Masthead header

The Very Holy Now


Life is funny, you know? It’s funny in ways that make me laugh and cry and hope and hurt. It’s just funny. For several Christmases we have navigated the murky waters of this ALS storm. We have been treading water as we try to absorb the beautiful moments while anticipating a difficult future.


This year is different.  This year, the difficult future has invaded our present. Steve’s condition has rapidly declined over the past couple of weeks and he will be placed on hospice this week.  We are grateful for the resources and support hospice provides.  We are grateful for our kids and our friends and our home (which currently feels more hospital than house.)  We really are grateful, but we are also weary and heartbroken. And while I’ve sometimes been able to wrap those emotions into hopeful words, right now I feel surrounded by a sacred sort of silence. It’s not bad.  It’s just quiet here in my heart, where so many memories and dreams are swirling.


I am taking a leave of absence from my job for the month of December, so I can focus on Steve and my family during this important holiday season.  I will write when I feel it and I won’t when I don’t.  Today, I don’t.  But I do have something wonderful for you and it is this update from my friend, Michaela.  Remember her baby, Florence, who is Steve’s comrade on the neuromuscular disease battlefield?  Well,  Michaela’s baby, Teddy (Theodore Brave!),  is here and you should read this for a beautiful start to advent.


I hope your season is unfolding with grace and I am thankful for so many of the notes I’ve received to let me know you haven’t forgotten us and are still praying.  We do not sorrow as those without hope.  Especially at Christmas.


Because of Jesus,



December 3, 2014 - 10:53 am

Joyce Strong - Thanks for the update Bo. It’s good to know what your family is experiencing so we know how to pray.

December 3, 2014 - 11:18 am

Kristen Lunceford - Crying & praying for you while these lyrics play in my earbuds…

“Oh, the mercy our God has shown
To those who sit in death’s shadow
The sun on high pierced the night
Born was the Cornerstone
Unto us a Son is given, unto us a Child is born

He Who is mighty has done a great thing
Taken on flesh, conquered death’s sting
Shattered the darkness and lifted our shame
Holy is His name

Now my soul magnifies the Lord
I rejoice in the God Who saves
I will trust His unfailing love
And sing His praises all my days”

Counting on him to shatter even this darkness,

December 3, 2014 - 11:30 am

Tracy Paul - Heart ache

December 3, 2014 - 11:36 am

Jillian Jeppsen - My heart is heavy-laden. Not because I don’t know who’s in control, but because I can only imagine what your going thru. I cry out to god for you bo and your precious children as you walk such a vulnerable place. I will be praying for you and Steve as God holds each of you in his arms carrying you thru this!

December 3, 2014 - 12:22 pm

Teresa B. - Thinking and Praying for you and your family during this time. Sometimes silence is best to hear Jesus. Tony and I may be in Redmond but remember we are here for ALL of you. Call us, text us, email us if you should ever need an ear…..or ANYTHING. 🙂

December 3, 2014 - 12:29 pm

Jane Lellman - I have no words but the hands of my heart are clasped in prayer….

December 3, 2014 - 12:45 pm

Shell Wells - Bo-
My heart is heavy for you all. Sending you prayers of peace and comfort as only our Heavenly Father can. Know that so many are lifting you up in prayer. Hoping you feel it. Xoxo
The Wells Family

December 3, 2014 - 1:05 pm

Katie - Have been following your blog since this summer. Just wanted to reach out at say that I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine what you are going through.

My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

December 3, 2014 - 1:18 pm

Joan Zeller - Love you Bo and Steve.

December 3, 2014 - 1:19 pm

Phyllis B - Prayers and love being sent your way.

December 3, 2014 - 1:29 pm

Steph Carmichael - Bo – Our hearts are with you as you navigate this path of ALS. Peace to your heart and mind in the midst of it all. We will keep praying for you, Steve and your family. Love and blessings,
Steph C.

December 3, 2014 - 1:39 pm

Jan Burkey - Oh Bo – my prayers are with you all! Praying for the Lord’s presence to bring you peace. Love you and sending hugs from the DR! Thanks for sharing! Give Steve my love too. Jan

December 3, 2014 - 2:36 pm

Ross & Patty Sisson - You and Steve are two of our favorite Spiritual heroes. We have never met either of you, but we have heard you both speak and read all of your blogs. How we handle attacks from satan is probably our most effective testimony. Your testimony is HUGE.
Thank you, and know that we are praying for your whole family.

December 3, 2014 - 2:39 pm

Kathryn V. - Continued prayers for you, Steve, and your family. I know it can’t take away the pain, but know that prayers are offered on your behalf every single day. May you be enfolded in His Presence and Love. <3

December 3, 2014 - 2:48 pm

Erica - I have followed your blog for years, Bo, and have cherished your words that often inexplicably intertwine hope and sorrow, joy and sadness. My heart aches for you and your family. I am so sorry, and I will be praying for you all.

December 3, 2014 - 2:57 pm

Karlee Strickland - Bo, we Stricklands are praying for you, Steve and your family. Praying for peace that surpasses understanding, for an abundance of hope, for strength in Christ, and for many really special joy-filled moments for all of you this month. We love you!

December 3, 2014 - 3:08 pm

Bev - Praying even now, and am so very confident that God hears the heart when there just are not words. Loving you…and your family.

December 3, 2014 - 3:22 pm

Wanda Stewart - Bo,
God Bless you and your family in this season!

December 3, 2014 - 3:52 pm

Edie - My love overflows for all of you, but words fail me – again. Mark and I are praying with deep groaning, which God understands, thankfully. Love and peace and strength and everything you need, in Jesus’ name.

December 3, 2014 - 4:12 pm

Gwen - I cannot imagine what you are going through. I am so sorry. Words a friend recently suggested when you don’t know what to say – but want to say something. (Thank you xo)

Loving you, and praying too.

December 3, 2014 - 4:21 pm

Phil - so very sorry. Love and prayers for you, Steve and family.

December 3, 2014 - 4:39 pm

Nan Christensen - Oh dear Bo, It is hard to say much of anything. We knew this day very well might come, but desperately prayed it would not. I do know that Hospice will help you all out tremendously. Team Stern has been so very strong (I think you might differ but it is true)Team Stern will continue to be strong long into the future. One time our son Sam (who is now 25}told me that Steve was the best pastor/teacher that he ever had. He said ” Besides Dad, Steve has had more influence on my life than any other adult ever did” Wow that is profound! I’m not sure if he ever told Steve or not, but share it with him please,I know it will bless him. Loving you all in Christ, and lifting you up in prayer Nan xoo

December 3, 2014 - 5:03 pm

Cathy Wood - Oh Bo…no words seem enough to express the cry of my heart for you and Steve and family!! Psalm 121:7b-8…”he will watch over your life; 8 the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. You once said you were preparing for heaven or healing…honestly still hoping for healing!!!

December 3, 2014 - 6:18 pm

Laurie - We are lifting your family in prayer Bo. hugs and Love to you all

December 3, 2014 - 6:22 pm

Kym Brown - Dearest Bo, Steve and family ♥ I will remain in prayer for your beautiful family throughout this season. With my love and hugs.

December 3, 2014 - 6:33 pm

Stacie - Please know that our family is keeping you in our prayers. Steve and Stacie Vogelsang

December 3, 2014 - 6:50 pm

Marsha Briggs - So need to let you know You Are All in our heart of His heart and our prayers. He Is able to make all grace abound as You continually reveal thru the updates.Thanks

December 3, 2014 - 7:47 pm

Angie White - Precious Bo, how wise and brave you are to take a step back and take the time to just be in the moment. Hold each other…sing…smile…laugh…cry…rinse and repeat.

One of the songs my son shared as we were letting go of our own ALS hero, Tim, was called Just Breathe. I can’t tell you how much music ministered to my heart. Especially when I had no words, God spoke to me through the words of others and the melodies carried us to a special place of intimate peace and sweet comfort. I pray the same for you and Steve and all the loved ones you both hold dear and near to your hearts.

December 3, 2014 - 8:22 pm

Barb Krumwiede - You are in my heart.

December 3, 2014 - 10:16 pm

Helen Campbell - Words spill out from many to comfort you, but yet fall short. Only the peace of Christ can help heal the woundedness.My prayer is for your warrior. May He see Christ in His sufferings and grow in hope that God will not forsake Him.May he rest in our Lord. I am so sorry.

December 4, 2014 - 3:05 am

Angela copley - We are new to westside but so appreciate your ministry of teaching and your transparency. We will begin to add our prayers to yours and your support network.


December 4, 2014 - 7:27 am

Kathleen - I am so sorry for your family. No matter how long the battle, the end is always hard. I lost my husband to ALS 18 years ago this month. You and your family are in my prayers.

December 4, 2014 - 10:26 am

Lisa Glenn - Bo -I can’t imagine this place, this season you are in. Our family lives in Woodland Hills, and we are part of the Bel Air Presbyterian Church community where I was also the Preschool Director (I resigned this month). In February 2014, my wonderful husband was diagnosed with ALS, now only having 49% Vital Lung Capacity. My sister, who lives in Oregon told me about you, your writing, and your website. I am sorry for the pain this type of journey causes, but grateful that we are both serving a loving God who is beside us and within our moments daily. You have inspired me, and I thank you for sharing so much about these years with Steve and your family. In the midst of your pain,it has been a gift to me to remember how close God is to us even in these days of trial. Blessings to you—Lisa

December 4, 2014 - 11:18 am

Julia Damazio - Prayers from Vancouver wa! Hugs!

December 4, 2014 - 7:06 pm

Debbie - Praying for your wonderful family.

December 5, 2014 - 4:07 am

Arlene - Praying the Holy Spirit envelope you, Steve, and your family in peace and comfort and strength.

December 5, 2014 - 1:36 pm

Jennifer Heacock - Prayers for the Stern family. My heart aches for you all. I am sorry.

December 5, 2014 - 3:56 pm

machelle tillery - Hello Bob, my name us Machelle and I want to tell u how I admire u and your husband! I am reading your book, “Beautiful Battlefields” and gave found my strength and purpose through your journey. My prayers are with u and your entire family and may God grant u peace and place a special supernatural deposit in you. Now in the name if Jesus I pray for tomorrow for YOU.

December 7, 2014 - 8:36 am

Sally - This post took my breath away. How did you get to this place so soon? I am so sorry

I too am a caregiver for my husband who has Early Onset Alzheimer’s The week before Thanksgiving I had to place him in a memory care facility. My heart is breaking.

May God surround you with His peace and mercy as you walk this unbearable path

December 9, 2014 - 12:50 pm

Hailey Hoiland - Oh Bo I’m so sorry. I am praying for you and yours.