I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge,
will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8
This past Monday, November 28, our beloved Joella Michael passed from this life at 49 years of age. She and Jacob, her husband, along with their daughters Ella, Kate, and Tess, have been members of our Conejo Church family since 2007. They are a blessing to all who know them. For the past 15 years, Joella served at Pepperdine University as director of operations for Church relations, providing expert and excellent leadership in planning, developing, and executing event details for Harbor: The Pepperdine Bible Lectures, among a host of other duties.
In September of 2017, Joella began her battle with mucosal melanoma, a rare and virulent form of cancer. Since then, she fought fiercely and battled bravely, enduring long periods of treatment and maddening side-effects, outliving the typical prognosis for this type of cancer by several years. Her joyful and faith-filled spirit was never extinguished. If anything, she shone brighter when the cancer returned and spread.
Around the time of her original diagnosis, Jacob started a blog titled “Live Well” which expressed their desire, based on faith convictions, “to travel this journey well.” Over the past five years, Jacob has posted updates on Joella’s journey, sharing reflections on the highs and lows along the way. In a reflection he posted in October, Jacob wrote, “I didn’t draw the boundaries of the seas or set the stars and planets in their orbits. I’m just a guy who loves a girl, and I want her to be with me, but I also don’t want to see her hurting. And I now just find myself praying for more time.”
Joella shared some beautiful reflections of her own on Jacob’s October blog post. She pondered how at 49 years of age, she was planning her funeral, wondering how you have that conversation with the family members you love so much. She reflected, “There are no lavish bucket lists or wild adventures; this life has been my adventure. And my bucket list is now treasured moments with family and precious friends, reminiscing and sharing life.” She wrestled with trusting in God’s care for her family once she was gone even as she affirmed her process of learning to let go and relying upon God’s loving care and unfailing presence with those she loves so dearly.
As your minister, it has been my honor to see the myriad ways our church family has rallied in support of the Michael family. Bringing meals. Providing rides. Offering prayers. Sending check-in texts. Showing up. Housing visiting family members. Joining Joella in pajamas to watch the church livestream on Sundays. Supplying every kind of support needed. We know this difficult journey continues for the Michael family. May we continue to show them our loving care as together we grieve Joella’s passing and anticipate by faith that great “welcome home party” Joella is now experiencing.