Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in hardships, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10)
Today, I want you all to meet an outstanding young man named Cole Hepp. Cole is a junior at the University of Dayton and the oldest son of a couple of my most dear friends. However, before I tell you more about this ace of a kid, I’d like to share why I chose him today.
It’s been an overwhelming few weeks for me personally. That probably explains why the childish noise coming from the bully pulpit of leadership from one side of the political aisle along with the deafening cheers from the other side of the aisle over their right to kill full term babies…well it just has made me insanely sad. What kind of future can a nation have when almost all the adults in charge are acting like moronic fools? We’ve all gone and lost our minds and forgotten how to love!
In the midst of those interior thoughts, what’s really important suddently cleared my head. Few things help bring into crystal clear focus what’s really important in this life like, “You have cancer.”
The morning after news began to circulate about my diagnosis, I received this photo from Cole Hepp. His text note read, “Hi, Mrs. Thieme! I am praying for you from St. Meinrad. The whole Hepp family is so thankful for you and we love you.”
Cole was the face of Christ to me that morning. I suspect he’s been that same light for many during his time as a retreat leader at St. Meinrad and as he lends his guidance and shares his faithful witness to the young people entering the church who are going through the RCIA program at the University of Dayton this year. That includes his completely fantastic brother, Clay, who he is guiding through the process as a sponsor.
I’ve known Cole for several years. He went through high school with my son. They were basketball and baseball teammates, and they celebrated their graduation together at a big joint party. He’s got a wide and dimple-filled smile for everyone. His eyes are of the twinkly and compassionate variety. He’s so bright, articulate and full of the love and joy and hope of the Lord that he can’t hold it in. He’s just got to share it…with a great big grin! ALL the moms want their son to have this kid for a friend. He shouts out the greatness of God by the way he lives his life and the choices he makes. He’s on fire for the Lord, and the news is too wonderful to keep it to himself! He’s a grace-filled human.
I received a letter from Cole today. He opened with a funny memory about my youngest son describing us to him once saying, “We’re a good family!” It’s Zach’s famous line and it really made me giggle. He then shared with me the scripture quote I opened with above and how it represents the beauty of our shared faith. What a lovely and kind gesture for a 21-year old kid to make. He mailed an ACTUAL LETTER you guys. There was a stamp on it and everything. Did I mention he’s a college kid?
Cole Hepp. In offering me your prayers for strength, peace and love, you were an enormous reminder to me that we crazy old people needn’t worry too much. There’s a generation of faith-filled, courageous, compassionate lovers of Christ all around us. Young man, God loves to watch you climb…and so do I. Some days might be itty-bitty painful steps of blind trust and other days you’ll be an unstoppable mountain climber….but keep going onward and upward. I believe God will continue to use you for great things!
As I’ve watched you grow from a boy to a man, and the last couple of years as a Catholic Christian, you’ve been a witness to me and many of what joy comes from leading a life of integrity and faith. Thank you for reminding me that the lunatics will not prevail in the end and our collective future is in excellent hands! I LOVE YOU, KID! THANK YOU FOR REMINDING ME THE WORLD IS FULL TO THE BRIM WITH GOODNESS!
P.S.– This article about him from UD is pretty impressive. Take a peek!