Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I started my blog exactly one year ago. Today, I will have been divorced for 4 years. For a long time, it felt like I was barely surviving divorce, and then it was like digging my way out.

But now, I am just...a mom, who works, who loves her kid and her dog and her family and her friends. A woman who likes to laugh alot and usually has alot to laugh at about herself. A soul who has been captivated by the King of Kings and who's sweetest moments are spent in quiet (and sometimes not so quiet) communion at His feet. A blogger...who would have thunk it since my millennium goal was to send just one email? A citizen who is part of many communities....those near and those more global. A student who is learning from the thoughts and experiences of others. A reader who has 5 or 6 books going at a time.

I pray for my ex-husband and his wife every day...but I don't long for him. While my divorce is my life's biggest regret and biggest failure....I have my eyes set firmly forward...on the future.

It is time. I am closing this book called divorce and picking up another!

Image taken from here.

Monday, February 26, 2007


Last Wednesday, our pastor taught on the season of Lent and Ash Wednesday. He talked about the ashes being made from palm branches and olive oil...palm branches, those very branches that were laid down before Jesus as He was welcomed as King into Jerusalem and the olive branch-the symbol of peace. He talked about this season as historically having an emphasis on prayer, fasting, and alms, on repentance and regeneration. As we read scripture together and prayed together, I suddenly knew what I would "give up" for lent.

As a child, I remember giving up sweets. I remember eating fish every Friday, since that day was the designated meatless day in my Roman Catholic traditions. I have to admit that once I became an adult, I rarely considered continuing this tradition as a necessary part of my life of faith. But as we talked last Wednesday, about letting God transform us through the traditions and practices of Lent, I came away with a fresh perspective.

I already mentioned, as we were praying God directed His spotlight on an area of my life that needs to be transformed. Just the night before, I had been praying about the burden of caring for my mother. I have been caring for her emotionally since I was 11 years old, and physically for about 16 or 17 years. I have complained about it. A lot. I have resented it. A lot. Circumstances are such that my daughter and I are living with her temporarily. It has not been pleasant and I have been very vocal about that. But what you hear me say has only been the tip of the iceberg of what I have carried in my heart.

So, for Lent, I am giving up complaining...especially about caring for my mother and where we find ourselves living right now. I am a bit excited to see how God will transform me through this time of "giving up". Last Thursday, I found myself complaining about something and only realized that I was, after I was done. Friday, I stopped myself a couple of times. I am coming to realize how much I complain. Now, I am not saying this is for everyone, but what I am starting to see in myself, is that my complaining has been leading to an ungrateful heart and an unloving attitude towards others. I have no idea what other things God will teach me through this time. I have no clue as to what visible things others may notice (or not notice for that matter). I just know that I want to keep my heart, my mind and my lips free of entanglements, free to offer up pure and holy sacrifices of worship and works. worthy of my King...who deserves every ounce of everything I have. Hosanna to the Christ!

Image taken from here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


"She sounds like a dead cat....
heh, heh...
well maybe not a
DEAD cat!"
Said while watching American Idol last night.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Whew! It has been a busy week....but I wanted to finish telling you about my grandmother. My grandmother was absolutely my best

She was everything a grandmother should be. She took us by bus to all kinds of places, including the Detroit Zoo. Belle Isle was our favorite though. I loved those bus trips with her. It was always an adventure. I loved going downtown with her, looking up at the huge buildings, hearing the sounds of the traffic and the people passing by. We would walk from her house, south of Michigan Avenue to catch the bus. We passed all kinds of people along the way, and she always had a word for each person we passed, often in another language. Her neighborhood was multicultural...lots of immigrants...and they taught each other their languages and customs.

She kept Bazooka Bubble Gum in a candy dish and Town Club pop in her cellar in the basement. And we could have as much as we wanted when our parents weren't around. I can't tell you how many times we stuffed as many pieces of gum as we could chew, trying to blow the world's biggest bubble. Or how many times she had to cut it out of our eyebrows and hair! She kept packets of M&M's in her dresser. Every kid in the neighborhood would be at her door to get their weekly chocolate fix...plain for some, peanuts for others.

We loved to spend the night at her house. She had the coziest "feather tick" (comforter) on the spare bed. She used to let me explore her closets and dress up in her hats. She had a navy lace dress and lace shoes. She had a box with hankerchiefs edged in lace and lots of pairs of gloves. I think the only piece of jewelry she owned that wasn't costume jewelry was her wedding band, but I loved her jewelry and nothing was off-limits...I could play dress up with it all. When I was a teenager, I asked her for one of her old coats. It was black and came down to just above my ankles. She couldn't believe I wanted that old thing...but I loved wearing it. I am sure I thought I looked very cool.

She cooked alot of big meals for the holidays. Traditional Polish meals with homemade pierogi, ham, fresh and smoked kielbasa, rye and pumpernickel bread and real butter. My grandfather converted their wood burning stove to gas and my grandmother had one stove going in the basement as well as the other stove in her kitchen. Her dining room table was long and was always beautifully set with a linen table cloth. We only used that table for eating on the holidays. Otherwise, they were kitchen people. There was a swinging door between the dining room and kitchen, but it was usually propped open. The walls of the living room and dining room were filled with pictures of grandkids and art that my mother had done.

Everything about my grandmother was homey and welcoming. But she was also strong. It took alot of courage to make that voyage to America as a 16 year old. She continued to display that strength throughout her life. Once, after she was widowed, a guy broke into her basement. When she unlocked the door to go outside...he was there waiting for her. He held a knife to her throat and demanded money. She calmly asked him if he was hungry. She fixed him something to eat. When he was done, he tried to rape her. He tied her up and told her he was going to kill her after he found her money. While he was looking through another part of the house, she was able to untie her hands and run out the front door. She screamed for help and a neighbor grabbed his shotgun and came to her aid. I never heard her talk about being scared or wanting to leave her home. She just took life as it came. Once, an Arabic family moved into a house across the alley. Some of the neighbors weren't too happy and kept writing threatening messages on the garage. Until the day they set the garage on fire. Now, in her neighborhood, the homes were so close together that a fire at one house could threaten several houses. So at 6 in the morning, my grandmother stood and battled the fire with her garden hose after calling the fire department. This was her neighborhood and she would do what she could to protect it. I still have to laugh at the thought of that...she was always such a lady. But a tough one. I think all of her ten grandchildren considered her the rock of our family.

Most of all though, I loved the hours and hours that my grandmother and I spent just talking...just being together. We talked about everything under the sun. I could listen to her stories over and over. We shared our dreams, the ones she realized, and the ones she hoped for me. When I got married, I asked her to be matron of honor. After all, isn't that reserved for one's best friend? She was afraid she might get sick...she often got sick in crowds and wasn't sure if she would hold up throughout the ceremony. We both often talked about the day she would hold my baby...but that day never came. She died before I was ever to get pregnant. Other than that, the only regret I have with my grandmother was that I was not with her on the night she died. She was able to live in her own home until she collapsed one November. After 3 months in the hospital, she had to go to a nursing home. She was only there for a few weeks until her heart began to fail. They sent her out to the hospital and I got a late night call. My brother told me she was dying, but that I should stay home...she would probably not live long enough for any of us to get there. I had talked to my grandmother about Jesus many, many times in the past. And while I was sure she was in His hands, how I longed to be with her and just hold her hand and pray for her while she was leaving this life. Instead, I got down on my knees and just prayed that God would send an angel to be with her and help her.

I see alot of my grandmother in my daughter, my other best friend. My girl wants to travel the world. She is quiet and understated yet very strong. She is alot of fun and we spend hours and hours talking, just sharing our thoughts and dreams. I wish they could have known each other. I am fortunate to have had them both.

Thanks for sharing my grandmother with me!

Image taken from here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Agnes & Thomas

Before she died, I did sit down with my grandmother to write down her story and memories. I also videotaped her and this past Christmas, my brother saved the video to dvd for all of us. It has become a treasure.
I can't remember how my grandmother met my grandfather. He died when I was 11 years old and for the past couple of days I have been trying to remember him. I can't remember his voice, but I sure do remember his smile. He was "Tom" to my grandmother. And he was a good man. He took very good care of my grandmother. He was also of Polish descent. He was an American veteran of WWI. When the Great Depression hit, my grandparents found themselves struggling, like much of the rest of the country. They didn't have money for food. But the grocer let them keep a tab because he knew that Tom was a good man and would pay back every penny. They didn't have money to pay their mortgage, but their landlord respected Tom and told him that he would rather have Tom continue to live in the house because he knew Tom would take good care of it. And he knew Tom would make the back payments as soon as he was able. And Tom did. My mother was born in that very house and 10 grandchildren played in the magical nooks and crannies that house held.
Tom was a quiet man. And while I can't remember his voice, I do remember that he always had grand kids crawling up in his lap. He wore sleeveless t-shirts. He retired from Cadillac Motors. He had snow white hair. He smoked a pipe. He loved to build things. He built chairs, and tool boxes, and trinket boxes for every grand kid. He had a huge work bench set up in the basement and we spent hours making things out of the scrap wood he kept or just playing around with his tools. He would put out a huge galvanized tub in the summers and that would be our pool. We would clamor to go with him when he was going out because we loved walking beside him as he stopped to have a word here and there with neighbor. When he dropped in at the beer garden around the corner, we knew that meant a root beer for us. And peanuts in the shell.
Tom was a quiet man. He was a man that was deeply loved by his family. He was Daddy to my mother, long after she was grown with her own children. My aunt was 6 years older than my mom. When she married, my grandfather turned the upstairs into an upper flat. She and my uncle lived there for several years. When my parents married, they occupied the upper flat. Both son-in-laws deeply respected my grandfather. They loved him like he was their own father.
Tom loved to feed the birds and the squirrels. Every morning, he would go out and put birdseed out. There were always tons of birds that flocked to the feast in my grandparents' backyard. My mom told me that he once had a bird that would come and sit on his shoulder to be hand fed.
My grandparents shared what they had. Besides feeding the birds, they fed hobos during the Depression. Anyone coming to the door got a plate...whatever they had on hand. For years and years, they sent money to relatives in Poland who had been left without work or homes after WWII. Friends frequented their house. My grandfather and his cronies, which included my paternal grandfather, used to sit and play cards...a lot. So much so, that years later, we used to love to peek under the table cloth on the kitchen table to see the wear marks they left, two spots on each side of the table, where they rested their arms while holding their cards.
I don't ever remember my grandparents fighting. Or hugging and kissing for that matter. People weren't open about such things back then. But I do know they had an easy, loving, and respectful marriage. My brother and I had spent the night at my grandparents house the night my grandfather died. He had had several heart attacks over a few years. I remember waking up and hearing whispering voices. I passed my grandfather's room and saw him lying in bed and I remember the sunlight streaming through the window. My grandmother was talking to a man in a dark suit. When I went into the kitchen, I found my aunt and my mom. It was then I learned that my grandfather had died. Everything felt quiet and peaceful. Just like my grandfather. Quiet and peaceful.
Years later, as a newly married woman, I was talking to my grandmother about my grandfather. Woman to woman, she shared how dark the days after his passing were for her. It was only then that I learned the depth of her love and passion for my grandfather. When she recalled their early days, her eyes lit up. When she talked of his death, she grew somber. Her love and grief were quiet. It wasn't either of their ways to be over-emotional...just steady and calm. My grandmother told me that she didn't want to eat, or sleep...she just kind of existed after Tom died. Then one morning, she heard a tapping at the back porch window. It was one of the birds that Tom used to feed. The robin was looking into the window and then tapping. She figured she might as well continue feeding "his" birds. When she went outside to put the seed in the feeders, she said the sun broke through some clouds. She said she knew then that somehow, the sun would shine in her heart again someday, and she would be alright.
Pictures taken by my daughter. These are hanging up in my mom's house. More of the story to follow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Image taken from here.

I was picking up a few groceries last night and I saw them. Pink azaleas. This was the flower I liked to give my grandmother every year on her birthday...Valentine's Day. I was caught off guard by the grief I suddenly felt. After all, it was more than 18 years since she had died.
My grandmother was born near Tarnow, Poland. Her parents owned a farm. My grandmother was the eldest of several children. She was an outstanding student and won awards in reciting poetry and prose. She learned to love beer as a child. Her father brewed his own. Once, she wanted a little taste but forgot to close off the tap of the keg completely. The keg slowly dripped all day while her father was out in the fields. At the end of the day, he went out to fetch some beer to have after supper and found a completely empty keg. My grandmother said she was embarrassed when her parents talked of her drinking the whole keg, but she always had a sparkle in her eye when she told the story, letting her listener know that she knew they were only teasing her. As long as I could remember, my grandmother had a small glass of beer in the afternoon.
When she was 16 years old, my grandmother left her homeland to come to America. She always told us that her mother was quite religious and had rows and rows of holy pictures on the wall. It was my grandmother's job to clean the pictures each week and she hated that job. She said that she decided to immigrate because she knew that if she got married and lived any where close to her mother, her mother would make sure she had rows and rows of holy pictures at her house, too. So, she decided to move to America. I suspect that the real reason had something to do with the possibility of an arranged marriage to a wealthy, but much older man. Her mother didn't want to let her go, but she overheard her father say, "If we don't let her go, and she marries and is unhappy, she will blame us all her life." Besides giving her their blessing, they also gave her a few thousand dollars to start her new life, quite a sum back in that day.
So, at 16, my grandmother traveled by train across Europe and then by boat across the Atlantic to arrive in America. Like most American immigrants, she never forgot the sight of the Statue of Liberty standing as a beacon to those arriving at Ellis Island. Because she only spoke Polish, the official at Ellis Island did not understand her when she gave her name. So he changed it. That is when Agatha Borek became Agnes Borek.
My great-grandmother's sister lived in Chicago (they all later moved to Detroit), so my grandmother went to stay with her. Her aunt was not a very nice person and little by little, stole the money that my grandmother had hidden away in her room. She also refused to give her much food, allowing her only bread for her lunch. My grandmother was also required to turn over her wages to the aunt. My grandmother had found a job rolling cigars because it was something she could do that did not require her to speak English. Some of the women she worked with found out what was happening and convinced her to move out. Which she did.
My grandmother met a wonderful man and they married. On her wedding day, her evil aunt showed up outside and cursed them, saying that she hoped the man died and my grandmother was left a widow. Unfortunately, the man contracted TB and despite moving out to the warm, dry climate in Arizona, he grew worse and died. Even with all the awful things my grandmother's aunt had said and done, my grandmother never returned evil for evil and was always kind, generous, and gracious to this aunt and her family.
(more to follow)

Monday, February 12, 2007


He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
My response can only be the words of your servant David--"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14) Teach my Your ways, tame my wayward heart, strengthen me, correct me, purify me, sanctify me. I am Yours, I am Yours!
Image taken from here.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


I received these pics in an email today. This is a town in Switzerland.
We were in the 20's today and it felt like spring. I am DONE complaining!!
(By the way, I think this might be the perfect vacation spot for my winter loving friend, Sara!)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


"I think my blood is ok."
Said by my mom when she was told by an emergency room nurse that they were going to be drawing blood for some bloodwork.

Monday, February 05, 2007


It is soooooo cold. We have been hit by an artic blast for the past couple of days. Tonite, the windchill factor will be 20 (F) below. I want to hibernate next to a warm fire, with a mug of hot tea and lemon, and good book. I will let you know if I see any polar bears!

Image taken from here.

Friday, February 02, 2007


I LOVE my dog. I think he is perfect and wonderful and a gift directly from God to Rachel and I. I was praying about finding a dog for my daughter. Our yard was adjacent to a very busy parking lot and I wanted a dog that would protect her and watch over her. She had one dog that we rescued from the escape artist Beagle that Rachel named Malisha. Malisha could have cared less about Rachel and I am sure would have sold her out for a moldy, half-eaten hot dog. But, Malisha stories will be saved for another day. As I was saying, I was praying about just the right dog and I kept seeing a picture of Border Collie in my mind. After much dog research, I decided that a Wheaten Terrier would be the best dog for our family, our lifestyle, and our size yard. So, I began the hunt for a Wheaten. But every time I would pray, I would see a Border Collie. And then one day, when I was looking through the paper, I saw an ad- "Border Collie pups for sale". We traveled almost 3 hours to find 6 month old pups, not exactly the new puppy thing I was going for. And boy, were they hyper. I know Border Collies are high energy dogs used to running over 40 miles a day. I stepped out of the pole barn to send up another quick prayer..."Lord, are You sure? Am I really hearing from You?" I peeked back in the barn and there he was, one pup standing with his two front legs on the ledge of the pen, just looking straight at me with a look that said, "Me. I am the one you are waiting for!" Obviously we brought him home and Rachel named him Sparky. Border Collies often require only hand signals from their owners. Sparky studies our faces so intently....often, it takes just a look for him to know what it is we want from him. He is so devoted to us, that other people try to engage him and he will totally ignore them, just keeping a steady focus on us. Of course, when Rachel was small, it became his duty to protect and herd her and her friends, just like they were sheep. My neighbor used to try to entice Sparky with pieces of steak, but nothing would deter Sparky from his job of protecting Rachel. Once, Rachel was in the yard next door and she was screaming with laughter. Sparky thought she was in trouble and my neighbor said he watched as the dog sailed right over the fence to "save" her. We could leave the gate open and Sparky would stay in the yard, only coming out if we called to him. I was grooming him one time and he had a mat behind his ear. I went to cut it away and he was whining. I thought the sound of the scissors was bothering him, so I told him firmly to "stay/hush". He was perfectly still and quiet while I finished. It was only then that we noticed that I had actually cut him. I felt horrible! When my husband left, I never worried about us being alone, because I knew we had Sparky there to protect us. He is constantly at our side.

Sparky inspires me in my relationship with God. Watching Sparky with my daughter and I, reminds me to keep intently focused on MY search His face, to obey unwaveringly and without question, to be devoted in my love to Him, to live only to be near Him and to honor Him.
I love my dog!