Fan the Flame

When I was little I loved to play outside. I would run and skip and jump and do all the things of childhood in an imaginary world all my own.

I would make cakes and gourmet meals with pine straw and mud. I would play house in the midst of trees as tall as I could see.

I loved outside.

I can still remember my Mama or my Mam-maw within sight, burning stray branches or raked up leaves. I remember the distinct feeling of warmth and cool covering my body at the same time. It was magical and therapeutic and I didn’t even know it. I would run barefoot, and surely I stunk to high Heaven by the end of the day, but it was a glorious feeling.

selective-focus-photography-of-people-holding-sticks-with-3569890Sometimes for lunch we’d straighten out an old wire hanger, or find a real sharp stick and we’d place a wobbly cheap hotdog wiener on the end of it. I can still taste it, and while I’m not an adventurous eater, I’d be willing to bet few things culinarily compare. That’s how life works when you’re a child, I reckon.

The simple things brought healing and restoration. The hurt of the world farther from the mind than in adulthood.

The days of late have been difficult, progressively worsening and heavy.

That cool morning, I made my way outside accidentally, there was no level of intent other than to pick up the stranded paper wrappers and sticks dotting the premises.

Life had been especially difficult and I seemed to carry a burden that none could take. And even if they could, I lacked the voice to tell them how. My mind gets muddled and foggy when I am heavy laden like that. I struggle with figuring out what to do and in what order. Basics will often get ignored in those times, the basics of life like good nutrition, writing, ability to remember. Laughter is far from frequent and the words get lost. I find myself staring at the blank canvas of the computer screen, becoming frustrated with myself, slamming my hands down on the keyboard, and walking away angry.

That cool morning I was in just such a state, so the distraction of the paper scraps of debris left by the recent storm were a welcome sight. I managed to wander around and collect enough sticks to start a small fire. It was unintentional in my conscience, but maybe deep down long ago parts of me knew I needed that reminder. that something can be made from nothing in the hands of the Creator, that beauty will come from ashes, and that in the Refiner’s fire, albeit a painful and at times frustrating process, I can trust the end result to be beyond what I can comprehend or imagine.

photo-of-pile-of-burning-wood-1070054I chose to sit by my fire, to watch the flames dance and to remember my childhood. I must have been smiling when my husband sat beside me, because he asked, “Whatcha thinking about?” We sat a while longer and the flames began to die down, the cool more prevalent than the warmth, when he said, “I wish I had something to do Matt Crawford method for that fire.”

I had no idea what he meant. I looked around and was not at all surprised to see our former neighbor with whom we had enjoyed many an evening fire, nowhere to be found. It had been many years since we had been neighbors and now they lived across the country.

About that time my husband brought a large plastic something and began to wave it rhythmically over the embers. To my astonishment the fire grew and the dying embers were now flames that began to rain down ashes.

Laughter rolled out of me as it looked like snow falling, and we were covered in ash in a most literal way, beauty from ashes. As he fanned the flame and it grew I was reminded again that the Creator can be trusted and even if the process is painful, tedious and slow, the healing will come.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God. 2 Timothy 1:6a 

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Fire on the Stove

The smell of Cinnamon is a delicious smell. I can remember those delicious cinnamon toasts that my mother made for breakfast when I was growing up. We would always eat the parts with the extra pats of butter on them first. I can taste them just by thinking about them.

I had not made cinnamon toasts in a long time. I was changing around the spices in my cabinet and had not replaced the container of cinnamon when my husband came into the kitchen. He wanted to know what I was going to cook with cinnamon. I didn’t have french-toast-995532_1280the heart to tell him that I was just cleaning the cabinet so I asked if he wanted cinnamon toasts for breakfast. At our house, we add extra syllables to cinnamon toast. It’s more like “cinnaminny toasties.” I do not remember how that started but it is still what my husband and I call them.

The next morning I was preparing the cinnamon toasts and I looked at my cookie sheet. It really needed a good scrubbing, but that was going to have to wait. I thought I would just put some parchment paper on the cookie sheet and save the scrubbing for later in the day. I should have just used it. It’s not like it was dirty. It just looked dirty.

I usually make cinnamon toast in my toaster oven, but my toaster oven and I had a parting of the way recently so I was using my oven broiler. Never, and let me say it again, Never use parchment paper when using your broiler. It caught fire immediately. I calmly said, “I need some help here.” Eddie turned to see the cookie sheet in flames as I slid it on top of the stove. Let’s just say that I didn’t need a fire extinguisher, but none of my cinnamon toasts survived. We had a good laugh after the excitement was over and then made new cinnamon toasts. I used to have a smoke alarm in my kitchen but it went off every time I cooked so we moved it further away. I had a sign back then that said “Dinner is ready when the smoke alarm goes off.” I really haven’t had a fire in a long time.

I love the smell of fragrant foods cooking. When I think of the smell of cinnamon I think of cinnamon rolls, apple cider, spiced apples, and apple pie. I think it smells like love. The smell permeates the area and fills the room. I think love must be like that. When someone really loves you, it feels like it is all over you. It is hard to find a place that doesn’t feel loved. I think that is what the love of God is like. He loves us from the outside in and from the inside out. Jeremiah 31:3 ESV says “The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have drawn you with loving devotion”. Cinnamon draws you in. It brings you to the kitchen from anywhere in the house. Cinnamon leaves such a wonderful smell all through the house. It seems to linger.

I think if God’s love has a smell, for me it must be cinnamon.

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