Looking back, looking forward

From Michelle. 26 August, 2010. 11 p.m.

Dear friends and family,

Every night I long to write and record the many events, mostly out of my longing to touch base with the awesome wellspring of prayers, good wishes, and wonderful support from all of you! Increasingly, however, sheer fatigue has won out over desire. We are now coming into a new phase of the marathon. The adrenalin of the initial sprint has worn off, but the greater part of the race looms ahead, and we long to fall into that more steady pace and rhythm that carries runners through to the finish. One more major hurdle yet to go, however: transition home.

We now have what feels to be a firmer date: August 28th. After 71 long hospital days, Steve will finally reenter the real world in his new body. While this is, on the one hand, joyful news, it is on the other a daunting hurdle. Last Saturday we got our first taste as I drove Steve home for a “test run” overnight stay. Granted, we had no help lined up but our own cheerful and determined spirits! For 36 hours I ran myself ragged between Steve and the kids, and Steve agonized over every request made, knowing I was already over-extended. He lay helpless in one room while I dealt with a child in another, waiting for a moment to catch my attention. Small practicalities began to dawn on the both of us. Not only can I not leave the children, and most particularly Zephyr, safely at home with Steve, but I cannot leave Steve safely with the children! Our hearts jumped out of our chests several times, including when Zephyr climbed into Steve’s chair when Steve was already in bed and somehow managed to turn it on and nearly pin Steve to the mattress! Another heart stopping moment occurred on the following morning when the wheelchair did not work for almost ten minutes and no one from the hospital could help us. We were helpless! Fortunately, the machine eventually resuscitated itself!

Nighttime proved the most challenging of all. We both dreaded the alarm, set for every three hours, when I would have to get up to turn Steve, rearrange the numerous pillows propping up his body at comfortable angles and switch the boots that are used to keep his feet from “dropping”. I would just begin to drift off again after one of these (for me) athletic episodes when Steve would reluctantly have to awaken me again to move a leg or help him in some other way. Steve felt terrible and I felt terrible that he felt terrible. These are the rhythms we will find over time, no doubt! For now, however, it was an uncomfortable and sleepless process.

As the doctor said, it’s going to be hard no matter when we do it. As we wait for state support and funding to be arranged, we are cobbling together an interim plan, feeling around in the dark for what our basic necessities might be, what kind of support the children will also be comfortable with, and how in the world I will find time to sleep during the day to recover from those demanding nights! God has been so good, and we continue to pray for his faithfulness in all of these details.

Nevertheless, our energy and enthusiasm is flagging. Our spirits are truly willing, yet our bodies are giving way! Please pray especially for Steve during this time, that his amazing spirit and determination would remain strong, that we would find good therapists outside the hospital who will encourage him to excel both physically and mentally, and that our caregivers would easily blend into our home. The adjustment to sharing our life as a family with all of these new folk will be a challenge in and of itself, but with the right individuals, it will work. Our flagging spirits are in no small part attributable to the fact that we have spent so little time together recently. We miss each other terribly. This, at least, will end soon.

On a brighter note, many of our most recent prayer requests have been beautifully answered! I am truly delighted to announce that the boys have a school, and not just any school but a lovely private Christian school not far from our home that we anticipate will be the perfect community to walk alongside us through this year. The circumstances leading up to this have been such that I feel this is a “God thing”. We are beyond grateful! The boys are excited to meet their new teachers on Monday! This took a deep burden from me, and I feel that in every way humanly possible, my big boys are well provided for. Please pray as I also consider what, if anything, to do with Zephyr! My greatest awareness is that I will need to SLEEP some day, and that daytime may be better than nights in the beginning, not an easy task with a two year old in tow! We shall see!

Also, our state hours of assistance look like they will be coming through. While we are still walking through this system, we are grateful that the hours assigned will greatly help to meet our needs and are on the upper end of the spectrum. We are aware that we will need every minute ascribed!

As we end this stage and begin another, I look back on the leg of the race already run. In the beginning, we wondered whether Steve would breathe on his own, talk on his own, require a tracheotomy, have full mental recovery, and survive his surgeries. We then wondered if the excruciating pain would ever recede, if he would every wiggle a finger or a toe, or lift a fork. In 69 days, he is doing all of this and more. We know that the trajectory cannot continue forever, but we hope and pray that it will carry us far further into mobility and independence and yes, even a walking, leaping, preaching Steve! Your prayers are so very deeply appreciated as they have carried and continue to carry us through this journey!

It has been awhile since I ended with a verse. Some verses bear repeating, and this is one of them: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3. We are riding on His back through the flood.



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  • Roger and Helen UCM

    Wonderful to read your thoughts Michelle. You have a gift for writing and expressing what for most of us would be an impossible task. Our twice daily prayers for Staeve continue unabated and will not stop until we have a walking, leaping, preaching Steve – and we know the Lord will honor these prayers. It is wonderful to hear the answered prayers, its is painful to read the obstacles. Helen and myself also went through a period of “character building” with God and it was hard and painful – but more than joyful in the end. We look forward to the walking and leaping, so that even a non-functioning wheel-chair will not matter any more. I can just picture the boys trying to take it for a test drive……! “I will never leave you or forsake you” says the Lord. and his word is true.

  • Heather Atkins

    I am so happy to hear that Aiden and Jude have a school! They are missed here at Brent, and I have heard many members of the Brent Family say they are following your blog and cheering you all on from afar. I could not help but think of Steve today as I attended the Lower School chapel. The main message was “We love because God first loved us.” Part of the presentation included a few pictures of individuals who were either in wheelchairs or missing limbs, and their stories of how despite difficulties they were using their life to glorify God–basically accepting their situation, knowing they are valued in God’s great plan, and using their lives to make a positive impact on others. In today’s post when you mentioned hoping and praying for a “preaching Steve” I was immediately reminded of today’s chapel. I hope and pray the same!!

  • Mark and Trudi Stevenson

    In the midst the struggle know that you are an inspiration to us all. Thank you for the updates, they are beautiful and moving and turn our eyes back on Jesus. You are making a mighty impact. We will pray for strength, supernatural energy and an abundance of laughter to full your home. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Bsacook

    Your words bring a tear to my eyes…….Patience is a virtue..you jumped the gun Michelle, with dry run, which leads to disqualification…..you shattered..the whole crew must be inplace and happy…all for one and one for all…..God bless and give strength to you all and angels…..small miracles, bless

  • Ammiarmas

    Michelle, thank you very much for the honest sharing of your heart. We will continue to pray for you.
    May He give you the best therapists and caregivers possible, people who will bless you and be blessed by your family.

    Leo and Ammi Armas

  • Lisa Henry/Dayton, OH

    Prayers and blessings to you all! Michelle, as you talk about your need for sleep I remember back to the days of newborns when the nights seemed non existent and the days seemed like marathons that never ended. However, your marathon days are much busier and much more demanding than having a new baby. Your words are eloquent, your feelings validated, your frustrations understood, and your faith admirable. I continue to pray for you, Steve, and your extended family. Stay strong, stay faithful, and stay hopeful…Steve has been a miracle thus far and God is still working!

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PZLHORWAZ6NMJYHTNSHII3O2AA Amelita

    Lord help Michelle as she attends to all the needs of Steve and their children. It really seems daunting! Only You, O Lord, can help. Keep her spirits high.
    We will accompany you with our prayers, day and night.

  • David and Kathy Smith

    We have not written you in a while, but you are continually in our thoughts and our prayers. We praise God with you at the great strides that Steve has made and we will continue to pray that God will be gracious and allow continued miracles. Oh how we remember the sleepless nights. Our son was complete care and we had three other children to care for. I dont tell you this to try to compare our situation with yours only that we know a little of your needs and we will be praying for all of you through all of this. Thank you for your open heart and for your witness to our God and his continued favor and goodness in your life dispite the hardships and challenges He has allowed you to face. Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with YOU; do not be dismayed, for I am YOUR God. I will strenthen YOU and help YOU; I will uphold YOU with my righteous right hand.
    Much love,
    David and Kathy

  • Deborahannegustafson

    Such a relief to know Aidan and Jude will be going to a school that you are happy with. Praying for just the right teacher for both boys.
    Praying for sleep and for strength for your bodies when you cannot get it. You are the most amazing person who can handle very little sleep.

  • Sharon Black

    Oh sweetie, I wish I could take some of the physical burden for you. I’ll pray for YOUR body these next weeks. Love love love! Sharon

  • Sara Roberge

    Feeling for you Michelle! Wish I lived closer so I could help out in some way. Will be praying! Love you! Sara

  • Alicea

    We love you Steve and Michelle. You are in our hearts and prayers through this unprecedented time. We hope to see you in the future, when it is a little less hectic for you guys and you are not bogged down by all the visitors! Please, please let us know if we can ever help with the boys for an evening or two – we are more than willing to give you guys several hours to yourselves (and the boys a new playmate with our daughter). We are happy to help in any way.

  • Jeri

    While one can know in the head that, in time, all that is so excruciatingly difficult and awkward and fear-filled now will become somewhat routine, that doesn’t really address the tension of the myriad moments in the meantime. You will all make it through, of that I am confident, carried by tens of thousands of prayers that fill the heavens for you. We have a listening, responding God who has made all of the heavens and all of the earth who is for you!

  • Georgia

    For some reason after reading your post the song “What Wondrous Love is This” keeps playing in my head. I’m not sure why – certainly you are loved. Perhaps, my heart is praying also that Christ would bear this different kind of “dreadful curse” for you and Steve. I’m wishing in this moment that I had skills to be a caregiver for you. But alas, unless you need a shrewd negotiator and management wonk on your side, I have only my prayers and songs to offer. But I am singing and praying to God on your behalf each time you come to mind. Thank you for sharing this journey and reminding us to pray daily!

  • Roger and Jerri Oliver

    Steve and Michelle,

    It has been awhile since we have written. We surely understand the physical fatigue of such a daunting schedule.

    We continue to pray for you and your family each and everyday…sometimes more than once as a thought of you comes to mind.

    We send our love and prayerful support. All things are possible with God on your team.

    Much love,
    Roger and Jerri Oliver

  • Joannasmith

    Hi, Michelle – great big hugs and prayers from us. We pray with you for energy, and the right help, and more miracles around the care of your special men (the 3 little ones, and the big one!)
    God has his loving arms around you. We are doing what we can from a distance – on our knees.
    A marathon runner needs good nutrition – i.e. high quality input to sustain the huge output. Do what you need to do to sustain yourself. Never feel guilty about taking some time out to re-energise yourself!
    lots of love, thoughts & prayers
    Joanna (& for Nigel too)

  • Olive Hafenstein

    We continue to uphold you in our prayers as you ride on the Father’s back through the flood. Your narrative makes your faith and God’s faithfulness so real to us.
    Olive Hafenstein

  • Cbsample

    Dear Michelle,

    Just read this. Thank you so much for writing it. It is the protracted effort of fighting its way out of the cocoon which gives the butterfly the energy to expand its compacted beautiful wings. Gos bless you in every fatigue-ridden moment, and grant you rest in Him, and right sleep in its time…soon! with help.

  • Karol and Russ

    Michelle and Steve,
    Our hearts and our prayers are with you both as you navigate this difficult course in your lives. Only the Lord can carry the burdens you both face as you both know. We will be praying for rest, for strenght, for healing and for perserverance to fight through those moments of discouragement and depression to the place of resting on the Father’s back. God keep you both.

  • Patriciaharris

    Steve and Michelle,

    I’m handling Family Matters in the 8:30am service again tomorrow and will certainly share praises and concerns from your latest post. I am so impressed by the outpouring of love and concern from the UCM church family. My only wish is that you could be here to tangibly experience such love and support!

    Praying for God’s grace and the community of faith’s love-beyond-measure to surprise and sustain you!

    In His grip,

  • Psbryant

    My heart aches as I read this. I know that there is hope and help and some good days of sleep ahead for you, Michelle. You really need to fill your cup so you are not running on empty. I am continuing to pray for all the details.

    If you need a sitter for Zephyr and/or the boys, maybe we can work something out. I work during the week, but sometimes have a Friday off and most Saturdays and Sundays.

    I have had lots of child care experience and teach Sunday school at UPC.

    In His Love,
    Pam Bryant

  • Jdreon

    I’ve been reading your updates from the beginning since hearing of your story through a UPC friend (Robyn Clapper). I’m so thrilled to see that your kids will be attending King’s this year, as 2 of my kids will be beginning there this year as well! I would love to be of any help to you that I can be. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to meet you in person and see if there is any way I can help you.
    Jill Dreon

  • Mac and Rhoda Bradshaw

    Dearest Michelle and Steve, Never a day goes by when you are not in our hearts and minds. God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine, as you know! That God will do this for you, is our prayer . Yes, a walking, leaping, preaching Steve! We can certainly imagine that as we pray.
    Mac and Rhoda Bradshaw

  • kris horlacher

    Praying for you daily. A few nights ago I was awakened (I believe by God) in the middle of the night knowing I needed to pray for your family – your dayton family as well. It was with a great sense of peace though. Not worried prayer or even scared or urgent prayer. There was almost a sense of happiness as I prayed.

    The Spirit knows our futures long before we do. Yours is bright I am convinced. Many prayers for you are happening in Dayton!

    Kris Horlacher

  • Elizabeth

    every Sunday, I would update the children’s choir with what’s happening to pastor Steve, the progress and prayer requests. We would always end our session with a prayer for Pastor Steve. And as the weeks go by I told the kids that every Sunday when we meet we will always end the session with a prayer for people who are sick or need prayer support. I believe someday Pastor Steve will be preaching again and when he comes back the preaching will be even more powerful. With faith that is even stronger. How we wish we could be there and extend a little help so you can take a little rest. But distance forbids us to do so. We will continue to lift you and Pastor Steve up in prayer. The Lord who watches over you never slumbers nor sleeps. I pray that the Lord will provide you assistance so you can relax a little or time to nap and regain strength.

  • Deb Meske Thompson

    “When you are going through Hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill

  • G & H

    Steve and Michelle, you and your family continue in our prayers. May you feel the Lord’s presence every hour of every day. May you know His joy. We miss you here in Manila.