Archive for the 'Personal Reflection' Category

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,


The Most Dreaded Medical Test: Get It!

Prep Supplies

Prep Supplies

When my doctor told me it was time for a colonoscopy I didn’t think she meant “now.” So I waited another year. Even though my beloved grandmother died of colon cancer at 63, I felt “fine.”

On the way to that first exam, my darling husband reassured me by playing “Don’t Worry Baby” by my fav Beach Boys. Who was worried? Not us.

As everyone says, the prep was much worse than the exam and I was just glad it was over. As we waited for discharge, my doc came into the cubicle holding some photos and sat down. Not a good sign.

I guess she described the photo but what I remember were her chilling words, “You would have developed colon cancer in 3-4 years if we hadn’t removed this.” We drove home sans the song and waited for biopsy reports, clear.

I’ve been on the three-year plan ever since. The pesky pre-cancer growth keeps coming back.

So today I just finished my delicious apricot jello for breakfast and am looking forward to the mango version for lunch. Tomorrow is the big day again. I’m dreading every aspect of it and would love your prayers but this test will stay on my life-time to-do list. I hope it’s on yours too.

I once saw a brochure promoting the exam with the title, “The Cancer No One Needs to Get.” I will remember that tonight as I down the worst-tasting but best option for avoiding colon cancer.

P.S.A.: Get tested!

PS If you would like to know my excellent prep plan, leave me your email address.

Hope for the best,


Best Summer Reads

Reading a bookI could also title this, “How I Read Through the War” as most of my titles had a dominant war theme. Not sure where that came from but it piqued my interest enough to check out all these stories 🙂

  1. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah I loved this book and it is vying for my second all-time favorite novel. Exquisitely written in a WW2 setting. I read it in July and still think about it often.
  2. Grand Central: Original Stories of Post War Love and Reunion (various authors) Like any book of short stories, some were better than others but a couple were really good.
  3. A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable OK not really a war novel but definitely historical fiction based on actual events.
  4. Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters A switch back-and- forth story from the present to the past which is WW2. I read this on the beach and it was perfect for that setting.
  5. Dead Wake: The Last Voyage of the Lusitania by Erik Larson of “Devil in the White City” fame. I read this simultaneously with Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase so flipped back-and-forth between WW1 and WW2. These were all fresh details for me. Mesmerizing!
  6. The Time In Between by Maria Duenas I finished this 600 + page novel on the last day of summer and was sorry to see it end. Set in pre-WW2 in Spain & Morocco, it was slow to draw me in then I couldn’t put it down.

A handful of other titles took up residence on my nightstand but I enjoyed these the most. I just picked up All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr so the war theme continues.

What are you reading?

Hope for the best,


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