The scariest place in the world!

I think it’s the scariest place in the world to be! There is no control and everything seems out of order. You cannot control others and you cannot control where you are, it’s frightening! I, personally, would rather not be there, but I have to be. I would give anything to speed ahead a few years and then be in that place. I could look back and see that everything worked out okay!

And now I may be freed from that place but I will think about it a lot. I do not want others in that place and the guidelines are that he can’t for 180 days! I’m talking about the passenger seat of the car as my 16 year old son, Joel, gets his drivers license! The passenger seat is a very scary place to be, yet I have to do it. I logged in the practice hours for him and have done a lot of “training” from that spot. And last Saturday we went to get his drivers license. It is a “probationary” license, thank God, and has restrictions placed on him until he is 21. I know many of you have been there and done that!

The BMV local license branch was packed as usual and we drew our number. When called up to the desk, we had everything in order and we went through everything in pretty good order. I’ve written about the BMV before and how some of the employees can have certain behavior characteristics that come with their job! But when I noticed the clerks fingernails had IU designs on it, I knew we were in! As an IU graduate I complimented her fingernail polish and she smiled and was so excited because the basketball team is playing so well right now. We chatted about all of that as she processed our forms and we were in and out in no time.

Life is full of scary moments and I’m pretty sure fear holds us back from a lot of life. I finally figured I have to let him go and I have to let him experience this on his own. I entrust my son, Joel, to God. Every parent fears these moments of letting go but we have to. I think it’s a really good analogy of all of life! What would it be like to let go of some fears today? What would it be like to trust God that in a few years looking back everything will have worked out?? To fully live as God intended we really have no choice. We have to let go, we have to trust, and we have to know that everything will work out okay! God bless you this week and always,

Pr. Doug
NLS Spiritual Director

I have a question for you.

I have a question for you today: Are you hard on yourself? More specifically, are you hard on yourself spiritually? I would imagine you answered yes, because I feel like we are all too hard on ourselves spiritually. The “bar of expectation” is set really high and often we feel we never measure up. I’ve been in ministry over 20 years now, served in four congregational settings and 4 different hospitals. I see it all the time in members of my church and in patient care. We never feel we are enough. Probably 80% of the patients I see do not attend church. They used to, but do not now and they feel bad about that. I’ve had members of my churches come up and talk about how they don’t pray enough, or very well, and how they don’t give/donate like they should, etc., etc. The “guilt-ometer” is really high. I find my work to remind them that God has come to us in Jesus, with unconditional love we call grace. And the key to releasing this monster inside us is to simply accept the grace, and to give ourselves grace. Meaning, lighten up on ourselves. We are okay. We are enough. Church attendance, Bible reading, prayer and on down the list does not add to nor take away from God’s love for us. There isn’t anything we can do to cause God to love us any less, nor any more! And if you don’t think you pray correctly or pray enough, God still loves you! The Bible is clear “God is love.” (1 John 4:7).

I had a counselor once work with me on “clobbering myself!” I have worked long and hard on this issue for me and with others. I have grown in understanding that you and I are children of God and all we can do is to do the best we can, where we are, with whatever is on hand! For example, near my easy chair at home lay 4-5 books that need to be read. A journal that needs filled out and endless things to do. I let the self-defeat go, and read and journal when I can. And I know, and remind myself, the books and journal can wait on me. So, I’ve set a new year resolution to “lighten up” on myself and I invite you in also!

I am sure that if we look back at our family of origin, or elsewhere in life, we can find the source of the critical voice that says we aren’t enough. For me, it was an emotionally absent father, and I never knew where I stood. I know where I stand with God and that makes all the difference and it is the same for you! We stand with God who loves and does not criticize and can find absolutely nothing wrong with us!

I used this theme in a speech I gave over the weekend with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Columbus, Ohio. It was a reminder that God loves us despite how hard we are on ourselves! The theological concept is to put “law” on ourselves over God’s “grace.” In Biblical times it was all about the law and there were plenty of people to go around and remind you of your failure to live up to the over 600 laws listed in the Old Testament alone. Who can do that? Who could possibly meet all of those laws? No one and that’s why Jesus came to break through the laws and remind us of God’s grace and love.

This is why our Via de Cristo is so important….we need to invite and bring others into this grace of God and let the love of Christ pour over them on a weekend. Or, we need it again as we serve on team! And we need it beyond that and that is the reason to attend the National Gathering this July!

Jesus took on all of our sin and died for it all on the Cross. And then the Lord rose again and life has been changed forever. Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew 11:28 “Come on to me all you are weary and need rest, for my burden is light…”

Feeling down on yourself today? A little blue with the weather and post-Holiday “blah’s?” Come to Jesus….Come back to God…..who forgives, and loves. And be renewed!


Pr. Doug Givan


I took a chance

I had heard enough. I took a chance, I went for it. By the time Saturday night rolled around I had heard so, so much on TV and the news about Powerball and the chance to win some or all of 900 million dollars. So I bought a ticket. There, I’ve confessed. There was no winner last week as everybody knows and now over a billion dollars is up for grabs. And by the time some of you read this there will likely be a winner from this past Wednesday.

I mean, honestly, wouldn’t we all like to be rich? Just think what it would be like to buy a big home, pay off debt, drive a super car, quit your job, etc., etc.! The TV stations were routinely interviewing people standing in the store lines and would ask them what they would do with all that money. I heard many things from various folks, and I was thankful to one woman who said she would give a lot of her winnings away. That’s honestly what I thought going over to the gas station. If I win I will give most of it away! I thought of all the world charities who could so greatly benefit from that money. I often wonder what is wrong with our culture with so much poverty and need right here at home and yet we give away hundreds of millions of dollars.

I do know the rather tragic stories of people who have won a lottery. Many go on to bankruptcy, divorce and many other problems. But I may never know. I suppose the question is about what makes a person rich. Money, and the “things” of this world will all pass away including us. As the old saying goes “you can’t take it with you.” So we remember again that we are rich….rich in the spiritual life given to us by God! Rich in our Via de Cristo ministry and rich in the experience we had when we made our weekend! Palanca is better than money!!

If you were to do a topical search on the Bible you would find that money is the number one topic talked about by Jesus. There are many verses within the Bible about wealth and money and where our hearts might be. One I like is “Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have, for God has promised to never leave us!” Now that is a richness we can count on. Just think, you don’t have to buy tickets and wait to see if your name or number gets called! God has already given you the trillion dollar lottery in the gift of eternal life through Jesus….we really are rich!! The “things” of this world do not make us rich. Money does not, really (I mean look at the superstars who commit suicide, divorce routinely or go to drug rehab). We are all so desperately searching for something else to make us happy, to fulfill our lives and we think money will do it.

Nope. Count your blessings. Turn around and look at your life, those who are in your life, and all that you have. And be content.

Pastor Doug Givan, MDiv

Board Certified Staff Chaplain

St. Vincent Hospital Clay

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (email)

Rest high on that mountain

My neighbor is receiving hospice care at home and is very near death. Her family has been in and out all weekend, caring for her and each other. She is such a sweet lady, always very friendly to me and easy to talk to. Whenever I would see her sitting outside her home she would always have her phone close by. Her phone was her link to the outside world. As her vision slowly faded and heart became less and less able to function her phone was her connection to family.

On Saturday morning the granddaughter (around 10-11 years of age) came to get me. She said one of the family members asked her to come, that her grandmother was “getting very tired and we need prayer.” I went and greeted my neighbor, who was barely conscious, and the family gathered around the hospice bed. We had a prayer and my neighbor held my hand tightly. I’ve been in this position many times before, standing at a bedside as death comes close. It really is Holy Ground; no words are really necessary, quiet comes easily.

A little later I hear a guitar playing. At first I thought a stereo was up to loud, and then I realized that a grandson was playing. And then he began to sing Vince Gill’s song I hear a lot at funerals “Go rest high on that mountain”. It was an incredible moment. My neighbor opened her eyes, the young man came to the foot of her bed and sang this song to her. Several of the family joined in and a peace and a calm came over the home. Young children, who had been running around confused as to what was going on, got settled with their mom and listened.

When I stopped by Sunday night, my neighbor was sitting up more alert than the day before! She was able to have pizza earlier that day because all she wanted was to have a pizza party with her family. And she got her wish! Her heart condition won’t be getting any better but God gave her some very special moments with her family. Death had been slightly moved to the shadows for at least a day or so while my neighbor continued to say she was ready to meet Jesus!

As we launch into a busy day, a busy new year may we do so comforted by the fact that our God is with us and has placed us next to other people in our lives. Our neighbors are not just those we live next to, they are everywhere and certainly in our Via de Cristo! This year join me in praying for greater love and care for neighbor! Jesus taught “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. And “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30). Are there ways you can love your VDC neighbor (s) today??

From the Vince Gill song “Go rest high on that mountain, your work on earth is done. Go to heaven a shoutin’ love for the Father and the Son!”

Pastor Doug