Mad for…Meghan

Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love. -Mother Teresa

About six years ago or so, we moved a couple miles north to a new neighborhood that is extremely convenient to Guerin Catholic High School, where we knew we had about a decade ahead of us. Three and a half of those ten years remain and time is flying by at warp speed, but I digress. The point I was about to make is that when we moved we assumed we’d be giving up the built in SLDM carpool help we enjoyed in our old neighborhood. You see, the new place is further from St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School where we still had one remaining. However, I chalked that one up in the “cons” column and decided I could live with it. Our good and gracious God had another plan.

You see, it turns out that our NEXT DOOR neighbor on Randolph Crescent Drive was (and is) a lovely Catholic school family from SLDM named Dunlap. We weren’t here long before I got a text message from Meghan Dunlap alerting me to this little fact and asking me if I wanted to be their carpool partner. YOU BETCHA. We settled into a fairly workable routine where one of the three adults living at the Dunlap home would take the kiddos to school, and I would bring them home in the afternoon. Score!!

I admit that I still don’t know Meghan and her beer-loving, smarty-pants husband, Grady, as well as I should. However, I do know that together they are raising three really terrific children– Sam, Matt and Lily. All three of them entertained me during their time in my carpool. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to grinning the most at little Lily, who is a spunky piece of sunshine. Perhaps that’s because I don’t have any girls myself? In any case, the Dunlap kids are polite and lovely humans. I credit their mother, ha? We moms have to stick together.

Here’s what I know for sure. Meghan Dunlap is not only beautiful, but she’s incredibly bright. In fact, I am fairly certain her degree is in engineering. This means she’s better at math than I ever dreamed of being and I’m trying not to hold that “smart and gorgeous” combo against her. She has an impressive work ethic and a great deal of professional responsibility in her role at work, which I don’t even begin to understand (because mostly her job was explained to me by grade school aged children). Those three also made it clear she’s supportive and loving as a mother and also very effective at instituting a few mandatory yard work days each year, which always makes me smile and want to yell affirming things out my window in solidarity. Kids are such hilarious truth-tellers. She’s also a thoughtful daughter who definitely inherited it from her incredibly amazing mom, Judy Sullivan, who lives with them in the cutest apartment right inside the house.

There have been multiple times over the years when Meghan has reached out with care, concern or compassion to our family. Also, when scheduling craziness got the best of us, Meghan always was patient and kind rolling with the punches. These are no small things to those of us who are sometimes just barely managing to survive the days. The little things? They are actually EVERYTHING.

Sam, Matt and Lily have no idea how blessed they are to have a faith-filled woman of God as their mom. With their incredibly busy lives and professional schedules, it would be oh so easy to simply skip mass on Sunday or not attend to the spiritual needs of her family. That’s not what Meghan is about. I’ve been watching. She’s working hard to get it right. I see you, neighbor, and so does the Lord. Today’s shout out is for you! Well done, good and faithful servant!!

Mad for…Laura

The essence of life is to serve others and do good. (Aristotle)

About a month ago, a lovely woman who long served St. Louis de Montfort as it’s CYO Athletic Director celebrated a big milestone birthday. It recently came to my attention that I missed the party entirely, but that does not mean that it’s too late to let her know that I see her servant’s heart and all the hours she has put in over the years for the benefit of just a LOT of young people! Today, therefore, I’m issuing an official and long overdue shout out to one Laura Klee!! She’s pictured above, on the far right of the first row in this group of sunny women!

Laura is the mom of four and the wife of a smiley, outgoing guy named Kevin. Her super sweet daughter, Grace, went through grade school with my Zach, and now they are both Golden Eagles, so I’ve therefore spent a number of years essentially in a similar orbit. I’m fairly certain she’s from the Indianapolis area because I recall her telling me once that she is a graduate of Bishop Chatard High School. Sometimes my memory is a fail, though, so Laura if I have that all completely wrong please forgive me.

Here’s what I know for sure. Laura is a no-nonsense, hard-worker as well as a woman of integrity. She’s a supportive mom and wife as well as a woman of faith who always seems busy but who never seems to me to be in a hurry. I’d like a piece of that, so I find her inspiring. She’s one of those folks who is wise enough to walk away from drama, and she seems more attached to making choices which seem to be right and good. She appears to me from my view in the cheap seats to value peace of mind, self-respect, and most of all her family.

The number of times I saw Laura with her arms full of uniforms, or concession stand supplies, or miscellaneous athletic gear of one type or another over the years would make your head spin. The number of crazy situations she handled with grace over time is impressive. I saw that, Laura. Probably, I owe you a drink (or several) for my own part in some of the chaos too! We parents really can be the worst sometimes, am I right?!! Laura’s retired from that post now, but in that role I always saw a straightforward person who isn’t afraid to dig in for the sake of others, and I respect her for it.

Today, I ran into a little piece of my boys childhood in the form of some old SLDM gear. It made me think of all the great folks like Marshall Scheper, Mary Fuller, and of course Laura Klee who poured out many hours of effort so that hundreds of young people could have a positive youth sports experience in a faith-filled atmosphere. I failed to ever properly thank Laura for those efforts,and today I wanted to right that ship! Laura, many thanks are way way overdue from the Thieme clan for all your work over the years. We are grateful for all our CYO experiences in that gym full of sweaty SLDM Cardinals. For your part in making that happen, please accept our most heartfelt THANK YOU!

God Bless You, and the entire Klee family! Also, I know I’m extremely late but also HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I hope this is your best year yet, because you deserve that!!

Mad for…Val

I love funny people and when I’m with funny people, or people who are amusing in their weirdness, I love it. Because that to me is funny as opposed to someone who stops and says, “Hey let me tell you a joke.” (Paul Feig)

This week, I noticed a talented friend of mine was featured in Indy Maven’s best local holiday gift ideas. If you’re so inclined, check out the link and all the talented local artisans at https://indymaven.com/holiday-gift-guide-2019/ and pay particular attention to Val Campbell and her Cosmic Leather line. I don’t have the waist pack Indy Maven liked, but I do have her leather cross body bag and it’s just spectacular– a very high quality piece

Creative, gifted, and very funny, Val is the mother of three boys and the wife of a handsome guy named Matt. She’s incredibly beautiful, as you can clearly see from the photo I stole off her Facebook page. She will definitely prefer it to the only photo I found of her on my phone from an old baseball tourney. In that photo (which I just deleted) we all look like we have been ridden hard and put away wet, as the saying goes, ha?! I met her when my son Zach played baseball with her son, Ethan. There were multiple perks to having a son on the same team as one of the Campbell boys. First of all, Val always took the hats and embroidered the boys names or numbers on them. It was totally cool! Also? Sitting on the sidelines of any baseball game with Val means you are in for a good time. A master of sarcasm, she’s just plain fun, the kind of girl who makes me giggle without really trying much at all. Everything about Val is genuine. The thing is, you can joke with her and then sort of also solve the worlds problems with a deeper conversation when you’re around Val. She’s got a lot of tricks up her sleeve.

A Indy area native, I am fairly certain Val attended Lawrence Central High School. I’d be willing to bet all her old friends still think of her and how their faces hurt from smiling when she’s around. My youngest, Z, gave up the sport of baseball, but I know that’s definitely how I feel about my old baseball mom friend even though I haven’t seen her in person in quite a while.

Val Campbell is without a doubt a loving, attentive, and supportive mother as well as a sunny and pleasant human. She’s friendly and welcoming to others– and her smile is contagious. She’s got a silly streak and also, apparently, she’s a badass entrepreneur on the rise! When I saw her featured this week in the local holiday gift guide, I was incredibly happy for her because I just love it when outstanding things happen for integrity-filled people like Val!

I wish you much continued success in all you do my friend, as well as a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and your guys!! With you in this crazy world, the place is just a happier place more filled with laughter, and I am grateful that our good and gracious God gave me a chance to get to know you! God Bless all the Campbells!

Mad for…Thomas

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

If someone trustworthy tells you a movie is terrific, hard to watch at moments, but just has a great ending and to stick it out…you do it, right? Someone wise once told me that’s the same attitude we need with God. He has a plan for us, and He’s worthy of our trust. If we stay with Him…it all ends well.

My sister-in-law, Mary Jo, is one of my husband’s two siblings. She’s the middle child in the trio, actually. Mary Jo is married to a bright and articulate German man I recently told you about. His name is Andreas. Together, they are parents to a young man named Thomas, who they adopted from the foster care system when he was quite young. I think he was just a bit under a year old, in fact. My memory is unreliable, though, so I could be a tad off. Here he is more recently with his cousins at Drew’s high school graduation, with his cousin Katie LaReau’s arm around him.

In any case, the addition of my nephew Thomas to the family brought not just a small amount of joy to his parents and also to his grandparents and the entire family. None was more afflicted with joy, in my estimation, than the heart of my mother in law, Jane. This week, we marked the 6th anniversary of her death, a sad and somewhat unbelievable milestone if I am honest. Where has the time gone? However, we’ve also got cause for joy this week because today is the 12th birthday of the youngest grandson of Tom and Jane Thieme– Thomas Sashegyi!

I find myself writing with a bit more care than I sometimes demonstrate today. Typically, I simply allow this to be a few paragraphs of unfiltered spontaneity– a stream of consciousness blog post. This one feels a tad different and that is for one simple reason. In the first 339 consecutive entries, my daily affirmations were directed at and written for the person about whom I am speaking. My goal usually is to provide a reason for someone to smile at the positive qualities I notice, and hopefully that leaves an imprint of sunshine on their day. Today is a bit different. You see, I know that Thomas doesn’t have the ability to read these words, and I’m not certain how many of them he would understand if his mother chose to share them. I do know this, though. It’s important to me today that all who love this little boy understand on his birthday today that I see the dignity of his life, and the possibilities of his mind and the fact that the same good and gracious God who made you and me also made this handsome young man with the devilish grin in His glorious image. Also, I want him to know his Aunt Shelly wishes him a very happy birthday!

Thomas is a curly-haired wonder, the master of riding anything on wheels at speeds and with precision that boggle my mind. The use of bikes and scooters are a strength area. He is also a solid ice skater who has played a little hockey in his past. He loves to fish, and can entertain himself for hours with this activity. He’s got boundless energy, and a reliably good “high-five” that I can almost always get him to “blow up” with me. This year, he spent a little time handing out exactly three pieces of candy to each trick-or-treater that came to my door…well…except for the scary looking kids in creepy masks, ha? This part made me giggle a little, because here’s Thomas in his costume (with Drew), which definitely includes the very sort of mask he was eschewing as my Halloween doorman. Kids make me giggle!

Mary Jo and Andreas, I know your parenthood journey is fraught with bumps and hiccups very different from the ones on my own road of motherhood. Today, as I attempt to celebrate the life of the little man I know you love dearly, I just want you to know that I love your son too, and I see your perseverance and courageous determination. So does the Lord. Christ is with you on your journey though, and He is trustworthy.

Please tell Thomas that his Aunt Shelly, Uncle Tom, and his cousins Nick, Drew and Zach want to wish him a VERY HAPPY 12TH BIRTHDAY! Eat all the cake, Thomas…..it’s your day!!

Mad for…Julie

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (Romans 12:10)

Last night was a good one for Boilermakers everywhere, and I was lucky enough to be in the ninth row behind the Purdue men’s basketball team for their game! Coach Painter and his team took on Virginia in the Big 10/ACC Challenge, in a game hosted by my alma mater at one of the best venues in all of college basketball– Mackey Arena! It was this event that brought me a night of fun and catching up with an old friend, Julie Hedlund.

Sweet Julie and her husband, Ken, invited us along with them to the game! Ken works with my hubby, Tom, at Somerset CPAs. They’ve been co-workers a long time. In fact, one of my favorite photos from our wedding is of Ken and Julie laughing at our reception. That was 25 years ago, and the Hedlunds are both still among the most authentic people around. Julie and I hopped into the back seat and as we headed up I-65 to my hometown, I remembered all the things I have always loved about her!

Joyful, friendly and so incredibly real, Julie Hedlund is a happy person who simply says and does the things she actually believes. She’s a woman who does good and says kind things because it’s the right thing to do. She’s interested and interesting. A friend of mine has a post-it on her fridge which reads, “Authenticity: knowing who you are and being brave enough to live it.” That, in a nutshell, is how I see Julie Hedlund.

She eagerly and enthusiastically showed off her photos and videos of new granddaughter, Manny, who lives in Chicago. It was heartening to hear the cheerful delight in Julie’s voice and to see the brightness in her eyes as she talked about her new role as a grandmother, and also the pride with which she shared updates on her four grown children. Julie is a sunny and grace-filled woman. People like Julie Hedlund represent everything that still good and right in this crazy world we share. She’s the salt of the earth.

As the game wore on last night, Julie and I got to laughing at Ken just a little. He’s a man who apparently digs his popcorn, because he was going through his supply quickly. Finally, he reached over to offer Julie the box. She grabbed it, then turned to me with a big grin, and tilted the box towards me and told me to take as much as I’d like. In the very bottom of the box, about a half cup of crumbs were all the remained. She giggled, “My Kenny really loves his popcorn!” We both just laughed. Her smile is contagious!!

A nurse by profession, I have no doubt that Julie is a blessing to all her patients as well as her co-workers because she is not only caring and compassionate, she’s also very funny! A joyful person like Julie who can laugh at life is one who makes a difference for others. Period. Spending a few hours with this completely lovely and truly beautiful woman really did make my day! THANKS, JULIE, for reminding me why it’s so important to spend our days being exactly who God created us to be. You are nothing if not an incredible, integrity-filled woman. How blessed is little Manny James to have such a grandma!!

If I’m going to be anything, Lord, let me be genuine… like Julie Hedlund.

P.S. Purdue wins 69-40 over Virginia!! Boiler Up!!

Mad for…Andreas

Faith can move mountains. (Mt. 17:20)

There is no human I have ever encountered with a stomach which is made of quite the same stuff as this man. It’s possible his is made of steel, or some other such impervious material. It seems no matter what kind of leftovers, he’s incapable of being injured or impaired by their consumption. We’ve even joked when we’re well past the appropriate time to clear out the fridge that it’s contents would now not even pass the “Uncle Andreas” test. If he wouldn’t eat them, you see, then no one else should try…ha?

Truth be told, Andreas Sashegyi is simply not a wasteful human. He doesn’t like to throw things away which are still of some value– and that’s a laudable thing. Andreas is married to my sister-in-law, Mary Jo (Thieme) Sashegyi. Together, they have one son, Thomas, who will turn 12 years old this week. They live in downtown Indianapolis where he works for Eli Lilly. Andreas is Canadian, and he spent his formative years there. However, when people ask me about him, I usually describe him as German. He’s certainly culturally so, and he speaks both English and German quite well. I’m not sure what other languages he’s comfortable with, but he’s an extremely bright guy with excellent language skills.

He’s pictured here in a photo with Mary Jo and Thomas. This photo is a few years old, but in it the three of them look happy and full of joy and I’ve always liked it, so I hope they won’t mind me sharing it here.

As a biker, Andreas is fearless. Frankly, he has kind of scared me with his biking adventures over the years, and I’ve several times found myself not just a little anxious as he describes his long rides on busy roads and highways. He’s also a talented artist and a lover of good books and music.

What most defines Andreas for me, though, is his genuine devotion to his faith. He is both knowledgeable and engaged as a Catholic– a man of God for sure. He’s incredibly generous and charitable to his parish and community– in both time and resources. It’s inspiring and a lovely example to others. We joke behind his back a little about his affection for lighting “fellowship candles”, but the truth is he’s motivated by his interest in gathering together to share around a table– stories, food and laughter. Those are beautiful things.

So today, as we really enter into the season of Advent and inch closer to Christmas, I wanted to give Andreas a little shout out and share with you all this little tidbit I jotted down a while back in honor of my smarty pants brother-in-law. I believe the quote is from His Eminence’s book A Moment of Grace and it recalled an encounter he had in a confessional just before Advent was to begin. I thought it was beautiful and appropriate to share.

“Now is a moment of grace. Something big is about to happen; something very big. And it’s going to happen to you. We are about to begin Advent. God has become incarnate in the human condition, for you, personally for you. God has become a little baby in the middle of the sins you have just told me about. You have reason for new and wonderful hope.

What better gift could we give ourselves and our loved ones than to become more Christian, more loving, more Christ-like, that is to say, to give Him permission, as Mother Teresa once suggested, to work within us? What better gift to present to the little baby in that stable in a grotto outside of Bethlehem.

AMEN, Cardinal O’Connor…and thanks for being you, Andreas. I’m overdue to tell you that I notice so many lovely things about you, and I’m thankful to call you family. Happy Advent!!

Mad for…Deanne

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

Tuesday mornings, I typically drop Zach off at Guerin Catholic then I head to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel for mass. Today was no different. Kneeling down to pray, I glanced up to the credence table and noticed a large silver chalice sitting on it, and I smiled. You see, this means that the tall, sarcastic human who really brought me to Jesus is celebrating this mass. I happily spent a few minutes there praying for Fr. Richard, because, well….the devil is no fan of this holy priest. I was thinking “this is going to be a good day!” Oh gosh, I had no idea how right I was about to be!

After mass was over, I zipped up my coat to head out, and I was stopped by a familiar face. Her smile was radiant, and her greeting was warm, but the truth is, I truly didn’t know Deanne Miller…until today. She handed me a beautiful bag with a book inside and she said, “This is awkward, but I feel like the Holy Spirit is calling me to give you this book. Also, I just kinda think I want to be your friend.” Who can resist the loveliness of that? NOT I, that is for darn sure!

Deanne went on to explain that she had stumbled upon this blog, then there were lots of other nice words…and that she felt a connection of some kind. She wondered if we might have coffee sometime. I replied, “Well, I’m free right now?”

What I learned over coffee is that not only is Deanne brave and ridiculously affirming, she’s also the mother to four children (Sydney, Maci, Austin, and Evan) whose names I’ve probably just misspelled or screwed up entirely. She’s also the wife to a surgeon named Mike. I don’t know a lot more about any of them, except that it was clear IN SECONDS that these are five humans who are loved beyond measure. Those young people and that smart man who married Deanne are unbelievably blessed. Not unlike Our Blessed Mother, this is a woman whose soul magnifies the Lord. These are not words I write flippantly, people. I’m not kidding you. She’s a stunning woman– inside and out. To be candid, I was kind of interiorly freaking out as she said one holy and glorious thing after another and I thought to myself, “She wants to be MY friend? Holy crap, Lord. You sent me Deanne Miller! What the what?!”

After we spoke and her beautiful words settled on me, she said, “Please don’t write about me.” Oh, poor Deanne. She doesn’t know me well enough to know that we were UTTERLY past the point of no return on today’s entry. Jesus sends me someone whose words make my heart burn with love for Him, but I am supposed to overlook her in my blog which is titled “HE NEVER MISSES”? Hahahaha!! I will at least apologize for the old photo I’m posting of her totally gorgeous family, but it was all I could locate quickly to steal off the internet.

Deanne taught me something today. She isn’t waiting on the next guy to make a move. She’s just out there loving people fearlessly. I felt my heart enlarge in her presence. The move she called awkward shoving a book at me after mass and asking to get to know me better? I’m going to name it foolish, gutsy love. My soul was so filled up with Jesus when I left her that I’m sort of grasping for words to express myself. She was the face of Christ to me today, and I was incredibly gotten by the enormity of it. How much must God love us, friends? And how intimately does He know me…and you?

The end of the gospel today was this from the 10th chapter of Luke…”Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Deanne? She is grace-filled. She hears it and sees it. It’s clearly a bell she can’t “unring”. In fact, so full of the Lord is she that she oozed Him out all over me. I didn’t get to some of the items on my list today, and frankly I just don’t give a flying leap. The amount glad I am to have had too much Starbucks coffee today with Deanne Miller is impossible for me to adequately express. THANKS DEANNE for being a blessing larger than you know! Today, you gave me a first person demonstration of how we are to “Live in Grace, Walk in Love.” Well done. I am inspired and can’t wait to pay it forward to some other unsuspecting souls very soon!

P.S. If you’re reading today, Wendy Wiese, I owe you one for this introduction. You are also rock star of the highest order, and I’ll be praying for you tomorrow in a special way.