Mad for…JoEllen

People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. (Maya Angelou)

July 17, 2019– Did you ever meet someone and just immediately think to yourself how much you like them? For me, that was the case with JoEllen Simmons, who as I recall is a native of Wheatfield, Indiana. She’s the mom to triplets, Tavic, Tanner and Avery and the wife of Mike. They are pictured with her, above.

The Simmons family is one we know from our baseball years. Drew played on Carmel teams in the summertime with Tavic and Tanner, and very often I sat right next to JoEllen at those games. Why? Well, first of all, just like me she was interested in sitting near the action behind home plate. Many games, her son Tavic was pitching to her other son Tanner. So, I suppose she wanted the best view of them doing their thing. More importantly, JoEllen always made me feel welcome.

Most of the boys on those Carmel teams over the years that both my older sons played on were comprised, unsurprisingly, of young men who went to school together in the Carmel school system. Ours were Catholic school kids, so we were always hunting for the smiling “we’ve got room for you here” kind of folks who welcomed us in. That was ALWAYS JoEllen. She’s got the gift of hospitality. In today’s hurting culture, that gift is more valuable than ever and a very useful and godly witness to those around her.

JoEllen is a generous, compassionate and affirming person. I never told her how much her kindness and hospitality meant to our little family of “outsiders”. She offered us space, welcomed us in, and shoved bottles of water at our kid when he looked pathetically dehydrated and we weren’t there to look after him ourselves because we had 3 games at the same time and we were chasing our tails! She’s a jewel, and today is her birthday. I am WAY past overdue to thank JoEllen for the gift of kindness she gives to others, and the hospitality she always showed to me at those endless summer baseball games. I read somewhere that hospitality is simply love on the loose. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t really remember what she ever said to me, I just remember her smile and how it ALWAYS made me feel like I was welcome to plop down my chair behind home plate next to her. YOU ARE A FANTASTIC HUMAN, JOELLEN!! The world could use a lot more folks just like you!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOELLEN!! We hope your crew celebrates your awesomeness in a big way today!

Mad for…Sha

Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer (Romans 12:12)

July 16, 2019– Several years ago when our sons, Joey and Drew, were playing baseball together for the Carmel Pups, I found myself with a seriously broken down minivan at a tournament in Jasper, Indiana. It was about this time in the summer and the temperature was about 95 degrees, so I was dripping with sweat and not a small amount cranky. I needed a savior, and that’s when Sha Butz swooped in to save the day! I wanted to just shove my vehicle off a bridge into the river, but instead that darn van would remain in southern Indiana for a couple weeks at a repair shop. Lucky for us, the hilarious and very silly Sha made us forget our vehicle woes that weekend. We went where she went, because, well, she was our wheels. I recall very clearly laughing until I had tears rolling down my cheeks when she decided to try on the underwear over her clothing at the Jasper Walmart. Sha is lively and amusing mixed with a pinch of ridiculous– and completely lovable!

If my memory serves, Sha is a Butler grad from Kokomo. She’s married to a terrific human named Steve, and together they have three super kids– Evan, Joey, and Erica– as they appear from left to right in the photo above with their parents.

For me, Sha’s got two defining qualities that make her stand out from others. First, she’s incredibly joyful, and more importantly, she is a woman of God. She has endured her share of suffering, and because she truly loves the Lord, it’s evident to me that it’s only sharpened her character and produced perseverance. That’s why I chose my favorite scripture verse to honor her today.

Those three young people pictured with her above are blessed beyond words to have a spiritual soul like Sha as their mother. I have no doubt that from her they have learned an infinite amount about positivity and integrity as well as grace and gratitude. Also, they’ve learned not to take themselves or this life too seriously.

I don’t see Sha much these days, but I did run into her a few weeks ago while she was out to dinner with Steve and some friends. She went out of her way to come say hello and give Tom and I both a big hug. That’s Sha! She’s always got a big grin that fills the area with her sunshine. She’s like a big glass of ice cold lemonade on a hot day– so cool and refreshing! Thank you Sha Butz for the amazing woman that you are! Your sparkle is encouraging and inspiring to all of us who have the good fortune to know you!

Mad for…Pam

Patience is not passive, on the contrary, it is concentrated strength. (Bruce Lee)

July 15, 2019– The beautiful and wise friend pictured with me above is Pam Fremion. She’s this sunny gal with the most winning attitude. I have been watching her for a few years now, and the poor thing is stuck with me nearby for at least 4 more since our youngest sons will be classmates together in the Guerin Catholic High School class of 2023!!

Pam is a fairly recent convert to the Catholic Church and the mom of one gorgeous daughter (Maddie) and three handsome sons (Grant, Joey and Will). Her husband is a pistol named Mike. Also, Pam is a teacher to very young children. Cuties in large numbers who can’t yet tie their shoes and to whom zippers and buttons are still a struggle would, quite frankly, give me hives. Based solely on what I know of her husband (ha?) and her career, Pam is patience personified!

About a year ago, I was sharing Pam’s wisdom with a young teacher “to be” who was expressing frustration over how much time she was spending tying shoes during her student teaching. “Well, you need a SHOE SHERIFF!” This poor gal looked at me like I had horns growing out of my head, but I went on to explain how my patient and experienced teacher friend locates the young person in her classroom who has already mastered this skill and appoints them to be the “shoe sheriff” in her class. Apparently, it’s a prestigious post to hold, and before too long there are a few deputies. BRILLIANT, am I right?! And the fact that this seemed like the most amazing idea ever invented to both myself and this new teacher about to enter the workforce just explains Pam in a nutshell.

Pam is a positive, patient, problem-solving scoop of sunshine! As a mom to a recent college grad, a college student, and two high schoolers, she’s incredibly compassionate, caring and supportive…but not in a smothering way. She listens and provides guidance while still leaving space for her kiddos to grow and learn. Who doesn’t want a mom like that? She’s a rock star!

Funny and with the most contagious laugh, being around Pam is easy and enjoyable. She’s an integrity-filled woman of character who truly is sunny and with the most beautiful smile. Her stories singed with sarcasm make me cackle. When I see her, the space around her is filled with positivity and energy. She’s a generous and lovely soul, and I think God loves her giving heart even more than I do.

Thanks, Pam, for brightening the world with your smile, your funny stories, and your compassion. I’m so grateful for kind, patient people like you who show up to celebrate even when my invite was over text at the last possible second. I simply don’t always have my act together, and nothing beats the friend who’s willing to overlook my flaws! You, my friend, are both a gem and a keeper! Keep doing you, because YOU….are a glorious human.

Mad for…Fr. Paternoster

A holy priest is a savior and another Christ, taking the Master’s place on earth, representing Him, clothed with His authority, acting in His name, adorned with His qualifications, exercising His judgement on earth in the tribunal of penance. He is consecrated to exercise the highest functions Christ ever performed on earth, to continue the work of salvation. In imitation of His Redeemer he gives himself, mind, heart, affections, strength, time, all for God. He is ever ready to sacrifice his very blood and even life itself to procure the salvation of souls, particularly those of his own flock. (St. John Eudes)

July 14, 2019– Today, as the people of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel celebrate their patronal feast day, this beautiful parish is on my mind. Therefore, it seems appropriate for me to choose one of the fearless leaders of this very large parish community to honor today!

Associate Pastor, Fr. Alejandro Paternoster, recently celebrated his 25th Ordination Anniversary. A beautiful “YES” like this one is a selfless gift and I, for one, am quite grateful! His commission to serve has been a blessing to the lives of those around him. It was St. Ambrose who said about the priesthood, “He made them the vicars of His love.” I also happen to think a holy priest is just an absolute miracle of grace from the Lord, a gift to us all. Fr. Paternoster is such a man.

He’s a good-natured, humorous and positive man with a genuine smile. He’s also a compassionate, cooperative and character filled-human being. His work with the large Hispanic apostolate at OLMC is daunting work which he does beautifully. He’s a genuine friend of Jesus who makes Christ present to all of us in the sacraments and by the joyful way he lives his life. In the Thieme family, we appreciate his accessible homilies and enjoy the fact that almost always he will open with a laugh. We are big fans of smiling.

Thank you, Fr. Paternoster for your spiritual leadership, and for the encouraging way you guide, support, mentor and teach us all. You are a special priest, and we are so grateful for you! We are praying that your life is filled with joyfulness, happiness and health! Happy 25th Anniversary!

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Pray for Us!

Mad for…Ann

Tact is the knack of making a point without making an enemy. (Isaac Newton)

July 13, 2019– One of my most dear friends on the planet is celebrating her birthday today! She knows how to balance honesty and tactfulness better than nearly anyone I know. Perhaps its a gift born of decades as a grade school teacher? What I know for sure is that the Lord did NOT gift me similarly, ha?!! Thank goodness for her stunning example to show me the way. Getting along with people, knowing when to remain silent and when to speak up, and smiling the whole way…these are just a few of her gifts. Meet Ann Hepp! She’s pictured above with some of my other favorite girls on the 4th of July. She’s on the left in the front row in the cute striped shirt.

Ann, who looks beautiful even in yoga pants and ponytail, is the wife of a “salt of the earth” kind of man named Gerry and the mother of two truly impressive young men, Cole and Clay. Her boys are both students at the University of Dayton, and before that they attended Guerin Catholic High School, which is where I first made her acquaintance. She’s incredibly bright, articulate, thoughtful and positive. I count on her prayers and she counts on mine. Her friendship is a treasure in my life.

A gloriously kind soul, Ann is also a remarkably supportive mother to her two sons. Whether she understands their current passion or not, wherever they’ve decided to dip their toes in the water, nearby you will find their mom cheering them on all the way. She’s confident and conscientious as well as thoughtful and loving. Her sons have inherited these terrific qualities from both of their parents. They are her most impressive and remarkable work for the Lord, in my opinion.

A faith-filled, spiritual woman, Ann just flat gets it. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She stops to help, texts to check in, and she offers to assist. She trained her children to interact with the world in just the same wonderful way. She goes out of her way to be a terrific human, which inspires me always to try and imitate her. When she laughs, I giggle. Her giving heart is made of gold. She’s the kind of person for whom you want to return the favor, precisely because you know she isn’t keeping score.

“Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Luke 6:38)

Our good and gracious God blessed me more richly than I could ever deserve with a friend like Ann. She’s a blessing in my life as well as those of all who know her. I’ll be out of town on vacation for her birthday this year, but trust me, we made it a festival by starting the party early before I head out of town! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY DEAR FRIEND! I LOVE YOU, ANN!!

Mad for…Tara

Enjoy the little things and be joyful, for one day you may look back and realize they were actually the things that mattered. (Unknown)


JULY 12, 2019– She simply warms those around her by genuine smile and cheerful nature. Meet Tara Lutes. When I first met her, she was Tara Stapleton, and one of my sister’s most dear friends in high school. We all attended Lafayette Central Catholic together. Therefore, she spent quite a bit of time at the Dykhuizen house with us and I got to know her and fell in love with her positive energy– a trait she has carried along with her always!

These days, Tara lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Ben Lutes and together they have two children, Henry and Meg. She’s pictured here with her daughter, Meg. A couple years back, I got a message from Tara asking if I happened to know anyone in the area that might be looking for a part time job, as her company had an opening. Since I know Tara has a beautiful soul, I felt comfortable sharing the name of my dear friend, Renee, who has been working there ever since. What’s terrific for me is that I can kind of follow Tara from afar through Renee and keep up to speed.

After college, Tara went to law school and then spent several years working for a big law firm in downtown Indy. She gave that up several years ago for other work, but from what I can see, through it all her personality continues to brighten the lives of all around her. What has always stood out for me about Tara is her hospitality, enthusiasm and sunny disposition. She’s thrilled to see you and you can absolutely count on a warm greeting and a big hug!

“There is no personal charm so great as the charm of a cheerful temperament.” (Henry Van Dyke)

Today as she celebrates her birthday, I just wanted to give a shout out to my old friend, Tara! Thank you for the sunny glow you spread to others, sweet woman! Your two children are utterly blessed to call you mom! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TARA!!

Mad for…Kendra

“When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved….” (Mark 6: 34)

July 11, 2019– Here’s a glimpse of Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, which is the home of the Indiana Hoosiers football team. Look quickly, because the chances are low that you will see it again from this author, ha?! I did, in fact, find a photo of the birthday girl, Kendra Buehler (pictured at center, above) with her middle son Jacob, a very bright young Boilermaker. However, I’ve chosen to take the high road and not offer up that beautiful shot here for my IU loving friend on her special day. Instead, you will see from left to right: Jacob, Halley, Kendra, Luke and Leo Buehler, above.

Kendra is the wife of Leo Buehler and the mom to those good looking kiddos pictured around her. I’m pretty sure she’s a Jasper native who attended IU herself. Since her boys are the same ages as my oldest two kiddos, the faces of the Buehler family were familiar to us before we got to know them. Once the grade school rivalry ended and the Buehler guys were playing for the same school as the Thieme fellas, I got to know Kendra a little better.

What I learned during those GC years is that she is a faithful woman in word and deed. She’s uncompromising on God’s truth, and she sees the big picture better than most. Plain spoken, Kendra is quick-witted in a sarcastic kind of way. Since people who meet my sarcasm with sarcasm are my kind of folks, I have always found her entertaining and easy to be around.

As a mom, Kendra is respectful, loving and fun! She can often be seen cheering on the Rose Hulman baseball team for which her oldest son is a standout pitcher. She’s competitive and passionate like yours truly, so I feel like I “get” her. It cracked me up when she posted photos of the Buehler boys painting and hideously “redecorating” their sister Halley’s room while she was away at her confirmation retreat recently. The bed was replaced with an inflatable pool and the walls were decked out in a homemade beach mural. The photos were hilarious. That’s the kind of playfulness that creates memories– and I loved it!!

Kendra smiles, she stops to help, she offers and she notices others around her. That’s why I chose the scripture quote above to honor her on her special day. I am grateful for her good example, as it always has reminded me that God smiles on us when we try to do the kind of things that Jesus did. The Buehler family has a supportive, loyal and faithful mother and wife in Kendra, and they are truly blessed. Today is her birthday, and I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge her awesomeness and just to say: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KENDRA!