Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer…

From Michelle, 3 August, 2010  10 a.m.

Dear friends and family,

I realized this morning that it has been a long time since I gave a more specific update about Steve’s physical condition.  This is difficult as we continue to move at a seemingly snail’s pace, yet in the right direction.  I never know how optimistic to be as I paint the medical picture without the medical expertise.

The good news is, Steve is more and more able to move his legs against gravity.  These are tiny increments of progress, however.  For example, this morning, with extreme effort, Steve was able to lift his knee off the bed, but by the third repetition of the exercise his muscle was entirely finished.  It also means that with great effort Steve can move his foot several millimeters in his wheelchair foot mount.

Steve’s fingers bend slightly more, but he still does not have the strength to meaningfully pinch something of any significant weight in order to lift it, a skill he is practicing in order to self catheterize himself, which will give him a little bit more independence.  He is also unable to fully straighten them or wiggle them with any ease.

This morning the physical therapist asked Steve to close his eyes and determine whether she was bending his big toes up, middle or down, which he was only able to do with intermittent success.

Steve’s right shoulder, the site of a former tennis injury, has been giving him trouble, slowing down his upper body exercises, which he needs to practice balancing sitting up, learning to roll himself over, and ultimately to work on transitioning himself from his wheelchair to his bed.

Steve has done several interesting exercises that we hope will assist his progress.  He has tried a special bicycle that assists him in peddling, prompting his muscles when they tire with electrical impulses.  It was a beautiful thing to watch his legs move, even with assistance.

Steve pedals

Steve also stood up for the first time.  By this I do not mean that he was able to propel his body upward to standing, but that with the help of a machine, he was able to straighten out his trunk while his legs were held up in a straight position.  His blood pressure dropped quickly, however, so he was forced to return to the chair.  The feeling of standing upright, however brief, was exhilarating, and we pray that he will be able to enjoy the position for longer next time.

Steve stands

Yesterday Steve had more spasms than normal, his legs felt heavy and he was tired.  We decided to transition to bed early and he had one of his first naps in a very long time.  This morning he feels a bit better.

Please pray for patience and endurance for Steve as he continues to press on with faith and determination, but with occasional set backs.  Please pray boldly with me that his shoulder heals, that his body continues to show encouraging signs of progress and that his spirits would remain high.  Steve also asks for specific prayers that his bladder and bowel control would return.  The doctors are discussing removing his catheter this weekend to see what bladder control he might have.  This could either be highly encouraging or extremely discouraging depending on the outcome.  Steve will also be trying his manual wheelchair for the second time today if his shoulder holds out.  Please pray that he is able to achieve this goal.  Please also pray that I would support him well.  We are moving this week, preparing to sell our home next week and packing up in Manila, among other things, so I am unusually stretched.

Nevertheless, we rejoice in the overwhelming blessings surrounding us, not the least of which is your prayers and support!  We taste and see that the Lord is good, especially through your wonderful messages and many practical acts of support.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  We continue to be amazed by our furnished home, the food that magically arrives on our doorstep, the people driving extra hours (in Seattle traffic!) to pick up our children for day camps and play dates, the help with moving on both sides of the world, the cards that show up every day at the hospital, the many posts (I read every one!), the amazing financial generosity, and the beautiful prayers lifted up on our behalf.  We are literally overwhelmed with goodness!

My verse for today comes from Romans 12:12: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”



P.S.  I cannot resist adding a photo of our boys, our three living, breathing reasons to persist and endure!

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  • Deb (Talley) Thompson

    I'm praying specifically for YOU, Michelle, that you will give yourself the grace to know that whatever you can do will have to be enough. Take it one hour at a time, do what you are able, and leave the rest in God's hands. All those logistical details will get sorted out, but not always by you. Take care.

  • sandra

    Michelle, please continue to be strong. Spinal and never damage takes so much time to heal. I had my stroke back in 2004 and my nerves on my entire left side of my body feels as though it's on fire 24/7…it heightens after a day of strenuous activity. I can't imagine the combination of spine & nerves what your dear husband is going through. Just the fact that he has, even the slightest, of movement, it a God send. It will continue to get better. Yes, at times, at “snail's speed, but better none the less. The “world” that you and your family has touched will continue to pray for Steve's healing and progress; continue to pray for your strength and continued faith; continue to pray for your PRECIOUS and BEAUTIFUL boys (which I hope to someday have my 2.5 year old daughter have a play date with!)…prayers are and will continue to flow for the Ruetshle family for sure! We will continue to celebrate the 'millimeters” of movement that Steve achieves…because they are huge milestones!!! Praise God! HANG IN THERE! Please give each other a hug for me!

  • Rockprod98

    Hi Michelle & Steve – One of my favorite authors is Oswald Chambers. I thought of you as I read in My Upmost for His Highest, Oct. 17th. “And greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father” John 14:12 “Prayer is the battle; it is a matter of indifference where you are. Whichever way God engineers circumstances, the duty is to pray. Never allow the thought – “I am of no use where I am;” because you certainly can be of no use where you are not. Wherever God has dumped you down in circumstances pray, ejaculate to Him all the time. “Whatsoever ye ask in My name, that will I do”. . . . . What an astonishment it will be to find, when the veil is lifted, the souls that have been reaped by you, simply because you had been in the habit of taking your orders from Jesus Christ.”

    The whole article is great, but the last two sentences really hit the mark. You guys are such an encouragement to all of us. God has trusted you with this. It's our responsibility to uphold you at the Throne of Grace.

    Blessings & love, Linda Muench

  • Bonnie Stalter

    With these special little boys looking hopeful and innocent. all you do is for their future, too.
    focus on present sacrifice for future gain. Trust.
    Difficult to see little steps when you would prefer.. giant strides.
    Hope is essential and strong. Only God knows the road ahead. He will carry you thru it.
    abide in Him.

  • Toby_gatchalian

    Thank you Michelle for the update. We continue to think and pray about you guys a lot.


  • Darren

    Oh, praise God for this. It's so good to see Steve standing and to hear that new muscles are strengthening. Every excess of hope is justified. Thank you for the pictures and for making time to write. It's like a life-line to hear even just a mundane update on Steve's progress or the things he is struggling with. And, of course, we pray for your spiritual strength. Where would any of us be in all of this without your amazing guidance.



  • Amyheckman23

    What beautiful and encouraging pictures! Michelle, your posts are so touching to me. It is amazing to see the strength your family is showing, and I faithfully read every post! Continuing to pray for a miraculous recovery!!! Praying for you all daily!!!

  • Debbie Spitler – art SD

    Your progress is so wonderful to hear. With your determination, God's help and the help of your loving wife and family and friends, you will continue to improve and you have so much to be thankful for. Praying everyday that you will make new milestones. You amaze me!

  • Joseph & May Uy

    Keep it up Pastor Steve. You are almost there. You have gone a long way since the of accident. We are praying for you always.

  • Naomi Diaz

    Dearest Michelle, thank you again for your selfless info sharing on the status of Pastor Steve plus the many family concerns. God must trust you so much that He allowed this journey to happen to a “superwoman”. He knew that. You are all being prayed for. Our God will restore Pastor Steve's strength according to His plan. As announced at UCM last Sunday, we are already looking forward to August 2011 to welcome you all back home. Yes, your three lovely boys are so blessed to have you as parents. With everything that is going around them, we trust that they are in God's hands. Maybe they even comprehend better than us. Your 3 wonderful blessings…BIG BIG REASONS to live life as God would have wanted it. God bless your heart Michelle. Pastor Steve, thank you for your prayer last Sunday. Your faith has given us so much inspiration to journey this life within God's plans. Blessings, Blessings, Blessings. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Amen.

  • elizabeth

    Hi Pastor Steve and Michelle, We will continue to pray for healing specially for Pastor's Steve's shoulder and his bladder. Dear Jesus, Please give Pastor sTeve the strength to keep on and we pray for your mighty power to heal Him and ease his pain. Jesus, our healer and great physician without whom we can do nothing. We pray that the Ruetschle family will lean entirely on our Lord in this trying times, that the Lord has promised you will never leave us nor nor forsake us. That Pastor Steve will be strong and have courage. That they will running the race that is set before us. Father inheaven please look kindly upon them and we know that if we ask anything in the name of Jesus you will give it to us.

  • Sharon Black

    Oh dear friend, I pray for YOU strength this week. You are all constantly in my thoughts…Sharon

  • Jana

    We love you!! What fantastic photos!!! Miss you and your guys!!! Hugs – we have fun stuff coming your way – but be prepared -the boys picked them out!!!! Hi to all and more hugs to them too !!! You are so graceful under pressure (actually graceful all the time!!) – you are a guiding light!!!!!

    J and the boys!!!

  • Simonpnesther

    We are very glad to hear pastor Steve's progresses. We love you Pastor!!
    We are having flood these days, and yesterday was very tyring day as all our hospital staff were very hardly working to drain water from the hospital(wards, OR. OPD and even from residential area). Many people are left with damaged houses here in Tank, Pakistan, and in other parts of the country.
    We remember you and your family.
    I, myself am a doctor, so i am very glad to hear our pastor's efforts to get up straight! Well Done!
    Dear God, please give new strenth and more patient to pastor Steve, and I also pray that his bladder and bowel control would return.
    In Jesus's Name Amen.

  • Heather Crummett

    Wow! So much progress in a short time. The many “persistent widows” who love Steve will continue to pray for God's healing.

  • Mary Caldwell

    Michelle, you paint the picture of your difficult journey with realistic glimpses of the pain and perseverance necessary for both of you, and yet with such optimism and grace that it is evident you are bathing continually in His power, His grace, and His word. Your precious boys are indeed reasons to hold out for the long run. We rejoice in every victory, and weep with each seemingly insurmountable obstacle. (And yet, are amazed at the incredible obstacles already overcome!)
    Much love, The Caldwells

  • Jeannie

    My dear Steve, Michelle & the boys, we continue to think about you & lift you all up in prayer. Thank you for the amazing updates.
    Lots of love, John & Jeannie Jamieson

  • Glen Braden

    Steve and Michelle,
    Great update – the nurse in me likes to hear these details.
    Darren and Deborah have been lovingly packing at your place and have brought several pieces of furniture, rugs and lots of boxes. We knew we had extra storage space for a reason.
    Your rugs and furniture matches our stuff so well you may have difficulty getting it all back next year…
    Love, Glen and Kristine

  • Roger & Helen Bartholomew

    Hi Michelle:

    Your non-medical descriptions are the best there are, as we are non-medical people and understand your descriptions far better than a clinical explanation! We watched Pastor Steve's video on Sunday (not a dry eye anywhere) and also heard Union Church's decision to give Steve a years medical leave and retain him as Senior Pastor (a truely inspired decision). We continue to pray for complete restoration every single day (most days twice a day) knowing that God is Faithful………

    Your medical bulletins are great therapy!

  • Julie

    Dear Pastor Steve & Michelle– your journey is amazingly inspiring. We praise God for the good news that Pastor Steve is on a medical leave and will return next year! Michelle, you are such a strong woman of faith. Reading your updates gives me wonderful and spirit-lifting daily bread! We love you and your three wonderful boys!…Julie/UCM

  • Sarah Hedberg

    Dear Mich & Steve & boys,
    Thank you for opening up your lives, inside and out, to us here. I love you and miss you more with each one, admire you exponentially more with each. the best is the gift you give us of sharing in your hope and faith, and stepping into it as we pray for you all.
    Especially in this very very busy and demanding week, I hold hands up to God to bring down blessings and provision on you all, even in the momentary downturns, even in the exhaustion.
    I am so pleased you two went to an art gallery for your first date! Love you dear friends, Sarah

  • Noelle

    Reading this post jogged a memory for me…..years ago I was researching local berry picking options and came upon an Indiana farmer who was wheelchair-bound, and he had developed a wheelchair that enabled him to stand up. It wouldn't surprise me if you are already aware of this device (or one like it) but in case you are not, here is a link to his website:

    I have been and will continue to pray for you….our family has tiny parallels… (32-year-old) husband is struggling with back pain (and praying for Steve whenever his own pain gets out of control), our family is in the midst of a move from Indiana to Louisiana with our four young daughters…..your challenges put ours in perspective, and give me a feeling of solidarity. Peace to you.

    –Noelle Allison

  • Rarick Debby

    I found this page just by googling Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation continuing instant in prayer…just to find it’s reference (Rom12:12) I ended up on this page…I will read the story of Steve  & family & certainly pray…God placed you on my path…I will read about you & yours & pray!