Mad for…Anna

There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others. (M. Hale)

Tom and I lived in the Lakes of Hazel Dell subdivision in Carmel, Indiana for about a dozen years on a little street called Garden Gate Way. We became friends with many of the neighbors during that time, including the Grace family from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who lived 3 doors down. I actually wrote about Bill Grace in this very column a few weeks back. We learned a lot about the LSU Tigers from Bill and Leslee Grace and their girls during those years, as well as the proper way to spell “GEAUX TIGERS”. How did I do, Anna Zwiebel??

The incredibly intelligent, athletic, and thoughtful young woman from Louisville, Kentucky that you see pictured above is a senior setter on the LSU volleyball team. I think they open their season TONIGHT. She’s bright, fun, positive, stunningly beautiful and energetic. She’s never met “Mayor” Bill or his wife, Les. However, when I shared with Anna about how my friends lost their home when lightening struck the house, hitting a gas line, and that they essentially lost everything, she was eager to learn how she could help. “Well these people are the biggest LSU fans I have ever met,” I explained.

So, at the busiest possible time for this young woman preparing for her final college volleyball season, she stopped what she was doing and helped me gather some cool new LSU gear for the Graces, and then she shipped it to me so we could hopefully bring them a smile during their journey to rebuild. I know it’s shocking, but there’s not a lot of access to LSU gear here in central Indiana, so this assist was pretty clutch. While it’s true one can’t replace a lifetime full of truly obnoxious LSU clothing, flags, cornhole boards, household items and the like overnight, with Anna’s help, they are on their way!

Anna Zwiebel is a special human being with remarkable leadership skills and a passion for life. She’s the daughter of Lee Ann and Rob and the older sister to another glorious soul named Lara. It’s a tad convoluted how I came to know her, but essentially it amounts to my friendship with her Aunt Lisa. When she graduates from LSU this year and heads off to PA school, it will truly be LSU’s loss…because her light shines so brightly! However, Anna’s represented the Tigers with class for sure! I’ve watched her be a supportive teammate, a loving daughter, sister, niece and friend over the years. She’s a selfless person with a beautiful heart. She’s the kind of young woman who helps out a couple total strangers with the gift of her time, expecting nothing in return, because it’s the compassionate, thoughtful thing to do.

I am not sure where life will take you next, Anna, but there’s not a doubt in my mind that wherever you land, you will continue to make the world around you a better place by the way you live your life. That’s just how you roll. GOOD LUCK to you and the entire LSU Volleyball team this season. GEAUX TIGERS!!

Mad for…Ann

The saints were saints because they were cheerful when it was difficult to be cheerful, patient when it was difficult to be patient, silent when they wanted to speak and agreeable when they felt an urge to scream. They pushed forward when they wanted to stand still. (Fr. Lawrence Lovasik)

I’m not sure how many folks are aware that the beautiful and well-loved courtyard at Guerin Catholic High School was provided to the students there by the Bates family. It was given in memory of Dr. John Bates by his wife, Ann, and their children Carolyn, Will and Hank.

I met Ann Bates not long after she’d lost her husband, but I didn’t know that at the time. I knew her only as I observed her to be. She was generous with her time, gentle, and truly kind. She loved up ALL those smelly GC football boys and kept them well-fed and loved during her time at Guerin Catholic! Ann’s a woman of deep faith, and it showed in her interactions with others. Her son, Will, was a cheerful kid a year older than my son, Nick, and he and his buddy, Vincent Ferrucci just always enjoyed him. He was a good egg to all the younger guys, and often a reason for their smiling too as he always had a great sense of humor!! I’d sit in the stands and cheer on the Golden Eagles that year and for a few years thereafter and there was Ann, ever present for her football loving guys. My Drew played with her youngest son, Hank, and he was as impressive on the field as he was in the classroom. Though I never got the chance to know her daughter, Carolyn, I feel confident that she is an equally character filled young woman, because after all, she was raised by one strong momma who is long on integrity!

This year, as her “baby” headed off to college, Ann suffered another loss. The very same day she left South Bend after dropping off Hank is the same day her sister passed away from cancer.

Although Ann and I have never been close friends, I have long admired her positivity and perseverance. We share some people in common, therefore I was asked to pray for Ann, and I am on it, because I believe deeply in their power! I know that this woman of God will have many others doing the same for her, and the Lord of all goodness will rain down grace on Ann Bates. Today, as I pondered who to write about in my “Mad for 2019” project, I kept getting distracted by thoughts about Ann. Sometimes the Holy Spirit is loud and I am thick in the head.

There’s just SO MUCH all of us around Ann can learn from her strength and her beautiful spirit and faithfulness. Thank you, Ann, for being a light to others and a holy example for the rest of us to follow! Truly, your authenticity and the quality of your character is inspiring. You are an amazing mom, and a beautiful human being…and I am praying for the repose of the soul of your sis…and peace of mind and heart for the entire family!

“In every age and at every stage of their passage through time, the experience of Christians has been a share in the experience of Christ which includes joy and peace– but also emphatically includes suffering.” (Fr. John Hardon)

Mad for…Amy

Fill yourself with confidence. The mother we have is the Mother of God, the Most Blessed Virgin, the Queen of Heaven and Earth. (St. Josemaria Escriva)

Meet Amy Ross. She’s the mother of 5 pretty amazing children and the wife of a fabulous husband named Hugh. I’m pretty sure she’s a Purdue grad and a pharmacist. I’ve known Amy for many years as our kiddos all attended school at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School in Fishers at the same time.

For a time, I attended a book club with Amy where the group discussed some of the most interesting and inspiring spiritual reads. I remember one such get together at Amy’s home and her mom was staying with her at the time. I was deeply moved by the respectful way she included her mom in the meeting, despite her limitations. I had already witnessed on several occasions her beautiful example of faith to her own children as well as the rest of us but that day I realized what a humble and holy woman Amy is, and how much there is to learn from watching her care for those around her.

Amy Ross is upbeat and funny. She’s thoughtful and affirming, a woman who seems to face whatever comes her way with a positive attitude. I know her to be a tuned-in, and hands-on mom with a glorious smile who is grateful to God for the blessings in her life. She loves cheering for her kids at all their events! When I hear her name mentioned, I feel positive energy. She’s a woman who reminds me by her example to focus on all that is good.

Because she loves the Blessed Mother and is such a truly wonderful mom herself, I chose this quote about Mary to share with you all today in her honor. I’m long overdue to tell you that the little ways you bring light into the world each day, Amy, make a BIG difference for the rest of us. Keep on going! You light up the place!

Mad for…Ellie

Whoever is happy will make others happy. — Anne Frank

Because my home here in Carmel, Indiana has more than one melancholic temperament under roof, I have a chalkboard in the mudroom. This is so that I can impart positivity against the wills of some of the men living here. For several months, I’ve left the same message posted which says, “Smile! Happiness looks gorgeous on you!” As I left the house this morning, I giggled. You see, today’s birthday girl was on my mind as I headed to mass to pray for her, and she does not need her mother to post a message such as this. This young lady has sunshine in her soul. I think God fashioned her out of star dust.

Meet Ellie Beck! Ellie is my niece and god daughter, the youngest daughter of my sister, Robin, and her handsome husband, Chris. She is also the little sis to Maddie, who is a high school sophomore. Ellie is the youngest of the grandchildren on my side of the family. Incredibly intelligent, witty, and kind, she’s also remarkably talented. About a year and a half ago, at the end of 5th grade, I happened to catch her in person at her school’s spring musical, Annie. I am completely biased, of course, but I thought she killed it in the lead role.

Ellie shines brighter. She smiles with glorious sincerity. Most of all, Ellie has a compassionate heart and a spectacular silly streak. When we took a walking tour of Purdue’s campus this summer, Ellie wore her “IU Hoosiers” sweatshirt to antagonize all of us Boilermakers and declare her love and loyalty to her parents alma mater. It made me chuckle! The top photo above is of Ellie in the Purdue Bookstore, trying on everything she could find that did NOT contain the Purdue logo! She’s misguided, but it’s not her fault, so I’ll overlook it, HA!? Here are some other things I’ve noticed about Ellie. She’s grateful, curious, and when life trips her up, she dusts herself off and gets up. Ellie is eager to share what she’s learned with others and she greets the world with positivity. She’s friendly and considerate.

Today, Ellie turns 13! Being a teenager can be tough, but this young lady is ready for the challenge. She makes the world a better place for others by the way she lives her life. Elle Belle, I am so proud to be your aunt. You are a hot fudge sundae with sprinkles on top special! Our good and gracious God loves you beyond words, and so do I! I know you are over there at All Saints doing your thoughtful, kindhearted thing every day, and today I hope you get the chance to lick some icing off your fingers and celebrate YOU! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELLIE!!

Mad for…Edward

The generous will themselves be blessed…(Prov. 22)

Ed Villacorta and his wife, Liza, have two beautiful children– Kenneth and Sophia. This family is one of those that I have been around for years through both SLDM and Guerin Catholic experiences. However, since neither of these incredible Villacorta children is an exact match with my boys, their family isn’t one I have really had the chance to get to know as intimately as perhaps we could have. That said, Ed’s name came to me today because I ran into some of his thoughtfulness.

Back in junior high, my middle son, Drew, made a brief appearance as a cross country runner. He was fairly successful at this sport, but it was short-lived because of, well, the running, ha?! If it weren’t for Ed Villacorta and his generosity, we’d literally have no proof that Drew Thieme was ever a participant in this sport. He’s shared a tremendous number of pictures with me over the years as I spent some time as a communications person for SLDM CYO. I needed pictures for our newsletter, twitter feed, the website and all sorts of things. Once Ed discovered the need, he would frequently send me the most incredible shots of young people having loads of fun in their SLDM sports of every variety. The pictures were usually edited, captioned and often contained the parish logo. It was impressive work! Later, as our children grew a bit older, he shared some images of Guerin Catholic Golden Eagles too!

This is Ed’s last year as a GC parent since his gorgeous girl is a senior this year. She’s articulate, friendly, and kind, which are traits she certainly picked up at least in part from her father. Edward Villacorta is unceasingly positive, and in every interaction I have ever had with him over the years he is incredibly courteous and generous. If it’s true that the most joyful, happiest folks are those who are most often giving more to others than they receive in return, then I would guess that’s among the chief reasons for Ed’s sunny disposition! He’s also clearly a faith-filled man who loves the Lord, and a fantastic example to his children and all in his path.

On behalf of all of us who have glorious photographs which capture beautiful moments in the lives of our children that were gifted to us by you, Ed, allow me to say THANK YOU! This is merely one small way you have spread God’s love around like wildfire by the way you live your life. Many times your smile and bright hello made every difference in my day, and I am LONG overdue to say I AM GRATEFUL!!

Mad for…Becky

“Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how!”

A young mother at church on Friday night spoke these words to her pre-teen daughter who was complaining that someone had been grumpy to her on the way in. It made me laugh at the time, and I wrote it down. Then, today, as I was pondering the next beautiful soul I would introduce to you, I scrolled past the quote and thought…”Becky!”

One of the friendliest people I have ever encountered, Becky Martinez is positive, bubbly, chatty and kind. Becky is also kind of a sparkly fashionista– a woman with flare and full of personality and life. She is pictured above with her son, Austin Olvey.

Becky is the wife of a sweet guy named Dave and the mom to a grown son named Austin. I happen to know she’s crazy about Austin and his wife, Sarah, as well as her hubby because she never fails to give me an update on each one of them when I visit her at the salon every few weeks– and she always shares how smart, capable and hard-working they are too. I’ve known her quite a long time, since Austin was a little boy, and I am not sure there could be a young man more loved by his mom than this one.

She’s interested and engaging. I heard it said once that hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even if you wish they were. That makes me giggle, but it is certainly one of Becky’s many gifts. Sure, she can turn my gray old lady hair into something far more appealing, but she’s a woman who does far more than that. People who love their customers have customers who love them right back, and that’s what she’s built over many years of making people look their best.

You might catch this gal on a long bike ride, or enjoy a glass of wine with her now and then. You might know her as “Bekah” and maybe she cuts your hair too. Perhaps you don’t know her at all, but if you live in Hamilton County there’s a good chance you know someone who is one of her customers because she has quite a network of clients. Regardless, she’s an authentically kind woman with a generous, and loving heart.

Today, I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you to Becky for always having something thoughtful and kind to say. Kindness is a superpower, I’m convinced. You see, the world has a way of wearing us all down now and then, and it’s often a small, friendly moment, a little helping of kindness that re-charges our souls. Becky helps people by freshening their look, and very often, their mood too. Thank you for being a light for others, my friend. I am grateful for you.

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

Mad for…Melissa

Joy is a sign of generosity. When you are full of joy, you move faster and you want to go about doing good to everyone. St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

About a year ago or so, my youngest son, Zach, took up the sport of tennis. He’s now a freshman at Guerin Catholic and he’s been busy learning the routine of high school, meeting new people, and playing on the GC tennis team. It’s remarkable how many times I have had the pleasure of getting to meet amazing folks through the adventures undertaken by my three silly sons. Today, I’d like to introduce you to a beautiful woman I recently met named Melissa Kolb. I wish I would have thought to take her picture while she was cheering on her son Jak at the GC tennis courts today, but I didn’t. She’s pictured above in an old photo I was able to drum up. She’s just as gorgeous in person!

I have only just met Melissa but she has inspired me by her radiance. This is a joyful and generous woman. At each match we have attended, she has taken a few minutes to say hello and we’ve gotten just a little more acquainted. Melissa is a cheerful, sunny woman. She is also the team mom. As a veteran at the team mom gig, I can tell you that these are roles filled with responsibilities as well as a significant commitment of time. Generously, she has shared her organizational genius with the 35 or so families in the program, making sure our boys get a bite to eat after school before weeknight matches– and she’s a phenomenal communicator as well.

I chose this famous Mother Teresa quote today because when I read it this evening, I thought of Melissa! I knew she was a generous and kind woman before I even met her, based on her offering of time and the sacrifices she had already made for the benefit of other GC tennis families and young men. Then, when I spoke to her in person, she just had the most engaging and truly upbeat personality. She’s both graceful and effervescent, which is a tricky combination to pull off.

Not knowing her as well as I’d like just yet, I can’t say for sure what kind of mom and wife she is, but I’d be willing to put money on the fact that anyone who finds themselves a regular in her path is blessed beyond measure. It seems like a pretty sure bet!

Thanks for the generous and joyful way you make your way through life, Melissa. You are charming, winsome and lovely and I find your positivity inspiring! You can count me a fan already. Congrats to your handsome boy for the success he had on the court today! GO GOLDEN EAGLES!!