Mad for…Deacon Rick

“The future starts today, not tomorrow.” St. Pope John Paul II

A number of years ago, ten to be exact, my oldest son started high school at Guerin Catholic. His principal at the time was a likeable guy named Rick Wagner. He hadn’t yet been ordained a deacon, but one could spot that Jesus-loving twinkle in his eye from a mile away. Although we’ve met briefly (several times) since then, the truth is that we really don’t know one another at all. Candidly, this is precisely the reason I have chosen him as my “Person of the Week”.

Allow me to explain.

Deacon Rick has a rather special charism through which the Lord clearly uses this particular man. He is a profoundly gifted storyteller. What makes him especially effective is his accessibility. Conveying the importance of loving and serving the Lord with one’s life in a way that each person in his path can clearly understand is a piece of cake for Rick. Fancy, complex language is not his thing. Authenticity, genuine care, and kindness are more his jam.

From afar, I’ve noticed the way he honors his marriage and expresses his love for his wife, Carol, and his children and grandchildren. Just yesterday, for instance, he posted a beautiful and touching “Happy Birthday” message to his wife on social media. What made it spectacular was the photo he chose to accompany his touching words– he was dressed in an inflatable “Pillsbury Doughboy” costume and Carol was in some ridiculous dinosaur get up. To me, that was a life filled with love and laughter summed up rather succinctly, and I found it inspiring. It was also hilarious!

Carol and Rick Wagner. In that order.

If you follow Deacon Rick on social media, and I sincerely hope you do, you’ll quickly pick up his impressive ability to shepherd others towards Christ. He’s self-effacing, but he’s also convicted. He gives guidance about how to draw closer to joy, peace, and love itself with humor and patient reminders about what truth looks like.

Author Bob Goff is one of my favorites for his uncanny ability to spot the Lord in the everyday. Personal storytelling is his forte, and just like Deacon Rick, the thing that makes the humorous personal anecdotes truly work is that they are reliably other-focused and Christ-centered. I don’t know either of these men, but it hasn’t stopped them from making a significant impression upon my life and a difference in my daily choices. Both of them are personal heroes of mine.

Over the years, Rick Wagner has written down so many lessons and given countless numbers of beautiful talks and retreats. The following are among the lessons I’ve taken in and tried to improve upon in my own life, largely due to hearing them as themes in his work or talks. I’m saying them much less well than he does, but you’ll get the idea. Here’s one for each day of the week.

  1. I can notice others, make sure they feel seen.
  2. Invest in relationships– with God and others. It’s worth the time.
  3. Be yourself. It makes people feel like they can be real too.
  4. Christ is with me, THIS SECOND.
  5. TODAY is a powerful word. We are called to be the light of Christ for others- NOW.
  6. I am not worthy or capable? Fake news. Not of God.
  7. We can be joyful in all circumstances. Yes, I said ALL.

The badassery of Deacon Rick’s giftedness is not properly conveyed here, though I’ve tried to give you a taste. In many hundreds of previous blog posts, I truly don’t think I’ve ever suggested you fine folks follow anyone on Twitter. Let’s be honest, it’s the wild, wild west online. That said, you brave souls who want to find the sparkly part of the internet should give him a peek @DeaconRWagner or check out his blog at

Deacon Rick and his beautiful wife, Carol, without the costumes. Thanks for sharing him with us, Carol!

Yesterday, on the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the good Deacon shared this quote, which is an apt description of exactly what I see in him and why I chose to tell you about him today. But first, I want to say one more thing. It’s important that each of us remembers that our little bit of sunshine can bring light to others– even those we do not know. That’s what Deacon Rick has done for me, and so many others. So many, in fact, that I found myself talking about him behind his back at a meeting today. Essentially, what I attempted to say about him i that meeting is contained in this quote he shared just a day ago.

“Faith is like a bright ray of sunlight. It enables us to see God in all things as well as all things in God.” –St. Francis de Sales

THANK YOU, Deacon Rick, for all you do each day for others. You have been the face of Christ to me on many occasions by sharing your faith journey, and I am way past overdue to express my gratitude!! Your reward is my “person of the week” honor, which comes with exactly zero prize money and even less prestige. CONGRATULATIONS, ha?!

Deacon Rick Wagner serves at St. Pius X in Indianapolis and is currently the President at Guerin Catholic High School in Noblesville. He’s a proud husband, dad, and grandpa to a family full of truly blessed humans.

Mad for…Justin

“Don’t shine so others can see you. Shine, so that through you, others can see Him.” –C.S. Lewis

Rolling gingerly to my side, I’d grab for a nearby pillow and slide it ever so gently between my knees at 2am or so. Sometimes, when my alarm sounded, I’d lie flat on my back and draw my knees up to my chest one at a time in a futile effort to loosen it up. The point I’m making is, the pain of standing after another night of fitful sleep was just about upon me one morning a few months back.

Once I got both feet on the floor, I knew the effort to stand up straight was going to be both painful and futile. My husband called me “S” shaped. My youngest son tried very hard to teach me the stretches he learned from the pretty fantastic Jaime Waymouth (Guerin Catholic’s Strength and Conditioning guru) to help me. He also rolled his eyes a lot and said, “Mom, FIGURE IT OUT!”

This went on for well over a year. For a while, I was able to get some relief from walking. After 20 minutes or so of making my way around the neighborhood, I’d slowly be standing more erect. Then, one very cold morning, I found my Aleve-aided self desperately walking in the driving rain. I was hunched over like a 90-year old man when I began, and when I ended, I looked like a soaking wet 90-year old man. I looked in the mirror and laughed at myself. Then, I literally looked at the ceiling and spoke aloud to the God of the universe. “Lord. I’m a damn fool. Also, I’m a stubborn, willful PIA who needs help. I give up. Let’s try Your plan.”

Here’s what you need to know. A solid and genuine “Your will, Jesus” has never failed me.

Later that day, in a text exchange with my friend and pastor, we traded stories about our respective mornings. His was a lovely story about ministering to a family in need, and mine was a whiny tale about being a soaking wet and very cold fool. Also, he said, “Call Justin Gilmore. He’s a spiritual son of mine and good at what he does.”

Dr. Justin Gilmore

Suddenly, I recalled this piece of paper a dear friend had shared with me months earlier. It was a certificate she had purchased at a parish auction for a free initial consulation. The name of the chiropractor said…”Dr. Justin Gilmore.”

Got it, Lord.

When I arrived to visit Gilmore Chiropractic a couple of days later, the two most kind women greeted me. Kristen and Kelli could not have been more welcoming at the front desk…and the X-rays were soon underway. Dr. Gilmore, when I met with him a couple of days later, indicated that he felt there was a strong chance he could help me. He did NOT overpromise. He simply shared he felt it was more than worth a try and explained the problem in a way that a smart girl (that’s me) who also was pretty terrible in biology class (also me) would be able to understand.

I began visiting Dr. Justin Gilmore a few times a week. Sooner than he predicted, my pain lessened. In each and every visit, Dr. G was friendly. His office is also the cleanest, most efficiently run medical office I have EVER encountered. I know zip about chiropractic care and as far as I know, I’ve never met another chiropractor. His goodness, honesty, and skillful work give a good name to the entire profession, in all honesty.

I don’t know a lot about Justin other than he’s a very handsome man from Terre Haute who’s married to a woman named Laura who he clearly treasures. He also has a little girl he adores who really likes the stroller she got for her doll this Christmas. My guess is that both of those lovely ladies are incredibly blessed…because no one can fool me for long. After 24 visits, I’d have detected and ascertained his lack of authenticity if it existed. I’ve got a gift in this area.

I’m happy to report that as of this writing, I’m pain free, by the way. Even if I weren’t, I’d still be a big fan of this unassuming, but very bright and faith-filled man. To be candid, I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d wake up feeling this way again… where my back is concerned. I’m 50 years old and I simply figured there wasn’t much to be done. I was wrong. It turns out that once again I have learned the Lord loves me and turning to Him is the move. I recommend the prayer thing strongly, by the way, even if you do so in a way that might not impress others as the most pious or articulate approach. He listens.

He heard my slightly pathetic prayer (probably rolled His eyes) and then sent me to this capable, terrific human through whom the love of Christ shines in the respectful and compassionate way he uses his gifts to serve others each day.

I’m so grateful I met you, Doc. THANK YOU for all you do for so many of us. I was joking when I asked you to move in with me after you cracked my back the first time, but seriously…you’re the REAL DEAL. For this reason, you are my person of the week. It’s such a HUGE honor. I hope it doesn’t go to your head, ha?!

St. Andre Bessette, Pray for Us!