Life’s Frustrations

There is a certain “branch” of government we all have to work with if we want to drive our vehicles, get licenses, registrations, etc. I have never had a good experience with said agency until we could register license plates by mail. So now I’m trying to get my 15 year old son, Joel, a learner’s permit! As we went in Saturday morning I was quickly angered by the lack of privacy. It is a fairly small waiting room and a few feet away sit about 6-7 women behind long desks calling out for the next number. You can sit in the waiting area and listen to every single conversation. People are turned away left and right for not having the right paperwork and I feel better. Tuesday (because they are closed today, Monday) will be our third time going in because each time we go we are missing documents or have the wrong paperwork.

The last sticking point is confirming his address. I said to the woman that he is 15 years old and does not get any mail. She didn’t seem fazed by that. “Aren’t college’s sending stuff?” she says. Why would a college, to me at least, waste time and money recruiting a freshman in high school? “Does he have a bank account?” “No” I say in desperation. I don’t say this out loud but the boy can’t hardly manage allowance and gift cards are spent as soon as possible. So now we have to bring in two pieces of mail from our home sent to either adult and then they need our birth certificate. I feel a little panicked at this. Not only do I put my life on the line while he practices driving (he backed over a curb yesterday) but now my birth certificate? I’m in too far and want out.

So pray for round three (I think I have it all together now. The passive aggressive side of me wants to get one of those transport dolly’s and roll in with my file cabinet from home! That way all the files we have would be right there ready for whatever it is I don’t have). It is frustrating but we have to do it, no choice.

That speaks to our life doesn’t it? Lots of things happen in life we do not like, we do not agree with, or frustrate the heck  out of us but we still have to carry on. I call it “for the good of the order” we have to do it. It happens in health care just as much as anywhere else. Despite whatever goes in the hallways or in our personal lives the patients still need us. Frustration exists just like the spring cleaning I’ve begun that quickly frustrated me with all the clutter I have. Just like my car headlights “winking” at me this morning. Tonight I’ll  have to go to the auto parts store, figure out the bulb, and then probably go on YouTube to see how to change the bulb. I’m tired already.

As we end the Lenten season this week and turn toward Holy Week and Easter my frustration pales in comparison to getting beaten, whipped, nailed to a Cross. I remember what Jesus did for me and for you so that we may be made free! “Cheer up,” says the Lord, “I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33). I remember Easter and the resurrection and the hope that we have in Christ. And now feel like I can take on a light bulb, the clutter, and getting a learner’s permit. And if things are frustrating you within your Secretariat get to work in a positive way and you will feel better! With God all things are possible!

Pastor Doug Givan

Staff Chaplain

Clay, Brazil

Seton, Indy

dgivan@stvincent.org

“Forgiveness is the only way to permanently change the world.”  -Desmund Tutu

“Back in the Day”

“Back in the day” I sold homes for a construction company. I was the sales representative, or new home consultant as we were called, placed in the model home. I helped families as they came in to build their new home in the community. I worked in several different geographical areas of Indianapolis, and what was consistent among families was the importance of the back yard. Everyone wanted privacy and/or to look at a lake, wooded area, tall fences, large decks or patios. As they selected a home-site to build on, it was all about the back yard and privacy. What happened to the front yard? Even more so today we just don’t know our neighbors. What happened? Why do we hide? (I realize the world we live in and the need for safety and caution). My then manager said it was because of the automatic garage door opener! We could now pull into the garage, and shut the door behind us. No longer do we come out and talk to each other like it was when I was growing up.

Fast forward to church last Sunday morning and a woman was requesting prayers for a good friend who had hip surgery. As she went on to talk about this friend she said “we’ve been neighbors since 1969, we know everything about each other!” Wow, I thought, that’s 46 years give or take, that is just remarkable. With the mobile world we live in today having a neighbor that long just doesn’t happen.

So we have our Biblical mandate to “love our neighbors.” It is called the Great Commandment because Jesus commands us to do it. “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30). Jesus doesn’t mean just the ones who might live next door. It is anyone we come into contact with, work with, live near, go to school with and so on. We are really to love each other even when it’s hard to do! (Cue Mr. Rogers to sing his song “Won’t you be my neighbor?”).

How would this play out in our lives if we loved our physical neighbor or someone in your office, school, or church? How about neighboring Secretariats? Is there a movement trying to organize near you? Let’s go! Time is short and the good news of the Good News is even if we fail or forget we get to come back to Grace and try again. God gives all of us free “do overs” so that we can try, try again to love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves. And I think tonight I’ll take some cookies or something over to the elderly lady next door to our home!

GLYASDI

Pr. Doug Givan
NLS/SD

P.S. Honored to announce I was approved this morning for Board Certification by the Association of Professional Chaplains! I now are one!!!  Thanks be to God.

Rest and Renewal

I spent the weekend at a Catholic retreat center in Indianapolis to be part of a program that had “Rest and Renewal” in the title! It was good to get away and be still before God. During the program we looked at some Bible passages and how they can apply to our lives. It was like a mini Via de Cristo with small group sharing, fellowship, and talks on the Christian life. During Saturday’s free time it was nice outside and great to walk the grounds. It’s a good idea, I think, to have scheduled time away to renew and rest.

Since this was a Catholic event and retreat house they held Mass once each day. Non Catholics are invited and welcomed, I just could not have Communion with them. Much of the Mass is familiar, however, because of the “liturgy” used in our Lutheran form of worship. Defined as “the work of the people” liturgy is the order to a given worship service. I like a little order in my life, but unfortunately that doesn’t always happen! It is exactly when “disorder comes” we need to get away and renew ourselves. That can happen in a multitude of ways even just stopping for a breath, saying quiet prayers, reading a good book, talking out some problem within a reunion group, or calling a brother or sister we served with. All of us in the VDC are lucky and blessed to have one another. Our common experience is not exclusive, but rather we are “inclusive!” And don’t forget our Pilgrims Guide is designed to be a daily devotional book to renew the soul. The songs can be sung or read, there are Bible passages and liturgy and prayers all packed into that little book we often tuck away after our weekend.

At the retreat, the Priest and the others in attendance made me feel welcomed and included, it was hard to “feel” that included since I am not Catholic. Denominations aside, we can rejoice today because we have a God who includes us all! It doesn’t matter where we have come from, what our religious background is or isn’t, the color of our skin, the amount of hair on our head, or our past sins, present sins nor future sins. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God…” (Romans 8:31-39). This is Good News for those of us who sometimes feel left out or lost and alone. God includes us, God welcomes us, God loves us and God is forever filling our empty places with rest and renewal that only God can provide! Isn’t that why we made our weekend in the first place? Want to feel the magic of your weekend all over again on a grand level? Check out the website and come to the national meeting in July. You won’t be sorry you took time out for “rest and renewal!” Visit www.viadecristo.org!

We just changed our clocks and the weather should be better this week here in Indiana. We are rushing toward Spring. As God renews the earth for this season, may God also renew your heart and life as well!  Happy Almost Spring…rest in the love and grace of Jesus!

 

Peace,

Pastor Doug Givan

Staff Chaplain

Clay, Brazil

Seton, Indy

dgivan@stvincent.org

“A kind word warms three winter months” Japanese proverb

Plan B

Last Sunday the weather was really bad and we got a great deal of snow.  I was scheduled to substitute as a pastor for a small church about an hour away. As I prepared to get ready I received a text from the church that they were cancelling due to the weather. I was relieved not to have to deal with the snow and driving! So I went from my “church clothes” to sweats and adjusted from Plan A to Plan B! Nothing on the schedule, ease and comfort ahead (except for shoveling!) and relaxation! I like that open time frame in a day when nothing is scheduled. I love the freedom to go and do and be without regard to an appointment or heavy schedule. It makes me wonder why I load up that schedule or overbook myself sometimes.

Are you that way? Is Plan A to be busy all the time, and if you are not busy do you wonder what you should be doing? Yesterday I looked at my house, my to-do list, the many books I wanted to read and laundry that needed done. So, I found a movie on TV that I had recorded and decided the list could wait. Plan B full steam ahead! I think that’s a good example of self-care and we all need more of that. I’ve met many people that give me that glossed-over look when I mention taking care of yourself. You are the only self you are going to have and I pray you in the busy-ness of life will put self-care high up on the list. Please do, you are worth it, you are special, you are loved, and you and I have Divine Favor upon us. We are forgiven, free, and we can follow Ps. 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God”.

What about when Plan B describes our lives? Marriages fail, wayward children or grandchildren, more month that money. We have our expectations and know that Plan A is the right one and the right way to do something. I know that lifetime Plan A’s don’t always work. Around the hospital environment we see health issues all the time and people who are sick living into Plan “B”. Could we say that life is a constant adjustment to life itself? What about Plan “C” or even Plan “Z”?

Sometimes we feel there is no option, no Plan A and feel adrift and alone. Then we remember, God is with us and everything is OK and we can take care of ourselves. It’s OK. We are OK. God is enough in Jesus for any and every plan. Amen.

Pastor Doug Givan

Chaplain

St. Vincent Clay (Brazil)

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (Indianapolis)

It is such a comfort to drop the tangles of life into God’s hands and leave them there.”  

-L.B. Cowman

Cell Phones :(

Good morning Friends!

I’ve decided I don’t like cell phones anymore! Saturday I upgraded from my beloved flip phone to a phone of immense proportions and swiping capability. Now trying to get used to the 100’s of things this phone can do, I’ve forgotten all I want to do is talk on it and text. But the little guy at the cell phone store was so good with the phone and made it look easy to operate! He pushed and swiped rapidly showing me all the technology not realizing my eyes had fogged over and I was no longer cognizant.

There is even a lady’s voice on there who will answer commands…..so he pulled up where we were located somehow and asked her for the closest grocery store. He was running a test to show me, but I can’t find her or the voice. I’ve lost more apps due to fat finger touch and swiping than I will ever download. I know I’m complaining, and yet I have to remember the guy said for me to give it a couple weeks to get used to it. And as soon as I figure out how to make a call I’m going to call him for more help! (I am well aware that many of you are technologically savvy and can’t believe anyone would have this much trouble!). Saturday night when I got an incoming call I learned that you can’t just touch the green arrow to accept the call, you have to swipe in the direction of the arrows…….

The hardest part of the Great Transition going from one phone to the other was watching the cell phone guy work. He took my flip phone and was able to change it from “breeze mode” to “advanced mode.” And all of a sudden my old phone changed and all kinds of new options were available including finding the dreaded “outbox”. Over the last year or so occasional text messages could not be sent and the phone told me they were moved to the outbox. I couldn’t find the outbox in the older “mode” and when it came up Saturday there were 151 messages! Sigh….I give up……I remember the days of getting up from your chair and going to the phone when it rang. Even though I like having a phone in the car when I travel, I sort of prefer simpler times.

Faith is like that. It’s simple. Just believe. We are the ones who make it so complicated perhaps because there are so many spiritual “apps” than can be downloaded. According to the Christian calendar we are in the season of Lent. It’s a simple time, to remember the sin of our lives. We are to feel sorry about that sin and seek God’s forgiveness and grace in Christ. Then we go forward toward the Easter resurrection remembering again that Jesus died for that sin, and rose again defeating death. No upgrade needed. No cell towers or tutorials really. Just simple, real life faith. It makes all the difference in a world of constant change!

Pastor Doug Givan

Chaplain

St. Vincent Clay (Brazil)

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (Indianapolis)

“Live for something….write your name in kindness, love, and mercy on the hearts of thousands you come in contact with….you will never be forgotten.”  Thomas Chalmers

 

Ash Wednesday/Lent

Greetings my brothers and sisters in Christ:

I can’t think of anything more scary than waking up in the middle of the night cold. I had that terrible feeling something was wrong and I was right. The pilot had gone out on my furnace Sunday at 3 a.m. I find out later in the day through a repair person the ignitor switch had gone out and had to be replaced.

I like to have my own climate control! I don’t like the extremes when it’s too hot, or too cold! I suppose I should live in San Diego where it’s 60 to 70 degrees year round. Then I would miss the change of seasons and probably complain there isn’t enough weather variety! Speaking of variety, how about the weather? I know not everyone reading this is affected necessarily but we are all reading about Boston and the New England area. We hold all of them in our prayers for the exhaustion that kind of weather brings and it’s repeating over and over again! We don’t know what’s next with the weather but we can hold out hope Spring is just a month or so away!

I love the church seasons. The church calendar begins with Advent (the 4 weeks before Christmas) and beginning this week, Ash Wednesday, we begin Lent. The tradition is an ashen shaped cross is placed on our foreheads to remind us of our sin as we enter the 40 day period before Easter. This is a time when we reflect on sin, death, and our sorrow over our sin eventually reaching the Easter story of Jesus defeating death and rising again!

The tradition has been to give up something for the season of Lent. I’d like to suggest we prayerfully consider taking on something! Why not take on added time in prayer, or Bible study? Worship at mid-week services and if your church doesn’t have them find one! Why not take on giving of our time or money to the cause of our choice?  Slow down and take some serious time to be serious about your faith. Do not hang onto the guilt; however, remember the cross. Remember “we are dust and to dust we shall return” as we look to the empty tomb. It’s easy to try and give up chocolate or soft drinks, but maybe more of a challenge to actively engage our piety, study and action! In any case, know of God’s love for you in this and every season and a blessed Lent to all!

Pastor Doug Givan

Chaplain
St. Vincent Hospital Clay
St. Vincent Seton Hospital, Indianapolis

Anxiety is My Friend

Anxiety is my friend. That may sound kind of weird, but I have lived with anxiety all my life. I stopped fighting it a long time ago and now just accept it as part of my personality. I realize the anxiety is there, I “talk” to it, tell him everything is okay and it drops to almost nothing. One way anxiety manifests itself in me in my life is to sometimes “speak before I think.”  I am also a raging extrovert and sometimes those two together cause comments or flippant statements to come out and sometimes at the wrong time.

I have to say, however, I am miles and miles beyond where I used to be. I have learned the art of quietude and I can listen very well and the anxiety and extroversion go away. I think that is what helps me do well in the patient room and in private moments of counseling or assistance. It is my growth in God, my love for the Lord that relaxes my anxiety and gives peace to my soul. I hear the words of our Lord in Matthew 6:24,“Don’t be anxious about tomorrow….look how God takes care of the flowers and the birds of the air, and aren’t you much more value than they?”  (My interpretation of the words of the text). Anxiety is living out of tomorrow I think. Or it’s living out of the next moment and we lose the present moment.

I think guilt and shame from the past coupled with anxiety about what is next cause us to miss out on what God has for us in the moment. Isn’t that what we do on a weekend? We slow people down. We take out 3 whole days of our life to bask in the glow of Christ. Is there anything better? Why aren’t all our weekends full to the max in both team members and candidates/pilgrims? Everyone, deep down, wants and needs this very thing. Once the weekend starts, we want to be sure that our actions, words and deeds don’t create more  anxiety on the person. Through prayer, fellowship and conversation we work to alleviate that anxiety on Thursday night or Friday morning.

One way to look at it comes from an NFL player. I don’t have the exact quote but I read that the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks NFL team isn’t worried about that last play of the Super Bowl. He talks about living in the present, taking each moment as it comes. That’s a goal for all of us I imagine, live more in the moment. Give up trying to control; we really don’t have any.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Pr. Doug

NLS Spiritual Director

Pastor Doug Givan

Chaplain

St. Vincent Clay (Brazil)

St. Vincent Seton Specialty (Indianapolis)

Are you a morning person?

Good Morning Friends:

Are you a morning person? I’m told there are two kinds of people: those who wake up and say “Good God, it’s morning..” and those who wake up and say “Good, God, it’s morning”. Two perspectives I think and a comma makes all the difference. I’m a morning person as I age I’m finding the evenings getting “shorter” at least as far as energy is concerned!

In driving my high school son to school this morning he reminded me he is not a morning person and my jokes, quips, comments, and quoting lines from our favorite TV show wasn’t helpful. He just wants quiet and that’s ok. I understand we all have our best parts of the day. These are the times when we get the most done, are the most alert and awake, and have the energy for what is ahead. And, likewise, I’m sure we all have those times in the day when we do not have the energy, we are not alert and don’t get much done.

For ultimate success, say those who know, is to put the most important tasks in place to be at our best times of day. In healthcare I am aware that often it doesn’t seem to matter when our peak time of day is, everything is urgent. Patient care can’t wait until you “feel like it” or reach your best time of day! And in our beloved Via de Cristo is there ever a “best time” to be on team? I’m sure all of us have agreed to serve only regretting the decision as team meetings and the weekend itself approach. This is where the evil one takes great pride in bringing us down, changing minds, stressing out the schedule, etc. God’s time is never our time, but we just know “God is good, all the time…”

Of course, the spiritual life is similar. Tired in the evening? Try having morning prayer time while you drive. Really hard to read your Bible? Be flexible, read a verse on your phone, take your Bible with you. A friend of mine does his Bible reading in his truck at lunch time. The factory where he words doesn’t allow him to bring the Bible inside! Study, piety and action need some work? Please “grace” yourself and do not “grade” yourself. God always starts today. That’s why we give thanks for yesterday’s forgiveness in Christ and the promise of God in our tomorrow’s so we need not be anxious. We can always begin again. And through it all our God is always there, anytime day or night, and knowing that can make all the times of the day our best times. We are not alone, God is with us!

“The steadfast love of the Lord never stops, His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is God’s faithfulness”

Lamentations 3:22-23

 Amen!  Have a blessed week…..is the end of July a good time to travel? Why not? Make arrangements right now and lock in on our National Gathering in Moline, Illinois! Check out www.viadecristo.org for more information. God loves you and so do I,

Pr. Doug

Pastor Doug Givan

Staff Chaplain

Clay, Brazil

Seton, Indy

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

Chaplain