Mad for…Shelley

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go. -Dr. Suess

Day 68 of 365.

A Brooklyn, New York native, Shelley Bethel might be far from home, but she seems to me to be living her best life here in central Indiana! This sassy gal is boldly smart, sunny and a little saucy too! She’s got a smile that’s a mile wide and the warmest hug around. In short, Shelley is a fine human being, mom to Bryson, Jackson and Addy and wife to Mike. Her children are respectful and full of personality. In my book, both of these are signs of excellent parenting. There is just so much to admire about Shelley.

Though I have only known Shelley a short time, I have a tremendous amount of respect for her for so many reasons. As the mother of 3 very busy children, her energy is tireless. There is ALWAYS a sporting event to attend or a practice to manage. When you add to that the fact that she works a job that never allows a human free time and two of her kiddos are diabetic (with all the added stress and responsibility of managing their health), I find myself a little in awe. I’m sure it’s much, much harder than she makes it look.

Shelley is a teacher and a tireless advocate for the value of books and reading for children. That’s why I chose the sweet Dr. Suess quote to feature as I attempt to honor her today! If you’ve learned anything about me by now during my little 2019 blog project, it’s that I hold ALL TEACHERS in the highest possible regard. Blessed are the children who find Shelley Bethel leading their classroom!

Finally, my friend Shelley is a faithful woman and a recent convert to the Catholic Church. She’s pictured above with her pretty terrific sponsor, Lisa Finn. Shelley is prayerful and has a lovely, compassionate heart for others. She’s not afraid to ask for help when she needs it, a quality I admire greatly, because it highlights her authentic humility. I am praying often that her conversion to our shared faith will continue to lead her to the Lord!

Mostly, Shelley makes me smile and laugh. She doesn’t seem to take life too seriously, and with all of her responsibilities I find that an inspiring witness. THANK YOU SHELLEY, for your fine example of what it means to be a terrific wife, mother, teacher and friend! I hope my little shout out today helps you remember what an utterly beloved daughter you are of our Most High God! Hugs to you, Shelley!!

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…Matt

What all good teachers have in common, however, is that they set high standards for their students and do not settle for anything less. -Marva Collins

Day 66 of 365.

A number of years ago when my oldest son started high school, a list was sent home to parents containing the names of suggested peer tutors for those struggling with their studies in Spanish. Among the names on the list was my son, Nick, which is, I assume, why I received the note. I glanced at it quickly at first and then noticed something striking. About 95% of the peer tutors listed were graduates of St. Louis de Montfort, the grade school my sons all attended. I quizzed Nick about it and he said immediately, “Oh, yeah, Mom….we are all WAY AHEAD of everyone else in Spanish. Turns out, Senor Ward is a beast!”

What makes Matt Ward stand out to me is the obvious satisfaction he gets in rousing interest in the Spanish language in his students, and his remarkable ability to convey to them the value of improving their skills. He’s empathetic with his students, he respects them, and he teaches with the belief that each one of the faces in his classroom has something special upon which he can build. He explains, he demonstrates and he inspires. His class is never easy, but he is always fair and encouraging. Also? He’s got a great sense of humor. He has the students call him “Don” Ward, (apparently “Don” means lord in Spanish). This is what I’m told. What do I know? I took French in high school. Mostly, I remember saying “Ca va bien” quite a bit. My teacher was definitely no Matt Ward. Anyway, I love the nickname Don Ward! It makes me giggle.

Several months ago, my middle son, a recent Guerin Catholic graduate, discovered that he was taking with him to Purdue fourteen (14) credits in Spanish. That’s a lot of college credit and Drew gave a great deal of the credit for his proficiency in this subject area to the years he spent with Matt Ward at SLDM. In fact, I am fairly certain Drew even sent him a note to say thanks. That’s an impressive display of appreciation from an 18 year old, German, and very stoic kid like Drew Thieme. It spoke volumes to me as a parent too!

Matt is a teacher for whom I have mad respect. He works very hard and his efforts have paid significant dividends in the long term for the Thieme boys. I’m sure the daily grind of teaching Spanish to grade school children must be in some ways exhausting and monotonous, but Matt? You are a GEM! You are an integrity-filled and high quality human being. You are kind and funny, never taking yourself too seriously. We feel very fortunate that our children have had the chance to learn from you!!

This evening in your honor, I am even going to try and overlook the annoying questions Zach will inevitably ask me about dinner IN SPANISH (because he knows I have no clue what he’s talking about) and therefore he feels superior. For one day only, I am going to be less bugged and more pleased that he’s interested in what you’re doing with the kiddos in your classroom. Tomorrow? Well, I’ll probably be back to rolling my eyes and asking him to translate to English!!

THANK YOU, MATT WARD for being exceptional! I am 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…Michelle

Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action. –St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

PIctured above is my friend, Michelle Crisci, with her beautiful daughter, Lauren

Day 64 of 365.

My favorite saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, is famous for saying “the loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the love of a mother.” How very true! Today, I am aiming to spread some of the love back to one of the truly terrific moms out there– Michelle Crisci.

As you can see from the photo, Michelle has a magnetic and very genuine smile that begins in her eyes. She’s funny, adventurous and big-hearted. She goes out of her way for others, and she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty in the process. She’s not looking for a reward, and it’s not important to her that she’s seen doing the act of kindness. Michelle just does the right thing for others because it is the right thing. If we know anything about goodness, it’s that it’s a gift from the Lord. He’s been using this particular gal as His hands and feet for some time.

Michelle is the mother of three pretty terrific young people– Sam, Lauren and Kylie. I’ve known these kids and their parents since they were very small. These are some very blessed kiddos to have such a mom. The Crisci clan spent a decade as our back door neighbors. We hauled our kids to and from school as a team, and we’ve shared lots of laughter, endless juice boxes, a few more than a few adult beverages… and some heartache too with them over the years. Here’s what shines in Michelle through it all– her compassion. Michelle authentically owns one of the most genuine and kind hearts around. The Lord knew she’d need it because, well, she’s married to Stan. If you know him, you’ll understand that I am now heartily laughing as I type! Let’s just say Stan is a BIG PERSONALITY and as awesome is he is….if I outlive Michelle I’ll be opening her cause for canonization when she’s gone! Hahaha!!

In all seriousness, my dear friend, today’s BIRTHDAY GIRL, is joy-filled, patient, and lovely in every way. Michelle, I’m grateful for your faithful and loving example as a mother and as a friend to many. When you could have chosen to be selfish or indulgent, I have watched instead as you have chosen self-sacrifice. What you are is an absolutely beautiful and beloved daughter of the Lord, and I am so proud to call you my friend.


Mad for…Teri

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26)

One of my regrets in this life of mine is that years ago I did not offer up a hearty and well-deserved THANK YOU to a great woman named Teri Feller. She remains to this day a gal to whom I feel genuine indebtedness for the exceptional work she did with my oldest son, his classmates and scores of others. I’ve decided it’s never too late for gratefulness, and why not rectify the oversight today?

Teri is the mother of 3 grown children and the wife to Jay, a CPA who happens to work with my husband. That’s not how I know Teri, though. She spent many years as a teacher at St. Louis de Montfort School and she was, in my opinion, one of the finest educators to ever inhabit a classroom in that building. While she taught many things well, the Lord used her as His instrument as she taught the students religion. It warmed my heart so very much as a mother to send my son to her classroom each day.

The secret sauce for Teri is that she shared with the children her passion for her faith. She knew how much God loves each of us, and her sunshine showed. Much of what so many young adults know now about the beauty of the mass, for example, was gleaned in her classroom. They felt her love of the Lord and it was life-giving. Teri had command of a group of kids by the genuine and holy way she worked.

I remember laughing as her teaching partner (my dear friend Janet Andriole) spoke to the Lord with the entire combined group of kiddos one afternoon by opening, “Lord, it’s clear to us all that I am not as smooth at this leading a prayer thing as Mrs. Feller, but I am sure you understand my heart is in the right place as I stumble a little here…” It made me giggle as I stood nearby as a classroom helper that day because I had been thinking the entire time, PLEASE do not ask me to lead this group in prayer, Jesus. These children had already gotten used to Mrs. Holiness, you see, and the rest of us pretty much felt like freshmen on the first day of school standing next to her. It was a relief to hear the very articulate Janet express what I had been thinking!

Teri was and is a beautiful person. She’s funny, bright, and soft-spoken. She exudes graciousness and kindness in every interaction I have ever had with her. Teri, THANK YOU for the stunning witness of faithfulness you shared all those years ago with the kids, and for always reminding me each time I see you what goodness looks like. The world sure would be a lot better off with a whole slew of women half as fantastic as you!

Mad for…Mike

Sports contribute to the love of life and teach sacrifice, respect and responsibility, leading to the full development of the human person. (St. John Paul II)

Day 62 of 365.

Mike Fremion is a man I first met several years ago when his son, Grant, was playing baseball at GC alongside my oldest son, Nick. He’s a fiery guy who loves country music, a nice cold beer…and for some reason unknown to me…the Minnesota Vikings? He’s the husband of a very sweet woman named Pam, who is going straight to heaven, and proud dad of 4. He’s got a great smile and funny and self-deprecating sense of humor.

Today, I wanted to take a minute to say thank you to Mike for the many, many hours he has dedicated these last few years to coaching our youngest son, Zach…and many, many other young guys over the years. It’s easy to be a critic of youth coaches, but honestly the number of hours and the energy this guy has put in really does make him a hero. Do you know how NOT FUN it is to endlessly rake baseball fields and scrounge around for gym space like a beggar? It’s not a glamor gig.

Playing on a sports team coached by Mike Fremion is not for the faint of heart, that we can all agree on who know him. However, I believe it was St. Augustine who said that we should not be content with what we are, that we should each push ourselves to become what we are not. I’m going to assume Coach Fremion is a big St. Augustine fan, ha?

In all seriousness, Mike Fremion loves the kids and I’m incredibly grateful for him. In the kids he instills a strong work ethic, strength, and fortitude. He’s intense, enthusiastic, passionate, but also truly encouraging. To say that Mike has gone out of his way for the sake of others in the time I have known him would be a tremendous understatement. Need help with transportation or anything else he might assist with? No worries. He’s on it. When we joined his little sports circle, we were coming in later than most the other families. He was incredibly welcoming, he drew us in to his circle of friendship, and that warmth always remained. He’s a character and integrity-filled guy whose efforts make a difference for others.

Thank you, Mike, for the hospitality, the many hours of toil, and the kindness you have shown to the entire Thieme family, but especially Zach. We are grateful for you.