Mad for…Gachia

Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. (Hebrews 13:2)

Day 73 of 365.

Do you see the joyful mother and wife on the left here in the photo above? That’s Gachia Hoefer. She’s one of the most genuinely friendly and welcoming souls I have ever come across. For this reason, I think the little bit of scripture above is a perfect choice as I attempt to honor her today with some positive words. I’m quite sure that when and if an angel crosses her path unknowingly, they will have been treated as hospitably as humanly possible. It seems to just be who she is and what she does.

Long before I began to attend mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, I would make fairly regular visits to the parish office. I was uneasy, unsure, and completely self-conscious about my presence there. Gachia was the face that greeted me on nearly every visit I made. After a while, she began to recognize my face, and she was very consistent. She smiled, she welcomed, and she put me at ease. I suspect it was the exact thing she did with countless others who came in lost, lonely, scared or searching.

Gachia’s a face I recognize and a name I know, but we are not really acquainted at all. I have her on my mind today because I happen to know she’s on a long car ride from Colorado back to Indiana at this moment. I learned about them being stuck out west during the Colorado blizzard this week and how they have had to bob and weave from their original plans, driving back in less than ideal conditions. I’ve been praying for their safe travels.

With the Hoefers on my heart today, I was reminded of a time that my appointment at the office at OLMC was delayed. Pastor, Fr. Richard Doerr, was to meet with me, but he was running behind. I wondered if I should go and come back another day, but Gachia waved off the idea and invited me to pray with the office staff while I waited. She drew me in. It was just one tiny example of what she spent many years doing…introducing random strangers to the love of God with her kindness and her smile.

Gachia, the Lord loves your welcoming ways, and so do I. I so wish that I had stopped in to say so in person, or even written a note of gratitude when you retired from your post as parish secretary. You are an amazing, lovely and faith-filled woman and I feel so fortunate to have had the chance to get to know you just a little. The witness you provided me means that even now when I see you at a distance at mass, just spotting you in a crowd is a wonderful reminder to me about how I’d like to treat others with the same joy and care! THANK YOU for your service to the parish and for your kindness to me over several years. I think you are a giant scoop of awesome sauce!

Mad for…Georgia

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! -1 John 3:1

Day 72 of 365.

I chose this scripture verse above to honor a very special woman named Georgia today, because it’s a good respresentation of what it really what it feels like to me to have had her in my life these many years. There she’s been at every event of consequence through the years, cheering me on and supporting my family. It’s like God telling me how lavishly I am loved. She’s what I call my “back up Mom”. I spent every single summer vacation of my youth with her and her amazing husband, Chuck and her son Ted, who truly is like a brother to me. The Dykhuizens and Stumpfs were pretty much a perfect vacation match. Those are memories I will always treasure.

Georgie’s a retired English teacher so I’ll share this appropriate bit of Shakespeare as well. You’ll “find though she be but little, she is fierce.” Standing around 4’11, there’s nothing quiet or introverted about Georgia. She’s generous with her thoughts and absolutely lacks any filter when it comes to the asking of whatever curiosity enters her mind. It makes me laugh and keeps everyone on their toes who is in her orbit. This special feature of her personality was somewhat disturbing during my teenage years while I was dating. “Has he kissed you yet?” Questions of this ilk were very commonplace. Mostly, I can’t help loving her authenticity. She’s 100% genuine.

Georgia has a beautiful smile and when she gets laughing, it’s completely contagious. More than once, she’s gotten me laughing so hard that I can no longer breathe and I am left fanning myself for oxygen. She’s joyful, and she’s kind.

Here’s the thing. I know if I called for her help or advice even today, she would sweep right in with her love and scoop me up. She’s an amazing woman who I truly love and TODAY IS HER BIRTHDAY! Happy Birthday, Georgia. I am so truly thankful for you and I love you very much!!

Mad for…Tim

May the light of the Lord shine upon you and grant you happiness on this birthday and for many years to come!

Day 70 of 365.

A long, lanky guy who stands about 6’4, Tim Houze is a good man who has a big heart that matches his stature! Today’s birthday boy is both compassionate and warm, and he is always ready to share a genuine hug and an encouraging word!

I met Tim when he began to date my close friend, Lisa, many years ago. At that time, she was a single mom raising her beautiful son, Christian. When Tim joined them, it just seemed to me that they never missed a beat. I was always incredibly impressed by how he took instantly to the role of Dad. He has proven to be a loving and terrific father to both Christian and their younger son, Malcolm as well. The boys adore their Dad, as well they should.

Tim is a generous and faithful guy and an active member at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic Church. He’s made numerous mission trips to Mexico over the years with some amazing men from his parish to help provide housing for the poor– a commitment of time and talent that always leaves me incredibly moved. What’s not to love about a group of men behaving so selflessly?

In recent weeks as I had some medical drama, Tim showed up at my front door with his sunny smile to visit. He just wanted to check in on me in person and make sure that I know I’m loved. Mission accomplished, Timmy! As you left, I could only think of the famous quote by St. Thomas Aquinas, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” It wasn’t long after that, and my dear friend Tim Houze suffered a little drama of his own….a fall which resulted in 8 broken ribs and a punctured lung among other injuries. As I type this, Tim’s still got many weeks to recover before he’s back to full strength. However, you can’t keep a good man down for long! He’ll be back and stronger than ever very soon.

Tim is a just, upright and respectful man who I am proud to call a dear friend. When I see him, I know I can count on being greeted with warmth and genuine love. His presence in my life and the lives of my sons and husband is an utter blessing from the Lord. We love you, Timmy, and your life is one which should all be celebrating today on your special day! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TIM HOUZE! LYMI!!

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…Kelli

A nation that kills its children in the womb has lost its soul. –St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

Meet Kelli Wilson. As you can see, Kelli is a wife and mother of four young adults. She’s a gal I have admired from a distance for some time. I’ve watched her cheer on her kids and I’ve witnessed her even more in constant motion in her work role at Guerin Catholic High School where she is the Director of Admissions.

It takes a special, sunny and very selfless person to flourish in this position at a Catholic High School. One must be thick-skinned and just a vigorous person full of energy and positivity in order to succeed. There are so many details to handle and communicate, and even more people who need someone to hold their hand through the process. Without her natural vitality, Guerin Catholic would be missing such an important piece of the puzzle. Her attitude is one of service and selflessness, which makes her a terrific witness to all those around her for how God wishes us to treat others.

Over the years, I have sent her MANY emails that basically said “SOS”. Kelli always comes through to help in a timely fashion and she seems to wave off the hassle of yet another parent who “missed the memo” that I’m fairly certain she sent me several times already. Her patience and kindness shine!

I admire Kelli for her genuine smile and authentic warmth, which is always on display. She’s a faith-filled woman and that shows in all she does. She’s been a vocal supporter of justice for all life from conception through natural death, which is both beautiful and courageous. That is why I chose the quote above to honor her today. It’s the one on display on some of her social media, an act which is meaningful and brave.

Thank you, Kelli, for being a wonderful example in your life of how to treat others. Your trademark smile and warmth always inspire in me a desire to try and be just as hospitable as you are to the Thieme family each time we interact with you! When you treat folks like that, it surely draws families to GC and also to Christ. We are grateful for you!

Mad for…Bill


Bill Grace, left, with his grandson Cooper!

Day 65 of 365.

If there was ever a man I should have honored YESTERDAY, on Fat Tuesday, it’s Bill Grace. But, we’re still close enough, so I’m going for it anyway! You see Bill is a Louisiana native, RABID LSU FAN, and Mardi Gras is more than just near and dear to this joyful man. Just like New Orleans itself is such a unique city with its multi-lingual heritage and striking creole cuisine, so is “Mayor Bill” an unforgettable and unrepeatable character!

A decade or more ago when I met him, I believe he had already proclaimed himself “Mayor Bill” and he remains to this day the Mayor of the Lakes of Hazel Dell subdivision on the east side of Carmel. We lived several years a few door down from the Mayor and the man knows a thing or two he could share with the rest of the politicians out there. He’s a man of both compassion and integrity.

If smiles are contagious, then Bill Grace is a carrier. He’s funny, genuine, and knows how to enjoy life! He loves to run and he takes an extreme amount of pride in his yard, which is always spectacular. When the snow begins to fall, one can count on Bill to be making his way up and down the streets clearing sidewalks and driveways for others. His thoughtfulness is an impressive gift to the community.

Bill is a husband to Leslie, as well as a doting father and grandfather. His family has known it’s share of suffering, but Bill always plows ahead with a positive, can-do attitude during any kind of storm. He’s the kind of guy who somehow seems to be able to stand in its midst and remain steadfast. His family is truly blessed by him, and so are all who have spent any time near him. He’s one of the good guys, and those are folks worth celebrating!

Thank you, Bill, for your simple gift of joy and goodness to those around you. We could all stand to be inspired and share a little more of the same in our own little corner of the world! I think you make such a positive difference in the world and I wanted to say so…even if I am a day late! You, sir, are THE REAL DEAL! Here’s hoping your Mardi Gras 2019 was spectacular! #GeauxTigers

Mad for…Deacon Paul

The joy promised by the Beatitudes is the very joy of Jesus himself: a joy sought and found in obedience to the Father, and in the gift of self to others. (St. John Paul II)

Day 61 of 365.

When I first laid eyes on Paul Lunsford, he was speaking to a group of junior high parents, and my children were all still in grade school. He was not yet an ordained Deacon at that time, but he was a man whose joy for the Lord was manifest in the passion with which he spoke of his mission at Guerin Catholic High School. He was both driven and funny, and his booming voice filled the room. His obvious enthusiasm for Catholic education and our shared faith was contagious.

Deacon Paul is a devoted and loving husband to his faith-filled and terrific wife, Denise, as well as a doting father and grandfather. He’s a quick-witted guy with a self-deprecating sense of humor. If a scoop of vanilla ice cream is good, then Deacon Paul is a chocolate sundae with whipped cream and sprinkles on top. There’s nothing bland about him. He’s courageous, confident and kind. He has a contagious laugh, and when he preaches he uses his smile and warmth to draw folks in with his accessible, articulate style.

True beauty in a human, to me, is about watching someone talk about something they really love with passion in their eyes. Those are the kinds of people who make impossible things happen. Jesus has used this man over and over to be his face and his hands, because what Deacon Paul is passionate about is our Lord and Savior. Isn’t that absolutely awesome?

Deacon Paul? Thank you for the passion and enthusiasm with which you live your life. You are a terrific witness about the fact that while we all struggle and make great sacrifices to accomplish meaningful things in this life, our tireless exertion and passionate concern on behalf of our good and gracious God should be joy-filled tasks that leave us perhaps a little sweaty, but smiling broadly. I am grateful to you for your service to our beloved Church.

Mad for…Chris

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23)

Awaken to the B.E.S.T. is a women’s ministry held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Carmel. Awaken offers spiritual and scripture based opportunities for women who desire to deepen and share their Catholic faith in God. As I have previously stated, I might be the last woman in the Carmel deanery to not have attended this enormously successful program. One of it’s presenters is my friend, Chris Moss.

Day 60 of 365.

Chris is the mother of two. Her son, Nick, is a sophomore at Purdue University and her daughter, Lexi, is finishing up her senior year in high school at Guerin Catholic. They are fantastic and character filled kiddos, undoubtedly, because in part, they were loved by a selfless and faith-filled mother. Husband, Bill, is a peach of a human himself who once bought my sons dinner at the famous Triple XXX Restaurant (because he saw their GC clothing) on Purdue’s campus…and absolutely made their day! Nick and Lexi are two blessed young people to be raised in such a loving family.

I saw the scripture passage above today as I was doing some reading and it made me think to myself about how I am a little short-handed on some of those fruits of the Spirit in my own life. When I contemplated who I knew that most embodied them all, I came up with Chris.

Chris is a bona-fide Jesus girl, and also just incredibly authentic, kind, and good. She’s funny and self-deprecating, and just the definition of a lovely woman of God. She’s one of those people I know who I’ve always wished I knew a bit better. Her breath-taking smile, and her genuine laughter provide warmth that lights any room she’s in. The Lord knocked, and Chris answered and then He moved right on in. That’s what I see when I look at Chris.

Thank you, Chris, for inspiring in me a desire to love the Lord by the friendly, welcoming and sunny way you always greet me– and everyone in your path! You, my dear, are the beautiful face and hands of Jesus to so many and you DEFINITELY make your corner of the world a more godly place to inhabit. I’m grateful to call you friend. BOILER UP!!

Mad for…Chase

A sense of humor…is needed armor. Joy in one’s heart and some laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life. — Hugh Sidey

Day 59 of 365.

As I sit here watching the Xavier vs. St. John’s basketball game, I find it impossible not to think of my sports loving oldest son and his Muskie friends down in Cincy. That led me to the decision to write about Chase Barrett today.

The consummate extrovert, Chase is a clown who’s never met a stranger. He’s gregarious, approachable and unrestrained. He’s a fanatical sports fan with a sense of humor that I simply can’t do justice to here. Knowing he’s down there in Cincy with Nick means I never worry things are dull and I am certain smiling is always going to be part of the situation.

Everyone needs a friend like Chase, but not because of the reasons I’ve shared above. As fantastic as they are, the thing that stands out to me the most about Chase is his kindness and the quality of his character. Allow me to share with you how I know this.

Not long after Nick began his studies at Xavier, and long before they became close friends, Nick found himself in no small amount of pain. He ended up in the ER at nearby Good Samaritan Hospital. This young Muskie, Chase Barrett, began texting me from the hospital. What we thought would be a very short visit ended up lasting most the night– it was kidney stones. I was a few hours away, too late to get myself there in time to help. This kid (and another friend, Ben) stayed up all night and reported in often to this very worried mom until I could get to Nick. The compassion and integrity that demonstrated speaks much more loudly than I could about what kind of caring young man he is.

I could share more about the quality young adult that is Chase Barrett, but I believe it’s clear enough now. Chase? THANK YOU for looking out for my silly son and for being a light, providing sunshine to everyone around you. There’s always a hot meal and a warm bed for you whenever you visit Indy, kiddo. For you, I am grateful! LET’S GO X!!!

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!