Looking Back & Looking Ahead

Gee but it’s great to be back here after my three week Christmas vacation (from blogging)! The time off has led me to reflect a bit about blogging and some other things…

Why I Blog
I blog because I love to write about Faith, Family, & Livin’ The Good Life. I’ve been writing about these things here for almost two years. My intention from the beginning was to share something of my life with you, introduce and celebrate Christian Agrarianism, help to define what it is, and, hopefully, inspire others as they seek to live richer, fuller, more meaningful lives within this earthly realm. But is not necessarily the main reason I blog…

The Main Reason I Blog
This public record of beliefs and family activities is a record that I am in the process of printing (complete with your comments), hole-punching, and putting into a three ring binder. Actually, one big binder is already full and I’m filling another. It amounts to a lot of acid-free paper and ink but that’s okay. I consider it an investment of the most important kind—an investment in my family. Here’s what I mean…

My three sons only read this blog on occasion. One day they will have more of an interest in the things I’ve written. They will have more of an interest because they are featured in many of the stories and they will want to remember the things we have done here as a family. We are establishing family traditions, developing a unique family culture, making childhood memories--and they are good memories. But these things are, I think, taken for granted by my boys. That’s because they don’t have the perspective of age and life experience.

Such perspective will come in time, perhaps when my sons are grown and have children of their own. It may be when I am dead and gone. Whatever the case, one day, they will seek out and read “dad’s old blog writings,” and they will value them more than they do now at their youthful ages.

Even better, I will be able to “speak” to my grandchildren through the notebooks. I will be able to pass on some wisdom and, God willing, it will serve to make a difference in their lives. This is a small part of the multi-generational vision I have for my family.

Rediscovering a Multigenerational Vision

We live in a time when people think primarily of themselves in the here and now, and give little consideration to future generations of their family. Such self-centerdness is to be expected from foolish, ungodly people, but not from Christians.

Nevertheless, it has been my observation that modern evangelical Christianity is very shortsighted and self absorbed. I think that’s because so many Christians have been led to think they are the Terminal Generation: that they are going to be raptured out of the world in their lifetime.

I read Hal Lindsay’s “Late Great Planet Earth” when I was a teenager, and I listened to Bible “experts” explain how current events were foretold in prophecy. That everything was falling into place. That the Antichrist was waiting in the wings. That the tribulation was about to begin. That the rapture would soon happen. And I believed them. For thirty years I believed them. But they were wrong. I’m still here. I never expected to be here at 48 years of age.

Rapture-centric Christianity leads people to think differently; to make decisions in their lives that they otherwise would not. I know this because I’ve experienced it, and I’ve seen this way of thinking played out in the lives of other Christians.

Why save money for the future if we’re not going to be here? Why plan and leave an inheritance to our children and grandchildren if they aren’t going to be here? Why respect God’s creation if we’re not going to be here? Why get involved in the important issues of our day if we can’t change the course of history because we are in the “end times?” Why have a family vision beyond getting our children saved if Christians will soon be leaving this sorry earth?

As a Christian I believe that Jesus will return because He said he would. I look forward to it. I hope it will be soon. But I no longer listen to the prognosticators who read the headlines and tell how the events fit into Bible prophecy. I do not make my plans and live my life as if I will be leaving at any moment... I have determined that I will, instead, occupy with a long term vision for my life and family….

My Christian Agrarian Family Vision
Way back in May of last year I wrote of My Agrarian Family Vision. With this new year now upon us, I reread that essay and am more convinced than ever that it is correct for my family.

Fact is, I believe the vision outlined in that blog is correct for the church at large. That is not to say that I think everyone should live the life a farmer or homesteader. Clearly, God directs the lives of individuals and families in different ways to serve His purposes.

But the point of my vision, of what I believe in this regard, is that strong, healthy, God-centered families are essential to building the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. What’s more, I believe that strong, healthy, God-centered families are best nurtured and sustained within the agrarian paradigm (framework). Agrarianism is the Biblical and historical norm. Modern, industrialized life is a historical aberration, and like rapture centric theology, it rarely bears good fruit.

Furthermore, contrary to the modern, industrialized, mass-media approach to evangelization, I believe the most effective Christian outreach is achieved by Christian families, and small independent churches composed of Christian families, living simply and being salt and light to the community they live in. There is plenty of room within this way of life for missionary outreach and other ministry endeavors, as God leads.

Such a vision for life is not very “exciting” to the modern mindset. Modern Christianity likes to think up bigger, more clever, more organized, and more carefully crafted evangelistic outreaches for winning souls to Christ. Such industrialized methods work because they have the numbers to prove it. But I’m not convinced. It looks to me like much of the modern Christian “experience” is shallow and self-centered. It is also heavily syncretized with worldly attitudes and customs.

The Christian agrarian approach to life and Christian ministry is slower, less measurable, more personal, more intertwined with the daily life and work of the family. It results in a faith that I think it is deeper, more humble, and more firmly rooted. I may be wrong, but I think this is closer to the way that God intends for His people to live and interact and influence the world around us.

The average modern Christian can not accept this because of his industrial mindset. And he does not think multigenerationally. He wants big, measurable results, now and if he doesn’t get those things, he thinks something is wrong with his approach. Well, yes, there is.

The way I see it God has always worked through families, over generations, to achieve His purposes. Those families have typically lived simple agrarian lives. From such families, God has sometimes called out individuals to do great things for his kingdom. It is something to think about.

Looking Back on 2006
Last year was a blessed year here on our little homestead. Not everything went as well as we would have liked. There were struggles and disappointments, but that’s nothing new.

Back in April we thought we would buy the big old Grange Hall in Moravia. I even put a purchase offer in for the property and it was accepted. I wrote about it here and in subsequent blogs. But the deal fell through. It fell through because I had justified to myself that it would be okay to go into debt for this thing; I felt it would help me to achieve my family vision for more land and a a more viable family economy.

There is, however, something deep within me that abhors debt. I fear being a slave to the lender. I’m not saying all debt is wrong. I’m not passing judgement on anyone who borrows money. I’m saying that I am persuaded that God gave me a family vision and that He will provide in His time. My job is to trust Him and glorify Him by focusing on being a father to my children, working diligently with my mind and my hands, and being a wise steward with the resources He has entrusted to me.

Sometimes that is hard for me. I am a motivated person. If I set my mind to something I am inclined to drive towards it with singleminded determination, forgetting the more important things like faith and family along the way. My challenge is to maintain the balance. To stay centered. To be patient. To wait on the Lord. He has corrected me before. He has humbled me. He has taught me that He is in charge, not me. He doesn’t get with my program. On the contrary, I must move according to His word, His will, his leading. I don’t want to learn any more hard lessons. So I work and wait and trust, and there is great peace in that.

With the proper focus in mind, I have to say that my favorite blogs of last year were Backyard Poultry Processing With my 11-Year-Old Son and The Charging Woodchuck. Another family-centered blog of last year that is particularly dear to me is What My Grandmother Did For Me.

Home Business Adventures
Viable home businesses are integral to my agrarian family vision. I have a full time job in a factory but Marlene and I are working on several fronts to build home businesses that we can involve our children in or, at least, use to inspire them to pursue their own home businesses. .

Marlene has her farm market bread business which my son James has been very involved in. Just yesterday he told me he can’t wait until June so he can do the farmer’s market and make some money. Marlene also has her soap business which grew in 2006.

I published an unusual book last year in April. You can read my reasons for publishing Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian here. I’ve tried to find a distributor for the book but have had no success. The book has not sold very well. But it has sold some and readers have contacted me to tell me that they were blessed by the essays.

The only negative comment I’ve had is that I’m not very nice to “Moderns.” Well, it’s true. I’m guilty. What can I say? Sometimes the truth hurts.

Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian will be an obscure, underground, “subversive” and, to some people, offensive, little book. So be it. I believe the Lord has, and will continue to direct the book into the hands of those He wants to read it, and I am content with that.

One of my other businesses is growing garlic and making garlic powder. I blogged about how I plant my garlic last year. I blogged about selling my garlic powder at the farmer’s market too. And I blogged about the simplegarlic bulb dryer I invented.

A writer for “Farmshow” magazine found out about my garlic dryer and garlic powder business and an article should appear in a future issue of the publication. Isn’t that neat! Oh, by the way, I am now sold out of Herrick’s Homegrown stiffneck garlic powder. My thanks to all of you who purchased some.

My chicken plucker parts business is yet another home enterprise we have here and the Lord has greatly blessed the sale of these parts in the past year. My son Robert and I are currently working to get a big supply of the “featherplates” built ahead. And son James is helping to assemble parts for the idler arm hardware kits. I love to fire the woodstove up in my shop on a cold winter day and have my sons help in a very tangible way to make this business a success. Thank you to everyone who purchased parts to build your own Whizbang Chicken Plucker last year!

Looking Ahead to 2007
2007 will find me continuing to focus on faith, family and living the Christian agrarian “good life” while pursuing my agrarian family vision. I will soon launch into another book project. This year’s book will tell how to build a very useful “Whizbang Workhorse” garden cart. Lord willing, it will be in print by spring. My own Whizbang garden cart has been put through the paces for four years now. It is among the most versatile and useful homesteading tools I own.

Last year I developed a Whizbang apple crusher. This year I plan to develop a cider press to compliment the crusher. Then, perhaps next winter, I will publish plans telling others how to make their own crusher and juice press. I am thinking long-term with the books. The garden cart book has been on my mind for the past few years but only now am I determined to get it together and published.

My 15 year old son Robert expressed an interest in having an internet mail order business of his own. I suggested an idea. He liked it. I will be telling you more about this new business shortly.

I have set a goal for myself this year to learn how to make my own web site. I see this as necessary to building a sustainable home businesses; to establishing a viable family economy. Software and books are on the way now. It is way past time for me to buckle down and do this!

Another little goal for the year is to learn how to make hand-cut dovetails. I got a Lonnie Bird video on the subject for Christmas. In keeping with my “Yeoman Furniture” blog of last year, I want to make a big, old-style blanket chest with hand-cut dovetails. Stay tuned.

There is also, of course, work to be done in the garden and on the house in 2007-- two things that are always ongoing and time consuming. In the midst of it all, I want to take more walks with my sons--like we did last month, day before Christmas, as shown in the photos that follow. It is not often that we here in Central New York enjoy such beautiful weather in late December!

Here is wishing you and yours a new year filled with the best things life has to offer: things like spiritual renewal and a closer walk with the Lord, family closeness, creativity, hard work, joy in your work, rest from your labors, creativity, wisdom, discernment, and the peace that comes with knowing that God is in charge and you are not.

Yours truly,

Herrick Kimball

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Emily said...

A very Happy and Blessed New Year to you and the family, Herrick! It's good to see you back to blogging again, and what a great post. Sounds like you have a lot on your mind and quite a few ambitions for the coming year. I encourage you to seek the Lord for wisdom and guidance. That is my New Year's "resolution" and the only one I am making. I feel badly that your book isn't selling well. It is such a gem!

Patti said...

Glad that coffee pot is back.:):) Great post btw....

Teri said...

I showed my dear husband the post about your woodbox which inspired him to build one for us! I doesn't look quite like yours (we'll paint it next summer), but is beautiful and best of all, the mess is off the basement floor. Thanks!
Your family is blessed to live in a beautiful area. Thanks for all the work you do on this blog.
Grace and Peace,

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