Grace, mercy, and peace which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ –
The Son of the Father – will continue to be with us who live in truth and love. (2 John 1:3 NLT)
Sunlight filled into our tiny cabin and we awoke early on Easter morning. Our family recently celebrated the Easter holiday in the most unusual way. We remained in our pajamas as we read the story of Christ’s burial and glorious resurrection. Our sunrise service was located in cabin R156 of the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship.
After our atypical Easter service we dressed in swimsuits and sunblock. Within a few hours we were exploring Nassau, Bahamas and the Atlantis. As soon as we exited the building we found ourselves in a tropical paradise. Beautiful waterfalls surrounded our view creating lagoons and pools of water. As we toured the Atlantis aquarium/water park we were actually able to walk behind a series of waterfalls.
We continued to stroll through the aqua park we were amazed by the spectacular sound and fascination for our senses. We paused in front of another waterfall, mesmerized by the beauty. I explained, God’s love, grace, and mercy is like this waterfall; it is never-ending.
The steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved. (Psalm 21:7, ESV)
When we finally reached our desired resting place, Andrew jumped in the pool and allowed the waterfall to cascade over him. Not wanting to let this life lesson slip by, I shared again the similarities of waterfalls and God’s never ceasing love, mercy, grace and blessing. However, just as the kids choose to stand under the waterfall, we too can choose whether or not we want to be standing in the water flow of blessing. God’s steadfast loving flow never changes. But sometimes we step out of the water flow.
This year, we celebrated Easter in a most unusual way. This Easter we stood under a waterfall on a tropical island in the Caribbean and felt God’s blessing cascade over us.
Practice Makes Permanent
While driving to school Andrew shared a nugget of wisdom from his guitar teacher, “Practice makes permanent.” Practices does not make perfect, it makes permanent. Andrew reminded me if we practice something correctly over and over, eventually we will permanently learn it correctly. Andrew shared this with me because he knew I had my violin lesson today. Before crawling out of the car he offered this prayer for me, “Dear Lord, help mommy to know practice makes permanent and help her to remember she is better than she thinks she is. Amen.”
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9, ESV)
God bless this boy for praying for his momma. Playing the violin is a new instrument for me. At forty-years old, I decided to learn something new and hopefully generating a few more brain cells in the process. Suffice it say, learning to play this instrument is equally frustrating and enjoyable.
Later that day, my violin instructor reminded me “There are no shortcuts to play the violin.” Inwardly I groaned, I knew she was correct. I’ve been taking violin lessons for eight months and yet I still struggle with the basic concept of bowing. The violin looks graceful and easy, but playing this instrument difficult. There are so many things going on at once and if your posture, arms, hands, wrists are not perfect, the violin will screech.
Practice Makes Permanent
Standing before me, Mrs. Peterson allowed her right arm to swing freely. Our body’s natural tendency is for our arms to swing behind and slightly in front of our torso, creating an arc. However, to play the violin correctly, the right arm must remain straight and perpendicular to the strings, not in an arc, but in a straight line. For forty years, my body has moved in its natural way, now I’m trying to break that pattern of movement.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
But be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
(Romans 12:2, NIV)
My mind wanders as my teacher demonstrates the proper bowing technique. Our arms have a natural tendency to move in an arc pattern that is counterproductive to playing the violin. As believers, we have a natural tendency to move in a pattern that is counterproductive in our walk with the Lord. We want the results of a life obedient to Christ without the discipline and sacrifice of time in His presence.
“Make the routine the reward. The result will flow from the routine.”
-Pastor Steven Furtick, Elevation Church
The week following that lesson, I carefully noticed my pattern. I practiced my posture and bowing. I did not open my lesson books; I only focused only on correcting the pattern of my old habits. As I practiced, I could hear the words of a childhood mentor and leader in my town:
“If you keep on doing what you’ve always done,
You’ll keep on getting what you’ve always gotten.”
Playing the violin is a lot like life. So often we want the results without the routine. We want results without the practice and without the sacrifice of time. Whether playing an instrument, making healthy food choices, exercising, or spending time in God’s Word, if we want to see change, we must embrace routine. If we want to improve we must examine our patterns and embrace the discipline of practice.
Today is March 14, which means today is “Pi Day.” Pi is the mathematical term for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi always equals 3.14159265359. While, Andrew, our sixth grader, has been discussing the significance of pi, I’d rather discuss baking a pie. In honor of ‘Pi Day,” below are some verses worth considering. I will savor these truths over coffee and a slice of pie!
God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” (Exodus 3:14, NIV)
If you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees… I will give you a long life.
(1 Kings 3:14, NIV)
For she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. (Proverbs 3:14, NIV)
I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. (Ecclesiastes 3:14, NIV)
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart. (Zephaniah 3:14, NIV)
He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (Galatians 3:14, NIV)
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14, NIV)
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 3:14-15, NIV)
Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives. (Titus 3:14 NIV)
We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. (Hebrews 3:14, NIV)
But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” (1 Peter 3:14 NIV)
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. (2 Peter 3:14, NIV)
This time I will praise the Lord. (Genesis 29:35 NIV)
Today, God met me on the treadmill. Read on to learn what He said.
I am going to let you in on my little secret. My biggest overriding fear is lack of security. This is something that God has tenderly dealt with me for years. I thought I had overcome this fear, but this week, I could feel it resurfacing in my life. Let me explain.
Sitting in the Wednesday morning Bible study, appropriately titled Living In Victory Over Fear, I was asked to write my biggest fear on a piece of paper. I could not believe how easily I wrote the word security. Shocked and dismayed that I wrote that word so quickly I sat back in my chair and pondered why.
Why am I still struggling with security? I thought I had overcome this! I feel like I’m in a cycle of insecurity. Three years ago my husband’s work went on strike, and it was the longest strike in the history of our marriage. I prayed and prayed and God provided! He even answered a big bold prayer with a huge miracle. Click here to read that post. http://redchairmoments.blogspot.com/2012/08/miracles-of-all-miracles.html
Not only did God prove Himself faithful during 2012, the last strike year, He also proved Himself abundantly faithful the following year. In case you are new to Red Chair, in 2013 I went on a secret mission with God. For an entire year, I did not spend any money on myself. Not one penny! Why? Because I wanted to see God provide for my needs, wants, and desires. I am blessed to live in a country where if I want something I can buy it. But where does this leave God? God wants to prove Himself strong in our life, and I gave him all of 2013 to do so. Read about it here. http://redchairmoments.blogspot.com/2013/08/jehoviah-jireh-lord-will-provide.html
God took me up on the challenge and provided every single need! I recall wanting new blue jeans. I prayed, “God if you want me to have new jeans, you will provide.” A few weeks later a friend gave me three pairs of Levi’s that no longer fit her! God didn’t just provide one pair of generic jeans, oh no! He provided three pair of Levi’s – the good kind of jeans! I needed a new water bottle for exercise. I prayed, “God if you want me to have a water bottle you will provide.” Weeks later, a coworker gave me a gift for my birthday. You can guess what one of the gifts was…a new water bottle! I never let on what I was praying for, so trust me when I say God provided, and He used my friends in the process. Those are just a few examples, of what God did in 2013. He abundantly provided for me all year long! God proved to me that He is Jehovah Jireh which is Hebrew for “The Lord Who Provides.”
This morning during my coffee date with God, I apologized to Him for doubting when He has proven over and over again that He will provide. I prayed “Lord, I feel like I am in a cycle of insecurity. When I struggle with security, what I am really saying is that I doubt you will provide. Ouch! I know that is not true! Help me to break this cycle. Amen”
I immediately grabbed my water bottle and ran on the treadmill. While running, I watched the fifth sermon in the Crash the Chatterbox series. http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/crash-the-chatterbox
The speaker, Holly Furtick, talked about discouragement. She shared the story of how Leah was not loved by her husband. She prided herself in giving her husband three boys in hope of earning his affection. She too was in a cycle of insecurity. At the birth of her fourth son she said: “This time, I will praise the Lord and named him Judah” (Genesis 29:35 NIV).
God met me right there on the treadmill. Sweat glistening, legs aching, and heart pounding, God showed me how to break the cycle of insecurity. His words were clear and concise:
This time, I will praise the Lord! (Genesis 29:35 NIV)
“God is good. And God is good at being God.”
Today is the third birthday of Red Chair Moments! Someone please cue the band and release the confetti and balloons! I can not believe that I have been on this journey with God for 1,095 days. But what I really can’t believe, is that God would choose me, ME of all people, for this experience. I am ever so thankful.
Rather than trying to come up with a creative description of how I feel on this birthday. I thought I would give you a peek into my recent prayer journal entry.
It is the 3rd birthday of Red Chair Moments! Lord, I am so thankful You are still in the business of speaking to Your children, of calling out Your people, and answering prayers!
This was YOUR idea. This is YOUR blog. I just happen to be the one typing (and maybe running a spell check).
Lord, You have taught me an incredible amount through Red Chair Moments about Your power, grace, sovereignty, abundance, provision, friendship, mercy, love, and faithfulness.
You have stretched my faith,
deepened my faith,
and grown my faith!
I have never encountered such spiritual oppression until Red Chair Moments. I have never felt the enemy working so hard on me and my family until Red Chair Moments. I’ve never been so vulnerable in sharing real life until Red Chair Moments . . .But I’ve also never felt so free!
God, I’ve seen Your hand move in mighty ways. I’ve seen Your hand push back the darkness. I’ve seen You answer big hairy audacious prayers. I’ve felt Your presence more and seen the power of prayer more. I have truly felt the security of the army of angels surrounding my family.
Lord, I still struggle with the same doubts as Moses. Like Moses, I too, feel like I’m not good with words. Like Moses, I sometimes wonder if You chose the right person for the job. I still have doubts even though I know I can trust You. It’s not You I doubt. It’s me.
But then You send word either by a song, a verse or a word from a friend to reaffirm I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing until You tell me otherwise.
If there is one thing I’ve learned though Red Chair Moments it is this:
Obey whatever He tells you to do.
Let God do the rest.
Lord, I thank You for calling me out of the mundane to walk by faith in this adventure with You. Through Red Chair Moments, the stories of how You work providentially have been read over 15,000 times! Red Chair Moments has crossed state lines, international date lines, and all time zones. I am humbled each time I see this blog being read in a foreign country. By accessing the statistics page of the blog, I can see that Red Chair has been read over 1,654 times in Russia, Germany, Ukraine, France, Poland, United Kingdom, China, Uganda, Romania, and Brazil. Lord, these are places that I may never physically travel. But Your Word goes out!
So it is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55:11 NIV)
Lord, Your word is eternal. Powerful. Limitless. Lord, Your word brings peace and salvation to all who believe.
Red Chair is never about me; it’s always about You, Lord. Just as You are the author and creator of my faith, so are You the author and creator of Red Chair. Thank you for extending Your hand and whispering to me, “April, do you trust me?””
Today is a great day to celebrate the goodness of the Lord! And now is the time to bake a birthday cake!
Happy 3rd Birthday Red Chair Moments!
“I found it! I found it!” I exclaimed. My family looked at me with strange curiosity as I held up the book Charlotte’s Webb. This book, along with a ceramic Care Bear, is my most treasured childhood possessions.
I was in the fourth grade when my appendix ruptured, flooding my body with toxins. The emergency surgery left an ugly scar which now is my visual reminder that God saved my life!
I had many visitors, during my lengthy hospital stay, including my teacher, Mrs. Hodges. She brought me a copy of Charlotte’s Web (the book our class was reading) and a ceramic Care Bear figurine named Wish Bear.
After returning to the classroom, I was behind in math. Understanding long division seemed beyond my reach. Mrs. Hodges tutored me every day after school. With her help and inspiration from the Wish Bear figurine, I eventually mastered long division.
This little bear provided inspiration in the fourth grade and beyond. My struggle with mathematics pursued me in undergraduate and pharmacy school. I sought tutoring in Calculus, Physics, and Pharmacokinetics. I did not allow my struggle with math to hinder my desire to become a pharmacist. Wish Bear sat atop my desk and inspired me in elementary school, JMU and pharmacy school. This little bear is my visual reminder of Matthew 19:26, “with God all things are possible.” I trust in a God who holds everything in the palm of His hand (Isaiah 40:12). Nothing is out of God’s reach!
With God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26 NIV)
Thirty years later, a wave of nostalgia washes over me as I read Charlotte’s Webb to my own fourth grade daughter. I look into the eyes of my precious girl, thinking she is the age I was when I was hospitalized; when life itself seemed beyond my reach. I touch the rough abdominal scar and tears puddle on the book. Rachel looks up, concern on her face, and I hug her tight. I retell the story of my traumatic fourth grade event and how God saved my life.
Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you
will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ.
(Philippians 1:6 ASV)
The Care Bear figure still rests on my desk. Thirty years later, this gift is a visual reminder that with God, nothing is beyond my reach. We may never know the ripple effect of one simple act of generosity. Inspired to share this story, I wrote Mrs. Hodges and thanked her for being a wonderful teacher and for inspiring me that nothing was beyond my reach.