sweet Jesus as He was still the “bread winner” in our household. But I didn’t want Him to pay for an apartment that would be empty and it was clear I was leaving the end of the month no matter what.

God gave me the moving date and it was a little more than 2 weeks before the move and each time I asked if I should start packing the Holy Spirit would say “wait.” I reminded Him I was filling in at an office the last 4 days I was in town to make some money for the move which didn’t leave a lot of time for packing and P.S. in case He forgot I still didn’t know the financial plan. My son Anthony told me he felt like God wasn’t having me pack because I would leave my stuff for someone coming to TN. Well that was clear as mud.
Not gonna lie it was pretty frustrating at times. One night as I lay in bed I said to myself “I can’t wait to get back to Florida to have a normal life, a normal job and a place to live.” The Lord responded with “why am I not reliable enough for you?” OUCH! I literally rolled over and said I’m going to sleep!
The truth is He was right. All of my frustration and anxiety came from me not believing He was reliable enough because things didn’t happen in a time frame, based on man, thought reliable.

You see Gems God may not do things the way we think He should BUT He always does things in a way that will glorify Him. 
I continued to ask daily “what do you want me to do about the apartment?” Just in case He got busy and forgot to tell me.
Then it happened, I heard “sublet.”  Sublet, sublet to who? I don’t know anyone here!  
Well if you know me you know I need to hear things a few times.
I went to the library the day after I heard, or thought I heard, sublet. I decided to rent a movie and watch something mindless, the first scene of the movie a man walks out of an apartment and a flyer comes off a tree and lands on his leg, he pulls it off and it flies through the air and lands on his arm, he again pulls it off and this time it landed over his face. When he pulls the paper off to look at it across the top in big letters it says SUBLET. I chuckled to myself and was like OK I think I got it. The next day I worked as a temp in a local insurance office and one of the first calls I answered was a woman, when I asked her last name guess what it was? Go on I double dog dare ya, guess… That’s right, Sublet.
That night I put an add on Craigslist.
Two days later I got an email from a man in IL asking about the apartment. We corresponded a few times and he tells me he found and read my Gena’s Jewels, that it inspired him and his wife. They were believers too. I already felt in my Spirit this was who I was waiting on. He said his wife would be in the area in a few days and could she come by and see the apartment. UH yes……
As soon as Laurie got out of the car I knew God sent her. We bonded in the Spirit immediately.  Laurie shared that the Lord had them sell their home in IL and said He had a place for them in TN that would be good until the end of the year. My lease ended Dec 31st.  Coincidence? I think not.  She shared that she and her husband gave away most of their belongings, confirmation my son heard right, I would leave things they needed. Laurie and I had a wonderful prayer time together and encouraged each other with testimonies of our sweet Jesus.
She told me they were offered a pretty nice, furnished home that she thought was the answer to their prayers, however, her husband felt the Holy Spirit wanted Laurie to meet the lady from Florida. Thank you Laurie for your obedience J
I still needed money for a truck to move the things that would go into storage and a storage unit. I had other payments that needed to be taken care of before leaving TN.  I would continue to wait for direction and finances.
The Holy Spirit told me He asked Laurie and Mike to bless me. I thought it was a delayed message as I was so blessed by them already. Meeting a fellow prayer warrior and knowing the financial responsibility was given to them for the apartment was huge for me! A few days later I got a sweet card in the mail from Mike and Laurie and with it was a financial blessing!!! I was overwhelmed with God’s faithfulness once again.

It’s funny sometimes the Lord doesn’t say anything for weeks and other times He gives you a 2 month plan. He let me know I would go to New York for a few weeks to see my sister and mom and other assignments that needed my attention. I would also be going to Haiti.
OK I want to take you on a side journey that happened before my Laurie encounter. I have been looking for a desk for over a year. Not just any desk but the perfect desk that was in my mind.
My friend Cyndi and I went to a thrift store so I could get a frame for my TN verse. I only had about $2.00 to my name. While we were there I saw a back pack that reminded me of Haiti. It was only $7.00 but like I said I only had 2. I told Cyndi it would be great for a Haiti trip but I had no idea when I would be going back there so I didn’t need it anyway.
I came around the corner and there it was the desk I had been looking for!! It was beautiful and just what I wanted. I asked the lady how much it was and she said it had just come in minutes before so she gave a random price. I knew it was a great price but like I said I had $2.  My dear friend Cyndi offered to pay for it and let me pay her back monthly so I said yes. I was so excited about this find.
 I would have to go home and get my car to pick it up as it would not fit in Cyndi’s car. As I drove back to get it I started freaking out. What was I doing buying a desk when I didn’t even have my rent money or have any idea how I was going to deal with this whole sublet thing God had handed me! Where was I going to put this desk? I was about to be homeless! I felt the Lord say “enjoy the desk.” When I got home I decided to take the drawers out before carrying it in so it would be lighter. A piece of paper caught my eye and when I pulled it out this is what I found.

Seriously, I can't make this stuff up.
The next day I got a call from my friend Gill from Schools for Haiti asking if I could go on the vacation Bible school mission trip planned for August. My response was, “I knew I should have bought that back pack!” which I was able to do because of my financial blessing J
I don’t know what the plan is after I return from Haiti. I have an obligation here in Florida the beginning of October so I know I’ll be here at least until then. My things are in Tennessee and I have to get them by the end of December when Laurie and Mike leave the apartment.
Gems, what I hope you take away from this jewel is  God is ALWAYS in control. Even when you are down to the wire. Even when the plan seems crazy. I know a lot of people thought I didn’t hear from God about moving to TN because I didn’t stay a full year.
I had to remind them that the Lord doesn’t work on our time frame. He doesn’t work on time at all. He’s still God no matter how long I live anywhere. He put me in that apartment and He took me out using His plan and every bit of it not only honored Him it glorified Him as well. 
I moved out the exact morning God gave me and Laurie and Mike moved in the same afternoon.

Our confusion comes when we try to apply man’s rules to God’s decisions. We have to trust Him even when we don’t understand because He promises to work all things out for our good.
Ya know it’s funny one of the hardest things I encountered while in Franklin was loneliness. I would spend days at a time in my apartment with no one to talk to but Jesus. Since my return to Florida I have been going nonstop, yesterday as I was driving to my temporary home I felt sad and I realized I missed Him. In just a couple of weeks I was again so busy I hadn’t had any real alone time with my sweet Jesus.
I made so many connections in TN like these 3 beautiful women
that I was blessed to start a Bible study with that will continue and grow even after I’m gone. I reconnected with a dear friend I used to work with  many years ago through Face Book. Guess where he lived? Nashville, only 20 min from me I was able to share the love of God with him and he accepted Christ. There are too many stories to list but every one of them a Christ encounter for sure.
I learned so many things about myself, and my God. I have a better understanding of “it is well with my soul.” It was a journey that I will treasure forever and it’s not over yet

I asked my friends Cynthia and Cyndi to write a little something on their take of my trip this is part of thier response:
Cynthia - How I see your time in TN is marked by obedience and trust. It is not the usual today to live like Abraham, Paul, and the disciples and move with the Holy Spirit from place to place with Him as the only provision and vision.   In our society we are so used to owned homes that require jobs to sustain them and an inability to up and go. Your situation is different than the norm. It challenges us. It can make people that know you and love you uncomfortable because they wonder where their responsibility may begin and end with your provision. You are walking YOUR walk, dancing YOUR dance alone with Him.  It cannot be compared to anyone else's nor should it be. God is so incredibly intimate and personal in His diversity.  His relationship will look different with every person he created according to His unique design in them.  It will always be aligned with His Word but it will be as different as flowers, insects, birds, denim skirted- bun wearing worshipers and tattooed street preachers. You are also modeling a freedom to all of us that makes us look at ourselves.  What a gift that is to us.  Thank you for that. 

Cyndi - When Gena first moved into the apartment two floors down from mine, I felt God wanted me to meet her. Even though she moved in December of 2014, I didn’t actually meet her until March 2015 at the mailbox after coming back from a walk.
Two days later, we went for a walk on a beautiful sunny day and talked about Jesus and His Father, God. I was wearing a T Shirt with butterflies and she took a picture of me because she felt it was a sign from God for us to meet.
The following day, we were going to go to the movies but I didn’t feel well. I had my first ambulance ride that day. On my way to the hospital, I handed Gena my keys and asked her to please keep them for me.  The ambulance driver asked if we were friends and Gena said, “Yes, we are good friends! By the way, what’s your last name?”
That was just the beginning. Gena and I went on adventures, to Bible studies, drives and she taught me about changing the way I speak of my circumstances and introduced me to doing Holy Communion at home for healing. We prayed together, ate together and I learned not to be so bossy.
Gena took me to several Messianic services and through her, I learned about some of the Jewish traditions and how we all believe in the same God and we really are not different. We just celebrate differently.
My walk with the Lord became stronger through Gena. She taught me a lot and I was sorry to see her go. She started a Bible Study on Tuesday evenings and I am going to do my best to keep it going. 
All of us miss Gena and her wonderful spirit!

These are some of the amazing people I was blessed to meet!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Promise Land

There's a story in Numbers 13 about the children of Israel and the land God told them they could have. It was referred to as The Promise Land. 

This of course is the Gena translation, as always I suggest you read the facts for yourself.
There is a man named Caleb, at God's command he and some spies are getting ready to go check out the land they were told by God to take over.

The spies were made up of men Moses chose, one man from each tribe who was considered a leader. Per God, Moses tells them to check things out and see what the land is like. Are the people weak or strong? Are there a lot of inhabitants? Is the land in good condition etc. They were wanting a mental picture of what the land they were entering was going to look like. Maybe to prepare themselves for the unknown.

After 40 days the spies return to camp and tell Moses and the people that the land is in great condition, they even bring back some of the fruit to prove how well the harvest looks. BUT they go on to inform the people, in a fearful tone, the men are hUgE and the land all around it is occupied by our enemies! They weren't lying they were just focusing on what their natural eyes saw.  In the midst of this doom and gloom report Caleb speaks up and says
Numbers 13:30 “let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”

But the other spies were more convincing with all their reasons it wasn't a good idea. They are too strong, they are too Big, we look like grasshoppers compared to them! 

The whole community started crying and complaining to God. They let fear's voice be louder than God's words.
If only we died in Egypt, if only we died in the wilderness, if only we hadn't become victims. If only....
Have you ever had one of those "if only" conversations?

Joshua and Caleb respond:
Numbers 14:8-9 “If the Lord delights in us, then HE will bring us into this land and give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”
Caleb was saying we can chew them up and spit um out!

Are you ready for their response? The whole congregation wanted to stone them! As in dead!
Why do people want to stone us when they don't agree with what God has told us?

God goes on to tell Moses that the whole generation that didn't believe Him would not enter the promise land but Caleb would. 
Numbers 14:But my servant Caleb, because he had a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully.

The difference between Caleb, Joshua and the other spies was a different spirit. A spirit that decides, in spite of the negative reports, to fully follow Jesus. 

When the other spies hear their not getting into The
they change their minds and say OK we will go too. It's funny when people realize maybe God did tell them to go and now they can't go they want to go.
Their like, to show our good faith we will enter right now. 
No harm no foul right God?
Moses responds with v42 Your plan will not succeed, for the Lord is not with you because you turned away from the Lord.
Gems if God is not giving you the plan He is not responsible to make it succeed. If you tell God what He promised isn't true your calling Him a liar.

OK so let's apply this to our world today.

In some ways our journey resembles the children of Israel. We don't have a Pharaoh keeping us in bondage and God didn't have to bring on 10 plagues however, whenever we fear following God we are in a kind of bondage. We are keeping ourselves from our own Promise Land.
I may not have witnessed His plagues in my journey but I have witnessed His past miracles in my life, way more than ten!
I will continue using my recent experience as it is on going.
When God asked me to move to TN and I asked how I will know where to go the only plan I had from Him was

Other than that it has been on a need to know basis. Even as I write this there is a lot of unknown ahead of me. And trust me I want to know!!!
Here are a few of my own spy facts.
If I had known how affluent Franklin was, like those spies, I would have said, this may not be a great idea.
I may have made myself a victim before I even arrived.
I would have been trying to figure out how I would pay such high rent and all my bills. I would have been using my bank account and abilities and not God's.
This is where Caleb's advise was so important, let us go up at once.  Gems when your head gets full of doubt the best thing to do is  move at once before you think yourself right out of God's will.
God knew, like Caleb, I have a different kind of Spirit
(I know that's a nice way of putting it) and would follow Him but that doesn't mean it was an easy transition.

Before I left Florida, you can ask any of my friends, I was constantly talking about moving to TN. My momentary Promise Land. I was jealous when someone even visited TN. God finally moves me and I start crying “I'm lonely, I'm scared, I'm ... Oh if only I would have stayed in Florida.” Sound familiar?
Are you seeing a resemblance here? Following Jesus can be one of the loneliest places you can travel. Being completely alone in a new place really puts your faith where your mouth is.
Just like the children of Israel we need to see ourselves as lions among the giants not grasshoppers.

Have you ever wanted to please God? The book of Hebrews tells us it is impossible to please God without faith!
If I told you I was always full of faith, I would be full of something but it wouldn't be faith.
Our circumstances are our giants, but we can't have circumstantial faith. God wasn't angry with His children sharing the conditions He was angry with their conclusion.
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
When I catch myself speaking negative words into my life I have to STOP, ask God to forgive me and change my thoughts. I need to remind myself of all the things I have overcome with the help of the Lord and remember my circumstances don't have any effect on God's plan.
Even if you ask God to forgive you, if you don't have faith you still may not move forward. Saying your sorry but not changing your actions is kind of useless.
The bible says faith without works is dead. Joyce Meyer says “do it afraid” I love that.
The Bible says that faith comes by hearing. That's why I write Gena's Jewels and share them with you. I want you to hear my story to build your faith. I have to be careful what I say not only to me but to you too. 
Gems I don't know what Promise Land God is sending you to right now but this is my prayer for you. 
"If the Lord delights in you, then HE will bring you into this land and give it to you. Only do not rebel against the Lord nor fear the people of the land, for they are your bread; their protection has departed from them and the Lord is with you. Do not fear them.”