Category: LIFE

Written by Andrea Stephens

I’ll never forget the Sunday morning when the Fertility Clinic called with the crushing news that none of the eggs from the IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) procedure had produced an embryo.  We had tried so many other procedures but this was the time we were going to actually see what was happening by putting the eggs and sperm together in a petri dish and watching for results.  

But nothing.  

Nothing happened.

The doctor explained that the next step would be using donor eggs.  I could look at the profiles of women who had frozen eggs, select one, then have her eggs used in another IVF procedure.  But we had already decided that we would not take that route.  Though others were making that choice and joyfully producing little bundles of joy, we had decided we would draw the line at this point.  No third-party intervention.

To say I was devastated was putting it mildly.  I was already ten years into this infertility journey.  Hundreds of doctor’s appointments, invasive ultrasounds, blood draws, fertility drug injections, ovulation kits, six surgeries to remove painful cysts and endometriosis and I still had empty arms.  The hand-knit baby booties on my dresser, intended to be a symbol of hope, had become a disheartening reminder of the loss I felt from being childless.

I had already worked through the jealousy of birth announcements from friends.  The Lord had brought me to the understanding that what He was doing in someone else’s life had nothing to do with me and I eventually could rejoice with them.  I had already learned that taking non-emotional gifts like diapers to a baby shower helped me feel stronger (shopping for cute baby outfits could land me in a puddle of tears).  I had already mastered the art of redirecting the conversation every time someone asked me when I was going to start my own family.

I had also already worked through the tough God questions. Why won’t You give me a baby?  Why don’t You love me? What have I done wrong?  Is there unconfessed sin in my life?  Do You not think I would be a good mom?  Why won’t you bless me?  I promise to raise my children to love and serve You! The majority of my wrestling with God over my childlessness had been resolved with the biblical truth that my infertility was not a withdrawal of God’s love, not a judgment call, not a source of punishment, not proof that I’d been abandoned or forgotten about, and not proof that prayer didn’t work.

Yet, that day after the phone call, I felt like I was still missing something.   I still needed the Lord to comfort my heart and give me understanding.  As I sat and prayed, I sensed a whispering in my soul.  It’s time to focus on the bigger picture.  The bigger picture?  What could be bigger than God’s instructions to be fruitful and multiply?  What was bigger than the biblical accounts of God opening the wombs of Sarah, Rebekah, Hannah, and others in the Old Testament?  What was I missing?  What piece of the big picture was not in my puzzle?

I decided to dive into the Gospel of John, paying close attention to Jesus’ words in an effort to understand what God wanted me to see.  So, first we learn that Jesus is the Word, John the Baptist came with a message of repentance, Jesus turns the water into wine, then he turns over the tables in the temple.  Got it.  In Chapter 3, the nighttime chat with Nicodemus about being born again caught my attention in a fresh way.  Jesus said we must be born of the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and believing in Him, God’s Son, brings eternal life.  Hmmm. The eternal.  The kingdom of God.  A different kind of birth.

I continued on.  Finally, in chapter fifteen it happened.  A huge clue was uncovered.  Jesus is the vine, we are the branches; we are to bear fruit—eternal fruit!  I was starting to get it.  Fruitfulness was being given a new definition.  In the Old Testament, fruitfulness referred to bearing earthly children.  In the New Testament, it was about abiding in Christ and producing spiritual fruit.

God, does this mean that Jesus brought a new focus, a new sense of purpose? Could it be that being fruitful was not connected with having kids?

Jesus’ focus was not on the earthly development of the family of God, but the spiritual development of the Kingdom of God.  How?  Share the good news of saving grace found in Christ alone, so others might receive Him into their lives and be born again, born spiritually into the Kingdom of God, into His forever family.

Thoughts of New Testament people without children or without mention of children flooded my mind:  John the Baptist, Martha and Mary, Priscilla, Dorcas, Mary of Magdela, Apostle Paul, and Jesus Himself! If having biological children was the end all, then God would owe Jesus, John, Paul, and others an apology for leaving their lives unfulfilled and incomplete!  Not possible.  God was at work in each of their lives, he loved them, He had an obvious plan for each of them and they fully completed their calling before heading to heaven. 

Whew.

As the idea of spiritual children twirled around in my heart, my head realized that according to this definition, I had lots of kids.  Through years in youth ministry and writing for teen girls, I had indeed seen many be born spiritually and had the joy of discipling them—growing them up in Jesus!

I began to take note of some awesome women God had put in my life throughout 

my baby journey, other childless but Kingdom-focused women.  He was using them—right then—to help me see there was a bigger picture.  Rhonda had a local Christian TV show for women and taught a seminary class for soon-to-be pastor’s wives.  Susie was editor of a teen magazine and led groups of girls on mission trips.  Gail had a puppet ministry that told little ones about God’s love.  Rebecca had a worldwide music ministry.  Lori was an award-winning second-grade teacher who developed a mentoring program.

The dictionary says that part of being a mother is providing affection, protection, nurture, and guidance.  It’s what many of us childless women do.  We love, we teach, we train, we coach, we encourage, we guide.  We are an important part of building God’s forever family.  It seems that on some level we meet the definition of a mom.

The various clues had come together!  This the “big picture” God wanted me to see.

Over the years, I have been so grateful for the truths God has revealed to me and grateful for grasping an eternal perspective.  Now I celebrate each Mother’s Day in a fresh way.  I celebrate all the ways God has used me to be a mom in the lives of teen girls during the previous year.  And I smile, remembering all the young ones who took my manners classes—allowing me to have a tiny part in parenting them.  And I focus forward knowing that I am a mother.  Just another kind.

-parts of this article first appeared in Just Between Us Magazine.


Written by Brenda Hilligoss

For the last few weeks I have been thinking about not greeting at Life.Church.  I thought that I wasn’t really helping God.  I would no longer have to get up early on Sunday mornings, since I have some health problems and do not sleep well.  I thought that they wouldn’t miss me.  I kept praying about what I was thinking, but I could not decide what to do.  God kept telling me that it didn’t matter what I thought or what others thought; I was doing this for Him.  He kept telling me, but I certainly wasn’t looking for that answer.  So, I kept praying, possibly, for Him to come around and just tell me what I was wanting to hear—that it was ok to hang up my hat for a bit.

I greet both on Sunday mornings and on Monday nights.  I’ll be 69 by the time this issue is published.  I’m retired and sometimes even bored, but still, I thought about taking a break.  It’s funny how those thoughts creep in.  I think Satan pokes around, looking for a bit of a cracked door, so that he can slip in and bust the door wide open.  He’s just sneaky like that.  If he can find our weaknesses, maybe a little bit of our self pity, or pounce on our desire to just take it easy, he will grab onto it and run with it.  So, I just kept praying and hoping for “MY” answer.

Then just a few weeks ago, the church presented me with a medal and certificate for my service.  March marked 5 years of greeting at the auditorium doors!  I have greeted a lot of people in those 5 years.  It was nice to stop and take note of how long I had been serving.  But, still, you guessed it–I thought about taking a break. You might even say I was just longing for God to give it to me.  When you want a certain answer from God, it’s amazing how long you will seek “His will” in prayer, when you aren’t hearing your own heart’s desire.  Sometimes we don’t want His answer at all, because deep down we already have decided on our own answer.  

However, that same Sunday morning, God decided He would give me one last chance to hear what He was saying about how He was using my choice to serve.  As I was standing at the entrance to the auditorium, waiting to open the doors, a young man came up to me and asked me when the service started.  He told me that he usually came at 10 a.m. but ended up missing that time this morning.  As we talked, I told him of the various days and times of the services; he told me that this was only his 4th time having come to Life.Church.  

We continued to talk for a little longer when my pastor, Isaiah, came out of the auditorium door.  I told Isaiah how the young man was new, as he introduced himself.  Then, the young man immediately told Isaiah how he had been wanting to raise his hand to receive Christ and salvation when he had been in the other services.  I thought “Wow! Was he going to accept Christ as his savior right here at the door?”  Isaiah, without hesitation, asked him if he would like to just do it now.  The young man immediately responded “Yes!” 

I bowed my head, as my pastor prayed for him, overwhelmed with emotion for the young man’s decision.  Together with Isaiah’s guidance, they expressed in his prayer that he knew he was a sinner who needed God’s forgiveness.  He also prayed that he understood Jesus had died on the cross for his sins  and that he wanted to accept his payment and accepted Him as his Lord and Savior.  When he looked up from the prayer, I was overcome with elation.  

It was then I realized that volunteering to be a greeter on the Life.Church host team was such a blessing, not just for me, but for all those who wanted to help fill God’s Kingdom.  It seemed so small before that moment.  It was God that saved that young man’s soul.  But, being at the door greeting allowed me to have a small part in welcoming another child to Jesus.  

I think that’s exactly how God has it all planned out.  He wants us to serve Him so that we can experience the joy I felt at that exact moment.  It renews us.  It gives us strength to continue on in whatever God has called us to do.  After all, God is certainly big enough to reach the world without us.  He said he would cause the rocks to cry out in our silence.  But, He wanted us to share in the expansion of his kingdom for so many of the things that went into my heart that day.  I was renewed. I was reminded how big God was. I was reminded I just needed to be faithful and He would use me.  My own faith was strengthened and revived as I experienced this beautiful moment with this young man and Isaiah.  

Sometimes you might not get to see how God is using you, but it helps to open our eyes a bit to realize that our small part plays into the bigger picture.  Every soul being saved in our church has to enter through those doors—and it sure helps when someone is there to greet them. There are many ways we can volunteer in our church – greeting, waving, handing out invitations or even serving coffee.  No matter how we are being used, no matter how small they may seem on some days, we are choosing to play a part in souls being saved for Christ.  What a blessing and honor to serve, not just for your church or the staff, but for the Kingdom of God.  

Needless to say, I stopped those prayers for my own will.  God answered me with a resounding blessing.  I am grateful to continue being a greeter!  I can’t wait to see what God brings my way in the next 5 years with my invigorated purpose. 


The young man had heard the following message of God’s love if you haven’t heard it before.

God loves all of us.  He always has and always will.  He loved us so much that He gave His only son for us.  He says in John 3:16 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

See, we have all made mistakes.  Some feel bigger.  Some feel smaller.  However, they are all called sin in God’s eyes.  He says in Romans 3:23  (NLT) “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

Unfortunately, because we’ve all messed up, God can’t just overlook our sins.  They actually carry consequences both on earth and eternally.  God says in Romans 6:23  (NLT) ”For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

He loved us so much that while we were still knee deep in our sins, He sent His son to die for us so that we could have eternal life through His son’s payment for our sins.  He says in Romans 5:8 (NLT) “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

But, Jesus didn’t just die for our sins.  It didn’t stop there.  He was actually raised to life 3 days later just as the Bible had foretold.   1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT) says “…Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.”

We can’t earn salvation.  We are all offered God’s complete forgiveness and grace.  We are offered His payment for our sins.  An easy analogy is this:  A son was speeding in his car. He was pulled over and given a ticket for his offense.  He went to court to try to get out of his ticket.  The judge asked if he had sped.  He said “Yes. I did.”  Then, the young man asked the judge if he might show him mercy and forgive the offense.  The young man didn’t have enough money to pay his fine.  So, as such, he would need to be put in jail.  The judge, being a judge, was bound to uphold the law.  So, he upheld the fine charged against the young man for his offense.  Then, the judge took off his robe, stepped down from the bench, and paid the price for his child’s offense.  You see, he was the young man’s father.  That’s a tiny picture of what God did for us.  Because He can’t ignore sin, He upheld the law, but then He sent His son to pay the penalty.   

God will absolutely accept anyone no matter how big their offenses.  He is both just (as the judge) and loving as the father, and He has already paid the price you can’t afford to pay.  You can pray that prayer right where you are—but we’d urge you to get to your local church (or email us at info@communityspiritmagazine.com and we can help get you with a local church) for help in your journey as a new believer in Christ!


Senior Moments was contributed by Brenda Hilligoss. Brenda is a retired financial counselor, who enjoys her watching her grandkids, working in her yard, and her role as a greeter at church. She’s been a Christian since she was years old.  She’s spent a lifetime pursuing a relationship with God and guiding her children and grandchildren towards a life in Christ.  She promotes Community Spirit Magazine wherever she goes. She also happens to be the mom of one of the owners. (if she hasn’t already told you!)


Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels918.609.5600 Tulsa or 918.333.7400 Bartlesville visitingangels.com/greencountry


Written By Lizzy Place

Sophomore, Augustine Academy – Guest Author

I’m not sure what I expected. 

To be honest, I hadn’t really thought about it.

I’d agreed to see the movie Unplanned under the expectation that I would later write a something-or-other about it, a sort of “movie review.” The day rather snuck up on me. It was on my calendar; a circle with the title “Unplanned movie, Community Spirit,” but I barely remembered. It was the third quarter of my sophomore year in high school, and I was swimming in homework, social drama, and the endless concerns of a sixteen-year-old. 

My dad had warned me a few days earlier to accept the request to write about Unplanned with solemnity and to be ready to watch that kind of movie. I wasn’t concerned. I’d written movie reviews before, anyway. Again, I’m not sure what I expected. A saccharine movie about babies, reeking of the Christian message, and full of cliché one-liners, maybe. I am, after all, an infant Christian, and shaking off the pride of my Atheist stubbornness is difficult. I knew about the heat surrounding abortion, and I’d felt it, even in a tiny, Christian high school, but there were more important things in my life. 

Of course, I’d thought about it, to some extent, and decided I was tentatively pro-life. I loved babies, and I hated the thought of killing one, but I didn’t have the foggiest idea if a fetus was a ‘baby’ in the first place, and besides, I had better things to think about. If I could do the last bit of my homework before class started, if that one friend had figured things out with her boyfriend, if “you-know-who” had noticed my waiting precariously long until the only chair in the lunchroom left was the one at his table, you name it. Besides, it wasn’t cool to be “pro-life.”

How wrong I was. To some extent, I was right about Unplanned. It did ‘reek’ of the Christian message, and the occasional scene would grow a bit painful with the awkwardness of the entire group of male actors, but despite the things my pride stubbornly clings to, nothing could hide that message. It left me with only one thought. 

“Why didn’t we know?” 

Before I started this, I thought for a long time about what exactly to say. This is not an easy subject, and I don’t pretend to have experience standing up for the right thing. I was encouraged to write what was on my heart. Throw the ‘movie review’ nonsense out the window. I’m not sure if I’m ready to do that. I’m not sure if I’m ready to be honest. I’m a high schooler, after all, and a member of the part of the population most devoted to petty pleasure. I was devoted to petty pleasure. I was devoted to doing what I wanted, to saying what I thought would get a laugh, and most of all, to being accepted. Maybe we don’t know we are sleeping until we wake up. 

The theatre emptied around me after the movie finished. Suddenly, everything I cared the most about seemed ridiculously small. And I sobbed, while people staunchly pretended they didn’t see me–for tact’s sake, I suppose. I’ve never cried like that. The things I could have done. The lives I could have tried to save. The people I could have talked to, and the things I could have stood up for. It all came crashing down around my ears, leaving my perfectly normal, planned high school life in shambles. And then, one person approached me. She asked what I was thinking, so I told her. I poured out the wrestling I’d been dealing with, and the way the movie had torn me apart. She prayed over me, tears streaming down both of our faces. In that moment, I have never been surer of the presence of God, settling with almost tangible physicality around us. I felt him change my mind. 

I have no doubt why I went to that theatre. After returning home, I realized the dozens of steps that had led to that point. All the people I had ‘accidentally’ bumped into, all of the thoughts that happened to pop into my head, and all the books and articles I’d picked up at random were leading to that night in the darkened theatre, to that stirring in my heart. I can’t get it out of my head.

Having just reached the four month anniversary of my salvation, I can’t pretend to know how God works. I don’t know how he moves, and how he chooses people. But if I could guess, I’d say that something happened that night that might have changed my life. 

I’ve tried to live my convictions. I’ve tried to remain true to what I’ve decided, to take it into my everyday life, to stand up for the thousands of children that I want to save. It’s been difficult. Already, I’m not “cool.”  I’ve been labeled and boxed away from the conversations I used to partake in. I’ve already been argued with and shouted at. Answering the hate and anger with love has been easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I’ve never been surer that I’m right where God wants me. I think the worst thing we could do is let the world crowd out our convictions. 

I know my fire won’t last. I know things will begin to feel more important, and I’ll let my fervor fade away. But love is a commitment, not a feeling. I’ve made a decision to fight. While the issue is complicated, and there is definitely evil at work, maybe the biggest problem is our silence. For every abortion doctor, there are a thousand people who refuse to speak out, who ‘haven’t thought about it’ that are unwittingly cheering them on. Blatant evil is only half the problem. 

Maybe we need to wake up. We may not all be able to stand at the fence of a Planned Parenthood clinic or talk to someone considering abortion directly, but I think we all have a role in this battle. The stakes have never been higher. What if one prayer, one conversation, one smile, could save the life of one child? What if living a life of love and commitment could be all we need to turn the tide? What if the tugging on your heart could be God calling you to the battle for life? What if we lived like that?

It’s hard. It could cost you everything, like it did me. We have to trust. I had to decide what was important to me, and I had to submit to the voice in my heart. And now, I can boldly live, believing that as long as my God holds the world in His hands, there is no such thing as unplanned.

The BIG, FUN, PEOPLE-LOVING event!

Download Press Release Here

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

When: May 4, 2019 12:30pm – 4:30pm

Where: Union High School Stadium


Schedule:

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

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

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

Want a table?

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

Email info@communityspiritmagazine.com to reserve your table!

Want to volunteer?

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

Email info@communityspiritmagazine.com to volunteer!

Exhibitor List

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

We pooled. TWICE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our First Pool

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

Take Two:

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

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

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

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

Our New Pool: BEFORE

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

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

Our New Pool: After

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without Screen
With Screen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Mike Henry Sr.: Follower of One

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

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

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

Unexplainable Despair

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

Unexplainable Savior

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

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

Unexplainable Work

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

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

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

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


Unexplainable Life

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

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

Journey Fitness

Church pastors receive a free membership. Say, what?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Wellness Education Seminar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Teresa Goodnight

Community Spirit was able to speak with Robia Scott, starring in the newly released movie, Unplanned that hit theaters March 29th.

Robia had numerous roles in Hollywood, such as in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, before becoming a Christian and changing direction. Robia was randomly introduced to the directors of the movie in Nashville. She read a small audition for the role. They offered it. It was all pretty quick. Now she feels she’s back in the industry, as a believer, for such a time as this.

Robia bought the book by Abby Johnson and read it. She said, “I was a bit hesitant to take the part. My role is pretty intense. However, I knew quickly in prayer with my husband, I was prepared and positioned for this part.” Robia says, “Instantly, I was motivated by lifting the veil off Planned Parenthood. Even though I didn’t know a ton about the abortion industry to start, I began studying and realized what they were professing was very different from who they actually were.” Robia was troubled, because she felt people were making a BIG decision on misinformation. She said, “Recognizing this was a belief people were being programmed to believe about abortion, I decided I wanted to help expose Planned Parenthood and the entire industry.” Robia said,

“Interestingly, the directors had the movie rights for 6 years, but they said ‘The Lord said not yet.’’ They weren’t really sure why they were waiting. Then, they felt God released them to make it.

Coming out now with what’s happened in New York and the bills being passed,” Robia continued, “it is so ordained by God. I really believe it’s going to be a game changer.”

Robia also spoke of the film’s star playing the lead role. She said, “Ashley Bratcher found out once she was filming motivation for her character. Ashley called her mom after filming for a few weeks to tell her about what she was doing. Her mom immediately broke down. Then, she revealed to her that she was on the table ready to have an abortion with her. Her mom said something like, ‘Literally in a moment, the choice could have gone either way.” Now thirty some years later, she’s the face of this film.” Robia finished, “God knows the end from the beginning. It’s all in His hands.”

Robia spoke about the oddity of the R rating. She said, “We found it interesting Hollywood thought the topic unfit for those under 17, even though they can walk into an abortion clinic without parental consent and make that decision. However, it’s ok. We want parents to go with their children. You have to decide the right age, but just know Planned Parenthood is starting their message incredibly early.”

We should be seeing the headlines by the time this article is released, but Robia said, “You have to understand how Hollywood works. Opening weekend for the box office makes all the difference. As the body of Christ, we have to unite—and if you don’t want your state to look like New York, you can vote with your ticket.” Robia continued, “When there’s a big box office opening weekend, it gets Hollywood the media’s attention. It lets the movie get to stay there (in the theater) longer, to reach more people. Believers have to vote on this with our tickets if we care about this issue and it’s serious to us. How is my one little voice going to make a difference? Right here.”

Robia is a full-time minister, speaker, author, and one of the stars of the movie, which was put together by the same team from God’s Not Dead. She is a gifted teacher of the Word, specializing in offering Biblical tools for transformation that promote freedom, healing, and wholeness. Robia often teaches principles from her book, Counterfeit Comforts: Freedom from the Imposters that Keep You from True Peace, Purpose, and Passion.

Robia began her professional career as a dancer in Hollywood at the age of sixteen. She appeared in numerous music videos before traveling the world with Prince starring as “Pearl” in his international tour Diamonds and Pearls. When the tour ended, Robia began focusing on her acting career. She appeared in over fifty national commercials and starred in various popular television shows such as Beverly Hills, 90210 and CSI. Robia is well-known for her three-year role as Jenny Calendar on the hit TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was during her time on Buffy that Robia became a Christian. Yes, it is a great story! (We will be following up on Robia with a review on her book later this year!)

Shortly thereafter, she left her career in entertainment to venture into full time ministry. For the last fifteen years, Robia has traveled extensively across the U.S. and internationally, speaking at churches and conferences. Her God-given gift of artistic expression is now being utilized to communicate truth for the Kingdom of God. She has a teaching style that is dynamic, relatable, down-to-earth, and fun.

Robia resides in Orange County, California with her husband, James, and their daughter, Gemma.