From Michelle.  26 September, 2010  9 a.m.

Dear friends and family,

Another week has flown by with its own unique set of challenges and triumphs.  It has been a landmark few days… but I’ll start at the beginning.

Last week we went as a family to the beach.  We are still tentative about outings.  The strangeness of navigating the world in a wheelchair, the time it takes to load and unload Steve, and the sheer emotional nature of experiencing life in a more limited capacity keep Steve close to home much of the time, outside of the host of therapy appointments.  We are all the more grateful for the beauty of the home we’ve been given, since we do indeed spend so much time in the safety of its confines.

But on this day we ventured forth.  We had heard that there was a park with handicapped access nearby.  It proved to be a lovely place, with a wild beach and few people.  There were a few set backs: the five inch ledge where they’d placed boards to keep an area from flooding – we called a stranger to help and guided the chair for a bit of off-road climbing! – and the fact that the paved part ended right at the end of the tunnel at the beach, so that Steve could proceed no further.  Steve enjoyed his little perch, however, watching me and the boys play in the sand and in the water, and we all enjoyed the fresh air and a taste of wild nature after our extended domesticity.

As we wheeled back to the car we discussed the bittersweetness of being outside together yet separated by the sand and the chair.  Steve said, “I now have even more incentive to walk again.”

More prophetic words could not have been spoken.  The next day at our Harborview physical therapy appointment, the therapist casually suggested that Steve try the parallel bars.  These are set up for one purpose alone: to support people while walking.  We both stammered out our enthusiasm but not without a little bit of trepidation!   Steve was, after all, standing, but still struggled to lift his legs while in that position, and only for very short, concentrated periods of time.  I think we both felt that at best he would take a few steps and collapse, exhausted.

I stood far off where the camera could capture the spectacle and held my breath, praying for a good experience for Steve.  Right before the appointment I had also prayed for encouragement: “Lord, please encourage us today.  If you mean for Steve to walk, please give us a glimpse of it today.”  You would think that I would pray such prayers often, but much of the time I am more preoccupied with finding grace for our present, to humbly embrace what has been given.

Steve pulled himself up with the help of his therapist and began tentatively to move forward.  One leg and then the other.  Painfully and with the greatest of effort.  But his legs and feet were responding!  Slowly he made his way to the end of the bars.  I think we both thought he was done, but no.  The therapist said, “Ok, now turn around.”  Amazingly, Steve did.  And back to his chair.  And one more round.
I was weeping the whole time.  In June, as Steve was lying in the ICU entirely motionless from the nipple line down, I had a secret prayer I prayed.  It was that on our 10th anniversary, December 30th, 2010, Steve would take a few steps.  Now, I was seeing it far sooner than my wildest dreams and secret prayers could have imagined.  I laughingly scolded Steve, who knew about my prayer, that he was not supposed to be doing this yet!

The next day, Steve did it again, this time in a walker in our bedroom and then in our living room, accompanied by two physical therapists.  The next day, he did it again at another appointment.  We are elated.  Steve feels tentative as well, as he navigates this fresh hope.  As he says, the closer he gets to walking again, the more fragile he feels.  Indeed, the hope becomes so burning and so close to realization that the possibility that it might not be realized becomes all the more painful.  We cannot know how well Steve will walk – whether it will be for only a few steps, whether it will be with a walker or a cane, whether it will be with braces, or in complete freedom, but at this point I feel that we can confidently say, he will walk again.  Somehow.  His fingers, his altered sensation, the inability to feel hot and cold, the level of strength he might regain remain in question, but this amazing milestone remains.  First steps!  Long before our anniversary!  And for this we are grateful beyond measure.

You’d think that with all of this grace, all of this amazing, undeserved, wonderful recovery, we would be continually elated.  The walking moments remain small pinnacles of light, however, in the continued drudgery of the day to day.  It still takes several hours to get Steve ready each day.  He still watches us play on the beach.  We still inch along with all of agonizing paperwork and detail.  We still trust in the darkness, not knowing where we are headed.  As I write, I am stealing time amidst the daily preparations and Steve is patiently enduring his daily regimen.  But I was reminded again this morning of the verses that were given to me at the very beginning of our vacation, this time in the Message translation: “Don’t fret or worry.  Instead of worrying, pray.  Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.  Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.  It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.  Summing it all up, friend, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.  Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.  Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

This faith journey cannot be solely fixated on whether or not Steve is healed.  It must be about so much more.  For there is much that is true and noble and beautiful in our lives.  The discipline, the journey, the exercise for us is to see it and embrace it despite all that is also ugly, dark and cursed.  These first steps are a part of that journey, a gift, a mercy and a grace that helps us to see.  And for that, we humbly rejoice!


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  • Matthew

    Wow. Amazing, amazing amazing. Your last paragraph is really moving, and helps me keep my own eyes fixated on the larger picture of my life, discipline, and journey. You are all never far from our thoughts and prayers.

  • Jhorlacher263206

    Of course he is walking and much more to come.

    kris horlacher

  • Jamesbn

    guts and grace—-you are teaching us all

  • Trudi and Mark

    Oh Michelle! I am sitting at the university library with tears rolling down my face. Thankyou for stealing the time to share this amazing journey that you Steve and the boys are on. I am so moved and inspired and grateful that you share it. Your perspective is a beautiful one that turns my eyes to the Lord and reminds me of Hebrews 11 where it talks about how they were not living for this world, they were living for heaven and God was not ashamed to be called their God. Thank you. Our prayers are with you. Trudi, Mark and the girls.

  • Isabella332

    Wow. Amazing. Breathtaking. Spectacular and oh so Inspiring. Congratulations on your fledgling steps! You might be dreaming of a day when you get back to your pulpit – but from my vantage point, you’re already there :)

    As always, you are in my prayers.
    Kristin (Sky’s cousin)

  • Amyheckman23

    THANK YOU LORD!!!!!!What an answer to prayer! you both are so inspiringm you have no idea. The strength, and love, and faith, and perissitance and everything else is truly inspriational! we pray for your family daily!!!!

  • Mirandawarder

    AMEN! Praise the Lord!

  • Kathleen Barry

    Amen! Praise God for this miracle and for your insight, even as you exult in this moment, that the journey can not be about whether Steve acheives complete healing, or whether he ends up, physically, at some different point. We suffer in our smallness looking for the grandness of the undisputed miracle. We find ways to ignore the small moments of grace in the difficult times and I praise God that you can feel that challenge, that you can embrace the current reality of God’s immense grace, and that you haven’t pinned your faith on some we-defined result yet to come. We will, of course, always continue praying for God’s complete healing, and also to thank God for the grace and miracles he provides daily, even if they are not always as obvious to our small-minded eyes. God’s many blessings to all of you.

  • Eeva T

    That is so exciting! God is good!

  • elizabeth

    Praise the Lord for hearing prayers of many. God is good. God is great.

  • Kendig

    I know it is hard to find time to post here, but thank you, thank you, thank you for making the time. I am so delighted and happy for you. Yes, I know the road is still really long and the daily struggles are immense, but like you said — what incredible progress from where Steve was right after the accident. Praise God.
    I will continue to pray about the struggles of each day.

    Laraba (from Dayton, Ohio)

  • Bjorkas family

    All in our family rejoice in this amazing news! Thank God for all His wonders and miracles! We continue to pray for all of you, that God will continue to give you strength and endurance! Thank you for this wonderful news!

  • Craig and Jane

    We give thanks with you for this wonderful news…..and continue to pray for complete healing….and for grace and courage for the long haul for you both!

  • Craig and Margaret Sutherland

    This is what we have been praying for! To God be the glory! Truly “He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think.”

  • Lisa Gustafson

    I wept as I read this. My heart is full of joy and hope. Thank you for this update…it brings deep encouragement and an awareness of the privilege God gives us to come before His throne in prayer for each other. We continue to lift you up.

  • Barb

    Soul food for the week. Praising , praying and receiving words of truth. Thank you.

  • Harry Harm

    Greetings from Batam, Indonesia. Thanks for this great news and also the news about Steve walking. Geri and I will continue praying. I head back to Manila today and then to Seattle for a few days. If there is anyway I can be of service, let me know.

    Harry Harm

  • Darren

    Oh, my! I don’t know what is more miraculous: the healing or the faith in this email. You’re going to end by transforming all our lives through this trauma. I’m weeping and rejoicing–feel like I’ve been through the gamut of your emotional rollercoaster with you. And we do: stand with you.



  • Heather Atkins

    Wow. Thanks so much for continuing to share the highs and lows. What a wonderful, glorious, awesome high! Tears jumped to my eyes in just reading the title of your post. Your family is never far from our thoughts and prayers. We miss you all.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Michelle,

    Thank you, thank you for sharing with us the miracles that God continues to do in your lives. God is glorifying His Name in the shocking motorcycle incident involving Pastor Steve. It is such a privilege to see the program of the Heavenly realms made known to us many thousand miles away through your eyes. Thank you for taking the time to write, Michelle, despite the enormous other concerns in front of you. I continue to pray for Pastor Steve’s full recovery and for God to be your strength and song moment by moment. Ophelia

  • Jeri

    Weeping here… joy and hope expanded. “Let the glory of the Lord endure forever, let the Lord be glad in his works. We will sing unto the Lord as long as we live, we will sing to the Lord while we have our being….” Carpe Diem!

  • john dettoni

    Will Steve walk again? He did — baby steps compared to his adult life, but baby steps are still steps, still walking. I have no doubt that he will walk well. And as I’ve said in previous posts, I’m not one of those “faith will conquer everything” — but I am convinced that Steve will walk as a fully functioning walker! Thank you both for your journey of faith: doubt, despair, struggle, absolute pain, and then glimmers of hope like the “size of a man’s hand” in the sky brings the rain to assuage the drought of suffering.

  • Helen Bartholomew

    Dear Michelle,
    What a beautiful way to greet the day and read your message this morning! I am personally touched and moved to see how God’s love works. Thousands of people are praying for Pastor Steve’s recovery and I believe it is just a matter of time. God will slowly unfold before our eyes to witness a miracle ONLY HE can perform. Thank you for taking time to share with us the glorious walk of our beloved Pastor. God bless. Helen

  • Tom Hardeman

    Tears of hope and joy at the progress! Daily prayers on your behalf. Hearts and minds united in your journey. God is blessing us all through your mighty struggle, galvanizing our eyes on HIM….thank you, for giving us the window into your lives through your writings and allowing us the honor of journeying with you. ~tom & maddy

  • Ammiarmas

    Leo and I rejoice with Steve and you, Michelle. Let him know we congratulate him for his courage and bold steps both of faith and his legs. Your faithful love for him and tenacity to knock on the door of God’s heart will not be met with indifference by our Father. Continue to ask, seek, nag, praise, reflect, hope and dream. We are with you in all of these.

  • Joy Portugal

    Amen, praise God. To Him be the Glory. We constantly remember you in prayer and we believe in our hearts that Pastor Steve will walk again.

  • Einar and Jody

    Reading this brought to mind all the rejoicing captured in this song–” Get to dancing, singing, jumping, leaping. Get to shouting. Make it loud and make it glorious! Start rejoicing, praising, lifting, raising. Get to shouting. Make it loud and make His praise glorious, glorious…” God bless you and we continue to pray for all of you.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/KVXJMO6VUJE5MDRGIZU5SSIXJA Julie

    Amazing grace! Thousands of people all over the world are praying, as we are taught..”Men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”… Luke 18:1. This is my greatest lesson as I eagerly wait for Michelle’s touching updates and watch Pastor Steve’s recovery miraculous healing – to pray without ceasing, repeatedly throughout the day because God is interested in everything we do. My prayer is that amidst the seemingly “ugly, dark, and cursed” circumstance, Pastor Steve and Michelle will find the joy of feeling and seeing God’s presence.

  • Roger and Jerri Oliver

    Dear Steve and Michelle,

    That roar you are hearing is the loud and glorious praise from around the world for our loving and most gracious, generous Lord. Tears of joy accompany that praise.

    The Oliver-Yoakam-Balent-Willman Family continue to pray for you unceasingly for strength, courage, and perserverance for this journey. We have been blessed and inspired by your sharing this with us.

    Much love,

    Roger and Jerri Oliver and family

  • Joriemat2237

    “To humbly embrace what was given…the discipline, …. the journey….a gift of grace and mercy,….” such profound words, Michelle, yet so true. We are in awe of God’s strength and grace to you and Pastor Steve. Such faith, that we, who are in our daily routine, are awakened by the truth and reality of your life,… leading us to draw closer to God and be grateful. PRAISE HIM FOREVER!

  • Alecia Kleiner

    I believe that God is faithful and that He has you so very close. I have prayed this exact passage for you many, many times this summer. He is a God of miracles. And while the walking is a blessed, awe inspiring miracle, the biggest by far is the work He is doing in your heart. Many prayers and tears of joy!!

  • Carlac

    Dear Michelle and Pastor Steve, You are the Acts 3 vision to us, Walking, soon Leaping, in every writing posted, Praising God. We too joined in joyous tears! We continue to place you before the Lord every day for what may be new! Your writing stirs our hearts heavenward, Michelle. Love, Carla & Dan

  • Elisabeth A Williams

    “That’s a regular miracle right there.” Ben Williams

    We, too, weep with joy and amazement at your news. Thanks, Michelle, for keeping us posted, not just with news, but with food from the Word. I had never read the Message version of Philippians 4. Food for all of our hungry souls.

  • Sarah Hedberg

    Hallelujah for such beauty in Steve’s first steps! Hallelujah for often-invisible progress in the spiritual realm as you believe in Him during the drudgery of your days! Thanks so much for sharing answered prayers and deep struggles with us, Mich. It changes us. Love to Steve and the boys, Sarah

  • baby

    Carry on Pastor Steve. God is good and He will make things happen. Michelle, you and the boys are in our prayers.

  • Joseph & May Uy

    great job. When can we come and visit Pastor Steve and you? We are waiting…Please email me…

    Joseph & May

  • Millie

    Dear Michelle & Pastor Steve.. hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah for this day! You amaze all of us with your tenacity and unwavering trust in God despite what seemed like long days of darkness. Truly, His steadfast love never ceases; never ceases to amaze us with things unexpected. Mer & I join you in celebration of every step of this journey and we never let our hope of having you back with us at UCM dim. Michelle, thank you so much for always finding the time to share this with us. How wonderfully inspiring you write . This journal could very well be turned into a book someday to be a witness to the world. We miss you and we hold you in our prayers always. Till we meet again…

  • Joe_dodson

    WOW! The power of prayer, the toil and determination of man, and the divine intervention of a loving God.

    I’m conviced God has great things in mind for you. To testify to his love and power. To continue to serve him in this world. To give hope to others who are inspired by your courage.

    Thank God. May he continue to hold you and bless you.

    Joe Dodson

  • Francoise Butt

    Dear Steve and Michelle,
    I am so happy to hear the continuing good news of your healing! How could it be otherwise with so many people praying for you!

  • David and Kathy Smith

    We are so glad to hear about this amazing progress! We continue to keep you in our prays and we sing praise God from whom all blessings flow.
    David and Kathy

  • Barry

    Congratulations and praise God! Continue to work as if everything were up to you and pray as if everything were up to God. Blessings, Barry DeShetler, Christ U.M.C., Kettering

  • Deb Meske Thompson

    Blessings and honor and glory and power to God and to the Lamb! Congratulations! This is wonderful.

  • Julia

    Dearest Michelle,
    We think of you often and keep you in our daily prayers. Thank you for sharing and keeping us updated on your life and progress. I think about the strength you all must need and am amazed and inspired by how you are handling it all…and want you to know how your journey is touching so many.
    Love and prayers from all the Fontans and Thomsons…

  • Darrell

    Dear Michelle,
    God is good!! I was directed here while searching for life more abundantly lol. This was not a mistake.
    After reading only a few things on this blog I know that you experience His life more abundantly than many others. You have peace in the midst of the storm. You have faith in spite of the obstacles You have grown in trust and love . God is not done yet and I intend on joining with you in glorifying His name through this and when Steve is healed. Just know He has used you this day to encourage and old soul. You reminded me of His grace, His love ,and His timing without even intending to do so. Tell Steve that even though he may not be preaching, his life and yours, witness to Gods amazing love and power.
    Thank you for allowing Him to use you.

  • Bstalter

    Love the beach photo and seeing Steve walking .. purposefully. His upper body seems strong.


  • Ann Thomas

    Oh wonderful faithful followers! You are the song Steve led at UPC! I am singing with you! Ann

    Oh God, You are my God
    And I will ever praise you
    Oh God, You are my God
    And I will ever praise you
    And I will seek You in the morning
    And I will learn to walk in Your ways
    And step by step You’ll lead me
    And I will follow You all of my days.

  • Rebecca lwin

    Dear Michelle, I cannot even express all that is in my heart. I rejoice in tears over the videos of Steve walking. Praise Him for His goodness, love, and absolute sweetness for this gift to you both, so long before your anniversary!! I continue to hold you up in prayer to endure all that you must, to see God’s glory and His work through the daily struggle. How your journey gives me hope in a struggle of my own, that calls for endurance and faith in the midst of darkness. Bless you. Bless Steve. May you continue to know His grace and His wonderful mercies every day.

    In His love,
    Rebecca Lwin

  • Greggfarah

    I think you should rank each post by the potential number of tissues the reader will need to wipe tears of joy from his eyes! (This was a 3-tissue post, by the way.)
    Go God!

  • JGo

    I had a dream a couple months ago about Pastor Steve. He was back in Manila, teaching what I think was a Bible class. He had his usual glow of enthusiasm and he was upright and walking but with a limp. No wheelchair, no crutches, no cane. That dream is still vivid to this day and it is an image I often have in my mind when I pray for Pastor Steve’s complete healing. I hadnt found the time to post it before and to be honest, I havent had time in the last few weeks to even check your site but with God, there is always perfect timing. I just so happened to see this post in my email and what great timing to tell you about my dream. I believe in my heart that Pastor Steve will walk again, maybe not as smoothly or effortlessly as before but nevertheless walking without assistance. Keep the faith! We continue to pray for you.

  • Joykarsevar

    God is great!! Walking!! Brought tears of joy!! Thank you for your faith and faithfulness!
    We love you and think of you often!
    Joy Tomacruz Karsevar and the whole family

  • Lyla Irvine

    I just heard your story for the first time! (friends of the Jongewards) – I want you to know that I stand with you in prayers for God to do His good work in your life, to strengthen your inner man for each challenge – you’ve been added to my prayer list. Lyla Irvine (Tillamook,OR)