Mad for…Erin

Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.

The quote above has been attributed to numerous folks, including saints as well an American protestant pastor named Andy Stanley. Honestly, I don’t know whose words they truly are, but they do not belong to me. That said, I have long loved this sentiment and have shared it MANY times, especially to fellow moms who sometimes struggle to feel like they are contributing to the world in a meaningful way and wonder if they are enough. Ladies. Rest assured, you are much more than enough! Taken completely on it’s own, the gift of love and unconditional support you provide to your children every day is a stunning demonstration to all the world about what it means to love like Jesus!

When I happened upon my favorite quote on the Facebook page of a beautiful woman named Erin Hines today, I knew that was the Holy Spirit calling me to give this blond sassafras a shout out! I met Erin a few years back at SLDM. She’s considerably younger than I am, but we have about 100 friends in common, so I’ve noticed her for a while. Let me be clear here. It’s impossible to miss Erin. She’s got a BIG personality. She’s extroverted and demonstrative but also warm and approachable. Erin is gregarious and friendly, and extremely genuine. I love her unrestrained enthusiasm for life and I feel that it makes the entire area she inhabits feel genial and welcoming. However, I am also an extrovert…so she’s my favorite flavor!

I don’t know Erin extremely well, but I do know she’s a speech pathologist who lives in Carmel. Her husband is a super handsome guy and I don’t even know his name. The two gorgeous kids will be married with their own children and I will always and forever think of them as “Jojo and Tater the Tot” because that is what she called them every time I was around her at St. Louis de Montfort. She loves those two children with a fierceness and passion that I really do find inspiring to witness. That’s why it felt fitting to me today when I saw one of my all-time favorite quotes posted on her page. I thought, yep, that’s exactly right!! Erin’s devotion to the Lord is made clear by the way she loves others…starting with the ones who live under her own roof. THAT, my dear friends, is a glorious thing to behold!!

Merry Christmas you beautiful, character-filled woman! I am grateful to you, Erin, for your shiny smile, positive vibe, and the lovely heart you’ve always got on display! The world is most definitely a better place because you are in it!!

Mad for…Rich

A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are. (Ara Parseghian)

Late last night, we had a family room full of sports lovers and we were watching the IU men’s basketball team pick up an overtime win against Nebraska. The group gathered here included my three sons, my husband, and some close friends we adore. The conversation turned to youth sports experiences– and it led us to a nostalgic chat about a fantastic coach named Rich Andriole.

When our oldest son Nick was in the second grade, so too was a another sweet boy named Nick Andriole. We had invited the sports-loving boys from St. Louis de Montfort to play on a hoops team over at the Fieldhouse in Fishers. We ended up with too many for just one team so we needed to recruit another Dad to coach up the little guys when we determined we had enough Cardinals for two squads. I can’t remember who it was that told me Nick Andriole’s Dad (who I hadn’t yet met in person) was a high school coach, but that was enough to get my attention, and I quickly snagged him for the job. We became great friends with Rich and his wife, Janet and our children grew up alongside each other. Still today, their three kids, Nick, Jake, and Allison are some of my favorite humans too!

That said, I still giggle thinking back to that Fieldhouse experience. You see, when one looks back now with the full understanding of what an UBER competitive human Rich Andriole is, it’s simply impossible to forget 8-year old Evan Brueggemann on the end of the bench eating his king sized candy bar and drinking his Gatorade mid-game with Coach Andriole at the helm, ha?!

Passionate, articulate and compeititve, Rich is the sort of coach who sees the potential in kids and inspires them to work hard to live up to it. He’s retired now from coaching high school baseball where he had well over 500 wins and multiple state championships. He’s got former players who have succeeded at the highest levels of college and also major league baseball, but more importantly, SO MANY young men he coached grew up to be husbands, fathers and men of integrity, guided in part by he lessons he taught them.

Last night, my husband and two oldest sons along with our family room full of folks were talking about their experiences in a gym and on baseball field with Coach Andriole. They were sharing with the two young guys in the room about how much he made them want to work hard, and how meaningful it was to play ball for him because the whole team achieved above and beyond what they expected in every season where he was their leader. They talked about how my friend Rich helped them see someone else’s strength as a complement to their weakness and an asset to the team.

Rich is gifted at leadership development. He’s a phenomenal speaker and articulate story-teller who knows how to inspire young people. In his “new-ish” role in the corporate world, I have no doubt at all that his unique talents and skill set are an incredible asset. After all, great athletes and young professionals have something vital in common– they can all use a trusted advisor to help them reach their goals.

Many times over the years when life got a little rocky for me or for someone I love, I’d get an encouraging text from Rich letting me know he was praying. We all need every prayer warrior we can get on our team in life, am I right? The guy knows what victory is all about, and today I wanted to give him a shout out and let him know that in this next chapter of his life, I wish him nothing but the absolute best. This moment is yours, my friend. Please know I pray for you often and I love you, my friend. Merry Christmas!!

“Victory is in having done your best. If you’ve done your best, you’ve won.” (Bill Bowerman)

Mad for…Fred

It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start. -St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

For quite a while, I’ve been thinking, “Oh, I want to write a blog post about Fred.” The timing was never right or I discovered when I was about to begin that it was someone’s birthday or something else of this ilk. Then, I read this beautiful quote by Mother Teresa, who is a personal favorite. It made me think of Fred, because he’s the kind of man who makes every place he is just warmer, kinder, and full of smiles by his presence. He’s a superb example of the concept being proposed by one of the most amazing saints that exists in our church.

Fred is the husband of a lovely woman named Jamie and the uber supportive dad to two great kids named Maci and Gray. He’s crazy about them all, which to me is just a glorious thing to behold. Nothing beats a man who truly cherishes his wife and children. He’s sunny, joyful, friendly and articulate, and he’s pictured above with Pope Francis, ha?!. He’s a faith-filled and extremely likeable person who also happens to be my neighbor. Fred’s a parishioner at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and a steady upstanding man of God. We need those strong men of faith now more than ever, so his example is inspiring!

Fred McClaine is just a special person and I wanted to give him a shout out today to point out his awesomeness in case no one else has told him today that he is outstanding! He’s a handsome family man with a beautiful soul. Compassionate and in love with the Lord, Fred is a funny, big-hearted man of character. Articulate, positive and affirming. That’s how I see him. He’s a person who really does leave others feeling more joyful, a blessing to those of us in his path, and I am LONG overdue to say so. Here’s to you, Fred! Merry Christmas to the McClaines!!

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” St. (Mother) Teresa

Mad for…Fr. Hurley

The priest is not a priest for himself- he is for you. After God, the priest is everything. (St. John Vianney)

Fr. Kevin Hurley, OLMC

Have you ever been to mass and you just weren’t “feeling it” that particular day? Then, on top of that, some priest you don’t really know, or about whom you have a slightly bad attitude is celebrating it? Well, that happened to me some time back. I like to think I’ve evolved a bit, spiritually speaking, since then. I’ll own my bad behavior here, though, for the sake of affirming a good man.

Allow me to explain. You see, this perfectly nice man who really is a miracle of grace, began his homily that fateful day when I first encountered him by telling the story of some famous movie he loved…and I am apparently the last one on earth not to have seen it. He talks rather rapidly as a general rule, and my head was hurting, so the truth is that I was the problem. However, a VERY UNFAIR CHARACTERIZATION sort of formed itself in my brain during that initial encounter and I allowed it to become a cemented bad attitude– for a short period of time. Stay with me, though, because if you’ve been reading this blog post all year, you know my silly stories always have a happy ending.

Well it happens that one of my most favorite saints is St. Padre Pio. I found myself at mass not long after “crabby Shelly Sunday” on the feast of Padre Pio and wouldn’t you know it, there again was Fr. Hurley. I am ashamed to admit that I was so bugged (I mean it was the feast of Padre Pio) that I even rolled my eyes!! Guess what happened, though? God is so good and so patient with us. You see that day, Fr. Hurley began to speak and it was as if the room went silent. He spoke the very famous quote that I LOVE from this incredibly amazing mystic and stigmatist, If we only knew how God regards this sacrifice, we would risk our lives to be present at a single mass.

Oh, hey there, Jesus. It’s just your goofy daughter Shelly again, and yes, I’m a complete idiot.” That’s what I thought in my head, and I actually began to giggle. It wasn’t an appropriate reaction to the quote or the point being made by Fr. Hurley about the reverence with which we should participate in the holy sacrifice of the mass, of course, so my son elbowed me and gave me the same death stare that I used to give him when he was a little guy misbehaving at mass. Now, I was gotten even more and was having trouble containing the laughter. You see, it was at this point that I realized God quieted the place so that I would notice Him through this particular man of God– and see the beautiful work of salvation he is endeavoring to do each day. Sheesh. He’s saving souls and I’m rolling my eyes. Classy, right?

Fr. Hurley was the face of Jesus that day for me, and so powerful was the message he delivered in that homily as well as the loving correction Jesus provided me that I couldn’t miss it. I have since learned, of course, that Fr. Kevin Hurley is a lovely human with a good sense of humor who actually hails from Carmel. He’s a kind, faith-filled guy who has acted as a light in the darkness for MANY and who works hard every day to provide for the thousands of souls in his care. He’s the real deal.

Today, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, Fr. Hurley celebrated the 8am mass. I knew it would be him saying the mass when I knelt to pray, because I have started to be able to identify the celebrant by the chalice placed on the credence table. I prayed for him before mass and asked Mary to be a mother to Fr. Hurley today in just the way he needs. Because I really do love Our Blessed Mother, I found it heartening to hear him talk this morning about staying close to her and following her example of grace and holiness. She’s the surest route to Jesus was the essence of what he said to those gathered this morning. The gospel message he shared really did touch my heart, and it made me laugh thinking back at my grumpiness. Also, it left me feeling grateful for Fr. Hurley. He’s a genuine man with a good heart who has many days helped me focus a little better on my relationship with Christ. THANK YOU, Fr. Hurley for all you do each day for so many folks at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. I, for one, am grateful for you…and I am long overdue to say so!

“If you ever feel distressed during your day, call upon Our Lady. Just say this simple prayer, ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.’ I must admit; this prayer has never failed me.” -St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

Mad for…Melinda

Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. (William James)

A native of Breese, Illinois and a graduate of Southern Illinois University, my old neighbor Melinda Brueggemann is a woman I would describe as articulate, sassy, and not just a little bit saucy too. Her defining features are her good sense of humor and her compassionate heart.

A mother of three (mostly) grown children, Bennett, Evan and Elana, she is also the wife of a truly hilarious human named Barry. These two are now and always have been tremendously supportive parents, so the Brueggemann kids really are blessed to have them as parents. Since I know their youngest, Elana, is a standout on the Depaul Women’s Volleyball team, I’d be willing to bet they’ve made their way to a number of Big East volleyball events this season.

I saw a refrigerator magnet this week that said, “Good sense of humor, dirty mind and beautiful heart. Deadly combination.” It made me laugh, and it definitely applies here, ha? Hopefully this will make her laugh and she won’t be offended it made me think of her! Mel definitely has a well-developed sense of humor, and I think it helps to balance her if I am honest. She’s also incredibly bright as well as beautiful, which you can see yourself above in the photo with her hubby!

Here’s the thing, though. When our mutual friend, Karen, was nearing the end of her very long struggle with cancer, it was Mel who reached out. I think she wanted to check on what I might know about Karen, but also her genuine desire was to make sure that the folks who she knew loved Karen were in the loop, praying and supporting in whatever ways were possible. We stayed in close contact during that time to make sure there was food for the family when that was needed and organized prayerful aid by the community at large. So, while her sense of humor is most definitely an effective escape valve for the tensions and pressures of life, don’t be mislead. Melinda is a character filled woman of God. She loves others by beautiful acts of service, offered genuinely and without need for recompense.

Melinda, today you are the victim of my daily shout out. I hope what you hear me saying is that I believe you make the world a better place by the way you care for and love all those in your path each day. You, Mel, are a quality human and we are all better off for having your sunshine add a certain brightness and smile to the area you inhabit. Keep on keeping on…and GO BLUE DEMONS!!

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 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…’s your day!!