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.)