Finished Work Leads to Granola – 1½ minute read including a recipe

Delicious Homemade Granola

My daily goal as an engineer was to finish all of the work waiting for my attention. Not just the daily tasks, but any future work others expected of me. Only occasionally did I manage to achieve nothing-to-do. But on those occasions, I’d savor the moment and then get creative. Some of my best work for my employer, including twenty-three US patents, was initiated during those creative moments.

2020 gave Kit and I crushing workloads. 2018 and 2019 had been equally challenging. Now we’ve completed our relocation to Washington and all FamilyLife has asked of us, for now. (You can see Kit and Drew teaching online at https://www.familylifeglobal.com/training/ )

I’ll remember November 11th, 2020 as a day I achieved nothing-to-do. Unlike my engineering years, the first thing I did was fall asleep. I woke a few hours later asking myself, What to do now? Admittedly, Covid limits our options. Washington’s cold and rainy winter further restricts us. Both require holing up indoors, a delightful prospect after difficult years.

My first creative work was a mess in the kitchen. Who doesn’t enjoy making up new recipes? I love granola. But that cereal is expensive. And Kit likes to point out the saturated fats and other unhealthy ingredients listed on packaging. Therefore I set out to create a simple, healthy, and inexpensive granola.

One cup of dry old-fashioned oatmeal
One half cup of water
Four tablespoons of sugar (white will do)
A tablespoon of imitation vanilla

Dissolve the sugar in the water then mix it and the vanilla with the rolled oats. The oats will absorb the sugar water. Bake, thirty minutes for chewy granola an hour for crunchy, on an lightly oiled sheet at 300 F. The sugar will make the oats clump after baking.  Although the recipe has a little sugar, you’ll find the resulting cereal is not very sweet. Of course the recipe is scalable and you can change the proportions to fit your taste.

Unless you are a healthcare worker or other essential worker, please find creative ways to sit-out the pandemic.

Drew

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Abundance – Remembering God’s Goodness by Kit Coons

After buckling my seat belt, I searched for my list. Where was my list? Not in my purse. Not in the car seat. Reluctantly, I unbuckled my seat belt and went back into the house. I knew from experience that trying to remember everything I needed to do never worked. My list was necessary for success.

Certainly, a list can be a useful memory aid when going to the grocery store. But there are more important experiences in life we need to remember. For instance, in the Old Testament, we see God’s encouragement to remember. The children of Israel used what was available as a memory aid of God’s work in their lives. In Genesis 28:18 we read, “Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it.”

This is an excerpt from an article by Kit published by Cru. She follows with practical ways to remember God’s goodness. For the full article, please open the link, which we guarantee safe.  

Rememberances by Kit Coons

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The Passes Are Closed – 1 minute read

Washington State has already closed I-90 and other passes east of Seattle due to heavy snow. Our Cascade Mountains get plenty of snow every year. Mount Rainier averages 59 feet. Yes, that’s fifty-nine feet of snow. Although state maintenance crews are prepared to reopen as-soon-as-possible, they know when to save lives by shutting down or restricting access to highways.

Last spring I warned Kit that the Covid virus, like colds and flu, would attenuate over the summer and return in the fall. Experts are now predicting a heartbreaking winter with perhaps 200,000 additional deaths. Adding to the tragedy are the long term effects suffered by nearly every person hospitalized. This is a major health blizzard which will require shut downs and restrictions to save lives.

Our novel, The Ambassadors published in 2018, reaches a crisis when a pandemic threatens mankind. Our protagonists rally everyone to help with the catch-phrase “Don’t let the ship sink. Everybody to the buckets. Help is on the way.” As in our story, we are facing a real crisis and help in the form of a vaccine is on the way. Please do all you can to help save lives, starting by taking precautions to stay healthy yourself. “Help is on the way.”

Drew Coons

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Adrenalin Detox – ½ minute read

I’m coming around folks. Repairing our decrepit former house, staging and selling it, packing, finding a new place to live, managing to buy a house in WA, and setting up a new home all during a pandemic was an intense year-long effort. At the same time, we did a lot of work for FamilyLife. I’m now in adrenalin detox.

I’m now reading two or more books a week. Kit and I also go hiking through spectacular scenery nearly everyday then come home to watch BBC programs. Kitsap County provides a public fishing pier near our house. Frequently the pier is crowded with fisher people pulling in large crabs and squid from the Puget Sound. They also catch silver salmon from the pier. I haven’t gotten one yet, but did manage to get a saltwater cutthroat trout. Who knew there was such a creature?

Let me encourage you and myself even more than you. When you know you’ve been through difficult challenges, give yourself a break. If stress makes you touchy–and it does me–your break will be good for everybody not just yourself.

Drew

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Abundance by by Kit – Less Sadness, More Trust – 3 minute read

 

As I opened the last packing box in our new kitchen, I realized we had finished a year-long journey. And what a journey it was! We hadn’t just moved across town or to a different part of the state. We had downsized thirty-nine years of married life, downsized eighteen years in our previous home, and moved 1,263 miles away. You can imagine the challenges, especially when you consider Covid. Unwrapping the fifth dinner plate that used to complete a set of six, I was reminded of the other expressions of brokenness we had experienced along the way. But, we had done it. The last box was, the last box.

A lifeline for me along the emotional roller coaster of our move was a bible study on the book of John by NavPress. Now, at the end of both our move and my study, the author encouraged me to look through the previous application questions. Had my thinking changed? Had new behaviors been added to my life? Or was my study nothing more than a sightseeing book used on our journey but then quickly forgotten once arrived.

Even though I had read through Jesus’ parting words recorded in John 14:1-16:33 previously, I felt like I was hearing those words for the first time with the disciples. I had so many questions, so much unknown, such heavy grief. And yet, Jesus’ words held such intimate promises; glimpses of a future not yet fulfilled. As I tried to personalize those words, I wrote down “less sadness, more trust”.

Then later in the final chapter of John we see the disciples bewildered, frightened and heavy hearted. They are not sure what to do after the resurrection. In John 21:1-25, they go back to what they had known. Peter initiated a fishing excursion. Not only did Peter experience the same emotions as the others, but he had fulfilled Jesus’ prediction. He had denied the one he so loved. I can only imagine the depth of that pain. But, Peter was still a leader so the others went along. You know what happens. They fish all night and catch nothing. Amazingly a stranger on the bank suggests they try the other side of the boat. The catch is more than they can haul in. But wait! This has happened before. And in a moment of clarity Peter remembers the first time the Lord asked him to trust him for a catch. I heard again the echo of “less sadness, more trust.”

Those are the words I will take from the study and from our move. Hopefully they will impact the way I live each day going forward. Less sadness, more trust. Perhaps you are at a point in your life right now when those words ring true for you. I know I am.

Kit

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Retribution – 1½ minute read

Drew Managed to Graduate

At age twenty-one, I was in my last term of engineering school. With the difficult courses behind me, an exciting job waited in California. Time to coast downhill to the finish line. Or so I thought.

Our professors, expecting waning attention among us soon-graduates, had scheduled Machine Lab for our final term. There we ran tests and made measurements simply to hone our machine instincts. A crip course, but one required for graduation.

Problem was, our instructor ALWAYS came late–thirty maybe forty minutes. Then we had to stay late to finish in the miserably hot summertime laboratory. One afternoon we conspired among ourselves. Three delegates, including myself, drifted over to the Dean’s Office. There we made a pretense of looking around. Our dean noticed and asked what we were doing. “We’re looking for Mr. Smith,” I explained.

“I’ve told him . . .” the dean started under his breath, then spoke to us. “You boys go back to class. Mr. Smith WILL be there in a minute.”

And so Mr. Smith was there, and furious. “You guys think you’re smart, huh. We’ll see,” he told us. The next class he passed out assignment sheets. Pages of complex problems covering all four years of engineering school. Remember the crip course was required for graduation. It turned into a Herculean task. But I learned a major lesson: authorities can and will exact retribution.

I didn’t let fear of retribution stop me, though. Aside from trivial matters, I believe I would become complicit, if not privately identifying foolish or unbiblical behavior. Retribution has come by public rebuke or being passed over for opportunities, most frequently from career Christians. Maybe they feel responsible to have all the answers and are thereby more easily threatened.

I’ve never gone public with a serious issue. I think in some instances, I should have. Your thoughts on this difficult matter are welcome.

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Killer Bees – A true story

“Why can’t you get the water running?” I asked.
“We need a three inch elbow,” one of the men working for me answered.
“There’s a pile of them in the supply yard.”
“The bees have got them.”

In the early 1980’s, killer bees migrating toward the US through Mexico caused great concern. They are the invasive African counterpart to European honeybees. Unlike the non-aggressive European variety these vicious insects can sting you many times. Truly man-killers by hundreds of stings. And I was in Africa, killer bees’ place of origin.

I followed the men to the supply yard where indeed killer bees had established themselves in an empty box within inches of the fitting we needed. “If you don’t disturb them, they won’t bother you,” I promised. All the men just shook their heads, no. A whole town is without water, I told myself. And so, surrounded by killer bees and moving as slowly as possible I collected the elbow and sent the men to finish the repairs. Quite possibly the clean water saved lives. Some chances are worth taking.

But the story doesn’t end there. Perhaps a surprise to you, one of the hazards of being a missionary in a remote place is acute boredom. And I was remote. One night, full of twenties-something energy and desperate for anything to do, I remembered the honey-hive. My roommate, Tom, helped dress me in leather gloves, a raincoat tied at my wrists, and a wide-brim hat covered with mosquito netting and secured tightly around my neck.

At the supply yard, Tom, parked the car where the headlights would illuminate the bees’ box and watched with the windows securely rolled up. I approached the hive and lifted the top off the box. The bees attacked with fury. A gallon or more of the little devils clung to my chest and arms each one trying to kill me. Undeterred, I scooped out a little honey. By then a few bees had managed to wriggle past the tie points. Several buzzed around under the netting and started stinging my face. Forgetting the honey I replaced the box lid and clung to the car door. “Go, Tom! Go!” I yelled. He roared away carrying me and plenty of bees. A mile away Tom stopped while I scraped off the remaining bees.

The two bee encounters illustrate a chance worth taking and a foolish risk. The difference being, one a great help to others and the other something sweet for myself.

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Time to make a stand – 1 minute read

I used to carry a card in my wallet. The card proclaimed me to be a Republican in good standing. That was when Ronald Reagan and Bob Dole led the party with ethical and pragmatic thinking. Since then Republicans have abandoned nearly all the principles for which they stood. Many conservative Republicans see danger and folly in Trumpism–a philosophy of total self-interest and using blatant falsehood to achieve power.

Sadly, Trump’s most loyal constituency is evangelical Christianity. Many not only look the other way but extol Trump as doing God’s work despite hundreds of amoral acts. Trump has committed so many egregious wrongs–proven to those willing to hear–that they now seem ordinary. But even among conscientious Christians, allegiance to the Republican Party–whatever actions they take–has become almost universal.

Most who receive this know of my fifty-year dedication and service to Jesus Christ. I’m now dismayed how Trumpism is discrediting the message of Christ among those we hope to reach. Please believe me that you don’t have to vote Republican in the upcoming election to be a good Christian. I urge you to vote Donald Trump and all who enable him out.

Drew Coons

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Drew Lied – 1½ minute read

Drew Cleaning Furniture

I had planned to rent a truck then drive our furniture and 116 large boxes from Arkansas to Washington state. But after six intense months preparing and selling our house followed by three stressful months living from suitcases, Kit and I were wasted both physically and emotionally. So we hired a company to move our things.

The company required our presence at loading. We drove from western Washington to Little Rock to meet them. Temperatures that afternoon hit 100 actual or 109 degrees with heat index. One of the movers had already been overcome by heat exhaustion. Then one of the movers noticed a little mold on a wooden chair. The foreman told us they had to leave all our furniture behind. In the hot sun, Kit and I cleaned every inch of wood with bleach solution to avoid a disaster. Then a few shotgun shells somehow fell out of a box. The movers asked us if any other ammunition was in the 116 boxes. If so, they could not move us. Immediately, I remembered packing a few other shells somewhere, but had no idea where. And loading of the truck was nearly finished.

That’s when I deliberately lied. “No. I’m sure there aren’t.” You know the circumstances. And I knew the packed cartridges to be harmless. Even in a fire they would simply crack like firecrackers. Without a gun barrel to accelerate the bullet, they wouldn’t fly all over like depicted in old comedies. Still, a lie is a lie, especially a self-serving lie. That lie haunts me still.

Only one other time since a teenager had I blatantly lied. An auto accident. Me first to help a man thrown from his car with a horrible head injury. “Am I going to be okay?” he pleaded. “You’ll be fine. Just need a few stitches,” I calmly assured him while holding his hands to prevent him from discovering his injury. In truth, I expected him to die right there. Fortunately, the victom did fully recover. And later a doctor told me I had done the right thing to prevent shock. But I meant to lie.

After pondering the issue of lying for seven weeks now, I’ve come to believe that lying to help someone in a life-and-death situation isn’t sin. However, lying to extract yourself from a difficult situation is sin. I’m confessing my sin to God and to you. (James 5:16)
More significant, I’ve had a refresher on how desperate circumstances can erode moral resolve . . . in any of us. I’m hoping that will make me more merciful regarding the sins of others.

I’m not trying to excuse the sin of lying. My pondering reminded me of Revelations 21:8 promising the “fiery lake” to liars. I also remembered the difference between committing a sin versus practicing sin. The difference between telling a lie and being a practicing liar. Those practicing lying or enabling others who practice lying should examine their lives according to 1 John.

Drew

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Can’t-Get-Away Club – 1 minute read

Club members wore a cross on their lapel.

The Can’t-Get-Away Club started in Mobile, Alabama during the yellow fever epidemic of 1839. When most people left town to escape, a few stayed behind to care for the afflicted. Many of the caregivers died themselves. The point was that the club members could have gotten away, but their love of God and their neighbors wouldn’t allow them to leave. A lot more men and women gave their lives helping others in subsequent plagues until science discovered the causes, mosquitos. The club continued serving those afflicted through the last epidemic in 1897.

During our Covid 19 pandemic nearly all medical staff, like the Can’t-Get-Away Club, have chosen to remain at posts no amount of money could compensate. Some of these heros have been afflicted even died for their dedication. Most of us are not qualified for the highly skilled medical tasks required. Yet we can be challenged by their heroic commitment to their fellow man. Let us do what we can for others in the difficult days ahead.

The following is an excerpt from a final letter written by club member John Wesley Starr–aged 23–to his family seven days before his death of yellow fever:

“Nothing but the confidence which I have in the special providence of God could have enabled me to resist your pressing solicitations to fly from the danger. I felt that the danger was in flying. In the midst of destruction, I feel that I am in safety, because I am in the place, and surrounded by the circumstances which God ordered for me. Already, however, do I sympathize with you in your sorrowing, as by anticipation I view my death.”

I believe that Jesus facing his own death would have said exactly the same thing.

Drew

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