Archive for the 'Personal Reflection' Category

Miss You Today On Your Birthday, Dad*


Tish around 4 years old.

Happy Birthday Dad!  Wish we could celebrate tonight with a pineapple upside down cake and off-key singing. You were always hard to buy for, as many men are, but now I could shop online for you and surely find something unique…but of course, you’re not around to open my gift.

Did I ever thank you for teaching me how to play baseball or ride a bike?  I didn’t like it at the time when you insisted I learn how to drive stick shift before I could get my license but I am so grateful now.  I taught my husband you know 🙂

There are cool stories about you floating around like how you were the Adams County tennis champ and your brief stint as a police officer.  I wish I could hear about those adventures in your words.  I know you worked hard for us, sometimes two jobs at a time.  BTW, I loved that second job at the drive-in when we all watched the movies over and over under the stars.  It probably wasn’t as much fun for you.

I know we had 44 years together but there was so much more we both could have said.  “Relationship Parenting” was not an operating principle in your generation but I knew you loved me.

I wish you could have met these fabulous great-grandchildren of yours.  I hope you can see them from your vantage point and you will be glad to know, Mom dotes on them every chance she gets.  Don’t worry, I will pass on the stories so they will know you too.

Tony Wiewel around 14 years old 9/3/1923-2/25/1994

So cheers to your 96th!

Love, Your “Cutie”

Hope for the best,


  • originally published 9/3/12

Finishing a Dream

One year ago today, I arrived at one of the best jobs I ever had, hospital chaplain, swiped my badge, facilitated a spirituality group on the psychiatric floor, laughed with my colleagues over lunch and then swiped out and walked away forever.

Not a decision I took lightly.

My desire to become a hospital chaplain started when I was 26 and completed when I was 56. A thirty year wait for a dream. You might have some of those too.

I absolutely loved it. All my hopes for how God might use me in this role became true. At the end of the shift though, it always seemed like I was the one who benefited the most. Like the principle we have all seen but can’t quite figure out, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I did receive a lot though…Deeper understanding of God, knowledge of myself, a few shifts in theology, lifetime friends.

When I started, ten years seemed like the right about of time to fully invest in this profession. I never saw it as “the rest of my life” kind of thing like I do writing but I wanted to give it a good decade. Truthfully, I wasn’t even counting until the last six months.

Almost like an apparition, the years flashed in front of me and I realized it was almost ten. During that time, two more of our children married, my grandchild count went from 1 to 9.  I wrote two books. My husband started his PhD program. I started leading small group personal retreats. Tom’s mom died, mine had a stroke. And thousands more things.

I decided to honor the sense of time commitment I felt at the beginning and began to step down. Getting a contract for a third book was an added push.

Sometimes it is the right move to leave the party while it is still going strong and you’re having the time of your life. You wonder what you might have missed but the memory of that party will be forever sweet.

Do I miss it? Absolutely! Do I have any regrets? None at all.

I’m still a chaplain though, of my everyday life. If you walk around with a little hope and encouragement in your pocket to give away, you are too.

As I was leaving the official role, my youngest brother, Mark, was coming on board as a hospital chaplain, also at a “later age.” Two of my seven first cousins are also chaplains. Must be in the genes somewhere!

Do you have a dream? Reach for it. Is it over? Lay it down so you can pick up the next one.

Hope for the best,


Friday Night Lights: Back on the Field

Tom and I and our star.

Friday Night Lights – Evanston Township High School football, filled our calendar, our basement, and swept us away 20 years ago. Our son, Gabriel, #70, was the Center, that’s a position, not a mom’s bragging. I can’t really define that exact role but I always liked the sound of it.

After four years on the field, this 1997 season looked like the big one. Victory after victory, the wins kept coming. Each week the ranking got higher and soon they were ranked #4 in the nation by USA TODAY. Winning the state title felt like it was in the bag, but it didn’t happen.

USA TODAY 11/11/97

The sensational run ended abruptly during a snowfall at the last game of the season when no more victories came through and we all mournfully filed out of the stadium for the last time.

Tom and I stayed in touch with some of the players, they still came in and out of our home occasionally when passing through town. Most conversations still included at least some snippets about THAT fall when hope flooded the field and all dreams seemed possible.

Every autumn we said to each other, “let’s go back to a game” but we never did.

Until a few weeks ago.

The boys came back.  Twenty years had passed and it was time to gather again.

Our grandson looking out on the field where his dad played.

Like stepping into a time machine, we headed back to the field. Tents were set up and a long table of barbecue lined the perimeter. Player’s parents like us showed up but now also wives, girlfriends, and kids. A whole new crowd that wasn’t around back then but had heard all the stories of the season that blew everyone away.

We swelled with pride once again when the announcer proclaimed that this team’s record was still standing and invited them all out on the field for half time. Tears wet my face as my son picked up his son and strode out there with his teammates to thunderous applause.

I know football is under closer scrutiny now, for good reason. I also know the camaraderie, community, and common vision that fall impacted us all in ways we’ll never forget.

Thanks, ETHS Wildkits, for the chance to cheer again, one more time.

Hope for the best,


Book Report: January-March 2017

I never got around to setting reading goals for this year but I finished ten books since January so let’s say I’m on target 😊 My stack of ‘to-reads” keeps growing but there are a few titles that got crossed off along with my Amazon reviews.


  1. The Pie Life: A Guilt-Free Recipe For Success and Satisfaction by Samantha Ettus I am a life coach and always looking for new principles to recommend to keep life in balance. I ended up liking it very much for my own needs, especially the second half of the book. I will not only recommend it but keep reviewing my own ” pie slices.”

2. Heartbeat of a Mother: Encouragement for the Lifelong Journey by Jane Rubietta. Well done, Jane, you never disappoint! With an authentic voice and a plethora of personal stories, this book invites you into a place of reflection, wonder, delight and hope. Easy to read for the busy younger mom yet full of insight for those of us who have been engaging in this precious role for a long time. Here is my promo video for this book:


3. When Strangers Meet: How People You Don’t Know Can Transform You (TED Books)  by Kio Stark. I was attracted to this small book as I am a hospital chaplain and talk to strangers all the time. The first few chapters were especially fascinating. I was inspired to continue to initiate conversation with strangers outside of work as some amazing counters have occurred.

4. Blessed Are You: Finding Inspiration from Our Sisters in Faith by Melanie Rigney. I decided to read this for Lent and liked it so much I finished it well before Easter. I was so inspired by these women! Each one’s story opened up a bigger worldview of living a life devoted to God while serving as many as possible. Some well-known, many I was unfamiliar with but now have been touched by each of their lives.


1,2, 3: The Wedding DressThe Wedding Chapel, The Wedding Shop, by Rachel Hauck.

I loved this series and so did many others with over 4000 reviews for the three combined. Romantic, faith based but not cheesy, captivating stories that kept me turning the pages.

4. A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller.

I am stingy with five stars but really liked this one! A murder mystery but not a scary one which is an important distinction for me. Beautiful use of descriptive words, I felt like I could see what she was describing. Well done!
Stay tuned in a few months for the next Book Report. maybe I will finish “A Man Called Ove” by then!
Hope for the Best,

How Do You Feel About Your Middle Name?



I didn’t used to like my middle name, Louise. Most of my friend’s middle names were Ann (without an E), Lynn (sometimes with an E), Marie or Mary. I didn’t know any other “Louise’s.”

All the other first names were more “normal” than mine too. I was the only Tish EVER in any of my classes. Did you have any in your classes? See, I told you.

My husband’s middle name is Gary. His mom wasn’t sure if she would have any more boys so she gave him her two favorite boy names. Tom has four younger brothers.

Frankly, I was a bit irritated at my parents for choosing both “unique” first and middle names for me. I grew to really love my first name but the middle one…let’s just say L. I have never used it.

When we on the other side and delegated with the task of choosing names for our offspring, I felt some regret about being so complain-y about my middle name. A lot of thought goes into those choices. But still, why not Elizabeth?

When our four were each born we chose “distinctive” first names and intentionally provided very mainstream middle names in case they wanted to drop the first part and go by the one in the middle like Paul McCartney and Tina Fey did. So far they haven’t.

Some women use their maiden name as a middle name and kind of drop the original one into oblivion. Didn’t want to do that either.

Then my precious women’s group prayed for me during a crisis and had a sense of the word “warrior.” Most people don’t associate that word with me, I’m usually calm, not “warrioring” around. I was intrigued. BTW, none of them would have been able to tell you what my middle name is.

When I found out about a week later that Louise means “renowned warrior,” I was stunned. Wow, that was my name all along.

All of a sudden, I am quite endeared to it. Perhaps I’ll add it to my signature line.

I was thrilled to find “Louises'” on both sides of family trees during my occasional searchings. Wonder if they knew about the warrior meaning. I’m glad to be in their company.

How do you feel about your middle name?

Hope for the best,


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Change Your Life in 40 Years

IMG_2980The phrase, “Changed My Life,” gets tossed around a lot. Like “The Beatles White Album changed my life” as I heard on the radio recently.

Midway through my sixth decade, I am mindful of a handful of people/events that definitely delivered life-changing results. Jesus, my husband Tom, the birth of my children and grandchildren, a move to Evanston, publishing a book, becoming a chaplain. It is somewhat of a short list although I can list many other honorable-mentions.

One other item on the list of life-changers is our involvement from Day One with Vineyard Christian Church of Evanston.

At twenty-five years old, I was full of dreams but none of them involved starting a church. When circumstances converged for that option to emerge, Tom and I jumped in the car for the ride of a lifetime.

Our small group of eleven was so young and radical but we shared an idea of what a church community could look like. We also had a strong sense that God was asking to push our limits, inviting us to do more than we ever thought we could. Yup, it all happened.

I remember one of the impressions we sensed was of the church being like a hospital where people would come for rest and healing. The early years felt like that hospital: long hours, lack of sleep and lots to learn. Not everyone got well.

Some seasons seemed like one big emergency room experience. We all took turns being the ER docs trying to sort out the traumas and then switched places with the patients as we learned how to do the stuff.

Open heart surgery is also a long-standing specialty of Jesus and some of the small groups have served as operating rooms over the years. Risk and vulnerability are the pre-requisites for this type of surgery.

I like the obstetrics wing of this hospital. When the church started there was ONE kid and now the children’s ministry fills multiple rooms.  Like mine, the third generation of families is showing up and individuals of all ages are still finding new life in Jesus.

You never know which badge you’ll wear around here, depends on the CEO. Might be O.R. assistant,  surgeon, midwife, or housekeeping (we’ve had a lot of clean-up needed over the years.) If you’re lucky, you get a turn as the patient and let Jesus love on you with more healing.

For me, I’ve been at this hospital a long time but retirement isn’t on my agenda. I’ve seen a lot of resident types come and go as people get their training and move on and a few of us from the original 40 individuals who showed up on January 11, 1976 are still here.

My current favorite role is of a founding mother looking around and reflecting on all God has done here with the thousands who have walked through the door. Remembering the fun, powerful, scary, wonderful, painful moments and wondering what’s next.

The church is gathering this Sunday evening to celebrate the forty-year milestone. Truly a life-changer. In fact, the term is part of the church’s mission statement crafted a long time ago:

To introduce people to the life-changing power of God’s mercy and truth.

I hope I bring enough Kleenex.

More about the Vineyard 40th and promo video 🙂

Hope for the best,


Changes on the Block…

IMG_3908The “For Sale” sign is clearly visible from my morning prayer chair and a wave of sadness comes every time I see it. After over 30 years on the block, our neighbors are moving on.

I don’t remember the day they moved in but by the next spring it was clear we had something in common: babies on the way. Our fourth, their first and our friendship formed quickly over those timeless conversations that mothers all over the world engage in.

Summer came and so did the babies and by Halloween we were posing them on the couch together. In what seemed like a couple of minutes, my older kids started babysitting hers and we listed each other as emergency contacts for everything. Oh and there was the time she drove one of my teens to the ER when we were out-of-town…

Did I mention we’re the keys-to-each-other’s -houses kind of neighbors?

She threw a surprise 40th birthday party for me and sometime early on we started sharing part of Christmas Eve with their family and just about every 4th of July. Like everyone else, most of our intertwined lives occurred between the holidays when there was always something to borrow from an egg to a car. Information on the goings on in the block passed back and forth quickly too along with a few unsolved mysteries.

In no time we all showed up for weddings and then dropped by to meet grandchildren. The in-between years are well documented in my photo albums. Tree forts, kiddie pools, birthday parties, back yard BBQs. On the night of senior prom our same-aged kids posed together although they both came with different dates. We all thought it would go on forever.

The day they dropped their landline caused quite a stir in our household. No one can believe they are dropping the house next. The kids are gone, the job relocated and the time has come.

We’re praying for whoever moves in next but it will always be ‘their” house. Just like the houses in my childhood Quincy still belong to long ago vacated neighbors.

Wishing you all the best dear friends but oh how we’ll miss you.

Hope for the best,


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