Mad for…Matt

He who is filled with love is filled with God Himself. -St. Augustine

Day 21 of 365

This is Matthew Kiffmeyer. He’s always smiling, and I mean ALWAYS. That’s why I chose him today on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Lately, it’s occurred to me that one of the greatest affronts to human dignity is assuming the worst in another. If you ever watch the news or scroll through social media, you’ll notice a lot of that exists. Most of us are guilty of making these kinds of assumptions about the next guy (from time to time at least). It’s eating at me. So today I thought….who do I know who is the exact OPPOSITE of that? Mattie K.

Matthew is a talented and award winning athlete, having brought home significant hardware at the Special Olympics here in Hamilton County and in Indiana’s State competition as well over the last several years. Not only is he the youngest son of Joe and Julie Kiffmeyer but he’s the pride of St. Louis de Montfort Parish, in my (not so humble) opinion. He’s the younger brother of Andrew and Jim and big brother to sister Sarah. I could (and maybe I will) tell you more about the entire (incredible and inspiring) family as the year progresses, but today is all about Mattie.

Matt is pure joy. He instinctively stops to hug you and shine that bright grin in your direction if he spots you out and about. In fact, my husband Tom and I were the recipients of his awesome love at mass a couple of weeks ago when he spotted us sitting near the aisle on the way back from communion. I was in the middle of thanking Jesus for loving me when He literally came bounding up to me radiant as the sun and gave me a bear hug through the person of one Matthew Kiffmeyer. Day made.

And so I submit to you on this frigid Martin Luther King Day his words that instruct “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Truer words have never been spoken.

Do you know why there’s not a soul around who both knows the Lord and Matthew Kiffmeyer who doesn’t recognize our good and gracious God in this young man? It’s because his intent is clear and simple. He’s enthusiastic, funny, and most of all he’s about loving others. Period. We could ALL borrow a page from that playbook.

Thanks, Matthew, for reminding me about what’s really important. You are a champion for your fast feet as well as your enormous heart.

Happy MLK Day, everyone!!

Mad for…Kristy

Every time you smile at someone it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. -Mother Teresa

Kristy Worthington, left, with her beautiful daughter, Reese.

Day 20 of 365.

Hearing her name makes me instantly grin. Meet Kristy Worthington. She’s the quintessential smiler. Bright, effervescent, and brimming with positivity, Kristy is one of the most cheerful people I have ever known. You leave even the briefest moment with her better for the encounter.

As a grade school teacher, she’s good-natured on her worst days, and hilarious on her best. We call the year with Mrs. Worthington the “white fluffy cloud” experience. If your child comes home from school complaining about this teacher, then that’s a kid who…. must be coming down with the flu? She’s a phenomenally talented educator who has won many awards for the same. She’s a rock star at what she does every day with children. That’s not why I chose her today.

Kristy is an authentic example of what it means to model goodness. She chooses optimism and carries herself in such a buoyant way that others leave her presence lighter on their feet as well. Kristy can also bust a move. Her lip sync numbers are my personal favorite. She posted one today, performed with her travel partner (daughter, Reese) and it’s what made me think to choose her. She’s the most loving and fun mom, that’s easy to see, even from a distance. She’s sanguine, upbeat and sunny side up…even when the world delivers into her life truly difficult moments.

I have watched from a nearby perch as she set aside her own heavy and melancholy heart to hug, smile, and console others who she instinctively knew were in desperate need of a scoop of Mrs. Worthington’s sunshine. She’s a gift to all who know and love her. It seems to me she’s a terrific example of being grateful no matter what.

How blessed are her three children and her handsome husband, Joel? I hope they know.

Kristy? You are the barometer I use to identify positivity in others. Thank you for your example and for your beautiful, faith-filled and sunny heart. I am SO MUCH BETTER for having the chance to know you.

Mad for…Pete!

Today is BASKETBALL DAY IN INDIANA!

PURDUE PETE!

There’s a layer of ice outside now covered by an inch or so of fresh snow. It’s bitter cold here in Central Indiana, but my heart is SO WARM. Let me introduce you to a happy and enthusiastic guy. His name is Pete. Lots of people look up to him, I mean, he’s sort of tall. Today was a big day for him. Purdue 70, IU 55. This one’s for you, MOM!

Mad for…Judy

The happiest people I know are people who don’t even think about being happy. They just think about being good neighbors, good people. And then happiness sort of sneaks in the back window while they are busy doing good. – Harold S. Kushner

We moved into our current home about 5 years ago? It was a new build, and we were one of the last families to arrive. We were here a short time with our 3 boys when there was a knock on the door. It was our next door neighbor, Judy Sullivan. She had a pie in her hand. Nuff said, right? People just don’t welcome new neighbors like that anymore, so it was impossible not to notice the kindness and her warmth immediately.

Judy lives with her daughter, Meghan, and son in law, Grady Dunlap along with their three children, Sam, Matt and Lily. When we moved, we knew we’d be further from the grade school that our youngest still attended. That was certainly one of the “cons” for making the move as we knew it meant I would be driving Zach both to and from his Catholic school in Fishers. Turns out, I was wrong. You see, Judy’s grandkids attend the same school. What were the odds?

In the time since that realization, Judy has taken Z to school most mornings. If my schedule features an unexpected interruption from the norm, when I text the Dunlaps and Judy about the issue, ALMOST ALWAYS, Judy replies “I’ve got them!”

When I run into her, I can always hear the smile in her voice as she asks how we are doing. When she has occasionally shared with me about some of her fun and travels, I marvel at the genuine gratefulness and joyfulness with which she speaks. When I’ve become ill, she’s insisted on bringing some food over to help out.

I hear her grandkids (from my backseat in the PM carpool line) talk about her bridge club, her support for them and their interests, and so much more. I see her at mass with her daughter’s family setting an example of faithfulness. To me, Judy is an everyday hero for the brave way she just does what’s needed, with a smile and a kind heart.

Judy? I think you are a simply marvelous human, and I’m so glad you live next door.

I hope one day I am blessed enough to be a grandma so I can try and be just a little bit like Judy.

“I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” -Maya Angelou

Mad for…Paulette

The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. -Helen Keller

Paulette Moody

Today, my mom was in a car accident. This one wasn’t a fender bender, but rather an axle-breaking, two vehicle doozy. I’m incredibly thankful that all the involved parties are doing fine. R.I.P. to Marilyn, Mom’s five year old minivan, but otherwise….whew!!

Here’s the thing about my mom. She’s never been in an accident. That adrenaline was still pumping rather significantly through her veins several hours later when she called to tell me about her day, despite the wine she’d been drinking in a very transparent attempt to calm the heck down.

Paulette Moody was Mom’s hero today. By the laws of transference, that makes her my hero too. You see, as Mom left the YMCA after her workout today, she was headed to meet Paulette. Fate landed one of my most favorite humans on the planet in a tangled mess in the middle of an intersection with a random guy driving a truck instead. After the fireman and the police got to the scene, Mom ended up walking to a nearby Jimmy Johns to calm down. She informed her friend, the former nurse with the heart of gold, that she wasn’t going to make it….and guess what Paulette did in response? She showed up. She stopped her day and went to sit beside Mom because that’s what Paulette does. Paulette went directly to my mother, and sat with her and chatted about anything she could think of discussing, right there at Jimmy Johns. They spoke about their children, their friends….just anything besides the accident. She looked after the well-being of her friend who was incredibly rattled.

It’s the identical choice she made when my grandmother died. She drove the two hours in the dead of winter across the state and she showed up. She spotted me and she wondered how her friend was doing. “No, really. How is she?” She showed up to the tiny little funeral home in Hartford City and she hugged my mom and she told her she was just sorry and that she loved her. She was present.

Thanks for being there today for Mom, Paulette. You just get it. Sometimes, it stinks for me living in a different city than my hometown. Knowing that Mom has friends like you who truly care means everything. I’m grateful for your example of how important it is to SHOW UP. Showing up is everything.

It is not necessary to teach others, to cure them or to improve them; it is only necessary to live among them, sharing the human condition and being present to them in love. –Charles de Foucauld

Mad for…Chris

It was the way you laughed…I knew I wanted that in my life. –R.M. Drake

For me, laughing is and I imagine will always be, the best form of therapy. On day 16 of my quest to feature 365 amazing people in 2019, I submit to you one Chris Schrader. I’ve had others complain about the photo I chose to run, but this is the first time I’ll own the accusation as fair. Next time I see you, Chris, the beer is on me.

Chris is the first cousin of my husband, Tom. He’s also the father to three pretty terrific grown children (Jacob, Marnie and Katie) and the husband to my tennis idol, Audie. I chose Chris today because I happened upon this photo which was taken I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE….but it made me laugh on an otherwise fairly dismal day.

Chris grins. He smiles. He is the very expression of friendliness toward all. I have yet to encounter this clown and not receive a big hug and his genuine grin. He’s this boisterous, entertaining kid at heart. He’s a clowning savant around whom everyone is welcome.

To me, Chris is grace filled for the way he can bring the spirit of laughter into a room. Several years ago, after a few beverages in South Haven, Michigan, I remember him saying, “Sometimes I try not to laugh at my own jokes but we all know I’m hilarious!” He just cackled and so did the rest of us. He’s a giver of joy and friendly to all.

I read today a quote by Victor Hugo that said, “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.” I needed a scoop of that today, and I thought of you, Chris. I hope you’ll forgive me for the silly photo. It made my day, though, just like you always do when I encounter you.

THANK YOU for making the world a sunnier place.

Mad for…Tina

The greatest saints, those richest in grace and virtue will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them. -St. Louis de Montfort

This is a beautiful photo of my friend, Tina Zimmerman. I ran into her this morning while I was at St. Vincent Hospital, where she is a chaplain. That was all the nudging I needed to realize I was meant to share a little about her today. I truly cannot think of a warmer and more faith-filled person for this compassionate hospital role, and I am absolutely certain that when the Lord called her to this position, she accepted the challenge out of obedience, with our Blessed Mother’s “yes” to the Lord as her guide. That’s simply how Tina rolls.

Tina is the mother of 6 fantastic grown children, and the wife of a pretty terrific guy named John. Also, she’s a grandma to some of the luckiest kiddos around. Loving, upright and constant in her love of the Lord, Tina is the person I know who most reminds me of our Blessed Mother, Mary. She oozes generosity of heart.

Writing about her goodness overwhelms me a bit and challenges my desire for a degree of brevity with these daily entries. Tina is witty and lively. Also, the distressingly long list of examples of the witness of faith she shares with all in her path make it burdensome to choose just a couple. She’s done so many things which inspire in MANY a desire to do more for others. For instance, she’s spent considerable time over the years taking in foster babies, newborns, for the first 60 days of life. Imagine volunteering over and over again to go sleepless for 2 months…long after your own children were well past this age? She’s been on countless mission trips to serve the needy in Brazil. She’s offered insane amounts of her time and talent at her parish, and she’s given counsel to many a friend in need. That includes yours truly.

When I was at the lowest time in my life, when I just really didn’t even know what to say to Jesus, and I was certain I just wasn’t enough, she encouraged me to pray repeatedly, “Jesus, I don’t know what I need, but You do, please help me.” Guess what? He did. I’ll always be grateful.

What makes Tina truly special is that her presence is a reminder to all just how much the Lord loves every one of us. God uses her, over and over, with her soft spoken voice, her quiet prayerfulness, and the works of mercy to inspire in others how beloved each of us is to Him.

Tina? I love you, friend. Today, my rosary was for you.

Faithful friends are beyond price; no amount can balance their worth. (Sir 6:15)

Mad for…Rex

The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. -Johann Sebastian Bach

Day 14 of 365

Meet Rex Rund. Conspicuously faithful and hugely talented, Rex is the Director of Music and Liturgy at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church in Carmel, Indiana.

For the sake of transparency, it’s only fair for me to share that I have only very briefly ever spoken to Rex. Here’s the thing, though. Wow, has our good and gracious God spoken to me through this man! Music has a way of reaching us interiorly, and Rex knows how to tap in. He’s an accomplished musician to be sure. His singing voice is elegant and engaging. What makes him estimable, though, is that he is a man giving his very best effort for the sake of the Lord. Every. Single. Day.

This guy is a liturgy crackerjack. He’s considerably beyond mere proficiency when it comes to understanding the solemn, ritual and sacramental significance of the Catholic Mass. The liturgy and it’s communal response to the sacred, is in my view, utterly enhanced by his loving musical direction at this parish.

Let me say this in a less formal way. At OLMC, people sing. It fills the sanctuary and my heart swells. I am certain I’m not the only one. Hearts are moved because the music is beautiful and chosen thoughtfully, and we all want in.

Rex, thanks for all the extra elbow grease. Your energy and effort every day is clearly aimed at glorifying the Lord, and it inspires me to want the same in my own life. I’m grateful!

Mad for…Gus

Dear young people, do not bury your talents, the gifts that God has given you! Do not be afraid to dream of great things! -Pope Francis

Gus Hartauer, AKA “Shot Doc”

Meet Gus Hartauer, otherwise known as “Shot Doc”. As you can see from his photo here, Gus digs black and gold. Unfortunately, this guy is a Hawkeye, so it’s not quite the right shade for us at the Thieme house. Based on my limited research, I have learned Gus received both his undergraduate degree and his PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Iowa, though, so I’ll excuse it.

He sure sounds like a real smarty-pants based on that information, and I’m typically impressed by anyone with that kind of intellectual acumen. However, the real reason I wanted to offer this little shout out today is for the work Gus does with young people.

Gus has a talent for encouraging kids of all ages. His vehicle is the sport of basketball. He’s widely known as the “Shot Doc” for the workout sessions he has for young basketball players here in Hamilton County. He gives them many opportunities to learn something very important with his knowledge of the sport. He teaches them with his encouraging and positive demeanor that working hard pays off!

His consistent offering of time and talent for the benefit of young people is a terrific witness of what it means to serve others, too. I’d bet he doesn’t realize how many parents of his sharp shooters have noticed and truly appreciate his big heart. You see, Gus holds these workouts quite often and in a local parish gym. He makes very little if any money doing it. He’s always giving kids (who range in age from grade school through college) little prizes for their hard work. Our own 8th grader, Zach, seems particularly fond of the chocolate and he loves to take home a little something when he hits a half court shot too! The kids leave sweaty and smiling. What more could you want? My youngest son is quick to report on his successes and the little “atta boys” that he hears from Shot Doc. Do you know what else? He shows up for their games from time to time to give them a thumbs up, too, and let them know he is in their corner.

It means something to have someone believe you can– and say so!

Thanks, Gus, for reminding me how important it is to offer our time and our talent for the benefit of others. This community is better because of you and all you do for the kids! You, Shot Doc, are the real deal!

Want to know more about him? Follow Gus on Twitter @shotdoctorphd.

Mad for…Maggie

Kindness is like snow- it beautifies everything it covers. -Kahlil Gibran

Maggie Berger- Day 12 of 365

Central Indiana is covered in a blanket of white today. Haltingly, we inched our way this morning from our home in Hamilton County to the far south side of Indianapolis so our Z-man and Coach Dad could get to the last regular season CYO game at St. Barnabas. Our car was filled with exactly ZERO snow lovers. However, Zach pointed out that he knew one person would be very happy to see all the snow. That would be my pick for person of the day– Maggie Berger!

Lively and passionate, and with a heart of gold, Maggie has a certain zest for life that is magnetic! She’s an English teacher who loves all the kiddos like they are her own. St. Theodore Guerin has a famous quote which says, “Love the children first, then teach them.” That sums up Maggie’s professional life in a nutshell. It’s quite evident that Maggie knows innately that her students are both wise and capable, and this is why they respond to her with smiles and love. She has been known to sense the anxiety of middle schoolers and decide to turn down the lights and pray, asking the Lord to intervene for them all. Children who find themselves in her care are truly blessed. She is truly kind.

Maggie is an amazing mother of two sons, Patrick and Thomas and a loving daughter to a great gal named Peggy. She’s also the owner of a terrifically sarcastic sense of humor that makes me snicker at the sight of her. She’s been known to text me when certain old songs come on the radio that remind her of the times when our boys were much smaller and we sat at Skiles Test watching them have fun while we laughed and sang wholly inappropriate lyrics from the 3rd base line…until tears formed from the giggling.

My run-on sentences and lack of appropriate grammar in this entry will drive her slightly batty, but that’s my retribution for the snow you wished on us, Maggie. Ha?

I hope you know how much you are treasured. I know your faithful heart is certain that you are a beloved daughter of the most high God, Maggie, and that’s really all that matters. I guess I just want you to know that I love you too, friend!