Mad for…Joe

A negative mind will never give you a positive life. (Unknown)

If you find this joyful guy in your day, then you have chosen well! Joe Kiffmeyer, pictured on the left with his oldest son, Andrew and his beautiful and amazing wife, Julie, is the original REAL DEAL. He’s a mood lifter. Sunny, optimistic, and witty, Joe is the father to 4 pretty terrific kiddos. He has three sons, Andrew, Jim and Matt as well as his “baby” Sarah, who is graduating from the 8th grade at SLDM on Thursday with my Zach. He was already a fixture at the school when we arrived with Nick 16 years ago, and we’ll be heading to Guerin Catholic together with our two youngest for one last spin around high school! I can’t wait to do that one more time alongside the Kiffmeyers!

Joe is flat out one of the most positive people I have ever been around. He’s got an incredibly genuine laugh and a grin that goes from ear to ear. He’s a man who has taught me, through his example, that beautiful things happen when you simply choose to distance yourself from all the traps of negativity. He’s the sunshine! It’s not that Joe hasn’t had struggles or doubts in his life, because he has had them just like the rest of us. The thing is, he seems to have just the right perspective because he just carries on despite them.

Except for the fact that he’s a pretty rabid IU fan, I can’t find many faults with the guy if I’m honest. He’s served his parish over the years in many capacities. In fact, he’s kind of run the gamut from CYO football coach to Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion! He and his family never fail to join in on our Christmas fun every year when we gather together friends, locate some other folks that could use a holiday lift, and spread some of our collective blessings to the community. They are always willing to help others.

There have been adult beverages too numerous to count which we have shared alongside Joe and his gang. We’ve cheered on each other’s kids in CYO and high school sports and celebrated loads of milestone events together. I can’t imagine what joy would have been lost by our family had we never encountered Joe and his faithful, kind, compassionate crew. Joe seems to innately understand the difference between what things are important and those that simply are not…and he smiles in all circumstances!

Joe, as you celebrate your birthday tomorrow, I just wanted to give you a little shout out and let you know how much the Thieme family loves and respects you! You’re such a powerful witness about how fantastic life can be when we choose positivity and happiness. Your smile for me has truly been a light of Christ in my life! Thank you for the gift of your optimism and for all the shared laughter!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FRIEND!!

Mad for…Malcolm

Sport, properly directed, develops character, makes a man courageous, a generous loser, and a gracious victor; it refines the senses, give intellectual penetration, and steals the will to endurance. It is not merely a physical development then. Sport, rightly understood, is an occupation of the whole man, and while perfecting the body as an instrument of the mind, it also makes the mind itself a more refined instrument for the search and communication of truth and helps man to achieve that end to which all others must be subservient, the service and praise of his Creator. (Pope Pius XII)

Tonight, of my favorite kids around, Malcolm Houze, had one of those glorious nights all athletes hope for when playing sports! Malcolm, who is a 6th grader at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School in Fishers, won the 100m event at the CYO City Championships! Not only that, but then, as part of the 4×100 event, he and his teammates were crowned CYO City Champs in that event as well! Here’s a photo of the sweet teammates below (including Dylan James, Cameron Parker, Malcolm Houze and Alex Myers).

Malcolm is the son of Tim and Lisa Houze, my dear friends, and the younger brother of Christian Daniels (also a very fine human)! He is pretty solid at every sport he tries, and I am fairly sure he’s tried almost ALL OF THEM! He’s fierce and competitive like his mother and incredibly handsome like his dad.

When I was diagnosed with cancer this winter, I got a nice note from Malc. He’s a faith-filled and all around solid young man. Today, I just wanted to take a moment to celebrate today’s sports success with a kid whose smile definitely lights up the room, and whose sense of humor and silliness spreads the smiles to others!

CONGRATULATIONS, MALC! You’re speedy AND you can hit dingers out of the ballpark? You’re having a good month of May, kiddo! The entire Thieme family is happy for you and we’ll be cheering you on now and in the future…whatever sport or academic successes are sure to come!

Mad for…Mom

The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a mother. St. Therese of Lisieux

She’s selfless, generous, creative, witty– and wicked smart. Also, she was always the “young” mom. It was a pretty cool feature of her during my childhood and once I had my own children it was even more fantastic. In her role as “Grandma Kate”, she’s beyond phenomenal and supportive. My boys ADORE her.

Mom is energetic, up for adventure, she makes me laugh, and she’s always there for me. Always. If I say, “please help” she’s going to be at my side post haste.

This year, we took a trip to Italy together. It was #1 on my bucket list and she made it happen. I’m still without words to express how meaningful that trip was for me.

Kathy Dykhuizen a blessing to so many people, but to me she’s MOM, and a hero in my life. She was younger than my oldest son is now when I was born! That fact is mind blowing to me. She managed to finish college and get her master’s degree while NEVER missing any significant event in my life. And while I am among the most stubborn and impatient humans alive, as far as I know she never left me in a shopping cart and ran for the exit at Payless. It had to be tempting, because I only got worse as I aged. I remember yelling at her as a teenager, “You’re driving me crazy!!” She would always smile and reply, “You don’t have far to be driven.” Geez…I was a pain in the rear. Sorry about that, Mom. You were right, it was a short ride.

She’s an expert on Motown music, key lime pie, and hand dancing. She’s mischievous and laugh out loud funny. She insists on celebrating all the birthdays in a BIG way, and simply MUST BE ON THE WATER on her own special day (August 10th) each year. I adore that she values herself enough to ask for what she wants on the day that her life should be celebrated by us all. She also loves books, movies, bike rides and sitting on the beach during that magic hour before sunset. What’s more important though is that she understands that when you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around, that really is what it’s all about, ha?

I have never wondered if I am loved by this woman. She’s not a big sloppy hugger like I am, but I knew she treasured me then, and I know it now. I admire many things about her too numerous to work through in this little blog entry but I’ll share this one because it’s a game changer. Mom returns evil with kindness. Not sometimes. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. She’s got a beautiful, forgiving heart. She’s selflessness personified. The Lord blessed me and my sister Robin beyond measure to give us such a stunning mom. She’s beautiful in every way.

I LOVE YOU MOM. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!

Mad for…Jim

Good sense of humor, dirty mind and beautiful heart…deadly combination.

A Roncalli grad who grew up in Indy, my entertaining friend, Jim Mullin is celebrating his birthday today! Jim’s married to a beautiful little spitfire named Jane and together they have two incredibly bright and talented children, Conner and Katie! As you can see from the photo, Conner is a football player and DePauw. Katie, their gorgeous daughter, is also a DePauw Tiger. We got to know this terrific family through our years at St. Louis de Montfort!

I don’t know who wrote the quote above, but I ran into it and started laughing and then noticed today was the birthday of the friend whose face pops up in my mind when I read it. Coincidence? I think not! People with a sense of humor are always the easiest people to talk to, which is probably why I was initially drawn to Jim. I love him for that ability he has to make me laugh, and for his generous heart. He makes every encounter an adventure and chances are good he’s going to have a cooler full of beer in his car that he wants to share if you happen upon him.

There’s nothing self-important about this birthday boy. He’s genuine, authentic and utterly down to earth. He calls it as he sees it. When you add those things up with the fact that he knows how to smile and have a good time, you can see why I think the guy has a pretty firm grasp of life. He’s got a joy in his heart and a smile on his lips. He loves sports, and especially games his kids are involved in!

For most the time our sons were playing sports as young guys, they were on the same team. This fact DEFINITELY made those CYO sports years much more bearable. I knew I didn’t really need to chide the sketchy and more than slightly inebriated (and late arriving) official down at St. Andrew’s when my Nick and Conner Mullin were in 8th grade, because Mullin had it under control. I also knew when he said we all needed to make a hasty exit from that gym to avoid trouble that we should take his sage advice and hustle our buns back to Fishers…ha?!

The birthday boy today is not a friend I get to see often anymore, but it’s as if no time at all has passed between us when we do get a chance to connect. Jim Mullin, you are a friend Tom and I both treasure! We are thankful for the countless laughs and are particularly fond of the hilarious tales you’ve shared about your “favorite” Catholic school teachers over the years. We’re still a little worried we might be struck down by lightening or something for standing too close to you and laughing so hard we had tears running down our cheeks. We hope Janie and the kids shower you with lots of love on your special day today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Mad for…Katie

From Mary we learn to surrender to God’s will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust even when all hope seems gone. From Mary we learn to love Christ her son and the son of God. –St. (Pope) John Paul II

If ever you feel worried about the next generation of children and parents, I’ve got someone I need to introduce to you. Meet Katie (Zimmerman) Wilson. Katie and her husband Bryan have two sweet little guys…and one more on the way! Katie is a joyful and prayerful soul who loves Our Blessed Mother, so I’ve decided today is a great day to celebrate a just a few of the things that make her awesome!

Motherhood is definitely a vocation that can help to purify the soul, but I’ll be honest, I think this young mom already has a glorious soul. I’ve known her since she was a very young woman. A few times she even babysat my little guys many years back, and I remember her with her books in her lap when we got home. She was trying to learn Portuguese for her mission trip(s) to Brazil. This is a woman filled with grace who has always had the joyful heart of a servant-leader. I suspect that the little people in her life now who undoubtedly wreck a path through her house leaving dirt and smashed goldfish crackers in their wake don’t rattle her much. Katie is a holy woman of God who knows she’s beloved. She’s a calm, cool and collected version of fantastic! That’s about the best news possible for her children, because a momma who smiles through life, loves Jesus and has a devotion to the gal with the bat phone— His Most Holy Mother— well that’s about the best kind of mom I can imagine.

This past winter when I was initially diagnosed with lung cancer, I had a long talk with Katie’s mom, Tina. Tina and I are longtime friends and she was eager to assure me of her prayers and those being offered by Katie too. Each time we chatted during those weeks, Tina would make sure to share with me that those prayers were continuing to be offered up. How humbling and beautiful those prayers felt to me, I can’t even express adequately. Thank you for the kindness, Katie.

Katie is deeply involved in her parish where she has served on the parish council and helped to organize the “Mary’s Way” dinner, among other things. She’s served countless young people of limited resources over the years with the after school program she started in Brazil. I’ve lost track of how many trips she spent down there doing the Lord’s work.

We all have different paths to holiness in life, and hopefully Katie knows the truth and beauty of motherhood is a pretty fantastic way to spend her time and energy. It’s an awesome thing we’ve got Mary on our side, huh, Katie? Sometimes being a mom is exhausting and aggravating….but we always have recourse to Our Blessed Mother. This is a truth of our shared faith that I feel confident Katie Wilson knows all about. You see, she’s got one of the the best moms on the planet herself who showed her the ropes and showers her still with love.

Katie, I admire your smile, your joyfulness and your obvious devotion to the Lord. You are a stunningly terrific human being. Seeing a young family as vibrant and amazing as yours gives me so much hope for the future! Its my turn to pray for you, your health, a safe delivery and a beautiful new baby Wilson. God Bless You, Katie!!

Mad for…Fr. Travis

“A holy priest is a savior and another Christ, taking the Master’s place on earth, representing Him, clothed with His authority, acting in his name, adorned with His qualifications, exercising His judgment on earth in the tribunal of penance. He is consecrated to exercise the highest functions Christ ever performed on earth, to continue the work of salvation. In imitation of His Redeemer he gives himself, mind, heart, affections, strength, time all for God. He is ever ready to sacrifice his very blood and even life itself to procure the salvation of souls, particularly those of his own flock.” -St. John Eudes

Fr. Travis Stephens, pictured above in his office, is the associate pastor at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic Church in Fishers and he hails from Yorktown, Indiana. Today is his birthday, so I wanted to take a moment to just thank him for everything he does each day for the people I love at SLDM.

To be a priest, as St. John Eudes says very concisely in the above quote, is a truly selfless and incredible way to live one’s life. Fr. Travis, as he lives his life in service to others, is remarkably bright, so smart in fact that I think he could have made a life as a college professor had the seminary not worked out! He’s also a cat lover, and a well-traveled man who loves to smile and laugh. He’s kind and patient with the students at the parish school, who all respect him for the same.

The priesthood can be a lonely place, as folks sometimes expect these men we call “Father” to be superhuman. They are mere mortals, however. Fr. Travis has been mourning the tragic and unexpected loss of his Dad. All the while, his incredible daily responsibilities remain. I so admire him for his positivity and his perseverance through the past several months. His faithfulness and his holy and prayerful witness during his personal storm are more powerful than he can imagine.

Today, as you celebrate your birthday, Fr. Travis, it’s my hope that you will know how deeply you are cared about by those around you. Your life is one we should all be celebrating alongside you today! I will be offering my rosary today for you and for your intentions. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Mad for…Lisa

We live our lives for an audience of one: God. If you are doing what you believe God is calling you to do deep in your soul, walk on. -Matthew Kelly

Day 115 of 365: Lisa Finn

April 25, 2019– She’s a mother of three who lives in Fishers, but she hails from Huntington, Indiana. I’m told she was named Indiana’s “Miss Basketball” for her hoops prowess while representing Huntington North back in the day. This surprised me not at all when I learned it– because she’s very competitive– but also because she communicates with confidence, honestly and clearly. Those are the qualities that make the very best team members. She’s the wife of a handsome fella named Billy, a pretty fantastic human, and TODAY is her birthday!

When I first met Lisa, she was a teacher at St. Louis de Montfort grade school. She’s moved on with her life and I think now she keeps busy at Resmer Orthodontics when she’s not chasing her three adorable athletes all over the place! She’s straight-forward and refreshingly unemotional. She’s tough, ambitious, compassionate and matter-of-fact.

What I love about Lisa is that she is very clear on many things. She believes in personal responsibility, hard work, the importance of family and the value of living a life of faith. She likes to laugh and she’s a genuine person. Her energy is infectious and her heart is honest. I just plain like her.

If I am completely honest myself, its authenticity and faithfulness that typically draws me to others. She’s both of those phenomenal things in one stunningly beautiful package. Lisa is one of those people who understands perfectly that she isn’t, in fact, perfect…and the fact that she isn’t even pretending to be…well it makes her just a giant scoop of awesome sauce!

Thank you, Lisa, for always reminding me how spectacular it is to simply be who you are, and to do so with integrity. Those are things that I find incredibly inspiring. There is just so much to love about you! I hope Billy, Mia, Max and Luke spoil you rotten today, because your life is SO worth celebrating! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!