On Prayer, and Cheating at Euchre

Remote though the likelihood may be of you having either the time or inclination to hear out the ramblings of one rather insignificant and sinful soul, I find myself humbly submitting to the world this little entry about my Dad and asking you to stick it out, all the same.  Frankly, I’d greatly prefer to never have written this post, most especially not on Mother’s Day weekend.  However, it’s my sincere belief that the Lord expects my obedience in this matter, so I’ll delay no further.

Before I get to the reason for the post, I want to share a couple of moments from my childhood.

I was an Indian Princess as a kid.  Dad named me “Blue Water” for the color of my eyes, and my sister and I named him “Hungry Bear”.  I don’t remember a lot about the Indian Princesses, to be candid.  However, I remember it was delightfully different from all the other activities we did.  What differentiated it from the ordinary?  Well, there were cool headbands, colorful feathers, and campouts filled with daughters and dads where I learned to use a bow and arrow, shoot a shotgun, and roast the perfect marshmallow. Dad was all in!

At about age five, Dad taught me how to play poker.  Next came euchre.  We played A LOT of euchre in grandma’s house on Vinton Street when I was growing up.  In fact, I remember distinctly Dad laughing until he cried one Sunday after mass when he saw to it that Robin and I were pitted against my Grandpa and Uncle Don, Dad’s older brother, in a big euchre game.  We were about 12 and 10 years old, respectively.  We trounced the very experienced Dykhuizen men that morning, and they were utterly rattled.  Dad could not contain himself.  The trash talk was legendary after our victory.  It wasn’t until much later that they were told about how he taught us some signs to use to signal each other—barely perceivable signals– that had been successfully used to win an international bridge tournament that Dad read about.  He taught his two young daughters these hand signals for the sole purpose of watching his Dad and brother come uncorked when they lost at cards to two little girls.  His laughter shook the entire house when it worked perfectly. 

I have so many silly little memories like this for which I’m deeply grateful.  Both of my parents loved us up in an extraordinary way.  They surrounded us always with a supportive atmosphere and the understanding that we were loved unconditionally.

My Dad is a joyful, articulate, sarcasm-filled lover of people and a man of faith.  He’s an uber-involved and phenomenal grandfather too.  I’m sorry to all who have suffered endlessly through the exaggerated stories of my three boys and their sports successes, but I assure you the tales of the musical and artistic giftedness of my nieces, his granddaughters, are for real!

If they gave a Nobel Prize for “Best, Most Unintimidated Conversationalist” I am convinced that Dad could not be beaten.  There are no limits to the “no strangers” rule of life according to Jim Dykhuizen.  He’s extraordinarily gifted at befriending total strangers.  In fact, I guarantee you that as I type this, he’s learning the names of the children and grandchildren of his nurses up there at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Lafayette.  I feel certain he’s trying to make the best of an incredibly trying stretch of days.

Dad had a massive heart attack this week.  Because of the COVID rules, Mom was forced to simply drop him at the door of the ER, clutching his chest in pain.  We didn’t hear again from him or about him for 7 hours.  When he called mom from the recovery room after his heart stents were placed, it was the first time we knew he’d had a heart attack and gone into surgery.  I’ll spare you more details but suffice it to say the week has been challenging and emotional for the entire family.

He remains in the hospital, fighting a fever of unknown origin. He’s there all alone.

Lively and persistence recourse to prayer is what I’ve got for this.  It’s all I’ve ever got, honestly.  Sometimes this week, I’ve moved all 50 of the Hail Mary beads and I don’t remember saying any of the prayers.  I’m sure I did, but I don’t recall them a bit.  I was entirely distracted, but the fact is that I tried to turn my glance heavenward, and I’m trusting that Our Blessed Mother sees my heart and has accepted my request for her intercession all the same.  I’ve walked and spoken aloud to the Lord in fits and cries—for Dad, for Mom—and for all of those on my prayer list.  My work this week was sort of like a school kid who did half the math problems and then forgot to sign the test.  I’ve not had a corner on the market in the piety department, but I think God isn’t like the teacher I had who gave 0% when we left our name off the assignment.   We’re in the middle of the coronavirus season, and He’s the amazing teacher who understands my wifi’s been acting up, so patience and compassion are His calling cards. He’s not failing me. He loves me even more than I love my parents.  He loves them more too.

Here’s the thing.  God knows I want to pray.  He sees me trying to turn to Him, doing my best.  That is enough. 

My favorite saint is Therese of Lisieux.  She said, “Prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned towards heaven.  It is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” 

I might be screwing it up, and I’m no theologian, but I think I’ve learned something worth sharing.  It’s about knowing how deeply we need Him, and about our own desire to find Him.  Praying is just us pathetic peasants, beggars that we are, looking for sustenance from the only one who can truly help.  Of course, we wouldn’t be looking for Him if He hadn’t already found us first. It’s painfully simple.

This one’s for Dad.  And, dear reader, if you are so inclined, join me in this prayer for peace of mind and complete healing for one of the best guys around.  I’m thankful to you in advance!

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known, that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.  Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to you do I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful.  O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me.  Amen.

Mom.  Robin.  I love you.  I’m so glad we have each other.  Happy Mother’s Day to two of the best moms on the planet earth.  The blog entry should have been for you guys this weekend.  Dad really knows how to steal the thunder, ha?  What do you say we get him home and well…and then make him pay for pedicures?

Mad for…Ted

A strong friendship doesn’t need daily conversation or being together. As long as the relationship lives in the heart, true friends never part. (Unknown)

Our roots will always be tangled, and the truth of that makes me smile. Meet Ted Stumpf. In the photo of two pretty handsome guys above, the completely lovely Xavier Plascencia is on the left and my lifelong friend, Teddy Bear, is that tall drink of water on the right.

When we were kids, our two families were inseparable. All of our summer vacations and every New Year’s Eve were spent together. Ted’s an only child, and I have one younger sister, Robin. The three of us were often left to our own devices for many hours on end, and one of our favorite pastimes when we were little was playing “office”. My poor sis was left in the outer office, permanent secretary of this fictitious corporation, and Ted and I were, naturally, Co-Presidents. Neither of us had any desire to be anyone’s underling, that’s for sure. We were nerdy type A kids, ya think? Honestly, I don’t know why my amazing sis, the great Robino, put up with us and our bossing for years on end. We might have been a tad insufferable. However, we three were always happy being together.

There were several years of “junior naturalist” certifications from the Kentucky State Park system that were earned in classes we attended, of our own volition, while our parents slept in during trips I will not soon forget. We organized talent shows, plays and other creative adventures each New Year’s eve. What I’m trying to say is that Ted was a groomsman in my wedding because, frankly, I think of him as my brother. I will love him always.

Ted’s got a BIG personality. On the trolley ride from St. Lawrence Church to the wedding reception destination, it was Theo that decided we should stop for more champagne– like a LOT OF IT. My memories are a tad hazy, therefore, about our arrival, but I do recall my mother and mother-in-law glaring just a tiny bit at our obvious shenanigans. Also, I recall lots of smiling and giggling and fun. That’s my Teddy Bear. He knows how to throw a party, and he knows how to enjoy one!

He’s a genius in the kitchen, and he can reorganize interior spaces with the furnishings already present, and they ALWAYS look incredible. He’s so intelligent– just incredibly bright! He gives the best hugs and has the most genuine smile. Ted has never shied away from hard work, and he’s a man filled with integrity and warmth. He’s compassionate and caring, the kind of guy we all wish we had as a friend.

Ted lives near Napa, CA, which is way too far away for me to give him the in person birthday hug he deserves today. So, this little shout out will have to do. Ted? You are precious, and when the Lord counts up his heavenly treasures, he counts you…just like I do! I love you! Happy Birthday, Ted!!

“…The Lord, your God, has chosen you from all the people on the face of the earth to be specially his own.” –Dt. 14:2

Mad for…Jen

Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering. –Steve Maraboli

The world needs more sassy extroverts like my friend, Jen Osborn. She and her husband Chris live in Fishers and they have three pretty fantastic kids– Emma, Josh, and Sam. Above, she is pictured with her middle son, Josh, who will graduate from high school this year.

The quote above I read some time ago and I tucked it aside for today. It speaks pretty loudly to me and it reminds me of Jen. I almost ran a different and very applicable quote with which I am sure most of you are familiar. They are the words of Shakespeare. “And though she be but little, she is FIERCE.” Truer words were never spoken about a human. It’s as if Shakespeare met Jen just before penning them. Ha?!

Jen impresses me with her mad Excel spreadsheet organization and how driven she is working for the success of the insurance agency she owns with her husband. However, she inspires me by her authenticity, integrity, confidence and gratitude. She seems to attack life with enthusiasm and joy. Being around her makes me smile!

I’m sure you’ve seen Jen in the gym at Guerin Catholic if you have attended a basketball game there the last few years. If you haven’t met her yet, you really should go introduce yourself because she is a total gem. However, I’d advise you wait until halftime. This gal, not unlike yours truly, is a fairly intense sports fan. If she came to the game, she’s there to see it! Meeting her will be worth the wait, though, because she’s a woman who just never seems to tire and who doesn’t seem discouraged by the struggles of life. She’s simply always hopeful. Numerous times I’ve heard her say things like, “Well, it’s not okay yet, but it WILL BE,” or “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” Trust me, your life will be better by making her acquaintance!

Jen is generous and compassionate, which means her family is truly blessed. Becoming her friend helped me to realize that the Lord invites us each to live the day intentionally and with vibrant enthusiasm. JEN, I am honored to share my birthday with a woman filled with such sunshine! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FRIEND!!

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