Cozy corners filled the 34-year-old home of Craig and Linda Rodick on Missouri 87.
For their three children, their grandchildren and guests, the brick, two-story home was a welcoming place full of warmth and the idyllic sense of "home."
The night of April 3, that house was lost to fire. As the Rodick's patiently follow a process to replace their home, they were just as concerned about showing their appreciation for the sacrifice of time and effort by the firefighters that night.
"You don't appreciate them, until you see this and how hard they work, covered in black smoke," Rodick said. "I don't know how they do it but I'm so glad they do."
From 5-7 p.m. May 20 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, an appreciation dinner will be held for local firefighters.
They hope to have about 40 firefighters, plus their families, said Pastor Pete Kurowski.
"Nothing fancy. Simply a thank you meal," he said.
There will be an offering bucket to collect gifts for area fire fighters.
"It's an opportunity for anyone to give a gift to our heroes who served valiantly and steadfastly the Rodick family," Kurowski said.
Call 796-2735 for reservation for the Brazillian barbecued chicken and bratwurst meal.
Firefighters from six different stations — California Rural, California City, Jamestown, Russellville-Lohman, Moreau and Tipton, along with Mid-Mo ambulance — responded to one or both of the blazes at the Rodick home, which started as a vehicle fire in the garage and quickly engulfed the entire home.
"For my lifetime, I have passed by fire stations and never recognized their significance, until that night," Linda Rodick said. "This has put it all in perspective.
"Any type of emergency personnel, you don't realize how much they sacrifice of their time and life until you need them yourself."
The couple watched the gear-clad volunteers amidst the chaos of sirens and lights.
"We had a yard-full of fire trucks and people running by with hoses and yelling," she said. "It is difficult to sit and watch your house burn."
The 70-something couple had completed renovations only six weeks before the devastation.
But the greater grief came from the faces of her children — Matthew, Monique and Megan — as they arrived on the scene that night.
"Their childhood memories were there; so many things burned up," Rodick said. "I think it has been harder on them, than us."
In the weeks since the loss, the Rodicks have lived in view of their home's blackened shell, in a detached garage and apartment, built for long-term family visits.
They have been overwhelmed by generosity.
"We've never experienced anything like this," she said. "It's overwhelming how amazing people are — neighbors, people from your church, your friends and family.
"They just show up with supplies and food and the things you didn't realize you needed.
"It helped so much."
In the future, Rodick said she will know how respond to others in crisis.
When their pastor, the Rev. Peter Kurowski, asked how the church could help, the Rodicks didn't hesitate to suggest a fundraiser to support the volunteer firefighters.
"They need to know our family appreciates every single thing they did," she said. "'Thank you' is not enough."
Despite their losses, the Rodicks said their faith has been reassured.
Their children discovered a glossy white bust of Jesus intact in the rubble. A church-style birdhouse and an angel in honor of Linda's mother, also survived.
"That was a signal for us — no matter how bad it was; it could have been so much worse," she said.
"I think God has a reason for everything, though we never know it at the time; but he's been with us through the whole thing, which is what makes it easier."