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Two Words


My husband is miserable tonight and exhausted by the myriad of ways his body is betraying him. Turns out, a lot of things go wrong when muscles die.


I camp out in a chair near his wheelchair while he watches old movies.  He doesn’t watch them because he loves them so much, but because he needs a way to get out of his own head. There’s not much I can do to help, but I want to be close. I don’t like movies much, but I really like him, so I read and research and pin stuff on Pinterest that I’ll probably never look at again. That’s how I stay out of my head.


But back to my point.  As I mentioned, Steve is so tired and so, so uncomfortable tonight.  My parents came over and we tried to pray for him, but I could only cry. I couldn’t say any words.  I’m so tired of watching him suffer with no way to help him. Not that prayer doesn’t help….it does.  I believe in prayer, but have you ever landed in a place so confounding and painful that you can only pray out tears and groans and sighs? That’s me tonight. I’m so thankful for parents who are just as lost for answers, but are able to find the words we need.  My dad started his prayer for his dear son (the “in-law” part is just semantics) with these words, “Father, we have no might in this battle…”  And that’s all I remember, but it’s exactly how I’ll probably start every prayer for the rest of my life.  My parents prayed, Steve and I cried, and then I walked them out to their car.  When I came back in, Steve caught my eye and mouthed the words, “Hello, beautiful.”  They were silent and ragged, but they were dearer to me than any of the million times he’s said them in the past thirty years.  They were an offering. A diamond ring. A party dress.  A sweet caress.  Just two words, poured out like water on dry ground, from dry ground.


This night was hard, but I’ll tell you what: I will never forget it.  Not as long as I live.


With hope,


June 3, 2015 - 10:21 pm

Michelle Watson - Oh Bo…I am crying with you right now. My heart aches with you and all I can do is feel helpless with you from afar. I love your dads words and I love Steve’s words. The men in your family are warriors right now. They’re holding the truth and they’re standing in the fight, one while he stands and one while he lays. But both are warriors and heroes in my book. Love to you anew right now, my friend.

June 3, 2015 - 10:22 pm

Stacey - Oh, Bo. I am praying for you and Steve. Really, truly praying. Crying all the tears. You are both my real life, true, one hundred percent heroes. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of the two of you and the love you share.

June 3, 2015 - 10:39 pm

Mitzy - Precious…. My forever memory is Ron using every bit of strength that he had to lift my hand to his lips and kiss it. You are so correct, you will never, ever forget it. Love you, Bo….Come Lord Jesus…..

June 3, 2015 - 10:42 pm

Helen Campbell - I am so very sorry for this difficult time. Your diligence in sharing impacts my heart to be more thankful. Your commitment to honoring and respectimg your husband in these trying days encourages me to be more loving to mine. Your constant praise of our Lord inspires to be more faithful. May you and Steve sleep well. May your joy cometh in the morning.

June 3, 2015 - 10:45 pm

Phil Camden - love and tears for you both. …………….

June 3, 2015 - 11:06 pm

Sherry - Bo, your words are medicine to all of our souls. It is a minor offering to share any hope I might have for you but if I could I would whisper none of this is a surprise to God. His arms are wrapped so tightly around Steve and you right now and there are no words needed to be said. HE is with you, tight and strong, His everlasting arms are holding you all.

June 3, 2015 - 11:17 pm

Arlene Hiatt - It’s 1am in Lincoln . . . I’m awake and just read your blog . . . my heart hurts for you and Steve . . . praying. Love you both.

June 4, 2015 - 1:52 am

William Hummer - Thanks for your parents who can stand in the gap. They are God’s gift. Prayer is Important but God really cares about the heart attitude. If words don’t come then He sees the tears.
I am sending our love now. May God’s peace come in the storm and in your weariness.

Bill Hummer

June 4, 2015 - 2:16 am

Stacey Novak - Bo and Steve,
My heart is breaking for you both. You are an inspiration to me. First as a PALS, I will always keep fighting to stay with those I love. And second, I will continue to believe in the love, prayers, and unending strength that each of my family and friends prays over me, my hubby (the love and strength of my life), and my children.
May God give you rest, sleep, and joy in the morning.


June 4, 2015 - 5:05 am

rebecca carrell - Praying for you through my tears. Thank you for allowing us to take this journey with you.

June 4, 2015 - 6:34 am

Ellen McBride - Dearest Bo,

As much as my heart aches when I read your blog, I am so thankful that you are able to use your words, so we can shoulder with Team Stern. This post reminded me of a time when my step dad (whom I was extremely close to) was battling cancer. Yet, I know that time can’t even compare to what your heart is feeling at this moment.

I never grow tired of reading this blog, as it is a sweet reminder of how important the words that we utter effect those whom we love, so dear to our hearts.

You and Steve,(and the children) are consistently on our hearts, minds, and prayers.

Praying for rest and a sweet presents our the Holy Spirit tonight.


June 4, 2015 - 6:41 am

Julie - I refuse to forget the nights I sat and held my daughter and walked this very road. It is nothing short of heart breaking. It is ok for you both to feel frustrated, exhausted, angry and sad. God knows all about those feelings. He loves you both, and his heart breaks for your suffering. God promises that he won’t ever leave us, so while the storm is raging keep looking for the lighthouse. It is there, even if you don’t see it.
Sending Prayers for all of you.

June 4, 2015 - 6:51 am

Steven Phillips - Bo and Steve,

I cried as I read your post this morning. A couple days ago, a guy I know said, Illinois, in the conversation, and he pronounced the “s” at the end of Illinois. I was reminded of Steve being flabbergasted that people in the USA couldn’t correctly pronounce Illinois. That reminded me of different time, what seem like an eternity ago, when Steve was at a different place. As the guy said Illinois, my mind was flooded with so many memories. Thankfully, I didn’t lose it at that point, but after I walked away, and was sitting in my truck, I cried as the memories flooded my mind and my heart, again. Then I was reminded that through the journey Steve has become a fuller man and a more complete man of God.

This morning I was also reminded of some verses from the Psalms that have been on my mirror for many years now. They have been there through some very deep waters and through some very windy storms. Perhaps they will help today: Ps 18:19, 31:8 and 118:5.

We love you guys and we are standing with you

June 4, 2015 - 8:25 am

Nathele Nat Gitnes - My heart hurts for you and Steve

June 4, 2015 - 9:31 am

Edie - Bo, everything that comes to mind to write in response to your post seems so shallow and trite compared to the depths of emotions that you have stirred in me. I learn so much with every one of your posts. To trust, obey, cherish, remember. God is good. I am so thankful that you decided to share your journey with all of us, instead of hiding away in this time of suffering. We are praying for Team Stern daily. Love you all.

June 4, 2015 - 11:46 am

Pam - You have my heart, dearest sweetest friend.

June 4, 2015 - 12:00 pm

Marianne Sansour - I have ALS and i know what you and your family are going through. I see the pain in my family eyes and faces and it hurts to see them go through this.I’m going into 5 years of this living hell.I’m having to depend more and more on others for mobility and i hate it. What keeps going is PRAYER.I’m sending prayers and love to you and your family. GOD BLESS YOU.

June 4, 2015 - 2:52 pm

Susie Kay - Precious Bo,
Your journey stirs gratitude within me.
Gratitude for your willingness to share your love and faith as well as your heartbreak.
Gratitude that as you share, I have found healing in my own heart, faith in our Lord that He is always near and always cares, and trust in knowing my position in The Kingdom.
Loving you both and thanking you with gratitude, Susie

June 4, 2015 - 3:15 pm

Donna Armstrong - I sincerely know what you are going through as I am also going through this. My husband is in his 5th year. I so sympathize with you. I cried too as I read your post.
Thinking of you

June 4, 2015 - 5:40 pm

Mike spencer - i clearly understand and identify with your feelings. I went through two years of watching my loving wife fight the ALS battle. She became a brain in a chair and suffered soooo much. Her pain is no more! I miss her!

June 4, 2015 - 6:54 pm

Lynn - I’m praying SO hard for you. And Steve. And the kids. And all the survivors on earth and in Heaven. Lord come quickly for us all!

June 4, 2015 - 7:58 pm

Sharon Murray-Roberts - My words are so small Bo but just wanted to say that prayers are going up in Mississippi. Much love–

June 4, 2015 - 8:33 pm

Barbara - For some reason these words, “Father, we have no might in this battle…” are what struck me first. The wisdom to acknowledge this, the humility to pray this – and the truth of it. My family is in its own battle – not with ALS – but with mental illness.. and these words have helped me remember that it’s okay if we are not mighty in our battles – we don’t need to be. We just need to be yielded to Him. Beyond that, as others have said here, thank you for being willing to share this journey. It has profoundly impacted me and those I share it with. The depth of your faith, the love you have for each other, and transparent way in which you share it all. Blessings to you both.

June 4, 2015 - 10:10 pm

Jewl - … tears for you all, Bo. If we can grieve the Holy Spirit then He feels emotion, and feels deeply, and since He prays for us with groans that words can’t express, then every sigh you breathe through tears is you joining a Holy God as He prays for both you and Steve, and He joining with you. That’s beautiful! And this is painful beyond what I know to imagine.
I love how God prompts me to check your blog for a new post almost every time you write, even tonight, when one wouldn’t expect a post so soon after the last. And it’s the last thing I do before bed. It’s my prayer for you. A sort of communion with you in your night time suffering.

June 5, 2015 - 3:07 am

Michael Wenham - Dear Bo

I’m weeping. Thank you for being so real. We love you both.

Michael and Jane

June 5, 2015 - 11:00 pm

Cathy Wood - Thank you Bo for letting us hear the “best” from one of the worst of times!!! It is honestly a privilege to know you!!

June 6, 2015 - 8:44 am

Lisa - Bo, we will all “stand in the gap” praying because we know what it feels like to not be able to find the words because we are beyond sad. We pray for His will.
Blessing for you all.

June 6, 2015 - 11:52 am

Betty Yoder - Thinking of you and praying for you often. Love you all !

June 7, 2015 - 10:40 pm

Bonee - Bo
Our Bible Study group has been going through your book Beautiful Battlefields and receiving blessing after blessing. Your writing is so genuine, so descriptive, so enlightening. Please know that we are lifting you in prayer as you face your battlefields. Your ministry has touched our lives in a lasting way; I for one will never look on hardship in the same way. Right now I pray that you will feel one of those “Daddy Moments” where God’s love wraps you in a security hug and His love draws your eyes heavenward so you can see the minuteness of this life on earth.
Blessings to you

June 8, 2015 - 8:52 pm

Vangi - Oh, dear Bo. I am sad beyond sad for Steve’s suffering — for your suffering — for the drained, empty, so, so done with it all load. And yet, neither of you have suffered and then refused to get back up again. You did it yet again in your post — the beauty was there, the strength, the blessing others in the midst of suffering…you got back up and you shared with us both sides of the dark side of the moon.

I love you so much. I’m praying for you. And I’m taking something with me from this: “we have no might in this battle.” Only He does. And He does. And I declare His might over you tonight — in your weakness, in your tears, in your sorrow, in your done-ness. Jesus, fill this beautiful, faithful family with your might.

June 9, 2015 - 8:33 am

Jennifer Kem - Hello Beautiful Bo, Those same two words keep my heart in the right place.
♡ Hello Beautiful ♡
I say ‘hello handsome’ back to Brandon. It’s been our love note to each other for years. I’m excited that is another parallel in our different journeys.
Reading your two words from Steve, your parents full adoption of him within their hearts and Steve’s deepness for you by two words lifts my heart higher inside. You are both beautiful.
While our circumstances are not beautiful according to the world … the world doesn’t often get spirit. I love you my friend.

June 12, 2015 - 11:49 pm

Cathy Bennett - I am so grateful for the strength and biblical wisdom you have shared through Beautiful Battlefields and your website. My husband was diagnosed with ALS a year ago so I am on the same difficult journey. I can’t tell you how much you transparency, heart and dependence on God has given me strength for my battle. It was also so helpful to reframe our journey as a battlefield where we could make spiritual choices vs. just be victims of our circumstances. I am praying for you, Steve and your family.
Cathy in Mpls.

In The Not-so-Merry Month of May


This has been a tough month for Steve – especially in the the past week. Some sort of virus, combined with his already-fragile condition made for a dicey few days for all of us. I can’t quite explain what this season is like as we live in this land filled with constant uncertainty. Friends and family wonder: should we come? And I know that simple question is loaded with more complex questions they don’t want to ask.  But I have no answers – at least nothing concrete enough for airline reservations.  If the question is: “How long do we have with Steve?”  the only solid answer I can find is: not long enough.


As the week played out, I asked Steve how he felt inside his mind.  He always says his spirit is strong, but I wondered what was percolating up in his brain.  He surprised me by saying he feels he has so many thoughts that he can’t get out.  I hadn’t really considered that. He can no longer type and his speech is so limited and his breathing so taxing, that he uses words very sparingly. But it turns out, he is constantly thinking and re-thinking and he needed to get some of those thoughts out.  We set aside some time for him to talk and me to type.  It was a laborious process as he stopped every few minutes to suction and regain his strength – he lasted an hour and was exhausted at the end, but I’m so glad we did it.  Hearing what is living inside his heart was wonderful and gut wrenching and difficult, but I have a better handle on how to pray for him now and two pages of Steve-words that I will treasure forever.


For me personally, May has been my most difficult month on record. I realized in the first week that the sentences in my head were all starting out with “I need…” or “I wish…”  I need a break.  I wish life was easier.  I need to pay bills.  I wish things were like they used to be.  You get the idea. I started working hard to replace the first two words of every thought with “I have” or “I’m glad that…”  I have a great family and beautiful friends.  I’m glad that I have the money to pay the bills.  I have the best caregivers for Steve so I can have a break during the days.  No joke, it’s a lot of work to make the switch and it’s not a very lot of fun. But it’s so, so worth it.  It keeps me out of the ditch in a million ways and sets my heart on the things that are most important.  Because the unfailing truth that guides my life and guards my sanity is this:  The Lord is my shepherd;  I have everything.  All that I am, dream, believe, hope and need is wrapped up tightly in that one sentence which has now become my May mantra. Feel free to borrow it if your month is less marvelous than you had hoped.


I know I haven’t said it enough recently, but we really love you and are so grateful for your support and prayers and friendship.  We read every comment and are thankful for every one.


With hope,



May 26, 2015 - 10:11 am

Patti - I think of you daily and pray for you often as God brings you and your family to mind. I was able to share the story you told of God promising that he has been to every moment of your future and placed provision there for you with 3 different friends this week. It was life-changing and hope-giving. Thank you for letting God use you in the midst of your pain. Praying comfort and hope for your family.

May 26, 2015 - 10:15 am

Mitzy - I love you & I’m praying.

May 26, 2015 - 10:34 am

Molly - And we read every word…..and hold on to our beloved hope twit we have in Jesus… is found NO WHERE else!! Especially not within ourselves. I am thankful that
God is filling you with grace and pray that it will cover you very minute of every day.

May 26, 2015 - 10:40 am

Jalet - The stern, steadfast clinging to the Shepard in the Stern household, is a sanctified glory of a painful and stark beauty. The raw real, the depth of canyon experiences you choose to refer to as “ditches” is a lantern to my eyes, and a shoring to my heart. I would never wish this monster of a disease on anyone, but what I have learned in the playful yet painful support from Team Stern has been life changing for me. Thank you for taking the most private of moments and in the exhaustion, allowing your heart to be led, by that of the Shepard. It takes energy to be honest when it is easier to conceal the ugly. Thank you Bo, Steve and family, for giving me the gift of growing in Christ while walking alongside your journey. Our prayers remain unceasing for peace, clarity and strength in the battle. We love you. The battle belongs to The Lord! Amen.

May 26, 2015 - 11:46 am

Lori Greenstone - breathing with you; praying too. love never ends, dear friend

May 26, 2015 - 12:29 pm

kathy - I remember a few years ago at church when I was praying for you and Steve. The tears came and then in an instant I heard, no more tears, I want you to look beyond what your eyes see. I want you to see Steve’s spirit. It is strong, and it will become stronger each day. I walk with Steve and Bo, and family. Many will see deeply into the grace and love of the Father through this family. Believe in what you don’t see.
And those words have and are showing true through the time that has passed. God bless you all. We love you deeply.

May 26, 2015 - 1:17 pm

David Chown - Bo and Steve, I honestly don’t remember if we have ever met. (Not a good comment on my mental acuity.) I hope we have, back in your days with us here in Portland. Of course we have many friends in common and we share so much history and faith. But you are in my prayers often through the miracle of Facebook. I have walked your journey, not as intimately as you are but enough that I hurt with you and pray for you often. Love you both and admire you more than I can say. Stay strong in the Lord and the power of His great love. If we have not yet met, I know we will someday, somewhere, in this body or the glorious one to come!

May 26, 2015 - 1:38 pm

Michael Wenham - Bo and Steve – We read your words carefully and they much encourage us in our long march to freedom through the valley of ALS/MND. I’d like you to know that here in the UK we try to pray for you daily. I believe that God will not let you go even though your feelings may tell you otherwise. Deep peace be with you all.

May 26, 2015 - 1:58 pm

Donna Armstrong - Hi, my husband is in his 5th yr of ALS. He has been on a vent and feeding tube for 2 years now. Which made him feel so much better. He can no longer speak, but thanks to his speech therapist, he is still able to type just a little. I am his sole caregiver, which makes our life extremely hard. A lot of sleep never comes my way but I try to take catnaps during the day. We have been married for almost 45 years. I will do everything it takes to make him comfortable. Thank you for helping my thinking as far as your first two words. I will start doing that immediately. I need to.
Please take care. you both are in my thoughts and prayers.

May 26, 2015 - 6:23 pm

ARenee - Bo, it is often with bated breath and heartfelt prayers that I wait earnestly for each and every one of your entries. Thank you Steve and Bo for sharing this painfully beautiful journey with us. Our family also has traveled this very same road, scaling strikingly similar rugged terrain for 11 years. My sister fought valiantly and we were blessed to see her obtain the prize at the end of her race as she gracefully fell into the arms of Jesus. What greater victory is there?! Praying your strength in our Father as you both press forward, clinging to the Rock and to each other. Your family will remain in my thoughts, my prayers and in my heart always. In faith & With love.

May 26, 2015 - 6:58 pm

Angie Small - Wow this is so powerful Bo. Thanks to you and your family for showing
God’s grace and love and truly leaning on him daily. Blessings and prayers
For this wonderful family.

May 26, 2015 - 11:35 pm

Angie White - sweet Bo, your words take me back to when I was where you are, but with Tim. Take snapshots in your mind of each moment. You are right to not forestall, because none of us knows how much time we have, but we all should remember our days are limited. Reminisce with Steve. Dream with Steve. Make promises to Steve and for Steve and for yourself. Continue to live and laugh and love. Cry if you must. Laugh when you can. Lean on the Lord always. Praying abundant blessings on you all, Team Stern…and everyone else who shares your sorrows and joys.

May 27, 2015 - 7:31 am

candy kaloger - I cry when I read this. Someone else knows and puts words to our month of May. May filled with pneumonia. Week after week of green stuff laboriously suctioned from lungs that are so fragile. He is so fragile. Still big and looking strong but so easily hurt from gentle touches. I pushed too hard this month when I moved his ankle in circles to keep them from stiffening. I sprained a toe. He cried in anguish. And so did I. “sorry. Sorry. Sorry”. Cannot say it enough. He forgives and forgets and moves onto another breath.

I sat on the floor this past weekend. He bent his chair back to be even with my head so I could hear his raspy voice. He pushes out words so I can hear. we talked about our friendship. I told him some of the hurts I’ve had in our decades of friendship. He said he was sorry. He could have been a better leader. Should have known, seen my hurt. A dying man apologizing for a not perfect relationship. Wow! He is my amazing friend, husband, lover of my life.

He texted me today when I went to bible study. “I miss you already. I love you.”

“I love you back,” I wrote. “I Miss you but I have you in my heart, my thoughts, my soul, forever and ever.” I will treasure this past Saturday as if it summed up our time together. I told him secrets, revealed my pain and joy.

My caregiver has been sick with whooping cough. Thank God she did not bring it here. It would have killed him. I have picked up day and night shifts. I can do this, I think, until I hit a night like tonight when I ache and am so tired but I can’t quit.

It is the joy of the Lord that is my strength. We will go where He leads.

Is June his last month? It could be. Hospice would think it could be. But we will take each day. Not the past. Not the future. Just today.


May 27, 2015 - 8:06 pm

Karla Kantola - Bo, I have been following you beautifully written journal through my friend Connie Anderson. You and your husband are so fortunate to have the loving relationship that you have. Consider yourself blessed to be there for him while you can. I cared for my mother in our home for 6 years before she died of Alzheimer’s. I knew it would be difficult and it was, but I chose to do this for her and considered myself blessed that I could help her through this awful disease. In her final days I found her at times reaching toward heaven and communicating with people. The hospice nurses who had seem the same thing many times told me it wasn’t the Alzheimer’s that was driving this behavior and now I believe them. My mother wasn’t a religious woman so I considered it a gift to be part of this transition. It brought me closer to God. It is never easy to part with a loved one. It sounds like you both have had a tremendous struggle. Life isn’t fair, but I hope you will look for the little gifts God will show you in the days to come. My love and prayers go out to you both. Karla

May 27, 2015 - 10:37 pm

Debbie - Dear Bo and Steve, You are in my thoughts and prayers often. Sending love to you!

May 29, 2015 - 6:45 am

Janet Belden - Dearest Bo,
You have touched my heart and soul in so many endless ways. I have been praying and searching for one who understands my journey, my daily walk. My husband had a massive brain bleed last year, and is now in a wheelchair, out of work, and dependent. He was an avid slalom skier, snowboarder, hunter, fisherman, never watched TV. We have been married 27 years with 3 children. (2 boys that have really struggled losing their strong Daddy figure). I am a labor and delivery nurse, but now wear the hats of caregiver, business owner, single parent (in many ways), bill payer, etc etc. All of which you totally get. I know I can’t begin to understand your battle, but I want you to know that Your book Beautiful Battlefields as well as your blog have helped me continue in this walk before me, as well as continue to unearth the Beauty that could only be found in this time. I am seeing and living the blessings before me. Finding JOY in this place yet, still have my days of wrestling and grieving. Just wanted you to know that your journey is touching me deeply and profoundly and helping me to do this thing with courage and endurance. Thank you for sharing all you are walking. You have my prayers and admiration.

June 2, 2015 - 9:00 am

Heidi - Bo, God brings you to my mind often, and I stop to pray for you and your family when that happens. Even this experience you are going through now is your ministry – touching many lives of people you do not even know! Thank you for sharing your story and your life with all of us, and for your books. I live in MN, and first heard of you on Live the Promise with Susie Larson.
I keep your book Ruthless in my bag that I bring to work every day. I know it’s there if I need some encouragement (to read during my lunch breaks). I’ve shared some of the devotions with my 23 year old son and with my husband. They really like the messages and scripture.
God’s protection and love over you and your family today- stopping to pray for you again right now!

June 7, 2015 - 2:20 pm

Michelle C - Oh Bo & Steve..keep fighting. Your words mean a lot to me and I hope it is a comfort to know that so many of us keep you in our thoughts and prayers. My husband is unwell also and it is so hard to know how to help. Thank you for sharing a little of your lives with us.

What I Learned About Heaven from American Idol


True confession: Steve and I have watched every episode of American Idol this season.  Every, single one. This is astounding because there are virtually no entertainment choices on which we agree.  He’s sports and action movies.  I’m documentaries and You’ve Got Mail.  We haven’t always watched American Idol, and we’ve never watched an entire season until this year.  This year, as Steve has been stuck at home, we’ve looked for ways to spend time together and AI has become our regular date night. Even when it fell on the opening night of a conference I was very involved in, the decision wasn’t even a little bit hard – no way was I going to leave Steve on AI night.


Tonight was the finale. The last show. And it was surprisingly, weirdly painful for me. I have no particular attachment to these competitors; but this show has marked a specific stretch of road for me.  It opened on January 7, exactly one month after Steve went on hospice. I remember wondering if he would be here for the end of it.  Each Wednesday and Thursday, it marked an escape for us from our reality. I talked incessantly through it. “I don’t like her vibrato.”  “Why is he wearing a hat again?”  “Is that tattoo real, do you think, because I didn’t notice it last week.”  That kind of riveting, never-ending commentary.  Steve doesn’t have the energy to respond much but that doesn’t stop me from talking.  We were together and that’s what mattered.


So, back to tonight. The show itself was a pretty epic disappointment. I didn’t enjoy the hours of filler and a lot of it seemed sort of…desperate and maybe a little bit tired and sad.  But when it was time to announce the winner, I found myself overwhelmed with emotion.  The decision hung in the balance between two young, handsome, talented men.  They were both worthy competitors, but when Nick’s name was called, I was so happy for him. I mean, like unreasonably happy.  Tears-streaming happy.  I cried as he was pounced on by his competitors’ fierce hugs while he tried to sing his new song and then I really cried when he left the stage, mid-sentence, because he just needed to find his dad for a hug.  Confetti fell thick all around him, all around everyone.  And you could see it in his face: this was a moment beyond his craziest dreams – the kind of moment where you know everything is about to change.


And in that very same moment, in the magic of Nick’s victory, I suddenly knew what I hadn’t known before: the reason we’d been watching it all this time. Call me crazy, but I think I was seeing a picture of Steve’s future as he enters heaven…the winner. Microphone in hand, he’ll sing the song of the redeemed (and oh, sister mercy, my husband can sing!)  as confetti falls and those who’ve gone before cheer, because they know what we cannot possibly know from our place in the cheap seats – they know that everything is about to change for Steve Stern.  He’ll try to keep singing, but he’ll have to stop to find his dad in the crowd and go hug him, long and hard.  And more than anything, he’ll understand what the long fight was for.  What might seem like a disappointment of a finale will now be known as the doorway into life beyond his dreams.  Beyond all our dreams.   And from that vantage point, on that stage, he will finally and truly understand what it means to say death has no sting. None.


Nick finally pulled it together and returned to his spot on the stage in time to sing the very last line of his victory song, and the line was,


Oh, what a beautiful life.”



Yes.  Beautiful, indeed.


With hope,







May 13, 2015 - 11:40 pm

Michelle Watson - Oh Bo. You have me in tears here, my friend. I watched the AI finale too and never saw all that you saw woven through the storyline. But now I do. It IS what Steve will encounter as he enters heaven soon. He will be given a crown and a title…and then he’ll give his crown to Jesus.

Now I will replay tonight’s ending in such a more poignant way because I will overlay Nick’s experience with Steve’s reality. Once again you have opened my eyes to things beyond the surface, deeper than meets the eye. I wish you didn’t have to go through so much pain to have such a gifted way of doing just that but I am beyond grateful to be one of the recipients of your insights. I love you so very much and continue to pray daily for you to have the Trinity’s supernatural anointing in these days. :o)

May 13, 2015 - 11:49 pm

Lisa - I love what God can weave into a story line- how he opens hearts, and doors, and speaks straight into us….I read your blog everyday, you write and your story of living through the brokenness and the hard spots has shaped and changed the way I think of the man God gave me. It has changed my marital perspective for the better and caused thankfulness to flow again. Thank you for writing, and this post especially, It makes me feel like I just can’t wait for Heaven and Jesus.

May 14, 2015 - 12:21 am

Vangi Taron - That was…glorious, Bo. Just the best. Love, Vangi

May 14, 2015 - 8:14 am

Teresa B. - I have no words. Just beautiful.

May 14, 2015 - 8:17 am

Pat Whitson - Thank you, Bo, for your generosity in the midst of your vulnerable, live-redeeming suffering…

May 14, 2015 - 8:31 am

Beth Allen - Oh my goodness…thank you once again Bo for making me cry:-) Really for sharing your heart! What a beautiful perspective!
Continuing to pray for strength when yours is spent and grace to keeping hearing God’s sweet gentle voice in the quiet moments of your difficult journey. Love and hugs to you. In the strong name of Jesus.

May 14, 2015 - 8:49 am

Janelle - I get it. The words you use paint a picture. It’s not a dreamy, flowy watercolor or a pastel chalk sketch. It’s a picture, so clear, so vibrant it looks like a photograph…. but better. Steve’s day will be a glorious one in Heaven. Of that, there is no doubt. You are a blessed woman.

May 14, 2015 - 10:59 am

Chelan René Russ - No, I just watched the DVR’d finale…and didn’t tear up til I came across and read your thoughts. I’ve been caregiving for a man in hospice, who just transitioned into heaven last night at 11:24pm. This week last year, I lost a dear friend at the hands of the same cancer, only just 38 yrs on this earth. He was also in hospice care. For both, God gave me an opportunity to read scripture and pray in their last days, over them. Yesterday I took his hand as he took sporadic breaths, unresponsive. I spoke softly in his ear, describing heaven to him. How the Father’s arms are wide open and welcoming. They are at the end of this river…just let the current gently float you downstream, right into His light. His love.

This week was hard. But there is a release now. A knowing.
They are with my Jesus. Today, I find myself both exhaling from the intensity of care this last week of his life on earth…and celebrating the continuation of it, completely whole. Completely free.

May 15, 2015 - 8:40 am

Jody Lee Collins - Bo, I love the fact that when our spirit is wrapped up in Christ’s view of life that we see Him in all of it.
I’m with Michelle–lots of tears here.

You are a gift; so is your hubby.

May 15, 2015 - 10:35 am

Jewl - Bo. You’ve encapsulated it. The less than climatic rising action just before the climax because the dying part reeks with the smell of earth, but the cheers of those who’ve gone before greet the saved at the gate and the most amazing, beautiful life waits for those who have the one kind of entry ticket required, “Sins paid in full by Jesus!” And to that person, the aches, the unfulfilled longings, the out and out pain washes away forever like footprints in the sand. Yep, I could sense where you were going, and it makes me want to watch the AI finale’ to feel the anticipation of great rejoicing with you! I think death will always seem mid-sentence . . . until we get to the other side. I’m sharing your hope on Facebook.

May 15, 2015 - 6:36 pm

Mike Davis - Bo,
You’ve done it again. You have found the words to explain it all. Praise The Lord that He has given you that gift. I was in tears with you at the thought of Steve singing his way into heaven. Hallelujah.

May 21, 2015 - 10:41 am

Dede - My wonderful son lost his battle with ALS on May 7 but he is now with Our Lord, Jesus Christ, free to talk and move! I will miss him terribly and so will his wife and 14 yr old son and 12 yr old daughter, but we all know that he now has eternal life in heaven. Every time I start to cry, I envision his disease free body soaking up all that heaven has to offer and it brings comfort to me. Oh, what a beautiful life, indeed!

May 23, 2015 - 12:04 am

Amy in Estacada, Oregon - Bo …. you are such a brilliant beautiful soul. The Lord is so pleased with you and your gift in making a joyful noise! You spread the gospel in such an authentic, easy to follow way. You and your beloved Steve are my favorite love story. I pray that you both know and understand how much your lives have touched even strangers like myself. I met you at George Fox University at a conference…probably 8 or more years ago. God Bless you and your beautiful family.

May 23, 2015 - 8:51 am

Susan Smith - Bo,

I am sorry for the pain and suffering Steve and your family are experiencing. But I can testify that God indeed has used Steve’s ALS and the insights and perspective from the Holy Spirit that you share is saving the lives of many as we hope in a Sovereign God and shift our focus from earth to things that matter in heaven.

Thank you for your openness and poignant examples that are relatable to us all. For applicable Scripture references to hide in our hearts. For glorifying God on this Beattlefield where He has gone before you and supplied a provision for every minute.

Thanking God and praying for you and your family,


5 Things I Want Caregiving Spouses To Know


Dear friend,


I don’t know exactly what drew you to this post, but I’m guessing it was bad news.  Perhaps your spouse was recently given a terminal diagnosis or has been struggling with something chronically debilitating for years.  Maybe you have a friend whose walking a spouse through the Shadowy Valley of illness or injury and you’ve run out of advice or encouragement.  Whatever brought you, I’m glad you’re here.


Nearly every day, I receive emails or phone calls from people who are reeling from the shock of their spouse’s diagnosis or suffocating beneath the weight of responsibility they carry as they try to navigate their new role as caregiver while also hoping to hang onto their role as husband or wife.  I wish I could linger over coffee with every person experiencing this – not because I have all the answers, but because I remember the first days so well, wondering if I’d survive and longing for someone who had been there to assure me that I just might. So, here’s what I would say if we could have that coffee:


1.  This will be hard.  Really hard.  But you will survive.  You absolutely will.  I don’t even know you and I can already tell you’re a fighter.


2.  I don’t know this for sure, but there’s a good chance that no matter how much you love your spouse, there will be days when you would like to run away. Your heart may want to push away from the seemingly never-ending shores of grief, with a longing for something new and exciting or old and familiar.  You may wish with all your might for what was or you may be filled with the desperate desire for the reassurance that life will still exist when the dust settles.  I don’t know the details of your longings, but hear this and hear it well:  You are not bad for having them. You are normal. You are human. You are heartbroken.  You are not bad.


3.  You will need help. Start thinking about how to get it before you’re desperate for it. You will need medical help (caregivers – really, you will and I’ll write a separate post someday to tell you why but for now? Please trust me) and you may also need help with finances, housekeeping, grocery shopping, etc.  It is not weak to need help; it’s wise and strong and a gift to those who long to step in and serve you.  For my money, the most important thing you need right now is a person who will ask for and organize the help you need – a person who is not you.


4.  If there’s one determination you could make right now that I think will serve you well for the rest of your battle, it’s this: I will keep my heart soft  for others, for my spouse and for myself.  In doing so, I will keep myself safe from the poison of bitterness.  If there was one more determination you could make (bonus!), it would be: I will take every opportunity to rest or to laugh that comes my way.  


5.  When your loved one is on the other side of this illness, you will still have yourself.  You can’t get away from yourself, so try to be fun to be with. Don’t live in regret.  Don’t live in fear. Don’t live victimized.  Live real. Live raw.  Live healthy. Live love.  You can’t go wrong if you remember to keep living.



So, I guess that’s it.  I mean, it’s not – there are a million other things I would say if I could, but these are the things I most want you to know because they are the things that have saved my life in the hardest and most beautiful season I’ve ever experienced.  I hope they give you hope.


You’re my hero,



April 27, 2015 - 11:47 am

Angie - You’re my hero, too, Bo. Thanks for sharing these words of truth.

April 27, 2015 - 1:14 pm

Laura Black - You make me brave!!!! Thank you for these words. They are so precious. I am keeping you all in my prayers.
I know God is smiling because you are using His story in your life to reach out to others. It is a beautiful thing in this brutal battle.

Thank you BO!!!

April 27, 2015 - 5:57 pm

Deb Pence - My husband was diagnosed with ALS in May of 2014. I have been reading your posts. They really encourage me. The no. 2 item in this post so fits me. It is exactly where I am today. Thanks so much for your posts. I am going to try and follow your advice.

April 27, 2015 - 7:04 pm

Susan Baker - Bo,
I seen you as you ministered to the
Ladies at eastside church in prineville
You so touched my heart..My husband
who was sick for six years, went to
Heaven June 17th 2014…
I still can’t believe it is real.
My heart goes out to you big time
& I do pray for you..
May GOD give you strength for
each day…

May 1, 2015 - 7:12 am

Laurie luoma - Thank you Bo. Good, good words. You’re our hero!

May 1, 2015 - 9:42 am

Tus Sligar - Bo, just wanted to say hi. I have been keeping up on your reports
regarding Steve. Thank you for sharing your heart and hurts w/the world. Please tell Steve, Tus sends his love/hugs and prayers! Steve and I go way back and have had many greats times together… work/golf/softball/basketball/lunches, etc… I could go on and on. Steve as you well know is a Great/Godly Man!! Again, just wanted to say hi and Thank You for sharing him!
Please hug and kiss him for me, from his brother!!!

May 2, 2015 - 9:26 am

Sally - Thank you for helping me walk this unexpected journey of caregiving

Yes it’s painful and it’s hard but you are right it can be beautiful and precious

Praying for you today

May 3, 2015 - 7:16 pm

Debbie - Thanks Bo, my heart sure needed that today.

May 9, 2015 - 10:33 am

Patty - I am just now catching up here as we have been in the trenches. Yes, yes yes….you nailed it. And once you are on the other side (hubby passed 3weeks ago) you will realize that you really were strong enough, that you could have kept going even longer (after so many times thinking “this is so so hard, how long oh Lord”), and that God makes you brave. It is not the end of the story, just the turning of a page. Your words have helped me greatly during this time, thank you!

May 11, 2015 - 12:02 pm

Elsie - Just wondering if you heard the news of sweet Florence Evanow’s passing. Please contact her if you are able.

What We Got For the Guy Who Has Everything


If you tell me your husband is hard to buy gifts for, I will have zero sympathy.  I’ve honestly never experienced anything like trying to choose something appropriate for a man on hospice who can’t eat, drink or leave the house.  Videos were good for awhile, but now we mostly use Netflix and apple TV, so DVDs tend to sit on a shelf and never get opened.  This year, though, is a special birthday.  Steve fought hard for this birthday and I didn’t want to let it slide by without presents.  So, we bought ’em – we just didn’t buy them for Steve.  Instead, we bought them in honor of Steve. The only guideline I gave the kids was to spend money on something or someone they felt Steve would want to bless.  Last night , after reading a few of the (hundreds!) of emails that came in for him (thank you!), we gathered around him and gave him his gifts:


Corey, Whitney and Grey gave money to a young couple’s dream of becoming missionaries.  Steve was a missionary kid in Africa for the first part of his life, so this is dear to his heart.


Casey supported some friends’ project to provide school supplies for needy children.  We loved how this gift touched so many layers of people.


Tessie gave money to Charity Water (one of my favorite organizations out there), and in Steve’s honor helped provide clean water for 2,000 people.


Victoria researched and found an organization working to empower women in third world countries and they have a strong presence in Nigeria (where Steve grew up.)  One of the things I love about Steve Stern the very most is the way he believes in women. Perfect gift.


Josiah gave money to Sparrow Clubs – an organization here in our community that provides help to children with profound medical needs, and uses public schools to do it.  Man, I love Sparrow and love that Joe thought of them.


Tess’ boyfriend, David, chose to bless a friend who needed help with his tuition.  Exactly the kind of thing Steve would have done because he’s just a dad like that.


As for me, I knew right away what I wanted to do.  When Steve can’t sleep, he lays in bed and prays.  He prays for us, for our family, for all kinds of personal things – but he has also spent long hours praying about the situation in the middle east and for the victims of ISIS.  It’s deep in his heart.  After researching several organizations, I gave to Samaritan’s Purse, earmarking my money to go towards displaced Kurds who have fled the violence in their region. In doing so, I felt like I was putting feet to Steve’s prayers and it was so fun.  And I didn’t have to wrap it!


As we each told him what we had done his honor, it struck me that this is much like Steve’s life.  Though he feels so stuck in his chair and his house all day, the effect of his faith and compassion ripple out all around him through those who know and love him.   After gift-giving, we watched American Idol with him, all stuffed together in the room where he spends all his waking moments, critiquing the Idol voices and outfits and just generally making it really hard for him to hear what was happening on his show.  It truly ended up being the best birthday ever.



With hope,



April 23, 2015 - 7:12 am

Kathy Field - What an amazing day, what an amazing family, what an amazing man, what an amazing way to honor him!!!!!

April 23, 2015 - 7:16 am

Kim - What a beautiful way to honor your hubby!

April 23, 2015 - 7:41 am

kathy - Such an example of the love of God flows from you all. The Man, the Woman, and the children, I hear singing in the heavens. God bless you all.

April 23, 2015 - 8:15 am

Deb Garber - Bless you, bless you , bless you is all I can say through my tears. Hugs to you all!!! ~Deb~

April 23, 2015 - 9:05 am

Teresa B - Beautiful! What a birthday to remember! Love you all and all you selflessness. Just awesome 🙂

April 23, 2015 - 9:27 am

Lori - Thank you Bo for sharing your family’s journey.
I am taking the journey of ALS with my mom right now.
Your Blog and book have been an amazing inspiration.

April 23, 2015 - 9:30 am

Michelle Watson - Oh Bo. What a beautiful way to once again go the real deep place and create a birthday for Steve that celebrated him, celebrated the God he loves, celebrated life, celebrated giving, celebrated people, celebrated the intangible because that’s all that lasts, and on it goes. Thank you once again for teaching me about how to embrace life and death in meaningful ways right to the very end. I love you and your family so much!

April 23, 2015 - 1:50 pm

Shawn - So blessed by this post. Happy birthday, Steve. What amazing plans and purposes God still has for you!

April 23, 2015 - 4:40 pm

Brandon Wyllie - Awesome, powerful and inspirational story! Thanks for taking the time to share about this celebration. Happy birthday, Steve! -Brandon Wyllie

April 23, 2015 - 5:06 pm

Doug - God has really blessed Steve with a wonderful family and God has blessed many through you, Bo, and how you are honest with your life through this trial. You are helping me through my days living with ALS.

Thank you for your love for Christ.

April 24, 2015 - 11:06 am

Vangi - Crying for the beauty!!

April 26, 2015 - 1:15 pm

Crystal Tolentino - Dearest Bo,

I just wanted to tell you I am praying for you. We all have our crosses to bear don’t we, and aren’t they to refine us as gold? Sometimes what a cross to bear… My cross as a psychiatric nurse working at a state hospital is to witness to the totally debased and decrepited, staff and patients alike, some are even devil possessed. However, God has put me there for some reason, where the light is barely shining, sometimes I feel all alone, like last night. I pray for strength. I pray for courage, I pray to be that lampstand of light even if it is barely glowing. Sometimes I question, sometimes I wonder, why? Why me? There are different levels of pain, but to me it is all the same. You and I are about the same age, I was born in 63, and your words penetrate me because as a nurse I do understand more than you will ever know. I had to quit medical surgical nursing way back when because I had no boundaries do to my childhood abuse; I took on all my patients’ sufferings. Nightmares abounding atlas, I took refuge in psychiatric nursing, attempting once or twice in the last 36 years to help those medically, only to see my weakness in that area has not changed. I save worms before they drowned or dry up. Who does that? I save any living thing I can; only to lose so many in the process, i.e. birds… In any case, I lose a lot more patients to being lost spiritually than I even want to count or remember. My refuge come with one or two possibly that God has chosen to know Him and come to Him. I know how it feels to feel like the tide is coming in too fast and I am drowning in sorrows of the lost. I Thank God this lost and fallen world can ravage the body but those who are His, the fallen one, the ruler of this world cannot steal away their souls. Because He said, “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” John 17:11, and 17:24 “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.” I take comfort in this. Satan or living in this fallen world may cause death through sin, but He cannot take what our and those who He has chosen spirit.
We will all be in Heaven one day where there is on more suffering, pain, and all the old things have past away. Thanks be to God Amen! And Amen! You and Steve and family are in my prayers.

In His love and mine

April 26, 2015 - 1:21 pm

Crystal Tolentino - Dearest Bo,

I just wanted to tell you I am praying for you. We all have our crosses to bear don’t we, and aren’t they to refine us as gold? Sometimes what a cross to bear… My cross as a psychiatric nurse working at a state hospital is to witness to the totally debased and decrepited, staff and patients alike, some are even devil possessed. However, God has put me there for some reason, where the light is barely shining, sometimes I feel all alone, like last night. I pray for strength. I pray for courage, I pray to be that lampstand of light even if it is barely glowing. Sometimes I question, sometimes I wonder, why? Why me? There are different levels of pain, but to me it is all the same. You and I are about the same age, I was born in 63, and your words penetrate me because as a nurse I do understand more than you will ever know. I had to quit medical surgical nursing way back when because I had no boundaries do to my childhood abuse; I took on all my patients’ sufferings. Nightmares abounding atlas, I took refuge in psychiatric nursing, attempting once or twice in the last 36 years to help those medically, only to see my weakness in that area has not changed. I save worms before they drowned or dry up. Who does that? I save any living thing I can; only to lose so many in the process, i.e. birds… In any case, I lose a lot more patients to being lost spiritually than I even want to count or remember. My refuge come with one or two possibly that God has chosen to know Him and come to Him. I know how it feels to feel like the tide is coming in too fast and I am drowning in sorrows of the lost. I Thank God this lost and fallen world can ravage the body but those who are His, the fallen one, the ruler of this world cannot steal away their souls. Because He said, “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.” John 17:11, and 17:24 “Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.” I take comfort in this. Satan, or living in this fallen world, may cause death through sin, but he cannot take what belong to Him and those who He has chosen, their spirit.
We will all be in Heaven one day where there is no more suffering, pain, and all the old things have past away. Thanks be to God Amen! And Amen! You and Steve and family are in my prayers.

In His love and mine

April 28, 2015 - 9:54 pm

Crystal Tolentino - Dearest Bo,

Forgive me, I was emailing you and almost through when the post went into outer space. If it is somewhere forgive me for saying this again.

I just wanted to let you know that I saw a movie on Net-Flex tonight, it was called “You’re not your own.” Hilary Swank played the one with ALS. It was basically a story about redemption. The girl who took care of her was like someone I take care of at my hospital…

It was a redemptive story for her, however, sadly, the Lord was not in it, or God. I felt it expressed someone with ALS accurately enough though.

I cried through practically the whole movie, and thought of you and Steve.

Please know, you and Steve are in my prayers continuously. Thank you for being such an inspiration. May the Lord be with you always, and may he shine His face upon you in this time

In His love and mine