Essential is quite a thought provoking word. What do I think is essential to my life? My happiness? My safety? My sanity? Emergency essentials, now there’s a list to make! Let the Parable of the Ten Virgins inspire us all to learn new skills and gather necessary supplies as we enjoy National Preparedness this month.
If you read this article and still need some more preparedness information and incentive, be sure to check out The Prepared Homestead chapter of our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. Don’t just stop at preparedness information, though! With eight different chapters and over 400 pages of homesteading instruction and how-to’s, there’s bound to be something here for everyone. If you’d like a free sample from the book, just email me at Tessa@homesteadlady.com and I’ll get you set up. Or, click below for more information on the book:
Be a Wise Virgin
If you’re a Christian, stop me if you’ve heard this one; everybody else, I have a little story.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
Well, really it’s a parable told by the Master Teacher, Himself. If you turn to Matthew, chapter twenty five, in the Bible you’ll find this story with a double, even triple or more, meaning. For those of us who are not that religious, don’t worry; I’m not whomping up a sermon, I’m just making a point.
Here’s what Matthew recorded:
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
What Does it Mean?
Now, there are about 67 different Sunday School lessons we could pull out of this one story but I’m going to focus on the most basic and that’s this: stuff happens. Big stuff, life changing stuff, stuff we plan and stuff that just comes out of nowhere. There’s no way we can have emergency essentials lined up for every potential personal, familial, political, professional or natural disaster. Even the coolest prepper-dude and the most conscientious mom is not going to be able to do everything. BUT, we can all do something to, as Matthew goes on to write, “watch therefore”.
Put Your Big Kid Pants On
The Bridegroom wasn’t asking for the moon; He just needed the wise virgins to have oil in their lamps. Now, some might look at this story and think those wise virgins were a bunch of selfish brats. Why couldn’t they just share their oil so that everyone could have some and they could all go party? I have several responses to this but one prevails. Want it?
It’s nobody else’s job to take care of you, just like it’s nobody else’s job to take care of me. A certain amount of oil was needed to last the night; some brought enough and some didn’t. Its not brain surgery, its oil. We prepare to take care of ourselves because nobody is obligated to do it for us. Period.
And look, it was the Savior who said five of them were wise and five of them were foolish – if someone has a problem with that, they can take it up with Him.
It’s a Journey AND a Destination
Beyond that rather pragmatic line of reasoning there are some simple truths about gathering emergency essentials for our families:
- It’s more about the experience and process than it is about the list of items in your basement or bug out bag.
- Living in a provident manner, preparing and providing for ourselves, is a lifestyle and there are skills to be learned as well as food to be put by.
- Somehow this process always seems to include learning to live more frugally, more thankfully, more practically.
- The lessons learned and the lifestyle changes that occur aren’t something that you and I can simply gift to another person. Even if we could somehow download our emergency preparedness efforts into someone else’s head, its most likely that the information wouldn’t make any sense because it would have no personal frame of reference. As Linda Burton, a spiritual mentor of mine recently noted, “Spiritual [or intuitive] oil can’t be shared. Personal acts of dedication can’t be given.”
Many of us already know that developing a pattern of preparedness is vitally important and then there are those of us who just aren’t there yet. Either way, its hard to know where to start. Never fear! I know awesome bloggers and when I asked them to share with me their best preparedness posts, I had a huge list in a matter of minutes. Brace for impact.
Why Prepare Emergency Essentials?
Are you still not quite convinced? Are you still imagining “preppers” as those weirdos in tin foil hats? Or, do you have family members that aren’t quite on your same bandwagon? That’s ok – its only a place to start. Here are some articles to help you out:
- From the Prepared Ninja, Reinforcing the Basic Need for Preparedness
- Here’s An Open Letter to Family and Friends from Ed That Matters on his ideas about the need to prepare
- The Bug Out Bag Guide gives quality, not too overwhelming advice on How to Start Prepping
- Common Sense Home has just 5 Simple Preparedness Basics
- The Rural Economist has a seven part series on Getting Prepared for Beginners – this was a great series of posts on the basics and not overwhelming at all.
Start with B.O.B.
A good place to start, if you’re new to the whole preparing emergency essentials thing is a BOB – Bug Out Bag. They’re also known as 72 hour kits, grab and go bags, emergency packs and that kind of thing.
Preparing emergency essentials for three days is a manageable task, but no less vital to emergency preparedness. Besides, BOB is a nice, friendly name – start with BOB.
To help you get started:
- Here are our sister articles on preparing a BOB for your baby and improving upon you BOBs for babies and children – both have free printables!
- Survival at Home has a really cool post on filling your BOB with items you bought at the dollar store – sweet!
- Survival Weekly shares with us 8 Common Bug Out Bag Mistakes – and, yeah, I commit the first one but with five kids, I have no idea what to do about it!
- Food Storage and Survival has a great article about putting together a BOB for your car – oh, did I forget to mention you need one in your car, too?
- And your office but don’t worry because the Weekend Prepper has you covered there.
- Ok, I’m totally including this next one just because it was wicked cool article…and in case you may be in the market for a new car. Survive Hive does The Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle Comparison.
- Also, we have a whole section on this topic in our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. We even include information on how to make your BOB’s more healthy!
Some emergencies are events like natural disasters, which tend to be more motivating to prepare for because they’re scary. It’s just human nature to need a push to do something new or hard. Here’s some fire to light under your tushies because I love you.
- Lil’ Suburban Homestead shares their preps for a winter ice storm – I lived in NC for six years and I KNOW about ice storms. Its not hail, y’all. They’re ICE. STORMS. And they’re just not right.
- Common Sense Home shares what they do to get ready for any winter storm. Now that I live in Utah, I take winter very, very seriously.
Another good motivator is food. I don’t know anybody who actually enjoys being hungry.
Like many religious people, our faith observes fasting days (once a month usually) and I love the process of that. I learn how grateful I become for a piece of toast or a glass of water.
BUT, I wouldn’t want to do it for more than 24 hours (a typical fast), and certainly not long term.
What to store?
When deciding what and how much to put into your long-term food storage supply, take it nice and easy. “It is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength,” so says one of my canonical books. Buy just a little something extra at the grocery store this month and then start reading this list of articles:
- Ready Nutrition – 11 Emergency Food Items That Can Last A Lifetime
- Joybilee Farm – Low Cost Food Storage Items to Save You Money and Time
- Melissa K Norris – 8 Foods You Should Be Storing and Why
- My Food Storage Cookbook – 9 Great Tasting Ultimately Convenient Survival Meals
- Living Live in Rural Iowa – Nourishing Foods For Your Food Storage
- Are we Crazy Or What – How and Why to Store Salt
- Whole New Mom – Which Saves the Most Money – Dehydrating, Freezing or Canning?
- We also have a whole section on this topic in our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. We include information on short and long term storage, as well as several methods of preserving food yourself.
You’re welcome. Now, don’t forget the water storage, too.
Grow Food – just a quick note
Learning how to Grow Your Own Food can save you money (especially if your family is large) and provide you with food that is pesticide and GMO free. Yes, growing food takes work but you’re reading an article on emergency preparedness. Clearly, you are under the impression that taking care of yourself and your family requires work. You’re smart that way.
We have an entire chapter on The Homestead Garden in The Do It Yourself Homestead, just so you know.
Another motivator to get emergency essentials together is our health.
- Mom With A Prep shares 10 Frist Aid Skills Every Parent Should Know.
- It’s not something we’re comfortable thinking about but there is the possibility of large scale illnesses striking and overwhelming our medical professionals and facilities – what then? That’s a long answer, but here are a few ideas from Food Storage Moms (number 12 is important – just sayin’)
- And Herbal Prepper (Yeah, that second herb won’t be hard to come by – just visit my lawn!).
- For some simple herbal combinations for health that you can make yourself, just visit our link on the topic.
- Here’s how to encapsulate your own herbal supplements – money saver! For more herbal information on the homestead, just search the medicinal herb garden section in our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead.
- To prepare ahead of time to use herbal plants medicinally, I suggest you take the beginner courses through The Herbal Academy. Just click below for more information:
So what if the grid does go down? It doesn’t have to be caused by a political coup – a computer hacker or an earthquake is probably more likely to cause us to loose public works.
Have you ever run electricity drills with your family? You shut off the electricity to everything and see how long you can go before you go nuts.
It’s a particularly powerful lesson in summer when you shut off the AC, or in winter when you shut off the heat. Don’t assume that if you use natural gas, you’re completely safe from service interruption. Survive Hive has a really good article you might want to check out called Natural Gas: Can you Depend on it?.
Have you Tried Off Grid Cooking?
If you decide you want to be proactive, you can practice your outdoor cooking skills now:
- Homestead Lady has a whole category on the subject as we stumble along, learning how to do this. This Off Grid Cooking article is of particular interest
- Melissa K. Norris has a great article called 11 Ways to Cook Off Grid Without Power
- If you want to know anything about a family living off grid, just visit Trayer Wilderness – Tammy’s family is constantly inspiring me!
- We have a whole section on off grid living in our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. We interviewed real-life, off grid homesteaders to get their advice and experience.
Did I lose you back there or are you ok?
If you’ve read to the end of this article, you’re probably one of those who is ready to begin to gather these emergency essentials in earnest. Or, you’re ready to step up the preparations you’ve already made.
Religious leader Bonnie Oscarson said, “Where much is required, much more will be given!”
There are so many mentors out there – you do not have to try and organize this venture all on your own. Providing for your family, filling your lamps with oil, is a big task but there are countless people able to help along the way.
This time of year is all about gathering, isn’t it?
We’re bringing in the harvest and soon we’ll be gathering our families together to celebrate our bounty and the coming festive season. Before that happy time descends upon us, let’s take a few moments and examine what we more we can be doing to prepare to care for those we love to the best of our abilities in any circumstance.
We can’t do it all, but we can do something. And it’s time.
*Cover art gratefully attributed to this Wikimedia Commons user.