Mother of Mercy

I’m gonna be honest.  Right now, I have forced myself into this chair to type hoping it will calm me down.  My heart is racing, my hands trembling; my mind is spinning out of control.  This has been quite a week.  At this moment, the gift I am giving myself is to simply spew it.  This is what I would call a “stream of consciousness” entry.

Have you ever had a friend you just cherish beyond words?  God has blessed me with a handful of them.  I just call them “my girls”.   They are the cream of the crop, each with amazing gifts that make them incredibly special to me.  My friend Julie is the REAL DEAL.  She is a loving mother of 3 boys, an artist, quiet and unassuming, funny, selfless, and one of the finest women I have ever known.

As I wrote earlier this week, my wonderful friend, Julie, lost her mother a few days ago.  I omitted details from the day she died on my previous entry.  See, the thing is, I had been with Julie most the afternoon that day this world lost Nula.  Julie had what I call a “Lucy and Ethel moment” and fell down the stairs and onto her garage floor the day before her mom died.  When I got the call to take her to have her leg checked the next morning, we both assumed she simply had a bad sprain.  Wrong.  The ankle was broken.  We talked and laughed and determined that it was annoying as heck, but nevertheless possible, to survive 6 weeks as a mom of 3 without being able to drive.  She picked out a purple cast….the ideal color for the mom of a Guerin Catholic Golden Eagle football player.  We found the sunny side, and I promised that we would help her through.

When she got home, news reached her that her mom had taken a major turn for the worse, and that doctors didn’t think she would make it through the night.  This was jarring.  Despite the fact that she had been ill, the end came very suddenly and was without warning.  The prayer warriors went into overdrive that night praying Divine Mercy for Nula and strength for Julie and her entire family.  Word came just a couple hours later that God had taken Julie’s mom.  Julie sat beside her mom’s bed in a wheelchair herself, filled with angst, in that quickly forgotten purple cast.

Funeral plans were made.  Eulogies were written.  We painted Julie’s toes purple to match her accessorized right leg.  Casserole dishes and platters full of cookies appeared.  Four priests concelebrated the mass, and Deacon Rick was “robed up” too.  It was a beautiful celebration of an amazing life.

SIGH.  NOW, it seemed time to let my friend have some room to mourn with her family.  Then, the phone rang.  It was Julie.  She wondered if I could take her to the doctor.  Her good leg was hurting more than she thought it should.

Two days post funeral, there we are in the doctor’s office again.  The doctor looks up at us and says, “I’m going to need you to head to St. Vincent’s now.  They will confirm things for you, Julie, but I believe you have some blood clots in your leg.  You need to go immediately.”

I was thinking, “Goodness.  That’s a fine how do you do, God.  Really?  Hasn’t she been through enough this week?”  Off we went, trying to remain calm.

Within half an hour, the ultrasound technician confirmed the diagnosis.  Her good leg has quite a few clots.  More tests were ordered.   Tears streamed down my friend’s face as I held her crutches, and her necklace, and her hand.  “Jules, this is when trusting God feels really hard, but we have to try.  He and I are gonna have some words tonight over you, FOR SURE, but our job is to trust Him.”

I went to get her a tuna sub from Subway, and I called her husband.  He left work, and we tried to see the sunshine.

Yesterday, more doctors were consulted.  Specialists galore, friends, and family swirled about.  She was sent home to rest and wait for instructions.

Now four days since her mom’s funeral, she finds herself in a chair, in the same hospital where her mother passed away last week, with her purple cast, a left leg full of clots, getting a blood transfusion.  It seems her blood counts are poor.  It’s REEE-DAMN-DICULOUS!  Why now?  None of it makes much sense.

Her concern is for her children.  She is texting me not to forget the youngest son’s cleats.  There’s carpool pickup, practice, and don’t forget the 9am football game.  Every mom can relate.  There’s no way to be present and peaceful in the moment until you are certain your children are safe and in loving hands.

Tonight I will have some extras at the Thieme house.   There will be picking up, dropping off, packing bags, watching games, meal preparation, kid bathing, sleeping bags, and extra hugs needed.  I wish I could do more.

To all the people today to whom I seemed distracted or even rude, I was.  I’m sorry.  Gus, greatest handyman ever, thanks for saving my house from the leaky plumbing while I talked and talked and talked on the phone today and completely ignored you.  I’m sure you’d like to give me a piece of your mind about my tacky hand waving.  A nice tip will be forthcoming.

Here’s the thought I can’t quite escape as my heart hurts for my friend.  Who do we want when we are sick and struggling?  I can’t speak for you…..but I want my mom.  Gosh.

Jules, this is my prayer for you.   I’m asking Mary, mother of us all, to watch over and intercede for you this day.  She will, because you are beloved.

HAIL HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope…..



Daily Mass for a Jesus Girl

My friend Katie called me a “Jesus girl”.  It took me by surprise when she said it, but I admit that it instantly made me smile.  First of all, I just turned 40, and my oldest of three sons is a teenager, so there was some basking in the glow of the word “girl.”  Really though, I know she is right and being a Jesus girl is a grace born of prayer.
Prayer for me started in earnest at one 8am daily mass after another a couple years ago.  What I didn’t understand then was that the simple, obedient act of showing up each morning was all that was required to change everything about my day.  The suggestion to attend mass was a tiny whisper in my soul, barely audible.  Listening and attending to it was borne of the feeling of being lost and lonely in the midst of my chaotic life.  I was attending mass because it was the only thing I could think to do to catch my breath.
Our God is brilliant and loving beyond our comprehension. He wants to draw us closer.  All that is required is an open heart.  We don’t need to earn it, be smart enough or feel worthy an ounce.  I began showing up and then I couldn’t do without it.  There came a longing, a yearning to be there.  To say that I never expected to feel this kind of fondness for mass would be a major understatement– it would be somewhere in the ballpark of me thinking my sons might offer to do MY laundry.
With all apologies to the wonderful priests of our diocese, I feel the need to pause and explain.  It’s not the homily.  It’s not the music.  The daily masses I’ve attended contain little of either.  It’s JESUS.  I receive Him and I am changed.
How often do you truly consider that at every single mass, we have the opportunity to receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus?  A Protestant friend of mine, Lori, said to me recently, “If I believed what you Catholics supposedly believe, that Jesus is TRULY PRESENT in the Eucharist, well you simply could not keep me from mass.  So, where are the people?”
I looked at her and smiled.  Then I said, “You have come to the right baseball mom, Lori.  Rarely do I miss a daily mass because I don’t supposedly believe…I KNOW Jesus is present.  I can’t wait to go back tomorrow—really.”
Come join me anytime.  Jesus girls love company.

What’s in a Name?

NULA.  It’s a name that stands on its own, her son eulogized this week.  Think “Cher” or “Beyonce”.  Her son, Joe, couldn’t have been more accurate in his description of his larger than life mother during her funeral mass Monday afternoon.  She lived her life with passion, where slackers need not apply.  Her battle with pancreatic cancer scarcely changed a thing.  She wouldn’t allow any child or grandchild of hers to get away with standing in the batter’s box watching strikes go by, and she went down swinging!

Some people just have a way of making our lives sunnier, our hearts warmer.  They show up when the chips are down, or stop by with a diet coke, or make you laugh until your sides ache.  They just keep putting love out there.  They latch on to the affirmative.

When Fr. Farrell gave the most beautiful funeral homily I have ever heard this week, that’s part of what he said made Nula such a genuine person.  But the most important thing he shared was a reminder.  He reminded the packed house at St. Pius X Catholic Church that God doesn’t want us to be the next St. Catherine of Siena, or Francis of Assisi.  He wants us to live our lives with zeal being authentically US, from start to finish, just like Nula did.

Virtually every great accomplishment, program, or movement about which I have ever read or learned firsthand was started by someone who believed and lived passionately.  It’s painfully easy to decide one “cannot”.  It’s a simple path to nowhere living with a pocketful of excuses and the sense that we surely cannot acquire the capacity to do it.   Is there a single saint who spent their time glorifying God on this planet, on their path to canonization, preaching by word or example the idea of loving as moderately as possible?

So, today, I am writing about loving my Catholic faith, again.  Writing about God doesn’t help me pay any bills.  It’s something I’d told myself I shouldn’t waste my time doing anymore.  I should be matching socks, or helping someone practice their spelling words, or making something slightly fancier than boiled noodles for dinner.  I am madly in love with my family, and I would like it to appear to them that these are not merely words.

Here’s the thing.  I love writing and I love Jesus.  Those two things are my passions as well.   So, I acquired this crazy idea at Nula’s funeral that being Shelly, really living genuinely and passionately as the Shelly God means me to be, well, it means I am going to have to step confidently in the direction of passion.   I think I am just supposed to keep putting love out there, even though Blogging, and Twitter, and all social media seem incredibly narcissistic to me, and despite the fact that there seems to be no reason to believe my homemaking skills have any hope of improving.

It’s all an effort at living who He created me to be, to the fullest extent I can endeavor to try, and with the help of His grace—that’s what He wants for all of us, and He Never Misses.

Visit me at or on Twitter at @shellythieme