Friday, June 29, 2012
People always want to hear the story of how Hospitality House was started. It's a great story, and I never tire of telling how God miraculously brought this vision about. He used complete strangers that would do amazing things to make sure His ministry of hospitality would be a reality in a short period of time. One of the first strangers that came across our path and propelled us into action was Chuck Stophel.
Chuck was very excited to hear about the vision of Hospitality House and vowed to help in any way he could. We had just formed the non-profit, had no money, no house, and nothing really except a vision. But to Chuck, that was all we needed!
One day that year, Chuck called me and said, "Toni, I just ran into a family at Saint Francis ICU waiting room and they need your help. They don't have anywhere to stay, tragic situation and you need to come meet with them ASAP!" I said, "Chuck, I have nowhere to put this family, we have nothing, no house, no money, nothing! What can I possibly do?" He encouraged me to just come up to the hospital and meet them and hear their story. So I did. (Have you ever tried to tell Chuck Stophel that you CAN'T do something?)
The family was Mickey and Judy Bell, from Farris, Oklahoma. Tragic story, yes, and they needed help. I called Chuck back to report that Brooke and I had met with them, but expressed my frustration of not being able to help them because we didn't have a house yet. He quickly said, "You know what, I don't have a transplant patient or family staying in the transplant apartment, why don't you use that to get your feet wet in this and we'll go from there." WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!? Chuck generously shared what he had available so that a family could be served and God could show me what He had in mind for Hospitality House's near future.
So, Brooke and I readied the apartment and checked them in. You can see the Bell Family Story here:
You see, when God had shared the vision of Hospitality House with me, I could envision a huge house, multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, common areas, which is the typical model of hospital hospitality houses. God had a different plan for our beginnings. By Chuck allowing us to use the transplant apartment to serve our first family, it opened my mind to how the ministry of hospitality is not confined to only one model of a building. The ministry of hospitality is about people.
Six months later, I received a call from the CEO of Hillcrest Medical Center that they had just bought an 8-unit apartment complex near their campus and wanted to offer it to us for $1 a year lease donation! If Chuck had not been willing to share what he had so that we could have that experience, I doubt my mind would have been ready to accept this amazing gift from God through Hillcrest Medical Center.
Chuck and I have remained friends since that experience. We would visit on the phone about the growth of Hospitality House and his music and speaking ministries. We were great encouragers for each other, although I knew I always walked away with more encouragement after each encounter.
We had lunch earlier this year, Cosmos, our favorite spot on Brookside. He shared that he was battling cancer again, but extremely positive and still encouraging. He asked me about my life and what God was doing. I shared about my new passion of ballroom dancing and my new friends through that. He loved it! Chuck is a very passionate and demonstrative character. He wanted to know more so we talked for about 30 minutes about dancing. LOL! He told me that day, "Ok, Toni, you've got me excited about this. When I recover from this round of treatments and get my legs back under me, we are going to dance!"
I kept up with his battle though phone calls and facebook posting and continued to pray. I went to the hospital two weeks ago to check in on Chuck's progress in rehab. He and Sara were eating in the dining room on the Rehab floor and when he saw me he said "Oh My Goodness, Toni Moore, what are you doing here?!" I reminded him that I was here for our first dance! We laughed and encouraged each other again in our lives. He was so ready to finish up his rehab so he could go home with his wonderful family and get back to work and ministry.
God had a bigger plan. Chuck went back into ICU last week. Yesterday he was looking into the eyes of his wife Sara and their children, and then... he was looking into the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ. We had prayed for a healing and in a moment, it was given, completely and eternally. Chuck made the journey from his temporary home and body to his eternal home and glorified healed body.
He was a loving, committed husband, an amazing dad, incredible friend, wonderful vocalist and communicator of the gospel message. He left a huge heart-print on so many peoples' lives across this country. I'm one of them. Thank you, Chuck, for your passion, humor, excitement, encouragement, gifts and for glorifying God in your life and your death. I know you are praising God face to face now in song, words and dancing. I will see you again, my friend, so save me a dance!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEihOGxlRFM - Chuck Stophel, When Life Gives You Lemons
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day —and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:5-6 NIV)
Eight years ago, in a room full of amazing women, I shared my story of how God called me to start this non-profit ministry. I didn't know her before that day, I'll never forget her now. It was a fast friendship. She wanted to help, and did she ever! She introduced me to people who could also help, she opened doors of opportunity and escorted me through them, she generously gave and encouraged others to do the same, and she had great compassion on the oppressed and poor. Our friendship grew and while she served professionally on my Board of Directors at Hospitality House, that was only one facet of the gem she was to me. I was motherless, she was daughter less. She still had some mothering to give, I still had a lot to learn. So in our times together, I would listen for the wisdom that she would share. Sure, she gave advice on business, non-profits, networking in Tulsa, etc. She taught me to love Plan B! (That's the plan you start to love when your Plan A doesn't quite work out. LOL!)
But the lessons I cherished the most were the lessons on faith, family, and friendships. She was an amazing wife to Dave, a wonderful mother to 3 men, and a proud grandmother to her precious grandchildren. She always spoke highly of her family. She was a friend to so many people. When you became friends with Clydella, you became lifelong friends. She didn't let her friends go, ever! She restored my faith and trust in having close girlfriends. I was able to observe her relationship with her girlfriends at Children's Medical Charities Association, especially the Thursday morning gals. The real Steel Magnolias. It was special!
It was her relationship with Christ that shined through every relationship she had. She loved our Lord with all her being, in thought, in word, and in deed. It was her strong faith in God that ministered to me many days. She was very much a 'Paul' in my life, and I was a "Timothy".
This last year, her health began to fail her, but her Lord never did. I saw her for the last time on Monday afternoon as she rested, a treasured goodbye. Tuesday night, she slipped away from her earthly body and was escorted into the presence of God. She fought the good fight, she ran the race well, and she finished well! She carried the torch of generosity, philanthropy, compassion, and ministry for so many in the Tulsa area and beyond. It is our honor, privilege, and responsibility, to continue to carry that torch. She left a God - glorifying legacy! Thank you, Clydella, for all you've done for so many in our community and for our Lord.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The question of 'Who exactly is my neighbor?' was asked of Jesus by a teacher of the law; one who knew the law well but needed to justify his attitude of only loving those he knew or loving people when it was convenient.
Jesus answered his question with the parable of the Good Samaritan. If you need a refresher on the story, click here. The man who was beaten, robbed, and left for dead was never identified by his religion, social or economic class, marital status, or criminal history. He was.... a human being. Someone's son, possibly someone's brother or father.
The one least likely to stop and help did just that. Jesus' question back to the law expert was "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The man answered him, "The one who had mercy on him". That was the correct answer, but that understanding was expected to be followed up with action. Jesus responded to him by saying, "Go and do likewise." Compassion in Action!
Look around you. Who are your neighbors? Have mercy and act on it.
My neighbors showed me great mercy and forgiveness concerning my dogs chasing their chickens, especially when they saw one of my dogs proudly carrying their slane rooster in her mouth. I guess I need to do a little more work teaching those dogs the difference between a chicken and a racoon.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
She was obviously having a bad day. As we waited in long line at a local sandwich shop, I noticed her looking at her watch often, fumbling through her purse looking for something important, and noticed the stressful look on her face. All the sudden the purse tipped out of her hands and the contents spilled out on the floor. She sighed heavily, bent down and started to collect her items and hastily put them back in her purse. I’ve had days like that before, haven’t you?
I didn’t know her, but from the medical uniform she wore, I knew she was in the nursing profession and obviously needed to catch a quick lunch so she could get back to caring for patients who would need her to be on her best that day.
As I ordered my sandwich, my prayer thought was “God, she could sure use a break today”. That prayer thought quickly brought a response of “Then why don’t you give her a break?”
What was I to do? She was a stranger in a food line. What could I do that could possibly help?
I opened my purse to pay and noticed I had a little extra cash that day. I quickly and quietly
told the cashier that I would be pay for both my lunch and the nurse’s lunch. The cashier caught my desire to be anonymous and quickly rang up both lunches. I paid and left the restaurant asking God to use that simple gesture to help that nurse know how much she is appreciated and needed by so many.
Romans 12:13 tells us to “Share with God’s people in need, practice hospitality” . What that means is that we are to show brotherly love to strangers. What can you do today for a stranger that will show them God’s love?
We all hold keys to opening more doors for families in medical crisis. How can you help strangers facing a medical crisis in Tulsa?
Volunteer at Hospitality House in a capacity that you are skilled and passionate about.
Organize a supply drive in your workplace, school, or church.
Consider supporting families in medical crisis through:
o Monthly donations to HHT
o Matching funds opportunity through your employer
o Become a legacy supporter through estate planning.
For more information on how you can unlock doors for medical families, contact us at
918-794-0088 or www.hhtulsa.org
Friday, May 6, 2011
We were greeted that morning with a beautiful Texas blue sky. The sun was shining and we were off for a fun day of shopping. My sister-in-law, Janice, and her daughter, Kathy, and I had just arrived at the First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Texas, when I received a phone call from my sister that turned my life upside down. She was calling to tell me that my precious husband had been in a motorcycle accident and was being life-flighted to Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was about 500 miles from home and about 250 miles south of Tulsa. We said a hurried good bye to my friend, Millie, whom I was meeting at the flea market, then Janice, Kathy and I rushed back to the motel to pack, check out and begin the arduous drive north to Tulsa. It would be six hours from that phone call before I could see my husband. As we covered the miles, I thought about God’s goodness and prayed for Gary as I drove. I felt God’s peace as we traveled. I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital and talk to him, to let him know that I was there with him. Little did I know that it would be many days before he could acknowledge my presence at his bedside.
Upon arriving late that afternoon at the Trauma Unit of Saint Francis Hospital, I found my husband in a medically induced coma, wearing a neck brace and on a ventilator. He had fractures of the T-4 vertebrae, sternum, scapula and ribs. His right lung was punctured. Gary had been with my brother-in-law, Melvin, and our friend, Mark. The three of them had been on many motorcycle trips together. I was thankful that they were with Gary. They are men of God and know how to pray.
Our son, Brett, arrived at the hospital later that evening from Waco, Texas. He slept on the floor of his dad’s hospital room. Janice, Kathy and I took the chair and the daybed that were in the room. We experienced God’s protection and provision in so many ways. That Gary had no head or neck injuries was the first of many miracles that God revealed to us. His full-face helmet was found about 50 feet from him, the chin strap still buckled. A neurosurgeon met with us early the next morning and gave us his grim prognosis of Gary’s condition. As soon as he could make arrangements, our son, Bradd, drove 16 hours from Newberry, South Carolina. He slept, too, on the floor so that he could be near his dad. We stayed around the clock in Gary’s room as the ventilator and other machines worked to keep his body going. At one point, he had eleven IV bags dripping fluids. Gary had pneumonia and his lungs were damaged from his broken ribs. I dreaded subjecting him to surgery, but the doctors reiterated how necessary it was. Surgery to stabilize Gary’s spine was scheduled.
Word spread of the accident and surgery. Earlier in the year, Gary was in Costa Rica and Nicaragua for a month, helping our missionary friend in Costa Rica set up and support a medical clinic in Managua, Nicaragua. We are members of Campers For Christ, a Christian RV ministry whose membership covers the U.S. Gary had people praying for him across the U.S., in Costa Rica and in Nicaragua. We were ready for our second miracle. On November 4, Gary underwent surgery to stabilize his spine. The surgeon placed hardware and did some clean-up work in the spinal canal. After the surgery he reported to us that the stabilization procedure was successful and additionally, he found that Gary’s spinal cord had not been transected. He indicated he was not optimistic. But, oh, how we are!
The next hurdle on his road to recovery was transition from a ventilator to a trachea tube. The doctors indicated that while a serious procedure, the placement of a trachea is commonplace. Gary did not tolerate this procedure well. His vital signs took a massive drop but God was with him again. The next obstacle was weaning him off the ventilator for breathing on his own. Doctors worked for days tweaking the machines in order to train his lungs to increase the oxygen level. The day came when they pulled the tube going down his throat and we thought we had passed this milestone. Late that same night, just as I lay down to sleep at Hospitality House, Bradd called me; Gary wasn’t doing well; they were going to intubate him again. I rushed back to the hospital to find the bright lights on, his plummeting vital signs starting to rise and once again, on the ventilator. It was distressing the next day to hear the doctor apologize to me for her failure in getting him off the ventilator. Thankfully, a team of young doctors continued to work with Gary and three weeks and two days after the accident he was breathing on his own.
The social worker at the hospital told us about Hospitality House. We went on the waiting list and the day after Gary’s surgery we checked into Hospitality House. What a haven! We could feel the peace of God when we entered the apartment. The concern of Rachel, Stephanie, Toni and many other volunteers gave us assurance that God was near. It was a special blessing to find a meal prepared for us when we returned to sleep each night. That people we did not know would care enough for us to provide such wonderful food made us aware of God’s love and watch care. We felt so blessed by God’s provision. Being on the receiving end of such love and generosity was very humbling, yet we felt God’s love in such a special way.
Gary was in the Trauma Unit at Saint Francis Hospital for five weeks, and then was transferred to Mid America Rehabilitation Hospital in Overland Park, Kansas. The day after his four hour ambulance ride transfer, a blood clot was detected in his leg and he was rushed to Overland Park Regional Hospital for implanting of a vena cava filter. We are thankful that the blood clot was detected before it caused an even more serious situation. The next example of God’s love to us was in a quiet moment at yet another hospital where Gary was taken for a procedure. It was time for the feeding tube to be removed. I was giving information to a nurse while Gary was in the procedure. He quietly pointed out to me that if Gary’s body had been injured just a little higher, he would have no use of his shoulders, arms or fingers. Gary was a patient for three months at Mid American Rehab. After a month of home health care, he is entering the next phase of his recuperation, rehabilitation as an outpatient. We are believing our God for the full regeneration of his spinal cord and restoration to complete health.
Before taking early retirement in 2006 I was a paralegal. I knew the importance of having a will, living will, power of attorney for healthcare decisions, and doing financial and estate planning. Gary and I had discussed it and had the documents prepared before we retired. I was so glad that we did. I did not have to spend any time considering those issues since the documents were in place if I needed them. I would encourage everyone to take care of these issues while enjoying good health
I want to thank the staff and volunteers of Hospitality House for their ministry to me and our family. Except for a quick trip home to retrieve more clothing, Janice remained with me. Everyone else had to go back to jobs, families and responsibilities. We were many hours away from home; we had packed for a four-day trip and 80 degree weather. We were living out of my car. Our family traveled every weekend from Kansas City to Tulsa, tearfully leaving each time to return to their duties at home. When my dad was not at the hospital he prayed for me daily over the phone. Once Janice and I were able to check in to Hospitality House, our family had peace of mind knowing that we were no longer living out of my car. I will never forget Toni Moore’s words to me regarding the ministry of Hospitality House, Matthew 25:35 where Jesus said, “For I was hungry and you gave me meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in”. The love of God was shown to me repeatedly through the ministry of Hospitality House. I had the assurance God loved me and that He has people always near and ready to proclaim and show God’s unconditional love. Hospitality House of Tulsa was a refuge during this storm in my life.
When our missionary friend, Dan Salas, was back in the United States and spoke at our church, he presented a simple yet powerful message about being faithful to our calling. His message was, What Is Your Assignment? I can clearly see the assignment given the volunteers at Hospitality House and they are faithfully carrying out their assignment with excellence. My assignment is to encourage and care for my husband through this time of restoration, until he is back on his feet, walking again. God is faithful; what is your assignment?
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Do I love push ups? NO! They are hard; I don't see immediate results right after I do them; Sometimes my drill sergeant, oops, I mean fitness instructor, has me doing so many combos of them, I get sick to my stomach. At the end of each session, I always think "I can't do any more!"
Then I think of John going through his battle with cancer last year and I realize my little struggle with pushups is nothing compared to what he went through. His treatment was hard, no immediate results, and caused many days of sickness. John didn't give up, so I won't give up either. Pushing onward and Pushing upward!
I am seeking sponsors to join me in this challenge. You can sponsor me by pledging a penny, dime, quarter, or $1.00 per push I completed. The challenge began on Feb 15th and ends April 5th. 50 days of push ups representing 50 days of John's treatments.
Before you make your pledge, just know that I can now do about 240 pushups a week! You do the math. :)
You can email me with your push up pledge, or join me and get sponsors to pledge money for you doing pushups. All proceeds benefit families facing a medical crisis away from home at Hospitality House of Tulsa. For more information go to www.tulsahospitalityhouse.org/events.htm Thanks for your support!
Monday, February 14, 2011
Just over a year ago, I was diagnosed with a rare form of head and neck cancer. My wife and I sought treatment out of state. My treatment required that we relocate about 500 miles away from home for weeks on end. Without the support and the sacrifice of our family, our friends, and our Tulsa Fire Department family, my fifty days of active treatment would have been infinitely more difficult. The compassion and hospitality of others enabled us to receive the care we needed.
The Hospitality House of Tulsa is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that offers families a ‘home away from home’ while enduring a medical crisis. I have found the same compassion and generosity that supported me during my battle with cancer is the very foundation of this organization. I am inspired to help them provide hope and comfort to others facing medical adversities.
Here is how you can help. Commit to doing push-ups for fifty consecutive days beginning February 15th and ending April 5th. Please find sponsors to donate a penny, nickel, dime, quarter, or dollar per push-up. All of your tax-exempt proceeds will benefit Hospitality House of Tulsa and will go directly to helping individuals and their families as they seek medical treatment in our city. Click here to download the Half a Hundred for Hospitality form.
Win the Fight,