You are enough

Blizzard weather arrived this week on the East Coast. I think whenever you hear something about snow and three feet of it, it’s a reason to be concerned and to plan to make other plans! Weather interrupts our lives. That kind of snow shuts down schools, businesses and churches! I used to get mad when the storms in my area hit on Saturday nights and, sure enough, church would have to be canceled the next day. Let us keep all those affected by the storms in our prayers.

Severe winter weather makes us anxious, I think. We don’t know what to expect and for how long we might have to be holed up in our homes. Look out trying to go to the grocery store as the shelves empty out of bread and milk and the other “essentials.” I never understood why we rush out to buy milk and bread of all things. Why aren’t we selling out of snacks, chocolate, liquor, books and magazines??? Just something I think about.

Lots of times our minds predict emotional or spiritual storms and then they end up not coming at all. Mark Twain said, “I’ve known a great many worries, most of which never happened.” Spiritually we always predict bad weather. By that I mean we always aren’t enough: I’ve heard it for over 20  years of ministry just as much in the patient rooms as I did in the pews-“I don’t ——- enough” (insert your word: pray, go to church, read my Bible, serve or give). We always think, spiritually, we aren’t enough. Then God comes along in the life, death, resurrection of Jesus and says “You are mine” and I love you (John 3:16) and that’s enough to help us through all the weather ahead!


Pastor Doug Givan

Staff Chaplain

Clay, Brazil

Seton, Indy

“One kind word can warm three winter months.” Japanese proverb

“Encourage one another day after day” Hebrews 3:13


It’s a free gift

Good Morning!

I never knew how hard it is to buy eyeglasses! I have for many, many years worn contact lenses and then “readers” to improve everyday sight, etc. I went to a store to purchase glasses and, without knowing it, I bought “single vision” glasses. When they came in I could not read the computer or print. It turns out, I discovered this weekend, that the single vision glasses are for distance vision. If I want “up close” vision or both I have to buy a “progressive lens” and the actual lens progresses from far away vision to closer vision as you move your eyes down the lens itself.

Well, says the optometrist, there are many levels of progressive lenses based on my astigmatism and visual needs. So 100’s of dollars later I’m frustrated and have asked them to hold the whole thing while I think about what to do. Meanwhile, updating my teen age son and his glasses puts me in the $200 range and the great thing is that includes “poly-carbonate” which makes the lens smaller rather than larger in thickness! This appeals to my son and it adds money to the overall cost. Don’t even get me started on “anti-glare” or the extra money for eye glass lens/frame protection and warranty.  Sigh…..wish things like this could be easier…

Isn’t it a beautiful thing that our God is “easy”, simple? Jesus said “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, for my burden is light and easy and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28). We don’t have to buy anything, freedom and grace have been paid for by Jesus giving His life for us and rising again from the dead!  We don’t have to spend anything to have forgiveness and hope because they are free. It’s all a free gift and it’s yours and mine today and forever!  Now that I can see!

 “Freely freely you have received, freely, freely give. Go in my name and because you believe others will know that I live..”

Pastor Doug Givan



Visiting the gravesite of a loved one is a powerful experience. My mother died back in May of last year and Saturday I took a small, cement bunny to place next to her headstone. She loved the smaller of God’s creatures and could sit for hours on her patio watching the ducks swim in the pond behind her home. One time a rabbit had made a nest in her bushes and you would have thought she won the lottery, she was so excited!

I sat the cement bunny down knowing that it will get weathered, or it could be taken by someone else. I saw it as a gift I was giving my mother and I didn’t care what happened later. I just know it felt great placing it and I have some belief that she liked it as well.

Gifts are like that. We just give them and don’t know what will be done with them. I have two younger brothers and they have birthdays a week apart this month. We agreed to have a gift exchange but no gift cards which made it harder to shop for them! But I did gift them and what they do with it is up to them, I have no control and will likely never know what they do/did with my gift.

God is the same way!  We have been gifted with the presence of Jesus in our lives, we have been gifted with forgiveness and joy, grace and peace and hope for the future! It’s a free gift God has given and it’s up to us now….how will we use it? Will others know?

Let’s give many the gift of VDC and invite them to make a weekend, invite “alumni” to come and serve with you on team or even on the Secretariat. Best yet, gather a group and come to Illinois for the annual gathering in July??  Check our web site


Pastor Doug Givan

“The fragrance always remains on the hand that gives the rose”  Mahatma Gandhi

Happy New Year – Be Ready

Happy New Year!


I hope and pray you all had a relaxing and restful time off over the Holidays. It’s always hard to get back up and running as the new year begins but away we go. Some of us are boosted by the Indianapolis Colts winning their football game advancing in the playoffs! Driving back from church I was listening to the pregame radio show. One of the award winning players was being interviewed. He said (regarding the game) that “when my name is called I want to be able to shine!” In other words, I took that to mean be ready, practice, and get prepared.


What does it mean, spiritually, for us to “be ready?” Jesus encourages us in the Bible to “have our lights lit” and to “keep awake” because we do not know when our time is up (Mark13:33 for example). This time of year can be very difficult for many people. There is actually a disorder that affects some people: Seasonal Affective Disorder (appropriately, SAD). The darker, overcast days, the weather, the Holidays are over and it can be a downer time. The cure is to be around light, they say! Sun tanning booths, higher wattage in our lamps, or just finding other ways to be around light.


So friends, as we begin a new year let’s be “ready” and have our lights shine. Even if you feel down and maybe discouraged, God still has a light within each of us that brightens when we help others. We each are truly part of the body of Christ. Our eyes look for the need around us; it is our ears that listen for the cries of those who need help. It is our hands that reach out to lift up our fellow person, and our feet that take us to the place of great need. I hope for all of us we can be ready by praying, spending time in God’s Word, the Bible, and in worship. That way, when our name is called we will already be shining!



Pr. Doug

Happy New You!

I used to work years ago in the new home construction business. I was in the model home looking out at the vast emptiness that would soon be filled with homes and construction. I worked with couples and families to plan and prepare everything for the construction of their new home and I lived in one myself!  There was something special about moving into a brand new home. The smell of never-stepped-on carpet, fresh paint, and wood always made me smile.

I think we all like things that are “new”!  Many people love the smell of a new car and, in fact, there are items for sale that can re-create that new car smell in your old car! We all received new items for Christmas probably and unwrapped some new clothes or gifts. There is usually some excitement for a new restaurant or store when they come to town. There is something about things that are new.

What do we do, then, when we feel “old”? What if we aren’t up for celebrating, resolutions, or anything “cheery” or happy? God still loves us and God is still in the business of helping us feel new, even when life around us feels “old”.

No matter where you are as 2014 ends and 2015 begins, and no matter how overwhelmed, lonely, afraid, sick, or angry you are God still comes new!  God always comes new and our Bible says “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see everything has become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17). We are the ones that need to let go and bury the “old”. We hold on to old hurts, pain, issues in life and God longs to take those things, bless them, and turn us into a new creation.

It’s a free gift of grace that God offers…no matter your past God has forgiven you. And no matter who you are, and no matter race, color, creed, belief God loves you and makes you new!  And that’s not just something to celebrate in early January. No, that’s something to celebrate any day!  Happy New Year! Happy New You!  See you next year!


Pr. Doug


“The fragrance always remains on the hand that gives the rose”  Mahatma Gandhi

What’s Important Now?

This last week I’ve moved my office at the hospital and it is amazing to me how “clutter” seems to follow me in all areas of my life! I am pledging today to go through papers and miscellaneous, and toss what can be tossed and organize what can be organized! I realize that those items can stay in their box; however, because  I’d rather follow the “WIN” formula in my life: What’s Important Now! I need to visit with our patients, the Emergency Room, one of the staff has a heavy personal load, and there is orientation for new employees. When those priorities are complete I can figure out how to unpack the new office.

We enter now the last couple days of Advent (waiting on the birth of Christ in our lives) and Christmas. What once seemed so far away has now come up close and personal! The stores will be full, the advertising will be everywhere, and we are pulled again and again into the fray. I ask you to think about “what is important now” this week of Christmas. It’s not about the gifts we buy for ourselves and those we love, it’s not about finding the sale items, going to office parties, or gathering with friends and family.

It’s about Jesus. It is not “our” birthday, but the birth of Christ. Think about what that night was like so long ago. Enter into the story found richly described in the Gospel of Luke chapter 2: 1-20. It was a silent, quiet night. There was no place for them to stay, so they lay Jesus in a manger. God’s child was placed in a manger, a feeding trough as a symbol that Jesus would be bread/food for the world. For all of us. What’s Important Now, and this week? Sit quietly, pray, be mindful of where you are in the moment and how you are feeling. Put away the press and stress of the world, and enter into the Mystery, the Peace, the Grace, and the Love of God in Christ Jesus. Really, the rest of it is all tinsel, it’s all clutter.

May you and yours have a Blessed Christmas and New Year!

Pr. Doug

St. Vincent Clay Chaplain

SD thoughts for the week will continue January 5th, 2015

Renewal and Refreshment

Blessed Advent!

Today I headed out of town and was stopped at a railroad crossing by our local train!  Thanks so much to the good folks at the railroad who send these long, long trains through town. The newspaper reported that they never have enough engine power to make it up the next hill, so the train eventually stops, stalls and traffic is blocked until another engine can be sent. Now, I don’t know very much about the railroads but perhaps we could send less cars and maybe make more trips and save the local folks a lot of aggravation!

No sooner did I clear the railroad tracks and began to take the State highway out of town then I got behind a school bus. And, God bless the children, but we stopped at every other house! Myself and the umpteen cars behind me. I know the kids have to get to school and safety is the key so this is part of life! Instead of griping and fussing, I’ll just make a note to self to not head that way at 7:20 a.m. in the future! And, while I am at it, I’ll make a note not to cross the railroad tracks at 7 a.m.! I can’t change the railroad company’s timing or how many cars they travel with and I can’t control the school bus driver either! All I can control is my response and whatever change I can make going forward!

Saturday the INKY area hosted Dick and Loretta Volker and had a wonderful day in “Renewal and Refreshment” of our beloved VDC and our own walk with the Lord. It was good to be together with other brothers and sisters who care about VDC and want to renew themselves with the Lord! I pray Almighty God might refresh and renew YOU today so that you can go forward blessed to be a blessing to your local Secretariat and VDC movement. Christ is counting on you (and me)!!!

We are in the second week of Advent now as we journey closer and closer to Christmas and the birth of Jesus. This is a time to slow ourselves down, become more aware of where we are in our walk with the Lord and in our spiritual lives. It is a journey, and the gifts, blessings and trials of that journey strengthen us as we go. We don’t have any control over what happens on that journey, but we can control how we respond. And we can make changes going forward!! God is in control and that’s good, God will be handling all our problems today and will not need our help!!  Enjoy the day, and the journey toward Christmas. Slow down and count the railroad cars (56!) and pray! Slow down and pray for schools, teachers and students/staff!

Pr. Doug

A New Normal

Yesterday I attended a memorial service for a fellow colleague-ordained in the ELCA and married almost 60 years serving in Crawfordsville, Indiana and the surrounding area. In greeting his widow I asked her about how her life and how she is doing given this loss. She described how the timing had been helpful to have her two out of state children and grandchildren around for Thanksgiving and this weekend.

After such a tragedy as the loss of a long time spouse, this widow said you just get used to a  “new normal!”  I can’t get that term out of my head today….a “new” normal. Doesn’t that describe health care? Doesn’t that happen often in our lives? Something dramatic changes, in our work, our personal lives, or in our home and we now have to live a new normal. It doesn’t have to be a loss of a spouse, it can encompass many other things in life. And this is hard stuff. It’s hard to adopt/adapt to  a new normal. Most of us probably would rather not, thank you very much. We always like things the way they used to be and change is difficult. The joke goes “How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb? Answer is “Change, what’s change?” Or the other quip “the only one who likes change is a wet baby!”

What is the “new normal” for your local Via de Cristo Secretariat? Or for you personally as it relates to VDC. Has it been awhile since you served on team or sponsored a candidate/pilgrim? It’s your turn, now , God is calling you and all of us to step up, create a new normal for our local movement, and share Christ with the world!

We need something constant in this ever changing life as we create “new normal” all the time. As the calendar marches us full steam ahead into December and Christmas  and the New year we give thanks to God for being the steady force in an unsteady life. God is the only thing I can think of that will stay the “old normal” and through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection be the “new normal” at the same time. No matter how much things change around us, God never does. Hebrews 13:8 in our Bible “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever” And I say, thanks be to God!!

Pastor Doug Givan


St. Vincent Clay (Brazil)

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (Indpls.)

Our Lord is always available!

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

The letter was on yellow stationary and was a collection letter warning! My doctor must be tight on funds to work so hard sending me stuff, I was waiting to make sure the insurance company did what they are supposed to do. It’s so hard to check a medical bill against insurance, have all the info in front of you and go through the rig-a-ma-roll of making the phone call. The voice mail prompts me seven times before I get a live person to handle my claim. Sometimes you can’t get a live person no matter what happens.

And, in this case, the live person I eventually get to does not have any of the data I have punched in or “said” to the automated system. I asked her why none of that transferred and she really didn’t have an answer. So back over it we go, and long story very short, the insurance company misappropriated that charge and my deductible has been met and they are sending a check. Ugh! Frustrating, I almost wrote the check myself…the money isn’t the issue. The fact that I had to do all that leg work and take time out of a busy day to get ahold of someone at the insurance company made it all so frustrating. It almost would have been simpler and easier to pay the bill and forget about it.

On this Thanksgiving week you and I can be deeply thankful our Lord is always available! We can rest easy at night because God is still awake and when we need God, when we call out to God in prayer, God hears us. When you look at the ministry of Jesus throughout the Gospel’s He never tells anyone to get back to him! Jesus never says “Gosh, I’d like to heal you but I’m booked until Thursday, can you do a 1?” Always available, always with us, always listening, always comforting, always peace giving and chaos taking, God is with us! That’s what the word “Immanuel” means in Scripture “God with us”! Matthew 1:23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” Now, that’s a reason to be thankful if there ever was one!


God Bless,

Pr. Doug


The Daily Commute


One of the many blessings of a daily commute is satellite radio! It’s really a great bonus and if your car is equipped for it, I highly recommend it. They are not very expensive and you have over 120 channels of all the news you can handle, music of every shape and size, comedy channels, and sports channels. There is even an audio book channel where you can listen to people read great books and, this time of year, they have several channels with all Holiday music!

In the morning there is a radio station and the name and location of that station aren’t important (not based out of Indianapolis, by the way!). The radio show host often takes calls from listeners. And with everyone he tells them “thanks for listening.” Many times, I’ve noted, the listener says something like “I love you guys” or “I love the show.” The radio host will say back to the caller “We love you more” and it is really kind of neat to hear. It is not a surprise why they do so well because he openly expresses his love and thanks for the listener.

It got me thinking the other day that I’ll bet God doesn’t get to thank us for listening very often. We simply don’t listen to God because to do that would require tuning out the world around us. It would mean shutting off the radio and TV and noise around us, and sitting still. Lo and behold you will probably fall asleep, but listening to God takes work. One way I believe we can listen to God is to follow our hearts when it’s time for a decision to be made. Not to “over think” like we do in our heads, but to go the 18 inches down to our hearts and really listen. And when you make a decision and you feel at peace in your heart that is God, in my opinion.

In the Bible in First Samuel chapter 16 verse 7 David is selected as the next king. And the Bible says “people look on the outside, but God looks upon the heart.” It was David’s heart for God that got him selected king, not his size and/or strength. God looks upon the heart just like in the movie E.T. when the character knows he is going home. His heart light is lit up and he is excited knowing he is going home. “Home, home” he says. And when we follow our hearts we are moving closer to God and closer to going to our eternal “Home” in Heaven.

Oh, yes, by the way, God always, always and forever says not only “I love you” but “I love you more.” And more, and more and more the unconditional love of God is for all of us because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus!! Now that is a daily blessing we can live with!


God Bless,

Pr. Doug Givan