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A Busy Start to Summer

Dear pro-life friends,                                                                            June/July 2013

            June was a month that was not only packed to overflowing for us, it was also full of tests and no small amount of sorrow.  We were already reeling with difficult news -- the son of one of our board members had died suddenly, another board member was diagnosed with a serious disease, and a tremendous Christian gentleman, Bill Orr, had passed away after a long illness. There was also a host of new catastrophes forced upon the American people by Washington politicians and judges. And then…we got the phone call about Chet Thomas.  Chet, a dear friend who has been such an integral part of our lives for over 25 years (the Vital Signs Board, our church, our literary club, and on and on) had suffered a severe heart attack.

            I immediately left for the hospital and made it in time to talk with Chet and pray with him.  He was calm and spiritually strong but his heart was in bad condition. It only got worse and, 11 days after the initial heart attack, Chet passed from this life into the presence of Jesus Christ.  Chet is, of course, most sorely missed but we Christians need not grieve, as do those who have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)  Chet had finished the race.  He had fought a very good fight.  And, because he had long ago trusted in the finished work of salvation which Jesus performed by His substitutionary death, Chet is now more alive, more joyous, and more pure in heart than mortals can dream. 

            Dealing with this, as you can guess, took up a great deal of June.  There were visits to the hospital, visits with Chet’s family (some who had come in from California and Massachusetts), the writing of an obituary and the funeral sermon, conducting the funeral service, and hosting gatherings with friends in which we shared in the triumph and joy of Chet’s homecoming. In these practical ministries to family and friends, we knew Chet would have been pleased. (For those interested, the reflection on Chet’s passing and even the text of the funeral sermon can be found on the Vital Signs website.)

            But June (plus these first couple of weeks of July) has had plenty more for us to handle. There were the regular sessions of prayer and sidewalk counseling outside the Planned Parenthood abortion mill. There were extensive preparations for our quarterly Board meeting. There was our participation in a special outreach to seniors (and others) organized by a church in Ashland. And there was an interview with a San Antonio TV station. (The reporter wanted to talk about state laws limiting late-term abortion.) 

            There were the always-challenging duties of maintaining Vital Signs Blog, The Book Den, and our Russian-language website.  There was the usual correspondence concerning issues of life, faith, and freedom that we engage in with politicians, business CEO’s, and other opinion leaders. And there were all the VSM business tasks which Claire so diligently completes every week. Throw in too the weekly sermon preparation for the little inner-city church where I am the perennial guest speaker. (Last Sunday, however, I took a break from preaching at Faith Bible Church in order to go to Herman Community Church where I preached and gave the congregation a personal report on Vital Signs Ministries.  Herman Community Church is one of the very few churches that support Vital Signs financially and so we wanted to honor them and express our appreciation.)

            We even managed to complete the full June schedule of “When Swing Was King” performances. That meant taking this unique outreach to the 13 different senior living facilities that we hit every month. In addition, when I finished the volume for this month (July), it represented the final step in completing the entire “When Swing Was King” catalog! We now have 2 whole years worth of monthly volumes. And with each volume having 12 or 13 swing era songs AND with each volume having hundreds of photographs for the Power Point visual program, you’ve got an awful lot of swing, baby! Along the way, we even completed a massive computer spreadsheet that arranges all 24 “WSWK” presentations according to volume number, song title, orchestra and vocalist and, when applicable, photo theme. Whew!

           I may need to occasionally tweak the programs as we go through the years, but this spreadsheet will make that task so much faster and easier. It will also help us in organization and promotion. However, what really blesses us right now is the realization that the long, long hours of choosing music, editing the songs, finding and editing the photos, creating the Power Point presentations, and doing research for the commentary are pretty much behind us now. I still can hardly believe it.

            So, could June and early July have been any busier? Well, yes. For instance, we had a new roof and new gutters put on our house.  And that process wasn’t without its problems; i.e., a dangerously shoddy job of stacking the shingles (the delivery company was at fault, not the roofing company) resulted in two piles sliding off the roof and punching a hole in our deck!  We’ve also had problems with our cars (both of them) but with Jeff Bledsoe of Christian Car Care and VSM Board member Don Kohls on our speed dial, we’re making out okay.  And finally, there is our lawn and our garden borders. A lot of sweat equity has gone into couple of front yard projects but we’re delighted with the results.

            Okay, what else did I want to mention in this catch-up, two-month letter?  Oh yes, I wanted to encourage you to check in now and again with Vital Signs Blog and The Book Den to keep abreast of news and commentary from the culture wars, sample letters to the powers that be, sometimes even sermon excerpts. In fact, might I suggest you sign up to receive an e-mail update every weekend which contains links to the Top Ten posts from the previous week’s Vital Signs Blog. 

            And that’s it. I hope, even with my skipping a month with the LifeSharer letter, that you now feel sufficiently caught up. As always, Claire and the VSM Board members (Quint, John, Karla, Matt, Keith, Don, and Mary) join me in thanking you for all your help as we hold high His banner in these tumultuous, tawdry and tragic days. Thank you for each prayer, each word of encouragement, and each financial contribution to Vital Signs Ministries. May our Lord richly bless you all.