February 12, 2021

Dear Michelle…

I'm WillowjakMama!

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. Now it's my favourite place to be.

hey there

As encouragement for blog writing this month, Stacey suggested we think about replying to a blog entry from someone else. I immediately thought of a specific post. This is my reply.

Dear Rev. Michelle,

I was (and continue to be) awed by your courage when I read your first post on Willowjak (in case you missed it, you can read it here: . It sticks in my brain and I keep coming back to it. 

I’ve been in awe of you since I met you. (No I’m not blowing sunshine up your butt!) I was in a rough place when I entered St Paul’s UC in 2015. I had no idea what to expect or what I would find. 

I first found Laura and the children’s ministry. I had no idea how my kids would react to it. I had no idea if they’d be accepted or tossed out because of their needs. I had no idea if this would work. But I needed to try. Laura’s warm welcoming smile and kind heart was an immediate first good sign. (And I’ll write a blog on her soon too!) Things went well for my oldest (who was 5 or 6 at the time). He enjoyed the fun of camp at church, and my husband and I decided to start attending. At least for a few weeks.  We didn’t know what was in store. 

You walked up to the pulpit to begin the service and you enthralled me with your voice and words. Everything you said seemed to be directed at me, speaking right to my soul. It was a balm I didn’t know I needed.  I remember crying at just about every sermon you gave in the first 6 months we attended. I questioned going again, knowing my soul would be seared open each week. But I kept coming. You knew what I needed to hear. I’m sure others in the congregation have felt the same at various times, but for me you were, and continue to be, a beacon. You can still make me cry, even in virtual services. 

From the first hug (man I miss your hugs!) I felt you radiating divine love. The peace and comfort of your hug told me God was with you, and showed me God was with me. You showed me faith when I had none. My fears for my children were quickly wiped away as you embraced them in all their uniqueness. Your love shone to them too, as they talked daily about you. 

And after reading your blog about your challenges with your own mental health journey I suddenly understood why and how you knew exactly where I was coming from and how you were able to show me the love and help me on my healing journey. Sharing mental health challenges isn’t easy, and so many of us share the same experiences. The way you shared your journey was courageous and honest. I think it helped pave the way for me (and probably others) to share our honest mental health journeys with Willowjak. 

I know life is stressful and busy for you. I know covid has made things busier and more stressful. I hope you know how loved you are. Life is tough but you’re tougher. You’re awesome. You’re inspiring. 

Please know you are loved and appreciated by your faith community. Know you are thought of and prayed for often. I can’t wait to hear you speak again (you are missed when you’re on study time). While we have some awesome guest speakers, you are a big part of St Paul’s.  I also know the value and importance of study time and sabbatical time. I know the healing that can (and will) take place. I look forward to supporting you in spirit as you rest in the Spring and Summer months. 

Thank you for being there. Thank you for being you. Thank you for being open and honest and real and vulnerable. Thank you for the prayerful way you do things, and for the inspiration to be my best self. 

With Love,


Marilyn R.

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Hi, I'm Stacey.
Welcome to the
Willowjak Blog 

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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