Mad for…Janet

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)

When our oldest sons (who are both named Nick) became very close buddies in grade school, my dear friend Janet Andriole made a declaration. “Well, you two are pretty much as thick as thieves, so we’ve got a problem to solve! I am certainly not calling my own son by his last name in his own house. You two boys will now be ‘Nick Pat’ and ‘Nick Fred’ and that’s just how it’s going to be!” These two kids of ours are now 21 years old, and they are still now and forevermore shall be Nick Pat and Nick Fred. The monikers stuck, and so did all the friendships that have been created in our two families.

Jan is a sunlit and truly luminous woman. She’s as articulate, bright, and kindhearted a person as anyone I’ve ever known. Also, she is full of faith and loves the Lord. There’s an authenticity to her spirituality that I have always found refreshing. She’s not afraid to wink at our good and gracious God. I’m not sure I’m explaining that very well, so let me give you an example. For a few years, Janet had a holy and pious teaching partner named Teri Feller. Teri was incredibly gifted at leading a group of children to Christ by the way she elegantly and spontaneously prayed aloud. Janet, knowing her simple and more conversational style was definitely different (but just as effective) would frequently pray with those same kiddos by joking about their differences in style. “We all know that I can’t pray quite as eloquently as Mrs. Feller, but Lord, here we all are before you all the same. Even when we stumble over our words a little, our hearts belong to You!” I never told her so, but I couldn’t have loved this any more– for the children or for myself!

Spontaneous worshippers like Jan, the ones who burst forth with praise that springs from a joyful and grateful heart, are just the kind of people who inspire me. I can write a beautiful prayer, but to knock out something aloud and on the fly which contains anything resembling full and holy sentences the way some others can simply isn’t my gift. I used to be quite self-conscious about it, almost like it meant that I just loved the Lord less effectively or some silly thing. I’m grateful to my friend, Janet, for her humble and honest witness all those years ago that has stuck with me ever since. God made me just like this, so when I sing and can’t quite hit the high note, or when I pray aloud and flub it up, I know it’s just completely fine with Him!

Janet is competitive and passionate, and she is married to a very fine baseball coach named Rich. She has enjoyed cheering on all his teams over the years as well as those of her sons, Nick and Jake as well as her gorgeous daughter Allison who looks just like her! As a mom, she’s compassionate and loving. She’s also the daughter of Danny and Rita O’Malia and the oldest sister in a glorious trio!

When she lost her sister, Shannon, in a terrible act of domestic violence, I wondered how she would soldier forward. After all, they were very close, and they even worked together each day at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School in Fishers. However, when weakness and doubt made her question her faith, even for a moment, grace seemed to rain down on Janet, strengthening her again, despite her pierced heart. She’s chosen to live and breathe her trust in Christ. This is just one of many reasons why the young people at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in Indianapolis are incredibly blessed to call this sunny woman their principal. By watching her, they will learn by her example that trusting our heavenly Father is meant to be woven into the fabric of our very being.

Janet, as you celebrate your birthday today, I just wanted to remind you again that you are a very special person. It’s important to me that you always remember that. Thank you for all the giggles, encouraging words, sunny memories, and above all the gift of your cherished friendship. I love you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Mad for…Michael

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Michael Bailey is a young man who is in the middle of the adventure of a lifetime! He’s about halfway done with a bike trip across the United States that he is doing for charity called “The Journey of Hope.” It’s quite an undertaking for a kid that was not previously a biker to decide to start by dipping his front bike tire in the Pacific Ocean and then end by dunking his rear tire in the Atlantic on the other coast of this great nation in summer 2019!

I’ve known Michael for most his life, as he was a grade school friend of my middle son, Drew. In fact, they went all through SLDM, then Guerin Catholic together and now they are Pi Kappa Phi fraternity brothers together at Purdue University. When he told me what he was planning to do with his summer, I am not going to lie, I thought he was pretty much a crazy person. However, I know adventure is worthwhile, especially that which is undertaken for the benefit of others. In Michael’s case, he’s participating in a super cool project which raises money to benefit the disabled through Pi Kappa Phi’s philanthropy, “The Ability Experience”.

Michael is an animated, silly, talented, bright, caring and outgoing young man. This week I read about how we shouldn’t die without embracing the daring adventure that life was meant to be. Honestly, I think this young man is a pretty super example to all of us about this being completely true. Our family is proud to be one of his many sponsors during this particular chapter, because he is doing a truly good thing for others by pushing through his fears and going for it!!

Michael Bailey can sing, act, crush it with his academics…and apparently bike 100 miles a day all summer long too? I just wanted to take a moment today to tell you, Michael, that I am really proud of you for pushing through all the obstacles and embracing something that is truly difficult, but ultimately a selfless and generous act. I believe that you will grow in ways you never expected through this terrific journey! I am so hoping we can get a glimpse of you when your group makes their way through Indiana in a couple weeks. I hope that amid the turmoil and chaos if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, you will turn to the Lord and ask Him to fill you with grace during this trip. I really do believe “Ask and you shall receive” is some of the best spiritual advice I was ever given. Trust is the cornerstone of acquiring peace. Know that my prayers are with you and your fraternity brothers from across the nation, that you will travel safely and arrive in Washington, D.C happy and healthy…having done a lot of good for others!!

If you’d like to know more or would like to help Michael, visit: https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/1741227