I can tell it’s been too long since I updated on Steve because I’m getting lots of questions about that handsome guy. And I feel sorry for the people who ask me because my answer is usually a bit of a mixed bag of tricks and I’m sure it’s hard to know how to respond, so today I’m bringing the answers to the blog where you can read and process without having to figure out what to say back to me (though you’re always welcome to talk back in the comments!)
Steve has had a tough time bouncing back following his feeding tube surgery in March. While we’re so grateful – so, so grateful – that we went through with the procedure, it’s definitely taken a toll on his already-weak body. This decline could be part of the natural progression of the disease, but it feels at least somewhat related to the surgery. He is able to walk a few steps on his own, but uses a wheelchair for everything beyond that. He has increased his time using his breathing machine so his lungs can have a break. Leaving the house for any length of time is very draining and demanding – church is about the only thing that he tries to get out for, but that’s become a little hit and miss as well. He needs help with most things that you and I are able to easily do on our own. I do most of the helping and feeding, though we have a caregiver on Wednesdays and a dear friend who comes twice a week to feed him lunch so I can focus on work for those days (thank you, sweet Corlet! We love you!) He’s still talking, though I know he has to work very hard to be understood and I hate making him repeat things. As I watch the disease progress, all I can really say is: it’s a monster. It dismantles a person piece-by-piece and when you think it’s taken everything, it keeps grabbing for more. It’s relentless. But it’s also not winning. Because good things are happening, too.
We are happy. We really are. I don’t even quite know how to explain it, but there is a grace on this season of our lives that I never could have imagined going into it. We spend lots of time at home. All our time, really, and that’s a brand new idea for us since we’ve always kept really busy. We laugh a lot. We know who we are and why we’re here. We know who we’re not. We watch Love it or List it and make fun of Canada. Life is good and I really mean that. It’s good in the strangest way because I want to call it “effortless” even though I’m not even kidding that I’ve never worked harder in my whole life. Still…the happy part is not hard. It’s not like we have to work it up or remind each other to cheer up – the things we love are right at the front of the stage and it’s not hard to remember to be thankful. In the beginning of the diagnosis, we each went through dark days and low seasons when we would tend to get snappy with each other and frustrated with life in general. I think that’s pretty normal, given the battle we’re fighting. However, I honestly can’t remember our last day like that. And hear this well: this isn’t us. This is grace. We aren’t strong or smart enough to pull this off. I wish we were, because then I could write a book about how to be happy in hard times and people would think I’ve figured something out. But no. Do NOT be inspired by us – be impressed with Jesus. He is filling the aching places with His presence and I just know it. We have rough days and you’ll still hear about them here on the blog sometimes, but overall we are happy and more in love than we have ever been and I can only blame grace.
Are strong. They really are doing very well and I appreciate so many people asking about them and praying for them. Josiah just graduated middle school, Tessie is currently in Africa, Tori is a huge help to us here at home, Corey & Whitney are absolute ROCKS for us and Greyson lights everything up with so much joy and his over-the-top love for his grandpa (when he sees me without Steve, his very first question is “Where Papa go?” Cutest. Thing. Ever.)
Is quiet. For Father’s Day, we made a lovely space for Steve outside with a fire pit and chairs, outdoor speakers and lighting and flower pots (he loves big flower pots and has always been the one to keep them watered and growing, so we’ll see how this goes). It’s a place he can sit in the sun and have friends over to visit. It’s a place where we make s’mores and share hearts and build dreams. We’ll spend a lot of time there this summer. We’re also working on a new book, he and I, and every time I talk about it I want to cry because it feels very sacred to me. I’ll tell you more about it when it’s further developed, but for now, we’re loving the conversations as he talks and I type his thoughts into words. I have taken three out-of-town speaking gigs this summer and turned down everything else. These 24-hour excursions have given me the chance to get away for a quick road trip, have a little alone time and jump on a hotel room bed with no one there to judge me. Perfect. I also have a new book coming out from Thomas Nelson in October and I’m writing some promo stuff for that and preparing for another round of book-PR this fall.
Is that we have many more summers together around the fire and under the stars. But none of us know what’s around the next corner, do we? So we’re living this one well and we’re giving ourselves permission to be happy. Our hope is also that a watching world would see evidence of a beautiful God and that as they see His good work, they would not fear the next corner. That’s our hope and our update and we love you. So much.
Bo for Team Stern