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Two Months


Two months today.


Two months since Steve went home.


Two months of the deepest, darkest heartache I have ever known.  It has been a wonder and terror to me.  (Dramatic words, I know, but I mean them.)


Two months of groping through inky black nights of fear and strangely dim summer days.


Two months of miracles.


Two months of surprising discoveries, both internal and peripheral, that have awakened me to new angles on the character of God and the ways He has woven my heart together.


Two months of wondering if He would, again, today, be enough.  Be real enough.  Be peace enough.  Be provision enough.  Be close enough.


Two months of finding that He is the Yes to all questions of want.  He is always the Yes, even when my heart is no, or maybe, or prove Yourself first and then I’ll trust.


Two months and I am still standing and still astounded. In awe. Undone by His ways.


I ran into this prayer today and it sang my heart:


God of all our times:

We have known since the day of our birth

that our primal task is to grow to basic trust in You, 

to rely on You in every circumstance,

to know that You would return when You are away, 

to trust that in Your absence You will soon be present, 

to be assured that Your silence bespeaks attentiveness and not neglect, 

to know that in Your abiding faithfulness, “all will be well and all will be well.”  


We do trust in You: 

we are named by  Your name,

and bonded in Your service.

We are among those who sing Your praise

and who know of Your deep faithfulness. 

You, you however, are not easy to trust:

We pray against a closed sky; 

our hopes reduced to auto-suggestion; 

our petitions are more habit than hope;

our intercessions are kindly gestures of well-being. 



because Your silence and absence, 

Your indifference and tardiness are glaring among us. 

We are drawn to find lesser gods, 

easier loyalties,

many forms of self-trust…

that do not even fool us. 


On this Friday of remembered pain and echoing deathliness, 

We pray for new measures of passion, 

for fresh waves of resolve, 

for courage, energy, and freedom to be our true selves…

waiting in confidence, 

and while waiting, acting our life toward You

in Your ways of forgiving generosity. 


We pray in the name of Jesus who trusted fully, and 

who is Himself fully worthy of our trust.  

Amen.     {Walter Bruggemann, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth}



With hope,



September 18, 2015 - 2:44 pm

Sue Bartlow McFarland - Grief is like swimming in the sea….sometimes, it’s calm and you feel like you can stay afloat…othertimes, the waves come crashing down on you and you’re not certain whether you’ll be able to rise back up to the surface…just keep yourself anchored to the Rock of Ages as He will lift you back up when your strength is gone.
God bless you as your travel on your grief journey.

September 18, 2015 - 3:06 pm

Sue Powell - “The Father is closest to the child He is carrying”…You.As long as you need Him to,and He won’t get weary or heavy laden,sweet sister-friend.Keeping you,Josiah and family,close in I see that in a few days,you will have a ‘First Birthday’,after the loss of your beloved Steve…praying for extra Grace for that day,as Kara Tippets said it so well;”Don’t imagine yourself in the future,because that is you without the Grace He will provide for that time and circumstance”…Love and Hope,Sue

September 19, 2015 - 6:38 am

Steve Merki - “We are drawn to find lesser gods . . . that do not even fool us.” Powerful . . . And true.

September 19, 2015 - 2:36 pm

anita - Bo, you’ve quoted from one of my favorite books of prayers and indeed to one of my favorite prayers in one of my favorite books of prayers 🙂 Over the past few years when my own words in prayer fail me, a written prayer read over and over will often return my voice to me.

You continue to be a daily fixture in my prayers…even when I don’t have words.

September 21, 2015 - 7:16 am

Shanda Wordelman - Bo, I am so sorry you have to go through this. I have been so blessed by your books and what God is doing in you and through you. I want you to know that you really are making a huge difference. Your pain hasn’t been wasted. I am praying for you right now.

September 22, 2015 - 12:55 am

Aida - Happy Birthday, to the BEST and Beautiful BO in the whole wide world!!!

It was a full day and I didn’t get online until after midnight…alas, this is belated!

I love you!!!!!

September 29, 2015 - 8:24 pm

Rachel Hallett - I was brought to tears as I read your past few blog posts. I took the summer off of reading all blogs, so everything hit me fast. I can’t believe what you have been through, and your unshakeable faith through it inspires me even on my worst days of being a caregiver for my husband. It is beautiful what love can do, and what it can pull through. I will keep you in my prayers.

October 8, 2015 - 8:58 pm

Jewl - Thinking of you. Saying a prayer for you. You’re in the hard. The adrenalin of managing crisis, even a long-term one, gives way to an even longer marathon, and the road seems to stretch endlessly before you, and you feel alone, so very alone, despite the so many who love you. This is where a lamp to your feet and a light to your path brings needed focus. To do the next thing. This is where your expectation that Steve will be right around the bend begins to blend with the rational thought: that bend is not here on earth! He’s really gone. And so many others seem to have gone too. How very empty. The old doubts and worries creep in, so you lean even harder, and find Jesus to be even stronger, closer. Take care. Jesus is watching over you. You don’t blink without Him taking note. You’re never alone. He understands it all. He’ll carry you through. He’s on your side, by your side. So REST.

October 15, 2015 - 11:55 am

Caren Taylor - Dear Bo,
I’ve been reading your blog for quite awhile now, and have read your book, Beautiful Battlefields twice. I haven’t written you yet, but I pray for you often. When I got on here today, my first in about a month, and saw that you hadn’t written since then, I immediately cried out to our Father for you. I love you for who you are, sister, and I will continue to pray for His love and comfort to enfold you and for His loving arms to guide you through. Hang on, warrior. His armies are greater than the world’s and in the end, no matter what, we that are His will win.
Much love from an unknown sister/warrior.

Fall Into Peace



I have had a remarkable week.  It has been as full and beautiful as the preceding six weeks were desperate and ugly.  Some of the reasons are easy to identify –  I survived a minefield of paperwork and red tape, the administrative necessities that accompany death.  The headaches have finally been relenting. I went back to work, which I love. All good things, but not good enough to account for this stunning increase of peace.


Peace, I’ve discovered, doesn’t actually diminish grief and that’s okay because I’m not looking to be free of grief.  I think the Bible is clear that sorrow tethers us to the presence of God in a way that few other things can.  Grief is my journey right now.  It’s the weight that reminds me that I was the luckiest girl in all the world for 30 years, 5 months and 16 days. Healthy grief is good for me; I’m not going to pray it away.  I am, however, quite desperate to be free of fear – and that’s the power of His promise of peace.


Today I feel peace.  I feel beauty in the season and the weather and in the switch to a fall wardrobe and in my heart.  I’m not going to worry about how I’ll feel tomorrow. Today is enough for today.



With hope,










September 9, 2015 - 10:42 am

Sue Powell - “Don’t imagine yourself in the future,because that is you,without the grace that He will provide for that specific time and circumstance.” You are loved! Shalom and Blessing’s,dear Sister-Friend. Sue4Him :)xx

September 9, 2015 - 11:24 am

Susan David - Amen…peace in the midst of the storm is awesome and powerful!!! Love you Sis and so proud of you and who you have become. Greater things are yet to come!

September 9, 2015 - 11:48 am

Gail Orr - Grief honors that which was lost, it is a blessing to have had such a gift, such beauty, that to loose it breaks the heart and leaves a hole. How blessed we are that we have one that comes along side of us and tends to us so carefully, that He numbers our tears!

September 9, 2015 - 12:01 pm

Darleen - Love!!

September 9, 2015 - 12:20 pm

Debbie Strassman - Hi Bo….My husband John & I were baptized this morning & I saw you sitting there & it made me smile. We feel so blessed & loved to be a part of Westside & we couldn’t thank everyone enough for giving us the gift that we received today. It couldn’t have happened at a better time. Please know you & Your family have been in our prayers for quite some time & btw I absolutely love reading your blogs!

God Bless

Debbie 🙂

September 9, 2015 - 1:55 pm

Dianna Salciccioli - Bo~ so thankful you are feeling sweet peace. So thankful. 🙂

September 9, 2015 - 9:43 pm

Barb Krumwiede - So beautifully stated, as always.

September 17, 2015 - 8:54 pm

Jewl - This is so descriptive and right on: an older person’s take on grief: Blessings, Bo.

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,



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.


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.

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 - 12:10 pm

Tania - You are an amazing woman! I Pray God to bless And heal your heart.

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 25, 2015 - 10:13 pm

Jewl Westphalen - I’m so sorry, so sorry, for you in this. Such a profound loss…

Even still. Dance the night away on Friday. He’ll be cheering you on.

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,



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!