Mad for…Brian

Do not lose any time. Do good, do all the good you can ad you will never regret doing it. Forget the services you have rendered to others, but not those rendered to you. –St. John Bosco

Day 56 of 365.

Note from the author: Some of you have noticed by now, but others continue to ask, so allow me to explain once again the reason for my daily entries. I decided at the start of 2019 that I would try to inject some positivity into my tiny corner of the world (and social media) by writing a few paragraphs each day about a different person who I think makes a positive difference for us all by the way they live their life. Today, I have chosen Brian Thieme. Read on if you are so inclined.

He’s a just man, upright, and faithful. He’s the father of five and husband to Sarah. Meet Brian Thieme. Brian is the cousin of my husband, Tom. Along with his son, David, he runs Thieme & Wagner Brewing in Lafayette. It’s been quite a labor of love for the family, opening this spot in my hometown. Brian’s an extremely likeable guy, funny, unassuming and absolute without any sense of entitlement whatever. Like most the Thiemes, Brian knows all about a good beer and he shines in the role of proprietor of the terrific bar because he inherited from his Dad his most authentic good nature.

What I love about Brian is that he is kind, welcoming and compassionate. He seems to do all the little things in a way that to me glorifies the Lord. He’s lived his faith life in such a way that it’s been beautifully passed on to his children. He’s an active member at St. Boniface Catholic Church, which is located very near his new establishment in downtown Lafayette.

I’ve watched from my nearby perch as Brian, despite all his responsibilities, has kept an eye on my father-in-law, Tom, his uncle. In my opinion, he’s been this stunningly generous and genial nephew, the one in the extended family who has taken the time to walk alongside Tom during his long fight with colon cancer in this unique and meaningful way. They share a lifelong love of Indy Car racing, and that seems to be the main vehicle for their bonding. What I hear from Toms Sr about their times together is joy. At times, those moments seem fleeting and hard to come by, so it absolutely warms my heart. The time and attention that the very sunny Brian has shared with his Uncle Tom to me cements his legacy as a simple, good man who knows how to witness to his children and his family at large what it means to be the face and hands of Christ to others. WELL DONE, Brian!

I realize you’re the one who owns the bar, Brian, but the next chance I get, your beer is on me! You are a terrific human! CHEERS!

Mad for…Karen

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. (Proverbs 16:21)

A couple of years ago or so, I pulled into the driveway of my friend Karen Tabor’s new home. I was bringing her youngest son, Sam home. It was dark and I was driving my husband’s brand new car. As I backed out rather aggressively, I completely mangled the Tabor’s mailbox. I mean, it was stunning how quickly I was able to utterly destroy it with Tom’s fancy Durango. UGH! Clearly, I was mortified.

I learned that night what true graciousness looks like. Karen immediately forgave me. The instant she heard my pathetic apology she was merciful. She didn’t even let me pay for the damage, which I know cost the Tabors not a small amount.

Although I was completely full of remorse, it would have been a natural reaction to curse, or at least whisper a little poison in my direction in the heat of the moment. Who could blame her? Karen did not do any such thing. Further, she’s never even given a hint of disdain in my direction, nor has her husband. We’ve laughed about it and it’s clear to me that her desire was to simply move on. She’s withheld any grudge and continued to treat me as she does everyone else– with her signature charm, kindness and good humor.

Karen is the mother of 2 terrific boys and the wife of a pretty hilarious attorney named Jeff. She seems to be big on laughing, golf, and the Indiana Hoosiers. She’s generous, and faith-filled, so I am overlooking the IU thing. Ha?

I read a quote once in an old fashioned book about “how to be a lady” that stuck with me. It went like this. “Be pretty if you can, be witty if you must, but be gracious if it kills you.” I can’t remember the name of the author but I’ll just say by that standard, then Karen Tabor is most certainly a lady on all 3 counts. She’s a beautiful, sunny, and oh so gracious gal.

Our lives are roller coaster rides, there are lots of twists, turns, ups and downs. Karen is a person whose example of compassion and graciousness serves as an awesome reminder to me of how we are to treat others. She treated me like the Lord treats us when we ask for His mercy. She gave it INSTANTLY. Thank you, Karen, for the real life reminder of what kind of woman I want to be in this life. How blessed all of us for knowing you! You are a terrific human and I am proud to call you friend.

Mad for…Mollie

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor: 3:18)

Day 53 of 365: Mollie Smith

By now, most of you know that I am BIG on honoring the birthdays of folks I know and even those I don’t know as well. Birthdays should be a festival, I think! This week, it’s Mollie Smith’s festival. Her birthday was earlier in the week, and I’ve chosen today to tell you a little about her fabulousness.

I read this inspiring entry in a spiritual book recently and the chapter was titled, “God loves your family resemblance.” This immediately made me think of the Smith family, because their glorious clan is so recognizable, and they are a family who loves and serves the Lord with enthusiasm. I credit their mom (an amazing convert to the Catholic faith, by the way). She’s as fine a Christian woman as I have ever encountered. I mean, Adam’s okay too…ha?! It’s just this THIS WEEK, I am celebrating his bride.

Here are some of the highlights from that chapter I mentioned. I hope when you read it, it will give you a more clear picture of the type of mother and kind, compassionate woman I believe her to be, because these words make me think of Mollie….and Carly, Kolbe, Simon, Lily, Sadie, Wyatt, Luke and little Ella too. I’ve been watching them from a distance for some time, and this is a family that inspires in me a firm desire to love the Lord in the same joyful way they do– its seems to me to be born of the deep faithfulness they all share.

Do you giggle like your mom? Or chuckle and chortle like your dad? Do you remind everyone of your Great-Aunt Ruth? We tend to look and act like the people we’re related to– those whom we love. So…are you as kind as the King? Do you love like your Lord? Do you give like Jesus? Having your mom’s eyes or your dad’s smile is great, but when it comes to your heart, God is hoping it looks a lot like His. Because He just loves to see your family resemblance. (Tama Fortner)

Mollie, I know you are proud of your stunning family, and you should be. Jesus surely sees the family resemblance with your clan. The Lord is smiling down on you and sees your perseverance, your endurance, your kindness, the YES you have proclaimed just like Our Blessed Mother, and so do I. Thank you for the witness of faith you have shown me through every encounter I have ever had with you or any of your children. You are impressive, birthday girl!! HAPPY (belated) BIRTHDAY, MOLLIE!

Mad for…Jeff

Video Story of Jeff Utzinger: Please click to watch

Day 50 of 365.

Today is the birthday of my old neighbor, Jeff Utzinger. Jeff’s the sunny, energetic, passionate, athletic father of three great kids (Jennifer, Jeffrey and George ) and the husband of a very sweet gal named Christine. In honor of his special day today, I’d like to ask you all to watch this important and heart warming video. From it we can all learn the importance of being courageous enough to be a good Samaritan, among other very useful lessons. It will tug on your heart strings, even if you don’t know Jeff AND it will convict you of the value of AED devices.

I thought the best way to honor my gracious and brave friend was to share his story and the message contained with a few more folks. If you’ve not seen it, it’s truly worth the time.

Jeff, today’s your day, and your life is certainly one worth celebrating! I am proud to know you and pleased to count you as a friend. Thank you for your courage in sharing your story. I’m thankful for the memories and fun we’ve shared over the years and for the lesson in gratefulness and humility you’ve spread by being open with your story. Bill’s a hero, and SO ARE YOU! YOU ARE SAVING LIVES!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Mad for…Colleen

Oh God, you are my God- it is you I seek! For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water. I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory. For your love is better than life; my lips shall ever praise you! (Psalm 63: 1-4)

Day 49 of 365.

If you take the time to notice the life being led by Colleen Ward, you’ll see a pattern of thanksgiving. She clearly believes, by her conspicuous witness, that our good and gracious God meant for us to not only thank Him for the graces He’s shared which enrich our lives, but also to thank others responsible for the small blessings that make our journey more pleasant.

I met Colleen many years ago when I was a working girl in a corporate communications job. In my role, I counted heavily on the expertise and legwork of a local PR firm, Coles PR, where Colleen was employed at the time. I’ll be candid. As clients go, I was a first class, high maintenance PIA. I look back on that time and roll my eyes at my ridiculousness. Colleen, then as now, was the definition of class, impressive work ethic, and kindness. She was and is now– bright, talented, professional and flat out impressive. Guerin Catholic High School made an incredibly far-sighted and positive move when they snagged her for her communications role several years ago. I know very few people whose integrity matches that of Colleen. She’s a positive, sunny, character-filled gift from the Lord.

Sometimes, folks need a meaningful expression of how they are valued. An expression of authentic gratitude to a world filled with folks who need to know that they matter is no small thing. I’ve seen Colleen express just these kinds of meaningful sentiments to and about lots of folks. The most impactful for me in terms of learning from her witness, though, are the public expressions of appreciation she continues to share about her family members.

EVERY SINGLE TIME, it reminds me of the St. (Mother) Teresa quote, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”

Colleen is sunny, funny and self-deprecating. She lives her life in service to others, but spends herself quietly. Her lack of volume, however, should not be construed as a lack of strength. She is a fierce, capable woman of God. I notice and admire her most for loving her family lavishly, unconditionally, and maybe sometimes even foolishly– which is just the way God loves us. The way she praises the Lord with her life is inspiring. Today, on your special day, I want to turn the tables and thank you, Colleen, for being a powerful witness to me and many. If we all loved our families and those around us as you do, WOW would the world be transformed!


Mad for…Julie

So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’  Matthew 6:31

Above right, Julie Kiffmeyer pictured with her terrific husband, Joe.

On day 7 of his life on this planet, Matthew, the infant son of Joe and Julie Kiffmeyer stopped nursing.  He began to fuss and cry uncontrollably.  This was their third son.  Julie surmised she was having her first experience with a colicky baby.  Over the next day or so, there were moments of calm, but mostly Matthew was just a wailing mess of a sweet thing.  And he wouldn’t nurse.  She wondered if she’d eaten something spicy, she wracked her mind for ideas. He wouldn’t eat despite her trips to the drugstore for every kind of nipple and bottle available on the market.

Then, he turned a very scary shade of dark red.  She took him to see the pediatrician.  A lengthy examination ensued, which led to more of the same.  Initially, nothing seemed amiss.  Then, suddenly they saw a clue.  His eyes were twitching, and he was clenching his fists.  Her baby boy was seizing.  Every 5 minutes. 

“I was calm,” Julie declares when we asked her to recount the years old details.  “Had I been less so, I think probably they would have sent me home with the usual remedies and suggestions for a colicky baby.  It was my calm demeanor that I think led to a closer look.  I clearly was not an over-reactor.”

It wasn’t long before more tests and an MRI revealed that Matthew had a level 4 brain bleed affecting the left side of his brain.  Although his symptoms and prognosis really are unique to him alone, his official diagnosis was cerebral palsy. 

“My mom taught me to trust in God and not worry.  I was raised in an Episcopalian home.  God gives you what you can handle.  How Matthew is?  That’s how we’re all supposed to be.”

I knew exactly what she meant.  You see, Matthew is the same age as my middle son, Drew.  They are both teenagers now, and anyone who knows Mattie knows he’s an amazing, sunny kid.  When I met the Kiffmeyers, Matthew was about 4 years old.  We were both busy Catholic school moms with kids the same ages.  A lot of people would look at the situation as an obstacle, but Julie?  She revels in every single success, and she flat out just celebrates the gift of her son—actually all of her 4 children.  Andrew, their oldest, is in grad school in St. Louis, a physical therapist.  Jimmy is a UC Bearcat, next comes the aforementioned Matthew and then sweet Sarah is an 8th grader with my Zach at SLDM.  I’ve never detected anything but gratefulness and I’ve heard a whole lot of laughter as I observe her family. Personally, I think it’s hereditary.  AND, like all our best qualities, the positivity I see in her children, well, I think it’s a gift born of God and passed down by their mother!  Ha?!!  Ok, maybe they won the double DNA lottery.  Dad, Joe, is a pretty fantastic human too. 

Julie is graced with the outward looking smile.  This smile is one which is aimed at another for his or her benefit.  It’s the silent and powerful acknowledgment that she sees the presence of Christ in that person.  Love is a decision.  When we love, we are making a decision to look outward.  It’s not about impressing someone or looking the part.  Have you ever considered how you might answer the question if God asks you “How did you love me?”  Julie has.

Do you know anyone who smiles with their entire body?  I know a lot of people with beautiful smiles who are just showing their teeth and flashing their cuteness at me when I see them.  People who smile are pretty much my most favorite people, I’ll be honest.  However, there is a vast difference between smiling and radiating a glow that envelops those in your path.  A real smile is authentic, and it simply can’t be faked.  It’s a response to all the joys and chaos of life, and it attracts admirers.  Do you know anyone that smiles like that?

My well-adjusted, authentic, bright, warm and compassionate friend Julie is such a person.  With all the energy in a 3-foot radius, she smiles, hugs and giggles to greet others.  She knows what to savor and what to disregard.  Her positive perspective can turn any problem into an opportunity for growth.  She listens.  She notices.  Quite simply, she sees the value of each passing moment.  She’s content and aware in whatever moment she inhabits in a way few others can manage.

This is a woman with 4 amazing children, but she’s had moments of struggle.  I shared the story of her son Matthew to illustrate this point. Life hasn’t been perfect.  She knows her life belongs to the Lord and she trusts God and just lives today better than almost anyone I’ve ever met.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”  When we exhibit the virtue of joy, we recognize that happiness is rooted not in things of this world, like money or power or possessions, but in being believers of Christ.  Our joy is in being a beloved child of God.

Julie is a Jesus girl.  She is a happy and amazing woman of God. 

Thanks for showing me what JOY is supposed to look like, Julie.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!  I LOVE YOU, FRIEND!

Mad for…Christian

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. –Martin Luther King, Jr.

My oldest son, Nick, when he was in kindergarten, came home day after day telling me about his friend, Christian. When I happened upon this mysterious little guy’s mom at a school “movie night” I immediately introduced myself and told her that I sure as heck hoped she’d heard the name “Nick” at her house, because my kid was crazy about her son. When she assured me this was not new information to her, I just recall saying “Well, THANK GOD!” The two boys (and their mothers) became fast and lasting friends.

Meet Christian Daniels. When I first met this smart, earnest, and polite little sports lover, I knew immediately he was a high quality human being. It was obvious even at age 5. Seriously, CD just entered the world a kind, articulate little guy and these facts remain unchanged, as does his lifelong love for U of L sports teams.

Quick-witted, big-hearted and unflappable, Christian has always been both a hard worker and a high achieving student. He’s a natural leader, a quality which has been evident throughout his life. In grade school he was the point guard on the basketball team and the QB on the football field. In high school, he was captain of the basketball team (AND he was an IHSAA State Champion), and now he’s the top dog at his fraternity at Miami of Ohio. His peers have always respected him, because, quite frankly, he’s a respectable guy. It’s that simple.

Christian is faithful, a man of integrity, mature and self-confident. He has a positive attitude, and he’s a gentleman. He’s true to his word. If he tells you that he is going to do something, you can count on it. He has a high moral compass and he’s an honest and compassionate friend with a terrific sense of humor. I could not ask for a better young man to have in my house eating those pancakes he learned to cut LIKE A BEAST in my very own kitchen! (Ha? See what I did there CD?)

As a big brother, there just isn’t a finer example. Who else do you know at age 19 who makes extra trips to and from school so he can coach his little brother’s CYO team? I wish I could adequately describe to you the pure joy and pride on Malcolm’s face because his big brother was on that bench with him, coaching his team. That selflessness on CD’s part and for the benefit of all those little SLDM Cardinals will never be forgotten by his little brother, who truly worships him.

Last week, I got a beautiful note from CD. In it, he spent considerable time thanking me for the kindnesses shown to him over the years. It was classic Christian in tone, just positive and upbeat, brightening my day and spreading happiness, because he can. He looks for the good in others, and in a world filled with so many people who don’t take the time to do the same, Christian SHINES.

Happy 21st Birthday to you, CD! My life and the lives of all the Thieme family are so much richer because of your presence. What inspires me about you is the way your character shines, no matter the circumstances. The quote (above) that you shared with me in your note made me smile. You said it was one of your favorites, and I can see why. It fits you perfectly. LOVE YOU, KID.

Mad for…Jake

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he that has found one has found a treasure. There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend, no scales can measure his worth. (Sir 6:14-15)

When Drew and Jake were about 8 years old or so, he and his SLDM basketball teammates were warming up very early one Saturday morning at the Indiana Basketball Academy. The doors had just opened and clearly the heat had been off during the night. It was quite chilly at 7:30am, so Drew grabbed his gloves and put them on as he warmed up. Drew suffers from Raynaud’s Syndrome. When the temperatures get too chilly, he begins to lose circulation in his fingers. He’s an ace at managing it. This particular morning, a player warming up on the opposing end starting harassing Drew a little, making fun of his gloves. Drew ignored him. However, his good buddy Jake was having exactly NONE OF IT.

“Hey, dude! He’s got like a disease or something. How ’bout you BACK OFF!”

There you have Jake in a nutshell. He’s about loyalty, courage, and integrity. I’ve told that story 100 times, but that’s because it captures his essence with such clarity.

When a person does what is right by their own personal values and morals, that’s integrity, and that’s Jake. He properly cares for others, even when it costs him something or he has to stick his nose out a little. He’s faithful in the way he shows up, in good times and bad times. If Jake’s your friend, he’ll call you an idiot to your face if it needs doing, but behind your back, no one will defend you like he will. He loves with his whole heart.

Jake Andriole is a guy’s guy and strong as an ox, but also he’s a big teddy bear. He’s gifted when dealing with children, and has zero sense of entitlement. It’s so refreshing.

I’m not at all sure Jake realizes how much God has been at work in his life, but He truly has graced this talented, loyal, confident, grateful, outgoing, and sunny young man with outrageous riches. His presence at my breakfast table definitely set the record for most pancakes ever eaten in one setting, but make no mistake, he’s welcome ALWAYS. This kid has been a terrific blessing to our family.

Watching you run your race is something I’ve been doing since you were a very little boy, Jake Dan. You’ve been strong, fierce and sure, following the path laid out before you– even when you are not entirely sure what is coming next. Wherever you’re headed, you always encourage others. I’ve seen you encourage fellow athletes as well as friends and family members. 100% of the time, I want YOU on my team.

HAPPY 19TH BIRTHDAY, JAKE DAN! Thank you for always making me smile, for the great big bear hugs, and for the gift of your sunshine in my life and the life of Drew, to whom you have been the most loyal friend imaginable. I LOVE YOU, KID!!

Let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Mad for…Caroline

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3-4)

It’s a rare and truly faithful gem when we uncover someone whose genuine concern seems to always first be for the good of others. In the case of Caroline, I’ve mostly admired that authentic spirit and sparkle from lurking nearby in sports venues over the years. She’s generous and selfless in the most rare and beautiful way. What I’ve come to understand from paying closer attention is that she really is more than that, she’s a glittering jewel of a soul.

Caroline Godfrey is the mother of 4 (mostly) grown children, and she recently became the mother-in-law to two more. She’s the wife of a very fine man she always calls “Billy”. Most of what I know about her family firsthand, I uncovered on a couple of lazy afternoons in Vincennes, Indiana. Now, no offense intended if you are a Vincennes Alice, but once you’ve seen St. Frances Xavier Basilica and maybe even ventured over to peek at the George Rogers Clark Historic Monument, you’re left with the movies and a slice of pizza at Bobe’s. That about covers Vincennes. When you’ve made the annual trek with the Guerin Catholic Basketball team to the annual holiday tournament on numerous occasions, well, it’s been done. At this point, a booth at Gilbert’s Pub with a couple of cold beverages is really the most appealing option for the long afternoon breaks. Because they were more experienced GC basketball parents, when we found our way to Gilberts, the much more saavy Godfreys had already taken up residence.

What I already knew and loved about Caroline (and Bill, too) from afar was cemented for me on that second trip to Vincennes. She’s authentic, funny, kind and utterly humble. If I’m honest, I thought to myself that I’m not quite sure how someone pulls off an afternoon of beer, chips, and salsa giggling all the way and STILL she left me feeling I had been in the joyful presence of a woman who so reminded me of our Holy Mother. How is that even possible? All I can say is, Caroline is just an extra large scoop of awesome sauce. I know, I know…my eloquence is nothing if not overwhelming. Ha?

It was the ultimate come as you are party. Mostly, we laughed and talked about our kids and confessed to our most hilarious parenting fails. She reminded me that day that we don’t have to have it all together, we just have to know and love the One who does.

I could share personal stories of encouragement she’s offered to myself and others, kindnesses to those who have less, her giftedness listening and caring– but if you know her you’re already aware. She’s never drawing attention to herself in any of it. It’s just who she is. Caroline is the face of Christ to all around her.

A couple years or so before that silly afternoon at Gilberts, I had prayed over Caroline with a large group of GC basketball moms right in the middle of the Noblesville High School gym after our kiddos finished a game. She was about to undergo surgery for breast cancer, and the moment was powerful. Her humility that evening, and the way God shined was wholly spectacular. When I heard more recently that her cancer had returned, I was convicted completely of the need to pray without ceasing for this lovely woman of God. It was less a choice and more a calling. I’ve been working the beads for you, sister.

Have you ever met someone and thought, “How on earth is she for real?” That has always been me where Caroline is concerned. She’s just the definition of lovely, authentic goodness. She carries herself with grace. I have known instinctively for some time now that the Lord meant me to notice and learn from her powerful witness of what He means us to be as a wife, mother, and faith-filled woman of God. These are sometimes the stunning gifts the Lord bestows on us when we are members of a thriving Christian community. I’m going to need some significant work…but He sure gave me a beautiful example in Caroline.

My friend, there’s a heavenly arsenal of warriors fighting alongside you with our prayers for your healing in mind, body and spirit. Please know that we are with you, and so is the Lord. THANK YOU FOR YOUR AMAZING WITNESS OF FAITH AND FOR SO OFTEN BEING THE FACE OF JESUS TO OTHERS, INCLUDING ME!

The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom should I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)

Mad for…Mary

“The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Luke 12:7)

Day 43 of 365.

Meet Mary Jo (Thieme) Sashegyi. Mary Jo is Tom’s sister. He’s the baby of the family and Mary is 3 years his senior. When Tom and I were freshmen at Lafayette Central Catholic High School, she was an upperclassman. That fairly close in age connection made it a little easier for me get to know her. She was still around the house, you see, when we started dating while his oldest sister Jennie was off in college.

Mary Jo celebrated a big milestone birthday last year around this time, and we SO enjoyed that day and getting to know some of her terrific friends a little better. Her birthday was yesterday! So, while I am a day late, I hope she’ll forgive me as I honor her, though a little off schedule. Her life is certainly one worth celebrating to the fullest!

The scripture quote above sort of chose me today, rather than the other way around. You see, I had already decided today would be Mary’s day, and then this little line hopped into my way in a book today and it made me laugh and think of Mary Jo. She’s a really beautiful woman with this big and (occasionally) unwieldly head full of curly hair. So, I was taking the verse LITERALLY in that moment. I have always been a bit jealous of her locks, if truth be told. It would take me several days and only the good Lord knows how much hair product to get the graceful curls she wakes up already having.

The fact is, God already knows and loves a whole lot about Mary– curly hair and all. That quirky little giggle, the soft-spoken voice, and the kind heart she has– the Lord did all that. Mary cleans up like a queen. She’s truly a graceful and stunning woman. However, she’s also annoyingly lovely with her hair all a mess, no makeup, and no primp. She’s the kind of gal who doesn’t have to wear designer anything. The Lord simply drew her from the riches of His imagination and made her a loving, kind and beautiful human.

Mary and I once took a trip to New York City together to visit her brother while he did a college internship with IBM. The three of us laughing uproariously through the streets of the “Big Apple” is still one of my most fond memories. She was up for whatever fun was happening, and it simply cemented in my mind that her (much lower) volume than mine should not be construed as lack of enthusiasm or substance. She’s a good egg.

Mary is the mother of my sparkplug of a nephew Thomas and her very bright, multi-lingual, German/Canadian husband, Andreas. She’s got her hands full with a busy family life. However, she keeps going, trusting in the Lord on her journey. Her faithfulness and kind heart are her enduring qualities. Mary Jo, I want you to know that there is just so much I admire and appreciate about you. I definitely should have said so sooner. Also? I truly hope you had a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Much love!