Mad for…Cassidy

The great thing to remember is that while our feelings come and go, God’s love does not. –CS Lewis

Day 86 of 365.

I’m not sure whether I mentioned it or not, but this week, SO MANY people I know are celebrating their birthdays…and today I am looking to shine a little light on an amazing woman who happens to share my birthday! It’s a festival, Cassidy, so let the celebration continue!!

Above right, meet Cassidy Samuelson. She’s standing here with a former student named Kate. I am going to digress for a moment and mention that BOTH of these lovely ladies have some serious pipes. Goodness can they sing like angels!! Cassidy is a junior high literature teacher. As a word lover and someone who has been known to devour books myself, I feel a little bit of a kindred spirit in this gal with whom I share March 24th as a special day.

Cassidy connects well with junior high kiddos because she is both joyful and sarcastic. It’s a unique and stunningly awesome combination! She knows how to have fun but she also knows how to manage a classroom full of hormonal chaos with a sense of humor. She doesn’t take herself too seriously, but she is kind and full of compassion. With Cassidy’s aid, my talented niece Katie LaReau was able to get a speech team off the ground at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School. Now, with Cassidy’s leadership, in just a couple of years, a group full of Speech team kiddos from SLDM have worked themselves into much success and a few trophies as well! I’m pretty sure they even WON at the Westfield Speech meet! I’ve spoken to many of kids on the team and they all talk about how they know Miss Samuelson is so proud of them. Their faces beam with pride. Nothing beats a teacher who cares!! Teachers are heroes in my book, and this woman is a gem!

I chose the quote above to celebrate Cassidy today because it’s one I wrote down after seeing it posted on her Facebook page a while back. In fact, she seems to enjoy inspiring spiritual quotes, as there are many in this vain that pop up now and then on her page. I watch for them. They seem to find me on days that I need to be reminded about just how much we are loved by the Lord. Her simple sharing has often affected me profoundly, a thing I have never shared with her– until now!

Cassidy, I admire how much you love your family, your students and the Lord. Each time you cantor even a single song at mass, I leave feeling blessed. My sons have been so fortunate to have such a truly caring teacher who is passionate about what she does each day. Thank you for all you do each day! HAPPY BIRTHDAY (FESTIVAL)!

Mad for…Sr. Josemaria

To be happy what you need is not an easy life, but a heart which is in love. -St. Josemaria Escriva

The Carmel Deanery is chock full of stunningly gorgeous souls that I affectionately called “Jesus girls”. I took an unofficial headcount and I am pretty sure almost all of them were at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church this afternoon to hear a talk by Sr. Josemaria Pence at the AWAKEN event! Sister a Nashville Dominican.

For those who have been humoring me on my little journey, you already know that each day in 2019, I am endeavoring to point out an fantastic human that I spot around me and write a few words about why I think he or she makes a positive difference in the world. I try to take cues from my day and let the Lord do the choosing. Today, our good and gracious God yelled a little louder than usual.

What I already knew from my own observations over the past 4 years or so was that Sr. Josemaria is a sunny, joyful woman. Neither of my recent Guerin Catholic graduates had her as a teacher during their time as “Golden Eagles” but I have a fondness for religious men and women, so I’d been paying more attention to her than she might suspect. I know, I know….that’s a little creepy? The truth is, I’m drawn to the joy I have noticed in all the women I’ve encountered who are Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, just like Sr. Josemaria. Who doesn’t want to bask in the warmth a little? When I heard that she was speaking, I offered my rosary for her efforts today to be fruitful, which they certainly were.

It turns out, while she’s on loan to us here in central Indiana, Sr. Josemaria actually hails from Minnesota. She shared with us today about her family and her vocation story, and It’s one I won’t even attempt to retell in a few words here, but in her generosity, I found myself feeling filled by Christ as I listened. She’s genuine, and her smile is infectious. She’s the owner of a hilarious, self-deprecating sense of humor. She’s a devoted daughter of the Church who is clearly filled with zeal, enthusiasm and love of the Lord. Her laugh and her smile are kind. In short, my time in her presence today left me feeling refreshed, renewed, and incredibly grateful.

Thank you, Sr. Josemaria, for the courage it must have taken to say YES in such a powerful way to Jesus with your life. Your cannonball into the deep end of the pool, it turns out, has allowed Him to splash all over your beautiful life and the rest of us nearby are a little drenched too. How great is that?? The beautiful way you love Christ is inspiring, and I know that your students experience God’s infinite love for them through your efforts each day! I AM GRATEFUL FOR YOU!

*NOTE: If you would like to know more about the Nashville Dominicans, please visit their website at http://www.nashvilledominican.org.http://nashvilledominican.org

Mad for…Kelly

Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices. -St. Teresa of Avila

I chose one of my favorite saint quotes to share with you today as I honor St. Louis de Montfort junior high math teacher, Kelly Hauschild. You see, Kelly has had more than her fair share of struggles over the last few years, and I thought maybe one of the great women of the Catholic Church could provide her some solace today!

It’s hard enough to be the mother of a big, beautiful brood of children at home, but teaching math to 6th, 7th and 8th graders is also remarkably challenging. When one adds to that set of large responsibilities some outside struggles which have called forth all the reserves in a person, well, I guess what I am feeling today is the need to ask you all to just keep Kelly in your prayers.

It wasn’t that long ago that I found myself collecting gift cards and cash for Kelly. The Hauschild family suffered a major fire at their Fishers home a couple years back. When I visited, meeting her there to share what I could from the generous people of SLDM, it was a scene that took my breath away. However frazzled she was at the time, Kelly had her wits about her and seemed genuinely grateful that her family members were all safe. Certainly, it could have been much worse. The family has recovered from that episode, and they handled it with as much grace as they could. I so admired their perseverance.

In more recent weeks, I’ve learned that Kelly has endured 4 surgeries since the beginning of the year after suffering a fall on the ice during what I am calling the LONGEST WINTER EVER. It might not technically be the longest, but the lack of sunshine and cold weather has surely tested me as never before. During these frozen weeks, outside of Kohls, Kelly broke both bones in her right arm and dislocated her wrist, among other injuries. She has more metal in her arm than bone at this point, and well, my heart goes out to her. Suffering is just no fun at all!!

It’s easy during these times to allow your mind to be filled with anger or frustration, but I know Kelly to be a courageous woman of faith, so I am certain she will forge through this time with her head up! For many years, Kelly has been the brains behind the 8th grade Washington DC trip, a wonderful and very organized time filled with blessings for our students. She joyfully and reverently guides the 8th graders through the process of putting on the Living Stations of the Cross each Lent at SLDM, an event that the students always look forward to, and the parents treasure. She does an excellent job, always, of communicating about grade school graduation events for the kiddos as well. She does all these things with precise attention to detail, and with ample compassion and care.

So, as Kelly clings to the cliff a little this spring, I think it’s important to remind her to anchor herself in the solid rock of our Lord and Savior, but also…to let her know how much her efforts and positive attitude make an impact for many children and many families each day and each year. KELLY, we so appreciate you! Hang in there! We are praying for you, and we hope you know you are loved!

Join me in saying this prayer for Kelly….

Loving God, I pray that You will comfort Kelly in her suffering, lend skill to the hands of her healers, bless the means used for her cure, and provide others to help her as she struggles. Give her such confidence in the power of Your grace, that even when she is afraid, she will put her whole trust in You. Through our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Mad for…Will

Day 75 of 365: Will Oberndorfer

Author’s Note: In 2017, long before I began my “Mad for 2019” challenge, I wrote the following entry about a then high school senior, Will Oberndorfer. Will is now a Boilermaker, a freshman at Purdue University. Will is a very funny and faith-filled young man who blogs himself and I’d love to put the link here but I can’t seem to figure it out. When I get it, I will update this entry. Will is also the co-founder of Diabetes Will’s Way, and you can find out more about that incredibly charity and the work they do at www.diabeteswillsway.com. He’s a handsome, athletic, kind and incredible young man whose love of the Lord guides him always, and he’s tremendously inspiring to me in many ways. The story below still illustrates his essence better than I can do otherwise. We should all be so lucky as to have a character filled friend of this quality. Will, I am grateful for you, kid, because who you are makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE to so many people. If you don’t know him yet, you should. For those folks, I hope you enjoy learning more about Will. –ST

Will Oberndorfer, at center, with his family at his high school graduation last spring. Yes, he was Valedictorian, and yes, he gave an incredibly moving speech that day. In addition to being a big smarty pants, Will is STILL the real deal!

[Please enjoy the story below, an entry from 2017]

Ummm…Drew?  Did I hear the doorbell ring at 11:30 last night?

Yeah, Mom.  You did.   All you need to know is that Oby is an amazing friend!  I gotta go!!

Ok, then.  Have a great day, D!

The above conversation was one of those “I’ve got no time and I am running late so make it quick, Mom” moments.  Every mother of an 18 year old knows what I’m saying.  In this case, my middle kid had gotten very little sleep.  He had played his basketball game and gotten home about 10pm the previous evening.  He arrived home starving, so I shoved a sandwich and some apple slices at him.  Then, he hustled upstairs to work on homework.  I knew he would be up until all hours.  His academic load is significant— by his own choice.  He’s a bright kid and a hard worker but I do worry about him.  It’s a mom thing.  Is he getting enough sleep?  Is the insane IB homework load just too much?  Would it be better for him to have more time for just being a goofy kid?  You get it.  All of us who have kids constantly have this little interior chatter.

This particular day stands out to me, because as the day wore on, I learned more details about the late night visit of one Will Oberndorfer.  It was a God wink.

Apparently, in the new world of electronic everything, there are online quizzes and apps you must have operational, plus midnight deadlines for assignments….all sorts of things I cannot imagine as I compare my son’s academic experience to my own.  I don’t even pretend to understand any of it, and I am truly thankful to God that I was born in 1971.  Pencils, paper and dogs that ate homework were all actual things back in the day.  I digress.  Anyway, on Tuesday night after Drew had his sandwich and a shower, he began his homework marathon later than normal.  It was pushing 11pm.  Shortly after plopping down at his desk, Drew realized that there was a glitch causing his computer to be unable to run some application he needed in order to successfully complete a required quiz by midnight.  He texted his friends—the other crazy young people who are also up half the night, every night, trying to finish their own work.  He was wondering if any of them knew a way to fix the computer issue.  None did.  His friend Oby offered to let Drew come over to his house and use his working computer.  Drew didn’t want to bother his buddy so late.  He then just thanked his friends anyway deciding he would have to just take the zero this time.  He would take his computer into the Guerin Catholic IT folks in the morning for a technical assist.

Then, the doorbell rang.  It was 11:30pm.

I don’t want you to take the zero.

There was Oby.  He had an operational computer for Drew to borrow to take the quiz.

Was it just a small act of kindness?  Yes.  Did it feel small to Drew?  No.

This week, God used a terrific teenager named Will Oberndorfer to remind me, again, how we can all effect positive change in this crazy, wonderful, and sometimes breathtakingly desperate world.  It’s done one kind act at a time, right in the place where you live.  Simply put:  BE THE FRIEND EVERYONE WISHES THEY HAD.

If we’re all working to be the face and hands of Christ, pretty soon it’s going to be incredibly difficult to go anywhere and NOT see how much we are ALL deeply loved by our truly awesome God.

Atta boy, Oby!  You are the REAL DEAL, kid.

Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.  –Mother Teresa

Mad for…Mireille

Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play. –Henri Matisse

Day 69 of 365.

She loves life in such a contagious way that, as you can see, it even comes through in a photo of her! Meet Mireille Wannemuehler. She’s a wife, mother, mother-in-law, and a friend to many…to name a few of her most important roles.

I met Mireille when she was teaching. Now retired, she spent many years as the art teacher at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School. Make no mistake about it, Mireille is as joyful in person as she looks in this photo and also she is a creative genius. She’s a truly talented artist who generously has shared that gift with her parish family over the years!

Mireille is the owner of an infectious, welcoming smile and one of the absolute best laughs I’ve ever heard. It’s just so incredibly genuine. She’s beautifully gentle and compassionate. She sees the very best in others, and she’s just the most loving mother who raised very impressive young women! She’s charming and she’s one of those people who is the barometer of goodness. Truly.

Mireille is faith-filled. Her love of the Lord oozes from her without any effort whatsoever. Perhaps without even knowing it, Mireille is the face of Christ to all in her path. I’ve long admired her and have failed to say so….until today!

Thank you, Mireille, for being a beacon of sunshine for my boys and all the children for all those years at SLDM. Also, though, I find myself grateful for the great gift of being the recipient of your smile so many time….in Fishers and also when we’ve run into you in South Haven, Michigan over the years. You are a truly fine human being and my life and that of my family are so much better for knowing you!!

Mad for…Teri

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26)

One of my regrets in this life of mine is that years ago I did not offer up a hearty and well-deserved THANK YOU to a great woman named Teri Feller. She remains to this day a gal to whom I feel genuine indebtedness for the exceptional work she did with my oldest son, his classmates and scores of others. I’ve decided it’s never too late for gratefulness, and why not rectify the oversight today?

Teri is the mother of 3 grown children and the wife to Jay, a CPA who happens to work with my husband. That’s not how I know Teri, though. She spent many years as a teacher at St. Louis de Montfort School and she was, in my opinion, one of the finest educators to ever inhabit a classroom in that building. While she taught many things well, the Lord used her as His instrument as she taught the students religion. It warmed my heart so very much as a mother to send my son to her classroom each day.

The secret sauce for Teri is that she shared with the children her passion for her faith. She knew how much God loves each of us, and her sunshine showed. Much of what so many young adults know now about the beauty of the mass, for example, was gleaned in her classroom. They felt her love of the Lord and it was life-giving. Teri had command of a group of kids by the genuine and holy way she worked.

I remember laughing as her teaching partner (my dear friend Janet Andriole) spoke to the Lord with the entire combined group of kiddos one afternoon by opening, “Lord, it’s clear to us all that I am not as smooth at this leading a prayer thing as Mrs. Feller, but I am sure you understand my heart is in the right place as I stumble a little here…” It made me giggle as I stood nearby as a classroom helper that day because I had been thinking the entire time, PLEASE do not ask me to lead this group in prayer, Jesus. These children had already gotten used to Mrs. Holiness, you see, and the rest of us pretty much felt like freshmen on the first day of school standing next to her. It was a relief to hear the very articulate Janet express what I had been thinking!

Teri was and is a beautiful person. She’s funny, bright, and soft-spoken. She exudes graciousness and kindness in every interaction I have ever had with her. Teri, THANK YOU for the stunning witness of faithfulness you shared all those years ago with the kids, and for always reminding me each time I see you what goodness looks like. The world sure would be a lot better off with a whole slew of women half as fantastic as you!


Mad for…Joey

“I wish to sow courage, hope and enthusiasm…” -St. Pope John Paul II

Day 58 of 365.

Meet Joey Cobb. She’s the mother of Jensen and the wife to Cam. She’s a small town girl at heart who now lives in Carmel. She’s been teaching PE at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School for as long as I can remember. I have been observing her since my 21 year old college junior was a little guy in his navy blue school uniform pants, and also prior to the arrival of her athletic and boisterous son you see pictured above. I swear to you, she’s not aged one ounce in this time. It’s truly unfair.

The world has this idea of what beauty is, and as you can see from her smile which lights up the page, Joey is certainly that. However, the reason I think she is breath-taking and altogether beautiful has much more to do with the content of her heart and her character. Can you imagine trying to know the names of nearly 500 students? Well, like most elementary schools, SLDM has only one PE teacher. This one is creative, joyful, enthusiastic and fun! Also, she knows her students. All of them. They matter to her and the children know that. She’s genuine and impressive.

Joey loves country music, cheering for her little athlete, and she loves weekends at the lake. She’s into boating and tennis and laughing. Joey is a joyful person, and a shining light with a lovely disposition. One needs that when attempting to “herd cats”, which is what it looks to me like one must do when teaching physical education to pre-schoolers. Also, she’s got to design meaningful curriculum IN A GYM for hormonal 14-year old 8th graders that leave them in one piece at the end of class. That’s a skill set that crosses a wide swath, folks. It gives me hives thinking about it, if I’m honest.

Mrs. Cobb has long been a favorite of SLDM kiddos, and it’s not simply because PE is widely considered to be the greatest subject school ever invented (this according to my extremely unscientific survey). It’s because Joey loves the children. You can’t fake that.

Joey, I’m LOOOONG overdue to say THANK YOU for the kindness you have shown the Thieme boys and many hundreds of families over many years. You, my dear woman, are an altogether beautiful human being! We are grateful for you!