Howdy, friends. I am a 57-year-old, pint-sized, handicapped, widowed prepper. My awakening happened in 2011, when Congress voted yet again to raise the debt ceiling. I had desperately hoped that our elected leaders would do the right thing and get our government spending under control. When they didn’t, it dawned on me that they probably never would (was I right?) and that our nation was on a collision course with disaster. I started asking God to show me how to get off this runaway train before it goes over the cliff. Well, friends, there is no getting off. Not only that, I have since learned that there are other threats, like EMP and cyber attack, that could dramatically change our way of life in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, there is much that can be done to lessen the damage on a personal level for myself and maybe a handful of loved ones.
For me, the first step in prepping was deciding that my primary goal is not physical survival but remaining faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ in all I say and do, regardless of the circumstances. If I don’t survive the troubles that are coming, that’s okay. Death means leaving this troubled world behind and being with Him forever. “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21)
After establishing my top priority, my second step was to recognize that no one can do everything but everyone can do something. I have physical, financial, and relational limitations, but I have learned to do what I can do and to trust God to take care of the rest as He sees fit. I also recognize that there are some scenarios for which it is pointless for me to prepare. For instance, if a crisis requires fleeing to the woods to live, I’m dead. With my handicap, I would not be able to survive out there. I might as well stay at home and die at home. Swing low, sweet chariot.
I have been confined to a wheelchair for almost 30 years due to a neurological deficit, but I am healthy overall and was able to work as a teacher for several years. I live alone in an accessible two bedroom, ranch-style home with a metal roof. My 30something-year-old son, my only child, lives across the road from me with his two large dogs and seven chickens. He is an unmarried ex-military outdoorsman with law enforcement training. He is also a prepper. We live in a northern state on a main highway more than a few miles from the nearest small town, 60 miles from the nearest city of 40,000+ people, and at least 150 miles from the nearest city with 500,000+. I get Social Security benefits, and my son has a job. The mortgage on my house and several acres is my only debt. He inherited his 40 acres from my late husband’s family. His little house needs a lot of work; the acreage includes about 20 acres of farm land, two small ponds, and a woodlot. Many of our neighbors are retired.
There are several things that I have been able to do over the past three years to prepare for the numerous threats that we are all facing. Although there are inadequacies in my preps, it is the best I can do for now. I am trusting the Lord for the rest, and I’m not losing sleep over it. Whatever I have done has put me ahead of where I was and where most people still are.
WATER: I have a rain barrel now that can be used during the warm weather months, along with several large tubs that can be set out when it is raining. I have six large water cans filled with water, which we refresh periodically. I have a generator that we will use for pumping water when the grid is down. We will use it for that one main purpose and little else. That way we can get by with running it for just a short period every few days, filling every available container, which will make our 20 gallons of stored gasoline last much longer. We refresh the gasoline, too. There are many ways to make a limited amount of water go a long way through double usage. For example, water used for cooking can be cooled and then consumed by humans or animals, providing a little nutrition with the hydration. Also, water used for washing clothes, dishes, and bodies can be used to flush the toilet.
FOOD: Little by little I have increased my supply of stored food. I follow the first-in-first-out rule with store-bought canned goods, and I keep a close eye on best-by dates. I have a fair supply of wheat, beans, rice, flour, and sugar along with about 30 #10 cans of dehydrated foods. About a year ago my Mennonite friends blessed me with 135 pints of their home-canned foods. This year they are replenishing what I have used. This is a perfect example of how God can provide in unexpected ways. Those wonderful sisters in the Lord knew I couldn’t can for myself, so they shared some of theirs. I do have a small raised-bed garden around my back patio that provides me with some fresh vegetables each summer, plus it’s an enjoyable outdoor activity. I have several books on gardening and country living, and I have basic garden tools, which will be used by others here when living and working together become a necessity.
HEALTH: Tucked away in a bedroom, I have stored quite a few medical supplies—several OTC drugs, some Rx drugs, lots of alcohol, peroxide, bandages, gloves and masks, a minor surgical kit, blood pressure cuff, hot water bottle, a bed pan, and more. I have five books on medical care, including The Doctors Book of Home Remedies and Where There Is No Doctor. I have watched some YouTube videos by the Patriot Nurse and several others on childbirth. I also have plenty of dish soap, laundry detergent, bar soap, hand sanitizer, Wet Wipes, toothpaste, shampoo, et cetera. (I prefer to be both well fed and clean, thank you.) Also, then, there are the comforting extras, like hand lotion, baby powder, and lip balm. For our emotional health, anyone’s complaining and hand-wringing will be countered with thanksgiving and praise to God for providing for our needs. I have learned that speaking negatively about my circumstances only intensifies negative emotions and makes hardships even more difficult to bear. Speaking positively lightens the mood and therefore the load. Putting on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3) really does make a difference. “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:” (Proverbs 17:22a)
HEAT: My main source of heat during the long, cold winters here is a natural gas furnace. I also have a wood stove and use it as much as I can. My garden cart doubles as a wood wagon in the winter. I fill it with firewood in the carport, pull it into the great room, and park it next to the stove. It’s a lot of work in a wheelchair, but it’s doable. My son also carries wood in for me when he stops by, which is often. Guests love it when I have a fire burning for them to cozy up to. The wood stove will be used for cooking when the grid is down; I cook on it occasionally even now. I also have a small grill and several bags of charcoal for cooking outdoors as well as a campfire grate and a solar oven for summer cooking.
LIGHTS: There are two oil lamps sitting out and ready to use at any time, and I have three more lamps and lanterns in storage, along with 10 large bottles of oil, spare chimneys, and extra wicks. I have lost count of the candles. Needless to say, I also have a good supply of matches. There are four battery-powered tap lights in strategic locations for emergency use, not to mention flashlights and extra batteries.
REFRIGERATION: Without the grid, forget the fridge. Think pioneering. Two of the best natural-cooling agents are water and earth. If it were feasible for me to put a tub of water in a hole in the ground to keep food cool, I would. Instead, my approach during a long-term power outage will be to either: a) cook only enough for one meal at a time, whenever possible, or b) if the need for cooling food is unavoidable, I’d put it in a sealed container, place it in a camping cooler that is half-filled with water, and then eat it with the next meal.
LAUNDRY: If we have to do laundry by hand, I have three large plastic tubs and two smaller galvanized tubs that can be used for washing regular loads of clothes and several basins for frequently washed small items, like undies and hankies. I have a wash board, a breathing washer, three drying racks (one in use on a regular basis), a retractable clothesline, and a bunch of clothes pins. Most people today wash their clothes too often. Go ask your grandma how many days she wore her clothes as a child before they were considered “dirty”. My late husband used to joke that he wore his jeans until they could stand up in the corner by themselves.
COMMUNICATIONS: I have a hand-cranked radio for getting information and a set of two-way radios for my son to use. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.
MONEY: I have several hundred dollars in small bills and coins in the house. Awhile back I invested $2,000 in pre-1965 silver coins and hid them in an unusual but convenient location. I have a few items for barter, such as bar soap, feminine products, and baby supplies. The only substantial skill I could market, post-TEOTWAWKI, would be as a teacher for the neighborhood children, which include four boys, as far as I know. Then again, we could also provide basic medical care to the neighbors, using my supplies and maybe sell or barter some hand-crocheted hats and scarves, which are essential here is “Freezerville”. (Hmm . . . I think I’d better stock up on yarn.)
GUNS: I have none. Did someone just say “sitting duck”? Don’t worry; my son is well armed. Besides, when I envision the combination of my poor hand-eye coordination and the high anxiety of a life-and-death scenario, I think I would probably accidentally shoot myself in the leg before I could even raise a handgun to aim it at an intruder. I have focused on the beans and Band-aids of prepping, while my son has focused on the bullets. My #1 weapon is prayer. I have asked God to put angels of protection around my house when needed. He can do that, you know.
GROUP: My son and I are a team of two. We occasionally talk cautiously with relatives, neighbors, and friends about world events and being prepared. Only three get it; one is my elderly father, who is in a nursing home. Most seem unconcerned and/or too preoccupied with their lifestyle. We know we will need more people here when things get rough, and there will be plenty of volunteers to come and live with me. I anticipate “Guess who’s coming to dinner!” times 100. The selection process will be brisk and brutal but necessary. Most candidates will never be allowed to set foot through the door. Loved ones, like my sister (a nurse), will need my help as much as I will need theirs, so I have prepared for company, beginning with my dad who will be brought home from the nursing facility, if at all possible. I have enough beds and bedding to sleep four other people, comfortably, and more than that uncomfortably. I have two bucket commodes and a camping potty, if we need them. I have a “House Rules” list ready for them, plus a chore list and several packages of heirloom seeds for them to plant in the little field behind my house. Only God knows who’s coming and when, but my plan is to be a benevolent dictator and hope they don’t mutiny. If I can make it clear to them the need for the structure, teamwork, and frugality that I will insist on, then they will cooperate. If not, my son can keep them in line just by showing them his 50 cal.
DEFENSE: There are materials here for blackening the windows and blockading the doors. There are knives, hammers, and garden tools for group members stronger than I to use as weapons. There is also my son’s arsenal, although no one but he will have had any prior training. I have zip ties for handcuffs and handkerchiefs for blindfolds and gags. I’m serious! We will work with whatever we have. If God will enable us to hogtie an intruder or two, we will then share the Gospel with them before deciding their fate.
ACTIVITIES: Once the chores are done, we can unwind and relax with table games, cards, puzzles, singing, reading, and aerobics. I plan to have a Book Club once our group is complete. They can choose from anything I have here—fiction or nonfiction, humorous or serious—and then share what they have read with the rest of us, but I will strongly encourage them to read the survival books first. The fortunate few who are allowed to stay here will face a steep learning curve. I also have extra Bibles and plan to have a regular devotion time.
MISCELLANEOUS: There are other things that I have done to be better prepared. Regarding possessions, I have a small water filter, a non-electric food dehydrator, cast iron cookware, tarps of various sizes, sandbags, a roll of black plastic, duct tape, ropes, a camping shower, LOTS of toilet paper, and more. Hey, there’s more to prepping than just stuff; there’s lifestyle. I disconnected cable TV about three years ago, I stopped listening to recorded music a while back, and I have now stopped watching movies on DVD. Is it quiet around here? You bet! However, this is the way our ancestors lived, and they built this country. It’s amazing what you can learn to live without when you set your mind to it. We don’t need to be sitting passively while others entertain us with movies, concerts, sports, and the like. We need to be learning, doing, creating, and producing as a way of life.
Am I ready for any crisis that comes my way? No. Should I be worried about it? No, again. Anxiety doesn’t help; action does. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something, and I’ve done a lot of “something” over the past three years. It is vital to maintain a calm, steady demeanor, both before and after our world does a somersault. The changes that are coming will be devastating and will cause a lot of panic, depression, and suicide. I have already experienced loss and adversity and, with God’s help, have persevered. In case you’re wondering, I became handicapped at age 27 due to a medical mistake and I became widowed at 39 due to cancer. I know what it’s like to lose, grieve, and start over. Accepting a new “normal” can be done. Oh, I’ve had my times of self-pity and depression, and it felt AWFUL! It produced nothing good; it just drained the life out of me. People occasionally ask me how I have managed to maintain a strong faith in God and a positive attitude through all of my trials; I tell them, “I don’t like the alternative.” The admonition to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) can be applied to emotions as well. It is a choice, my friends. When the going gets tough, we can handle it like warriors or like nincompoops. Which will you choose?