A few years ago, I sat across from a friend in the food court at UNC-Chapel Hill Medical Center. I listened to a friend describe his family’s desire for “normalcy.” You see, his child, who at the time was four or five years old, had already undergone multiple major surgeries. Some were corrective in nature, while others were designed to simply improve quality of life.
Think about that. A five-year-old needs major operations simply to improve the quality of their life. Five-year-olds should experience life “enjoyment” by eating more ice cream rather than life “improvement” by the hands of the best pediatric neurologists.
Nevertheless, this had become a familiar experience for my friend’s child and his family. At the same time, my family was learning to navigate a “new normal” brought on by health problems for my wife. I shared with my friend an idea, but better yet, a truth that had helped my family. I simply asked, “Who decides what is normal?”
If we truly believe Jeremiah 29:11, we’ll know who decides:
“11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Hearing these words, we must then embrace the reality that what we may call normal, God may call yesterday’s plan. If there is one thing I have learned in the nearly twenty-five years that I have been following Jesus, it is that I need new mercies each morning. Why? Because each day has its own challenges and its own victories. When I demand normalcy, God insists on greater things for me through change. When I ask, “why can’t it be different,” He gently replies, “It will be, but on My terms, because I will give you a future and a hope.”
Today, billions of people cry out for “normalcy.” Amid a global health pandemic, when nothing about the future is certain, it would seem that a little normalcy would do us good. But again, I ask, who defines normalcy for you?
It’s been necessary to remind myself that COVID-19 did not take God by surprise. All that happens in the world on any given day is a normal occurrence for God. And everything that happens in my day is precisely part of God’s plans for welfare in my life. In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul teaches that since God, our father, has given His son, Jesus, as a substitute to pay the death penalty for our sins, which is the best gift we could ever receive, will He not also give us all things? That is to say, if God is for us, who (or what) can be against us?
Beloved, we must not forget that God is unchanging, and He is faithful to shower us with His lovingkindness and endless mercy. No trial will ever be wasted or rendered pointless. And even a coronavirus must yield and bow its knee to the one true God, creator of heaven and earth. The effects of such viruses indeed only exist because of Adam’s original sin. But this virus does run maverick around the world. Just as God draws a line in the sand for the waves of the sea, so does He say, “…this far virus, and no further.”
You see, then, every day is a “normal” day because God is in control, and things will only become abnormal when He loses control. So praise God that every day is filled with new circumstances measured out by a kind and gracious God who says I will be your strength (Psalm 46) needed to navigate another normal day.
May we embrace the faith-strengthening work of God day by day.
Yours in Christ,
Chaplain James Chavis
Five short years ago, the president of HealthKeeperz, Tim Brooks, introduced a new organizational initiative known as “The Barnabas Culture.” Intended to foster a spirit of encouragement and caring for all for the glory of God, this culture was modeled after the disciple Barnabas – a role model of faith and compassion. With this new culture came a new recognition program: the quarterly Barnabas Award. Since 2015, employees have been encouraged to nominate a coworker each quarter who embodies HealthKeeperz’ core values of:
In this series, Portraits of Barnabas, we highlight the winners of this prestigious honor. Today, we’ll introduce you to Shaneese Smith, Outreach Coordinator for the Fayetteville area and winner of our fourth quarterly Barnabas Award for 2019.
In her year and a half at HealthKeeperz, Shaneese has already made a tremendous impact on the organization and larger Fayetteville community. As Outreach Coordinator, she markets home health, hospice, and medical equipment services to hospitals and HealthKeeperz offices throughout Cumberland County. Having previously worked in hospitals for eight years, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in working with people during their most stressful and difficult times.
Like many previous Barnabas Award winners, Shaneese was taken by complete surprise when she found out she won.
“They told us we had an emergency meeting, so I was like, ‘Uh-oh, I’m in trouble,’” she recalled. “But then Tim said he was about to announce the Barnabas Award winner, and I’m thinking, ‘What?!’ He announced that it was me and I was just so shocked. I’m a crybaby, so of course I cried. I was just shocked and honored.”
Again keeping in fashion with past winners, Shaneese thought for sure it would go to one of her hardworking colleagues. “There’s a social worker that was nominated as well, and another marketer, and I feel like they very much live that Barnabas culture,” she said. “So I just knew it would be one of them.”
Evidently, Shaneese was wrong – happily so. “It was so exciting,” she said. “It was a very special moment, just to know that my coworkers would think to nominate me. I still feel like I’m pretty new here, so for them to vote for me and believe that I’m an example of the culture, it was an honor.”
In her work doing outreach and marketing, Shaneese applies HealthKeeperz values on a daily basis. Talk to her about her work for just a few minutes, and you’ll quickly see why she was named a Barnabas Award winner.
“I try to be patient with everyone and to always have a smile on my face,” Shaneese said. “That’s number one. Even if I’m not having the best day, I always try to have a smile on my face, because you don’t know what someone’s going through in their day-to-day. So I always try to be nice and thoughtful of others – whether it’s my customers, my fellow coworkers, or our patients.”
Shaneese wants to share this honor with the home health and hospice team, who “always welcomes me in as one of their own,” and the marketing team, which she describes as “very family-oriented.”
“Some days when I feel down or don’t feel very Barnabas, they bring me up,” she said. “We always give each other that boost. Recently I had the flu, and everyone checked in on me and sent me cards. They don’t have to do that stuff, but they do.”
She also said that having the Barnabas Culture behind her helps her be a better marketer. “Our number one priority is to make sure all our patients and customers are taken care of,” Shaneese said, “and that’s easier to do when you have this culture standing behind you, acting as a role model for you to follow.”
Shaneese’s favorite thing about working at HealthKeeperz? The family environment. “I feel like we’re all family,” she said. “They’re my sisters and brothers. I could talk to them about anything, and I love when they talk to me about stuff going on in their lives. The family vibe is everything.”
We’re thrilled to congratulate Shaneese on this big win, and want to thank all those on the marketing and home health/hospice teams who provided support along the way. Stay tuned for further announcements on Barnabas Award quarterly winners!