Mad for…Ange

God sends us friends to be our firm support in the whirlpool of struggle. In the company of friends we will find strength to attain our sublime ideal. (St. Maximilian Kolbe)

She sings and shines through both the shadows and the sunshine of life. She’s generous, funny and thoughtful. Meet my friend, Ange Bailey. This week, we are in the middle of her birthday festival, so today I’d like to take a moment to show some love to one of the most gracious women I know!

I met Ange many years ago. She has two children, Michael and Katie, who are the same ages as my two oldest children. They were classmates of Drew and Nick all the way from grade school at St. Louis de Montfort through the four years at Guerin Catholic. Actually, Drew and Michael are Boilermakers and Pi Kapps together. Ange and I will be headed to Tippecanoe County to share Mom’s Day with the Pi Kapp guys next weekend, in fact!

I don’t know how many crock pots Ange owns, but I’m not sure she ever has all of them in her home at the same time. If you’ve ever been ill, or mourning, or just in need of some TLC and you live in Central Indiana, the chances are that Ange has cooked you a meal or baked you something sweet and delicious. My youngest son, Zach, actually has cravings for her cake pops which she has been known to assuage out of just plain goodness. She’s a genius in the kitchen, but its her big compassionate heart that drives her to cook! She knows how to walk beside others who need to know they matter and that they are loved. Her witness in this area is stunning and it is beautiful. She inserts herself and her yummy meals without fanfare, but always with attention to detail and a face full of joy.

In recent months, the weather in her own life has been a bit stormy. At moments when I know that if I had been walking in her shoes, I might have fallen apart, Ange turned to the Lord, to prayer, and to faith-filled friends and family. She was humble enough to say, “I can’t do this by myself”, and so therefore, I have watched with wonder as our good and gracious God has filled her to overflowing with grace beyond reason. She has remained upbeat and grateful for all her blessings. Should this surprise me? It should not. Ange has long been an active member of her parish, serving on the parish council and in various roles, but in my opinion, none have been more important than her role as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. I think it’s her sincere love and devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist that has sustained her.

To me, Ange is just so inspiring. Her legs got a little wobbly, but guess what? She kept walking. She knew that when we reach up to Him, our Lord is anxious to reach down and carry us close to His heart. A friend like Ange is a treasure beyond words. Ange, I hope your birthday week is filling your cup to overflowing with blessings. I love you, friend! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Mad for…Ty

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy…The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. (Ps 126: 2-3)

See that handsome kid in the center of the photo above? He’s wearing a T.Y. Hilton jersey for a reason! That’s Ty Schwegman, one of Zach’s closest buddies and a terrific young man. Today is his 14th birthday!

I chose the scripture quote above for Ty’s birthday today because I love the way he laughs and smiles through life! Ty is a silly, outgoing young man who always has a great grin on his face. He’s the younger brother of Laine and the son of Jeff and Renee Schwegman. Tragically, despite the influence of his amazing Godmother, Cindy Lamping (a Purdue women’s basketball legend), Ty was raised by IU fans. His love of the Hoosiers is truly his one large and unfortunate flaw! Ha?!

As a friend, Ty is top notch. He’s loyal, kind, and he laughs a lot. Few people can make my young “Eeyore” giggle like this kid can. It warms my heart. He’s joy-filled, bright and thoughtful. As a cousin to young Max and Lilah Cruz, Ty is remarkably gifted, supportive and patient. He has a huge heart for others, a quality I have noticed since he was just a little guy. He treats others– no matter who they are– with respect. He seems to be immune to the “I’m too cool for you” phase some young people fall into during this time of life. It would be an easy trap to fall into for a young man who is handsome, popular with his peers, smart and athletic. However, his priorities seem to be faith, family and friends. It’s so refreshing and a pretty awesome tribute to the parents who have raised him.

Also, Ty’s a talented pitcher and infielder…and wow does he love a big juicy steak. He’s an integrity-filled young man who is a pleasure to have around. Today, on his birthday, I wanted to let him know that I love the way he shines!! The world rings with your laughter! Thank you, Ty, for being such a joy to be around. The entire Thieme family is crazy about you, kid! We can’t wait to cheer you on the next four years as a Guerin Catholic Golden Eagle! #SLDMClassof2019 #GCHSClassof2023

Mad for…Lee Ann

Sometimes the strength within you is not a big fiery flame for all to see. It is just a tiny spark that whispers ever so softly, “You got this. Keep going.”

Day 80 of 365.

Do you see these two glorious sisters basking in sunshine? On the left is one of my dearest friends on the planet, Lisa Houze. On the right is her gorgeous sister, Lee Ann Zwiebel. Today is Lee Ann’s birthday, so I wanted to post a little shout out to her awesomeness as a little gift!

Lee Ann and I are acquainted just a bit. I’ve spent a few stolen moments with her over the years as our lives have intersected now and then. Lee Ann is a fiery and competitive sports lover, and her game is volleyball– a sport she’s poured herself into over many years. Often, she posts inspiring quotes on her social media and sometimes I write them down. Always, they speak to me about strength, attitude, and being an encourager to those around us. I find her obvious fierceness and positivity to be inspiring.

Lee Ann is a bright and articulate wife and mother of two. Her daughters, Anna and Lara, are simply some of the very best young people around. It takes a special and devoted mom to raise daughters who are as integrity-filled as these two. She’s supportive and loving, and her children reflect her in their kindness and stunning compassion for others. As women go, Lee Ann is not hard on the eyes. She’s stunningly beautiful. However, what makes her truly gorgeous is her integrity and the quality of her character.

Do you know what else is pretty fantastic about Lee Ann? She’s joyful and very funny! Her sense of humor is immediately apparent upon meeting her and people who make me laugh are among my very favorite, because laughing is my favorite thing!!

Lee Ann, I hope your birthday is a fantastic one, because your life is just SO WORTH CELEBRATING in a BIG WAY! Thank you for the sunshine and giggles! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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…Faith

Joy, with peace, is the sister of charity. Serve the Lord with laughter. (St. Padre Pio)

Today’s beautiful birthday girl is Faith Ryder! Faith is a freshman at Guerin Catholic High School in Noblesville, Indiana. She’s the much loved daughter of Tom and Meg Ryder, and also she’s a joyful and fantastic young woman.

Since she was a very small girl attending St. Louis de Montfort grade school, Faith was unceasingly filled with the joy of the Lord. She always had a smile to share, and each time I came into contact with her, she greeted me with enthusiasm. Let’s be honest, there is very little that beats a sunny young lady who calls out, “Hi, Mrs. Thieme! I hope you are having the best day!”

Faith is bright and kind. She apparently is also quite a talented equestrian. I know so little about horses that I’m not even sure I’ve said that right…but I have seen this gal and her horses and just so many ribbons over the years. That’s kind of unique, and certainly a very cool, special talent. However, it’s not the reason I chose to honor her today!

What makes Faith stand out is that she seems to be aware, even at the tender age of 15, that she is the beloved child of the King! I’ve listened as she cantored at all-school mass, so filled with the love of Christ. Those same sparkle-filled eyes are the ones that never failed to say hello to a parent or a younger child in her path as I watched from a distance over the years. We adults who work in lunchrooms, at retreats, on the playground, or helping in the classroom….well…we get to know the children in the school. What makes Faith breathtakingly beautiful to me is the way she treats those around her– including carpool moms like yours truly. None of us gets it right 100% of the time, but this young lady has been caught red-handed in many acts of faithfulness and love towards others by this particular (relative stranger) over the years. We could all use a little scoop of that brand of kindness, Faith! I wish I’d said something sooner.

Faith, thank you for the simple yet jaw-droppingly gorgeous example of how we should treat others– with our smile on full display and our arms extended in love! For all the times you greeted me with your warm smile and quick hello over the years, I am grateful! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEET GIRL! I hope your day has been half as spectacular as you!

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…Clay

With my own voice I will call out to the Lord, and he will answer me from his holy mountain. (Psalm 3:5)

Day 74 of 365.

The handsome college freshman in the center of this trio of great guys is Clay Hepp. Clay is a 2018 graduate of Guerin Catholic High School and he now attends the University of Dayton. Having him back in my house this week has been a great gift as he always leaves me, Tom (and my sons) feeling joyful. This is a sharp, gracious, and sunny young man. He’s witty and he’s kind.

I was going to wait until later in the year to write about Clay, as his birthday is in the fall, but right now is when this young man needs all of our prayers, so I’ve decided there is no time like the present to give a shout out to this terrific kid! When we put God first, all other things ten to fall into their proper place in our lives, and it seems to me, Clay is working very hard to do just that. You see, currently, Clay is going through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process at UD. He’s a Candidate, converting to the Catholic faith with his older brother, Cole, as his sponsor.

So today, I chose a little bit of the third Psalm as I started to write a little about this faith-filled young man because I hope he will always remember that the Lord is available, and when we call He answers. It’s not always the answer we expect or the one we hoped for but He’s trustworthy and He can be counted on– for now and forever. God always wills what is best for us because He is love itself. Join me in prayer for Clay as he rounds third base and heads towards home on the RCIA journey, that as he embarks on his new adventure in faith this Easter, the Lord will draw him ever closer, and that he will always know God loves him no matter what!

This young man is already an incredibly loving and attentive son and brother as well as a caring and thoughtful friend. He’s gifted, honest, and articulate. He sparkles. This is a young man who is absolutely a blessing to all who know him. However, I predict an even brighter version of Clay is about to shine forth…and I am so happy for him! I cannot wait to wish him a Happy Easter as the sacraments and all their grace are opened to him.

Clay, thank you for always being a good friend to Drew and a good example to Zach of what an integrity-filled friend looks like. Your big, silly smile and fantastic laugh have always been a great joy to the entire Thieme clan. We love you, Clay Hepp!!