The day we gathered…

A Borgdorff gathering is not unusual and during the summer months I would even say is quite normal. They are often marked with good conversation, laughter, sometimes some tears and an overall good feeling of being together.

On this date last year it was a gathering of a different kind. My Mom had alerted us on that Sunday morning that she had called 911 because my Dad was having extreme pain. He was alert and when we got to the ER he was clearly uncomfortable, but still so alert. He asked me to call his friend Ron who he was supposed to have Tea with that afternoon and give him a heads up his day wasn’t going as planned. It all felt like a little bump in the road, for a short while.

Then the Doc came in and reported that my Dad’s ruptured ulcer was the presenting issue and due to his compromised physical condition, he was not a candidate for surgery. The facts unfolded in a conversation with a few of us as my very brave sister Arlene outlined for my Dad what the Drs were not saying. We talked about how on Friday he was told there was no reason to believe his end would be soon and this morning, due to the complications, his life was now limited to maybe two weeks.

We left my parents for a few minutes alone as they tried to absorb how a Sunday morning went so quickly from planning to go to Church to now preparing to live out the last days of my Dad’s life.

We all agreed my Dad should be admitted for pain control and then he would come home on Hospice.

I can hear this as if it was yesterday. It makes me smile deeply. My Dad loved to be crafting emails, advocating for the Belhar, preparing to chair his next committee meeting and occasionally glancing through Facebook.

“If I am going to stay here you better go home and get my computer. I have some things to get done.”

We waited for him to get settled in the room. His pain was great and we so wanted him comfortable We met Dr Hadley and she was such a gift to us. She honored Arlene’s role as a Hospice nurse and worked closely with her to ensure his pain was managed. As my Mom and I prepared to run for the computer, Dr. Hadley came out and said I don’t think you should leave. He is changing quickly.

But, my mind wanted to say, he needs his computer. And just that quick, I heard what she was saying. We took a minute to catch our breath and then we knew we needed to gather.

In the hours that followed a gathering unfolded. One by one, my Mom, my siblings, and their spouses, my nieces and nephews and my dear Aunt Dot all filled the room. We shared silence and song, we shared scripture and prayer and conversation and laughter and memories. Dear Erika was the Chaplin on duty at Spectrum that day. She is someone who we have shared life with and her and my Dad shared friendship. It was sweet. We remembered and we stood in the gap as my Dad transitioned from his life on earth to his life eternal.

My body can feel the emotion of that day as if it was yesterday. I hope to never lose the feelings of that day. I hope to always weep as I feel the ache and I hope to always celebrate as I feel the joy of my Dad’s life. I hope to never lose the overarching gratitude I hold in my heart every day for the life we all shared with him.

I have been very aware of the time today. I remember what time we got to the ER, what time we got to the hospital room, what time my Dad faded from our presence. what time we called Aunt Marg and Uncle Bill and others. And I remember, oh how I remember, when he took his last breath with my Mom at his side.

But the sweetest memory of the painful day was the fact that we gathered. We honored the way that our Dad and Mom taught us to join together and bear one another burdens. We showed up and lived present to the pain and the promises.

We miss you Dad.

Blessed Be His Name!



Then and Now

Navy_02bIt was 1987, and this picture was taken at the Annapolis Naval Academy. My oldest brother Len was graduating, and we traveled as a family to celebrate, but missed Nick who was serving in the Navy in Scotland.

It was a trip that felt like once in a lifetime experience. There was an incredible sense of dedication,  commitment, discipline, and respect. The love for our Country by these young men and women is something that can bring me to tears still, every time I sing the National Anthem. I reflect back on this trip in 1987, and I can feel the energy, the excitement the feelings of pride and deep respect for Len and holding what an honor it was to be together as a family.

Len’s Naval Academy experience is something I have always been proud of. It was not uncommon to share with others that my brother was a USNA graduate class of 1987, and they would remark on what an accomplishment that is.

Len was killed in a car accident in 2012, and we heard from so many of the young men and women that he mentored in his years in the Navy. They are precious stories, and they remind me that the Naval Academy is a place where Len developed his leadership skills, and he impacted many lives for good in his many years of service in the United States Navy.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Nicholas Borgdorff, people smiling, people standingTonight I am anticipating another adventure. The once in a lifetime experience is about to happen again in a different way. This time I will be celebrating with my nephew, Andrew. Andrew follows in the footsteps of his Dad Nick and his Uncle Len. Len and Nick both served the United States Navy, and now Andrew is creating his own legacy in the United States Navy. My brother Len was a Nuclear Submarine guy, and it looks like Andrew will also be. I am so proud of how my Nephew has given his all, applied himself, excelled and now will journey on a similar path, but in his own way, of growing, leading, mentoring and impacting lives in the United States Navy.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Ryan BorgdorffAndrew started the Naval Academy 4 years ago with commitment, passion, and vision. There has been a transformation at many levels. Many of these transformations are only for Andrew to share as his story unfolds.

fullsizeoutput_91deI am eager to spend time together as a family. We will miss Len and my Dad in almost every space, and we have so much to celebrate and feel sincere gratitude for.

I am proud of Andrew in ways I can not yet put words to. There will be tears, laughter, conversation, and many ways to celebrate. Andrew is one of 1193 in the graduating class of 2019. He has transformed from a young lad to a brave soul who will protect our country. Bless you, for your courage, commitment, and growing faith. I love you with my whole heart and am so proud to be your aunt. Let graduation week begin!

Blessed Be His Name





I find myself often seeking the balance of looking back, living in the moment and looking forward to what is ahead. I don’t believe it is healthy to focus on only one but to find the balance of all three is a place I strive to be.

This week I am doing a lot of remembering and looking back. Last year, this was the last week of my Dad’s life. We didn’t know it, and even though he had some complex new health issues, he was told to live fully, and there was no reason to believe the end would be soon. He was told that two days before he died. And so last year at this time our focus was on living. We gathered often, we played lots of golf, we were trying to find our new normal.  We had no idea our lives would shift so suddenly within the week.

And yet, as I hold that space close to my heart this week, I find myself also holding such good memories of times we shared before my Dad’s seizure. Today on Facebook I am reminded that 3 years ago today we departed on our family adventure: The Kuborgdebos’ take Europe. Kuborgdebos is simply a few letters from every last name.

My parents both immigrated from The Netherlands, and we were able to share a fantastic time together as a family visiting the places of my parent’s childhood and hearing the stories and being together. It was a sweet and glorious time. We gathered each morning for devotions and singing led by different family members. We reflected together the last night about our week and the diverse ways our shared experiences impacted multiple generations was powerful.

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As I think about last year and I think about 3 years ago, I am so grateful for the life we lived with my Dad when he was here with us. My parents have modeled to us that living responsibly is important, but Living is also essential.

Tonight I am going to stop here with the sweetness of our Europe trip. It is the right place for my heart to be. I hope that you also have memories of the travels you have taken.

If you are wondering when to do something with those you love, begin to plan now. I believe the anticipation, the experience, and the memories are all equally valuable.

There is so much more to remember, both in sweetness and in sorrow, for I am grateful for a heart that can hold both.

Blessed Be His Name!

Are you a mother?

Today I did some shopping with my 9-year-old niece, and we bought a few gifts for our family Mother’s Day Celebration. I am so very grateful to be a part of a family that celebrates the village of women and does not distinguish Mother’s Day only by if you have birthed children.

As I was paying at this store, the clerk asked me if I was a Mother? I said, No, I am not, but I have all the joy with having my nieces and nephews in my life.

It was clear the store was prepared to give away lots of small flower bouquets lined up behind the counter. My niece said, “I bet you’re not going to get a flower.” Johanna and I went on to discuss how in our family we celebrate women and we talked about our village.

The innocent comment caused an awkward silence as I could feel the struggle of the clerk who reluctantly offered for us to pick a bouquet to give to someone we know who is a mother. I asked Johanna if she would like to and she eagerly chose one for my Mom and explained to the lady she would give it to my mother, her Beppe.

I walked away with 5 gift bags in hand and Johanna proudly carrying her flowers for her Beppe. I felt sad for the woman behind the counter who did not seem very comfortable responding to women who are not mothers. I said a prayer for those who will engage her with tender hearts this Mother’s Day.

I hope and pray that each of us will consider the impact of our words on Mother’s Day and every other day. Sensitivity and kindness can bring conversations that are honoring and life-giving. I hope that you will consider ways that you acknowledge the village of women who support you and love you well. Offer words of gratitude or stories of how your life is enriched by the investment of women who surround you.

This is a picture of my tribe of women. I am thankful for them each and every day. They affirm me, believe in me, pray for me, speak truth to me, laugh and cry with me, and I am a better woman because of them. I am deeply grateful for each and everyone this Mother’s Day.


Image may contain: 14 people, including Karolyn Dekam, Ellie DeKam, Janet Borgdorff, Arlene Borgdorff DeKam, Sonta Joseph Borgdorff, Suzi Borgdorff Bos, Marcia Borgdorff, Trish Borgdorff and Jonna Franz Borgdorff, people smiling, people sitting and people standing

Blessed Be His Name!


Celebrating Working Mothers

Today at Visiting Angels, I took time to honor the Mother’s I work with. Laura, Heather and my Mom are all faithful in their daily work, and I am so grateful for them. I am aware that their lives are full and their jobs are only a part of their more extensive commitments. I did not want to miss naming my gratitude for their decision to navigate daily office life in addition to their roles as Mothers.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Laura Koster, people smiling, child, tree, outdoor and nature Laura is the newest Mom. She has a wonderful husband and two great sons. We are so grateful that she and Dave shared the boys with us in their first 18 months when they would come to work with her 4 days a week. Now ages 7 and 3, they visit often, and we celebrate birthdays and Christmas and any other gift giving opportunity in their world.

Laura comes to work ready to give her best to every day even when her youngest did not allow her a full night’s sleep. Laura is choosing spaces to show up at school and on the playground, communicating to her dear son that she sees him and knows him and being his Mom is a role she delights in.

Laura is amazing at all she accomplishes at work. Visiting Angels would not be who we are without her. I admire the passion, order, impact, and love she brings to her family and work. She is blazing a beautiful trail, and I am honored to walk alongside her, my dear friend. You, Laura, are a great Mom.

Heather is now living out this season of life in it’s fullest senseImage may contain: 7 people, including Heather Dobrowolski Kuiper and Olivia Earl, people smiling

My child(ren) I wish for you two things

To give you roots, to give you wings.

Heather has journeyed many years of being Mom to her 4 adult children. She now is also Nana to a 4-year-old grandson. Her heart remains as tender as when her oldest was young.

Heather is a natural at nurture and her smile and laugh can put anyone at ease. Heather is so gifted at using her own story as a gift to be shared with applicants, caregivers, clients or families. She can relate so well to others because her beautiful heart holds compelling stories which have birthed empathy and understanding.

I am so grateful that Heather has chosen to navigate work and home life. Visiting Angels is a kinder, happier space because she shows up every day. I am thankful for her work ethic, her heart, her friendship, and her family. I love bearing witness to her passion and commitment for her family She is my love life to the fullest, adventurous friend. I will tell you every chance I am able, you Heather, are a good Mom!

Image may contain: 2 people, including Janet Borgdorff, people smiling, eyeglasses and closeup Janet came on staff 7 years ago when Laura went on maternity leave. Working with my Mom is a gift I am grateful for every day. She is willing to jump into new spaces and learn new things. She challenges me to risk and grow, and she is ready to risk and grow with me.

Janet is deeply loved by her co-workers, and she brings her experiences of owning her own financial business, wisdom, laughter, and friendship into the office. I stand in awe of watching my Mom journey through all that life holds. As a mother of 5 children, 15 grandchildren, and 1.5 great-grandchildren, her heart knows deep love and loss, and yet she shows up and invites us to journey with her. Laura and Heather and I are all grateful for her presence, and I can confidently say from first-hand experience, you, Janet, my mother and friend, are a good Mom.

On this Mother’s day weekend, I tip my hat and sincerely say to all working mothers, thank you for venturing out and navigating a complex world. Your commitment and dedication are seen, and I am very grateful.

Blessed be His name

Rachel Held Evans, you will be missed…

I wonder if you have heard of Rachel Held Evans.

I wonder if you learned of her because of her amazing books or her courageous voice or maybe because of how much she is showing up on Social Media after her tragic death.

I wonder if she is a person who drew you back to the Church or inspired you to connect/reconnect with Jesus.

I have only recently started to admire her incredible gift of writing and her deep passion for Truth. I also am one who accepted her invitation to consider a bigger picture of Scripture, Truth, and Jesus. To find so many things that felt out of the box and yet resonated peace in my heart.

Recently I sat with a small group at my Church and listened to shared stories of how Rachel’s honesty and courage reignited faith in the souls of my peers. For many, this brought hope back into what the Church could become today if we are willing to live out one of her many invitations:

Image result for Rachel held evans quotes

It is almost impossible to make sense of the tragedy of the sudden and unexpected death of this 37 years old vibrant, powerful, tender, brilliant woman of truth who was deeply loved in her marriage and the mother of two young children. She has impacted people around the world, and I have heard often that we longed to hear more from her. Rachel Held Evans will be missed. As I go through the books and read the quotes and reflect on other’s stories, I am aware that if we lived true to all she has invited the community of Believers to consider, the Church would be a very different community. The Church would represent a bit more accurately what Rachel is already experiencing. May we all identify how we can live differently in honor of Rachel’s life and bring a little more of heaven to earth.

I will end with one of my favorite segments of Rachel’s writing…

“If you are looking for verses with which to support slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to abolish slavery, you will find them.

“If you are looking for verses with which to oppress women, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to liberate or honor women, you will find them.

“If you are looking for reasons to wage war, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to promote peace, you will find them.

“If you are looking for an out-dated, irrelevant ancient text, you will find it. If you are looking for truth, believe me, you will find it.

“This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the text is not, ‘What does it say?’, but, ‘What am I looking for?’ I suspect Jesus knew this when he said, ‘Ask, and it will be given to you, seek, and you will find, knock, and the door will be opened.’ If you want to do violence in this world, you will always find the weapons. If you want to heal, you will always find the balm.”

Oh Lord Jesus, may I always find the balm…

Blessed be His Name

The Birds will Sing in the Morning

I write for a variety of reasons, but perhaps one of them is that I can record our family story. I understand this story I am recording is through my eyes and my perspective and I do my best to represent it with integrity.

As a family, we have experienced profound loss in the death of my brother Len (December 23, 2012) and my Dad (May 21, 2018). And we are a family that is full of life. We are comprised of many different personalities, skill sets, stories, and we have similarities and differences. We have much laughter, and we navigate conflict. We live a messy life together, and we all grieve and celebrate differently.

Tonight I went to write a note and reached for one of my favorite note cards. Aunt Dot created these as a reminder of what is real. That even in the pit of our grief,

The Birds will Sing in the Morning 

We are so grateful that during my Dad’s illness, his hospital stays were minimal. On the img_8346day he died, we gathered in the hospital room, overflowed into the waiting area and walked the halls. I remember walking the hallway and finding Ellie tucked away drawing. Ellie is creative and able to put her heart into beautiful, meaningful art.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_mini_19e8f.jpgAnd then there is Olivia. Olivia is gifted in writing and is a faithful writer. She can put her questions, her dreams, her fear, her hopes, and her feelings into words in ways that draw in the reader. When I read Olivia’s words, I feel as if I have sat with her and she has shared her heart.

These two nieces left our family a beautiful gift in their creative work. Their contribution through art and writing allowed us to have a funeral cover that carried a message of hope. Their original work is also on my parent’s gravestone, and a print of this hangs in all of our homes.

I want to share with you the two pieces individually and how these two pieces created a piece that will always be a part of our Borgdorff story.

Olivia wrote the following:

ziL89DxDQmWE6dW+Ey4jlQ_thumb_1bd23And Ellie drew this beautiful art:


And my Mom honored the gifts of Olivia and Ellie and embraced what we know to be true in this way:


In moments when grief feels big, your struggles deep, your energy low or the sky seems gray, I am so grateful for this phrase, first said by my Dad but embraced now by all of us: The Birds will Sing in the Morning!

Blessed be His Name!


Celebrating community

I remember walking into Visiting Angels of West Michigan on August 1, 2003, and wondering if the phone would ever ring? Would this whole idea of owning a home care business really work? Would we find the right caregivers for the right clients and how would my future unfold.

I was young, at least compared to now, and I was filled with questions and wondering. 16 years later I am older and still filled with questions and wondering, but I believe the difference is that I also now fully trust that God has a plan for Visiting Angels and all of the people who come and go from our community.

I am grateful for so many of the people that I hold in my heart because they have invited us to provide care or journey with them. And there are so many who have joined our multitude of angels and lovingly, compassionately and professionally offered a variety of services.

Today we gathered for lunch, a community that in some sense is a group of strangers, as so much of what we do is in individual homes. And yet we sit together and share conversation and laughter and tears and struggles.

We are a group of people who gather and acknowledge the loss of spouses, parents or friends. We name hardships, and we celebrate healing! We call each other wrong names, and we listen to stories we have heard before, but none of that matters. In the moments we gather, there is something sweet and sacred as I look around the room. There is a gathering of strangers who are comfortable with each other because of kindness, love, honest expression of need and a desire to connect.

I want to share some of the faces with you from today and from years past. I am so grateful for the opportunity to work in a job that connects deeply with my purpose and passion.

Blessed Be His Name

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Blessed be his name

I will never forget reading the care page of my friend Kathy sharing with us that their 11-Gerrietyear-old son Gerrit died after an 18 month battle with brain cancer. It was tragic in so many ways. He had the best smile and vibrant spirit, and it felt wrong and hard to make sense of.

And the next day Kathy asked people to listen to a song and come ready to sing it at the funeral…Blessed be your name! It was a bold request from a mother whose heart was shattered. And it has stayed with me over all these years.

Blessed Be Your Name
Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful 
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name
Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name
Every blessing You pour out, I’ll 
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering 
Though there’s pain in the offering 
Blessed be Your name
Every blessing You pour out I’ll 
Turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name, oh
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
God you give and take away
Oh you give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
And how I remember the feeling in my body when we sang the words on that Spring day remembering Gerrits life.
You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
God you give and take away
Oh you give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
I am keenly aware of these words in different seasons of my life. In this past year, I often remind myself that if I am going to feel the pain of what is taken, I can not forget the gifts I have been given. There is a balance for gratitude and grieving. Both are critical to peace, and it is imperative that we do not live as if one cancels the other out.
Grief/sorrow is powerful and real and deserves space in our lives for what we lose.
Gratitude is sincere and abundant and life-giving. To live a life with gratitude is to become healthier in all areas of our being (physical, social, emotional and spiritual)
IMG_8722As I have reflected on words that bring comfort on hard days, I have found that my Dad would often sign off his emails with these words.
Blessed be His name
And so tonight, I carry with me a message offered to us by Kathy and Jeremy in one of the most painful seasons of their days and words from my Dad as he came face to face with the reality that his life was drawing to an end. Gerrit was only 11 years old and battled a brain tumor for 18 months. My Dad was 78 and battled a brain tumor for 7 weeks. Today I received this message from Gerrit’s grandpa who was also a friend of my Dad. I smiled when I read his very good words, he had no idea I planned to write about Gerrit today.
“Stay strong. Your dad, brother, and Gerritt have actually seen Jesus! I can only imagine!”
Blessed be His name

Story work

I have been invited to speak at a dinner on the topic, embracing our stories. I have been reflecting on what to share for the last few weeks and feel compelled to return to writing. Now I know I have said that before and have been bold in declaring it here, but the last year has been a tough one for me in a variety of ways, including writing.

The story of the last year is so much more than grief and sorrow, but it definitely has included that in significant ways. I have learned that losing my Dad has been a very different grief journey than losing my brother. It is not about easier or harder, but different.

As I have begun reflecting and writing about what I want to share about embracing our stories, I find myself often reflecting on my own early story work. At that time, in my late 20’s, I was an either/or thinker. I was invited to consider that as long as I believed that most things were either/or, it would be close to impossible to explore my God-given story.

I was then invited to consider that perhaps most of life is both/and. That indeed my experience could hold a variety of feelings, even about the same experience. This felt foreign to me as I considered the way my mind felt that two conflicting emotions were not welcome into my way of thinking/feeling.

Over the years, as I allowed myself to consider this possibility, I have experienced the freedom to put words to so much of what my heart holds. The process of embracing both joy and sorrow, both love for people and a need to be alone, both a deep ache in friendship and holding hope for redemptive spaces, and so much more, has given me a passion for being attentive to my story almost every day.

But in this last year, I lost sight of my both/and in my writing. When I have sat down to write, I have felt a tension that if I write about the good, I will not be true to my sorrow and if I write about the sadness, I will not be honest about all the goodness that surrounds me. And to consider writing about both felt difficult as well. And so I did not write.

Image result for Brene Brown quotesAs we approach the first anniversary of my Dad’s death, I am aware that I have stories I want to write, I have experiences I want to share, I have memories I want to record. I want to reflect on the depth of the last year but also about what today and tomorrow, next month and next year might be shaping up like. I want to return to honoring the many spaces of life that are within me. I want to give my story the time, tenderness, embrace and voice that it deserves.

I have a heart that aches deeply and tears that flow often.

I have a heart that celebrates life and experiences deep joy and feels an abundance of gratitude.

I have a heart that is curious about where God is at work in my story and also so acutely aware of God’s faithfulness and provision.

I have a full heart…

Blessed be His name!