Monday, September 7, 2015

Hall of Fame: Lisa Jewett

My very favorite pic of Lisa and I- from NYC in 2003.
Technically, my dear friend Lisa Jewett is already in my Youth Group Hall of Fame. She was inducted along with a few others back in 2011 in a post called A Very Special Wing, but it had become very clear to me that Lisa needed her own post. I've written a lot about Lisa lately, and I will continue to do so in the weeks to come. Many of you are aware that she is battling cancer. Today's post is not about that battle, it is about how Lisa came to be so special to my family and why she is in my personal Hall of Fame as well. Tomorrow I will tell you more about her courageous struggle with that horrible disease and give you a concrete way to help her. But today is all about why I LOVE Lisa!!!

In October of 2001 we relocated to Tampa from Hinsdale, IL and I began my ministry with the youth and families of Wesley Memorial UMC. One of the high school guys in the youth group was Ken Jewett, and he was a very active part of the ministry. To be honest, I don't remember exactly when I met his mother, because Ken was not exactly a fan of having Mom around in his adolescent days- like many other guys before him. But at some point Lisa came to be part of my circle of acquaintances at Wesley. Our friendship didn't begin to blossom in full until she was one of the adult leaders on our 2003 trip to New York, the first one we took from Tampa. She was very helpful, very sweet and a whole lot of fun to be around, and the group was blessed by her presence. The week after Christmas that same year she went with us on a ski trip and our friendship continued to grow. One of the other adults on that trip nearly drove us all insane, and Lisa was the key to my mental survival. That trip alone earned her Hall of Fame status!!!

Lisa became an important part of our Youth Ministry Team as her younger son Scott aged into the student ministry. Our friendship grew, despite a stupid mistake I made in early 2005. We were going back to NYC and Lisa wanted to go again- and I wanted her to go. But that trip had an age restriction and Scott was not old enough, so Lisa decided not to go without him. At the same time, another mom and her daughter had planned to go and discovered it wouldn't work out if they didn't take little brother along. So I made an exception to the age limit without considering how unfair that was to Lisa and Scott. To her credit, she forgave me. Sort of. She still reminds me that I owe her a trip to New York most every week, and occasionally several times a day! And we will get there again someday.

Lisa is a first grade teacher by profession, and my son Will attended her school. While she was not his teacher, she helped involve Will in some special activities, including his work as Clifford the Big Red Dog at family reading nights. When I moved to Waycross in 2006 and left Marilyn and Will in Tampa while he finished 5th grade, Lisa became his second mom, often taking him home with her after school until Marilyn could pick him up after work. To this day Will (and his girlfriend Michelle) consider Lisa to be family. She was there for their recent graduation from St. Pete College and for the big family dinner that followed. Plus, Lisa just loves to harass them!

At Tony's Town Square
Many of you who are friends with my wife on Facebook know Lisa best as Marilyn's Disney Buddy. You may have seen pictures or read stories of their adventures at Star Wars Weekends, dinner at Tony's or the Beauty and the Beast Castle and their "Flower Power" concerts at EPCOT with The Guess Who and Herman's Hermits. Lisa loves her some Clap For the Wolfman and I'm Henry the VIII, I Am! They have shared many great moments at WDW over the past year or so and look forward to so many more. That's just one more way Lisa is part of our family.

But this post is mostly about what Lisa Jewett means to me. When I left Wesley in June of 2005, Lisa began to take the lead in the youth ministry while they looked to fill the youth pastor position. My last event was a Youth Week, and I have such fond memories of being at Downtown Disney and enjoying DisneyQuest with her and the kids. During that summer she often stopped by our apartment and we talked about life, struggles, joys and pretty much everything else. I officiated a wedding ceremony for Ken, and it was such a joy to share that with her. She was planning a Night of Joy trip for the youth, and I helped her do it. Our friendship moved to new levels and stayed there until my aforementioned move to Georgia. We drifted, as distance often causes friends to do. Then my life fell apart, and I assumed she would be so disappointed in me that we would never be close again. I never contacted her after we moved back to Tampa, avoiding her the same way I did everyone in those 2 years. But sometime in 2010 we ran into her eating dinner at Tijuana Flats, and she greeted me with grace- and a hug. We quickly made plans to have lunch, and she listened to my story and assured me that we were still friends. She will never know how much that lunch changed my life. Taco Tuesdaze at Flats became an every week event. Since that time she has joined us for so many meals and so many special occasions. Scott and his girlfriend have joined us for meals, as have all of her grandchildren. We have attended church together. We watch Super Bowls together. We spent a Christmas Eve together as family. When we needed help, she walked Conner. She has often been my transportation as we dealt with having one car. We have laughed together, cried together and shared life together. She has been family to us all and the very definition of a FRIEND.

Ohana means Family
But as I told her just the other day, FRIEND is not a big enough word. I serve as her defacto personal assistant, reminding of her of things she needs to do and helping her shop on occasion. She calls me when she can't decide what to eat; I call her because it always makes me smile. When she speaks in code because she can't remember a name or a story, I always know what she means and translate for others. I speak "Lisa." There is nothing in my life more entertaining than explaining sports to her. She keeps me up-to-date on TV shows I don't care about by live texting me while she is watching classics like The Bachelor or Dancing With the Stars - and we laugh hysterically! We text constantly as we watch things like Zoo and Under the Dome from our respective homes. We talk several times each day. I have taken Happy Meals to her school so she can have lunch; she has bought me milk shakes when we need to have serious conversations about life. And more times than I can count when I was down she helped lift me up through her sweet words and her amazing smile. There is nothing better than a Lisa hug when I am feeling blue.

I could go on with story after story, but here's the bottom line- Lisa is a huge part of our family, and for the past several years she has been my best friend. Period. And now she is hurting. It is my hope that this post helps you see why she means so much to me and my family. And I pray that you will come back tomorrow so I can tell you how you can get involved in helping her family through this terrible time. But we will get through it. We have faith. We have each other. Dear Lisa, as the great philosopher Jon Bon Jovi once sang, "Take my hand and we'll make it I swear!" I owe you dinner in Calabash, some Painter's Ice Cream and a round of miniature golf in the Myrtle Beach area. Plus that trip to NYC. Those are promises I intend to keep. I love you Lisa, and so does my family. As for the rest of you, let's meet back here tomorrow. It's time for each of us to Be the Miracle...

Because of Jesus,

1 comment:

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