From the very moment of Steve’s diagnosis, friends and family raced in to serve, to love, to hug, to heal, to help and to try with all their might and muscles to right our tipping ship.


I am so grateful.


And yet…


Receiving is hard.  I’m not sure I was built for it.  Most pastors I know don’t choose this line of work for the pay or the perks, they choose it because it enables them to give.  To serve those less fortunate.  To reach out to those in need.  In my first eight years as a pastor, this was my privilege and delight.  Truly.  And that’s not to say it’s all been well-motivated.   I love being the girl with the answer.  I like feeling like my life is at least enough together that it is a resource for someone else.  And for 45 years, my life was fairly well stuck together. Then ALS.  Then friends saying, “how can we help?’ and me saying, “Thanks, but I think we’re okay right now.”


And then I found myself on an ordinary day, stuck in Costco and feeling like the walls were caving in from grief and fear and sorrow and I was coming undone…drowning in my own lack of togetherness.   I found myself on a day when I wasn’t enough and my studying wasn’t enough and my sheer love for Jesus wasn’t enough…I needed people.  I needed help.  I needed someone to brave the hallowed halls of Costco for me.


That moment launched a long season of receiving for me.  We have received help with our home, with our wood pile, with cooking, with shopping, with the snow in our driveway, with kids, with finances and with really just about any thing that we used to be able to handle ourselves.  It has been incredible and awesome and unspeakably humbling.  Jesus has taught me to be more like Him in His suffering, in His lowness, by being served than I ever learned by serving.


Last week was maybe the busiest week of my life.  We had the Walk to Defeat ALS and I launched the bible study that I have been dreaming of, planning, studying and writing for the past four years.  Both the Walk and the first session went off without a hitch…but only because the past eighteen months have changed me.  These events were only successful because I am learning (finally!) to let people in.  Not just to let them offer, but to say yes when they do.  One friend came to fix something at our house that I broke (when I backed over it with my car which is a story for another time) (no it isn’t – I’m never telling that story.)  Two did grocery runs for me.  One is bringing us dinner every Tuesday night in September.  Two friends take Josiah into their homes like their very own when they know that I’m on overload.  Countless friends showed up to help at the Walk and the Pancake Party.  Steve’s army of friends meets him for coffee and lunch and checks on him nearly every day. One dozen incredible ladies are handling nearly every single detail of this bible study from filming to crowd control to getting notebooks assembled to making sure my mascara is waterproof (heh.)    I have never been more certain of the truth, “two are better than one for they have a good reward for their labor.”


This supernaturally recruited dream team is laboring with us, for us and, consequently, we are accomplishing far more as we walk through the Shadowy Valley of Death than we did when we were blissfully living like we had all the time in the world.  It’s proof of His intelligence, goodness and generous love if ever I’ve seen it.


So, I guess this is mostly a thank you.  And also a statement of faith that the giving & serving years of Steve and Bo Stern are not behind us, but ahead.  We long to bless you as you have blessed us.  Through rolling tears, I type it:  we long to pay you back for all the love that you have shown.  But we are trusting our good Father to return your gifts to you, pressed down and shaken together…running out all over your world as they have run all over us.


Oh, how we love you, friends.


With gratitude and love,









  1. HI, Bo,
    Your blog today is awesome. It sums up the good and the hard times of these past couple of years, and only you could have said it like it is. Dad and I love you so much, and often pray for you as well as for Steve. I can’t even imagine living every day with my husband, and seeing the disease take a little of his body at a time. I did tell you, didn’t I, that the way the Lord has led me to pray for Steve is to tell that evil disease of ALS to leave his body the way it came, little by little, and restoration of that which was taken away from him. Why? Because, as are we, God’s children, Steve’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and you, ALS, have no place in it.
    Love you much! – Mom Stern

  2. My dear friend Bo Stern. First, let me honestly say, I’ve done practically nothing. Still, I think I speak for many; the little we’ve done, holds no comparison to what you and Steve have invested in our lives, and so many others. 24/7 Love you all…

  3. Bo Stern you are an amazing woman. Amazing because you have refused to let the pain of ALS cripple you. You are rising over the fears and marching on. As you and Steve do this you are reaching out with a testimony of A LIFE that yells louder than words could ever speak. I love that about you both. (GO TEAM STERN) Eleanor…glad you posted what you did about the prayer. I pray for Bo and Steve often and having a direct way to pray will be good. I will agree with you in prayer on that front, it is good you shared it.

  4. Bo, I, too, have learned a thing or two about receiving. Not easy! I literally fought it at the beginning. I didn’t understand then that I was actually blocking and hindering the blessings for others by refusing their blessings of giving upon me.

    But then, again and again, I would be faced with what to do with the very love I had craved – it was like… “I don’t know what to do with this.” Slowly I learned.

    So I am believing that in these last 6 years just how powerful our God is and how He multiples the blessings – all around – when I do my part.

    God is so BIG. Yes, I still give and give and give, but I also receive now and allow the blessings to flow.

  5. Just so you know….. you are still giving

  6. I think your greatest season of giving is NOW. How much more can you possibly give than hope? People are watching, and you and Steve are allowing us to see Jesus in the public transparency of your pain. Thank you for bravely letting us into your lives. And thank you for graciously and humbly allowing us do little things to help, and in so doing bless us in return.

  7. And I’m sure I can speak for everyone, you will never ever ever have to repay any of those who help. We are here for you and your family, and by saying “yes” and letting your friends in, that is the best form of repayment! <3

  8. Oh yes, now you are seeing the fullness of the Kingdom of God, and THIS is what has defeated the enemy’s scheme!! What he meant for destruction, God has used for building!

  9. amen and amen

  10. I love you my dear sister! Your words touch our hearts : ) These words have made me realize that I need to quit being so afraid of letting people in my life.

    Love you both,

  11. You continually inspire and give such hope.

  12. Teary as I read this, but grateful that our God carries us through the seasons of life and so often uses the hands and feet of our brothers and sisters to hold us up. Remember that by receiving these gifts you are pouring blessings of unimaginable joy on those givers because God says it is more blessed to give….
    I can’t do much but I can do alot….holding you and Steve up to our Papa who loves us more than we know.