David Steen moved to Arkansas when he was 7 years old after his father retired from the U.S. Navy. His first career path after college was as a designer where he enjoyed doing computer-aided drafting for a large company.
After a 16 years in engineering, God put a desire in David’s heart to become more involved with writing. But, the father of nine children couldn’t afford to give up his job just yet to fulfill that new desire. So, he jumped into a marketing role at the same company. That allowed him to write blogs and produce magazine articles as well as engage in other writing projects.
“Being published in a magazine was my first experience at being an author. It felt great,” David explained. “But after a few years, I wasn’t as passionate about writing their material as I was about writing my own.”
As his children got older and started lives of their own, David found he had more time to begin pursuing his own dreams.
“I had a book in mind for years that I really wanted to write. Starting that set me on a course toward the exit door from corporate life in order to move in the direction I felt the Lord was leading me,” said David.
He officially left his job in January 2021 after 28 years of service to the company. Since then, he wrote his first book in 2022 and got it published in early 2023. The book is scheduled for public release in October.
“Almost Home: Setting Our Sights Toward Heaven,” talks about David’s journey through life while pursuing the American Dream. He describes his 24-year marriage, the challenges of forming a step-family and how it caused him to grow. It focuses on his family’s dream and their work to build a dream house.
The book’s description reads, “Born worlds apart, a boy and girl chased the American Dream until the lives they carefully built fell apart in the wake of divorce. Only through the power of God’s love were they able to heal and discover a life they couldn’t have possibly imagined.”
Although the book won’t be available online or in bookstores until fall, people can preorder it today.
“I write about our lives, pursuing our dreams, and learning to lean in and listen to the Lord by focusing on God and the direction he wanted us to go,” said David. “I describe what it was like as my corporate career came to an end and God either opened some doors or closed others.
“A big part of the story is about trying to create a life we desired,” he added. “In 2017, we moved to a 10-acre farm that we purchased, which was our dream for a long time.”
Leaving city life for a rural experience was exactly the type of life David and his wife wanted for their family.
“I wrote the book and now I am trying to create an audience for those messages,” he explained. “At the same time, I am trying not to chase after more things that could result in creating a lifestyle I’m not interested in.”
Redefining the American Dream
When David was growing up, the “American Dream,” was almost singularly focused on finding a good job, getting married, raising a family, building a house and fortifying it as a castle so everyone could live happily ever after.
“For a lot of people, they dream about moving to the middle of nowhere and living in a cabin. There is nothing wrong with all that,” he explained. “However, the problem with that approach is that God never intended for us to live on an island, alone and isolated from the rest of the community.
“When we were building our dream home, we were purposeful about developing the type of community around us that we really needed,” he added. “A lot of people do not understand how much they really need community.
“My book describes the value of pursuing the American Dream in a way that not only allows you to pursue your passions and create a successful life, but ensures that you don’t shut out everyone else,” said David. “We need to create a community where we help others, and they help us so we are able to thrive together.”
For David, the new American Dream means leaning into family as well as serving others. His mission embraces helping people to develop themselves, too.
“We really have enjoyed being in this community and developing relationships with neighbors. We do things for them, and they do things for us. It’s about being a servant to others,” he explained.
Setting a new schedule
As David came out of the corporate world, his first order of business was to create a new schedule and develop the self-discipline needed to accomplish all the things that needed his attention.
“I had a very long chore list of work that needed to be done on the farm, such as clearing fences, “ he explained. “That created a challenge to maintain work/life balance. Because I wasn’t going into an office anymore, I had to focus on getting my work done in a meaningful way.”
The financial transition from having a corporate job to being a solopreneur was also challenging. However, David and his wife had employed biblical financial principles during their entire marriage. As a result, they had planned for the future.
“We had been working to get out of debt and save money. So, by the time I was ready to jump off the corporate ladder, we had everything paid off,” David explained. “That really eased our burden and gave us financial peace about me stepping away from my career.
“Yet, it still required a little faith walk on our part. I received severance pay for almost a year. When we got to the end of that, we lived off some savings while I pursued my calling,” he added. “Part of that involved my wife going back to work. She hadn’t worked for most of our marriage, but God worked it out for her to get paid by providing some elder care ministry to a local couple.”
An early riser for most of his life, David’s day begins at 5 a.m. for quiet time and coffee. But he also created good habits by making lists to ensure he stayed on top of his priorities.
“I have ideas constantly coming out of my head. So I use a notepad, my journal and cell phone to make sure I capture ideas before I forget them,” he explained. “In addition, I keep track of what I am going to write about on my blog, my website and in future books.
“But, I also needed to create space to get the work done,” he added. “I set up an office in my garage where I do a lot of my writing, thinking and journaling. I am purposeful about going out there because I can get away from all the distractions, especially electronics.
While spending time in his garage may be productive, spending time outdoors is essential.
“There is a creek near our house that my wife and I like to walk to as often as we can,” said David. “It’s about getting into nature and soaking in the Lord’s creation. Just being around nature while taking time to think and reflect has been very beneficial.”
Now that their youngest child is 15 and the older ones are in their 30s, David’s role as a parent is changing, too, so he can support his kids as they establish roots of their own.
“Our biggest challenge right now is learning how to be a mother and father to adult children,” he explained. “We need to speak into their lives in a nurturing way while, at the same time, creating boundaries and rules. I’ve had to learn when to close my mouth or to open it at the right time.”
Creating a different homestead
Some people are working to develop a homestead where they can live off-grid, unplugged and separated from world activities. However, David and his wife envision a different type of home.
“Over the years, God was teaching us that we put too much attention on our house, as a building, rather than on creating a nurturing home,” he explained. “We had been heaping up a lot of ‘stuff’ around us.
“Our house was stable, but needed a lot of work. Yet, God was planting an idea in my heart that we did not need to create the perfect home here on Earth,” said David. “He wanted us to think more about heaven and stop holding so tightly to the things of this world.
“God was not telling us to create a little place for ourselves here where we could hunker down and live happily ever after,” David said. “Our ‘happily ever after’ is waiting for us in heaven. But, there is a lot of work for us to do with the time we have left here.”
David and his wife did adopt some aspects of the current homesteading movement. They homeschooled their kids and gave them responsibilities to care for the farm and help with the house. The children learned how to grow crops and raise animals. In the process, they experienced loss on occasion, too.
“Each of the kids had their own things they were either growing or raising. That required an investment of their own time, money and sweat equity into whatever they were doing,” said David. “It has been a great education for all of us to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”
David and his family are in the process of decluttering their lives. But, he blames himself for creating the predicament.
“I think it started with having children and accumulating all the things we though our kids wanted or needed for their birthdays and Christmas,” he explained. “Many people, ourselves included, think they’ve got to buy their kids big, expensive gifts.
“We tried to discourage them developing a toy mindset in thinking they needed everything imaginable,” said David. “When you or your kids are standing in a big box store looking at something, you never really think, ‘Where am I going to put this?’
“So you wind up buying a trampoline because it’s summertime, but you realize a few months later that you don’t really have any place to store it during the winter,” he added.
It’s a perennial problem around the United States, David noted. People don’t have to drive too far to spot a house that has everything they ever bought scattered all over the yard. It’s not just kids who are impacted by those choices. Adults buy toys, too, like campers, boats, four-wheelers, snowmobiles, motorcycles, exercise equipment, etc.
“But that just creates more expense as you figure out how and where you’re going to store them,” he explained. “My advice is to think through what you’re going to do with that thing you want to buy when you get tired of it in 60 days, six months or next year. There are storage buildings full of stuff that people are never going to use.”
In fact, David recalls speaking with the owner of a mini-storage business a few years ago. The man explained it was not uncommon for people to rent a storage space and pile it full of stuff. Then, after about 90 days, people stop making payments on the storage unit and never come back for their belongings.
“They realize the monthly payment for a storage space cost more than the value of junk being stored inside,” he said. “Since they weren’t using it, they just forget about the stuff and abandon it in the storage area. It’s more common than we think.”
The next step
David started a blog several years ago just for fun. Today, he is intentional about writing something every week. He also regularly posts to social media as he builds an audience. He is also creating outlines for four or five other books, and seeking ways to repurpose material he developed over the years.
As he turned his focus to writing and his new mission, David intentionally tapered off his exposure to news stories to almost nothing.
“I had always been kind of a news junkie, but I didn’t realize how much that affected my thinking,” said David. “Every once in a while, something pops up on social media that will cause me to visit a news site I haven’t been to in a long time, but it’s rare.
“There are a plethora of people who want to spend all their energy pursuing what’s happening in the world, but I really don’t want that kind of input,” he added.
Instead, David continues to pour over personal improvement books and podcasts as well as participate in several online groups. He encourages people over 50 to follow that same approach when looking for something to be passionate about, or developing purpose for their lives.
“You’re going to need to look inward. Look to the Lord and get before God as well as surround yourself with people who are really interested in helping you develop a positive future,” he explained. “You can get all the advice you want, but you really need advice from people who are interested in helping you grow instead of driving you toward something you don’t really need.
“Certainly being 50 is different today than it was years ago. My wife and I are 54 and we feel just as energetic as we have ever been,” he added. “In fact, we feel even better today because we have 30 years of additional wisdom and experience that comes with being older. We are both excited to pursue God’s next steps for our lives over the next 30 to 40 years, or however much longer the Lord wants us on earth.”
If you order David’s book from one of the links above, Forward From 50 may earn a small commission.
After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.