Archive for the 'Personal Reflection' Category

Mourning Armband Wanted

Our last time together in 2020.

I’m longing for a black armband. Not the kind I wore back in college to protest the then-current war but one for mourning. Didn’t this used to be a thing? I think I’m OK without the long black dresses and veils on the women I saw in Italy in the 70’s. Their attire was head-to-toe black following a death in the family. I just want an armband. I may look/act/even feel “fine,” but the ache is still there.

Two weeks ago, fourteen of us in our masks crowded under a small tent-like structure to bury my mother. It was cold, rainy but so were our hearts. The smallish funeral procession – it was immediate family only due to these novel times – had properly winded across town from the church to this familiar cemetery.  Out of respect, or the law, cars had pulled over to let us pass. I found that touching, along with everything else that day.

The long hearse stopped by the rose-colored, heart-shaped stone which listed my dad’s name, birth and death dates and my mom’s name and birth date, the rest will be filled in soon. On the back side is their wedding date, May 22, 1948, and the terms of endearment they called each other, “Sug & Sugie.” We are a grave-visiting family so I often stopped by here on my trips to Quincy. My mom liked to keep the flowers current.

A few chairs were set up, draped in blue. I got one of them. Maybe because I really am the oldest now. The graveside service was much shorter than the one at the church: The one she had planned with me years ago on a Sunday afternoon at her dining room table. This one seemed to end with the Lord’s Prayer but I knew there was going to be a postscript.

“Moonlight Serenade”, the centerpiece song of the Big Band’s, Glen Miller Orchestra, filled the air for the final goodbye. I knew my whole life that this melody would be played at this moment as mom had made that very clear. I just didn’t know how much it would break my heart.

After saying hi to my grandparents buried near by and bye to the rest of the family, Tom and I got in our car and drove home. 5 hours. Covid, you know, no after-party.

Food, flowers and cards were waiting and kept coming. In case you wonder if that’s really helpful, it is. I finally took the cards down this week.

I read in Genesis 50 this week that the Egyptians mourned for Jacob for 70 days. I think I’ll do the same and more for my mom.

I just wish I had a black armband so all who pass me could remember too.

Hope for the best,

Tish

PS Here is my mom’s obituary Betty C. Wiewel

#tishwalks

I love the digital postcards that arrive!

Greetings from Spain! Every day I step onto the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail and move closer to the Cathedral at the end. I plan to arrive sometime in February. A life goal fulfilled. Sort of.

I’m doing the whole pilgrimage through an app. The Conqueror Events. The appeal is that I get to see my progress each day on the map and I love checking things off. Without a tangible goal and a way to keep track, I would likely minimally move.

My first intentional walking came during my first year of marriage when I picked up a book called, “Aerobics for Women” (Kenneth Cooper) and decided I would take that up. Running never enthralled me, this seemed doable. When I saw there were progress charts, I was all in! Tom often joined me walking around our neighborhood and he liked plotting distances.

We left that neighborhood the next year and as well as that practice and got all caught up in the stuff of life. We enjoyed hiking on weekends away but it wasn’t an everyday thing. Later, I walked to the park with the four kids and that was about it. For 20+ years.

During the Avon walk.

As I approached my 50th birthday, I wanted to celebrate by doing something officially stretching. Like hard. Like a LONG walk. Just two years earlier, Avon started a 3 Day 60-mile walk for breast cancer, and it was coming to Chicago in 2000. I signed up.

The training was grueling. Fortunately, there was a ton of support from the organization with instructions for how  to prepare and I followed it exactly.  By the time the walk started, I had raised well over the required $1800 and my legs were ready to walk for three days. An adventurous story I’ll tell at another time!

Now that I was an experienced long-haul walker, I looked for something else to conquer. Lake Geneva (WI)  or rather Geneva Lake as the lake itself is called was my next goal. It is a local ordinance that the entire area surrounding the lake, 26 miles, can be accessed by walkers. Geneva Lake Shore Path A lovely walk but not too plentiful in “facilities” shall we say.

My first attempt was with Tom and we got to 24 ½ miles when a tornado came up. So close, but no check off yet☹ The following summer I tried again with a girlfriend and we completed the walk. But we didn’t stretch at all after finishing and just climbed in the car and drove 90 minutes home. I had to be lifted out of the car!

Without a specific goal, walking became more casual again. As much as I would like to “just do it,” it was easier to find something else easier to measure or cross off. Until pedometers came along. Step counting, just my thing!

Then my knee needed replacing.  No step counting for months. Slowly I built back up again.  One day I hit 30K steps! But then the other knee started going down. Both are titanium now so no more sidelining. Hopefully.

I’m in it to win it now (again.) But it’s getting cold. I have a treadmill, but it is so boring.

Thus, the long walk through Spain. I think I’ll do the English Chanel next. If I sit out too long, I may not get going again.  I’m working up to the Appalachian Trail. That will take awhile. BTW, I feel strong!

Are you a check-it-off kind of person too? Does it help you to keep track?

I’ve got 1.65 miles to go today. The view is exquisite!

 

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

50 Year Legacy – How I Met My Husband: Part One

Tom and Tish in college.

50 years-ago I started following Jesus (as told in July) and two months later on September 18, 1970, I met the man I would marry. Another amazing story! Watch for that to unfold this month on Thursdays.

For some time, I thought our initial introduction between two college students, was a simple meet and greet (more on that next week.) Then I found out there was a back story: Tom already knew who I was. In fact, we both lived in the same dorm the previous year.

Like the rest of the country, college culture was rapidly spinning in the late 1960’s and co-ed dorms were a new thing, at least for the Midwest. Considering that my all-female dorm freshman year had strict hours and no male visitors except for family, this was quite a jump!

My work-study job sophomore year was sorting mail in the new dorm, a perfect fit for me as I have a life-long devotion to writing and receiving letters. One of my co-workers in the mail room was George – a good friend of Tom’s from high school. But Tom, George and I were never at the same place at the same time for an introduction. Tom did his own inquiries, “who is that girl?”

Meanwhile, as part of my “experimental” lifestyle, I spent a few weekends each quarter in Chicago. On one of these Saturday nights, I wandered into a bookstore in Old Town after a performance of “Hair,” the outrageous musical of the time. Soon I was sitting on the floor of the store, intensely engaged in conversation with a guy who poured out that he had no reason to keep on living. He finally agreed not to harm himself.

The following week, I met with my psychology prof to talk about the need to set up an all-campus hotline for suicide prevention. He put me in charge of it! I don’t remember the details of how that got set up, but it did. One of my tasks was to spread small posters all over campus announcing the hotline, my name was on the posters. Tom noticed them.

He told me later that every time he saw a poster, and there were a lot, he said a prayer for me as he knew I was the girl from the mail room, George’s friend. When I asked him what he prayed, he said he had a sense that I was troubled too (got that right!) and without knowing any details, began to ask God to help me out.

We still never met, and I took off for Colorado that summer. I’m sure Tom’s prayers were part of the amazing story of what happened that summer! How I Became a Follower of Jesus: Part One

Next week I’ll pick up the story of what happened at the end of that summer.

Hope for the Best,

Tish

Six Phrases to Say Everyday to your Spouse.*

I am celebrating my 47th anniversary (August 18, 1973) and will be sharing a few of the popular previous marriage posts on Thursdays through August.

Here are 6 daily phrases that go a long ways in a marriage…

How was your day? A key component in a good marriage is to maintain connection on everyday life before issues of scheduling, problem solving and other hot topics consume all the available time.

Thank you.  It is easy to say thanks to others all day long and forget to bring simple gratitude home.  Yes there is a lot of give and take in a marriage but make sure some of the give is thanks.

You look great! You hope so right? Complimenting each other goes a long way and it is important to not let yourself go and stop caring what you look like for your spouse.

 I’m sorry  OK, so you might not use this one every day but keep it handy for the little things as well as the big ones.  True, “Love covers a multitude of sins” but you still need to say sorry.

I love you. Remember the impact those words had at first?  They STILL do!

That’s so funny! Laugh together daily, there will always be something if you look for it. Comedies count too but highlight the humor in your day-to-day.

Any other phrases you would recommend?

Hope for the Best,

Tish

* Re-post

Yellowstone, My Love.

Morning Glory Pool

Yellowstone WOWS. Sometime in my childhood, I beheld it’s wonders for the first time. My parents loved to throw us in the back seat of the family sedan and take off cross country all the way to California. Yellowstone, America’s oldest National Park,  was on the way. I remember sitting on the bench and waiting for Old Faithful to go off “one more time.”

Tom’s family did the same, drove to Yellowstone in their family station wagon. Driving across country was uncommon in the 50’s. If you spotted another Illinois license plate in a parking lot, it  was not unusual to stop and chat like long lost relatives. Maybe we ran into each other back in some parking lot in Wyoming!

So when we were planning our camping honeymoon in 1973, it was an easy destination to chose, let’s go big: Yellowstone! Instead of fine china and matching towels, we registered for camping gear for our wedding and were fully outfitted. We loaded our supplies into our borrowed-for-the-trip car and started driving West.

In these early weeks of our new lifetime bond, it was Morning Glory Pool, a Yellowstone treasure that called us over. One of us snapped a photo of our feet as close as we could get to the guard rail. All that was ahead of us in our decades together seemed to be symbolized by standing on the edge of that magnificent beauty.

The color is all faded out of this 1973 photo.

Fourteen years and four kids later, we headed back in 1987. This time we were driving in our own van to Seattle for Tom’s parent’s 40th wedding anniversary. Yellowstone was not exactly on the way but the draw was too strong to pass it by. Still tent-camping but more crowded now with the six of us packed in. The first night we arrived was the coldest recorded place in the US. Some of us slept in the van that night.

The older kids, 4, 6, & 7 were mesmerized by the geysers, hoped to see a bear, and were charmed, just like us, by the wild attractions the park offers. The baby remembers nothing 🙂 I still have the counts they kept of the animal sightings!   I’m sure we got to Morning Glory but no photo remains.

BTW We were in Wyoming on the 4th of July on that trip and since we missed out beloved Evanston’s hoopla, we decided to go to Evanston, WY (founded by the same John Evans) to celebrate and went to a rodeo!

Twenty-eight years after our 1987 visit, Tom and I, long empty-nesters now, returned to Yellowstone in 2015 for the third time in our marriage. Much had changed yet nothing had. The mystique was still there.”Old Faithful” still faithful but on a different schedule after the devastating fires of 1988.

No camping this time! We booked a condo in the town of Jackson nearby and spent a lovely evening dining at Jackson Lake Lodge just as we did in 1973. Our one big honeymoon splurge.

Before we left Yellowstone, we walked over to Morning Glory Pool and put our shoes on the edge of the boardwalk just as we had at the beginning. More behind us than ahead at this point but the view in front of us still so beautiful.

Hope for the best,

Tish

50 Year Legacy – How I Became a Jesus Follower: Part Five

Circa 1970’s

I am celebrating a Golden Anniversary!  50 years ago this July I started following Jesus. Here’s the last installment of how it began in May of 1970…

Once I made the choice to follow Jesus, and not join someone else’s faith club, life shifted into something remarkably new.

I know the phrase “born again” sometimes has a lot of baggage to it. Jesus, actually, is the source of the expression in his conversation with the Pharisee who came to him at night. “No one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again” (John 3:3.) We can only coast so long on someone else’s faith: our parents, our church or youth group, our culture. It can be comforting to hang out around faith, but until it’s truly ours, it stays on the fringes of our lives.

Memories of the rest of that summer are somewhat blurred but I know it was a steady rhythm of getting to know Jesus through spending time with him, talking with him, church events, the book study, and hanging out with my friends. I had much to learn and they were glad to offer what they knew.

One of the favorite things of that summer was going to Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver to engage in conversation about Jesus with the concert goers. Once the music started, we stayed in the parking lot and put the “Permanent Revolution” leaflets on the cars. I know that may seem peculiar now but it was a common practice at the time. That tract was so powerful for me that I was eager to share it. The strains of the music reached our location and we often stuck around until the end.

One particular night at Red Rocks, however, security shut us down and said no more leaflets. My group of friends was devastated and started praying for a way to be able to share something about Jesus that night.

As we were listening and praying, Paul Stookey (Paul of Peter, Paul, and Mary ) started sharing from the stage about his own relationship with Jesus.  It was more powerful than any car leafleting we could have done. After all these years, it remains a strong reminder of God’s faithfulness to provide a way.

In spite of all the amazing events, the summer had quite a surprise ending!

One afternoon in mid-August, I was riding in the front seat of a VW bug. My back was leaning against the passenger door  to better able converse with the rest of the friends in the back seat. My seat belt was not fastened and the car door was not properly closed. Fortunately, the car had just exited the highway.

The driver hit a speed bump on a side road. The door flew open and I flew out and bounced along the pavement a few times. I vividly remember the jarring of my body. An ambulance screamed up and I remember being loaded in and rushed to the nearest hospital.

My parents, back in Illinois, needed to give permission before any stitches could be put in as I was not yet 21. They were hosting a BBQ that night with some friends and were rather freaked out to get the call! The injuries required two sets of stitches on my face, lots of body bruising, but no broken bones. I did have a hard time moving and couldn’t see well due to the swelling. If you look closely at my face today, you can see the scars.

I left the hospital that night all bandaged and wrapped and looking quite a fright. I clearly remember how differently people on the streets regarded me because of my temporary disfigurement.

Due to the injuries, I was not able to stay and finish my classes so I made plans to return home. It was all so abrupt and  startling in every way. I packed up my room in the apartment, arranged to take in-completes for my classes, and said a sad goodbye to my new friends. Before I left, I asked about where to find other Jesus followers at college since I didn’t know any.  Intervarsity and Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) were mentioned but  I had not heard of either one.

My parents were glad to have me back. Before I went to Denver they were so worried about my lack of faith and now they were worried because I seemed to have too much! We went on a short  trip and I spent large amounts of time reading “Good News for Modern Man,” the current popular translation of the New Testament, by the pool each day. Just couldn’t get enough!

When I finally returned to my university,  the previous spring seemed like a lifetime ago. A few of my college friends had transferred to other universities. Some were still around campus and preferred the “old me” and others were curious about my story. One thing for sure, everyone recognized something had happened!

Someone else was about to come into my life that fall to forever change my course of direction….. Stay tuned!  I’ll tell that story in September.

Thank you for reading this five part story! Sometime in January of this year I felt the need to tell it like this. Some of my readers knew me then and others had no idea of the backstory of my faith journey.The fifty years since have been full of the ups and downs of life but hanging on to Jesus has been my lifeline. Would love to talk more if you’re interested!

Hope for the best,

Tish

 

 

 

50 Year Legacy – How I Became a Jesus Follower: Part Four

20 Years Old

I am celebrating a Golden Anniversary!  50 years ago this July I started following Jesus. Here’s how it began in May of 1970…

My memories of that summer in Denver fifty years ago have nothing to do with my two classes. I’m sure there were textbooks, assignments, papers, etc but I don’t remember them. I enjoyed the time with Hazel and Marilyn but don’t recall any specific times at the apartment. I also had a job on campus in a psychology lab which was a crazy fit for me as science is not my thing even though Psych was my major. Clearly, it didn’t make much of an impression as I have about two memories from the lab.

What I can recall vividly were the Thursday night book discussions at the church on the Schaeffer book (The God Who Is There) which usually were a bit over my head but I didn’t care, the Sunday services at the church, and the impromptu gatherings over meals with these new friends. I couldn’t get enough of these life-giving encounters.

Jesus was the topic of conversational most of the time. I was comfortable with that now, but not doing much of the talking. My new friends spoke of Jesus like a personal friend, a fun one who showed up often with surprises, the one who always stayed when everyone walked out. I knew I wasn’t where they were in my faith but felt no pressure.

Following Jesus was becoming more attractive to me but I decided it wasn’t going to be a summer romance. If I made the decision to entrust my life to him it would be for the rest of my life.

The team that came to my campus that week to introduce students to Jesus was still going out to parks and public places to do the same. It was how the word got spread before the internet!  I got invited to come along. No one asked me to do the talking. Soon that was another regular thing on my schedule for Wednesday nights. It was fun to see who would respond.

I didn’t realize it would be me.

On a particular Wednesday in mid-July, we were hanging out in a park and chit-chatting with the other park attendees. It was getting dark. Only one person seemed interested in engaging in spiritual conversation and he was somewhat stoned. My group was kind of stymied about how to respond to him as he was drifting around in his responses. I decided to take a turn. I could relate to being stoned although had left that behind when I came to Denver.

I sat down on the bench and soon we were talking about the difference between getting stoned and feeling groovy (a common word in that era!) for few hours and being filled with Jesus and never losing that joy. I found myself explaining how God didn’t want a distant, formal relationship with us but wanted to relate to us like friends or beloved sons and daughters. That he chose to leave heaven and become one of us so we could know him. That we would never be able to “earn” our way to eternal life but Jesus bought it for us by his death and resurrection. Our choice to take the life he offered would change everything forever.

The guy in the park got it right away and I suddenly knew, I did too! I wasn’t just speaking theoretically but out of my real experience. I didn’t just hang out with friends who were following Jesus, I too was now doing the same. I hadn’t seen it until that moment. It astonished me (and them!) and my excitement and joy was spilling out everywhere. If you’ve ever been in the early stages of falling in love, it was just like that!

There is a lot of theology that I didn’t (and still don’t) have figured out but like the man Jesus healed in John 9 reported, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

I count that night as the beginning of my new life in Jesus. In 50 years, I have never looked back or stepped out of faith. My life was forever transformed by encountering God that summer. But some literal bumps in the road were on the way… (To be concluded next week.)

PS It was JUST this week, fifty years later that I realized I never saw the original guy who talked to me outside of the chapel again. I spent this summer as well as the following summer with this same group of people and he never showed up in the group or at church. As you might recall, I didn’t get his name. It was with a huge sense of wonder and chills that I realized he might have been sent just to talk to me and perhaps that was the first time I encountered an angel. The second time was the following summer. Another story!

 

50 Year Legacy – How I Became a Jesus Follower: Part Three

I am celebrating a Golden Anniversary!  50 years ago this July I started following Jesus. Here’s how it began in May of 1970…

Within a stone’s throw of my apartment was the beautiful Evan’s Chapel right on campus. John Evans had founded Denver University and must have won the naming rights to the chapel.

I found out later that he also founded Northwestern University and the town I have lived in for over 40 years, Evanston, IL was named after him too. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I started strolling over to the chapel in the evenings. By this point, if I needed a label, I would have grabbed agnostic: a person who claims neither faith or disbelief in God. My first chapel visits were just to check it out. Pretty! Then I began to slip into a bench to sit and ponder. One evening I was alone in there, as usually was the case, and I got out of the bench and laid down in the aisle. In what might have been a scene from a movie, I pounded my fist on the floor and cried out, “God, if you are there, show yourself.”

One night he did.

I remember this evening like it happened yesterday. I exited the small chapel after one of my pleading prayers and was approached by a guy holding some kind of small pamphlets. He offered me one and I, ever polite, accepted. The title was,  “The Permanent Revolution” and the art featured a peace sign and a raised fist. I still have it. But then, I handed it back.

“No thank you. I’ve been involved in efforts towards political change and it failed.” That comment did not deter him. He responded easily with talk of a spiritual revolution of the heart. I rebutted that I had known religion and really, thank you but I’m not interested. The Kent State killings and the aftermath were the dead-end point of my search for meaning. All my idealism and “rosy colored glasses” approach to life felt snuffed out.

He countered that this revolution was about relationship with Jesus, not religion. I was unfamiliar with the distinction. I remembered Jesus from my childhood and quietly took the tract back. That was as far as I could go in this conversation.

“Do you have a Bible?” he asked me. Of course I didn’t. He kindly suggested I get a hold of one and read the Gospel of John. That was it. No names or numbers were exchanged. But God knew where I was and how to find me.

I walked away intrigued. Maybe one of the roommates would have a Bible. Turns out, Hazel did. I thumbed through it and found the gospel of John but didn’t read any of it yet. The next day I saw a notice on campus about an intro meeting about a new-to-me practice called TM which stood for Transcendental Meditation. Might as well check that out too. I remember nothing about that except that it didn’t fit me.

A couple days later, the three of us were in the apartment at the same time when the phone rang. Marilyn answered it and I eavesdropped on the conversation. I quickly got the gist that she was invited to an event that had something to do with the guy on campus whom I talked to outside of the chapel. She was trying to end the call with a “Thank you but I’m not interested.”

“Who are you talking to?” I mouthed. “Those people passing out the Jesus stuff” she whispered back. “I’ll talk to them” I responded and reached for the phone. I don’t think anyone was expecting that, including me! Although we had not exchanged names or numbers in the brief encounter by the chapel, Marilyn must’ve provided her contact info and this was a follow up call.

First God found me on campus, then he knew where I was living.

The invitation was to a book discussion the following night at a local church.  Without overthinking it, I said, “Sure, I’ll go” or something like that. Arrangements were made to pick me up on campus. I found myself somewhat mystified by the unfolding of these events but remember feeling no trepidation, only curiosity.

I wish I recalled who picked me up. Some details now, 50 years later, are blurry. We drove to a church in Littleton, CO and headed to the basement.  I do have a clear memory of a dynamic presenter and a heady theological discussion on the book which was “The God Who Is There” by Francis Schaefer. I was fairly lost in the discussion and remembered how poorly I did in my philosophy class at college.

Regardless of my level of engagement with the book discussion, I felt something from the people and what must have been the presence of God. Everyone was very kind and I felt no judgement. When someone invited me to come back to the church on Sunday for the service, I didn’t hesitate at all to say yes.

Honestly, I wasn’t thinking that much about theology or anything deep, I knew something was stirring inside me and wanted to see where that was going. Was I seeking God? I don’t know if I would have called it that but looking back, I can see that God was clearly seeking me.

One thing I knew for sure I didn’t want, one more bandwagon to climb on. (to be continued.)

PS Please sign up  in the box on the top right to receive the blog in your inbox once a week. Thank you!

50 Year Legacy – How I Became a Jesus Follower: Part Two

Circa 1970’s

I am celebrating a Golden Anniversary!  50 years ago this July I started following Jesus. Here’s how it began in May of 1970…

In spite of my “I’ve got it all together” mantra,  I knew I was somewhat spinning in who I was now, who I was becoming and quite uncertain of my grounding.

My “experiential” lifestyle had about run it’s course and I was weary.  But who had time to sort all that out? I had classes to finish, protests to attend, and gatherings with new friends to discuss the perennial questions of the meaning of life. No one seemed to have the answer.

To take a break, over Memorial Day weekend I took off with some no longer remembered friends to a rock festival in the woods a couple hours away from campus.  The “Kickapoo Creek Rock Festival” was loosely based on Woodstock which had occurred the previous summer in upstate New York. During that Saturday afternoon with the music blaring across the fields, I found myself holding a sugar lump of LSD in my hand which was placed there by a complete stranger. Dropping acid was not something I had tried.

The inner struggle to pop it in my mouth or not was a crossroads for me and I knew it then. By the grace of God, I handed it back. I see that as a turning point of my life. I was walking away from a tried-on lifestyle but what was I walking towards?

Meanwhile, the soundtrack of my life was Simon & Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock.” “I am a rock, I am an island, a rock feels no pain, an island never cries.” But I did. Sophomore year ended and I headed back home but hopefully not for long. The Jesus of my youth seemed far away.

I had big plans for the summer of 1970. Actually, my only plan was to go to Colorado and do something. I decided I needed mountains to provide the perfect setting to think deep thoughts. The previous summer I spent working at a camp in Massachusetts which allowed me to get to the ocean every few weeks. Why not try the mountains this summer?

As you might imagine, that plan was way too vague for my parents. We wrestled back and forth on that. Finally, it was time to make a decision, was I going or not.  I remained adamant as did they.

On an early summer evening, I went to the drive-in movies with my friends. Before I left, my mom said she was going to pray the whole time I was gone about whether or not they would allow me to go. If you knew my mom now, that wouldn’t be a surprise but at the time, I don’t remember her ever talking like that before.

When I returned, she was up waiting for me. “I don’t really like this but I feel a sense that we need to let you go.” I was shocked. She added the caveat that I couldn’t just roam around the mountains but had to take summer school and have a structure. I quickly agreed.

In a short matter of time I was registered at Denver University to take two psychology courses as that was my major. I packed my bags and they put me on a plane. A friend of mine whom I had somewhat dated picked me up and drove me to campus. He was eager to reconnect, I sensed I was going in a different direction. One weekend camping trip with his friends to the mountains clarified that for me. I was out.

But where was I going to be in?

This was my first time living in an apartment. The small complex was part of student housing and right on campus. My two roommates were Hazel and Marilyn and we seemed to click. BTW, Hazel and I are still friends and see each other when we can as she now lives in Idaho. I remember unpacking and listening to the two big hits from that summer, “Close to You” by the Carpenters and “Make it With You” by Bread.

Being on this campus felt like a fresh start, just what I needed after the wrung out spring. I wasn’t looking to pursue any particular lifestyle but just to take a deep breath. I liked my two classes, got a very part time job and spent a lot of time gazing at those beautiful mountains so visible everywhere.

But my heart was deeply unsettled and I longed to stop the churning. (To be continued next Thursday.)

PS If you missed part one you can find it on the right. Better yet, subscribe to the blog.

50 Year Legacy – How I Became a Jesus Follower: Part One

My College Years

I am celebrating a Golden Anniversary!  50 years ago this July I started following Jesus. Here’s how it began in May of 1970…

We had met before like is sometimes in the case with long term relationships. We actually hung out a lot when I was younger.

My mom remembers us talking to each other from my crib. “Tish, who are you talking to? She would poke into my room to ask. I replied, ‘Jesus.’” But, as I grew older, we drifted apart. It wasn’t about him, it was about me.

Jesus was part of my childhood. I sort of “grew out of him” but held the memory dear, like the flashback of a favorite doll I received one year for Christmas. I didn’t ask him to keep in touch when I left for college. I knew I might stop by and see him at our local church where he lived on my visits home but he wouldn’t have fit in at college.

If he ever did pop in to see me, I rushed him out of the room. I didn’t think he would care for my new lifestyle or choices. No need to embarrass him. Let’s just keep the memories as they were, a childhood friendship. I was going my way and he could go his.

Turns out, my way was ending up full of potholes (no pun intended,) detours, flat tires and dead ends. Not to mention I got lost all the time. Asking for help from any others than my traveling companions on the same road seemed out of the question. Foolish even. Likely someone would tell me to just turn around and find another road. No thanks.

Until the spring of 1970 in my sophomore year of college. My new pursuits, philosophies, and relationships were crumbling around me. I longed for the “Kumbaya” nights around the campfires of my youth but they seemed gone forever.

The wheels began to fall off the bus but it would take something really big to stop me in my tracks. The something big began with the Vietnam war protests.

The spring of 1970 was filled with war protests over the US involvement in Vietnam. I can’t honestly say I did a lot of soul searching for my views on this but it certainly seemed important to join the protests which were happening all over the country. I proudly wore my black armband and chanted with the best of them as we marched around campus.

On May 4, 1970 the Kent State Massacre occurred when four college students were killed by the Ohio National Guard during a protest. That event catalyzed students everywhere and on that night of that event, the call went out to “take over” one of the main buildings on campus, Simpkins Hall. So the entire group of about 1000 protestor marched into the building and refused to leave for five days.

I remember huddled there with my group that first night fascinated and somewhat fearful about what might happen next. Speech after speech was made with lots of chants with the crowd building in fervor. I was glued to my spot on the floor. Then the local police showed up and began making their way through the crowd trying to break it up. Ultimatums were issued on both sides but no violence occurred.

Part of me wanted to run out and the other part thought what a great statement it would make to stand down, risk expulsion and possible arrest. Rumors were spreading about the presence of state police and National Guard near by. Tear gas was used at Southern Illinois University which was eventually closed by the protests.  Clearly, I wasn’t agitating at the level to get even noticed and eventually the crowd dispersed and I headed back for a few hours of sleep.

I wrote my parents about “almost getting arrested” and they showed up at campus the following Sunday, which was Mother’s Day, to have a little chat with me. Actually more like a confrontation.  “Stop what you’re doing!” I knew they were worried but didn’t see that as my problem.

To be honest, I was worried too but not about getting arrested. (To be continued next Thursday)



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