Category: FAMILY

Written by Andrea Stephens

My puffy brown parka is being moved to the back of the closet. My gloves—the red, the lime, and the black ones—await their turned to be tucked away in a drawer.  My boots, which are all black except for the chocolate and ivory imitation snake-skin cowboy boots that I had to buy once I moved back to Oklahoma, are being returned to the big suitcase that stores them during the warmer months (my creative way of dealing with small closets).

Yes, it is time to shed the winter outerwear and prepare for the spring months.  I look forward to leaving the winter days behind and enjoying longer days of sunlight, warm breezes, and the first sighting of purple crocus and yellow daffodils. (I love that God programmed these two flowers to be among the first to bloom. Purple and yellow are opposites on the color wheel.  When placed together, they create a strong visual pop that is energizing to our senses.  Our Father knew we would need a little pop at this point in our lives.)

Are you looking forward to this change of seasons?  Perhaps you are so busy with the things of life that you aren’t especially tuned into the shifting of seasons.  Or maybe you are one of the thousands of women who are emotionally moved by the grey skies and leafless trees.  Women are especially sensitive to seasonal changes, meaning that the unpleasant weather happening around us can greatly affect what is happening inside of us.  Shorter days, cloudy skies, freezing rain, cold winds—can contribute to felling down, sadness, lack of motivation, and even sensing distance from God.

The official name for this is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but in layman’s terms it is having a bad case of the blues!  An ongoing dose of blah.  Of course, there are other things that can land us in the blues like never-ending laundry, figuring out dinner again, a newborn that refuses to nurse, an argument with a friend, being laid off, so many possibilities.  Ugh.  Life can just be hard, right? 

The good news for us is the truth that this is one of the very reasons Jesus came to earth.  On that pivotal day in the temple when Jesus stood and read from the scroll, the text announced His purpose which included setting free the oppressed, downtrodden, heavy-hearted, and well, just plain blue!  (Luke 4:18 – 19).  Jesus came Himself to rescue us from the everyday blues.

Stephen S. ILardi, PhD, researcher and author of The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs, has developed a clinically-proven program he calls Therapeutic Lifestyle Change or TLC.  When applied, people successfully come out of the blues. 

ILardi shares that TLC has lots of benefits.  Not only do you boost your feel-good potential, you might also experience “weight loss, increased energy, lower blood pressure, improved cardiac health, better immune function, reduced inflammation, greater mental clarification, enhanced sense of well-being.”  Those are awesome side effects!

So, let’s take a look.  Here are his six suggestions, along with a few of my own (I’m quite experienced with battling the blues).

1.  Eat to Beat the Blues.  While increasing fruits and veggies combined with cutting back on all things sugar is highly important, so is eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, walnuts, chia and flaxseeds.  This benefits your brain as well as your body.  Dr. ILardi recommends taking an Omega-3 supplement with a 2:1 ration of EPA:DHA. (Check with your doctor before taking any new supplement).

2.  Get moving.  Physical exercise releases your body’s natural feel-good hormone called endorphins.  If you are not used to exercising, start with simple heel lifts and marching in place, then a brisk walk outside or at the indoor mall.  Work up to brisk walking, biking (outdoor or stationary), pilates, or whatever you will enjoy.

3.  Get lost in a healthy activity. Doing something that keeps your mind occupied on down days will help lift your mood.  Try working a puzzle or a word search game, playing solitaire, baking something to share with a neighbor or reading the latest Karen Kingsbury novel.

4.  Soak up the rays.  Sunlight exposure is a definite blues blaster. There are special sun lamps available that are helpful during the cold dark days.  Try creating more light around your house—flip on some switches, open the curtains.  Light some candles and enjoy their warm glow.  While you sit near a window, think about the super sunny days of summer that will be here soon.            

5.  Be with people—especially other believers.  Social interaction can lift your morale (being alone and isolated can lend itself to feeling blue).  Do what works for you—invite friends over, visit family members, go to the movies, join a gym, volunteer at your church or a local non-profit.  Even window shopping at the mall at least gets you out and about—just beware of using a spending spree to help yourself feel better.                        

6.  Get the right amount of sleep. Deep sleep is needed for our minds and bodies to stay balanced. So, do your best to get the recommended 8 hours per night. However, if you are finding that your favorite activity on grey days is staying in bed all day, we need to talk!

7.  Scripture says to take your thoughts captive—yes, cuff them, lock them in jail, and throw away the key!  (2 Corinthians 10:5) Then we need to change or redirect our down ways of thinking. King David, a famous Old Testament personality, identified with feeling down and with choosing to refocus his attention.  In Psalm 42:11 (NLT) he recognized that he felt down in the dumps, that he didn’t understand it, “Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad?”  But then he encouraged himself in the Lord when he said, “I will put my hope in God!  I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”  David not only had a case of the blues, he was trying hard to understand it.  Ever been there?  Redirecting your thoughts and using positive self-talk will help.  Putting your hope in God is also key.  Hope is confident expectation of what God is going to do.

8.  Read, Pray and Praise.  These are the three most important keys to overcoming the blues.  God’s Word is spirit and life.  It is alive and active.  Reading the scriptures early in the morning can set the tone for the remainder of the day.  Prayer does the same thing.  Talking to God about how you feel, what you are going through, what you need will lighten your heart as you choose to trust Him.  Listen quietly for His response which usually comes in a still, small, voice.  Add praise—the best blues buster ever.  Whether you love traditional hymns, modern worship music, or a combo of both, make praise part of your daily routine.  Sing, dance, kneel, raise your hands, just do it.

9.  Hahahahaha!  Do or watch something that makes you laugh.  There is scientific proof that laughter helps people heal physically and emotionally. Even scripture says that a joyful heart is like medicine to your overall well-being (Proverbs 17:22).  So, what makes you laugh?  Get more of it!

This is a practical approach to getting out of the winter blahs.  It helps lift and helps prevent the blues.  TLC has physical and psychological benefits for everyone!  Simply put, getting out of the blues is about taking care of yourself.  Often times women put themselves last on the care list with husband, kids, job, errands, etc. coming first.  You need some TLC as well.  A little Therapeutic Lifestyle Change will not only be good for you but for those you care for.  You’ve heard the expression put your own oxygen mask on first.  This is not only important in the case of cabin pressure change on an airplane but for you as well.  It is necessary for your role as women to take time for yourself; to grab bits of time that come open during our week to workout, meet a friend for coffee, attend bible study or prayer group, take a nap, drink a protein smoothie, even a 20-minute chair massage at the mall—one of my favorite self-care treats.  You are worth it and those you care for think so, too.

Note:  If you or a loved one is experiencing a severe case of the blues, it might be clinical depression.  Reach out to your family doctor and to a Christian therapist for help.  Depression is treatable with various therapies, possible medication, and lots of TLC!

If you are in need of a therapist, we do recommend Christian Family Institute www.christianfamilyinsitute.com at 918.745.0095 or Counseling Services of Tulsa www.counselingservicesoftulsa.com at 918.574.2722.  Let them know Community Spirit sent you!


Written by Teresa Goodnight

With tears running down my cheeks, I heard the cancer specialist explain there was nothing we could do for my grandmother last year. I watched her face, as she didn’t quite understand what he was saying. I held her hand. My mother asked questions that I tuned out, as the only information that mattered was that my grandmother’s days were short In number. We walked downstairs to sit outside, while my mother went to get the car. My grandmother asked me what the doctor had meant. “Is there anything they can do?” she asked.

I tried to avoid the conversation. I didn’t want to say it. She pressed me again. So, I answered. She held my trembling hand in her fragile thinning hand and assured me it was ok. She then told me that the world was getting further and further from God. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if Jesus came back before anything happened. The one thing she assured me of, which I already knew, was that if Jesus didn’t come back first, she would beat me to heaven. We lost my grandmother a few weeks later. 

A month after she passed, my mother handed me her Bible. It may be one of the most meaningful things I ever received. I didn’t even know I wanted it. It was full of bookmarkers I had given her, the gift note in my handwriting to Josephine Rhyne, when we gave it to her Christmas of 1993. It had a postcard I sent her from Cannes in 1999. There were notes here and there, underlined texts, and passages of importance written on papers folded between the pages. 

I treasure every little one of them.

“I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you…for God has not given you a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:5-7 NLV.

My grandmother’s legacy was not one of fortune or fame, but one of faith in God. She made her share of mistakes, triumphs, and sacrifices. She scolded me when I was frustrated with my mom or my sisters. She reminded me to forgive as I had been forgiven. She taught me every Christian makes mistakes—ones they regret, confess, and are forgiven for by God. In our last lucid conversation, she told me to go pay attention to my husband, because she always valued relationships in the family and reminded me to cherish the incredible men I had been given in my grandfather, father and my husband. Her advice was stern when needed but laced with love and beautiful grace all the same.

Goodness. I do miss her. I remember sneaking into “big church” lying with my head or my feet across her and my mom. Oh, if I could go back to those days and soak it all in just a little longer. But truth is—I did soak it in. We soaked it in. Her faith was passed on to my mother. They both passed it to me. I will pass it to my daughter. It will be passed from generation to generation. 

So many people spend hours on their wills, outlining every precious thing they own and selecting who will receive what. It’s a thoughtful process and I’m sure filled with love. However, what my grandmother left for my mother, for me, for my sisters, and her grandchildren and all of her family that we cherish was her living, breathing faith in God. It is a legacy impacting us all for eternity. There is no amount of money and no treasure as great, as the treasure of God her legacy helped plant in my heart. 

Think hard about the legacy you are leaving behind. Whether intentional or by chance, we are all leaving one. At Community Spirit, we pray yours will be one making an eternal impact on those you love for generations to come. #GoDoBe

Quotes to Chew On:

“The greatest legacy you can pass on to your children and grandchildren is not your money or the other material things you have accumulated in life. The greatest legacy you can pass on to them is the legacy of your character and your faith.” Billy Graham, Nearing Home p. 119

“Wise counsel to the younger is the duty of the aged.” Unknown

“Young people are very sensitive to hypocrisy; if they sense it in us, they will dismiss our pretenses and pay no attention to our advice…if they can sense our faith is sincere and our love is authentic, then they will respect us and take us seriously (even when they know we are not perfect.).” Billy Graham, Nearing Home p. 121

Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
918.609.5600 Tulsa or 918.333.7400 Bartlesville
visitingangels.com/greencountry


Written by Teresa Goodnight

Isn’t it funny how a well-played game is still best remembered for the plays in the fourth quarter? You play well to get there, but man—when that ball goes over the line in the final seconds for the victory, it’s just a moment. It’s all you talk about the next day.  Eventually you get around to what led there—which was dedication and hard work, but that play feels like a defining moment.  If you don’t execute on it—it’s also one of those haunting lost moments of opportunity.

Dr. Henry Migliore likes to reference his life as somewhere between the fourth quarter and overtime. Just a year ago, the doctors were calling in his family to say their goodbyes.  Today, he met me at the Village Inn, because I wanted to understand how at 78, I’ve observed him living with such purpose and building his legacy.  Everywhere I go—he’s there.  Everyone I meet, he knows.  Even while at Mend Medical Clinic and Pregnancy Resource Center one day, I happened to mention talking with Henry.  Forrest Cowan said “I know him.  He showed up here wanting a desk one day. I wondered who he was. I started looking back through our history as an organization and his name was everywhere.  I got the guy a desk to use.” 

I’ve only known Henry a few months, but from what I’ve experienced, he’s kind of everywhere in everything.  He has this purposeful desire to listen to God’s spirit and to move where he’s led.  It’s so intentional.  However, with Henry, getting to the conversation you intend takes a little navigation.  

Let me explain.  Before sitting down for breakfast, he ran into two former students, who were excited to see their former professor (and also kind enough to buy our lunch!).  Then, after a brief chat with those gentlemen, the conversation led us to another with our lovely waitress.  We started discussing her spiritual battles with fear and anxiety.  Before long, we’d invited her to church.  It was as if we were longtime friends, exchanging numbers while discussing Henry’s love for pancakes.  A few minutes later, the woman sitting behind Henry said, “I almost jumped in the middle of your conversation. I loved it.  It was so easy for you to invite her to church.” We discussed her church and her heart for adoption and fostering ministries.

In just about an hour, I felt engaged with much of the restaurant, both staff and guests.  I think that’s just what happens when you are with Henry. His love for the Lord and people is infectious.  His willingness to listen to the slightest nudge from the Holy Spirit lands him in places not originally on his radar. He exudes the love of Christ and genuinely wants to impact people everywhere he goes. Make no mistake, it’s not an accident though.  Henry is incredibly INTENTIONAL.  He sets his mind on things above, opens his heart with his eyes and ears, and charts the course daily knowing full well the Spirit of the Lord might nudge him on a few rabbit trails prepared in advance for him to do.   And, he does all of this with severe migraines, lower strength, and a general malaise taking its toll.  Henry said, “I just adjust my plan based on my new circumstances and head on as far down the road as I can travel.” 

Henry has so much history at 78—it’s difficult to think about how to capture the essence of such a legacy in a magazine article.  He’s a record setting athlete, a former Dean of Business at Oral Roberts University (ORU), an accredited author with over 17 books published in 7 languages, and a strategic consultant.  He has recommendations and accolades from past students and clients singing his praises for his business strategy and guidance.  Above all these things, or rather intertwined into all of these things, he is a man intentionally and passionately following after God.    

I asked Henry about a moment when he felt everything changed for him.  What was that big pivotal decision?  Henry said it came in 1970 after a 7-year stint with Continental Can.  To get there, he took me back a bit in the story.  “I became part of an executive training program at Continental.  There were 200 of us in the room.  They started the session explaining they only needed a hundred”, said Henry.  He continued, “They said ‘We’re either gonna get rid of you or you won’t be able to stand the pressure.’”  Henry followed, “Coming out of the military and college athletics, I was conditioned for stress and knew how to endure.  So, I became the youngest key manufacturing manager in a top 50 corporation at the time. I dealt with union groups and some of the toughest mob groups in Chicago.”  

Henry’s story continued.  At 30, they wanted to send him to New York to be the youngest Vice President in the corporation. He had a big expense account, a big career and a nice salary. But, in 1970, Henry said “My mother, on her little typewriter, wrote me a letter and said ‘You know they are opening a university right in Tulsa called ORU.  You have a master’s degree.  Wouldn’t it be fun if you would move home?”  So what Henry did was not unlike what many of us have done to ward off mom’s pleas.  Henry said, “I sat down in front of my old typewriter and sent them a 7-year old resume with my bad typing and my 2.29 GPA.” Henry quipped, “I never thought more about it except that they would write back and reject me.  Then, I could make a copy and send it to my mother.”  Henry and I both laughed a little about the persistence of a mother.  

Henry continued, “Then 3 days later, Harold Paul called me and started a dialogue. He called every 2-3 days to pray with me.”  Henry continued the conversations, as he enjoyed them, but had no intention of taking the position.  Henry said, “He then told me he wanted me to fly out and possibly join the faculty.  I told him my parents lived close to the University and I would fly out to meet him, but I was honest.  I told him straight out that I wasn’t going to accept the position, but it would be nice to see my parents.”  Henry went on, “The meeting went fine and he offered me the position, but it wasn’t for a few nights later back at home that it hit me.  It was about 2 am and I whispered to Mari ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ She immediately said ‘Yes.’ Then he said ‘We’ve gotta go to ORU.’”  Henry chuckled a bit as it seems a bit ridiculous to most when you say it out loud.  He took a 50% pay cut, lost his giant expense account, lost his seemingly guaranteed success path with corporate America and followed God’s spirit in his heart.

Over 40 years later, Henry has no regrets.  Henry offered, “You never really know what would have happened.  Think of something big like that I might have been spared from 9/11?” Then Henry said, “What I do know is if I had taken a 45-minute train back and forth to work daily, I would’ve missed out on time with my kids. I would’ve probably made more money, but after seeing how the Lord has guided our lives from 1970 until the minute we’re sitting here, it was the right choice.” 

Henry came from a Christian home, which really gave him a leg up on his journey with Christ.  His mother and father raised him in church faithfully.  Then when he was 13 their pastor, Cecil Bolding, started working alongside of him at his parents Western Auto store.  Henry said he gained valuable wisdom from his pastor and friend.  It really was a mentorship in the workplace, offering Henry even greater exposure to the things of Christ.  It’s such a great reminder of the investment we need to make in future generations.  The impact of those interactions can transfer from generation to generation.    

May 13 of 2018, Henry said “EMSA fired an alert to family and friends and people are coming into see us in the ER.  They had given up and thought I was gone. His granddaughter in law, a charge nurse at St. Francis, made a suggestion and suddenly, the game was going into overtime.”  Henry spoke boldly, “The Lord must’ve needed me for something else.  I just believe that.  I’d love to be the old Henry full of energy going to chamber meetings, being impressive but I can barely function some days.” Henry said, “I’m hoping my legacy will be that people see I kept moving for the Lord even when it was a struggle.” 

Henry told me that things he now copes with are as simple as that he forgets where he’s going.  He said, “If I’m familiar with something I can do it.  I did a book signing at Barnes and Noble with a great turnout. I’m sitting there though struggling to even get up.” Henry went on, “The Lord just keeps opening doors up. I go through them—just slower than I used to move.  I’d like to think that whatever your story is about me—it is one that encourages others to think about their legacy and to keep going in the direction God has for them.  There’s still time.  Whatever quarter of life they are in—whatever their struggles, there’s still an impact they can make for Christ.” 

Henry says it best himself.  “My life is dedicated to living a life of integrity with devotion to my Heavenly Father.  I want to be the best family man possible–to be dedicated to my dear wife Mari of 54 years, my 3 children Theresa, Roscoe and Daniel and my 7 incredibly special grandchildren.”  Henry said he would want his obituary to reflect that “Henry just hung in there, was giving everything away until the Lord decided he had no more to give.”  He continued, “We’re all going to experience difficulties.  The real story will be how did each person navigate those steps through the 4th quarter of their life (whatever age that will be) to keep doing what God had for them to do.”  

Every one of us leaves a legacy.  There will be a story of our lives, our character, our choices. Henry reminds us all that purposefully seeking to leave a legacy for Christ, expanding that into whatever form it takes needs to be a priority. He’s a prime example of continuing that purpose into the 4th quarter—and will one day leave a life with very few regrets.  “It’s a life full of roads you didn’t see coming,” says Henry “but true fulfillment comes when we are ready to follow God’s whisper towards His purpose.”

Henry spends his 4th quarter, which he sometimes jokingly calls his overtime period, sharing these values with everyone he meets.  He follows Christ with passion and fervor with headaches that would leave most of us lying on our beds in a bit of despair.  He doesn’t want to waste one minute of what God has given him doing less than what God has called him to do. For me, that makes him more than a man of purposeful legacy.  It moves him into the category of a very rare modern-day hero.

Dr. Migliore has a book “A Biblical Approach to Life Planning” that you can grab a copy of on his website for $14.99. www.hmigliore.com

Email Dr. Migliore at hmigliore@aol.com and he will give you a link to his book.

https://youtu.be/1-xePO107IA Video for his 4th Quarter Redefined the Legacy Continues book.

Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
918.609.5600 Tulsa or 918.333.7400 Bartlesville
visitingangels.com/greencountry


Written by Teresa Goodnight

Mary Williams isn’t consciously building a legacy, as much as she is living as a modern-day creator of change. She’s been paving the way for racial integration for as long as she can remember, holding positions across Tulsa enabling her to focus on her mission. She’s a woman of been doing it so long that it’s just the essence of her beautiful character. She has a way of making you feel so incredibly special—even when you are trying to focus on the amazing life she lives. 

Like many women with those special gifts, she somehow makes you feel as if you have known her all of your life. You just want to share things with her. Our conversation travelled all over the place. She laughed that we had to be careful whenever we talked, as a few minutes could turn into a few hours. I felt special that it might be just with me, but I knew Mary had that effervescent presence with everyone she met.

With her B.A. Degree from Oral Roberts University, Mary is a board member of Greenwood Chamber of Commerce helping to bridge gaps within our city. Mary has been the first, or only African American in positions around the city. She was the first African American to serve as Vice President of the Tulsa Chapter of the Association of Desk & Derrick Clubs, where they promote education around the oil industry. Mary is also a motivated women’s leader, mentor, speaker, writer and more.

Mary has played the role of a successful political campaign adviser, while also implementing the first monthly political community forums for a diverse candidate in North Tulsa. Mary also is the Director for the citywide “Juneteenth on Historic Greenwood,” an event focused on sharing “heritage, history and hope.” We could list event after event, organization after organization where Mary has been leading the way for diversification and change. 

Her overall mission is to help others find their purpose and reach their God-given destiny through her Color Me True Workshops she now puts on around the city. These sessions focus on personal and professional growth of the attendees. It’s really an empowerment program fostering identity of purpose and multicultural awareness. 

Mary said, “The Color Me True Workshop Program is designed to fit a wide variety of audiences. It provides steps for participants to find their purpose, build self-esteem and take possession of the path God has for them.” Mary continued, “Color Me True workshops have a proven successful track record after years of programming on the high school and collegiate levels, professional and doctoral levels, as well as special workshops for middle school and upper elementary school ages.”

Mary’s next project is dear to her heart. She’s working with Dr. Libby Adjei, the superintendent of Langston Hughes Academy for Arts and Technology. It’s a charter school in North Tulsa threatened with losing its battle to remain open. Mary is working with Dr. Adjei trying to save the school by offering a program about building self-esteem, establishing a cotillion for the students. She wants to teach men how to treat women, how to treat other men, and how to treat themselves. She wants to do the same for women. Mary said, “If we can learn to treat each other with respect and to respect ourselves, we can accomplish so many things we need in life.” 

Mary is a licensed minister and noted as a community servant who believes in the power of prayer. Prayer walking in the community is one of her favorite activities. She simply walks and prays on whatever God brings to mind. Sometimes she starts the walk with things on her heart, others she prays for people and places she sees along the journey. This amazing focus on time with the Lord is part of what creates such a peaceful spirit in her. She just exudes love all over the place. You just want to be around her and catch some of that love she’s throwing around so freely. I have to think that’s a bit of a picture of what being around Jesus was like—and isn’t He our role model for daily living? Mary is simply right on track following in the footsteps of her savior. 

Mary said, “When I leave this life, I hope what is left behind me — the work that I’ve given, the work I’ve served — has helped improve someone else’s life.” Mary continued, “It’s a spiritual thing. I get a sense of filling a spiritual part of me, a most important part of me when I help people find their God-given destiny.” I don’t think she has to leave anywhere to know she improved someone’s life. Like most she encounters, mine was improved just in the small time I spent with her.

Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
918.609.5600 Tulsa or 918.333.7400 Bartlesville
visitingangels.com/greencountry

Color Me True Destiny Programs Word Study: True Meekness

Written by Mary L. Williams

What is the true meaning of Meekness? For many who follow today’s standards for success, meekness is an attribute that may leave you on the marginal sidelines of life. Yet, Jesus said in Matthew 5:3 (ESV) that the meek will inherit the earth. But, how? Was Jesus only referring to the millennial kingdom? 

Viewing Jesus as a Biblical model, meekness is wisdom and power in demonstration without being harsh or clamorous. It is composure under pressure and silence when others should speak. Meekness is a key attribute of a good listener with confident self-esteem. Many people confuse meekness with weakness. Au contraire mon ami! Weakness allows abuse of power to control the mind, will and emotions out of fear and false humility. Meekness, however, expresses itself with confident composure to do what is right in the face of opposition! Meekness is inherent in the divine nature of a born-again believer. (Reference Galatians 5:22-23). Jesus describes Himself as meek and He certainly was, yet he did not allow the hypocrites, Pharisees, and wicked people to control Him. A person who practices meekness does not allow the adversary to steal the gifts God has given to him or to distract him from their God-given purpose. 

As with most things in life, beware! There is a counterfeit. False meekness pretends to be soft and subtle through use of manipulation tactics and domination behind the scenes. False meekness masquerades in fear and discontent. False meekness plants soft nuggets of discord without being out-front and forthright. Open and honest discourse is not a preference for the person who hides behind the deceptive curtain of masked false meekness.

One may ask what is the difference between humility and meekness? Humility is an inner response of the heart and mind. True humility esteems others higher than oneself with unconditional positive regard. Meekness guides and protects the reactions of a humble heart with the infinite timing of wisdom. Meekness is the outer response of sincere humility.

Therefore, success can be gained on earth through a meek and quiet spirit when the Divine Holy Spirit is in control. There is NO FEAR in true meekness. Meekness is more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus!

Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
918.609.5600 Tulsa or 918.333.7400 Bartlesville
visitingangels.com/greencountry


Written By: R.A. Goodnight

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” – Ephesians 6:16

A BATTLE WITH FAITH

By the time I was twenty-one, I strayed to a path that led me far from God. I couldn’t tell you how long it had been since I had been to a church, read the bible or said a prayer. I was addicted to multiple drugs and had a heavy smoking habit. I had no job, no way to feed myself, and no way to pay for next month’s rent. To make matters worse, at the end of the previous month, my roommate told me he was moving in with his girlfriend. I would have to figure out how to pay for the apartment on my own. As it got closer to the end of the month, I knew I was going to be evicted. Negativity and darkness grew in my mind. The depression, intensified by withdrawals, was so severe that I would run a razor blade across my body believing it kept my mind focused. I carry those scars on my arm to this day.

This path wasn’t what I wanted. It never was. I kept asking myself how I had become so bad and so lost. But there was nothing in my power I felt I could do about it. It became frightening, as I did not know how to fight what was happening in my mind. I felt alone and helpless.  

One afternoon that mental battle reached an apex. I told myself I strayed too far and there was no way back. There would be no forgiveness, because I knew better, yet chose to do bad things. I began to tell myself there was no help, that I had been forgotten. I started to give in to the idea that there was no reason to fight as I would not be able to change. But amid the mental chaos and darkness, there was another thought that echoed in my mind.

“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him.” 

I couldn’t remember exactly why I knew that. But it had that ring of truth and provided a calming effect on my mind. It made me ask myself – if He wouldn’t forget the works I had once done, then how could He forget me? Even though I had turned from Him, I wanted to believe that He was still there. After all those years and a mountain of sin on my shoulders, I had retained a grain of faith. Though small, it was powerful enough to defend me against the attack my mind was under.  

With my feeble faith, I fell to my knees in the middle of an empty apartment. Through tears I said my first prayer in years. I apologized for what I had done and admitted that I needed help. If it was true that I was not forgotten, I begged Him to please send someone to help me.  No sooner than the word ‘amen’ left my lips, there was a knock on my front door…

FAITH DEFINED

I would rank faith as the most important piece of our armor next to our swords. Understanding what faith is and its importance in our relationship with God will help us understand how it can be used as a shield.

Let’s start with the question – what is faith?  Faith has been defined by many as belief, or confidence.  It is the conviction that what we say we believe in is true and real. To illustrate, you turn on your TV and see a weatherman reporting on a hurricane approaching. He is describing the incoming storm as a category 4 and that you should expect heavy rains and strong winds. He is warning everyone to get out of the path of this storm while time remains. You step outside and look to the horizon, but you cannot see any storm. Does this mean that the hurricane is not really coming? On the contrary, you have confidence the hurricane is approaching because of what the weather report said.  Similarly, Paul said this when speaking about faith, “Faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1). It is through our faith that we believe in God. As our faith grows, we then come to believe truths about God. We can have confidence in such truths as: 

  • He loves us – 1 John 4:16
  • We are individually important to Him – Matt. 10:29-31
  • He will never leave us or forsake us – Duet. 31:6
  • That He wants us to succeed – Jer. 29:11

Armed with confidence, we can use those truths to defend against lies, fear or worry that my come into our lives – the “flaming arrows of the evil one.”

Another common arrow is doubt, the opposite of faith. The writer James warns us that “The one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6). Without faith we run the risk of being tossed about by believing anything or being paralyzed by fear. This will cause us to doubt ourselves and even God himself.

There is an event in the Bible that helps us see firsthand what doubt and fear can do to the strongest of Christ’s followers. In Matthew 14, we read the familiar scriptures of Peter stepping out of the boat to walk across the water to Jesus. Peter became afraid, taking his eyes off of Jesus, and began to sink. Jesus asked him one simple question, “You of little faith…why did you doubt?” (Matt. 14:31). Peter’s lack of faith allowed fear to come in. Fear lead to doubt which led to trouble.

Because of the danger doubt can pose to a Christian, Paul admonishes us to “throw off…the sin that so easily entangles” (Heb. 12:1). The sin he speaks of is a lack of faith which leads to the introduction of doubt. It can be one of the most fatal conditions for a Christian to experience. Our faith is what reassures us and convinces us to keep moving and to keep fighting, regardless of what our enemy may say about us. It shields us against doubt, fear and worry.

FAITH – ITS IMPORTANCE

This leads well into our next question – how important is faith? Faith acts as a great motivator in our lives.  Once we come to believe something, that belief should result in an action. Let’s use the example of the hurricane from earlier. Our confidence that the hurricane is coming causes us to act – to pack up our family and to get out of the way of the storm. If we don’t believe the hurricane is coming, why act? Applying this to our lives, God is a God of action. He expects his people to be people of action (Matt. 25:14-30). It will be impossible for us to be active in God if we do not first have faith in God and who He is. This would include the spiritual defense of our families and ourselves. How important and powerful this makes even the smallest of faiths (Luke 17:6).  

Paul helps us understand the connection between faith and action in Hebrews 11. He mentions many examples:

  • Abel sacrificed
  • Noah preached
  • Abraham went
  • Sarah gave birth

Abel’s faith made his sacrifice acceptable to God. Noah spent many years building the ark. Do you think doubt ever entered his mind? Perhaps, but his faith overcame his doubt. Sarah thought she was too old to give birth to a son, but her faith gave her confidence until she realized the promise. It convinced her that what God promised was true. It was their faith that led to their actions.

Accordingly, Paul states in the same chapter, “And without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. 11:6). We must have faith in order to stand firm and to do in God. Our faith is what keeps us strong, secure and ready for action.

FAITH – A FAMILY AFFAIR

Our individual faith as men, as husbands and as fathers is essential. Seeing how effective the faith of a single individual can be, imagine the defense we can muster if our entire family was a faith filled army.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians, he likely had in mind the armor that a Roman foot soldier would employ. A shield was a mainstay of that armor. Roman soldiers were proficient in the use of their shields, both individually and as a group. When their enemy would start firing arrows at them, the soldiers would close ranks and join their shields together. The soldiers on the outside of the formation would form walls with their shields. The soldiers in the middle of the formation would raise their shields above their heads to protect the rest against airborne attacks. This formation (called the testudo formation) was formidable and difficult to defeat.

Similarly, the combined faith of all members of our family can be difficult to penetrate. As family heads, part of our responsibility is to help our families grow in their faith of God.  How can we help our families grow in their faith? Some common ways would be:

Pray together as a family. As you pray as a family, you will experience God answering your prayers together and your family’s trust and confidence in God will grow. Trust replaces doubt.

Have a family study schedule together. It doesn’t have to be a formal reading of bible verses. Make it fun. Play a Bible-based game that teaches them events in the Bible or tell them stories.  Let them see how other people’s faith kept them strong. Tailor your study habits to your children’s age and interests.

Do not give up the habit of meeting together with our extended family. Regular attendance at worship is important to keep our faith strong. Remember, others faith can act as a protection for us as well.

Conclusion

…when I opened the door, a man was standing there. He was involved in a door to door ministry in the apartment complex, bringing the good news to people in the community. Interestingly, the man that was standing there knew me. We had not seen each other or spoken for several years. But he knew who I was. He knew where I came from. He knew the works that I had once done in God.

I believe that seeing a familiar face, having a friend stand beside me, was part of God’s plan to help me. It strengthened me for the battles that had not yet begun – to overcome addiction and rebuild my life. This person’s knowledge of my past allowed him to help me break free from my present and step into my future.

All of this began with a small amount of faith. That faith helped battle thoughts. That battle resulted in a prayer. That prayer, offered through faith, changed the direction of my life.  

Take up your shields men! Do not doubt or fear. Strike with your swords and defend with your faith.

What battles has your shield of faith or your swords of the spirit helped you fight? 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 Andrea Stephens

She was sitting in the front passenger side of their SUV when she and her husband graciously volunteered to play Uber and give me a ride to the airport. Seeing her from the side only, it was her hands that I noticed first. They looked different. Didn’t they? How weird that the backs of her hands caught my attention, but they did. They were thinner. I could tell because the veins were more prominent.  

She had definitely been sticking to Weight Watchers (Wellness Wins) and it was working. Oh, I wish that were true for me! In spite of the 200 0-point foods and the very cool app that tracks your progress and gives you the point score for nearly every single food in the grocery store and item on a menu, I fell backwards off the Weight Watchers wagon at the first sight of the Daylight Donuts in the office break room. I can’t fully blame the doughy sweetness for the weight I had gained since starting this new job, but they were my Monday morning delight. Ugh!

Paris! She just got back from Paris—as in France, not Texas. The land of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the fragrant springtime cherry blossoms, and the love that is in the air (though I’m guessing that is an overrated belief). How I’d love to see Leonardo de Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Claude Monet’s Water Lilies or Pablo Picasso’s Girl Before a Mirror. As a former art student, who still likes to dabble in oils, it’s always been a dream to see the master’s original works. Oh, I wish I could go there! Yet the cost of a trip like that is hefty. Ugh!

I listened intently while she told about the latest book she was reading in preparation for writing her dissertation (that mega paper required to obtain a doctorate degree). She explained the verse she had selected, described how she studied it in the Greek language to dig out more meaning, and how it fit into the theme of her paper. I was intrigued. Oh, I wish I could do that! I love to study God’s Word and learn. I finished my Master of Divinity degree two years ago. The idea of continuing on toward a doctorate degree excited me. I felt it calling my name. But how?  Where would I find the time to make it happen? Ugh!

As you’ve read my wish list, did you think about what’s on your wish-list? Any place to visit, class to take, healthy eating goal to set? Maybe your wish list has a Christ-like characteristic like patience or unconditional love that you want to be more intentional about developing.  Does it include a relationship that needs mended? Maybe it’s a homeless shelter where you’ve been meaning to volunteer or that mission trip that tugs on your heart year after year? Maybe you’ve thought about adopting or fostering a child?

While the things we wish for might be good, there is one major problem: wishing! We can wish all we want but as we know, wishing will get us where? Nowhere! Wishing doesn’t move us toward turning a wish into a reality. If desires stay at the wish-level they have the potential to create disappointment. Focusing on what we don’t have, don’t do, or won’t become could keep us from seeing all of the wonderful things we are blessed with. Wish-level thinking can also threaten to cause us to slip into a poor me state of mind, which leads to moping around instead of getting motivated to take action.

Whatever your wish or desire, here are a few things to ask yourself before moving ahead.

  1. Is this a pure desire or is it fueled by one of the three tactics the enemy uses to pull me away from the things of God: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life. Check your motivation.
  2. Is this all about me or can it be repurposed into something that will advance the Kingdom? Check your purpose.
  3. Will this develop me into a better version of myself—leading me closer to becoming the person God created me to be? Check your goal.
  4. Does it glorify God? Check your focus.
  5. How is your peace? While praying about your desire/wish do you sense the Holy Spirit’s peace? Colossians 3:15 tells us to let the peace of Christ be the ruler in our hearts—like an umpire—He calls the shots. I like how the Good News Bible puts it: Let the peace of Christ guide you in the decisions you make. And the Amplified: Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. This Holy Spirit peace thing is a really big deal. Check it.

Based on the answers to these questions, adjust your wish accordingly.

Now, stop wishing and do something about it. This will get you started:

  1. Pray.
  2. Share your desire with a trusted person.  Choose someone who might help you think through the pros and cons or who will give you honest feedback.
  3. Create a plan.
  4. Pray. How’s your peace? Feeling anxious or excited?
  5. Set specific goals. Prioritize them.
  6. Break each goal into doable parts.
  7. Pray. Listen for the Holy Spirit’s yes, no, or wait.
  8. Set a target date.
  9. Pray.
  10. Get started.

Forget wishing.

Something things you have to make happen—as long as you are in God’s plan for your life. Remember, the main way you know is to follow after His peace and review the 10-point checklist.

As for me, I said goodbye to the Monday morning donuts at the office and went back on Weight Watchers. Taking care of myself and honoring this temple of the Holy Spirit outweighs a donut splurge. We so easily forget the biblical teaching about our bodies being the actual temple or home of the Holy Spirit, whom God sent to actually live inside of us, is actually TRUE! (Check out 1 Corinthians 6:19).

I have started a Let’s go to Paris fund—but only after I checked into adding a Kingdom purpose to the trip. I contacted CRU—one of my favorite international ministries—and learned that I could be involved with campus ministry while in Paris. Perfect! I can enrich my soul by experiencing the beauty of the God-given talents of the master artists and enrich the souls of those who are new in their walk with Christ.

And about that doctorate degree? I applied to several seminaries with plans to start classes in the fall. I will have a total of 5 years to take the classes, then write my dissertation. I love a writing challenge, so I’m in!

Wishing didn’t make any of these things happen. Prayer and action did. I know that if I can do it, you can do it! Happy wishing and happy creating new realities in your life.


Written by Teresa Goodnight

“We’re so very sorry. Your son won’t be going home with you. We’re setting you up with palliative care to be with him while he is here to make him comfortable. There’s nothing we can do.” 

The doctors said something like that. The exact words never really made it into their minds. Ben and Noelle just sat there. “We were in a puddle on the floor. Broken. How could this be what God had planned for us? Everything I had asked God for…everything…He just didn’t answer one single thing,” said Noelle with more strength than she felt that night. “With what felt like no faith left,” she continued, “we prayed for him, both Ben and I, together. I say I prayed, but I could barely speak the words,” said Noelle.

Ben and Noelle started their journey together long before they knew they were starting THIS journey together. Some, like Ben’s dad, knew Noelle was the one for Ben from the first time they met. Both of them had such a heart for ministering to others through song. Their hearts wanted to share songs about God, praising God, strengthening anyone who would want to worship God with them. Even at the hospital, through this nightmare, someone brought a guitar—and there in their brokenness they sang worship songs with family and friends, both old and new, gathered around them. When praising God is just who you are, it just comes out no matter what path God has you on at that exact moment it seems.

In the beginning, the couple had crossed paths many times in the worship arena. They had a host of mutual friends and acquaintances. It wasn’t until Noelle was working at a homeless shelter in Amarillo and wanted to do a lullaby album for families that they really connected.  Noelle contacted Ben through MySpace, knowing his heart for music and worship—and she wanted him to be one of the contributors on the lullaby album. However, after Ben called her and they talked for several hours, they started a journey that led them here, to this hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas trying to sort through God’s plan for their lives. How was this His plan for bringing little Pierce into their story? How was God threatening to take him in what seemed such an abrupt disruption to their well-laid plans and dreams?

Ben said, “Our first Christmas, we weren’t officially dating. After my dad passed that February, I was going to Eskimo Joe’s. I needed to go play somewhere. Stillwater seemed as good of a place as any. Dad’s passing was unexpected and really hard on me. Noelle drove there with me. We already were really boyfriend and girlfriend I think, but I asked her officially that night.  That was 11-12 years ago. This June will be 10 years since we married in Cain’s Ballroom.” 

When Ben and Noelle married, they knew they wanted children. In fact, they spent several hours on a plane after Ben proposed thinking of the names of their future children. They knew they would adopt, along with the plan to have biological children. It was always the plan. Then, they quickly found themselves in the infertility doctor’s office. Noelle said, “We knew we always wanted to adopt. We had decided when we first got married we would try to have children and just see what happens.” Noelle then said, “We were quickly told we couldn’t have children. With our makeup together, there was less than a 1% chance we could conceive naturally. So, we did IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) a couple of times.” 

The couple was headed to the Texas panhandle to work on their album at Noelle’s brother’s studio. While there, they tried IVF. When they found out they were pregnant just a few weeks later, they were elated. Then, at just 7 weeks, Ben and Noelle lost the baby in a miscarriage.  Noelle said, “It was devastating. IVF is stressful all by itself—it’s really hard. It’s hard on your relationship. It’s just hard on everything. It takes the romance out of things.”

The couple then decided they would look into adoption sooner than they had thought. Noelle said, “We didn’t want to approach adoption as our consolation prize. It’s super important to anyone adopting to pay attention to that. I don’t ever want these kids to think the dialogue of this amazing way we became a family is because we couldn’t have biological children of our own.” 

The Kilgores still weren’t sure they were ready. They needed time to process everything as they moved into this new direction. Between the IVF, the miscarriage, the stress of the situation—it’s difficult for anyone faced with so much to find a bit of peace in anything they are trying to do. It really takes some time in front of God. It takes time to let Him heal the pain, the wounds. It takes time to hear His voice to know where the path is He has for you now. 

In just a short time, Noelle said, “We had a meeting in Tulsa with Dillon, an adoption agency. We didn’t want to do a domestic adoption and certainly hadn’t wanted to do one that was open, where the birth mom remained in our lives. It just didn’t sound like the right step for us.” So, they moved to Phoenix and started the process of adopting internationally. In their first step, the couple got on the list for Ethiopia. Ben said, “Noelle completed massive amounts of paperwork trying to get everything ready. Things weren’t really moving forward for some reason. Then all of a sudden, Ethiopia shut down for adoption.” Noelle and Ben both were frustrated. They were trying to follow God in this story of their family, but they felt they kept running into walls. In times like these, you really start to search your heart and soul—just trying to make sure you are listening to Him. We’ve all been there.

“So, we thought we had a plan—then it didn’t work out,” said Ben. Then Noelle chimed in, “We had this friend out there in Arizona, who said I have an adoption lawyer who helped my brother’s girlfriend’s family or something like that.” Noelle continued, “We had already done all the paperwork for the international path. We didn’t want to go chase a bunch of stuff, but then a month later, I woke up in the middle of the night and felt I was supposed to reach out to this lawyer. So, I reached out to him.”

Ben said, “We kind of went that direction, but we didn’t even know what domestic adoption looked like.” Then, he said, “One morning, we were on our way to Scottsdale for yet another fertility appointment. On the drive, the lawyer called us and said, ‘I have a boy that’s due in September if you are interested.’” Ben and Noelle both chimed in, “We were like WHOA!” They went to the fertility appointment, but immediately called back to put their yes on the table. That yes led them to Little Rock, to the CD-ICU trying to find the faith to just breathe. That boy was little Pierce.

When Ben and Noelle first talked to the young 17-year old mom, it was via Skype. She was Marshallese (native of the Marshall Islands). Ben and Noelle learned there’s a community in Arkansas of Marshallese people due to nuclear testing on the islands, which gave the inhabitants a pass to America. The birth mom came to Arkansas to live with her aunt at about 10-12 years old and her parents remained there. Noelle said, “There was quite a language barrier at the time we talked but the next day the lawyer called. The birth mom told the lawyer she wanted us. It was so fast, but we knew it was God’s plan for the story of our family. We did all the things to prepare. It was just a dream come true.” 

Ben had travelled to New York one week, when Noelle received a disturbing call. Noelle said, “One morning, the birth mom called. She was upset but I couldn’t even understand most anything she was saying with the language barrier. I just knew it wasn’t good.” The one thing Noelle did catch was the doctors had told the birth mom something was wrong with his heart. She wasn’t sure. Noelle went on, “I was just beside myself. How could this be? I just started getting permission for the doctors to speak directly to us. It was just surreal. We had a baby shower. The nursery was done. How could this be happening? How could this be God’s plan for us?” The cries of her voice broke her heart into pieces as she jumped into action mode.

“It took a couple of days to get all of the permissions worked out. Then, the doctor called us and said this list of all the things wrong. It was like THIS long.” Noelle said as she made a gesture of a list extending about a foot long. “It included something about his heart, his lungs, his arm, and it just went on,” Noelle said. 

“Then, he said ‘I’m so sorry. I’m not sure how he’s even going to survive after birth.’”

The words cut straight through Ben and Noelle’s hearts like a cold knife had actually been plunged through them both. Being a couple sharing an incredible strength of faith in a powerful God, Ben chimed in, “We were devastated, but we immediately just started requesting prayers for him everywhere we could. We had friends sending out requests. 

There were literally thousands of people praying for him all around the world, dropping to their knees for him. We were praying for him to surprise the doctors and just be a marvel to them. We just knew God was going to answer our prayers. We knew this marvel was going to be our story. Then, there we were in Little Rock.”

The doctor explained to the Kilgores upon delivery, their new son had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a birth defect where the left side of the heart does not form correctly. That day, the day Pierce was born, the doctors began longer explanations of his inability to be helped due to his other health problems. Ben said, “Pierce had only one full functioning lung and now they also found a kidney problem. Because of these issues, the doctors said he can’t survive the lifesaving surgeries that they needed to do. They said they were going to make him comfortable.”  

Ben and Noelle just paused in the story. They had just been through so much, so quickly—and found themselves in what seemed like a bad dream. Ben went on, “The doctors and nurses rallied around us, but knew it was impossible he would survive. He was life-flighted to Little Rock to the Children’s Hospital. We were there several days; they looked at every way possible to have surgery. Their last resort was to have a surgery to open up his left lung to give him a chance to have his heart surgery. They came back again and said there’s just no way. We’re so sorry.”

That’s where they were when we started the article—palliative care for little Pierce. Ben said, “We were a mess because we really felt God had given us this desire. We dreamed of this boy, and believed God was really going to heal him before he was born. Our prayer was that his life would marvel the doctors. We had people all over the world praying for him.  It just didn’t seem real that he wasn’t healed.” Noelle said, “Pierce was strapped up to about every machine possible for his lungs, kidneys, and heart to sustain him comfortably.” Then, Ben said, “We just sat there—loving him. Waiting.”

Ben said the doctors had meetings to try to resolve tough situations in the hospital. The doctors wanted an echocardiogram of Pierce, which would get a picture of his heart and his breathing, as a way to see if he had a hypoplastic lung as well.” Then, Ben said, “Finally, they pieced together a picture of his heart that day to reconfirm everything. Our families were in the waiting rooms. The pulmonologist pulled us aside and confirmed for good that his lungs definitely couldn’t handle the life-saving surgery he needed.” Ben paused, then continued, 

“Noelle kept saying ‘He (God) didn’t give me ONE of the things I asked for. I mean nothing.’ 

She was so severely disappointed, broken on the floor wondering how God could have abandoned us in this situation.” As they talked, the intense pain from over 4 years ago was clearly brought back vividly in their hearts. The prayer they uttered in desperation over Pierce’s failing body was in broken desperation. “I prayed with what felt like zero faith,” said Noelle. “I just didn’t have anything left.”

The next morning Ben said, “Dr. Garcia, his heart doctor, said ‘Can I have a word with you in the consult room?’” Ben and Noelle walked slowly, knowing the doctor was bringing them to the consult room so that they could be alone to process more bad news. Then, Noelle said, “She said, ‘I’ve got good news and bad news.’ I stammered, wait, GOOD NEWS? The doctor went on, ’When he was born, his left side was 15-20% of the size it’s supposed to be. ‘We finally got a new pic of his heart today—it’s 75% of the size it should be.’” Ben said, “Noelle and I just stood there.” Then, he said, “The doctor went on, ‘He still has a coarctation of his heart. It’s an easy surgery, you go into the side and the repair is pretty standard. It’s honestly impossible to explain it.  We’ve seen growth like this over years but not in a few days.’” Ben and Noelle were overwhelmed. God had just marveled the doctors with their son.

Ben said, “It was just kind of crazy after that. A few days later, the nurses were doing rounds and we overheard them. The nurses said, ‘It doesn’t look like coarctation of the heart.’” Noelle said she chimed in on the conversation with a surprised face, “Wait! Did we just hear no coarctation? What?” The nurse told the couple to hang on, as she didn’t want to get their hopes up. Sure enough. In fact, Pierce’s heart was just great. The team literally had to kick them out of the NICU in the cardiologist department because Pierce had nothing that needed done to his heart anymore. 

In total, they were there 5 weeks and the team didn’t have to intervene with one surgery—not one. Later on, the couple said Pierce ended up having a surgery for a tethered spinal cord, but nothing with his lung, kidney or heart! They found out he had a horseshoe lung and it actually does the work of both lungs. When the doctor who delivered him came back to the hospital and ran into the Kilgores, Ben said, “She said ‘What are you still doing here?’ She was in shock. All the nurses were believers and they knew. It was a miracle from God,” finished Ben.

The Kilgores weren’t even sure how to share the depth of emotion they had been through. It wasn’t a roller coaster ride, unless roller coasters only go down and down and further down and then all of a sudden just before hitting the bottom, shoot back straight up to a height beyond the roller coaster’s rails. It was a work of God. There was no other explanation for Pierce’s recovery.  He went from palliative care to make him comfortable to scheduled to go home with his family.  Some miracles are so far beyond our understanding that we have to fall to our knees thanking God and praising Him for what only He could do.

The Kilgores have gone on to adopt two biological siblings of Pierce, Rosie, now 2 and Merrick, almost 1. Each have their own beautiful stories confirming for them that God knit these children together in their mother’s womb knowing full well they would become a family. Psalms reads “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb…You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, Oh God.  They cannot be numbered.” (Psalms 139:11-17 NLT).

Noelle said their family means everything to them. They couldn’t imagine doing life without their amazing children. God has so richly blessed them.

She closed, “Adoption has become this really beautiful passion of ours that has just wrecked our lives in the most beautiful ways.”


Adoption From the Kilgores

Adoption is now a really big part of the Kilgore’s lives. Ben said, “There are so many people struggling with the possible calling to adopt. They have real questions, real concerns–some they don’t even want to voice. We have been through so much. We feel we just want to help people who want to explore adoption from a real vantage point.” Ben continued, “God has really opened up some amazing doors for us for conversations with people who always wanted to adopt but were scared or didn’t know where to start. There’s so much fear of the unknown and questions. We’ve encouraged and watched as 5-6 couples went through the process,” said Ben.

My immediate response was “Wow, it’s so incredible to think of all those kids lives being changed.” Then, we all broke in at the same time “Actually, all the lives.” Ben went on to clarify and said, “People are always like they are so lucky that you adopted them. It’s really everyone’s life that’s changed. If it wasn’t for those kids, we wouldn’t have a family. We definitely won out in this situation. These kids would’ve been loved no matter where they were.” We continued to talk about that feeling you have when you start out going on a missions trip. You just can’t wait to go there and help the people. Then, somewhere along the way–they help you. When you come home, you realize you went for them, but God used them to change you.  

The Kilgores also said that adoption changes your viewpoint of your relationship with God. Noelle said, “There’s not one single thing these kids could ask of us that we would not try to get for them. This picture of Christ adopting us and knowing that we have this now availability to him.” Then she went on, “At one point, it hit me–wait a second, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them and God feels that same way with us?” Romans 8:15 says, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him ‘Abba, Father.’”

Ben said, “It’s hard to explain.  But they feel like they came from within us. Our baby pictures even look alike.” He continued, “People say ‘are you ever going to try to have your own kids?’ and other things that don’t sound right to us. There’s a whole article on what not to say to adoptive parents. ‘How much did you pay for your kids?’ is a good one,” Ben laughed. He said, “People just don’t get it and don’t talk about it. But they feel like my blood. I don’t know what it’s like to have a biological child. We don’t feel like we’d be lacking anything if we’d never had bios.  They are a part of us…our personalities are intertwined and God wrote this story,” Ben said. 

“There are so many sayings we have picked up over the years but ‘God makes families’ is my favorite. He definitely made our family. He saw it before it happened. He knew and He wove it together. He knit them in the womb with us in mind. So much like people are grafted together into Christ, we were grafted together. We carried them in our hearts and they’re ours and we’re theirs.” Ben spoke with such passion and love, it was easy to see how God used adoption and grafted these children into their hearts.  

Noelle said, “Our prayer and our hope in sharing and exposing the world to our story is that people feel encouraged and moved towards adoption if it’s on their heart. I know it would be a dream come true if the dialogue came where people were asked ‘Are you going to have children anytime soon?’ And the logical question is, ‘are you going to have a bio or are you going to adopt?’ Because it becomes such a normal thing that people look towards.” Noelle went on, “I have to give credit to Hollywood celebrities, who made it like this is a really great thing that you can be a part of. If a celebrity can have an adopted child, I can too. I think it has shifted people’s view on it.”  

Ben went on, “We think Oklahoma needs to eliminate the need for foster families. There are how many kids and how many churches? There should not be a kid without a home who doesn’t have one.” The magazine agrees with them. The “C”hurch SHOULD solve this problem. It’s not just a feel-good kind of thing, it’s actually expected of us by God. When I tried to isolate the perfect verse to demonstrate, my Bible App search overwhelmed me with so many verses calling out those who should help and not oppress orphans. Orphans are discussed throughout the Old Testament. James 1:27 (NLT) says, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

Ben shared, “I’ve been saying it that God has put it on our hearts to have a gathering of people who are interested and they come with their questions. Every time I mention it—people are saying let’s do it.” Ben said, “Noelle wanted to have several couples over to our backyard. It’s scary but we do hard things as God’s people and maybe we could help them see. We want to open our arms to people. We want to do that through our music, through our church. Our hope is that God will draw people to us so that they can be loved the way He loves. We want to talk about how we can be an advocate, a voice of encouragement and information.” Ben and Noelle’s hearts were flowing over with a passion for helping the “C”hurch realize our place to care for the orphans. 

Ben said, “People get intimidated. There are so many thoughts that go through people’s minds. People need to have a safe place to explore those thoughts.” One thought that had come to my own mind before, was if I would love an adopted child the same way I love my bio daughter. When you have a child who captures your heart, it’s difficult to think of how to add another. Ben said, “We have friends that have 2 bio and adopted their third child and had those same concerns. They wondered if there would be a difference in how they loved the third child.” Ben continued, “People with their own bio children struggle with those relationships as well. Every kid is different. How it started is just part of the story but you aren’t going to love ANY of your children the same way. You have to love them differently. We all have different love languages.” 

Ben finished, “It doesn’t make sense right now in your head but there’s something that happens miraculously.  You can’t explain it. You can’t describe it. You can’t say this is what you do to gain that perspective and feelings–they just happen.”

Ben and Noelle shared that when they were looking to adopt, it was a bit intimidating. There were so many agencies. Then, their friend, Nicole Nordeman, said Stephen Curtis Chapman was in town—and asked if we wanted to go with her. Noelle said, “Stephen shared his own story, which many of us know, as it was a way to lead and motivate us. It did.” Ben said, “We pray when we share our story that it can do something for people as well.” Ben and Noelle said, “We are humbled and excited that we get to be showcased in a way that tells the story of adoption in a positive light. People need to know adoption is a thing God is mindful of.”

The two were naturally so encouraging, “You have a perfect opportunity with the magazine to shine the light on the need, the barriers and how to help people overcome their fears.” Ben went on, “We’re smart people. God’s given us resources and time—what can we do? How can we come together as the “C”hurch and get this done? Let’s create a dialogue and mobilize into action.”

If you’d like to find out more about adoption or about creating a resource group for your church–reach out to us at adoption@communityspiritmagazine.com and let us help plug you in. You can also visit the Oklahoma Heart Gallery link below to find out how you can help children in Oklahoma needing to be adopted. It just takes one small step, one light in the dark–and we can light a fire that changes generations to come. #GoDoBe

http://heartgalleryofoklahoma.com

Written by Teresa Goodnight

One month shy of 36 years, that’s how long Cheryl Bauman, now 72, has been operating the Crisis Pregnancy Outreach (CPO) in Tulsa. 

Cheryl said, “In the beginning, we had no idea it would become a large, multi-faceted ministry. We just put one foot in front of the other and started walking. Immediately, God brought us a teen having twins. She stayed with a family and they mentored her. Then, things just grew from there.”  

Cheryl’s take is that people just have to be available. She said, “God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips those He calls.” She continued, “People get overwhelmed that they need to write these policies up right, have 20 meetings and maybe they’ll be ready. Usually those people just don’t get it off the ground. Sometimes you just have to say we’re willing and away you go.”  

That’s what she did. Now, CPO has so many things they offer–everything from parenting education for girls to helping with adoptions. Girls can even see a licensed therapist for free and then, they can continue to do so for the rest of their lives, if they want.  

The seniors of Tulsa continue to lead the way with their outreach ministries to our community.  Cheryl said.  “We’re not driven by money, because no one gets a salary. At CPO, we’re all volunteers. Each and every one of us has a heart to help women and babies God has placed in our path.”  CPO doesn’t factor in age, ethnicity, spiritual background–they just want to help with unplanned pregnancies. 

They aren’t there to judge, preach or pry. They simply want to help.

Help women discover the pregnancy options available and help pregnant women move forward successfully.

Cheryl says the women who come in are assigned a Christian mentor, who becomes their friend. They can call her day or night to hang out or to go to dinner together. Cheryl says, “Many of the girls who enter our program don’t have moms or they don’t have one who was invested in their lives. Many of them need a woman they can talk to about general things of life.”  

Cheryl said, “There are so many opportunities for people to volunteer in our organization and make a difference. We are always needing mentors. Usually those range in age from 25 and up.  For a 15 year old girl, a 25 year old mentor has a lot of valuable experience to share.” Cheryl said, “We’ve had women in their 70’s take on someone to mentor. They are happy to pour into a woman’s life and have so much wisdom to offer the girls.” Cheryl continued, “We are always needing women to drive women to their appointments–once a week or once a month. There’s usually 24 hours notice and if it won’t work for the volunteer, we just call someone else. It’s really a low pressure place to take part! We even have receptionist positions for just 2 hours a week. There are so many ways to get involved.”  

Cheryl said, “I always loved driving the girls. You always have a captive audience. You just sit in the car and visit. It makes such a difference when you are really investing in these other people’s lives. It’s what God calls us to do. It’s amazing to see these girls be transformed.”  Cheryl went on, “Sometimes they come in so broken and hardened. Then, over time, to see their hearts become soft and eager for the things of the Lord, completely transformed, there’s nothing quite like that.”  

Right now, Cheryl is searching for a house mom for their Sapulpa home. Cheryl said, “We own a home we bought in 2000, in Sapulpa. We can have 6 girls there comfortably or 8 in a pinch.    It’s a beautiful home. So, hopefully, we will be opening that again soon.” Cheryl said the house mom does live-in 24 hours a day. They are really looking for a woman who is a nurturer. “It’s the biggest thing,” said Cheryl. “These women need someone to really care for them and show them love. Many have never experienced that kind of care” she said. For the ones keeping their children, there is government assistance and other programs, but for those choosing adoption, Cheryl said, “They have no place to go. The vision was that they would have a home after they gave birth to recover and to heal. It’s been so successful.” 

One story, a girl named Mary, who was homeless and had several children she had placed for adoption. “After she picked her last family,” said Cheryl, “We asked Mary to come live in the home. She reminded us she had her tubes tied. So, no more babies. She just wanted to get back on the streets. She was a drug addict. We told her that we knew. We didn’t want anything from her. We just wanted to care for her as she recovered from the C-section. She finally agreed, but said, emphatically, she was only going to be there for 2 weeks. After a year, she moved out, eventually married, and now leads a beautifully successful life in South Tulsa. In fact, I had the pleasure of attending her celebration of being 10 years sober this past December.  She still can’t believe it herself. That’s why we do this.” 

Cheryl and I talked about their stats, as they have helped over 1,000 women in the last two years. Cheryl agreed, “Sometimes in the Christian population, we get wrapped up in those numbers. They do sound nice and they are incredible, but to even just have ONE miracle like Mary, that’s why we’re here. That’s what Jesus did” she ended.

The age of women being helped in the last years has increased into their 20’s and 30’s. So, their reach continues to expand. They just seek to be there for women, with love, without judgement. 

It’s a beautiful picture of being Christ in the world. The lives changed, the one life changed, that’s what it’s all about.   

Cheryl said they host a large gala in the spring to raise funds. There’s a huge silent auction, a live auction with Jay Litchfield, who donates his time to so many charities. Cheryl said, “There’s usually one shout out by Jay, at the end of the evening. One year he asked what we owed on the home for the women. We raised the funds that night to pay it off. It’s just exciting to see what God brings to help us meet the needs of these women.” Cheryl went on, “The last shout out, we started a scholarship fund and we’re sending our girls to dental hygiene school, to TCC, and they are becoming women capable of supporting themselves and their children.” Cheryl couldn’t stop sharing all of the ways they are touching women, even though she was interviewing from out of town. Her 27th grandchild had just been born and she was helping with all the kiddos in the house as her daughter recovered. Her energy at 72 is enviable to say the least!

I asked Cheryl about her plans, as she had a birthday since the first time we talked. Cheryl said, “I can’t imagine stopping. I will say to Stephanie Johnson, who runs adoption, ‘Am I still relevant?’ She tells me the girls still love my involvement. I can’t fathom sitting at home and doing nothing. That’s why I keep pushing.” In the fall when we spoke, she thought she could continue to volunteer until 75. So, I asked her if that was still the plan. She fired back with passion, “I’m pretty healthy. I’ve been thinking about it. I think I can make it until 80 now. Why would I not keep doing it?” I wholeheartedly agreed with her. Why wouldn’t she?  

The conversation turned immediately to seniors and the amazing impact they can have. Cheryl said, “Volunteering with these girls will absolutely revitalize their lives with energy and strength they didn’t even know they had. I see so many people just sit down in retirement and that was not God’s plan for us. I encourage people to come and get involved. Come to a support group meeting. Sit there and hear the girls’ stories. See if you don’t catch the fire.” Cheryl has seen women come to the meeting, then think to themselves, “I just love her. I could have her in my home for dinner.” 

Cheryl finished, “There’s just a connection that happens. Do what you are passionate about with what God has given you.

Because being a senior doesn’t mean you stop being a part of things that are important to God.”

If you would like to explore how you MIGHT get involved, reach out to Jennifer Brown at 918.346.4426 today or check out www.crisispregnancyoutreach.org. Don’t wait until tomorrow.  Tomorrow becomes next week. Then next week becomes next year.  Do it today!

Save the Date

March 30, 2019

Crisis Pregnancy Outreach Gala