Friday, June 15, 2012

Vital Signs: Reviewing the Quarter

The rains hit hard here in northwest Omaha last night and the lightning and thunder certainly did their thing too. But before they fell in all their fury, the Governing Board members of Vital Signs Ministries were snugly seated around our dining room table eating pizza and getting ready for our quarterly meeting. Don Kohls wasn't there last night but Quint Coppi, John Malek, Karla Struble, Matt Troutman, Keith Moran, Chet Thomas, and Mary Roberts were. And Claire and I too.

We started off our meeting with a pretty grim financial report. I'm afraid that if Vital Signs cannot secure new LifeSharers sometime soon (LifeSharers being pro-life friends who can provide some financial support), our 30 years of full-time ministry might just be heading towards its sunset. It is somewhat ironic that we're experiencing such a financial crunch at the same time that we are busier and more effective than ever. However, we're not disheartened by our predicament. We are extremely grateful for past blessings, present blessings and, because we are committed to staying the course as long as we can, we're looking forward to future blessings too.

After the discussion of finances was over, we started in on the review of our activities over the last 3 months. And even though that entire period was marked by Claire's illness, numerous doctor visits and tests, eventually surgery to remove her gall bladder, and now the first couple of weeks of recovery, we were delighted to report on a lot of good work accomplished.

For instance, in addition to the ongoing prayers and sidewalk counseling at the abortion mill, we were able to report another high quarter for Vital Signs Blog. Our page loads just keep moving on up. We also have expanded and improved the VSM website and added a lot of new articles to our Russian-language website. Also, the "3 for 5" prayer program that we created as a way to solidify and increase opposition to Planned Parenthood has won over a lot more in this past quarter.

Since our last Board meeting I had preached every Sunday at Faith Bible Church (except for two services where I preached at Tabernacle Baptist Church in George, Iowa) and also presented talks to a group of medical students at UNMC and a men's group at Evangelical Bible Church. There's also been a gang of personal correspondence, phone conversations, networking and a letter-writing evening which produced 78 letters to politicians, business leaders and missionaries. We also interacted with a pro-life group on the West Coast who wanted permission to perform some of the pro-life plays that are on our website.

We also reported, of course, on the ongoing success of our newest nursing home and assisted living outreach, "When Swing Was King." In the last quarter I had created 3 new programs, making it a total of 16 different volumes we have available, each with 13 songs and around 200 photos. We present the program in 11 (sometimes 12) facilities. We have also been able to extend our personal visitation, spiritual care, and just doing things like filling bird feeders at one of our regular nursing homes. And even with Claire's physical anguish of the last few months, we only had to cancel 1 gig.

So, it's been a productive quarter and reviewing all the activity was a great encouragement for those sitting at the table. Helping too was that we had moved on from the pizza to coffee, tea and Claire's cookies.

Before adjournment we had some discussion about the new sidewalk counseling signs designed for us by Pat Osborne, a preview of upcoming engagements and projects for the summer, and then some catching up on things about each other's work, ministries and families. It was a good meeting.

But, by the time everyone left (thankfully, the rain had stopped), Claire and I realized that we were absolutely beat.  We sat back in our chairs too tired to even get up and clean the dishes. We thought at first that it must be relief from the stress of getting everything ready (especially the detailed financial reports) but then we realized it was probably simple fatigue from everything else we had thrown into the day besides the Board meeting; i.e., the housecleaning, changing the paintings on the wall, mowing the lawn and applying the next soil treatment, blogging, getting cleaned up and heading out for a "When Swing Was King" gig (only to discover there was a mix-up in schedules), finishing a painting project, planting some new flowers out front, and figuring out our travel plans for a quick 2-day trip we have to make to Colorado. You think that stuff might have played a part in our fatigue? Yeah, me too.

Anyway, it's now on to doing our jobs so that the next Board meeting will be as upbeat and full as last night's. In fact, we hope it will be even more so, given that Claire is almost back up to speed. We certainly would appreciate your prayers to that end.