The farmhouse at Briarmoore is a venerable structure with original wood floors and mostly original doors. Heat for the home comes from propane and a wood stove central to the house. John and I want to try to primarily use the stove because A: Wood is very affordable and B: Wouldn’t it be cool to just use a wood stove? Cool? Yes, downright COLD. Especially this winter when it is the coldest since the early 90s here in Virginia. We have been determined to make it work. With Nicolaus’ help, John loaded up a trailer with wood (Locust, oak, and poplar varieties), brought it home, split it into various sized logs appropriate for burning and stacked it all neatly under the covered front porch for both easy access and protection from the elements.
The first several days John tended to the fire. I poked at it here and there, even threw on an extra log or two. But then John had to go to work and it was left to me to keep the fire going, to keep my family warm. Not as easy as I thought. In the morning you have to get it going really well–luckily we have lots of newspaper from unpacking. Once the fire has burned hot and steady for a bit, you should have a stove full of coals. You need to spread those out to get a good bed of coals and add new wood to burn on top. Rotate the “new” wood every so often to keep the coals hot so the fire will be prepped to add several logs before bed time. Sounds like I have the process all figured out, doesn’t it? Well, then things happen–the logs are wet, you get preoccupied with cooking, unpacking, or playing with your kids and forget to tend to the fire; you let it burn too hot by adding too much paper or small pieces of wood and the coals burn fast then out; you become so exhausted by everything you just cannot imagine messing with the fire any more. The latter is where I found myself one afternoon this week–looking at the inside of the wood stove and poking at it a bit while the kids napped upstairs. And I started thinking this whole wood stove process is a lot like life. As soon as you think you have things figured out, life has a tendency to get in the way of itself. Things happen beyond our control causing us to burn too hot, smolder for a while and even to burn out all together.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3: 22-23
God’s compassion and grace are new every day just as my chance to keep the fire going or even clean out the old ash and start anew. Just as our full propane tank (yes, we did get it filled just in case) is ready to kick on when we just can’t keep the fire hot enough, our Savior is there so we do not have to do it on our own.
And as I sit here by the wood stove, my body warmed by its radiant heat, my heart is moved by the strength and support I have in my Savior. My prayer today: “Dear Lord, please supply me with what I need to keep not just the wood stove but also my family going in this time of change and to maintain the faith and trust I have in you to take care of us when I cannot do it alone. Amen.”