“Back” To The Pellets

I just can’t stress strongly enough how important it is for us to include God in everything we do, and to pray about “everything.” We should also spend at least a part of our prayer time thanking God for all that He has already done for us … which is a great stepping stone into continuing to believe Him for what we ask for.
It’s true: If it’s important to you, it’s important to God.

Every day, during my morning prayer time, I try to always thank God for what, often, I have simply taken for granted: Electricity, running water, and yes hot water, shelter, heat, protection, our vehicles back and forth to work (including my bicycle), etc.

For us, heat in the Winter means wood pellet fuel for our pellet stove. We use a pellet stove for 100% of our heat, and I’ve developed a system of bringing the heat up from downstairs, so our one stove heats the whole house. It seems every year I do the same thing: I always order 1 pallet (50 bags per pallet = 1 ton of pellets) less than I need, and end up, during that last month (which up here is April-May), buying 15-20 bags at a time from whoever happens to have pellets left at the end of the season. Last year, pellets were in short supply during that last month, and I haven’t forgotten that.

Winter up here in the North Country starts the same way as everywhere else: When Winter finally comes, we always seem surprised … and unprepared. I mean, Winter comes every year … yet, we are always “taken by surprise” when it arrives. We’ve had a wonderful Fall this year, with very few nights below freezing thus far. We should be thankful for that! I have been so involved with a major home improvement project, which carried into the Fall, that, especially with the warmer temperatures we’ve had, I hadn’t taken the time to order our pellets for this year.

So, I finally ordered the pellets. This is not a “promo,” but I always order the pellets from a major “Home Improvement Supply” store … they deliver right to our driveway, and I can get the whole Winter supply at one time … I’m able to get the best deal on pellets, and not pay any interest for the many months we budget out the payments …

This year, there was a major concern that pellets, in quantity, would not be available, and some of the stores had a 3-week waiting period for delivery. The word has already gone out that there is a “pellet shortage” this year. I must say, in someone’s defense, that I had to really look around this year for pellets … a combination of customer’s pre-orders, perhaps coupled with increased demand, make them hard to find this year. Plus, I was concerned with a new brand of pellets this store carried this year … and, the only review I could find, online, was not good.

So, I waited patiently for pellets to become available. They finally arrived at the “Home Improvement Supply” store, and they were a brand I was familiar with, so I ordered them over the telephone (how convenient!), and set the delivery up for the following Saturday, which was this past Saturday, Oct. 25. Considering that, in years past, we’ve started using pellets in September, we’ve been really blessed this year. For instance, last year, we got a big snowstorm the last week of October …

Another major point I’d like to make is that God can see things we can’t … I know we know that, but still, we fall victim to only seeing what’s in front of us right now, while God sees the end. Carol and I are always saying things like “God’s pretty smart!” or “I think He’s doing a great job!” because He is always there with us, helping us, and always “working behind the scenes” on our behalf. Man … do we forget about that a lot! He is always working for us, making things happen for us … even when we try to get in His way …

Anyway … back to the pellets … there were a couple of things working behind the scenes here, which were trying to spoil our big delivery … I know this seems like small things … but, aren’t most things we worry about? Up here, like a large part of the country, we suddenly (after so many days without rain) got into one of those “it’s rained every day for two weeks!” spells … So, yes, I was concerned about “Pellet Day,” and having to carry the pellets into the garage in the cold rain.

We are blessed to have a garage which is big enough, with re-arranging, to store enough pellets for the winter. The bags of pellets must be kept off the floor, so a pallet works fine to keep them dry. The bags weigh 40 lbs. each, so a full pallet of 50 bags is the “one ton.” Which is pretty close to 2,000 pounds. So, the seven tons we’ll use totals 14,000 pounds of pellets. I learned that if I request a pallet jack to come on the truck with the delivery, I can just have the driver carry the pallet to the edge of the garage (which has a concrete floor), drop the pallet down, and I just pick it up with the pallet jack, and roll it to its place in the garage. Pretty good system! Since our garage has an overhanging roof, the fork lift must have those “extender” forks (which I also call “scissor forks”) which will extend the pallet out to where I can grab it from inside the garage. What a system!

It is so critical to have the pallet jack, that I left little “post-it” notes on the phone, and near the phone, to make sure the pallet jack would be on the truck. Well, the store called us prior to delivery to inform us that the company which delivers the pellets for them, because of an injury or something like that, no longer allows them to carry a pallet jack. I was … well … I wasn’t happy … having to carry 350 bags from the driveway-verses just wheeling 7 pallets around … was a major determent to my expectant joy over the delivery …

So, my next question is: Do you know how hard it is to find a pallet jack to rent, way up here? The closest place I found to rent one was 35 miles away, meaning that one hour there to pick it up, one hour back, and then the return … would cost me over 4 hours of time … I figured it would take me about that long to carry the pellets in by hand … What to do???

Then … there was the “back” issue. I spent most of the Summer, into the Fall, engaged in “heavy lifting” … of course, I over-did it, and often … So, by now, my back was really beginning to bother me … For the last couple of weeks, the pain was increasing, to the point where it was difficult to walk comfortably, and if I was sitting “low,” it was very difficult to get up. Of course I didn’t go to the doctor! (Don’t worry, I’m going on Friday!). So, now, I was facing having to physically carry 350 bags up the hill of my driveway, placing each neatly as I stacked 70 or more bags to a pallet … The pain was in my upper back, so I haven’t worried much about it, as I know I just twisted the wrong way on one of my “lifts” out in the yard … I crushed my lower back in a car wreck when I was 16, so I know all about “real” back pain … but, the thought of having to lug 350 bags, then “go high” with them in the garage, was something which, well, “concerned” me.

We were expecting, and planned, the delivery to be made Saturday afternoon, as “anytime” was ok with me, and we were told the driver would be making other deliveries before us. The delivery driver called at 7:30 Saturday morning, to let us know he was 45 minutes away. Carol answered the telephone … I was hurting too much to get out of bed to answer …
I spent a lot of time asking God for help to give me the strength to do this, as I knew I’d have to do it alone … funny, how we use that word “alone,” yet, knowing we are never alone. He is always with us. To help us. And … to give us ideas on what to do … if we’ll just listen …

Well … time to get up!!! Before she left for work, Carol covered my back with Tiger Balm, then covered all that with those “pain patches,” and, finally, she wrapped me up, all around with an ace bandage … As I looked at myself in the mirror, it reminded me of what I’d heard the great Larry Munson, play-by-play legendary announcer for the Georgia Bulldogs, say after a hard-fought SEC battle, during which several GA players were injured. Larry would say, in that gravelly voice, tearing at your heart, something like, “Well … we’ve got some players left … we’ll just have to find some more bandages, and tape, and gauze … and try to get ready … somehow … for ‘Ole Miss …”

God gave me this great idea: Have the driver drop the pallets, in line, down the driveway … one behind the other … then, I would back the truck up, load pellets onto the back and tailgate of the truck … and then, just back into the garage … I could get close to the pellets, and close to the drop-off point, without a lot of lifting, twisting, all those things which preyed upon my mind all week … It worked! It did take 8 hours to get them all in, but I did it … or, let’s face it … “we” did it.
Something else that happened: We’d had something like 2 weeks of rain, and there was only one day in the 10 day forecast in which there was no rain: Guess which day? Saturday! Are you saying that God kept the rain away from the whole Northeast, just so I could get the pellets in?
Are you saying that He couldn’t? I know many of you have had something like this happen:
In order to bless one person, God has arranged for everyone in the company to get a bonus.
Let’s put it this way: The way I talked to God about the rain stopping for this one day … you would have believed that I believed it. And, that’s all that mattered.

By the way … I finished with the pellets just after 7:00PM … then, had to finish cleaning up …
It started to rain at 8:00PM … just after I’d finished, and was safely inside. So, don’t tell me …

The pain in my back? Let’s put it this way: The longer the day went … the stronger I seemed to get … So … don’t tell me …

So, in yet another situation, God knew more than I did:
1. He knew the only day I could do the pellets would be the one day it wouldn’t rain.
2. He knew that if I’d had gone after the pallet jack, some 35 miles away, I would have missed the delivery. The delivery would have been made, but, I’m sure, to help me, the driver would have dropped the pallets of pellets right in front of the garage … which would have blocked me from using the truck.
3. He knew that the driver would not have the “extender forks” on his forklift, so the pallet jack would not have worked anyway. He couldn’t have gotten close enough to the garage to use a pallet jack.
4. He knew I would depend upon him totally.
5. He knew that I already had everything I needed to get the job done.
6. He knew Carol would be praying for me.
7. He knew I would be praying for me.
8. He knew I would see this as an opportunity to see, once again, how much He loves and cares about me.
9. He knew I would thank Him, and praise Him.
10. He knew it would take me 8 hours. If the delivery came when I expected, I would be lugging pellets-in the rain, until Midnight.
11. He knew I would write this.
12. He knew how important this was to me.

“He’s pretty smart!”
“I think He’s doing a great job!”

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
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