and hope does not put us to shame…

From Michelle.  October 13, 2010.

Dear friends and family,

Our marathon drags on, in all it’s glorious monotony: the daily regimens of pills, stretches, therapies, bed baths, bowel programs, and so on, not to mention the predictable rhythms of life with small children.  It has been harder to see the swells of the waves moving us forward as each day fades into the next with fewer ripples, and our attention is focused now on a faithfulness to the details, and an enduring discipline.

Each night after the kids are tucked in, Steve and I go through the same routine: the transfer to bed, the removal of Steve’s shoes, the heaving of the wheelchair into the corner and the plugging in, the undoing of the belly binder, the checking of the skin for pressure sores, the removal of one kind of pressure stocking and the putting on of another, the undressing which takes both of us, the careful arrangement of pillows, the sleeping pills to be gotten and the table placed just so with its morning pill at the ready, Steve’s phone within reach in case of emergency, the water pouch hanging with its tube carefully laid within reach and a sentry of urinals for nighttime bladder control.  We are engaged in a carefully choreographed routine, framed by both care and incapacity.  Surely there are pinpoints of glory in the wash of these daily regimens, but as Steve’s brother Mark put it during a visit, (and I am paraphrasing here), there is so much slogging for a few moments of glory.

Little freedoms from these constraints come steadily, as the routine bends and shifts with Steve’s ever changing skill set.  Steve can now transfer himself to bed for the most part, though he still needs help with small, seemingly inconsequential things like adjustments to the pillow under his head, or flattening the bedding underneath him so that no wrinkles cause undue pressure to his skin.  We are experimenting with freedom from the belly binder, and someday those impossible pressure stockings will follow.  For us, this scene is mercifully fluid.  For others with similar injuries, it remains the same for the rest of their lives.

This week, I have been meditating on the prayer that the eyes of my heart would be enlightened.  I was reading Ephesians 1:17-18, and this fragment of Paul’s prayer for his Ephesian brothers and sisters struck a deep cord: “…that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you…”  I have written, tentatively, about hope.  Each day it is a balancing beam upon which I precariously shift my weight, looking for that perfect equilibrium between anticipation and submission, desire and acceptance.  Steve is all the more precariously perched, and the temptation is to become so consumed by the superficial challenges and the disheartening limitations of this life that the deeper essence is missed.  But here in this slower, less glamorous rhythm of days, in the middle stretch of the marathon, there is also the opportunity to know him more, to become reacquainted with the hope to which he has called us, to have our hearts enlightened.  Elsewhere in the bible, in Romans 5:3-5, it says, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…”  It is a spiritual mystery that suffering with God, we might gain hope.  Perhaps the key lies in the bigger picture, because through suffering, I know that I am reminded both of my weakness and of his strength, and I am also reminded that this current state is not God’s perfect and final answer – there is more on that other shore.  And in his strength, and in that eternal glory lies my deepest hope.  I don’t want to miss it.

With love,

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  • Hruetschle

    Michelle and Steve,
    We love you and continue praying for you from Ohio. We wish we could share the moments of glory you will have Friday night at the benefit. Rob preached on Philippians 3:7-10 this weekend:
    I thought of you and Steve. Much love, Heather
    Philippians 3:7-10
    7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, (ESV)

  • Cbsample

    Thank you so very much. Your attitude is a constant help and spur to me in my smaller problems.

  • Amelita

    It amazes me continuously how after a whole day’s seemingly intermnable seres of physically draining events of taking care of Steve and the children, you are able to write such deeply spiritual insights. This will forever give us inspiration and hope. Truly suffering produces character and enbending hope and faith in the Alimgithy, who we believe loves su and is doing all of these in our lives for the right reasons, HE alone knows.
    God love and bless,

  • linda

    Michelle. I can’t tell you how profoundly powerful your words were for me today. They moved me from a point of weakness to a place of hope. I wrote down the last sentences to reread and carry with me as a reminder. May you and Steve continue to boldly go forward as God’s waves of love and grace gently ripple or mightily cascade over you. Blessings. Blessings. Blessings.

  • Julie


  • Deb Meske Thompson


  • Cecille

    Oh Michelle, how profound. I’m chewing on your written spiritual stregth that lies on the hope that comes with your being and lingering under the shadow of the Most High God.

  • Tiffany

    Sending prayers for enduring discipline, faithfulness and hope to continue and grace to surround you…

  • Andrew Skeggs

    Michelle, I understand that every day presents new challenges, particularly while you are running the long straight, and for you and Steve, the run never meanders. You know that you run with the glory of God, but in the position of looking from the sideline, I see the courage and character of the log distance runner. You will not give in despite the tiredness, despite the pain. I can see the hope, but also the miracles that lie ahead. Steve has served God well, and although the finish line has yet to be laid, the breathing will become easier and the pain will slowly disappear. Hold onto that Godly hope. He’s running the race with you.

  • Lulu_ongkiko

    i can almost feel the “i hope today is the day of healing” and “God, do a miracle”, and “He is walking, hallelujah!” I too am close to running out of steam, my frozen shoulder is pain without relief, awake or asleep. Weak and unhappy, breathing becomes heavy, i turn to the bible, and whether I believe or not, i CHOOSE to believe, and God shows up, by 5am i am finally sleeping. With your posts, i am encouraged and my despair turns to hope, and when Steve walks again, i will surely be glad i put my hope in God.

  • Amyheckman23

    You have such a ministry Michelle! We are praying and on this journey with you!! Know you are surrounded in prayer and love!!

  • Ophelia

    Hi Michelle and Pastor Steve,
    Your update Michelle reminded me of the words of the apostle Paul to the Thessalonians : “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. ”

    I continue to pray for the complete recovery of Pastor Steve and I expect that when I get back to Manila next year, I would be seated in my favorite pew listening to the preaching of Pastor Steve. Nothing is impossible with our Awesome and Loving God.

  • Barry

    There are some blessings in the seasons of routine and even boredom. It allows God to “take care of business” on the one hand, and on the other when a “surprise” comes it is so easy to see it and say “That was God!” We continue to pray for you and trust that God will carry you on tthis wilderness treck across the Sinai – sand, sand, and more sand, but then every now and then a spring of water or a miracle to help you carry on. Blessings, Barry

  • Shehuy93

    I’ve always loved the phrase in Isa 40:31 “…they shall walk and not faint.” Sometimes it’s the day-to-day walking that can make us faint. But going along w/ what you have said, Michelle, “they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength…” Praying for that daily, moment-by-moment renewing of His strength for you two as you walk together with Him…and faint not.

  • Psbryant

    Dear Michelle and Steve,

    Your writing makes everything you are suffering through so real and burdensome. However, through it all is God’s hand of mercy and grace. It is a model of encouragement for us all in our sufferings for Christ.
    He is doing amazing things in your life and your witness and testimony has deepened my faith, immeasurably.

    “Sweet Mercies”, a song we will be singing tonight, speaks to me of your stuggles and God’s unending love and mercy showered down to us when we call on Him, the only One who sustains us in our trials.

    Love and blessings,


  • Wag443

    I attend the St. James Presbyterian Church in Bellingham, and our interim Pastor Jerry Pool, told us about Steve and gave updates on his condition this summer. My sister, Ann Lenssen and her family attend University Presbyterian Church, so she attended the fund raiser on the 15th.
    Our prayers continue for Steve and for his family, as he works hard toward recovery. May God bless you all, and give you the strength needed……this is a long journey……Nancy Wagar in Bellingham

  • Kara Bernsen

    Dear Michelle and Steve,
    We have been continuing to follow and be blessed by your amazing and difficult journey. I love the videos! As a PT I get so excited about Steve’s progress. We are continuing to uphold you in prayer.
    In Christ,
    Kara (Huff) and Ken Bernsen

  • Joe_dodson


    Is there an audio or video recording of the Seattle Benefit Concert?

    I’d like to share you message and a video with my men’s Bible Study Group who have been praying steadfastly for you and Michelle.

    Joe Dodson