Month: April 2019

The BIG, FUN, PEOPLE-LOVING event!

Download Press Release Here

Community event. Open to everyone.  We are showcasing the amazing services available to the community for men, women, and families who need them. 

When: May 4, 2019 12:30pm – 4:30pm

Where: Union High School Stadium


Schedule:

  • 12:30 Congressman Kevin Hern, opening speakers, and band
  • 1:30 simulcast starts with Focus on the Family 
  • 3:30 closing speakers and band

During the event, the following fun, free activities will be available for everyone (especially children):

  • Bouncy houses
  • Scavenger hunts 
  • Obstacle courses
  • Giant 6 ft soccer ball game
  • Frisbee contests
  • Throwing contest 
  • Art sections
  • Face painting and more

Want a table?

Table/chairs provided – $0.00 to $300. Show the community the services you offer! (Pregnancy resource centers, adoption, fostering, medical clinics/services, mobile ultrasounds, churches, community groups, and more).

Email info@communityspiritmagazine.com to reserve your table!

Want to volunteer?

We’re looking for loads of volunteers to host games, sell beverages (cans/bottles), and more. Send us your preferences for areas and we will try to accommodate. 

Email info@communityspiritmagazine.com to volunteer!

Exhibitor List

  • Birthright of Tulsa
  • Mend Medical Clinic
  • Crisis Pregnancy Outreach
  • Go Life Mobile Medical
  • Northeastern Hope Resource Center
  • Pregnancy Resource Center of Owasso
  • Stay Close to Christ
  • Compassion Women’s Center
  • May Be Pregnant
  • James Mission
  • Good Samaritan
  • YouthCare of Oklahoma
  • OKDHS Foster Care and Adoption Recruitment
  • Refiner’s Fire Ministries
  • Nightlight Christian Adoption
  • Dillon Adoption
  • LilyField Adoption
  • Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Owasso
  • Tulsa Hills Youth Ranch
  • Catholic Charities
  • Broken Arrow Pediatrics

Written By: R.A. Goodnight

“Stand firm then… with the breastplate of righteousness in place… Take the helmet of salvation…” Ephesians 6:14, 15

THE BATTLE FOR HEARTS AND MINDS

For ages, human philosophers have pursued answers to life’s biggest questions.  Thankfully, a degree in philosophy isn’t required to find explanations for most, as the scriptures provide satisfying answers to all such questions.  Let me give you an example. 

It is a problem as old as war itself. During a war, the invading force needs a strategy to defeat the defending force, but also a plan to minimize resistance from the local population. Additionally, being able to shape the ideology of future generations is strategic to the long-term success of the conquering army. But how do you control resistance from the indigenous people as well as their children? By targeting their hearts and their minds.

With physical warfare there is, generally, a psychological war that is fought simultaneously. One of the earliest secular references to this comes from India, around the 4th century B.C. In a book that was written the writer gives advice on how to wage Gudayuddha, or “silent warfare”. The invading force would use propaganda campaigns that attempted to convince the people that they were the force for good. They would try to sway the population (and even the opposing soldiers) that the invaders have the people’s interest in mind, that they were liberators and not enslavers. In the end, they offer some form of freedom to the people with the hope of winning them over to their ideology. For if you can win the people, you have a greater chance of winning the war. But, depending on who the invading force is, the ‘freedom’ they entice the population with can be dangerous lies.

THE LIES OF TODAY

It should not come as a shock that our invader, Satan, uses this tactic in his war against God’s people. The scriptures tell us, “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) The Bible also refers to him as the father of lies. (John 8:44) Through the ages he has proven himself to be a skilled liar and an effective propagandist. At the beginning of human history, Satan employed lies and propaganda to target the mind of Eve. He presented himself as a liberator and promised her ‘freedom’ that he claimed God was withholding from her. Once he convinced her of his lie it infected her heart causing her to act on the idea. (Genesis 3:4, 5) So began human sin. It is an effective tactic that has won many over to his side. Due to its effectiveness, we should not expect him to have abandoned its use.

Bringing the application to our day, thousands of years later, Satan is still employing this tactic. He persists in his efforts to “lead the whole world astray” by use of lies and propaganda. (Revelation 12:9) Even today he builds his lies on the same fundamental deception – that God is holding us back. That we are not free. That we can have more, and that he is offering it. His ideals are embedded in the constant barrage of data offered to us by Hollywood, news outlets and politicians. The ideals we encounter include stances on sexual immorality (homosexual or heterosexual), abortion, idolatry (many times not recognized as idolatry), spirituality and religion along with many other hot topics in the world today. He tries to convince us that these are not bad. He tries to persuade us to adopt an ‘anything goes’ attitude toward life; he presents that as being free, as us being in control of our own lives.

Sadly, many of our fellow humans have given into these ideas and now find themselves in a precarious situation. Those who accept (and more importantly promote) these popular lies, knowingly or unknowingly, have become agents in Satan’s war. 2 Corinthians tells us, “It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (11:15) God pronounces woes upon individuals in this state, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.” (Isaiah 5:20) This is not a situation in which we want to find ourselves or our families–taking a stand against God and his truths through the belief and promotion of Satan’s lies.

Understanding that the assault is more intense than it ever has been, how do we protect our minds and our hearts?

THE HELMET OF SALVATION – OUR MENTAL DEFENSE

Just as a physical helmet protects the head and brain, the source of our intellect, our hope of salvation can protect our minds. The distractions and lies presented to us by Satan’s world can have an intoxicating effect upon us. Interestingly, Paul admonished first century Christians, “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8) In this verse, Paul establishes a connection between spiritual sobriety (or mental protection) and our hope of salvation. Instead of allowing ourselves to be distracted by the promises and ‘wisdom’ of Satan’s world, a focus on our hope of salvation can help ensure that our minds are strong, aware and filled the truths from God as opposed to the lies of Satan.

However, our minds require constant attention. As the flow of Satan’s propaganda exists 24/7 our consideration of God based truths need to occur daily. This counsel is given to us through scripture as well. The Bible admonishes, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) Yes, a regular renewal of our mind convinces us of God’s truth and reinforces His will as opposed to Satan’s lies that our minds encounter. Meditating on what is true, right and pure is the only antidote to the information offered to us through Satan’s world. (Philippians 4:8)

THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS – DEFENSE FOR OUR HEARTS

The defense of our heart begins with protecting our mind, as the path to our hearts is through our minds. This is one of the most important aspects of Christian warfare. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) What is in our figurative hearts defines who we really are, the inner person. Our heart is our seat of motivation. Everything we do, love or hate comes from our hearts.

The breastplate of a soldier’s armor protected his heart. So how can righteousness protect our figurative hearts? First, we must understand and accept that righteousness is only defined by one person – God. Not ourselves, not a politician (or other public figure), not our friends – not this world. Once we have accepted God’s standard on righteousness, this will cause us to reject any ‘wisdom’ we encounter in the world that changes, removes or disputes His standard. Over time this will develop in us a heart that hates evil but loves good. (Amos 5:15) Once our hearts have been conditioned to love what God loves, it will govern what we say and do. Speaking of Christ, Hebrews 1:9 tells us, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.” As our exemplar, we should strive to have a heart of Christ. It will define who we are as a Christian.

CHILDREN ARE PRIME TARGETS

The defense of our own hearts and minds is of utmost importance. In the outset of this article, I mentioned that a strategic initiative of an invading force would be to change the ideology of future generations as well. This means the minds and hearts of our children are prime targets.

Men, the attack upon our children is as fierce as I have ever seen it. Satan is using music, movies, TV shows, even children’s books to hack their little minds and pirate their precious hearts. More importantly, through school and colleges they are taught many ideas that directly conflict with God’s standards of righteousness. Whether through poor choices in friends or through the school curriculums, there is an active campaign against our children. Are you aware of who your children’s friends are? Do you know what is being taught in their classrooms? If we do not choose to fill their minds with the pure thoughts of God and to shape their identities as Christians – Satan will do his own filling. Do not test him. The Devil would love nothing more than to have his way with our children’s minds.

Our children need us to fight for them. Their futures depend on us forging child-sized helmets and breastplates to protect their minds and hearts. Let’s consider for a moment the example of a Christian youth – Timothy. Paul said this of him, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5) It was Timothy’s grandmother and mother who shaped his mind and conditioned his heart. Further counsel from God’s word admonishes us as fathers, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:19)

What are some practical ways we can apply this counsel? Bedtime stories are a great way. When fishing, hiking or involved in outdoor activities – use these moments to teach your kids about our Great Creator and God. When you drive them to school, impart God’s truths and wisdom with application for their day. If practical for your family, prayerfully consider a Christian school or college for your child. If not practical, be aware and involved in what public schools are actively putting into the minds of our kids. We are their fathers. As far as it is in our power, let’s make intentional choices what we allow into their minds and hearts.

CONCLUSION

t is our responsibility to start forging for our children a strong faith and passionate love for God’s standards from the moment we see their eyes the first time. Fight with a ferocity that the Devil has never encountered before. Fight as if their futures will be shaped by the effectiveness of the defense you mount because they will be.

We now have a full suit of armor that we can use to defend ourselves as well as our entire families. In this series we have considered:

• The sword of the Spirit
• The shield of faith
• The belt of truth
• Feet fitted with the gospel of peace
• The breastplate of righteousness
• The helmet of salvation

(www.communityspiritmagazine.com or www.issuu.com contains back issues of CSM to read the set).

Equip your armor men and scream back at the Devil, “You cannot have them! Not this child, not today!” Strike you swords against your shields and fight like men, in Jesus name, Amen!


I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories. man2man@omegaleague.com 

@omegaleagueman


Written by Teresa Goodnight

Easter brings about so many emotions, but gratitude usually tops the list. We stop in the season of Easter to remember Christ, His death–His burial–His Resurrection. Even when writing it seems a bit surreal to truly think through what those elements of Easter actually represent.

Every one of us has made mistakes of all shapes and sizes. God being both loving and just, with our simple logic, was sort of at a crossroads on what to do with our decision. He couldn’t just forgive our sins without a payment for them being that He is just. Without a payment, our choices were deadly. They brought about a destination separating us from God for eternity. On the other hand, God created us in His image. He seriously loved us. What in the world was He to do?

Being God, He knew exactly what He would do. It would require a sacrifice–the ultimate selfless act. God knew the way to bring man back into fellowship with Him was through the sacrifice of His one and only Son, Jesus. It sounds simple enough, but to truly understand the depth of that offering, it helps to think of someone we love deeply. Imagine that person tortured by ungrateful men, who didn’t care they were thrashing your loved one, while you had to watch. Imagine knowing your loved one was being sacrificed to pay for their mistakes. Imagine having the power to stop it, but choosing to love the accusers and the world so much that you let it happen. Imagine that moment, when broken, you turned your back because you couldn’t watch the final moment as the debt was finally paid. Can you even let your mind go there?
Stopping to thank God for His sacrifice, for the sacrifice of His Son–it’s not to be taken lightly. It WAS a big deal. It is THE BIG DEAL God made with Himself to remain both just and still our loving Father who paid the cost for our mistakes.

As you stop to do this in remembrance of Him, it might be more fitting for all of us to fall to our knees in humble gratitude. He paid a debt He did not owe. We owed a debt we simply could not afford to pay. The only thing worse than not being truly thankful for His sacrifice we didn’t deserve, would be to NOT accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Who else would do that for us? For you? He leaves that all important choice to us. However, one thing we can NEVER do is doubt His love for us. He loved us so much He gave His all that we might be made right. Where can we find bigger love than that?

One of my favorite Christian bands, DownHere penned one of my all time favorite Christmas songs in 2010. It brings me to tears just thinking about these lyrics:

“Follow the star to a place unexpected
Would you believe, after all we’ve projected,
A child in a manger?
Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mother’s shawl
Just a child
Is this who we’ve waited for?

‘Cause how many kings step down from their thrones
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Only one did that for me.


James 15:12-13 (NLT) “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

This Easter: Remember His death and sacrifice.
Celebrate His amazing resurrection.
Rest in His love.
There is no greater core to who we are as Christians than this display of UTTERLY AMAZING GRACE.
Then, when you stop to really think through what He did–do what
comes naturally and show that same full of grace love to everyone else.
The world is waiting for us to get this right.
I think God is too.

#GoDoBe

Written by Teresa Goodnight

Named a “Top Performing Community Bank” in the United States in 2018 by S&P Global Market Intelligence, (#2 out of 4383 to be exact), First Bank of Owasso continues to push beyond their city limits to lead the banking industry in more ways than one. They are also a top bank supporting churches and ministries, where they do about 60% of their business financing for entities in Oklahoma and around the country.

It’s not by accident. In fact, their vision statement is very specific to make their mission both known to all and on their hearts and minds:

“To help build the Kingdom by providing financial services and expertise in a responsive and God honoring manner.”

First Bank follows this vision statement through “Integrity. Caring. Excellence.” These values are even etched in stone above the entrance to their building. It isn’t every day you find a business so bold in their statement and mission for God.

As my curiosity led me to study their business model, I couldn’t help but think “People need to know what they are doing. Wouldn’t other Christians want their funds sitting where they could be used to support the Kingdom?” It frankly blew me away. Finding a group with such a mission, felt like discovering a nice little pot of gold under a rainbow. So, I called and asked Dee Sokolosky, President of First Bank, to let me come sit down for a few minutes to understand their story better. I wanted to see if it was REAL. Fortunately, Mr. Sokolosky did not disappoint!

Dee dove right in. He said, “It starts with the basic premise of the banking industry–bankers should lend money to clients whose business they understand, so they can add value to the client’s business.” Dee followed, “We really don’t do oil and gas lending or aircraft financing—we just don’t know anything about those businesses and don’t add anything to the equation. You aren’t adding anything really except cash if all you do is write somebody a check. Other than money, you really haven’t done a lot to make their business better.”

Dee said of First Bank, “We like to partner with clients to do just that–make the business better. So that’s how the mission to assist churches started. Not only do we have a Board of Directors who are very active in their churches, but we have five of our employees who are ordained or licensed ministers. We also have a number of pastors’ wives on staff, as well as dozens of regular church attendees. So, most of the people who work here have a very good knowledge of churches.

They are passionate about being followers of Christ. So, it’s what we believe we’re called to do–assist the Kingdom by doing what we know how to do.”

The bank started in 1962, as Owasso’s first financial institution. The two biggest things needed to have a vibrant community are a good school, of course, and a local financial institution for businesses to deposit and borrow money. Dee said, “In the 1990’s when things in Owasso really took off, there was a conscious decision by our board to focus on the faith-based community. All our board members are believers. All have been very active in church from Sunday school teachers to treasurers, elders, trustees, pianists and so forth. Three of our seven board members have even started a church. It’s just who we are.”

As most of us know, the banking industry has consolidated quite a bit over the last decade. Dee said, “When I got into banking 20 years ago, there were 365 banks in Oklahoma now there are 199 and the consolidation continues. So, the banking industry has become more and more corporate. Doing business with churches is difficult for some banks because churches often do not have audited financial statements. So, there’s a narrowing number of financial institutions serving this community. In fact, a lot of the big banks nationwide have gotten out of the church business altogether for this reason.” Dee went on, “As the shift happened, First Bank of Owasso stepped up to fill the gap. It allowed us to expand beyond Oklahoma, where we now serve about 225 churches in 28 states. With the word-of-mouth and building relationships with denominational leaders, in less than 20 years, First Bank has gone from lending $3 million to churches to over $185 million. Plus, it’s now 60% of our business.”

First Bank of Owasso is also different in how they hire. They don’t spend a lot of time looking for someone with any banking experience. In fact, Dee said that it’s not even on the checklist. “What’s on the checklist,” according to Dee, “is having a servant’s heart.” Dee stated, “We tell employees we work in the second most emotional profession. Healthcare is number one, but finances is number two. People have issues. They have challenges. Everything from the enormous length of a home mortgage application to people losing their debit card or having difficulties balancing their checkbook. So, if you get frustrated helping people in that arena, you’re simply not the right employee for us. You need to want to remove obstacles and make people’s lives a little easier in this one area that we know something about.”

One thing Dee mentioned that CAN be tougher for First Bank is getting enough deposits in the bank for all the opportunities out there to help churches. Dee said, “When you are a community bank in a community of about 36,000 residents, getting funds is key.” Dee went on, “To be a national church lender when you’re raising deposits from a small group requires like-minded partners from other locations, more than just Owasso. So, the First Bank team started deposit gathering efforts to fund our purpose. People just assume banks have a supply of money, but we’re not the federal government. We obviously can’t go print money.” Then he added, “We can only loan money that somebody puts in the bank. So, we’ve really been reaching out to the nonprofit community and other Christian business people with savings accounts or cash reserves they aren’t currently using. Those deposits can help us have greater reach to help churches.”

Dee gave a great example, “There might be a church in a building campaign, but they haven’t started using the money yet. They are still gathering funds and making plans. So, we can be the bank to hold those funds until that client needs them for their own use. That’s been a real focus–developing a quality deposit product and paying a really good rate of interest.” he said. Dee added,

“Other strong candidates for the bank are Christian Universities and private Christian schools wanting to further increase their impact with their reserves.”

One of the critical enablers for First Bank of Owasso has been electronic account management. Dee said, “With current technology, you now don’t need to live across the street from your bank. The number of people walking in to cash a check is reduced. The number of people that need to come to your drive-in is also reduced. When you can have your account here electronically and you can use your debit card it’s just a much easier way to join us in our mission.” Dee also shared “First Bank is also part of the Transfund ATM network, so any of the Transfund ATM’s in Tulsa allow banking with First Bank. It’s just taking the time to open an account and transfer funds.” Dee added, “We even have some nonprofits in places like Kansas City sending their money here to be part of what we do. We have other clients closer, in Oklahoma City, with money here as well. The whole face of banking has really changed; thus, making our mission part of your own mission is pretty simple to do.”

“It’s an interesting element to banking. It’s relatively simple. It just takes time to meet people and tell your story. Once they understand what we’re doing with their money, they get excited.” said Dee.

“A lot of us have never been on a mission trip or don’t have the opportunity to go to challenging parts of the country,” he said, “but they can be a part of reaching all kinds of places right from their homes.”

Dee added, “We have probably 25 loans in North Tulsa to different churches, but we also have loans to churches in East Cleveland, Ohio, Baltimore, MD, Grand Rapids, MI and the outskirts of Chicago, IL. Those are places many of us would not visit to go on a mission trip to help the kingdom in that area. However, for our customers to know their deposited money is on a missions trip, because we’re loaning it to minority churches in Chicago is a big deal.” Dee said, “A third of all of our loans to churches are to a minority congregation–to Hispanic churches, Korean churches, Slavic churches, and African-American churches, to name a few. We’re spreading our help beyond our city walls.”

Dee laughed, as I ended my interview with such a baffled look. I have no poker face. I just wondered if Christian businesses knew First Bank of Owasso’s mission, why everyone wouldn’t want to move their money there. Where else can money you need to have sitting safely in a bank earning interest be put to so much good for the Kingdom of God? Then my mind started thinking about the tithes from the payroll local churches must get. I knew right then it was a story that needed told!

We pooled. TWICE.

People always get a little torn about why they would or wouldn’t want a pool. There are good reasons on both sides. There’s always the kids and the grandkids enjoyment for an easy win. They love pools. Many adults do as well. However, we pooled twice, because we are BIG on aesthetically pleasing living environments.

Our pool is NOT just a place to swim, although our daughter definitely enjoys it more than we have room to share. But, there are 12 months in the year–we wanted a pool to help us enjoy every one of them. We wanted our pool to create an atmosphere for our patio and home, where it could be enjoyed from all vantage points. We wanted to incorporate fire and water elements to bring a big dose of ambiance. We have traveled all over the world and always enjoy the fire and water elements of hotels. Colorado and New York probably have our favorites. So, we needed an “out of the box” dreamer to work with us in Tulsa. We hadn’t seen a lot of what we liked anywhere here. Enter Travis Hogan and team with Fiesta Pools.

In the first pool, we used Fiesta to create an Italian-themed water space. Due to smaller yards in today’s neighborhoods, we chose a freeform pool to best fill the space with an outdoor oasis. Starting to the left, Fiesta created a hot tub with water flowing over into the pool, giving us a completely peaceful mood both in our outdoor space, as well as in our covered patio area. In fact, the view went throughout our kitchen/dining space in the house to bring the outdoors in. The sound of beautifully flowing water cascaded throughout our home. Every party guest or visitor to our home marveled at the calming effect. Fiesta worked with us to transform this dreamy little Italian heaven in Tulsa idea into reality.

Curving around from the large hot tub, the team built up a 20-foot firewall utilizing water scuppers Fiesta suggested to add even more water flow and a warmer contrasting characteristic for the pool. Scuppers create flowing water and a remarkable level of sound for just the right atmosphere. Curving even further to the right, Fiesta suggested a rainfall curtain that aligned with the opening on our patio to give visibility from the kitchen and dining areas out to the feature. The rain fell onto a lovely tanning ledge, as Fiesta had us add 3 of those areas to the pool. With an infant, they gave wonderful areas for her to sit and play in the pool with us; then, they doubled for a great place to put a lounger and soak up the sun from the cool of the water.

Fiesta was so creative along the way as they partnered with us. We wanted some form of table in the water. They suggested building out seating around the pool edge that provided a uniquely enjoyable area to eat and drink in the pool while soaking up the views and sounds. The table was equipped with a removable umbrella, just like the tanning ledges, which gave shade when needed from those fierce Oklahoma heat waves.

As if their design help wasn’t enough, Fiesta also led us to the best “We love it but don’t wanna mess with it” pool system we’ve ever seen. We’re also not the biggest fans of over-using chemicals in pools. Fiesta suggested an Ozone system with ultraviolet light to clean the pool, which barely required any chemicals be added at all. They paired it with jets on the bottom of the pool, which pushed any debris out through the filter. Having had a standard pool before—we could NOT believe how little we ever did to the thing to keep it looking perfect all the time. As busy career travelers, we didn’t spend a lot of time at home. So, we would come back to the pool and find it pristine, WITHOUT the expense of the weekly pool teams coming around. (No offense pool teams—because Fiesta has some great ones!). It was unbelievable.

Our First Pool

We told Fiesta they had created the ultimate lazy man’s pool. By the time they added the iPhone control system—it became even more than the backyard in our dreams. We could flip on the hot tub from dinner to have it heated just perfectly by the time we walked in the door. There are some little convenient luxuries that leave you feeling 100% spoiled. Fiesta helped us pick and choose what worked best with our dreams and our budget. Fiesta even had quick service to head over to tweak anything needed. Travis made sure our experience was so good that we headed back in for round two just a few years later!

Take Two:

Funny enough, we wanted to take a little break from Tulsa life before our daughter entered school. We think it was the clanging sounds of lost freedom for the older parents ringing. We weren’t sure, but we happened to have an adventurous little traveler side kick and thought let’s go.

So, we sold the new house with the new pool. Yeah. We know. Ugh. However, the pool recouped much of our expense when we sold the house because there was no house with a matching ambiance. Truth is, if you do it right—it’s a serious selling point.

Fast forward. We quickly found we were past the jet setting free-spirited lifestyle. The little one loved her exploratory time all over Florida, from Disney to the Keys, but we were ready to come home. (Don’t let my husband tell the story without me, as he makes me out to be the bad guy who enjoys buying and selling houses!).

Anyway, we started the ever-long pilgrimage for a new house. We knew we wanted to recreate the feel we had before—as much as possible in a new yard. In fact, we even wanted to upgrade our view from our living area to really bring the outside into our main living space. We settled on a fun fixer-upper house in South Tulsa with a pre-existing, outdated pool. Someone had actually re-plastered it but we soon realized that what appeared to be dirt on the floor were actually footprints walking out of the pool. And, that long line of dirt—that was from the hose. We CANNOT stress the importance of finding someone skilled like Fiesta to do the job correctly.

Our New Pool: BEFORE

Once we realized the mess, it was beyond our ability to not be frustrated every time we looked at it. The pool also had a long diving board that felt a little dangerous for our little one. So, we called Fiesta to see what we could do to create the same type of atmosphere at our new place. We did give a few others a chance to bid, as we felt that was the must-do step in the process. However, Fiesta came back both with the best design and a price that fit nicely in our budget!

Travis and his team came right over with their design ideas and went to work. They treated the old plaster to replace it with a new gray, bringing a nice teal color out in the water. While doing so, they created a tanning ledge. They also completely updated our walkway with a new color complementing the whole scene.

Our New Pool: After

And, of course, Fiesta put in an extended firewall, with scuppers, creating a beautiful waterfall effect. The wall is about 15 feet long and curved around the edge. With the new look of our patio and windows, the wall of fire and water can be seen from the living room sofa, as well as the covered three season room on the back of our house. We found an incredible black and cream designed tile which coordinated with our fireplace rock and our reclaimed wood surrounding our patio fireplace. Plus, as an added bonus, the tile matched our indoor design perfectly, creating another beautiful backyard retreat to be enjoyed year ‘round inside and outside of our home.

We personally found using a high-quality pool company, like Fiesta, was the right decision for us–twice.

Plus, their pricing was well within our project budget. In fact, they gave us a little back in the end on the second project, as they actually came in UNDER budget. (Yeah. You read that right!) That financial surprise was just icing on the gorgeous backyard cake!

(And, for the record, this dual set of positive experiences with award-winning style backyards was all BEFORE we ever thought about buying the magazine and sharing our experience with you in here!)

Flies. I won’t lie. The little guys drive me nuts. They land on my arm, my food, my glass. They are annoying. We built this beautiful patio with slide open doors looking over an amazing pool, but there were flies in my soup for crying out loud. Plus, I found mosquitos hovering over my bare skin eager to pass on whatever they picked up from their last meal. I may be the fan of the outdoors, but on the flipside, I’m the biggest wimp about exasperating insects. Call me high maintenance. I don’t care. It’s just my reality.

Dinners on the patio exasperated me. Finally, my husband and I would bring our food back indoors. I know. Everyone thinks screens. However, my high maintenance side didn’t want small sections of screens and their vertical guides disturbing my view. They weren’t part of my sanctuary.

Enter Heidi Roy with Tulsa Area Screens. I found her screens while dining in south Tulsa. I needed to know more. Heidi came over to explain her Phantom Screen product. I began to imagine a beautiful bug free life for my backyard oasis without obstructions. The Phantom screens were automatic, hidden when retracted, and created a whole new living area for the house. They were essentially screen walls.

Without Screen
With Screen

With Heidi’s screens installed, I would FINALLY enjoy everything I loved about the outdoors without suffering from everything I didn’t. Remote controlled. Really? With the touch of a button, there they were (or weren’t). Instead of creating a sun room with permanent screens and multiple pieces of wood in my view, she could install large spans of screens without all the barriers blocking my view. (Our current screen is just over 20 feet long!)

My husband jokes, “Those screens saved our marriage.” Laugh if you want, but we could now BOTH enjoy dinner on the patio while taking in the waterfall, fire wall, pool, and a flick on our outdoor tv. It was literally just an extension of our living area. We could throw open our giant sliding doors and let the sound of the water into the living area. Parties were now incredible, as the screens brought the outdoors in without everything small and annoying. Plus, the screens offered protection from the sun, as the back of our house was blessed with lovely sunsets beaming in our eyes nightly.

With the new home, we created our pool redesign discussed with Fiesta Pools, but we immediately called Tulsa Area Screens. Heidi laughed, as we were a bit away from being able to install when we called her. However, we wanted to map out a plan to redesign our outdoor escape. The team consulted with us on how to accommodate a straight screen wall. Our entire patio design was purposeful to accommodate the screen, although they can be installed along any straight edge. When done, once again, we could throw open doors out of our living room and walk into our backyard, bug-free, paradise.

As if the bliss from a fly-free, mosquito-free zone wasn’t enough, the first time we purchased the screens, we found they offered my paranoid parent self an additional barrier between my daughter and the pool. We could never throw open the doors and walk around the house doing other things if the screens weren’t such a protective device. As a mom who invented my own brand of supersonic helicopter parenting, the screens gave me peace of mind. Plus, of course, a peaceful ambiance for my entire house and outdoor living area.

We chose the screens with the most unobstructed view, but Tulsa Area Screens offers multiple options based on your specific needs. Our first patio mixed sun blocking dynamic screens to offer protection from the beautiful sunsets reflecting off tv screens and electronic devices. Can you imagine working at home from a screened patio with sun and wind protection, while allowing the soothing sound and beauty of your outdoor pool from Fiesta to set the relaxing tone? Now that’s a home office!

Fiesta Pools and Tulsa Area Screens were a match made for my heaven it seemed! I strongly recommend you try one or both out before summer gets here. Just sayin’.

Without Screen
With Screen
TulsaAreaScreens.com | (918) 29-1756

Written by Mike Henry Sr.: Follower of One

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” (Matthew 19:29-30 ESV)

Put yourself at the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Imagine asking, “Wouldn’t Jesus be the king that would restore, or establish, Israel as a world power?” “Didn’t he tell of the coming kingdom of heaven?” Before this day, many Jews expected God’s kingdom to reign and end Roman rule any day. But in a matter of hours, they arrested, convicted and killed the King of the Jews.

Jesus’ death must have dumbfounded many. Days earlier people laid palm branches and praised him. Then the Jewish leaders arrested him, tried him illegally, and treated him worse than a common criminal. Then the Romans and the Jews together ridiculed him, beat him, and killed him.

Unexplainable Despair

If I lived that day, I think my energy and national pride had a chance. When the Roman soldiers buried Jesus, they also buried the hope of many Jews. Even though Jesus tried to tell them, no one dreamed what would happen next.

Unexplainable Savior

On Sunday, everything changed. I like to imagine walking to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) that day. Imagine having Jesus explain the prophecies that pointed to him from Scripture. After Pentecost, the Holy Spirit indwells and transforms Christ’s followers and they begin their eternal life. We can live our eternal life every workday of every week. But do we? Can your coworkers explain your life?

No one could explain the resurrection. And it’s hard to explain a life Jesus changes. When we live a genuine, authentic, transformed life God mixes our life with our coworker’s experiences to make himself visible.

Unexplainable Work

When a Christ-follower gives away their life, that’s unexplainable. When I first started my career, business was all about climbing your way to the top. Terms like “dog-eat-dog” and “corporate ladder” were in fashion. While business became more civil over the years, we still project negative motives on people we don’t know. We assume most people are “in it for themselves.” We have an expected level of civility for business interactions. Operate beneath that level and we think you’re a jerk. Be more civil, more graceful, more giving and we wonder what you’re up to.

When a Jesus-follower exceeds norms for generosity with our time (not our boss’ time), our energy, money, career, attention, or gratitude, others might notice. If we try to make them notice, we have our reward (Matthew 6:1-6). But a humble, generous, graceful life is unexplainable. If we give our loaves and fish, or if we give grace and generosity beyond our job expectations, we join Jesus as he makes himself visible.

God gives you life as you give your life away. In the civilized American work world, we rarely suffer, but we could get ostracized or passed up for promotions. Even if we receive harsh treatment, we know God causes good from all things (Romans 8:28). Whatever we give away, Jesus says we will receive a hundred times as much and eternal life. As we give, we join Jesus, in his kingdom now and forever and we receive a huge reward.

If we serve others with an ulterior motive, people will sniff it out. We each have sincerity radar. We can sense when someone fakes sincerity, empathy and compassion. But if you give your stuff and your life away simply because Jesus saved us to, over time your coworkers’ explanations won’t fit. Then they must search for a different explanation.


Unexplainable Life

Begin your new, eternal, unexplainable life with prayer. Tell Jesus, “Here I am” each morning. Ask him to use you in the lives of everyone you meet. Jesus may challenge you to write notes to people or to give away small gift cards. He may challenge you to remember the names of your coworker’s family members. The Holy Spirit may challenge you to work late or come in early to help others. You may need to get ahead in your job so others can interrupt you without affecting your overall performance.

Whatever you do, give your company a great effort, and give even more to the people you interact with most. Use your personal time and resources to bring favor to the people you interact with every day. Your unexplainable life will cause people to question and God will their curiosity to accomplish his purposes.

Journey Fitness

Church pastors receive a free membership. Say, what?

That’s right. I talked with Journey Fitness about their heart for ministry. They are a different kind of gym. Most don’t realize they are a fitness center built on their call from God. As such, they operate a different kind of facility. Kindness—check. Integrity—check. Amazing facility—check. They even have a slightly stricter dress code to create a healthier atmosphere. How people are dressing in a co-ed environment, like a gym, matters. If you can walk in and feel comfortable with the people you see—it sets a better tone for working out.

Journey Fitness appeals to all ages, shapes and sizes, but the 45+ crowd really love to call it home. It’s a great environment for people wanting a more pleasing ambiance to get fit or stay healthy. Journey doesn’t offer childcare, but older children can sit quietly at the table up front with homework, a book or even iPads. The facility itself is impeccable, with all the equipment you would expect. Plus, it offers super clean locker rooms, showers, and even great lockers. However, the difference doesn’t stop there.

Zachary and Michelle Buford, owners of Journey Fitness, felt called to open their gym to pastors for their use without needing a membership. Zachary said, “We know pastors carry a bigger burden than most realize. We feel they can create peer relationships with pastors from other churches. Those relationships can be beneficial in all sorts of ways–from simply workout partners to accountability partners outside their circle. It really depends on what they need. They can share struggles they face with their congregation or in their personal lives as pastors. They can offer solutions they’ve found to those problems. When these pastors get together, they can take the relationship to whatever level makes sense.” Zachary and Michelle both have a heart for reaching out and supporting pastors and really the body of Christ. They also love the concept of the “C”hurch coming together in all areas of life for strength and encouragement.

Zachary and Michelle might be more right than they even realize. Pastors are on a tough road. In some ways, they are just taken for granted as they carry their crosses to impact the city for Christ. They face enormous amounts of criticism with our ever-growing opinion-sharing society. Their time is spent counseling when there’s a need for conflict resolutions, which can center around personality-type disputes in the congregation rather than issues needing Biblical clarity. Add in trying to find time for their family or some “me” time to just decompress and it’s no wonder many pastors face depression. Plus, let’s face it, we don’t often hear of pastors bringing home enormous salaries. They are often struggling financially, which can also leave their marriages struggling. If all of these weren’t enough—we also know burnout is real when you’re working in a capacity under so much stress with less support than needed. They are called to care for their church and it takes on a whole host of meanings depending on their church; the weight of that burden alone can feel perilous.

For Zachary and Michelle, their heart is to offer pastors a safe place to come, where they can take a little personal time without hurting the family budget. Working out can be such a great stress reliever as we all know. (Well, we all know it—we don’t always all do it!). When pastors come together, they can gain support from each other, learn from each other, and pray with each other. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone outside of your circle to confide in as you try to sort through your struggles whatever they might be. Sometimes it’s nice to slip into a safe environment, surrounded with some like-minded individuals and breathe. Zachary and Michelle hope Journey Fitness can be all of that PLUS a great way to stay healthy for these pastors. They want to support them. So, they just thought, “Let’s just give them that opportunity.”

Zachary said, “We’re not the gym for everyone and that’s OK. We’re more the gym you think of when you’re sitting around wanting a gym where you can feel at home.” The gym has 24/7 access, parking right at the door, and cancelation notices of only 48 hours. Their policies are really in line with their character.

We suggest you give it a try to feel the difference. With a 1-day pass available right on the internet, you can hop in and check it out. Plus, send your pastors their way. Free is great. Super facilities and kind staff for free, well that’s something really worth sharing.

Journey Fitness |(918) 895-9098 | JourneyFitness.com
10846 S Memorial Dr, Ste 103 Tulsa, Oklahoma

Free Wellness Education Seminar

You hear it all the time. You probably even believe it. However, most do not act on it.

Vitamins and minerals are essential to our bodies in order to function properly.

The problem is we can survive for quite a long time with a deficiency without seeing the devastating effects to our bodies. Suddenly, we are faced with a health crisis. We start to treat it with the pharmaceutical of the day.

However, in many cases, we can course correct with a special diet and nutrition.Oftentimes we are not tested for vitamin deficiencies, which might be at the core of our problem. Problems from vitamin deficiency don’t crop up overnight. They come from a lifetime of not paying attention to what matters most.
In some cases, those deficiencies can be caused by our genes.

Dr. Gonzales’ office offers a wellness section inside their clinic testing on vitamins and nutrition deficiencies. Many patients can reverse inflammation, exhaustion, skin disorders and even infertility with modifications to their regimen. In one case, a female who had faced multiple miscarriages found out her body didn’t properly process folic acid, which is needed for a baby’s neurological development. The patient started quality supplements to treat another health condition and found herself pregnant at 44, delivering her first perfectly healthy child. Proper treatments MAY help course correct some of the effects patients are experiencing.

When Community Spirit Magazine found out Dr. Gonzalez was hosting a free Wellness Education Seminar with a renowned naturopathic doctor for FREE right here in Tulsa, we wanted to tell our readers. Dr. Andre Alexander Kulisz is an international consultant in the area of neurotoxicity and chronic inflammatory conditions.

We have seen first hand the detrimental effects of inflammation caused by everything from food allergies to improper dietary choices. If you or a loved one experiences any kind of health condition possibly related to these conditions, it’s worth dropping by for the event. It could be the key to healing and restoration you’ve been seeking!

Date: April 12, Friday at 10-1:30
Where: Tulsa
Neurospecialists
5010 Esat 66th Street #102
Tulsa, OK 74136

Written by Andrea Stephens

I’d been on mission trips before, but this one was different.

Having recently been given the opportunity to write a column in Focus On The Family’s BRIO Magazine for teen girls, I was invited to be part of their annual mission trip. That year they were headed to Costa Rica. Hmmmm. Sharing the gospel, leading a team of eager young women who loved Jesus, and getting to experience a different culture—I was in!

The plan was to have the girls, coming from all over the U.S., meet in Miami for several days of training. Then on chartered planes, all 250 of us would fly to San Jose,
(I thought organizing 250 excited teenager girls sounded like the challenge of a lifetime until several years later when the group had grown to 850!). Right after the early morning breakfast buffet, the girls were divided into twelve teams and taught choreography to a powerful 25-minute drama presentation of the gospel called Spellbound. They also had daily sessions of language learning and the opportunity to fine-tune their personal testimony of God’s work in their lives which they would be sharing at their various ministry sites around San Jose.

My main assignment while in Miami was to encourage my team during rehearsals, make sure everyone had called home at least once, help finalize costumes, and practice Spanish phrases. The days were long and rushed but worth every second once we touched down on Costa Rician soil, ready to tell others of the love of God and saving grace of Jesus. I was excited that these precious girls were about to be obedient to Jesus’ command to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). Each morning I led team devotions, then getting on our knees, we asked the Lord to lead us, guide us, and grant us favor as we presented the drama at parks, schools, and open market squares. We asked the Holy Spirit to be at work in the hearts of those watching the drama and, in our hearts, as well.

Each night, at the close of an adventure filled day, all the teams gathered together to share stories and to thank the Lord for all He was doing. The worship offered during these times was very genuine. Coupled with my private morning devo time, I began to experience a stirring deep inside of me—an unsettled feeling that I had felt before. Call it a yearning, a feeling of discontent, a touch of heart ache. Being on a mission trip where I was able to spend extra time in the Word and prayer drew my attention to the stirring. At home, with the busyness of life, it is both easier and necessary to push down the thoughts and feelings that are trying to rise to the surface; the very things that the Holy Spirit is wanting to use to get our attention about something. Well, this was one of my somethings. So, I asked the Lord to explain this to me. And he did.

His answer came the next afternoon. We returned from ministry a little early so the teams had free-time until dinner. Ah! I welcomed the extra time to recharge alone in my room. I had been reading in the Psalms, so I picked up my Bible to continue looking into these/this collection of thoughts and prayers as expressed through their author, King David.
I was reading Psalm 63 when I got it. This Psalm talks about seeking God, thirsting for Him, and yearning for Him. Seeking, thirsting, yearning. Another word to express how David was feeling is the word longing. David was longing for God. This is when the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to what was really stirring around deep inside of me. I was feeling what I was feeling because I was actually…homesick. Homesick?

The idea took me by surprise.

Yet it explained the days when I felt out of sorts, not quite comfortable whether I’m at work, in line at Starbucks, rushing through Walmart or reheating leftovers for dinner. I knew this was more than just needing a long soak in a hot tub with lavender scented bath salts. It would easily be mislabeled as loneliness or interpreted as depression. But those words did not accurately describe what I felt. These were times when it feels like something is missing and I just long for more. Now I understood. I was longing for my heavenly home. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not talking about an eerie death wish. I’m talking about a deep longing to be in that place where we, as believers and children of God, will experience belonging, satisfaction, wholeness, total acceptance, and of course, a love like no other.
When we have developed an intimate personal relationship with Jesus—the kind that goes beyond Sunday morning casual Christianity—our longing for home makes total sense. Girlfriend let’s do a quick review: We have been transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. Yes, out of the Dominion of Satan into the Kingdom of God. We have become new creations—made new in our spirit which now houses the Holy Spirit, which now makes us children of the most High, ever-present, ever-loving Father! Right now we are citizens of Heaven, our real home. We are God’s ambassadors here on this earth from that moment on. We are on assignment, getting our orders from headquarters, fulfilling God’s purpose for us to love others and tell them about Jesus. (Colossians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Philippians 3:20, 2 Corinthians 5:20, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 16:15).

So this longing in me was not a bad thing, it was a good thing; not a negative feeling, but a positive one. Have you felt the longing? Perhaps you chalked it up to PMS or your biorhythms being off or a general dissatisfaction with life. If so, knowing it is a desire to be more deeply connected with your Heavenly Father is very freeing. And very good.
So what do we do to help satisfy the longing until the day our Heavenly Father calls us home? We spend more time in the Word, pray without ceasing, surround ourselves with worship music, serve Him by serving others, fellowship with other believers—all things that help us keep our hearts and minds set on Jesus so that we will have peace for our longing. And we choose to rejoice in the Lord always and give thanks in everything (Philippians 4:6-9). Yes, I have learned to be content and grateful for the stirring inside of me. It is confirmation that I am connected to my Heavenly Father and that my longing will one day be fulfilled when I live in my heavenly home where I will spend eternity.

None of this would be possible without the sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf by going to the cross. He willingly chose to die a painful criminal’s death in order to break the power of sin and death, to pay the penalty I could never pay for myself, to provide the beautiful gifts of salvation, forgiveness and grace, and to open the door for me to be in direct relationship with my Father-God. Because of God’s incredible love, He would have done all of this just for me. But He didn’t. He did it for you, too.

This month as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection let’s also rejoice that we experience a sense of longing every now and then.

Let it be a reminder that because we have accepted Jesus into our lives as Savior and Lord, we are now the children of God. Our culture teaches that we are all God’s children yet the scripture is clear that Jesus gives us the right to become children of God. We are all God’s creations, yet we become His children through Jesus. (John 1:12). In God’s selected timing, we are children who will one day be home where that longing will be turned into fullness of joy. (Psalm 16: 11).