Mad for…Melinda

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. (William James)

A native of Breese, Illinois and a graduate of Southern Illinois University, my old neighbor Melinda Brueggemann is a woman I would describe as articulate, sassy, and not just a little bit saucy too. Her defining features are her good sense of humor and her compassionate heart.

A mother of three (mostly) grown children, Bennett, Evan and Elana, she is also the wife of a truly hilarious human named Barry. These two are now and always have been tremendously supportive parents, so the Brueggemann kids really are blessed to have them as parents. Since I know their youngest, Elana, is a standout on the Depaul Women’s Volleyball team, I’d be willing to bet they’ve made their way to a number of Big East volleyball events this season.

I saw a refrigerator magnet this week that said, “Good sense of humor, dirty mind and beautiful heart. Deadly combination.” It made me laugh, and it definitely applies here, ha? Hopefully this will make her laugh and she won’t be offended it made me think of her! Mel definitely has a well-developed sense of humor, and I think it helps to balance her if I am honest. She’s also incredibly bright as well as beautiful, which you can see yourself above in the photo with her hubby!

Here’s the thing, though. When our mutual friend, Karen, was nearing the end of her very long struggle with cancer, it was Mel who reached out. I think she wanted to check on what I might know about Karen, but also her genuine desire was to make sure that the folks who she knew loved Karen were in the loop, praying and supporting in whatever ways were possible. We stayed in close contact during that time to make sure there was food for the family when that was needed and organized prayerful aid by the community at large. So, while her sense of humor is most definitely an effective escape valve for the tensions and pressures of life, don’t be mislead. Melinda is a character filled woman of God. She loves others by beautiful acts of service, offered genuinely and without need for recompense.

Melinda, today you are the victim of my daily shout out. I hope what you hear me saying is that I believe you make the world a better place by the way you care for and love all those in your path each day. You, Mel, are a quality human and we are all better off for having your sunshine add a certain brightness and smile to the area you inhabit. Keep on keeping on…and GO BLUE DEMONS!!

Mad for…Joanie

One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord. And he will repay him for his good deed. (Prov. 19:17)

Charitable human beings like Joanie Zigmond are considered by yours truly to be the essence of virtue. After all, this really is the way the mercy of our good and gracious God is often passed on to us mere mortals. What seems to me even better is that Joanie is motivated by a true desire to be useful without the thought of being somehow repaid. I have for many years watched Joanie from afar and been not just a little awestruck by both her grace and her beautiful soul. Today is the day I’ve finally decided to tell her how inspiring she is to me. She’s pictured below with her daughter, Olivia, and her husband.

Joanie is the incredibly stunning wife of a handsome ex-military guy named Scott for whom I also have great respect. She’s the mom of a gaggle full of equally beautiful young women. I kid you not, the whole darn lot of Zigmond women look like models. This family won the DNA lottery…just sayin’. Here’s the thing, though. Absolutely and without a doubt this would matter to me not a stitch were it not for the integrity and character of the Zigmond clan– and this most certainly starts with Joanie. As a mom she is unbelievably supportive and filled with the love of the Lord. Her girls are truly blessed beyond all telling.

Compassionate, faith-filled and gracious are the words I would use to describe Joanie Zigmond. She’s done quite a bit of work for the poor in our community and well beyond through her development efforts with Samaritan’s Feet International, for instance. Not only that, but she’s a powerful ally for the arts community, especially Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre. I’m woefully underreporting here, but I think you get the idea.

I met Joanie because of her youngest daughter, Rebecca, who attended a decade of school at St. Louis de Montfort with my youngest son, Zach. She and I were stomping the halls at SLDM well before that, however, as both families just completed darn near 2 decades with a child enrolled there. Rebecca and Z are now freshmen together at Guerin Catholic High School. Before I knew anything about her, I was certain Joanie was a woman of God who was filled with grace by the company she kept. Our friends do often give us away, and the folks who stuck close to Joanie were in my humble opinion some of the absolute finest people of faith I had encountered in my church community.

Thank you, Joanie, for inspiring in me a deeper desire to pitch in where I can for the benefit of those with less. I’m grateful too for your beautiful witness of what it looks like to be a woman of deep faith– at all times. Sometimes we fail to speak to others who have truly made a difference to us by their example of living lives filled with kindness, grace, and love about how awesome they are in our eyes. 2019 is my year to speak up, I decided. Therefore, I hope you hear that in what I’ve written here, because I mean these words most sincerely. Keep on keeping on, Joanie. You are doing so many things right and you are AMAZING!

Mad for…Meghan

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. -Mother Teresa

About six years ago or so, we moved a couple miles north to a new neighborhood that is extremely convenient to Guerin Catholic High School, where we knew we had about a decade ahead of us. Three and a half of those ten years remain and time is flying by at warp speed, but I digress. The point I was about to make is that when we moved we assumed we’d be giving up the built in SLDM carpool help we enjoyed in our old neighborhood. You see, the new place is further from St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School where we still had one remaining. However, I chalked that one up in the “cons” column and decided I could live with it. Our good and gracious God had another plan.

You see, it turns out that our NEXT DOOR neighbor on Randolph Crescent Drive was (and is) a lovely Catholic school family from SLDM named Dunlap. We weren’t here long before I got a text message from Meghan Dunlap alerting me to this little fact and asking me if I wanted to be their carpool partner. YOU BETCHA. We settled into a fairly workable routine where one of the three adults living at the Dunlap home would take the kiddos to school, and I would bring them home in the afternoon. Score!!

I admit that I still don’t know Meghan and her beer-loving, smarty-pants husband, Grady, as well as I should. However, I do know that together they are raising three really terrific children– Sam, Matt and Lily. All three of them entertained me during their time in my carpool. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to grinning the most at little Lily, who is a spunky piece of sunshine. Perhaps that’s because I don’t have any girls myself? In any case, the Dunlap kids are polite and lovely humans. I credit their mother, ha? We moms have to stick together.

Here’s what I know for sure. Meghan Dunlap is not only beautiful, but she’s incredibly bright. In fact, I am fairly certain her degree is in engineering. This means she’s better at math than I ever dreamed of being and I’m trying not to hold that “smart and gorgeous” combo against her. She has an impressive work ethic and a great deal of professional responsibility in her role at work, which I don’t even begin to understand (because mostly her job was explained to me by grade school aged children). Those three also made it clear she’s supportive and loving as a mother and also very effective at instituting a few mandatory yard work days each year, which always makes me smile and want to yell affirming things out my window in solidarity. Kids are such hilarious truth-tellers. She’s also a thoughtful daughter who definitely inherited it from her incredibly amazing mom, Judy Sullivan, who lives with them in the cutest apartment right inside the house.

There have been multiple times over the years when Meghan has reached out with care, concern or compassion to our family. Also, when scheduling craziness got the best of us, Meghan always was patient and kind rolling with the punches. These are no small things to those of us who are sometimes just barely managing to survive the days. The little things? They are actually EVERYTHING.

Sam, Matt and Lily have no idea how blessed they are to have a faith-filled woman of God as their mom. With their incredibly busy lives and professional schedules, it would be oh so easy to simply skip mass on Sunday or not attend to the spiritual needs of her family. That’s not what Meghan is about. I’ve been watching. She’s working hard to get it right. I see you, neighbor, and so does the Lord. Today’s shout out is for you! Well done, good and faithful servant!!

Mad for…Laura

The essence of life is to serve others and do good. (Aristotle)

About a month ago, a lovely woman who long served St. Louis de Montfort as it’s CYO Athletic Director celebrated a big milestone birthday. It recently came to my attention that I missed the party entirely, but that does not mean that it’s too late to let her know that I see her servant’s heart and all the hours she has put in over the years for the benefit of just a LOT of young people! Today, therefore, I’m issuing an official and long overdue shout out to one Laura Klee!! She’s pictured above, on the far right of the first row in this group of sunny women!

Laura is the mom of four and the wife of a smiley, outgoing guy named Kevin. Her super sweet daughter, Grace, went through grade school with my Zach, and now they are both Golden Eagles, so I’ve therefore spent a number of years essentially in a similar orbit. I’m fairly certain she’s from the Indianapolis area because I recall her telling me once that she is a graduate of Bishop Chatard High School. Sometimes my memory is a fail, though, so Laura if I have that all completely wrong please forgive me.

Here’s what I know for sure. Laura is a no-nonsense, hard-worker as well as a woman of integrity. She’s a supportive mom and wife as well as a woman of faith who always seems busy but who never seems to me to be in a hurry. I’d like a piece of that, so I find her inspiring. She’s one of those folks who is wise enough to walk away from drama, and she seems more attached to making choices which seem to be right and good. She appears to me from my view in the cheap seats to value peace of mind, self-respect, and most of all her family.

The number of times I saw Laura with her arms full of uniforms, or concession stand supplies, or miscellaneous athletic gear of one type or another over the years would make your head spin. The number of crazy situations she handled with grace over time is impressive. I saw that, Laura. Probably, I owe you a drink (or several) for my own part in some of the chaos too! We parents really can be the worst sometimes, am I right?!! Laura’s retired from that post now, but in that role I always saw a straightforward person who isn’t afraid to dig in for the sake of others, and I respect her for it.

Today, I ran into a little piece of my boys childhood in the form of some old SLDM gear. It made me think of all the great folks like Marshall Scheper, Mary Fuller, and of course Laura Klee who poured out many hours of effort so that hundreds of young people could have a positive youth sports experience in a faith-filled atmosphere. I failed to ever properly thank Laura for those efforts,and today I wanted to right that ship! Laura, many thanks are way way overdue from the Thieme clan for all your work over the years. We are grateful for all our CYO experiences in that gym full of sweaty SLDM Cardinals. For your part in making that happen, please accept our most heartfelt THANK YOU!

God Bless You, and the entire Klee family! Also, I know I’m extremely late but also HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I hope this is your best year yet, because you deserve that!!

Mad for…Val

I love funny people and when I’m with funny people, or people who are amusing in their weirdness, I love it. Because that to me is funny as opposed to someone who stops and says, “Hey let me tell you a joke.” (Paul Feig)

This week, I noticed a talented friend of mine was featured in Indy Maven’s best local holiday gift ideas. If you’re so inclined, check out the link and all the talented local artisans at and pay particular attention to Val Campbell and her Cosmic Leather line. I don’t have the waist pack Indy Maven liked, but I do have her leather cross body bag and it’s just spectacular– a very high quality piece

Creative, gifted, and very funny, Val is the mother of three boys and the wife of a handsome guy named Matt. She’s incredibly beautiful, as you can clearly see from the photo I stole off her Facebook page. She will definitely prefer it to the only photo I found of her on my phone from an old baseball tourney. In that photo (which I just deleted) we all look like we have been ridden hard and put away wet, as the saying goes, ha?! I met her when my son Zach played baseball with her son, Ethan. There were multiple perks to having a son on the same team as one of the Campbell boys. First of all, Val always took the hats and embroidered the boys names or numbers on them. It was totally cool! Also? Sitting on the sidelines of any baseball game with Val means you are in for a good time. A master of sarcasm, she’s just plain fun, the kind of girl who makes me giggle without really trying much at all. Everything about Val is genuine. The thing is, you can joke with her and then sort of also solve the worlds problems with a deeper conversation when you’re around Val. She’s got a lot of tricks up her sleeve.

A Indy area native, I am fairly certain Val attended Lawrence Central High School. I’d be willing to bet all her old friends still think of her and how their faces hurt from smiling when she’s around. My youngest, Z, gave up the sport of baseball, but I know that’s definitely how I feel about my old baseball mom friend even though I haven’t seen her in person in quite a while.

Val Campbell is without a doubt a loving, attentive, and supportive mother as well as a sunny and pleasant human. She’s friendly and welcoming to others– and her smile is contagious. She’s got a silly streak and also, apparently, she’s a badass entrepreneur on the rise! When I saw her featured this week in the local holiday gift guide, I was incredibly happy for her because I just love it when outstanding things happen for integrity-filled people like Val!

I wish you much continued success in all you do my friend, as well as a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and your guys!! With you in this crazy world, the place is just a happier place more filled with laughter, and I am grateful that our good and gracious God gave me a chance to get to know you! God Bless all the Campbells!

Mad for…Thomas

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

If someone trustworthy tells you a movie is terrific, hard to watch at moments, but just has a great ending and to stick it out…you do it, right? Someone wise once told me that’s the same attitude we need with God. He has a plan for us, and He’s worthy of our trust. If we stay with Him…it all ends well.

My sister-in-law, Mary Jo, is one of my husband’s two siblings. She’s the middle child in the trio, actually. Mary Jo is married to a bright and articulate German man I recently told you about. His name is Andreas. Together, they are parents to a young man named Thomas, who they adopted from the foster care system when he was quite young. I think he was just a bit under a year old, in fact. My memory is unreliable, though, so I could be a tad off. Here he is more recently with his cousins at Drew’s high school graduation, with his cousin Katie LaReau’s arm around him.

In any case, the addition of my nephew Thomas to the family brought not just a small amount of joy to his parents and also to his grandparents and the entire family. None was more afflicted with joy, in my estimation, than the heart of my mother in law, Jane. This week, we marked the 6th anniversary of her death, a sad and somewhat unbelievable milestone if I am honest. Where has the time gone? However, we’ve also got cause for joy this week because today is the 12th birthday of the youngest grandson of Tom and Jane Thieme– Thomas Sashegyi!

I find myself writing with a bit more care than I sometimes demonstrate today. Typically, I simply allow this to be a few paragraphs of unfiltered spontaneity– a stream of consciousness blog post. This one feels a tad different and that is for one simple reason. In the first 339 consecutive entries, my daily affirmations were directed at and written for the person about whom I am speaking. My goal usually is to provide a reason for someone to smile at the positive qualities I notice, and hopefully that leaves an imprint of sunshine on their day. Today is a bit different. You see, I know that Thomas doesn’t have the ability to read these words, and I’m not certain how many of them he would understand if his mother chose to share them. I do know this, though. It’s important to me today that all who love this little boy understand on his birthday today that I see the dignity of his life, and the possibilities of his mind and the fact that the same good and gracious God who made you and me also made this handsome young man with the devilish grin in His glorious image. Also, I want him to know his Aunt Shelly wishes him a very happy birthday!

Thomas is a curly-haired wonder, the master of riding anything on wheels at speeds and with precision that boggle my mind. The use of bikes and scooters are a strength area. He is also a solid ice skater who has played a little hockey in his past. He loves to fish, and can entertain himself for hours with this activity. He’s got boundless energy, and a reliably good “high-five” that I can almost always get him to “blow up” with me. This year, he spent a little time handing out exactly three pieces of candy to each trick-or-treater that came to my door…well…except for the scary looking kids in creepy masks, ha? This part made me giggle a little, because here’s Thomas in his costume (with Drew), which definitely includes the very sort of mask he was eschewing as my Halloween doorman. Kids make me giggle!

Mary Jo and Andreas, I know your parenthood journey is fraught with bumps and hiccups very different from the ones on my own road of motherhood. Today, as I attempt to celebrate the life of the little man I know you love dearly, I just want you to know that I love your son too, and I see your perseverance and courageous determination. So does the Lord. Christ is with you on your journey though, and He is trustworthy.

Please tell Thomas that his Aunt Shelly, Uncle Tom, and his cousins Nick, Drew and Zach want to wish him a VERY HAPPY 12TH BIRTHDAY! Eat all the cake, Thomas…’s your day!!

Mad for…Julie

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (Romans 12:10)

Last night was a good one for Boilermakers everywhere, and I was lucky enough to be in the ninth row behind the Purdue men’s basketball team for their game! Coach Painter and his team took on Virginia in the Big 10/ACC Challenge, in a game hosted by my alma mater at one of the best venues in all of college basketball– Mackey Arena! It was this event that brought me a night of fun and catching up with an old friend, Julie Hedlund.

Sweet Julie and her husband, Ken, invited us along with them to the game! Ken works with my hubby, Tom, at Somerset CPAs. They’ve been co-workers a long time. In fact, one of my favorite photos from our wedding is of Ken and Julie laughing at our reception. That was 25 years ago, and the Hedlunds are both still among the most authentic people around. Julie and I hopped into the back seat and as we headed up I-65 to my hometown, I remembered all the things I have always loved about her!

Joyful, friendly and so incredibly real, Julie Hedlund is a happy person who simply says and does the things she actually believes. She’s a woman who does good and says kind things because it’s the right thing to do. She’s interested and interesting. A friend of mine has a post-it on her fridge which reads, “Authenticity: knowing who you are and being brave enough to live it.” That, in a nutshell, is how I see Julie Hedlund.

She eagerly and enthusiastically showed off her photos and videos of new granddaughter, Manny, who lives in Chicago. It was heartening to hear the cheerful delight in Julie’s voice and to see the brightness in her eyes as she talked about her new role as a grandmother, and also the pride with which she shared updates on her four grown children. Julie is a sunny and grace-filled woman. People like Julie Hedlund represent everything that still good and right in this crazy world we share. She’s the salt of the earth.

As the game wore on last night, Julie and I got to laughing at Ken just a little. He’s a man who apparently digs his popcorn, because he was going through his supply quickly. Finally, he reached over to offer Julie the box. She grabbed it, then turned to me with a big grin, and tilted the box towards me and told me to take as much as I’d like. In the very bottom of the box, about a half cup of crumbs were all the remained. She giggled, “My Kenny really loves his popcorn!” We both just laughed. Her smile is contagious!!

A nurse by profession, I have no doubt that Julie is a blessing to all her patients as well as her co-workers because she is not only caring and compassionate, she’s also very funny! A joyful person like Julie who can laugh at life is one who makes a difference for others. Period. Spending a few hours with this completely lovely and truly beautiful woman really did make my day! THANKS, JULIE, for reminding me why it’s so important to spend our days being exactly who God created us to be. You are nothing if not an incredible, integrity-filled woman. How blessed is little Manny James to have such a grandma!!

If I’m going to be anything, Lord, let me be genuine… like Julie Hedlund.

P.S. Purdue wins 69-40 over Virginia!! Boiler Up!!