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Christmas Wrap 2012


Dear LifeSharers,                                                     January 2013 

            The new year has started off with a rush of activity for us. Though only two weeks into 2013, we have already created a new “When Swing Was King” edition (that makes 20 different programs, I think) and presented it at several nursing homes and senior living facilities. We have also taken shifts of prayer and sidewalk counseling in front of the abortion mill, blogged, compiled material for a booth at the Walk for Life in Lincoln on January 19th, preached sermons at Faith Bible Church, participated in a meeting with state legislators at the governor’s mansion in Lincoln, and prepared our house for Claire Nicole, Claire’s niece from Lincoln who is now living with us during the months she is doing her student teaching at a high school here in Omaha. 

            But I must say, however, that as busy as 2013 has already been, there remains an afterglow of Christmas around here. Yes, the decorations and lights are now down, the Christmas wall art has been replaced with the regular items, and the music playing through the house has changed from carols to classic rock, but Christmas memories still linger pretty strong. This month’s letter, being a quick wrap-up of some of our December activities, will show you why.

            * We improved our sound system just in time for the Christmas schedule of "When Swing Was King." We also changed two of the songs and almost a third of the photos.  We hadn’t thought we could have improved the program much…but we did. And though the snowstorm cancelled one of our presentations, we still managed showings in 12 different facilities in December. The response was terrific. And because our Christmas WSWK includes sacred carols and pictures as well as the more secular, it is a natural opportunity for a more overt Christian message as part of the program commentary. One of the nursing home residents in our audience (a lady who has been at previous programs but who only recently had received new hearing aids) told us through tears, “Oh, may the Lord bless you two. That was the best Christmas program I’ve ever been to!” 

            * As is our tradition, we hosted several dinner parties in December and in the 12 Days of Christmas proper. These included dinners on Christmas Day and on Epiphany (January 6th). Some were kinda' formal, roast beef or ham being the featured entrée, but others were less so -- spaghetti, pizza, hamburger soup. The snowstorm and later a family's sickness forced us to reschedule two other dinner parties but we made those up last week. That made a grand total of 9 dinner parties and 46 guests. 

            * We also had a great time with the Aylward family at our annual Christmas Eve breakfast at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Lincoln. Afterward, we had a very warm visit with a 14-year old friend of the family who is battling some serious health problems. Prayers in his behalf are greatly appreciated.

            * Snowblowing.

            * We spent a very pleasant and spiritually stimulating morning at the home of former Nebraska Governor Kay Orr with Kay, her husband Bill, and her daughter, Suzanne. The conversation ranged from very serious stuff (the intersection of our Christian faith with culture, politics and art) to family, Christmas, music, history, their cat who loves to sit under the Christmas tree, and more. It was a wonderful time with a family for which we have great respect and affection. 

            * Of course, the need to protest the modern-day slaughter of the innocents knows no particular season. And so, even amid the festivity of the Christmas season, we took several times outside the Planned Parenthood abortion mill to pray, to offer alternatives to the clients, and to make sure there remains at least a remnant of the Church that publicly stands against the violent evil that is abortion. 

            * In addition to my Christmas-themed sermons and adult Sunday school classes for Faith Bible Church, I also gave a talk about the Bethlehem scene to about 55 kids and 15 parents at an event sponsored by the church's AWANA program.

            * Claire and I organized a neighborhood cookie exchange that turned out even better than we had hoped. Ten of our neighbors participated -- trading cookies, recipes and conversation in our home for an hour and a half. It was a significant event in our ongoing outreach to our neighborhood and one that everyone seemed to really enjoy and appreciate. Claire’s already making plans for a neighborhood picnic come summer! 

            * I took a few days off from blogging in December but still racked up over 60 posts for the month…plus a few others which went onto The Book Den. I also penned the LifeSharer letter and an essay, “The Passing of Christmas,” that accompanied it.  I was pleased that the essay drew quite a bit of attention. Other December writing projects included a short story and several letters to selected political leaders. Those letters, by the way, utilized some irony and “North Pole creativity” to underscore the priority of three political goals for 2013: 1) protecting the freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly; 2) protecting the integrity of democracy itself by securing a fair voting process; and 3) eliminating the millions of tax dollars that go annually to the mega-abortion corporation that is Planned Parenthood.

            * We sent out about 60 Christmas cards and letters.

            * Claire and I took part of a morning off for a leisurely drive down to Greenwood, Nebraska to buy a case of Baker's Meltaway Candies for Christmas presents to siblings and others.

            * Claire hosted her Christmas high tea for the Aylward girls here at our home. As always, it was a big success. The highlight? Having Carrie, newly-married into the Aylward family, as part of the festive event. And, oh yes, I’d better not forget the Strawberry Santas. They made their debut at the tea but these “interactive dessert” treats were such a hit, they ended up making encore appearances at a couple of our other Christmas dinner parties too.

            * Not all of our Christmas socializing occurred at our house. For instance, we had a terrific evening at Perly & Sandy Schoville’s home where they served up a delicious steak dinner, stimulating conversation, and loads of old family photos that we will be incorporating into “When Swing Was King.” Also, we had dinner at Chik-fil-A with the Coppis following their attendance at one of the Christmas “When Swing Was King” presentations near them; had an after-church lunch at Richie's with Chet and Mark and Allen; had lunch at Gerta's with the Nelsons; and had the regular Tuesday morning coffee conversations at Panera's with Dick & John. We also joined the Coppis and two of their grandkids at Joslyn Art Museum for lunch and a Christmas concert by the bell choir, girl's choir, and general choir from Central High School.

            * Related also to the above category, I guess, would be the early Sunday morning Christmas party Claire and I threw for the folks at our church.  We brought in 7 dozen donuts fresh from Baker's supermarket bakery and then gave a special showing of the Christmas edition of "When Swing Was King."

            * On the morning of Christmas Day One, we took plates of candy and Claire's cookies to the firehouse and police station which are just a few blocks away from us. Then we drove over to Life Care Center (the nursing home where my Mom lived and where “When Swing Was King” got started) to deliver treats to the two nurses' stations. We hung around for awhile visiting residents and staff but then headed home to prepare dinner for the 6 guests who spent the afternoon and early evening with us. 

             * The season did not provide us as many sedate moments as we would like, of course, but remember, our Christmas starts early and goes late. So we managed to carve out a surprising number of opportunities to relax, read, listen to music, watch Christmas movies, or just sit with a cup of tea by the fire, talking over our Christmas resolutions and making plans for the new year…plans like those we’re already engaged in now that mid-January is upon us. 

             Thus does Christmas enrich and comfort our lives. And thus does Christmas stimulate and encourage us to be virtuous vessels in our own incarnational ministries throughout the coming year. We pray that God’s glorious power be overflowing in our lives and yours in 2013 – and that His purposes will be humbly but courageously served by Vital Signs Ministries. We are also grateful for your prayers too and for your example, your generous support, and your ongoing friendship. 

             Until next month’s letter OR your next visit to the web page or Vital Signs Blog OR your next note or phone call OR the next time we see you sidewalk counseling or at a “When Swing Was King” performance, may His most profound blessings be yours.