I really wanted to get to know Jolene. I tried to figure out how to weasel my way into an invite to her house and hopefully get to know her better. The perfect opportunity arose when she hosted a swim party for the youth group. I must have just been starting middle school, so I was going to youthgroup. I went to the party and ended up getting to know Jolene a little better. We started hanging out more and more and we were soon good friends.
I really looked up to Jolene. She was everything I wanted to be. She was a couple of years older. That immediately made her way more cool. People were drawn to her. She was fun. She was thoughtful and kind. She was creative. Her family was also great.
A couple of years after becoming friends with Jolene she invited me to go on vacation with her family. This wasn't just any vacation. This was a two week trip to Canada to go sightseeing and camping in the Canadian Rockies. I had SO much fun. The Meyers treated me like I was a part of their family. Going on vacation with them helped me appreciate my own parents. Up until this point I had been a punk to my mom. I was a typical 13 year old with a bad attitude and thought I knew it all. Seeing Jolene interact so lovingly and graciously with her family made me realize what a punk I was to my own. I came back that year from vacation and turned a new leaf with my mom.
(aren't we just so totally cool? I had to scan old scrapbook pages to get these pictures, hence the quality and cheesiness of them)Of course Jolene and I got into our share of typical teenage mischief. She got her license and that opened up a whole new world of freedom for us. We dated our fare share of boys. We had lots of sleepovers. We hung out all the time. We each only had a younger brother and so we became like sisters.
When Jolene turned 18 her parents moved to Montana. She was brave. She stayed here and got her own apartment and a full time job and totally supported herself at age 18. Of course this was hard on her, and terribly lonely, but she was one tough cookie. I still being in high school thought it was totally cool to have a friend who had her own apartment. The sleepovers continued and we still hung out all the time.
I started college and attended UCR. Jolene was working full time at this time and still supporting herself. I started attending Campus Crusade for Christ (where I met Matt on my very first day of college) and brought Jolene along as well. She enjoyed it, made friends, and even went back to school herself (to a different college), all the while working full time. She ended up rooming with some girls from Crusade and even met Mr. Danny Flores (her hubby now) at Crusade as well. It was so fun that we could have the same circle of friends even though we never went to the same school.
Now we are married and each have a baby. The best part is that our husbands are friends too, and so we still get to hang out all the time.
Jolene has been there for me through it all.... teenage drama, college drama, boyfriends, heartbreaks, my dad dying, getting married, having babies and every other little event in between. She's seen me at my worst many times, and she loves me all the same.
I admire Jolene and her ability to balance working full time, and being a mom and a pastor's wife. She still manages to keep her house gorgeous, cook wonderful meals and keeps a full social calendar. She is creative, poetic, introspective, a gracious host, a faithful friend, a sweet daughter, a loving wife, a tender mother and a natural encourager.
Here's to 15 years of friendship Jolene. I pray we have many, many more. I love you!