Three Steps to Prevent Over Firing

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by Davalynn Spencer

We just moved into a new-to-us home and are acquainting ourselves with the light-switch locations, key-to-lock equations, and appliance operations-which, in my book, includes the wood stove.

Though the stove is not technically an appliance, I want to be ready for action come the first snow of the season. A cozy fire on a cold Colorado night is hard to beat.

Years ago we had a large wood stove that, at full roar, could drive us right out of the house. But our current stove is much smaller and came with a warning label on the footing: “If unit or chimney connector glows you are over firing.”

No kidding.

In small print below the obvious disclaimer it says, “Type of fuel: wood only.”

I asked a local stove-supply employee about that, and she told me the stove was evidently not approved for burning coal which burns much hotter.

Seemed reasonable.

I wondered if anyone had ever “over fired” their stove to the glowing point, thus prompting the printed warning.

As an author/wife/professor/speaker/musician/columnist, I have often over fired and glowed because of it. Not the welcoming glow that draws cold and weary travelers close to the hearth, but a raging burnout that threatens to shoot the chimney off the roof.

This is sometimes the sad result of my inability to say no-the equivalent of filling a wood-only firebox with chunks of coal and letting time constraints fan the flame.

Can and should

Just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should. And just because a project is worthy of my time and effort doesn’t mean I must join the process. Learning to say no without flogging myself is easier when I remember that I am not everyone’s crusader called to fight in their personal campaigns. Following the next three steps also helps:

Step 1: Prioritize

Prioritizing requires me to first check with the Lord. What does He want me to write/do/give? When I sit down for the day, do I give His assignment the “first fruits” of my time and creative process? Or do I try to clear away the virtual clutter first, and then approach my true calling with the dregs of left-over energy?

Step 2: Energize

I’m a grownup. I know how to eat well. But do I always follow through? Well, uh, chocolate is a vegetable, right? Wait-it grows on a tree, so maybe it’s a fruit. Okay, okay. The point is, there’s got to be a better choice for a snack-and-edit writer like me than a bag of chocolate chips. Or corn chips.

Step 3: Realize

Really? Yes. Realize. I believe Psalm 46:10 is telling me to get a clue and realize who is in control. I have discovered (along with Mark Twain) that all the problems I worried about never happened. Unless I use those problems in my next plot line, that worrying was a total waste of time.

This winter, my resident metaphor woodstove will help me remember to Prioritize, Energize, and Realize. If I don’t feed myself unnecessary projects, I’ll be doing more by doing less and won’t over fire in the process.

Davalyn Spencer OctoberDavalynn Spencer’s romantic fiction stirs faith and fresh hope in the Western woman’s heart. Her books from Heartsong Presents are The Rancher’s Second Chance, The Cowboy Takes a Wife , Branding the Wrangler’s Heart. From White Rose Publishing: As You Are At Christmas. Learn more at her website: or Facebook.

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