09-07-2017 Letters and Commentary

PATRIOT DAY IS MONDAY… Monday, September 11 is Patriot Day, the day we remember the heroes of the terrorism attack September 11, 2001.

Now the day has grown to recall the sacrifices of all heroes that serve the public daily as policemen, firemen, medical professionals, and first responders.  Please remember all this coming Monday. If you can, join with the Watervliet VFW as they salute these heroes at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Park in downtown Watervliet.

BEAUTY VS. FIRE AND FLOOD… my, oh my, we had a gorgeous Labor Day weekend. Sunny days and cool nights, the rain held off until 4 p.m. here in the Tri-cities and the cool air followed.

God Bless the good folks of Houston and all those that rose to the occasion during the time of their great flood the past week.  How tragic that more than 50 people were victims of the high water.

Meanwhile many folks in southern California were losing their homes to giant brush fires caused by dry weather and human complications. One fire was reportedly caused by fireworks… how stupid can that be.

Now Hurricane Irma is creating havoc in the Caribbean and threatens Florida. Earlier this week the hurricane was rated as a category 5, forecasters hope the rating will lower as Irma moves over Cuba and Puerto Rico and loses energy.  Pray for all the folks in Irma’s path.

THANKS… the last issue was the end of our annual summer feature “Welcome to Paw Paw Lake.” Local advertisers express their appreciation for the trade the lake residents and visitors bring to the community each season.

The individual advertisers, in turn, also provide a story of their business, including new products, hours, specials and a photo or two.

Thanks to this year’s advertisers for their support of the feature.  Guy’s Marine of Coloma, owned by Guy and Chris Leach, offers complete water sports services and indoor, secure watercraft storage.

Chris and Guy Leach also own and operate West Street Station next to the marina in Coloma. West Street Station offers a large, superb, well-appointed hall rental for groups large and small.

Four Seasons Spa and Pool is your complete spa and pool headquarters in downtown Coloma. Owner Paul Cayo offers a large inventory of parts and professional repair service.

Sarah and Jay Jollay are the owners of a major tourism location on Friday Road, operating Jollay Market at the I-94 exit and Jollay Orchards just a few miles south.   The market offers fresh produce, ice cream, donuts and more. Jollay Orchard is a great fall time farm visit for cider, donuts, and pumpkins.

Kim Mattson owns Mattson’s House of Décor, certainly one of the finest and unique gift shops in the area. Kim anticipates the upcoming seasons with great gift and decorating ideas. You’ll find the store at the corner of Paw Paw Avenue and Paw Paw Street in Coloma.

Vincent J. Jewelers in downtown Coloma is owned and operated by Jim and Gloria Frazier. Both are Master Jewelers and bring 29 years of experience to help with your purchases and other needs, such as repairs and appraisals.

Annette and Randy Bjorge keep their Fruit Acres Farm Market stocked with their own farm-raised produce. The farm market is located right at I-94 exit 39 and Friday Road. Their U-Pick farm is just a bit south of there on Friday Road and offers fruit picking in season.

Some Things Different says it all. The new store in downtown Watervliet is the unique gift shop of all. Owned by Lisa Quiroz and Andy Craig, the shop features original musical instruments, hand crafted gifts and custom furniture.

There’s still plenty of time to enjoy the summer-like weather and shop your hometown stores. If you like, include a visit to these just down the road.

LOST AGAIN… Anne and I spent a good part of Saturday with the Loshbough family and friends at Leisure Valley campground near Decatur. We had a nice visit and a relaxing day topped off with a great picnic dinner.

All was well until I took a wrong turn out of the campground and soon found myself in unfamiliar territory. The error turned to concern when my cell phone battery went dead and I discovered my back up Garmin GPS direction finder was not in the glove box.

By that time, I had driven south for about five miles and none of the road signs were familiar. By the digital compass on my dashboard I knew I was driving in the wrong direction and had no hope of hitting downtown Decatur anytime soon. In fact, I told Anne the next town might be somewhere in Indiana.

So I took the next paved road to the right and thankfully the compass heading now read west. At least we’ll hit a major road going north somewhere, I told Anne.

At first her only concern was we stay on paved roads. Now, my loving bride of barely 50 years reminded me of my infamous excursion to Cedar Point from hometown Dryden that surpassed four hours and nearly took us to Dayton, Ohio.

Happily the major northbound road had a green sign that showed Dowagiac a few miles ahead. With that I relaxed the grip on the steering wheel a bit and Anne went back to watching the scenery flashing by out the window.

Soon we were in Dowagiac and headed for the next signpost reading Eau Claire (is it really pronounced AW Claire or OWE Claire?). Soon the signpost ahead read M-140 Watervliet and I could quit worrying.

Sunday Anne and I spent quietly at home after she went to church and I went to the river. Monday (Labor Day) I went to work for a while and she cleaned house for an afternoon showing of our home by a realtor.

Yes we have listed our home of 29 years for sale. It is time we start planning for a smaller place; although this quiet, friendly neighborhood will be missed.

God’s legitimate expectations

“Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deut.10:12-13, NASB)

That was God’s message to Israel after Moses came down from the mountain the second time. The first trip had not ended well. Moses had found the people engaged in idol worship. They had given up on the God who had delivered them from slavery and decided to “make” their own god. Big mistake. Moses broke the first set of tablets on which God had given the Ten Commandments. It was time for recalibration.

Sometimes we need recalibration too. What is important to us – and what’s really important? Does it matter? God repeatedly explained to Israel through His prophets and teachers that it does matter. It can determine our future.

God’s blessings, omnipotence, love, His creation and His care, should not go unnoticed or ignored in our lives. God had certain expectations of Israel, and He has certain expectations of those who are His through Jesus Christ.

Under the New Covenant we find this direction: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:11-14, NASB)

Right priorities lead to right living.

Our online estimates help you plan for retirement and more

Social Security encourages all Americans to take steps toward ensuring their financial security. Wherever you are in life — starting your first job, beginning a family, or getting ready to retire — it’s never too late or too soon to start planning for the years ahead.

We’re here to help, and we offer a suite of online tools you can use to plan for a secure future for you and your family. Your personalized Social Security Statement is among the many resources available to you through your online my Social Security account.

This important planning document allows you to: Verify your lifetime earnings history; estimate the Social Security benefits you’ll receive at retirement age; see if you qualify to receive disability benefits if you become gravely ill or injured; and learn how your spouse and children may be provided for when you die.

You can open your own my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Another tool you can use to estimate your possible monthly benefit amount is our Retirement Estimator at www.socialsecurity.gov/estimator. It shows you how much you may be eligible to receive based on different scenarios, like different future earnings amounts and various retirement dates.

To learn more about your retirement benefits, you can read Your Retirement Benefit: How It’s Figured and When to Start Receiving Retirement Benefits at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/.

We also encourage you to review the other online benefit estimates available from Social Security, because responsible planning includes contingency plans.

To learn more about the important safety net Social Security provides if you become disabled or die, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/disability and www.socialsecurity.gov/survivors.

Social Security is with you through life’s journey. Get to know us at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Vonda VanTil is the Public Affairs Specialist for West Michigan.  You can write her c/o Social Security Administration, 3045 Knapp NE, Grand Rapids MI 49525 or via email at vonda.vantil@ssa.gov.

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