Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Space Heaters

Please just look at this thing.

It is a little box, 7 inches wide by 9 inches tall.

I had no idea that something this small could make such an enormous difference.

It has changed my life.

I’ve been cold before, but I’ve never stayed cold for a week. After a while, your body registers the sensation as a vague pain. Contrary to what you might imagine, even numbness can be strangely painful.

I felt it most in my hands, so it made doing everything harder. The shelves I attempted to paint one night definitely have a “distressed” look that was unintentional. Oh well. They go with the rest of the cottage.

I was surprised that it even hurt to breathe sometimes. Cold air invading the sensitive nostrils stung like noxious fumes. Those were the times that it was best to just give in and curl up in a ball in a blanket cave.

Although the electrician strongly advised against it, I broke down and bought the above item on Day 7. If I perish, I perish. At least I’ll be warm.

I woke up in heaven. No sharp, biting intake of air with the first breath of morning. Just luxurious warmth. It felt good to wake up, instead of like a punishment. I almost broke out into “Zippy-dee-doo-dah.”

But I was chastened in my quiet time.

Oh, what a spoiled brat I am. Forgive me for viewing gifts as rights.

Inevitably, my thoughts turned to my former neighbors, the Bench People.

I wanted to rush back out to Rite-Aid and buy about a hundred of these little miracle machines and hand them out on Westwood Drive.

But the recipients wouldn’t have any place to plug them in.

It is stunning to me that such a small, cheap, insignificant thing could make such a world of difference.

It made me think about a couple of times when people have told me that some small gesture of mine had made a huge difference in their lives. In one case, even the difference between life and death.

I had hesitated in making the gesture, thinking I had too little to give. Not wanting to give ‘just an onion,’ as Dostoyevsky said, thinking an apple might be preferred.

A $19 space heater warmed up the whole house:

A subtle reminder that something simple, small, and paltry…not costly to me…might fill an empty space in someone’s heart with the warmth of God’s love.


Good News Update: This was started several days ago. Since then, the Gas Co. has come, the heat is on (although not without other challenges), and we are feeling much more sane. The painting is finally finished, and Katherine, Jay, and James have spent the night in their new home. Alleluia! (Hallejuah! in Southern-Speak.) Thanks for all the support through yet another transition. Katherine and Jay have the most wonderful friends in the whole world. There is no way we can ever, ever repay. We love you!!!


  1. You have NO idea how this resonated with me! I don't know I you know that I grew up in a house with no heat or air. One fireplace, 2 wood stoves. Spaceheaters were truly a life saver. When I applied to w&l one of the essays was what technological advance has meant the most to your life? After not too much thought, I wrote my essay on the space heater. I had no trouble defending my case! In fact, I got used to direct heat. I'm writing this on the couch infront of my space heater even though the central heat is on ;)

  2. Love my space heater. And my electric blanket. And I know what you mean about the cold being painful. When I lived in Argentina my little apartment had no heat at all. I was as far south of the equator as we are north here, so the winters weren't brutal but yes, it did get cold. I reached the same conclusion you did. I might die, but at least I'll be warm. Then I started sleeping with the gas stove on and slightly cracked.

    And I love what you say about small gifts and big rewards. I've received and I think given a few like that.

  3. We live in our 100 year old farmhouse without central heat and air. We heat by wood..the first was an adventure!! Yes, we all take for granted the little things that keep us comfy.
    For years when I lived in North Georgia, a group from church would head to downtown Atlanta. We wood pass out knit hats, gloves, hand warmers, and candy bars. All in little paper bags with a bible verse. A little thing, yes. But to those without a warm comfy home, well you would have thought we had given them a million dollars.
    I think I may have missed the post-are you still going between Athens and Cali as needed?
    So glad Katherine and Jay are in their home. A sense of permanence means so much!
    God Bless :)
    xo, misha

  4. I am SO glad you are warm again. I was just thinking about it this morning when I woke up to a chilly house as well. My space heater was turned on and I thought, "I wish I could drop one off at Kim's house"

    Then I open your post tonight! Praise God. Despite the cold rain and climate change, the skies are amazingly beautiful. Cleaned and painted for our enjoyment.

  5. The picture of Brooks made me think of what a comforter and encourager he is. He has such a positive outlook when things aren't always rosy. Your honesty is very real and it too encourages us. You remind us of the Lord's presence when everything isn't rosy. He's letting you and all of us know that things are going to be o.k....maybe in this life and certainly in the next. And you remind us that for many the uncertainties and suffering should call us to action. Oh, Lord, help me to sense the needs of those around me.



Thank you so much for taking the time to write.

It helps to know we're not alone.