... in black or white
Check these out on Amazon here: http://amzn.to/1Z7xn0E
... in black or white
Well, we finally made it down to the beach on a camping trip. We had an amazing time camping, fishing, building sand castles, catching crabs on the beach, and all out shenanigans.
Before we headed out though, there were some things we needed to update including sleeping bags for the kiddos.
On an always adventerous trip to WalMart, my wife found some Ozark Trail sleeping bags for about $15. I'd provide the link if I could, but WalMart is saying they're sold out. If you need some, check your local store because we just got ours last week.
We also got some fun stuff like a glow in the dark squidgie disc and some awesome beach toys.
Check out video below for more.
Truth be told, I hold American products to a higher standard than foreign products... I have a good reason for this. Simply put, American products ARE built to a higher standard than foreign products.
Unfortunately, not every single American made product is made perfectly--nobody's perfect, right?
The video below describes what happens when an American made product (my new Yoder grill) doesn't perform up to par (or at all)! In short, after 1-week, my Yoder stopped working at the worst possible time. I worked with some awesome guys at Yoder customer service for over an hour before figuring out the problem and finding a solution... the solution - I needed a new control panel. My Yoder is now working again and we had grilled chicken breast for dinner!
In other news, I'm liking this whole video blog thing. It's renewing my desire to keep posting and not give up--not that I would personally, but sometimes I feel like giving up on trying to convince others to skip the foreign stuff and support the country that provides their freedom.
Please, please, please, don't give up on this amazing country. Now, more than at any other time in my memory, this country needs unity on something... anything. Let's work together to make that ONE THING a decision to "Give America a Chance!"
OK all, I just got a new toy and I have to say... It's awesome and it's 100% MADE IN THE USA!
With that said, I decided to try creating a review and possibly kickstarting a video blog for future posts (time to sit and type has been getting shorter and shorter).
I want to talk about the new Star Wars. It stunk!
So awhile back, the family and I finally made it to see Star Wars, The Force Awakens. With all they hype surrounding the release of the latest Star Wars, I was genuinely excited. I was a bit disappointed.
Here's my short take:
Within about 15 minutes, a girl who makes a living scavenging parts tries to refuse company with a "one-of-a-kind" soccer ball droid. The dialogue that took place between the two made it extremely clear that this was a Disney film. I started wondering if I could get my money back if I left the theater.
I think the movies goal was to squeeze in as many characters as possible using the love of the original films to sell this one.
Most movies have a lead character and a conflict-climax-resolution... Can anybody say with certainty who the main character was? or what the climax-resolution was?
In all honesty, I've enjoyed talking about the movie a whole lot more than I enjoyed watching the movie so please feel free to chime in and give me your thoughts.
Here's more of my thoughts to start the conversation...
Who was the most loveable droid in all of history? R2D2, of course. Surely R2D2 can save just about any movie, so what do you do with it? Shut it down and put it in storage for 95% of the movie.
How about the super cool space smuggler (the one who shot first, by the way)? Han Solo can shoot any gun, fly any ship, and outrun the galactic empire. But in the new movie, he acts like it's the first time he's ever shot a gun. And his furry buddy? Not the same relationship by any stretch of the imagination.
But hold on, you've got the beautiful warrior princess who's always calm under pressure and a military leader to count on, right? Ummm, no. Leah turned into a clueless general who dropped the flowing gowns for a drab uniform.
Now wait, there's always the Jedi hero, the last hope, the one and only Luke Skywalker. What could you do with the second most famous Jedi in history (Darth Vader being #1, of course)? Let's give him a role with no words and have him on a secluded island in the middle of nowhere. But wait, there's a map to find him (weird???).
I'll admit I didn't catch the whole film... I fell asleep. But it seems to me the only thing this movie did was show the old characters and introduce new characters, but with the exact same plot as the old movies.
Old plot - Huge weapon that has a single point of weakness and must be destroyed.
New plot - Huge weapon that has a single point of weakness and must be destroyed.
Let's continue the old vs. new game...
Luke becomes the new Yoda (Jedi master hiding away in an isolated planet)
Rey becomes the new Luke (parents gone and needs Jedi training to save the world)
Kylo becomes the new Darth Vader (kind of self explanatory)
Finn becomes the new Han Solo (the qwirky sidekick and nothing is more qwirky than an ex-stormtrooper/janitor turned good guy).
A soccer ball becomes the new R2D2 (it'll never replace the original, but it's a cool concept)
But who replaces Leah?
And what about the barmaid... She is the one character who holds the most promise in my eyes.
For a movie whose only purpose was to conduct house cleaning (out with the old and in with the new), it was successful.
Plot - 1 star
Characters - 2 stars
Naptime - 4 stars
Future movies - ???
What are your thoughts?
It's been too long since I've last posted. I could chalk it up to having just moved for the 3rd time in as many months. I could say that I've been swamped at my new job and it's hard to find the time. I could say that everything has just been plain busy and I haven't had a moment to breathe... But those would be lies.
The truth is, I've been having way too much fun.
The last several months have been extremely difficult (if you've read the T# postings, you'll see everything that's happened), but God has been holding me every step of the way and now that I've arrived in Texas, my family and I have been playing and playing and playing.
We've explored Sea World! We've played in the ocean and collected seashells. We've been to aquariums, touched an octopus and hand fed stingrays. We've gone to movies (I'll post my critique of Star Wars later on). We've met some wonderful people and reunited with friends from the past. We had an amazing Thanksgiving and Christmas with family and friends. We've explored parks, toured Christmas lights that spanned entire cities, and relaxed at home with hot cocoa and/or ice cream.
I guess what I'm saying is that although I haven't forgotten about my "Give America a Chance" mission, I've just chosen to live the life rather than post the stories.
I would have loved to have posted some Christmas encouragement with amazing American-made products, but I didn't and I can't change that.
For now though, I'll talk about one cool product that I've found...
There's a lot of talk out there about being prepared. I'm not a full fledged "prepper," but I do believe in being prepared (I am an Eagle Scout after all) and good clean water is probably tied up there with shelter as the most important survival elements. Life Straw has done a great job of advertising itself as an amazing survival straw, but it's made in China--would you trust it? If you're looking for a survival straw to suck clean water from pond scum, check out Pure Sip. It's better, cheaper, and made in the USA!
Remember to check the labels and please, give America a chance!
I’m about a month behind in my writing, but I haven’t told the final event that brought me to my knees.
So in an effort to speed things along and catch up to current day, I’m going to skip most of the details.
After hearing the news about another death in the family, we were completely spent. We prayed… and prayed… and prayed… and finally decided that we needed to keep our family together, make the drive, and start my new job.
Fortunately, my sister came to the rescue one more time and volunteered herself and my nephews to help with the drive. It gave my wife and me several hours of alone time in a 26’ Penske truck driving down the highway.
The drive was smooth for the first 11 hours. The last bit, well, that’s a completely different story.
In short, the truck got wrecked.
This was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” I had absolutely no strength left.
I got out of the truck and collapsed.
Have you ever prayed for God to reverse time? Just 5 minutes, reverse time and let me change what happened?
Sitting on the ground, fallen. On my knees and broken, I prayed for something different.
I simply couldn’t take any more.
And you know what… God answered my prayer.
God didn’t answer the way I wanted, but certainly the way I needed.
You see, God wanted me to realize that I wasn’t strong enough. God wanted me to realize that I couldn’t do it. But with God, all things are possible.
I was literally on my knees with my face in the pavement begging for something different.
Psalm 23 says that God prepares a “table before me in the presence of my enemies.” And my enemy, at that point, was me.
I thought my strength could push through anything and everything. But my strength left me.
And that was the answer to my prayer.
We finished the drive with a busted truck, unloaded, and unpacked.
It was over. We had moved.
But I didn’t feel relief.
I felt depressed.
I felt alone. Even with my family surrounding me, I felt alone. And I hated it!
God needed to show me that my pitiful strength was nothing. He wanted to me to know where my strength came from.
And when I pulled out of my depression a few days later, it wasn’t anything I did, but the work of God.
Funny thing about depression, though. Even when it’s gone, it still has hooks in your system begging to take you back, but greater is the One who is in me than the one who lives in the world.
So here I am, sitting in Louisiana ready to start my new job.
But God wasn’t done with me yet.
Sure, God pulled me through depression. God kept me employed and provided for my family. God was in control every step of the way, but God also wanted me to know that I knew it.
Does that make sense? God knows all. God doesn’t need to test me to see what I know. But God will test us to let us know what God already knows.
When my insurance told me they wouldn’t cover the damages to the truck… I had no reason to worry.
Will they be more than I can afford? Probably.
When the job fell through and I didn’t actually get the job… I had no reason to worry.
Did I have a backup plan? Yep! Depend on God.
I had all the reasons in the world to sink back into depression, but I didn’t do it.
I had friends and family ask how we could be so calm in such a storm. I know the answer and now you do too.
And last week, I was offered a job in Texas. Did I take it? YES!
Is it part of God’s plan for me and my family? If not, God will take it away and provide something better.
So for the world, I tell you now. You cannot have me!
Depression, I don’t belong to you!
I have been bought with the blood of Jesus Christ and I am His now and forever!
I do not have the strength to make it through this life. I do not have the answers. Heck, I don’t even have the right questions. But I do have God… And God is good all the time.
I know there are a lot of people who suffer from depression. You can’t beat it.
All the psychiatrists and counseling in the world can’t take the hooks of depression out of you. They will be there forever. And when I say forever, I’m pretty certain I mean forever.
Depression is like mold. You can bleach it every now and again and make it look pretty on the outside, but the mold is still there, just waiting to find its way to the surface.
You can feel it inside you digging and burying itself in the deepest regions of your body.
You can sense that at any moment you want to cling to it for comfort and relief… You deserve just one more wallow in self-pity.
Funny, isn’t it? That you would reach to depression for comfort?
I feel the pulling. And in all honesty, I’ve felt it for years.
There’s nothing you can do to beat it. You’re hopeless without help.
I don’t know if you know this or not, but with depression, we like to lock the doors to try and stop the world from interfering with us. We may reach out every now and again, but we do so with doubt and suspicion. It’s like the depression is trying to pull others closer.
If you’ve ever felt this… ever, read John 20:19-28. Click this link and read it. Submerge yourself in the word of God.
You can shut the doors and you can lock the doors, but there is still One who is greater.
Look for my next post to be written from Texas.
Chapter 2 – Get a Life!
Whoever seeks to save his life loses it, but whoever loses his life preserves it. (Luke 17:33)
When I was 16, I had a t-shirt that said “Get a life” on the front with the scripture reference for Revelation 3:20 posted underneath. That scripture has always stuck with me. Revelation 3:20 states “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me.”
Jesus, the Son of God, is standing at your door! He wants a personal and eternal relationship with you. He wants to make you a Man after God’s own heart. If you have never opened up that door, I implore you to speak with your father or pastor and ask them how to open the door of your life to Jesus.
Just the idea of this should put you in awe. Jesus, the son of the one who created the universe, is standing at your door, knocking, asking to be your friend.
Once you’ve opened the door and let Jesus into your life, a second door is presented to you. Although this second door is just as available, it’s one that rarely gets used. This door requires you to commit your life to your new friend’s father, God.
Let me step aside for a moment. Imagine for a second there was somebody in your community that was very important, very powerful, and very rich. Now imagine that this powerful and rich person’s son was your best friend. One day, you’re best friend’s father asks you to work for him. The benefits would be awesome, the pay extraordinary, and as long as you stayed committed, you would never be fired.
Sounds pretty good, right? The second door is, in all honesty, just as simple a decision, but the commitment can be scary.
The second door requires you to be fully committed to God. 2 Chronicles tells us that the eyes of God “run back and forth throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” (2 Ch 16:9). Once you’ve committed yourself to God and make yourself willing to do everything he wants, you will be on your way to becoming a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22).
While we’re on the topic of doors, let me get back to the literal for just a second. There’s a very good reason why a man will stand up and open a door for a lady, an elder, or even a child. And let me tell you, the movies, books, television, and everything else you’ve heard about opening doors, in my opinion, are all wrong!
As you’re aspiring to be a man, you’ll no doubt want to start opening doors for others. At least, I hope so. When you choose to open the door, whether it be for the girl you’re taking to the movies or your mom when she comes home from the grocery store, you should be doing more than simply being a polite gentleman… Lots more!
If we lived in a perfect world without sin, without danger, opening the door would be just a simple polite gesture. The problem is, we do not live in a world without sin and there is danger lurking all around us. We’ve got to contend with dangerous animals, foul weather, criminal activity, and even the devil himself. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to “Be sober and self-controlled. Be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
The Bible tells us many times over, in a variety circumstances, to “STAY ALERT!” When you open the door for another person, you should do so with vigilance. How do you open the door with vigilance? Look through the doorway to the other side. Analyze the situation. Respond appropriately.
If you open the door for your mom and notice it’s raining outside, don’t just whisk her out the door, stop and get an umbrella. Protect her as she leaves. If you open the door and see a hungry lion outside, don’t let your mom become the lion’s next meal. If you open the door to the bank and see a man with a gun at the register, don’t blindly escort your mom into harm’s way, push her away and tell her to “RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!”
You might have noticed at this point that by choosing to open the door, you are choosing to accept the dangers on the other side of the door. Welcome to the first door of manhood. I don’t care if your mom, girlfriend, or sister is a black belt in martial arts, protection becomes your responsibility as a man… for the rest of your life. Get used to it.
Ok, quick recap…
There’s been a series of events that literally made me fall to the ground in weakness.
--Lost my job in July.
--Moved in with my sister for a little over a month in August searching and waiting for a job.
--Got a call that there was a job in Louisiana in September.
--The job required more than a 20% pay cut.
--Decided to take the job.
--Wife and I drove to Louisiana on a house hunting trip.
--Realized we couldn’t afford to live in LA with the new salary.
--Came to the conclusion that I would have to deny the job.
--At the last minute, we found a house with wonderful Christian landlords.
--Came to the conclusion that I would accept the job.
--Drove back to my sister’s to start packing.
--On the drive back, got a call telling me the job was no longer available.
Are you all caught up? Good, because we’re just getting started. Now, through all this, I’m getting more and more exhausted as I try to push through my life’s roller coaster with my own strength.
As my wife and I are continuing the drive back to my sister’s house, we’re listening to a Christian pastor talking about how the Holy Spirit is always talking to us, but we’re not listening. I verbally stated to God that “I’m a little slow down here, could you please repeat yourself.”
A few hours later on the drive, I get another call telling me that the job is back on and get ready to move. Was this the Holy Spirit repeating what I needed to hear?
We finally get back to my sister’s house and start preparing to pack up our things. I’m making phone calls reserving the truck, preparing our kids for another move, and attempting to prepare physically and mentally to drive once again.
A couple days later, we get the truck loaded up and we’re prepared to leave the next day. While I was outside looking at the truck in front of the house, I got another phone call telling me the job is no longer available…again. I was told to stay ready because it might change again, but don’t leave just yet.
Stay with me for a minute here while I backtrack. While we were in Nebraska, my youngest son broke his arm (on a bounce house of all places). So for the majority of our “family vacation” with my sister and her family, my 3 year old had a cast up to his armpit. As another aside, the water pump on my truck went out and my truck overheated when I was on the way to take my kids to a bounce house to play. When I say this experience was horrible, I really mean it. Everything that could go wrong was going wrong… and worse.
With the news that we weren’t leaving in the morning, my wife called to see if we could get the cast removed a bit early and get an x-ray to see if everything was healing well. The doctors made room the next day and my wife scheduled it.
A bit later, before the cast was removed, I got another call telling me the job was good to go again and they wanted me to leave right away. I told them I didn’t want to cancel the cast removal and I would leave in a couple days (really I wanted to let them change their mind a few more times… and I wanted the cast off… and I was mentally exhausted and could appreciate knowing my schedule for the next 24 hours for once).
So now the cast is off, the truck is loaded, and we’re minutes from leaving when my wife gets a phone call informing her of a death in the family (the second since we began our original move a little over a month ago).
We’re frantic! She missed the first funeral because she felt she needed to be with her family… us (have I mentioned how awesome and strong my wife is?). But this is getting to be too much.
We are physically and mentally drained to the point that we simply had nothing left.
We need to get in our vehicles and drive 12 hours across the country.
We need to figure out if my wife needs to attend a funeral.
We need to have a job.
What would you do?
As we progress through this book, I’m going to compile idea after idea for you so that by the end, you’ll have a much greater understanding how you can prepare for nearly any emergency. If you didn’t notice the mistakes we made in my latest Christmas vacation story, don’t worry… You will. I’m going to start with some simple ideas to get your mind in gear and prepare you for the rest of the book. Everything you learn and every detail from this point forward will build on the previous steps. Think of this as the preparedness pyramid… You are currently standing on the ground. Before we’re done, you’ll be your family’s hero standing at the top of your own pyramid.
So what’s the first step? Observational preparedness.
I want you to think for just a second about your home. Does the front door open to the inside or to the outside? Are you sure? Go ahead and check if you need to.
Now think about the doors at a public establishment. Does the front door open to the inside or to the outside?
Chances are, your front door opens inward and your favorite restaurant opens outward. There are numerous reasons for this (not to mention possible laws in your area), but the real point is whether or not you noticed.
Being observant of the little things around you can make a huge impact in your daily life. You goal isn’t to be like Jason Bourne, but to be more like the observant guy who doesn’t let things slip by him much. If you can train yourself to simply notice the direction of a door opens up, you can train yourself to notice much more useful things as well. Here are a couple of similar practical observations:
Has your neighbor taken their trash out in the past couple weeks? You’re not trying to be nosy; but observations like this can help you ensure they’re ok even if you don’t know them very well.
What time in the morning is the trash pickup at your house? This is a very practical observation that can help you figure out whether or not you can still get that early morning, very dirty, very smelly diaper off your property before trash comes again…next week.
Try this… Next time you’re in a large store, take a moment and just stop where you are. Now, look around. First, look for the nearest exit. Second, look at the people. Go ahead and stare at somebody for a moment or two… Chances are they will never look up from their shopping to notice. Most of the world walks around as if everything is perfectly fine. Most of the time, they’re right. You’re not most of the people most of the time. You are the one who will make everything perfectly fine all the time, despite the events surrounding you. When the fire alarm goes off, you already know which exit you’re going to move towards. You already know where your entire family is and how to get to them. You probably already knew there was a threat before the alarms went off. You are observant… Or at least you are going to be.
In order to get to that point, you need to practice being more observant. You can do this every waking moment of your life if you so desire. Was the person who just passed you on your way to work male or female? Old or young? How much milk is in your refrigerator? How about eggs? The IT guy who just fixed your office computer, the cashier at the gas station, or the person who just walked by the house… What color shirt were they wearing?
It’s honestly not difficult to become more observant, it’s just different. There are a lot of things you can do to get started if you don’t feel like memorizing the contents of the refrigerator just yet. My best tip to get started is to take a trip down to the local thrift store and buy a couple cheap puzzles. Thrift stores often have them for pennies on the dollar. It doesn’t matter what the puzzle is or even if all the pieces are there. You’re not looking for a work of art to save and put on the wall, you’re just trying to practice making mental notes—this piece goes here, this is a corner piece, here’s my edges… Oops, I’m missing a piece—no big deal.
Speaking of making notes, don’t be afraid to carry a small pen and paper with you and actually take physical notes. When I prepare for large group presentations, I often place my notes on the ground in front of me with giant font that I can see while pacing the front of the room. As I get more confident in the material, I can replace those notes with simple blank pieces of paper. The very sight of the paper reminds me of what I need to remember. Later, a simple glance towards the floor is all I need to refresh my memory. Taking notes is the same way. If you write down a “honey-do” or shopping list in your notebook, the very sight of it, or even the feel of it in your pocket, can refresh your memory.
Like most people, my short term memory often only lasts a few minutes. The family I just met at church… If I don’t write down their names, I’ll forget before seeing them again. Wife wants me to pick up some bananas from the store… write it down. Guy in the car behind me wearing a ski mask in July—did I get the plate number, of course—will I remember it, not a chance—write it down.
I’m also going to issue a challenge to start writing in a journal. Take notes on anything and everything you see, hear, and do, including what you dream. For the most part, it’ll just be your private history, but in some cases, it might come back extremely useful.
In another one of my books, titled “Give America a Chance, the Rants and Raves of an American Patriot,” I had a journal specifically designed to document my one year attempt at purchasing only American made products. Re-reading the journal allowed me to remember the places I bought the products I needed. It also helped me remember a lot about how history repeats itself, even in just a few short years.
I also kept a journal from my early military years. As I re-read notes that I put in there from well over a decade ago, I was able to see how my life had matured from the things that were important to me when I was young and single. The little changes in my life from day to day were unobservable to me, but when I looked back, I could see huge changes in my life. I’ve also kept journals for my dreams and nightmares.
Think of a journal like a photo album for your mind. What you write is your own thoughts, fears, accomplishments, frustrations, and anything else that may have been important to you. Don’t be afraid to document your failures as well… They can be especially beneficial.
As you continue to work with your mind to become more observant, you’re next step is to start networking what you observed with everything else you observed. Your journal will be crucial for your success in linking observations.
The ability to link, or network, your observations is a bit more than I can explain in a short chapter. The basic concept is simple, though. Take what you know and integrate it with everything else you know. In practicality, you do it all the time. If I take this cup of water and place it in the freezer, it will turn to ice.
Now, take that same practicality and use it with your basic observations. For example, let’s say that you are going to the grocery store. If you get lucky, you might get the opportunity to near the entrance. Here, you can get in quick and have fast access to your car to unload your groceries and go home. But, every single person walking into and out of the store will pass right by your car, some might scratch it. You could park next to the cart return area and have easy access putting your cart back after unloading your groceries, but again, a stray cart might scratch your car. You could park as far from the entrance as possible where no other cars are parked, but if you’re isolated in the back of the parking lot… well, that seems like a recipe for disaster in itself. What about next to the minivan where kids get in and out of? Or next to the coupe with the car seat in the back (those doors have to open mighty far to get the kids in and out).
Granted, there are a lot more important things to think about other than a scratch or dent in your vehicle, but it’s an easy way to start networking all your observations with other observations. The trick is getting your mind to start waking up to these observations and spending a fraction of a second to think things through. Once you start that process, you’re well on your way to becoming your family’s hero in any situation.
Now that you’re practicing to be more observant, it’s time to get to the first rule. Like I mentioned earlier in our Christmas vacation story, rule number one: NEVER LET YOU’RE GUARD DOWN.
I could rephrase that to say something along the lines of always be prepared, be ready for anything, or have a plan B. But for me, saying “never let your guard down” feels like a stronger term.
My first two mistakes during our Christmas vacation revolved around the expectation that we would be home soon, so, I let my guard down. I observed that the weather was bad and I observed that the flight had been delayed, but I did not network my observations to the point of saying… “We might not make it home today.”
No matter how well you’ve trained yourself to observe and network your observations, you will make mistakes. Maybe you have three tired kids ready to get home and play with their Christmas presents and you’ve just been driving in a snowstorm for the past four hours trying to avoid traffic and you’re exhausted from carrying one of your children and your wife is exhausted from carrying the other child and you’ve all got on backpacks with the “necessities” of air travel with children so you don’t want to add heavy winter jackets your carrying load and you’re not looking forward to the security checkpoint at TSA and one child has to go potty while the other child needs a diaper change and everybody is hungry but one person wants a hot dog and the other wants ice cream and the first one just changed their mind and now wants ice cream too… And a hot dog. Just maybe.
The mistake has been made. You let your guard down for one second. It happens. Put it back up and move on. There’s a great phrase made famous by a talking by a talking meerkat, warthog, and lion from Walt Disney, “Hakuna Matata.” It means no worries. Leave your mistake in the past and move on, the mistake has been made and you can’t change it, so get back to reality and get your guard up! It might be worthy of putting in your journal as well.
Once you’ve got your guard back up, keep it up… all the time. This doesn’t mean that you have to walk around like a ninja sneaking into the emperor’s palace; it means that when you’re walking, driving, or even just sitting in your own home, you’re ready for action.
Never letting your guard down starts with being observant of the things around you. Since we’re thinking about ninjas, let’s expand on them a little bit. Ninja’s of folklore and movies are probably quite different from the truth. I say probably, because assassin spies who specialized in stealth didn’t do a whole lot of television interviews. Ninjas were most likely farmers or craftsmen who devoted their lives to a specialized form of martial arts. Converse to western gun-slingers, when a ninja came to town, nobody knew. So as were planning to never let our guard down, we should do it in a way that nobody knows.
If you’re curious as to how you can be ready for anything, without revealing you’re ready for everything, keep going… It’s actually not that difficult. Being prepared doesn’t mean that you are carrying everything you need for every situation all the time. And I’m not just saying this to justify checking our winter jackets at the airport. Fact of the matter is, most of the time, the tools you need to accomplish something are usually relatively close at any given point in time anyway.
While we were stuck in Chicago for a few days, my wife was able to go to Wal-Mart and get some necessities. Although I call them necessities, some were really just luxuries. We could have spent the next few days wearing the same clothes and not worrying about how clean they were. Jackets for the kids when it’s 10° below zero, however, are a necessity.
My wife picked up a few things including new jackets, pants, and underwear for her and the kids and socks and shirts for all of us. She also got laundry detergent which was the greatest purchase of all. So even though my guard was down when we packed the gear, we put our guard back up and it wasn’t that tough to go and get more supplies. It could have been tougher in the case of a major city-wide or country-wide scenario, but in our little scenario where the “victims” were confined to a few thousand people at an airport, the resources we needed were relatively close by.
It sure makes it easy when you consider a Wal-Mart less than a mile away is a resource, but what do you do when that’s not an option? You have to put your creative caps on. I’ll start with a very basic creative option that we went with during our vacation and move into other creative ideas with the intention of getting your own creative juices flowing.
The pants my wife bought my oldest son fit a bit on the large side. In fact, without a belt, his pants would have been down around his ankles most of the day. Although a run to the store was still an option, it seemed overkill for such a minor task. This is where our powers of observation came in handy.
About a year prior, my family started making para-cord bracelets. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re great little bracelets that are made out of a single 10-12 foot section of parachute cord. You basically make a fancy braid with the cord and in a couple minutes time, you have a bracelet. If you ever needed it for other purposes, you simply unbraid it and you’re back to a 10-12 foot piece of cord. My daughter always carried one on her carry-on bag. Unfortunately, we decided to check it. So now, looking around the room, we were on the hunt for a belt. My wife pointed out the elastic strap that was on her backpack. Perfect! We pulled it off, wrapped it around the too big pants and voila, a belt.
When the search first started, my mind went into hyper drive looking around the room. There were literally hundreds of places to find a belt should the situation be dire enough to warrant one. I could wrap a cell phone charging cord, I could take the shoelaces off my shoes, I could rip a portion of my undershirt, etc…
The moral of the story isn’t really about the belt. It’s the ability to find what you need in a pinch. Just make sure the solution fits the severity of the problem. For example, had the situation been severe enough, say a massive power outage and everything was shut down for an indefinite amount of time, I could have kept my kids warm by taking the cushions from the couch, cut rudimentary holes in them, wrapped them on my kids, and stuffed the stuffing around for insulation. Would it work? Yep. Would it have been overkill in my situation? Definitely!
To keep on the clothing topic for a second, I want to shoot you a piece of advice that I have done for years. This one’s primarily for the men… Wear an undershirt. It doesn’t matter if its 120 degrees or 20 degrees, I always wear at least two shirts. If I get extremely warm, I can take off the top shirt and still be respectful of the people around me (although I don’t often need to take it off). There have been dozens of times in the past few years that having two shirts came in handy. When I was at an airport about a year ago, my son got sick and threw up all over his clothes. I was able to take off my undershirt and put it on him while we cleaned his other clothes in the sink. As a gentleman, I’ve removed my overshirt many times to give to my wife or my kids when they’re chilly. And more than a handful of times, my shirt has become a blanket for my wife when she needs to breastfeed in public. If you think about the potential uses for a second shirt that you always carry with you, the possibilities are endless. The best part is, I’ve been doing it for so long, its second nature wear one.
Between the things you wear and the things you don’t, when you open your mind, you will see that nearly everything you need is very close at hand. Think about your car for instance. If a massive solar flare hit our planet rendering electronics completely useless for a matter of years, you car is a treasure trove of useful materials. Seat belts could be tourniquets, rope, or even a fashionable belt to hold up your pants. The seats could be shirts, pants, shoes, or with a little creativity, a backpack. Scrap metal can be sharpened on a rock to make a knife. Electrical wiring could become shoelaces or ties for your new backpack. Broken glass from windows and mirrors can be used to start a fire. The resources you need are all around you. You just have to be observant of what you see and be in the mindset to keep your guard up and be ready to do what needs to be done.
I want to get back to ninja’s for just a second. In Japanese, the word ninja loosely translates into “one who endures.” Enduring implies some sort of hardship. I think it’s safe to assume that ninja’s were born out of hardship. When things got tough, ninjas started looking at what they had and put them into practice. A walking stick became a staff and a formidable weapon. A masonry trowel became a dagger. In a time of hardship, resources are there, you just have to know how to find them. And that’s a whole lot better than trying to carry everything, for every situation, everywhere you go.
A.J. Nelson, author of Give America a Chance; The Rants and Raves of an American Patriot has spent nearly 20 years devoted to the Unites States as both an enlisted member of the