SYTYCD

“So You Think You Can Dance” is one of my all-time favorite shows. I love watching the dances and wishing that I had the coordination to do half of those moves. This season, Caitlynn Lawson was my favorite and I was sad to see that she was eliminated. The girl has talent!  In honor of Caitlynn (no, it’s not just the name), here is one of my favorite videos, starring one of my favorite guys, Marko.

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psalm 73

1Truly God is [only] good to Israel, even to those who are upright and pure in heart.
2But as for me, my feet were almost gone, my steps had well-nigh slipped.
21
For my heart was grieved, embittered, and in a state of ferment, and I was pricked in my heart [as with the sharp fang of an adder].
22So foolish, stupid, and brutish was I, and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.
23Nevertheless I am continually with You; You do hold my right hand.
24You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to honor and glory.
25Whom have I in heaven but You? And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You.
26My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the Rock and firm Strength of my heart and my Portion forever.
27For behold, those who are far from You shall perish; You will destroy all who are false to You and like [spiritual] harlots depart from You.
28But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.

stones and jewels

Last night my mom shared a cool story about my uncle Bruce.  My uncle died in a small airplane crash nearly 11 years ago.  It was devastating to my family, yet through it all, we kept saying, “God has a plan in this.  We don’t know what it is, but He has something good planned in it.”  Because a famous golfer was on that same plane, the story got nation-wide publicity.  A few of the people that died on the plane were Christians, and the stories of their lives, including their faith, were told to millions of people. The other day, my sister-in-law met someone who asked how she was connected to the Borland family.  The woman said she had come to know the Lord through hearing the story of my uncle Bruce.  Now, what a blessing is that?! – to hear all these years later about someone who became a Christian because of God working through my uncle’s death.

That story was also cool because that concept – the concept of God revealing His plan in His timing – has been on my heart quite a bit lately.  This past year was the hardest of my short life yet.  School was very difficult for me, friendships were tested, I was bone dry in every area of my life.  God was distant, then near but silent.  For a full year, I had no idea why God was putting me through the wringer.  I felt like God was handing me a stone when I asked for bread.  But sometimes that stone is not what it seems.

Here’s what I mean.  This past spring I had the privilege of hearing a wonderful professor speak at Indiana Wesleyan.  One night he spoke about this topic: What do we do when God hands you a stone? And here were four answers that he came up with:

-Sometimes what we think is a stone is really bread in disguise
-Sometimes God uses our stones as bread for others
-Sometimes God changes stones into bread
-Sometimes God gives us a stone because the stone is more important to our growth than bread

Recently God has been revealing the second answer to me.  I have had opportunities lately to connect with others because of the trials I went through.  I am someone who loves helping others and this is a new way God is showing me to help others: not through physical helping but by allowing God to speak to others through my trials.  Sure, those times sucked, but I would not trade those times for anything because now I am able to help others through the same things I went through.  When God reveals a little bit of His plan, whether it be through a godly man’s death or twenty-two year old’s suffering for a time, you feel like Belle being lead by the Beast into the library…only way better.  In one of my favorite books, Hinds Feet on High Places, the main character comes to a crucial part of her story, which is a great way to sum up what I have been trying to say here…

After that [the Shepherd-King] said, “Give me the bag of stones of remembrance that you have gathered on your journey.” She took it out and passed it to him and then he bade her hold out her hands.  On doing so, he opened the little purse and emptied the contents into her hands.  Then she  gasped again with bewilderment and delight, for instead of the common, ugly stones she had gathered from the alters along the way, there fell into her hands a heap of glorious, sparkling jewels, very precious and very beautiful.  As she stood there , half-dazzled by the glory of the flashing gems, she saw in his hand a circlet of pure gold.
“O thou who wast afflicted, tossed with tempest and not comforted,” he said, “behold I lay thy stones with fair colors.”
…Supposing she had thrown [the stones] away, had discarded her trust in his promises, had gone back on her surrenders to his will?  There could have been no jewels now to his praise and glory, and no crown for  her to wear.
~Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, Chapter 18

God, I am a frail, human vessel.  Let Your strength be shown through my weaknesses.  “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'” (2 Cor. 12:9)  Take my stones and turn them into jewels.

memories

A lot of thoughts running through my head tonight, so sorry if this post is a little scattered.
Tonight is my last night at our family cabin.  This was the first time I had been up here in two years and it was just wonderful being up here.  Our cabin is not the nicest – it doesn’t have a loft; there’s no hot tub; the lake water is gross; there is hardly any privacy; and one of the bathrooms smells like an old rubber mat.  But when you walk through the front door, you can tell that is is a place filled with memories…it is filled with love.

The first thing I think every time I walk into the cabin is how much I have missed the “cabin smell” – mothballs, pine, old life jackets, and pancakes.  (This being the one time that mothballs adds to the pleasantness of a place.)  This cabin has been in my family for over 50 years when my grandmother’s parents bought it looking for a place to go fishing and to get away for a while.  There are so many traditions that go along with this old “home in the woods”, as we like to call it: fishing, tubing, flea markets, swimming, turtle races, pancakes for breakfast, bonfires, always open windows, mosquito bites, Scrabble, and more.

Tonight being the last night I am here, I had to write in the book that everyone who visits here has to write in, another tradition.  You write a little entry saying what you did and how long you were here and who you were with.  It always seemed like a weird tradition and I sped through my thank you every year, but this year I was thankful for the book.  As I turned to the first page, I saw my grandmother’s handwriting and loved reading her notes.  While it reminded me of how long it has been since she’s really been with us, it also made me proud to be a part of her family.  She and Grandpa have the kindest hearts and were such a joy to be around.  God was always very evident in everything they did.  It seems sometimes that they are even in the very walls of the cabin so that even though they may never physically ever be present here again, their love and kind spirits will always remain.

It is so wonderful to be part of family that has had shared something so precious for so long (4 generations now!) Nearly every night I sat in the hammock and watched the sunset on the lake and read and it was worth getting the traditional 20+ bug bites.  This morning I got up early and did my devotions overlooking the lake and it was the best morning I have had in quite some time.  It is so wonderful to have an experience where God refreshes you and reminds you of how wonderful He is, especially when you are facing something new (for me it is beginning a new job and saying goodbye to my carefree college days).  Looking around at the cabin, looking at the pictures, hearing the stories, sharing the laughs, and watching the lake reminds me of just how awesome God is.  I was overcome with thankfulness today as I soaked up every last bit of Minnesota that I could.  It is always hard to leave this old cabin, but this time I am leaving with not only a greater appreciation for my family, but a renewed appreciation for God and His goodness to my family.

Psalm 33:5b – The earth is full of His unfailing love.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

I just finished reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Samuel L. Clemens and this book was a hoot to read!  It’s the story of a Tom’s summer as a boy (you are never told how old he is but I guess between 10 and 15).  It tells of his adventures with his friends, the most famous being Huckleberry Finn, how he falls “in love” with a girl and tells of all the times he gets in trouble…and gets out of it.  It was so fun to get a look into the life of  boy and to see how a boy’s mind thinks.  And there was some pretty entertaining stuff in there! Here are some of my favorites:

~Speaking of the town’s preacher: “He was regarded as a wonderful reader. At church “sociables” he was always called upon to read poetry; and when he was through, the ladies would lift up their hands and let them fall helplessly in their laps, and “wall” their eyes, and shake their heads, as much as to say, ‘Words cannot express it; it is too beautiful, too beautiful for this mortal earth.'”

~Tom talking to his “love”, Becky
Tom: Say, Becky, was you ever engaged?
Becky: What’s that?
T: Why engaged to be married.
B: No.
T: Would you like to?
B: I reckon so. I don’t know. What’s it like?
T: Like? Why it ain’t like anything. You only just tell a boy you won’t ever have anybody but him, ever ever ever, and then you kiss and that’s all. Anybody can do it.
B: Kiss? What do you kiss for?
T: Why, that, you know, is to – well, they always do that

~Tom and Huck discuss plans for digging for buried treasure:
Huck: Where’ll we dig?
Tom: Oh, most anywhere.
H: Who hides it?
T: Why, robbers, of course – who’d you reckon? Sunday-school sup’ rintendents?
T: Say, Huck, if we find a treasure here, what you going to do with your share?
H: Well, I’ll have a pie and a glass of soda every day, and I’ll go to every circus that comes along. I bet I’ll have a gay time. What you going to do with yourn, Tom?
T: I’m going to buy a new drum, and a sure-‘nough sword, and a red necktie and a bull pup, and get married.
H: Married!
T: That’s it.
H: Tom,  you – why, you ain’t in your right mind.
T: Wait – you’ll see.
H: Well, that’s the foolishest thing you could do. Pap and my mother used to fight all the time.
T: That ain’t anything. The girl I’m going to marry won’t fight.
H: Tom, I reckon they’re all alike. They’ll all comb a body. Now you better think ’bout this awhile.

~Huck talking about the widow that took him in:
H: “The widder wouldn’t let me smoke; she wouldn’t let me yell, she wouldn’t let me gape, nor stretch nor scratch, before folks -” [Then with a spasm of special irritation and injury] – “And dad fetch it, she prayed all the time! I never see such a woman!”

This book is definitely worth the read – I thoroughly enjoyed it : )

uh dell.

1. This girl got pipes.
2. I sing this song at the top of my lungs every time I hear this song on the radio.  And it’s catchy.
3. I just realized that most of my posts have to do with music. Well, music really touches me, so oh well : )

how deep the father’s love for us

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
By Stuart Townsend

I’ve sung this song many times but for some reason it really struck a chord with me as we sang last night (hahaha! pun intended).  We cannot fathom the depth of our Father’s love for us…we can try, but we’ll just never know.  We only have our earthly view of love to which we can compare it.  Isaiah 40:12 says:

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
   or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
   or weighed the mountains on the scales
   and the hills in a balance?

The God that is so big that He measures the heavens with the width of His hand loves us.  Think about that.  If  He measures the heavens – stars, planets and all – how seemingly insignificant are we?  God is that powerful, that amazing and yet He still loves us.  He sent His Son to die for us!  “To make a wretch His treasure”?!  Wow.  I know that I rarely live up to the title of “treasure”.  I’m more of the wretch most of the time.  Yet God loves me.  Indeed.

God, help me to learn more of what it means to love like You do. Your love is so powerful, so strong, that it caused you to send your only Son to die on the cross for us.  That’s the kind of sacrifice You were willing to make for us. Teach us what it means to love like that, Father.  We have much to learn.

generations

One of the things I look forward to most during evening Sunday service is sitting next to my grandfather and listening to him sing.  Besides being the cutest old man I know, he is also the sweetest, most caring, dedicated man I know.  And the most ornery (meaning a jokester), which must be where I get it, besides my dad.  Every day, he drives to the nursing home by his house and spends his day with my grandmother, who has dementia.  The delight of his day – making Grandma smile.  He teases and prods her and showers her with kisses and holds her hand and does everything he can to make her smile.

Yet, my family knows that the last ten or so years have been hard on him.  Watching my grandma slowly slip away and become the farthest thing from herself was hard for all of us to watch, but most of all for him.  Who would want to watch their better half become a different person?  Luckily, she usually remembers who he is and still smiles at him.  He and Grandma have been through some very tough times, including losing two of their children – one to cancer and the other in a plane accident. Yet their faith never wavered.  They kept placing their trust in God and his plans.

Tonight I heard complete joy in his voice as he sang and it was so encouraging.  We were singing “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” and I loved listening to his deep bass voice sing these words with a lilt:

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

My grandfather has been such a testimony to God’s faithfulness. He is always joyful, always wearing a smile, and always ready to pass out stickers and mints to the grandkids.  His faith is so solid that even in the toughest of times he is able to sing, “What have I to fear?”…with joy! I am proud to call Kenneth Borland my grandfather and I hope that one day I can be half the person of faith he is.

DIY

No fireplace to curl up with a good book?  Make your own.

P.S. This was a momentous occasion – this is the first fire I ever created solo. Sad, I know, considering I worked for an outdoor center, but I am still proud.

night sky

Psalm 19:1 – The Heaves declare the glory of God; and the sky shows and proclaims His handiwork.

The stars were absolutely breathtaking tonight.  I want more nights like this in my life.