While we celebrate the blessings of this season, we can set aside our fears of these perilous times, and focus on our faith and spiritual preparedness for the road ahead. We remember that anything is possible with Christ at our side and a culture of self reliance in our homes

Consider the Twelve Months of Preparedness we have seen in 2010– where in every instance that faith was challenged by tragic natural disasters, there have been those among the rubble who were remarkably prepared for their challenge, who could not only protect their families, but provide for their neighbors as Good Samaritans.

If you knew in January 2010 what you now know about the events of 2010, what would you have done differently? Consider both natural events and man-made calamities, including the world-wide economic crisis. Surely all of us would have done something very differently, had we known the course of world events, and how quickly fortunes can be reversed. In one respect or other, we would have been better prepared had we known then what we know now.

Consider 2010. Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes,  typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a 250,000 people through November – the numbers for December are not yet available – the deadliest year in more than a generation.

In January the earthquake in Haiti killed more than 220,000 people. In February, an earthquake that was more than 500 times stronger than the one that struck Haiti hit Chile. Chile’s bigger quake at 1000 deaths caused far fewer deaths than in Haiti because of better building codes and preparation. This has been the year of earthquakes in diverse places, including Indiana and New York. While these were small and barely felt, they make the point that earthquakes in these areas are possible. Earthquakes in 2010 have resulted in nearly 250,000 fatalities. Through mid-December there have been 20 earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or higher, compared to the normal 16. While not a record, 2010 is tied for the most big quakes since 1970. Sunday, January 2, 2011 a 7.0 earthquake hit Argentina and a 7.1 quake hit Chile. Will this be another devastating year?

A week before Christmas 2009 was the start of the worst winter storm season on record for the communities of the East Coast.  Philadelphia experienced the second heaviest snowstorm of record (23.2 inches). In Upton, N.Y., it was their heaviest on record (26.3 inches), Washington, D.C. saw 16.4 inches and Atlantic City, N.J. had 12.1 inches.

Then came the storm dubbed “Snowpocalypse” Feb. 5-6. An incredible 32 inches of snow buried Dulles International Airport. Philadelphia saw another 28.5 inches – Baltimore  had 25 inches, Pittsburgh  saw 21 inches, and Atlantic City, N.J. 18.2 inches. Twenty-five percent of Washington, D.C’.s plows were put out of commission. A fire station burned after the roof collapsed in Baltimore.

A second storm, just three days later, dumped another 19.5 inches in Baltimore, 15.8 inches in Philadelphia, 10.8 inches in Washington and 7.1 inches in Atlantic City. Roof collapses became a big concern in these areas.

Finally, there was New York City’s fourth heaviest snowstorm on record 20.9 inches on Feb. 25-26. This made February the snowiest month in recorded history in New York City – total of 36.9 inches.

The 2010-2011 winter snow season has also begun with record snowfall. Thousands have suffered days without power, and thousands were stranded at airports with few amenities and running short of money to purchase even the basics, food and medications.

Another unusual natural disaster during 2010 was the volcanic eruption in Iceland. On March 20th, 2010, Mount Eyjafjallajökull erupted and it erupted again on the 14th of April 2010, disrupting air traffic across all of Northern Europe, stranding many passengers at airports and causing aviation losses amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Wednesday, April 21st 2010 brought the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The explosion of a BP oil platform caused a blowout of a sea-floor oil wellhead located several miles off the southeast Louisiana coast and the blowout allowed oil to spill into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The leak was finally stopped as the wellhead was capped on July 15th. It is estimated that nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil escaped before the capping. It is still not known exactly how much this disaster has cost the local economy or how much of an affect it will have on the future of the fishing industry and food prices nationwide.

The summer brought an unrelenting heat wave in Russia causing 11,000 deaths and destroying the wheat crop – sending wheat prices higher as Russian wheat was pulled from the world market.

Newly released numbers indicate 382,000 home foreclosures in the third quarter of 2010, a 31.2 percent jump over the previous quarter and a 3.7 percent rise from the same quarter a year ago. The regulators expressed the opinion that the increase is due in part to the banks having “exhausted” options for keeping many  borrowers in their homes through programs such as loan modification.

Oil is now trading at $91.40 per gallon, up from $80.00 per gallon in January 2010. Gasoline in California averaged $2.51 per gallon in January 2010 and $3.20 per gallon in December 2010. Diesel fuel has risen at the same high rates adding to the increased cost of food and manufactured goods.

The unemployment rate in the United Sates stands at 9.8% with Mississippi at 9.9%, Georgia at 10.1%, Kentucky at 10.2%, Oregon and South Carolina at 10.6%, Rhode Island at 11.6%, Florida at 12.0%, Michigan and California at 12.4%, Nevada at 14.3% and Puerto Rico at 15.8%. Those numbers reflect only those currently looking for jobs and not those who have stopped looking. Experts say if the chronic unemployed were considered, the national rate would be above 16%.

As we look ahead to 2011, consider the counsel of modern prophets and apostles in declaring the value of self-reliance:

President Thomas S. Monson said, “Self-reliance is a product of our work and under-girds all other welfare practices. It is an essential element in our spiritual as well as our temporal well-being. Regarding this principle, President Marion G. Romney has said: ‘Let us work for what we need. Let us be self-reliant and independent. Salvation can be obtained on no other principle. Salvation is an individual matter, and we must work out our own salvation in temporal as well as in spiritual things.’” (In Welfare Services Meeting Report, 2 Oct. 1976, p. 13.) Thomas S. Monson, “Guiding Principles of Personal and Family Welfare,” Ensign, Sep 1986.

 “Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their year’s supply of food … and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year’s supply of debt and are food-free.”  President Thomas S. Monson “That Noble Gift—Love at Home,” Church News, May 12, 2001.

It has been my experience that spiritual preparedness is much more difficult when temporal preparedness has been ignored. As we gather with family to set goals for the coming year, ask yourself what you would have done differently had you known the trials of 2010 which faced your family. What will you do now to become more self-reliant so the “storms” ahead will not defeat your family? When we are tempted to spend money on trivial wants, we should reflect instead on our real treasures – our families – and consider what we must do to protect them in the years ahead.

If you missed Carolyn’s radio show, READY OR NOT,  December 21st check it out as she visited with her children about the importance of family traditions when planning a self reliance lifestyle. Food Storage 101 classes continue each Monday at blog.TotallyReady.com  and don’t fail to get in on the discussions in her yahoo group.