Stacy Leigh Lisi

I know I say this whole song and dance every time, but, Stacy is my mom’s college roommate Cindy’s (lovingly known as Cinne Binne) daughter.  So we have -actually- been friends since the womb.  And she just got married, to a great guy, Andrew Lisi.  So now her name rhymes. :)

Stacy is one of those friends that you can go a whole year without seeing (or even talking to  because of both of your phone phobias), but pick up right where you left off when you see each other again.  Like no time or distance ever separated you.

I have so many fun memories with Stacy it is hard to even count.  When we were 3 & 4 years old we decided it would be a good idea to paint my Grandpa Al’s work van.  It was dark brown so obviously we thought it would be best to use white shoe polish.  And once I even convinced her to get IN the van with me and I pulled the gear shift down and we started rolling down the driveway.

Also that year we made a guest appearance in my dad’s and her mom’s musical show at the retirement home.  We cried and pouted because we wanted the dress up clothes the other one was wearing while singing Ain’t We Sweet, though we were being anything but sweet.

At age 9 & 10 we started going downstate together.  Downstate was one of the coolest Daddy/Daughter activities in the Birkeneder family.  When you turned 10 you got to go with Dad and Grandpa (and any other poor male soul of our relatives that wanted to go once us girls started going) to the Illinois High School Boys’ Basketball Tournaments in Campaign (later Peoria).  Being the eldest in our families, Stacy and I were the first girls to go on this all male weekend.  I think we forever changed “downstate”.  Instead of watching the games, we bought nachos, then ice cream, then hot dogs, then Pepsi, then cotton candy, then threw up all over the taxi.  We would drag Dad & Grandpa Al to the nearby mall to take pictures in the overpriced photo booth while sporting our huge gaudy basketball earrings. We spent all our money from the winning pools (don’t tell our moms or anyone else for that matter that we were underage gamblers) buying stickers from the sticker machine at Pizza Hut (smartly thinking we would sell them for profit when we got home).  And then we fought with each other and cried when one would win a pool and the other wouldn’t. One year we fell madly (seriously, it was obsessive) in love with one of the high school players- Alfredo Jimenez from Maine West.  We even stalked out where he would be after the game to get his autograph while we hysterically sobbed.

When we were 10 & 11 we started spending some of our summers at Camp Timberlee in Wisconsin.  We carefully shopped for matching outfits for every day of the week, including our denim ruffle shorts and side ponytails.  We would always room together and never leave each other sides and make sure everyone in the cabin knew WE were best friends so they wouldn’t infringe upon us.  In the middle of the night we would crawl into our bunks together and worry that we were blind because we couldn’t see anything, and nervously search for a flashlight just to make sure.

When we were in our teens we shared a profound love for all things Hanson and JTT .  We convinced ourselves we were marrying one of them and lovingly agreed upon who got which one (Stacy: Zac and Me: Taylor…Jonathan Taylor Thomas dropped out of the running when Hanson came along).  We decided the best way possible to make this dream a reality would be to form an all girl band ourselves.  So we reigned in our sisters and we became: Purple Daizee.  We co-wrote many one hit wonders and videotaped ourselves singing/dancing to them in the basement so we could send our videos to the Hanson brothers.  Making them fall in love with us, of course.

Stacy and I laugh about all these episodes and more whenever we get together. But there’s a distinct, life altering memory I have with Stacy that I don’t even know if she recalls.

My freshman year in college was rough. We had just moved to Texas and even more life shattering than that to me was that Michael and I broke up.  I started a new life in Texas, a double life.  I was good at playing the part of “good Jenni” when I needed to, but with my new friends I partied.  Hard.  And I got myself stuck in a web of alcohol, drugs, and sex.

At the end of the summer, right before I was going to start my sophomore year, Stacy came to visit.  She was getting ready to start her freshman year at University of Illinois.  While Stacy was there I tried to hide my “bad Jenni” side, though I’m sure she knew.  She met all my friends and was incredibly gracious to them all.  She was relevant, but unchanging and never wavered from who she was in Christ.  She was real.  When I was with Stacy that week, I felt my old self start to emerge…my real self that I had shoved away that year. I remember feeling God awake my soul again.

Stacy’s flight left early one morning before I was awake, but she left me a note on my pillow.  I remember finding it and getting up to read it before it was even light out.  In it she thanked me for spending time with her, told me she was thankful for our friendship, and that she was praying for me and all that God would do through me that year.  I broke down and cried.  I laid on the floor and just cried and cried.

God had been working in my heart that whole year, but He used Stacy in a major way to bring His prodigal daughter back.  She was the vessel that saved me from a life of destruction and despair.  I firmly believe God used Stacy to redirect my life.  She was loyal, faithful, loving, and gracious.  She didn’t judge me or correct me, she just loved me and prayed for me.  I will never forget what she did for me that summer.

And actually, if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have gotten back together with Michael that year, married him that next summer, had 3 beautiful boys years later.  So Stace, you’re the reason my family exists. :)

I have a love/hate relationship with the journey we are all on in life.  I love the mystery of God and the excitement of seeking Him and joy in knowing Him.  Obviously life has some rough places, a lot of mine have been self inflicting, but I’m thankful for a God who redeems.  He is faithful, loving, and gracious and waits for me.  Thank you Stacy Leigh Lisi for being such a beautiful living example of Christ.

11 thoughts on “Stacy Leigh Lisi”

  1. I can’t speak thru the tears running down my face but I say Amen!!! to all. Praising Jesus for the grace and redemption He’s made real in my life, too, Jen that makes me love Him and run to Him all the more. I love you and I love my Stacy Leigh Lisi, both with all my heart.
    P.S. Boy I had Bozo hair hahahahahahahaha! :)

  2. I can hardly see through my tears to type. Thank you for sharing this, Jen. I see God’s hand in countless ways as I reflect back on the years that have passed since the “God-incidence” of your mom and I being assigned as each other’s roommate in college. What a precious friendship we have had since the day we met! Our families lives have been knit together since that day in August of 1982 – none of us Christians at that time, but all of us accepting Jesus as our Savior within a few short years. Thank you, God, for blessing the Weber family with such amazing friends for eternity!

  3. so so blessed by this. i will read it a million times over…i laughed so hard reliving the “younger years” of our friendship, and cried so hard at the beautiful story God wove throughout!

    thank you, my friend. i love you.

  4. Jenni,
    This blog was an answer to an impossible prayer request I had yesterday. I didn’t actually pray this but instead uttered the words to Cinnie Binnie, “I need time to stand still right now”. As I read through this heartfelt journey . . . . . time stood still. Your story brought laughter from the belly and tears of joy from the heart. Thank you for sharing how God’s faithfulness can be seen through the blessings of friendship. He knows what we need, when we need it, and how to deliver it. With much love and affection, Dan

  5. *part Ii
    My tears pickled my brain a smudge, I think. Julie and I became roomies in August of 1978, not 1982. That was the year we both married the most wonderful men on earth. :-)
    I love you, Jen! You are a sweet blessing in my life. Xo

  6. Love this Jen and love you and the gift of redemption only found through Jesus and the gift of friendship Jesus grants each one of our lives so beautifully! Grateful for you my sweet niece! xoxo

  7. How wonderful of the Lord to form such beautiful relationships on earth that mirror the most special relatiomship we have in Christ!

  8. Jesus sends us himself “with skin on” comes to those who walk and wait sometimes not being able to move. Part of the amazing mystery! Lollies, Pops, and each child that orbits in each family has been that for me, and my heart overflows for the grace of that as yours does. We will endure all and spend eternity together–life in Jesus does not get any better than that! Hugs to you Jenni Love Norma Kay

  9. Jenni, how thankful I am for Gods faithfulness and grace in your life, you have given us a beautiful picture of how all who have fallen in love with Jesus have experienced this grace.

  10. Thank you for honestly sharing your story of God’s redemptive love. How beautiful is God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness and friendship. He extends it so tenderly and perfectly, and then strengthens us to receive it even under the most strenuous of times. What a gift! His love never gives up….an amazing blessing.

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