“Some folks miss opportunity because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison
One of the unique things about Homestead Abundance is that it doesn’t come half-heartedly into your life and into your home. When it comes, it pours in like a flood. It’s overwhelming. It’s raw. And to take full advantage of it you need to prepare ahead, make time, and roll up your sleeves to get to work. If you aren’t ready for it, the abundance will be wasted.
I’m sure that you can think of a few Homestead Abundances that came into your life when you weren’t quite ready. (Do you lock your car in August?) Let me tell you about one significant situation that happened to me. The year was 1996 and we were $30,000 in debt and earning about that in income. The government took 1/3rd of it, leaving us with about $400 a week to feed our family of 5 and pay our living expenses. We desperately needed more money and we were praying that God would help us get out of debt. We always tithed – that’s the magic that’s supposed to guarantee that you never suffer want and that the “storehouses of heaven will open for you.” Mr. Joybilee was an elder in our church. He was also a Certified General Accountant and, at that time, a Certified Financial Planner. But he felt like a failure because we couldn’t seem to get ahead financially. He was teaching Financial Planning and Accounting at a Christian University, and this compounded his feelings of failure.
Some of you reading this see my mention of “God” and your hackles started rising. Don’t let it turn you off. Everyone is welcome in this community. You don’t need to share my beliefs for me to welcome you. I love people of all different beliefs and backgrounds. But my beliefs are part of my story and part of what makes me who I am, so I’m explaining my background. Don’t take it as “preaching” at you, ‘cause preaching isn’t part of my story. And in this case my beliefs about our situation were totally off-base. Keep reading.
One Saturday night, the guy who we buy our fire wood from, showed up at our little one acre place and asked if we’d like a few watermelons. We said, “sure”. He took us to the back of his pickup and unloaded several boxes of watermelons and cantaloupe and asked us to call some folks who might be “in need” and share them. Every Saturday, Wood-Guy drove to an organic food warehouse about 2 hours away, and took all the “off” produce from them. It saved the warehouse dumping charges, and it enabled him to give the food to those who needed it. But he needed help in getting it to the people who needed it most. He asked us to help him and to take what we could use for ourselves. “Whatever you can’t use feed to your chickens or compost. Just don’t let it go to waste.”
The food arrived at dusk every Saturday, in cases, with a few moldy pieces that had to be cleaned up out of each box, and a lot of perfectly sound fruits and vegetables that just needed washing and preserving. We started to look forward to Saturday night when Wood-Guy would drive in with his truckload of fruits and vegetables to share. I compiled a list of friends who were less fortunate than we were, and started phoning them every Saturday night to come and take what they wanted. Often they wouldn’t come and the free food would end up fed to my chickens on Monday morning or in my compost bin because I wasn’t prepared to capitalize on the abundance that showed up every week.
To be able to handle the abundance, I had to have a plan of what to do with the surplus. My dehydrator was filled every Saturday night and there was still lots to “deal” with, even after giving away so much of it.
Then Wood-Guy started arriving on Tuesday and Friday with bags of bread and rolls for us to pass on, too. When I say bags, think of the huge leaf bags that they sell to clean up your yard of leaves in the autumn. He’d drop off two bags that size twice a week. There were bagels, donuts, rolls, cakes, pies, and loaves of bread. There was more than our list of people could possibly eat. And lots of it was white bread which most of our peeps didn’t want. It was overwhelming, overflowing abundance.
But here’s the secret. I didn’t realize at the time that this was an answer to the prayer I had prayed, “God, please help us get out of debt. Please bless us and send us more.” I was expecting more money. But we didn’t get more money right away. We got instead, boxes and bags of more food than we knew what to do with. And we got work. Lots of work to do to keep that food from spoiling before it could be preserved. And lots of people to telephone each week to come and get this overflowing abundance. Our whole family worked together, making the phone calls, sorting the food, and working to get the excess preserved so it wouldn’t go to waste.
Then something else happened. Some folks that we were calling, started to get picky, and they would come and say, “I don’t want the box of tomatoes with one moldy one on top. Can’t you sort the box before I get here.” With 500 lbs of tomatoes sitting in my kitchen, I didn’t have time to sort out the moldy tomatoes from each box. I didn’t have time to even can or dry some for myself, before it went moldy. So we had even more food that we had to deal with each week. Some folks said, “only phone me if you have wholegrain bread. That’s the only kind of bread that we eat.” It got more and more complicated to distribute the food. Folks on our list didn’t think it was worth their time to drive to our place to pick up the weekly boxes of free food. They weren’t prepared to deal with abundance when it called them on a regular basis.
On the other hand, some folks that came to pick up the fruits and veggies called us when they got abundance and shared their abundance with us. We got gifts of Christmas goose in March, and sausages, and bacon, and chicken legs, not once but several times. We had a full freezer and the food kept coming.
There are 4 important things about Homestead Abundance that I learned.
1. When abundance comes you need to be prepared to work with it
I needed to set aside every Saturday night to deal with the food. There were people to phone, boxes to sort, and fruits and vegetables to wash, slice, and stick in the dehydrator. Our whole family set aside the time to work making phone calls, carrying boxes, sorting through food, and greeting folks at the door to give them their boxes of food. We worked hard from sunset till after midnight every Saturday night to deal with the abundance that came. And then worked some more on Sunday.
2. You need to grow your skills if you are going to adequately work with abundance.
To actually take care of the abundance that came each week, we had to move out of our comfort zone. We needed to develop telephone skills. We needed to sort through boxes of produce, and pick out the good food. We needed to can, make jam, dry, or freeze the excess. We also needed people skills. Each week we needed to consider the needs of the folks that were sharing our abundance – could they deal with the surplus or did they need a smaller bag of veggies than others, who would preserve it? How big was their family? Did they know how to can, dry, or freeze the surplus?
3. Abundance isn’t a vacation from work – it can actually increase your workload.
The abundance meant more work for us. It wasn’t just a box of food that we could eat ourselves. It was boxes and boxes of abundance that needed someone to sort through and make decisions about. We would receive the food from Wood-Guy and then have to sort it, distribute it, and store it through Sunday. No afternoon naps for us on Sunday, as we waited for folks to come and pick up the food. The bounty of work extended into Monday, as I filled and refilled the dehydrator to keep the food from going bad.
4. Abundance may not look like what you are expecting.
When we prayed for help to get out of debt, we wanted more money. We were expecting more money. After all, we were giving money to God. Didn’t that mean He would bless us? And wasn’t blessing all about money? This is the wrong belief that I told you about – it was actually a lie that prevented me from actually receiving the blessing that I asked for.
God could have blessed us with money. But He gave us something better – there were friendships that came out of that season of abundance. Wood-Guy phoned us a few months ago, to say hello, as he was driving through our new area. It’s been 9 years since the last time we saw him.
Oh, and we did get out of debt within a year of praying for help. But we didn’t get more money until almost another year after that, when Mr. Joybilee quit his job at the Christian University and started teaching at a regular university.
When we were going through the season of boxes of fruit every Saturday night, my daughter would greet Wood-Guy with, “Oh, boy, we can eat again!”