In recent anticipation of the looming tornadoes across the south, I decided to pack my bag. I’ve never done that before, but a co-worker’s advice echoed in my head telling me that I should be prepared.  Really, I spend my days as a project manager planning and preparing for contingencies and talking about risk mitigation, yet I don’t give much thought about my own.

I should know better too.  A tornado passed within feet of my house about five years ago and left a path of downed trees which I still see the effects today.  But back then I didn’t pay much attention, fully absorbed in my work and often mentally tired.  That particular day five years ago was one of several wake-up calls for me.

So this time, after hearing of the deadly tornadoes just a little west of me and heading my way overnight, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pack a bag.  I grabbed a tote bag and began walking around the house thinking of what I would carry with me if I only had a moment’s notice to evacuate and my house became destroyed.  Immediately I started to categorize things into two groups: replaceable or not.  That narrowed down the list significantly.  After packing the standard emergency items of flash light, a fully charged cell phone, and my purse with identification and money, I began to fill my bag with these few remaining items…

1. Contacts and glasses – because I need to see above everything else.

2. Sentimental jewelry – my grandmother’s wedding ring and a small custom-made necklace with a collection of stones I had received from family and friends over the years. Nothing too valuable but they are tangible memories from those who have passed, and I wear them as a part of myself.  Besides, they take up very little room in the bag.

3. Baby photo album – my son’s baby pictures are not digital or online, so these are precious beyond words.  You always see people in tears when they go through the rubble of their house and find a photograph.  It was hard to choose only one album, but I picked his first-born pictures.

4. Memory scrapbook – it’s a book where I’ve written letters to my son every year since he was born, and collected his various awards, accomplishments and school pictures along the way. It is 18 years in the making and priceless!

5. My journal and collection of writings – it is something for me to hold on to and to keep the human spirit going during a tragedy.

6. My computer with financial documents, notes, etc – I suppose these are on the cloud somewhere but I still need a computer to access them.

7. My work computer – I still had a little room left in the bag so I threw in my work computer.  I don’t want to have to redo any of my work.

8. Graduation cap and gown – as a final thought, I grabbed these off the dining room table. Everything else I collected has been from the past, but this one is for the present moment.  Nothing will stop us from celebrating my son’s high school graduation in a few weeks!  Don’t forget to live in the moment.

Though I’m grateful I didn’t have to use the bag this time, it was a good life exercise on deciding what is truly important; to stop and really think about my life and what I would take with me.  It’s a good exercise that everyone should try.

What would be in your one bag?

travel bag

little feet


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About the Author

Sue McCusker is a writer, Bible teacher, and web developer who loves to share the stories of life, hope, and faith she sees around her every day. She has written for Guideposts and  Angels on Earth magazines, and teaches the story of God in women's Bible study.

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