Last night, my family gathered around the table as we’ve been doing every Sunday night for no-one-knows-how-long. We laughed and shared amazing stories from our morning in church. That may sound silly, but most of us work at our church and we love it dearly. Yesterday was just a really good church morning, filled with people we love and care for and the God who cares for us.


Steve doesn’t eat around the table with us, and hasn’t for a long time. He eats downstairs in the one chair that possesses just the right proportions for the herculean effort that is: lifting a spoon. You just wouldn’t believe how difficult eating can be when you have no muscles in your arms and neck. It’s impossible for him to both eat and talk, so he prefers to focus on the meal and then be with family.


After dinner, we took our dessert downstairs to be with him. We usually do this, but this night was different because we knew he had words to say.


So, on an ordinary Sunday, just like all the Sundays before it (and yet not at all like the ones before it), my husband said goodbye. He used simple, deep, honest words. No hype. No revisionist history. Just real. Like Steve. Like we all would hope to be, I think. It was…excruciating. And beautiful. Just exactly like the last three years of our lives.


Steve’s surgery has been rescheduled for Thursday in Portland. He is not expecting the worst and our doctor there has given us lots of hope that this procedure can turn out okay, even at his level of progression. So, it’s not that he sees Thursday as an expiration date, but he knew the conversation had been waiting too long. He knew in his heart there were words sitting like jars on a shelf, waiting to be taken out and given like gifts to those he loves most, and he’s at a point in his life where the jars had become weightier and weightier. It was time to pour them out.


There are some jars in my life, too. I feel them in the background, mostly invisible, but sometimes they pop up out of nowhere and call to me. The thing is: I hate awkward conversations. And I’m discovering that while this world we live in is full of words, words, words, it’s easy to say pretty much nothing with them. I fill a day with how are you’s and when in the world is it going to stop raining and I forget to tell people how much they matter. How deeply, inestimably valuable they are to me and how blessed I am to be a witness to the beauty they are living. I’d rather avoid the words that might come out schmaltzy or insincere or might land strangely in the space between us.


But the Word became flesh and stormed right into our world. Into our fights and family dinners. Into our insecurity and pride. Into our hurt and heartache. His words, wrapped in The Word came into the down and dirty of life to free us from the shallows of relationship and move us into the deep.


My husband is a man who, through the fires of affliction, is learning God’s way with words. He will never be sorry and neither will we. Because the words that were said last night, and the tears cried over plates of key lime pie, were pulled from the jars on Steve’s shelf and carefully transferred to the hearts of Whitney, Corey, Victoria, Tess, Josiah, Casey, Noel and…me. No matter what happens on Thursday, those words will live on in us and they will multiply and soon our jars will overflow and splash over into hearts that need them outside our Sunday dinner.


It’s St. Patrick’s Day. Why not find a way to use your words?


With hope,




PS: Thank you so much to everyone who has offered meals and help this week – I think we have all our bases covered and are well cared for.


  1. Thank you for sharing a piece of this night with us. Your family is evidence of wealth that cannot be taken away. Our prayers are continually with you.

  2. There is sympathy, and there is empathy, and there is pain in the hope that is loss. It is quite amazing to me, that as you traverse with your barefoot heart on this path of broken glass, there is grace, there is beauty, there is calling, there is such unspoken enormity in the small details that are life. My heart both cries out for you, and is emboldened to live more fully all in the same tearful moment when I read your blog or pray over your family, both immediate and extended. I love mightily Stern family. Thank you for the transparency that lets me love you more real, and love others with fresh eyes.

  3. Michelle Watson

    Jars with words waiting to be given out to those he loves. What a beautiful way to put it. Steve Stern: Man of valor and honor.

    I remember Jeni Bullis saying at the conference that you have allowed us to see in to your journey, up close and personal, as you have shared through your blog. Once again, just hours after this sacred time with your family, you are allowed us to see in to your pain, to your process, to your hope. Those three always go hand in hand.

    Now I get to have the awkward words that sit in the space between us because “thank you” doesn’t really seem like the words I’m trying to communicate for the gift you are giving me. But for now, that’s the best I’ve got. Thank you, my friend.

    Love and continued prayers for you and your family, Michelle

  4. These words are amazing and weighty in such a good way…I will not live in a place of shallow relationships any longer.I too, have found that I am afraid of sounding too mushy or schmaltzy.To tell the truth I have lived too many years not expressing myself and wishing desperately that I would just say what needs to be said.I was blessed to be able to visit and talk with a dear friend a week before she passed away from breast cancer and we were able to have a beautiful conversation that I will keep deep in my heart.This conversation made me realize that life is about deep relationships and our God who loves us, also loves to have a deep relationship with us.So I will just my dear friend, I love you and I love Steve and I have been very blessed to be able to be in a part of your life!

  5. Steve and Bo,

    The words you both have shared have been, so transparent, loving, and wise. Thank you very much. We will be praying that the surgery comes out as desired. Stay strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.

    In Christ’s love, Nan xoxo

  6. And sometimes words are not enough, for those of us who are not as gifted as you! We look for something to match what is weighting our souls down… stirring a cup of tea that is too cool to dissolve the sugar at the bottom….stirring, hoping that somehow something might happen to make the tea sweet. Thanks for sharing…..we all needed to hear from you today, and are so so glad that Steve found words to pour into your lives last night. We are ALL touched, and totally hopeful for Thursday!!

  7. Janey Greenlees


    I don’t know you or claim to know you….your words…whenever you post, touch my heart. For that reason, i post a comment:

    With a big week in front of you…I just want you to know that their are strangers…in your corner…routing for Steve and your family….praying for the best outcomes….people who would never intrude but stand quietly behind you, arms spread to help catch you…like you have caught all of us so many times before.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  8. Jan Barendse sr.

    Dear Bo,
    I read for the first time your blog. Susan Stern made me through FB aware of it.
    I am deeply moved. Your love, commitment and perseverance is inspiring. I remember Steve from his youth when we visited the Stern Family from 1977 on. A happy guy with a good sense of humor and a beautiful voice. Paul and Eleonor were so proud on their youngest son! Sometimes I drove in his old car (don’t know the brand of it anymore). I will pray for you both when you courageously follow your journey with Jesus.
    Jan Barendse

  9. Steve and Bo, you are deeply loved. Thank you for sharing your words.

  10. Dearest Bo, I know you are the last one I need to send a bible verse to but Isaiah 61:3 just seems to pop out at me when I read this post. Praying for you and your family as Thursday draws near.

  11. My heart is heavy, but my spirit soars. Your family is a testament of God’s love through the toughest of storms. How difficult it must have been for you (Steve) to write the words of love and affirmation to your loved ones. Once again I see you thinking of others above yourself. It has been an honor to be friends with a family that is so caring and teaches others what it means to breath the Grace of God. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. We all have grown.

  12. You are, have been, and will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers, and in those of our church family with whom we’ve shared your story. We’ll say an extra prayer this week as Steve faces surgery. We love you.

  13. Precious moments, The Holy Spirit is in everyone of them <3

  14. Bo….the beauty of simplicity brings us down to our knees! You have allowed us into your life and the simplicity of words that are so hard to speak and write. The tremendous struggle that is your ‘daily’ you have allowed so many access to and shown us all the beauty of walking life out with the one you said “I do” to when there is no simplicity yet there is deep love and commitment. Thank you for pouring out even as you are being poured out. As you walk out this week and those to follow, my prayer for you is that in a miraculous super natural way your moments of time with Steve, your beloved, and the Holy Spirit are more precious than any before.

  15. Bo,this is the first time to read your blog. What an amazing writer you are, to express your deepest thoughts in a way that touches the heart and soul in a profound way. Your family is touching thousands of lives! Steve and I are praying for all of you during this most difficult time. We love you.

  16. Dear Bo~ So moved by your words. Thank you so, for sharing your heart with us all. Please know that you, Steve, your dear family…so loved! Praying for you all.

  17. on behalf of your friends at Good Samaritan Ministries in Beaverton, we pray with you, thanking God for Steve and your entire family. Each word is worth sharing. At 3pm – 4pm intercessory weekly prayer here tomorrow, we will be in prayer as a group, for PEACE.

  18. Thinking of all of you this week and praying continued blessings.

  19. 2 Cor. 4:16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
    17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
    18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

    Praying, and praying!