Your Sweater’s on Inside Out

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.  –CS Lewis.

Typically, my neighbor schleps Zach to school each morning.  I’m the afternoon shift.  The carpool pickup slot has some cons to consider… waiting endlessly in a parking lot, kids eating leftover Doritos in the backseat, and fairly large arguments about who spotted the yellow car and first yelled, “SKITTLE!!!!”  However, on the plus side, the carpool pickup slot which is assigned to yours truly occurs during this coveted time called afternoon.  The morning?  It happens pretty early.

“Wow the morning people have a quiet gig, ” I thought to myself as I shivered all the way to SLDM this morning.  Considering the early hour of exit, I was in pretty solid spirits.  “Look at me all showered and dressed in this (low-key) adorable outfit, and it’s only 7am!” Positively self-congratulatory, I was in the pre-dawn carpool line.

Passing off the dress clothes for the junior high dance, the CYO uniform for the big game at OLMC in the morning, and the overnight bag, (all belonging to my little man), I knew this day was destined for greatness.  I really have got my act together this fine Friday.  My dear friend Renee, victim of the handoff, is one of those people who can wear pjs during the daytime or throw on a ball cap and still look darling. When I try that, well, picture a rounder version of Gilda Radner as Roseanne Roseannadanna on SNL.  Too young to have the vision?  Google it.  She was hysterical and with hair that looked like it had been electrocuted.  Today, though, I had it going on.  Guerin Catholic purple and black, warm and cozy black boots and purple nail polish too!  BOOM!

I was ready to take on the world.  I had a long list of (mostly Christmas) errands, and I was already dressed for the big game against the cross-town rival.  I had a date planned pre-game with my sweetie, AND I had time to start my day at mass.  YEAH ME!!

Taking my favorite seat up front so I can be close to Jesus, I prayed for so many people and I was pretty proud of the fact that I had written down their names this time.  The world is full of hurting hearts and broken bodies.  I gave them all to God.  I was feeling groovy.  As I grabbed my coat and turned to go, there was a tap on my shoulder.  “Shelly, your sweater is on inside out. If I were you, I would want to know.”

HAHAHAHA!!!  The lightbulb came on instantly.  Message received, Lord.

It’s good you were here, Shelly, but hello?  Forget to thank anyone for your zillions of blessings?  Psalm 90, my dear girl.  Try reading it. That’s what I heard interiorly with the tap on my shoulder.

He’s gentle and He’s patient.  Pride is about my glory; humility is about God’s glory.  I feel like I read that in Ephesians somewhere.  Maybe I need to read the whole book and find that bit of scripture.  I’m pretty sure God isn’t so impressed with people who watch themselves worship and who don’t bother thanking Him.

Thank you, Lord for opening my eyes to Your blessings and the grace to acknowledge who You are and how You love me this day and always.  And, Lord, thanks for smiling at me even when I act like an idiot.  I’m going to try opening with gratefulness tomorrow. I love you too. 

Yours, Shelly

I might be slightly less amazing than I led myself to believe this morning.  BUT, I am still a truly beloved child of God AND SO ARE YOU.  Let’s help each other remember that one, huh?

Oh, what a day!

My  16 year old son, Nick, with his first car...a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe!

My 16 year old son, Nick, with his first car…a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe!

Oh what a day! Oh, what a day! 

My baby brother ran away.

And now my tuba will not play!

I’m eight years old and turning gray.

Oh, what a day! Oh, what a day!

–Shel Silverstein

Admit it, this is a lively little poem, huh?  It’s catchy, silly and it rhymes.  Silverstein’s work stuck in my brain when I was a girl the first time I heard it.  Anytime I exhale the words “Oh, what a day” (for reasons either positive or negative) I can’t help repeating this goofy, brilliant little poem at top speed right behind it.  Sometimes I even do it aloud, which typically elicits a stare which wonders silently about my mental capacity.


The forecast this gray day called for 6-10 inches of additional snow in my weather weary hometown of Carmel, Indiana.  Ugh.  But, it’s a big day here at the Thieme house, so I shook off Chuck Lofton and Al Roker with their unfriendly news of the morning and got ready to face the day.

As the mother of a son who has reached the age of 16 years, 183 days, it happened to be the first date on the calendar where he was both eligible to receive his Indiana driver’s license AND the BMV is open.  It’s a big day.

I’ll never forget my own Dad leaving work to come and pick me up at Central Catholic High School the day I was eligible for my license many moons ago.  Mom and Dad didn’t make me wait until a day and time that was practical…when there was no school or sports conflict, for instance.  They let their inner teenager lead the way.  I recall extreme gratefulness and pure joy!!


First, however, there was the carpool full of grade schoolers to escort to St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School.  As I pulled out of the parking lot, I felt a strong inner tug to stop for daily mass.   It’s something I do with fair regularity, but I lack discipline and so hadn’t necessarily planned to do so this morning.  But I have prayed much of late asking for God’s help on this weakness so the tug was all His perfect timing.  Okay, Holy Spirit, I thought.  You win.  I keep praying about how I need Your help with discipline in all things…physical, spiritual, practical.  Thanks for being loud.  I hear you.  Mass it is.

Just moments after my arrival, in came my father-in-law.  I quickly realized God nudged me intentionally and for a specific reason.  My silent quick glance to heaven was a prayer of thanksgiving.

“Is mass this morning being said for Jane?” I quizzed.

“Yes. “

We sat together, sang together, and Fr. John asked us to bring up the offertory.   It was a lovely, intimate mass and I had the opportunity to pray aloud for the souls of two cherished family members whose losses are fresh and for peace for all of us who mourn.  We held hands as we said the Our Father and we hugged at the sign of peace.  It felt like a great and undeserved gift and if I am honest my heart was aching with both the losses and the overwhelming gratitude for a God who would love me so much that He would know just how to nudge me into attendance so that I wouldn’t miss His incredibly beautiful hug this morning.


At midday, my oldest son got his driver’s license, picked up his first car (a 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe) and got his first tank of gas courtesy of the thoughtful and pretty terrific Dawn and Craig Miller at Indy Auto Source.  He drove himself to grab and sandwich, and he made his way home across 116th St. for the very first time all alone.  He acknowledged that his dad and I were due “some extra love” and gave me a high five.  Exuberance and joy were quite evident on his scruffy teenaged face.  I told him that if God blesses him with a family someday to remember how he felt this morning, continue to work hard in school, and pass on the moment one day to my grandchild.  I also told him I loved him and am proud of him and that he has given us no reason not to expect he will be extremely responsible with his newfound freedom.  Then, a tear I could not reign in fell down my cheek.  He smartly ignored it.


What else?  They poured the floor in the basement of my soon to be home today.  That job was finished moments before the snow began to fall. That would be the same snow that is not supposed to stop until nearly a foot of it has collected.  I am not a builder, nor have I recently slept in a Holiday Inn, so I don’t understand that decision.

My friend, Kris, asked our help for her daughter at Purdue that suffered a bad fall today and was in need of medical attention.  She reached out knowing our families are both from Lafayette.  We passed along the names of a couple doctors, the best ER in town and our promise for prayers for our fellow Boilermaker.  A CT scan and X-ray later, we learned there’s no internal bleeding….Thank you God!

My youngest forgot his reading book, my carpool partner called to warn of a problem for her 4th grader arriving home in my car, the ball games were cancelled (again), the kitchen is covered in melting snow footprints, and three friends offered to get my kiddo home from school.  Chase is sending me a new credit card because they think someone is trying to steal my identity.  Oh, and the 9 year old is thrilled I remembered the peanut butter crackers on my grocery run.

And NOW, here comes the SNOWVERLOAD!!


Like moms everywhere, the life I live is completely without glitz.  It used to be that I struggled to find my worth in the invisibility that is the day to day existence of the stay-at-home mom.  Now, I realize this is the most important work imaginable and I only get one chance to give it my best shot.   I am so grateful for every silly moment of this snowy February day.  My 16-yr old gave me a high five for goodness sakes and I got to hold hands with my pretty amazing father in law and pray with him.   It doesn’t get much better than that.  This is the journey.  This is the good stuff.  Today was a crazy day filled with smiles and a few tears.

Here’s my prayer today.  Maybe a few of you will find it suits your needs sometime.  My great honor would be if you pray along.

Dear Jesus,

I praise you and I thank you for my very full and often invisible life.  In each small detail, in each circumstance, I am given a chance to praise You, Lord, and thank You for loving me perfectly.  When I choose to smile through both routine and chaos with peace in my heart, grateful for the blessing of my family and friends and the life You provide me, I honor You.  Like St. Philip Neri, who was famous for his joyful spirit in right relationship with You, I invite You to be part of all the smallness of my life.  I ask Your help with the discipline and desire I need to grow in holiness and ever closer to You.


And now, I’ve gotta go!!  It’s time to work the snow shovel!


Yes Lord, Yes Lord, Yes Yes Lord!


Mother Theodore Guerin Teacher of the Year, Kristy Worthington and family

Mother Theodore Guerin Teacher of the Year, Kristy Worthington and family

Imagine if you will the horror of being a 14-yr old high school freshman and being asked to play the guitar at an all-school mass the very first week of school.  Nobody knows who you are yet and the first impression they are going to get is that you’re a “religious guitarist”?

As my husband tells it, we were practicing the mass songs with the students prior to mass when I became perturbed.  “Ok, you St. Lawrence people, I know you know this song….so sing!!”

If I was there playing, they better be there singing, darn it!   So, I decided to take my case to the entire student body rather loudly into the microphone.  Clearly, I’ve never been one for sliding under the radar.

With is tongue firmly planted in cheek, he tells people all these years later  “She was sooo H-O-T.  That’s when I knew she was the one for me!”  He quite enjoys torturing me with his mocking of this moment from our shared Catholic school experience years ago.

This is the life moment that came to mind as I read about Pope Francis and his daily homily from yesterday.

“You’re able to shout when your team scores a goal, and you are not able to sing praises to the Lord, to come out of your shell ever so slightly to sing (his praise)?” the Pope asked during Mass.

The guy’s got a point.  We all need to get over ourselves and sing.  Don’t have a good voice?  Well, God gave it to you, let Him deal with it.

Are you more grateful when the Colts score a touchdown or PG drains a “3” than you are for your healthy children, your thoughtful spouse, a sunny day, your eyesight, the ability to smell the chocolate chip cookies  fresh from the oven, a warm bed, your kids amazing school?  The Pope is reminding us that God loves when we love Him with enthusiasm, praising Him for all the blessings He pours upon us.  It’s something to think about.

Catholic Schools Work

Today at my parish school, a kind, gracious and faith-filled teacher named Kristy Worthington was honored by her peers as the “Mother Theodore Guerin” Teacher of the Year as part of our Catholic Schools Week celebration.  While she is deserving of the honor for many reasons, I would argue her most laudable quality is the JOY she exudes to all in her path.  It draws us in, calls us all to our own discipleship.

Our churches,  our schools and our communities need people like Kristy, along with her enthusiasm, her creativity and the joy that is so characteristic of her youthful spirit.

Do you know what else?  When the school choir breaks out a few verses of “Trading My Sorrows” and they get to that refrain which is a beautiful prayer of joyful praise, she is ALWAYS among the first to bust out her “Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord” hand motions….and it quickly spreads.

Says Pope Francis, “The fruitfulness that praise of the Lord gives us, the gratuity of praising the Lord: that man or that woman who praises the Lord, who prays praising the Lord, who, when praying is filled with joy at doing so, and who, when singing in the Mass rejoices in singing it, is a fruitful person.”

Today’s prayer:

Thank you, Jesus, for Catholic Schools where our children can learn about how much You love them.   This week we thank You for all the amazing gift of that grace filled presence in our lives and for all the underpaid, but AMAZING teachers like Kristy who make it possible and through whom You work.  Today on the carpool ride home, Lord, we’ll be breaking out a song of praise to honor and thank You for the blessing of all the schools where we can pray with each other and with our classmates.  We ask for Your grace to help us to do a better job of honoring You with JOY each day!

Yes, Yes, Lord….Amen.

**Post script:  The song I referenced (link below to listen) is called “Trading My Sorrows” by Darrell Evans and is available on iTunes.