Mad for…Sara

I have a lot of respect for genuine people. They might not be perfect, but at least they’re not pretending to be. (Anthony Gucciardi)

One of the least pretentious people that I know is a mom of four from southern Indiana named Sara Kaiser (pictured above, top left). She’s married to an easy going guy named Jimmy and together they have built a messy, imperfect, beautiful life! She was a volleyball player in college– at Mississippi State– I think? Since I have total recall up to 30 seconds these days, its possible I have the school wrong. The good news is, Sara is so grace-filled and tenderhearted that she would overlook my mistake anyway.

Ladies, my friend Sara is one of those stunningly gorgeous women who look good wearing absolutely anything. Do you know what’s even worse? It’s impossible to hold that fact (or much of anything else) against her because she’s just so damn genuine, kind, and prayerful. For instance, I was just about to tease her for being late to our Christmas party one year when she came through the door apologizing and explaining that she had a holy hour at the adoration chapel she needed to complete before she was able to join us. I thought to myself, “Jeez Louise. I was about to say WHAT?”

Funny and energetic, Sara enjoys a good concert and she’s got enough rhythm for herself and a couple extra folks too. Her laugh is completely contagious and her heart is positively a gift to all of us in her path. She knows how to have faith that everything will work out for the best. Rather than judge others, she loves them. I read this quote by St. Gianna Molla last week and it reminded me of my friend Sara, who I think lives her life as well as anyone I know by not wishing it away but just being simply present where she is. St. Gianna said, “The secret of happiness is to live moment by moment and to thank God for what He is sending us everyday in His goodness.” What a lovely thought, am I right?

Sara makes a difference because she is authentically kind. I don’t see her as often as I’d like, but when I do, I always leave feeling like I matter. She encourages, inspires, and makes me giggle. She never fails to welcome me with a smile and a thoughtful word. Sometimes it really is the little kindnesses that make the biggest difference in our day. Thank you, Sara, for always reminding me of that very fact! I love you, friend!

Mad for…Barbara

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:17-18)

For about a decade, I worked as the regional communications director for RE/MAX of Indiana. In that role, there was a long list of responsibilities, and I discerned very quickly that the only way the organization could be successful in all those areas which fell under my jurisdiction was to outsource some of them to competent folks. There are only so many hours in the day, after all. That’s how I met the gifted, energetic public relations whiz named Barbara Coles.

Barbara is the president of Coles Marketing, which provides marketing communications, public relations, and creative expertise (among other things) to their clients. Her team always reflected it’s leader. They were hard-working, thoughtful, and professional. Not only is Barbara all those things, but she’s just got the most positive and hopeful attitude. She’s a woman of deep faith and refreshing integrity. She’s also just insanely bright and articulate.

The wife of an attorney named Jim as well as a mom and grandmother of many, Barbara Coles is an impressive woman with a beautiful heart. Even when I was incredibly cranky and demanding, she lived up to her well-earned reputation as a patient and authentically kind woman. Her husband and the rest of her family are stunningly blessed to have her in their lives.

Frequently, she would share about the accomplishments and sometimes even the trials that her family was going through. No matter the circumstances, Barbara is always friendly and welcoming, and even in adversity she tried to see the silver lining, the positivity possible…and remain hopeful. That’s why I chose this little scripture quote about hopefulness as I attempt to honor her today with my shout out.

Her birthday is the day after mine (in March) so I missed the chance to honor her on her special day with my “Mad for 2019” column. However, a lovely young woman asked me recently if there were people in my life (outside my family) from whom I learned about some of the important lessons about how to deal with others. There is a long list of folks who have counseled me there, some with words and others with their fine example. Barbara is a person who falls into the latter category.

The Lord certainly used Barbara Coles to help me adjust my sails, and hopefully the content of my character too, in a positive way by her example. Much of her most sage guidance seeped in slowly over time– some of it long after our paths parted. While we’ve all got areas where we could stand some improvement, I am especially grateful to Barbara for showing me what the graceful end product of truly respecting others ought to look like. I am long overdue to acknowledge how much she helped me to realize that how we treat others (especially difficult folks) in our path is really so important. As we approach Thanksgiving, I find myself filled with gratefulness for the examples of many folks who are often the face of Christ to those around them by the lovely way they live their lives. This includes my former work colleague. Thanks, Barbara! You are a phenomenal woman from whom I glean inspiration STILL all these years later!