Are You Prepared for the Outdoors?

Every summer, our church provide​s​ a special activity for single adults ranging in age from 18 to 30.  We call it our Summer Summit and it’s held in the mountains about 8,000 feet above sea level at a church owned property.  It’s a 40 acre tract of land with three lakes, two of which have zip lines over the water.

It’s a two day activity with great food, camping out, rock climbing, swimming, canoeing, archery, trap shooting, hamster ball (if you’ve never heard of this, you’ve got to google it), rope courses, team building activities, speakers, and a big dance Friday night.  It really is a BIG production!

We typically have 600 to 700 young single adults attend and it’s just a blast.  My wife and I have been helping the last five years and even though it’s a lot of work, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know these young adults and watch them mingle and enjoy some good, clean fun.

This last year, my wife and I were assigned to oversee the waterfront on the main lake.  This included all swimming, canoeing and zip line activities.  We asked two other couples to assist us simply because there were just too many kids wanting to do too many different things all at the same time.

I really enjoyed working the zip line tower.  Kids would climb up a ladder to the top of the tower where I was standing, I would explain the rules and how best to jump out when they were over the water.  I would ​help ​them get properly seated in the harness and then tell them to jump off ​the tower ​when they were ready.

There was a long rope attached to the harness so that it could be pulled back to the tower after the rider jumped out.  I had no idea just how much work it would be to pull the harness back to the tower after each jump.  After 40 or 50 turns, my arms were screaming for a rest.  Even though one’s arms would get totally wasted pulling the harness back time after time, the real problem was happening silently and consistently without one even noticing.

The top of my head, my forehead, my nose​,​ the tops of my ears ​and the back of my neck were getting fried!  I was so preoccupied with the tasks at hand that I had neglected to wear a hat or any sunscreen.  The problem with getting severely sunburned is that it happens so easily that you really don’t know you’re in trouble until it’s too late.

That night and the next day, I really paid the price.  There wasn’t enough Aloe Vera in the county to drive away the pain.  I couldn’t believe I was so stupid as to not properly prepare for being out in the sun all day.  I seldom use sunscreen but usually I’ll w​ear​ at least a baseball cap that will protect the top of my head and my forehead.

One of the fellows that was helping us out at the water front was sporting a really cool looking hat.​  I asked him about it and he began an infomercial that I wasn’t expecting.  The hat he was wearing was called a Tilley hat and has quite a reputation as well as a lifetime guarantee.  He related several examples of how hats like his had been abused and subjected to extraordinarily harsh conditions and withstood it all.  The one example I remember was the story of how an elephant trainer had his Tilley hat eaten by an elephant and after it passed through the elephant’s digestive tract, was recovered, washed and continued to be used by the trainer as if nothing had ever happened to the hat.

Not that I was particularly concerned about the threat of an elephant eating my hat, but I was intrigued by the quality and the lifetime guarantee of the Tilley hat.  Most importantly, I though it looked nice and had a wide enough brim to cover ones forehead, ears and back on the neck.​

I like baseball caps but for prolonged outside exposure to the sun, they just don’t provide the protection that is needed.  So I started to pay attention and observe those who spend a lot of time in the sun and see what they used to shield themselves from the harsh effects of overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

I had a great example I watched for several weeks last summer when the owners of the home across the street from me decided to renovate and re-landscape their home.  The landscaping crew was predominately Mexican who seemed to know something many of us don’t realize.  They know how to dress for prolonged exposure to the sun and it obviously works.  Many of us, who don’t know better assume if it’s hot and we’re in the sun, remove as much clothing as possible to try and keep cool.

These construction workers knew better.  The first thing I noticed was that they all wore long-sleeved, collared shirts.  No collarless tee-shirts.  In addition, some wore hoodies with the hoods over their heads.  Others wore large brimmed hats that would provide sufficient shade to cover their heads and necks.  One older worker wore what I first thought was a costume or prank cowboy hat.  It must have been three times the size of a regular cowboy hat.  After watching him over several days, I realized it was a legitimate hat that provided a significant amount of shade.

Growing up in New Mexico, it was very common to see Navajo women wearing long velvet dresses out in the sun in the summer.  My father explained to me it actually helped insulate them against the heat rather than making them hotter.

In the event of some major event or natural disaster, the odds are you will be spending more time outside that you do now.  You certainly don’t want to add to your woes by not protecting yourself from the sun.  Put on your list to get the right kind of hat for each family member and make sure the brim is large enough to cover the ears and back of the neck.  Being properly prepared with the right kind of hats for your family will save you pain and discomfort in the future.

Avoiding the Threat of a Deep Freeze

It’s always exciting when Spring arrives and warmer days are right around the corner.  I love it when the days get a little longer and Day-light Savings Time is re-engaged so it’s light longer in the evening.  I also like to watch the fruit trees start to blossom and get excited about all the great apples, cherries, apricots and plums we’ll be able to harvest in the coming months.  The smell of the blossoms and the buzzing of the bees around them are wonderful to experience.

Then sometimes, it all comes to a screeching halt.  All of the dreams and great expectations of a bountiful harvest are dashed.  Mother Nature throws us a curve ball and we get hammered with a late frost.  The blossoms turn brown and shrivel up and the dreams of bushels of fruit have to be put off till next year.

My dad grew up working in an apple orchard and would tell us of the long nights keeping the smudge pots burning in an attempt to keep the temperatures just high enough to ward off a hard frost.  Typically, if the temperature drops to 28 degrees for more than a couple of hours, real damage can be done to the crop.  There were years they were successful and the smudge pots saved the crop and others, in spite of their efforts, where they lost most of their fruit.

Orchards farmers today use both water and wind to increase the temperature of their orchards and prevent freezing.  Sprinklers using ground water will increase the temperature by 2 to 4 degrees and wind machines help mix the cold air with warmer air and can increase the temperature by 2 to 3 degrees.

Our ancestors were very familiar with these potential cold snaps and would prepare for such events.  Many didn’t have the local grocery store to rely on and had to provide from their own orchards and gardens.  These wise providers knew the importance of preserving as much of their harvest as they could for later use.  We hear the term “canning” which really means putting up food in quart and pint jars to be used at some future date.  Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers spent countless hours in the kitchen canning fruits, vegetables, meats, butter, nuts and any other food item that would last.  They had to preserve not only enough to last till the next harvest but extra in the event something went wrong.

Most have heard the term, “year’s supply of food”.  Have you ever wondered why a year?  What’s so important about a full year?  Why not just three or six months’ worth of food storage?  The simple answer is this: It’s a growing cycle.  Yep, that’s it.  Our ancestors understood that if a crop got wiped out this year, it would be at least another year before they could harvest their next crop.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?  Yet in today’s world, we’re seldom conscience of the growing season of any given food.  The grocery store always seems to have what we need and apparently, somewhere in the world, it’s the right growing season for what we’re looking for and the grocery store has it shipped in from far and wide.

As a result, we have allowed ourselves to become dependent on a significant amount of produce shipped in from Mexico and South and Central America.  U.S. farmers grow a lot of produce, but imports are filling most of the rising demand, especially during winter months.  In fact, the volume of imports has increased to more than 150 fruits and vegetables.

As the farming, production and distribution of our food supply becomes more and more complex, the potential disruption of this supply becomes more probable.  There are just so many moving parts that it’s only a matter of time before something goes sideways and disrupts the flow from the grower to the consumer.

We have all seen the news reports of empty shelves at grocery stores due to a trucker’s strike or an impending hurricane or announced shortage.  It doesn’t take long for panicked consumers to rush to their local grocery store in an attempt to beat others to the available food so at least “they and theirs” will have something to eat, not concerning themselves with others who may not have been able to get to the store as quickly.

The bottom line, you and I have no control over the flow of food to our local grocery store.  We are totally dependent on all the factors coming together in a timely fashion to provide us with the fresh food and produce we’re accustom to purchasing and consuming.  The only way we can protect ourselves against a myriad of potential issues that could disrupt our food supply is to follow the example of our ancestors – set aside enough food for future needs.

We have so much the advantage over what our ancestors had to do to provide the security of food storage.  Rather than spending countless hours and days of labor growing, harvesting and preserving the food, we now have access to dehydrated and freeze-dried food.  It will last longer, it’s more durable and takes up less space than countless quart jars of bottled food.  And all we need to do is purchase the appropriate amount for our families and store it away.

In addition, due to current-day technology, we can also store away our second year’s supply of food in the form of heirloom seeds.  These seeds have been properly treated to last over five years on your shelf and provide a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.  They are heirloom seeds (non-hybrid) so that one can take the seeds from the harvested produce to plant a subsequent year’s garden.  The cost of this “second year’s supply” is very reasonable and the seeds are easy to store.  As long as you have the space to grow a garden, (even if it means tilling up your lawn) and access to water, you’ll be in great shape should the need to grow your own food lasts longer than a year.

Please take the time now to protect your family against the very real possibility of food shortages in the future by not only having the appropriate level on dehydrated and freeze-dried food but also the back-up of heirloom garden seeds.  Mother Nature WILL throw us a curve ball.  It’s happened so many times in the past and is guaranteed to happen again in the future.

Sources:  https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/graphic-science-where-in-the-world-your-fruits-vegetables-come-from-interactive/

http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-1057-B/index2.tmpl

As a Man Thinketh

A few years ago, my father-in-law organized a pack trip through some spectacular high mountain trails in the Rocky Mountains.  We took horses on this trip with a couple of pack horses to carry all our gear.  One of the horses was a young two year old gelding that was still being trained.

Every so often we would cross a stream and would stop in the middle of the stream to let the horses drink.  In a particularly steep area, we came across a wide stream that crossed the trail.  We walked the horses out in the middle of the stream to once again let them drink.  The old saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink” is so true.  The young gelding just stood in the water, looking down at it but did not drink.

I’ve never seen this before, but this young pack horse continued to stare at the passing water until something bizarre happened.  Watching the moving water caused the young horse to lose his balance and he just tipped over and fell down a steep incline.   The horse rolled a couple of times and the panniers were torn off spilling much of our gear in the water.  We thought for sure the horse would have broken a leg or worse.

We jumped off our horses and slid down the hill to try and rescue the horse and collect our gear.  As you can imagine, the horse was thrashing about, trying to stand up.  There were still ropes and the pack saddle attached to the horse which made him panic all the more.  It was only after a considerable amount of time and effort we were able to calm the horse down and get him back up to the trail.  It was nothing short of a miracle that he hadn’t broken any bones.

After tying up the horse, we gathered up all the gear we could find and repacked it into the panniers.  We tried to lighten the load on the young horse by carrying some of the gear on the other horses.  After about an hour, we were on the trail again headed for our first campsite.

This experience reminded me of one of my girls when she was a toddler.  We were at the beach enjoying the California weather.  I have a video of her running on the sand near the water’s edge.  As the waves would come in and the water line would move up the sand and then back out again, it would throw her balance off and she would fall.  It’s a cute video but I can’t help but wonder how often we act or react like the pack horse or my young daughter.  What are the things in our lives that we focus on?  Will that focus move us closer to what matters most or cause us to stumble and fall?

There’s a classic book entitled “As a Man Thinketh” written by James Allen and published in 1903.  The title is influenced by a verse in the Bible from the Book of Proverbs, chapter 23, verse 7: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”.  It’s only 70 pages long but is jam-packed with wisdom, the essence being, “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”

I’ve never been one who just listens to music on the radio while I drive.  I’ve always preferred spending my time listening to talk shows or motivational speakers.  Back in the days of cassette tape players in cars, I would keep a case of tapes of motivational speakers such as Zig Ziglar, Stephen Covey, Dennis Waitley, Ira Hayes, Paul Harvey, W. Clement Stone, Cavett Robert just to name a few.

One of my favorites was Earl Nightingale.  He was a famous radio speaker and author, dealing mostly with the subjects of human character development, motivation, and meaningful existence.  He died in 1989. He had a very distinctive voice with the ability to motivate without yelling or jumping up and down.  There was pure inspiration in his voice. He had a masterful way of communicating and many of his stories will forever remain seared into my memory banks.

Some of my favorites are “The Common Denominator of Success”, “Acres of Diamonds” and “Miracle of Your Mind”.  It would be well worth your time to Google these titles and listen to them.  A classic is “We Become What We Think About”.  Here’s a brief excerpt of that presentation:

Indeed, we become what we think about and that can be either positive or negative in our lives. There are times in our lives when we can become consumed with our thoughts.  I can’t help but think about two Hollywood examples portrayed in film.  First, there’s the entertaining holiday movie of Ralphie and his all-consuming plight of convincing his parents that the perfect Christmas gift would be a Red Ryder BB gun in “The Christmas Story” (one of my favorite Christmas movie traditions).  The thought of getting that BB gun totally consumed his every thought.

Then there’s the Disney portrayal of an enterprising frog named “Mr. Toad”.  When Mr. Toad first saw an automobile, he also became totally consumed with driving a car which led to “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride”.  This obsession became a mania for Mr. Toad, one he just couldn’t control.

There are times when becoming Ralphie or Mr. Toad can be a strong, positive thing in our lives, as long as we are allowing ourselves to be consumed with good, positive goals and objectives.  Even still, proper moderation is an essential key to keeping our lives balanced.  We can never allow any such goals to take precedence over what matters most.

Be prudent – don’t let prepping consume you and occupy your every thought.  There’s plenty of negative in the world that could keep us depressed and worried 24/7.  Focus on the positive, not the negative news we hear each day.  Take the time to properly prepare and then focus on the positive, hopeful and enjoyable aspects of your life.  Don’t fret about the future – tomorrow will come regardless of what we do today.

1 Thessalonians 5:6 – Wake Up

1 Thessalonians is a letter from Paul, the apostle, to the people of Thessaloniki, a Greek port city on the Thermic Gulf. Paul and Silas established the first church of Thessalonica. Following the teaching of Jesus Christ put the people at odds with Caeser. The idea that Jesus was a greater king made Caeser very angry, obviously.  So he persecuted the people, which forced Silas and Paul to flee. Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians in an attempt to reconnect with the Christians in Thessalonica. Despite the persecution of Caeser, at this point, they were doing remarkably well.

Paul praised the people for their love towards others, as well as their hope and faithfulness in the face of Caeser’s injustices. The people of Thessaloniki treated Paul like family and he felt especially close to them. Paul was persecuted by his fellow Jews and the Christians were persecuted by Caeser. Paul felt a certain level of comradery with the people because of their shared experiences. Paul wanted the Christians in Thessaloniki to be known for there hard work. He wanted them to work hard not only to provide for themselves but to provide for the needy as well.

Caeser promised to bring Pax Roma, peace and security, to the people. Unfortunately, this peace was maintained through terrible violence. Paul explained that true hope and security came from Jesus Christ. He invited the people to stay sober and awake, to live as if Jesus had already returned.

“So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.”

 1 Thessalonians 5:6 

Wake Up Paul wanted the people to be aware of the world around them, to see a need and to fill that need. How does this relate to your life today? How are you asleep and not aware of those around you? How can you wake up and see others’ needs better?  “Let us not be like others, who are asleep…” Wake up and see the world around you, the good and the bad. Beung aware of the negative things in life will help you prepare for the bad and enjoy the good. Prepare for the worst and hope the best.

Be Sober Caeser’s treatment of the Christians was cruel, yet the people continued to persevere. They remained hopeful in against terrible odds. During an emergency, it is easy to lose your head. It is difficult to remain cool and collected in a chaotic environment. Not surprisingly, psychologists often see a spike in depression during a disaster. Would you be able to persevere during trying times? As Paul advises in this scripture, don’t drown yourself in distractions, “be awake and sober.” Face the difficulties head-on. Some suggestions to do so include:

Adjust your attitude. Paul also said, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4) Attitude is a general determinant of how you feel. Look at the trial you are facing and ask yourself what you can learn from this.

Pray for understanding and support. “The Spirit … bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:16-18). Whether your crisis is financial, spiritual, the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a lifestyle due to a calamity, turn to Him for the guidance and support you need.

Be Prepared. Of course, you don’t know the future. However, there are some things you can do to be ready for unknown trials. Store up your goods, your food storage and money, so that you can focus on coming out of the the trial instead of worrying about the necessities of life.

What do you do to ensure you are “awake and sober” in case of an emergency?

Source: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Thessalonians+5%3A6&version=NIV

https://www.ancient.eu/Pax_Romana/

Proverbs 21:20 – The Wise Store Up Food

The Old Testament Book of Proverbs is full of ancient thinkers and prophets who collected choice phrases and stories in order to pass down their wisdom through the generations. The book of Proverbs is a guide to living well or wisely in God’s universe. It is filled with short sayings and longer poems which teach moral values. Proverbs divides actions into God’s idea of good and bad. The teachings form a moral compass to live by.

Of course, Proverbs has something to say about spiritual preparedness, as well as temporal preparedness. In a day and time where food didn’t come in cans from grocery stores, these wise people understood the importance of storage and preparedness.

“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but the fools gulp theirs down”

Proverbs 21:20 

Proverbs 21:20 is mixed in with literally hundreds of other ancient words of wisdom.  This passage clearly defines the wise as those who save and store food. Whereas the foolish quickly use up their supplies. What can we learn from this ancient phrase? Proverbs 21:20 can be divided into two ideas; food storage and financial independence.

Food Storage Food storage is an obvious takeaway, the passage clearly states “the wise store up choice food.” Emergency food storage is an important and necessary part of any emergency plan. In ancient times extra food from the harvest season was stored to keep people fed throughout the cold winter months. Those with a meager harvest or those who failed to store food often died from starvation.

For most of the developed world, starvation might not seem like much of a problem. However, some predict that the world may face massive food storage as little as 10 years. According to Sara Menker, chief executive of Gro Intelligence, world food supplies are currently measured by weight and not nutritional value. Estimates put the world’s population at over 9 billion people by 2050. Demands for higher calorie foods such as red meat could be problematic. Ensure your family is prepared. Be wise, store emergency food and water.

Financial Independence Living within your means is an important life skill. Proverbs 21:20 tells us that the foolish people “gulp down” their supplies. In the ancient world, crops and livestock were your wealth. Say you have a good harvest and feast on all the spoils, then you will have nothing eat later. Saving money works on the same principle.

Financial experts recommend having an emergency fund, obviously. This should be money set aside for unexpected medical bills, car repairs, job loss, etc. This shouldn’t be saved for a home or a vacation. Experts suggest you set aside 6-12 months of earned income. This will allow you to manage unexpected expenses while still paying your everyday bills. Don’t be foolish and spend every penny you earn, when disaster strikes you won’t be able to fund your needs. Instead be wise and set aside a rainy day fund.

Principles from Proverbs 21:20

  • Spend less than you earn
  • Store food and water

Source: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+21%3A20&version=NIV

http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/world-could-run-out-of-food-in-10-years/news-story/3f5777be99e52abaf8fe562112629f69

Photo Credit: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/greece/travel-tips-and-articles/more-than-ouzo-a-drinkers-guide-to-greece/40625c8c-8a11-5710-a052-1479d2762cf9

http://biram.info/old-weight-scale/old-weight-balance-scale-old-weighing-scale-images-old-body-weight-scale-balance-scale/

I Felt Horrible – Accepting Help When You Need It

I had a humbling experience at the gym that taught me a valuable lesson.  On the second level of our city rec center/gym, there are several rooms surrounded by a track.  Two of the rooms are a cardio room with treadmills, elliptical​s​, ​e​xercycle​s​ and other similar equipment and the weight room with ​a variety of weight machines and free weights. Both of these rooms are enclosed by chain-link fences so it’s easy to see people as they run the track or go to any of the other rooms on that floor.

While in the weight room, I remember seeing a young family walking around as if they had a specific purpose for being there.  They had two young children, both less than five years old.  A few minutes later after I had re-focused on my lifting routine, I was startled by one of their children, a little girl, while I was using the squat machine.

I always wear earphones when working out but seldom listen to music.  It’s usually some podcast of a radio talk show that keeps my mind occupied.  So this little girl came up to me and in a quiet, shy voice asked if I would like a drink of water and then held out a bottle of water.  I was a little surprised by her kind offer and since I wasn’t sure if I had heard her correctly, I just said no thank you and continued with my workout.

When I moved to another piece of equipment, I could see the family again and it all came clear what was transpiring.  These good parents had wanted to give their children the opportunity of experiencing the joy of offering random acts of kindness.  Their game plan was to come to the gym with several bottles of water and give them to those who they thought might appreciate a drink.

All of a sudden, I felt horrible!  This cute little girl had approached me offering this kind gesture and I turned her away.  I felt like a real jerk!  I knew what I needed to do so I quickly left the weight area and walked down the hall to where the family was gathered.  I knelt down in front of the little girl and apologized for not accepting her gift and explained to her I wasn’t sure I had heard her correctly due to my ear phones.

I then asked if she still had that bottle of water because I really would love a drink.  She handed me the bottle and I noticed they had replaced the regular label with a homemade one encouraging me to pay this random act of kindness forward.  I thanked the little girl and apologized again for turning her away and told her what a wonderful thing she was doing with her family.

I smiled at her parents and I could tell how much they appreciated my helping their little girl feel the joy of giving.  I kept that water bottle to remind me of a weakness I have that I need to be far more humble and willing to receive and accept help and aid.

I have always thought of myself as a real self-reliant guy who didn’t need anybody’s help. ​If anything, I always saw myself as the one who would offer help, not receive it. ​ I’ve always felt I could solve most any problem – repair most any broken item and have the strength to comfort those in need of comfort feeling I was not one of the “weaker” ones.  Boy, what a stupid and arrogant way of thinking!  And it took a sweet little girl at the gym to humble me enough to recognize just how foolish I was.

We all go through different phases of our lives where times are good and other times when they’re not so great.  I don’t know of a single soul who couldn’t use some comfort or help at some time in their life.  We all fall into that category.

Part of this valuable lesson I learned was how inappropriate and thoughtless it is when we prevent others from receiving the blessings of service.  When we turn down such offers, we are depriving those sincere souls of the blessings of serving their fellowmen.

​When you take this feeling of superiority and independence to the next level, it can create significant difficulties when there are those who will refuse the council and guidance of others because they feel they know it all.  They don’t need other people offering suggestions or unsolicited council on how they might improve certain aspects of their lives.

Once again, this lack of humility, this attitude of not needing anyone else telling them how to improve their lives can and will create many problems going forward.  Several years ago, I was asked by a friend to go in business with him.  He had a great business idea and was going to offer both a product and service that were both needed and not currently addressed.

As we started putting our business plan together, I began feeling concerned because my new partner was making decisions that had the potential of adversely affecting the profitability and longevity of the company.  The bottom line was he had such a high level of greed, he didn’t want to spend any money to hire specific professionals that were needed to properly launch the company.  He wanted to handle the accounting, legal, R & D and marketing all in house – meaning him and me.

I felt very uncomfortable about not having the skill or required certification to properly handle our accounting and legal needs and my partner’s response was always. “We don’t need to be paying others for what we can do ourselves.”  Problem was, we couldn’t properly do these things ourselves.  We needed professional advice and assistance from legitimate accountants, lawyers, etc.  My partner and I unfortunately could not agree on this issue and ended up parting ways.

As I see it, there are two important acknowledgements we all need to embrace:

●  We don’t have all the answers.
●  It takes humility to ask for and receive the help and answers we need.

Just because I’ve been in the preparedness industry for over 35 years doesn’t mean I can’t still learn from others and their experience.  Being humble and willing to take advice from others does not diminish the knowledge and experience I’ve accumulated.  It’s one of my goals to strive each day to be more open to help and advice from others and show gratitude to those who offer such council and assistance.

If and when things get really dicey, trying to survive on your own is a real recipe for disaster and failure.  You need to surround yourself with like-minded people and learn from each other, being willing to help and be helped.  There is indeed safety in numbers.

So next time someone offers to help you with your groceries, or bring in your garbage can from the street or asks if they can shovel the snow from you walkway, let them help.  Next time someone opens a door for you or pulls out a shopping cart from the stack of carts and gives it to you, thank them sincerely and pay it forward. ​Work with me in trying to be more humble and allow others the blessings of offering service to you.

Understanding Julian Dates

If you’re new to the food storage world, you may be a bit confused about expiration dates and Julian dates, the string of numbers you see on some MREs and  #10 cans. These numbers represent the manufacturer’s Julian dates.  While initially this system can seem confusing, there’s an easy way to decipher these numbers.

The Julian Calendar – Julian dates are based on the Julian calendar which started over 4000 BC. It started by simply qualifying each day as Day 1, Day 2, etc. So, January 1, 4713 BC was Day 1.  January 30 4713 BC was Day 30.

That doesn’t do much for us since we work with the Gregorian calendar now, using days, months, and years. However, many manufacturers, especially MRE and food storage manufacturers depend on Julian dates simply because it’s easier for their computer systems to calculate them.

It’s Like Military Time – Think of it this way, the military uses continuous military time as a 24-hour system so it doesn’t have to differentiate between AM and PM. It takes a bit to get used to military time, but once you do, it’s a very clear way to document time. A Julian date is also a very easy, clear way to document dates. Manufacturers don’t need to use a mix of letters and numbers, work with shorter months/longer months, or adjust to leap year days. It’s simply a number.

Breaking it down – A Julian date is usually a 4 or 5 digit number starting with the last 2 digits of the year the item is made. The last three numbers correlate with the day of the year the product is made.  Here are a couple examples:
Product made January 12, 2018.  Julian Date: 18012.
Product made August 24, 2016.  Julian Date: 16237. (2016 was a leap year.)

If you’d like a Julian cheat sheet, here you go.

Just a reminder- MREs have a 1-5 year shelf-life. The Julian date is NOT the expiration date, but rather the manufacture date. Look at the date and add 1-5 years to figure out when you need to restock.

 

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I Offended Santa – How Do You Plan For the Unknown?

I’m not one for surprises and patience is unfortunately not my strong suite.  I like to know all the details and inside story right now.  It goes back to my youth; I discovered where my mom would hide the Christmas presents and when she would go to the store, I would open my presents to see what I was getting.  There were times that my brother and I not only opened the presents, but would play with the toys and then wrap them back up before my mom got home.  I look back on that now and feel really crumby about it and I’m sure I offended Santa.  Nevertheless, it’s still hard for me to be patient and wait for the answers.

I don’t think I’m alone in wanting answers to my prayers right now.  Surely Heavenly Father knows what I need so why can’t I receive the solution to my problems now?  What’s the purpose of making me wait to get the answers I so desperately want and need?  I wish I knew the answers to those questions but I have learned I need to exercise faith that if I’m doing all I can to solve a problem, if I continue to work and pray and try, eventually things will work out.  They always do.

It may not be in the time frame I would have chosen or even in the manner I thought would have been best, but things will work out.  For those who refuse to give up and are committed to continue to move forward in faith, in spite of not knowing all the answers, I’m convinced those answers will become clear sometime down the road.

I believe this quote from Steve Jobs really makes a lot of sense:​​

 “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”                ~ Steve Jobs

This has been a real challenge for me as it relates to properly preparing for an uncertain future.  Yes, I would love to know when things will get bad enough that we’ll need to rely on our food storage.  Yes, I would love to know what the event or events will be that will trigger this need.  And yes, I’d love to know how long we’ll need to be on our own.  I would venture to guess everyone would want to know this info.  Knowing these details could alleviate so much potential pain and suffering.  It could also help us prepare to provide for those who can’t prepare for themselves.

Unfortunately, that’s not the way things work.  There is no fortune teller who can spell out all the future details of our lives so we can be totally prepared and ready for every potential event we will encounter.  Certainly if there were, there would be no need for faith in our lives, there would be no challenges we weren’t prepared for and there certainly would be no surprises that might catch us off guard.  And as a result, there would be no personal growth that comes from moving forward with faith, not knowing the end of the story before it begins.

If your desire and goal is to provide for your family with food storage and all the non-food items that accompany being properly prepared, then move forward with faith believing things will work out.  Even if you don’t know where to start, do something – anything, especially if you feel promptings you may not be able to explain.

You may not completely understand why you feel a prompting to purchase food storage, or that coil of rope, or extra bottles of hydrogen peroxide, or a case of matches.  You may question yourself when you are led to purchase an axe, or a large tent, or extra warm clothes from the thrift store.  You may wonder why you feel a need to buy extra work gloves, or large brimmed hats, or sewing kits.  But if you do follow through and act on the promptings you receive, the time will come when you’ll be able to connect the dots and understand fully why you received those promptings.

Please don’t let the fact that you don’t have all the answers keep you from moving forward with your preps.  Just because you may not be able to see in your mind why you would ever need emergency food storage, don’t let that keep you from moving forward.  The dots will all eventually connect and our lives will be blessed if we choose to move forward with faith.

The Importance of Protein in Your Food Storage

I was on one of my many health kicks a couple of years ago where I decided to try the vegetarian lifestyle.  I had read many articles about the health benefits of removing meat from one’s diet and added a few YouTube videos to the mix that seemed to confirm this style of eating.  I must admit, it was very hard to keep an open mind as I reviewed much of this info because I felt like I would be joining some type of a cult if I personally embraced the often emotionally presented beliefs of vegetarianism.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be disrespectful to anyone who chooses a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle – more power to them!  It just the feeling I got from much of the material I reviewed that those who choose not to embrace this way of eating are foolish and grossly uninformed.  I’ll be the first to admit, I am grossly uninformed about many things, nevertheless, I feel I have a pretty good idea regarding what my body needs to feel healthy and provide the energy I need to last the day.

So in spite of my reservations, I decided to give it a shot. The first thing that was required was to go shopping for the right kind of food to make this as pain-free as possible.  This included visiting the local health food store and purchasing every kind of “fake meat” I could find.  I was surprised to learn they had what looked like bacon, hamburger patties and hot dogs so I bought them all.

I’m sorry to say, these “meatless” meat products were far less than satisfying and some we just plain nasty.  The true carnivore within would not be fooled by these not-so-cheap imitations.  Honestly, for the most part, I was able to handle a meat free diet if my wife had the time to prepare some delicious entrée.  But, if I was hungry and went to the fridge, I just couldn’t bring myself to choosing to munch on rabbit food rather than something that would stick to my ribs.

One thing I noticed was that I seemed to get hungry more often.  It’s like the meatless food just didn’t have the staying power to keeping me going.  In addition, I started worrying about the level of protein I was consuming.  I know there are many sources of natural protein in plant based foods but my body felt like it was missing some important high octane fuel to provide the energy I was accustomed to.

Unfortunately, like so many of my health goals, this new undertaking didn’t last longer than about 30 days and I decided to throw in the towel.  There were, though, some very valuable lessons learned.  First lesson, don’t waste your money of fake bacon and hotdogs – you’ll be sorely disappointed.  The veggie burgers weren’t half bad though.  At a little higher level, stick with the real thing.  There are many food substitutes in the marketplace designed to fake you into thinking you’re eating healthy when you’re not; fake butter, fake sugar, fake fat, fake meat, fake cheese, fake eggs and the list goes on and on.

The most important lesson I learned – maybe not learned because I always knew it, but was reminded of it – proper nutritional value is made up of many components that need to be correctly balanced for your body to function optimally.  Nutritional value is primarily composed of vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, sugars and fiber.  If your overall diet is lacking in any of these areas, over an extended period of time, your system will begin to show potential serious deficiencies.

Since we’ve been discussing meat or the lack thereof, let’s broaden the topic just a little and discuss “protein” as an important part of any food storage plan.  Most food storage companies will attempt to address the need of adequate protein by adding dry beans or TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein made from soy) to their meal plans.  Navy, pinto, chili, black and kidney beans are a great source of protein.  A cup serving of any of these beans will yield about 40 grams of protein.

According to the USDA, an adult should consume at least .8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.  Since most of us are not adept with the metric system, here’s the US equivalent.  You should consume about .4 grams of protein per pound of body weight.  For a 150 lb. woman, that would be 60 grams.  For a 200 lb. man, that would be 80 grams of daily protein.

If all the math seems confusing, remember that most experts recommend consuming about 20–30 percent of your overall calories from protein foods.

Most meats average around 20% protein which is one of the highest forms of protein available and how most Americans get their daily required amount.  Not only is meat the most commonly consumed form of protein, but it’s also usually the center dish of most meals.  What would Thanksgiving be without a turkey or ham?  How about a BBQ without the burgers and hotdogs?  A nice meal at a restaurant without the steak or a piece of fish?  Or a nice Sunday dinner without the roast?  I think you get my drift.  Most of us were raised with meat being the central part of a meal and will find it very trying if that were to suddenly change.

The consequences of not having enough protein in your diet can be severe.  Here are a few to consider:

●  Cataracts
●  Heart problems
●  Kyphosis or muscle atrophy
●  A sluggish metabolism
●  Low energy levels and fatigue
●  Poor concentration and trouble learning
●  Moodiness and mood swings
●  Muscle, bone and joint pain
●  Blood sugar changes that can lead to diabetes
●  Slow wound healing
●  Low immunity

So, how does one accomplish the task of storing enough protein to provide 60 to 80 daily grams of per person to help avoid these maladies?  For those who wish to solve this concern the vegetarian way, beans and legumes store very well and are a great approach.  For those who would like to continue with their current eating habits and get much of their protein by consuming real meat, your options are limited.  Due to the difficult nature of storing meat as the primary source of protein, most choose to ignore this hole in their preps and somehow assume it will all work out – they will be sadly mistaken.

Overlooking this essential part of nutrition and assuming one could naturally and easily convert over to an all plant form of protein can be very problematic. Drastically altering the foods we eat can cause bloating, cramping, dysentery and a feeling of malaise.  The last thing you want to do during an already stressful situation is to add to that stress by not consuming foods you are accustomed to.

If you want to store real meat that has an extended shelf life for off grid scenarios, your only option is freeze-dried meat.  Freeze-dried meat will last up to 25 years and is very easy to prepare and use.  All you need to do is add hot water, let it sit for 10 minutes and you’re good to go.  Remember, freeze-dried meat IS the real thing, not some meat substitute or soy product with potential allergen problems.  Having the proper amount of protein in your diet is not only essential, but will provide the needed familiar “comfort food” in times of stress and need.

Source:  www.cnpp.usda.gov/dietary-guidelines

You’ve Gotta be Kidding!

I came across some very interesting stats regarding Christians that were highlighted in the book, “The Way Back: How Christians Blew Our Credibility and How We Get It Back” by Phil Cooke and Jonathan Bock.

The premise of the book stems from the scripture in Matthew 7:15-20.  Verse 20 sums it up where it states, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”

Unfortunately, according to the stats uncovered by Cooke and Bock, we as Christians have a real problem following through with what we say we believe.  Our fruits are indeed lacking.  To be more specific, here are some of the details they discovered – they may shock you.

●  70% to 80% of US population are Christians
●  Only 20% attend church at least 19 times per year
●  37% of the 20% who attend don’t feel prayer is important
●  40% of the 20% who attend rarely or never open the Bible
●  10% of the 20% who attend pay a tithe

These stats are really disappointing to learn.  I had assumed we were doing much better than this in terms of living our religion.  Even on a secular basis, we are constantly being encouraged to step up and act in accordance to our beliefs.  To prove this point, here are a few phrases we’re all familiar with:

●  Practice what you preach
●  Walk your talk
●  Lead by example
●  Don’t just talk about it, be about it
●  Actions speak louder than words
●  Put your money where your mouth is

These are all phrases we’ve heard many times throughout our lives and they usually don’t make us feel very good.  The reason is – we all fall short.  We’re not perfect so we make mistakes and fail to act the way we should, say what we should or accomplish what we should.

Then there’s the conflict between doing what we should versus what we want.  I should eat a more healthy diet but I want the sausage and ribs.  This reminds me of a saying that has stuck with me for decades:  “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want most for what we want at the moment.”

We all make thousands of decisions every day, whether consciously or subconsciously.  There’s the smoker who really wants to quit and has great intentions but ends up trading that want for smoking just one more cigarette right now.  The result is failure to quit and the feeling of disgust with oneself and unhappiness with the lack of willpower.

There’s the individual who’s in far too much debt and really wants to pay it off and be debt free but trades that for putting a new flat screen TV he really wants on his credit card.  There’s the couch potato who really wants to get in shape but trades going to the gym for just one more episode on Netflix.  There’s the father that wants to spend more time with his kids but trades it for just a little more time on social media.

We all experience similar trades, often multiple times each day and as a result, we feel worse and worse about ourselves and our resolve to truly accomplish something of lasting value.  I remember a definition of the word “character” that has stuck with me.  “Character – the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the mood in which you made it has left you.”

 One of the ways I can relate to this definition deals with my schooling.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this but many a time, when faced with a looming mid-term or final exam, I would make a deal with myself that rather than spend the time studying on any given evening, I would get up really early the next morning and buckle down and study.  I would convince myself this was a great idea and a sound resolution.  Then when the alarm would go off at 5:00 AM the next morning, I would come up with every excuse in the book why I really didn’t need to get up so early to study.  The mood in which I made my resolution had definitely left and as a result I far too often failed to carry out that good resolution.

I don’t think any of us would disagree that protecting and providing for our families is a very good resolution.  We can all become very passionate about our roles to take care of our families and even put down on paper our specific plans and goals on how to follow through with our objectives.  Having worthwhile intentions is an important starting point.  Moving beyond those intentions can often times be a struggle.

I live in earthquake country and creating a sound plan for my family in the event of an earthquake was indeed very important to me.  It’s funny how I justified putting my plans down on paper was somehow providing a higher level of protection for my family.  It wasn’t until I actually put my plan into action, with my family, that I finally felt that sense of security and peace of mind that my family would be prepared.

As a family, we went into each room and discussed the possible damage that could occur and what we could do now to mitigate such potential damage.  As a family, we went to our natural gas meter and practiced putting the attached wrench on the valve and turned it just a little so everyone could feel what was necessary to turn off the gas.  We went to the outside breaker box and explained how to turn off the power to the house.  We went to the water valve and took turns turning off the water to the house.  We talked to the kids about what to do if we, their parents weren’t home when an earthquake struck.  They were to wait for us inside the camper shell on the back of my pickup so we all got inside to practice.

Over the years, we have continued to review these and many other related issues to be prepared in the event of an earthquake with our now married kids and grand-kids.  The point of all of this is that until I actually trained everyone regarding our plan, all the great ideas and intentions I had were of no real value.

Taking the time to create an emergency preparedness plan for your family is a critical first step.  But just creating the plan will not protect or feed your family in times of need.  Don’t trade what you want most for your family for what you want at the moment.  We must “practice what we preach” and “walk our talk” so the fruits of our beliefs will indeed benefit those we love.