8½ % Inflation ? ? ? – 1 minute read

Gas PricesThe highest inflation since 1981!” the broadcaster reported. Kit and I looked at each other. Newly home from Africa, we had married in 1981. Our first home came with a budget-choking 14% interest rate as the Federal Reserve fought inflation. We managed by driving used clunkers, no meals out, and rabbit ears for a thirteen-inch TV. For our one-year anniversary and 1st vacation, we scraped together $100 in cash, drove to Charleston, and stayed until the money ran out.

Today those with low locked-in interest rates need not be so draconian. Kit and I plan to manage simply by using 8½ % less of everything starting with food. We could benefit from eating less anyway. Gasoline? Oops. We’ll need to use 37% less gas. We only heat and cool our home when we have company. No chance of saving there. Our minimal service Internet and cable costs nearly 10% of our income. I doubt the cable company will give us a break. Unlikely with house and car insurance as well. Property taxes here are nearly triple what we paid in Arkansas. No 8½ % short-payment of taxes allowed. Maybe managing won’t be so easy after all.

“Social Security is indexed to inflation,” Kit and I assured ourselves. But the increased cost of Medicare deducted from Social Security took virtually all of this year’s inflation adjustment. Still we’re grateful to be healthy, energetic, and not in Ukraine. Our divided country is unlikely to take the difficult steps necessary to deal with inflation. Hunker down folks. We’re planting potatoes.

Drew Coons

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I got it from my father by Kit – 1½ minute read

Kit and Baby

I recently returned from a trip to meet my great niece. What a delight! She turned six months old while I visited. She is so cute. As every family does, we tried to figure out who she looks like. Mommy, Daddy, perhaps a Great Aunt? In this case, Kinsley looks very much like her daddy. Okay, one for Daddy. Well then, how about those little fingers and toes? Mommy or Daddy? And her giggle that makes us smile from ear to ear. Which reminds me, whose ears does she have?

Of course as she gets older, Kinsley will reflect her mother and father in more important ways. She might discover an athletic talent, musical talent or love of science. I remember recognizing in myself, traits from my mother and father. My easy going personality is much like my father and I love to decorate my home like my mother. Whether nurture or nature every parent delights in seeing themselves reflected in their child. The joy of family.

This week I had the opportunity to go the extra mile for a friend. Afterwards, my thought was, “I got that from my father.” But in this case, I didn’t think of my earthly father. Rather I thought about my heavenly Father. Whenever I choose to be unselfish, give without expecting anything in return, or forgive quickly and completely I can honesty say, “I got that from my Father.”

As God’s child, I have the opportunity to reflect Him in the way I live my life. My hope is that His heart delights when He sees Himself reflected in me.

Proverbs 27:19 “As the water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart.” (NIV)

Kit

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Our Broken Hearts

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Most of the men in this photo (intentionally blurred) are today fighting and dying to defend freedom and protect their families. If they can’t escape Ukraine, the women you see are likely to be brutally raped. You don’t believe me? Read the history of the Russian suppression of liberty in Hungary.

The happy occasion pictured with Kit and Drew in the center was a training to equip Ukrainian couples to have godly marriages and help others do likewise. Ukraine has a mostly Christian population and friendly people. Look at the Ukrainian faces on TV. Ukrainians are no different than the sons, daughters, and grandchildren of most who read this. They long for liberty, justice, and peace.

The tragedy in Ukraine is due to satanic evil. Jesus called Satan the “father of lies.” Does “liar” not describe Putin? Opposing this evil won’t be easy. Please join us in willingness to sacrifice by enduring such as rising gas prices, shortage of goods, and higher taxes to oppose this evil.

Sadly, many in the US have given tacit support to Putin and his lies. After the invasion began, one renowned Putin admirer and politician called him a “genius” and a “peacemaker.” Putin is also trying to weaken America by planting outrageous lies that play on terrible instincts. Lies that make those with different opinions, values, or skin color the enemy.

As grieved as we feel over the Ukrainian horror, our hearts are broken because some  Christians are enablers of lie spreaders and Putin admirers. We do not believe American democracy can survive unless we stop demonizing fellow Americans and face the real enemy, Satan. Please let the Putin-Ukraine situation challenge us to reality and decency rather than Satan inspired lies purposed to create division and hatred.

Kit and Drew

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They’re trying to get your money – 2 minute read

Fraud

Scott Adams’ recent Dilbert cartoon featured always unscrupulous Dogbert being interviewed as a financial expert. Asked, “What’s the best way to make money in today’s market?” Dogbert replies, “Fraud. It’s the fastest and has the biggest upside.”

Sadly, fraud is rampant in our society. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that online scams more than doubled in 2021 over 2020. Most scams target older people whose mental dexterity has declined. My email inbox fills up with scams EVERY DAY. Some tell me that my order has shipped when I didn’t order anything. Bank impersonators tell me there’s a questionable withdrawal from my account. Many variations claim I’ve been selected for a prize or am due a cash settlement. Once I got a desperate plea from our grandson who had been unjustly arrested and needed bail money. Inasmuch as Kit and I don’t have a grandson, this one was easy to spot.

Creative new schemes are unending. The most insidious are those that collect information about you and then pose as an institution with whom you have an account. Scammers can be very artful at recreating the logos and style of known corporations. But an incident that disturbed me the most came from a provider from whom I bought services. They desperately warned of dire threats and I needed their enhanced coverage. Experts warn not to respond online but to phone the company. After finally getting a live representative, she confirmed the email then tried to sign me up for enhanced coverage. That would have doubled my bill. But when asked specifically what the enhanced coverage would do that my current service wouldn’t, the representative had no answer. I concluded this to be a scam perpetuated by a legitimate business. The provider’s warnings continue to come. I’m still tempted to pay extra just to be safe. I pray that I’ll retain enough ability to discern between a wolf cry to get our money and a genuine threat.

We are swimming in fraud and there are serious consequences. Kit and I once lost a huge sum of money on a publicly traded stock fraud. I had followed all the guidelines for responsible investing. The fundaments—PE, regular dividends, diversification—looked sound. Stock rating services gave the stock a unanimous “Strong Buy.” Then suddenly the stock plummeted 90%. Somebody had discovered—probably by an insider tip— questionable reporting of revenue. First, he short-sold millions of shares and then called the SEC. Federal agents had then raided the offices. Everybody pointed fingers at each other. Nobody went to jail. The entrepreneur made hundreds of millions. Lawyers got richer. We got back less than 1% in the ensuing lawsuit.

Besides wanting to rant a little, I also hope to convey a warning. God might intervene to protect you, but He usually won’t. Therefore, don’t deceive yourself. Everybody’s mental dexterity decreases as they age. Many people cope by increasing their trust in others. A heavy dose of suspicion is more warranted. Fear can sometimes protect us.

Drew

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Kit and Drew are Catching Up – 1 minute read

Drew's Tech

Kit just received a used iPhone 8 released as recently as 2017. So, she’s only five tech years behind. As many of you know, we didn’t even have a cellphone until fall of 2019.

I now have Kit’s Samsung phone without a sim card. But my used laptop has Windows 10. That’s nipping the heels of Windows 11. I’m also trying to become relevant as a writer to a younger generation. For that, I’ve been streaming recent movies and shows via Roku. Now I know why I have few readers between ages fifteen and fifty.

I wasn’t always so outdated. At one time, I was on the cutting edge. Then calculators started replacing slide rulers. I still have my slide ruler just in case they come back.

If you’re like me—and I know I am—staying current is an impossible task. Fortunately for Kit and me, springtime is budding out in Washington. We’ve started working in our garden. That mostly involves a shovel, wheelbarrow, and rake. I’m 100% up to date on those.

Drew

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I Love You More by Kit – 2 minute read

Heart Clip art

The air is filled with love in February. Heart shapes are everywhere, chocolates are prominently displayed in stores, and bundles of flowers await purchase. We all love the idea of love. There is great joy to be able to say to someone, spouse, parent, child, or friend, “I love you.”

My favorite thoughts about love come from a quote by Bishop JC Ryle framed in our bedroom. “Of all the things that will surprise us on that resurrection morning, this I believe will surprise us the most; that we did not love Christ more before we died.”

Those words cause me to think a little more broadly about love. I envision the moment when I will see Christ face to face. Then all that He has chosen to not reveal about Himself will be revealed and I will see Him in His glory. Much like Job I will say, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes see you.” Then I will add, “And how I wish I had loved you more.”

That quote causes me to think of greater love, God’s love for me. I’m reminded of expressions of love we often use, perhaps between a child and parent.

The child says, “I love you.”

And the parent knowingly replies, “I love you more.”

So, I say to Christ, “I love you.”

And He knowingly replies, “I love you more.”

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Being Mortal – 2-minute Read

EPSON MFP image

EPSON MFP image

I recently read a remarkable book, Being Mortal, by medical Doctor Atul Gawande. The topic is end-of-life care. Along with the results of major research projects, Dr. Gawande shares distressing anecdotes of patients suffering needlessly due to misunderstanding of their needs. Although written primarily for health-care professionals, I learned important lessons of direct value. I’m using the ideas planning for Kit’s and my declining years, especially in the circumstance of having no children.

  1. Dr. Gawande explains that most medical physicians are oriented toward cures. And many are reluctant to take away a terminal patient’s or their family’s hope. Physicians can thereby offer unlikely-to-work “lottery chance” treatments that may shorten a patient’s life or ruin their last best days. Dr. Gawande recommends early consultation with geriatric doctors.
  1. Dr. Gawande makes a strong case that most “assisted living” services have devolved into being little better than nursing homes. He claims that overemphasis on facility safety has taken away a resident’s ability to make choices especially those that involve any risk. Some exceptional facilities are available. The factors to look for in the best arrangements are allowing residents a sense of having one’s own home and a sense of usefulness, perhaps by caring for a pet.
  1. Dr. Gawande espouses use of hospice services. He urges those continuing cure-oriented treatments to use hospice concurrently.

Most who read this are nudging into older age or have parents who are. A decade ago, Kit and I recognized declines in our physical abilities and initiated a saying. Each day is our last best day. Make the most of it.

Drew

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Saving Anna’s Hummingbird – two-minute read

Anna's Hummingbird

Three separate snowfalls homebound us for eight days starting Christmas. That’s unusual for our area of Washington but not as unusual as the low teens temperatures.

Before the deepfreeze, we brought freezable items into the garage including the hummingbird feeder. Although our local variety, Anna’s hummingbird, overwinters here, neither Kit nor myself had seen one since before Thanksgiving. Then as the initial snow deepened, I saw a hummingbird waiting at the feeder’s previous location. I quickly filled a feeder and rushed it out. The little male looked funny coming amidst heavy snowfall.

Because the sweetened water froze quickly, I alternated feeders, one available the other thawing. At one point, Kit reported the little bird had frozen onto the feeder. Completely motionless for minutes he did appear dead on the perch. But he darted away when I went out to investigate.

At nightfall, I brought in both feeders to prepare for the frigid next day. I had never seen any hummingbird active at night. Working late I heard the unmistakable buzz of hummingbird wings at my office window. Temperatures had fallen to the low teens. I imagined the difficulty of the tiny bird staying warm without food. Hummingbirds consume about half their body weight a day in normal weather. He must be starving, I realized. Immediately, we started alternating feeders all night.

Our hummingbird only comes occasionally now that temperatures have moderated and most of the snow has melted. I’m certain we saved him.

Kit and I had a wonderful Christmas. We made a list and for three weeks prior did every fun thing we could imagine. But now that it’s all over, the part that gives me the most joy is saving Anna’s hummingbird. Why? I asked myself. I believe because that involved kindness. Kindness is its own reward.

In Our Lord,

Drew

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State of the Family – 1 minute read

Carmel, CA 2017 (2)

Kit and I always fall asleep on New Year’s Eve well before midnight. It isn’t because we’re old. We did the same in our thirties.

Even so, we’re not without New Year family traditions. Each year we jointly write a State of the Family declaration just for us. In four categories—Spiritual, Finance, Health, and Recreation—we evaluate the year ending and set goals for the year ahead. The exercise is generally a great encouragement for accomplishing goals and sometimes an admonition to do better in the coming year. The exercise closes out each year and begins another

But the exercise is primarily a form of intimate communication. We discuss priorities, values, and objectives. The declaration also serves as a record of our agreements. This mitigates later conflicts because during the year we can review what we had intended. Either of us can forget purely verbal plans. Try this to avoid misunderstanding each other .

Happy New Year !!!

In Our Lord,

Drew

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White Christmas – 1 minute read

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Port Defiance Zoo near where we live has a polar bear. During our big snow last winter, local media showed pictures of the bear reveling in the moment. His joy was evident to all.

But I don’t need to go to the zoo to see a creature happy in snow. My Minnesota-born wife Kit loves snow. Me? I rejoice in Christmas regardless of the weather. The Christmas season to me is much bigger than all the other holidays combined. Together Kit and I enjoy every red-and-green moment starting in October. A white Christmas can make the season perfect.

Now joy-upon-joy, our local weather forecasters are predicting a white Christmas and continuing snows the following week. Washington is especially beautiful in snow because of so many snow-holding evergreens.

From the deepest part of my heart, I pray a joyous Christmas for you. This is a time to lay aside the year’s struggles and thank God for the baby Jesus.

Oh, and I predict a snowy New Year for many of you. No, I’m not prescience. Washington’s weather usually sweeps across the country.

Drew

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