If history is the biggest indicator, then get ready

Ah, yes, “if history is the biggest indicator of the future,” then a look back provides invaluable, even life-saving information for the future. And, the future is now.
Looking back, we can see a pattern of abundance and want, of prosperity and of just getting by. What separated those that had what they needed and those that did not was often determined by the knowledge/education, perseverance and skills an individual possessed. They had their houses in order. This is also looked upon as their self-reliance.
What is that exactly? Self-reliance is the ability to take care of ourselves, as well as our families, providing proper food, clothing and shelter for them. We also need a proper education, medical and dental care, and to learn how to work. These things give us the foundation to provide for ourselves, to obtain more education and skills, to get a job, and to maintain our homes.
It used to be common for sons to grow up following their fathers around, learning how to farm, how to maintain machinery and other vehicles, how to do basic plumbing and electrical, basic home maintenance, hunting and butchering their own meat, and other skills that are learned alongside while working together.
Daughters learned how to cook, sew and repair clothing, gardening and canning/freezing of fruits, vegetables, and meat. They learned how to make cleaning solutions, soap, quilts, and even salves and ointments for first aid. Knowledge of which plants were needed to make poultices, teas, etc., or which plants and berries were edible, were learned and were essential.
Times have changed in this land of plenty. Many of our ancestors farmed with horses and carved out a living under some pretty harsh circumstances. Having built their own houses (before there were restrictions), raised nearly all of their own food, dug wells, chopped wood and made their own clothes and tools, how they would marvel at the things we deem important, at the things we have, and at the things we just don’t know. They might even think we lack common sense! Besides the fact that many of us don’t farm, we don’t even know the land and many don’t know how to grow a garden or put up the harvest from it if we did.
How would we do in the event of an emergency? Most of the time we are taught what to do in the event of a natural disaster, like a tornado, flood or such. While it’s important to be able to make it through such a crisis, what if times got very difficult and remained so for months, or several years? (Hurricane Katrina has been a long crisis) What would become of your job, of your health and of your family?
Take a look back. The Great Depression provides important lessons. People learned to make what they needed and to make do with what they had – and often that wasn’t very much. Food was hard to come by, particularly for those living in the cities. Farming was made difficult in some areas due to drought. Hunger was common. People had to pull together.
We have people right here in this community that remember what those years were like. They recall the struggles. As evidenced by many of their homes even today they saved anything that might be needed – and that was nearly everything. Most of them have stored some food and other essentials, “just in case.”
They have such a wealth of knowledge. Rationing taught them how to cook in a different way, using fewer or less expensive ingredients. They ate simpler foods. They grew big gardens and spent a great amount of time canning and freezing, drying and even storing some fruits and vegetables in bins in cellars, basements and containers in the ground. They did without material things in order to focus on what they needed to survive.
Doctors often weren’t readily accessible and medicine was expensive, so folks learned how to take care of each other. That’s why there are so many stories of children born at home with the help of a family member or mid-wife. People even treated some broken bones, infections, and so forth on their own.
Some of these things seem so far away from what we experience today, however, if times were to increase in severity these very skills are sure to be vital. How many of them do you know? I can honestly say that I don’t know many of them.
A new year represents an opportunity to look at ourselves. We look back at how things were, evaluate how things are, and determine our course of action for the present and into the immediate future. Needs and wants are very different.
I’ve read, “A business which takes no regular inventory usually goes broke.” We take inventory of ourself and what our strengths and assets are. We also look at our liabilities. Where do we need to improve? What do we need to learn in order to keep our job or get a better one?
While taking stock of our current situation, we also consider our family members and our household. What expenses and needs are coming up? We look at what we need to do and what needs to be discarded, whether it refers to things (too much stuff) or unhealthy habits (overspending, smoking, drinking, dishonesty, etc.). And then we do so promptly, without looking back. Let go of what you don’t want and determine what you do want. Proceed from there and keep at it. Let’s get our houses in order.
So, if I may, consider becoming more self-reliant in the coming year. If things continue as they appear, we know any preparation we can do will only help us to deal with it. Plan, plant and put up a garden. Use containers if your area is small. Start a food storage and gather some emergency supplies. Learn basic first aid and then add to that knowledge. Live a healthier lifestyle. Learn to do some of your own auto repairs. Even changing the oil and filter helps. Apply the same to basic home care and maintenance. Get to know your neighbors and church family. Develop the type of relationship with them that if you need something you can contact them for help, and they can contact you.
If you make a New Years resolution, understand that “resolution” is defined as “the act or process of resolving something or breaking it up into its constituent parts or elements.” It means, “resolving; determining; deciding; solving, and/or answering.” Its synonyms can be applied to our process of self/family evaluation and what we need to move forward: courage, decision, determination, firmness, fortitude, analysis, disentanglement, resolvedness, resoluteness, constancy, perseverance, steadfastness, boldness and purpose.
It doesn’t mean we will achieve perfection in our goals (resolutions) to improve, but progress in several areas is possible and necessary for growth. Learn something new. We can become an expert on any subject in just a year by studying about that subject for 15 minutes a day. So, if you have aspirations to improve your family relations, to quit smoking or have some food storage and get out of debt, use your resolution synonyms and go forth and conquer!
By the way, you needn’t feel that you are alone on this. Include your friends, family and neighbors, and ask your Heavenly Father for His help and guidance. With such a team you’ll know what to do, and perhaps you’ll discover that’s been inside you all along. May your New Year find you prepared for new challenges.

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