From Michelle.  1 June, 2011.

Dear friends and family,

Steve and I forget that we cannot do things as we did before.  This month, we got recklessly hungry for life, and we crammed our mouths full with it.  The crowded schedule was a red flag we ignored and off we ran, high on the speed and the goodness of it all, until we looked at each other and realized that we are slower now.  I imagine aging this way, our eternal spirits forced to make peace with the physical limitations conferred upon them by time. Steve is reminded in his body.  My spirit is still tired and nudges me more quietly.  Perhaps some space would be good.  A dash of silence.   A bit more prayer.  I notice the breathlessness and realize that in all of the fine acrobatic maneuvering it took to get through our calendar, I forgot to breathe.

Tricked by all of the progress, we forget.  I watch Steve glowing on the stage, preaching, a tireless ball of passion and energy.  At night he is still illuminated by it, energized and inspired.  It is a convincing mirage of what once was.  The next day, however, his body reminds us both, nerves crackling and muscles aching.  Slowing down is a discipline we are still learning.

While the injury is Steve’s the whole family must adjust to this unhurried pace.  It takes awhile for stiffened fingers to fish keys out of a pocket, no matter how quickly the rest of us are tumbling toward the car, children jumping up and down, prematurely tugging on the locked door handles, and me a whirlwind of motherly hunting and gathering.  No matter how late we are, we now amble up to our destination with a dignified gait.

Slowing down might be profitable.  Remembering to breathe is beneficial.  Steve once did a silent retreat for a month.  He could not read, and aside from a brief morning interaction with his spiritual mentor, he spent his time in silence in a cabin in the woods.  One day his assignment was that every time he breathed he should remember the Holy Spirit.  For an entire day, Steve breathed and remembered the Holy Spirit.  It changed him.

I try to remember this as I reign in the desire to rush through this transition.  The details are not yet ready to be harvested: plane tickets, moving companies, housing plans.  Restless, unfinished checklist in hand, I might forget to breathe.  Looking up the word breath in my concordance, I discover that the very last verse in the psalms is: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord!”  (Psalm 150:6)  Indeed, there is much to praise with this breath of mine, if I can but remember.  Steve walking without a cane, Steve preaching, Steve holding my hand with evermore pliant fingers, the tears of friends and strangers as he tells the story.  And I know in my heart that there is more to come.

During the early stages of Steve’s paralysis, he could not breathe easily.  The nerves did not fire up his belly and chest muscles, and his breath was shallow.  Respiratory therapists gave him exercises and trained me to help him cough, something he was unable to do on his own.  It was an almost violent gesture, not unlike a Heimlich maneuver, that forced enough air from his lungs for a good strong breath.  Unlike Steve, I take breathing for granted.  I run too fast and get breathless, as I did this month.  Alternately, I treat the details of my life more like heavy stones of great significance than like a breath, here today and gone tomorrow.  The details will come.  The healing will come.  In the meantime, I have to breathe and remember the Holy Spirit.

Remembering, I look up a verse from Steve’s favorite psalm, psalm 46.  In verse 10, there is the famous verse: “be still and know that I am God.”  The Message translates it this way: “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”  I look and I breathe and I know.

Thank you, God.



PS  Thanks so much to all those who continually ask for prayer requests.  First, we give thanks that Steve again managed (with delight!) a full day of preaching at First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue.  You can see his sermon at:  Our greatest hope and prayer continues to be for full healing for Steve, which includes healing in his hands, strength in his legs, an absence of nerve pain, and returned sensation to his body.  We pray with hope but also with the deepest gratitude for all that we have already received.  We would also be so grateful for prayers for our return to Manila.  Every detail has yet to unfold in a short amount of time, and amidst our own travel to see family and friends one last time.  Please pray for our congregation in Manila as they too prepare their hearts and minds for this transition.  As always, your prayers are deeply treasured by us.  Thank you!

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  • Jayoder

    You are so right. The “Breath” of “Life” has so much more meaning when you tie it to the Holy Spirit and how we find things so difficult when we forget to recognize how that “Spirit” works in our lives.
    IF we can just take a step back and review our weekly schedules, in light of the how the Lord works in our lives, THEN we can see better our limitations.
    God’s Blessings,
    Jerry & Carmel

  • Fred

    Dear Steve and Michelle, how Judy and I continue to pray – not just for the physical healing in Steve’s body – but for grace sufficient for every need in each of your lives. Michelle, your words are profoundly wise for all who run too fast, too far and in too many directions. Taking time to breathe, to listen, to observe and to witness the Holy Spirit’s working is a difficult but rewarding investment – one that I forget all too easily. Thank you for your poignant reminder.

    When I was in the hospital, words that I had memorized from Philippians continuously stirred my heart and again today, as I read your posting and thought about all that lays ahead of you in this time of transition, these words came to my mind and heart as a prayer for you:

    I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because your your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure  and blameless until the day of  Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ  – to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:3 – 6; 9 – 11)

    We may never understand the ways and purposes of God. But Judy and I know that it is through suffering that we have been brought closer to Christ and that is through suffering that a bond of love for you has been established so that we pray for you daily. If we don’t get to see you again before you return to Manila, know that our prayers will not stop. We feel blessed to be, in some small way, a part of the large circle of friends, supporters and brothers and sisters that know and love you all.

    God bless you richly, deeply, completely with his love and grace
    Fred and Judy

  • Sarahgvogt

    Dear Michelle,
    Your eloquence is transcendent. God bless you all for what you all are going through and for the way your suffering, faith, endurance, and day to day reliance on God is such an inspiration and living proof of the way God wants us all to live in total reliance and gratitude to Him. We love you and pray for you always.
    Sarah Vogt

  • Sarah Campbell, UPC

    Hi Steve and Michelle,
    Such beautiful thoughts in this post, Michelle. I can only imagine how hard it would be to pull back on the reins when healing and opportunity join together. I talked with my husband’s aunt, Patty Dutt, last night, who attends 1st Pres. Bellevue. She said she was so moved by your sermon, Steve, and so thankful you shared it with their congregation.
         My family rejoices that you, Steve, and Michelle and the boys gets to return to Manila and Union Church. May the Lord bless you, your congregation and your ministry as it continues to unfold.

  • Heather Klepp

    I love this picture of Steve, as it shows the joy pouring out of him.

  • Barry

    May the very breath of God, the Ruach of the OT and Pnuema of the NT, fill you both and may God answer the prayers as you desire.  Blessings, Barry DeShetler, Christ UMC, Kettering

  • Kikomnl

    just finished watching steve’s sermon…how beautiful. i was in tears. thank you for sharing michelle, we continue to lift your family up in prayer, and praise and thank god for you and your family. we love you.

  • Roger & Helen Bartholomew

    …… and yesterday as we prayed for you and Pastor Steve and the family we said that we have not heard for a long time how all the preparations for the return to Manila and the physical rehab is going, and here the next morning is the answer. God’s timing is indeed perfect. Time to breathe is a great message for all of us. In today’s world “unfilled time is unproductive time” seems to be the message. Thank you for these deep insights into day-to-day living and remember them when you arrive back home in Manila. There will be huge pressure to do too much (and eat too much)! Our prayers continue daily and will focus not just on the complete physical restoration, but also for spiritual preparation for resuming the ministry at UCM.

    Roger and Helen, UCM 

  • Susie O’Brian

    We watched Steve’s sermon at First Pres on line from Cannon Beach — and we both sobbed as we watched and listened and remembered and praised God.  What a gift you both are to us, to everyone.  We cannot adequately express it.  You are God’s love to us – may we all be God’s love to you, with prayers for continued healing, and a special and safe return to Manilla.  Love you all – Susie & Tim

  • Craig and Margaret Sutherland

    We watched the video of your past year since the accident  and your message at Bellevue with tears again, both of sorrow for all the pain and suffering you have gone through as a family this past year, and of joy for how God has answered prayers that He would  restore you so you could embrace your wife and children again – and stand up and preach again! We  worship with you our awesome God, who is truly “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think,” and are praying  for you as you prepare to return to the Philippines!

    Craig and Margaret Sutherland

  • Deb Thompson

    This is a beautiful post, Michelle.  Look and see how far you all have come!  Love and hugs,  Deb

  • Gretchen214

    Michelle and Steve –

    Again, thank you for taking time to share your journey with us.  I went to the First Pres Bellevue site and listened to your sermon, Steve.  Your words were a blessing, and your song made me weep.  As you spoke, I experienced gratitude,and as you sang, I felt God’s blessing.  May God continue to meet your needs.  May you each remain healthy and well, and may you, Steve, continue to experience improved function in your hands, improvement on your left side, and improved sensation in your body.  May the details of your summer travels fall into place. 

    May His grace and blessings continue to abound to you.

  • gemma

    lieve michelle, bedankt voor jouw mooie “brief” en overpeinzingen.
    Zo’n verhaal doet mij ook stilstaan bij mijn dagelijkse bezigheden, mijn dagelijks zijn.

    Dank daarvoor en lieve groeten voor jullie allemaal.

    gemma griffioen-bakker


  • Karen Bergevin

    Dear Steve and Michelle,
    Watching Steve preach last Sunday and absorbing what he had to say was such a gift!  Like so many, it brought tears to my eyes to see Steve walk up onto the stage after watching the wrenching video of his journey so far. Thank you Steve for your joy and courage and faith.  Thanks to God for such miraculous healing!  Thank you Michelle, over and over for your posts.  They inspire me and lift me up.  I pray that all the details of your return to Manila will wall into place and for complete healing for Steve. 

  • Druetschle

    Michelle, as always your postings are so inspirational and timely.  We are anxious for your visit with us and with our help and support our wish is that you both breathe deeply with much joy.  What a blessing it will be for our church family to hear your message the last Sunday in June.  You have inspired so many people around the world and our continued prayers for Steve’s total healing never cease.
    We send all our love!

  • Druetschle

    Michelle, as always your postings are so inspirational and timely.  We are anxious for your visit with us and with our help and support our wish is that you both breathe deeply with much joy.  What a blessing it will be for our church family to hear your message the last Sunday in June.  You have inspired so many people around the world and our continued prayers for Steve’s total healing never cease.
    We send all our love!

  • john dettoni

    Speeding up helps to find the limits.  Congrads that you found your limits at this point of time.  But as any athlete in training knows(and you two are certainly “in training!!”), athletes go to the limits, backs off, continue at a lower pace for a while and then up the ante again.  Development is always difficult whether one is a 13 yr old boy going from child to adult or in recovering from what surely could have been death or permanent paralysis.

    So, keep up keeping up!  The Lord gives strength day by day — as you well know!

    Your lives are testimonies of finding that the strength of the Lord is your daily supply AND of knowing the JOY of the Lord which is also your strength.

    The Lord thru you two has stengthen more people than you will ever know.

    blessings and peace,
    john dettoni
    mobile: 949-633-1078

  • Jrammes

    Steve and Michelle:  Steve, I can’t be more amazed, thrilled, releaved, thankful (insert another adverb here) at your recovery.  The journey you both have taken to get to this point has been an enormous inspriation to myself and my wife and thousands of others.  We will continue to pray for you and think of you as you continue out.  Michelle, thank you so very much for sharing all of this with us.  Steve and your sons are so fortunate to have you in their lives.  God bless you both and keep going strong.

    Jay Rammes

  • Margotowen

    Miche, makes me think of the song  that begins “This is the air I breathe.” Continue to breathe, dear ones.  We love you so much and cannot wait to see you soon.  Brother Sun Steve, just watched your sermon at First Pres. Awesome! You even have your deep- knee- bends- for- emphasis and that crazy twinkle in your eye as you talk about your beloved Lord. I can picture you in Manila even now. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, and that you were wiped out on Monday, but dang, you were great. God has done amazing things and will continue to do so.  Your friends are still carrying you to Jesus…. He can do more than we can imagine. Lifting up prayers for continued healing and stamina to meet the challenges of each day.

    Sister Moon

  • jonathan nambu

    Dear, dear Steve and Michelle, you two are living icons of God’s love, goodness, grace and power.  Thank you so much, Steve, for your message at the presbyterian church on Jesus and the paralytic, which just ministered to my heart.  Thank you Michelle, for your reflections in the blog above which call me back to noticing and pausing.  We love you both and look forward to see you back in Manila!  – Jonathan and Thelma Nambu

  • Maestrosdean

    Steve and Michelle

    A beautiful post.  Thank you!

    And thanks to both of you for sharing your breath with us at fpcb.  It was an amazing day in so very many ways but most prominent was a powerful proclamation of the Word which Steve delivered with energy, zeal, grace, humor, and insight beyond compare.  

    Keeping you in our hearts and prayers
    the music ministry of fpcb

  • Greggfarah

    Wow. Wow. Wow!!!

  • Lisa

    You continue to inspire my own “walk” with God.  Thank you and my prayers continue to you and your family as I lift you all up to our great God.

  • Brad Marshall

    I am blessed by watching and listening to Steve’s message and by reading your posts, Michelle.  I have both prayed for you two and your family and I have had my faith strengthened  through the healing.  So I consider myself both a scribe and a friend who has been touched by Christ through your circumstances.  Thank you for your steadfastness and I pray for continued healing and a smooth transition back to Manila.  And I know my sister-in-law was thrilled to see Steve preach in person while she was visiting from NY this week!

  • Debbie Simsuangco

    Thank you Michelle for your soulful writing. Are you even aware that for the past year, it is YOU who has been ministering to us about God’s faithfulness??? Your faith journey has been a source of strength and hope to us. I cling to every word as I lift each of your concerns in prayer. We rejoice with you at each step for Pastor Steve and the family, and pray for calm and stamina as you prepare for yet another transition. Know that we excitedly await your UCM homecoming. Meanwhile, do take deep breaths…because come to think of it, that is one of the few things in life that we can’t put off,  hoping to make up for in lost time.  “Be still and know that I am God” is a favorite personal touchstone verse for moments of chaos, discomfort or simply being overwhelmed.  Each breath is a gift from God, so enjoy the feast! <3

  • Erica

    Just watched Steve’s sermon on Healing the Paralytic.  What a joy to see Steve standing, moving, gesturing, singing…and how appropriate to say “I stand in awe of you”.  That passage has also meant so much to me during times in my life where I was certain I could not get to Jesus on my own, but the courage of my friends has gone boldly before me.  I look forward to being back with you all at Pastor’s Conferences or hanging on the beach together - in the meantime, let us all take moments to breathe consciously and deeply.   

  • Charity

    Dearest Steve and Michelle,
    I just watched the video of Steve preaching at FPC.  What a miraculous work God has done in you both throughout this journey.  I’m sure there’s more to come and I know that God will continue to bless your work.  I just think of all the people God has touched, using you, in this difficult time, that maybe He would  have reached in another way, but He counted you worthy.  Love you all so much.  I wish I could be there in Manila when you arrive!  I’d just LOVE to see you and I feel so very homesick for Manila!  Tons of love!  Hang in there; I know every day isn’t easy!  Praying for you often.Charity

  • Glen Braden

    Well, it is the 21st in Manila as I write this. It has been a few days over one year since the accident.  Can you believe all that God has done in this past year?!  Going from praying that you would just survive to planning your family’s return to Manila. It is crazy!  God is so good!
    Can’t wait to have you all here!