After several canceled trips—including a thrice postponed trek to Israel—my husband and I decided to try our luck and plan an excursion to New Mexico. As the trip approached, parts of the state became ablaze with early, unexpected, and extreme wildfires. After some heated debate (no pun intended) we decided to go for it! I researched any and all things pertaining to wildfire preparedness leading up to our departure, knowing all too well that travel plans can (and do) change at the very last minute. I soon discovered that the alert system in place for New Mexico, and in fact the entire nation, is called “Ready, Set, Go!” This got me thinking: these three words, when put together, could apply not only to my trip, but to my writing and even life in general!
Prepare Now: Be aware of the hazards that can threaten your community.
With regard to our trip, “ready” meant familiarizing myself with possible situations, preparing myself for cancellations (at any point), equipping to adjust itineraries at a moment’s notice, and monitoring the news. As a writer, to be ready means adapting to the ever-changing publishing world and being prepared to revise, rework, and even restart. As far as my life (as a Christian) is concerned, this stage reminds me that I need to be ready for when God decides to call me home. I must live for Him, because it could happen at any time.
Ready: Keep up to date on local news, weather watches, weather warnings, and public health recommendations.
Be Alert: Know there is significant danger in your area.
For the trip, this translated into us living out of our suitcases as opposed to unpacking everything as usual. This way we were “set” to go immediately, if needed. I also wanted to avoid being a hindrance to the hotel employees who would need to quickly get to their families and homes. Writing wise, I see the idea of “set” as impetus to continually be writing, revising, reading, and researching. It’s important for me not to become stagnant but continue to move forward regardless of rejections, “writer’s block” or time constraints. My manuscripts need to be fully completed and polished in the event that an agent request comes in. As far as my perspective on life goes, this stage warns me that sin presents me with numerous temptations and I must be intentionally “set” in my pursuit of Jesus, the way that I live, and how I treat those around me. After all, if I claim to be a follower of Christ, I’d darn well better behave accordingly and most importantly LEAD with LOVE!
Set: This might be the only notice you receive. Emergency services cannot guarantee they will be able to notify everyone if conditions rapidly deteriorate. Be SET to GO.
Evacuate: Danger in your area is imminent and life threatening.
Trip wise, “Go” makes it clear we would have to leave NOW, as our very lives may be at risk. While it was my hope it wouldn’t come to this on our trip, we knew what to do if the notification came. On the other hand, this stage relates to my writing in that my manuscripts (and me!) must be ready to GO immediately when a publisher wants to move forward. Finally, when it comes to life, I know that the time WILL come when I’m called to go home—it could be in 30 years or in 30 seconds—and we get just one shot. Regardless of the timing, I rest in the fact that God has a plan.
Go: If you choose to ignore this advisement, you must understand emergency services may not be able to assist you further.
I’m happy to report that the trip went swimmingly! We had a lovely time visiting the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque and seeing centuries-old petroglyphs, watching glassblowing experts work their craft live in a Sante Fe gallery, and visiting the breathtaking Rio Grande gorge bridge in Taos (check out my instagram for pics). However, we never forgot to be ready & set to go at a moment’s notice. While I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and property caused by the New Mexico wildfires, I am thankful for this reminder. Truly, a mindset of “Ready, Set, Go!” applies perfectly to so many aspects of life. What does the alert system cause you to ponder? What areas of life are you feeling unprepared in? Are you Ready & Set to GO when He calls you home?
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to commend the brave firefighters and emergency personnel who run toward these wildfires as we run away from them; they are a courageous, self-sacrificing group of men and woman to whom I am profoundly grateful! Please feel free to join me in donating to help those affected by this natural disaster by following this link.