In Stories From My Life

“Papa, what do I do?” I often asked my father this question. I treasured his counsel. My father Jan (pronounced Yan) Porembski, often called Papa by me and my daughters, was actually the instigator of what finally became Widow Strong. Every step in laying the groundwork of this journey was encouraged by my father. In the sunset years of his life, this was our swan song.

When challenges seemed too steep, I would ask Papa’s counsel and he would often answer with a story. This story. The facts as to the exact church are fuzzy, but the message still echoes in my mind and gives me direction. Not just direction. Fortitude. Here is story my father would tell…

“In Poland during communism, there was a Catholic church that was demolished in hopes that the people would disband. But they wouldn’t. After their church building was destroyed, the members continued having services on the ground where their church once stood. In the winter (which can be 30 degrees below zero), in the rain, in the summer, they conducted Sunday services for twenty-two years. Outside.

These people held their ground hoping that one day their church would be rebuilt. And you know what? When communism eventually fell in Poland, their church was rebuilt on that very ground.

When you are doing something you feel is right and don’t know the next step, you stand. You show up. Again and again. In the rain, in the winter, in the summer. You stand. Because change is coming. Maybe not this year, or the next, or the next after that. But it will come.”

Maybe you too have a dream, or a purpose, or a calling. And it’s winter. Or it’s raining. Or you are surveying the debris of destruction in your life and wondering what to do next. My father would say, you stand.

The challenge itself becomes the vehicle to who you are called to become. I believe, the story of the church rebuilding isn’t about the building, it’s about how the challenge birthed extraordinary strength in the people who chose to stand. Something deeper and bigger than a building was being built. So deep and strong that it speaks to us today.

Dreams aren’t just about achieving the outcome, they are a vehicle for us to become our best selves. And it’s not supposed to be easy. Show up. Stand up. Be uncomfortable. Because change is coming. In us and through us. And that process is the beautiful ending and beginning of our story.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

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