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An Update on Steve and all Things Stern

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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!)

 

The hard.

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.

 

The good.

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.

 

 

Our kids.

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.)

 

Our summer.

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.

 

Our hope.

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

 

June 18, 2014 - 8:21 am

Karla - Thank you, thank you for the update! I’ve wanted to know, but never want to ask. Still praying for all of you nonstop. So happy to hear that you’re happy. I have to say, the one thing that I loved reading is that Steve is a flower guy! He got that from our Grandma Ratter. My Dad (Uncle Al) used to say Grandma could grow a clothespin if she planted it. I think he was right.
Hugs to you all. Have a s’more for me and may the stars keep twinkling above you!

June 18, 2014 - 9:04 am

Brenda Stanton - Thanks so much for sharing your utmost thoughts Bo. I still remember you and Steve coming to Antioch to share the story. I’m praying for him and your whole family. It really warmed my heart to hear about the book you 2 are writing ~ how special. If you could use an extra set of hands to provide lunch I have free time on my hands and am ready, willing and able 🙂

June 18, 2014 - 9:25 am

brit - beautiful family. beautiful grace. beautiful god.

June 18, 2014 - 9:47 am

Claudia Gilliam - Bo,
I am not sure you remember me but I go to the
Church your Dad is in.
I ask him frequently how Steve is doing
I have been praying for Steve and your family
For awhile.
I am so thankful that you wrote about how
Steve is and the family! I appreciate your openness
And sharing of your heart!
God IS GOOD and I am SO ANXIOUS for
Your books to come out!! Especially the one
About Steve and you!!!

Claudia Gilliam

June 18, 2014 - 10:13 am

Adriel Booker - We see your beautiful God! We do! SO much!!

Thank you for the update. Here’s to a beautiful summer ahead – may it be the most beautiful you’ve ever had. xo

June 18, 2014 - 10:13 am

Jane Lellman - A young teenage daughter of a friend once observed to her that as people “got sick, or something bad happens to them” that they either get “sweeter or meaner.” Such a beautiful balance gets found between the difficult and the joyous when God is in the picture! I am grateful you so eloquently show that. It is sometimes a hard thing to express.

June 18, 2014 - 11:50 am

Arlene Hiatt - Thank you so much for the update. God’s love and grace are tangible in your words. We love you all and continue to pray in the Holy Spirit, our great intercessor.

June 18, 2014 - 12:17 pm

LincolnNana - Peace in the middle of the storm…..peace that passes understanding…..that’s what He promises us. Such a great post. Hard to be full of truth and grace….but you did it!
So wishing I was closer to you!! Much love coming your way from your family in Lincoln, NE.

June 18, 2014 - 12:57 pm

Judy Hinds - Inspiring words. Thank You for always pointing us to Jesus.

June 18, 2014 - 4:03 pm

Carol Linn - Thanks for sharing Bo. It gives me strength in knowing the joy of the Lord is our strength. God’s grace is beyond measure. Blessings to you and your family.
Carol Linn

June 18, 2014 - 5:26 pm

Kristy Haworth - You do inspire because you choose to walk in the strength of Jesus. Inspires others (me!) that I can choose to do the same everyday because we serve a faithful and loving God. Thank you for sharing your world with us.

June 18, 2014 - 5:38 pm

Pat Whitson - (I’m one of Jane Wms’ San Diego sisters… I read and LOVED your “Beautiful Battlefields” book, which I recently gifted to a friend of mine, whose husband is on the brink of getting “THE OFFICIAL DIAGNOSIS”… You, Steve, and your kids are an ongoing amazing inspiration to us all. And I sooo appreciate how you always are pointing your small and big successes and reasons for joyfulness back to our Lord and God, Jesus. Thank you for your generous and humble sharing.. Love and Prayers, Pat Whitson

June 18, 2014 - 5:47 pm

Phyllis - Thank you for sharing your journey. And thank you for the update.

June 18, 2014 - 6:51 pm

Vangi Taron - Thank-you, Bo. For the update and the inspiration. “…impressed by Jesus…blame grace.” Oh ya, baby…preach. LOVE YOU!

June 18, 2014 - 11:57 pm

nansee bruce - Bo, You and your entire family are such an inspiration to us all. Your strength and weakness coupled with transparency are above and beyond…impressed by Jesus and thanking grace. We love you guys!

June 19, 2014 - 7:09 am

Jac - His peace is always available and always prevails.

June 19, 2014 - 9:08 am

Michaela Evanow - I understand so many parts of this update, Bo. *sigh*
I love how you put it: “Do NOT be inspired by us – be impressed with Jesus. He is filling the aching places with His presence and I just know it. ”

Feeding tube insertions do place some stress on the body, at least that’s what I think. But in the long run, they help so much. It’s just another step that leaves a lump in your throat.
Very excited for the books you have in the works and set to be released. I don’t know how you do it!!

June 19, 2014 - 9:49 am

Debbie - Love to the Stern family. Can’t wait to read the books :O) One of them could be titled, “Blame it on Grace”

June 19, 2014 - 11:25 pm

Christine - Great to see your smiling face Steve! you guys got this!!!!!! The Becoming real part….like in The Velveteen Rabbit. thank you ….for all of it.
Love, Tim and Christine

June 21, 2014 - 5:22 am

Molly - Yes, thanks for the update….have been looking and hoping to “visit” your hse. Glad y are able to slow down and enjoy summer a bit……and I THANK our Father, Dad, for GIVING you the grace….and a bit of happy.
Always love you,
Molly