Mad for…Mia

Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful. (T. Hanh)

July 10, 2019– Several weeks after she started attending St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School, I met the mom of the “new girl” in Nick’s class, Mia Driscoll. I think I said something to this beautiful mom about how sweet little Mia is and that I hoped she was feeling welcomed by her new classmates. She looked at me and said, “Mia?” I motioned over to her daughter and said, “Aren’t you Mia’s mom?” That’s when she looked at me and kind of rolled her eyes and said, “Ah. Yes. My daughter’s name is Mary, but evidently she’s going with Mia? I was unaware.” At the time, I wasn’t sure how to respond, as I didn’t want to offend this new mom I was trying to draw in to the community but it was hard to contain my laughter. Kids crack me up. As I look back on it now, this makes me giggle even more!

Independent, witty and spiritually oriented, Mia is most definitely also a spunky, adventurous young lady. She’s pictured above with her Dad, John, in their Boilermaker gear. Mia is a stunningly gorgeous young woman who is headed into her senior year at Purdue University this fall…and today is her birthday!

A few months back, Tom and I decided to go grab a drink and a little bite to eat at a little place close to the house. The service was not amazing. Well, to be completely candid, the tacos we ordered were delivered with no filling. We were just kind of staring at them when Mia came upon us. I’ve only seen her a handful of times since she and Nick graduated together from Guerin Catholic so it was a treat to see that grin once again. She gave me a big bear hug, and a smile and caught me up on things for a minute. That’s when I realized that although she was not our waitress, she was in fact waiting tables there because she looked at our empty taco shells and said, “Oh, geez! I see there’s a problem and I shall fix it for you!!” She waived her arms, grapped the plate and she was off to play hero!

Mia is just a bucketful of sunshine. Those are my kind of folks. So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIA! Here’s hoping your senior year at Purdue is your best year yet! BOILER UP, sweet girl!

Mad for…Jan

A sense of humor is God’s antidote for anger and frustration. (Rick Warren)

July 9, 2019– I was out to dinner a few weeks back with a dear friend. After we finished eating, we took a short stroll on the Monon and we ran into these two lovely ladies! It had been way too long since I had seen them. Pictured above are the beautiful Brooke Williams and her stunning mama, my friend Jan Williams Grumbacher.

Jan is the wife of a good man named Jason and the mom to three terrific kiddos (Ross, Morgan and Brooke) as well as the step-mom of two more (Lauren and Matthew). As a mom, she’s supportive, generous and incredibly loving. Those are five truly blessed children. If I could choose one characteristic that has gotten my sunny friend through the rough patches to this point in life, I’d say it was certainly her sense of humor. She sees the comedy present in the everyday, and she rolls with the punches!

It’s needed armor, a sense of humor. Laughter helps us make it through, and I think it’s utterly of God. Truly, I believe the Lord hears Jan giggling through her day and He smiles. It’s the way she spreads grace in this world! Her intelligence and kindness pair nicely with that sense of humor.

Today as Jan celebrates her birthday, I just wanted to take a moment to tell her that I love her for her welcoming face, joyfulness, generous heart and ability to make any situation an adventure! Thank you for ALWAYS making me smile!! You are an extra large scoop of ice cream with hot fudge and I hope your beautiful family celebrates you with sprinkles on top today, my friend! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JAN!!

Mad for…Billy

Happiness is secured through virtue; it is a good attained by man’s own will. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

July 8, 2019– A Crown Point native and the father of 3 pretty terrific kids, Billy Finn is also the husband of a bright and talented wife named Lisa. Their children, Mia, Max and Luke are all sports-lovers which is not surprising considering both their parents have extensive and successful sports backgrounds. Billy is a 1994 graduate of Andrean High School in the Region. He’s a tough, handsome, faith-filled and athletically gifted guy.

I met Billy several years ago through mutual friends from our church and school community in Fishers, Indiana. He often volunteers his time coaching kids, and has done so since well before his own children were old enough to participate. In fact, when my current Boilermaker was a 4th grader, I remember Billy coaching CYO football and drawing up a hook and ladder play that the boys had never practiced…in the sand on the sidelines. My son, Drew, caught the pass and pitched it to his teammate, who ran down a wide open field of grass and then got tackled by the “turf monster”. As I recall it, the kid certainly would have gone for a TD if not for that misfortune. It was hilarious, and it’s one of our family’s all-time favorite CYO football moments. Only the uber competitive Billy Finn would decide that 3 nine-year old boys could learn and execute the hook and ladder on the fly. Classic Coach Finn. They almost pulled it off too!!

Billy is bright and has a fantastic work ethic. He’s an upright guy, a terrific dad who has a genuine way about him, and a hilarious dry sense of humor. He knows how to smile, laugh, and keep his priorities in line. I have a great deal of respect for Billy because of the quality of his character and the strength and love he models for his family and all those around him.

Today is Billy’s birthday, and I hope that Lisa and the kids are celebrating him in style today, because his is a life worth celebrating in a big way! Thanks for setting the bar high for all those around you, Billy! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BILLY FINN!

Mad for…Kathleen

The unselfishish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. –Helen Keller

July 7, 2019–It’s true that beautiful souls are never forgotten. My friend Kathleen Lupke knows that all too well. However, I often think to myself when I am around her that she does a fantastic job honoring the dear friend she lost way too soon by the cheerful smile she shares with others! Kathleen’s witness is just one simple and meaningful way I see Shannon Hall’s legacy of kindness live on.

Kathleen is the faith-filled mom of three terrific children and the wife of Scott Lupke. She’s the loving mom of two sports loving boys named Mike and Andy as well a gorgeous daughter named Amanda who I would describe as kind of a tomboy princess. It turns out that it is, in fact, possible to be both! What I love is that the softhearted Kathleen encourages her three to embrace all their giftedness and curiosity– however diverse those interests might seem!

If memory serves, Kathleen is a Ft. Wayne native and a graduate of St. Mary’s College (Notre Dame). She and I have spent more than a few evenings and weekends together at the same ball diamonds over the years since my “baby” boy has been on baseball teams now with both Mike and Andy Lupke. She’s a no-nonsense, genuine, attentive and agreeable woman who both values and appreciates her family and friends.

Kathleen, today on your birthday I just wanted to say thank you for the entertaining stories, good-natured giggles, and general thoughtfulness you have displayed over the years. The world on some days feels a little over full with gray clouds, and even when we were standing under cover in a rain delay, your playful smile and friendliness often made the day brighter for me and many others too! Your life is CERTAINLY worth celebrating so I hope all your people love you up like crazy today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KATHLEEN LUPKE!

Mad for…Wyatt

You can start right where you stand and apply the habit of going the extra mile by rendering more service and better service than you are now being paid for. (N. Hill)

July 6, 2019– A talented tennis player from Westfield, Wyatt Metzger graduated from Guerin Catholic High School in 2018. He now plays tennis for the DePauw Tigers where he was named to the 2nd team All-NCAC in his freshman season for the DePauw Men’s Tennis team.

I met the very friendly Wyatt during his time as a Golden Eagle at GCHS. He and my son, Drew, were classmates there and remain good friends. Last year at about this time, I asked him if he would be willing to give some tennis lessons to my youngest son, Zach, who had decided to take up the sport. He kindly agreed to tackle the assignment and has since given several lessons to my kiddo. What stands out to me about this experience is how clearly the quality of his character shows in all our interactions with him.

For instance, Wyatt often volunteers to transport Zach from our house to and from the courts when his schedule permits. This is no small thing for a mom who spends most her days of summer hauling a soon-to-be high schooler around town to his various sporting events, lessons, and the like. He really didn’t have to do that. Wyatt didn’t have to go out of his way to get more involved, but he did. He didn’t do it to be seen or for some sort of extra incentive– his instinct was simply to go the extra mile.

Wyatt is a young man of character and integrity. He’s polite and full of personality when he visits the house with the guys. He’s encouraging and positive when he gives lessons to Z and to many other young guys he’s helping out! It’s meaningful to all those younger players to get that kind of feedback from a college tennis player.

The son of Todd and Terri Metzger, Wyatt has clearly been well-raised by faith-filled parents, because he is a reflection of them in his goodness. I haven’t spoken to his brothers about him, but I’d bet as a sibling, he’s solid as a rock, even if those gentlemen don’t want to publicly admit it, ha?

He’s also into social media and I hear he has a pretty cool YouTube channel (WhySoQwyatt) if you are into that kind of thing and want to check him out. I am told it’s mostly silly, quirky and funny stuff meant for a much younger demographic than yours truly!

I’m not sure exactly what the future holds for this handsome, athletic young man. I suspect his will be a life filled with many blessings and much success, because as they say, there’s not a big traffic jam usually happening on that extra mile. What I know for sure, is that there is no doubt that the world is infinitely better with one Wyatt Metzger in it! Thanks for being such a considerate and courteous human being, kiddo! It’s a good reminder to all your peers and even to old ladies like me that kindness is where it’s at! You are the real deal, Wyatt!

Mad for…Teri

In a gentle way, you can shake the world. (Mahatma Gandhi)

The beautiful mother of the groom this spring, Teri Johnson, is pictured above next to her son, Chris at his recent wedding to a stunningly beautiful young woman named Lindsay. I met Teri a few years back. She was this kind, friendly soul working in the school office at St. Louis de Montfort at the time. Teri has the type of genuine smile that makes her instantly likeable.

It wasn’t long after that when I learned that her son, Kyle, was quite ill. We did a lot of praying for Teri and her entire family during that incredibly trying time. When she lost him to leukemia, the whole community mourned alongside her because we could see how much she loves her family. It’s an ache that never goes away, but God has rained grace down on this lovely human and she seems to soldier on with positivity all the same.

It was William Hazlitt who said, “A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.” That’s what the office felt like to me the entire time Teri was sitting at the front desk. She seemed to be able to see the humor in the everyday, and always she made my boys and (and me too) feel she was glad to see us, even when we were mostly just an unneeded hassle in her day.

In case you’re unaware, school secretaries are the GLUE. That is a fact! No school functions well who tries to forge ahead without a sunny and gracious person as the first face one sees upon entering. When Teri left her role at SLDM, there was NO ONE who was glad she was moving on. She built personal relationships, and was always a reassuring, gentle voice of positivity in the days of our young people. She seemed to instinctively understand that we don’t know someone’s interior struggles, so she used her giftedness in a kind way which to me always glorified the Lord.

Teri, I deeply regret not doing a better job of expressing to you how grateful I am for the time you spent at SLDM. You just always seemed to be someone who could look past the cracks and see others with a generous and patient heart. You treated us all with such care. I should have said thank you sooner. Instead, during this, your birthday week, I wanted to take a moment to say HAPPY (belated) BIRTHDAY! I hope you were able to enjoy your special day, because your life is certainly one worth celebrating!! We in the Thieme clan think you are simply terrific!

Mad for…Don

Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. (A. Stevenson)

As I thought about who to honor on this day, Independence Day 2019, I thought about all those who are serving or who have served this great nation. If you are reading today and you’re one of those amazing folks, please allow me to thank you for your selflessness and your service!! To honor all of you, I’d like to introduce you to one of the most patriotic men I know– Don Seaman. If you know him, then you’ve seen him in the Marines jacket he wears quite often, and very proudly. I’ve posted a picture of him in that gorgeous outwear at the annual Veteran’s Day program put on each November at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School. My favorite part of that event each year is what is pictured here. The children sing the service song, “Marine’s Hymn” as well as all the songs for every branch of the US Military. Then, veterans or active members of that military branch are asked to stand and be recognized while their hymn is played. It’s very meaningful and moving, and in fact, as I am thinking about it now my eyes are welling up.

Don Seaman is the husband of my dear friend, Vivian, who is pictured with him, above. He’s the father of 4 and the grandfather to many more! He fiercely loves the Lord, his family, his country…and the Nebraska Cornhuskers! He’s ornery, gracious, and a loving, fantastic human being.

“This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.” I’m not sure who said it, but all this week I’ve seen it in the media and even on t-shirts. I quite agree. We all owe a great debt to men and women like Don Seaman who have bravely and generously served the United States in the military.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Freedom has it’s life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed else like a flower cut from it’s life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” That pretty much sums up the sacrifices made by men like Don and their families, huh?

Don is a sunny, positive and faith-filled man with a very enjoyable sense of humor. Today, as we celebrate the 4th of July with our cookouts and fireworks, I wanted to tell you, Don, that I believe the United States, her freedom, and everything that is lovely about our nation, we owe to the phenomenal sacrifices made by you and men and women like you. THANK YOU!! GOD BLESS AMERICA, AND HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, EVERYONE!!

“From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli;

We fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea;

First to fight for right and freedom and to keep our honor clean;

We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine!