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


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


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.

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.


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!

In the midst of chaos…

Today was a day I felt the impact of the chaos infringing on my soul. The last month feels like it was just getting us ready for what is still to come. I am learning of confirmed cases in my community.

I feel like I watched from the balcony of the arena as I followed China and Italy and Spain. Then it came to Washington and New York and my seat felt closer, maybe the middle of the arena. Now I am moving to the box seats and I feel the anticipation and the dread of not having any idea what I am about to engage in.

But I have these seats and I believe that God has prepared me for this space. I must choose how I will enter this chaos and what I will bring. I don’t believe it is a space for critics and cynics and words of harsh judgement. It is no longer about politics and governors and presidents.

Yes, all of that has played a part, but in the midst of chaos and crisis, what will you bring to your village? How will you encourage those around you? How will you bring calm to an anxious soul? How will your values, convictions and faith show up in the midst of all that surrounds us.

Yes, I long for health and well being, protection and a quick end to COVID-19. But let’s not hide in our home’s and watch the warriors go to battle. How can you support, encourage, appreciate, uplift those who are at war. The longer this goes, the lonelier it gets to be on the front lines.

Please my friends, be creative in the ways you offer hope! Send a card, make a meal, serenade someone, provide childcare, pick flowers, I posted this on my Facebook tonight and invite any of you to participate.

Do you have some time on your hands?

Would you be willing to encourage someone?

If you would like to write a note to a caregiver or a client, we would love to offer your words as a bright spot in their day. Many clients have not seen their families. Many caregivers face each day knowing there are new positive COVID-19 cases in the building in which they serve.

Please write your words in a card and
address to either Client or Caregiver
1923 Sylvan Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Write as many as you like as often as you’re able!
Now is the time my friends to bring light to the difficult spaces.

Share and invite everyone to join in.

We have front row seats whether we want them or not. Live present to what is unfolding, feel your full range of emotion, let the tears flow and feel the joy when community comes together. Pray, find your courage and show up!

We all need one another!

It Takes A Village — Plum Creek Church

Blessed Be His Name!


Mimicking at it’s best!

In the days of COVID-19 and staying home, we are all spending a lot of time with each other. Well, you are all spending a lot of time together as I am single, but I can just imagine. 🙂

This morning I received this video of my great-nephew and I was struck by how he was mimicking everything he has seen his parents doing as they remodel their home. I am sure there was no tutorial or suggestions of what he should mimic. He simply learned by watching and then he began to incorporate it into his behaviors.

I couldn’t help but wonder, what would be mimicked from my life right now? What behaviors am I repeating regularly that would communicate what is important to me? How am I spending my time? What are the character traits that I am sharing? How am I processing my emotions in these uncertain times?

If this little guy came to your world, would he mimic things that would bring warmth to the heart of those watching? Of course, we all have our bad moments, but how are we recovering from those these days? Are we willing to say I am sorry or I notice your tears? Are we willing to ask for what we need or name what we are missing?

These are difficult times and there are pockets of such goodness and sweetness wrapped in them. It is easy to lose track of the days and routines. During this Holy Week, let us live with intention. Intention not only in our faith walk but being intentional in our thoughts, words, and actions as well. Let’s hope the snippets of our lives communicate our values, convictions and all we hold dear to everyone we are with, not just the little ones!

Blessed Be His Name!



Holy Week like never before..

I have grown up in the Church and my body memory tells me that tomorrow starts a week of reflection and Church going. It is the last week of Lent, Palm Sunday, it is the week of the Seder Dinner, Maundy Thursday services and then Good Friday services. Then, of course, we cap it off with a beautiful Easter Service.

Well, that is if we had normalcy in our lives this week.

But there won’t be any community gatherings or any Easter services. There won’t be family gatherings or big Easter dinners. And yet it is still the last week of Lent, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.

What will Holy Week look like during all this disruption?

I would imagine that many years ago, Holy week was all about disruption. When I try to imagine all the days held, I would believe there was anticipation, agony, mystery, loneliness, grieving, sorrow, and celebration.

IMG_0459I would guess we will feel some of the same this week. There is a lot of unknown surrounding us with life and death. There will be the disappointment of trips not taken, friends not seen, families not gathered, Worship not shared.

This picture is one of my favorite of the stained glass window in my Sanctuary. When I look at it, I am more aware of the ache of missing Worship, and I am brought more to the tender spaces of my heart where Worship is about more than being in a building.

There is so much that we carry as we anticipate this week, both in our personal lives and in our faith jourdeeply gratefulney. I have this combo of the Crown of Thorns, the Cross and the heart on my wall. When I feel the thorns, I am more aware of Good Friday, and I consider all of my senses as I envision being present at the cross. I think of the taste of vinegar, the sweat and tears, the blood and the whip, the wailing and the darkness, the conversation, and the final words..”It is Finished”

I plan to spend intentional time each day in reflection using scripture, music, and writing. I know the music will speak most to my heart. I will google playlist for Holy Week, and I will play that each day as I journal and reflect on thoughts in my heart. I will miss singing Man of Sorrows, What a Name and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross. I will miss the Stations of the Cross. I will miss the Tenebre service.

It is Holy Week even amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. It is time for us to live our faith like no other time. Our witness to the world in 2020 is no longer about an invitation to Church on Easter. May we use this week to encourage, love, and speak into the lives of our neighbors and friends with the Hope we have, because of Good Friday and Easter!

Live Holy Week with intention in the days ahead.

Find Courage, Peace, Sorrow, Repentance, and Joy because of Jesus!

Blessed Be His Name!


Praying during these days….

If only it was this easy! 6 Things to Pray When You're Worried About Coronavirus — Hope On ...Have you wondered how to pray in these days when so much is unfolding around us? I find myself often thinking of Romans 8: 26:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

I want to cling to hope, and I have not lost hope. Honestly, all I wonder about feels so much bigger than all I am assured of right now. I trust God in this, and I struggle. There are what if’s or what’s next, or how will COVID-19 test my faith and life personally?

I am contemplating scenario’s all night and day as I consider Visiting Angels and how we will navigate what is and what is to come. I am surrounded by amazing people who think out loud with me, pray for clarity for me and stand with me every day. And I believe that this pandemic will likely become more real, more personal and more consuming in some ways as people I know and love are burdened and affected with COVID-19. Don’t we all hold the question of how close to home will this come for me?

Over the last years, I have become a great admirer of Nadia Bolz-Weber. My heart sighed tonight when I read her prayer, and I knew it would resonate with others as well. Her words permeated my confusion and heartache. For the words that bring a smile and reminder that God has created so many emotions within us. I nodded and read the words aloud. Yes, Jesus, this is my prayer as well.

I leave you with this prayer and these words. Hold them close, pray them often both in your heart and out loud. Share them at your table and gather with those you love, naming the fear and clinging to the hope.

He will never leave us or forsake us.

Blessed Be His Name

Sunday Prayers by Nadia Bolz-Weber

For the layers of comfort and convenience that surrounded our lives and that we never considered a blessing but always just took for granted, forgive us.

For we who must grieve in isolation and not in community, comfort us.

For we who care for the sick, protect us.

For the ability to turn off the fear-mongering and unhelpful commentary and worst-case scenario *clickbait, strengthen us.

For the times when we are all out of creative ideas for how to get through this with cooped-up kids, inspire us. 

For we who are now cutting our own bangs at home, guide us.

For the grace to allow ourselves and others to just be less productive, shower us.

For the generosity needed from those of us who have more resources, empower us.

From our own selfish inclinations, deliver us.

For just being your children, none of whom have done a global pandemic before, love us.

For the days ahead, accompany us.

God unbound by time, help us to know that you are already present in the future we are fearing.


-Nadia Bolz-Weber

*noun: clickbait

  1. (on the Internet) content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page.