"Just a little back ground:I am a stay at home mom, married to a hard working husband, who's had the same full time job for the past 14 years. We also have a home business (16 years) to help supplement the pay cheques from that full time job. We have 6 children. 3 girls and 3 boys. Our two oldest daughters now live on their own. One a young single adult and one newly married.Due to the recession, both the home business and my husband's full time job are in real threat. We are still waiting official word of when my husband will be laid off (he is next in line for lay offs). The possibility is very real that it will happen later this year.Now for my story:It all started back in November. Our Bishop, in his kind wisdom, "warned us all" to get prepared and if anyone wished to take on a Ward Challenge (to live providently and solely on their food storage) for the month of February, they could do so. Of course, this was all voluntary. It was a simple challenge to get members motivated and to see how well prepared we were.I was recently called as the Stake Provident Living Specialist back then and I was really excited about this challenge. I felt we needed this test to see how much my own family was prepared physically, as well as mentally. Just before Christmas, I strongly encouraged my family, to come on board with me. At first some apprehensive and nervous thoughts were shared, but then everyone committed to doing so. Not only did we all decide to take on the Bishop's challenge, but as a family we decided to take it a step further. We were going to hold our own little "Mock Unemployment".During the month of February, there would be NO spending money outside of the usual bills....mortgage, insurance, utilities, etc. But that would be it! Nothing would be spent on food, clothes, entertainment, toys, trinkets,etc. Nothing.Now some would think that if the children received no money for a month, that it wouldn't be that much of a challenge for them not to spend. However, every individual in this household has their own part or full time job. Everyone of our children have their own money to spend. So everyone of us would have equal temptation to spend. Another challenge was that this was February. .... The month of my husband's birthday and also Valentine's day....... Both special days where money usually is spent in our household.Several times, through this past month, we had family discussions to see how everyone was doing with this challenge and opportunity was given for thoughts and feelings to be shared. I am happy to report that everyone, though tempted at times to give in and spend, stuck it out the entire month. Not one dime was spent on anything outside of the normal bills. It wasn't easy. And yes, there were a few complaints at first, but for the most part, we all learned how to be more creative, make do, or do without.We held a family birthday party for my husband at home. Complete with a wonderful meal, gifts, home decorations, family games, etc.For Valentine's day, we exchanged cards and small treats we had on hand. In fact, this will be the most memorable Valentine's Day of my whole life, thus far. This month's challenge had given my husband the opportunity to truly plan and get creative with only the resources he had here in our home. He made me homemade chocolates (beautifully decorated in cellophane wrap), designed and printed his own romantic card on the computer, complete with a poem he had put together for me, plus he burned a CD of free downloaded music that only he knows I would appreciate and would have special meaning to me when I listened to it. I was taken by complete shock and utter happiness! This was the best gift I had ever received. It was straight from the heart. A lot of time and effort went into it. And not a dime was spent on it. I joked that we should have a no spend month every Feb.My 17 yr. old son, temporarily repaired his worn out jeans. He desperately needs new ones, but toughed it out. He can't wait to go shopping for the clothes he needs come this week.My 12 yr. old son, told his teacher that he would not be able to go on their class field trip to the Movie theatre to see a movie that was recently released. This was a trip that the whole class had been so looking forward to for quite some time. Of course, the cost was up to each student, therefore, my son declined to go and shared with his teacher why he couldn't go. I will be honest and say it was hard for me to not give in at this point and just tell him he should go. However, he did this all on his own and stuck to his plan. I told him I would reward him with a movie rental, come March.My 10 year old daughter has been collecting small dog figurines from her school class book order forms for almost a year now.. The latest figurine order was due this month in Feb. Each month offers a new one in the series. She would not be able to buy this month's figurine at any other time, ever. She came home heart broken. Once again, I was so tempted to make arrangements with her teacher to buy this dog for my daughter and then give it to her later. However, a couple of days later, she told her teacher that she wasn't going to spend any money in Feb. (and why) and wanted to know if she would be allowed to hand in her order on Monday, March 2. Her teacher was impressed with her commitment and told her that that would be alright. This also was not known to me until later.My children were learning. They were responsible with their promises and commitments. They were being resourceful. They learned how to make their own personal sacrifices, though hard it may be. They grew in their thoughts and actions. They planned and were creative. This to me was a blessing that came from this challenge, more than anything else.For me, my own biggest challenge, or so I thought, would be time management. I soon realized that I needed to be more prepared with my time. It takes effort to plan ahead. For example, making meals from food storage, is in essence, cooking from scratch. One meal can require many hours of planning or preparing........such as, having to soak beans the night before, or remembering to fit some time in for the milling of my wheat or other whole grains, before making the bread dough. I had to think and plan to create exciting, delicious and healthy meals, or my family's spirit for this challenge would diminish very quickly.I learned very quickly what I needed to do with my food storage (short term and long term supplies). The internet was a great resource in learning how to do this. I have been collecting information and recipes for food storage for a very long time now, and I was finally forced to use this knowledge. I am now very grateful for that opportunity. My family ate very healthy this month. They raved about every meal. I think I surprised them at how fun and delicious food storage can be! In fact, my husband is begging me to continue whatever it is I am doing. He felt that we ate like Kings all month long.I also, very quickly into the month, realized how much time I had been wasting before. I use to be faithful in reading all the flyers and newspapers that came into our home weekly. My excuse was that I was in search of "sales" for things that we need. Once February rolled around, those flyers just went straight into the recycle bin. There would be no use in searching for sales, as there would be no money to spend. I actually freed up almost an hour daily, by doing that. I also freed up more of my time, by being very frugal with the use of gas in our vehicle. I filled up our family vehicle once at the beginning and decided to stretch that out as far as I could. Since there was no need to go out to the stores as often as I did before, the gas stretched a long ways. I also decided that if my kids could walk to their schools, then so could I! I ended up getting more exercise than I normally do.So this month was really very beneficial to all of us. Unexpected blessings or benefits from this challenge came from every turn. And yes, I continue to refer to our trial month as a challenge, because it was. As in any trial that comes into our lives, it is a challenge to get through it. When my husband gets laid off, it will not be easy. It will be a challenge. However, we learned that we will survive. We can do this. We learned so much from this trial month of ours. Our family has grown leaps and bounds in our testimony of the importance of being prepared. We also have seen many blessings. We grew together as a family..... We grew closer together. The blessing of being more at peace with the uncertainties of the future has been received. We gained a knowledge, of not only many physical things, but spiritual things as well.I am VERY grateful for a Bishop, who initially gave us the challenge to live off what food storage we have."
E. Lynn CrapoFeb 28, 2009