Monthly Archives: November 2013

Taking Care of Things and Soul Clutter

It is easier to care for what you have if you can see it.  I’m talking to you who live in clutter and see piles, stacks, even neatly sorted bins of your belongings all over your house.  I’m in the process of selling my house and talk about clutter!  The house was in terrible shape and consequently so was I.  Living in clutter, thinking through clutter….good luck trying to thrive amidst clutter. 

Over the course of months and much help from my family (esp. dad) my home is now cleared of clutter and “staged” for real estate showings.  This morning I had the pleasure of wiping a cloth across the front of my dresser drawers.  You may find that silly, to find pleasure in a common household chore.  Maybe it is.  It taught me something:  Years of cluttered living distracted me from this simple pleasure of taking care of a beautiful piece of furniture which is no longer piled with clothes, books, belts, lotions, and anything else that needed a home.  I can see this piece and appreciate its lines.  I had access to it and could give it a quick wipe with a soft cloth.  I took care of it.

I couldn’t help but see the connection to my cluttered soul.  How does one take care of their gifts, their purpose, even their dreams if they cannot see them, appreciate them, and access them?  Who knew a simple act of wiping a dresser with a cloth could render a path to address the clutter in my soul.  What is soul clutter?  For me it is at the moment actually one of my gifts:  organization and planning.  I plan my day before I get out of bed, sometimes I’ve planned it the night before or it’s part of the week I planned before that.  I almost never finish everything I plan and note in a to-do list.  So I’ve been adding discouragement to my soul clutter.  What God gifted me with and has plans to use I commandeered and did it in the name of “using my gift.”  I am learning to lay the gift of organization and planning along with my other gifts before Him every morning and ask Him to plan my day and lead me.  You have to recognize, “see”, your soul clutter before you can address it.  The best way to completely see yourself is through your Creator, Jesus Christ.  He was and is and is to come! 

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Tenderhearted Christians

Why do Christians get weepy when they think about Jesus?

As a body bends in the presence of a mighty wind the spirit is gratefully humbled in the presence of its Creator.  Some days, recently, I have been so overwhelmed by the abundant blessings of God through His Son for me that I get weepy.  I do not feel condemned about my imperfections but have a deep peace and satisfaction that I am loved exactly as I am right now.  I never felt that way before.  Then I get weepy at how I don’t deserve not to feel condemned and the gratefulness washes over me anew. 

The experience of being in relationship with Jesus cannot be explained.  It probably appears weak or wimpy but it is anything but.  He provides all power and authority and has given it to us, to me!  Why do Christians get weepy when they think about Jesus?  For this Christian it is because my eyes leak at His awesome love and power and over abundant blessings.

3-Day Crisis Food and Supply

The 3-Day Crisis Food and Supply is designed for typical power outages or during short-term weather-related events.  Remember – you can’t count on your oven, stove, or crock pot being operational during a power outage so even if you have a freezer full of food you may not be able to cook it easily.  For this reason we need to have some easy to prepare foods available.  Please don’t buy anything you or your family couldn’t stand to eat.  You are preparing so you are in control.  No one has to eat bugs or tree bark today.

A couple of assumptions are made:

  1. you have some food in your refrigerator and freezer
  2. you have some non-electric method to perform basic cooking and boiling water

Refrigerator
Without power refrigerated foods last only 4 hours.  The food in your refrigerator will be your first meals during a power outage.  See Day 1-Crisis Menu Ideas.

Freezer
You will have a day or two at the most during a power outage before the food in your freezer becomes potentially unsafe to eat.

  • Food remains safe for approximately 48 hours, if the freezer is full.
  • Food remains safe for approximately 24 hours, if the freezer is half-full.

Tips

  • Consider freezing milk jugs 3/4 full of water and keeping them in your freezer.  Not only will your food last longer in a crisis, you’ll also have more water once the ice melts.  Plus you’ll save on your energy bill during normal operation since freezers like to be full.
  • Create an inventory list of what’s in your freezer and put it on the freezer door.  During a power outage you won’t have to open the freezer to check what you have on hand.
  • Always have a loaf of bread in the freezer so you can make sandwiches during a power outage.

On Day 2 of a power limiting emergency you will have to begin eating from your freezer.  Make a list today of supplies you need to cook your freezer foods with no electricity.  Are some foods microwaveable?  You can adapt mostly to a stovetop (if you have a gas range), outdoor grill, or campfire method.  If the weather keeps you indoors, add Sterno® or other indoor-appropriate cooking alternatives to your list.  Sterno® will warm not necessarily cook food so have a plan for how you will cook any meat or other raw items in your freezer.

See Day 2-Crisis Menu Ideas (coming soon).

Everyone Can Prepare

We can all prepare without hoarding toilet paper or stocking up on 80 zillion rounds of ammunition.  No offense to those who do that, you have a different calling.  My call is to lead others to be prepared and support a revolving provision of donations to hungry people in our communities today, sans disaster.  If each of us is at least minimally prepared with 2 weeks of water, food, and basic supplies we can stay calm and get through a crisis or get through the first part of a more prolonged disaster.

The plans I’m sharing will help ensure that you will always have the freshest stock available for your family and your neighborhood while being able to regularly donate to local food pantries.  You can’t donate 200 hundred year old Jell-O® or evaporated milk past the “best by” date so keeping your stock fresh and rotated is key.  Canned and dried goods last a lot longer than the best by date or even an expiration date may indicate, but why hold onto something that you may need tomorrow but for sure can be used today to benefit someone?

You can start today.  If canned corn is on sale for .33 cents buy a can and put it in a special spot.  Behind your sofa, in a cabinet, under a bed.  Once you purchase your first canned good be sure you own or buy a hand-operated can opener.  You can get a really solid manual can opener for under $10 or as little as a $1 from a dollar store.  Please get one.

Get excited that you came here today for a reason!  Take an action to prepare for your family.  Click around to see budget plans, ideas to build your water supply, menus, a donation schedule, and more.

Developing a Preparedness and Provision Outlook

The first step in developing a preparedness + provision outlook is to be in Christ.  Without Him we can do nothing, even if we’re really awesome people and do lots of awesome things.  A Christian’s outlook differs from the typical outlook of the natural world.

The world approaches giving in ways that look something like this:
When you have a lot, give some.
When you have some, hold onto it.
When you have nothing, get what you can.

Christ teaches His followers that it is more blessed to give than receive (Acts 20:35).  His messages were always full of compassion for others with a direction that seems backwards from the world’s approach.  No matter how much you have, give away to get more.

Proverbs 11:24-25 wonderfully illustrates this amazing way of living:  One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.  A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”

That is a preparedness and provision outlook.

Most Christians understand our role and responsibility in giving but don’t always know how to do it.  I have some unique tips to help you become a giver (that’s the provision part of our outlook):

  • Make your bed every day.
  • Never let your car’s gas tank fall below a half tank.
  • Fold the laundry and put it away at the same time.

OK, I’ll admit those are strange and seem to have nothing at all to do with giving.  Here’s why I suggest them:  They develop discipline.  Giving requires discipline.  Most things that produce a wonderful result will have a root in discipline:  a healthy body, earning a college degree, raising amazing children, excelling in music or sports.

I know it may seem strange but start making your bed every morning then notice how you feel when you crawl into a neatly made bed at night.  It’s kind of a first step in caring about how you live.

When you notice your gas tank is approaching the halfway mark, fill it.  This one in particular showed me what a rush I always seemed to be in because I felt frustrated at following through on my own experiment.  I especially found it unpleasant when the weather was bad or I was really tired and just wanted to get home.  It didn’t take long to bend my emotions to get the tank full and now I do it consistently.

Folding laundry and putting it away is one seemingly unending household chore, especially for those of you with kids.  I had gotten into the habit of washing clothes, getting them into the dryer, but then folding them at a later time.  Sometimes I didn’t fold them until the next load was ready for the dryer which caused me to restart the dryer to get the wrinkles out, then fold, then move the next load in.  For some reason I thought folding a load of laundry and putting it away would take a chunk of time which I often didn’t have so I timed myself.  4 minutes.  Four.  Minutes.  It takes that long for the Keurig to warm up!  Now I actually chuckle when I’m doing laundry because I still fight the urge to just leave clothes in the dryer but now I know I’m causing myself stress over a 4 minute chore.

Though these discipline-developing ideas may not seem directly linked to preparing or providing, by following through they built something in me that I needed to become a giver.  Sometimes it was bending my will or emotions to meet a need at hand.  Sometimes it reduced the stress of knowing I had an incomplete chore weighing on me.  Sometimes it was overcoming laziness.  Sometimes it gave me comfort knowing I was taking small steps that would add up to bigger finished projects.  Mostly it demonstrated to me that I could be trusted and faithful in small things.

When the time comes for us to use our preparations to provide for others we will be well served to have cultivated a giving attitude first.

A Timely Opportunity? No Electricity Practice

We may get an opportunity to practice our own preparedness next week. 

North America is scheduled to participate in a simulated power grid outage on November 13 and 14, 2013 (GridEx II).  U.S. utility companies and federal agencies will be able to assess and test their readiness if our nation ever experiences a large-scale power grid outage.  That is good news.  It is wonderful that a group of leaders are testing their plan to respond in an emergency. 

There is some flutter around the internet that this drill will cause a real blackout or spin into an actual emergency situation.  From what I read I do not believe any power grids will actually be “turned off” instead it appears to be a simulation using scenarios and “play exercises.”  No need for us to panic or to obsess about what might happen.  We have a preparedness and provision outlook so while our officials are simulating their response to a power outage we could do a few things to “test” our readiness. 

Here are some ideas:

  • Winter weather is pretty much upon us.  How is your home heated?  Learn about your own furnace or heating system.  If you had no electricity how would you heat your home?
  • Water, water, water.  It is unlikely that you will be able to get water through your faucets if you have no electricity.  Do you have bottled or other water on hand in your house?  See the Water section for more information and details.
  • Where in your house do you need a flashlight handy?  When we have electricity it is so easy to flip on a light switch and it is an eye-opener (pun intended) when our power is out and we can’t see inside our own home. Consciously walk through your house without turning on lights to get a good idea about where to keep a flashlight handy.
  • Speaking of flashlights….are your batteries fresh?
  • Other lighting.  Candles, kerosene lamps, battery operated lanterns may be your choice for lighting during a power outage.  One thing I learned during a recent actual stint without electricity is that my usual hobbies require light (reading, puzzles, games) or electricity (computer, television, Wii workout).  In other words think about lighting not just to see where you’re going but to illuminate what you’ll be doing.  Even if you just want to sit down and handwrite some notes candlelight is less easy to see by than most of us are used to.
  • Cooking.  Assess how you will cook without electricity.  I’ve run a couple of personal drills and my first cooking discovery was that it is much harder to boil water without a stove than I thought. 
  • What’s in your refrigerator?  Most experts tell us to discard certain perishable foods after only 4 hours with no electricity.  Check out the 3-Day Crisis Menus  for more information.
  • Do you keep gas in your car?  I implemented the discipline of always having a 1/2 tank, always. 
  • How do your toilets flush?  I know that’s an odd question but if you have no idea how your toilet works you won’t know what to do to make it work if there is no running water.  Even a day without toilet flushing has become a very unpleasant thought for many Americans.  In a nutshell, you’ll have one normal flush with the water from the toilet tank, thereafter slowly pour a bucket of water (at least a gallon) directly into the toilet bowl and let the pressure from the water push everything through the pipes. You wouldn’t want to use your drinking water for this so this is where swimming pool or lake water or bathtub water comes in handy.
  • Who are your neighbors?  Do you know if there are any elderly or disabled people who may need extra assistance during an emergency?  Would you even recognize your neighbors if they came to your door?  This week may be a good time to take over some muffins and introduce yourself.  Our neighborhood coordinated a contact booklet a few years ago.  It was a big undertaking but very helpful.
  • Print this. These ideas certainly aren’t comprehensive but it could be good practice to get into the habit of printing very critical information from your computer.  I have tons of detailed information saved which would be completely useless if I didn’t have electricity to access it.
  • Consider getting a corded telephone.  Cell phones and cordless phones will lose their charge so having a phone you connect directly into a phone jack in your home may provide you a way to communicate.

Ideas to Build Your Water Supply

Do two things right now:

  1. Fill an empty plastic jug or two-liter plastic soft drink bottle with water from your tap (faucet).  This will be for sanitation use, not drinking. If you have it, add about 8 drops of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach to each gallon.  That’s about 4 drops for each two-liter bottle. This may make the water drinkable in an emergency.
  2. Buy bottled drinking water today on your lunch hour, on your way home from work, or add a trip to the store to your other errands.  This will be the start of your drinking and cooking supply.

Store this water in your designated emergency storage area.  (See the article on Storage for more information.)

Next, take action to intentionally add to your water supply until you’ve gathered a 2-week supply for your household.

Remember that’s 56 gallons (about 12 cases) minimum for a family of four or 14 gallons (about 3 ½ cases) minimum for an individual.

This supply will be mainly for drinking but there is also an allowance for very basic hand-rinsing and food preparation.  (That’s for any of you who determined that most people need to drink eight 8 oz servings and quickly deduced that to be about 4 typical bottles per day, making a case of 32 bottles enough for 8 days.  Good thinking.  Now add in the other things you’ll need water to accomplish like brushing your teeth, rinsing your hands, rinsing anything…..we haven’t even addressed getting the toilets to flush yet.)

You’ll be able to donate bottled water regularly to keep your supply fresh.  Local food banks and pantries almost always need bottled water.  Your donation rotation schedule will ensure that you donate water within the best by or expired by dates to the food pantries in your community and be a blessing the others.

Check out the budget plans for building your 2-week emergency water supply:

The Get it All at Once Plan (Water)
The No Money Plan (Water)
The A Bit at a Time Plan (Water)
The Money is Not an Issue Plan (Water)

RESOURCE – Check out the International Bottled Water Association website at:  http://www.bottledwater.org/education/bottled-water-storage for more information on bottled water storage and more water-related education.  I know!!  Who knew there was an association about bottled water?