Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Our Family Changed Today

We had a stunning and unexpected loss in our family this weekend. My sister-in-law, Lisa, experienced a massive coronary Friday afternoon, and her young body was removed from life support yesterday morning. Our family changed today, and I'm not sure how to put my feelings into words. 

Instead, I will share my memories...
Larri & Lisa - Our first fun adventure, New Year's Eve 1990!

The first time I met Lisa was at a Christmas gathering 25 years ago. Tim and I had been dating a little over a month, and he had invited me to Christmas dinner with his family. Lisa came right up to me and gave me a hug and a beautiful, welcoming smile. Later in the evening, the family began exchanging gifts. They were a raucous and lively bunch, full of laughter. As I took in the scene, Lisa approached and handed me a small package. She said, "Timmy told me he was bringing you today, and I didn't want you to feel left out. Merry Christmas." 

And that is the Lisa I've always known. 

She always put others before herself. She had a true servant's heart. She was the hardest worker I have ever seen. At every family gathering, she was the first to pitch in to clean up after us, not quitting until the job was finished. She had a tenacity and inner-strength few of us will ever reach in our own lives. 

As I fast-forward my memories, I stop to remember a moment before her first child was born. One Sunday afternoon, after the family had gathered for dinner; we decided to make a quick trip into town. We stole away on the premise of needing something before the grocery closed, but we were really on a secret mission to grab a chili dog from Hardee's. Those were Lisa's favorites. She had such a craving for those! We giggled as she ordered not one, but two. After all, she said, she might need another before morning. I wonder how many chili dogs were consumed during her pregnancies. They certainly didn't affect the beauty of those children.

At the birth of each of her children, Lisa remained generous. I've not known another new-Momma who would share the first quiet moments outside the bounds of immediate family. I held each of her babies within their first hours of life. Each time, Lisa smiled with joy, as she shared that moment with us. She wanted us to experience that joy with her. 

Her selfless attitude brought our family together,
and has given me one of the most precious memories of my life. 

Through the years, as we raised our families, Lisa continued with her generous and selfless spirit. She would call when her garden was in full production, and invite us to share in the bounty. She loved to work in that soil! She would become animated as she described what was growing in each row; and she'd lick her lips in anticipation of those luscious tomatoes that would soon be on the vine. Our family was nourished body and soul from Lisa's generous nature. 

I honestly cannot remember a time when Lisa put herself first. From her husband to her children to anyone, Lisa truly loved on others with a generous heart. She is the example of how to love the person before you. 

God had a special plan when He brought Lisa into my life, and I cling to the hope of seeing her again one day soon. I remember her telling me about being saved as young girl, and inviting her parents to her baptism. Years later, when she expressed interest in the Bible, I gifted her one. We spent an afternoon pouring over the verses she wanted to know where to find. She had a hunger for His Word. 

Lisa will forever be emblazoned on my heart. I am grateful God sent her into our lives to show us how to serve and love. I look forward to seeing her beautiful smile in heaven. But for now...

Oh, how I am going to miss my sister-friend. 

Lisa Ferguson Manos