Remembering…

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:

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

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_mini_1bb9b

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