By Jon Stevens
No fresh bread today.Â Weâ€™ll have day old available while it lasts, but nothing warm from the oven for the oven got too hot last night.Â It took the old bread cave two hours to get up to 400 F to make some pizza (delicious though late) so we left it on 250 and went to bed.Â Just past midnight the smoke alarm found a job to do and called us to consciousness.Â The upper ÂĽ of the rooms were filled with smoke and the oven was found with a red hot heater going full blast in the bottom, carbonizing all the fallen raisins and pecans it could find.Â Smoke was rolling out from around the door like a fog bank moving in from the ocean to land though no flames could be seen fortunately.
The only cure was to turn off the breaker, turn off the detector, open the doors and windows, and turn on the stove fan.Â There was plenty of adrenaline left in your farmers that we had no trouble staying awake until the air was clear and the stove cool and our options for today firmly in place.Â Call Maytag service and depending on their answer, spend today shopping for a new way to bake.Â Pretty simple actually.
There are those who say coincidences are for those who donâ€™t believe God is alive and well and active in our lives.Â Was it a coincidence this â€śtragedyâ€ť occurred the evening after our friend who is finishing her commercial kitchen was over?Â We had agreed over a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll that she will do the baking for us while weâ€™re gone to Mexico so you all can continue to enjoy the great Open Gate Farm collection of breads and treats.Â Was it a sign from the Almighty it is now time for us to focus more on Growing Gardens For Life, our project of coming alongside orphanages to teach the children how to raise food, and to let go of what our oven has done for too many years?Â Hmmm.
Was it a coincidence that your farmer replaced the battery in the smoke detector 2 weeks ago so it was charged up and eager to go to work?Â Hmmm. Â Was it a coincidence that there is a lot of day old bread left so we will have something today?Â Or that we had filled the freezer with unsold cinnamon rolls so there will be plenty for everyone who comes?Â Hmmm.
Life is full of smoke detectors too, isnâ€™t it?Â There are parts of our lives that are really quiet, like a job or church or family.Â Then all of a sudden their smoke detector will go off with a â€śbeep, beep, beepâ€ť until we rise from our sleep and deal with the situation. Â Â It might be a lossâ€¦pink slips, a pastor leaving, or a relative diagnosed with cancer like our nephew, Eric.Â It might be a gainâ€¦promotions, a call to ministry, or a new baby arriving.Â But in each case there is something major that happens which changes our lives and we had no chance to prepare for it.Â A smoke detector goes off and up we get against our better judgement or wishes and we open the doors and windows of life to let the smoke out.
Where are those smoke detectors of living for you?Â We suspect that if we drill down deeply enough, they will be found in our hearts.Â As we work at keeping our hearts soft, as we take a licking and keep on ticking like the old watch commercial said, as we continue to let go of anger, resentment, ego, and the self righteousness that separates, we are putting in place personal smoke detectors.Â We are getting in contact with our consciences, putting fresh batteries in them so when the time comes we can be led out of the smoky chaos of the moment into the fresh air of the future that waits for us.
So when you change the batteries in your smoke detectors this year, consider taking a few minutes to change those in the important areas of your life as well.Â Think for a minute about how tender a heart it takes to survive a calamity or even a joyful change and what you need to do to keep that heart tender and sensitive to both your needs and those of others.
Itâ€™s not easy always.Â Your farmer has to stand on tiptoe and reach high and even then only his fingertips can lift the smoke alarm from the ceiling to replace the battery.Â Sometimes we have to sit down and list the key areas of life and what impact a soft heart versus a hard one is having on ourselves and those around us.Â But it is worth it.Â It might just, like our alarm in the night, save a life.
Jon and Elaine, the smoke filled farmers, Snickers the smoke colored dog, Mystery the slow as smoke cat, Ben and his smoke free chickens, and the fire and brimstone preaching Parson Dudley Brown and his flock of fire fighting ducks, all of whom live joyfully at The Open Gate Farm.