Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by kindly words; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love. (St. Therese of Lisieux)
At about 4pm on the first day of our chaperoning adventure in the nation’s capital back in 2012, I looked up at my assigned partner for the journey, Jill Folstrom, from a prone position on a bench at the FDR Memorial. Lacking all decorum and politeness, I said something like, “Jill, if I don’t get a diet coke soon, I may have to live right here in this spot for the rest of my life!” In my defense, we’d woken that day at about 3am and headed to the airport with a plane load full of 8th graders. I loved those kids then and still now, but the McDonalds at the Indy Airport wasn’t even open yet when we had to move through security, and that disappointment had remained with my nervous system for over 12 hours, painfully unattended.
She could see that I’d hit a brick wall, and my whining was so convincing that she actually volunteered to sneak away from the group in search of caffeine for yours truly. Mostly owing to shame and humiliation in the face of her graciousness, I waived off that incredible kindness and forced myself to cease with the bad behavior and move on. Though we had both been parents at SLDM for many years by this time, this trip was my first real opportunity to witness the almost absurd kindness and grace that is Jill Folstrom.
A loving mother of two children, Rachel and Jacob, and wife to a truly lovely man named Jim, she’s unimaginably thoughtful, sunny, and altruistic. She’s filled to the brim with the love of Christ and treats all around her with compassion and charity. She’s gifted in a special way with friendliness and courtesy. In short, she’s the face of Jesus to all with whom she comes into contact.
Just last night, I received the most considerate text message from Jill. Let’s keep in mind she chose to take the time to reach out despite having been on duty at GC from early morning through very late in the evening yesterday. She noted that she had seen my youngest son at GC a couple of times throughout her day and she shared a very charitable compliment about his behavior, noting that she was excited to have a Thieme boy back in the building after our family’s one year high school pause. As my love language is clearly “words of affirmation”, the generosity of her comments struck me as a great gift from the Lord. It’s a familiar pattern I’ve noticed with Jill.
Today, I wanted to take a moment to do something I should have done many, many years ago! I’ve known Jill for something like 16 years and in all that time I don’t think I have previously expressed to her my respect and admiration for the quality of her character and the intentionality with which she shares her kind heart to all in her wake. Jill Folstrom, YOU ARE THE BOMB! Thank you, friend, for reminding me how important it is to smile and treat others with respect– all the time– by your example! I am incredibly grateful to you for your witness of how important it is to be kind.