My second fandom was the 70's New Mickey Mouse Club and Lisa Whelchel was my favorite Mouseketeer.
Years later when I became a Christian, I ran across her first book and was thrilled to learn she was a believer, too, even when she was on the show at age 12.
Eventually she wrote a memoir and I met her on that book tour. I'd met some famous people before, but nothing prepared me for meeting Lisa for the first time.
I was in line at the bookstore signing and could hear her voice across the room. Tears welled and I started shaking. Mind you, I was a grown woman, with a faith and a calling and a full realization that this was a normal woman with a family and a life. But it was Lisa.
This was the kid whose talent had given me hope as a middle schooler, when our newly blended family had moved to another town. There was a peace about Lisa that I wanted. She was a calming presence. And the show inspired me to go into junior high theater, where I got to act, direct, and even write.
Now I was in full-time ministry and so was she, and it was all just too much. I gathered myself enough to have a normal conversation with her at the signing table. We took a picture and she signed my book, and I showed her a keychain I had with the 70's Mouseketeer ears on them. I'd gotten it while at Disneyland, when my high school band was in California to perform in the Rose Bowl Parade. It was a prized possession, and quite rare.
Lisa said she'd never seen one like it and spent time looking it over and feeling the details.
"You can have it!" I gushed. I wanted to connect, and in some way give back to her for the creative world she'd opened up to me. I gave her the keychain and a book I'd made for her (geek) and said my goodbyes. I got to my car before bursting into tears.
After that profound life moment, and a couple more book signings, I got to volunteer twice for Lisa's Momtime ministry, where I spent time behind the scenes working with the whole family. By this time I knew them all from her blog. I was watching her kids grow up like I'd watched her grow up. And I loved how Lisa interacted with her kids. Now I wasn't fangirling. I was just meeting her family and hoping to bless them.
I'm deeply thankful for that season because Lisa is no longer writing or hosting retreats, and I will likely not meet her again. So I just follow her entire family on Instagram.
That's normal, right?