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Getting to Know Single Bo

 

 

I met Steve Stern when I was 16 years old.  We fell in love when I was 18 and were married one year later. Knowing him, loving him, making a life with him – it’s most of what I know in this world.  When I lost him a few months ago, I felt a little like I and all my history had been erased – it was as if I couldn’t see my own face in the mirror anymore.  The first month was filled with spinning, spinning, trying to find solid footing. It was so easy to focus on what’s been lost, and very hard work to fully appreciate what remains.

 

About six weeks in, I sat down and had a good heart-to-heart with myself.  I made the decision to stop looking back and figure out who I am now.  I wanted to get to know this Bo.  Single Bo (which still sounds super weird to me.)  Steve will always be such an enormous part of my life because that’s what truly great people do to you. They weave their way into your thoughts and opinions and hopes and dreams, and when they’re gone holes happen.  Gaping holes. Scary holes. I’ve watched some sorrow-sojourners fill those holes up with someone or something else so they’ll stop hurting.  No judgement on this method, I’ve seen it work for some, but it’s just not for me.  I don’t want quick fills.  And I don’t want to form this new season of my life around another person.  Quite transparently, that means I don’t want to look a certain way or cook a certain way or fold my laundry a certain way because of someone else.  Not yet.  Maybe not ever.  But I’ve been around long enough to know that in the “not yet” and the “maybe not ever”, unknown possibilities are often incubating inside the sovereignty of God.  I’m more than content coexisting with that mystery, and in being on a need-to-know basis with Him.

 

 

In related news, a few friends have asked about my wedding ring, which I recently moved to my right hand (baby steps) and will eventually put on a chain.  I didn’t move it because I’m ready to move onto another person, but because it felt like an important step in the next phase of the journey (though again, lots of people do it differently and that’s perfectly great!) I’m saying yes to this season of life, however scary and crazy and uncomfortable it may feel. I am in no condition to date, so refrain from sending me suggestions. Just know that I am alive and well and trying to lean into the adventure. I can’t change that loss and sorrow are a part of my story, but I can choose to write the narrative around it to include discovery, development and joy in the me that I am now and the me that I will (hopefully!) become.

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I know this is intensely personal and perhaps even really awkward to read. If I’m honest, it was pretty awkward to write.  But this is my story and I’ve come to believe my story is good. And also? I’m grateful for you.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

 

 

 

 

January 8, 2016 - 1:36 pm

Phyllis B - As always, thank your for sharing.

January 8, 2016 - 1:47 pm

Debbie McKenney - Dear Bo,
Thank you for your words of wisdom. I wish you had been writing these words 20 years ago, when I walked this road . . . only I don’t wish that for you, because I’m glad you had all those years with your Steve.
I was 12 1/2 years into marriage when my husband died suddenly, we had 2 children, ages 7 years and 10 months. I too had met him young, married young. I too had to learn who I was and only by the grace of God was I able to figure that out. I’m still working on it because my children are now adults, so the ‘Mom’ title has diminished and the ‘Me’ title has increased.
Baby steps are the best. God’s grace is amazing.
You have been in my prayers for the past few years and I will continue to pray for you as you walk this road God has you on.
Again, thank you for sharing your heart.
In Him,
Debbie

January 8, 2016 - 1:51 pm

Sue Powell - I didn’t find any of the thoughts your shared here to be ‘awkward’ in any way! But whole and raw and honest,just like your books,just like YOU.What a blessing to be able to ‘look in the mirror’,and see that new version of who you were;married Bo to single Bo,and be content to let Abba work out all the details,without all the ‘stress and strain’ of trying to ‘fill in the gaping holes’ yourself.One of those ‘mysterious ways’ of our Father;when He fills us up with His Presence..there is ‘room enough for whomever He brings along with Him’.Love and hugs,Sue4Him

January 8, 2016 - 1:55 pm

Darleen - I love your updates and take in every word and anticipate the next as if I’m in the middle of an amazing novel! Bo, thank you for being such a great example as a Christ follower, you are needed in a dark, what appears to be hopeless world, you are salt and light! Darleen

January 8, 2016 - 2:11 pm

Jalet - You are the bravest, broken, healing, faith entrenched, visionary, with rock solid transparency, that elevates us all on life’s chaotic journey, I know. I love you and the weird correlation that single yells and vibrates into the quiet space you are newly discovering. You are sojourning, so well.

January 8, 2016 - 2:14 pm

Christine Duncan - Bo, your courage, no matter how awkward, is so needed in our time… praying for you all, and your journey is an inspiration. Feeling blessed to have discovered your beautiful blog almost two years ago.

January 8, 2016 - 3:01 pm

Rebecca - Bo, my husband passed away on August 12, 2015 after a 5 year struggle with vascular dementia. So close to the time of your loss. My thinking is much like your’s. However, we were married for 47 years. I am sorry your love was so much shorter. I have been told I will always feel married. That felt so comforting to me because I could not imagine thinking otherwise. I have known my husband my entire life. He will always be a large part of my thinking. Your writings are an inspiration to me. I can feel the raw in this writing as I am right there with you–feeling raw myself. The healing is yet to come. Love to you.

January 8, 2016 - 3:28 pm

Angie - Your story is good. 🙂
Thank you for sharing so transparently. I’m proud of myself that I made it all the way to the last paragraph before I started crying.
Thank you for inspiring us throughout your journey. I can’t say it as eloquently as I would like, but please know that the seeds you are sowing are growing and beautiful things are happening (and I think I am speaking for lots of people) in our hearts and attitudes because of you.

Angie

January 8, 2016 - 3:36 pm

Lori - You inspire. Keep going strong, girlfriend.

January 8, 2016 - 4:11 pm

Debbie Earlywine-Jackson - Love you Bo!! My the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face shine, shine, shine upon you his beautiful daughter!!

January 8, 2016 - 4:14 pm

Joy - Good luck in your venture of moving forward getting to know yourself. That is courageous and brave! God go with you!

January 8, 2016 - 4:28 pm

Lori - Not awkward at all…..just different. Hugs to you! And your kids:)

January 8, 2016 - 5:24 pm

Karen - Ah Bo…..my learning to be single came from a very different source and was in some ways a time of celebration for me, but also very sad and hard….and you know in your heart that you need lots of time to learn to be “Single Bo”, or, could we just call you “Bo 2016”? Be ever gentle with yourself and I’m confident that a new and glorious chapter is unfolding in your life.

hugs,
Karen

January 8, 2016 - 8:26 pm

Toni - You don’t know me, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know each other. Sorrow-sojourners…..what a word. I know you already know this, but don’t give up, don’t stop and don’t worry too much about what other people think. Keep being brave. God loves us brave girls.

January 8, 2016 - 9:11 pm

Patti - Thank you for sharing this season with us!!

January 9, 2016 - 8:23 am

Debbie Hammagren - Bo, I love your words and your transparency. “Incubating inside the sovereignty of God” That phrase is where we should all live. Love to you!

January 9, 2016 - 1:13 pm

Lisa - Keep writing
We will be here

January 9, 2016 - 2:14 pm

Wanda Stewart - Bo,

I continue to enjoy your blog with tears and smiles. Stan and I were high school sweethearts and married short of 37 years at the time of his death.
I can so identify with the “not yet”, “maybe never” thoughts and said 6 weeks prior to his death that to be involved with anyone else would have to be “God-sent”
Knowing what to do with the wedding ring was another struggle for me. At times I thought it was a protective shield and took comfort wearing it. Stan work his on a chain and I like the idea of that possibility.
God Bless you in your journey!

January 9, 2016 - 2:33 pm

Jody Collins - God has anointed you with such wisdom on this side of your ‘single’ journey, Bo. Wow.
These are amazing lines: “I can’t change that loss and sorrow are a part of my story, but I can choose to write the narrative around it to include discovery, development and joy in the me that I am now and the me that I will (hopefully!) become”
So wise. And not wierd at all.

January 9, 2016 - 7:17 pm

Pat Whitson - Although we are strangers from the unbeliever person’s perspective, in the Body of Christ we are sisters… So, yes, I’m still ” with you” in your journey… In the Manual we both read for guidance and direction, namely the Bible, we are instructed, “their is wisdom in the counsel of many”… And, indeed, Bo, I see you, in this blog as a wise, vulnerable, and courageous counselor for our family to continue listening to regarding how to grieve… ” Jesus wept” at Lazarus’s tomb, and then He raised him from the dead, following that miracle up with instructing the witnesses to unbind him from the grave cloths he was still all tangled up in… I am so grateful that you seem to let us loving family members be a part in the Holy Spirit’s holy work of unwrapping you from Steve’s grave cloths. You remain in my heart and prayers as you continue walking on this path… Pat

January 18, 2016 - 2:27 pm

Jim Marr - I came across this blog post via a Facebook article from Charisma magazine. I could immediately relate to your journey somewhat as a widower. I know in those early stages of grieving, I found solace in the writings of other men who had lost their wives–thank for sharing your story for women facing such a great trial in life. As it turned out, I too found writing to be a cathartic process and a memoir was birthed: http://www.itwasoutoflove.org–free ebook for anyone to share

Your reference to moving the ring to your right hand very distinctly brought back those memories on my journey. You might find a couple paragraphs on Pg 194 interesting to read concerning my wedding ring and the right hand.

Blessings as God fulfills His purposes in your life.

–Jim

January 18, 2016 - 2:29 pm

Jim Marr - Oops, some characters got stuck together in that ebook link:

http://www.itwasoutoflove.org

January 21, 2016 - 4:23 pm

Bernard - Hi Bo,
Here in New Zealand, or Aotearoa as us Maori call it which means ‘Land of the long white cloud’, Focus on the family have been doing a re-run of their shows from 2015. I guess a re-run of the ones that made the most impact, and I must say that after having the privilege, over the last couple of nights, of listening to your journey with your husband and your children, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your journey. A journey that, I must mention, also included our Almighty Father in Heaven, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus, The Awesome Power of the Holy Spirit. Thanks again for sharing your story Bo.

Blessings from Aotearoa,

Bernard.

January 24, 2016 - 7:28 pm

Marlys Miller - You are such a great inspiration. Thank you for sharing from your heart. May God richly bless you and your family.

January 24, 2016 - 8:35 pm

Chris Collins - Day 167 for me. Thanks for putting into words how it feels.

January 29, 2016 - 12:12 pm

Andrea - Dear Bo, Funny how God directs us. Sitting here on a rainy Friday and some how happened upon your blog. My Aunt was diagnosed last year with bulbar ALS. Her decline has been so rapid I can’t really wrap my mind around it. Her physician said if we are lucky she might make it to spring. She is so hopeful to see the garden we planted for her come into bloom. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you will continue.I guess that’s why we are called to help carry each other’s sorrows. Today mine feel a little lighter. God bless

My Vantage Point from Wedding Week

 

It’s a grey, snowy Monday here in our little mountain town. We’ve had a lot of grey this year, which isn’t at all typical.  Our city’s weather resume proudly lists “300 days of sunshine per year”, and I can feel the population collectively scanning the sky for signs of Merry & Bright.

 

I’m not doing much sky-gazing this week.  I’m keeping my head down and my shoulder to the wheel because I’m busy, y’all!  It’s wedding week.  Plus also it’s finish-the-basement-remodel-week.  Plus also Tori-moves-down-to-the-new-basement-apartment week, which means Bo-has-so-many-closets-to-clean-out-down-in-that-thar-basement week is also upon us.  Two big things that are very important to each of my wonderful daughters have converged at the same fixed point on the calendar.  A point on the calendar, by the way, that on it’s own carries such weighty reminders of Steve’s absence. I often find myself wanting to text him with wedding updates or remodel issues and it takes a minute for reality to splash up in my face and remind me he’s really, truly not here.

 

What I’m learning through this is that for any given situation, there are multiple vantage points, multiple realities, and each one is valid. Weddings are a lot of work and money and stress. So are remodels.  So is moving. So are the holidays. Each would be so much easier to do with my beloved here. Grief is hard to carry during already-emotional life events. These are just really real and there’s no point in arguing with them. However, I’m finding that the whole key to whether a day is grim or glorious is in my willingness to find alternative vantage points which allow me to see the equally valid, positive realities.

 

  • I have a home we love, with plenty of room for the people who share my life and my heartache.  All this remodeling business means I can share my home, but have my own space which is just about ideal in every way.
  • Doing all this during the last week of the year means we will all start the New Year with fresh new spaces – and one of us will even start it with a fresh, new name! I adore new beginnings.
  • The people I love most are about to converge upon my home to celebrate with us. For five years, I have wondered how I will survive my first New Year’s without Steve – now, I know for sure I won’t have to do it alone.
  • Biggest of all: my sweet daughter is about to marry the man of her dreams.  He is the man Steve and I have prayed for since before she was born.  Together, they will climb mountains and build dreams and GIVE ME MORE GRANDBABIES! (No pressure, Tess!)  Truly, this is a remarkable gift and it is worth the long to-do lists and the late-night planning sessions and 17 trips to Goodwill to find “just one more glass vase candleholder thingy” (I’ve collected well over 100 over the past 12 weeks.)

 

Multiple realities this week.  Some of them hard, but many of them holy and so, so beautiful.  I get to choose the way I see these things and I know that no one would argue if I wanted to cry  big, drippy tears of self-pity for a minute or a month.  But, I can’t.  I won’t.  I don’t have time! This week of wonder is too precious, too perfect, too important to sacrifice on the altar of a life-is-against-me mindset.  I may (read: definitely will) cry tears of joy and I may cry tears of wishing Steve could see all of this, but I refuse to view this week as bad or unfair or anything but a gift. This is my solemn vow.  Yes to the New Year.  Yes to weddings.  Yes to new life.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

December 28, 2015 - 8:58 am

Dawnette - Thought of you many times this past weekend, and will continue to pray that the wedding will be a blessing to all. Blessing sent your way from Denver.

December 28, 2015 - 10:12 am

Nancy Shaw - Talk about emotional train from one end to the other, God bless!

December 28, 2015 - 11:08 am

Faye Adams - Thank You for sharing you life.

December 28, 2015 - 1:54 pm

Dana - I just want to say thank you. Your sharing gives me hope and confidence that it is possible to survive. Not that I think otherwise, but there is comfort in witnessing someone else’s story (even in glimpses). My husband was diagnosed a little over a year ago. The habitual planner in me has a hard time not thinking too far ahead, which can be a very frightening and depressing place. Reading your posts help that planner part of my brain settle down so that my current-focused brain can handle business and enjoy today. Congrats on the wedding, the remodel, and new beginnings.

Yes to Seeing in The Dark

 

 

Grief is heavy today.  It’s awkward and cumbersome and frustrating and surprising.   Weird that it’s surprising, right? But it is, because so far the holiday season has been pretty much lovely.  It’s been fun to decorate and plan and shop and not worry about how Steve is or where we’re at in the Shadowland.  It hasn’t been overly-emotional or difficult and so maybe I thought I had moved into a new phase or something.  Not “through it” or “over it”, because I’m not yet convinced those phases exist, but maybe I thought I had moved into the “handling it” phase, like I had Olivia Pope’d my grief – all efficient and decisive and in control.  Heh.

 

This side-road of sadness snuck up on me because last week was awesome.  And Sunday was great. It was full of family and really fun.  But Sunday night, I felt the clouds roll in and I think I’ve identified the trigger point and I fear it’s going to sound crazy when I tell you what it was, but I’m telling you anyway because then you can tell me I am, in fact, not crazy.  So, I started on the gift-wrapping and it was going fine, until it came time to sign the tag.  To Josiah.  From…my pen hung in the air for a long time until I found the courage to write it.  Love, Mom.  Just Mom.  To Corey.  From….Bo. Just Bo.  Seeing my name all alone on the card made me feel as alone as I have felt since Steve went home and it made my kids look truly and honestly fatherless for the first time ever.

 

And that’s when the clouds rolled in, grey and weighty, with a suffocating kind of sadness. Usually they move in and out pretty quickly.  This time, they’ve lingered longer than I’d like – through two nights and two mornings and three coffee meetings and two Christmas movies.  Through driving and shopping and still more gift-wrapping.  I’ve fought it, but not very passionately.  I’ve jabbed at the air a bit, but I don’t think I’ve landed a real punch yet.  Grief makes you tired, is the thing, and sort of wild-eyed so I feel my aim is off.

 

This morning, I woke up and my Year of Yes seemed not just impossible, but invisible. Impossible, I can do.  I like impossible.  The quickest way to get me moving is to tell me it can’t be done.  But invisible? Different story. Today I have felt sorrow-blind, widow-blind and, consequently, Yes-blind.

 

But here’s what I know: I am following the One who can see in the dark.  I am living in relationship with the Light of the Whole Wide World, and though this corner is blind, He sees the entire road.  If I could see, I wouldn’t need Him to lead.  But I can’t, so I do.  I need Him. So much.

 

Because I have no other weapon to wield, I’m saying Yes to Day 143. The only day I can see.  The only truth I know – that He is good and all He does is beautiful.  He will be beautiful to me and in me and through me. Yes to that truth.  Yes to light.  Yes to life.

 

Those who walked in the dark have seen a bright light. And it shines upon everyone who lives in the land of darkest shadows. Isaiah 9:2

December 8, 2015 - 10:20 am

Heidi Rowles Friesen - How do you do it? How do you share such beautiful thoughts the pierce me right to the heart in wake of your difficulty? I need to lean into God’s protective arm more than ever today. I appreciate you so much for sharing in your vulnerability. You have given me a gift today. Thank you Bo.

December 8, 2015 - 11:08 am

Patty - Oh my word, this is *exactly* what happened to me yesterday….wrapping presents and the tag–from mom. Not mom and dad. Just mom. You are not crazy or maybe we are both crazy. My 12yr old was actually doing the wrapping–she brought me the pile and there were all the tags filled out “from mom”, and that pit in the stomach sets in. Now I have to finish the rest of the wrapping, she can’t wrap her own presents! I’m right there with you, Bo. Saying yes and clinging to the hope and truth we KNOW… whether I “feel” it at the moment or not I am saying yes.

December 8, 2015 - 5:17 pm

Kathy Dolyniuk - Oh Bo – this brought the tears.
The phrase “it made my kids look truly and honestly fatherless for the first time ever.” Yes – a whole new shadow land for them too.
I was 27 when I lost my mom and I look back and see that I was way to young and not ready for her to go so suddenly and violently (suicide). And we did not know God then. But now I know He does keep his promise to be a Father to the fatherless and I will be praying that over your kids and grand kids.

Kathy Dolyniuk

December 10, 2015 - 9:18 am

SCOTT M BARROW - HI BO STERN MY NAME IS SCOTT BARROW FROM A SMALL TOWN WASHINGTON NC. I ALSO HAVE ( ALS ) HAD IT SINCE 2013 AROUND 3 YEARS NOW YOUR STORY ABOUT STEVE WAS AMAZING. IT IS A DEVEASTATED DISEASE MY WIFE TAKES CARE OF ME ALSO . BUT I CAN STILL DO SOME THINGS IT HIT ME IN MY STOMACH AREA & WENT TO MY RIGHT LEG & NOW MY LEFT. MY UPPER PART IS OK BUT IS PROGRESSING. GOD WILL SEE US THREW IT. IM A STRONG MAN SOMETIMES I TELL PEOPLE IM HERE BUT GONE BECAUSE I AM BLESSED TO BE ALIVE BUT ALSO I HAVE ACCEPTED DEATH I FEEL LIKE IM HERE BUT GONE. I AM A CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF CHRIST & BLESSED TO HAVE SUCH A LOVING & CARING CHURCH FAMILY. JUST WANTED TO SAY HELLO & YOUR STORY IS AMAZING. GOD BLESS YOUR FAMILY. THANK U SCOTT

December 10, 2015 - 9:15 pm

Jeanne Boyd - Dear Bo,
I’d like to meet you someday, I think. Well, actually I will because we’re both headed–no, promised–to go where both your Steve and my Neil now are.

I can tell you love to express yourself thru writing, and you do it in a way that sounds effortless, but as we have both learned from caring for our husbands, nothing that is truly beautiful or meaningful comes without high cost. But thank you for writing the book about your struggle together. (If I read your story I might want to write mine.)

Neil died 10 years ago in Sept. Yours is fresh. It aleays helps me grieve a little more, to know someone else’s story. I don’t think that’s wallowing in it but getting deeper and longer perspective.

Wishing you a Christmas of tender & beautiful surprises.

Jeanne

December 12, 2015 - 9:02 pm

Sally - Oh Bo, yes the blindsides!! I find myself cruising along, moving on, not sad, just doing and wham. I see his favorite juice in the grocery store that I went out of my way to buy, or his misplaced sock behind the dryer, or his writing in a cookbook, his gym bag in the back corner of the closet. So unexpected and I’m not prepared for the flood of emotions. But once the tears are done I cherish the memories and begin again

December 15, 2015 - 8:08 am

Deb Pence - I lost my husband of 45 years to ALS on August 1st this year.I have been reading your posts and get encouragement from them. When I went to wrap first Christmas gift, I experienced the same wave of grief that you described. Thank-you for sharing your feelings.

December 18, 2015 - 11:06 am

Melanie - Hi Bo, I am also a mother of 4 and this is my second Christmas without my husband. I read your Beautiful Battlefields book last year and it was a tremendous help to me. My husband was 40 years old and he passed suddenly on Sept 11, 2014. Our boys are 14 down to 6 years old and they miss him terribly. I experienced similar things with the gift tags and Christmas cards. Last year I could not send any cards, but this year I managed a few. Then I question if I should have sent them because it looks like someone is missing. Sometimes when the feeling is right and your not being washed over in grief I have to tell myself, “I can do this” He will always be in our hearts and like you I rely on the hope of seeing him again. Merry Christmas to your family and be easy on yourself!

December 19, 2015 - 11:05 am

Victoria - When it comes to grieving, the little things really are the big things. Before our daughter died 23 months ago I wrote the names of our four children on all gifts and cards that we gave to others. Since she died I write ‘and family’ as I cannot bear to not write her name.

December 29, 2015 - 12:22 pm

Ashley - Dear Bo, I was reading your current post on the wedding week, when I saw the little link to “saying yes to darkness” at the bottom of your page. I knew it was the Lord because that is the only word that I’ve been able to use to describe where I’m at. My father has been in a Coma, slowly dying for a year..we hoped for a better outcome but we just weren’t that fortunate. I couldn’t quite put into words how this one year anniversary has made me feel, I couldn’t find a scripture, it was all just dark. Until I read this. Thank you for sharing, thank you for being broken with all of us, we ache with you, you bear a light for us, blaze a trail, and I can’t thank the Lord enough for it. – Ashley

Saying Yes to Snow

 

My year of Yes kicks off with a biggie: snow.

 

I live in the mountains and I love it…in the summer.  Our summers are glorious. But winter snow, while lovely to look at from the couch, creates issues in my single-mom life, which are as follows:

 

  1. Driving in it.
  2. Shoveling it.
  3. I hate being cold.

 

And finally – and here’s a big and intimate one – snow is, for whatever reason, romantic to me.  Steve loved it – I mean he loved, LOVED it. That’s why he moved us here.  He loved watching it fall.  He even loved shoveling.  And every time it snowed at night, we would open the blinds on our window and lay in bed and watch it fall.  So, this year, the thought of snow feels especially cold and especially lonely.

 

However, here’s a thing and this thing is undeniable:  Snow is going to fall in Central Oregon and it’s going to fall often.  In fact, it would appear that it’s going to fall tomorrow.  I cannot say No to snow. It will not listen (and the skiers will want to punch me.)  Since snow is coming regardless, I have been thinking about what I can say Yes to.  Surely, there’s something snow can bring to my life if I will say Yes, instead of kicking and screaming.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

 

  1. Yes to tradition.  Since my kids were teenies, we have celebrated the first day of snow with hot chocolate and buttered toast. Now that some of them are older, we also celebrate by meeting at one of our favorite restaurants for hot buttered rum. These are gifts of snow and relationship. They are gifts of  our history, but they are tied to the white stuff and so I am thankful for it.
  2. Yes to gratitude. Nothing makes my house feel warmer inside, than snow on the outside. I will light a fire in the wood stove and be thankful for shelter.
  3. Yes to memories. It’s tempting right now to keep tender memories of life with Steve buried out of reach and out of touch. I would focus entirely on moving forward if I thought I could get away with it.  But I know I can’t. I know grief is sneaky –   it doesn’t just stay where we put it because we tell it to.  I’m trying to learn to leverage the moments where his absence is most profound and poignant to fully feel and express what I’m feeling to the only One who is able to walk me through those waves of sorrow. This first snow without Steve is a chance to feel his absence from another angle. The kids and I will tell stories about him loving foul weather and we’ll laugh and clink our hot chocolate mugs to his memory.  And I will say Yes to the memories and the bittersweet work they do in my soul.

 

 

UPDATE 11/30/15:  This is Day 7 of Snowpocalypse.  The snow fell and fell and fell (a foot and a half!)  along with the temperatures, which means:  it’s STILL HERE.  What we have now is a tangled mess of icy snarls on the roads.  I’m glad I wrote this before it came, because I had to remind myself of my Yes decision about four hundred times:  As I shoveled and scraped, as I braved the mountain pass to go to an important family event, as one car’s door locks froze and refused to budge, as I rescued Tori from the hospital parking lot where her little car hunkered down for the duration.

 

I didn’t live my Yes as perfectly as I had planned it.  There were moments of fist-shaking and sigh-making, but I DID, I’m happy to say, do better than I would have otherwise.  I embraced the adventure of the crazy Bend streets and the way our city comes together during storms.  I was overcome with gratitude for my car and it’s scrappy, gutsy snow faring ways.  I bought snow tires – a decision I had been on the fence about, but I’m so glad I did it.  I drank a lot of hot chocolate with my kids and watched about a million Thanksgiving episodes of sitcoms.

 

And finally, I took a late-night walk in the falling snow and had a little talk with Steve.  I thanked him for teaching me to love all kinds of weather.  I thanked him for all those years of shoveling with not a single complaint.  I told him I missed him quite desperately, but was doing pretty well considering I’m just a girl with the shakiest-possible Yes.  And in that pretty, white dream of a night, Steve’s smiles fell soft all around me, glistening and glimmering, and I scooped them up and tucked them away for the next Yes.

 

Yes to tradition.  Yes to gratitude.  Yes to memories.

 

Thank you, Snow.

 

With hope,

Bo

 

 

 

November 30, 2015 - 10:22 am

Jalet - Bo and family,
I know you are not brave by nature, but default. I love that your yes is shakey, but persistent. I love that you refuse to let a well deserved grief, overwhelm and bury your snowplow of yes. I love that beauty is sought, not overlooked, impounded or refused, for fear of more grief. I am strengthened by your honest ache, and softend by your wanting to let grief be your partner in growth, not your drowning anchor.
I praise the one who guides your heart to healing and fullness and his ever present, heart-holding, for your understandably lonely empty. Again, your transparency in navigating, is a truth that brings life. Thank you.

Praying for the Hot Chocolate moments in the icey world of brakng and steering tenuously, in the art of grief you navigate.
Jesus, Be Thou Their Vision oh Lord of their hearts.

November 30, 2015 - 1:49 pm

evy - LOVE this…. funny enough, I said YES to snow a few days ago too….and while I have always loved LOOKING at it, I don’t like driving in it-at all! However, this is my yes year too, though I haven’t ever had a yes-to-snow year before 🙂 Yay for both of us, but praying for your heart through your losses that bring you to needing to say yes to it for completely different reasons than mine 🙂

hugs!

evy

November 30, 2015 - 5:06 pm

Heidi Rowles Friesen - Tears… this one brought tears to my eyes. I read your blog religiously but today I let myself feel all the feels that this one brings. Growing up in Bend Oregon seems to beget snow as being an integral and intimate part of life, and reading this is bringing out the ways that I let seasons dictate my responses to situations. But not after reading this. Today I am going to choose to respond in joy, in gratitude, and in hope that seasons come and go, just like Snowpacolypse will certainly melt into some sort of sludgy, sunshiney January and then March and then June. It too will be a memory to be savored. So instead of bemoaning the early darkness and bitter cold and heaps of stress that come with this season, I am going to choose to find ways that I can love it. Thank you so much for posting the before and the after. I needed this one.

December 1, 2015 - 6:42 pm

jane Wililams - … Bo, I’m just a little tired of you making me cry. 🙂 (SOOO kidding!) Because down deep in my heart of hearts I am so grateful for the tears your words fashion so well. Tears that bring the cleansing reminder of Life, Love and a satisfied soul. (Not to mention hope and courage!) Once again, as always, thank you.

December 4, 2015 - 8:35 pm

Jewl - You write beautifully!

My Word for the Year Ahead

 

 

I’ve just finished reading a book that got me thinking, which turned to dreaming, which turned to planning. I started crafting ways that I could live out one tiny-giant word this year. Excitement keeps gaining steam as I think about it, and excitement is a such a strange and welcome emotion in my world right now that I’ve decided I picked the right word for 2016.

 

The word is Yes.

 

For five years, I’ve been following stringent schedules and playing by an invisible set of intractable rules that go along with the situations my family faced: first terminal illness, then grieving. I said Yes to the things that had to be done every day and every night and I honestly had very little Yes-power after that. My life was built around the have-to’s and some of those have-to’s had life-and-death implications which made them very important, but also very difficult and stressful. I remember telling my mom about a thousand times, “I feel like I’m drowning and while I’m drowning, I’m also trying to keep Steve from drowning.” I’m truly not complaining – it was an honor to tread water for him, but something happened to my thinking during that time. It became survival-oriented. Stop-the-bleeding. And in order to do those important things, I had to say a lot of No’s to everything else.

 

Now, however, the Yes’s are mine to say or not say. They are here in front of me like apples on a tree. Yes. It’s a glorious, life-giving word if I’ll choose to see it as such.

 

But the thing is: Life still hurts. That’s just the truth of it. And sometimes it’s hard to see beyond the pain to a world of possibilities. Sometimes I’d like to sink into the sadness of what I’ve lost rather than fixing my vision on what remains.  Keeping right perspective and staying out of the ditch of discouragement is one of the most difficult things I’ve done.

 

That’s why Yes. Yes moves me forward. Yes keeps me thankful. Yes makes me brave. Yes flings joyful question marks like confetti over the landscape of my future. Yes. What if I said it a lot? What if I said it every day? Yes to joy. Yes to hope. Yes to things that scare me. Yes to compassion. Yes to greater purpose. Yes to rest. Yes to all-caps LIFE.

 

What if?

 

The mind reels.

 

And the heart sings (and also shakes a little, if I’m being honest.)

 

Because Yes is a wild and wonderful word.

 

And it is my word to spend freely on the year ahead.

 

Yes.  2016 starts today.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

November 23, 2015 - 8:56 am

Beth Allen - I love this:-) Im going to adopt your word for my New Year too – Thank you once again a word that blesses my heart and encourages me on for a future that is yes!!! Exciting and filled with JOY!!

November 23, 2015 - 9:15 am

Jill - Wow…My husband is a 26 years veteran of the military and he just retired. Through all 14 years of war and constant deployments (which led to uncertainty, fear and grief) I felt like that – just in survival mode. Hanging on. I had to say “no” a lot. No, Daddy won’t be home for your birthday, Christmas, Anniversary etc. Now that we are starting to re-connect as a family and heal from the last 14 years – I’m with you. YES! 😀

November 23, 2015 - 9:27 am

Jennifer Herbert - Thank you for your encouraging messages.

November 23, 2015 - 9:36 am

sandra - YES….an exciting and scary word. Praying for you!

November 23, 2015 - 9:37 am

Christine Michaelis - Oh Bo. I just love this message in particular. My Mom is living through losing my Dad and at 83, after never living on her own in her whole entire life, she has a lot to come to terms with. She is not a believer and I haven’t shared your words with her much because I’m not sure she would take them to heart and see through the “religious” references — but this message, I’m going to copy and paste and make it look pretty as a picture and gift it to her. Thank you for being you and for sharing that with us.
Chris

November 23, 2015 - 10:15 am

Kristen - So good. And apparently you are already saying yes to FASHION PHOTOSHOOTS?! (My mom may or may not have hooked me up with some photos of your fashion badassery.) 😉

November 23, 2015 - 12:33 pm

Anita Williams - I too lost my husband. He died January 23,2015 10 months after being diagnosed with ALS and now I feel so lost but I am trying to push on. It is hard after spending 25 years with him which is half my life and his. I am going to say yes to all possibilities that come my way from now on no matter how hard it may be. Thank you for your message it has given me the encouragement I need right now.

November 23, 2015 - 1:16 pm

bo - Haha! Oh, Kristen, I assure you that was a brave and one-time decision. But I DID say YES to it, so, Go Me! 🙂

November 23, 2015 - 6:57 pm

Edie - Dear Bo – loving your word, so full of possibilities. Thank you for continuing to put your thoughts into such beautiful words. Praying for you as you rise up out of the sorrow and continue to press forward into life. Love you lots, Edie

November 23, 2015 - 8:04 pm

Heidi Krausse - My husband went to be with the Lord 8 years ago after we battled for him 2-1/2 years with kidney cancer. I appreciate your honest insight and walk into the grief recovery process. Thank you for sharing.

November 24, 2015 - 2:14 pm

Cindi Dunn - Bo, I heard Lisa Nichols say (this past summer…at an event I was attending) that you don’t just says “Yes”…you always want to say “Yes, YES!!!” She went on to explain that the first yes just gets your head into agreement with your heart, BUT the second yes is to God’s call on your life…never more appropriate than for you my friend! So, “Yes, YES!!!” Love your heart…love it that you share it with us! Thankful today for you! 🙂

November 24, 2015 - 7:19 pm

Cindy Anderson - I’ve never met you, but feel as though I know you through your beautiful, honest and transparent writings… Thank you for being so true to who God has called you to be! And, fly free in this new season of saying, “Yes” to life!

November 28, 2015 - 9:08 pm

Jewl - “Yes” looks beautiful on all of those apple trees around you! Hoping with you!

December 15, 2015 - 11:32 pm

Karen Sesnon - Hey Bo, been thinking about this post and your word for 2016 since you posted it….I did “yes” during Lent a few years ago at a time when everyone around me was suggesting I needed to say “no” more…it was a good season. 2015 was “Strength” and I didn’t really know why…but it was a good word for the hard days and I think I got stronger in some ways. A week ago a word literally fell out of the sky into my head…and I think I wanted something more sparkly or deep or hip…but when I tell you what the word is you’ll know why I just smiled a little and grabbed it. JOY. Yep. Joy is back. Gonna claim it. There’s a chance I lost it …so here we go 2016. Bring it! <3