Have you made a mess of your life?

My four year old daughter recently made a HUGE mess in our home.  I’m not sure how she got hold of them (I’d love to blame my wife, but I was the only parental unit home at the time), but somehow, Evie spilled a container of round cake decorations all over the floor.  They are the kind that look like candy pearls.  Small and round, they rolled into every nook and cranny, and covered the floor on that part of the room.

At first, her older brother and sister had helped her to clean up the mess, as it was a daunting task for a four year old.  Then her attitude went south and she began to lash out at her brother and sister, so she lost their help.  When the time came for everyone to go play outside, Evie was still trying to clean up the mess she made.

After a few more minutes, Evie finally came up the stairs crying.  I asked her what was wrong, and she didn’t want to tell me.  Finally, she mustered up the courage to tell me through little tears that she couldn’t clean up the mess; though she created it, it was just too much for her fix the mess on her own.  So I went downstairs and talked her through it at first, and then got the vacuum and cleaned up the majority of the decorations, especially the ones that were hard to get to.  After a few minutes we were finished cleaning up, and Evie was on her way to join her brother, sister, and friends who were already playing outside.

Have you ever made a mess of things in your life?  Doesn’t it usually happen that way?  First, we get into things we aren’t supposed to be involved with in the first place.  Then we play around until it’s apparent we can’t handle it.  Before we know it, we’ve created a giant mess in our lives.  Others try to help us, but we push them away too.  So what’s the next step?

I know for me, at the times in life where I feel like I’ve messed things up far beyond my ability to fix them, that’s when I know I need to call on the Lord.

And when we approach him in humility and repentance, what is the response?  Is it “Ha, I told you so!”?  Is it a finger of judgment pointing us away from Him?  No, not at all.  When we approach Him sincerely with recognition of our shortcomings and a need for his help, the answer is always the same.  With love, grace, and truth, he cleans up the mess for us (having already paid the price for our sins) and helps us get to where we’re supposed to be.

Hebrews 4:14-16 puts it like this:

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Is your life a mess today?  Do you need help with the clean up?  The answer is very simple.  Approach his throne of grace with confidence, knowing that he will help you, and guide you back to where you’re supposed to be!

Prepping and Protection

Food, water, shelter, and PROTECTION.  Though there are other important aspects of prepping, these are the basic needs that should be covered by your supplies as a prepper.  Among things like pepper-spray, martial arts, impact weapons, and edged tools, a firearm is a tool that could save your life in an emergency situation.

As the gun control debate continues to rage across the country, I came across an interesting article that makes some very important points in regards to firearms, prepping, and protection.  The writer, who is a best-selling author of several novels, is a Massachusetts born liberal.  I do not condone or support all of the points he addresses in this piece, but there were some worth mentioning.  Here is an excerpt from that op-ed, which appeared in the 28 January 2013 issue of the New York Times; it picks up during the Hurricane Rita evacuation, which came the shortly after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the US:

As many as 3.7 million people had the same idea, making Rita one of the largest evacuations in history, with predictable results.

By 2 in the morning, after six hours on the road, we had made it all of 50 miles. The scene was like a snapshot from the Apocalypse: crowds milling restlessly, gas stations and mini-marts picked clean and heaped with trash, families sleeping by the side of the road. The situation had the hopped-up feel of barely bottled chaos. After Katrina, nobody had any illusions that help was on its way. It also occurred to me that there were probably a lot of guns out there — this was Texas, after all. Here I was with two tiny children, a couple of thousand dollars in cash, a late-model S.U.V. with half a tank of gas and not so much as a heavy book to throw. When my wife wouldn’t let me get out of the car so the dog could do his business, that was it for me. We jumped the median, turned around, and were home in under an hour.” (Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/opinion/confessions-of-a-liberal-gun-owner.html)

Regardless of where you fall on the gun control debate, what I want you to do is put yourself in the writer’s shoes.  He was stuck in the middle of a mass evacuation with millions of other people, with no authorities really controlling anything.  He had nothing, not even a “heavy book” to protect himself or his family.  And instead of staying on the road, trying to get out of the path of the storm, he was forced to turn his car, and family around; in that moment, the coming hurricane seemed more welcoming than the thought of his inability to protect his family on the road.

An unfortunate reality of our world is that evil exists, and evil people do evil things.  Criminals commit acts of violence with firearms every day, and that reality is exacerbated in emergency situations. In addition to criminals who break the law in “normal” society, those who are suffering, or watching their families suffer are more willing to commit crimes in order to get what they need, regardless of who they must hurt along the way.  Because of this reality, and because the threat of firearms violence exists, the only way to be truly prepared in an emergency situation is to have the ability to meet that threat with the same amount of force in order to prevent it beforehand, or to stop it.

I’ve said this before, but as a former law enforcement officer, I’ve seen firsthand the horrible evil people are capable of inflicting upon one another.  And because of that, I don’t’ think it’s just the military, the police, the rich, or those in power who should have firearms.  I do believe, for various reasons, citizens SHOULD have the right to keep (own) and bear (carry) firearms.  And the founding fathers obviously believed in this right as well, which is why they made sure this was one of the first rights GUARANTEED to citizens by the Constitution.

And because this right is guaranteed, and should not be infringed upon, I encourage anyone who is serious about prepping to make sure they know the laws, get the right training, practice safe and responsible gun ownership, and have firearms as an integral part of their emergency supplies.

But don’t take my word for it.  Just ask Justin Cronin, NYTimes best-selling author and writer of the aforementioned op-ed.  Because after his experiences with large scale emergency situations, Mr. Cronin now owns half a dozen semi-automatic pistols, is shopping for a shotgun, and is teaching his kids to shoot as well.

Why do (should) you prep?

Why do (should) you prep?

In the last 10 weeks I’ve been busier than any other time in my life.  On 2 November 2012, my latest book, Survival and Emergency Preparedness Skills (SEPS) was released by OakTara Publishers (www.oaktara.com).  I then began a media tour that included not only book signings but also interviews for major print media (Washington Post, USA Today, Agence France Press), dozens of interviews for domestic and international radio shows, and a handful of TV appearances to include Doomsday Preppers, Access Hollywood Live, The Steve Harvey Show, and the Jane Velez-Mitchell Show.  Among the myriad of questions presented in these venues, the main question I’m asked is, “why do you prep?”

That’s today’s million dollar question!  WHY DO YOU PREP?  Of course what most people are asking is the underlying question, which is WHY SHOULD I PREP?

Prepping, also called emergency preparedness, survivalism, and self-reliance (or as I call it “SEPS”) is the knowledge, plans, supplies, and networking a person or group of people has in place in order to survive under emergency or exigent circumstances.

Here are four reasons (and links to a few articles that illuminate the reasons­) I prep and why you should too.

I prep (and you should) because since the year 2000, over 1 million people have died due to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, armed conflict, and economic/political crisis.  Millions more have been adversely and seriously affected by the aforementioned calamities (See my SEPS book for sources on this information).

I prep (and you should) because the Federal, state and local governments are NOT prepared to take care of everyone in large-scale disasters.  Just look at Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, the record tornadoes of 2011, or the current flu epidemic where hospitals and ER’s are turning people away (http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/06/opinion/flynn-storms-preparation/index.html?c=us&page=1).

I prep (and you should) because the global economy, and specifically the US economy, are more unstable than almost any time in modern history and provide a serious risk to people (http://www.irinnews.org/Report/97241/World-Economic-Forum-report-offers-view-of-global-risks).

Last but not least, I prep (and you should) because of my wife, my children, and others who depend on me to take care of them, no matter what the circumstances are.  Who depends on you?

I can’t predict the future and can’t say what tomorrow holds.  But I base my reasons for prepping on history, research, and the same logic that causes me to purchase health, life, home, and auto insurance.  But 40 years from now, if I spent some time and money prepping and there was never really a need for it, I won’t regret it.  But I promise, if 40 minutes from now there is some calamity that required some prepping, and you hadn’t done it, you will regret it.  Have the foresight now to take a little time to research the topic more and come up with preps you’re comfortable with.

What about you?  Tell me your main reason(s) for prepping.  What catastrophe or emergency do you think is most likely to lead to a situation where prepping would come in handy.  Or maybe you don’t prep….why not?

 

 

The 33-year-itch

Call it your purpose in life.

Call it the fulfillment of a dream.

Call it a calling.

It’s that “one thing” that people would do with their lives if they could.  What is it for you?  If I could have chosen when I was younger, it would have been, in this order: 1-A singer with the talent and reach of someone like Garth Brooks (you pick the genre, I just like country thank you). 2-A wide receiver or tight end in the NFL. 3-An archeologist like Indiana Jones (or Lara Croft, whichever you’re familiar with).  Alas, I can sing, but only in a way that’s pleasing to my ears.  I played some football in high school, but that’s about as far as that went.  And real archeology is done with a toothbrush and a dental pick and I just don’t have the patience for that.

As I got older (notice I didn’t say grew up, once that happens, I’ll let you know), those childhood dreams, which for me were more fantasy, gave way to the reality of my true calling.  I feel blessed and privileged today to be living my calling, which in part is to reach people through writing.   Since my first novel, “The Last Fall” came out, I’ve heard the following sentence more times than I can count; “you know I’ve always wanted to write a book.”  Then comes the myriad of excuses as to why the speaker hasn’t done it yet.  You know what they say about excuses.

Enter the 33 year itch-which I think I’ve encountered more in the last year than any other time in my life.  And what exactly is that?  In my humble opinion, it’s the time in life where adults become restless unless they are living their calling.  It seems to strike in the early to mid thirties, and is different from its older brother the mid-life crisis.  I believe it happens for several reasons.  First, I believe that EVERY person is sacred, and that every person, created in God’s image, has different gifts/talents, and a specific purpose on Earth.  Second, when Jesus walked the earth, the crux of His ministry occurred in his early 30s as far as we know.  Last, I’m a firm believer in free will.  From day one of our existence, we have had the ability to chose; follow the calling or abandon it for an alternate and far inferior path.

Could it be that the restlessness you’re feeling right now is because you’ve given up on your calling.  Do you have the 33 year itch?

I believe humans were created to do great things, but most of us live far below our capacity.  I recently heard a story of a man who gained amazing musical abilities after receiving a serious concussion.  One day, after being treated for the concussion and released from the hospital, this man was visiting a friend and felt drawn to a piano at his house.  After very little musical training, the man sat down at the piano and began to create original compositions!  Doctors said that something happened to the wiring in his Brain and that he is now a musical Savant (1).  We all have a natural ability to do great things, however we don’t always use our full potential.

It wasn’t until this year that I truly understood and took hold of my calling, though I’ve known it for years (and it is a work in progress).  I’ll save those details for another day, but will say that though I had another full time job when I was in my late 20s/early 30s, I felt that I NEEDED to publish a novel when I was 33.  It just felt right; like it was the thing I was supposed to do.   And by God’s grace, my first book rolled off the presses in October of 2010, just 4 months shy of my 34th birthday!  Since then, the doors have continued to open for other areas of my calling, and I’ve had the amazing opportunities to share my passions with people not only through writing, but also through television, radio, and print media.

It’s never too late to scratch that 33 year itch.  And it’s ok if it has struck in your 40s, 50s, or even later.  If you have not yet, or are not currently living your life’s calling, pray about it and ask God to identify it for you.  Then set goals, and do some research to see what it is you need to do to reach that goal.  And when it happens, share with others, and help them to realize it’s possible for them to do the same.

Why are you waiting?  Finish this blog and start today!  I know, it’s hard work!  I know, it’s going to take some sacrifices here and there!  But 20, 30, or 40 years from now, you will never regret having tried to do something great, having lived up to your potential, and having taken hold of your calling.  But you will regret it if you don’t chase that calling.  All you’ll be left with then is that constant and annoying itch!

What is your calling?

Sources:

1.)  http://todayhealth.today.com/_news/2012/06/07/12105006-head-injury-turns-man-into-musical-savant?lite

 

Writing? Prepping? Faith? What topics would you like to discuss?

RECAP:

What an exciting year 2012 has been!

Since beginning the press/promotion tour for my newest book, Survival and Emergency Preparedness Skills (SEPS): Mental, Physical, and Spiritual readiness for uncertain times, and for the second season of Doomsday Preppers (our episode was entitled ‘Bad Times all the Time’), I’ve been traveling the country both physically, on the radio waves, and virtually!  I’ve done dozens of radio interviews on major markets/syndicated  programs, have been interviewed both online and in print media to include the Washington Post and USA Today, and have traveled to places like LA, the Greenbriar Resort in WVA, and Chicago for NatGeo, and shows like Access Hollywood Live, and The Steve Harvey Show.

I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting some great people both in person, through social media, and via email.  I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who made these events possible; from my family and friends, my WP network, the folks at National Geographic Channel, to the hard workers at OakTara Publishers-you’ve all been instrumental in this journey, and my heartfelt thanks go out to all of you!

FUTURE PLANS:

I’ll continue to speak and do appearances for the SEPS book in 2013, and I also plan to add some great sections to this site, to include a survivor/prepper spotlight, a bi-weekly product review/spotlight, and of course, a weekly blog.  If time permits, I’ll be doing some teaching/consulting on the side as it pertains to writing, prepping, and matters of faith.

YOUR TURN:

So now I need your input!  What has worked?  What hasn’t?  What would you like to see on this site.  And most importantly, what topics matter to you?  What topics do you want to discuss here over the next year?  Speak now, or forever hold your peace.  In addition to your input, I plan to flip back and forth between topics  such as Prepping, Writing, and matters of Faith (not necessarily in that order).  For me, these issues are related, and can come together on several levels.  So take a minute and let your voice be heard.

And thanks again for all of your support in 2012.  Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and here’s to a bright and prosperous 2013…unless of course it all comes to an end on 12/21/12 ;-).  JUST KIDDING!

God bless you all!