Peter Borgdorff: who was he?

I am aware that there are people who read this blog who do not know who my Dad is, what he stood for, or what his influence was in the church, for social justice or around the world?

I have been struck by how much I have learned about my Dad in the last week. There is something so good in hearing the stories of his ministry, his relationships and his passion and calling.  I am soaking up the goodness of his impact worldwide, and I am aware that the man in our lives rarely if ever spoke of his influence.

At home, we lived with a really ordinary guy. He was a husband, father, father in law, Papa, brother, uncle, and friend. Some of these pictures show him in the ways we knew and loved him:

Today I want to share his memorial service video with you. It tells a bit of his story from many different angles and I am so grateful for the faith foundation that my life has been built upon.

You will hear a bit of the story of how my parents became involved with some dear Karen people. I have included the translation to the special music they shared at the service.

It is my hope that by listening/ watching this recording of one week ago today, you will be encouraged.

Thankful for the life of my Dad and his impact in so many spaces.

Forever live with him

 V.1       I believe that it’s God who calls me back to rest

My body and flesh will disappear.

But the soul that he gave me,

Will forever live with him.

All my friends, young and old who are still alive

Carry on the work and continue to serve the Lord

To those, I love, all my family and friends

May you accept the will of God

V.2      Man will think that this is a loss

But for me ‘tis not like that

This is God transforming me, to lead me to heaven

To see his face and live with him eternally

People come and people will go

Keep on Sharing the gospel with talents that he gave you.

While we’re alive and have chances to serve him,

Serve him with strength and faithfulness

Coda.   I will move forward and step into his kingdom

Living a new life as God’s son

The joy and honor I have,

to forever live with him



Great courage and profound peace…

peaceDuring the last 8 weeks, I have been honored to witness how peace prevails in the midst of illness.  There are so many spaces that my parents could have lacked peace. Yet from the day of my Dad’s seizure to his unexpected death, through the diagnosis of cancer and in difficult conversations about if to seek treatment, the presence of peace was undeniable.

I remember my Dad clearly telling a Doctor who came into his room before his biopsy was even done that he doesn’t like to discuss all the “what if” conversations. He wanted to wait until the biopsy came back and then consider what we know to be true. He had a way of setting the tone and ensuring that my Mom and Dad did not clutter their minds and hearts with unneeded thoughts.

As my parents processed that my Dad had a life-ending diagnosis, it was clear to so many that peace prevailed. In their conversations, their communications, their presence, and their hearts their words carried peace.

Here are a few snippets from a variety of communications:

one of the things that has surprised me some is the calmness with which (so far at least) we have been able to accept the reality of what is.

We find ourselves in new space and are discovering that there are unexpected blessings also in these moments. 

We are mostly at peace with the realities thus far though still in some shock about how quickly and silently this has developed. 
We are walking a path where many others have been. We pray for grace to go on, and we do have peace in our hearts.
We also continue to be blessed by being surrounded by encouragers, family members, friends and helpful advisors. Most of all we rest in the providence of the Living God who holds in the hollow of His hand.

My prognosis will have to await further information, but we wanted you all to know that we are doing well, are grateful for each day, and rest in the assurance that all of our days are in God’s hands. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.

IMG_2410I share this and record this, so we can always remember that my Dad did not fear the end of his life. He was committed to living one day at a time and trusting God to care for him, my Mom and each of us!

I am so grateful for how I have been reminded that to live in peace does not mean that life is without trouble. There are questions, and there is sorrow, there is uncertainty, and there is the hardship, but none of that can erode peace if our faith is strong.

My parents lived with great courage and profound peace in living and in dying.



Where to begin?


kindnessrock.jpgI have been overwhelmed with the amount of kindness that our family has experienced in the last week. It is hard to believe that one week ago we were all filling a hospital room as we awaited the end of my Dad’s life. God has been gracious to us all in the last week as we have journeyed a road we did not believe we were ready to yet travel.

At the start of this year, I had hoped to blog every day, or close to it. I started out strong, and then my Dad suffered a seizure and was diagnosed with an endocrine tumor that started in his lung and advanced to his brain. Life felt very different as we committed to living as normally as possible in a space that held a new kind of unknown. And yet we learned or at least practiced focusing on faith and living one day at a time.

There were many times I sat down to write during these weeks, but there was something that did not feel right about posting my thoughts, questions, and musings. Although there was nothing wrong with them, they crossed over into telling my Dad’s story, and it was his story to share. I wanted to respect the space he was navigating living with a terminal illness. And I so admired his commitment to focus on living and not some unknown prognosis of dying. But for that reason, I opted to set aside my blogging until a later time.

That later time is now here.

It has been important for me to remember why I blog.

I blogged about that once. 🙂


In the coming weeks, I plan to record for our family history the journey of my Dad and his impact and legacy.

So many of you have graciously encouraged me to keep writing. I have missed writing, and when I write from those deep places of my heart, writing is both hard work and a tremendous opportunity to see God at work. I am ready to marvel at how God is at work, even during the difficult seasons we encounter.

Until tomorrow….


Oh how I will miss you…

Today I lost my Dad.

It feels really odd that it was only today. 2 am seems like so very long ago. So much has happened today and so many very kind people have shared words of comfort. The stories I read of my Dad’s impact around the world are inspiring and I find myself longing to ask him more about each name or face or experience you all shared.

I will never forget when my Dad’s cousin Joke said it looked as if I had walked right out of my Dad’s mouth. We had so many similarities and also our very unique differences. I find that my heart aches for the spaces I long to continue to learn from him. In the last 5 years he taught me to play golf and I feel as if I just recently began to hold my own and understand what club hits how far and what strategy is needed when hitting out of a variety of spaces. I will miss my golfing partner.

Your words have been such a gift and it has only been one day. My Dad’s death came as a surprise in some ways and my system feels like it knows it is real but my processing has to come up to speed. It is good to be with my family as we remember, weep, laugh, share meals and remember Papa in so many ways.

We are planning a private family committal service, a visitation and a memorial service. We are learning of friends who will fly in to share with us in the celebration of his life. We feel the closeness of those who live in our neighborhoods and are a part of the day to day life we carry out.

We are aware that he lived well, and how we would have liked him longer. We are aware he left such an impact in our world, and how we would’ve liked for his impact to continue. We feel that deep sadness, and we are aware of the gratitude that mingles with the sadness in almost every moment.

I lost my dad today, I am deeply grateful for his life. I will miss him, and I will live as he modeled: One day at a time!

Living normally

Perhaps this has been the most difficult thing to sort out in the past few weeks since my Dad was diagnosed with cancer.  There were nights and days in the first weeks where it all felt too much to hold.

In the days when my Dad went from the ER to the Neuro unit to Mary Free Bed, we couldn’t help but wonder what life would hold now, in this new space?

My parents have made brave choices that are about living and trusting and embracing every day even with some looming unknowns. My Dad was discharged after a short rehab stay, and my parents began to grasp that there were significant changes ahead.

img_6659When I think about significant change and how that fits into our family story, this seems important to remember.  These two people were both born in the Netherlands and immigrated with their families of origin, my Dad to Canada and my Mom to New Jersey. They met as young adults, married and pursued ministry and in a short time, there were four kids in tow and then a fifth. My Mom launched a very successful career in her mid 40’s, and they are now Papa and Beppe to 16 grandchildren and have a great-grandchild arriving in September. They have buried their oldest son. They are no strangers to navigating change.

And yet big change always seems to shake the foundation just a bit. Just a few weeks back after the foundation felt shaken and shifted, my Dad said he just wanted us to all live as normally as possible. At that time I would have said impossible,

But today, as I reflect on his request to us, I have a bit of a different perspective.

For the Borgdorff bunch, living normally includes a good bit of together time. So, when my Dad was in Mary Free Bed, we packed up a cooler with Easter dinner and enjoyed a different kind of Easter dinner. There were aspects of Easter that were hard and abnormal,  but clearly, the best part of the day was when we were together enjoying a makeshift Easter dinner.

As my Dad impressed the socks off the therapists at Mary Free Bed with his progress, he was also working with Phil at Toman’s Auto Tech to get a used engine in my car. In the midst of a life-changing crazy week, that felt pretty normal.

GgCkdReyRvaE+hhS%a5v0A.jpgThis past weekend Olivia and Noah drove in from Ohio and Detroit, and we ordered pizza and met for happy hour and dinner, and we laughed a lot. It is true they came because they needed to set eyes on their Papa and Beppe, but in the end, it was filled with goodness and sweet memories, and as I think about tonight, I can confidently say, we lived normally.

Today we have 15 people gathering for Sunday dinner at my parents, and that is pretty normal as well.

This morning as the spring ice storm creates a bit of chaos on the roads, Olivia posted this, and this also feels normal. IMG_0609

And so as we now navigate new spaces, we will live as normally as possible.  I am so grateful that our normal has been shaped by being together, embracing what comes with honesty and hope and remaining engaged with our worlds.

Thank you, Dad and Mom, for teaching us that living normally doesn’t mean denying what is real nor does it mean becoming solely focused on our own circumstances. We will continue to live, each of us in our spaces and together as a family, embracing what comes with honesty and hope!




He’s always been faithful to me

I have a sincere appreciation for Sara Groves, and her music has often spoken deeply to my soul. She has lyrics that have made me smile, invited me to grow in my relationships and faith, reminded me of truth and brought me peace.

There is a line in one of her songs that my sister mentioned to us the other day.

The path is worn, but for us it’s new

My first thought was Sara did it again. A line that is utterly descriptive and accurate of where we are standing as a family. We often comment on how many people we know, and love have journeyed the road we have just barely set foot on, but these words say it so well. So many people have been on this worn path and yet, there is a stark reality, that for us it is new.

I would guess many of you are also walking on a worn path which is very new to you. We understand just a little of what you might be experiencing, and we know others understand a glimpse of what our hearts hold as well.

This morning as I listened to music again. I looked at my playlist for when I am searching. I am not sure there are more real words than this song…

If you are on a worn path that is new to you or just need to be encouraged, listen to this beautiful song with lyrics that say it all!

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God’s hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.
I can’t remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can’t remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful to me.
This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I’ve heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He’s always been faithful, He’s always been faithful
He’s always been faithful to me.

The gift of waiting…

I am not so good at waiting…

2012-12-31 13.57.00In 2012 when my brother died in a car accident out of state, I can vividly recall the feeling when I learned the coroner had gone home for Christmas. I could not understand how his decision to leave work meant Len’s body would not be released to the funeral home until after the holiday. It put our family in a position of waiting. We had a sense of timing in how things should unfold following a death and a little more than a week between the accident and the funeral felt like way too long.

But in the waiting, we experienced time to grieve together, remember together, sort Len’s things together and laugh and cry together. There was something sweet in the togetherness that happened in the dreaded waiting. God’s presence was real in that week through the words, love, and presence of the community that surrounds us. As I reflected back over the week of waiting in the months following the funeral, I was deeply grateful for the week of waiting, the week I dreaded was a real gift

Ten days ago my Dad suffered a seizure. I remember standing in the ER and learning he would be admitted for testing. It felt in that moment like we would have answers soon as to what was unfolding. Days came and went. I found myself battling frustration that at the end of each day we did not have new information. It has been 10 days of waiting. Tomorrow my Dad has an appointment, and our waiting will come to an end as we learn what the next steps are.


The waiting, although frustrating in some sense, again has felt a bit like a gift.  We have had time to be together, to talk and wonder, to pray and laugh and hope, to feel the love of our “village” and to receive words of kindness and grace. This past 10 days has given us time to get used to the idea of what we may hear tomorrow and allowed us to catch our breath after the events of that Monday night only 10 days ago. We have been witness to my parent’s commitment to each other, their deep faith, their vulnerable spaces and their incredible strength. At the end of this day, as I anticipate tomorrow, I am thankful, once again for the waiting. lg6dBy46QwittwpJ1Qw6oQ

If you and I  were together as you read this, I would ask you about where you have had to wait and what have you taken from the waiting that speaks of God’s goodness and provision. I believe we all have waiting stories. It is my hope and prayer that at the end of each season of waiting, you can also name some of the goodness that was birthed in a time that initially felt like nothing good could come from it!