Last Sunday we had a fabulous meeting. Friday night the bishop came to three families in the ward with an envelope with instructions not to open it until the next morning at 8:00 am. The families waited and wondered and come Saturday 8am they opened the letter to some devastating news. An 8.6 earthquake had hit Las Vegas. Electricity was gone, water was contaminated, the stores had been raided but that didn't matter because the streets were destroyed so they couldn't leave their houses (especially anticipating aftershocks). The time had come for them to depend on the things they had prepared. They were going to report their experience in Sacrament meeting the next day.
The three families spoke today and what they said had a huge impact on me and my attitude. One woman shared something that especially made me think. She was at the store at 8 in the morning when her husband called to tell her about the drill. Obediently, she returned her items to the shelves and started driving home. She thought about what the roads would look like, the houses and the devastation. As she turned onto her street she started to ponder what her own home would look like, what she would find. Would her family survive? Would she have survived away from her family? Her thoughts turned from physical preparation to spiritual preparation and she wondered, if she left this world today, or if one of her children or her husband left the world, would they know her testimony?
Some people believe that those who gather food storage, generators, flash lights, etc are scared, paranoid people. I have to say, I am not afraid. In fact, I feel very calm about the whole idea. Perhaps because I have been told to prepare my entire life for some sort of disaster or emergency. I know plenty of people who use their emergency preparedness kits for times when money is scarce, it's not just for Armageddon ;)
How do you start to become self reliant? The same way you begin to eat an Elephant. One bite at a time. The church suggests that we take these 6 steps to become self reliant, prepared for anything.
1) Managing money and resources wisely: I have always known that I wanted to be able to be a stay at home mom, knowing this from the beginning, Adam and I started to prepare financially for him to be the sole source of income. After 18 months of marriage, Adam and I were able to completely absolve any debt we accrued. In 2009 we bought a house, which required us to take out a loan for my education (as the money was being used elsewhere) and use three credit cards in order to pay for some expenses (such as appliances and baby furniture). We knew however, that this would only be temporary due to the 8,000 dollar home buyer credit. With the arrival of our tax refund we were able to pay off our three credit cards, plus build a stronger financial reserve in our savings account for future expenses. We also budget money twice monthly to be put aside for savings
2) Obtaining sufficient knowledge, education, and literacy: I am grateful that Adam and I were both able to get our respective college degrees. Although I am "just" a stay at home mom, I find that already I have benefited from gaining my degree. Adam's degrees have benefited our family with a secure job, lots of employment and advancement and financial security. I also continue to seek knowledge and improve skills that may not fall under the "formal" education but will be beneficial.
3) Being Spiritually Strong: This is an area we that need constant improvement and nourishment, but is perhaps the most important of all these. I try to maintain a good spirit in our home and teach Hannah in small and simple ways about Heavenly Father and Jesus. I won't spend much time on this, just know we are always trying to be the best we can be, and we always have the desire to become closer to God, but we are not perfect after a lifetime of trying and we are okay with being just a work in progress.
4) Preparing for emergencies and eventualities: This is where I lack the most. I have a budget and a plan that will help us gather more of the things we need in case we are in need of some emergency supplies and food. Yesterday I spent ALL day evaluating boxes in our house, clearing out space for food storage and 72 hour kits. We have a GREAT backpack to fill with some awesome stuff. Not only is it big and there are a ton of pockets it is ARMY STRONG. That's right, we have a backpack from Terry and a few more at Adam's parents house waiting for us. When there is an emergency and we walk out with those backpacks no one will mess with the family carrying the army backpacks ;)
5) Physical Health: Yep that's right, in order to become self reliant we have to stay physically healthy. This includes being prepared when we are not. We are armed to the teeth with insurance and we try to keep ourselves healthy. This is including no alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. We are trying to get into the habit of drinking lots and lots of water. It is essential in the desert to be in that habit and I'm trying to teach Hannah now by making her drink a ton of it. I walk two miles almost every day and Adam rides his bike at least a few times each week.
6) Social/ Emotional Health: Yep becoming self reliant includes social emotional health too! Cultivating relationships your family can count on and people can count on you. My mom was always really great at having good friendships we kids could count on and I'm trying to do the same. I try to ask myself daily "what have I done for my marriage today..."and if I can't think of anything I do something. During hard times, it is important to maintain a positive outlook and surround yourself not only with people who you care about and admire, but people who love you too.
So those are the 6 steps of self reliance and how we are attempting each one (one bite at a time).
I was asked by the person in charge of the self reliance and emergency preparedness to help her begin a blog and I'd love for any of your suggestions too as I get that up and running for our ward.