Because I live a frugal life, and because I live in a temperate climate, I hang clothes on the line to dry pretty much year-round. So it was that 13 months after Barack Obama was inaugurated I was clipping bath towels and pillow cases out to dry, and praying at the same time for some glimmer of hope for America.
Fans of comic actor Dan Ackroyd remember well his portrayal of Elwood Blues, in the 1980 smash hit movie The Blues Brothers. As Elwood and his brother Jake set out to raise money for the Mother Superior, Elwood announced, “We are on a mission from God.”
After hanging out my laundry a few years ago, I, too, knew that I was on a mission from God. But my mission didn’t involve fundraising or a Catholic nun. My mission was to get ready for something BIG, and teach others how to do the same.
It was February 2009. Barack Obama had been in office just over a year, and had taken unprecedented steps to obtain power. As a result, the country was in a tailspin. Massive spending measures and ill-advised giveaways were being implemented, causing serious concern for the survival of our economy. “Health Care Reform” legislation, dubbed “Obamacare” was foisted on the American people, all but guaranteeing national bankruptcy. I was scared.
Now, some folks claim to hear the voice of God. And many of them are telling the truth. The Father does speak clearly to His children, if we know how to listen. He communicates His will in many ways. I know, for example, that if I start to feel a strong pull in an unexpected direction, and ideas start to come to me that I am in no way smart enough to think of on my own…that’s probably Him.
So, at the clothesline that day, I began to develop a sense of urgency about storing food. At that time, I was not familiar with prepping, except for the Y2K press, and the notion of buying buckets of bean and rice and cases of canned foods seemed somewhat silly.
Yet the urge grew stronger, so I asked the Lord what He was saying. He responded with a thought in my mind that said: “I want you to get ready. Something bad is coming. During times of plenty, prepare for times of need.”
Plenty? I have been considered low income or near poverty most of my adult life. Under the best circumstances, I have had a week’s worth of food in the house. There have been times that I have had nothing but popcorn to eat for several days. I could not conceive of buying a case of canned peas, let alone gathering enough food and other supplies to last a year.
I sat down on the patio to think about what God was telling me. I asked Him to help me fulfill His Will. Where was I going to get the money to buy the supplies? Where would I store them? I asked for new ideas and open doors, took a deep breath, and waited.
While waiting I looked at my yard. It was large, with a half dozen shade trees and a thick overgrowth of Bermuda. I heard that voice again: “Plant a garden.”
I almost laughed. Nearing 60, and with a seriously bad back, how on earth was I going to turn that run down jungle into a garden! With God’s help, of course. It would take a long while to list all the doors He opened for me and the way He strengthened me physically for the challenges ahead.
Within a few months, six trees had been removed (I had help with two), the Bermuda had been removed, and my first ever in-ground garden was planted and blessed by God. This is the north end.
While the garden was growing, I learned how to home can foods. Fruits, vegetables, meats, meals in a jar, pickles and of course jams. Home canning became my passion. Within a few months, I had hundreds of jars of food put away, and a year later I was teaching free canning classes in my home to anyone who was interested in learning. Thus far, 150 students have hopefully “caught the bug”.
Other opportunities arose to “teach others”. I began a blog to document the things I was learning. I was asked to teach adult education classes through the city, hold seminars, write articles. I come at it from the frugal perspective, hoping to inspire folks across the economic spectrum to just get started, trust God, and watch what happens!
In the back yard, it took a while for the garden to really get in high gear, but I needed – was almost driven – to can. There was the occasional deep discount at a local market (tomatoes 4 pounds for a dollar, as an example). But sales were inconsistent, and frequently unsatisfying.
I was led to an organization called FreeCycle. FreeCycle is a national organization which has local groups serving communities. The goal is to connect people with things to give to those who can re-purpose or re-use those things, and fill a need.
Through Freecycle, I was connected with people who had an over-abundance of produce, and as a result my pantry filled quickly. God provided on a scale I had not previously experienced. I trusted, and He poured out blessings.
I converted one of my bedrooms into a pantry to hold His bounty. It is difficult to photograph it all! I call this the meat wall. Others are fruits and jams, vegetables, pickles and sauces. Including those I have shared with others, and my own consumption, I have filled more than 2000 jars in three years. That’s God!
Once I felt reasonably secure with my food storage, I researched alternative cooking methods. I have a home made solar cooker, a rocket stove, buddy burners and hobo stoves, a toilet paper stove, and hundreds of egg carton fire starters. I have made logs out of wax-dipped rolled magazines. I have practiced all of these methods until they became second nature. I built, and use regularly, an outdoor oven using salvaged garden and construction materials.
It is now three years after the clothesline, and God faithfully kept His word. Through what some might call miracles, on an annual income of less than $14,000, I have stockpiled enough food and supplies to sustain my family for one year. I can say without fear of error that every grain of rice, every gallon of water, every Band-Aid and every security feature was provided by the Hand of God. He kept His promises.
Every prepper has his or her “light bulb moment”, the instant they realized that their future depends on them and they better get busy. Glenn Beck calls them “come to Jesus” experiences, when eyes are opened and the need is revealed. This was mine.