Mad for…Kathy

So the call each day is to look at everything, no matter what the circumstance, through the proper lenses; for only then will we have the perspective to see things and people and events as they truly are. And only then will we be able to defeat the darkness that tries to overwhelm and overcome us and live in the light and the love– and truth– of Christ. (Jim Branch)

A few months back, as Kathy Sheek and I prepared for the heart-wrenching loss of a mutual friend, she did something quietly spectacular. She reached out to a priest who she knew had been particularly close to our dear friend to let him know about the gravity of her health and to ask him whether he might be able to make the trip back to Hamilton County to anoint her. Fr. Dave did just that, checking in with the family at just the right time with his offer, and he was able to be the face and hands of Jesus to our dear Karen and her whole gang. He was exactly the person she wanted in her home for this last holy sacrament before she met the Lord, and my heart was glad. What a beautiful gift!

This situation really tells you all you need to know about the compassionate and faithful heart of Kathy, who is pictured above at the far right. I have watched from afar for years as she has served her parish community in a variety of pivotal ways with her gentle and loving servant’s heart. She’s a supportive mom and the wife to a fine man named Mike. She’s an Indianapolis native who now lives in Carmel and a long time parishioner at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic Church in Fishers.

What I love about Kathy is the authenticity of her smile and her faithfulness in small things. She’s clearly a devoted daughter of God who lives her life in a selfless way with joy on her face– more devoted to being a woman of integrity than she is about her own notoriety. I don’t know her as well as I’d like, but I felt called to celebrate her with a little shout out today on her birthday! Color me impressed by your glorious character, Kathy!! I hope your people are loving you up on your special day, because your life is one that should be loudly celebrated!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KATHY SHEEK!!

O Lord, give me good eyes today, that my soul may be filled with light rather than darkness, love rather than need. Do not let my vision get clouded and distorted by the darkness that is around me or within me, but help my eyes to stay pure and clear, seeing as you see, that I might love as you love. Amen.

Mad for…Drew

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depends on you.” (St. Augustine)

Appearing again at the reception desk on November 10, 1999 after a long delay in the waiting room, I informed the gal sitting at the desk that I simply couldn’t wait any more to see the doctor, and she kind of rolled her eyes at me and said, “well, she’s quite busy so you’ll have to wait your turn.” She misunderstood me. So, rubbing my pregnant belly I clarified, “that’s fine, it’s just that I am so incredibly dizzy I think I might faint, so I think it’s better if I just leave and go home so I can lay down.” A nurse standing nearby heard the exchange and immediately ushered me to a room and had me get on my left side while she took my vitals. “Oh my word! Her blood pressure is through the roof. Get the doctor!”

That’s how it came to be that Andrew James Thieme was born several weeks prematurely by emergency c-section. He spent some time in the NICU at St. Vincent’s Hospital on 86th St. before coming home with some rather bulky and over the top equipment attached. Dr. Hirsch cautioned me about him, warning that we should certainly expect developmental and other delays. More drama ensued when he spiked a 104 degree fever shortly after being released from the hospital. Long story short, our sweet son had a kidney condition which would require surgery to repair, a thing we’d end up doing later at age 4 (at Riley Hospital for Children) when the timing was right. Those folks down at Riley are rock stars, by the way!

I share this snippet of melodrama today on the occasion of Drew’s 20th birthday because it makes me laugh to look back on now, two decades later. After causing me considerable anxiety on his entry to the world, this young man corrected course in a big way. Drew Thieme is the LEAST dramatic human being imaginable. As a toddler, he’d simply wait patiently in his bed for me to come get him in the morning– no fussing. He’s among the most strong, steady, respectful and emotionally stable kids I have ever encountered. As a little guy, he pretty much just wanted to hang out with his big brother, Nick. Thankfully, Nick and his buddies were good sports about letting D participate in whatever they were doing. Partly, that was because Drew could always keep up with them. You see, he may have started out a little small…but he caught up quickly! My three boys are pictured below (from left to right) Drew, Zach and Nick!

Little Drewbie LOVED games of all kinds, but especially card games and magic tricks! He had a magic wand, hat, and cape that he wore with pride just HOPING one of us would want to see his act. He was never interested in video games, but he typically had a board game or a deck of cards handy. If not those, then he had a ball of some sort! His smile was always bright, and his report card ridiculously good. He’s sharp as a tack and with a terrific work ethic. When his younger brother, Zach, was born, Drew became “his person”. When no one else could seem to calm down our youngest, or if my patience was lacking while I tried to explain to Z some new concept, Drew would inevitably jump in. “Mom, I’ve got this! Let me talk to him.” He even wrote a book titled, “How to take care of your little brother.” It’s a prized possession of mine. Drew Thieme, you have now and always have had a beautiful heart that feels compassion for others!

While he’s not a big talker by any stretch of the imagination, Drew is nevertheless naturally pastoral– a born leader. It’s just that he doesn’t waste words. He’s not enthralled with the sound of his own voice, but if he has something to say, it’s likely of value, so one would be wise to pause and hear him out. As a friend, he’s loyal and caring. As a son and a brother, he’s top drawer. I don’t think he’s ever failed to make me just a little teary on my birthday or Mother’s Day with his incredibly kind and loving notes.

We had a lot of fun over the years watching Drew play baseball, basketball and football. With his lanky frame and his good hands, he was always a valuable player on every team, but it was the way he led by example and the sportsmanship he displayed with his teammates and opponents that made me most proud as his mother. I mean, I did enjoy the home run moments, the CYO city championships (one of them captured below with Coach Dad), and the those senior year touchdowns he scored for the Golden Eagles, too…I’m not going to lie!

Drew is as authentic and honest as the day is long, and filled with integrity and love of the Lord. He’s sincere of heart and filled with faith, taking in weekly mass and availing himself of the sacraments frequently. Jesus is smiling down on Him for sure. He’s a driven young man, but also he knows how to relax in God’s grace. I’m grateful and thankful to have such a son, and I pray for him and his brothers every single day!

As he forges ahead, Drew is a man whose temperament seems to require that he be working a plan. I terrifically admire his drive and the effort he puts forth to get where he wants to be. He was one of the valedictorians of his Guerin Catholic Class of 2018, which was no small feat. His current plan involves finishing his undergraduate degree next December, taking the spring semester off school to work a tax season internship with an accounting firm, then to take the following year and complete his masters degree. He’s the treasurer of his fraternity (Pi Kappa Phi) at Purdue, and a member of student-led School of Management Employers Forum at the Krannert School of Management. He has a part-time job in a computer lab on campus and he’s a practice player for the Purdue Women’s Basketball team. His sweet and very beautiful girlfriend, Erika, must have the patience of Job because Drew is a busy guy. Any mom would be proud, and I am definitely any mom!! Also, thinking about his life makes me sleepy.

That said, God’s plans and our plans have a way of diverging from time to time. My hope and prayer for Drew is that whatever God’s will is for his life that he rolls with it and embraces it, because God is…well…God. He knows what He is doing.

I have my three boys to thank for a very important lesson. I wanted to acknowledge that here as I write today about my own children for the last time in this series. I have long loved the Lord. However, it took me an extraordinary amount of time to realize He loves me back. Just as I am. He used my children to help me grasp it. You see, I love these 3 boys (Nick, Drew and Zach) with a fierceness only other moms can understand. Am I right, ladies? That love is without condition and does not wane even when said young man does or says something idiotic. I mean I have some crazy mama bear claws and my heart might burst from the insanity of the unconditional love I feel for these smelly young men!! Well, when I realized that I am the daughter of the Lord, who is literally LOVE itself, it occurred to me that He must love His child, Shelly, at least as much as I love my children? I mean, He’s GOD, and I’m not… so probably it’s possible He can love even a tad better and a bit more, ha?

Is that a beautiful gift the Lord gave me through my sons? You betcha!

Happy Birthday, Drew! I am CRAZY proud of you. I love you! Happy 20th, you big goofball. I hope you sing so loud from the rafters at Banker’s Life this week enjoying that Luke Combs concert that you don’t have a voice for a week! You deserve it.

“People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But he asks you to trust him.” -St. (Pope) John Paul II

Mad for…Angie

You will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. (Phil. 2:15)

Joyful. That’s the word that comes to mind when I think of Angie Weas. She’s the mom of three– Joey, Billy and Molly– and the wife to an incredibly kind guy named Andy. I met Angie because of high school sports. That’s a recurring theme for our family. Often, we encounter tremendous families who are filled with love and life in this way!

A friendly and outgoing woman of God, Angie is a parishioner at St. Maria Goretti in Westfield, but she actually lives not far from me and I had her on my mind this week because my daily walks had me passing right in front of her house. It made me smile, therefore, when I discovered it was her birthday today! It was a clear signal from the Holy Spirit that I was meant to point out her goodness and give her a little birthday shout out.

As my three boys were very small, growing up and attending a nearby Catholic grade school, I discovered a couple of things about myself. Often, I would volunteer to help at school in whatever way was needed. However, I quickly found that I was incredibly comfortable handling middle schoolers and that large groups of kindergarteners and first graders gave me hives! It felt like herding cats, and I would have minor panic attacks worrying that I would lose one of them and have to explain to a distraught parent how sweet Ava went missing while I was tying her cute classmate’s tennis shoes for the 3rd time in 15 minutes. Here’s what I am attempting to tell you. Angie Weas is heroic. She teaches pre-schoolers. Despite that, she seems to maintain her sunny disposition, ha? Thank you, God, for amazing women like Angie!!

I have long admired Angie from afar for her genuineness and positivity. She speaks words of encouragement and words of life to those in her path. As a mother, she’s incredibly loving and supportive. Her children are respectful and bright just like their mother. It’s hard for me to even hold her love for Notre Dame against her, she is such a fine human being…ha?!!

Angie? I just wanted to take a moment today to wish you a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY and thank you for being a terrific example of joyfulness and integrity. The world is so so much better because you are in it with us! My prayer for you today is that you will know peace and happiness this year and always! I hope your people are celebrating you in a BIG way. You are a giant scoop of awesome sauce!

Mad for…Rachel

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. (Leo Buscaglia)

She is, by her nature, kind and gracious to those around her. I admire people like Rachel Folstrom. Ever since she was a very little girl, a grade school classmate of my oldest son, it was hard not to notice how she spreads sunshine into the lives of others. She is genuinely joyful and her smile is infectious! If it’s true that showering kindness on others has a positive effect on us, then this young woman is surely destined for a very long, healthy and happy life!

A senior at Indiana University, Rachel is an education major. This is why I chose the quote above to honor her today on her birthday. There are classrooms full of children who will be blessed for many years to come with her leading them as their teacher! She’s the real deal, the sort of person who is good to others for no reason at all. It might be how she was raised, because this young lady has AMAZING parents. Rachel is the daughter of Jim and Jill Folstrom, both awesome and thoughtful people. She has a younger (very handsome) brother named Jacob. She attended St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School and then Guerin Catholic High School with my son, Nick.

I admit to having a soft spot for all those graduating from college this school year. These are the young people who grew up alongside my oldest, so I have learned much about parenting, faithfulness, and just…well…life lessons galore from these humans on the verge of “adulting”. Rachel is a friendly, intelligent young woman who gives me hope for our collective futures. She’s kind, genuine, good-hearted, open-minded and she loves the Lord. She knows how to laugh, and she’s incredibly beautiful!

Rachel, today on your birthday I wanted to just wish you well and say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, kiddo! You are certainly a young woman who helps me to believe in the goodness of people by the way you love those around you and how you live your life. Good luck finishing up your college experience. I hope you enjoy every second! Keep shining, sweet girl!!

Mad for…Lou

You are the salt of the earth. (Matthew 5:13)

Pretty much everything I know about the great state of Texas, I learned from one Lourdes Raney! I’ve never been to the Lone Star state, but if Lou is reflective of the type of amazing humans that inhabit the place, then I definitely need to get out more…because I am for sure missing out on a whole lotta terrific!

When Lou and her husband, John and her son, John Matthew first moved to Indiana, I was drawn to this beautiful Texan with the joy-filled grin. She really is a stunning woman of God and that smile is one of her most prominent and lovliest features! Lou is full of love, and hope, and kindness. She goes out of her way for others, simply because its the good thing to do. For instance, when I moved into my new home, she brought me the most beautiful gift to bless it– honestly I had never seen anything like it before or since. From afar, it kind of looked like a random, pretty turquoise piece of decor. Nice, huh? Upon closer inspection, I discovered it was a colorful blessing, chock full of saint medals, and from the moment it arrived I felt like the place was covered in grace! She didn’t have to do that. She just did it anyway in the name of friendship. That same selflessness was displayed a few years back when I needed her help interpreting for a Spanish-speaking family I was trying to work with around Christmas, with limited success. Did I mention how useless my 6 years of French feels sometimes? Anyway, Lou’s language skills were infinitely helpful as she stepped in and she was so compassionate in service to this family. Hers was definitely the face of Jesus that holiday season!

Lou is funny, friendly and wherever she goes, whatever she does, her world is sprinkled with the flavor of faith. She’s the sort of woman who can brighten a day with her light. She deeply values her family and she is an incredibly loving mom and wife. It’s been WAY TOO LONG since I have spent any time with Lou. However, I always think of her around Halloween time, as I have some old and very sweet photos of our boys as awkward middle schoolers dressed up to go trick-or-treating that always seem to make me giggle when I spy them each fall.

Today, I felt compelled to give my shout out to an old friend! I miss you Lou!! Thanks for being sunshine to all in your path! You really are the salt of the earth!!

Mad for…Jimmy

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Prov. 3: 5-6)

He’s honest, trustworthy and funny. He smiles, loves and respects his family, and doesn’t hold the mistakes of others against them. In short, Jimmy Kaiser is one of the good guys. He’s a handsome man and the father of 4 pretty terrific children– Cole, Jared, Elle and Reese– and the husband to a stunningly beautiful woman named Sara. He’s pictured above with his family.

The Kaiser family have been friends of ours since we met them at St. Louis de Montfort when our oldest children were very small. Even though our kids attended different high schools, the friendship has remained. Each Christmas, I can always count on the Kaisers to participate in whatever Christmas “adoption” idea I concoct. They are warm-hearted, generous people who care about others.

What else? Jimmy Kaiser is a faith-filled guy who can tell a story and make the whole room belly laugh with his dry, sarcastic brand of humor. He knows how to have fun and he doesn’t take life too seriously. He’s laid back and easy going. As a father, he’s involved and uber supportive. His children are blessed to have a dad like Jimmy. Also, he looks damn good in cowboy boots…just ask his bride, ha?!

Here’s something very specific I love about Jimmy. He shows up for the funeral. Anymore, that’s a bit of a rare quality. To me, it’s the sign of an exceptionally fine human being. Obviously, death is universal, something we all experience. Yet, our schedules can be crazy. However, Jimmy is a guy who seems to get it that love matters and it’s stronger than death. Walking alongside others who are hurting makes a difference. So, he shows up, sometimes driving long distances in the effort. He does this consistently. I’ve got a ton of respect for folks who go out of their way to console those who mourn. It’s beautiful, Jimmy, watching you be the face of Jesus to others as they grieve. You have a way of just being present, smiling and bringing light to the area. It calms, soothes and heals.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen him, but I can say with confidence when I do see him, this University of Kentucky fan will be quick with a friendly smile and a big hug. Today, I just wanted to give him a little shout out and thank Jimmy for making the world a sunnier, more positive place to inhabit! You are good people, Jimmy, and I love you, Sara and the whole darn gang!!

Look for Christ, and you will find Him. And with Him, everything else. (C.S. Lewis)

Mad for…Debbie

Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things. It consists in accepting, with a smile, whatever Jesus sends us. It consists in accepting and following the will of God. St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

This week, as I frequently do, I missed a birthday! So, today’s birthday shoutout for Debbie Thieme is I think 2 days late in arriving. Debbie might not know this about me, but I am BIG on birthdays and therefore a fan of the month-long festival approach to celebration anyway, so I am choosing not to let my tardiness deter me here, ha!!

Kind-hearted, friendly, and affirming, Debbie is a woman with a big heart. After his (amazing) wife Kathy passed away, my husband’s cousin, John Thieme, met and married Debbie. Together, the two of them raised 6 children in a big, beautiful blended family where they made a priority of seeing to the needs of those young people before their own. My respect for her is profound, and I am not just a little ashamed that I have failed to say so until this moment. I chose the quote above to honor Debbie because the quality of her character shines so brightly for me in the intensity of her love– not unlike one of my favorite saints, Mother Teresa. In her, therefore, I believe the Lord has done great things. John and Debbie Thieme are pictured above!

My husband has this very large extended family. He’s the youngest of I think 19 grandchildren. Therefore, it’s not unusual to miss the opportunity to speak to someone. There are just a lot of folks around! Whenever I run into Debbie at family events, though, my experience is very similar to the one I had last weekend when we all gathered to celebrate the 80th birthday of my father-in-law, Tom, and his twin sister, Josephine. Debbie always makes a point to say hello and engage me in conversation. She leaves me feeling like she is genuinely interested in whatever I have to say, and she often shares with me the love and affection she has for her children when I ask her for the latest and greatest updates. She’s not the kind of woman who has made a god of power, or wealth, or many of the other small “g” gods that seem to trip so many of us up. I find her authentically charming, refreshingly honest, and the owner of a beautiful soul.

Debbie, I hope your birthday was half as terrific as you are! I wish you a spectacular year ahead filled with laughter and love! You are the real deal.