Category: LIFE

TITLE: SENIOR MOMENTS: Seasons of Grief

Written by Kim Niles

Grief and loss throughout life are inevitable. 

In fact, it’s not uncommon for senior adults to have experienced multiple deaths of loved ones or even to be the only one remaining in their original immediate family. Events that bring about grief for aging adults can cross a broad spectrum of experiences beyond the normal scope you might attribute to grief:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Health issues or dementia/Alzheimers/memory loss
  • Financial or job challenges
  • Anxiety, uncertainty, or fear over the future
  • Loss of a spouse, marriage, close companion, or a treasured pet 
  • Loss of independence with diminished ability to do activities, chores, or self-care 
  • Navigating a new residence (selling lifelong home for a more manageable residence, senior care center, nursing home, or assisted living)
  • Loss of feeling useful, needed, or loved
  • Guilt over life choices
  • Daily reminder of our finality on earth

Currently, there is a lot of information to encourage and support those who suffer grief and loss; new strategies are continually being developed and implemented to assist senior communities with grief. However, even with new strategies, grief is never a predictable, cookie-cutter experience. No two people will deal with grief in the exact same way—even if they are going through the same grief event.  Coping with grief and loss can be a true challenge for anyone, but especially for seniors.

As a grief author, one of my favorite aspects of helping others through grief is partnering with them on their journey with God. Having experienced multiple major grief events throughout life, I have found the spiritual aspect of grief recovery to be the most encouraging and hope filled. If you are going through a tough grief experience or challenging life event, I want to encourage you with this: You are not alone and God is not done with you.

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”

Vance Havner

With God, there is hope! He never leaves us or forsakes us, and there is always purpose in our pain. 

God is the Wonderful Counselor who always draws beautifully close to us as we draw close to Him (James 4:8). Age can only do so much. It cannot touch the depths of your spirit or soul, for these are protected by God. In fact, there are limitations as to what age can and cannot change or hinder.

I know of many who are concerned their best days are behind them, but nothing could be further from the truth. Your very best spiritual days may not have even happened yet. There are many examples in the Bible of those God chose to use in their golden years—like Moses.

Life is a continuous series of stages. Being prepared for important times and taking advantage of precious years can make all of the difference in the world. When we consider that all throughout our life, we have adapted to change, we then can properly and wisely view upcoming change and opportunities with both care and hope. 

What we focus on will direct the quality of our life. After all, where our treasure is, that’s where our heart will be also (Matthew 6:21). The good news is we can trade in our unwillingness to see what the Lord would want for us in each new season of life and replace it with a new treasured trust and focus. It is totally necessary at times to redirect our heart, focus, and treasure.

What we may dread or even resent? Well, God can use that very thing to breathe fresh new life into us and create a new purpose for us. As we struggle to find a fresh, new perspective and purpose for life during major grief, loss, or transition, it becomes imperative to:

  • Ask God to show you His perfect will for your life, and to guide and direct you in each new stage and season. He’s not through with you . . . you have so much to still offer (Philippians 1:6).
  • Turn a negative focus into a positive focus. Years ago, one of my best friends became a quadriplegic due to a diving accident. I was blown away by his positive attitude and his deep love for God. He would continually say, “I don’t focus on what I can’t do . . . I focus on what I can do.” His life testimony of how he handled hardship made a lasting impact on many hearts and lives. You never know who you can inspire by turning a negative perspective into a positive one.
  • Celebrate what God is doing—and what He will be doing in your future. He has great plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11).
  • Choose not to worry. God gives us discernment and wisdom to make good decisions, but after we’ve done our part by obeying God, the responsibility for our life is ultimately turned over to Him (James 4).
  • Pray. Prayer is one of the most powerful gifts you can bestow on family, friends, and others. Prayer can change everything. Consider each morning who you can pray for. Ask God to direct your prayers and give you ideas of who and what to pray for each day. You can make an incredible impact through prayer. Plus, spending beautifully intense time with God will change you.

Realize we have no time to waste; the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-20). Life can make us believe we have more time than we actually do; assuming we have more time can actually be a punishment for such an unwise assumption. Use your time, prayers, love, and opportunities of ministering to others wisely. 

When going through challenges, it can be easy to forget our time is limited. A great quote (by Kelli Bressman-Horn) I have found encouraging is, “Even though I am grieving, the clock is still ticking, and that’s why I keep living . . . purposefully.” No matter what we experience in life, it is imperative to redeem the time we are given in the wisest way possible.

Focus on a heavenly/eternal perspective vs. a worldly perspective. When we look at life through a worldly perspective, we can become depressed, worried, and even despondent. When we focus on a heavenly/eternal perspective, we begin to understand that earth is merely a training ground for Heaven. We clearly see life is a mere vapor (James 4:13-17) and it helps us to focus our time, love, relationships, and efforts into what matters most.

It is so very important to realize that some of our greatest contributions to the Kingdom can come from times of grief, change, transition, and loss. These are often the areas where God can use us most. With each grief event, God widens our ministry and gives us a larger capacity to be used by Him.  As we grow older, we will continue to find our purpose. We will find greater hope and joy in the Lord. We can see that our lives , no matter what age we are or what we go through, still hold great value to God.

Kim Niles is the author of Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You and is the co-founder of Grief Bites. She is a writer and partner for YouVersion and has several free reading plans available on the app. Mrs. Niles is a regular contributor for Biblical Leadership, a community leader at her church, and an inspirational speaker. After experiencing the deaths of her father, sister, grandparents, uncles, aunt, and other treasured family members and friends, and going through intense grief—especially with her son’s illness and tumors, Mrs. Niles became passionate about helping others through grief and counts it a privilege to encourage the grief community.


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

TITLE--HEART2HEART: Taking Care

Written by Andrea Stephens

Here we are getting to ready to welcome the coming of spring. After a few super cold winter days, we dare to focus on warmer weather and the first sight of yellow daffodils and purple crocus. Allow me to interrupt these dreamy thoughts and ask how are you doing with the resolutions and goals you set for yourself when you were courageously ringing in 2020? Remember those?

Statistics show that a majority of people have given up on and even forgotten about the goals they set, the new habits they were determined to develop, the inspirational pictures and slogans on their vision board and the hopes they recorded on their resolution list just a few months ago.

Along with a zillion other people, one of my goals for 2020 is to take better care of myself. My intention has been to eat healthier and increase my exercise. Eating healthier, which to me means cutting out sugar and empty carbs, is a daily challenge and an unrelenting battle. I argue with myself every Wednesday night at our church dinner about whether or not I’m going to eat that awesome looking bread pudding or cherry cobbler or fudgy chocolate cake. And this argument takes place after I have already told myself I cannot have one of the homemade dinner rolls. Ugh. Give a girl a break. I’m exhausted (and slightly depressed) by the time I finally sit down to eat.

Yes, I’m making sure I eat some of the traditional superfoods like blueberries, avocados, dark leafy greens, almonds, and the cruciferous vegetables—I actually like roasted brussels sprouts and riced cauliflower these days. I have been somewhat diligent about protein shakes, green smoothies, and even a splash of lemon or apple cider vinegar in my water.

Working out is more challenging for me because I admit it, I don’t like to sweat. It makes me itch. It causes body odor. I don’t enjoy either of these things. So, I only put out enough effort to ensure that I burn off some calories. Yes, I know that sweating from exercise may help detox the body, improve mood (thank you endorphins and dopamine), reduce stress and build a healthier heart.

But let me be honest. What I eat or don’t eat, what amount of exercise I do or don’t do, has been about maintaining a specific weight—not necessarily to feel more energetic, build muscle or strengthen my cardiovascular system. I, too, buy into the lie that I will appear healthy and all will be well in my world if I can just get my skinny jeans zipped and continue breathing at the same time.

So, keeping a watchful eye on the scale has been my number one indicator of whether or not I thought I was healthy and taking care of myself. But the fallacy of that came crashing down hard recently when I had a surgical procedure on my foot. In the recovery room, through a fuzzy brain, I heard the doctor tell me that I had osteomalacia, which in layman’s terms means soft bones. What? Soft bones? I’ve heard of bones becoming brittle or weak, but soft?

Naturally, I discussed this with Siri. Bottom line, it is a vitamin D issue—either not getting enough or not being able to absorb it properly. And this interferes with the body’s ability to absorb and utilize calcium and phosphorus which are needed to form the hard-outer layer of bone. Sunlight, supplements, eating foods rich in vitamin D and calcium, and weight bearing exercise are the basic remedy. One article recommended reducing salt, soda, caffeine and alcohol intake as they block calcium absorption.

Here comes a little more honesty. I already knew that I should be taking vitamin D and calcium.

And I have been—occasionally. Sometimes I forget, or I’m too hurried or too nonchalant. Well, not anymore!

The why behind my nutritional plan and workouts have been totally messed up. No longer can it be about the scale. It’s about my bones, muscles, heart, and skin. My why needs to be about my health and quality of life. I need to see this body of mine the way the bible describes it—a temple or home of the Holy Spirit. It is gift from God. I have the responsibility to take care of it.

The resolution of taking care of myself in 2020 has taken on a whole new level of seriousness and commitment. It prompts me to ask, not just how you are doing on your resolutions and goal, but are you taking care of yourself? Perhaps you work, have a family, are involved at your church or kid’s school, have to cook, clean, grocery shop, do laundry, make time for aging parents—the list is endless. I get it, we are busy. But being too busy to care for our health will reap a result we won’t like. So, whatever it looks like for you, will you commit to caring for the one and only body you have? I’ll be right there with you cheering you on.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.

Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

Andrea Stephens

Turning Point Thrift Store

TITLE: Rise&Shine: Everyday Christian Obedience

Written by Mike Henry Sr. — Follower of One

As Community Spirit Magazine draws attention to the problem of human trafficking, I wondered how to draw a parallel for marketplace Christians. Human trafficking is an extreme sin we must defeat at any cost. We must support The Demand Project and other organizations and pray for victims and any wrapped up in this horrible lifestyle.

But is that all? What else can workplace believers do to cooperate with this effort? We’re often constrained by our commitments and our obligations. But are we limited to prayer and financial contribution? Can we do anything at work? Do our actions at work matter?

Full-Time Ministry

We can live our faith at work without leaving. Most ministry activities require us to get away from work. We leave work for a Bible study or a service project. Many donate their vacations to go on a mission trip. When we return, the ministry is over.

But we can minister to others by living our faith at work, too. Once you decide to be a missionary to your workplace, your view of work changes. You become a full-time, funded missionary to your workplace.

Extreme Comparisons

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes several shocking parallels to attract our attention to the pervasiveness of sin.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”  Matthew 5:21-22 ESV

In this two-sentence comparison, Jesus blows our mind. Do you remember the first time you read this? After a while, Jesus’ words become just another statement. But he wants to give us an ice-cold shower about the evil in our own hearts.

Manipulation at Work

If Jesus gave that sermon today, to what would he compare to the abuse of porn and human trafficking? Might he start with little white lies and manipulation? Maybe Jesus would compare Hunan trafficking to gossip or a white lie? Would it be overstating our accomplishments or sucking up to our bosses? Could it be that “spinning” the facts to complete a deal equates to human trafficking the same way getting angry at someone equates to murder?

Sure, this comparison is extreme. But what can we do about this problem at work?

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:12-14 ESV

A Servant’s Response

First, we can make others aware. Do anything you can to help others see this problem in our community. But beyond that, in our workplaces, what can we do? What of we commit to love and serve others at work instead of treating them as a “resource” or something we use. Jesus asks us to love people and use things, but we often use people and love things.

What does loving others at work look like? Would we:

  • Stay late to help someone else rather than just saying we’ll pray for them?
  • Encourage and serve others instead of gossip?
  • Thank more than criticize?
  • Do an excellent job even if it means we have to work longer hours or miss some church functions?
  • Make time for others?
  • Learn more about our coworkers to pray for them better?
  • Give our own time and money to a coworker in need?
  • Obey Jesus and trust him enough to wait until he prompts our coworkers to ask?

What if we lived more intentionally around the people we work with every day? What if we commit to obey Jesus in whatever he calls us to do, at work or at home? If we obey Jesus more, will our actions at work make a dent in the human trafficking problem? We need to trust Jesus and obey him where we can. Where we can support the effort against Human Trafficking, we should. Where we can fight porn, we should. But even in our workplaces, we can’t give ourselves any slack. Every place we obey Jesus matters. Where do we make excuses for ourselves? Where do we let ourselves off the hook?

Give Ourselves an A

In a small group setting a friend said he was a “low empathy” person. His statement was genuine and transparent, but we all laughed because he made selfishness sound so good. We had quite a chuckle until we realized that the label fit us too. We can all raise our empathy bar.

Do you have the guts to ask Jesus to show you where you grade your obedience to him on a curve? Then do you have the love for Jesus to act?

All Obedience Counts

Let’s support The Demand Project and every other person and organization in this battle. We need to fight evil in every setting. Often, the first battle is in our own heart and mind, and the second one is in our workplaces. Ask God to show you where you need to obey him today and do it. Even when we’re stuck at work, we can obey Jesus and our obedience matters.


Mike Henry Sr. is a technology consultant and the CEO of Follower of One, Inc., a global ministry to encourage every workplace Christian to serve Jesus full-time and make him known daily. Check out their website at https://followerofone.org.


Title--CORE: Our "Core" Is in Trouble

Written by Teresa Goodnight

I want to look at our Core a little differently this month. The main reason? Statistically speaking the “Core” inside our church is in a bit of trouble. It’s not what you think. Stay with me and I’ll get there.

Have you ever had those times when you feel like God is telling you something, but you just want to ignore it?

The Demand Project came up in almost every conversation I had with readers, advertisers or anyone associated with the magazine or who knew that we did the magazine. Honestly? Human trafficking is a topic that is so horrible that my mind doesn’t want to acknowledge exists. I feel like it’s something that happens far away from here—something that wouldn’t happen right here in the middle of the buckle of the Bible belt. So, to think that we needed to talk to The Demand Project was just something I didn’t want to consider.

I’m not saying I was Jonah. However, there did finally come a point where I felt like I’m either going to have to tackle this whale or the whale is going to swallow me.

Truth? Sex trafficking is very real right here—right where we are. I watched groups of arrests around our area. I saw nine people from my hometown of Sapulpa, Oklahoma be arrested for human trafficking. The fact was this—no matter what I believed about it, it was real. It is real.

When the Jason and Kristin Weis of The Demand Project said—“If your child has a phone or if they have access to the Internet—they are already targeted.” 

There are little girls and little boys who are suffering every day. Some of them have been sold into trafficking by their parents. I can’t comprehend that concept, but I’ve never been addicted to drugs. Some of them are talked into sex slavery unknowingly online with what feel like very innocent conversations between them and a random stranger on TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram or even Facebook.

When the Jason and Kristin Weis of The Demand Project said—“If your child has a phone or if they have access to the Internet—they are already targeted.” I shuddered being the mother of a five-year-old with an iPad. To think that someone would want to defile her innocence—imagining the tragedy that horrible experience would have on her mentally was more than I could handle.

This is the only interview I’ve done where I cried. Twice. I’m crying as I write this now. The thought of someone doing that to my baby breaks my heart. These are other people’s little babies. We have got to stop pretending it doesn’t exist and hoping to talk about more pleasant things. We have to stop assuming it would never happen to our kids. We have to support The Demand Project trying to restore these victims and teach how we can end the demand for this sexual product.

I am as guilty as you are. It’s just not in my Christian upbringing to think about and talk about these things. Just the things that The Demand Project folks said out loud to me made me uncomfortable. They made me realize that the kind of world our kids are growing up in isn’t the world I grew up in. It’s not as safe as it was. It’s just not. People have access to our children; however, we can’t just strip them of the Internet and strip them of their phones. But, we can become a very active part of what they are doing with them.

So much of this issue is for those of you out there like me, who want to live in a bit of a fairytale land that just isn’t real. It’s a great place because it allows us to continue to be “happy.” In our apathy we don’t have to participate. We don’t have to get our hands dirty. We just ignore it and assume that it would never happen to our children.

It doesn’t take much to fool a beautifully innocent child into believing that you, as a sex offender, are a friend and not a criminal. So only read this article if you want to wake up. If you’re wanting to continue on living out your 19??’s fantasies, then I would just put the magazine down. This isn’t for you. Do you want to know how to protect your kids? Do you care about helping victimized children suffering right here in our part of the world? Keep on reading.

Church-Pornography-Trafficking Link

Statistically speaking, if you look to your right and to the left in your pew at church—just over 6 out of 10 men and 1.5 out of 10 women are actively viewing pornography on a monthly basis. (Barna Group 2014) According to another survey by the Barna Group in 2016:1 in 5 youth pastors and 1 in 7 senior pastors use porn on a regular basis and are currently struggling. To be clear, that is over 50,000 U.S. church leaders.

Statistics show our “Core” is under attack. Part of the reason I had to go down this path was how many people I encounter inside the church who admit to pornography addiction destroying their marriage. Pornography addiction is seriously blowing up church families left and right.

Truth is, if you are watching pornography, you are 100% participating in the realm of human trafficking. You just are. How far you will venture into that land? Well, that is a really good question. Chances are, it will be farther than you ever imagined you would go. Marriages and families are destroyed. Pedophiles are created. Sexual addicts, who cannot get their needs met at home, find ways to go outside of the marriage bed for sexual satisfaction. After all, those paid to perform acts just do as they are paid to do (although not likely along the same lines as the fake stuff in the shows).

Porn is even attacking our children. Do you know most kids have seen pornography at school? If not on their phone, on someone else’s who pressures them to watch. If you think this stuff isn’t happening, Satan is really doing a better job than I’d care to admit.

Participating in any way with pornography essentially supports the horrors of sex trafficking. It’s taking part in an industry that creates the demand for these girls and boys to be pulled from their homes into a life that they feel they can never escape.

Keep thinking it’s not you. Keep thinking what you’re doing is fine. Keep thinking I would never be that kind of person. Better yet, keep thinking it’s better to keep it a secret. Satan LOVES that line of thinking. I’m guessing King David didn’t think he’d fall to sexual temptation when he saw his great warrior’s wife taking a bath and continued to watch. I bet Uriah wished David had been a bit wiser about sexual temptations since it cost Uriah his life. I’m also guessing that the man I was just told about who keeps a bucket under his desk because he can’t leave his desk to go to the bathroom from his porn addiction didn’t set out for that life either. It is kinda safe to assume he wanted more at some point. I’m thinking he probably had bigger dreams, but that’s just me.

The Church should not have these statistics for pornography addiction. As the Church, we can’t sit by and let this world of sexual sin and depravity continue to destroy our congregations. When an “innocent” viewing of porn invades the mind, it starts to unravel the barriers we have to protect us. It creates a new home where addiction brews in secret. Those “harmless addictions” become the focus of lives and the path towards destruction begins.

Porn is just one way to create the demand for human trafficking. They are definitely linked. There are also many others but together they are all the breeding grounds for sexual predators, broken marriages and broken families. It’s a realm where men and women can become something they never imagined.

This stuff is real. What we’re getting ready to talk about lands on us, as the Church, to hold higher standards of living in alignment with the Bible. The indifference of Christians on all accounts is probably the worst reality of all. I’m guilty of ignoring it. You might be guilty with me. We don’t have to stay there. We have to get in this battle where Satan is taking prisoners in our homes. We have to offer help to bring them out of their addictions. We might even need to help them understand (as men, women, and youth) that it’s actually NOT ok. It actually DOES lead to bad things.

As you follow along with Community Spirit, in our next issue, we will tackle porn in the church head on. We are going to be talking to a very well-known Pastor from Tulsa, who fell to the temptation of pornography himself. He’s going to get real with us. He has an incredible ministry to help those battling addiction. We are also going to talk to people who are in the midst of recovery. We want you to know it’s not just some crazy guy locked up by himself in the middle of small-town America. Trafficking, porn addiction, they are real and they are right here in our backyards.

Written by Teresa Goodnight

It’s such an invigorating time of year. It’s crisp outside. Things feel new as the year breaks through. We start on our new path. We buy a new journal. Maybe set new goals. Then life rolls around. It doesn’t hit all at once. However, very slowly we ease back into our old ways. They’re comfortable. They feel less stressful. Truthfully, they feel just easier than these new goals. Most of us simply slide into failure. It just feels like home. Mmmm. Cozy. Not really though.

Familiar? It’s just easier to stay in patterns of thought and behavior than to turn over any kind of a new leaf. Is it any wonder, when we try to walk with God why we slip back into old sins? Find ourselves becoming less and less offended at our offenses? We dull and lull ourselves back into what feels the easiest. Same old same old.

Can we Change our Core?

As a reigning queen of the #EPICfail New Year, I know the pattern all too well. However, last year—I decided to do something about it. I made one big change. Just one. Funny enough, it wasn’t even at the New Year. It was at the end of November.

I’m sure it’s not a big deal to most of you. I hesitate to write it. But, my fellow Sodaholics will know my plight. I went from a few sodas per day to zero. Anyone who knows me knew that was just not ever going to be possible. Dr. Pepper was my end all be all crutch for a stressful day for over 30 years. I knew which states didn’t serve it and consistently offered a root beer when I asked (as if it were even close to the same!). I knew where to get it overseas in France, Italy, China—you name it. I could find it. I could easily distinguish between a Mr. Pibb and a Dr. Pepper for those who tried to pass it off as the same. I’m not proud. I’m just saying—it wasn’t an easy break-up.

I called it “When my Daddy took away my last Dr. Pepper.” (not intentionally but it became an extra funny part of my goal!) He literally held it for me at the hospital one day and I could not figure out where he put it. I kept asking everyone if they knew. It was funny. He didn’t intentionally hide it but it popped into my head as a fun way to stop drinking it. Why? Because I liked saying it. It makes me laugh. I also love to see him crack a smile in the corner of his mouth when I say he took my last one. I actually partnered him with me on the journey not really realizing what I was doing. It worked!

So, I’m sitting here a year later quite proud of myself. It’s certainly not a game changer, but it did prove to me I could do it. I can make changes. I can break difficult habits. My keys to success?

  1. Pick it. Pick one thing or just very few (2!). 2020 is about focus and we can’t focus with 15 goals in 15 directions. It just doesn’t work. Get laser-focused on a goal and stay on it.
  2. Plant it. Be really specific and plant that seed in your heart and mind. Don’t just decide “I’m going to be a better person in 2020.” Decide “I’m going to be a more financially generous person.” Or, maybe, “I’m going to read my Bible daily even if it’s just a verse.” General goals are nice, but they don’t give you specific plans for success. Plant the specific seed you want to grow.
  3. Present it to God. Get yourself what you need to grow the seed. Bring it before God. Pray. Ask for His help. Read what His word has to say about your issue.
  4. Partner Up. Ask Him for accountability partners (or a fun unintentional partner like my dad!). God uses others following Christ to help us get where we want to go. The “following Christ” part isn’t really optional. You need people who are lined up with God’s word to speak truth to you straight from the Bible. They pray with us and for us. They keep us challenged. They make sure we are staying focused. They nudge (or jerk) us back onto our path as needed. They are on board with keeping the seed growing with you.

Whatever you do, be realistic. Many make a list of resolutions as likely to happen as trying to get the Democratic and Republican parties to agree on their political agendas. Instead of making a list even the mightiest of willpower giants couldn’t accomplish, think a bit smaller. Few people can handle massive amounts of change. (Woohoo for those who can!) But if you find yourself reigning in my “#EPICfail” kingdom with your very own crown—why don’t you try a different approach?

Narrow down your list to a few things that simply must change. To reference Kristen Marie’s mantra “Choose Life.” Select YOUR one thing you want to change. Then, decide THIS thing will become a thing of your past (or these 3 THINGS for our overachievers who just can’t live within a limit (but please don’t overdo it if you want to have success).

Maybe this is the year that you want to “Choose Life” by becoming a giver. Write it down. Be specific as to what that would look like for you. Pray about it. Pray for a gardener, an accountability partner, to help you keep the seed growing. I told people I gave up soda. I made sure people around me knew my plan so they could watch me. I even brought my dad in on it, because I enjoyed the proud smirky smile on his face that he had been part of my little journey. Partners to keep you growing strong are absolutely a big factor in your success.

Then, start immediately. Set out to answer all situations you enter as the giver you want to become. Maybe you defined that as when you see a charity making a difference, you will pick an amount of money or time and just give it. Write it down. When the next one comes along—do it again. Write it down. Maybe challenge yourself with the number of times you want to accomplish your giving goal for the year. Then, take the opportunities in front of you (or seek some out!). When you look back at your list at the end of the year, you will find a sense of accomplishment along with the joy you received each time you succeeded. Somewhere along the way, your seed becomes your heart. It brings forth a beautiful change transforming you more into who God made you to be. It just becomes who you are. Then, you have a journal to remind you of the journey.

I know Dr. Pepper isn’t a big problem. Maybe for you it’s something a little more life impacting. Maybe you have a sin that has been kicking you and possibly your family, that you need to kick back. Maybe you have lost your patience with your family and need to find some grace again. Maybe your relationship with your spouse has been strained and it might be your fault. Maybe it’s a substance abuse situation. Maybe you have found yourself wrapped up in a porn addiction. The list could go on and on. Whatever it is—the solution isn’t THAT much different for a serious problem. You have to “Choose Life.”

Do you want to make a change?
Do you want to choose life? 

Some bigger problems have very specific accountability groups that can offer the exact kind of support you need—groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, for example. You can march yourself into an AA meeting and find a system proven to work. If it’s something like porn addiction, download a software system like covenanteyes.com and then find some accountability partners. Whatever you do “Choose Life” and get God involved in your decision.

These bigger items are better tackled with a team, but rest assured, you CAN beat them. You do need a team in your corner. God’s got the foundation. Build on it with Godly men and women who can help hold you accountable. Get real with them. (Check out Accountability Partners in this issue!). Trust me, you are not alone. You are NOT the only one facing that kind of problem. You just aren’t.

What you can’t do this year is try it the same ways you’ve tried before and fail.

Once you know how to be successful, the question really comes down to do you want to make a change? do you want to choose life? If you do, pick it, plant it, present it to God and get on down that road with some partners in your corner. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow to get it right. We are guaranteed that God will never leave us and never forsake us in Hebrews 13:5. He’s right there to take this journey with you—to kick the soda or to kick the habit before you kick the proverbial can. Just kidding. (Kinda). Seriously, not kidding at all. Some of these problems are very big deals and if you have one afflicting you, it’s absolutely time to make a change.

#GoDoBe

Heart2Heart January-February 2020

Written by Andrea Stephens

The idea of having a word for the year was first presented to me by my associate pastor’s wife several years ago when I was living in Florida. She was a very intentional and purposeful type of woman, so it made sense that having a special word, and a scripture to go with it, was something she grabbed hold of. But it wasn’t enough that she had a word, she insisted that everyone had a word.

I passed her enthusiasm (and persistence) onto those in my immediate circle. Each of my family members now select a word for the year. I record their word next to their name on my prayer list so that I’m sure to include it when I am lifting them up to the Lord. As the months go by, I’m sure to check-in to see how they are applying and experiencing the use of their word. We talk about whether or not it is making a difference in the way they are living, whether they are remembering to consider their word as they make decisions about the use of their time and how they choose to conduct themselves.

After all, that is the purpose of having a word. It serves as a guide. It serves as a motivator. It serves as a goal. It serves as a reminder of one thing a person wants to change or become or do as they live their life throughout the year. This is why much thought and prayer are put into the selection of a word. In fact, it can become a partnership—something you and the Lord are working on together.

Last year my sister’s word was outreach. As she analyzed her jam-packed schedule, she realized this was missing from her to-do list. Her job, as regional director for a popular cruise line, kept her traveling, planning presentations, and tracking sales numbers. And usually one of her three kids were in mini-meltdown mode, requiring her attention. And then there was the investment she and her husband made in a beach house that needed updating and some basic TLC before it could be offered as a vacation getaway for families. Of course, none of these things were wrong, she just felt the stirring to focus on being more outward than inward; to support a cause by volunteering her time and abilities.

So that is exactly what she did. She chose the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). Mental health was near and dear to her heart since one of her kids struggles with anxiety. They welcomed her energy and her host of new ideas for fundraising. Over the course of the year, she served on the Board, participated in the annual NAMI Walks for awareness, helped deliver Christmas bags to area group homes for NAMI families, and through her community connections was able to raise a significant amount for the organization. In return, she was blessed with new friendships and the satisfaction of knowing she was helping others.

In September she came to Tulsa to celebrate my birthday. Knowing her word was outreach, I made arrangements for us to volunteer at Turning Point Thrift Store located next to Loaves and Fishes. We sorted clothes, tagged and priced items, and welcomed shoppers. We even found of few treasures to take home. I loved spending part of my birthday guided by her word outreach.

With the arrival of 2020, now is the time to select a word for the year. Are you ready to join in?

I have chosen the word kindness. I’m challenging myself to stop and ask: What is the kindness thing to do in this situation? What kindness can I offer a hurting person? How can I become a kinder person? Where can I speak a word, provide a meal, or offer a hug? Who needs me to watch their kids, run an errand or simply sit and listen to their story? What scripture can I focus on that relates to kindness?

To help develop myself in this area, I picked up The Kindness Effect by Jill Donovan. Jill is the mastermind behind the Rustic Cuff craze. This attorney and law professor at the University of Tulsa has become a wildly successful entrepreneur. Jill uses her profits to bless others. As the book subtitle claims, Jill has discovered the power of irrational giving, encouraging her readers to do the same. In other words, spread kindness whenever and wherever possible—and give credit to God.

Now, what about you? What will your word be? What are you missing? What do you want to add? Is there an activity or even an attitude you want to incorporate into your life? Give it some thought and prayer, then commit it to the Lord. Get ready for Him to open opportunities for you to put your word into action. What a great 2020 ahead!

Andrea Stephens

If you would like to know more about Jill and her adventures with kindness, you are invited to the Asbury Women’s Gathering on Friday, February 21 at 7:00 pm. Asbury Church is located at 6767 S. Mingo Road, Tulsa. No charge, refreshments provided. Register online at asburytulsa.org or call 918-492-1771.


Turning Point Thrift Store

TITLE: Rise&Shine: Everyday Christian Obedience

Written by Mike Henry Sr. — Follower of One

As I write this article, I just read a devotional on Psalms 16:11 which says, “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalms 16:11b

I hope you agree. I hope you experience God’s joy when you’re in his presence. For many of us, we experience his joy when we worship, or when we’re around his people. We may see God’s glory in our family, or in nature, and experience his joy. We may find his joy in reading his word and prayer when we’re by ourselves or when we’re alone.

Do you often experience God’s joy at work? I think many of this magazine’s readers would say they do. But how often? More than once or twice a day? More than a few times a week? Once a month? Less?

I used to think my faith was a part of my life: the others being work, family, health and hobbies. But the more I chased after God, the more I learned my faith was the place where my life, work, family and hobbies existed. When I’m with God, being directed by God, I experience his joy. At work, my desires and fears called the shots. I avoided getting chewed out, or I worked to earn money or appreciation for my job. I wanted my career to matter, but I left God out of the equation.

But fullness of joy exists in God’s presence.

How can we manage ourselves into the presence of God full-time, even while we’re at work doing things we don’t like or working with people we don’t like?

“But Jesus answered them, My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

John 5:17

“And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:”

John 16:8

“But when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”

John 16:13a

The entire Trinity works right now. When you can’t be at church, or in a quiet time, you can join God in His work. Years ago, Henry Blackaby and Claude King wrote a popular workbook (and a series of other books based on it) called Experiencing God. Their workbook prompted me to see God is active in every life. We just look for God working in others and join Him.

In every circumstance and any project, we can be present with God. In Psalm 139 we learn we can’t get away from God. “If I ascend to Heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!” Psalm 139:8.

God is actively working in the lives of everyone you know and see every day. That includes the person who serves you coffee and the people who clean your workplace; the people you call on today and the person at the tire shop or the irate customer. God is actively working in your boss and your direct reports, peers, and vendors, too.

In the book Rare Leadership by Marcus Warner and James Wilder, they suggest that our brains only run on 2 fuels. Either our brains run on fear, or joy. When you can’t wait to leave work or get to the weekend, you’re operating on fear. When you look for God in everything you do, you experience His joy in every work. The work isn’t joyful but God gives us His joy in His presence. Some work is ugly. He knows. His mercies are new every morning. He has the joy we desperately need to live and work in a fallen world, in a fallen body, among other fallen people.

At Follower of One, we suggest 5 categories of activities we can do to be present with God at work. We call these the 5 daily activities:

  1. Pray—Ask God to put you to work in the lives of others.
  2. Appreciate others—Make God’s treasure our treasure. He died for everyone we meet.
  3. Know what you believe—Prepare to answer the question, “Why are you doing this?” or “Why do you follow Jesus?”
  4. Serve others—Go beyond what others expect of you.
  5. Speak for yourself—When someone asks, answer in the 1st person.

We have found that when people practice these 5 activities daily, they experience God’s joy moment-by-moment at work. Even in miserable jobs or difficult situations, we hear how God brings joy. His presence brings joy, and he’s at work.

God’s joy is available to us when we can pray, worship, study and share time with other believers. But that’s not all. God is a worker. If you want more of God’s joy, join him at work, and watch what happens.


Mike Henry Sr. is the CEO of Follower of One, an online community to equip marketplace Christ-followers in any line of work. Check out their website, podcast and videos at https://follower ofone.org.


Senior Moments--Giving Honor Where Honor Is Due

Written by Kim Thomas

When you think about the older person who really made a difference in your life, who is it that comes to mind? For me, it was the little old lady who lived next door to my family who let me call her “Grandma Lilly.” I was seven years old and lonely because I had just moved more than 1000 miles away from my extended family in Canada. Grandma Lilly let me come to her house each day after school where she lovingly served me cookies and together, we sat on the rickety front porch swing as she smiled tenderly and gently patted my hand with hers. The way she intently listened to my stories and hung on every word I said made me feel like I hung the moon! Now, 46 years later, as I reflect back on these memories, I see how the relationship forged between us had just as much impact on Grandma Lilly as it did me. My taking time to sit and talk with her when others seemed too busy made her feel just as special as I did and let her know that she was special too!

Unfortunately, in today’s culture, it is not uncommon for the senior population to fall into the stigma of being “less than,” feel dismissed, swept aside or simply forgotten. Instead of being valued for their treasured experience and wisdom, seniors commonly get treated like a nuisance or obligation. Over time, the death of a spouse, family moving farther away, or the loss of mobility or productivity can lead to loneliness and isolation with more and more time spent alone. Weeks can go by without them getting out or having even the opportunity to speak to others.

It is too easy for us to get caught up in our own lives, our own schedules, and our own pressures of life that we forget to give honor where honor is due. Job 12:12 tells us that “wisdom is found among the aged and long life brings understanding.” In other words, there are a lot of things we can learn from our elders if we will just slow down and take the time to listen.

In this busy world, challenge yourself to reach out and tell a senior who has had a positive impact on your life just how much they mean to you. Rather than leave them behind, love them unconditionally. This season of their life is when they need it the most. Above all else, keep in mind that one day, you and I will be seniors too!

Ways to Honor our Elders:

  • Recognize the contributions they have made to our families as well as the community. We wouldn’t be where we are today without some of the unconditional sacrifices they have made.
  • Call and check in on them. Take time out of your day to ask if there is anything they need that you can bring them. One 5-minute phone call can communicate the message you care about their wellbeing. Establish a routine for yourself such as when you are driving home and commit to checking in to see how they are doing.
  • Stop by and pay them a visit. It doesn’t have to be long. Stop by and share a cup of coffee. Ask questions about family history, heritage, and traditions while allowing them to reminisce. Surprise them and take them for breakfast or a special lunch.
  • Ask for advice. Be open to their words of wisdom, years of experience, and views on life.
  • Mail a card to them and specifically list things you appreciate about them. Offer sincere words of encouragement.
  • Be aware of seniors around you who may not have any family close by. Aging parents are lonely for family. Consider “adopting” someone who is alone and inviting them to join in your family activities. If there is a senior living community nearby, ask if there is a resident who does not got visited often and shower that person with kindness.
  • Involve your children and teach them to respect and honor elders as well. As parents, we role model behaviors we want our children to follow. Younger generations need to learn the importance of making time to listen and spending unselfish time with others. Lead by example.
  • Recognize that the Holidays can be a lonely time for some. Pay special attention during this season and look for ways to bless a senior who lives alone.
  • Pray and ask God to help you see others the way He does. Expect Him to bring those people across your path that He would have you show special honor to.

ABOUT: Kim Thomas is a licensed professional counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist and I have a private practice, There’s Hope! Counseling.  I am a monthly co-host on KNYD Oasis Network Radio.  I am married with a blended family.  I’m a mom of 4, mother-in-love to 2, and stepmom to 3 kiddos, and a dog mom to Rae.  Contact info is (918)277-0777 or www.thereshopehere.com


Kim Thomas

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

Rise&Shine: Are You Too Busy?

Written by Mike Henry Sr. – Follower of One

The Good Samaritan

The story of the Good Samaritan in Luke Chapter 10:30-37 tells of a person on the road to Jericho who gets mugged and left for dead. A Priest and a Levite both pass the man without stopping. Only a Samaritan man, one the Jews would have hated, stopped to help the man.

Jesus told this story to answer a question asked by an expert in the Jewish Law, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).

Would you stop?

I believe most people reading this magazine think we would stop. I’d like to think I would. But in 1973, J.M. Darley and C.D. Batson published a study “From Jerusalem to Jericho.” The study tested Princeton Seminary students. The students prepared a presentation to be given across campus. Half of the students were to present on career prospects and the other half on the parable about the Good Samaritan.

Some students were told they were running late for the presentation, some were cutting it close, and a third group had plenty of time.

Then, for the study, the path of each student went by a person who appeared to have just been mugged. The test was to see who would stop and help the victim.

While 40% offered some help to the man, only 10% of those who thought they were running late helped the man. Forty-five percent (45%) in a medium hurry stopped and 63% with plenty of time stopped to help.

Importance of Time

It seems the American epidemic is busyness. Most of us are in a hurry, period. Often we answer the question “How are you doing?” with, “I’m good, just busy.” Busy is the new black. If you’re not busy, you’re not very important. If you have time, you must not be in demand. Important people are busy.

Time, Attention, and Email

Another commodity seems to be attention. Do you answer all of your email messages each day? It seems fewer people read all of their email. I have friends with thousands of unread messages. If you need to contact these people, text them. And, then wait.

What Am I Missing?

How much of our busyness and attention deficit are related to our fear of missing out (FOMO)? New things happen daily. A new iPhone or a new movie just came out. Did you see this new viral video on Facebook? Our kids are in soccer and basketball, (and this and that) this year.

As Americans, we run from one thing to the next, consuming experiences like fast food and then running to the next experience.

We’re so consumed with our own lives, we never see our neighbors!

Love God and Love People

Jesus told this story because the Jewish lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. I guess he didn’t want to miss out. Jesus asked him what he thought, and the lawyer stated clearly the Great Commandment, that we love God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind, and we love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus confirmed this man’s thinking. Then the lawyer asked, “And who is my neighbor?”

The Neighbors We Miss

As we race from experience to commitment to experience, I wonder how many neighbors we miss. Could it be our neighbors and the things we do for them will last? Everything else will burn up. Our experiences and our busy lifestyles load us up with treasures on earth. Moth and rust will destroy those. The memories may linger, but I doubt they’ll compare to eternal life. And, the treasures will stay here.

See Others

Can we make time for people? Can we put some slack back in our own schedule, so we have time for our neighbors? Intentionally “see” others in every setting, especially those settings, like our family and work, that aren’t optional. Can you make more time for your family? Can you focus more of your life to get to know and serve your co-workers? I wonder how our workplaces and our co-workers might change if we made more time for them? I wonder if they would experience more of Jesus and his eternal joy if we lived more gracefully toward them?

Let It Go

Drop one thing to invest in people at work. We all need to move closer to Jesus. Help your work neighbor see Jesus. They want their life to last. They need a savior who gives meaning and purpose in this life and the next. Create some time in your schedule to serve others and make Jesus visible.


Mike Henry Sr. is the Founder and CEO of Follower Of One, a ministry designed to mobilize Christians in the marketplace. Get started by taking the Marketplace Mission Trip.


Put On Your "God Goggles"

Holiday seasons are funny. For some, they bring such a wonderful time of gratitude for all that they have. Not things, but people really. Family. For others, they highlight things that are missing. Not just things, but people as well. People who are missed. People who may never have been there, like parents or spouses prayed for but not yet met. For all the joy of the season, there can be a real space for sadness and even a bit of despair. Goodness, I remember vividly as a child when we first had a chimney. Finally, Santa had a way in! Crisis averted!

For Christians, this is a season where we turn to traditional giving outlets to share some Christmas joy. It’s a great plan. Keep it up.

However, for 2019, we want to toss out a challenge to think bigger. We want to think even beyond the gift trees at the mall needing a requested present. (Again, still do those OF COURSE!)

Do you have a family in your church? Your neighborhood? Your work? A family who cares for children in foster care? A single parent? Friends without family in town? Friends from other countries? Elderly neighbors missing family and friends? I bet you could find at least one in one of these categories just on your street alone.

So, open your eyes. Put your “God Goggles” on to catch His vision.

Foster care parents take in children who need love during the holidays. Reach out to them. Find out how you can help around the house. Maybe it’s babysitting? Maybe it’s gifts? Maybe it’s wrapping presents? Maybe it’s something special that you can provide that I can’t even imagine not knowing your talents!

And guess what?

Single parents need those things too! My husband traveled excessively for work this year. He was gone for back to back full weeks month over month. Ay-ay-ay. It was beyond trying to parent alone—to not have that person to run to the CVS for cough medicine in the middle of the night. I have an amazing support group in Tulsa with my family. My parents don’t know they’re too old to dance and play in the floor, while they entertain my highly energetic and sometimes slightly high maintenance daughter. Goodness. They help so much!

Not everybody has those kinds of life savers to throw a rope. Single parents could use a break. Offer them one. An evening where they could go shopping without spying little eyes could be invaluable. Tossing in a Visa gift card could make that event a bit more enjoyable!

Stop to invite a single friend or an elderly person over for the whole “magic in the eyes of a child” kind of thing. Invite them to join your family for Christmas lights at Rhema. Put them between the car seat and the door for a crazy night of Christmas light touring they won’t soon forget. There’s just so much fun to be shared!

People aren’t connected in the way we used to be. It used to be that everyone sort of just knew what was going on in others’ lives. Maybe it was the party line my grandparents had back in the day. I don’t know. I just know there are a lot of people who will never ask you for help. They might even be afraid that if they asked, you might ask for something from them later. Right? You know that thought process. These kinds of people will answer “Fine.” when asked how they are. They will smile to keep your attention off of their coffee stained shirt. Sure. They will make it without you, but I bet they could make it SO MUCH BETTER with you.

So grab your “God Goggles” and #GoDoBe in the ways you always do and in ways you had never thought of before.