Dear Church

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Dear Church,

It’s our 5-year Canniversary!

Yes – 5 years since we landed on dry Canadian soil and began the deep dig of calling this place our home.

Let’s backtrack because sometimes that’s necessary to bring the present into a healthy perspective, in other words ‘look how far we’ve come’…

The time up to our farewell was a frenzy of giving away, selling up and saying sad goodbyes – all woven with a divine thread of a call Kelowna and Willow.

It was over the Atlantic where the reality of what we had done hit me, not the best point as there was nowhere to run to, strapped into a tiny seat over an ocean. I remember Phil looking at me and knowing. That feeling lasted – my apologies to those who encountered me in the first while (a year or so…)

We landed in Kelowna, Me, Phil, and our babes Josiah (3) Bella (7) and Em and Jess (11) and as the warm air hit us at Kelowna airport – so did the welcome. Willow Parkers with gifts, flowers and all things red and white. We all smiled while Phil appeared presidential, shaking hands and kissing babies.

What a five years! I have climbed mountains, ran half marathons, faced bears, tripped over snakes, learned to slow, learned to cook, experienced new freedom and found the joy of writing.

It’s not been an easy 5 years, just because we are called doesn’t mean we are comfortable, because we live in the California of Canada doesn’t mean it’s all play and no work but this note is not about the challenges!

I think the beauty of calling is knowing that those around you are your tribe, whether they are like you or not and knowing that because you are in that place God’s purposes and plans are fulfilled.

Initially my expectations put Willow Park into a box. Don’t you find the expectations box can lead to disappointment, disconnection and distraction?

God is so kind and gracious and oh so patient with this girl who likes things in a certain way (almost ex control freak) I thankfully found my way out of ‘boxed in expectations’ and stepped into expectancy – an expectancy that keeps God in charge, that knows He keeps His promises and is always faithful.

I love all that God is doing in our community.

I have loved how you embrace the teaching on hearing God’s voice – and how you chase intimacy and desire to know His voice in your life.

I have loved watching so many of you experience Encounter God retreats – recognizing this is not just a weekend but living a life in the practice of confession, turning away from old habits and living in freedom.

You all know that our favorite meeting is our Willow One prayer. You are faithful pray-ers – keep on faithful ones. I am excited about Willow Park becoming a house of prayer.

The introduction of our Pursuit young adults service is a gift, and not just because I have a couple of young adults of my own…we will always be the biggest cheerleaders of Joel, Melissa and the next generation of our church.

I love how our doors have been thrown open to our wider community, please come and join me in the Hope Centre where the gospel is alive at the table over great food, where the gospel befriends and loves people outside of our church walls – let us become the centre of hope in our community.

Thank you for loving us and encouraging us – you have been super gracious to this English family and we are grateful…and a special thank you for loving this outgoing, introverted pastor’s wife.

Here’s to the next 5 years and beyond with you all, my prayer today is ‘may the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you’

Love, Michelle

‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven’ Matthew 6:10

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13 thoughts on “Dear Church

  1. We are so blessed to have you in our beautiful city. When I came to Willow Park Church just months before you all arrived I never thought my life would be so BLESSED. I have found strength, wisdom,peace,and joy but most of all thru your teachings I have gotten to know our Lord and His love,promises and unconditional love. Thank you for all you do not only at Willowpark but in our community. Bless you all xoxo

  2. Michelle, I can so relate & needed that reminder today. Thank you for your beautiful ministry. You are valued & special. Keep on going. God is using you in ways you don’t even know about. Hugs

  3. As I continue to read your blog, I am encouraged by your honesty and trust in our Lord Jesus. We all need reminders and examples of how deeply our Lord loves us and cares for us especially through those challenging times… Thank you for your sharing, your honesty and your ministry. We love you and your family. May you be encouraged and blessed by your writing.

  4. Beautiful words describing your amazing journey Shell…..God has equipped you well…with love..with compassion and understanding for those on the fringe of life, your honesty and vulnerability draw people to you…..how you have grown in these past few years….Gods love so evident in you…..I miss you…yet am so blessed in being able to spend time each year in Kelowna with you all, can’t wait 😘.xxxxxx

  5. Michelle, well written…helping us peer into your heart. What an amazing journey that I know little about! Blessings

  6. Just read this today – was off email on holidays. Very beautifully written, and touching. We love you too!

    Sent from my iPhone

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