Mad for…Nick

There is no substitute for hard work. –Thomas A. Edison

Typically, I don’t write about folks from the same family in such close proximity to one another, but the family I have focused on this week seems to celebrate just a plethora of birthdays in the month of May! The above photo I featured just a couple of days ago, on the occasion of Alli Andriole’s “Sweet 16”. Today, I want to honor her older brother, Nick, who is pictured at left, because today is his 21st birthday! Happy Birthday, Nick Pat!!

Nicholas Patrick Andriole, who I affectionately call “Nick Pat” is older brother to Jake and Alli and the son of Rich and Janet. When he was in grade school, he and my son, who is also named Nick, became the best of friends. They spent countless hours together…and his mom declared fairly early on that she refused to call her own son by his last name. So, to differentiate between the two, she informed us all that they would be henceforth referred to as “Nick Pat” and Nick Fred”. It stuck. To this day, that’s how I usually refer to both of them!

Nick Pat is a amazing young man who is filled with compassion for others. The good Lord also graced him with an extra large helping of integrity. HOWEVER, this handsome young man has one quality which defines him for me. He is THE HARDEST WORKER EVER. This kid’s work ethic puts the rest of us to shame. He’s humble, unassuming and with not a shred of the scourge of entitlement with which many young people seem to be afflicted.

Despite the adversity of learning challenges stemming from his dyslexia diagnosis in grade school, this kid continued to achieve both academically and athletically. He’s a talented baseball player who attends the University of Dayton. I don’t know exactly what he plans to do with his degree when he finishes it up next year, but he would make an incredible teacher and coach to young people. I read a great quote this week, which was attributed to Rick Warren who said, “Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.” I absolutely adore the uplifting message and believe with all my heart that Nick Pat will spend his life in service to the Lord by witnessing to young people in some capacity and reaching many who need to see the loveliness of his example. His strength of character, as well as his own experiences in the classroom and on the ball field will be a beacon of light for others. That’s how it’s going to go down, I’m not even a little unsure.

This young man is strong, loyal and he is a gentleman. He’s faithful, integrity-filled and unflinchingly honest. As he continues to mature, his positive “can-do” attitude and stunning work ethic will take him far. Young man, I am speaking for the entire Thieme clan when I say that we wish you nothing but success and happiness. Your enthusiasm and sunshine have long been a blessing to me personally and to my entire family. We love you, Nick Pat! Happy 21st Birthday, kid. Stop in for a hug when you get home, okay? The drinks are on the house!!

Mad for…Connor

Out of all the people on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession. (Deut. 14:2)

When Connor and Zach were getting close to school age, I had a rather heated conversation with his mom, Shannon. You see, Con is only three weeks older than my youngest son. Shan was super annoyed that I decided to wait a year and send Zach the fall AFTER Con. She wanted to “force” them to be friends so we could sit beside each other at all their school and sporting events. I told her I felt pretty darn confident she was going to have NO PROBLEM making love connections with all kinds of SLDM parents and that any son of hers would not struggle in the friend department. She looked at me with that twinkle in her eye and said, “Sweet talk works with me, but I am still super bugged, Shelly Thieme!!”

From the first time I met him, there was one thing about Connor that stood out. Good golly that kid was fast! He could run up and down the hallway at school, or around “Mom Mom” and “Pop Pop’s” pool deck like a speed demon and it definitely transferred to the ball field! Con and Z ended up playing several seasons of summer baseball together and it didn’t take long for anyone to figure out that if the kid made it on base, he was going to score a run. If the 3rd base coach didn’t tell him to steal, there was always still a better than even chance he was going to do it anyway. It gave me great joy to watch him frustrate every opposing coach with his quickness.

Con is a caring brother to 4 younger siblings, with whom he is pictured above. He’s a hard worker and a good and loyal friend to many. When he gives away a smile, it’s a treasure, and he means it. He is cherished by many, a thing which can be hard to remember when you are a high school freshman…because it’s a low man on the totem pole kind of year. I hope you know, Con, that even if your computer dies or your day was completely crummy, or the seniors are being putzes to the underclassmen…there are just endless numbers of people who love you and care about you so very much with no strings attached.

I admire the way you scoop up “the littles” and how much you care about them and your entire family. I don’t really understand the Auburn thing, but I think it’s super cool that you are passionate about your team and you feel confident enough to just do you and love on those Tigers and that you don’t seem to need anyone to give you permission or join in. You are just an incredibly gifted, unique and special baseball loving young man. Your strength of character and authenticity make you shine.

I’m two days late on your birthday, but like I told Alli, I believe in the “festival” approach to birthdays and I always try to make them last a little longer than maybe other people. So, HAPPY 15TH BIRTHDAY Connor Hall from all the Thieme family! We think you are the real deal!