I forget if I mentioned that one of my many hobbies is cutting firewood.  I think so.  So this weather is where it all pays off, and this evening I will be basking in the warmth of our woodstove with not so subtle satisfaction.

When we moved into our house several years ago, we found the family room had a large working woodstove.  While the house had stood abandoned, the “residents” had used it to heat and cook, loading it with whatever piece of wood trim or door that they could salvage.  Today, it serves as the primary source of heat for our home, where we do our best to keep the oil furnace at rest.

I spend probably in excess of 100 hours per year cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood.  I have three chainsaws, a power splitter, a very old and rusty pickup truck, and a bunch of other tools and “stuff”, all paid for with what we calculate we save by not allowing the oil furnace to kick in.  This activity is also a great source of exercise, a way to meet different people, and has also become a ministry as far as I am concerned.

That last comment stems from a practice I have of supplying wood to elderly in the area.  Once I have a pretty good supply for myself, I take what I have and deliver it to old folks who have woodstoves, and they can no longer either pay or harvest their own.  Its not entirely selfless, because word gets around and I end up getting calls offering free wood because of what I do.  I can also cite specific gifts and favors that I’ve received simply because of wood that I have delivered up. 

I call it a ministry because it stems from some reading I did a few years back: “The Purpose Driven Life.”  The theme of the book is that our purpose is to serve others, and that we need to figure what that calling is.  In my case, I figure this is it for now.  I could be wrong, but this allows me to enjoy what I am doing that much more.  I’m not a preachy kind of Christian, although there are times when I wish I was a bit more.  I know others who wear their faith outright, and they are far from the dogmattic, bleating, and half-blind to reason types that are routinely portrayed in conversation.  They’re pretty sharp folks who have it together – the only difference is that they have made a leap of faith in a certain direction.  But I digress….

It’s cold.  Reach up through your nostrils and twist your brain between your eyeballs kind of cold.  This evening, I will stir whatever coals are left from this morning and load up with several armfulls of red oak, and sit in the family room, feeling the temperature go up.  The wind will be howling; we’ll let the cats into the basement; we’ll probably make hot chocolate; and life will be good.  All that work, all that sweat, all that dirt, will be paying for itself tenfold.


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