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!
In the year 2020, most people know what it means to “give a shout-out” to someone. But, and at the risk of stating the obvious, let’s consider some of the meanings that a simple Google search will turn up:
So with these meanings in mind, let’s define “giving a shout-out” as “publicly expressing appreciation for someone because of some good they have done.”
In 2015 the president of HealthKeeperz, Tim Brooks, made a visit to each Healthkeeperz office to introduce a new organizational culture initiative that he called “The Barnabas Culture.” The Barnabas Culture was the name given to what was described as a culture of encouragement that Tim desired to see fostered within HealthKeeperz. At that time, The Barnabas Culture goal was articulated as HealthKeeperz wanting “to be an organization filled with people who are caring, selfless, humble and encouraging.”
Those four characteristics were taken from what we know about a man named Joseph, whose nickname was Barnabas, in the New Testament book of Acts. Luke, the writer of Acts also known for his Gospel, refers to Joseph by his given name only once at his introduction. After that, he refers to him by his nickname, Barnabas, each time he appears in the narrative. And that was 23 times after his introduction!
This significance here lies in the meaning of the name, Barnabas. Luke records the following in Acts 4:46:
“Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement)…”
You see, Joseph was so well-known for his character, as opposed to his given name, that his character became his identity! From other scriptures, it appears that Joseph’s conversion and faith in Jesus had a profound effect on his life, such that who he once was became overshadowed by who he became through his faith in Christ. Thus, it constituted a complete name change—not just any name, but one that is fitting of the characteristic, which is now the impulse of every action and sweetness of every word. What a great name to behold, and become through Christ a son of encouragement.
If I am recalling correctly, it was the desire of HealthKeeperz’s leadership that the company would no longer be as it had been. Something of eternal value and importance had gripped their hearts, and they believed that it changed everything. Indeed, God was orchestrating a culture shift, where the primary goal would be to have a workplace culture of encouragement that cares for all people for the glory of God.
Now, what does a history of the Barnabas Culture at HealthKeeperz and the concept of “shout-outs” have to do with each other?
For five years, starting back in February of 2015, each quarter, all HealthKeeperz employees have been encouraged to nominate a coworker for the quarterly Barnabas Award. The nominations are based on our company’s core values, which are:
The idea is that when you see a coworker living out our core values, we should nominate them for being a Barnabas. In the spring of each year, HealthKeeperz hosts the Barnabas Award Banquet. At the banquet, we celebrate our culture of encouragement through being together and sharing in a meal, to see one of the four quarterly award-winners chosen as what we endearingly call the “Super Barnabas.” This event has been our way of giving a shout-out to our coworkers for a job well done and a life example worth following.
So to my coworkers at HealthKeeperz, here’s a shout-out to all of you. With God’s help, may we continue to make HealthKeeperz a place of encouragement for those who work here and a source of compassionate care for the many lives touched by us all!
Happy fifth anniversary to the Barnabas Culture!
Yours in Christ,
Chaplain James Chavis
A Brief History of the Beloved Holiday
There are many stories about the legendary Saint Valentine and who he really was, but the popular belief is that Valentine's Day derives its name from a Roman priest active in the third century AD. This particular Saint Valentine served under Emperor Claudius II, who, according to legend, banned marriages among his soldiers because he believed married men made bad fighters.
Saint Valentine, understanding the absolute power of love, felt that this was unjust. He decided to break the rules and marry soldiers to their beloved ones in secret. Legend has it, he wore a purple amethyst ring with the figure of Cupid engraved upon it as a symbol of his clandestine mission. Roman soldiers would recognize this special ring and know that it was safe to ask him to perform marriage for them.
But Claudius found out about this covert marriage operation, threw Saint Valentine in jail, and sentenced him to death. While waiting in jail, he fell in love with the jailer's daughter, Julia. Some legends say that he even healed her lifelong blindness, persuading the jailer, Asterius, and his entire family to believe in Jesus and become baptized.
Nonetheless, Saint Valentine was still sentenced to be killed, and on the evening before his execution, he wrote the world's first Valentine card. It was addressed to his true love, Julia, and signed as, "Your Valentine." This expression has been adopted for use on modern Valentine's Day cards around the world.
Julia went on to plant a pink-blossomed almond tree next to Saint Valentine's grave, and to this day, the almond tree--as well as the amethyst worn on Saint Valentine's finger--remain symbols of his enduring love and friendship.
The legitimacy of this tale and other have come into question by many a historian through the years, but regardless, it's still fun to believe in such a sweeping and romantic story. Whether true or not, Saint Valentine has gone down in history as the most romantic martyr in the Christian faith. Perhaps you can impress your valentine this year by sharing this story.
We'd like to wish you and your loved ones a very happy Valentine's Day. Whether you're celebrating with your spouse, best friend, or family, Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to express our love for one another and to simply appreciate being together here on Earth. We're certainly grateful for your presence in our HealthKeeperz family.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Change can be scary. And yet, it can be exciting. I think back to five years ago, when I was asked by the leadership of Healthkeeperz to consider coming on board the Healthkeeperz team as the corporate chaplain. I remember that I was both anxious and excited.
The idea of stepping into “marketplace ministry” had certainly been nice conversation material, since when you only talk or dream about something, you can often only imagine all the positive aspects of what you envision. And although the last five years have been filled with exciting times at HealthKeeperz, they have not come without some challenges and, indeed, scary moments.
I recently reminded some friends that acting in faith or trusting God to move forward into a situation does not mean that we will not be fearful or afraid. As a matter of fact, I am confident that the reason we are told so many times in the Bible, “do not be afraid,” or “do not fear,” is because we are afraid and often do become fearful. This gentle advice comes just as we’re told to believe, because we all struggle with unbelief. It’s part of being human, and part of being a child of God.
Today, and every day, I’m still a little scared and very excited. Why, after five years, is it not different for me, you may ask? Well that’s because life is hard-wired to change. And God has hard-wired us to change, to adapt. And since each day is a new day and has its own unique challenges and is filled with fresh new excitements, then I need to be able to go with the flow. And that flow is ever-changing. And that can be scary and exciting all at the same time.
Allow me to clarify. When I say that I’m a little scared, what I mean is that it’s the type of scared you feel when you are about to ride that new rollercoaster that free-falls 100 feet in the fourth turn. You have no idea what to expect, but you know two things are for sure: first, you wouldn’t miss this chance for anything, and second,
you know that it just might feel like it was the ride of your life once you’ve made it to the other side.
And when I say that I’m excited, I mean that I’m eager to enjoy all the ways that God will give me Himself as He unfolds new mercies, moment by moment, each day. Listen to what King Solomon wrote in the book of Lamentations 3:22-23.
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
You see, life is not like the assembly line, where you install the same cog or sprocket 100 times a day, five days a week. Even if you work on the assembly line performing such tasks, each day is a new day. Yes, each new day has its challenges, but my friend, our heavenly Father is the one who is supervising our day. The most supreme challenge is only designed to cause us to supremely trust Him. The greatest joy that we could experience on any given day is designed to lead us to experience our greatest joys in Him.
So, in 2020, remember that every day is “the day that the Lord has made.” Rejoice and be glad in it. “Seize the day.” He has given it to you that He might give you Himself afresh. Let the challenges come! And remind yourself that God is faithful to His people. The mountains of challenge will only come to serve as stepping stones in the exciting walk of change.
For the glory of God and the good of His people.
Yours In Christ,
Chaplain James Chavis
Surgery is one of the most difficult and demanding experiences that the human body can go through. It’s made even harder in the aftermath, when painstaking rehabilitation efforts and constant visits to specialists feel as though they’ll never end. If this resonates with your experience or that of a loved one, HealthKeeperz can help. We offer a number of at-home services that will help you get back to feeling like your strong self again, without the added stress of traveling outside the house.
Working in tandem with your regular physician, our team of highly skilled health professionals will help you along in the rehabilitation process through physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. It’s amazing what a team of skilled medical therapists can do for your independence and quality of life. Our mission is to help you become as healthy and happy as possible, so all services are delivered straight to your home with the signature warmth and friendliness of HealthKeeperz staff.
Home Health Services
Following surgery, many patients require help with things that they normally can do alone. Our team of skilled nurses and home health aides will be there to provide that help for as long as you need it. Whether it’s wound care, orthopedic care, cardiac/heart care, or skilled nursing that you need, we’ve got you covered. HealthKeeperz can help ensure that you get all the help you need right at home.
Medical Supplies & Equipment
The right medical supplies and equipment make a world of difference in effectively managing your care post-surgery. You may find yourself experiencing new difficulties with activities of daily living, like eating and using the restroom; don’t panic. With the right balance of products, you can maintain your independence, dignity, and active lifestyle. HealthKeeperz delivers incontinence supplies, nutritional supplies, catheters, wheelchairs, walkers, rollators, oxygen supplies, and more, straight to your door.
Our mission at HealthKeeperz is “caring for all for the glory of God.” Each one of our highly trained home medical specialists embodies this ideal in all that they do. The period immediately following surgery is a tough and trying time, and one that may leave us feeling drained and hopeless. But have hope! HealthKeeperz is there for you and your family during this troubling time, ready to help by delivering a range of medical services and equipment to your home. Visit http://www.healthkeeperz.com/ or call 800-309-3784 to begin a conversation.
When we create broad, sweeping goals for ourselves at the start of a new year – lose 50 pounds! Yoga every morning! – we set ourselves up for failure. Research shows that making small, digestible changes to our habits is a much more sustainable way to improve our lives. Going all out with major lifestyle changes may leave you feeling great at first, but will almost certainly lead to burnout and a return to your old ways. That means that as you create your 2020 new year’s resolutions, you’re more likely to succeed if you make them small, manageable, realistic goals. Here are just a few ideas that we hope will serve as inspiration as you decide on your 2020 resolutions.
1. One Walk Per Day
Virtually all of us have 10-15 minutes to spare in a given day. Resolve to spend those minutes going for a walk. Walking has a multitude of health benefits, including lower stress, improved mood, better cognitive function and memory, lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, lower body mass index (BMI), and a longer life. Daily walking increases your metabolism and keeps your body burning calories faster and longer. Need we sing its praises anymore? Walking is a simple yet incredible way to improve health. It may require cutting into your TV time or time spent reading your favorite book, but you’ll reap the benefits immediately, feeling better inside and out.
2. Journal Once a Week
While the start of a new year is a time when many of us resolve to improve our physical wellness, it’s important not to neglect our mental health. Journaling is a great way to reorient, refocus, and remind yourself what is most important to you. It creates a richer, more intentional experience of life and allows us to get more out of it. When was the last time you gave yourself five minutes to simply be still and think about how you’re feeling? If you can’t remember, you’re not alone. But journaling will go a long way in improving your mental wellness. If you’ve never written in a journal before, here are a few questions to get you started:
3. Try a New Healthy Food Every Month
One of the great secrets of sustaining a healthy diet is finding nutritious foods that you actually love to eat. The whole experience becomes less about forcing yourself to do something, and more about enjoying simple pleasures. Granted, it may be harder than finding junk food that tastes good – but delicious healthy food is out there! It all depends on your taste buds and preferences. Start your search for healthy foods you love by trying a new one each month. Kimchi, black beans, pomegranate, dark chocolate, almonds – you name it. Add something different to your grocery cart and experiment with different ways to prepare and eat it. You’re bound to find something you like eventually, so much so that you can easily incorporate it into your regular diet. In addition to improving your physical health, trying new things is good for the brain – it helps prevent us from getting into ruts, and keeps us young.
They say the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year – but for those of us who have recently lost a loved one, that’s not always the case. Every little tradition, from decorating the Christmas tree to opening presents on Christmas morning, can serve as a painful reminder of those who have passed on.
If you find yourself feeling depressed during the holiday season, you’re far from alone. This time of the year is a lonely and difficult period for many, many people. But you don’t have to suffer in silence and put on a brave face for celebrations with family and friends. Instead, try to deal with the holiday blues in a healthy manner using one of these tips.
Tip #1: Seek Comfort in Friends & Family
You don’t have to pretend like everything’s peachy for your friends and family. Not only will they understand the sorrow that often surrounds the holidays after a tough loss, but chances are they have experienced that sorrow themselves at some point. We all lose loved ones; it is a tragic but inescapable reality of life. Your friends and family know this, and they don’t expect you to pretend like everything’s fine when it’s not.
So seek comfort in the trusted friends and family that remain. Simply talking about our feelings of grief and loss goes a long way in helping us heal. To have another human being listen to our suffering is incredibly powerful, and can immediately take some of the weight off of our shoulders. You don’t have to carry the burden of life and loss all by yourself – that’s what friends and family are for, to help us shoulder some of that burden. On the other hand, pushing those feelings away and instead putting on a brave face can be detrimental to one’s mental well-being. It only delays and prolongs the healing process – not to mention, it’s positively exhausting.
Tip #2: Turn to the Church
Church provides an important sense of community and belonging to billions of people across the world. It is a place where we can keenly feel that we are a part of something much, much bigger than ourselves, and that feeling can be comforting to those suffering the recent loss of a loved one. It helps us tune into the ongoing, ever-changing cycle of life.
In addition to the spiritual benefits of church, it also acts as a safe haven to many who would otherwise feel alone, but find an entire family in their congregation. Your fellow churchgoers will be there for you always and especially when you need it most. Don’t be afraid to turn to them for help, companionship, and support. We all deserve a loving community that we can turn to during our most difficult times.
Tip #3: Speak with a Professional
Many of us prefer to handle our problems on our own, shrugging off the idea of therapy as unnecessary, expensive, or too much of a hassle. But even if you don’t go to a therapist regularly, the holidays might be a good time to book a session or two. We all need a little help to get through life, and professional psychiatrists and therapists are often the people most equipped to help us. There’s no reason to be ashamed of seeking professional help when you need it. It’s amazing what the right therapist and the right medication can do for your life. It’ll leave you wondering why you didn’t bite the bullet and reach out sooner!
Tip #4: Create New Traditions
Change is inevitable, so we might as well embrace it. Hang onto your family’s old traditions for as long as you want to, but don’t forget to create new traditions, too. It will help you reframe the idea of life changes into more of a positive concept. Take your grandchildren to a Christmas movie. Treat yourself to a holiday spa day. Bake your favorite cookies and enjoy them all yourself if you want to! Whatever new traditions you decide to create, enjoy and embrace them. It’s what your loved ones of past would have wanted you to do.
Wishing a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season to all in our HealthKeeperz family! But if it’s not a happy time for you, that’s okay, too. We understand that this can be a highly difficult time of year for many families, especially those whom we meet through our hospice division. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and remember, we’re always here for you.
Love, your HealthKeeperz family
From vast mountains of mashed potatoes and gravy, to honey-baked hams the size of your head, to tempting Christmas cookies at every house you visit – the holidays aren’t always the kindest to our diets or our waistlines. But are they really the grave threat to our health that so many make them out to be? Let’s discuss, with a few tips for staying healthy during the most decadent time of the year.
Tip #1: Portion Control
Here’s a revolutionary idea: When you’re watching your figure and you see that fresh-baked pecan pie, you don’t have to run screaming. In fact, “forbidding” ourselves from certain foods only has the psychological effect of making us crave them more. Instead of seeing certain holiday treats as the enemy, allow yourself to enjoy them in moderation. Savor each bite and enjoy the experience fully without guilt. One cookie here and there, one helping of creamy green bean casserole, isn’t going to kill you – or even make you gain weight. It’s only repeated overeating that has that effect. So instead of tricking your brain into wanting these foods even more than you already do, give yourself complete freedom to enjoy them in reasonable portions. Life is way too short to miss out on that one dish you look forward to the whole year.
Tip #2: Incorporate Movement into Holiday Festivities
This tip is particularly useful if you have hyperactive grandchildren. There are many enjoyable ways to celebrate the holidays while moving around, from family flag football games to strolling around town to admire Christmas lights. It won’t even feel like exercise, but it’ll help offset some of those extra pounds that many of us pack on during the holidays. Plus, it’ll wear out the kids, making for a more relaxing and stress-free holiday celebration – because tired kids are happy kids. (That’s often true for adults, too!)
Tip #3: Lay Off the Booze
A glass of eggnog (or two) can make the whole holiday feel instantly more fun and less stressful. There’s nothing wrong with having a little something to take the edge off at big family gatherings – just be careful not to overdo it, because alcohol is one of the most fattening beverages you can consume, without filling you up like food does. Plus, in large quantities, it will only lead to hangovers and headaches, which suck all the fun out of your day. To best enjoy holiday parties, either abstain or maintain a smart balance with your alcohol consumption.
Tip #4: Stay Calm
Gaining a little weight over the holiday season is completely normal, and nothing to beat yourself up over. Trust that your eating habits will level off once the new year comes around, and don’t stress too much. Did you know that many scientific studies have found that stress can actually contribute to weight gain? So not only is it unproductive to stress, but it can actually be counterproductive to your weight goals. Try to keep a calm mindset about normal holiday weight gain. It doesn’t mean the end of your health journey.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays from your HealthKeeperz family! Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @HealthKeeperz and share with us ways that you’re staying healthy this holiday season.
Earlier this week, I began reading an advent season devotional with my family each evening. Advent is the Christian season of waiting, anticipation, and eager expectation of the coming of Christ.
The season of Advent begins four Sundays before Christmas. In our fast-paced modern world, Advent is often forgotten due to the ever-increasing emphasis on Christmas Day. Now I'm not suggesting that Christmas Day is any less important than it has ever been. After all, Christmas Day is the day that we celebrate one of the most significant events in human history, namely, that God incarnate was born, and his name is Jesus.
Now I realize that, traditionally, the Christmas season has begun the day after Thanksgiving with the infamous Black Friday shopping day. But historically, this is inaccurate. Throughout church history, the Christmas season—Advent—didn’t start until Christmas Day and the days leading up to Christmas, and explicitly beginning four Sundays before Christmas (you should Google “Advent” for more of the historical foundation of this wonderful season).
Now back to my Advent reading. The theme of one of our devotions this week was willingness. The devotion was centered on the willingness of Jesus, God the Son, to come and be born in human flesh, to live a righteous life fully as a man, and to give his life sacrificially for the redemption of sinners. Although in fewer words, this was essentially the message of the angel Gabriel to Joseph, Jesus' earthly father, regarding the purpose of the Christ-child in Matthew 1:21. Jesus was born to die and to die “willingly." Let that sink in. The author of the devotional, Pastor Paul Tripp, simply asks this question throughout the reading: "Am I characterized by willingness?"
I haven't been able to lay this question down. I've mulled over it now for 48 hours, as of the time of this writing, and I must say that I'm surprised by how unwilling I can be at times. Sometimes my unwillingness shows up in a lack of patience with my children or a friend or a coworker. I can be unwilling to be mildly inconvenienced for someone or unwilling to be interrupted. Unwilling to serve, unwilling to. . . well, I could go on and on.
But let me share with you how I intend to celebrate the Advent season this year. I want to be willing, and I mean to take steps to do it. Since I read that Advent devotion, I have set in my heart and mind by praying for God's help to be aware of any opportunity I have to demonstrate a willing spirit. In doing this, I have found seemingly endless possibilities to bless others by allowing the willing Spirit of Christ, which is in me, to do what he always seeks to do. And what is that He seeks? It is to help me live like Jesus, even if it should mean laying down my life for others.
So how's it going for these last 48-plus hours, you ask? It's both wonderful and challenging. I've had to slow down and think anew about my holiday celebrations and how they ought to point me to Jesus. I've had to think about gift-giving in terms of giving gifts out of my love for someone versus because I drew their name. And may I say that name drawing is a wonderful way to decide to buy a gift for someone? It’s much like praying, "Lord, I want to bless someone with a special gift. Would you choose who I need to show some special love to?"
Remember, it is better to give than to receive. And I think it's better because being a good giver of gifts is demonstrating a willingness that finds its root in the greatest gift that has ever been bestowed on mankind. That is the gift of God coming in human form to live with us and willingly die for us.
May our Advent and Christmas seasons be filled with the love, joy, and peace that has been secured for us in Jesus Christ.
Yours, joyfully in Christ,
Chaplain James Chavis