I couldn’t help but notice the white plastic bags that covered the handles of the gas pumps at the corner gas station. “Out of Gas”, said the sign. No gas on account of a hurricane a long, long way from Springfield, Tennessee. Fortunately, I had filled my tank earlier in the week and was only there to get ice. But it all seemed fishy to me how a storm so far away would affect us like this. And honestly, a vague sense of worry lingered in the back of my mind until the following day. The trucks arrived and filled the gas reservoirs at my corner gas station and everything went back to normal, as if nothing ever happened.
I am a stay at home Mom and I had become accustomed to being semi-prepared. With two children in diapers, I had double wipes, double diapers, double sippy cups – the whole nine yards. I had even dabbled in sewing my own cloth diapers and some times, when there just wasn’t enough money (which was most of the time), I created my own baby wipes from cutting a roll of paper towels in half and soaking them in a mixture of baby oil, baby shampoo and water. It worked. It got us by when we needed it most. It seemed to me my faith in Jesus had grown so much during the time when the kids were little. God was always there, providing when we just couldn’t make it to the next paycheck. He always showed Himself to be faithful on our behalf and always seemed to come through in the nick of time providing for our every need. That night at Wal-Mart, it was no different. He opened my eyes to see things I never really gave a second thought to. And that night changed my life forever.
It was 1 a.m. and I just couldn’t sleep. I had decided to go to Wal-Mart to pick up our groceries for that week while my husband was home with the babies sleeping soundly. I could shop in peace without being sidetracked with juggling coupons, lists and the kids. It probably wasn’t the best choice going out that late at night, but it had to get done and I’ve always been a fairly tough cookie. I made it in to the automatic doors and had my list sitting on my purse headed down the aisles. I turned down the rice and bean aisle and as I did heard His voice. Yes HIS voice. I was very familiar with the voice of my Shepherd but it came kind of unexpectedly and really, He caught me off guard. I heard, “Look at the shelves.” I knew it was Him, and I knew I needed to obey, so I pulled the cart over, waiting for Him to speak again as the night stockers went about stocking the shelves a few aisles over. As I looked at the rice – I saw two or three – 2# lb. bags, maybe three 5# lb bags and two – 10# lb. bags and one huge bag on the bottom shelf. Different kinds of rice, Basmati, White and Brown. It sure didn’t seem like a lot though. The same with the bean section. There were a few different types of beans, but not a good supply for a major supermarket. Gosh, it sure didn’t look like a lot of food there, I thought to myself. Immediately He spoke in a voice full of authority and power and truth. “If a world economic collapse was to happen, this would be the first place people would come, and it would all be gone in seconds.” I was stunned. I was not panicked or alarmed, because I knew He’d show me the answers, but I was definitely stunned. What did this mean? I really wasn’t sure, but His voice was so unmistakable, I knew what He was saying was very important and He wanted me to hear – really hear – what He was saying. After a few moments, and after the shock of His statement wore off a bit, I answered Him back gently, “Okay Lord, what do I do?”. This time, without words, but with a picture in my mind, I just knew that each pay day, which was every two weeks, I was to take $20 and buy $20 worth of spaghetti noodles; then the next payday $20 worth of spaghetti sauce, and the next, $20 worth of sugar, and on and on. So I did exactly that. I needed basic building blocks for cooking from scratch. Cocoa, butter, flour. I had never ever thought like that before. Usually our dinners were hot dogs and macaroni and cheese and pizza’s from a box. Most of our food was processed although I did some recipes from scratch. So this entire concept solidified in my mind as I finished up the shopping. I knew what I had to do.
I began researching cooking from scratch. A couple of my friends said, “The Bible says, look at the lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin, yet their heavenly Father takes care of them. Are you sure you’re hearing from the Lord?”. I thought to myself, “they’re right”, scripture does talk about trusting wholly and completely on the Lord. So I researched that too. Woven through the glorious stories of the Bible, God revealed to me, Noah, who prepared by building the ark. He showed me Joseph, who by the wisdom of the Lord, staved off starvation for all of Egypt and ultimately his very own family. I realized that with faith – there is also wisdom from the heart of the Father. I remembered the days as a small child of five years old, I would sit on my Gramma’s side porch and pick elderberries and put them in a colander along side my mother and Aunt. To this day, I still remember the taste of her elderberry pies. I remembered how cold the water was that flowed from Gramma’s hand water pump that was only 10 feet from that same side porch. And I remembered the scary cistern in her basement that I was sure had dead bodies in it… I knew the road. I had been there before, and the Lord was helping to crystallize it for me in my own mind and life. I could no longer be sidetracked with day to day life happenings, I needed to look ahead. I needed to be prepared. And I needed to one day be able to teach my children how to be prepared. Being a Mom, it was already in my DNA to be prepared. I came from a long line of women survivors in my family and I was no different from them. So I went to work. I began to make everything from scratch. Deodorant (cornstarch, baking soda, coconut oil and essential oils), Toothpaste, Make-up. I began to sew. I sewed monthly menstrual pads! I stocked medical supplies in a tackle box. I created a bug out bag that would probably last us 3 weeks if we had to bug out away from home. I read every article online about bio-diesel all the way to permaculture. I bought hundreds of dollars in seeds. I grew plants and learned what bugs like to eat them, and then saved as much seed as I possibly could. Every time we’d get some extra money from our tax refund or side jobs, I would buy 15 packages of coffee at Big Lots and 10 more bags of rice! I wanted to make sure that we would survive if anything like the Lord hinted at, would happen. And I’m happy to say, I am, with all humility satisfied with all that I’ve learned and I believe we would be okay, should any unforeseen disasters happen. Of course, there’s so much more we want to learn, but I am confident in our basic knowledge.
As the years have passed since the day I heard the Lord’s voice in the bean aisle, our family has accomplished so much in the field of prepping. We’ve re-opened the water well on our property. We’ve installed two wood burning stoves in our home. We are, for the most part out of debt, except for those few medical bills straggling behind us. Our cars/trucks are old and ugly, but paid for. We have ceramic water filters in case we need to get water from the creek. I’ve taught myself to can tomatoes, chicken broth, chicken and crabapple jelly. We raise and butcher our own chickens. This past summer our garden produced 200 lbs. of tomatoes that all got canned and I’ve become obsessed with meals in a jar and meals in mylar bags. There isn’t much to this prepping life that we’re not familiar with now. I knew I had become a hardcore prepper when I raced through reading JWR’s novel “Patriots” in one night!
Oh and yes, our family members definitely think we’re crazy. But the running joke is, “We’re going to Connie’s house if anything “goes down”.” I’ve probably dragged my husband kicking and screaming all the way, but miraculously he is now — fully on board.
We have worked so incredibly hard at this lifestyle. Approaching life this way, full of faith in God and grateful for the wisdom He’s given us, we will thrive and we’ll be able to help others should the need arise. And I look forward to teaching my friends and family these amazing skills. There is a wonderful balance that we’ve found. Times are coming when we’ll need to know God’s voice. Times are coming where we’ll need to heed and obey His voice and be His friend. We’ve all read the end of the book, and its not going to be easy. I’m thankful that He loves us all so much to speak to us. And our lives are so much better for the listening.