Joy comes with the morning.

From Michelle.  4 October, 2010.  3 p.m.

Dear friends and family,

I confess that I have been stumped this last week about what to write.  How does one follow up Steve’s first steps, the high of those miraculous stumbles that since have become slightly more controlled but still fragile and performed with the greatest effort?  Now to the work of it.  I have to pay attention to the details to see the miracle continuing.    A foot slightly more elevated, an extra round in the living room.  Really, it’s not hard to find.  Every step remains a miracle.  Otherwise life continues much the same, though on a slight downhill trend, flowing just a bit more each day.  We are finding the beginnings of a rhythm.  Some predictability is entering in, and the long-accustomed sense of immediate crisis is beginning to recede.

This weekend I watched all four of my “boys”.  Our help for Saturday morning fell through and we had none scheduled for Sunday, but we all welcomed the unusual opportunity to function as a family unit.  It was messy, and too much t.v. was watched by the children as I took care of Steve, but all in all, we managed.  For the boys it was a treat, I think.  As pastor’s kids, their ongoing complaint is that we do not get enough family time, and this period, with its steady stream of caregivers and visitors, is just a different iteration of the same.  Taking stock, it is amazing to see that we can manage on our own.  When we stepped out of the hospital, blinking in the daylight, we felt fragile as newborn babes to this new life.  But already in just a short month we have become accustomed, even proficient.  The house was clean.  The kids fed.  Steve cared for.  An almost normal family weekend.

Blessings continue to come in daily portions, reminding us of goodness all around.  We are beginning to sleep.  After some disastrous experiments with medications, and a regular waking every hour and a half for the first month home, we have had several good nights, with only one or two turns, and deep sleep between.  I can feel my energy returning.  Steve has more to catch up on than I, but even he appears more lively.

On Saturday we took a walk, the first truly brisk bit of exercise since June.  Of course, it is not exercise for Steve!  He wheels along effortlessly and I try to keep up!  But with every step, as I follow that wheelchair, I am giving thanks for my legs.  The day was glorious, and our house is not far from the ocean.  We paused to talk and pray in the sunlight, and I managed to sit on his lap, our instant portable bench!  All of that glory.  Even though Steve could not take strides into that gorgeous scene, he was blessed by it.  The glory of God sang and ministered to us in each glinting bit of sumptuous green against that gorgeous backdrop of ocean and sky.  We walked home refreshed and a little bit more healed, a little bit more alive.

We continue to thrive on your wonderful notes and emails and cards, the amazing meals that so often grace our doorstep, and the ongoing prayers.  As the marathon drags on into its fourth month, the faithfulness of family and friends, and even strangers united either by circumstance or prayer, is amazing to me.  Ecclesiastes praises the beauty of more than one, saying among other things that a cord of three strands is not easily broken.  We have tested that wisdom to its limit, and found it to be true.  I have mentioned before that one of our greatest lessons in this time has been the value of community, but as the race continues, the lesson sinks deeper and we are all the more astounded by the depth of your commitment, both near and from afar.  Two concerts will be happening this month, one in Seattle and one in Manila, and I am not sure how to even take in the generosity of all of those hours of preparation by their participants.  It is humbling and awesome beyond measure.

Challenges remain also.  Steve’s Medicaid application still has not been approved.   Though we have no reason to believe he will be denied, the uncertainty and the ongoing details and paperwork remain a mountain to climb.  Patience, patience.  Our home is on the cusp of sale, we hope, but not yet finalized.  Steve still wrestles with the physical challenges, the strange sensations, the lack of sensation, the stiffness of fingers long unaccustomed to moving, the pain of his injured right shoulder, the work of moving a foot.  Every day we stretch and work muscles in the hope that they will return.

Psalm 30 spoke to me once again this morning: “I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me.  O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.  O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit.  Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints and give thanks to his holy name.  For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.  Weeping may tarry with the night, but joy comes with the morning.  You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”  v. 1-5, 11-12.

Indeed from the very earliest stages I have felt God’s sweet whisper that joy will come with the morning.  We see glimpses of it now, and believe that more is to come. In the meantime, we covet your prayers, which not only carry us but bring us joy.  While the pace of care and therapies is intense, with few breaks, it is also taking on a distinct monotony.  Patience is a treasure to be found, buried somewhere in this new life.  Steve and I loved our adventures, and in another time we would have been out and about, exploring, meeting new people, engaging in groups, learning and growing.  Now we are consumed by much simpler tasks and the energy this takes leaves us with little left at the end of the day for more exciting endeavors.  Please pray with us for patience and endurance as we (especially Steve!) do the work, for presence of mind to see the glory which abounds, and for faith to anticipate the joy.

With deepest gratitude,


Many of you have requested our address.  It is:

7700 175th St. SW
Edmonds, WA 98026

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  • Fred Davis

    Very few understand the endurance required just to live the lives God has given you. I don’t even think Judy and I do – our experiences, while similar are not yours. Yet we don resonate with the joy of small victories, of stolen moments in each other’s arms, of small incremental improvements that happen all too slowly and with way too much effort, and the endless stream of well-wishers who are a joy and blessing and an intrusion of sorts at the same time. We continue to hold you up in prayers. We continue to rejoice at God’s goodness in you with each new development. We will pray in particular for word from Medicaid, for the sale of the house, for more nights of deep rest than of deep restlessness; for clarity in understanding God’s plans and purposes; and for a deepening patience and love for the two of you and your boys. Some day, in ways not yet understood, their lives will be deeper and richer for having seen the authentic reality of your (both of you) faith and love in the midst of trial. You encourage and strengthen us and are deeply touched by your posts when you find the time to write them. Please keep them – someday bind them and share them with the community of the wounded and disabled. They will be a great encouragement. We love you

    Fred and Judy

  • baby

    Everyday I check my email hoping to hear from you. And everytime you write, you inspire a lot of people. You are gifted with words, how you aptly describe God’s goodness. We shall be praying for you and the family, especially Pastor Steve. We look forward to his return here at UCM. God be with you all the time.

  • Deb Meske Thompson

    Well done, Michelle. Well done. Keep on plugging!

  • Jeri

    We depend on the morning. After a labor that has gone all night with much effort and little seeming progress, the tiny, tiny lightening of the eastern sky, allowing us to see that indeed, the rising of the sun was near and dawn was coming gave all of us, midwives and laboring mother a fresh energy. And, the new life came into the world. Joy indeed comes with the morning. Our prayer is that all your mornings bring joy and all your evenings deep rest and refreshing sleep.

  • Kayleen Hilyer

    Could someone please post the address where I can send Steve and Michelle cards? My church is still sending them to the hospital………Thanks!

  • Bstalter

    Find joy in the darkness and solitude of your more narrow world. God has pulled you all aside to
    show you. He is enough and all you need. He is showing you His fulfilled promise to provide for you.
    Rest in Him, Wait on Him.. peace.. relax.. be attitude.. not do attitude.. His way.

  • Roger and Jerri Oliver

    Dear Steve and Michelle,

    We continue to pray for your continued endurance and strength for this marathon, knowing that our most loving Father continues to answer prayrs of the many who love Him and You!

    Much love,
    Roger and Jerri

  • Julie

    Michelle, your words are not only so touching, they actually provide comfort in seeing the reality of God’s goodness. I am reminded of 2 Cor. 1:3-4 –”Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.. who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” God indeed will give you the patience and endurance to do His work.. We are eagerly awaiting your return to Manila!… Julie/UCM

  • Tiffany

    Love you all so much! Just wanted to say I am thinking of you right now… I’m glad you got to experience a purely family weekend, and I say way to go for jumping into all of it with grace and hope. (And moments of fatigue and strain, I’m sure as well)… you did it. Love, love, love and continued prayers for patience, endurance, healing and rest. XO

  • Kirsten Foot

    I had a chance to watch the 3 videos of Steve walking after reading Michelle’s post tonight, and they brought tears of joy to my eyes too. I am praying for and eagerly hoping the day will come soon that Steve walks to our house. Let us know your favorite beverage, so we can have it on hand to celebrate on that day…


  • Amelita

    Yes, we will all be there for the concert for Steve and you, the least we can do to show you that we care. Prayers are unceasing for Steve’s recovery and for the strength and steadfastness of Michelle> How you have managed, Michelle, is in your own words “astounding”! Our prayers will keep you going.

  • Helen Bartholomew

    God has given you the gift to write and articulate what is complex as simple. You must write a book about all these miracles for the world to know that God dwells in our daily lives. I shall see the day when you speak as a guest in one of those daily shows in TV, a blockbuster movie and a book to tell the truth about God’s love . . . where God takes the center stage through the life of Pastor Steve . . . what a blessing!

  • Cbsample

    You are such a help, not only to Steve, but to us all.

  • Carlac

    Dear Michelle and Pastor Steve, This too is good news! Your tender family times, God’s nature around both recaptured for some relished moments. This I pray for and will keep on for the needs you spoke of. Those sandy beaches nearby are outnumbered by the thoughts of God for you, Psalm 138:17-18.
    Love, Carla and Dan

  • Jason

    Keep up the hard work, Steve. You are truly an inspiration. Michelle, your articulate and steadfast support are equally amazing. We pray that God will bless your faithfulness with more family togetherness.
    Love, Jason Atkins