Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling…

From Michelle.  6 January, 2012.

Dear friends and family,

It’s a new year.  While the marking of a fresh beginning may be somewhat artificial, it helps to stop for a moment in time and reassess.  On a beach, in a brief quiet moment at the end of 2011, Steve and I first looked back, and then set our faces toward the future.  Of course, our time line is more accurately measured now in relation to June 2010.  January 2012 then puts us firmly halfway through our second year, post accident.

In the first year, we were surviving.  The searing pain and the manifold adjustments roared to us that we were fiercely alive.  It was an adrenalin-charged scramble, savagely lived and loved.  Somewhere in the second year, the tide changed, the momentum dropped, and we found ourselves washed up on the shore with time to look around.  Finally the living is not forcibly drawn from us in fierce confrontation and in response to the circumstances.  But with that freedom comes a different kind of responsibility.   How the story now evolves is an act of will.  The canvas is less crowded, the lines are more carefully drawn.  Now that we are not fighting for our lives, it would be easy just to float, exhausted, with the current.  We are both privileged and burdened by the choices.

We ended the year with a family vacation.  Vacations are bitter sweet for us now.  Inevitably, when we are freed to have fun, we find that the old ways of having fun are no longer available.  Long walks on the beach, Steve playing silly tunes on the guitar to make the boys laugh, exploration, spontaneity, sheer energy are no longer available to him and therefore to us.  We sleep more and explore less.  The days unfold in more muted tones, and I lug the suitcases.  We still have not gotten used to that.  Without the daily routine there is still more time to look around.  The view is not always easy.

One of our very favorite pastors often cited this quote from CS Lewis: “Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”  Simple advice but true, and especially poignant in the following.  Events have only just stopped swirling enough for us to grieve a little.  But the purpose of the grieving is solely to follow it to an ending, and after the ending, to a new beginning.  What you resist will persist, another simple but true little adage.  So we cannot bury the losses, at least not until we have identified and acknowledged them.  Only then can we gently lay them down and cover them with dirt.  We want to live, but it takes some courage to bury what is gone and start afresh.  It takes resolve.

Our new year’s resolution, then, is this: to come to terms with the losses and to bid them farewell.  To cry and then to stop and then to move on.  2012 may consequently have some funereal undertones, but it will also be the birthplace of something new.  We cannot wait.

One of the verses that has resounded again and again throughout this long journey has been this one from Ephesians, a simple verse but overflowing with reckless faith and complete trust in a God who is good: “Now to Him who is able to do far more than all that we can ask or imagine, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.”  Every time I imagine that I have reached the end of God’s abundant love, creativity and action in my life, I find there is more.  It is a pattern I can see when looking back, but it takes faith to look expectantly for more in the great void that is the future.  And so another similar doxology comes to mind, this time from Jude: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time, now and forever.”  The words that resound in my spirit, giving strength, are these: “to him who is able to keep you from stumbling,” and “with great joy”.  He will keep us from stumbling as we move forward into the darkness, and into 2012.  And what will always be waiting ahead, is joy.

Happy New Year!

With love from all of us,


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  • Jolly Morata

    JOY, unspeakable joy be yours as you journey through 2012, secure in the strong arms of our faithful, sufficient, Almighty! :-) Hugs!

  • Heather

    Great C.S. Lewis quote.  All the best in 2012!

  • Sky

    your new years resolution fills me with more hope and excitement for you both than I think perhaps anything you’ve previously written! to death! because Cristos Anesti!

  • Roger & Jerri

    Dear Michelle and Steve, our love and prayers are always with you and your family. Your New Year’s resolutions are both challenging and,as you say, exciting. While your losses must be resolved, we share your faith that God has magnificent plans for you. Again, we send our love. Roger and Jerri Oliver

  • Betty Gutzwiller

    Dearest Michelle, Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.  I am always blessed, encouraged and challenged! Much love! Betty G

  • Barry

    Funerals are a good thing as they can bring closure.  But as a pastor I know that sometimes 2 equal and opposite errors can occur. 1. folks try to bury stuff that isn’t dead yet. I know you know this, but be sure the possibilities are entirely gone before moving on.  I hate for folks to loose hope prematurely or unnecessarily.  and 2.  folks go back and dig up what was long ago buried.  Needless to say it’s always a stinky mess.  But I will be praying for you about these dangers and wish for you the very best of God’s blessings in this new year.  Barry DeShetler

  • Lexlio S. Reyes

    one of the best pieces you’ve ever written, michelle.  and you don’t realize how blessed we become just following your posts.  we admire your spirit, which we know could only come from the Spirit — the Spirit that gives us joy, encouragement, and the fervent will to move on despite the seemingly insurmountable setbacks and other discouraging circumstances that life inevitably brings.  my wife and i came up to pastor steve after the last christmas eve service and introduced ourselves:  “we are lex and lowell reyes.  we are not members of UCM but of greenhills christian fellowship-east.  however, we regularly attend here every other sunday when our choir is not assigned to sing at our chruch (i am the choir director and my wife and daughter are choir members). by the way, our choir regularly participates in your hymn festival.  please know that we have been praying for you and your family.”  allow me to end this note by reiterating that last statement — please know that we (and countless others) have been praying for pastor steve and your family.  our God heals!  and He shall wipe away all tears from our eyes in His often incomprehensible yet always perfect time.  blessed be the name of the Lord! and all of God’s best for 2012 and beyond.

  • Deb Meske Thompson

    Love and encouragement to you, one day (or one hour, or one moment) at a time.  Blessings, Deb.

  • Betsy King

    I have been reflecting too, on the joy and strength of the Lord.  Praying that he grow you in joy and perseverance, and that his grace be sufficient; his power made perfect in weakness.  2 Cor. 12:8-10  Love to you Ruetschles!