focused on Glory {in Surprises!}

The Oven

I was determined to finish this post on Tuesday.  For a number of reasons, including some bloody-gory kid stuff I'll spare you (just fyi...everyone is fine, and we even avoided the ER!), it didn't happen.  Then I decided it would happen on Wednesday...or else!  About 3:00 yesterday afternoon, I realized that there was no way.  I was *really* disappointed...I have several posts I've been trying to publish for days, and I just haven't been able to make it happen...and that drives me bananas! 

An hour or so later, though, I realized why I haven't been able to get this particular post up.  God wasn't finished with it yet! I had no idea at the time, but there was more to the story....

But before I get to the "more", I need to go back to the beginning.  Or sort of the beginning. :)  

A few weeks ago, we were in the midst of an incredibly exciting time.  God was leading us into a new adventure, and despite the scariness that comes with heading into the {relative} unknown and the sadness that comes with saying good-byes, it was very much a mountaintop time. We were, and are, excited about the adventure.  But as often happens on the mountaintop, Satan began to attack with a vengeance. 

In the midst of some strong "storms of life" in our family a number of years ago, I began to experience issues with anxiety like I had never experienced before.  I learned firsthand what a panic attack was, and struggled with major anxiety off and on for a couple of years.  God was very gracious to bring me through that time without any type of outside intervention, and the last several years have been {almost} anxiety free.  (Anxiety free as far as true anxiety...the kind that induces panic-attacks and the like...not just normal garden-variety worry. :))  

Then a few weeks ago...BAM!  Anxiety hit with a vengeance.  There were all sorts of triggers...concerns small and large...but the anxiety itself quickly became the major issue. 

I had learned early on in dealing with anxiety how to put on a {mostly} happy face and keep on going when necessary, so for the most part, that was what I did this time. But the lack of sleep and other physical issues caused by the extreme anxiety were taking a toll, and I knew that to keep up with the needs of my family, something was going to have to give.  The thought of cycling back into the anxiety/panic attack cycle at this point was horrific.

Not as soon as I should have, I poured it out to God.  I told Him that I knew He knew our circumstances...every single financial, physical, medical, spiritual, emotional need that was adding fuel to the fire of the anxiety...and that I knew that He knew and controlled all of the things that were stirring up the insomnia of the nights and the near panic attacks of the days.  I thanked Him for all the answered prayers and blessings of recent days and months, and committed the current needs to Him...including the "big ones" for which I saw absolutely no solution in sight save a real, live miracle.  

And then I went on about life...seeking Him moment by moment, and trying to rest in His sovereignty and grace...at some times more successfully than others.

Then two weeks ago, I got a phone call.   

But before I tell you about the phone call, I have to explain to those who aren't regular readers that we have been without an oven for...well, for a long time.  As I explained in this post, we've survived without an oven. There have been things we simply haven't cooked during that time, and things that we've learned to cook in other ways (sometimes they've been just as good, and others...well, not so much. :))  

With two old cars and a very old house, we've learned how to just "deal" with a lot of things.  We've realized that many of the things we think are "needs" are really "first world needs"...which are pretty different sometimes than "real needs".   Not having an oven has been an inconvenience, and even sometimes an irritation (like when I realize at 4:30 that I forgot to put anything in the crock pot for supper, and I just *really* wish I could throw a casserole in the oven :)), but it hasn't been a crisis.  

As I explained in the post linked above, when the oven first went out, we were in a period of decision-making about what we were going to do about this house, so we were holding off on any major not-totally-necessary financial outlays for the time being (our hot water heater went out during that time as well, and we did replace it immediately...that falls under "totally necessary" for us even though it is technically a "first world need", too. :))

But...God has led us into "wait" mode (don't we all love wait mode???) regarding this house, and weeks stretched into months which were stretching into years, and we still weren't sure what it's fate would be.  And still we were using our little army of small appliances and on what seemed like an eternal hiatus from baking. 

So...fast forward back to that phone call two weeks ago.  Out of the blue, a friend calls and says, "There's an oven coming to your house on Saturday, and I've been told to tell you to clean your kitchen!"  

Turns out that this friend had decided that we needed an oven, and several friends had gotten together to surprise us with one.  One of those friends knew that I would want to clean out whatever might be under the current oven, which had been sitting there for almost 15 years, before anyone brought the new one...thus the "clean your kitchen" admonition. :) We won't talk about what the floor looked like under the old oven when we pulled it out.  Suffice it to say it was all clean before the new one got here! :)

I was overwhelmed.  Billy was overwhelmed.  The kids were even overwhelmed.  Not too overwhelmed to start a list of what they wanted me to bake first, though!  Chocolate chip cookies.  Muffins.  Banana bread.  And frozen pizza. :)  They've *really* missed frozen pizza!   Not to mention Dad's homemade pizza.  And cornbread.  (Okay, so cornbread wasn't on their list...but it was near the top of mine! :))

After the oven was delivered and connected, I stood in the kitchen in front of it all by myself with tears pouring down my face.  I knew the tears went way further than the oven itself, as grateful as I was for it.  I knew that in large part they were flowing out of a heart abundantly blessed with friends, and overwhelmed at their generosity. 

I knew, though, that the tears went even further than that.  While our "oven fairies" (remember the "concert fairy"? now we have oven fairies...not to mention another fairy you'll hear about in a minute :)) didn't realize it at the time, and in fact for the most part had no idea of the anxiety issues with which I'd been plagued recently, their response to God's prompting in this case did much more than provide our family with a new oven.  I realized all over again how important it is to follow God's promptings...because we never know how God is going to use our obedience to work in ways we never imagined. 

In providing this oven, and this time, through these friends, God very lovingly reminded me that He *is* truly in control, and that He *has* promised to meet all of our needs...physical, financial, emotional, medical, spiritual, whatever...He has promised that, and we truly can rest in it.  

And in the provision of the oven...which wasn't even a true "need", but a wonderful convenience which has helped and will help in many ways...God gently reminded me that He IS working, in every area, whether we see it or not, and that His faithfulness will not waver in the future any more than it has wavered at any time in the past.  

Not only did the crushing anxiety disappear, but God began to work in some other areas of my life as well, causing me to make needed changes and giving me renewed motivation in several areas.  

But...He wasn't quite finished yet. :)

Last Sunday morning, as I was getting ready for a church fellowship, my stand mixer went out.  I haven't had a hand mixer in years, and have always just pulled out my trusty stand mixer when a wooden spoon wouldn't do.  It wasn't anything fancy, but my parents bought it for us in our early-married years and I loved it.  

I was a little sad about the timing...here we had just gotten a new oven and had all these plans for baking, and now my beloved mixer was headed to the appliance graveyard.  I decided that for now, I'd pick up a hand mixer at Wal-Mart on shopping day on Friday, and make do with that.  

Unbeknownst to me, once again there were friends conspiring.  One friend heard from another friend about our mixer's untimely passing and decided she wanted to replace it.  Apparently she had heard about the oven after the fact and wished that she had gotten to be part of that surprise, so she had charged the other friend with keeping an ear out for something else we might need.  

So yesterday the "other friend" called and said she had something to drop off at my house...pineapple preserves, which are a whole different story, and which may find their way to the blog in the form of a recipe someday soon. :)  

As I went out the door to meet her, I was stopped in my tracks by two rather large boxes on my front porch.  Further inspection showed that they were from Amazon.  I knew I hadn't ordered anything, and I'm the "orderer" in the family, so I was quite perplexed.  The only thing I could think of was that one of the kids had accidentally hit a "buy now" button while looking up something on Amazon.  I was trying not to panic!

Until I looked out to my friend's vehicle. 

And saw the grin on her face, which I knew was a substitute for the laughter she was trying desperately to hold in. 

I rushed out to the van and said, "There are two boxes on my porch.  From Amazon.  And I didn't order anything!"  Barely able to contain her laughter at that point, she raised her eyebrows in an attempt to look innocent and said, "Well, go open them and see what they are."  

Which I did.  And it's a wonder I don't have a broken jaw from it dropping to the porch below.  Not one, but two, mixers...a stand mixer *and* a hand mixer, both with mixing bowls and attachments galore. 

And then I rushed back out to the van.  I'll spare you the conversation from there, because it involved a good bit of arguing and even more laughter, but I finally discovered who my "mixer fairy" was.  

And then I came in and cried all over again.  God's glory and love are shown in many ways, often through His people obeying His promptings.  And we never know when we obey those promptings what God is going to do through our obedience that is more than we could possibly imagine.  

Every time I turn on our oven or walk by my mixers on the shelf, it is a reminder that if God can and will provide such "extra blessings" as ovens and mixers, how much more will He provide for every need as He has promised?  It is a reminder that we are richly blessed with loving friends.  And it is a reminder that God loves us even more than we love those friends and they love us...and that He has given us the greatest gift of all!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. ~James 1:17 

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  ~Philippians 4:19

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~Ephesians 2:8-9

The Stand Mixer

The Hand Mixer

And a Bonus...New-to-Me Gifted Cast Iron for the New Stove!
(There is nothing better than eggs cooked in cast iron...reminds me of my grandmother! :))

Thanks so much for visiting Ponderings of an Elect Exile!  Please take a moment to "like" Elect Exile on Facebook and/or follow me on Twitter. And I'd love to hear from you via the comment section or the email option on my profile page!  

focused on Glory is a collaborative effort with Creative Confetti.  Be sure to visit Creative Confetti for more focused on Glory, as well as crafty fun and miscellaneous musings. 

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