Happy Birthday Dad

Peter Borgdorff

November 14, 1939 a little boy entered this world in Overschie, The Netherlands. How I wish I could hear my Oma or Opa recount the events of my Dads birth. There is something in the pictures we have when he was a child that always draw me in. He often had a look as if he was up to something and/or had something to say.

For those who knew my Dad, might agree with the idea that he was often up to something or had something to say. This did not wither away in his childhood.

My Dad was a man who was profoundly shaped by his story. There were key events such as war, immigration, education, work ethic, love ❤️, travel and The Church were all significant contributors to how he engaged all he believed about God, himself and others.

A Papa and his crew

As life went on in years, my Dad enjoyed the growing up of his grandkids. He would tease them, ask questions, pray for them and always share his pipe with them. He loved one on one times and I am so grateful for the memories we have from times shared together

My Dad was a well known and well loved guy. He traveled the world, but his favorite space was to be home with my Mom. We all miss him in so many spaces we once shared.

This is his 3rd birthday since he died. We will spend time celebrating his life with a game of pool or ping pong. We will tell stories and laugh and honor the ache that is ever present.

How we wonder what he would say about all that is unfolding around us. My Mom says it well, “he struggled to wear a seatbelt, how would he ever wear a mask?” He would grieve the division in our Nation. He would call God’s people to join together and rise up.

Our world gained a change agent on November 14, 1939. We lost a man we deeply loved in May of 2018. He lived with courage, conviction and boldness. He died with a deep sense of peace. Our parents taught us about a strong foundation and a deep and wide understanding of Jesus and His love.

So many things surround us that remind us of his life and goodness. One can not remember my Dad without his pipe, his love for family happy hour or his reminder to us, during the hardest of days when my brother was killed in a car accident, that the birds will sing in the morning.

Happy 81st birthday Dad. You are always in our hearts!

Blessed be his name!

Now what?

How can our nation be so divided?

HP and Xerox – Now What? – Wirth Consulting

Many people voted in the United States during this 2020 election, and the race was close in so many States. It is projected that 160 million people voted of the 239.2 million people eligible to vote.
For me, in this blog, it is not about who won and who lost, but it is so important to recognize and name and discuss that we are a nation divided.
President-elect Biden addressed this tonight in his speech, and to me, it sounded honest and trustworthy. But I know those same words to someone else do not carry the same tone. Reflecting on the last four years and as I look ahead to 2021, I am struck by the mystery of this reality. I do not want to be a part of a community where everyone thinks alike. I do not want to create a circle of people who only see things in similar ways. That is not life; that is an easy way out.
And so, I plead with you to have understanding and grace for those who see things differently. Commit to curiosity and ask questions. Believe the best in each other, and don’t let lies tear down the good you know to be true in someone. And do not be silent, be courageous in sharing your own views. Be willing to disagree but still respect one another. Be ready to struggle but know when to speak and when to remain silent.
Be aware of the words you are speaking, the energy you are putting out, and your voice’s tone and volume.
Be passionate and be understanding.
Be truthful and be kind.
Be willing to consider that someone else’s opinion is theirs to own and to live with.
Be willing to say, I can not agree with you on that, and remember that it does not mean you must end a relationship or speak disparagingly about the conversation to others.
It is my most profound prayer right now that we can be a people who act responsibly with maturity and an understanding of one another. It is not time to point fingers or stand in judgment. It is time to own our own passions, words, thoughts, and actions and invite others to do the same.

May love abound,

Blessed be His name!

Always stay humble and kind…

Do you ever have it when you are listening to a song, and somehow it feels like you hear the lyrics in a new way. We have been busy at Visiting Angels, and this week the music has seemed like a distant and faint sound in the office. My thoughts are filled with advocating for clients, recruitment of Caregivers, gratitude for our great multitude of angels, politics, COVID, and so much more.

And yet today, these words by Tim McGraw came through loud and clear. It sounds simple, and yet it sometimes feels like a fading practice. It seems like something we all learned and know, and yet, it feels foreign in our daily routine.

What does humble and kind look like?

Maybe we can only answer it for ourselves. Perhaps this is yet another area we should not be defining for someone else. It is not a time to point fingers or discuss who isn’t humble and kind. After all, that would not be humble or kind.

Listen to these good words and reflect on how Humble and Kind look like in your life today and tomorrow and the next day. 

How can you shift into an intentional action plan for humble and kind?

I had to smile because, of course, these ideas won’t quite work during COVID.

Go to church ’cause your mamma says to

Visit grandpa every chance that you can

It won’t be wasted time.

Always stay humble and kind.

But these are pretty good places to start:

Hold the door, say, “please,” say “thank you.”

Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie

I know you got mountains to climb

But always stay humble and kind

And so, inspired by Tim, I share my closing thought with you

And I believe that there are about 1000 options each day,

don’t close your eyes and be blind

Be bold, and strong, and courageous

Always be humble and kind.

He’s got the whole world…

I remember singing this as a child. Somehow it was so factual as we bellowed it out in Sunday School or at school or in bed at night where my sister and I would sing together before we drifted off to sleep.

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” is a traditional African American spiritual, first published in 1927. It became an international pop hit in 1957–58 in a recording by English singer Laurie London, and has been recorded by many other singers and choirs.

I am fascinated that this song is a traditional African American spiritual. And the kids in this video sure do know how to sing it.

Tonight, I find myself wondering what tomorrows 2020 election outcome will bring.

I am listening to the police radio as another shooting occurred in my neighborhood and wonder when the violence will come to an end. 

I am wondering how my Uncle, who is awaiting his COVID test results, is feeling.

In all of this, I wonder what does it mean that He Has the Whole World in His Hands?

When I sang this as a child, it felt amazing and beyond comprehension. How did God hold everything in His hands?

As an adult, I believe this song means that God holds the scope of all that is unfolding. In his infinite presence, God knows and cares. It doesn’t mean that in holding, all is healed. But to me, it does mean that:

the uncertainty and the disruption

the violence and the turmoil

the sadness and the joy

the laughter and the celebration

the loneliness and the depression

the grieving and the sick

the believer and the agnostic

the atheist and the people of all tribes and nations

all people of all sexual identity and all of his Creation

Are Held in His hands!

I had not thought of this song in a while, and yet as I was signing off on a text conversation tonight, I said this: “sleep well, my friend. Love to you. Grateful that I know, no matter what happens, God holds us in his hand.” It seemed the right time to write a blog.

As you navigate tomorrow with your friends, co-workers, neighbors, and family:

As your heart feels all the feels related to the election, polls, and results;

As you feel the ache of loneliness of your loved ones due to COVID or are grieving the absence of loved ones recently lost;

As you hold so much more than I could ever name in this short blog,

I hope and pray that you will find just a small bit of comfort in knowing that whatever your situation, you are held, in the rugged and scarred palms of a Jesus who understands.

May peace be yours today,

Blessed be His name!

How can it be August 1st, yet again?

August 1, 2003, Visiting Angels of West Michigan opened our doors!

Would the phone ring?

Would applicants apply?

Would we be able to sustain?

Today I can tell you that we have done more than sustain. We have grown, we have changed, we have busted at the seams, and we have barely hung on, we have wondered and hoped and prayed and stretched our faith in significant ways! We have done more than sustained. We have lived each day fully as it has come our way!


It has been a daily work of so many people.

It has been those who have entrusted us with their care and finances.

It has been caregivers who say yes over and over and over again.

It has been office staff showing up and working late and giving it there all!

It has been those who have cheered us on and prayed for us and encouraged us and shared about Visiting Angels of West Michigan with others.

It has been everyone working together because together, we believe that all people deserve excellent care. Care that honors the space that our clients are in at any given moment. Care may be about getting stronger and more independent or care that may be about being present until the last breath is taken.
Sometimes the in-between space is when the care recipient is weary of living, and yet their body lives on! And so their Visiting Angel learns how to wait with them. Sometimes we wait through days or weeks or months or years. We share in the prayers at meals when our clients ask God, please take me, and we share in conversations of their questions of how long O Lord. And we show up and bring joy and peace and quality of life to the waiting.

2020 has been a year like none other so far. And yet we press on. Caregivers mask up, put on goggles, and face shields and say yes. They call in their temperatures, and they don’t complain. We laugh together, we wonder together, we weep together, and I am so grateful to be working with a team of staff and caregivers committed to caring for others from a deep conviction of their hearts!


We continue greeting and meeting, serving, loving, and being changed by the stories of people of all ages for 17 years!


I am profoundly grateful and continue to look forward to the years ahead. If you are part of our story, know that I am grateful for you!

I will leave you with some pictures of the joy we have shared in the last 17 years!

Be sure to click on the arrows to see some of the sweetest faces and moments!

Happy Father’s Day

Dad,

Hard to imagine this is our third Father’s Day without you. I am not sure if I will ever get used to it so that your absence feels normal. Days like this hold good memories, although Father’s Day was always intertwined with Synod for as long as I can remember. Some might find that annoying, but knowing you loved the rhythm of Synod, it was not hard to share Father’s Day with your Synod Schedule.

Photo: Karen Huttenga

I miss you in so many ways, but especially in 2020, as we encounter racism in new and intensified ways. I say new, but I remember how you and Mom lived through the ’60s and would talk about the riots and how those events shaped you both. It feels like the themes are the same, and something has to change. I would love to hear your wisdom on this and thoughts on how the Church can be a change agent for peace in our cities, nation, and world.

I will still hold your advocacy for The Belhar Confession close to my heart and as inspiration to not give up, even if others don’t always see things the same way. I found this tonight and listened, celebrated in your words, and wept. To hear you and to see you and to feel you was a real gift on this Father’s Day. The message you spoke in 2009 is one we need to continue to heed today.

I miss your perspective on how we as Christians need to live in a world filled with conflict and trouble, as you brought experiences that were so much broader than just what is happening in our section of the world. I often remember your words, and I still hear your voice, stating and knowing that God is still on His throne. I still claim that truth and am committed, as you modeled, never to lose hope that God’s kingdom will be furthered through the obedient work of His people.

I love looking at pictures and so often stop to remember a moment shared while you were living. Our photographs tell such a story. We laughed a lot, traveled, spent lots of time with family, and learned how to show up and support one another. You taught us well, Dad, and all of it continues, but not without acknowledging your absence and being tender to our sorrow.

Best corn hole set ever! Handmade by Dan and gifted at the Peter and Janet Borgdorff family golf invitational.

Mom is amazing, tender, and steadfast and continues to live even in the ache of wishing she was sharing life with you at her side. We love her deeply and enjoy time spent together. You would marvel at all the stories she would have to share. Often she says, I wonder what your father would think or say, how we miss your input into our lives.

And yet, as you and Mom have taught us, life does end, and life goes on, and we do the best we can to live well and faithful to God’s call on our lives. Today I miss you and Len. We spent the weekend with Nick and Jonna, and it was a good way to be together on Father’s Day. We golfed, and I know you would have liked the course. I heard your words often, “you drive for show and putt for dough.” My show game was ok, but my dough game not so much. 🙂

Len and Nick and Dad golfing together

We miss you, Dad, and your memory lives on in our hearts and stories we share.
Happy Father’s Day.
Till we meet again,
Love, Trish

Two sisters and two podcasts

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One of my favorite blogs I wrote about my sister and I was Meet Me at the Gym Door. It is a reflection of how my sister Arlene showed up for me on the playground every day when we were kids.

https://trishborgdorff.com/2011/08/14/meet-you-at-the-gym-door/

That was a long time ago now. Today we are both in our 50’s and have our professional lives. We still enjoy time spent together and an afternoon with nothing planned. I admire Arlene and her passion and commitment as a Nursing professional, but even more specifically as a Hospice Nurse. She is first and foremost committed to the care of the patient and their family. Her commitment does not stop there; the education of the medical community and community at large is a passion as well. I sincerely appreciate her daily work and emotional investment. It has been a privilege to witness how Arlene’s expertise brings comfort in so many ways. I listened to a recent podcast in which she was a guest. A lot has changed since we met every day at the gym door. And in some ways, so much is the same. Perhaps we are just more of ourselves.

Shortly after Arlene’s podcast came out, I was also a guest on a podcast. I wanted to share them both with you. We are two very different sisters with similar passions, strong convictions, and personalities. I also believe that our jobs are more than just jobs; they are genuinely our callings. I trust you will hear some of that in the podcasts. I hope you enjoy them, and if you wish to dialogue about Hospice or Visiting Angels of West Michigan, both Arlene DeKam, RN, BSN, CHPN, and I remain available to you.

The gift of chimes

On this Easter evening, I feel reflective. I hear this sound behind me as I sit down to write. The soulful sound of the chimes often causes me to pause whatever I am doing and just listen and feel for a moment. I was given these chimes when my Dad died, and I love the sound that often echos in the background of my life at home.

There is something about the chimes that invites me to pause. The gentle movement of the breeze, the gentle lulling of the deep sounds, the surprise of a higher tone amidst the big, long tubes. The gentleness…

I am aware that the chimes awaken my heart to a gentle calm, a tender sorrow, a living hope. Everything about these chimes feels inviting to me.

Tomorrow we expect 50 MPH winds and I will listen carefully to the sound of the chimes. Occasionally they may not carry gentleness, but I am grateful for the gentle presence of these chimes in my yard and all they awaken in my soul.

I did not plan to write about the chimes tonight, but as I sat to write, I found that the crystal clear lulling pitch played over the sound of the news and the COVID-19 updates. The low tones invaded my own thoughts of our at-risk clients and keeping caregivers protected the best we can as we care for the elderly and vulnerable in our community.

The chimes spoke to me as I sit amid so many thoughts. Thoughts of Easter and faith and the week ahead. I imagine chimes hanging at the tomb many many years after the Resurrection, reminding us that magnificent events happened in that sacred space.

My Aunt and Uncle are buried in the wind chime section of the cemetery in Denver, Colorado. This wind chime draws us to the sacred space of remembering Aunt Simmie and Uncle Ben. IMG_1230.jpeg

The chimes remind me of life and death, of sorrow and joy, of a life lived and experience to be lived.

They carry a message of hope.

They remind me of the sacred spaces of my own world.

They remind me of God’s goodness and presence.

The gift of wind chimes when my Dad died resonated perfectly with my soul. But the ongoing gift that the wind chimes offer me every time the breeze blows is about much more than just the memory of my Dad. Somehow they speak in a way that my soul welcomes.

Did you remember Good Friday?

I feel like I could start every blog right now with this statement:

These are odd times…

Our family has always worshipped together on Good Friday for a Tenebrae Service. It is one that I hold the feelings deep in my being. There is something that I dreaded about missing it this year. This service has so often invited me to feel the depth of what Good Friday holds.

Tonight my sister invited us to a Zoom meeting for the Stations of the Cross. We gathered, we read and we were together. It wasn’t the same, and it was sweet. We left in silence from the Zoom call, and I listened to the music again.

It is powerful music and I want to share it tonight. It is only a glimpse into the more significant meditation, but I hope it brings you a sense of Good Friday remembrance. It is a night of agony and darkness and death. It was a beautiful scandalous night!

Blessed Be His Name!

Luke 23:42-43

42And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

 

 

 

Strange times with pockets of goodness…

We are living in strange times. I think it often and I look for glimpses of familiar as the hours pass in a day. As the days have turned to weeks, I find that I feel caught in a space that feels foreign. I don’t want to get used to wearing a mask and when I am not wearing it I feel like I am missing something. I am aware that too much news is not good for my anxiety or peace of heart and I want to stay informed. I long for normal and I am aware that normal may not be what we used to have. Time will reveal to us how COVID-19 shapes us, not only in the immediate, but also for the long term.

As these days have come and gone, I have been intentional about living present to what I am thinking and feeling. It is a season where going numb or ambivalent can happen without even noticing when it started.

012EF2C8-B96C-4D77-BBDB-C12CFBDCE9ED_1_201_aI have been pleasantly surprised how the gift of my senses have helped me to stay above the anxiety and restlessness. Don’t get me wrong, I have bouts of that, but I have been able to pass through them quite quickly so far.

I have become keenly aware of the color and beauty that is around me.

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The smells of a good candle, fresh flowers or a bath bomb. The colors in flowers, sunsets, sweet potatoes and beets or the depth of red in the cardinal at the feeder. I have enjoyed looking at my photo album and feeling the joy, sorrow or the peace that accompanies the memories of the photos.

Staying attuned to my senses has allowed me to stay present with what I am choosing to feel or focus on.

I believe what strikes me most is that in the rhythm of life before COVID-19 I had a routine that didn’t require as much of my intentional engagement. I believe I lived present and aware to myself then. I have learned new ways in the last weeks to live with intention in how I experience the fullness of life around me now.

E5683183-AF19-4107-ABD4-320FBBE4809BIt takes a different kind of engagement to meet the eyes of a face that is mostly covered by a mask. I have encountered waves and grins and words of greeting from so many who pass by my house on a daily basis. I have read words that bring sheer joy to my being as others step out to encourage strangers with notes and sidewalk chalk messages. 

These are strange times. And in the strange are pockets of goodness and blessing. I hope that you are able to pause and breathe deeply, notice the color and the smells, marvel at the taste and listen for the sounds of hope.

I hope you will be able to see the goodness and beauty that is popping through the looming large strange times.

Blessed Be His Name!