A myriad of beautiful forms

From Michelle. 20 August, 2010. Midnight.

Dear friends and family,

The other night, I read a quote by William Barclay that seems to sum up one aspect of this experience for me: “It will always help us if we regard this world as organized not for our comfort but for our training.” I have felt “trained” during this time, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Like an athlete who undergoes a season of training, I suppose I will not recognize myself on the other end.

So far, the training has had several unique positive outcomes: a great sense of compassion, a deeper gratitude and a humbling perception of my own limits. The compassion is gifted to us by the people down the hall and the many stories shared in emails, cards and conversations by all of you, that remind us that we are not only not alone in our suffering but even fortunate.

The gratitude has been the lightest training to bear, flowing easily from the goodness all around us, from the woman who hardly knows me who took the time to write a card and pass on home baked cookies, to another woman down the hall with a spinal cord injury who prays for Steve, to the concerts and many offers of time and talents, to the thoughtful cards and gifts, and to the astounding generosity witnessed in the special needs trust.

Dark things can elicit a response of almost blinding light, and it has been our privilege to receive that light in myriad beautiful forms. The humbling, well, that speaks for itself, but in the best possible sense, the knowledge that I need all of you and that I need God to get through. I hope it remains after the darkness lifts.

There is much to be grateful for, and I am happy to report on it! The biggest news is that Steve has been reclassified as an Asia D. This means that there are significant nerves and muscles below his level of injury which are able to now move against gravity. In other words, the leg bends, the Pele kicks, the strengthening of the torso, the foot bends and lifts and yes, quite significantly, Steve’s ability to pee, have placed him in a new category of injury where the possibility of mobility has again increased.

To say that this is good news is an understatement! I think that both Steve and I are still absorbing the possible consequences, daring to hope further while also fearing the possible disappointments (so close and yet so far!). The relationship between prayer and real world events are mysterious and yet, in the simplest of terms, and with a good pinch of audacity, I’ll say that your prayers are working! Steve’s body is healing, gradually and at a creeping pace for Steve, and yet at a remarkable pace given his injury and prognosis. We will never understand why some have these better outcomes while others do not, but we give thanks, deep thanks, that we are at present receiving this amazing blessing, knowing full well that we do not deserve it in the least.

In all meaningful terms, Steve is still paralyzed. I still need to transfer him from the bed to his chair with a contraption called a hoyer lift, and once he is in his chair, he cannot move from it without assistance. There is much he cannot do, but there is promise of more, much more, ahead.

Today, for example, Steve stood in water. He also tried a “walking machine,” something which lifts and suspends him so that his feet can try to simulate the movements of walking. Spasms kept him from feeling any ease of movement, however just seeing him upright and moving was a huge encouragement!

The other day, his physical therapist had him in the standing machine, and wheeled him down the hall toward our room. I happened to exit the room at that time and saw him wheeling toward me, standing upright. It was a vision to behold! I had forgotten the distinct quality a person exudes while standing, something to do with strength, virility, and authority. It was the old Steve grinning down at me, a posture already almost forgotten, where he is big and I am small, and the world felt right again for a moment.

Please continue to pray for the right school for the children. I cannot seem to find the peace of knowing the best place for them or to close in on the details necessary to place them. I notice that of all the details and adjustments, this is my most vulnerable hope: to see the boys thriving in a learning environment that is just right for them. Today was discouraging in that regard and I am required to trust God with my most precious desires, for the children themselves. I know this too will come.

Praising for the D!


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  • Mary Johnson, Guam

    Hi, Steve and Michelle,

    We are delighted by the news of progress in Steve’s recovery. Who knows what great things God may have in store this next year! We pray for you and your boys often and keep you in our hearts. Blessings! Mary and Jeff Johnson

  • Debbie Spitler -art SD

    Dear Michelle and Steve,
    Yes, our prayers are being answered and we will continue to pray for strength and endurance and mobility. Your posts are an inspiration to those of us with much less to deal with and I praise you for that. Bless you both!
    Debbie Spitler

  • Joseph & May Uy

    Hi Pastor Steve and Michelle,

    I am so happy for the big progress and improvement. Please let me know when will be a good time to visit. Take care and we will continue to pray for you and your family. Bless you both!

  • Shehuy93

    Another beautiful post…your communications, as well as those of Sean and others, have been simply beautiful. More of that light reflecting off the diamond of who HE is and bouncing colors all over a dim scene, making it alive and lovely.

    Praying tonight esp for your boys and asking our Heavenly Father, our Shepherd, to place these lambs where they will thrive and undergo their own spiritual training. As a mom of four young ones, I know all too well that trusting Him with our children is one of the absolute toughest tests of our faith. He is such a gentle Shepherd. We know this in our minds… Praying you’ll feel His peace and see the next step for each of them. love and hugs from manila, shelley.

  • Cbsample

    But Jesus will recognize you, Michelle and we recognize Him in you, more and more. This is a deeply touching, convicting, hopeful, rightly challenging process for all of us who go through it with you all in some small measure, though we never meet here below.

    Chris Sample in Maine, Sarah Reid Hedberg’s friend

  • Cbsample

    Is there any chance of a tutor for the boys? May God open the right doors in His time and comfort your heart…

  • Amyheckman23

    Watching the videos was amazing!! What an answer to prayers!! You truly are a face of hope, Michelle. You inspire and minister people probably more then you will ever know. And to Steve look at the camera and smile, brought tears to my eyes! continuing to pray for you all daily!!

  • Fred Davis

    I am moved beyond words. The new classification is incredible. I pray for patience as you wait, work, pray for continued movement, strength and independence. We love you and continue to pray daily for your whole family.

  • JohnCarol3

    Your beautifully spoken words paint a poignant and practical picture for us to see and feel just what the Ruetschle family is experiencing. How great to see Steve’s smile, determination and successes. We praise God with you! And thank you once again for your vulnerability, Michelle. I’m so glad to get to know you better through your written words and of course, see how very blessed Steve is to have you as his partner– I already knew that you were blessed with Steve! I also know how important it is to have those children cared for at this time, so intentionally pray for them and your request. love to you all. btw, John and I head to Manila in about 10 days and will miss seeing you there — is there anything I/we can do for you while there? Please email me and let me know. We return to CA the third week of Sept.

  • Jeff

    Such wonderful news on Steve’s progress, and re-classification…! WE love you and our hearts and minds continue to be full of thoughts and prayers for you, Steve and the boys….The right school will be found……The power of Prayer and God’s work is so visible, and your words so very special and full of learning and helping all of us “train”!…..Much love and hugs from the Vogt clan in VA…..

  • Dtopliff

    So praising and thanking God with you for each improvement and provision. These are daily graces and miracles. My prayers and love remain with you. I’m from Wash. State, my Dad is now 90, depending on my own pacemkr. replacement, I may make it out there in Oct. or spring. If so, I’ll be in contact hoping it would be okay to see you briefly. But meantime, when I read posts like this one about the condition upgrade, my emotions don’t know whether they want to laugh, or cry, and frankly I think both are sometimes appropriate. Congratulations on your faith and family love. I know He will continue to more than meet you. Sending love, prayers and rejoicing!

  • Heather, Steven and Sophie

    Wonderful news regarding Steve’s progress. He is awe inspiring, to say the least.

  • Paul Moment

    Miche, we’ve been continuing to pray for Steve nightly – directing healing at the specific parts of his body, nerves and limbs and function. But we’re also very aware of the caregiving required of you in addition to orchestrating things for the boys, and their state of mind/health as well, so our prayers always include general strength and wisdom and support for all of you by name.

    We love you and will see you soon.

  • Anonymous

    Steve — Absolutely fantastic. Awesome to see you standing in the water! We give thanks and continue to pray in hope for you, for the boys and Michelle.

  • Deborahannegustafson

    I can only imagine your joy as you saw Steve standing. I so loved seeing him standing in the water. And his beautiful smile when he looked at the camera.

    Pray for God’s grace to cover schooling.


  • Jhorlacher263206


  • Sarah Hedberg

    Dear Mich & Steve,
    Your trials are for our blessings, just as Paul prayed his would be. I am lifted up by your hand in His, to put mine in His for my struggles. You are walking out things you have believed and studied for so long, but never practised to such a degree. As I read ‘Hearing God’ by Dallas Willard that you gave me Michelle, I have laughed with recognition at lessons I know I need to learn. Benjamin and Nate are also asking for ‘The Jesus Storybook Bible” to be read to them often and for long passages, another place where I get to receive God’s goodness through your gifts. Broken for you, He said. Broken for us, you are, and we are undergoing reconstitution, in our own ways, as you give to us even as you are headed for a life and trained souls that yes, sounds true, will be unrecognizable to you. But as we see Jesus more, we will recognize each other in brighter lights. Love and yes, specific prayers for children to be in a perfect learning and growing environment for each and every. Got it. Longing to hug you. Praise Him. Sarah

  • Kendig

    I’ve been following your blog since July but am not sure I’ve written. I’ve been praying for you all though I don’t know you personally. That is fantastic news about the upgrade. Have you read the YWAM book, “Walking Miracle”? The author was paralyzed while surfing (I think– he was in the ocean, I know) and got all his mobility back although not all his feeling. But then, I’ve also read Joni Eareckson Tada’s books and in her case, God chose to leave her with paralysis. Steve is obviously farther along than she is already, and how I pray that God will bless him with continued, glorious improvement.
    I’m also praying about school for the boys. May God bless you with just the right situation for them.


  • Lizbaguila

    Hello Pastor Steve and Michelle,

    Thank you for updating us. Although you are a continent away from us here in the UCM, your messages and notes posted on the website somehow make us feel physically very close to you.
    Thank you for the recorded message and prayer of Pastor Steve to/for UCM. I am blessed and encouraged.
    Liz Aguila, UCM Chancel Choire

  • Dix

    Hi Michelle and Steve,

    Praise God for the D indeed! We’re all hopeful that more progress will be made. Our God really is a gracious God who listens to our prayers.


  • Greggfarah

    Thanks for amazing update Michelle. Praying for you and with you! Much love from the Farahs