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To Branson and Back

Dear friends of Vital Signs,                                                             November 2015


            Since sending out last month’s letter, Claire and I enjoyed a wonderful two weeks of working vacation down in Branson, Missouri.  That has become a tradition for us in recent years – a time to do some planning and creative work in a stimulating setting, visit with family and friends, relish the brilliant colors of autumn in the Ozarks, have some travel adventures, and do a bit of resting.  Oh yes, we also celebrate our anniversary there too.  This time round was our 44th.

            We were really welcoming the break. The two weeks preceding Branson were as fast-paced and packed of any this year. For instance, in those two weeks, I wrote, timed and recorded a month’s work of radio programs for broadcast on KLCV, 88.5 FM. Those commentaries air every weekday morning at 7:58 or so, in between the programs of Chuck Swindoll and Adrian Rogers.  We had also hosted a discussion in our home over Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto and extended our ongoing discussion (in person and through cyberspace) of Randy Alcorn’s Heaven. And, the night before we headed south, our longstanding literary group, the Notting Hill Napoleons, met for a discussion of James Hilton’s Knight Without Armor.

            I gave a talk before the Omaha Genealogical Society three days before leaving for Branson. It was titled, “Piety on the Plains: Stories of the Religious History of Omaha.”  It’s an anecdotal history – interesting, humorous, at times inspiring, and I’m pleased to say it went over big with the audience. By the way, “Piety on the Plains” makes a great option for a Sunday School class, special social gathering, civics organization, or community outreach.  Why not consider it for the coming year?

            Also before we left for Branson, Claire and I gave an informal talk at a coffee klatch of residents at Immanuel Courtyard.  We gave a history of Vital Signs Ministries, told the stories of how we met and fell in love, explained how we came to know Christ as our Savior, and more.  It was a terrific time.  And, of course, in those two weeks, we finished the regular schedule of “When Swing Was King” and were on post at our appointed times at the Planned Parenthood abortion mill, the dastardly business still being the site of nasty pro-abortion demonstrators from the Omaha Atheists Club.         

            I shouldn’t fail to mention that our pre-Branson time involved Claire doing a lot of cleaning and packing. She was also doing some promotion of my new novel, The Christmas Room.  So, we were pretty ready to go…with a minimum of “leftover” projects to take down to Branson with us to finish there.

            Our two weeks in the Ozarks were really nice.  We worked on a few projects, spent good times of prayer, had a few adventures, and enjoyed a lot of conversations. Some of those conversations were with locals but there were also a lot with folks who, like us, were only visiting the area.  That latter group included Keith & Carol Moran, Allen & Cindy Nelson, my sister Sherry and members of her family. 

            Among the vacation highlights?  A couple of visits to my Aunt Farris up in Crane, Missouri…An excursion through a misty Halloween afternoon to find and photograph the “remains” of the unincorporated town of Garrison, founded by Linda Wilson’s great grandfather…A beautiful 6 ½ mile walk through Dogwood Canyon…Several visits to College of the Ozarks including an early morning farmers market, a Sunday morning church service at Williams Chapel, some time with the Fruitcake and Jelly Crew, a terrific student play (Railway to Heaven), and a couple of lunches at the Keeter Center.  We also read a bit, listened to an audio recording of Max Lucado’s The Christmas Candle, and did a bit of shopping at Belk’s, the Dove Oil Company, a used bookstore, and a quilt shop in old downtown.

            What else? Well, we fed ducks and geese on the river, played chess and miniature golf, attended services in Aurora at the church where my cousin David is pastor, watched some college football and World Series games, and spent a lot of time in prayer walks. The most memorable of those were a hike on a difficult trail that Claire and I took to the river, another involving more than 300 stone steps down the mountain to a cave, and a scenic course along Table Rock Lake.  I figured I wouldn’t be able to keep my regular regimen going during the vacation, but I did even better. I was able to fit in 9 days out of the 13 we were gone. Some of the times out were 1 ½ hour trips (about 5 ½ miles) but I usually got in 2 hour walks (7 miles) and on trails with a lot more up and down than my course at home. Thank You, Lord. 

            But vacation is over now and we’re already back at it in earnest.  In fact, we’ve already sent in new radio programs, been busy on the blog, and have presented 5 “When Swing Was King” shows with another 6 left this month. Busy? Sure. But that’s hardly comparable to December’s “When Swing Was King” schedule when we will be doing 17 programs! 12 of those will be at our regular senior facilities. (Yes, I said 12. It looks like we will be adding one more to our monthly rota.) The other 5 shows will be, respectively, for an extra senior facility in Blair and 4 church groups.  And that leads me to ask, have you ever wanted to see what all the excitement is about with a “When Swing Was King” Christmas?  Then attendance at one of these events is certainly in order. Our regular schedule is always on the Vital Signs Ministries website and we’d love to have you come along to any of those. But you might also consider one of the shows we’re giving to church groups: Immanuel Fellowship Christmas Party (December 4 at 6:00 PM), Community Bible Church Seniors luncheon (December 6 at 12:30 PM), Harvey Oaks Baptist Church Senior Dinner (December 7), and Christ Community Senior Group luncheon (December 15). Of course, you would need to call the church and get the information about attending. 

            December will also feature a very special Christmas card party we’re hosting on Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00 P.M.  The recipients of the cards we write that evening will be specific Christians who are enduring persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ. We will be utilizing the wonderful device on the Voice of the Martyrs website which allows you to send messages in the prisoner’s own language!  Sound like something you (and perhaps your family) would like to make a part of your holiday season?  Then please let us know.  We would love to have to move the party to a larger venue.

            What else is coming up?  There are the usual times of prayer and pro-life witness at the Planned Parenthood abortion mill and the normal duties of Vital Signs Blog and Facebook.  I also have radio work and writing projects. Claire will face an enormous amount of work with year-end financial reports and other matters. And then there’s the large job which comes every year at this time; namely, writing and sending 150-180 Christmas cards.  This year we will also be sending quite a few autographed copies of The Christmas Room. And speaking of that, I’ve been asked to have a book signing at Divine Truth bookstore (6905 S. 84th) on December 12th from noon until 2. I’d love to have you stop by.

            Finally, the upcoming agenda involves a few medical tests and checkups, the traditional weekend in Nebraska City with our book club, an appearance at another local book club where I’ve been asked to talk about The Christmas Room, and the regular slate of Christmas parties here at our house which takes us through December, all 12 Days of Christmas, and Epiphany.

            Please continue to pray for us as the Lord brings us to mind.  Our needs of spiritual wisdom, physical stamina, financial provision, and encouragement continue to grow. So your help is more greatly needed than ever.  Thanks so much.

            And happy Thanksgiving!          



P.S. Regarding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, please know that there will be a lot of posts covering these themes which will be posted on Vital Signs Blog.  Please check them out.  Also, for the December LifeSharer letter, I will be sending out something a little different. It’s a Christmas story I hope you will find of value.