Is not life more…

18 July, 2010 11 p.m.

Dear friends and family,

Steve had a wonderful, restful Sunday. His fever came down overnight, and his spirits rose throughout the course of the day. These were helped by the fact that while his Dad was stretching his legs this afternoon, Steve moved his big toe! When I came back from putting the boys down for the night, he proudly showed me over and over again… a good strong movement in the right toe! I was squealing with delight! It may have been my imagination, but when I asked him to move his whole foot (yes, I push him!), I think I may have seen the slightest tremor. Perhaps the work of the big toe, but perhaps something more?

This morning Steve and I had our first good stretch of alone time in over a week… so precious! We read together, listened together, wept together and laughed together, and generally enjoyed the quiet, sunlit space of his room, with just a few straggling medical personnel – the sleepy Sunday crowd. Steve’s bed was rolled over to the sink, where his nurse and I hoisted his head to the edge, and he enjoyed a good, proper shampoo. Next week we are told we may expect a shower, in a special chair… we shall see!

These are the simple tasks of each day – what therapists call ADL’s, aka activities of daily living. Bathing in bed, grooming, dressing (they are gradually stretching his hamstrings out so that one day he will be able to sit up and lift his legs in order to put on his own pants), eating with the help of a simple band around his hand that allows him to hold a fork, and lately even a special contraption to practice a tentative scrawl with a pen. Even getting in and out of a wheelchair requires two nurses and a juggle of contraptions in the narrow space of his room – what Zephyr calls, “Papa flying!” Two days ago Steve was assigned a simple page of shapes to color in. Like the true artist that he is, he began to meticulously color a circle in a perfect orange, not a line out of place. Zephyr was of course immediately attracted to this particular activity, crawling into his lap to participate and making a fine mess out of Steve’s lovely handiwork! As you can imagine, even without other more specific therapies and education classes, the days fly by.

We have a host of relatives with us now, from Steve’s parents, to my mother from Holland, to Steve’s brother Mike and his family, to my brother David who flew in today from San Francisco. We are enjoying their wonderful company to the fullest!

Aidan and Jude continue to process, mostly in a non-verbal way, their ever-changing circumstances. It is painful for Steve to be unable to engage them physically, as this is the language of boys their age – wrestling, tickling, chasing them down for a hug and a kiss with a little teasing thrown in and the occasional voluntary cuddle between chasing and soccer and every other possible physical activity. Please pray for wisdom for us as we help them negotiate not just the changes in their beloved, playful Papa, but in their absence from their mama, their friends, and the Philippines, their home.

Today, I reflect on these words from the sermon on the mount: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to to his span of life?… Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The line that rings most clearly at this time is: “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Watching Steve’s eyes shine tonight as he moved his toe, life was indeed so much more…

We are rejoicing today for a toe, and praying for an entire foot, fingers and more!

With love,

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  • Canucks Lorrie Joke

    Rejoicing with you for continual evidences that God is at work….finger, toe, laughter, tears, family, learning….and in the midst of it all, we continue to pray for radical healing!!!
    Love and blessings – Joke in Manila

  • Bonnie Stalter

    There is a kid's church song about head, fingers, knees and toes… and you act it out physically.
    your post reminds me of it. will pray for parts to be healed in God's time.
    prayers for the boys to comprehend and accept life as it is now. Counseling. art therapy. for them
    to help process.. writing story or song.

  • Helen Bartholomew

    Dear Pastor and Michelle
    The Sermon on the Mount – the greatest sermon ever preached was so different yesterday when Pastor Alex delivered it starting with the Beatitudes (Chapter 5) up to the Wise and Foolish Builders (Chapter 7)– excerpts from the Bible were quoted verbatim. (no notes or Bible to read) It was extemporaneous! I was amazed as though it was Jesus who spoke to me. My face was wet with tears as I connected the dots ie. Pastor Steve's complete dependence on God alone (tragic as it may but used by God to move souls) … oh . . . so . . . this is what complete dependence means! Only God can make things possible and He is in complete control, including the toes and fingers and everything on earth, below it and above it — Matthew 7:25 “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock” — and you, Pastor Steve and Michelle, you have been models to all of us, teaching us to cry out to him, completely trusting and depending on HIM ALONE. May God continue to use you and the miracles HE will unfold in the next coming days. . . We are praying for you, day and night and in between. . . Helen B – UCM

  • riezl

    a finger today, a toe tomorrow… there is nothing but hope for so many more wonderful things to come!

    always and forever along side you

  • Naomi Diaz

    Thank you Michelle for this latest inspiration. Yes, a toe , a foot, a leg and so much more miracles coming Pastor Steve's way. I guess everytime the children are mentioned, I cannot help but cry for them. Their tender hearts and minds will understand, God will see to that. Aaaah, the sermon on the mount. This was Pastor Alex Aronis' sermon at UCM yesterday. What a fitting testimony of how far God's love will go. Let us TRUST & OBEY. Praise God & Glorify His Name.

  • Glen Braden

    Steve and Michelle,
    The UCM Council is gathering at our home tonight (as has been planned for a couple of months now). We will be praying for you guys and for the church.
    We have great reason to rejoice with you and for you! Praise the Lord!

  • Nclaguna522

    Dear Michelle,
    Amen!Amen! and more to come!Praise the Lord!
    Noemi Laguna :-)

  • Lawrence Aritao

    yahoo! praying continually for steve and for all of you.

  • Fred Davis

    We are so thankful that the fever came down. That has been the focus of our prayers as we know how persistent those things can be and how they can seem to throw other progress into the background. The movement of toes is such an awesome achievement. We can relate to being giddy about such an important sign of refiring nerves. We also are so glad you had a time of quiet alone time. Weekends – particularly Sundays were wonderful from that regard.

    We continue to pray for peace and trust in your life – one day at a time. With love and prayers
    Fred and Judy

  • David Hallgren

    Hi Ruetschle's,
    Continued prayers. We think of you daily and lift you up to the Lord for healing, encouragement and all of the goodness God has to offer to you in this time. blessings,
    David, Kristin and Anna

  • Deborahannegustafson

    You bless me as you remind us of the importance of the simple things in life.

    Good to hear about the circle of family around you.


  • Rebecca lwin

    Dear Pastor Steve and Michelle,

    I continue to pray for you all every day. I am so grateful for these small miracles, so grateful that the fever is down. As our family is packing to move to Malaysia (we didn't get to tell you that last Sunday before you left, our first Sunday back from our home leave), we are reminded to appreciate the small things in life. Thank you.

    love, Rebecca Lwin, UCM