Mad for…Lisa

A FRIEND LOVES AT ALL TIMES. (Proverbs 17:17)

July 31, 2019– About 17 years ago or so, my oldest son Nick started kindergarten at a nearby Catholic grade school called St. Louis de Montfort. In a matter of days, nearly all his updates from school were about a boy named “Christian” who he clearly thought was totally the coolest. A few weeks passed and there was a kids movie night/parents night out offered by the PTO. Shortly after I arrived to drop Nick off, we ran into Christian and his mom, Lisa. Before I even properly introduced myself, I blurted out something like, “Oh my gosh please tell me you’ve heard the name Nick at your house because my kid is clearly crazy about your son!” Those two boys will graduate from college next spring and are still the closest of friends, and I have them to thank for bringing me together with one of the greatest blessings of my life…my friend Lisa Houze.

Some folks enter our lives and make us smile a little bigger and laugh a little harder. Others encourage, pray, include and respect us. A rare gem will ask how we are and then wait to actually hear the answer, and occasionally an angel will appear that lifts us when we have trouble walking at all. Lisa has been all of those things for me.

We’ve raised our boys side by side. We’ve giggled, sunned, and cheered on countless teams…WAY too loudly. She’s looked me in the eye and delivered truth I need to hear but is hard to share, and I’ve done the same for her. We’ve prayed for each other– A LOT. She understands my strengths and weaknesses and still cherishes me for who I am and forgives me when I royally screw it up. Lisa is one of the most brilliant and articulate women I have ever encountered with the most dreadful case of FOMO.

Lisa is the wife to a handsome guy named Tim, as well as a UD grad, and the “Flyer” moniker fits her perfectly! This mama bear to 2 high-achieving boys is an athletic and fiercely competitive Louisville native who loves her some U of L football and hoops action, too. God knew what He was doing gifting her with boys, because all that comes in handy when your guys are hard core sports lovers! Christian and Malcolm are incredibly blessed to call her mom. She loves them to the very center of herself.

On a couples trip to Phoenix with Lisa and Tim several years ago, Lisa and I became obsessed with a book called “The 5 Love Languages”. We were having so much fun taking quizzes and diagnosing our mutual friends and family members (loudly and while drinking adult beverages on the pool deck) that other people started coming over wanting us to tell them what THEIR love language was. Our men came back from golf and were very underwhelmed when we tried to engage them in our activity! Ha?! It’s POSSIBLE that the wine-aided hilarity made us SEEM amazingly gifted and prophetic to each other…but not as much to sun weary, sober people? I’m not sure. I think my point in telling this story is to establish that it was then I learned that both of us have the same love language– WORDS OF AFFIRMATION, of course! It is SUPER helpful to have a dear friend that speaks this particular love language if you happens to be afflicted thusly. Let’s just say I keep her notes and re-read them when I start to think I am just the absolute worst kind of human.

Several years ago, Lisa shared that a co-worker described her as “charmingly abrasive” and I nearly fell on the floor laughing. He wasn’t wrong. Here’s the thing. My friend Lisa is also a big-hearted woman of grace and integrity. She loves the Lord and it shows by the way she is the face of Jesus for others, very definitely including yours truly.

Countless are the times Lisa has gone out of her way for me or one of my guys. Her hugs are the kind that hit you so hard it’s impossible to miss how much you matter. I’ve known Lisa a fairly long time, but there are others I’ve known longer. She’s someone who has walked into my life and grabbed a chair as if to say, “I’m here for you.” Then, she’s backed it up– again and again– by being oxygen when life knocked the wind out of me.

Today is Lisa’s 50th birthday. Did I mention her love language is words of affirmation? I have no doubt she was aware this post was coming today. I hope she hears in it just how much she is cherished and appreciated. I love you beyond what I can express, my dear friend, but I sure as heck tried. HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY, LISA!!

Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure. (Sirach 6:14)

Mad for…Xavier

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. (Amelia Earhart)

July 30, 2019– Xavier Plascencia (pictured at the center of the photo above) is the sort of guy who does kind things because of who he is, not because he’s keeping score. He’s soft and kind hearted. He came into my life via my “adopted” big brother, Ted Stumpf, so to me, he feels like family. Genuine and bright, Xavier is a man who spreads sunshine around! We in the Thieme clan feel very fortunate to call him a dear friend!

Ted and Xavier live in California, therefore our sightings are not as frequent as we’d like. So, when my boys were a little smaller, they would get excited when they knew Xavier was going to be around, because they knew they would have a chance to experience some of his magic! He always had a card trick or two ready to show them and they were enamored. They may not admit it, but at least a couple of them are still kind of impressed with his card tricks! I imagine he underestimates the impact he has had on lots of little cuties he has entertained with his attention and spirit full of fun over the years. Kids, more than anyone, can spot love and authenticity when they see it!

Xavier works in the wine industry in Napa, California. He’s a genius with his wine knowledge and in the kitchen. I admit to a completely inappropriate relationship with every batch of salsa he’s ever presented to me. I just can’t even begin to do his culinary skills justice. In fact, when we recently discussed our summer 2020 plans to celebrate my mom and dad’s 50th wedding anniversary with a big group trip to Hilton Head, there was pretty intense interest from ALL the members of our household about whether he’d be able to attend! Let’s just say the way to the hearts of the Thieme guys is definitely through their stomachs, ha?!

The last time Xavi was here at the house was around Thanksgiving. The memory of us lugging chairs, tables and accessories to all new locations while we giggled from (just the perfect amount) of California wine is a memory that makes me smile. When he left, my kinda crummy kitchen table had been relocated and the “redesign” of the place looked pretty darn good, I thought. We also ordered a big area rug to spruce up the family room. My husband struggles with change sometimes, therefore the new d├ęcor didn’t take right away…but I’m crediting Xavi and Ted with the upgrade I recently got, because they planted the seed! Maybe Tom could just see the handwriting was on the wall after that? I’m not sure. Either way, I have a new kitchen table and chairs now, fellas! You’re gonna love the renovations you inspired!

Today is Xavier’s birthday, and I just wanted to give him a shout out! He’s just a good person with a totally kind heart and he deserves to be celebrated! We love you, Xavi!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Mad for…Sandy

A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition. (William Arthur Ward)

July 29, 2019– It seems like a quirky choice for me to write about Sandy Scheper today considering that the birthday belongs to her pretty incredible husband, Marshall, on this day. Happy Birthday to Marshall!! However, I’ve already honored Marshall in my little “Mad for 2019” adventure, and when his name popped up this morning, I immediately thought…you know who is AWESOME? Marshall’s wife, Sandy!! I consider those interior light bulb moments to be gifts from the Holy Spirit, so as we begin the week, I’d like to tell you about my cheerful friend, Sandy! She’s pictured here with Marshall (center) and her son (Vincent) on the right.

Sandy owns one of the most naturally cheerful dispositions of anyone I have ever met. I got to know her a bit many years ago when her son Vincent played CYO basketball at St. Louis de Montfort with my son, Drew. I continue to see her fairly regularly as she happens to work at Regions Bank, where we have our accounts. I drive out of my way to bank at the branch she works at, because she and her crew of co-workers are phenomenal humans. Sandy seems determined to be cheerful and happy and I think she rubs off on them! She’s the kind of woman that creates her own sunshine.

Easy laughter, a bright smile and a well-developed sense of humor are her hallmark characteristics. Sandy is the woman who never gets frustrated with me when I literally NEVER know my account number. She says the positive thing, graciously. In short, she just has a generous and selfless spirit. I want to be that woman too– the one that brings her own sunshine. Every single time I see Sandy, I am reminded that I need to work on it!!

THANK YOU, SANDY SCHEPER, for being a wonderful example to the rest of us about how important it is to treat others kindly and what it means to the people around you to be someone who adds light to the day by the way we live our everyday lives! When I grow up, I want to be like you! Ha?

“A sunny disposition is worth more than fortune. Young people should know that it can be cultivated; that the mind, like the body can be moved from the shade into sunshine.” (Andrew Carnegie)

Mad for…Heidi

Any time we practice hospitality we follow in the steps of our lavishly hospitable God. (from The Simplest Way to Change the World)

I’ve been learning a little about the concept of “mindfulness” recently, and what it can mean to our lives if we choose to be fully present today, recognizing it truly is a gift. When we recognize and just enjoy NOW then we are so much happier, healthier and more peaceful. This day was a joyful one, largely because of the great giftedness of a gorgeous and talented woman named Heidi Carnahan. I’m so glad I’m more focused on being present, because missing any of this one would have been a darn shame.

In the above picture, Heidi is 2nd from the right in white pants and black tank top. The photo was taken in her stunning home this afternoon as we celebrated our mutual friend, Lisa Houze, and her 50th birthday which is this week!

Here’s the thing about this gloriously beautiful mother of 3 boys (Zander, Drake and Lincoln)…she didn’t just host a party. Oh heck no! She’s been working behind the scene for WEEKS to pull off a phenomenal surprise for a terrific woman. You see, for Lisa’s 50th, she decided to participate in a tri-athalon in downtown Indy with her two sons, Christian and Malcolm. Her brother, Doug Kalmey, joined in too! Heidi communicated with LOTS of family and friends over several weeks and convinced us all to come down to Celebration Plaza and surprise Lisa with cheering, signage– the whole works! The logistics of managing to communicate all the details were significant. It was a profound act of love.

Not only that, but the detail-oriented Heidi also hosted a kick ass post-race party at her amazing home in Noblesville. She created a photo memory wall, catered in delicious food, and her dessert table looked like it had been created by a professional party planner. She spared no detail and the effect was impressive. She has the gift of hospitality times 10!

For me, it’s a phenomenal act of service, and utterly selfless, to organize and pull off flawlessly a birthday surprise like this one. I already knew that Heidi was a fiercely competitive, highly intelligent mama bear with academically and athletically gifted children. That doesn’t happen magically. I knew she was an attractive, articulate woman. What I didn’t know before these last few weeks was just how stunningly beautiful her heart is.

Albert Einstein once said that “Only a life lived to the service of others is worth living.” I quite agree. You have inspired me by your generosity today, Mrs. Carnahan! NICELY DONE, HEIDI!!

Mad for…Valerie

Persevere (verb): to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles or discouragement; continue steadfastly.

Sunny, articulate, and discerning people like Valerie Estka are rare, and although it’s been many years since I’ve spent any time around her, I’ll admit I’ve been stalking this phenomenal woman from afar. I’ve prayed for her and cheered quietly from the cheap seats for her successes and happiness, which are much deserved.

Allow me to explain. Valerie lost her first husband, (my cousin) Joe Dykhuizen, to cancer when she was a very young mother of a toddler named Connor. As you can see from the beautiful photo above, Connor graduated from IU in 2018. Valerie is pictured here with her beautiful family, including husband Rob, son Connor, and gorgeous daughters Sophia and Lydia. I read recently “a river cuts through rock not because of it’s power but it’s persistence.” What I am trying to say is that, to me, through perseverance, Valerie turned uncertainty and suffering into a grace-filled life. I have no doubt her home has always been filled to the brim with love.

Recently, Valerie retired after a 30 year career with Dow Chemical. I hope she’s enjoying her newfound freedom. We have a few “people” in common which is how I know she’s a caring and generous mom to her 3 cuties, and I am certain she has not lost her glorious laugh or her terrific sense of humor in the time since I’ve seen her.

Today is Valerie’s birthday, and I am DECADES overdue to tell her how inspiring I think she is. Thank you, Valerie, for witnessing to me about the importance of energy, enthusiasm, and marching forward with positivity, even when discouragement invariably comes our way. I think you are inspiring and it makes me happy to see you shine! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Mad for…Dom

Never give up, never give in, and when the upper hand is ours, may we have the ability to handle the win with the dignity that we absorbed the loss. (Doug Williams)

Above: (l to r) Ty Schwegman, Zach Thieme, Malcolm Houze, and on the far right in the BC sweatshirt is Dom Ferrucci.

Above: Vincent and Dom Ferrucci at the Red Sox game!

They say the only way to prove you are a good sport is to lose. I’m not sure if Dominic Ferrucci would agree with that sentiment or not. Would you say losing that BC vs PU matchup last fall helped or hindered your sportsmanship, Dom?! Ha! I can’t resist teasing this quick-witted kid. I do know this, I have never in my life met another human being who is more passionate about sports– especially those with roots in Boston– and that is saying something! He loves the Boston Red Sox, Boston College, the Bruins…and even the dreaded Patriots. In his case, “love” isn’t really a strong enough word. Enjoying these teams seems to give him life.

Dom is a SENIOR in high school this year, which is frankly blowing my mind! When I first met him, he was still in a car seat in the back of my friend Julie’s minivan. He’s the joyful, faith-filled middle son of Steve and Julie Ferrucci and the brother of Vincent and Anthony. He has always had a contagious laugh and a smile that’s a mile wide.

Articulate, sassy, and yes, a little “smart-assy”, Dom has a lot of thoughts and you needn’t even ask for them and they shall be yours! He’s a bright light in his family and to all he encounters! His sense of humor and integrity make him a blessing. He’s a talented writer with a bright future, too!

On the basketball court, Dom’s hustle and defensive intensity are impossible to miss. In the dugout and on the baseball field, his positive spirit brings energy and enthusiasm to the team. This fall, he’s headed back out to the gridiron after a break, and I can’t wait to cheer him on as his Golden Eagles take to the field! We consider Dom to be family.

Today, I ran into this quote at the top of the page in an article I was reading and it made me think of Dominic, which is why I’ve chosen to write about him today. Dom, I want you to know that I think you are a highly intelligent, funny, integrity-filled, sports-obsessed, giant scoop of awesome sauce! I wish you much success your senior year. Love you, kid! I’ll be the loud one sitting next to your mom cheering for you all year!! Go, Golden Eagles!!

Mad for…Susan

Be careful what you tolerate. You are teaching people how to treat you.

Several days back, I saw on social media the above quote posted by a great mom of two terrific young men. I had previously met Susan, but I got to know her through my kid and his Golden Eagles football team. “Be careful what you tolerate. You are teaching people how to treat you.” Oh my goodness if there’s ever been truth, this one convicted me a little!

When I noticed that today was her birthday, I decided that Susan deserved some love today, because you see, I was paying attention to her words and…what goes around, comes around!

Two years ago, my middle son, Drew, decided to take up the sport of football. He hadn’t played since I think his CYO team in the 5th grade. By this time, however, he was 6’5 high school senior and quite a bit sturdier. It was a fun fall for the Thiemes as Coach Tom Dilley and the football family at Guerin Catholic are just incredible. One of the reasons for this has to do with the culture that has been cultivated in the program itself and amongst the families participating.

For instance, as Drew and his teammates were warming up for their game at Broad Ripple High School, Tom and I parked our car on the street and decided to go grab a drink and a bite to eat nearby. It was just the two of us, and we sat at the bar. We were there maybe 5 minutes when the very congenial and warm Susan Albert tapped us on the shoulder and said, “Well, we see you’re wearing purple, and you’ve just GOT to join us!”

We proceeded to laugh and truly enjoy the start of our night with two families we didn’t really know, but because of Susan and her sunshine and hospitality, we felt like we’d been members of the Golden Eagle Football family for years! Susan was the living embodiment of Romans 15:7. “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” A little kindness goes a long way.

Do you know what I find utterly beautiful? The souls of folks like Susan who notice someone outside their circle of friends and welcome them inside. No one is a stranger with the very funny, outgoing, hard-working and big hearted Susan Albert. Also? The woman can cook, AND her boys are pretty solid human beings and talented academically and athletically. She’s clearly a truly loving mother, and they are blessed.

Thanks, Susan, for being such a rock star! How you treat others has made me aspire to the same! I hope those gorgeous guys of yours treat you like a QUEEN BEE today because that is absolutely what you deserve!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!