Pinch of Prepping, Sip of Sustainability, and Me

Many folks have been silent lately within the prepper online communities, myself included. There are a multitude of reasons for this, and most of them are applicable at one time or another to most of us. However, I am going to be brutally honest today about some of the reasons I have been silent in hopes that maybe some of you can relate and move forward too as I am struggling to do. Being over stressed and depressed due to so many little pieces that keep us from making progress has taken a toll on me in many ways lately, most of it not good. Sometimes, such as for me, the lack of progress adds an additional layer of stress. This year a lot of us have struggled with our gardens. Personally, I have never had such a dismal start to a season like this one.

We had a large and flourishing garden plot in raised garden beds that gave me tremendous joy. It was pure pleasure to be out there working in the dirt and soaking up sunshine as well as reaping the beautiful harvests. This year though our family faced several physical and financial challenges that meant I foolishly allowed our gardens to go to waste and overgrow with weeds for the winter months.

My sons felt that it would be better to let that space go back to natural grass as part of our backyard and instead to build an enclosed garden with planting tables much like a regular greenhouse.

Florida is a bit too humid and hot for glass enclosures so ours will be screened in when finished. For now, we have left it open for the extreme summer heat here.

We purchased new dirt from our town facilities and started to work some additional nutrients into it via manure, but it is nowhere near what our garden soil was before. After all the time building and then planting, I have watched almost everything there turn yellow, brown, or wither into mush or dried out nothing! I know all the usual reasons garden failure occurs – we’re experienced at this over the course of our lifetimes – we both grew up with families who gardened successfully. But this has tested me in ways I cannot explain fully to the point of tears and angst.

This garden is a major source of food for our family.

Like many other folks, my paycheck is not keeping pace with inflation and expenses. I am blessed that I don’t have charge card debt, but we do have utilities, a mortgage, car loan, insurance, and of course food expenses. Our budget is further tested by catastrophic medical bills above and beyond what is covered by insurance. My husband is permanently disabled, and this past year has seen many changes in his health, not for the better. This has left more for me to deal with at home in addition to needing to work full time. Having the garden fail has really not been something I could ignore – there simply is not enough disposable cash in our budget to allow me to make up the shortfall at a grocery store.

So taking all of this frustration into account, I decided it was time to face going back to our old garden plot and reclaiming at least a portion of that for a second chance at getting some food. It is here that the Lord began dealing with me as I worked that smaller piece of ground. I realize not all of you practice the same religion as I do, and some of you approach it from a differing perspective – but bear with me just a bit because I think some of what I learned, might just help some of you too. I do believe in miracles – and I believe in the strong power of prayer – and I believe in the importance of walking in faith – and I even believe that St Anthony is a wonderful patron saint of lost things – but I don’t believe God wants us just to blab and grab for miracles – and I don’t think St Anthony is finding someone else’s lost money to pay my bills! I’m certainly not expecting any surprise checks in the mail either! Yet as I worked my garden today, I am sure that the Lord was opening my heart to a few hard lessons that will apply to us both as Christians and as preppers.

This little piece of dirt is a lot like my spiritual life – if I’m not spending time working it, it grows over with lots and lots of weeds. We don’t always end up in a desert place – our place can look nice and green and lush – but guess what?

Not all that green stuff is good for us – it may even poison us if we’re not careful. We spend a lot of time watering the dirt thinking we are avoiding the desert and we might even over-water to the point of growing some mushrooms or dollar-weed. Some of that can kill if we don’t really know what we are doing! Basically, this was my spiritual walk lately. I was so tired, so frustrated, so feeling sorry for myself that even my prayer life was not what it should be. I didn’t feel like weeding my gardens –physical or spiritual – it was easier to stew in my pity party by myself. Me, myself, and I. Are you still with me here?

Interestingly I had tried sowing some seeds for some lettuces, but then life got in the way, and I ignored weeding enough of it to keep a place for those to grow.

Instead, the weeds flourished and choked out even the lettuce! The Lord brought to mind Noah – we’ve talked about him before – he is pretty popular as a reason to encourage preppers to be prepared in the face of the naysayers. So is Joseph. Now – I know they had family and slaves to help do their preps – and contrary to what our families may say – most of us really don’t have slaves to help us with the work. Yet the Lord showed me that it took them lots and lots of hard work on a daily long term basis to make any progress. Like us, that progress isn’t a sensational overnight accomplishment. It took them years of never-ending work to get to their goals. Their goals weren’t anything too great at first either – gee – what did they get as a prize? A massive flood? A drought and famine? Those hardly seem like prizes, do they? Their real prize was they lived – they and those they prepared to help survive along with them! It meant backbreaking never-ending work, being bone tired and frustrated to survive day to day plus get ahead enough to be able to survive the flood and the years after the flood receded – the same with the drought – they had to continue to plant and to work the fields in spite of the famine in order to work towards getting back to normal – whatever that new normal was for them. When the slaves left Egypt, they were gifted at a certain point with manna. But that isn’t what we were told about Noah or Joseph. There was no miraculous source of food laid before them – no one built that ark and sailed it over to them. Joseph even had to figure out enough storage bins or silos for all that grain!

Let’s get back to my garden situation. I’m not giving up totally on the new way of gardening yet. I will have lots more work to see what will succeed and what won’t. I’ll continue to read and study and talk to others. I’ll continue to amend the soil and replant what we need to — again sort of like my spiritual walk. To be truly prepared to live through whatever comes, I can’t sit back complacent and I can’t jump from one new gardening or spiritual fad to another – rather I have to seek the counsel of those I trust as spiritual leaders and brothers (or sisters in faith) who can walk with me through this wasteland. To paraphrase a meme I read recently, I can’t expect to dance my way out of hell if my dance partner is the devil!

As I seek the fellowship of like-minded people, I need to relearn old lessons and also take in some new ones. And it’s here the Lord showed me an interesting point in my garden.

As we planted the new tables, it meant that we moved several plants that were where the enclosure would be going. The main planting there was an herb called comfrey, also known as knitbone. It is useful as a poultice and has been appreciated for years as a medicinal herb. But when we transplanted it, it turned yellow, brown, and finally died back completely. There was nothing left, and I was pretty sure I had managed to kill it. Comfrey is not easy to grow from seed – most times, it is grown from its rootstock and takes a year or two to be established. I figured I was going to have to start over even with this. God is awfully patient with us, though. He allows us and even helps us to start again. As I weeded today, I spent time in prayer. I wasn’t asking Him to bless my work, to give me any great harvest today. Instead, I sought fellowship with Him; I sought to listen for what He wanted me to learn today. And as I almost finished weeding, there it was buried under all the weeds and rubbish. The original seeds – no, the very deep planted rootstock – of my comfrey plants. Knitbone, a medicinal herb known for aiding in the healing of broken bones. So it is for my walk with Him – learning once again that He can heal my brokenness – heal my pain. No, I didn’t find a winning lottery ticket buried in the dirt. But I did learn that He is always there waiting – even when I am not willing. And I learned that like my garden, my spiritual walk takes a lot of hard work to keep weeded and watered and fed properly before I will ever see a harvest.

What does this all have to do with prepping you may ask.

It means that we as preppers need to keep at it. It takes lots and lots of hard work, day in and day out to be prepared. Part of that process means we need to prepare ourselves mentally and spiritually as well as physically. We can rest assured that our political enemies have strong religious ties that they constantly feed by prayer several times daily as well as being pushed by their religious as well as political leaders. We can also see those who would destroy us financially work their religion constantly, daily too – the George Soros of the world don’t just sit back and rest assuming they will ride out anything without work. They continue to study, to learn, to buy and sell – whatever it takes to amass enough to survive whatever it is they think they have to work against. Like Noah and Joseph, those people stop at nothing, not even the derision of others to keep working at what they believe in, at a way to survive in spite of what the future brings at them.

It is the same obstacle-laden path we as preppers must walk and climb over.

We’ll push those obstacles to the side not with ease but by diligence and hard work. Our nails will be broken, cracked, filthy with dirt – but in the end, we will have that harvest, that prize. It won’t be a glamorous shiny prize or a big trophy to put on display. It will be one like those of Noah and Joseph, survival for ourselves and those we care about as we rebuild that new normal for ourselves. It’s there we find peace, a relief from stress. We’re walking a path similar to those great men before us. Men who failed miserably at points in their lives but men who also sought out listened to what the Lord told them and worked tirelessly to reach survival. My work isn’t done, my harvest won’t be on time for what I wanted, but it will happen, and I will keep weeding each day, a little at a time. As the photos show, there are still weeds in my garden that I have to work on. Like my garden, I’m not perfect yet by any means – so I have lots to weed yet, and at times I will grow weary or depressed – but I am not giving up!

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