Saturday, March 6, 2010

When chores aren't a chore.

We started heating our home with wood three years ago and I have a secret.

Firewood chores are my favorite chores.

I'm sure a big part of that is because they aren't actually chores I have to do. They aren't anywhere on the rotating list I hold in my brain of all the things that I consider myself responsible for. Depending on the weather or my mood I can walk outside (and away from my less favorite things like cleaning closets or digging Legos out of the couch) and over to wherever they are working–cutting and hauling, splitting and stacking.  My arrival is always met with smiles and appreciation that I would come out and help. And I do help with whatever they are doing, admire my husband's masterful handling of the chainsaw, direct the older kids who are helping in the best way to balance a load or steer the sled, play with the younger boys who are mostly there just for fun, and sit for a while and just look at the scenery. They are just impressed with me being there. Wow! A mom who hauls wood! I lend a hand for as long as it's fun, and then head back indoors under the guise of making cookies, coffee and hot chocolate whenever I want.

The daily chores of bringing in firewood to stack a day or two's worth in the mudroom, and armloads to stack by the fireplace are always done by the kids now.  And the best part is that we have discovered that I have an unlikely talent for building and keeping the fires going.   That means I get to do the part of heating with wood that everyone at our house actually wants to do.  Tend the fire.  Kevin has started calling me Firegirl, which makes me smile, and I'm not going to complain about that in our 21st year of marriage.

But, I was thinking recently there must be something more that makes me love heating with wood despite the constant mess-trail of the wood coming right into the heart of our house to the high-efficiency fireplace in our living room, the extra dust everywhere and all of the attention the fire needs to keep it burning 24-hours-a-day for six months or more each year. Yes, it's cozy and my favorite spot to sit is right next to the fire. Yes, the light is just right and makes everything look better in its golden glow. Yes, it's great the kids have meaningful work among their daily responsibilities. They feel big and strong knowing they are really helping out. Those things are nice, but what I realized is that every time I pick up a piece of wood to put it in the fire I am thankful. Thankful that we can heat our home for free with wood that Mr. Friend generously allows us to take from his land.   Thankful that we have been able to keep on top of our need to find, cut, move, split and store enough dry wood for the winter. Living where nighttime temperatures are often 80 degrees colder outside than inside, I'm thankful for the provision of the warmth itself. Because we have a stack of wood sitting there, I'm mindful of how much wood we are using and naturally want to conserve it by loading and tending the fire as best as I can. Since by my own choice I most often am the one who loads the fireplace, it is as if the Lord's provision for our family is literally passing through my hand in a way that is obvious to me. Every time I pick up a piece of wood, my heart recognizes it as a gift and says . . . Thanks.

So, I was wondering why I don't feel that same way about the other things that I hold in my hand every day.  Does my heart well up with thanksgiving for all the work of my hands?  The laundry that I wash and dry and fold that comfortably and warmly clothes our children better than royalty in other times and places?  The abundant, convenient and varied food that I prepare for our large and never-truly-hungry family?  The beds that I make where comfortable toddlers sleep under thick and soft blankets?  The hot water during baths?  Books to put back on shelves and pieces of art to be dusted? How about harder things like dirt tracked in from fields where the kids can play in childhood freedom? The paper scraps and sparkles all over the floor after the kids make beautiful Christmas ornaments? Maybe even those Legos that can be found in every nook and cranny, dropped by little engineers?

As a mother, all these things pass through my hands each day – great provision for all of our needs – and often my heart completely misses it.

Yes, I need help with this.

O Lord, give me new eyes to see the blessings in my life, and a heart that recognizes each gift that passes through my hands, so that my work is transformed by thanksgiving.



Melissa said...

Lovely post, Sara. I'm so glad you make time to write your life here. It blesses me to read it!

patchworkmommy said...

Beautiful blog! I am a first time visitor.


Anonymous said...

Good ponderings. I wanted to talk a bit at the parenting seminar, then I decided I didn't want to interrupt our being able to listen. The Lord's graces are evident in your writing...that you see each moment in a unique and thankful way. Thanks for sharing!

Sara said...

Welcome Patchworkmom - I read your nighttime post on Isaiah 62. What a beautiful way for the Lord to speak to you, to all of us. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family!

Mom said...

This post reminds me of Brother Lawrence. He found joy and glory in every moment. That you do, too, and have such a thankful heart makes me very happy!

Anonymous said...

such a great post. I've visisted your blog a few times (from Abigail's leftovers, which I found randomly through the tag surfer) and you've given me rich food for thought. I also loved your post about the elderly neighbor whose brothers and sisters are all grown up and gone away. God is using your writing to bless others - thanks!

Sara said...

Nice to meet you Saraandfam! Hope you have a blessed Easter!

Treasure from the Junk Drawer
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