Mad for…Sarah

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

Maybe it’s because she is the youngest child and only daughter in the family, but ever since Sarah Kiffmeyer was a little girl, she’s been fierce. Don’t misunderstand me, she’s not cutthroat or raging in any way, but she’s a relentless and strong young woman. She’s fierce in the very best sense of the word. If I’m assembling a team, I want her on my side. Sarah is athletically gifted and mentally tough. It’s been a joy to watch this wonderful, faith-filled girl grow into a beautiful young woman of integrity.

The daughter of Joe and Julie Kiffmeyer, Sarah is the sister to Andrew, Jimmy and Matt. I’ll admit, I am utterly partial to this entire family. She shares with them all a certain straightforwardness and refreshing goodness. She’s patient, principled and kind. Her loving nature and natural compassion is often on display, never more for me than when she interacts with her brother, Matt. Since she was quite young, she has displayed the kind of humanity and selflessness dealing with others that can only be explained by grace.

Sarah is not only athletic, but she is beautiful and full of sunshine. Her bright smile can light up the whole area. She’s courteous, and incredibly bright– academically gifted for sure. Sarah Kiffmeyer is a young lady of character, morals, and depth. I admire her, and I know her future is incredibly promising. The sky is the limit for Sarah! She’s a freshman at Guerin Catholic High School where she just finished playing her first high school soccer season. She’s a stand out for her attitude and her work ethic in all she takes on in life.

Sarah is pictured below with my son, Zach. They were classmates all through St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School and now at GCHS. Probably, neither of them will be thrilled I’ve posted this 8th grade picture. I’m not sure what was going on here, but even though the shot is a little old, I think they are both completely adorable…so…since it’s my column, I win, ha?

Today, Sarah and her classmates had a day off school after just having finished up finals. I wanted to give her a little shout out today and let her know I SEE YOU, SARAH KIFF! In case no one else has mentioned it yet today, you are a phenomenal human who makes this world a much better place by your presence! I mean that sincerely, despite the fact that you are an IU fan. You know that’s a little hard for me, right? Keep on keeping on, sis…and don’t let those big brothers give you a hard time for a minute!! You are AMAZING. Now, go crush it in the 2nd trimester at GC and GO GOLDEN EAGLES!

Mad for…Matthew

Live in such a way that if anyone should speak badly of you, no one would believe it.

The first trimester grades are now starting to populate in the online “Canvas” account that is provided to me by Guerin Catholic High School for my son, Zach. It’s a little mind blowing to me that the baby of the house is well-entrenched as a high schooler. It seems like five minutes ago that he was playing grade school CYO basketball at SLDM and meeting a new kid named Matthew Kordesh!

The youngest of the three Kordesh kids, Matthew is the son of Steve and Barb Kordesh. He’s a freshman at Fishers High School. I’m not exactly sure what activities Matthew is involved in over there, but I know he’s on the tennis team, because we ran into him during Zach’s first tennis match of the season, when they faced the Tigers! He has the most genuine and bright smile, and the old CYO basketball teammates didn’t hesitate at all when I asked them to pose for a picture. Here they are above. Zach is on the left in GC’s signature purple, and Matthew is wearing his Fishers Tigers gear. There’s just a lot of goodness in this photo, and it makes me smile!

Friendly, hard-working, and funny. Those are the three adjectives that came to mind quickly as I decided to write about Matthew today. He’s a young man of integrity– both bright and kind. This is why when he joined the CYO basketball program at SLDM with a big group of close friends who mostly attended the parish school together, this young man was immediately respected and accepted by his peers on the team. He’s a positive kid who works hard, and therefore it was impossible to not find him likable! By his words and actions, Matthew Kordesh is easy to spot as a shining star.

I don’t know who Heraclitus even is, but I read his quote this week and I thought it was important.

The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think and what you do is who you become. -Heraclitus

As Matthew and all the young men I have grown to love are beginning their high school adventure, I thought it might be worthwhile today to point him out. He’s a young man of character who is getting it right. For instance, when they both finished their respective tennis matches on that day earlier this fall, Matthew came to find Zach and the two of them found a court and starting hitting together. Other boys began to join in, and mostly just laughter and friendly competition ensued between the rivals who hadn’t seen each other in several months. Matthew’s solid character reflects itself in his consistent, hard-working nature and sunny disposition. If anyone told me they thought otherwise, I simply wouldn’t believe them. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the kind of person we should all strive to be!

Good luck these next four years, Matthew! The Thieme family will be keeping our eyes on you and cheering for your success. You are a wonderful human who makes the world better by your positivity and integrity!

Mad for…Ethan

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. (Albert Schweitzer)

He’s got a contagious grin and a warm, generous heart. Those are the defining qualities as I see them for my friend, Ethan Wagner. I should probably not leave out his amusing and playful sense of humor, as it certainly comes in handy as he parents his three very active children– Jack, Sam and Lily. His wife is a stunningly beautiful woman named Susan. I suspect he needs his quick wit to keep up with her! They live nearby, and we’ve known them for several years through our St. Louis de Montfort ties.

The Wagners are just entering the high school years with their oldest son. We are slightly ahead of them on that particular journey, which as you correctly guessed, makes us a little older than Ethan and Susan. I’m not at all sure that we are wiser, though, ha? Their son, Jack, is a freshman at Guerin Catholic with our Zach. They are both 2019 graduates of SLDM.

Ethan is an emergency room physician. His line of work means that he’s often shown up at his kids events on minimal sleep after working a crazy overnight shift in the ER. Sometimes his eyes look like little slits, but there he is anyway, determined to be present for his kiddos. He cheers with volume and enthusiasm, just like yours truly. I love passion, so I say bring it on! Those three children of his are incredibly blessed to have a dad who is incredibly supportive and ever present for them. It’s inspiring to me, especially on those days when I can see he’s utterly exhausted. He never fails to smile, even on the days when his eyelids are extra heavy. I have mad respect for you, Ethan!

Many times, friends have called on this generous man to give them some medical assistance when there’s been an injury or accident of some kind. He’s even called the Thieme house to offer his guidance (and a house call if necessary) when our family was the one in need. He’s compassionate and kind like that. His is a life lived in service of others, often in times of dire need.

Today, on National Kindness Day, I wanted to offer a little shout out to a kind man named Dr. Ethan Wagner. He’s pictured above with his beautiful family. You, sir, are the real deal! Thank you for making the world a better, more compassionate place to inhabit!

Mad for…Tommy

Great is a teacher’s influence on his pupils if they love him. (St. John Bosco)

Eeyore. That’s how we usually describe the youngest of my boys. He’s definitely the guy you want standing next to you as the tornado is about to roll in, because he has already thought through the worst-case scenario, and he will be strong and steady through the storm. Anything less than the apocalypse itself will be a total win in Z’s mind. Perhaps this is why the two of us laughed this week at my attraction to a festive Christmas t-shirt which said, “In a world full of Grinches, be a Cindy Lou Who.” Let’s just say Zach didn’t feel it would work well in HIS life, but he felt it was an annoyingly solid fit for mine. As my youngest son is taking his first set of final exams as a high school student presently, those kiddos and their teachers are on my heart today. It takes a solid educator to be able to reach the Eeyores as well as the Cindy Lou Who types. That’s why I think…God bless good folks like Tommy Mascari, as they serve the Lord through teaching!!

Coach Mascari (pictured above with his wife) has been a Kinesiology teacher at Guerin Catholic for a number of years. In fact, I recall with some humor when my son Nick told me his first test grade in the class was like a 57%. I am certain it was the first test the kid ever came close to failing. I said, “Well? What happened, Nick Fred?” He replied honestly, “It’s PE, Mom. Who knew it was going to be hard? Probably I should think about studying next time.” It was a sage self-correction. You see, Coach Mascari’s class was challenging 7 years ago, and it remains so today.

That said, Tommy Mascari is an understated, hard-working educator who does a beautiful job connecting with the young people entrusted to his care. He’s understanding, faith-filled and fair-minded. Some kids, especially the ones who are related to me, seem to connect especially well to the quiet wit and low-key authenticity of folks like Tommy. They identify best with teachers who lead by example and treat others fairly. It doesn’t hurt if, like Tommy, they are gifted with a little less natural volume and slightly more sarcasm in the arsenal than your average bear as well. Apparently, a Thieme guy can only take so much cheerful enthusiasm, ha?

Tommy Mascari is the handsome husband to an athletic fellow educator named Jen and the father of three. Those are three blessed young people to have such an attentive Dad who supports them in all they do! I’m pretty sure the Mascaris are parishioners at St. Maria Goretti, but I could be wrong on that, so don’t hold me to it?

As a teacher, I think it’s clear Tommy Mascari plans for the success of all his students by the way he operates. His students are attentive and engaged, because he has good control of his classroom. After 8 years of parenting high schoolers, a mom has her sources. He’s generous with his time, and could often be found sharing his classroom space after school with young athletes who needed a place to eat a sandwich before their basketball game, for instance, when my older two kiddos were at GC. He’s been involved for many years with the Guerin Catholic boys basketball program, on which he’s had significant impact– including during a couple state championship runs! He’s not a man who seems to seek notoriety, but he just honestly does his work, offers his gifts, and makes a difference for many young people every day.

I’m indebted to folks like Tommy who brighten the future by the wisdom they share, and the patience they display with their students every day. Thank you, Coach Mascari, for being a friendly face, a bright light, and a gentle guide for my sons….and so many other young people over the years! We are grateful for you!!

Mad for…Kathy

So the call each day is to look at everything, no matter what the circumstance, through the proper lenses; for only then will we have the perspective to see things and people and events as they truly are. And only then will we be able to defeat the darkness that tries to overwhelm and overcome us and live in the light and the love– and truth– of Christ. (Jim Branch)

A few months back, as Kathy Sheek and I prepared for the heart-wrenching loss of a mutual friend, she did something quietly spectacular. She reached out to a priest who she knew had been particularly close to our dear friend to let him know about the gravity of her health and to ask him whether he might be able to make the trip back to Hamilton County to anoint her. Fr. Dave did just that, checking in with the family at just the right time with his offer, and he was able to be the face and hands of Jesus to our dear Karen and her whole gang. He was exactly the person she wanted in her home for this last holy sacrament before she met the Lord, and my heart was glad. What a beautiful gift!

This situation really tells you all you need to know about the compassionate and faithful heart of Kathy, who is pictured above at the far right. I have watched from afar for years as she has served her parish community in a variety of pivotal ways with her gentle and loving servant’s heart. She’s a supportive mom and the wife to a fine man named Mike. She’s an Indianapolis native who now lives in Carmel and a long time parishioner at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic Church in Fishers.

What I love about Kathy is the authenticity of her smile and her faithfulness in small things. She’s clearly a devoted daughter of God who lives her life in a selfless way with joy on her face– more devoted to being a woman of integrity than she is about her own notoriety. I don’t know her as well as I’d like, but I felt called to celebrate her with a little shout out today on her birthday! Color me impressed by your glorious character, Kathy!! I hope your people are loving you up on your special day, because your life is one that should be loudly celebrated!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KATHY SHEEK!!

O Lord, give me good eyes today, that my soul may be filled with light rather than darkness, love rather than need. Do not let my vision get clouded and distorted by the darkness that is around me or within me, but help my eyes to stay pure and clear, seeing as you see, that I might love as you love. Amen.

Mad for…Drew

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depends on you.” (St. Augustine)

Appearing again at the reception desk on November 10, 1999 after a long delay in the waiting room, I informed the gal sitting at the desk that I simply couldn’t wait any more to see the doctor, and she kind of rolled her eyes at me and said, “well, she’s quite busy so you’ll have to wait your turn.” She misunderstood me. So, rubbing my pregnant belly I clarified, “that’s fine, it’s just that I am so incredibly dizzy I think I might faint, so I think it’s better if I just leave and go home so I can lay down.” A nurse standing nearby heard the exchange and immediately ushered me to a room and had me get on my left side while she took my vitals. “Oh my word! Her blood pressure is through the roof. Get the doctor!”

That’s how it came to be that Andrew James Thieme was born several weeks prematurely by emergency c-section. He spent some time in the NICU at St. Vincent’s Hospital on 86th St. before coming home with some rather bulky and over the top equipment attached. Dr. Hirsch cautioned me about him, warning that we should certainly expect developmental and other delays. More drama ensued when he spiked a 104 degree fever shortly after being released from the hospital. Long story short, our sweet son had a kidney condition which would require surgery to repair, a thing we’d end up doing later at age 4 (at Riley Hospital for Children) when the timing was right. Those folks down at Riley are rock stars, by the way!

I share this snippet of melodrama today on the occasion of Drew’s 20th birthday because it makes me laugh to look back on now, two decades later. After causing me considerable anxiety on his entry to the world, this young man corrected course in a big way. Drew Thieme is the LEAST dramatic human being imaginable. As a toddler, he’d simply wait patiently in his bed for me to come get him in the morning– no fussing. He’s among the most strong, steady, respectful and emotionally stable kids I have ever encountered. As a little guy, he pretty much just wanted to hang out with his big brother, Nick. Thankfully, Nick and his buddies were good sports about letting D participate in whatever they were doing. Partly, that was because Drew could always keep up with them. You see, he may have started out a little small…but he caught up quickly! My three boys are pictured below (from left to right) Drew, Zach and Nick!

Little Drewbie LOVED games of all kinds, but especially card games and magic tricks! He had a magic wand, hat, and cape that he wore with pride just HOPING one of us would want to see his act. He was never interested in video games, but he typically had a board game or a deck of cards handy. If not those, then he had a ball of some sort! His smile was always bright, and his report card ridiculously good. He’s sharp as a tack and with a terrific work ethic. When his younger brother, Zach, was born, Drew became “his person”. When no one else could seem to calm down our youngest, or if my patience was lacking while I tried to explain to Z some new concept, Drew would inevitably jump in. “Mom, I’ve got this! Let me talk to him.” He even wrote a book titled, “How to take care of your little brother.” It’s a prized possession of mine. Drew Thieme, you have now and always have had a beautiful heart that feels compassion for others!

While he’s not a big talker by any stretch of the imagination, Drew is nevertheless naturally pastoral– a born leader. It’s just that he doesn’t waste words. He’s not enthralled with the sound of his own voice, but if he has something to say, it’s likely of value, so one would be wise to pause and hear him out. As a friend, he’s loyal and caring. As a son and a brother, he’s top drawer. I don’t think he’s ever failed to make me just a little teary on my birthday or Mother’s Day with his incredibly kind and loving notes.

We had a lot of fun over the years watching Drew play baseball, basketball and football. With his lanky frame and his good hands, he was always a valuable player on every team, but it was the way he led by example and the sportsmanship he displayed with his teammates and opponents that made me most proud as his mother. I mean, I did enjoy the home run moments, the CYO city championships (one of them captured below with Coach Dad), and the those senior year touchdowns he scored for the Golden Eagles, too…I’m not going to lie!

Drew is as authentic and honest as the day is long, and filled with integrity and love of the Lord. He’s sincere of heart and filled with faith, taking in weekly mass and availing himself of the sacraments frequently. Jesus is smiling down on Him for sure. He’s a driven young man, but also he knows how to relax in God’s grace. I’m grateful and thankful to have such a son, and I pray for him and his brothers every single day!

As he forges ahead, Drew is a man whose temperament seems to require that he be working a plan. I terrifically admire his drive and the effort he puts forth to get where he wants to be. He was one of the valedictorians of his Guerin Catholic Class of 2018, which was no small feat. His current plan involves finishing his undergraduate degree next December, taking the spring semester off school to work a tax season internship with an accounting firm, then to take the following year and complete his masters degree. He’s the treasurer of his fraternity (Pi Kappa Phi) at Purdue, and a member of student-led School of Management Employers Forum at the Krannert School of Management. He has a part-time job in a computer lab on campus and he’s a practice player for the Purdue Women’s Basketball team. His sweet and very beautiful girlfriend, Erika, must have the patience of Job because Drew is a busy guy. Any mom would be proud, and I am definitely any mom!! Also, thinking about his life makes me sleepy.

That said, God’s plans and our plans have a way of diverging from time to time. My hope and prayer for Drew is that whatever God’s will is for his life that he rolls with it and embraces it, because God is…well…God. He knows what He is doing.

I have my three boys to thank for a very important lesson. I wanted to acknowledge that here as I write today about my own children for the last time in this series. I have long loved the Lord. However, it took me an extraordinary amount of time to realize He loves me back. Just as I am. He used my children to help me grasp it. You see, I love these 3 boys (Nick, Drew and Zach) with a fierceness only other moms can understand. Am I right, ladies? That love is without condition and does not wane even when said young man does or says something idiotic. I mean I have some crazy mama bear claws and my heart might burst from the insanity of the unconditional love I feel for these smelly young men!! Well, when I realized that I am the daughter of the Lord, who is literally LOVE itself, it occurred to me that He must love His child, Shelly, at least as much as I love my children? I mean, He’s GOD, and I’m not… so probably it’s possible He can love even a tad better and a bit more, ha?

Is that a beautiful gift the Lord gave me through my sons? You betcha!

Happy Birthday, Drew! I am CRAZY proud of you. I love you! Happy 20th, you big goofball. I hope you sing so loud from the rafters at Banker’s Life this week enjoying that Luke Combs concert that you don’t have a voice for a week! You deserve it.

“People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him.” -St. (Pope) John Paul II

Mad for…Angie

You will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. (Phil. 2:15)

Joyful. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of Angie Weas. She’s the mom of three– Joey, Billy and Molly– and the wife to an incredibly kind guy named Andy. I met Angie because of high school sports. That’s a recurring theme for our family. Often, we encounter tremendous families who are filled with love and life in this way!

A friendly and outgoing woman of God, Angie is a parishioner at St. Maria Goretti in Westfield, but she actually lives not far from me and I had her on my mind this week because my daily walks had me passing right in front of her house. It made me smile, therefore, when I discovered it was her birthday today! It was a clear signal from the Holy Spirit that I was meant to point out her goodness and give her a little birthday shout out.

As my three boys were very small, growing up and attending a nearby Catholic grade school, I discovered a couple of things about myself. Often, I would volunteer to help at school in whatever way was needed. However, I quickly found that I was incredibly comfortable handling middle schoolers and that large groups of kindergarteners and first graders gave me hives! It felt like herding cats, and I would have minor panic attacks worrying that I would lose one of them and have to explain to a distraught parent how sweet Ava went missing while I was tying her cute classmate’s tennis shoes for the 3rd time in 15 minutes. Here’s what I am attempting to tell you. Angie Weas is heroic. She teaches pre-schoolers. Despite that, she seems to maintain her sunny disposition, ha? Thank you, God, for amazing women like Angie!!

I have long admired Angie from afar for her genuineness and positivity. She speaks words of encouragement and words of life to those in her path. As a mother, she’s incredibly loving and supportive. Her children are respectful and bright just like their mother. It’s hard for me to even hold her love for Notre Dame against her, she is such a fine human being…ha?!!

Angie? I just wanted to take a moment today to wish you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY and thank you for being a terrific example of joyfulness and integrity. The world is so so much better because you are in it with us! My prayer for you today is that you will know peace and happiness this year and always! I hope your people are celebrating you in a BIG way. You are a giant scoop of awesome sauce!