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Brilliant Book Thursday

Well, okay…I guess there’s no other way to say it except, I’m sorry. I mean, I didn’t think the mere mention of a life changing book would cause such a stir and the problem NOW is that, well, I feel a little guilty. Guilty because I think your hopes were high for a spine-tingling thriller like The Shack or a turn-your-life-upside-down book like The Practice of the Presence of God. And this is not that book.

And creme brulee can never be jello (bonus points to anyone who can name that movie).

In my defense, let me say that in 2008 God has been pounding it into my head how important it is to care about my body and the things that I put into it. As one of the few members of Twinkies Anonymous, I have tried to work really hard this year on health and fitness. SO, this book was an amazing find last week – while I was still suffering from the Dreaded and Foul Infirmity.

But – seriously – it’s SO GOOD. Go buy it right now. Thanks.


Here are my thoughts the morning after I stayed up til midnight reading:

Eat This, Not That made me weep and this is why: it turns out that all the times I have watched Steve eat a juicy Single With Everything from Wendy’s, while I have fallen on the sword of the stupid Frescatta Sandwich, that I have been consuming HUNDREDS more calories. Fish Tacos at Chevy’s? Same deal.

In spite of the fact that I haven’t really wanted to eat anything at all this week, I bought this book yesterday and it’s fantastic! It clearly reveals (pictures on every page!) the relatively painless swaps you can make at restaurants and the grocery store in order to save hundreds of calories. It also lifts the mask off many of the things we think would be healthy options like wraps and honey wheat bread.

If you’re just going to thumb through it at Barnes and Noble, be sure to take a spin through the 20 Worst Foods in America list. Try not to cry. And definitely don’t go drown your sorrows in a Venti White Hot Chocolate – because that thing is like death in a cup.

So anyway, check it out…if I ever want to eat again, I plan to take it everywhere I go! (UPDATE: I DO want to eat again. All the time.)

Okay – I told you mine. Now tell me yours. What are YOU reading (Steve hates when I ask this question because it usually costs us money)?

Til Saturday,


P.S. Incidentally, I’m still not done being messed up by The Shack. If you haven’t read it, you simply must. It’s the first work of fiction that I’ve used a highlighter in so I can read and re-read.

April 3, 2008 - 10:50 pm

helenw13 - I must take my child to preschool…but had to click on…you are too funny…I did take your clue and perused the bestsellers and saw this book…I thought maybe you were reading 3 cups of Tea…I have seen this book and I love the author…I have two of his cookbook…in fact you would love them because they are super simple to make…my family has loved all that I have made and they have really funny names…like The Beaning of Life and Three Amigo Chili…anyway, check it out..

Alright…so Caleb doesn’t get any demerits…I better hit the road…more on books later!

April 3, 2008 - 11:00 pm

Katie - Sadly I’m probably aware of almost everything in that book since I’ve studied this stuff like mad. Now if I could just put it into practice…hmm…

And I couldn’t agree more about the Shack. It messes me up daily. I’ve decided next to the Bible it’s the most life-changing thing I’ve ever read. Noel was reading it last night and I ended up crying thinking about her reading it! (Does that make me a crazy person? Probably.) Anyway, to anyone that reads the comments – read this book!

Also – It’s My Best Friends Wedding.

April 3, 2008 - 11:01 pm

Katie - Oh, and I’m currently reading The Practice of The Presence and The Barbarian Way. ๐Ÿ™‚

April 4, 2008 - 2:31 am

Kristin Bryan - After I graduated from college I swore off non-fiction books for awhile (college makes you hate reading).. so this list is by no-means spiritual..
I got slightly addicted to James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club (they made a tv show based around the characters too) but since I am caught up all the way to his most current book, they’re not that much fun, because I’m all about instant gratification.. I don’t want to wait for him to write another one..
so I moved on to Janet Evanovich and her Stephanie Plum series (there is some occasional language) but she is unbelievably funny, I have been caught (on many occasions) laughing by myself in bed.. Luke walks in.. shakes his head and says “Stephanie??”.. it’s as if she’s a good friend of mine, we’re all on a first-name basis with her.

And as for non-books.. John and Kate Plus Eight is a tv show on the Sextuplets that were born in Hershey Pennsylvania after they had already had twins.. they are a Christian family.. and their relationship IS HILARIOUS.. I think it’s mostly funny because its probably a lot how Luke and I would be if we had eight children.. she gets really annoyed with him, but he takes it really well, and dishes it back out every once and awhile, but they’re still so in love, and affectionate.. (and what’s life/family without a little sass?)

April 4, 2008 - 2:34 am

Kristin Bryan - and so you don’t think I’m a total Heathen – I didn’t swear off the Bible even though IT’S nonfiction

April 4, 2008 - 3:40 am

helenw13 - Back for books…

I read fiction so seldom…I don’t know why…but during spring break I read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter…it was good…such a powerful statement on the effects of one lie and how it can ripple into so many others’ lives…

Currently on my night table…Christ Our Mediator by C.J. Mahaney…Cold Tangerines: Celebrating the Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life by Shauna Niequist (Carl would cringe to know that I bought it because I loved the cover…it just makes me happy but mostly because I love things that make me want to celebrate more and possess more joy…and last Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss…I received this book on my 35th birthday from a friend…well that has been 8 years…I read such a great quote last week that just made me weep and I thought…I must read this book again…

Here’s the quote:

That’s all for now!

April 4, 2008 - 5:46 am

Tracy - I can’t, I won’t, it will hurt…I just am not going to get the book. I’m secretly happy with ignorance! Does it say anything about chocolate for dinner? I might buy it if it does!

April 5, 2008 - 4:45 am

bolovesjoe - Great suggestions! I have had Three Cups of Tea in my hands more than once, but have never made it all the way to the counter with it. It’s definitely on the list. Kristin, I’ll add your books to the vacation reading list. Oh, I just got SO distracted, thinking about vacation. Tracy, I don’t think the book endorses chocolate for dinner, but I totally approve. When Steve is gone, we often have pancakes for dinner and that doesn’t seem much better than chocolate. Katie – you’ve won points and you know what that means…respect!

April 5, 2008 - 12:46 pm

helenw13 - Hey Bo…did you get a surprise when you logged on to your blog…how dare WordPress redecorate without telling us…ha! I must say I was a bit startled to look at my dashboard…had to take a second look…

Have a very blessed weekend!

The Legend of April Fuel's Day

A couple of years ago, my son came home from preschool and was clearly overwhelmed and preoccupied with a big piece of new information he had received (this happens to him a lot.)

Josiah: “Hey Mom, did you know that today is April Fuel’s Day?”

Me: “Yep, Joe. I did know that it’s April Foooooool’s Day.” (We often speak in a ridiculous and phonetically exaggerated way when our kids mispronounce. Except when we think the mistake is cuter than the real word, like when Tess used to talk about how slipperly it was outside and could she please have a bignanna for breakfast.)

Joe: “Really? Well, do you know what April Fuel’s Day is?”

Me: “Um….why don’t you tell me what April Fool’s Day is.”

Joe: “It’s when you play tricks on people. Did you know that?”

Bo: “Yeah, I actually did know that. It’s a funny day, isn’t it?”

Joe: “Yep.”

Long pause.

Joe turns to leave and then stops and calls over his shoulder…”Oh, and Mom?”

Bo: “Yes, Joe?”

Joe: “There’s a spider on your head.”

So, that’s how April 1 became April Fuel’s Day in the Stern home. (And seriously – given the price of gas, doesn’t it make my son seem eerily prophetic?)

Til Thursday,


P.S. Coming up: the greatest book in the history of history.ย  So great, in fact, that it’s been a distraction to my life and the classes I’m teaching and all manner of civilized conversation. You MUST get this book!

April 2, 2008 - 4:10 pm

cass-a-rooh - oh joe…
today is my joe’s birthday… and i’m pretty sure he has said/done something quite similar. =)

can’t wait to hear about the book!

April 2, 2008 - 4:46 pm

Katie - What is it!!!!! WHHHHAAAATTTT IISSSSSS IITTTT!!!!!!! Seriously, you might as well have told a drug addict that there’s a new awesome drug he has to try…because that’s how I am with books! I must have them all!

April 2, 2008 - 5:18 pm

bolovesjoe - Cassie – happy birthday to your Joe! My Joe thought he saw him Sunday…was he in town?

Katie – breathe slowly and deeply. I know how you feel. Sometimes you can deal with the heart palpitations by surfing the bestsellers at Amazon.

April 2, 2008 - 5:59 pm

Tracy - I must know!!! What is it??? Tellme tell me, I need a new book(not really)but I like an excuse to buy books. Also, wanted to say you are an inspiration to me, daily blogging. Its been 11 days since my last post, but somethings brewing….

April 3, 2008 - 4:16 am

helenw13 - Okay the post above…took the words right out of my mouth….no fair leaving us hanging!

But I will chew on that precious fruit called patience and continue to log on to your blog!

Oh and my 4 year old played an April Fool’s on me…he learned about it in school…I don’t talk about it much because it is my mom’s birthday and it just seemed inappropriate to talk about fools…anyway, too long of a story but needless to say, I walked around a store with a paper fish on my back until someone finally asked if I knew this fact…ha!

April 3, 2008 - 9:29 pm

Tracy - OK, it is Thursday, I’ll give you that is it very early, but you said you would post on thursday, this great book you have:) I have a great book as well, I can’t put it down, but if I don’t my kids will not be fed and ready for school. So, tell me what is it? I’ll tell you mine….

April 3, 2008 - 9:44 pm

Bob and Louise - I’m with you Tracy. C’mom, Bo. It’s Thursday and we wait with baited breath… I just finished a good read, looking forward to recycling through it again for the crumbs I’m sure I missed. Is it the same one???

April 3, 2008 - 10:39 pm

bolovesjoe - Ah ladies…we are a troubled group of book addicts is what we are. I suppose, however, if I had to choose a vice, this would be the most noble one. Now I have posted and I will wait to hear your books because you promised, that’s why. And Helen, the April Fools/Mom’s Birthday story is intriguing…perhaps it’s time to write it for the rest of us to read!

April 18, 2008 - 5:15 am

Katie - So I just reread this blog and it made me laugh picturing Josiah thinking he’s so sneaky while grinning really big and hunching over like he does when he giggles. So cute!

April 18, 2008 - 11:07 pm

bolovesjoe - Yep…he’s a brilliantly clever boy and never more charming than when he perceives his own brilliance is on display. Love that kid! But I probably won’t fall for the spider trick twice. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Trouble with Disneyland.

“Benjamin: “God’s beloved; God’s permanent residence. Encircled by God all day long, within whom God is at home.” Deuteronomy 33:12

NKJV: “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by Him, who shelters him all day long; and he shall dwell between His shoulders.”

Oh, I SO want this to be my very own scripture! At my funeral, I want people to say that my life was God’s permanent residence…that I lived safely in Him so that He could live safely in me.

And how cool is the part about “dwelling between His shoulders”? A couple of years ago, we went to Disneyland and in the process of standing in lines for rides and lines for food and lines for more lines, Josiah got tired and asked Steve to carry him. And here’s a weird thing: that didn’t make Steve mad and it didn’t make Josiah feel like a failure. They apparently have a deal: Steve’s the dad and Joe’s the kid and neither expects anything other than that.

God and I have the same exact deal.

He’s the dad and I’m the kid and sometimes I’m going to run from day to day with energy and excitement. I’ll feel strong and unstoppable as I forge into unknown territory with courage and confidence to spare. But on other days, I might get weak and confused and not know exactly which direction to go. I may wonder why He ever trusted me in a world as large and looming as Disneyland in the first place. And in those moments, I will ask for help and He will do what good Dads do: He’ll pick me up, put me on His shoulders and say, “Here, Bo. How about you watch the parade from up here?”

I’m in a season like that right now. And by right now, I mean RIGHT NOW. Even facing Monday on my own two feet looks unlikely. I guess I could try. I could fix my attitude, adjust my focus, scrunch up my courage and tunnel through. But I don’t think that’s how I’m supposed to approach this week. I really think that – at least for this week – I’m supposed to take a seat on His shoulders and let Him do the walking while I do the trusting. Trust isn’t my strong suit, so I hope I do good…I’ll let you know.

Determined to enjoy the view,


P.S. Thanks so much to those of you who prayed me through The Great Sickness so I could preach 4 messages this weekend. I’m blessed to be a part of the best Family in the whole world. And to the millions (okay, hundreds) who have checked out the Great Dates page…I hope you find a romantic little spot to call your own.

March 31, 2008 - 6:23 am

Katie - I love you. That’s all. ๐Ÿ™‚

March 31, 2008 - 2:31 pm

bolovesjoe - Awww…me too, Katie! I think that the mutual admiration helps our working relationship a great deal. And I’m certain it will help when you read all your emails from me this morning. ๐Ÿ™‚ Such a busy week!

March 31, 2008 - 6:21 pm

Tami - Bo, I love your blog! It is just like your messages…spoken just in your voice. Every message you give strikes such a chord in me that is usually takes a couple of days of chewing and digesting before I am done. Thank you and thank God for your gifts! and Praise God that the plague is behind you.

Have a blessed week!

March 31, 2008 - 7:27 pm

Tori - So, I’m sure I could just tell you this in person, but leaving a comment I know others will see is kinda like bragging.;) Hearing your message this weekend and reading this post has proved to me what I’ve long suspected : I’d be nothing without my parents. You are loving and supportive and not only tell me what I need to hear, then you help me deal with it. Dad is still the same dad he was when
Tess was his little Princess Barbi and I was his little lion and Whitney was…I haven’t any idea-lawyer. He still hugs us the same way, although our feet stay on the ground, and talks to us the same way, just with bigger words. Most importantly and astonishingly, you’ve both never changed you I Love You. We all know it and it makes things like accidentally owing the bank hundreds of dollars do-able.

To my remarkable parents: I Love You,

Your little lion.

March 31, 2008 - 8:40 pm

bolovesjoe - Your post reminds me why banks make terrible parents. ๐Ÿ™‚ I love you, Tori!

April 1, 2008 - 4:45 am

helenw13 - That is a scripture to write in bold print and tack it up everywhere it can be seen…love it!

I love how you wove this post with the verse…I think I need to take some time and ponder this…what does it really look like to rest within the confines of His shoulders…ultimate safety…no worries in that place…that’s for sure!

Another good one…so glad you are feeling better and that the Lord infused you to be able to speak this weekend!


The Plague.

“I’m just one stomach flu away from my ideal weight.”

-Emily in The Devil Wears Prada

Recently, I spoke on the Ten Plagues. This week, I’ve experienced what certainly would have been number 11.

And you know, I’m keenly aware that you don’t want to spend precious minutes surfing the web at work only to read about someone’s brush with death…but I can’t help talking about it. It’s the elephant in the room. The monster under the bed who keeps growling and pawing at the mattress. It must be said:

I have been felled by The Stomach Flu.

I hate any sickness…but the stomach flu? Is a bad, bad guy. It’s wretched and wrong and this one has added several foods to my “Will Never Eat Again” list. Also, it’s sucked all the writing inspiration right out of me.

On the flipside: I lost five pounds!

Til Friday,


March 26, 2008 - 6:48 am

Jessica Carpenter - 1.) Smell of Easter post rocked! rocked I say! (cried)
2.) You are a funny lady… and this post made me laugh.
Conclusion: I never stinking know if Im going to end up laughing or crying when I read your blog. Good stuff. Quality.

March 26, 2008 - 3:33 pm

bolovesjoe - Thanks, Jess. As you know, it’s my mission in life to make people laugh and cry – and hopefully laugh again because who wants to end up crying? Much love!

March 28, 2008 - 4:10 am

helenw13 - Sorry about the stomach crud…no fun at all…even if you do end a bit leaner…not that you need it…my goodness!

I like your new look…blog themes are the cheapest way to decorate aren’t they?!

Cool idea about the great dates!


March 28, 2008 - 4:48 pm

bolovesjoe - Thanks, Helen. This has been the Spring Break of snow and Theraflu. I feel bad for my kids, but I think I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

The dates are for a message I’m doing this weekend at our church and I had lots of fun making it. I’m not a hiker, but I was reminded of you and your waterfall-hiking goal. You should definitely check out the Central Oregon scenery!

March 29, 2008 - 8:16 am

cass - oh Bo,
i hope you are feeling 100% better!!
i won’t be in town this weekend to hear you speak, but i will be praying for you and can’t wait to get the CD when i return…

oh and even though i am single thanks for all the date ideas… i’m sure i will enjoy them with Jesus… or my amazing girl-friends… make sure and keep the list on here for future reference!!!

March 30, 2008 - 11:03 pm

Taylor - Hey Bo! I am sorry to hear you were sick, but it seems as if it is going around cause that’s how I spent my break too ๐Ÿ™ No fun!
See you tomorrow back and early!

April 1, 2008 - 2:19 am

bolovesjoe - Taylor – I’m sorry YOU were sick on your one and only spring break. I hope you’re feeling better!

June 13, 2008 - 7:47 am

Seasons « Bo Stern - […] The Plague, Part II. Days sick: 10. Boxes of Kleenex: 5. Nyquil capsules: 8. Hours of Food Network: […]

The Smell of Easter

Have you ever caught a whiff of a familiar smell and just been overtaken by emotion? That happened to me yesterday at Safeway. I walked by an Easter Lily and the smell of it…well, I’m embarrassed to say that the smell of it made me want to stop in the middle of the aisle between the tangerines and chocolate bunnies, lean over my cart and cry. So silly. But really, so great. Here’s my story:

My mom – the most lovely and gracious woman on the planet – loves Easter more than anything. We always had a big lily in our house from the very first moment they were available in stores. Lilies are an odd sort of flower, but beautiful in a strange-yet-stately kind of way. And the aroma that fills the room is absolutely outrageous.

I loved to sit by the lily and talk with my mom and she would tell me how much she loved Easter and loved the resurrection and it didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time, but I knew whatever she said was important. And we would prepare food and special dresses and all the Easter accouterments, but we usually would NOT prepare Easter baskets.

My mom has a thing about bunnies and eggs.

She never expressed hatred for them, but she would offer regular – yet gentle – reservations. “Easter is just too important to be about bunnies,” she would say as she cooked or cleaned or sewed my dress. Her statement was never filled with anger at secular society, but rather a palpable reverence toward the work of the cross. And in these moments, my little subconscious gathered together the smell of the lilies and the food, the warmth of my home, the love in my mom’s heart for me and for the risen Jesus, and it created an indelible image in my head and on my heart. I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for this rich and wonderful heritage where the sacred stayed sacred. And that’s why the smell of Easter Lilies makes me cry.

So yesterday I was talking to my daughter and she said, “I remember when I was little and you used to say, ‘I love Easter – I just love the resurrection!’ and I didn’t really get it then, but today I realized that I totally feel the same way. I LOVE the resurrection!”

Generations of women, hunched over their carts, crying by the Lilies? That’s an Easter miracle.

(I love you, Mom!)

March 31, 2008 - 7:31 pm

Tori - I love being part of a legacy.:)

March 31, 2008 - 8:43 pm

bolovesjoe - Yep, now it’s all up to you! Teach your children the powerful smell of Easter lilies and the correct way to say “supposedly” and you will be a family hero.