Mad for…Joey

“I wish to sow courage, hope and enthusiasm…” -St. Pope John Paul II

Day 58 of 365.

Meet Joey Cobb. She’s the mother of Jensen and the wife to Cam. She’s a small town girl at heart who now lives in Carmel. She’s been teaching PE at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School for as long as I can remember. I have been observing her since my 21 year old college junior was a little guy in his navy blue school uniform pants, and also prior to the arrival of her athletic and boisterous son you see pictured above. I swear to you, she’s not aged one ounce in this time. It’s truly unfair.

The world has this idea of what beauty is, and as you can see from her smile which lights up the page, Joey is certainly that. However, the reason I think she is breath-taking and altogether beautiful has much more to do with the content of her heart and her character. Can you imagine trying to know the names of nearly 500 students? Well, like most elementary schools, SLDM has only one PE teacher. This one is creative, joyful, enthusiastic and fun! Also, she knows her students. All of them. They matter to her and the children know that. She’s genuine and impressive.

Joey loves country music, cheering for her little athlete, and she loves weekends at the lake. She’s into boating and tennis and laughing. Joey is a joyful person, and a shining light with a lovely disposition. One needs that when attempting to “herd cats”, which is what it looks to me like one must do when teaching physical education to pre-schoolers. Also, she’s got to design meaningful curriculum IN A GYM for hormonal 14-year old 8th graders that leave them in one piece at the end of class. That’s a skill set that crosses a wide swath, folks. It gives me hives thinking about it, if I’m honest.

Mrs. Cobb has long been a favorite of SLDM kiddos, and it’s not simply because PE is widely considered to be the greatest subject school ever invented (this according to my extremely unscientific survey). It’s because Joey loves the children. You can’t fake that.

Joey, I’m LOOOONG overdue to say THANK YOU for the kindness you have shown the Thieme boys and many hundreds of families over many years. You, my dear woman, are an altogether beautiful human being! We are grateful for you!

Mad for…Kim

Put yourself in God’s hands; He abandons no one. -St. Andre Bessette

This is such a sweet photo of Kim Murray with her husband, Pat. Truth be told, I don’t know either one of them very well. Our kids were high school friends who went to a few dances together, though, so we are mildly acquainted. However, I am an observer of people and what I can see from a distance about Kim is crystal clear. We can all see that she is a stunningly beautiful woman with a truly genuine smile. More than that, though, she is a woman of God…a fellow Jesus girl.

Kim’s the mother of 6 children who very obviously love and serve the Lord, an animal lover, a sweet thoughtful woman, and TODAY IS HER BIRTHDAY! Allow me to share with you a little peek at her quiet compassion and faithfulness as I aim to honor her on her special day!

Some weeks back, I was diagnosed with cancer. Just a few weeks later, we learned this was in fact the wrong diagnosis, however during this time word spread. I ran into Kim at a daily mass we both happened to be attending at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. I went to say hello and assured her of my prayers for her family, and she inquired about the rumor she had heard about me. It was a brief but lovely chat.

A few days later on my way down the driveway to grab my mail, I noticed Kim in her big pickup truck dropping something off. She explained that she wanted to share some of this “Oil of St. Joseph” that her husband had brought home from a trip to Canada. She explained a bit about the family having a devotion to St. Andre Bessette and that Pat had made a pilgrimage to the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal, and that offering prayers through the intercession of St. Andre and St. Joseph might be a powerful aid to me. The gesture was incredibly humbling and utterly filled with faith and compassion. I was truly moved.

A lover of saints, this surprise delivery also caused me to explore the life of St. Andre, who I now consider a friend. As often happens when I meet new saints, I was captivated by his humility and holiness while I read about his life. His physical weakness or meager background did not deter him from becoming a truly amazing man of God. His story inspired me, and I have Kim to thank for the introduction.

Your little kindness was not small to me, Kim Murray, and I suspect similar acts of love leave others in your wake feeling like you are also the face of Christ to them as you “do your day”. I am grateful to you for reminding me that when we stoop down to lift up, reach out, pray, drive out of your way for the sake of another, we really are doing the Lord’s work. Your kindness left me feeling that Jesus was walking alongside and I am grateful.


Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40)

Mad for…Brian

Do not lose any time. Do good, do all the good you can ad you will never regret doing it. Forget the services you have rendered to others, but not those rendered to you. –St. John Bosco

Day 56 of 365.

Note from the author: Some of you have noticed by now, but others continue to ask, so allow me to explain once again the reason for my daily entries. I decided at the start of 2019 that I would try to inject some positivity into my tiny corner of the world (and social media) by writing a few paragraphs each day about a different person who I think makes a positive difference for us all by the way they live their life. Today, I have chosen Brian Thieme. Read on if you are so inclined.

He’s a just man, upright, and faithful. He’s the father of five and husband to Sarah. Meet Brian Thieme. Brian is the cousin of my husband, Tom. Along with his son, David, he runs Thieme & Wagner Brewing in Lafayette. It’s been quite a labor of love for the family, opening this spot in my hometown. Brian’s an extremely likeable guy, funny, unassuming and absolute without any sense of entitlement whatever. Like most the Thiemes, Brian knows all about a good beer and he shines in the role of proprietor of the terrific bar because he inherited from his Dad his most authentic good nature.

What I love about Brian is that he is kind, welcoming and compassionate. He seems to do all the little things in a way that to me glorifies the Lord. He’s lived his faith life in such a way that it’s been beautifully passed on to his children. He’s an active member at St. Boniface Catholic Church, which is located very near his new establishment in downtown Lafayette.

I’ve watched from my nearby perch as Brian, despite all his responsibilities, has kept an eye on my father-in-law, Tom, his uncle. In my opinion, he’s been this stunningly generous and genial nephew, the one in the extended family who has taken the time to walk alongside Tom during his long fight with colon cancer in this unique and meaningful way. They share a lifelong love of Indy Car racing, and that seems to be the main vehicle for their bonding. What I hear from Toms Sr about their times together is joy. At times, those moments seem fleeting and hard to come by, so it absolutely warms my heart. The time and attention that the very sunny Brian has shared with his Uncle Tom to me cements his legacy as a simple, good man who knows how to witness to his children and his family at large what it means to be the face and hands of Christ to others. WELL DONE, Brian!

I realize you’re the one who owns the bar, Brian, but the next chance I get, your beer is on me! You are a terrific human! CHEERS!

Mad for…Karen

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. (Proverbs 16:21)

A couple of years ago or so, I pulled into the driveway of my friend Karen Tabor’s new home. I was bringing her youngest son, Sam home. It was dark and I was driving my husband’s brand new car. As I backed out rather aggressively, I completely mangled the Tabor’s mailbox. I mean, it was stunning how quickly I was able to utterly destroy it with Tom’s fancy Durango. UGH! Clearly, I was mortified.

I learned that night what true graciousness looks like. Karen immediately forgave me. The instant she heard my pathetic apology she was merciful. She didn’t even let me pay for the damage, which I know cost the Tabors not a small amount.

Although I was completely full of remorse, it would have been a natural reaction to curse, or at least whisper a little poison in my direction in the heat of the moment. Who could blame her? Karen did not do any such thing. Further, she’s never even given a hint of disdain in my direction, nor has her husband. We’ve laughed about it and it’s clear to me that her desire was to simply move on. She’s withheld any grudge and continued to treat me as she does everyone else– with her signature charm, kindness and good humor.

Karen is the mother of 2 terrific boys and the wife of a pretty hilarious attorney named Jeff. She seems to be big on laughing, golf, and the Indiana Hoosiers. She’s generous, and faith-filled, so I am overlooking the IU thing. Ha?

I read a quote once in an old fashioned book about “how to be a lady” that stuck with me. It went like this. “Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you.” I can’t remember the name of the author but I’ll just say by that standard, then Karen Tabor is most certainly a lady on all 3 counts. She’s a beautiful, sunny, and oh so gracious gal.

Our lives are roller coaster rides, there are lots of twists, turns, ups and downs. Karen is a person whose example of compassion and graciousness serves as an awesome reminder to me of how we are to treat others. She treated me like the Lord treats us when we ask for His mercy. She gave it INSTANTLY. Thank you, Karen, for the real life reminder of what kind of woman I want to be in this life. How blessed all of us for knowing you! You are a terrific human and I am proud to call you friend.

Mad for…Dick Atha

Remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm, look forward to the future with confidence. -St. John Paul II

Day 54 of 365: Dick Atha

My Dad was once, many moons ago, a student teacher at Benton Central High School in Benton County, Indiana. It was there that he met the now legendary figure, Dick Atha. My own experience with Atha is somewhat limited, but his grandsons Nathan Bohn and Mason Atha are the same age as my oldest son, Nick, who played on various baseball and basketball teams with these two over the years. In fact, Nathan and my oldest remain good friends and are roommates at Xavier University in Cincy.

Mr. Atha is a doting grandfather who enthusiastically cheered on his grandsons in numerous games we both attended over the past several years, and my own Dad, being the same kind of very proud grandpa happened to be present at some of these functions as well. A storyteller extraordinaire, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure how much of what my Dad continued to share about this Atha character were true.

Well, today, a few days after it’s initial printing, I happened upon this phenomenal article about my Dad’s old pal, Dick Atha. It verifies everything Dad ever shared about this high quality, character filled man. I already deeply admired him for the integrity and compassion he instilled in his daughter, Mary (Atha) Bohn, my friend. It was also evident in our brief interactions that this is a genuine man filled with goodness and joy.

So today, I wanted a few more folks to see this great article written by my hometown newspaper, the Lafayette Journal & Courier. It celebrates the rich contributions made to his community and beyond by a truly terrific human. Click on the link above. It’s worth your time!

Thank you, Mr. Atha, for your heroic witness of what it means to spend your life in enthusiastic service to the young people of your community. We all can learn a lesson from your fire, constancy, and passion!

Mad for…Mollie

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor: 3:18)

Day 53 of 365: Mollie Smith

By now, most of you know that I am BIG on honoring the birthdays of folks I know and even those I don’t know as well. Birthdays should be a festival, I think! This week, it’s Mollie Smith’s festival. Her birthday was earlier in the week, and I’ve chosen today to tell you a little about her fabulousness.

I read this inspiring entry in a spiritual book recently and the chapter was titled, “God loves your family resemblance.” This immediately made me think of the Smith family, because their glorious clan is so recognizable, and they are a family who loves and serves the Lord with enthusiasm. I credit their mom (an amazing convert to the Catholic faith, by the way). She’s as fine a Christian woman as I have ever encountered. I mean, Adam’s okay too…ha?! It’s just this THIS WEEK, I am celebrating his bride.

Here are some of the highlights from that chapter I mentioned. I hope when you read it, it will give you a more clear picture of the type of mother and kind, compassionate woman I believe her to be, because these words make me think of Mollie….and Carly, Kolbe, Simon, Lily, Sadie, Wyatt, Luke and little Ella too. I’ve been watching them from a distance for some time, and this is a family that inspires in me a firm desire to love the Lord in the same joyful way they do– its seems to me to be born of the deep faithfulness they all share.

Do you giggle like your mom? Or chuckle and chortle like your dad? Do you remind everyone of your Great-Aunt Ruth? We tend to look and act like the people we’re related to– those whom we love. So…are you as kind as the King? Do you love like your Lord? Do you give like Jesus? Having your mom’s eyes or your dad’s smile is great, but when it comes to your heart, God is hoping it looks a lot like His. Because He just loves to see your family resemblance. (Tama Fortner)

Mollie, I know you are proud of your stunning family, and you should be. Jesus surely sees the family resemblance with your clan. The Lord is smiling down on you and sees your perseverance, your endurance, your kindness, the YES you have proclaimed just like Our Blessed Mother, and so do I. Thank you for the witness of faith you have shown me through every encounter I have ever had with you or any of your children. You are impressive, birthday girl!! HAPPY (belated) BIRTHDAY, MOLLIE!

Mad for…Fr. Richard

Our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, or even at their difficulty, as at the love with which we do them. -St. Therese of Lisieux

Day 52 of 365: Fr. Richard Doerr

Feb. 21, 2019– About 10 years ago, one of my holiest friends noticed I was in a dark place. I’ll spare you the details, except to say that she insisted I should meet her friend, Fr. Richard Doerr. Spiritually and otherwise, I was just a hot mess. Like he does all week long, year after year, with countless folks who seek him out or who are sent to him against their will, he used his considerable pastoral gifts to help me find the Lord.

Priests have long been targets of the enemy of enemies. After all, these good guys, (and I promise you most of them are just that), live their lives in heroic service to others. My friend, Fr. Richard, is such a man. He won’t care for this birthday tribute one bit, but I’m stubborn and unreasonable so I’m offering it here all the same. Sorry for your luck, Padre.As a diocesan priest, he’s the pastor of a parish of over 4,000 families. That’s north of 14,000 souls who are in his care, folks. He’s a Purdue grad and so am I, therefore I will offer you this comparison with which to judge the enormity of the task he’s been assigned. Have you ever attended a basketball game at Purdue’s Mackey Arena? The number of souls he’s tasked with guiding towards the Lord is roughly equal to a sell out crowd at Mackey. Think about that the next time he doesn’t respond to your message in the time frame you’d prefer.

He carries burdens too heavy for his people to bear alone. He consoles every day, and despite the incredible work load, he carries the secret grief, the tragic loss, the family crises, and the painful failures. The needy and the poor know the parish he leads is a place of refuge. He’s pastorally gifted, and he seems to exist in a calm, rational state despite frequent episodes without a reasonable amount of sleep. You see, if someone in his flock truly needs him, the hour doesn’t matter. He goes where he is called. His cross is very heavy, and he bears it with love. Sometimes, he’s maddeningly spent. Always, he’s prayerful, and mindful of the grace and beauty of the life he lives.

Because authenticity is my favorite quality in humans, I’ll offer that he’s a genuine and very real guy who has been known to curse when a good cuss word is just the best option available, and he’s got a wicked, sarcastic and hilarious sense of humor which often carries him through the day. That sense of humor definitely makes his homilies accessible and memorable. He can be both joyfully irreverent and shockingly compassionate.

Don’t forget, though, he’s a human being. He’s got his own family, including a mother, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews on whom he dotes. Just like the rest of us, he’s needed to take mom to her doctor’s appointment or babysit for the little ones now and then. He needs and tries to take the time to be present for his own family. People forget that humanity and expect too much sometimes. It pleases me that he does an excellent job of looking after his physical health and he somehow manages to squeeze in workouts most days of the week.

All my people know I love this guy, and so does he. Keeping quiet isn’t a strength area for me. If I love you, I say so. Here’s the deal. This guy stuck with me when any other mere mortal would have told me to hit the road. I am nothing if not needy and persistent. He attempted to buy himself some oxygen by shoving spiritual books in my direction. I read them ALL. I was a sponge and I cried out for more. I fell in love with the saints, whom I had largely not yet met. I learned the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which I can only pray while singing aloud or in my mind, because it played on an endless loop on a CD he gave me. I was captivated by it’s beauty. He introduced me to Caravaggio’s art, which left me breathless. I’m not even going to tell you about the whole Taize prayer service he insisted I attend. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Well, I was moved to tears. You should find one and go. Talk about ridiculous!

When I take myself and my sins too seriously in confession, he says things like “Get off the cross, we need the wood, Shelly.” He makes me laugh at myself and he texts me stupid memes now and then when he’s had a long week or he sensed the same from me. He presides at reverent, beautiful masses and he sings like an angel. In short, he has been the most selfless shepherd I can ever imagine encountering. I realize his vocation calls for him to often be “in persona Christi”… but this guy? It’s like my husband says. He’s not messing around. Fr. Richard wants us to know and love the Lord. He spends himself entirely in the effort. I am but one of his 14,000. The number of people who have told me similar tales of their own powerful conversion which God orchestrated through this particular instrument would make your head spin.

Frequently, with his extra large heart on full display, he asks me for my prayers for parishioners who are suffering. It’s my deep honor to offer them. Today, I’d like to ask you to pray for him. It’s his birthday, and he does a stunning job keeping Christ in the lives of the people in his care. Please join me in asking God to grant him the same in his own. His life is one worth celebrating in a BIG way. Pray for your priest too– again and again. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FR. RICHARD!

Today’s Prayer for Priests, Offered for Fr. Richard Doerr:

O Jesus, our great High Priest, hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priest, Fr. Richard. Give him a deep faith, a bright and firm hope and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of his priestly life.

In his loneliness, comfort him in his sorrows, strengthen him in his frustrations, point out to him that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show him that he is needed by the Church, he is needed by souls, he is needed for the work of redemption.

O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your son who is close to you because of his priestly ordination, and because of the power which he has received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs him so much. Be his comfort, be his joy, be his strength, and especially help him to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.


Mad for…Chuck

He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart. (Isaiah 40:11)

*National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Day 51 of 365.

As I celebrated “Senior Night” with this year’s Guerin Catholic High School (class of 2019) basketball playing seniors last evening, I found myself thinking back to this time one year ago and the person of one Chuck Hansen. I met Chuck when our sons began to play basketball together their freshman year in high school. As a team mom, I’m a quick learner, and I heard fairly rapidly about the need to get to know Chuck. The football moms were pretty convincing about that fact. You see Chuck’s reputation preceded him. He was known to all to be kind of a quiet guy, but a photography genius– and every team mom needs to know that guy!

It wasn’t long before I learned Chuck’s talent was real, but even more, his attitude impressed me. I’ve long thought the greatest folks who really have the most to teach me about what matters are those who lead in servanthood. They are folks like Chuck who put the interests of others at the center of their actions and decisions.

More times than I can count, and usually with no thank you whatsoever, Chuck would sneak over to GC to take dozens of photos for us all– for locker signs, for banners, and for senior night gifts. All I had to do was ask, and Chuck said, “sure thing.” Last year, Chuck spent considerable time capturing all the senior players, managers and broadcasters IN ACTION and then printed out large and impressive photos for all the families to take home to remember their time in the Golden Eagle basketball program. When I came over to the Hansen home to look them over for framing, I was overwhelmed by the time he spent and the quality of the gifts he was sharing. This is just one tiny example to illustrate that Chuck is a guy with a beautiful, giving heart. There are so many more!

In recent months, Chuck and his family has been often in my prayers as they mourn the untimely death of their son, Evan. They’ve been promoting awareness of mental health and suicide prevention to honor Evan. It’s no surprise to me at all that their efforts and their collective wish is for this scourge to decrease as awareness increases. They are both incredibly bright lights and examples of servant leadership in the most trying time of their lives. My admiration continues to grow as I see the impact they are having for this community.

An article in last week’s Catholic Moment contained a quote from Chuck about his beloved middle son, Evan. Chuck said, “He did small little acts of kindness and that is why people loved him so much.”

As I read that, knowing it as undisputed truth, I also thought, well Chuck….like father, like son. He learned that kindness from your witness, Dad.

Chuck is an incredibly faithful, genuine, compassionate and warm-hearted soul. The largess of his giving and that of his wife, Mary, in the midst of their great personal suffering is remarkable, grace-filled and inspiring. Their work has been spoken of at length in both local and national media.

Today, I just wanted to take a happy memory of a great senior night for that basketball class of 2018 who were honored a year ago and say THANK YOU CHUCK! You are a character-filled man who gives from his heart. I am grateful to you for reminding me to focus always on how I can serve God by doing for others– even when, perhaps especially when, my heart is aching. Trusting in God’s goodness and love is a lesson I am learning from you.

God Bless you, Chuck, as well as Mary, Carl and Jack. GO JAGS!!

Mad for…Jeff

Video Story of Jeff Utzinger: Please click to watch

Day 50 of 365.

Today is the birthday of my old neighbor, Jeff Utzinger. Jeff’s the sunny, energetic, passionate, athletic father of three great kids (Jennifer, Jeffrey and George ) and the husband of a very sweet gal named Christine. In honor of his special day today, I’d like to ask you all to watch this important and heart warming video. From it we can all learn the importance of being courageous enough to be a good Samaritan, among other very useful lessons. It will tug on your heart strings, even if you don’t know Jeff AND it will convict you of the value of AED devices.

I thought the best way to honor my gracious and brave friend was to share his story and the message contained with a few more folks. If you’ve not seen it, it’s truly worth the time.

Jeff, today’s your day, and your life is certainly one worth celebrating! I am proud to know you and pleased to count you as a friend. Thank you for your courage in sharing your story. I’m thankful for the memories and fun we’ve shared over the years and for the lesson in gratefulness and humility you’ve spread by being open with your story. Bill’s a hero, and SO ARE YOU! YOU ARE SAVING LIVES!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Mad for…Colleen

Oh God, you are my God- it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water. I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory. For your love is better than life; my lips shall ever praise you! (Psalm 63: 1-4)

Day 49 of 365.

If you take the time to notice the life being led by Colleen Ward, you’ll see a pattern of thanksgiving. She clearly believes, by her conspicuous witness, that our good and gracious God meant for us to not only thank Him for the graces He’s shared which enrich our lives, but also to thank others responsible for the small blessings that make our journey more pleasant.

I met Colleen many years ago when I was a working girl in a corporate communications job. In my role, I counted heavily on the expertise and legwork of a local PR firm, Coles PR, where Colleen was employed at the time. I’ll be candid. As clients go, I was a first class, high maintenance PIA. I look back on that time and roll my eyes at my ridiculousness. Colleen, then as now, was the definition of class, impressive work ethic, and kindness. She was and is now– bright, talented, professional and flat out impressive. Guerin Catholic High School made an incredibly far-sighted and positive move when they snagged her for her communications role several years ago. I know very few people whose integrity matches that of Colleen. She’s a positive, sunny, character-filled gift from the Lord.

Sometimes, folks need a meaningful expression of how they are valued. An expression of authentic gratitude to a world filled with folks who need to know that they matter is no small thing. I’ve seen Colleen express just these kinds of meaningful sentiments to and about lots of folks. The most impactful for me in terms of learning from her witness, though, are the public expressions of appreciation she continues to share about her family members.

EVERY SINGLE TIME, it reminds me of the St. (Mother) Teresa quote, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

Colleen is sunny, funny and self-deprecating. She lives her life in service to others, but spends herself quietly. Her lack of volume, however, should not be construed as a lack of strength. She is a fierce, capable woman of God. I notice and admire her most for loving her family lavishly, unconditionally, and maybe sometimes even foolishly– which is just the way God loves us. The way she praises the Lord with her life is inspiring. Today, on your special day, I want to turn the tables and thank you, Colleen, for being a powerful witness to me and many. If we all loved our families and those around us as you do, WOW would the world be transformed!