I sat at the front of the canoe with my eyes closed, head to the sky allowing the sun to shine brightly upon my face. It was an absolutely gorgeous day without a cloud above. On this fine summer’s day our “Marshmallow” was in a boat on a clean, fresh water lake in Vermont. We had taken my friends advice to “Go sit on a marshmallow” and found some soft, innocent, relaxing adventures to strike out on in order to begin to heal inside from a very long period of stress and grief. (See “Go Sit On A Marshmallow” for the beginning of this story)

As I said in my last post, “What’s YOUR Marshmallow?”, sometimes it takes work to arrange a plan of rescue. We had done research, bought a bathing suit, booked a bed and breakfast and hunted down a boat rental. Oh, and ran out to the local “Dollar Store” to find some very strong sun block as I tend to be a burn victim in the sun. We were now ready for some rest and healing. On this trip to Northern New England, we had an absolute blast hunting down places to “boat and float”… and find them, we did!

Sitting in the front of our canoe, I imagined I was Pocahontas scouting out unknown territory with my mighty warrior (who also happened to be my husband) propelling us along with each powerful stroke. Although, I don’t imagine Pocahontas had to slather herself in sun block! Ok, never mind that, let’s not wound this moment. Yes, as I was saying…. boating. The stiff breeze blowing against us proved to be no match for my manly motor!

My entire body began to slowly melt off stiff, frozen layers of tension and stress. Tears of extreme gratitude and relief gathered at the corners of my eyes. “Oh, God, I can’t thank you enough for this ‘marshmallow’! I’m so thankful to be here!” We paddled into the sun for quite awhile then turned toward an island to try to dock and get out. No perfect place, really, but good enough to step out and pull the boat up a bit to keep it from floating away. My mind went crazy imagining turtles, fish, snakes and “God only knows” what else collectively waiting for me to step in so each stalking water thug could extract a hunk of flesh off my leg, taking off to go eat in some bottom of the lake hideout.

No, really, I’m serious. Those were my exact thoughts. I did a little inside scream as I spread out into the water, hoping to keep my limbs close enough to the surface so I’d see the little devils fast enough to be able to ward them off with a quick boxer jab. My imagination has always been a bit of a problem for me. It refuses to be tamed!

My courage paid off! I felt like Id stepped off the edge of the planet as I lay flat on the water, floating effortlessly. It took a while but one by one my muscles began to relax and I actually could feel the water. It was completely surreal. It’s amazing how every nerve in a person’s body can be on high alert and so incredibly ramped up to the place where it’s hard to register anything but pain and tension. This happens when people go through sustained periods of stress, trauma and grief. I don’t even think most people are aware of this condition until headaches, muscle pain, sleeplessness, ceaseless crying and other side symptoms set in.

People sometimes say, “My nerves are on edge!”, “I feel like I’m having a nervous breakdown!” Or “I’m goin’ over the edge!” These statements are not so far fetched. The body sends out warning signals as it’s not meant to be on high alert for long periods of time without sustaining damage. This is why people in the military and in high stress jobs are in need of leave and time off. I realize this doesn’t always happen. We, as a society, are learning how this takes a toll on a person, not to mention, entire families and often puts others at risk. This is also why God said to be sure to take a “Sabbath” (A day of worship and rest). He put it in the schedule FOR us, for our health and well being, not as a religious requirement.

We, in our typical fashion, took what God put into place for care and provision and turned it into a harsh rule set by God in order to keep Him happy with us. What is the MATTER with us?!? Is this really our view of God? The Bible is a book of care, provision, loving instruction and direction for us to know who God is, what He’s really like, what He’s done for us and how to navigate through the course of our lives. Consider that JUST to use a TV and remote requires this huge, honking book of instructions….and that’s just for a plastic devise that sits on a shelf!

How absolutely loving and responsible was God to provide us with a “How To” book to successfully navigate every area, season and need in our lives! The problem is, just like that honking TV/Cable instruction manual on the coffee table, we don’t want to take the time to read it. We just want to turn it on and get going! “What’s wrong with this stupid thing!?!” Isn’t that the same with life? We just want to get going, right? When problems come and we can’t operate successfully, we try pushing every button eventually yelling, “What is wrong with this stupid life!?!” Inevitably your parents, spouse, friend or sibling will pose the question, “Did you read the instructions?” In frustration we yell, “No! I don’t have time! I hate all that blah blah! Why do they have to make things so difficult?!”

The more complicated the devise, the thicker the instruction/use/warning book, eh? Hey, no one is more impatient with technology than myself!! You’ve got 10 seconds to explain the whole thing or I’m done! But, seriously, what could be more complicated than life? Perhaps if we look at God’s instruction manual, we may learn some things and experience life in the abundant way God designed it to be. It certainly would save us some grief and mistakes, to say the least!

Back to taking time off to rest or “Sit on a marshmallow” as my friend called it. I’m not a good “rester”. My mom used to call and ask me on a regular basis, “Are you scheduling time to rest?” Was she serious?? “NO! I’m very busy, Mom. I don’t have time to be laying around like a boneless chicken!” She would encourage me to put it on my calendar like an appointment. “Tracy, you will pay for it later if you don’t. It’s very important.” I didn’t listen. I wish I had. But I’m listening now! I think of my mom and I know she would be proud of me.

I love the water because my mom took us to the beach all the time while growing up. She also took us to church. She taught us to prioritize. I’m so happy today to still be in church and now….I’m back to the beach!! It’s taken me awhile to get that priority of “rest” into place but I’m doing it! Laying on the water with the wind blowing lightly on my face quieted all sound and enabled me to release all of the weight of my body.

Floating around I watched the poofy clouds drift across the bright blue sky while the little leaves on the surrounding trees shimmered and danced like sequins on a flared skirt. It felt like blankets of peace and rest were being laid over me. Gentle waves rippled across the lake rocking me back and forth with comfort as I lay there. When I turned my head I could see the sun glistened on the water like sparkling diamonds. I wanted to stay in this lovely place as long as possible.

Going back in my mind, there IS a sound you can hear while your ears are under water…. It’s the sound of your own breathing. All the external noises are blocked allowing you to concentrate on slowing your breathing to a calm and steady rhythm. I have fixed this memory in my mind and I now remember.

This northern adventure is just one of my marshmallows from the past year. We added many more as the warmer months went by. I’ll tell you about some of them in upcoming posts, but this one is perhaps my favorite thus far. I have now added “Floating” to my list of “How To Rest and Recover”……

  • 1)Spend time talking to God with your own REAL words. No need for King James. Be authentic!
    2)Read Gods Word, the Bible. Let’s see what’s in that important “How To” manual, shall we?
    3)Talk to a trusted friend. That can sometimes feel like you’re talking to Jesus with skin on!
    4)Listen to Worship, instrumental and/or classical music
    5)Do something creative-write, sing, dance, play an instrument, draw, paint…. It’s a release.
    To all of this I add a hearty, “Amen!!” Take good care, friends. I’ll see you soon!

4 thoughts on “Whatever Floats your Boat

  1. I love this story, as I read your story I escaped for just a moment To a beautiful place.

    I too find the water a wonderful place to rest my mind.

    Thank you Tracy.

  2. Perhaps we shall be privileged to go float and swim together soon! Until then, rest on purpose! We will heal and be stronger because we did! Love you, Mandy, thank you for reply!

  3. Thank you Tracy for all your insight on how to be-able to find a quite place and reflect on the goodness that the Lord has blessed ( and will continue to bless ) us with when we take the time to stop, rest, and listen to what HE has in-store for us!

    1. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters …..while there, He restores my soul!” (Psalm 23:2) Naturally, just like sheep, we are driven to madness by many things! Problems, needs, schedules, relationships, etc…. This is why the shepherd has to MAKE the sheep lie down! He applies pressure to do so, much to our dismay! But, while there, we can digest all He’s been speaking to us so it’ll bring us much needed nourishment. I highly recommend the book, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by Phillip Keller. It was eye opening to hear from a shepherd what sheep are really like and why the shepherd has to do the things he does in order for the sheep to thrive. I get it now, I really do! A VERY worthwhile read!

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