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On Morning and Mourning

 

Last night was my longest night since Steve went home. Just the longest, hardest night.

 

Tossing and turning, reminding myself at 12:23 and 1:37 and 2:15 that the sun would rise, that morning would be faithful to break through mourning, that it could not be otherwise because it is the law of nature and the law of God’s mercy.

 

I’ve read a lot about people in grief who want to stay in bed indefinitely, but that’s not me. The dark silence is deafening, suffocating.  Not every night, just a few nights. But on those nights, the long term reality of Steve’s absence is palpable and powerful.

 

I keep looking for a strategy to avoid moments like this so that I can get on with this process and make some progress.  Then I remember: this is the process and this is progress.

 

This is grief.

 

It is weighty and consuming and it isn’t heavier than the love of God, but it’s the second-heaviest thing I’ve experienced.  I know that it can’t separate me from His love, but I do feel it pulling at my ankles sometimes with a strength that is surprising, wanting to drag me away with my hope. And if it were up to my muscles or intellect or emotional fortitude, grief would win without even breaking a sweat.

 

But, God.

 

He is strong and stronger still.  And every time I am rescued from the deep abyss, I am stronger, too – not necessarily in my ability to strategize and fight, but in my ability to rest and trust.

 

This is a big week ahead. I have a long list of things that need to be done and decisions that need to be made, and on Friday – the ALS Fancy Dance!  It’s too early to declare that it will be a great week, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that I’ll be stronger at the end of it than I am today.  That’s the ground in which I’m planting my flag on this Monday.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

August 24, 2015 - 10:26 am

Celeste - I love you, Bo! I love all the ways God has shown his faithfulness to you and all the ways you have shown your faithfulness to him. The way you let us into your life and your journey has been a source of encouragement and challenge, hope and joy! I pray God’s peace for you in your new season. I pray that He will wrap you up in his arms and remind you moment by moment that you are his. I cry with you, but I don’t know your pain. <3 God Bless you, dear Bo.

August 24, 2015 - 11:16 am

V. Jean Godfrey - This so describes my feelings right now.

August 24, 2015 - 11:25 am

Julie - True words spoken here. It is a long journey to be sure. Hang on warrior you will make it. There is light at the end of this tunnel and joy on the other side. I promise.
There are a great many things in your life worth fighting for!

When my spirit grows faint within me it is YOU who watches over my way! Psalm 142:3

Much love!

August 24, 2015 - 12:47 pm

Donald Dunn - I am available to drive the van on Friday night. Just need to know where to meet and what time. Blessings, Don

August 24, 2015 - 1:08 pm

Nat Gitnes - It has been 3 years since my husband left this world. I can say that most days are good, but then without warning, Grief comes to surround me again. What I have learned…just abide in it knowing that Jesus is with me there and I will soon walk out of it with Him holding my hand and cheering (play on words) me on once again.

August 24, 2015 - 1:40 pm

laura - Bo,
I am praying for you right now in Greenville, SC. I am so sorry you had a sleepless night. You are so right though, it is the process. Thank you for sharing your journey. It means the world to this southern girl. You are an amazing woman!!! Keep your chin up and looking towards heaven.

Love,
Laura

August 24, 2015 - 3:06 pm

Angie - Hang in there, Bo. The Son is rising in your mourning. He always does.

August 24, 2015 - 3:54 pm

Christine - I haven’t had to traverse the same kind of loss, Bo, but can I tell you… you are a light for anyone going through the rough stuff of life… with your grace and honesty and full-to-the-brim-with-His-faithfulness-in-life words, even when it’s hard.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart…

August 24, 2015 - 5:59 pm

Cynthia Fox - You said it so well, “But God”. Continue resting in Him and Christ will continue to bring you through. Grief has it’s way to show up unexpectedly but we do indeed make progress as we continue this journey.
Your in my prayers continually.
Cynthia

August 24, 2015 - 10:55 pm

Kathy Gilbert - Like

August 24, 2015 - 11:17 pm

Edie - I’m praying for you dear Bo. You portray His faithfulness to the world with your faithfulness to trust in Him. Love you so.

August 25, 2015 - 12:24 pm

Molly - Yes, please do keep us posted. I believe HE IS STRONGER, and trust HIM to prove it to you.

August 27, 2015 - 7:56 pm

Jewl - I’m so sorry, so very sorry for your profound loss. May the Savior show you how He is near, and may Steve’s love over the years carry you through the dance.

The Choice

 

Every day, I am faced with a choice to see life as beautiful and full or empty and unfair. I don’t think that will ever change (I don’t actually think it changes for any of us, no matter what our circumstances.) The only thing that changes is how easy or difficult it is to make the choice and how willing I am to make it, regardless of how capable I feel.

 

This morning, it’s easy. I feel peace and wholeness nipping at my heels. I feel held and sustained and excited about what the day holds. Tomorrow, it might be hard again. Or in two hours it might be hard again.  All I know for sure is it will be hard again.  I have no control over that.

 

The choice, however, she’s always mine to make.

 

 

 

I Praise Your name, for Your unfailing love and Your truth;

for You have placed Your name and Your word over all things and all times. 

On the day I needed You, I called, and You responded 

and infused my soul with strength.  

Psalm 138:2-3 The Voice

 

 

 

August 17, 2015 - 9:21 am

jacquelyn strayer/straywolff - Thank you for that scripture. Shared it.

August 17, 2015 - 9:34 am

Kathy - Thank you dear Bo.

August 17, 2015 - 7:10 pm

Jewl - Have you seen Beth Moore’s promo for War Room yet? Get your tamborine ready, even while in Egypt! You will have times when you praise your God even more because our sorrow brings us close to the Comforter and all He holds in heaven, and other times you will and have already felt dumped on the shore of the sea in grief, just gasping to breathe, let alone cry for help. In both times you have already decided the basics: God is good. He will carry you through hard. What relief to know those answers!
I’m so glad you had the courage to ask your friends for help for “that night!” Their work is beautiful, and that pillow is beyond amazing! ☺
With a prayer for healing for headaches and peace throughout.

August 17, 2015 - 8:56 pm

Christine Duncan - May each day be bathed in good things to choose from, and may He grant you the strength to choose them.
Your words today, Bo, are so filled with graciousness… I must confess my soul drank them in, like quenching a thirst. I too have the same choice… wow!
Thank you.

August 23, 2015 - 1:55 pm

Cindy Carlton - A friend from church told me about your blog today. My mother-in-law lost the battle with ALS June 24, 2015. This was such a huge loss. She was, like so many people who are diagnosed with this horrible disease, was full of life and very independent. We got the diagnosis June 2014 and spent 40+ days in the hospital May-June 2015. She had a trache put in over Memorial Day weekend. She had been on a ventilator since early spring. She was weak and required 24 hour care. I watched my father-in-law continuously care for her. The day before her funeral would have been their 40th wedding anniversary. We miss her everyday. I look forward to your future posts. God bless you!!

How My Friends Restored My Hope (and My Bedroom)

 

“Hey sweet friends – could you do happy hour today?  I have a big favor to ask.”

 

 

I remember the very day I sent the text.  I don’t know why it was so hard to do, but it was SO hard to do.  Very quickly, Deanna and Gretchen each responded with such happy yes’s that I felt better about the conversation that would take place at my favorite restaurant with my two wonderful friends who I felt were so perfect for the task ahead.

 

 

Quick backstory: Two years or so ago, because of changes in Steve’s condition and the need to accommodate a lot of machinery nearby, we moved him into a hospital-type bed in our bedroom and I had a little bed beside him.  After sleeping together for almost thirty years, that was a really hard day. But I took solace in the fact that he was still at home and not in a facility and that we were still together, even though our room was nothing like it had ever been.  The more ALS took over Steve’s body, the more it took over our room.  I eventually moved many of my things to the guest room as closets and dresser drawers began to overflow with medical supplies.

 

 

In December, we called in hospice and I knew the end was approaching quickly. That’s when I started thinking about what life would be like without him. There are a myriad of things you cannot know and cannot prepare for ahead of time, but the one thing that kept haunting me was the idea of the Very First Night.  No matter how hard I tried, I could not imagine sleeping in our room with Steve’s bed empty.  I also couldn’t imagine moving all his stuff out myself. It all just seemed so painful and impossible. That’s when I remembered something I had learned along the ALS road: Fix what you can fix and leave the rest alone.  This, I reasoned, was something I could fix.  And that brings us to my text to D & G.

 

 

They met me for happy hour on a gray spring day and I told them of my fear. And then I made my big ask. They listened and, tears streaming, said, “Absolutely. We can do this.”

 

 

On the day Steve died, Whitney made a few important calls and one of them was to Deanna and Gretchen.  That phone call launched Operation De-hospitalize Bo’s Bedroom.  As I sat and visited with my family and our pastors, my friends arrived and quietly – almost invisibly – began creating a beautiful space for me. I had already purchased a bed which had been waiting in storage and my friends had chosen everything else: sheets, comforter, pretty pillows and throws, a cushy  reading chair, fresh flowers in vases, new towels in the bathroom (it was important for me to choose friends whose taste and style I trusted.) They worked a long time, cleaning, decorating, ministering through their gifts. When it was ready, they came and got me and I…gosh, I’m not often without words, but I’m not sure what word to use for what I felt. I looked at that beautiful spa-like retreat and I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God to me through the hands of my friends. I felt peace. I felt security. I felt like maybe creating a life on the other side of ALS was an actual possibility.

 

 

27 days later, I can say that every time I go into my bedroom – I mean every single time – I am amazed that I get to live there. It is a haven for me in a difficult world.  And it is something that is my very own and I like that. The room that had represented the “us” of Steve and I went away a long time ago, there was nothing I wanted to preserve from the ALS season, so this very fresh, very new start has been one of the most life-giving things anyone has ever done for me.

 

 

If you are a friend wondering how to help someone who is in a similar situation, please feel free to send them this post and say:  If this is something you’d like to happen, I will help in whatever way I can.  If you are someone who is facing the loss of a spouse, feel free to send this post to a friend or two and say: If I give you the money, would you be willing to take this on for me?  OR, if you’re more concerned about making the choices yourself, you could buy the things you’ll want and ask a friend to store them for you until the time is right and then with one phone call, they could come in and make all the changes so you don’t have to (I know you hate to ask.  I know you feel like you’ve already used up all your favors.  I know you’re so tired of being the person who needs help that you’d love to just grit your way through something as personal as this, but please trust me – your friends would love to do this for you.)

 

I know it’s super weird to put pictures of my bedroom on the internet – but, hey – I’m a renegade like that and these are terrible cell phone pics so it’s almost like not really seeing it at all.  Here you go:

 

 

 

Listen, the one thing I know for sure is that I don’t speak for everyone going through sorrow.  I don’t even speak for anyone except me – grief is so subjective. Some people may be yelling at their computer right now, “I could never do that! I could never let someone take over such a personal task.”  I get it and I respect it.  But I do think there are those who have been through a long, hard battle with a sick spouse and they would love to have a fresh, clean space to call their own but are unwilling to ask or maybe even unable to pay for it after all the other luxuries they’ve purchased like medicine and doctor bills and such.  My dearest dream is that this post would be a head’s up to the armies of friends out there about creative ways to give hurting people hope on the hard days. Do with it what you will.

 

With heaps of freshly remodeled hope,

 

Bo

August 14, 2015 - 7:46 pm

Colleen Miller - This has given me a great idea. Thanks so much for sharing your sacred ground.

August 14, 2015 - 7:48 pm

vickie hughes - This is so hopeful Bo and such a great help to those of us who love people who are hurting and don’t know how to help. Thanks for the very practical, loving idea. It also gives a glimpse of the hope for the future you are feeling in the midst of the pain and sorrow. How gracious of you to be open and willing to share your life when it would be so much easier to hide and shut everyone out. Go Bo!! I’m praying for you from afar and constantly learning from you.
Vickie Hughes

August 14, 2015 - 8:14 pm

Brenda Stroth - No- thank you so much for this post. It has inspired me. One of my closest friends lost her husband of 40 years last year and she is grieving. I would love to facilitate a remodel for her!
Precious. So glad your besties put this together for you. It’s amazing!
Blessings! Brenda Stroth

August 14, 2015 - 9:20 pm

Carolyn - Bless you, Bo. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us.

August 14, 2015 - 9:31 pm

Patti - Thank you Bo for the amazing, beautiful story!!! great reminder of something we can all do to help hurting loved ones!!

August 15, 2015 - 12:00 am

Jenn Randles - Oh gosh your room is gorgeous! Oh and I love that pillow! What SPECIAL treasures named D & G in your life! Thank you for sharing that story. Its VERY inspiring and helpful for those grieving, as well as the ones walking alongside the grieving.

August 15, 2015 - 5:02 am

Cynthia - When my husband died 7 years ago of multiple sclerosis, I also knew I could not face the bedroom that contained so many memories, good and bad, alone. After all the hospital equipment moved out, I closed the door and moved into the guest room. A few weeks later my friend Jack, and interior decorator, came over with magazines and ideas. He shopped with me and emailed me ideas. Other friends helped with paint and accessory selection. When the room came together–more slowly than yours, but altogether beautifully–I was breathless. It’s just like you said–my room is now a peaceful, welcoming retreat. Which is just what I needed as I navigated the new season of singleness and grief. Thank God for friends who love us and who can bring beauty into our homes!

August 15, 2015 - 6:23 am

Debbie Hershey - Thank you for opening your heart, in the midst of your pain, to help others. May God fill those empty places in your soul with more of His peace and joy!

August 15, 2015 - 6:48 am

Beth Allen - there use to be a show called “While You Are Out” and people came in and re-did a room for them…it was great fun to watch. I did it a for few people. So much fun!!! So glad you were able to do this. your room is BEAUTIFUL!!! Blessings Bo;-)

August 15, 2015 - 8:22 am

Karma - I absolutely love your room! I think this is such a great way for people to serve….thanks for sharing this Bo!

August 16, 2015 - 7:00 am

Jody Collins - Brilliant idea and a beautiful room. You are very wise (and veryloved by people who share your taste for quiet, peaceful places.) The color combo is perfect!

August 16, 2015 - 8:31 am

Debbie Wilson - My friend just passed on your story to me. I lost my husband of 28 years to the side effects of radiation after a 14 year battle on 7/7/15.

There are so many things you have written about that came close to my heart. I wonder how I will get used to this, how I will survive without my best friends love, hugs and getting through life together?

I am angry, thinking about 28 years of accumulated stuff and downsizing I now have to do on my own (even though we talked about it), I am painfully sad for my children, who’s father will never get to see them graduate from college, walk them down the aisle or hold the first grandchild.

I am lonely and heartbroken, thinking about the next 20 or so years being alone…

August 16, 2015 - 7:00 pm

Mary Perko - What beautiful friends you have, Bo! I think this is a lovely idea and would be honored to do the same for a friend. I’m sure your “ask” blessed them as much as it did you. Thanks for sharing your heart.

August 17, 2015 - 1:31 pm

Phyllis - Awesome!

24 Days Later

 

It’s been two dozen days since Steve flew away home. Since then we’ve had a memorial, a graveside service,  escaped to the beach for a week, and returned to the land that we love. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

 

 

  • I’ve never felt as much pressure to make something beautiful and right as I did Steve’s memorial service. I wanted so badly to celebrate his life well. Somewhere in the mix of planning and stressing I realized I was feeling it was my last chance to honor Steve and it occurred to me how silly that was. We will always remember and celebrate Steve. Our lives are a reflection of him and in actuality, the days and generations ahead will be a much more authentic retelling of the story of Steve than one service in a church could ever be.

 

  • Having said that, I loved his memorial service.  The music, the people who shared, the pictures of his life. All of it was beautiful and meaningful for me.  I didn’t expect to love it because it is, at the heart, a really sad event – but I did love it and last night I worked up the courage to watch it for the first time and I felt so close to Steve and to the people who loved him like I did.

 

  • Grief is physical. It’s emotional,too, but I had no idea it would wreak such havoc on my body. For me, this has manifested in the form of fairly relentless migraines and just generally feeling sort of flu-ish.  I think the clinical term for what I’m feeling is “cruddy” (I actually think it’s call the Lethargy of Grief, but tomato, tomahto, you know?)  I read parts of A Grief Observed while we were on our beach getaway and CS Lewis describes it as “feeling concussed,or in a slight state of drunkenness” and I would agree except a slight state of drunkenness sounds way more pleasant than the headaches I’ve been wrestling with.  I ended up seeing a doctor in Portland about the whole thing and as of today, I think we’ve got it solved, but it was honestly one of the more frustrating issues to deal with immediately after losing Steve.  (Also worth noting: I’m loaded up with lots of helpful remedies including essential oils so no need to email me about that. )

 

  • Our time away at the beach was…rough. We were sad, several of us were sick and all I can really say is that nothing worked much like we had hoped. However, at the end of it all we decided we would be glad to leave that week and some of our sadness behind and return to the safety of home.  Sometimes what you think will be a refuge becomes a dumping ground instead and that’s okay too. I still believe we’re better for having gone, and we look forward to happier trips in the future.

 

  • My goal in the weeks following Steve’s death was to try to process the past four years and build some sort of plan for my future. I am, by nature, a rational thinker, so I reasoned I would be able to figure this thing out.  But when I arrived at the doorstep of that pursuit, I really didn’t know where to start. Make myself cry? Not cry? Sink into sorrow? Sink into memories? Look on the bright side? I was like a cross-eyed archer just wildly shooting arrows, hoping one would hit something that should be hit and not something that shouldn’t. I turned to a few books and found some helpful ideas and some not-so-helpful ideas and my takeaway is that, much like falling in love, grief is wildly subjective. We all go into it carrying a different suitcase full of emotional triggers and layers of history that create the lens through which we see our journey of sorrow.  I’m just now beginning to figure out what works for me and I wouldn’t dream of giving advice to anyone else except for this: be gentle and generous with yourself.

 

  • I had four years to get used to the idea of losing Steve, but I look back on the moments and days following his death and see clear evidence of shock. For instance, two days after he died, I sat down and wrote this post, detailing his last day on earth. I cried while I wrote it, but it wasn’t difficult for me – it was cathartic.  Just a few days later, however, I find I’m unable to go back and read it without the adrenaline and anesthesia of shock that was numbing my heart in that first week.  I joked to my sister recently, “I think I like shock.  What I hate is when the shock wears off.”

 

  • Sorrow really does come in waves. I’ve read it a million times, but now I’ve lived it about a hundred times. It builds and bubbles and then hits full-force and just when I think I’ll drown in it, it begins to recede. I don’t know if it’s true for everyone, but for me the wave runs its course in about twenty minutes. It’s not that I feel happy in twenty minutes, but I do feel like I can breathe and think clearly. Knowing how the cycle works for me (at least at this moment) has helped me know what I can control and make peace with (or get help with) what I can’t. I’m infinitely grateful to the people who kept their cell phones on 24/7 and took my desperate phone calls when I felt I couldn’t surf the wave on my own. Infinitely grateful.

 

  • People are amazing. I mean, really and truly amazing. I would tell you some of the creative, intentional ways they cared for us during this season, but I’m going to save that for another post. I have, however, been taking copious notes so that I can remember the brilliant ways we’ve been loved and served so that I can do the same thing for others when they travel through the shadowlands.

 

I know this is the most random post ever, but that’s how I’m thinking right now and I can’t seem to jolt myself out of it. In conclusion, I want to say that I am well.  I feel secure and loved.  My memories of my life with Steve are a warm blanket around my heart, rather than a painful reminder of what I’ve lost and that’s a relief to me because I wasn’t sure which direction that would go. Our home feels safe and peaceful and it’s really strange to be able to come and go as I please. Not bad strange and not good strange, just strange.  I am taking a month or so off of work and I can already tell I’ll be really ready to get back into the swing of things.  My kids are also well and I am so proud of them.

 

So, that’s the update.  Thank you for caring, loving, calling, texting, facebooking and just generally being the most awesome army in the history of war.  I love you.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

 

 

August 11, 2015 - 9:58 am

Arlene Hiatt - Prayers continue for you and your family. Love you, Bo.

August 11, 2015 - 10:02 am

Dianna Salciccioli - Love you Bo~ glad you are taking time to breathe, to recalibrate. Praying for you all.

August 11, 2015 - 11:10 am

Claudia Lee - Bo,
I, like you, was completely shocked at the physicality of grief. I was ill off and on for a year after Becky died – this for a ‘never sick for a moment’ person was so out of the blue. I just found myself nodding my head at every aspect of this post. Thank you for taking the time to let us know you are OK in a broken kind of way. Do whatever you do in this month off — I know God will be in it with you.
Love and prayers! Claudia

August 11, 2015 - 11:17 am

Karen Hermann - Have been praying for you and your family all along. You are all an amazing testimony of the power of gods presence in your life. You have given a map of how to negotiate the shadowlands. I am so grateful to have been a glimpse of it. You are missed and I look forward to your return. Continue your gentle and grace filled treatment of your self. It will never be the same but the passing of time does help.

August 11, 2015 - 11:31 am

Karla J - Oh gosh Bo, I’m so glad to know you and the kids are well. We’ve wondered…
I can’t tell you how much I agree with your first bullet point and the shock bullet point. Having lost my father in November, I can’t tell you how many times I said I preferred when I had the “shock shield” on. And the celebration service, it was just tremendous. I only wish we could have been there in person. You honored Steve well. Quite well.
Please know that we continue to pray for you daily, sometimes several times a day…for all of Team Stern. We hope that you stay in touch with the Steve side of the family… we love you so and can’t thank you enough for caring for him in such a loving wonderful way. Many blessings to you and big hugs! <3

August 11, 2015 - 1:46 pm

Jody Collins - Bo, it hardly seems possible that it’s been 24 days since Steve passed. Wow.

You are wise to take your time with your grief and let it be what it is–and yes, be gentle and generous with yourself.

May the fragrance of Heaven be a balm to you….

August 11, 2015 - 2:35 pm

Heather - You and your family continue in my prayers. Thank u for sharing your heart. We love you!

August 11, 2015 - 3:47 pm

carolyn - How you are loved, Dearest Bo. You are on my heart ever so many times each day…lifted in prayer and held closely. The path of grief is indeed individual, as individual as God Almighty created us. Embrace the grief and the comfort that He extends. Know that you are surrounded by the many who love you. I am blessed to be one of those.

August 11, 2015 - 8:23 pm

Mike spencer - I like your posts. I have gone through what you are going through and even more since it has been 4 yrs since my lovely of 43 yrs flew off from the evil ALS. She is suffering no more. I have done all the “right” things. Written a book, found God after a long time, serve my fellow person through the ALS Society and church. My kids have been there for me. My parents are still alive and I am blessed by their love, support and help. I have done Bereavement classes. Like you, I have this big void in my heart. My biggest issue, according to my children…Dad you need to move on! I can’t! If you remember Top Gun where Tom Cruz could not let go of Goose! That is me! I am afraid to let go. I hope I stay in step. I hope you find your peace.

August 12, 2015 - 6:04 am

Molly - Thanks for sharing. Been thinking of you daily. More n more prayers coming your way to get you wholly healthy.

August 12, 2015 - 4:13 pm

Laura Black - Iv’e been waiting on your post. Waiting on your random, yet wise thoughts. It was so good to read your post. It is a sort of promise to me that I will make it through this messy world of ALS. That living with someone depressed and dysfunctional will not last forever, that one day my husband will be whole and healed and exactly who the Father made him to be, not the scared shell of a man he is right now. Bo please keep writing. Those of us living in this hard place hang onto your every word. THANK YOU FOR BEING YOU. Thank you for sharing your hurt and your real. I’ve never met you, yet you bring me such HOPE.

Praying for all of you,
Laura Black
Greenville, SC

August 12, 2015 - 9:45 pm

Mike Davis - Bo,
First of all, thank you for sharing your experiences with Steve’s passing into Glory. I have cried like I didn’t know I could. I never got to meet Steve. But, through your words, he is totally my brother.

Secondly, Lord Jesus, heal the headaches of this, Your daughter. Heal her to to full completeness in You. You took the stripes on Your back that we are healed. I claim this healing, in Jesus’ name, for Bo, this minute. We pray for the sick, and they recover. Bo, be healed in Jesus’ name.

You are special beyond your wildest dreams. Steve is soooooo proud of you.
Mike

August 14, 2015 - 12:02 am

Donna - In every instance that I have had the privilege to witness a sermon of yours or read your blog, it is wholly evident that you lead with your heart. Your prose is a gift that reads like poetry and it must give you such solace when you are overcome in the “shadowlands”, as you call them. It is indeed a great honor to be allowed to walk with you through this exquisitely beautiful, profoundly painful journey. Praise the Lord; raise the roof, there is no doubt that Love is in the house!

If I could share a memory of your Steve: I saw him, walking somewhat haltingly at Costco a couple of years ago. We made eye contact, nodded our heads at one another and he smiled such a warm, glorious smile and he continued beaming as he exited the warehouse as if the Lord whispered something so lovely in his ear that it made his day. I felt compelled to watch him because it was so apparent that God’s light was shining on him, through him. I’m glad I have that little tidbit to pass on and even though I didn’t know him personally, I had a tiny glimpse into this man of God.

Be safe and be well.

Donna

Obituary for Steve Stern

 

photo-10Steve Stern was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 22, 1962, into a family of great faith and global reach. Before his first birthday, he was on a plane headed for Abraka, Nigeria, where he would spend the formative years of his childhood. Steve loved his life in Africa and would later relish telling his children stories of strange pets, swimming in rivers on hot days and living through the Biafran war. His family moved back to Detroit in 1970 and eventually on to Danville, Illinois, where Steve attended Danville High School graduating in 1980. In 1981 he packed up his Saab and moved to Portland, Oregon to attend Portland Bible College. There he met and married his wife, Bo. They honeymooned in Central Oregon and quickly began dreaming of the day they might make a life there. That day came in 1995 and Bend, Oregon has been home ever since.

 

unnamedSteve had many brilliant achievements in his life. He was a great golfer and businessman, a successful pastor – but he always believed that his best accomplishment was his family. He was unspeakably proud of Corey and Whitney Parnell, Victoria, Tess and Josiah Stern and he loved being Papa to his grandsons, Greyson and Phineas.

 

10598369_698938493527512_1406439057_nIn 2011, Steve was diagnosed with Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis. That’s when he became a hero. He battled the treacherous disease with bravery, humor and determination. He stayed fiercely in love with God and committed to being a faithful and loyal friend, dad and husband, even in the midst of his suffering. He used all his minutes and muscles on the people he loved most and continued to develop new, important relationships up until his last breath on July 18, 2015.

 

imageSteve is survived by his wife and children, his mother, Eleanor Stern, one sister, Susan David and brothers Philip and Jonathan Stern. He was greatly anticipating the prospect of heaven – especially seeing his dad, Paul Stern, who preceded him in death.

 

photo-2The impact of Steve Stern’s life, faith and love cannot be contained by words on a page, but it is reflected in his family and the many who were blessed to call him friend. His19,445 days on this earth were a gift that he opened and lived out with joy.

 

A celebration of life will be held on July 24th at 1:00 at Westside Church.  In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to help with medical and funeral expenses.

 

 

 

July 24, 2015 - 8:36 am

Leilani Haywood - I’ve followed your journey through this valley for several years. I’ve wept with you, prayed with you and I’m weeping now. May God carry your family during this time.

July 24, 2015 - 8:40 am

Angie Tolpin - Bo,
I have followed a little of your families journey the past year through Facebook and stories from mutual friends and I wanted to thank you all for bringing our Father in heaven glory through all the circumstances, the trials, the struggles, and the pain you have experienced. I am sure there were hard, hard, hard days, but even in those Jesus was magnified and that is beautiful even in the midst of all the hard. Know that our family is praying for you and thankful for brothers and sisters in Christ like you that can shine so brightly.
May He Comfort You

July 24, 2015 - 9:15 am

Jess Lederman - Dear Bo,
I can feel my own heart break all over again; and yet, with your example, and Steve’s, and that of my late wife Teri, and above and beneath and beside us all, Jesus Christ, I have joy. Please let me know the address for donations.
Jess

July 24, 2015 - 9:22 am

Amber - Please let me know where we can send a donation to. Sending up prayers for comfort and peace to your family, and anyone who was touched by Steve’s greatness.

July 24, 2015 - 9:36 am

Kristin Motter - Beautiful man. Beautiful family. Love and prayers are with you all through this horrifically painful, glorious time.

July 24, 2015 - 9:56 am

Ben & Michelle Earwicker - We are celebrating Steve’s life and impact with you! So sorry for your loss and the difficult days of grief. Love from the Earwickers. – Ben, Michelle, Nyah, and Renn

July 24, 2015 - 10:18 am

Marilee Rodgerson - My heart aches for you and your family as you’ve had to say good- bye here on this earth. Your words, your witness and your faithfulness to God through this horrific journey is witnessed by those who know you from up close and afar. I’m praying for you and your dear family as you walk these days, weeks and beyond with forever changed lives. Knowing God is being ever present.

July 24, 2015 - 11:03 am

Loni Vander Stel - Dear Bo – I have read your book, Beautiful Battlefields, and wept, and agreed through it, as our lives have been mutually through valleys, but with the Great Shepherd. I pray for the continued peace that passes ALL understanding, that your blessed memories of your husband and thinking of him dancing in heaven, lift your spirits, when the years of missing him collide with your heart. May your new normal begin with peace and beauty and the anticipation that it will be a short new normal and in a blink of the eyes, there will be eternal reunions.

July 24, 2015 - 12:03 pm

Janet Beier - Bo I am very new to your battle. I feel i know you through your book – I actually went to Bible college with Steve and he was my drive to work and all I can remember was his smile and his crazy driving! My mom and dad are visiting and brought your book. I had read 2 chapters and then mom found out he went to be with the Lord. I want you to know that i have been in a 7 year battlefield with my love for Parkinsonism (long term complication of a car accident) like Steve a healthy strapping guy who could do anything. Let’s just say i was doubting my ability to endure! Now John and I are reading this book together and say we are on the road to recovery in our relationship. Prayers for peace.

July 24, 2015 - 6:55 pm

Arlene Cox - Please send an address for a donation.
Bo, you graciously GAVE me a copy of “Beautiful Battlefields” when you were the speaker at women’s night of worship at New Heights Church in Vancouver, WA., when you found out that a family member of mine was going through ALS.

Blessings as you go through the battlefield of grief, the celebration of life well lived, and joy of knowing that you will see him again.

In Jesus’s love,
Arlene

July 24, 2015 - 11:02 pm

Gretchen Wells - An absolutely Beautiful tribute to your husband today! Bless you friend! Many many prayers for you all!!

July 25, 2015 - 4:49 am

Dawn Pieper - Dear Bo and Family,

I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved husband, father, son and brother. You are correct Bo when you say “the impact of Steve’s love, faith and life cannot be measured by words on a page”. The words on the page are a small tribute to the amazing impact his life has had. God be praised for your willingness to share Steve’s life and your journey. You have impacted thousands. You have impacted me. Thank you.

Unfortunately,I am intimately familiar with grief. Losing a brother and two cousins at the age of six. Then I faced my parents dying in a car accident when I was twenty five. Writing is a healing balm as you grieve.

I am praying for all of you to feel the arms of your Savior in each hug and letter you get. Heaven is a place each of you will long for! Steve is lavishing every moment. Those left behind are faced with the heartache and hope.

July 26, 2015 - 10:23 am

Jody Collins - What a party there must be in Heaven!

July 28, 2015 - 10:08 am

Lorie - I’m so sad to hear of your loss; your love for Steve was magnificent and precious. I’ve also been following your journey after hearing you on the radio sharing your story. Thank you for bearing your soul and not holding back on the raw emotion you went through in your blogs … I’ve been encouraged from your example and try to face my own trials with, hopefully, the same grace that’s so evident in you as you shared your experience so courageously. I’ll continue to pray for your and your family as you face the days ahead. I know the Presence of Jesus will be with you each day without fail just as He was during Steve’s illness—and probably more so. You are in my thoughts every day.

August 5, 2015 - 7:09 pm

Krista - Bo
I’m just now reading that Steve has passed on. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and always want to comment and then I never do bc I think my words won’t possibly mean anything to you. But I want to say thank you for sharing your story and Steve’s journey with ALS. I found you last summer when I did the ice bucket challenge and I donated my money in Steve’s name. You’re an amazing woman and I’m so sorry for your loss.

August 11, 2015 - 4:50 pm

Cynthia Fox - Thank you Bo for sharing.
I haven’t a lot of words but am thankful Steve is at home in heaven and you will all meet up one day soon.
Your lives are a blessing that will live on for always.
Hugs and prayers as you go forth on this journey
Cynthia