Mad for…Julie

Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (Romans 12:10)

Last night was a good one for Boilermakers everywhere, and I was lucky enough to be in the ninth row behind the Purdue men’s basketball team for their game! Coach Painter and his team took on Virginia in the Big 10/ACC Challenge, in a game hosted by my alma mater at one of the best venues in all of college basketball– Mackey Arena! It was this event that brought me a night of fun and catching up with an old friend, Julie Hedlund.

Sweet Julie and her husband, Ken, invited us along with them to the game! Ken works with my hubby, Tom, at Somerset CPAs. They’ve been co-workers a long time. In fact, one of my favorite photos from our wedding is of Ken and Julie laughing at our reception. That was 25 years ago, and the Hedlunds are both still among the most authentic people around. Julie and I hopped into the back seat and as we headed up I-65 to my hometown, I remembered all the things I have always loved about her!

Joyful, friendly and so incredibly real, Julie Hedlund is a happy person who simply says and does the things she actually believes. She’s a woman who does good and says kind things because it’s the right thing to do. She’s interested and interesting. A friend of mine has a post-it on her fridge which reads, “Authenticity: knowing who you are and being brave enough to live it.” That, in a nutshell, is how I see Julie Hedlund.

She eagerly and enthusiastically showed off her photos and videos of new granddaughter, Manny, who lives in Chicago. It was heartening to hear the cheerful delight in Julie’s voice and to see the brightness in her eyes as she talked about her new role as a grandmother, and also the pride with which she shared updates on her four grown children. Julie is a sunny and grace-filled woman. People like Julie Hedlund represent everything that still good and right in this crazy world we share. She’s the salt of the earth.

As the game wore on last night, Julie and I got to laughing at Ken just a little. He’s a man who apparently digs his popcorn, because he was going through his supply quickly. Finally, he reached over to offer Julie the box. She grabbed it, then turned to me with a big grin, and tilted the box towards me and told me to take as much as I’d like. In the very bottom of the box, about a half cup of crumbs were all the remained. She giggled, “My Kenny really loves his popcorn!” We both just laughed. Her smile is contagious!!

A nurse by profession, I have no doubt that Julie is a blessing to all her patients as well as her co-workers because she is not only caring and compassionate, she’s also very funny! A joyful person like Julie who can laugh at life is one who makes a difference for others. Period. Spending a few hours with this completely lovely and truly beautiful woman really did make my day! THANKS, JULIE, for reminding me why it’s so important to spend our days being exactly who God created us to be. You are nothing if not an incredible, integrity-filled woman. How blessed is little Manny James to have such a grandma!!

If I’m going to be anything, Lord, let me be genuine… like Julie Hedlund.

P.S. Purdue wins 69-40 over Virginia!! Boiler Up!!

Mad for…Andreas

Faith can move mountains. (Mt. 17:20)

There is no human I have ever encountered with a stomach which is made of quite the same stuff as this man. It’s possible his is made of steel, or some other such impervious material. It seems no matter what kind of leftovers, he’s incapable of being injured or impaired by their consumption. We’ve even joked when we’re well past the appropriate time to clear out the fridge that it’s contents would now not even pass the “Uncle Andreas” test. If he wouldn’t eat them, you see, then no one else should try…ha?

Truth be told, Andreas Sashegyi is simply not a wasteful human. He doesn’t like to throw things away which are still of some value– and that’s a laudable thing. Andreas is married to my sister-in-law, Mary Jo (Thieme) Sashegyi. Together, they have one son, Thomas, who will turn 12 years old this week. They live in downtown Indianapolis where he works for Eli Lilly. Andreas is Canadian, and he spent his formative years there. However, when people ask me about him, I usually describe him as German. He’s certainly culturally so, and he speaks both English and German quite well. I’m not sure what other languages he’s comfortable with, but he’s an extremely bright guy with excellent language skills.

He’s pictured here in a photo with Mary Jo and Thomas. This photo is a few years old, but in it the three of them look happy and full of joy and I’ve always liked it, so I hope they won’t mind me sharing it here.

As a biker, Andreas is fearless. Frankly, he has kind of scared me with his biking adventures over the years, and I’ve several times found myself not just a little anxious as he describes his long rides on busy roads and highways. He’s also a talented artist and a lover of good books and music.

What most defines Andreas for me, though, is his genuine devotion to his faith. He is both knowledgeable and engaged as a Catholic– a man of God for sure. He’s incredibly generous and charitable to his parish and community– in both time and resources. It’s inspiring and a lovely example to others. We joke behind his back a little about his affection for lighting “fellowship candles”, but the truth is he’s motivated by his interest in gathering together to share around a table– stories, food and laughter. Those are beautiful things.

So today, as we really enter into the season of Advent and inch closer to Christmas, I wanted to give Andreas a little shout out and share with you all this little tidbit I jotted down a while back in honor of my smarty pants brother-in-law. I believe the quote is from His Eminence’s book A Moment of Grace and it recalled an encounter he had in a confessional just before Advent was to begin. I thought it was beautiful and appropriate to share.

“Now is a moment of grace. Something big is about to happen; something very big. And it’s going to happen to you. We are about to begin Advent. God has become incarnate in the human condition, for you, personally for you. God has become a little baby in the middle of the sins you have just told me about. You have reason for new and wonderful hope.

What better gift could we give ourselves and our loved ones than to become more Christian, more loving, more Christ-like, that is to say, to give Him permission, as Mother Teresa once suggested, to work within us? What better gift to present to the little baby in that stable in a grotto outside of Bethlehem.

AMEN, Cardinal O’Connor…and thanks for being you, Andreas. I’m overdue to tell you that I notice so many lovely things about you, and I’m thankful to call you family. Happy Advent!!

Mad for…Deanne

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

Tuesday mornings, I typically drop Zach off at Guerin Catholic then I head to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel for mass. Today was no different. Kneeling down to pray, I glanced up to the credence table and noticed a large silver chalice sitting on it, and I smiled. You see, this means that the tall, sarcastic human who really brought me to Jesus is celebrating this mass. I happily spent a few minutes there praying for Fr. Richard, because, well….the devil is no fan of this holy priest. I was thinking “this is going to be a good day!” Oh gosh, I had no idea how right I was about to be!

After mass was over, I zipped up my coat to head out, and I was stopped by a familiar face. Her smile was radiant, and her greeting was warm, but the truth is, I truly didn’t know Deanne Miller…until today. She handed me a beautiful bag with a book inside and she said, “This is awkward, but I feel like the Holy Spirit is calling me to give you this book. Also, I just kinda think I want to be your friend.” Who can resist the loveliness of that? NOT I, that is for darn sure!

Deanne went on to explain that she had stumbled upon this blog, then there were lots of other nice words…and that she felt a connection of some kind. She wondered if we might have coffee sometime. I replied, “Well, I’m free right now?”

What I learned over coffee is that not only is Deanne brave and ridiculously affirming, she’s also the mother to four children (Sydney, Maci, Austin, and Evan) whose names I’ve probably just misspelled or screwed up entirely. She’s also the wife to a surgeon named Mike. I don’t know a lot more about any of them, except that it was clear IN SECONDS that these are five humans who are loved beyond measure. Those young people and that smart man who married Deanne are unbelievably blessed. Not unlike Our Blessed Mother, this is a woman whose soul magnifies the Lord. These are not words I write flippantly, people. I’m not kidding you. She’s a stunning woman– inside and out. To be candid, I was kind of interiorly freaking out as she said one holy and glorious thing after another and I thought to myself, “She wants to be MY friend? Holy crap, Lord. You sent me Deanne Miller! What the what?!”

After we spoke and her beautiful words settled on me, she said, “Please don’t write about me.” Oh, poor Deanne. She doesn’t know me well enough to know that we were UTTERLY past the point of no return on today’s entry. Jesus sends me someone whose words make my heart burn with love for Him, but I am supposed to overlook her in my blog which is titled “HE NEVER MISSES”? Hahahaha!! I will at least apologize for the old photo I’m posting of her totally gorgeous family, but it was all I could locate quickly to steal off the internet.

Deanne taught me something today. She isn’t waiting on the next guy to make a move. She’s just out there loving people fearlessly. I felt my heart enlarge in her presence. The move she called awkward shoving a book at me after mass and asking to get to know me better? I’m going to name it foolish, gutsy love. My soul was so filled up with Jesus when I left her that I’m sort of grasping for words to express myself. She was the face of Christ to me today, and I was incredibly gotten by the enormity of it. How much must God love us, friends? And how intimately does He know me…and you?

The end of the gospel today was this from the 10th chapter of Luke…”Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

Deanne? She is grace-filled. She hears it and sees it. It’s clearly a bell she can’t “unring”. In fact, so full of the Lord is she that she oozed Him out all over me. I didn’t get to some of the items on my list today, and frankly I just don’t give a flying leap. The amount glad I am to have had too much Starbucks coffee today with Deanne Miller is impossible for me to adequately express. THANKS DEANNE for being a blessing larger than you know! Today, you gave me a first person demonstration of how we are to “Live in Grace, Walk in Love.” Well done. I am inspired and can’t wait to pay it forward to some other unsuspecting souls very soon!

P.S. If you’re reading today, Wendy Wiese, I owe you one for this introduction. You are also rock star of the highest order, and I’ll be praying for you tomorrow in a special way.

Mad for…Karen

Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how.

Charming, friendly, and kind are the words I choose today to describe Karen Toth. As a “mama bear” she’s a fierce protector of her daughter, Sam, and her son Zach. She’s both strong and feminine at the same time– and just so beautiful too. I think that must be where Sam gets it, because these are traits I noticed she certainly shared with her mom while she was growing up. Her youngest, Zach, is the same age as my oldest, Nick, and they both attended St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School in Fishers where they graduated together in 2012.

Karen is a woman who smiles with her eyes, and she has a contagious laugh! While she’s not an introvert at all, there is a certain quiet reserve about her that I’ve sometimes noticed. Her tender and faithful heart make her a beautiful and supportive mom to those two nearly grown children she shares with her husband, Eric as well as a terrific friend to many. Her love for her family and the Lord are quite apparent, which provides a beautiful witness to the rest of us.

Mostly, I got to know Karen through the sports experiences of our sons. Those CYO years with that particular group of SLDM parents are treasures I will carry with me forever. It was a special group and we had SO MANY LAUGHS with them. I often sat on the sidelines hearing the latest and greatest from the Toth family ladies (which nearly always included Karen’s super charming sister, Sheila Brewer) and cheering on the various teams alongside their smiling faces. Karen always went above and beyond to make sure all the kids within earshot got a nice “atta boy” after every contest. She’s affirming and lovely. I miss seeing her, though I do keep an eye on her great kiddos from afar.

A great personality and a winning smile really do go a long way! I mean, sure, she’s got a little sarcasm in her bag, and she does flash an occasional devilish grin, but always in good fun! Karen is affable, low-key, and modest. Wherever she inhabits is a friendlier place because of her presence. So today, I just wanted to give a shout out to a kind, caring, sweet woman– a long lost friend named Karen Toth. I am LONG overdue to tell her that I see her fabulousness, and so does the Lord.

For all of you who are following my little series, you’ll notice that my aim each day is to point out the ordinary people around us who really do brighten the lives of others. So many times, I find I hear back from them that they don’t even realize or see their shiny parts. Often, people say “that was so nice, but really I don’t deserve those words.” Fake news! There is something AMAZING about each of us. We are all made in God’s image, are we not? He didn’t make exceptions. Isn’t it awesome how the Lord has His way of seeing and calling out what is wonderful in each of us, even when we can’t see it ourselves?

Keep doing you, Karen As humans go? YOU SHINE! I am so much better for knowing you. I think we need an “8th grade” SLDM parent reunion, because I’d like to have the chance to catch up Karen, Eric, and with all the parents of that amazing SLDM class of 2012!!

Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven. (Mt. 5:16)

editors note: While I can assure you that I have indeed written this column each day in 2019, what I have learned from this exercise is that I can’t count worth a lick. Is today the 336th day of 2019? Someone help me! For those who have noticed that I’m a calendar fail, I’ll own that. However, I’m a calendar fail with good intentions at least, ha?

Mad for…Anna

Be the same person privately, publicly, and personally. (Judah Smith)

Okay, I am very slow with this birthday greeting and 50th birthday shout out to a terrific human being named Anna Fagg! Forgive me, my friend! I am apparently the last person in Hamilton County to know you have been celebrating a big milestone! A tennis playing mom of two, Anna has a beautiful daughter, Victoria, and a tall, lanky, hoops playing son named Harrison. He’s a senior at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. She’s married to a super cool, down to earth guy named Andy. I met them years ago at St. Louis de Montfort where our children all attended grade school together. Victoria is the same age as my oldest son, Nick, and they were members of the SLDM class of 2012.

Genuine. That’s the word that for me positively defines Anna. Sure, she’s friendly, funny, and kind. Yes, she’s an incredibly supportive mother and a loving wife. That’s easy to see. However, what makes Anna a truly special person for me is how authentic she is. She’s not driven a second by ego, or status, or anything of that ilk. She simply gives off positive vibes and treats the people around her like they matter. She’s flat out a salt of the earth woman.

With Anna Fagg, there’s no hidden agendas, she’s just got an honest goodness about her. She knows how to smile bright and warm the room with her sunshine. Fancy, she’s not. Fun, yes indeedy! I’ve got a thing for genuine people. In fact, it might be my most favorite quality. Every time I see Anna, I am reminded how important it is for each of us to just be ourselves. The Lord knows what He’s doing, and none of us is like the next guy– what a beautiful thing!!

HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY, ANNA! What do you say we overlook how late I am and just declare festival until the end of the year?!!

P.S. I can’t root for your team tomorrow, my friend– I’d like to, but I’ve got to be genuine, ha?! Boiler UP!!

Mad for…Angie

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward

A sunny soul with a great sense of humor, my cousin Angie Laws is the mother of twin girls and the wife of a good guy named Joe. We spent a lot of Thanksgivings together over the years, and some of the most hilarious photos from my younger years are with my sister, and my Langdon cousins– which includes Angie and her siblings Joe, Aimee and Andrea. There were often matching plaid nightgowns for the girls and always there was a lot of bad hair and Grandpa’s wood burning stove in the background of said photo. Our roots are forever tangled together.

As the oldest of the Langdon grandchildren, I was the first to do everything– graduate from high school, college, get married, and have kids of my own. When my boys were very small, and Angie was a single gal who lived in the area, she sometimes came to babysit. My little guys absolutely LOVED Angie. How could they not? We always spent some time laughing with Angie about our silly goofballs and what they got themselves into under her watch. As long as I have known her, she has been the owner of a beautiful, contagious smile. She’s just an incredibly likable and also amusing person. She laughs easily and her smile is broad!

Although its’s been way too long since I have seen Angie, I am nevertheless grateful to call her family. Tom and I have always agreed that her positivity, terrific smile, and great sense of humor are hard to resist!

As we are nearly upon Thanksgiving, and this holiday evokes a lot of Langdon memories for me, I remember a quote I read recently which said, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” I suppose that feels very accurate as I consider my pretty terrific cousin Angie. Angie, I know without a doubt that your girls are incredibly blessed to call you mom. If the world was full of sparkly women as full of love as you are, it would be a much more phenomenal place to inhabit! HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU AND YOUR ENTIRE CLAN!! Hugs!!

Mad for…Carol

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile. — St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

Maybe a year or so ago, I had one of those follow-up to the follow-up type of mammogram experiences. They didn’t like the first round of photos, and they weren’t happy with the second round. The ultrasound was equally unsatisfactory. It was at that point that I ran into Carol LaReau at St. Vincent Carmel Hospital. I am related to some of the LaReau clan, but not Carol. It’s a skosh convoluted to explain to you how she’s married to a LaReau who is the brother of my brother-in-law…? I realize I should have left that last part out, because my attempt at clarifying the relationship did the opposite as I read it back. However, if one has been following me and my Mad for 2019 shenanigans, then said person has already figured out that I am a stream of consciousness blogger in this column, ha?

If anyone is still reading at this point today, then it’s time to cut to the chase. Carol works at St. Vincent and she spotted me, then she quizzed me about what I was doing. Later in the day, I got a follow up message from her. She said “I am praying that you got good news today.” How kind. Classic Carol LaReau behavior. It’s been this way in every interaction I have ever had with Carol. She oozes goodness.

Carol’s got a cheerful countenance and her voice is filled with something gentle that resembles a beautiful mix of both kindness and mercy to me. Her smile is bright, warm, and sincere. Carol is the mother of a University of Dayton graduate named Christopher and the wife of a super guy named Dan. Together, they built a beautiful family. She’s a Ball State gal if memory serves, and as a mother, Carol is incredibly supportive and loving!

That quote above? It is one of my most favorite quotes OF ALL TIMES. That’s saying something because I am a girl who loves words. Carol is all of that. Her eyes, her smile, and her face are filled with authentic kindness. She’s a blessing to those in her path. Period.

Because it is Thanksgiving week, I am working to recognize people who I think truly exemplify what it means to be grateful. In my mind, those who embody God’s kindness by the way they treat and interact with others are at the top of that list. So today, I find myself thinking of Carol and her fine example. She’s like a big slice of pumpkin pie covered with real whipped cream. THANK YOU, LORD, FOR YOUR FAITHFUL DAUGHTER CAROL. I am so grateful to know her!