Monday, November 19, 2012

Life Preserver

I live in a sea of wheat fields, not a sea of water. Until we visited Randy's brother in 2011, I'd never seen a Life Jacket Loaner Station. But right near the boat unloading dock at Lake Cascade in Idaho, the brightly-colored life jackets caught my eye.

As I thought about this month's theme for Lovely Branches Ministries, Safety First, my mind kept drifting back to those life jackets. Someone had left them there for the next person to use. Maybe they had sold their boat. Maybe their kids had outgrown them. Who knows? Maybe their garage was full, and the handy-dandy life jacket loaner station was as good a place as any to store their own life jackets.
An Idaho fishing lake
Some days seem to be smooth sailing. All is going well. Nothing is rocking the boat. Life seems good. Who needs a life jacket?

But there are those others days - the ones that might require a high gale warning. We feel as though we're about to be swallowed up by life's storm - whether that involves health, a relationship, a persistent habit we can't seem to shake, a growing to-do list or anything else that knocks us off our feet and sends the waves crashing into us.
Tybee Island, Georgia, The Atlantic Ocean, Thanksgiving Week, 2011
At those moments, my stomach has more bubbles than the Atlantic Ocean can stir up, with wave after wave about to overtake me.
Tybee Island, Georgia, Thanksgiving Week, 2011
I've heard the song, The Voice of Truth, by Casting Crowns many times. But as I heard it again, those life jackets flashed into my brain. You can listen to the whole song by clicking below, but here are just some of the words:

Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves

To step out of my comfort zone
To the realm of the unknown
Where Jesus is
And He's holding out his hand

But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again:
 'Boy, you'll never win!'
"You'll never win"

But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says "Do not be afraid!"
And the voice of truth says "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

Last month, we finished the Bible study, Stuck, by Jennie Allen. Throughout the study, she was encouraging us to step out of the comfortable boat and take a risk, just like it says in the song. While we were going through the study, I also read the companion book, Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul.
"To risk is to willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future, then to watch Him come through. He starts to get real when you live that that."
From Anything by Jennie Allen
Do I really want to step out of a nice safe boat onto crashing waves? It seems counter-intuitive, doesn't it? But you know what? Just like those life jackets hanging there for the taking, God is there to keep my head above water. It doesn't mean that there won't be storms. There will be. However, just like Jesus calmed the storm for the disciples, He's there to keep me afloat, too.
Luke 8:22-30 - New International Version (NIV) 
Jesus Calms the Storm
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.
24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
And because He's my life preserver, I'm called to be that for other people, too. Like those people who left the life jackets there for the next guy to use, I'm called to send that note of encouragement, to make that phone call, to smile at that Mom in the grocery store with a crying toddler, to cheerfully help my husband at the last moment - even if it's not on my to-do list. We can be the instrument that helps keep the other guy afloat, too, just by sharing the life-giving love that Jesus has for each and every one.

Isn't that a blessing to remember and to act upon during this month of Thanksgiving!

The Pilgrims were the ultimate risk-takers, weren't they? Read what my friend, Suzanne at Heart and Home Matters at Lovely Branches had to say about the Pilgrims, who also stepped out in faith. She has lots of practical ideas for celebrating Thanksgiving with friends and family, too. Be sure and stop by her blog and the other blogs at Lovely Branches!
Is there anything more comforting than a bowl of soup on a chilly fall day? Try this Tomato Lentil Soup. It's become a favorite at our house, and it's full of nutritious ingredients like lentils, kale and carrots. Bonus! It's healthy and tastes great!

Or, if you have leftover turkey from your Thanksgiving table, use it in this Southwestern Chicken (or Turkey) Corn Chowder.


  1. One day at a time, Kim! My first week as a full time at home Ranch Wife was full of DRAMA! Lucky for me J and I took a deep breath, communicated and survived.

    We never know what the day will bring, but it will be a lot easier to handle if we have the right attitude. For some that in itself is requires a lot of faith.

    1. I'll be watching your blog for stories about your dramatic introduction to full-time ranch wife mode. I hope this week is better for you!! Happy Thanksgiving, Robyn!