Thursday, July 17, 2008
Insomnia and Chimney Fires
What do insomnia and chimney fires have in common? Well....uh....now....let me see if I can explain! Seems that at least one night a week lately I have trouble sleeping. The other night as I lay awake and my thoughts bounced from here to there, one of them stopped on the memory of a chimney fire at our house several years ago.
It happened on a very cold day in March. Clear, beautifuly sunny day but very cold. Since B. and I got married thirty-five years ago, we have always heated our home with an Ashley wood heater. (I think we're on our third one now!) I love the even warmness that the heater puts out. But I do admit it took me a while to adjust to depending on putting wood in a heater to keep us warm in the wintertime instead of just going to the wall and turning up the heat! When B.'s home he mostly takes charge of the heater but he's gone 12 hours or more each day to work.
That memorable day in March a few years ago the fire had annoyingly not wanted to burn and we had been having to baby it all morning. It had, in fact, unbeknown to me, gone out. B. left for work and I came to the computer to check my email and read the news and the obits.....my normal wind-down routine just after the busyness of getting B. off to work. I noticed a chill in the air. I knew that meant the heater wasn't doing it's job so went to check on it. I don't know if anybody reading this is familiar with this kind of wood heater or not but there is a large door that opens to the firebox and that is where the wood is inserted. Then below that is a small door that opens so that you can remove the ashes that accumulate. Sometimes when B. would start a fire "from scratch"....meaning when there was not already some live coals in the firebox....he would get all the wood shavings, some small kindling wood, and the firewood placed "just so" in the fire box, then strike a match to it and open the small door at the bottom. With the top door closed and the bottom door open, air would be pulled up into the pile of wood and feed the fire. BUT....if you start a fire this way you have to STAY RIGHT THERE ! You can NOT go back to the computer and finish reading your email and the news! I did know that. I promise I did! But I thought I would only be gone for just minute and then come back and check on it.
After what seemed like only a very few minutes of sitting at my computer I heard a noise that got louder and louder and was coming from the living room. When I ran in there to check I found that one of my worst nightmares come true! I had a humongous raging chimney fire! It sounded like an angry monster trying its best to consume what rightfully belonged to me. And I was scared! I was REAL scared. Home alone. Out in the middle of our 80-acre farm.
I ran outside to see what it looked like out there. Fire and billows of tar-black smoke shot out the top of the chimney. What could I do? I called 911 and told the dispatcher that I had a chimney fire. She assured me she would advise the fire department for me. "Just try to stay calm," she said, "They'll be there soon." Little did I know then what a mis-statement that was!
I had already ...first thing of course.....tightly closed that offensive bottom door that had caused the trouble and also turned off all other air sources for the heater. I put on my heavy coat, got our 2 fire safes and put them in the car, backed it out of the way and then got the water hose and started trying to wet down the outside of the chimney. About twenty minutes passed and still no sign of the fire department. But by now the fire had stopped roaring, there was no longer fire shooting from the chimney but smoke was still rolling out.
A sweet sound floated over the trees to my listening ears....the sirens of the fire truck. Finally! I had stuck the cordless phone in my coat pocket before going outside and just about then it rang. My throat was so dry and tight from running around out in the cold and being scared to death that our house was going to burn down that I could hardly squeak out a "Hello". It was the 911 dispatcher that I heard say, "WHERE do you live out there? They can't find you!" I respond and tell her that they must be very near because I can hear their sirens and they sound close. She somehow patches me through to the fire truck and I am able to tell him how to find my house. When the two fire trucks roll into my yard the firemen get out in somewhat of a daze, look around and say..."We had no idea that anybody lived out here!"
To make this very long story a little shorter, they came in and put a little water in the chimney, went into the attic to make sure there was no leftover smoldering embers anywhere up there and then they left. I tell you, I was a weak wobbly mess when it was over. NEVER again have I ever lit a fire, opened the little bottom door and LEFT! It sure taught me a lesson!
And if you are one of my very faithful readers and have not given up reading yet I'll tell you the moral of this story. In your everyday life, realize that there are some things that you cannot play around with. Fire is definitely one of them! There are several places in the Scriptures that talk about how careful we have to be with fire. James 3: 6 & 8 says "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.....But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." It's so easy to speak before we think isn't it! But we shouldn't go around gossiping and lying and talking hateful to people. It isn't Christ-like and it will get us in trouble real quick! It's like a fire. It can get out of control before we know it and much damage can be done. Proverbs 16: 27 says that an un-godly man "diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire." And let us not ever think that just because we are saved and going to heaven that we cannot act just as ungodly as a pure heathen if we don't ask God to help us keep our flesh under control. It's a battle every day. Satan wants to see us lose control of our tongue and put a black mark on our Christian witness. But God wants to help us.
One of the most common things happening in our neck of the woods seems to be Christian families being split by divorce. People who when someone says, "So and so are breaking up and getting a divorce" you just can hardly believe it. It's happening more and more often. What's a preventive for this? Putting up a fire break. That's what the old-timers used to do. They would plow around their house and make a wide fire break of fresh turned dirt so that if a wildfire came their home would be safe. We need firebreaks around our homes still....even if we live smack dab in the middle of a big city!
Husbands and wives need to decide on some of the needful "firebreaks" for their marriage to stay safe. Some that could be useful are: 1] Never invite anyone of the opposite sex into your home when your spouse is not there (excluding family members of course); 2] Don't send frequent text messages or IM's to someone of the opposite sex; 3] Don't spend large amounts of time talking about personal things to someone of the opposite sex; 4] Don't travel alone with members of the opposite sex; and 5] Don't eat out alone with a member of the opposite sex.
I guess you're probably tired of reading the phrase "of the opposite sex" by now but that's where it all begins. Proverbs 6: 27-29 says this: "Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent." So many people have admitted that an affair that finally was the death of their marriage started out "innocently". That's why we have to diligently watch for the "fire" and put it out before it can get out of control and destroy all that is dear and precious to us.
If you don't already have those "firebreaks" in place around your home, I encourage you to get out there and plow that ground and get them ready so that your home, your marriage, and your children don't have to suffer needlessly!
God bless you is my prayer!