Darlene Franklin is both a resident of a nursing home in Moore, and a full-time writer.

By Darlene Franklin

God’s love never fails. At all. We can’t climb over, dig under or detour around His love. It fills every crook of the known and the unknown.  (Ephesians 3:19, Romans 8:39, NIV))God’s love never fails. At all. We can’t climb over, dig under or detour around His love. It fills every crook of the known and the unknown.  (Ephesians 3:19, Romans 8:39, NIV))However, our experience with His care works more like a magic trick. Imagine a heaven-sized jug filled with milk-colored love:An empty cup sits next to thefull container of God’s love.God’s no-matter-what love showers creation nature with times, seasons, and beauty. His written word shouts it in glorious prose. We read about babies held in the arms of barren women, of David dancing before the ark on the way to Jerusalem. The Living Word, Jesus, spelled it out in flesh, demonstrating how we should love one another.I feel more like Helen Keller, who lived in a void absent of sight, sound, or speech. She said, “I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man who had no feet.” I don’t recognize its abundance until I see someone in greater need. We refuse the provided cup but instead use a self-made cone, which fails.God protected the Israelites for forty years. He provided for every need, but they still didn’t believe in His faithfulness When a spring didn’t appear to quench their thirst, they begged for Moses’s help. He fashioned a drinking cup of his own design when he struck the rock with his staff. Because He didn’t speak to the rock as God had instructed, the Lord was greatly displeased. For reasons I confess I don’t completely understand, God denied him entrance into the promised land. My daughter had Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I described the experience as traveling through a black hole that ate my flesh and spat out dry bones. BPD couldn’t be healed, but a person with the illness could adapt, survive, and even thrive. Whether we suffer from some form of short-term mental illness, a disorder, or just the highs and lows of life, many people have experienced a dark place. We seek God, begging for His love, and instead it seems like He is hiding. (Isaiah 64:7)Push the magic another step in your imagination: Suppose both the cup and the jug appear empty.Like the milk in the magic trick, God’s love hasn’t disappeared. But sometimes it’s invisible to the human eye. Roman philosopher Seneca pointed out that every new beginning comes from other beginning’s end. Joseph understood that. He became Pharaoh’s second-in-command only after he had been both a slave and a prisoner. Only after I accept the fact that no amount of effort can make my sixty-year-old body do the work of a young adult does the murk that’s been hiding God’s glory wash away. God rubs His hands together. “I’ve been waiting for you to join Me. Let go and watch Me go to work.”Light-bulb inventor Thomas Edison is famous for saying he found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.  Failure to see God’s love doesn’t mean it’s not there.Back to the full jug and empty cup.Milk is poured into the glass so that milk appears in both the jug and the cup.Ebenezer Scrooge’s cup was worse than empty. Generations have celebrated the transformation of the king of “bah humbug” to the man who vowed to honor Christmas in his heart.During my Bible college years, I wrote a term paper on God’s love. I had no idea how necessary the verses, theories and patterns I uncovered would be throughout my life.My cup has appeared empty many times. * Studied piano for twelve years before being told I wasn’t good enough. * Married for life-divorced after twelve years.* Trained for missionary service-kicked out of two churches.I thought I reached rock bottom when my son was taken from the home as a teenager. Instead, God’s love pulsed within that my frozen core and kept me going when I felt hopeless. Those years trained me for my daughter’s death. I felt numb, but not unloved. Love poured over me through the gifts of countless friends from around the world. When I couldn’t see God’s care in my drinking cup, He kept me alive and healed me.The promise is no illusion. God’s love is real, and it will never fail.Even if it took me 10,000 tries for me to see His brilliance.

What do you hope the new year has in store for you? Cleveland County Habitat for Humanity

Health, health and more good health. Eileen Checorski

For Habitat I want us to build three houses and complete five mortgages. Tambra Gowin

That I don’t lose my sanity along the way. Susan Pearson

To deepen my relationship with Habitat through raising money to build more homes. Andrea Marler

Paced by the lowest smoking rate ever recorded, Oklahoma moved up three spots to 43rd in America’s Health Rankings, issued by the United Health Foundation. The improvement was the second highest among all states, trailing only Florida and Utah, which improved their ranking by four spots. America’s Health Rankings are based on four components or aspects of health – behaviors, community & environment, policy and clinical care. Health outcomes are also used to rank states.
“Despite the many challenges facing us, I am encouraged that our employees and our partners across the state continue to work toward improving the health of all Oklahomans and that their efforts are producing results,” said Interim OSDH Commissioner Preston Doerflinger. “We know where our focus must be in providing the core services that will make a difference in the lives of all our citizens going forward.”
In smoking rates, Oklahoma improved to 36th nationally – an improvement of nine spots. Oklahoma’s smoking rate has declined 25 percent in the past five years. That is the largest improvement for any state since 2012 but is still 2.5 percent higher than the national average of 17.1 percent.
An area in which Oklahoma is better than the national average, low birthweight, saw the state improve to 7.9 percent. Oklahoma has improved 11 spots to 22nd in the past five years, one of the best advances in the nation.
The best ratings for the state were in the low occurrence of excessive drinking (2nd), pertussis rates (2nd) and the number of mental health providers (5th). Oklahoma also had improvements in obesity rates, the number of people who are physically active, and drug deaths, but still ranks well below the national average.
Areas of concern include lack of health insurance, diabetes rates, and children’s immunization rates.
While Oklahoma’s uninsured rate has decreased the past three years to 13.9 percent, the national ranking dropped another two spots to 48th and the rate lags far behind the national rate of nine percent.
Following a national trend that saw an all-time high in diabetes rates of 10.5 percent nationally, Oklahoma is ranked 41st with a rate of 12 percent. The rate of immunization among children 19 to 35 months dropped significantly (75.4 percent to 67 percent) moving the state ranking to 42nd while overall adolescent immunization rates improved by six places (40th to 34th).
The complete rankings and summaries for Oklahoma and all states can be seen at https://www.americashealthrankings.org

For Karen McKeever, a lifetime of nursing goes far behind the confines of a doctor’s office or hospital - it’s making sure the patient and their family is whole, healthy and happy.

by Traci Chapman
Staff Writer

For Karen McKeever, nursing is about helping the most vulnerable, those who might struggle with getting the help they need.
It’s a philosophy that’s led her to treat thousands of patients and help spearhead an ever-expanding effort to lead patients having difficulty finding their to way discover the right path.
“It just seemed like the people who might need help the most are often overlooked – it’s the people without insurance or who are struggling not only with physical issues, but also mental health challenges,” McKeever said. “They need someone who can be there for them in their corner, to let them know they’re not facing this all alone.”
That kind of nurturing spirit comes easy to McKeever, a mother of six who now has nine grandchildren – and a nurse who worked in pediatrics and as a Yukon Public Schools nurse, concentrating on severely disabled students. Looking out not only for the young, but also the disabled and those who might not have an advocate became McKeever’s life work, a passion that led to an organization aimed at doing just that.
It was originally Canadian County Health Access Network, started in 2011 by McKeever and fellow nurse Rosemary Klepper.
“So many Sooner Care patients don’t know where to go or how to best address their health issues – you see many going to the emergency room when there are better avenues available, and you find families that are dealing with problems that go far beyond basic health or physical disease or distress,” McKeever said.
“There was just a huge gap in service, a real need for these patients and for their families, who were not being taken care of or served,” she said. “We knew how important it was for them to have someone they could turn to – as nurses, we needed to be there not only to treat them but to guide them and help with whatever challenges they were facing.”
It wasn’t long, however, before McKeever and Klepper’s philosophy caught on, and patients beyond El Reno, Yukon, Mustang and other area communities began to ask for assistance. That’s why CC-HAN’s “CC” soon transitioned from Canadian County to , Central Communities, with co-founder and care manager McKeever and fellow care manager Rhonda Chronister now available to SoonerCare patients and their families across south central Oklahoma, working to improve their health and healthcare options and much more.
“Rosemary (Klepper) decided it was time to retire, to explore other things, but my heart is here, I didn’t want to walk away,” McKeever said. “That’s when Rhonda came onboard, and it’s been a great arrangement.”
For her part, Chronister said she views McKeever not only as a co-worker, fellow care manager and nurse, but also as a mentor who has spurred on Chronister’s own love of nursing and helping patients far beyond regular nursing duties.
“Karen is an amazing person and an amazing nurse, and it’s a remarkable opportunity to work with her and learn from her,” Chronister said. “Her capacity for love and how she gives of herself is inspirational to everyone who knows her, particularly the people we serve.”
McKeever has always envisioned something bigger for CC-HAN, which led to the agency helping patients not only locate the right caregiver and treatment, but also issues that might aggravate physical ailments. That’s why CC-HAN provides care management to patients not only facing financial constraints that can limit their ability to get the medical treatment they might need, but also those who deal with complex health issues, as well as providing a proactive approach – guiding patients to the right resources for well child examinations and care, injury and accident prevention, diet and nutrition and accessible medical and dental care.
“What the patient might need at any particular moment might not be ‘nursing’ services, but rather they might not have gas money to get to an appointment or they might not have any food in the cupboards – and that disrupts the treatment they need,” McKeever said. “That’s the bottom line – making sure they are healthy and able to live their lives and do what they need to do, because someone who’s dealing with a mental health issue can have a ripple effect on their entire family, and that family might need guidance in how to help and to make sure it doesn’t negatively impact others, either mentally or physically.”
It’s a philosophy that’s not only challenging and fulfilling, but also always interesting, McKeever said. She never knows what she might face in any given day – whether it will be assisting patients with medical care options, educating families about CC-HAN’s resources or even delivering food to someone who is hungry and doesn’t know where to turn.
“What we do is everything that’s the best of nursing – helping people who truly need it and giving that care, that guidance – as a nurse, it’s so fulfilling and inspirational, and to me it’s what our profession is all about,” McKeever said. “To me, if you’re a nurse, you’re always a nurse – it’s not something you do, it’s something you are.”
For more information about Central Communities Health Access Network, its services or philosophy, look online at www.cc-han.com.

Dear Savvy Senior,

What are some financial factors to consider when retiring abroad? My husband and I will be retiring in a few years and are interested in living in a foreign country that’s cheaper than the U.S.

Frugal Couple

Dear Frugal,

Retiring abroad has become a growing trend for millions of U.S. retirees who are looking to stretch their retirement savings. Here are some tips and resources to consider that can help you prepare.
Researching Tools
For starters, you can find lots of information and articles on the countries and cities you’re interested in retiring to at websites like InternationalLiving.com and EscapeArtist.com.
Another good tip is to talk or network with some expatriates who have already made the move you’re thinking about making. They can give you tips and suggestions on many issues, as well as the advantages and disadvantages and day-to-day reality of living in a particular country. Some popular sites for finding expat resources are ExpatExchange.com and ExpatForum.com.
But before committing to location, most experts recommend that you visit multiple times during different seasons to see whether you can envision yourself living there and not just exploring the place as a tourist. Also, consider these financial factors:
Cost of living: Retiring abroad used to be seen as a surefire way to live beyond your means, and for some countries it still is. But the U.S. dollar isn’t what it used to be, so your money may not stretch as far as you think. See Numbeo.com for a country-by-country cost of living comparison.
Taxes: No matter what foreign country you decide to retire in, as long as you’re a U.S. citizen you must file an annual tax return reporting all income above certain minimums, not matter where it’s earned. For details see the IRS publication 54, “Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad” at IRS.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p54.pdf.
Health care: Most U.S. health insurance companies do not provide coverage outside the U.S., nor does Medicare. Check with the embassy (see USembassy.state.gov) of your destination country to see how you can be covered as a foreign resident. Many countries provide government-sponsored health care that’s inexpensive, accessible and just as good as what you get in the states, or you may want to buy a policy through Medibroker (Medibroker.com) or Bupa Global (BupaGlobal.com).
Also know that most people who retire abroad eventually return to the U.S., so you should consider paying your Medicare Part B premiums. If you drop and resume Part B, or delay initial enrollment, you’ll pay a 10 percent premium penalty for every 12-month period in which you could have been enrolled.
Banking: Opening or maintaining a bank account abroad has become more difficult because of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, a U.S. law designed to prevent Americans from hiding assets abroad. So, you may have to establish a savings and checking account with an institution that has international reach like Citibank. And/or consider maintaining your U.S. bank account that you can access online, and get U.S. credit and debit cards that don’t charge foreign transaction fees.
Rent versus buy: Buying a home in a foreign country can be complicated, so it’s usually cheaper and simpler to rent, unless you know you’re going to live there for a long time.
Social Security: You can receive your monthly Social Security benefits almost anywhere you live around the world (see SSA.gov/international/payments.html). Your benefits can be deposited into your bank account either in the U.S. or in your new home country, but there are some exceptions.
The U.S. State Department offers a handy checklist that can help you think through all the issues on retiring abroad. To access it visit Travel.state.gov and search for “retirement abroad.”
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Wan Hee Yoon, Ph.D.

The Robert Glenn Rapp Foundation has awarded the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation a four-year, $400,000 grant.
The grant will help two new scientists establish laboratories at OMRF. In their labs, they will study the cellular processes that lead to cancer, as well as diseases of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
“Our family is pleased to play a small role in the important work underway in OMRF’s cancer research laboratories,” said Jilene Boghetich, managing trustee of the Rapp Foundation. “Cancer seems to strike almost every family in some way, and our goal is to help OMRF’s scientists discover new methods to detect and treat the disease.”
Founded in 1951, the Rapp Foundation distributes funds to a wide variety of charitable projects throughout the U.S. This new grant to OMRF represents the latest in a long line of gifts that have helped the Oklahoma City-based nonprofit strengthen its scientific infrastructure.
The new funds will help support the recruitment of a pair of new scientists, Wan Hee Yoon, Ph.D., and Jiang Li, Ph.D.
Yoon joins OMRF from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and his research uses fruit flies to understand the processes of cellular decline that lead to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Li also studies the basic cellular mechanisms underlying cancer and neurodegeneration, and he comes to OMRF from Northwestern University in Chicago.
The grant will provide funding for the purchase of sophisticated laboratory equipment and supplies for the new researchers. It will also help support salaries of personnel working in their labs.
“It’s hard to imagine OMRF as it is today without the enduring generosity of the Rapp Foundation through the years,” said OMRF Vice President of Development Penny Voss. “They’ve been true friends to OMRF and to medical research in Oklahoma, and they’ve invested in visionary projects that will benefit us all.”

A relentless pursuit of excellence in cardiac care has once again earned the Oklahoma Heart Hospital (OHH) a national ranking as one of 50 top cardiovascular hospitals by IBM’s Watson Health study, previously known as the Truven Health Analytics study.
“Although this is the fifth time OHH has been ranked one of the top heart hospitals in the nation, it’s our patients who are the real winners,” said Peggy Tipton, RN, OHH’s chief operating officer. “We set the bar extremely high – aiming to lead the nation in all areas of cardiac care. Our physicians and co-workers work together as a team to provide the best heart care.”
The 50 hospitals in the Watson Health study scored higher than their peers on clinical outcomes for heart attack and heart failure treatments, as well as coronary bypass and angioplasty surgeries. The hospitals performed better on mortality and complications, as well as 30-day mortality and readmissions. On average, their procedures cost less and patients had shorter hospitals stays.
For results, Watson Health uses the most recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) data from the Medicare Provider Analysis and Review files, CMS Hospital Compare and Medicare cost reports. With the data, the company produces the only study of its kind in identifying the best health systems in the nation. Health systems do not apply for consideration, and winners do not pay to market their award.
“While there are many published rankings of hospitals, the Watson Health survey is one of the most highly regarded by the health care industry,” said Dr. Brook Scott, OHH’s chief medical officer. “Being named one of the 50 top heart hospitals, and one of only 15 community-based hospitals, is a tremendous achievement.”
Oklahoma Heart Hospital, a physician-owned hospital, partners with Mercy and operates two hospitals with a combined 143 beds in Oklahoma City and many clinics throughout Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma Heart Hospital cares for Oklahomans across the state, and we are committed to providing the best care anywhere,” said Dr. John Harvey, OHH president and chief executive officer.

Date/ Day/ Location/ Time/ Registration #/ Instructor

Jan 4/ Thursday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 951-2277/ Varacchi
Integris 3rd Age Life Center – 5100 N. Brookline, Suite 100
Jan 8/ Monday/ Midwest City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 473-9239/ Williams
First Christian Church – 11950 E. Reno Ave.
Jan 9/ Tuesday/ Yukon/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 350-7680/ Kruck
Dale Robertson Center – 1200 Lakeshore Dr.
Jan 9/ Tuesday/ Midwest City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 691-4091/ Palinsky
Rose State Conventional Learning Center – 6191 Tinker Diagonal
Jan 10/ Wednesday/ Mustang/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 376-3411/ Kruck
Mustang Senior Center – 1201 N. Mustang Rd.
Jan 12/ Friday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 951-2277/ Edwards
S.W. Medical Center – 4200 S. Douglas, Suite B-10
Jan 23/ Tuesday/ Okla. City/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 773-6910/ Kruck
Healthy Living – 11501 N. Rockwell
Jan 24/ Wednesday/ Norman/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 515-8300/ Schaumburg Silver Elms Estate – 2100 36th Ave. N.W.
Jan 24/ Wednesday/ OKC/ 9 am – 3:30 pm/ 751-3600/ Palinsky Fountains of Cantebery (Town Center Rm – 1404 N.W. 122nd St.
Jan 29/ Monday/ Shawnee/ 9:30 am – 3:45 pm/ 818-2916/ Brase Shawnee Senior Center – 401 S. Bell St.
The prices for the classes are: $15 for AARP members and $20 for Non-AARP. Call John Palinsky, zone coordinator for the Oklahoma City area at 405-691-4091 or send mail to: johnpalinsky@sbcglobal.net

“3rd Annual Garden Boot Camp presented by Oklahoma Gardeners Association will be held Saturdays, January 27, February 3, and February 10, 2018, 9:00 am – 3:30 pm, at Will Rogers Exhibition Center, 3400 NW 36th Street, OKC. Three Saturdays filled with a wide range of gardening information presented by horticultural specialist from around our State. Great to give as a gift to family and friends. Gift Certificates available now. $45 for all 3 Saturdays. For more information or to register, visit our website, www.okgardeners.org or call 694-8456. Seating limited. Deadline for registration is January 12, 2018”.
Oklahoma Gardeners Association is a 501c3 organization. Thier mission is to educate the public using sound research-based horticultural information. We offer children’ programs, informational tables at fairs, garden shows and other events, and speakers who make presentations at various organizational meetings and garden shows in addition to the annual Garden Boot Camp in January and February each year to give gardeners information to start their gardening season right.

Make a Difference Volunteering for Resident’s in Long-Term Care

The Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program serves residents in nursing homes, assisted living centers and residential care homes. An Ombudsman helps to improve the quality of care and life for the residents living in long-term care communities. As a friendly visitor and advocate, the volunteer has many opportunities to be of service and enrich the lives of the residents. Many residents never have a visitor after moving to a long-term care facility.
If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of residents in Canadian, Cleveland, Logan or Oklahoma Counties, we have opportunities waiting for you. If you are willing to be that friendly face and advocacy helper, it only takes a desire to be the difference in someone’s life. Potential volunteers are required to complete a two-day training class, become designated to a facility, attend a once a month educational training meeting, and commit to a minimum of only 2 hours per week visiting with residents. Sound simple? It is! Such a small sacrifice to make a huge impact in the lives of so many. Our aging community deserves a happy life. Will you help deliver some happiness?
The next training will be January 24th & 25th, 2018 held at Areawide Aging Agency, located at 4101 Perimeter Center Drive, Suite 310, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. There is no cost involved and refreshments will be served, but lunch is on your own. Each day classes begin at 9:00 a.m. and will adjourn at 3:00 p.m. This is a FREE 2-day training. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, or just want to learn more about the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, please RSVP by January 17,2018. Please contact Ombudsman Supervisor Tonya VanScoyoc, (405)942-8500. Hurry!! There’s limited seating so register to attend in order to save your seat.