I can’t begin to describe this past week, but my husband has done a good job telling part of the story here. I’ve never known a season more emotionally demanding. After a sleepless night, turning decisions and memories over in my mind a million times, I finally came to this one conclusion: Life is harder than I ever dreamed it would be, but as beautiful as I’ll let it be. So, on this the 14th day of March, 2014, I declare to you that Life. Is. Beautiful. Here’s a post I wrote awhile back. I believe in it more now than ever:



Dear Very, Very Young Bo,


You are about to walk down the aisle and marry the love of your life. You will say vows that are made of fancy words like protect, honor and “troth” (pretend you know what it means). You will promise to love Steve. He will promise to love you. You will promise to take care of him. He will promise to take care of you. In your heart, you will feel love beyond all sense of reason and you will be ready to sacrifice anything for him. Anything.


Then the laundry will pile up.


And he will want to go golfing when you want to have a long talk about a subject that is only interesting to you.


And that’s when you’ll start to build some bargains into your relationship and they will sound almost vow-like in their virtue. You will tell him he can go golfing on Saturday if he will also clean the garage on Friday. You’ll agree to fold his underwear if he agrees to wash your car. You’ll make deals and he’ll make deals and before you know it, you’ll be living in a world that is fair-and-square and even-steven. You’ll learn to expect all the emotional ledgers to be balanced with exactly the right ratios of give-and-take.


But eventually, your fear will get the best of you and you’ll have no courage to bring into…anything. Steve will find that all the chips have been moved to his side of the table as he works triple time to assure you that you are loved and safe. It will make him weary, but don’t even worry, he’ll handle it like the champ you only suspect he is now. He’ll love you fiercely and fight for your freedom and you will never feel for a moment that he regrets choosing you. Never for a moment. His love will help you find what you need to become brave like you’ve never imagined you could be.


And that newfound courage? Hold onto it with both hands.


Because, sister, the future you see as you peer through your wedding veil is going to take a turn you cannot possibly see coming. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.


The day will come when you will be all the muscle in this marriage and you should stop laughing now, because I’m not actually kidding (but the comedy of the situation is not lost on me.) A dark day will come when you will steady his shaking hand as you sit in a hospital waiting room. You will button his shirt and help him shave. You will do the driving and the lifting and the working…but he will still be brave enough for both of you. Not gonna lie: some moments you’ll feel like you’ll buckle beneath the weight, but you won’t and neither will he. Because it turns out the vows aren’t perfect and they aren’t even-steven, but they are strong and real. They’re as strong as you’re willing to live them and as strong as the God who heard you say them.


One day you’ll see a young, healthy couple make their promises, dressed in white. You will think about how they have all their days ahead of them and your heart will do a little squeeze because you remember that very moment in your life when the future stretched out so wide. But here’s the thing: you won’t envy them. Because you’ll know what you have is proven and true. It’s made of long nights and hard fights and a lot of giving when it seemed there was nothing more to give. In a world that is more comfortable with quitting than sticking, you will discover that the truest joy is not found in the shallows, but out in the deep.


So, go say your vows. Eat the cake. Love your life. You will never regret this choice.


But you might regret that dress.


With courage,


Much Older Bo



  1. It’s been almost 5 years since we have lived in Bend. 5 years is a long time and much has changed, but this has not changed. We love you guys and ache to the core for what you and your family are going through…I can’t imagine.

    You are loved and respected by so many and somehow God will use this for His Glory!!! In the mean time, rest in His arms knowing that He has chosen you for a Mission and a Message! Only a select group of people would make the cut.

    Steve & Lynne Woolley

  2. jacquelyn Strayer

    I love this Bo.

  3. Bonnie….Ron and I were just thinking of you and Steve over the last few days…..and praying! You both are truly amazing!!! and very loved. What you wrote is beautiful! and very needed for us as well. You are so loved by us and our Father!

    Patti and Ron

  4. Hi Bo
    I’m the equivalent of your Steve. Your letter is such a beautiful account of my wife, Jane. We’ve been married for 40 years and she is indeed all the muscle in our marriage. I hope and pray I’ll remain brave enough for her.
    God bless you both.

  5. What beautiful words Bo. Have read your book three times and have used much of it in my sermons.Thanks you for your example of courage, strength, love and commitment. The life of Jesus shines through your life. (Suzanne’s dad)

  6. Hi Steve and Bo
    It is hard to be so far away and not be able to put our arms around you but know we are lifting you up in prayer! Your strength and courage has been such a testimony to us and your devout love and support for each other. Bo, thank you for sharing this letter. In this past year of life I am constantly amazed at Jesus’ “action” in response to prayer and requests. (Oh it seems I can never quite say what is on my heart, so someday I will explain). I may not receive the answer I’d like but I ask Him to teach me and help me understand. He is faithful to do so or He says, “My Grace is sufficient for you”. This I have learned from you both for this past year of ‘life’. Thank you for sharing your ‘life’ with us. We love you both so very much!!
    Jerry & Joyce

  7. My goodness this post made me bawl. You two are an inspiration to say
    The least, and continually on my heart. You make me sure that I can
    Do this life and bravely trail on when marriage gets rough and hard.
    I love you Sterns (and Parnells) and pray often for you all. Much love
    And hope for new tomorrows and a Jesus who bears all and gives strength
    To us weary hearts. -Annie