From Michelle.  4 September, 2010  12 p.m.

Dear friends and family,

The predictable rhythms of our hospital days have now come to an end.  As we enter the seemingly mundane activities of everyday life, our already rapid pace has picked up.  The removal of that complex web of around-the-clock nurses, nurse techs, food specialists, doctors, OTs, PTs, RTs, and so on has left us feeling rather bare and not a little bit vulnerable.  The good news is that in this sink or swim situation we seem to be swimming, though barely!

Perhaps the greatest challenge has been in the caregiver arena.  It takes three to four hours to get Steve ready each day.  Between eating, bowel program, bathing and stretches, hoyer lifting him in and out of bed and chairs, all the while trying to patiently explain every detail to the new caregiver, it is an intense daily regimen.  It is sometimes so frustrating explaining it over and over that Steve and I are tempted to simply have me do it!  We know, however, that this is not sustainable for our family, as the children need my attention first thing in the morning.  Most frustrating of all is that we are expending all of this energy on temporary caregivers until we can set up our more permanent situation through the state Medicaid hours we have been allotted!  I cannot express both the physical and emotional challenge of taking in strangers and allowing them to do the most personal things to Steve, with great risk of hurting him, while I try to supervise.  This morning, I warmed up my coffee four times before finally giving up!  And this with Steve’s parents helping with the children!  Steve has endured the greatest indignities in this process and we have often shared a sharp intake of breath at some narrowly avoided disaster.  I long to erase every incident and tend to him as lovingly as he deserves.  Please pray with us that our Medicaid “COPES” hours come through quickly and that God brings the perfect caregiver(s) into our home.

On a brighter note, it has been wonderful to have Steve around.  The boys are reveling in their Dad, and yesterday, I watched Steve “chase” the boys in his wheelchair in the driveway, with all three running away, giggling, shouting and generally full of life.  It felt like a rare bridge to the past, a normal playful moment with Papa, the chair momentarily insignificant amidst the laughter.  Thanks to Steve’s parents, Steve and I also enjoyed a rare moment of quiet and solitude yesterday.  What sustaining joy amidst the parade of caregivers to enjoy that bit of intimate time together!

Steve plays tag

Slowly we are learning the routine, from how best to arrange the pillows to prop up Steve’s body, to how to put on the super-tight pressure stockings, to how best to do a one-person transfer, etc.  The details are endless, but we continue to be carried through, and miracle of miracles, we are adapting!  The amazing offers of help continue and as we begin to understand our needs, we look forward to building up that wonderful network or friends and community that has continued to astound us with care.

As the week has progressed, I confess that there have been moments of overwhelm.  I have at times been inundated by the sheer ocean of detail.  But I have found that the sense of urgency can and does beautifully evaporate in the presence of the Amazing Love that carries us.  What came to mind this morning was the account of Jesus calming the storm.  The storm comes.  The waves threaten to overwhelm the boat.  But Jesus sleeps peacefully.  It is my belief, and increasingly my experience, that by His grace, we too can sleep peacefully through this storm.

Thank you so much for your continued love and prayers.  Please know how deeply we are comforted by your words, though we do not have time to respond.  I have been amazed at the faithfulness of friends and family, the amazingly sustained and sustaining power of all of the love and prayers that continue to flow for us.  Yesterday, with minimal equipment, Steve painstakingly transferred himself from the bed to his chair with several of us merely spotting him.  With the help of a therapist he is also practicing standing on his own for a few tremulous, proud moments.  Given the nature of his injury, this is nothing short of miraculous.  We continue to be amazed.

With love and gratitude,

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  • Amyheckman23

    Michelle, I can not stop expressing how much you inspire me. Your open and honest emails are just amazing to read, and to inspire others to get through whatever they are going through in life. I just want you to know how much people are praying for you! One of my favorite songs is “Praise you in this storm” by Casting Crowns, and when I read your email, it was a reminder, that the Lord is there. Though I am sure (and rightly so) you may feel alone, you know you never are. Praying every day makes things just a bit easier! we will keep the prayers going!!!

  • Rockprod98

    Miracles . . . . . that’s what God does! I hope you guys know how this is bringing so many of us closer to the Father . . . . to pray, believe and watch our Saviour of the miraculous to what man can’t. Love you, Linda Muench

  • Don Gilkison

    The daily postings from your family are nothing short of amazing devotionals. I am blessed with every posting and I have read and pondered each one. Michelle, you are an amazing and wonderful woman. I am honestly in awe of your ability to communicate. Steve is truly blessed!

    Please extend greetings to John and Darlene. I’d love to connect with any or all of you, but I understand the difficulties. No expectations, just a warm desire.

    Know you are all loved and are in my daily prayers!

    Warmly in Christ, Don

  • Fred and Judy Davis

    Once again, we relived so much as you told your story of adjustment to home. Judy can attest that the biggest test to our sanity and marriage those first days at home was putting on the “TED hose.” We can almost smile about it now. Something that very few people know or understand – we will pray specifically that God will give grace, patience, skill – and at some point a skilled loving caregiver to help.
    Again, to some small degree, we understand, and as we stand in the presence of God’s throne to intercede, it is with very real specicifity as well as confidence that we name our requests for you. We love you and continue to be with you in prayer in this new part of your journey.
    Fred and Judy

  • Bstalter

    One day at a time. Many mini miracles.. as he has come such a long way. So glad John and Darlene are there at this point. None of us can get those hose on.. there are ones with less elasticity from nurses uniform supply if ok with doctors. Prayers for caregivers and laughter when embarrassed and
    having others with us intimately. Our bodies are given as a living sacrifice to God. His problem.
    Privacy is not possible or practical. Need a shower folding screen? Be creative in problem solving.
    Male nurse makes a big difference and get a huge one.. who is strong.

  • Allison Henry

    Miche, I long to hug you and see you – of course in due time. I ache for you and am praying constantly for every prayer you ask for. You, Steve and the boys are a constant in my mind and in my heart. I love you sweet friend.
    Allison Henry

  • Jodi Durr

    You’ve compared this to a marathon in the past, and it seems as though you’ve reached a steep hill. I will pray for you as you battle this hill with all your efforts. I cannot imagine the difficult challenges that you face every day, and yet I see the Lord sustaining you both. I know it’s because of your love for the Lord, each other and the concert of prayers that continue to surround you that you will continue the race. This part of the run will be intense and straining, but once you get the proper people in place you will find the rhythm again. I have faith in that seeing your continued strength, trust and support. I’ve wanted to share Psalm 13 with you because it’s something I’ve clung to when I’m faced with the uphill battles. It’s short, so you can read it quickly in your own time. I just love how it contrasts the questions we wrestle with God about where he is in all this and yet the trust we will continue to have in His love. We love you!

  • Dtopliff

    So glad for each report. My younger Dr. son, also a close friend of Darren G., says that getting upgraded to Asia D status is already an amazing miracle, not even considering the progress since then. We love “moving targets” and thank God for more and more.
    Heart-felt love and cheers as additional answers are supplied and come together. May you be tucked in and carried as His infinite love floods to you and through you each one. So thankful for you and the deep sustaining family love palpable in these posts. You may not realize it, but these candid refreshing testimony-reports are mighty living sermons.
    With continuing love and prayers, Delores and family

  • Darren

    I so wish I could be there to care for Steve–and you all.




    I so wish dear Michelle that I was closer to help out in person but please know that you are all thought of with tremendous love and prayer many times daily. The caregiver will be there soon my friend and with him ( i always get a him ) will come rest, sleep, time for solitude, romance, healing and relaxed laughter.
    You are loved !!!!


  • Greggfarah

    You are loved, Ruetschle family!

  • Marygmeyer1721

    The Meyer family, Mary, Henry, Danny and Joanna, continue to send you our love and prayers. Thank you for your wonderful journal entries which we read voraciously. We loved having Niclaa and Wim stop over with us for two days and nights. Thinking of all of you with much love and prayers for recovery for Steve and rest for Michelle.
    Mary Meyer

  • Kenandmarciat

    Hi Steve and Michelle,

    We continue to read each update…rejoice with you over each little gain, cry with you over any set-back, and pray for the five of you and all who are physically in your lives giving support and care.

    Someday, when you are in a place where you are ready for “visitors”, Ken and I would love to come and see you…and give you both a hug.

    Love and blessings, Ken and Marcia Tank

  • Anonymous

    Dear Michelle,

    I always make it a point to read your update first from a sea of emails that crowd my mailbox. My heart expectantly savors each word you write, knowing that God is good and He answers the prayers of His people. I continue to pray that Pastor Steve will fully recover. During one of the times that I prayed for him I visualized him standing up. You can just imagine the encouragement that your report on Pastor Steve practicing to stand on his own gave to my heart. It overwhelms me, I cannot stop the tears. I will continue to pray for Pastor Steve, you and the boys. Never forget for a moment that you are loved and prayed for.

  • Lisa Gustafson

    Michelle…we continue to pray daily and hang on every word of detail you and others provide. Know that our hearts are moved by the burdens you bear daily and the adjustments and the seemingly insurmountable tasks that besiege you every day. We are grateful for your boys and their joy to have Daddy home…and are praying and loving you from afar, but look forward to visiting you when we spend a study sabbatical year in the USA beginning next May or June. You are loved…Lisa and Craig, Lauren and Lars

  • Roger and Jerri Oliver

    Steve and Michelle,
    Please know that we think of you many times a day and rejoice in those moments of success and pray for strength and endurance for those moments when life is overwhelming.
    Our admiration for your courage, strength and determination supported by your everlasting love and trust in Him who provides calm in the midst of storm has reminded all of us that we are never alone, if we only believe.

    Love and huge hugs,

    Roger and Jerri Oliver

  • Patricia

    Michelle & Steve,

    How exciting that Steve has been able to move himself from bed to chair. What glorious news.

    Thank you for sharing your witness of grace, faith and hope as you live through these trying times. You are a living testimony to God’s power and love.

    When the moment overwhelms, be confident in asking for help to carry your burdens. I’m praying now for the right caregivers to make themselves known, and that the boys will be happy in their new school.

    Patricia Lamb

  • Mary Vittachi

    Dear Steve and Michelle,
    Thank you for your updates. Please know that your testimony really lives for us. Your willingness to post your struggles sharpens the reality and we too can sense God’s out-pouring of His Grace. Thank you for communicating so much to us. And Bless you and your dear ones.
    Mary and Nury (Hong Kong)

  • joy j. aromin

    Thank you once again dear Michelle for updating us. Know that we are on our knees for your specific requests. Praising God for your faith and strength in the midst of the storm… We love you.
    Joy, Benj, Josh

  • Mei li Vos

    Lieve Michelle,
    wat ben je sterk, en wat is het zwaar. Ik ben bij jullie in gedachten, bid voor je en hoop dat ik ergens meer voor je kan doen. Dikke kus aan Steve en especially sweet Zephyr. Ik hoop dat ik snel weer met hem kan voetballen…
    Mei Liefs

  • Carlac

    Dear Michelle and Pastor Steve, Praising God for those miraculous standing moments! Do you know the old spiritual, “Its a me, its a me, its a me oh Lord, standin’ in the need of prayer?” Your caregiver request is on our hearts. Love, Carla and Dan

  • Rhonda Speaker

    Thank you so much for your updates. I look each day to see if something has been posted. You all are in my thoughts and prayers daily!

    I hope that you all will find hard working and kind caregivers for Steve. I am thinking out loud, but would it be easier to hire someone to care for the kids, meals, cleaning, errands etc. and Michelle to primarily care for Steve? I wish our family lived close by. I want to be able to help you guys.

    Also what is your new address?

    Love you all,
    Rhonda (Ruetschle) Speaker

  • Shehuy93

    Love and Prayers. You’re doing great with His Help, Grace, Strength, Peace, and Joy. You shine so brightly. Miracles everywhere.

  • Deb Meske Thompson

    Blessings on each of you, with great admiration of your courage and fortitude. I’m praying for peace, rest, and joy for you all.

  • Marilyn

    “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness!”
    Hi Michelle and Pastor Steve! Wishing we can all fly there to help you … nonetheless, believing our prayers have wings to lift every single one of you through this hard, but wonderful journey. So amazed at what God is doing in you and through you and being blessed just by the thought of how glorified HE is with your living testimony. You’re shining for Jesus!

  • Naomi Diaz & family

    Hi Michelle, it has been a while that I was not able to share my innermost thoughts on the Ruestchle saga. Nevertheless, I get to read the updates and am most happy with this latest “back to reality” info from you. I had been through many years of struggle taking care of a loving husband whose kidneys failed and had to undergo regular dialysis for many years. I could understand the influx of many mixed emotions in this case, especially the wife. But you are right, God’s overwhelming faithfulness will see you through. Praise God for parents, family, children, wonderful friends and a faithful church who prays. We are confident that God will give you the most loving caregivers and therapists for Pastor Steve. It will come. It will come. We continue to pray for all your concerns. And, we as UCM members look forward to your coming home. We give you all the love. Blessings to you all.

  • Lorrie & Joke

    Hi dearest Michelle and Steve – love and hugs from Uganda! We continue to pray for you and the boys….that the grace of our loving Father would be lavished on each of you at the exact moment that you are tempted to declare defeat. Also praying laughter into those “tense” moments where your dignity is threatened…..so much to learn in such a short time…..praying for the right people to surround you as your “healing team” in the coming weeks. Please know that we love you and continue to pray……love from Joke and Lorrie, presently in Uganda.

  • Linda

    Dear Michelle and Steve,
    Many times through each day, I lift you in prayers…. Praying indeed that God will continue to heal miraculously. That God would provide for you in the overwhelming details of this life-storm. That He would watch over you and protect you and your children in the shelter of His love and grace. That you will take heart with confidence each day, knowing that He is IN THAT BOAT with you. That He is your constant, your North Star. Your compass. Your pilot. Your peace in the storm. With great love.

  • Kristi

    Michelle my darling. Thank you for continuously taking the time to share with us all how things are progressing. I can’t imagine how tired you must be right now. I hope to continue to be able to help out by taking the boys out for a playdate or even coming over to your house to help out however you would like. Now that school has started, weekdays are more challenging but I’d love to be able to help out on the weekends. Please text or call me anytime and let me know when/how I can help. xoxo–Kristi

  • Mb

    This past Sunday morning, 30 kids, aged 3-7 took Steve in their hearts to see Jesus. With heads laid back on the floor and eyes closed, we visualized trying to get into the house where Jesus was. Of course, we couldn’t, because the crowd was already too thick. So we climbed up on the roof, and we dug through… then we lowered Steve down to the Lord who loves him. When we were done, the children shared what they saw as they looked down into the house from up on the roof. :) God is good indeed.

  • Lorrie

    Dear dear Michelle and Steve, I am weeping as I sit here in an internet cafe in Uganda and read your update. I love you and pray for you daily and stand in awe of the courage and grace God is giving you both.

    with gentle hugs,