It has been almost three years since I established The Deliberate Agrarian and started writing here about “Faith, Family & Livin’ The Good Life.” It was many months before I said anything about my Whizbang Chicken Plucker plan book. That’s because I did not begin these writings with the intention of promoting my books.
But, as the story of that book (and the others I’ve self published) came out, I discovered something remarkable about blogging… it’s a great way to spread the word about your home business. The Google search engines have been good to me. People stop by every day to read the past essays about how my family raises and processes chickens in our backyard with the Whizbang Plucking machine, and the Whizbang Automatic Chicken Scalder. As a result, I have sold quite a few books. Better yet, I have sold quite a few parts to people who decided to make their own chicken plucker.
In fact, many of you who are reading this now have purchased one or more products from me in the past three years. For that, I am very grateful. Thank you.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I have a dream. I have even referred to it as a vision. It is certainly my daily prayer….. Lord, my heart’s desire is to own some rural acreage—40 to 100 acres—a mix of woods and some field.
I desire a section of land greater than the 1.5 acre lot I now own so I can husband it. I want to care for the woods in a sustainable way. I want to plant trees and blueberry bushes, and have a raspberry patch, and a garlic patch, and a strawberry patch, and a big vegetable patch, and a small vineyard, and maybe I’ll even try my hand at growing apples again. In other words, I want to make the land productive. I have a strong yearning to do this. I feel it is a calling.
But more than that, I feel a desire to establish this acreage as some sort of a family trust. It would be a place that my children and grandchildren could visit and enjoy and use it for their own down-to-earth “dominion” projects. Perhaps we could all live on the land. I don’t know. But it would be a homestead base with a lot of possibilities for the generations. And, not incidentally, I see this land as a base of hospitality and Christian outreach.
It is with this dream, this vision, in my mind and heart that I am working to write books and make project parts to sell to people. My full time job as a state government employee supports my family. My part-time home business supports itself and gives me money to put towards the land I hope to get one day.
I am under the conviction that I should not go into debt for the land. I am also under the conviction that I should not strive too hard for the dream. I should work hard. I should save money for the purpose. But I should not strive so hard that I neglect my responsibilities as a father and husband. I could easily do that (I have done so in the past). And I am under the conviction that the Lord will provide according to His will, in His time. So I need to be patient. I need to be content with what I have (and I am).
I'm fully cognizant of the possibility that I may never own a section of land, as is my hope and dream. Or, it may be that, by the time I do own it, I’ll be too old to carry out the projects I have in mind. It may be a dream that my son’s see to fruition. But I will play my part in the story. I have planted the seed of the dream in their hearts and minds. And I will continue to save with the goal before me.
That said, last year was a good year for my home business. It was, in fact, good enough that I had trouble keeping up with orders. My little part-time job has turned into a bigger, full-time job. I pretty much have two full-time jobs now. But the one is a home-based business, and I can involve my family in it. This is part of my vision too—to establish a family economy of some sort. And, of course, with land, the idea of a family economy can take on a whole new dimension.
I have related these things to you because they are on my mind. I feel the Lord is blessing me in the area of creativity and entrepreneurship, and I desire to acknowledge that I see and believe such blessings are entirely from Him. And I am very thankful.
Now I want to tell you what happened two days ago. It was Saturday and I was working around the house. Marlene went to town to take care of some errands. One of those errands was to pick up our 2007 taxes from the accountant. They are due tomorrow, April 15. He waited until the end to get the finished paperwork to us.
When Marlene got home she told me I was not going to be pleased with the bottom line. I figured I would owe some money. Like I said, it had been a good year. But I was not prepared for the reality of my tax bill. I was stunned.
I had to sit down.
Seated in a chair in the living room, I stared blankly into space and thought for some time about my taxes and all the money the government wanted from me. All that hard-earned money. The government was going to take my gain from all those hours and hours of making parts in my shop and filling orders.
It was about 1:00 in the afternoon and the thought actually crossed my mind that I just wanted to go to bed, pull the covers over my head, and go to sleep.
A spirit of depression was knocking on the door of my heart. I’ve been there before. I’ve been through financial problems in the past. It is not a good memory.
And then I came to my senses. Two things entered my mind: First, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21). Second, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” (I Corinthians 16:13).
“Quit you like men” is King-James language for “Don’t be a baby about it. Suck it up. Act like a man.”
The true bottom line is that money and land and my dreams are of secondary importance. What is most important is that I keep my focus. Not a focus on my bank account. Not a focus on what money can buy or do for me, or even what it can “do for God.” But a focus on the things that money can’t buy.
What is important is that I focus on my personal responsibilities as a father and husband and child of God. What is important is that I focus on who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for me. What is important is that I give Him thanks for His grace, His mercy, and His many blessings. What is important is that I think and act more like Jesus Christ every day. What is important is that I trust Him completely.
In short, what is important is that I bring glory to the Lord in the life I live. And more often than not, money (the desire for more of it, an excess of it, or the love of it) gets in the way of that.
So, money and the things money can buy are secondary. Either I believe that, or I don’t. Either I act on that belief, or I don’t.
In the end, I am thankful for this situation. It has helped bring a degree of perspective that I needed.
For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised.
P.S. It is not like I made a LOT of money with my little home business. I really didn’t (if I did, I’d quit the state job). But I made enough that I felt like I was on the verge of really “getting ahead.” I felt like if it kept up, I might, Lord willing, have enough to seriously consider buying land in maybe another five years.
If you have ever had a business of your own, and it started making some money, and you got socked with a surprisingly big tax payment (most of which is the 15% social security “contribution”), you know what a shock it can be to think you made a certain amount, only to find you made a whole lot less.
Oh, and I realize my story of tax woe is not unique. We’re all in the same boat. The reality of it just hits some of us harder at times.
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