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StockRisingNon-preppers don’t get it. They think we’re wasting our time and our money. They think we live in constant fear of calamity. They think nothing will ever come of it and all of our preparations will be for nothing.

I respectfully disagree, but for more reasons than might be apparent. Whether TEOTWAWKI occurs during my lifetime or not, prepping has improved my life in numerous significant ways. Here are a few that come to mind:

Peace of Mind — We recently had lunch with a non-prepping friend who knows what we’ve been doing. While discussing current events and the potential threats they present, he said, “I couldn’t live like you, always worrying about all the problems that could happen.”

He is only half right. We think about these things often. But we don’t worry about them. Why? Because we are better prepared to face them than the average citizen. We are thinking three moves ahead and staying vigilant so we don’t get taken by surprise. We have supplies set aside for such events. We have skills and plans that we didn’t used to have. And above all else, Sandy and I don’t place our hope and trust in our equipment and our skills, but in God. Our trust in God isn’t Plan B, our last resort, but our first and foremost place of refuge. All of these — faith, knowledge, supplies, plans, and watchfulness — give us tremendous peace of mind, much more so than before we started prepping.

Our non-prepping friend brought up his apprehension about the instability of North Korea. He also talked about his fears concerning the vulnerability of our nation’s electrical grid. He knows the threats (these two, at least), and yet he has willfully chosen to do nothing to improve his ability to ride them out. He says that he wants to spend his time and money on things that help him enjoy his life. My preps make me significantly better prepared to deal with these kinds of threats, if they ever occur. Who do you think has greater peace of mind, him or me? What is peace of mind worth?

Greater Security — Our introduction to firearms has been written about many times in these pages. Next to storing food, learning gun safety and acquiring firearms were among the first preps that we did. (Notice that learning came before acquiring – that’s a good order to follow.) Being able to comfortably and competently handle firearms has provided both of us a greater sense of security. Home invasions are on the rise everywhere, but now we’re better prepared to defend our home and our lives if anyone chooses to target our house.

I’m More Healthy — I spend more time outside since I’ve become a prepper. That’s a good thing. I still don’t get as much exercise as I should, but I get more than I did before I started prepping. If the lights ever go off across America, there will be a lot more physical work to do. It’s wise to be in good shape to be ready to deal with it. I’m nowhere near being up to speed in this area, but I’m closer to it than I used to be.

Prepping led me to plant a garden two years ago. I started small but added to it last year, and this year’s garden will be even bigger. I grow my vegetables organically, so my garden enables me to eat better than I used to.

One of Sandy’s new areas of prepping expertise is with essential oils. She has used essential oils to treat congestion, insomnia, sore muscles, and wounds, all of which lead to better health. We also routinely diffuse healthy essential oils in our bedroom and living room. We’re helping our body fight off all the bad stuff before it reaches critical mass.

Research shows that as we age, learning new things is important for our ongoing mental health. Consistent training has prolonged effects on the brain, improving our memory and impacting our ability to do everyday tasks. Well, I’m learning lots of new things, so my brain cells are getting their exercise regularly! And one of the great things about prepping is that there is always more to learn.

Closer Marriage Relationship — I’ve read a lot of questions on prepper forums and message boards about how to get your spouse to join in your prepping efforts. (These aren’t all men. There are a lot of prepping women whose husbands don’t agree with their activities.) I feel their pain. It must be terrible to be divided on such a critical issue. Fortunately, that isn’t the case in our household. The need to get prepared was impressing itself on me in numerous ways over the course of several months before I ever said anything to Sandy about it. I’m incredibly blessed that her reaction almost immediately was, “You’re absolutely right. What should we do about it?” She has been a full partner in all of our prepping efforts, leading the way in many of them. For example, it was Sandy’s idea to start this blog so that we could help get the word out to others who are considering prepping or are just getting started with it.

Partnering with your spouse in any significant endeavor brings you closer together. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says:

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Sandy and I have always been blessed with a good marriage, but prepping has brought us even closer. We plan and work and learn and grow together. We see the importance of what we’re doing and we do it together. I’ll allow for the possibility that Sandy may not be the best wife in the world, but she’s the best one for me.

It Makes Me a Better Citizen — There are different ways to approach prepping. Some people do it to provide for themselves and their loved ones to the exclusion of all others. I won’t fault that approach, but I don’t follow it myself. We have voluntarily violated OPSEC (operational security) by writing this blog. We publish information on the Internet about products that we’ve bought to become prepared for hard times ahead. I’m not saying that everyone should do this — in fact, I would caution against it. Practicing good OPSEC and not spilling the beans (so to speak) to the world about all of your plans and preparations is a very good thing. But I would encourage you to leave room in your heart and in your preps to help others during a time of hardship.

Sandy and I prayed about starting this blog before we ever started broadcasting it to the world. We recognize the fact that we can’t become prepared enough to go it on our own if things get really bad. We just can’t do it all. I can’t be a mechanic and a farmer and a construction worker and a doctor and an infantryman and everything else that I would need to survive a real hard crash. I need a community. As such, I’ve taken some steps in my preps to provide for some of the needs of other people. One example that is near to my heart is the spiritual needs of others. When things get bad, many people turn to God, but knowledge of God isn’t as prevalent in our society today as it was a generation or two ago. So I have included in my storage cases of inexpensive Bibles and New Testaments that I will be able to give out to friends and neighbors when they decide that they want them. Sandy writes another blog, www.ApprehendingGrace.com, that talks about integrating our faith in Christ with our everyday lives. These are a couple of the ways that we want to be able to help support those around us when calamity strikes. We want to be a part of the solution, not a part of a problem.

Prepping has led me to become a better citizen in some broader ways, as well. I’m more ecologically aware and sensitive now than I ever have been before. I might need to rely on a nearby stream for drinking water at some time down the road. I don’t want to see it polluted or the water table depleted. I want to make sustainability a priority. I want to incorporate more solar energy into my home. These are things that help make the world a cleaner and better place than we found it, and that’s good citizenship. Prepping did that for me.

Convenience — Yeah, what could possibly be more convenient than being a prepper, right? But prepping really has made my life more convenient in at least a couple of significant ways. First, following the Boy Scout motto of “be prepared,” I now carry more stuff with me than I used to. My Mom lived like a prepper. Seems like anytime we were out and needed some small item, she’d rummage around in her purse for a minute and then produce the very thing that we needed (or a reasonable facsimile). Taking a cue from Mom, now when I’m out and about, I might not have everything I need to deal with every possible situation, but I’m better equipped than before with tools, pocket knife, flashlight, etc.

Another example is with my food preps. Following the dictate of “store what you eat and eat what you store,” I tend to not run out of things anymore. I have more of whatever I need in my storage pantry. It’s like having a grocery store in my own house. You can’t beat that for convenience.

The Bottom Line — Being a prepper hasn’t been a drain on my life and resources, it’s enhanced both. It doesn’t make me more anxious, it gives me peace of mind. It helps me be a better version of myself. And that’s a good thing.

Prepping for Holidays in a CanWe want to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas. We pray that you will find the joy in the season – knowing Christ and being known by Him.

Being in the holiday spirit reminds me how important celebrations and traditions can be. Even those who adamantly declare that they avoid traditions are, in effect, implementing them – that is, their avoidance of tradition is, in fact, their tradition. I know, it sounds strange, but it’s true.

Traditions ground us they define who we are and connect us to community. The community may be present or may be miles away, and it may be large or small. Growing up, we always baked Christmas cookies the day after Thanksgiving. Now as an adult, when I bake cookies on that day – even if I am baking alone – I feel connected to those I baked with, and even the people  they baked with before I was born.

Traditions can be reassuring and calming. When the world changes dramatically, I can’t think of anything we’ll need more! What a better way to prepare for such a time, than to create “Holidays in a Can.” Or a six-gallon pail. Phil describes the contents of holiday cans as “the saved of the saved.” In other words, we’re prepping for the holidays, not just for survival. We’re purposefully storing special food and other items with our preps that we won’t touch until the holiday comes around so that our holiday will be special even when times are tough.

What holidays should you plan for? Any days that are special to you – birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve or Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Independence Day come to mind. In our house, only a few of those are important days – you identify the ones that are important to you. (Phil is a peculiar fan of Groundhog Day. Go figure.)

What should be in the holiday cans? Now there’s a question that will have a unique answer for each of us. Ask yourself this:

What makes the holiday special to me and my family? Is it smells or activities or sights or sounds?

Your answer to that question will help you identify what should go into your can. Here are some ideas.

  • A card (birthday, anniversary, etc.)
  • A decoration or two
  • Ingredients for a prepper version of a favorite or special food (or just include a fruitcake!)
  • A gift – something special to share with others
  • Something frivolous or fancy
  • Something that evokes memories of the holiday – perhaps a picture or ornament or piece of clothing (an ugly Christmas sweater comes to mind)
  • Candles. Fancy ones since you might be using candles more in TEOTWAWKI and we want the can to hold special things. Don’t forget birthday candles if it’s a birthday can – and if you’re one of those people who always puts trick candles on the cake, be sure to include them.)
  • Spray scent (I hate it, but if I was desperate, I might really enjoy the Christmas feel of it – or it might just remind me of why I always hated it – which is a part of Christmas, too!)
  • Photos
  • A game
  • A special drink (every year at Christmas I have a glass of Crown Royale because it’s what my dad gave me for Christmas every year)

The key is to pare the items down to just a few that will bring the essence of your holiday into a time of crisis.

The Alternative Holiday Can

Having written all that I just did about the importance of traditions – and believing every word of it – I’ve also experienced times when it was important to break with tradition to make the holiday livable. For example, the year Phil’s mom died I specifically planned a non-traditional Christmas for us. I knew that the holiday memories would be too difficult the first year, so instead of focusing on the holiday, we remodeled our living room and dining room over Christmas week. Yes, we took a short break to join family for dinner, but then we returned home to finish painting.

So another approach to your holiday cans (or perhaps just some of them) is an alternative holiday can. Instead of filling it with things that remind you of former holidays, use it as a starting place for igniting new traditions or simply having a fun day. Here are some ideas:

  • A new game
  • Supplies to make a new scrapbook or cards
  • Treat food that isn’t reminiscent of your holidays. I’m loving Auguson Farms Blueberry Muffins these days. A couple batches of that in my birthday can would be a new tradition I’d enjoy!
  • An IOU for a day of rest and pampering – in whatever form that would take in TEOTWAWKI. Massage oils would probably have a very long shelf life.
  • A letter that you write now that would still be applicable then
  • One thing that reminds you of and connects you with the traditional holiday. Just a small thing. Don’t make it the centerpiece of the can.

Remember, your holidays in cans are the “saved of the saved.” They’re in the secret vault not to be opened until the holiday arrives. That’s what holiday prepping is all about.

What are your ideas? How are you including the holidays in your prepping? Comment below or add your comments on Facebook.

And again, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a blessed and prosperous New Year.

In Phil’s previous blog, he focused on building a community. We followed our own advice and paid a visit to a local prepper group, one that we found through one of the web links in Phil’s blog. We’ve been trying to make it to one their meetings for about nine months, but something always conflicted. The group isn’t very near our location, so in a disaster they’re not going to be the people in our community. Still, gathering with like-minded folks proved helpful and encouraging in several ways.

It reinforced our own prepping condition (or lack thereof). Among the folks that we hang with, we are the most prepared people we know. Yes, we know that our preps are inadequate and we have a wish-list of items and skills that is longer than your arm. Still, we’re ahead of just about everyone we come in contact with. Not so in this group. We were probably the least prepped people in the room. Being with these people gave us an in-person reminder that we have more to do.

It reinforced the reason we prep. We’re guessing you’re like us in that most of your friends don’t see a need to be prepping. When no one around you sees danger, it’s easy to begin to convince yourself that danger isn’t really present. Being with the people in this group reinforced that the danger is real and that there is value in prepping. We knew that before we went, but we left with a renewed sense of it.

It broadened our thinking. We do a lot of reading about prepping. Phil, especially, spends hours reading, learning, planning, and writing. Still, there’s nothing better than face-to-face conversations with other preppers. What have you done about…? How do you…? What do you think about…? What would you do if…? Wow! We never thought of it like that before. It was an eye-opening experience being with these folks.

It reinforced what we already knew. Especially about the need for community. One of the biggest reasons for community is that you can’t do it all yourself. You can’t even know it all yourself. There’s just too much. You need help. You need someone who is more advanced in some areas than you are to help you along. We met people at this group who were communications experts, security experts, gardening experts, and more. Hopefully we have something that we can contribute to the group, too, because there are things about prepping that we’ve learned along the way. But the bottom line is that we all need each other.

We met people whom we hope will become friends. Yes, they live a bit too far to become close friends, but they’re friendly (albeit cautious) people that we already have much in common with.

Even if you have a few friends that you’re prepping with, there is value in visiting a prepper group in your area (even if that’s outside your comfort zone). The new ideas you come away with are worth it. They won’t make fun of you for being a newbie – they’ll be glad someone else has started down the prepping road. If you’re not a newbie, they’ll be glad to have you share your knowledge. And if you’re somewhere in between, you have the best of both worlds – sharing a little bit of knowledge, but still being considered a newbie that they appreciate. Phil listed a few Web sources for locating prepper groups in his blog, 1 + 1 = Survival. Check it out and try to get to the next meeting! You’ll be glad you did.

a cord of two strands is not easily brokenI was listening to the radio in the car today and caught a snippet of a message by Chuck Swindoll. The title of it was “1 + 1 = Survival.” That will get a prepper’s attention! I only caught a couple of minutes of it, but it was enought to inspire this total rip-off of Chuck’s message. Thanks, Chuck.

Chuck’s was teaching from the book of Ecclesiastes, one of the “wisdom books” in the Bible. Bible scholars attribute much of Ecclesiastes to Israel’s King Solomon, who was reportedly the wisest man who ever lived. Wise, but not perfect. He screwed up a lot, but he learned from his mistakes. I’m glad he had the humility to share his mistakes and the lessons he learned from them with posterity.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation)

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. 10 For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. 11 Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? 12 And if someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Trying to go it alone isn’t wise. It’s not easy, either, as you well know if you’ve been trying to do it all by yourself. America was built upon the concept of “rugged individualism,” but that doesn’t mean isolation from others. Your survivability will increase if you can find even one other like-minded person to band together with you.

Prepping can be a lonely pursuit. I recently saw a stat that said it’s estimated that somewhere around 3 million people in America are prepping for a coming emergency. Think of it — millions of preppers! It sounds like a lot, until you consider that there are over 300 million people in America right now. That reduces the stat to just 1 in 100. One percent. And how many of those are really pursuing it as actively as you are? Being a part of a prepper community, even if it’s just a community of two, can help you stay focused and fill in the gaps in your preps.

“If either falls, his companion can lift him up.”

Ecclesiastes points out the benefits of being in a mutually committed partnership. Falling can be a metaphor for a lot of things — failing, becoming discouraged, giving up, or literally being physically unable to do something by yourself. Having a committed partner to help you up when you’re down can be the difference between achieving your goals or joining the ranks of the 99% who aren’t prepared. The 99% not only won’t have the resources or inclination to help you in an emergency, they’ll be coming to you for help. And they’re also to likely be the ones who discourage you from prepping now. Having a committed partner is good, but it’s even better to be a committed partner for others. Living out that kind of character will get you through situations that you wouldn’t think possible until you’re tested.

“If two lie down together, they can keep warm.”

This isn’t about cuddling or sleeping together. This is about synergy. There is an efficiency that comes from partnership. A team of two can accomplish more than two individuals working separately could ever do. Is it possible to do a lot of things alone? Sure, but it’s much easier when you have a helping hand. It also tends to be more fun.

“If someone overpowers one person, two can resist him.”

There’s safety in numbers, even if the number is only two. We all need someone to watch our back. We all have blind spots that others see in us, but that we don’t know about. That’s why they’re called blind spots. Having a trusted partner to clue us in on what we’re not seeing is a real plus. It requires humility and a teachable spirit on our part, and it requires gentleness and tact on the part of the one bringing the correction. (Note: If gentleness and tact don’t move your partner in the right direction, try a swift kick in the pants. One or the other should do it. Different strokes for different folks.) And of course this passage could also be literally applied to the area of personal security. By myself, I could be an easy target for those with bad intentions. It’s nice to have a wingman. I’ve got to sleep sometime. I need someone to stand guard while I’m getting some shut-eye.

“A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

If two is good, then finding a third like-mind, committed prepping partner is the hot-diggity bomb. One or two people still have to do it all themselves. Bring more committed folks on board and you can start to specialize. Capitalize upon one another’s strengths and expertise. Do more of the stuff that you really like to do and do it better. You’ll still have to do some nasty tasks that no one wants to do (and it will inevitably feel like you do more of them than anyone else), but being part of a unit will supercharge your preps. Shoot, you might even qualify for bulk discounts when you buy supplies.

In a subtle way, Scripture is nudging us toward inviting God to be our “third strand.” Faith can be a strong motivator. It can give you a sense of purpose that transcends the struggles of this life and reaches into eternity. It can teach you to persevere against overwhelming odds. Scripture teaches us that through faith in God, “one can put a 1,000 to flight, and two can put 10,000 to flight.”

Where are the preppers?

So how do you go about finding like-minded folks in your area? It’s not easy. I drop an occasional vague comment about something related to prepping in casual conversations (striving to maintain some degree of OPSEC and to not look like a card-carrying member of the Tinfoil Hat Society) and see if anyone takes the bait. To be quite honest, I haven’t gotten good results with that approach, but I still feel like it’s worth trying.

So how else can you hook up with like-minded folks? Here are some web sites that can help:

  • PrepperGroups.com/  Prepper groups and only prepper groups. Or people who want to find or form a prepper group. There’s a box near the top left corner that says “Preppers by location”. Right under that you can click on “Select category” to open up a drop down box of locations across the U.S. and around the world.
  • AmericanPreppersNetwork.net/  Besides having a forum that is a wealth of information, there is a map on the home page where you can select Prepper Meetup Groups and it will display what they have listed in your area. I didn’t find some of the groups that I located through PrepperGroups.com/ here, so I don’t know what their criteria is, but it’s worth a shot.
  • Meetup.com/find/   This site isn’t just for preppers, but you might be able to find prepper groups in your area on it. Just enter your zip code and the number of miles you’re willing to travel to meet-up with folks and it will do the rest for you. They list all kinds of groups, so you can specify “prepper” in the search box to narrow it down to just those. They have lots of groups for all kinds of non-prepper related special interests, if you’re into something else. My wife and I participate in a number of meet-ups, some for business and blogging, others just for fun.

Finally, stick around. We hope to form our own virtual prepper community through this blog soon. No telling who you might meet.