Disaster Preparedness

I have avoided this post forever, as I have avoided disaster preparedness like the plague, simply because I grew up in a “constant fear of the apocalypse” culture.  I remember listening to hushed conversations in dim-lit kitchens among the grown-up women in my life discussing the end being near.  I remember hearing the grown-ups wonder if their children would reach adulthood before the end.  Really, I blame you the Left Behind series for the apocalyptic culture pervasive in my parents’ generation.  Talk about a scary worldview to grow up under for an already anxious child.  So, as an adult, I pretty much avoided all conversations about any kind of disaster preparedness because those conversations would only trigger intense apocalyptic fear.  Doomsday tomorrow.  Panic sets in.  (Seriously.)*

But.  Over time, I began to be more open to the wise concept of basic disaster preparedness regardless of whether the disaster be apocalyptic or not in nature.  Through gentle coaching from my husband (Val), and you know, just watching the news, I began to grasp that disasters do happen all over the world at any given moment.  Val has also gone on many international disaster relief trips in the course of our marriage, so it just started to make sense that we should probably have a general plan for disaster preparedness for ourselves.

Then this past month, I thought that maybe I should share some of what I’ve learned with you all.  What I’ll share is simple disaster preparedness resources.  The basics.  I’m including links of some of the things I’ve found most helpful so that you don’t have to track these all down yourself.  Just click on the word itself in the list below to access the links.  These are things that are just wise to have on hand in your home in case of any type of emergency or disaster:

Life Straws (one for each family member)

Life Straw (family size)

Magnesium Fire Starter (in case all your matches end up underwater)

Tent (this is a good quality one for the price)

Camp Stove (and propane)

Toilet Paper

Water (1 gallon per person in your household for 3 days)

Non-Perishable Food Items for a Week: canned beans, peanut butter, pasta, pasta sauce, canned fruit, etc.)

Baby Items (if you have a baby in your home): diapers, baby food, formula, etc.

Lysol Wipes


In addition to things to purchase and stock up on for disaster preparedness, it is important to create and discuss a family disaster preparedness plan.  For example, if your immediate family is not together at the time of a disaster and you can’t go home, what is your meeting place?  And what are a few possible routes to that location?  What will you grab if you need to leave your home quickly?  Make a plan and talk about it. 

Also, did you know September is “National Preparedness Month”?  So, why not kick September off with some necessary supplies and a firm plan for what you and your family will do in case of an emergency?

Below are a few websites with even more specific information regarding disaster preparedness:

Click here for the “ready.gov” website

Click here for the Red Cross Preparedness website

Click here for kid friendly educational resources regarding disaster preparedness

I’d love to hear from you?  What have I left out as necessary for disaster preparedness?  How have you and your family made yourself ready for a disaster?

* Humor aside, I do firmly believe that Jesus is going to come back; however, I am learning to believe that we do not have to be quite so panicked about all the potential events accompanying His return. 


The Single Most Important Parenting Chapter You Could Ever Read

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I am not that big into parenting books.  I think it’s a little ridiculous for any one parenting book to hold “the way” for all families and all children.  We’re all so different. 

However, I have found one chapter that I believe every single parent must read.  This chapter is not even in a parenting book.  Yet, it will be the single most valuable parenting advice you ever read!

The single most important chapter you could ever read on parenting is a chapter titled, “Jesus Kids,” in Jen Hatmaker’s book For the Love (click here).  And it’s not at all what you think it’s going to be about…in fact, it’s quite the opposite.  It is not at all about making your kids into “Jesus Kids,” but is all about giving your kids the space to wrestle with the faith.  To walk with them as supporters of their own faith journeys as opposed to being a religious leader simply trying to win converts. 

If heeded, this approach could drastically shift the feel and outcome of our children’s generation.  It could mean a shift away from the current reality of so many church kids who grow only to become disillusioned with the faith in their teens and twenties to a future reality of church kids who grow up knowing that they are safe to wrestle with hard questions without being cast out as heathens.  Could we in our generation of parents facilitate this shift for our children’s generation?  Let’s go change our kids’ futures!


Today Is the Day

This year I got to be a part of something truly amazing.  Something that has turned out to be the highlight of my whole year.  It is has been so profound, so uplifting, that I want to invite you all to join in a community I’ve been a part of these last six months.

Six months ago, I applied to be on the “launch team” for Jen Hatmaker’s upcoming book, For the Love.  When I got the email saying that I had been accepted to the team, I was beyond excited.  A sense of community sprung up among those of us on the launch team because we were being impacted by this powerful book.  Because today is the day this amazing book is being released, I want to invite you to join the community of women (and men) being set free by the truth Jen shares in her new book, For the Love, by “suggesting” that you go get yourself a copy of this book today!

Honestly, this is the best book I’ve read in ten years!  “Launch team” aside, it is truly an amazing book.  I wish I could buy a thousand copies so that I could give a copy to every person I know! 

Freedom is found in these pages!  Reading For the Love felt as though Jen Hatmaker had invited me to her porch to talk with her over a cup of coffee.   Jen put words to realities that my heart has been feeling but couldn't fully express.  This book made me laugh as much as it made me cry, stirred my soul, and left me feeling like Jen was patting me on the back, encouraging me to step into all that God has for me in this one life that I get. Everyone needs to read this book!

In fact, the most important parenting chapter you could ever read is found in this book…and it’s not even a parenting book!  Every parent needs to read the chapter, “Jesus Kids.”  The parenting wisdom found in this chapter is unprecedented.  If you buy the book to only read this one chapter, it will be money well spent (of course, you won’t be able to stop at just one chapter, once you’ve started reading). 

“Run Your Race” is a phenomenal chapter for anyone.  Any person who reads that chapter will find herself wanting to fully embrace and express exactly what she was put on this earth to be.  Read this chapter and find yourself empowered!

The only chapter I didn’t love with all my heart was “Hope for Spicy Families.”  While there was so much truth in it about us as mothers needing to not being so hard on ourselves (excellent!), the idea that “mostly good [parenting] produces healthy kids,” felt a little hollow to me.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time processing with adults who grew up in “mostly good” homes and yet have significant wounds from their upbringing that still need healing.  I do, however, still firmly believe with the overall message Jen was trying to communicate: Mamas, stop being so hard on yourself and start seeing the good you are doing.

Lastly, if you’ve ever encountered a “difficult person,” you’ll feel right at home in the midst of reading the chapter “Difficult People.”  The words on those pages are some of the best advice I’ve ever been given on dealing with difficult people.  Anyone who’s ever had a difficult person in her life (…and haven’t we all?) will walk away from this chapter feeling stronger and clearer than ever before. 

The mix of theological depth combined with some SNL-style humor was refreshing and life-giving!  The insight and raw honesty found here is so incredibly freeing.  If you want to be empowered, refreshed, and freed, read this book.  You will find yourself wanting to start it over again just as soon as you turn the last page!

Click here to order For the Love. 



Earlier this summer, I was overcome with just wanting everything cleaned out.  Everything.  It started with the basement, but quickly bled over into every other area of our life and home.  Maybe it really started long before the basement.  All I know is that one of the greatest realities of this Sabbath Year for me has been a purging of all things.  It’s actually been a very spiritual and emotional experience, even when I’ve been purging material possessions.

It actually makes sense when I reflect on the old Sabbath Year concept in the Bible.  The land was allowed to rest.  I imagine that letting the land rest was a purifying and enriching experience.  A letting go of what had been to make space for what was to come.  I don’t really know, I just imagine that it was a clarifying resetting for the land, which is echoed by this thought from Aytzim, Ecological Judaism:

Indeed, research on how a one year fallow affects soil quality has indicated that soil quality increases in the subsequent years. (Click here to read the entire post.)

The evidence suggests that the land was healthier at the end of the Sabbath Year…and ready for a more bountiful harvest.

I feel like this is what has been happening with me.  When we got home from Reno at the end of May, I knew our basement desperately needed to be tackled.  So, I took it on.  I spent every afternoon and evening for two weeks sorting, organizing, and purging the basement.  Then I bought shelves to make what we did keep more accessible.  And at the very end, I swept it out.  It felt so good.  I got a weird endorphin rush from throwing things in boxes and saying to myself, “Don’t need that!  Don’t need that!  Don’t need that!”

It spread from there, I found myself cleaning out my kitchen, my closet…the whole house really.  I just kept tossing stuff in the throw away and giveaway piles…gone, gone, gone.  It felt so good.  I literally felt my soul becoming lighter.

The boys even got involved.  Val had been noticing for a while that they were ready for some “older kid” toys; however, I was beyond my limit with the toys they already had.  So, we talked with the boys about cleaning out their toys to make room for some new toys.  They were (surprisingly) totally on board.  The boys and I worked together to clean out their rooms and all their toys.  We. all. felt. so. good. 

I even got rid of furniture that I no longer wanted.  Stuff I had been “making do” with because it was functional, but I didn’t actually like.  Gone. 

The beautiful thing was that many of our things that we gave away or sold were treasures for other families.  The stuff we didn’t need any more was exactly the thing someone else wanted. 

This purging of stuff is beginning to extend over into to how I even use Facebook.  I feel a longing to shut down my personal profile and posting, leaving it open to just a handful of family and friends.  As my boys grow, I feel the desire to guard their lives, hearts, and privacy even more, so I’ve set up a new Facebook page where I can keep my writing going without as much connection to my little family (click here to like my new page).*  It is my new place to connect my soul and writing with the world around me while allowing my little family more privacy.  A releasing, a purifying, a resetting.  There is an emotional rush from all this purging.

All this “letting go” from living room furniture to toys to Facebook, is like a purifying of my soul.  Purging is purifying.  Purging has created more soul space for what matters most.  Purging is focusing my energies at home, with my family, and in my writing.  I love it.

Have you purged your life of something?  How did it feel?

* If you keep up with me and this blog primarily through Facebook, please do head on over to my new page and “like” it so that you can still stay in the loop (click here).  At the end of this month, I’ll be taking my personal profile down almost completely, and I’d hate to lose track of you in the process!  You can also subscribe to receive my blog posts by email (there is a place to subscribe at the top right-hand corner of this blog site).