To Love and Server our Neighbors…

“Betty” called me all in a tizzy. She is my neighbor and is in ever failing health, as a widow she lives alone. She seemed all upset and urgency in her voice and I quickly asked if she was okay. She said she was fine, but wanted me to come over and change her garage light bulb! She needs that to be able to see in her garage, she reminded me (she has no car it’s a living area, laundry, etc.). In fact, she said I would need to go to Dollar General and buy her a certain type of bulb which she went on to describe as a three-way bulb. And I would need to bring my ladder. When I asked if she had a three-way switch she said “No!”. So I talked her into a high wattage bulb I had and went over.

While over in her garage I asked about her health which I always do. She deflected that saying she was okay but she was worried about a friend of hers who was losing her eyesight with a husband dying of Parkinson’s. It just hit me that here is my neighbor with her own health issues worried about somebody else. “Betty” went on to say that her grandson was going to take her over to see her friend and they were going to take some food so the friend could have Thanksgiving. Since the friend couldn’t see “Betty” was going to help cook and prepare.

I am convinced that God’s call on our lives is to love and serve our neighbor. In what we call the Great Commandment Jesus says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30). This week as we make our plans, join family and friends, remember in prayer; and perhaps in deed/donation, those who are without. It’s a dark and lonely world for many, and perhaps our call is to shine like a “high wattage” bulb into that darkness. I know the dark always gives way to light, just flip the switch!

A Blessed Thanksgiving to all of you! “May the Lord bless you and keep you, may the Lord look upon you with favor, may the Lord shine upon you and be gracious to you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24)

Are you Ready?

Every year at this time of year I can hear his voice. No, I am not talking about the Lord necessarily, but about Woody. He was a buddy during my college days at IU. Every year, at this time of year, he would start and not stop. Over and over again he said it, over and over again he got other people to say it. Over and over all through the month of November, Woody would say “Happy Thanks-Givan” using my last name rather than the standard Thanksgiving. Sigh, it got old really fast.

So thanks to Woody I have this on my mind every year. I have two brothers (2 and 3 years younger) who have picked up on it and we say it to each other “Happy Thanks-Givan” and I get to relive it over again. Of course this season has nothing to do with me or my family name. Now that I am older I laugh at it and it doesn’t bother me. But I prefer “Happy Thanksgiving”.

I was checking out of the grocery store over the weekend and the clerk said “Are you ready for Thanksgiving?” and I kind of panicked. No, I’m not, I said to her. I said something like “It’s a ways away, isn’t it?”. “No,” she said, “It’s next week!”  And she’s right, it’s coming up rather quickly. And I have family plans to gather but I’m not really ready for it. Because I know Christmas is now running over the top of Thanksgiving and we are only so many days away until the end of the year!

But, not to jump ahead, I’d like to recommend something to you. Oprah did a show once on having a more thankful life. The guest suggested we take a few moments every night and write down 5 things we are thankful for. Oprah said it changed her life and she has now a “Thanksgiving journal” where she writes 5 things every day. And it needs to be a different set of 5 every night, we are invited to try and not repeat. You will be surprised by how many things you write. It would be easy to make a longer list, but just do 5.  I do this along with 5 prayers or people/situations I want to pray about.

Ultimately we know we are thankful to God for Jesus and for the love of God and the grace and hope for all people. We have so many blessings and so much to be thankful for:

Here are my five things I am thankful for today:

  1.  Safe driving- I commute every day and drove back and forth to Toledo, Ohio over the weekend
  2.  Family-for the love of my mother, dearly departed
  3.  All of you who read this, especially the NLS board of directors who I spent time with this past weekend!
  4. Goodwill stores-I dropped off two crates and then went in and found a couple shirts at half price!
  5. Movie theaters: I saw the new “Specter” movie this past weekend, I love this pastime…

Prayers:

  1. For world leaders and decisions that have to be made as well as police and security personnel all over the world
  2. For the Via de Cristo movement also all over the world, that we continue to make Christ known and to know Him
  3. For all the family and friends of those who died in Paris last weekend
  4. For the sick and hospitalized
  5. For grand-niece Harper who will have her first Thanksgiving and Christmas this year!

And I would add a thanks and a prayer for the great people of Good News Via de Cristo in the Toledo, Ohio area (Sylvania, Ohio, Lourdes University) who will be our hosts next July 21-24! Let’s have a great turnout and I am pushing SD’s to come as I set a goal of 25 pastors to come and be blessed and bless others!!

 God Bless,

Pr. Doug

NLS Spiritual Director


Doug Givan

Staff Chaplain

St. Vincent Clay (Brazil)

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (Indianapolis)

dgivan@stvincent.org (email)

www.stvincent.org

 

Chaos

Chaos! Defined in the dictionary as “state of confusion or disorder,” seems to describe life, doesn’t it? Our calendars are full, we are busy, and stress is part of our lives. The Holidays are upon us as my satellite radio station begin offering Christmas music on one of the channels! For my birthday last week my daughter got me a bottle of that aromatherapy called “stress relief.” It is one of those pleasant odors that you “mist” on your pillow before you go to bed. It actually increased my stress; trying to go to sleep on a wet pillow is hard! Then I read the small print “allow fabric to dry prior to contact!”  When we do settle down and attempt to rest we think of all that we should be doing. I have often thought of life like “Pig Pen,” the Peanuts character who had the “dust cloud” following him. He seemed to take that cloud everywhere and we may be feeling it today. Stress and chaos are all around us.

The top stress events have been ranked: new home, job change, new baby, marriage and death! One of the top ways to counter chaos, this survey showed, is to pray and to have a sense of God in your life. Also important to counter stress/chaos is exercise, diet and REST!! It’s funny how we operate, because I know even when we rest we long for more chaos. When is the last time you simply sat down for any length of time? if we don’t have enough chaos in our lives, we try to create more!! We push ourselves and push to the point of exhaustion. And all the while, God pulls, God calls, and God is the still, small voice saying “Come on to me and I will give you rest..” (Matthew 11:28). Allow God to embrace you today, and hold you close in the chaos. Every storm passes eventually, every dark night gives way to morning light, God has done great work in taking the chaos and stress, and making something good out of it. Slow down today, smell the fresh air of winter settling in, and look to the Lord for peace in the pieces of a busy life!

Over the last two weeks associates at the two hospitals where I work have died suddenly. One brain aneurysm and one cardiac arrest. Many of us are reflecting on how we live our lives. We do not know when our last day will be, and if we wake up tomorrow we will be given one more day. It calls forth our best efforts at slowing down and really living. It’s slowing down and really loving. Yesterday at the funeral service for one of these associates her brother talked about how he had a close relationship with his sister. They used to talk one, sometimes twice a day. I have two brothers I don’t talk to once a month! I can’t go backward, but I think tonight I’ll give them a call and see how they are doing. Why don’t you join me? Call a long, lost sibling or family member today. Today, not tomorrow or this weekend. Slow down, rest and take the time to make the call. You may not get tomorrow!

Doug Givan

Staff Chaplain

St. Vincent Clay (Brazil)

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (Indianapolis)

 

dgivan@stvincent.org (email)

“boys of summer”

The World Series just ended and no offense to baseball fans, but thank God. The “boys of summer” playing through Halloween doesn’t seem right somehow. I was thinking of the all the positions on a team and how important they are to work together. The coaches direct the players often using signals from the dugout. The catcher and pitcher coordinate the kind of pitch to the batter is going to get. And, depending on that batter, the outfield places themselves in certain places based on the way they hit the ball. The second baseman has to have a good arm to make the double play in time and the first baseman has to stretch while keeping on foot on the bag! The outfielders have to talk to each other during a fly ball and also know where the home run wall is so they don’t go crashing while trying to catch the baseball. Everybody works together on the team.

I’ve been told that I am often coming from “left field.” I’ve come to embrace that quality in my personality these days. I used to continue my old ways of hating myself for being in left field, or speaking from left field. I’ve thought a thousand times on the things I said and wished I hadn’t. I think an extrovert with a bit of an anxiety disorder can just speak without thinking…..which has been pointed out to me! So, I’m in left field.

Where are you on the team? Hiding in the dugout? Coaching? Or trying to coach when that is not your role? Are you the pitcher who makes everything happen, who is center to the team layout on the field. Are you the catcher, with your face covered cowering “down” in fear (I’m making a personality analogy, not trying to offend catchers). Are you the umpire “large and in charge?” I suppose we all have different options maybe at different times in our lives.

Maybe it’s like the team on a VdC weekend? The chapel or kitchen cha has the same place on the team as the Rector or Rectora, we are all equal all on the team and God is the coach. I remember my first time being called on team after Seminary and telling my wife that I better do a rollo because I’m studying to be a pastor. And she said “You’ll do what God calls you to do” and I learned a valuable lesson. This morning taking my high school son to school I usually share some word of encouragement to build him up and I said something spontaneous like “You take the most good looking, athletic, rich kid in your school and know that he is no better, or worse, than you. We are all children of God, we are all equal. We all take off our pants one leg at a time!” ( I think that’s how that goes….). Anyway, we are one in the Lord, we are all one in the Spirit, we are one in God!

I’m in left field and that’s okay. Left field is still on the team!

God Loves you and so do I!

Pr. Doug

NLS SD

The colorful “show”

The colorful “show” of beautiful trees is ending, so says the weather man. Here in central Indiana we will be getting wind and rain the next couple days and the leaves will come down. It makes me sad because I have loved the “show” and have enjoyed the bright colors of the trees, bushes and even some shrubs. Sometimes it just takes my breath away, they are so beautiful.

Yesterday I went walking around the wooded campus of Wabash College and took lots of pictures. When the sun shines through a tree or behind it the richest colors of gold and yellow can be seen. But, alas, the time changes this coming weekend and we are headed into the month of November….as I write this it’s 60 days to Christmas!

But the colorful “show” has been wonderful and I think there is great spiritual insight with those colors! I have often thought that:

Green is the color of growth, as God grows us in faith, hope and love

Red to me stands for the passion of our hearts to love God and one another ….following our hearts to God’s call within!

Orange for the fire that burns within us, to discovering that “one thing” God would have us do in the world….perhaps we are doing it already

Yellow (doesn’t show up on the screen well) for the light of Christ within us shining out

Enjoy what is left of the colors of God’s rainbow outside! If you are feeling more gray and dark today, may these colors and the “color” of God’s love be with you to encourage you for today. Just for today, know you are enough, you are loved, and you are okay! DECOLORES’!

COlorful Rooster

Pr. Doug

NLS SD

 

Mooshie

Good Day!

Yesterday Darilicous ice cream store closed for the winter! It’s a sad day in my neighborhood (Crawfordsville, IN). They are a local store located conveniently near me with a park next door for kids to play. Many times as I walk the neighborhood, I would listen to the children play, notice the soccer or baseball team crowded around the store and smile. I think relaxing at a park and having ice cream is a God-given delightful experience! I recommend it heartily!

Darilicious has been in the Crawfordsville community since the 1960’s and they are very well known. They also have soft drinks, some sandwiches and a variety of ice cream treats. I am very pleased that they are successful when there are many other options and places to get ice cream.

Their sign suggested that customers order to stock up our freezers since they were closing. So, doing my duty, I went over Sunday and ordered 6 of their chocolate chip “Mooshies”! I’m not sure who named them, but the “Mooshie” is the equivalent of the DQ blizzard and quite delicious. I will try to enjoy those somehow over the next couple months, but I do not think 6 will last until February when they reopen.

Ice cream is traditionally associated with summer, I know this. I have very fond memories of growing up during the summer and listening for the ice cream truck to come into our street. In those days it was “Mr. Softie” and their ice cream was really good. I guess I’ve never really had any “bad” ice cream if I think about it. But summer has come and gone, fall is under way and soon the time changes and the Holidays are upon us. Time is flying by it seems like.

I once had a friend of mine say that “if you aren’t careful Monday becomes Friday”! And I think that’s true. We need to take heart and give thanks that God is always “in season” and that God is always and forever with us. There is no “closing” as it relates to God and the spiritual life. As these days change, and time goes on and life is sometimes a struggle God is with us. When we lose a loved one or a friend it is hard. Grief and the related feelings of sadness and anger and whatever else are difficult. But we hold onto the God who is with us in the midst of all these things we go through and we give thanks. God in Jesus is “the same yesterday, today and forever”! (Hebrews 13:8).

Pretty soon the Darilicious owner will change his large outdoor sign to read “Jesus is the reason for the season” and he leaves that up through December and into the New Year. And I agree, and I’ll toast that thought with what might be my last “Mooshie” for a while…at least until spring which will be right around the corner!

Pr. Doug

dgivan@stvincent.org

 

Columbus Day

So today is Columbus Day….other than no mail and no banking I probably won’t give it much thought! I did read once that Christopher Columbus was not a very nice guy. I did read once that there is controversy on whether or not he really did discover America and/or prove the earth was flat. I remember, randomly, 1492 the day Columbus sailed the ocean blue! I remember the great trivia question of the names of his three ships: Curly, Larry and Moe! (I know…I know…Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria)

So today is Columbus Day. I think more than anything else what I take away from him and his life is the sense of adventure he must have had. I mean to set sail with some belief you might go over the edge takes courage! To set sail not even sure what is out there takes courage. I am afraid, for me, it seems like I don’t feel adventurous much these days. I like my routine, my little corner of the world that I can control. I like to know what is going to happen, for the most part, and I might feel adventurous when I think about where to go for dinner, or what I need from the store. Isn’t that exciting?

Then, from out of nowhere, I am walking on a beautiful fall day in my neighborhood. I begin to notice things: the sound of the lawnmower, the smell of fresh cut grass, the sun shining, the birds singing, the children playing in a nearby park. And I’m happy. And I realize life is an adventure…every day God gives is an adventure! We “set sail” each morning unsure what we may discover ahead and that takes courage. I especially see that in the lives of patients who are sick or near death. Their sense of adventure and hope for what lies ahead is inspiring.

I prayerfully look for ways to deepen my “adventure awareness” and I invite you to do the same! Take a look around, breathe, and relax, God has this whole world in His hands….God did in 1492 and God does today in 2015!

GLYASDI,

Pr. Doug

NLS SD

 

“God Moments”

Every weekend I serve on team there is always a “God moment”, a very special time in the weekend where something is done, said, felt, sung, and so on. One year it was my taking the golf cart and chasing geese (kidding, but I did do that), another year it was something from a rollo, another time it was the huge weight a man left in the chapel after he confessed his sins. You get the idea! Sometimes, to me, the whole weekend is a God moment. I struggled again coming down off the mountain this past Sunday and Monday …I had a great weekend here in INKY serving on a Men’s weekend.

As you know there is the Saturday talk which our group calls “Day in the Life” and it is the details of the crucifixion of Jesus. Usually in INKY we do that talk in two parts: there is the more difficult stuff of his torture and death, Holy Communion, and then the more upbeat talk on how to live out that grace in everyday life through the sacraments and other ways. At chapel on Saturday a large crucifix is used on the altar that has a large cross and the body of Jesus on it.

On our team this year was a blind man named Phil. I have his permission to share this story. I brought him up to the altar as we all gathered around for Communion mid-way through the rollo. We all shared together, pilgrims and team, our thoughts and feelings on the life and death of Jesus. I invited Phil to physically experience the crucifix. Since he could not see, he put his hands all over the body of Jesus repeating “Oh, Jesus”, “Oh, Jesus” and it was a deeply touching moment for everyone. Tearfully, Phil led a prayer and we had Communion. It was sad time but a joyful one as well because we know that crucifix does not have the last word. God does1

The “God moment” of our lives was sometime on that first Sunday morning, perhaps we call it the first Easter! The tomb was not open so Jesus could get out, it was opened so we could go in! We go in and get our “God moment”, see the empty tomb, the clothes on the floor, and then we go out to follow the Lord. And, maybe, just maybe, we can take in other God moments along the way and provide God moments for others. Whether we can physically see, or not.

GLYASDI,
Pr. Doug
NLS SD

Pray for me…..don’t forget

The Pope has left the country! I really enjoyed listening to him last week, watching him in parades, blessing children, leading Mass, and speaking/preaching. I felt like he brought God up front and center for our country. Those of us who work in Catholic healthcare appreciate his great leadership, his urging to care for the poor and the sick, and all of God’s people.

We all saw the images on TV as he stopped his processional to bless a baby or kiss a child with a disability. He spoke about the importance of family, of service to God, and to care for all of God’s people. We need messages like that to remind us of why we are here and why we have been created at this time and in this place.

Throughout his trip here Pope Francis reminded all of us to pray for him! At his closing of the Mass Sunday evening for almost a million people he said, “Pray for me…..don’t forget….pray for me!” Here is, by all accounts, the most religious man in the world and he is asking for prayer. Let’s use that as a reminder to pray for the Pope and for all world leaders, especially leaders of our country.

And prayer is the lifeblood of our Via de Cristo movement. I call on all of us to pray daily for fall teams/pilgrims and for Christ to be made known in worship, fellowship, study, piety, action and in the breaking of bread for the good of all!

After 20 years of ministry I know people find prayer difficult. How do you do it? What words do I use? How do I know it does anything? All I can say is that prayer brings us in union with God in Christ. It does not matter how or when or what words you use. Our God promises in the Bible to hear our prayers so pray on, friend! “Pray without ceasing…” as the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5: 17.

Pr. Doug

P. S. I personally serve on INKY Men’s weekend #73 this coming weekend, please pray for US!!

Pastor Doug Givan
Staff Chaplain
Clay, Brazil
Seton, Indy
dgivan@stvincent.org

Sunday Morning Priorities

Hi Friends:

This came to me on Facebook yesterday in my news feed and I share it with you! It’s one of those cartoons that makes you think as you look at it and ponder the deeper meaning. In this case, it’s about the priority of God and worship in your life. It is a picture of a young man in football uniform telling his coach he can’t make the game Sunday morning because he is going to be an acolyte at church (an assistant for a worship service).

Sunday morning I was with a delightful group of people at their church as the substitute pastor. They have a long history in the community but have struggled lately and do not have a full time pastor. Attendance was about “half full” Sunday and as I drove home I went by a soccer fields and I had to look twice! It was two fields put together and it was packed! There were kids running every which way and parents on blankets and lawn chairs. The church I attended was half empty, the soccer field was full! And I thought how sad that the soccer people have finally found an opening in the week when practice and matches can be scheduled: SUNDAY MORNING! And it’s not just sports that have long infiltrated Sunday morning….it has become just another morning in our world. People work, the retail world is open and ready for you, youth sporting events are scheduled, people sleep in, and life carries on. (Now, to be fair, any number of those soccer families could have attended earlier that morning, the night before or another service at another day/time!)

I remember “back in the day” when stores were closed on Sunday. It used to be a day of rest, where you went to church Sunday morning, had a home cooked meal and then rested for the week ahead. We do have one of the Ten Commandments teaching us “Remember the Sabbath (rest) day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath.” (Exodus 20:8).

So I celebrate the Sunday (or other day) gathering of God’s people for worship! I love a cartoon that gives us a solid reminder of what is important. And I want to add that whether you have a church home or not, God is still love, and God still loves and forgives you. It’s just nice to hear about that love and forgiveness in a Sunday morning church service!

Peace to you,

Pastor Doug
NLS SD

P.S. Don’t forget “altar call” as part of the 4th day spiritual life! Go to the altar to be altered before or after church, or even better when not many are around in the building, and have your prayer time. You will feel the spirit of God.