May the God of ENDURANCE and ENCOURAGEMENT grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that TOGETHER you may with ONE VOICE glorify the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As a society, we have really opened up the door on “Free to Choose” in so many areas. Many, I just don’t agree with on any level—but the beauty of America is that we offer those freedoms to our citizens. Where it gets interesting is when freedoms are being pressed in one area, while they are being annihilated in another. How can we decide a “woman’s right to choose” allows her the freedom to abort her child based on convenience on one hand and yet doesn’t offer a parent the right to choose whether or not to vaccinate their own child (the child btw they are trying to research every possible way to keep healthy and protected)? How can one possess the freedom to choose to end life in one hand but not possess in the other hand the freedom to choose what they believe is the best path of protection? So, I wanted to talk with some level headed doctors in the area to get their take.
Broken Arrow Pediatrics specifically mentions in their advertising that they will work with families regarding vaccinations for their children. They are also super clear they are 100% a proponent of vaccinations. They believe vaccines work. So, they are not by any means an anti-vaccination group. That said, they also fully believe in the parents right to choose the best path for their child. So, unlike many doctor’s offices that try to force parents to vaccinate their children in order to receive care—they choose a different path.
Dr. Carl Pfanstiel said, “We would like to see children vaccinated, as we think it’s the best way to protect your children from these medical diseases. However, we fully believe that choice lies directly in the parents’ hands.
There are a small percentage of children with specific medical conditions, which might contraindicate their usage. These definitely exist.” Dr. Pfanstiel went on, “Regardless, we still believe the parents get to choose what is best for their children’s health. We don’t believe our forefathers expected medical professionals to ever deem themselves to have the right to some form of eminent domain over your children’s vaccinations. We always offer the best medical advice we have. For example, we suggest when to take something to reduce a fever, but many parents will choose to administer something like Tylenol at the first sign of a fever. Others will let the fever run until 101 or 102 and then start treatment, as research indicates the fever is the body fighting the illness. Parents painstakingly make decisions minute by minute to protect their kiddos.
We are here to partner with them for the best possible care for their child.” Dr. Pfanstiel continued, “That said, we certainly don’t have the right to withhold treatment, because someone doesn’t agree with our medical opinion on a vaccination. That sort of decision lies firmly within the parent’s rights. We do think vaccinations are the best course of treatment though.”
Seems to me this group gets it. There has to be a line in giving and taking away freedoms. That line needs to stay within our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Once we start to give away these freedoms, we might find ourselves at a loss for how to get them back.
Written by Teresa Goodnight
If you aren’t working a children’s museum into your vacation or weekend trip planning—you just aren’t doing the kiddos justice. When my now four-year old came to me with the plan to go to Tampa when she was just two, I was a bit intrigued. Turned out, the fun programs on her iPad included a guy named Blippi. He’s a zany reviewer of kids museums all over the country. Since her first request for Tampa, she’s asked to go to Vegas, Los Angeles, and Seattle. So, we decided to take her to Tampa to see what the fuss was all about. It did NOT disappoint.
Tampa, as a vacation spot, is a fairly cheap plane ticket on Southwest. It’s a one hopper ranging from four hours or so if you plan well and book early. In fact, looking out a bit on my Southwest app, I could get there for $138 plus tax each way. Tampa gives you driving access to Orlando for a day at Disney. It offers Busch Gardens, which is really a lot of fun. In addition, with a short drive, you are at the ocean. It’s 30 minutes from St/ Pete. In the spring, you can even catch spring training with the Yankees and their opponents. I’m not gonna lie. I did hold my foul ball over a few kids heads to get Jeter’s autograph. I’m not proud. Well, I’m proud of the ball but not the reach. Anyway! I’m not sure where dads are in the family vacation planning, but if you haven’t thought spring break at Tampa, you might have missed it. Now you won’t. Seriously.
You’re welcome, BTW.
Tampa is relatively inexpensive. The cool thing about Southwest flying? One way tickets aren’t penalized with higher rates. You can even fly into Tampa, rent a car when done and drive to Orlando and fly home from there. We’ve driven to the Keys and flown back from Ft. Lauderdale. It’s really a versatile tool in my trip bag. I’d explain more about Southwest, but then you’d be taking my flights. That’s all I dare to share. Some things are private treasures.
So, back to the Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa. First, it’s part of the Tulsa Discovery Labs network of children’s museums. So, if you already spend a lot of time there—an annual pass works well for both. Glazer becomes half price with that membership, normally $15 adults and $10 kids aged one to 12. My daughter has now been over five times at four years of age. Needless to say, she adores it. The experience was everything she fell in love with on the Blippi video and really more.
Izi spent at least 2 hours in the water exhibit on the first floor. There are waterways allowing for boats, sea creatures and fun balls lifted onto railways rolling into the water. Setting out for treasure in the Gasparilla Island sand pit brings another hour of sheer joy to her face. Funny thing? These aren’t even her favorite experiences. She just can’t pass them up to get to all that I know she loves even more.
Upstairs? Immediately you are in the middle of a climbing apparatus allowing for exploration using her astute climbing skills, many of which were first tried at Glazer when she was younger.
Behind the climbing area, she skips the super cool tents, where other kids are building their campsites. She instead moves straight to the opposite side of the building for the fire truck, pizza kitchen, and dancing room. With fire helmets, a fireman’s pole, and a truck with seats for at least 6—she’s off on an adventure to save the burning town. The pizza kitchen has beautifully crafted ovens to fire up the pizzas with seating for guests to be served. The dancing area offers a selection of crazy music, lights and a video display of her dance moves. She can spend another two hours in these three sections alone and did.
When we finally vacate the burning buildings, burning ovens and burning moves on the dance floor, Izi heads straight for the career and economics section. She loves the area to play doctor. They have jackets, stethoscope’s, x-rays, and more to create a really authentic doctoring experience for the kiddos. The same style of equipment is available at the vet’s office next door, including some pretty fun stuffed animals requiring her care. Then, she cleans up and we’re off to another hour or more in the well stocked grocery store. At her disposal were baskets, both the push kind and the ones you carry on your arm. She loads them both with every veggie, can, bread and cookie in her reach. Children interact together. Some stand behind the cash registers to check out LITERALLY every item she puts in every basket. She waits patiently, loading them into her sack. She gladly pays and finds some sort of adulthood satisfaction with her venture.
When we finally find the little gap of boredom to leave the grocery store, Izi heads into the Twinkle Stars Theater where her true self finds a home. The children have costumes to dress up, enacting their own versions of scenes and plays. They enter from behind curtains. The lights come on. The parents sit on the bench with other kids and enjoy the show. By far, this section alone is worth my time and money. I love watching her incorporate ballet moves into dragon scenes with swords. It’s really a creative talent I didn’t realize she had.
The list of activity centers is long. I can’t even explain her thrill with the rock wall. I’ve never been that we haven’t been marched out with the end of the day parade. Considering the fact that she would have me drive from Orlando (leaving the opportunity for a day at a Disney park) to take her to Tampa—you can calculate the savings. Last ticket for Disney, $130 per person. Glazer half price? $7.50/$5. Air conditioners, bathrooms, a giant grassy park area to run around in with fountains at the end of the day? It’s a super museum. Blippi hasn’t made it to Oklahoma yet, but I hear we have one that might make our list this fall in Seminole. Stay tuned. The Tulsa Children’s Discovery Museum is also breaking ground on a brand new facility that might be ready as early as 2020.
In any event, we really haven’t been disappointed in a children’s museum yet. From Denver to LA, Tulsa to Tampa—they are really a wonderful activity to add to your plans for any style of trip!
Written by Teresa Goodnight
Generals for war are not made in 15 minutes. They aren’t even made in 15 years. Most receive that sort of command and respect after two to three decades of service. Achieving the rank of a four or five-star general takes longer. In fact, I can’t find one other six start general besides Washington. The strategists for war find great lessons learned from the heat of the battle. The greatest ones are pulling from those decades on the battlefield to rise up to a position of great authority. After all, the lives of our men and women in service depend on those strategists to effectively know how to approach and win the battle. In reality, our very freedom as Americans rests on their very capable shoulders.
In life, we just don’t get many of the battlefield style ranks to put us into our positions. The same is true in the church. We don’t have ceremonies promoting through the ranks. In the Army, your rank is your pay grade, as well as a representation of the amount of responsibility you hold. The “m.goarmy.com” website shares that the fastest ways to move through those ranks are additional training and schooling. Makes sense. Just under the enlisted soldier status, there are 13 ranks. There are 11 within the officer realm landing at General, which the army site says have usually 30 years of experience or more.
So what does that system have to do with you? When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are squarely in the infant category. You might want to equate that to the Army’s lowest ranking of private, but I would take it back a step further to calling that person a recruit. It’s a person who has made an assessment of the situation and decided their loyalties belong to Christ. In the Christian world, that is the moment where you move into God’s family and are adopted back in. It’s an official rank not nearly on par in that regard with a recruit from that perspective, but it’s still an infant in Christ regardless of age.
Many of our churches have given up any formal discipleship training process. I really think that’s a big mistake. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look really quick and what Jesus words were on this topic. We embrace the idea that Jesus told us to go tell others about him—the Great Commission. Jesus told us to go into the world and tell them about Christ. But that wasn’t EXACTLY all he said. Matthew 28:19 (NLT) reads, “Therefore, go,” but he doesn’t stop with simply telling us to go tell others about him. In fact, he is incredibly specific. His sentence continues, “and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you…” The actual Greek word Jesus used here, “mathetes” is explained in Vines Expository Dictionary (great tool BTW) as “thought accompanied by endeavor.” It’s the word we get mathematician from. With all my reading, I would sum it up as someone who is incredibly intentional about being dedicated to a teaching both in learning it and following it. Further, as a former Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) staff member, I’d say that we disciple so that those we have discipled are equipped to go out and disciple others.
Those Christians are put in charge of Bible studies, home study groups, Sunday School and more who are not trained disciples, who understand how to study God’s word could unintentionally dismantle our churches. Without a discipleship process, there is a lack of qualifications for those teachers in those positions. We don’t allow those fresh out of the crib to waltz into our school system. We put them through the 12 years of schooling, then college just to move towards a teaching certificate. It’s very similar to how a recruit has to complete basic training to earn the right to be a private.
Many of our seniors came from a time when the practice of hardcore discipleship was being executed in our churches. There are those of us out there who have long since moved past a recruit. In fact, with many of the stories of trials and tribulations from life and experience with Christ—seniors are some of the best equipped discipling machines we have in the church. Many of you know that you are actually sitting around the rank of a general with all that was taught to you, for all the battles you have lost and won. We need you.
There won’t be a formal ceremony pinning badges of courage and honor upon your chest. Your armor, as you full well know, was crafted in the depths of Heaven and is empowered by our great and mighty creator. When that power is invoked? Katy-bar the door. It was crafted to withstand the Gates of Hell, which cannot prevail against it. So, yeah. It can’t be penetrated with a simple stick pin. We are in a spiritual battle daily. There is a war beyond what we see in our day to day view. We need to adhere to what Christ commanded us to do.
So, I hate to break it to you. If you think you’ve reached some sort of retirement age in God’s Kingdom, you simply must think again. You are the generation of Generals, trained in the war for hearts and minds across our city, nation, and world. You ARE crafted, trained, and chosen. So grab your armor and get in the war. We weren’t meant to do it without you.
Senior Moments, sponsored byVisiting Angels
918.609.5600 Tulsa or 918.333.7400Bartlesville visitingangels.com/greencountry
Written by Teresa Goodnight
Have a nearsighted child? What if you could eliminate their glasses/contact lenses during the day for sports/swimming/life? Would you be intrigued if this new simple treatment could spare your child from the potential of further eye damage? There are many serious potential byproducts of myopic (nearsighted) eyesight as children age. Glaucoma, retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration and more can plague them in adult years.
Enter Dr. Chris Chenoweth, Wink Optique. He has an incredible passion for helping children’s vision in meaningful ways. Dr. Chenoweth specializes in a relatively new procedure that can help nearsighted (myopic) children ages 4-14 (FDA approval ages). Dr. Chenoweth said, “Parents really need to do this for their kids #1, because it helps them in a lot of their activities. You know, different sports like swimming, basketball, baseball, soccer, where glasses or contact lenses might get in the way or they might get dusty or get thrown off.” Dr. Chenoweth continued, “That’s, of course, the value parents see. For me, the value I see is the power it gives in limiting or reducing the complications with adult retinal detachment, myopic degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. We can’t do anything about this current generation, but we can do something for this next generation to try to control myopia and reduce the risks of eye diseases. These efforts mean they can live healthier lives as adults. Hopefully, we reduce the amount of overall blindness in future decades.”
Although the lenses are best in correction for the younger children, Dr. Chenoweth said. “These lenses can actually be used for any age to just improve vision, but those 14-18 and above, their vision is relatively stable and it doesn’t help as much for the myopic correction. So, it is better the earlier we intervene.”
I asked Dr. Chenoweth to define myopia for us as the definition can help us see why correction is so critical. Dr. Chenoweth explained, “Adult myopia means the eye has grown abnormally during adolescence. So, it has lengthened, which stretches the retina which makes it thinner, more fragile, and more likely to have eye diseases down the road. The immediate impact on vision is they can’t see distant objects clearly, although they may be able to see near objects fine without glasses.” Dr. Chenoweth went on, “When children are treated with glasses and contacts, the eye continues to lengthen and stretch which damages the way the eye attaches to the retina. There is also some tissue inside the eye that is near the retina called the ciliary body. Issues with that tissue can cause glaucoma and increased risks of cataracts as well.”
At Wink, children are fitted for small lenses to wear while they sleep. Dr. Chenoweth shared, “Measurements are input into a computer, which calculates the proper CRT lens for the child. That lens arrives usually in about two days. Then, within another two days, the vision should be corrected to 20/20 during the day. It’s pretty quick.” Dr. Chenoweth said, “So, within about 3 weeks from the first visit to the ball field, they no longer wear glasses or contacts. It’s that simple. Plus, the lens can actually help myopia not to worsen.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing—mainly because my family has suffered from retinal tears, glaucoma and other more serious eye conditions with aging. These conditions, if not caught just in time, can cause serious permanent eye damage. Plus, for those who don’t know, glaucoma requires daily drop(s) in the eye(s) affected, which honestly causes some stinging and irritation. Of course, it’s better than losing vision in the affected eyes, but still. What if these kinds of early eye corrections with a specialist could prevent these in the future for the next generation?
That’s Dr. Chenoweth’s passion for eye care. He doesn’t just want to help someone see today, but hopefully further improve their vision for the rest of their lives. His wife was born with myopia. He said, “It continued to worsen until she was seeing about as well as Velma on Scooby Doo without her glasses.” Luckily, he also specializes in RK laser treatments, which are incredibly precise (and preferred by most over Lasik surgery). So, she has had her treatment and sees great!
However, when his son, Ace, who is now 10 started showing mild signs of myopia around age 5—he put him into some lightweight glasses. Dr. Chenoweth said, “He was really pretty stable until the end of third grade. Suddenly, he went from mild myopia to a more severe level within about a period of just under a year.” Dr. Chenoweth shared, “With the worsening of his myopia, we ordered his lenses to get him started on CRT. He wears the lenses every other night (sometimes every night). He is free from any vision enhancement devices during the day.” He continued, “Ace didn’t like the lenses at first, at 9 they kinda wanna throw on glasses or not even see well at all. But, within just a few days, he was putting them in on his own and then later taking them out on his own.” Dr. Chenoweth shared, “They are not difficult like soft contacts can be. They are smaller diameter and firmer than a soft lens. After a bit, Ace used the tiny assistive device to pop them out in the morning.”
For Ace, Dr. Chenoweth said, “It’s really been a game changer for him. He saw better the next day. Before treatment, he was around the 20/80 mark. Then, in two days—20/20.” Dr. Chenoweth added, “It actually works for adults too for those who don’t want to or can’t have the RK surgeries. It doesn’t have the same restorative effects for damage done in their youth, but it can correct the vision and eliminate the need for any other kind of lenses.”
Dr. Chenoweth had another patient with a similar condition. This young man’s eyes jumped to a -2.25, which was a pretty hefty jump. His sisters both had severe myopia, one so much that it was really too difficult to try RK or Lasik surgery to fix it. So, Dr. Chenoweth wanted to stop his negative visual progress dead in its tracks. He started the patient on the lenses—20/20 during the day. Then, every few years, Dr. Chenoweth would have the patient go without the lenses for a week just to be able to check where his eyes were, monitoring them for any progression. For all the years, his eyes were still at the -2.25 reading. They hadn’t progressed at all. When he graduates college, he will be able to do a pretty simple RK procedure and remain free of any lenses. “It’s just a game changer.” Dr. Chenoweth said. “Just to be able to stop the progression alone is quite a feat. Then, when the eyes are fully developed, they can be treated as needed without much effort.”
Dr. Chenoweth said, “We have been treating nearsighted kiddos with glasses and contacts for decades. What we didn’t realize is that it actually causes some swelling of the eye. That swelling stretches the retina, which can absolutely cause glaucoma, retinal detachment and/or the myopia macular degeneration. Anyone of these conditions of the eye can cause loss of vision up to permanent loss if not treated properly. So, this treatment for kids is a big deal. It’s really upping our potential level of care for children in a meaningful way.”
Dr. Chenoweth was one of the first in the United States to get credentials to do CRT over 15 years ago. It’s a specialty certification that most eye doctors just don’t tackle. Sadly, most also don’t refer to seek a better path of treatment for these kids. They just keep prescribing glasses/lenses. Dr. Chenoweth said, “It’s similar to orthodontists vs. dentists. It is the same for myopia control (CRT). Not everyone chooses to get the specialization.” He continued, “We’ve been doing this in Ponca City for 15 years and the community is smaller. So, word gets around pretty quickly. However, in Tulsa—we need to do a little better job of making parents aware of this potentially life-altering treatment.” I agree. This kind of treatment could really be life-altering. Call Wink at 918.417.7774
About Wink Optique:
Dr. Chris Chenoweth recently acquired Wink Optique at 101st and Yale. His office performs regular eye exams for all ages. He also specializes in CRT therapy for children, as discussed earlier. He has incredible stories we plan to share in the future—as he has had incredible results with patients–one who thought she would never use one of her eyes again. Eye doctors who are passionate about eye care and eye health both for current situations or preventing long term potential damage, like with CRT are less the norm. His passion for helping children alone moved my heart to want to include him in the magazine.
Dr. Chenoweth is an honors graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State University College of Optometry and is a former Assistant Adjunct Clinical Professor at Pacific University, Forrest Grove, OR. He is an active member of both the Oklahoma and American Optometric Associations and is trained in the diagnosis and treatment of ocular disease and performs an array of cutting-edge laser eye surgeries. Dr. Chenoweth is also a long-term, faithful Life.Church Jenks member, where he and his wife continue to raise their son, Ace.
Written by Vickie Wilson
May 24, 2019.
The events of this day forever changed the lives of so many in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, including my own family.
For the second time in their lives, my in-laws were devastated by flood waters from the Arkansas River. Their first experience occurred in 1986, which, at the time, seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime tragedy. Unfortunately, the flood of 2019 was just as bad, if not worse. The four feet of water inside their home and six feet of water in the garage rendered their home uninhabitable.
The day prior to the flood, my family began the process of removing the contents and precious memories from their home. Fortunately, my oldest son, Beau, is an insurance agent and assisted tremendously during these critical hours.
Without hesitation, my husband, Mark, my son, Hunter and I opened our home to them. When we respond immediately to others’ suffering, we usually do so without thinking about the logistical impact of our decision. This was no different. In our case, we’ve learned that with the blending of two families in one home, adjustments are required on everyone’s part:
• We’re managing more people in less space
• We’re combining different routines and rituals
• We’re accommodating different schedules
• We’re planning for different tastes and preferences.
In spite of the need for adjustment, we are experiencing first-hand that in the spirit of giving to one another much can be accomplished. For instance, my daughter-in-law, Abbie, has prepared meals and desserts to help alleviate the pressure of cooking for a larger family.
As the process of rebuilding Sand Springs has begun, we are seeing that we are not alone in our desire to help. So many people are volunteering their time and resources to help others in their time of need. Personally, I wish that everyone would continue this kindness every day. Why are disasters required to bring out the best in us? On an extremely hot day, even my grandson, Tucker, has delivered popsicles to the workers that are helping to restore his great grandparents’ home.
Do One Thing–it just takes one thing, one act of kindness to brighten someone’s day. Only you know what you are able and capable of doing. The point is to make it a priority to really see others and meet their needs.
Today, my family has the privilege of celebrating my mother-in-law’s 82nd birthday in our home. Each of my family members has chosen to Do One Thing to make sure her day is as special as she is. Hunter has ordered her favorite dessert; my husband has purchased a card and I get to make her favorite Mexican meal. What a precious memory this will make not only for her, but my household as well.
How can you make kindness a choice? Can you Do One Thing? Try it. You will not regret it.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
Written by R.A. Goodnight
I had a chance to meet with Brandon Outlaw, owner of Commercial Fitness Concepts. Brandon is a local business owner with a drive for giving back into the community. Brandon’s business began in 2003; since then, his business has grown from an e-commerce model based out of his garage to five warehouses he uses as distribution points. Today, CFC is the largest warehouse of new, refurbished, cleaned and serviced, as well as “as-is” fitness equipment in the Midwest.
During our talk, Brandon expressed to me that he recognizes how Christ has blessed his business throughout the years. Because of how he has been blessed, Brandon likes to use his business as a blessing for others.
Brandon works regularly with The Wounded Warriors organization, donating exercise equipment to help get the country’s finest back on their feet. Speaking of his partnership with Wounded Warriors, Brandon said, “If someone requests a machine, we are going to try and fulfill that request.” Brandon expressed to me that regardless of its use, for rehab centers or personal homes, they do their best to help when called upon.
From there we moved on to other organizations with which CFC likes to partner. Brandon shared, “We donate as much as we can to The Boys and Girls Clubs. We also partner with Planet Fitness; they donate some cardio and we donate some strength. The fire department is another. We donate as much as possible to them. Just about anybody that needs help.”
Brandon mentioned other fire and veterans’ associations he partners with as well. He said, “Anybody that comes to us that needs help, I am willing to go the extra mile. If it’s a legitimate organization, if someone needs something, we like to help if we can. Recently, we just did a deal with Make a Wish foundation. A girl here in Tulsa had a wish to give some fitness equipment to a school. We were able to help them get what they needed within the allowance they had to do it in.”
From Community Spirit’s point of view, we need more of this is the kind of guy and company in the community. What a great example of emulating Christ, not just in personal life, but even through his business practices.
Outside of Brandon’s altruistic activities, he is also happy to work with local gym owners. Brandon said, “We can do everything–from kettlebells to barbells, rowers to rigs or squat stands. We can get anything for them.” CFC can also help individuals with home gyms, “Anybody who is looking for an individual machine at home – spin bike, treadmill, elliptical – anything. They should reach out to us.” said Brandon.
What about us lowly gym goers? He didn’t leave us out either. I asked Brandon if he had any recommendations as far as the health club scene in Tulsa goes. Brandon shared, “Sky Fitness. I think they are great. Lifetime, if you want amenities, they are incredible. For lower cost memberships – 10 gym has great ownership and great management.” He added, “You really understand the judgment-free zone when you attend Planet Fitness, then go somewhere else. Many people feel comfortable over there. The YMCA’s have great facilities and great management as well.”
He finished up by giving a call out to some local shops as well, “Body Masters on Memorial is a great place, with a great guy. There is a great personal training facility down on 111th and Memorial called Journey Fitness. They are great people.” Community Spirit did a story on Journey in April and we agree; they are a great group of people. They even give free memberships to pastors. That alone is pretty cool!
All said and done, Brandon is one outlaw that we are glad to have in the community. If anyone knows of a charitable cause looking for a partner, a local business owner in need of some equipment or you’re looking to upgrade your treadmill – hit up Brandon (email@example.com) or Dean (Dean@commercialfitnessconcepts.com) at CFC! Tell him CSM sent ya!
Written By Teresa Goodnight
Ever have someone walk into your life and you just instantly feel connected? Like you have been friends all of your life? When Jamie walked into my house, it felt a bit God ordained. She was so lovely inside and out; I knew exactly why my long time BFF introduced us. We had an instant connection we both felt. Talking to her was so easy. We didn’t stop. Then, she started sharing her story. It was her mission birthed from an experience she had buried deep inside her heart. That is, until someone touched the scar and sent her reeling. All of a sudden, I didn’t know what to say. She continued pouring out her heart. We both realized, this story needed told. We changed the entire focus of the next issue in fact. People aren’t talking about it, but they desperately need to talk. There are people in our churches who are suffering all alone and they need to know God loves them. Someone needs to share that overflowing undeserved mercy and love God offers to all of us who have made mistakes–ALL of us.
Someone needs to break the silence.
Abortion is a tough topic in the world in general. You can’t breathe it without stepping on a landmine. In Oklahoma, one in four women have had an abortion. In the country, that stat jumps to one in three according to local Catholic Charities workers. “In the United States, where one half of all pregnancies are unintended, almost one third of women will seek an abortion by age 45.” according to the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG). The stat doesn’t improve much inside the church. It’s a decision defined as a woman’s right to choose what happens inside her own body. For that reason alone, it’s a political hot button.
Churches steer so far clear of it that in Oklahoma, 25% of the women in our congregations are left facing this alone. Many believed what Planned Parenthood told them when they walked in the doors. Then, when they found out it was different—they were left to suffer alone, without anyone to help them walk through it. There was no one to help talk through the shaming—done both by well-meaning but hard core protesters and the convicting shaming led by Satan himself. They were left without anyone to help them with that shame Satan uses to minimize them. They are without anyone to help them know what God thinks about what’s been done and where to go from there. These women, for the most part, are just alone.
So, we want to start this off and set the record PAINFULLY straight: God absolutely offers the same grace, love, forgiveness, and removal of all sins as far as the east to the west to anyone who has made ANY mistake.
To the liar, the adulterer, the person lacking any trace of integrity, the convicted criminal, fill in your blank here–He offers His love and grace as a free gift. We don’t have to earn it. We do have to turn to him, humble ourselves, and confess our mistakes to him. He absolutely will forgive anyone. The difficult part of finding God’s grace though often comes in a battle of trying to find our own. No matter what God offers, if we feel so much shame—and there’s no one to talk with us about it—we will find ourselves nursing our scar rather than ever being set free from it.
These women were encouraged to save this joyous occasion for a time in their life when they were more ready. Some were told they were just carrying a blob of cells. Some were told by the child’s father this was the only way to face the situation. Others knew exactly what they were doing. Almost all believed they could just go on with their life just as it was after the choice was made. Jamie said, “The biggest deception in this war on women is that you can just go on with life. It’s just not true. You are forever changed. Your lenses for seeing life are altered. The truth is, you will never be the same.”
We run around offering God’s forgiveness He has promised to everyone who has made regrettable choices. However, somehow, as a church (and not all, but most), we’ve decided it’s just too controversial to address from pulpits, where we are supposed to help our congregations. There are large churches in town, where we have heard it is absolutely a policy that abortion is not an allowable topic for discussion.
We know the silence, because Jamie heard it. Over, and over, and over again. She even heard it when she tried to launch a recovery group inside her church and found her request lost in the shuffle in what seemed like purposeful avoidance. She heard what no one wanted to offend her with loudly and clearly. But, when no one addresses your pain, what you hear becomes a deep-seeded pain buried inside your heart for you to bear alone. That is, until someone accidentally punches through.
Jamie is involved in a women’s group started through a local church. The women get together, study God’s word and share things they are facing, needing advice or prayer. They also laugh and fellowship together. One day, at this group, Jamie mentioned something about not singing anymore. The woman, unknowingly said to Jamie, “God will use your singing again. He will.” Jamie looked up at her with rage in her heart and thought “Don’t you ever say that to me again. You don’t even know what you are talking about.” Then, she left her friend’s house. Jamie said, “I think I didn’t speak directly to her for a month. I just didn’t know what to say.” Jamie then explained, “When I had come clean about my abortion my church in Minnesota asked me to step down from the praise and worship team. I had decided that this was the price I would pay for what I had done. I vowed that I would never sing again and that God didn’t need someone like me to lead people into His presence.” Jamie locked away her torment, her pain, and so much more of her heart than she realized until her friend accidentally punched through.
Jamie said, “I was so upset by what she said. I just felt she had no idea what she was saying, and the vow I had already made.” Jamie continued, “Honestly, I didn’t even realize how much it mattered to me.” She went on, “When I lived in Minnesota, I sang on the worship team at my church. The people there became like family to me. I just knew my boyfriend would get saved and our relationship would change. However, I found out I was pregnant causing my two worlds to collide. I didn’t know what to do. I talked with my boyfriend, who was very convincing that we would never be together if we tried to be parents right now. He wanted me to terminate the pregnancy. It was not something I ever thought I would even consider. I just wanted everything to go back to normal and I was desperate to make things work with him. So I compromised everything I believed in for the sake of convenience and what I thought was love.”
Jamie shared, “I walked in to a waiting room full of other people aborting their babies. There were so many people. Really? Is it always this busy? Probably not. I waited and waited and was finally told that the doctor was involved in a car accident on her way to the clinic. My eyes were big as saucers and I distinctly heard God say, “Stand up and walk out. I’ll take care of you.” I shrugged it off, but was visibly shaken by the way this was unfolding. By this time, the waiting room was almost standing room only. I couldn’t believe it. People were laughing and talking like it was no big deal. Was I the only one that was battling a war in my spirit? They finally called my name and I went back alone. The counselor talked to me and told me they had to do an ultrasound to see how far along I really am. So I laid down and she put the cold gel on my belly. She asked me if I wanted to see and I said yes. I saw flashes of light on the screen and what looked to be a pinto bean. The beating of my baby’s heart was right there. Trying to grow, trying to live. The gravity of what I was about to do hit me for a split second and I asked her to turn the screen around. I prayed at that moment that God would just “leave me alone.”
Jamie said, “I was lead to the ‘procedure room’ where I was asked to undress from the waist down and the doctor would be in shortly. Fifteen minutes go by, then thirty, then forty-five. I finally poked my head out of the door and asked if they forgot about me. It was torture just laying there in a cold, sterile room without God’s presence and with the weight of my sin. Why didn’t I just get up and leave?” Jamie went on, “Once the doctor and nurses came in things moved pretty quickly. Bright lights turned on. Clanking of sterile equipment. The nurses were talking amongst themselves about who knows what and I was just laying there with tears streaming down the sides of my head. I finally spoke up and said, “How can you just talk like that when I’m laying here crying?” One of the nurses looked me square in the eye and said, “Sweetheart, we haven’t done anything yet if you want to change your mind you can.” I’ll never know why I didn’t get up and get out of there. It’s a question I’ve asked myself time and time again. I just knew that I wanted to go back to ‘normal.’” Jamie was so solemn, as she shared the events of that day. She said tearfully, “I had no idea that my ‘normal’ would never look the same again. It was gone. There was no such thing as that anymore.”
Jamie said she left the clinic and went to eat with her boyfriend and then worked an 18 hour shift. It was done. However, it would never be done in her heart. Just a few months later, she was working her church booth at a music festival. She saw a booth across the walkway showing graphic video of mid and late term abortions. Jamie said, “I lost it. My mind began reeling, taking me directly back to the clinic, replaying over and over the decision I made. I started to shake and eventually knelt down on the ground to hide my emotion. My pastor’s wife came over and asked if I was ok. I eventually told her what I had done. She was heartbroken for me. She prayed for me, loved me and accepted me where I was. But in reality, no one could have shamed me or judged me more harshly than I had already done to myself. After some discussion, I was asked to step down from the praise and worship team. I understood. In my mind, this would be the price I would pay for what I did. I vowed to never sing again, I wasn’t worthy to lead anyone into His presence.”
The difficult part for Jamie was that she was now all alone. There was no one to talk with about her situation. Who would understand? She said, “I just dealt with it the best I could. I think I covered it up—buried it deep inside, and finally found the strength to move on.” Jamie said she and her boyfriend broke up within a few months of the decision. She didn’t want to have anything to do with him. She didn’t want to think about it anymore. Then, she was back in church. About two months later, she was fortunate enough to go on a trip to Israel where she met her husband. She went with her church in Minnesota and he was with his church from Oklahoma. They talked long distance for a while and he eventually came to visit her.
During their first date, she just blurted out “I’ve had an abortion. Is that gonna be an issue for you?” Not exactly first date material. Jamie said, “I really was just so ashamed and felt so unworthy of anything. I thought I would just go ahead and end it there. Turns out he actually did have to take some time to pray about how he felt about it. It just further seared into my heart the lie “What you did is unforgivable.” He eventually asked me if I would date him exclusively. I told him I wasn’t going to move again for a guy. So, he moved to Minnesota and the rest, as they say, is history.”
“I can’t really share all the emotions I experienced about my decision over the years. I couldn’t go back. It was done. I was never the same again and I had to learn how to be ok with that place. It was a dark, lonely place—so I just decided not to go there. I think I buried it and decided to go on with life. However, the scar and the pain were always heavy on my heart.” lamented Jamie.
After marrying, Jamie found herself pregnant. About 5 weeks into the pregnancy, she miscarried. She was devastated. She said, “I just felt like I was being punished because of what I had done. Would I even be able to have kids? What if God decided He couldn’t trust me with children? I actually understood that. I was just heartbroken.” Fortunately, shortly after, she was pregnant with her third child. She was elated. She was so excited to get to meet her Jacob. Jamie said, “I just couldn’t wait to hold him, to look in his eyes, to be the best mom I could possibly be to my baby, but my previous decision was always there haunting me in the back of my mind. It crept up enough to shame me and condemn me until I suppressed it again.”
When Jacob was born, Jamie’s heart was overwhelmed with instant love for his precious face. Being the best mother she could be to him became a top priority for her daily. Then, just a few years later, she gave birth to her fourth child, Payton. Payton was a bright, beautiful baby girl with a joyous heart. Jamie’s life had never been more right with her better-than-dreamed-of family, except for that nagging voice of condemnation always trying to steal her moments of joy.
That’s where we started, Bible study with the friend who drove into Jamie’s scar like a bulldozer speaking words of encouragement that felt like a knife through her heart. The incident forced Jamie to reexamine her choice, and search God’s heart for what He wanted to with it. How would He turn these ashes into beauty? Jamie said, “All I had was my story, my guilt and shame and a willingness to share it all.” With that, she began sharing her story with close friends, at first, and then acquaintances and eventually people she’d never met.
“The more I shared my story, the more I realized how many people were suffering in silence. I started to become painfully aware that we are in the middle of a crisis. Not only with abortion itself, but the souls caught in the aftermath.
I decided I wanted to do my part. I said ‘YES’ to God’s heart and am willing to do what I can to bring healing, wholeness and restoration to the hearts and destinies of men and women suffering with the torment of a sin that no one is willing to openly talk about.”
Jamie said the more she talks about it, the more healing it brings–the more God shows her how much He loves her and how His grace covers her. So, that’s what she is doing. Creating space for men and women who have been touched by the effects of abortion. Jamie said, “A lot of people can’t explain why they feel stuck or why they feel depressed, unworthy or don’t feel ‘alive’ anymore. I didn’t realize until much later that the lies I chose to believe about myself as a result of the abortion caused me to sabotage my entire life. Once I realized that, I was blown away. I wasn’t going to allow Satan to steal my destiny. In fact, I was determined to fulfill the destiny God has for me AND the baby I aborted. Her life is going to matter.”
Talk About Destiny:
Jamie’s humble heart is in ministry to help men, women and families who have been touched by silence of sins like abortion to find God’s grace and healing. Her message of God’s overwhelming mercy can be restorative to people facing Satan’s army of convictive thoughts like shame and guilt. Let the church be silent no more.
You can reach Jamie at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Get her on your calendar to speak to your group, church or event.
Caring for broken people is a beautiful path towards helping God’s kingdom be restored. When restored, we can all operate from His powerful platform of mercy and grace.
We can be the mighty warriors for Christ He has called us to be and ALL LIVES can come out of the silence and matter again.
Written By Missy Nicholas
Greeta and Jami had been friends since childhood and now were pregnant with boys, due on the same day. Conversations assured the strengthening of their bond as they planned to raise their sons together, as friends. I had not known either of them long and did not know either of them well; I was merely a witness of what was about to unfold. I met Greeta after she found out that she would not raise her son because of a terminal prognosis. He would only live for hours, if he lived at all. She would love him for as long as she was given–just 8 hours after his birth.
Jami’s pregnancy resulted in a beautiful baby boy–a drastic difference shattering all of those fantastic fantasies of fun. Instead of walking the same path, it seemed that a crossroads was forcing them to go different directions. Jami organized for the normal things a new baby brings. Greeta, bulldozed over with loss, was preparing for a road of grief.
Most friendships fall apart here. Many relationships end when there is still affection left to be shared. We are not skilled at being in someone else’s reality when it is different from our own. We prefer swimming in the warm waters of comfortable emotions in order to keep our friendships intact. The difference between what Greeta and Jami had planned and what occurred seemed too drastic to comprehend. Impossible, it would seem, to move through it together while remaining present in each others lives. It’s often easier to allow these kind of differences to create distance and let the relationship fade into a memory with nobody to blame other than life’s tragic turns. It wouldn’t have been the first relationship lost at the crossroads of “I don’t know what to say,” and “I don’t know what to do.” And yet, what I witnessed between these two friends has forever changed my heart and life regarding love in the differences.
Imagine a new mom stepping out of her euphoria after childbirth enough to sit with her friend in grief because she just lost what you brought home. Jami could have stayed home in the joy of her new nursery, relishing the gift of health. Instead, she showed up for Greeta in ways nobody else could have. Without knowing what to do or what to say, Jami bridged the gap between gratitude and grief simply by just being there. Later, she was brave enough through tears to ask Greeta to be the caregiver for her son, Jericho when she returned to work. An uncertain and potentially damaging conversation.
Yet she extended an invitation to share in the blessing of life to her friend who had been swallowed by the grief of death. Jami took a risk to find the solid ground of friendship instead of allowing it to get lost in the unspoken and assumed.
On the other hand, imagine a grieving mom, who experienced the birth and death of her own son cradling and loving her friend’s baby within days of her own loss. Greeta likely didn’t have words but she was present with Jami in her joy, grateful for what her friend experienced though it was so tragically taken from her. Resentment and bitterness were surely vying for a place in her thoughts, but she welcomed into her heart a healthy baby boy. She allowed herself to sit in the joy of new life with her friend, when grief was still her constant companion. She not only became the primary caregiver when Jami returned to work, but she loved Jericho in ways that only she was able. She loved him despite her grief, and because of her grief–a love so rooted in grace it formed an amazing bond between these families.
I have been just close enough to understand that between these two friends is an intentional and compelling love. The place between them can only be described as holy. Holy, because moving between them is a love that can only be seen as the hand and the heart of God.
Missy Nicholas is a professional psycho-therapist, an amateur photographer and a lifelong writer.
Catch her blog at www.sunsetsandsnowflakes.com
This article was written in early January and we loved it so much, we wanted to share it in our Mother’s Day issue. Two days after Missy published it in her blog, Jericho who is 3 years old was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia. Now these women with their beautiful friendship are arm in arm fighting together again. Jericho recently had an allergic reaction to the chemotherapy, causing him to code in his mother’s arms. After 40 minutes of CPR and 3 days in the ICU, Jericho shocked medical staff with his miraculous comeback. As of the printing of this article only weeks after coding, Jericho is back to his chemotherapy regime. These two women are a living, breathing testimony of love and grace for one another and an example to each of us.
There is a Venmo account for Jericho Roberts, as well as an account at RCB bank in NE Oklahoma (just drop by or mail) if you would like to assist with medical expenses.
Ephesians 4:3-3-16 (NLT)
“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit…Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
The unification of the body of Christ to do good works together…ahhh that sounds nice. At least we think so. Although we’d like to take credit for the concept, it’s actually woven throughout God’s word. At the end of the day, we are to be united in Christ as His Body. Sometimes we get so caught up in being a certain church, denomination or organization that we lose sight of the advantages for God’s Kingdom when we come together as His “Body.” When you have an amazing group of arms, who can flex their power inside their realm effectively, can you imagine what they could do paired together with some legs to move around? A torso for stabilization? What if they found some super fingers, who could be instrumental in finer tasks of detail? Sometimes we just think too small as the “Body” of Christ. Can you imagine if we applied our strengths and abilities in a unified manner?
With decades of diversity training in the workplace under my belt, I can attest that Corporate America spends gigantic budgets teaching the value of diversity in the workplace. When we bring together people with different skills, different vantage points looking at a situation, and varied approaches to being effective, we can create a more powerful solution to the problem. When we bring together all sorts of companies in an industry association, we can share those approaches, finding ways to work together for the common good of the industry.
The application of diversity in effecting positive change under a unified movement can greatly expand the reach of that movement. Just using the famous expression—we all understand resources can be saved from “trying to reinvent the wheel.” So, it’s puzzling why, as a “C”hurch, who is directed by God to be unified in purpose, that we would hold so tightly within our own boundaries. What could we do if we applied God’s direction, which is a proven strengthening tactic in the business realm, to our efforts to reach the community for Christ? There are so many business skills that need applied to strengthen the church. (That’s for discussion another time!)
God already made us aware of His plan for our unity. He also made us very aware of our varied gifts and strengths. And, of course, he gave us the symbolism behind the “Body of Christ” to demonstrate exactly how we can work together for the greater good of the Kingdom. (Check out the interview with Jason Law from “Unite My City” for another great demonstration of this plan!)
We recently found great strength in partnering with pregnancy resource centers, abortion recovery ministries, those with a heart to help little babies, and those in Tulsa who are here to help families in crisis or need. We all partnered up proactively with Focus on the Family and their event “Alive from New York,” displaying a 4-D ultrasound in Times Square–showing our support for life here from Oklahoma. The Alive from Oklahoma “Standing in Love” event held May 4th, is an exact representation of the power God puts in our unification of His body, working for His purpose. None of us could have pulled this event off alone. I can’t wait to see what we do together next! (Did I mention we also did a red carpet event together for the movie Unplanned, which beat all the expected box office records? The movie rips the veil from Planned Parenthood revealing truths that need told!)
We feel God is definitely calling us to continue to work together for His kingdom! It is our prayerful goal to be a vessel to God’s followers, to the “C”hurch, so that we can have a greater impact together. We’re here to help. Let’s do this! #Go.Do.Be
Written By Betsy Gwartney Catrett
Celebrating the Joys,
Minimizing the Pain,
Maximizing the Gain.
Here we go!
As next to the last of 7, I missed out on Mothering 101. I flunked babysitting, too. I didn’t know what to do. So, when I married and babies came up, I felt, ummm STRESS. What was I to do?
I prayed and turned to God’s word for help. I read Psalm 127:3 (NLT) “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” So how did that scripture truth jive with my feelings about motherhood? NOT AT ALL.
So, I kept coming back to the Lord each night until my heart was at peace. I told the Lord I trusted Him to guide our family size and my fears and concerns of ineptness as a mother! By this time, I had already miscarried our first baby who was named Levi Joseph. Then, in barely seven short years, the gifts of Larry Paul (Lars), Lynden Dale (Len), Lance David, Lark Daniel, and then Luke Stephen were given to us. Whaaat? Don’t worry, it’s ok.
Despite a wonderful life of exciting travel, amazing people, and treasured life experiences I couldn’t have imagined the one area that tops them all is being a mother! Seeing the joy on each sweet child’s face when he entered into the light and life of spiritual birth and growing in that walk is ecstasy. 3 John 1:4 (NLT) “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.”
So, what do we do with the sorrows? And I don’t mean just the sorrows, but also the
SORROWS. Thankfully not all of you, but many of you KNOW exactly what I mean. I had SORROWS that ended up lasting for decades. Little by little I believe the Holy Scriptures washed my mind and gave me a heavenly perspective that eased my pain.
Family life can be a lot like the “no pain no gain” aspect in the gym. We can reframe the pain, frustration, sorrow, embarrassment, shame into a positive purpose that maximizes hope, energy and honor despite what one is going through.
Let’s give it a try by looking at 4 important foundational beliefs.
1. First things first: Salvation is about becoming spiritually ALIVE; born again into a realm for which we were designed, but by the human choices of Adam and Eve the entire human race died spiritually. Focus on being ALIVE, not saved. (Salvation is a wonderful by-product, but tends to result in us trying and trying to be “good.”)
2. Next, create a family atmosphere of LIFE-LONG LEARNING, with an emphasis on MATURING in our understanding of intimacy with God and the activity of spiritual warfare. We LEARN by listening for God and acknowledging when we hear Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). We LEARN from mistakes if we take the time to debrief, process and look for the truths in the experience. A post I read recently on Facebook went something like this: “Boy did I mess up; Dad’s gonna KILL me!” Or is it, “Boy did I mess up, I’ve GOT to call DAD!” What kind of response does your belief system produce?
3. Rather than life being about perfect performance of whichever Christian list you choose to follow, understand that life is about LEARNING TO LOVE and LIVE IN UNITY and HARMONY. (John 17:15-23, John 13:35) How in this world do we authentically love people whose choices affect us negatively and their styles of relating are so irritating and frustrating? Try this, realize that we reap what we sow. When we experience what we earlier “dished out” we have motivation for growth and change. The irritating person does, so do we! Give the amount of love and understanding that you want others to give you (Luke 8:31). Another helpful tool is to “Get wisdom, but with all your getting GET UNDERSTANDING!” (Proverbs 4:7) Understand that our Creator’s plan is for us to defeat evil together, thus He uniquely designed us and placed us in family systems. No mistakes on His part! As we understand one another’s strengths, gaps and growth areas we can mature together resulting in a powerful synergy that dispels darkness and produces intimacy, peace, and provision in every way.
4. Thus (and lastly), every family has a spiritual ASSIGNMENT given by God. (Exodus 34:7) Beliefs produce behaviors in every family. Identify the behaviors that rob of life and love and the beliefs behind them, then ask God for the Truth with which to replace them. You will be delighted with the new fruit your TRANSITION GENERATION created!
You see, your children don’t need a perfect mother. They need a mother who will show them where to turn when searching for answers, how to humbly receive God’s heavenly perspective and the life-learning of others, and how to ask God for power to apply what they know. You can relax and know that Elohim, our Creator, has a Master Plan for bringing us to spiritual life and maturing us in intimacy and spiritual warfare that results in a victorious harmony that will thrill our souls and delight His heart! By focusing on spiritual life, being a life-long learner, growing in one’s ability to authentically love and unify, and accepting ones family assignment you position yourself to celebrate the joys, minimize the pain and maximize the gain.