A Gift Named Michelle
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34)
Several weeks ago I decided I wanted to “interview” Michelle Walters for a Creekside article. I have grown to love and respect her as a committed Christian, young woman and friend. Michelle’s (and her family’s) journey of 34 years with Spina Bifida has impacted her with severe physical impairment, developmental issues and limits to her oral communication. The communication issues stem from the fact that soon after birth Michelle required a tracheotomy to breathe without a respirator. At six years old the trach was removed so she could breathe normally, but her vocal chords were so severely damaged that her ability to speak and consequently be heard and understood is extremely difficult. There is SO MUCH to Michelle’s story that we have to settle for a few highlights!
Michelle lives in Bellevue, just down the hill from Creekside. The Bellevue School District, with its superb programs for special needs students, was “home” to her education at Sherwood Forest and two other elementary schools, Highland Middle School and Interlake High School. It was there that she met her friends April, Christine, Jo (and Adam), Kirsten and Nate – all Creeksiders!
Michelle’s family was drawn to Creekside through many years of involvement in Young Life Capernaum. Jo “begged” Michelle every day to come to Young Life Capernaum that was meeting at Westminister Church. A neighborhood friend, Sarah, was also a Young Lifer. At Capernaum, Michelle met Liz Stiger, then the area coordinator of YL Capernaum. Michelle’s family was attending the church where she had grown up, but it had grown so big that they felt sort of “lost in the crowd”. Liz and other friends from Capernaum were Creeksiders. That, along with the smaller size and the care and nurture they felt from the people, and especially the staff, drew the family in. Michelle and her Mom and Dad, Nadene and Steve, love Creekside. They have come involved in numerous activities. Steve does music with the children’s ministry; Michelle helps with this. Nadene and Michelle stuff the church programs every week and sometimes does extra office work also. Steve also does photography and Nadene is involved in Women’s ministry. Michelle is an eager participant in the Capernaum Life group.
Michelle’s faith journey began in Child Evangelism programs. Michelle says it was their Five Day Bible Club where she began to “know God”. One of her favorite Bible verses was learned there as a young child:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
She grew up in the Awana Program and Sunday school. Learning about the Bible and God’s love in the church and Christian programs is the foundation of who Michelle has become as a young woman.
The impact of Young Life Capernaum, which launched the Life Group, and now meets at Creekside, is immense in Michelle’s life and those of her friends. The group meets every other Tuesday evening for dinner, music, Bible study and prayer. It is an exuberant and fun-filled evening every time. Along with about 15 special need young adults, nine or so of us Creekside folks are there as leaders and facilitators. Come join us!
Michelle spends every Wednesday at TAVON. Based on a mini-farm in Issaquah, it serves different groups five days a week. Michelle has gathered and washed fresh eggs and helped in the gardens. TAVON activities include field trips, like the Bellevue Aquatic Center for water activities, and hitting golf balls at the driving range. A big emphasis is volunteer work at the Hopelink Food Bank. One of Michelle’s best friends is Leah who is also at TAVON every Wednesday. Michelle and Leah met at Kiwanis camp at Camp Casey over 15 years ago; they have been fast friends ever since. Leah has Cerebral Palsy and is also in a wheelchair and uses a “communicator” to speak, but nothing slows the two of them down. TAVON is a wonderful program full of worthwhile activities and service projects. Michelle loves it.
Michelle shared some things she would like everyone to know about her:
I love pizza and pasta! (Soup when I’m sick) and DESSERTS and frozen yogurt. Going to the movies with friends is fun. I like to do puzzles, color by number, paint by number and other crafts. Mom and I are big fans of “stamping”. We have bins and bins of stamps and stamping supplies. I LOVE THE MARINERS! My Dad and I went to Opening Day with the Creekside group. Mariners mean spring and the good weather and sunshine which I also love. I have a lot of difficulty communicating because reading and writing are very hard for me and I know people have trouble hearing and understanding me when I talk because of my breathing and my vocal chords not working. I love people and interacting with them. I am very accepting and accessible and I want to be included. Treating me as an equal and not talking down to me helps me and encourages me. Pull up a chair and get down to my level so we can become friends. Creekside and the people and Life Group mean a lot to me and I love you. Most of all I want you to know that GOD HAS ALWAYS SUPPLIED for me and my parents and He always will. ~ Michelle
Love and Joy! Char
Char can be reached via email here.