Into the wind

Apr 16

My hair was coming out in chunks.  It was time.  Brad told Maren that we were going to cut my hair today; something we’d been talking about for two weeks now.

Maren scrambled into my bed, bawling, “I don’t want you to lose your hair!  I don’t want you to be bald!”

I snuggled her close and told her I didn’t need it.  I would still be beautiful.  I will still be her mommy.

I said, “Hey, look, do you want to try?”  I used two fingers, pinched a lock of hair, and pulled.  I held my fingers pressed together so she could see.

Her eyes widened.  Childish curiosity and innocence won out.  She reached up, pinched, and tugged.  She was delighted with her prize.

I smiled, “Good job, Maren!”

She smiled.

We snuggled and watched a movie together in my bed.  Every ten minutes or so, she would reach up, and pull a lock of my hair out.  She would show me each tug and we swept them into a bowl on my nightstand when we finished admiring her bounty.  I think she felt empowered and in control by the time we finished the movie.

When the time came we gathered with friends and neighbors on the back patio.  We all laughed.  No one cried.  Maren and Brad helped cut.  We took pictures.  It was windy and a beautiful afternoon.  Friends cheered and affirmed.  My hair blew away and I felt happy.  There are a lot of strawberry-blonde birds’ nests being constructed in my neighborhood today.

My Maren giggled with her friends and wasn’t afraid.  Brad’s gaze had “I love you no matter what” written all over it.  And, sweet Greta, I don’t think she even noticed at all.

I am so blessed.


  1. Nikki /

    Praying for you! Inspired by your beautiful approach to being a mommy and a fighter!

  2. KellyE /

    You are right, you (and Maren) looked beautiful tonight. What a wonderful thought of all the strawberry blonde bird nests. We are all so blessed. Still praying all the time for you guys.

  3. KathyT /

  4. My mama’s hair made beautiful nests too. So glad your girls are adjusting and working out their fears with you instead of in silence. Take care and continue to be strong. You’re an inspiration!

  5. Sue Nitz /

    Jen, you are such a beautiful being! I can’t help but smile thinking of Maren and all the strawberry blond birds nests all around the neighborhood. Thank you for sharing your life experiences with all of us. So many blessings are coming from you. God is good.

  6. jen – you always seem to know the right things to say and do with your daughter. Like many others, I am following along every day, I get email updates whenever you post and they always make me smile. Your attitude is TRULY inspiring. Praying for you, every, single, day!

  7. Kristi Thomsen /

    You are an inspiration…thank you!

  8. Nikole /

    I have been reading your bog every few days, and you should know that this posting today was brutiful, heartbreakingly wonderful, bittersweet, and full of LIFE! Praying for you, your family and your friends! Lots of love, light and healing thoughts from CA!!!

  9. What an amazing way for your daughter to learn first hand that beauty comes from within. I am sure after this evening, she believes she has the most beautiful mother in the world.

  10. What a peaceful picture you give your readers. I swear, I breathe easier after reading your thoughts. You did today well Jen and that is a gift to all of us. Love you.

  11. I agree w Lisa- a peaceful picture indeed. And so sweet that Maren got to be part of your process too- she’ll probably remember that forever.

  12. Birds nests! So perfect! If you are even 1% as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside, you’re a beauty queen – hair or no hair!

  13. Lindsay /

    Just wanted you to know I’m thinking of you. Prayers to you and your lovely family!

  14. Bonniebj /

    You have one beautiful head my dear Jen.. Mary sent me a photo of a smiling blue eyed beauty taking on the journey. The Lord is smiling over you and through you. Praying for yet another day of victory 😉

  15. Eva Brown /

    This is true, so keep believing-“All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Songs 4:7

  16. Lead on, O Captain, my Captain.
    YOU are Braveheart.

  17. Maureen /

    You brought tears to my eyes this morning. Thinking and praying for strength!

  18. This post made me cry… so beautiful. Lucky birdies 🙂

  19. Jennifer Duke /

    You are so inspiring; that is a precious story; praying for you every day!

  20. chubbyroad2skinny /

    What a great idea to have Maren participate in the hair removal so she wasn’t scared. What a great momma you are 🙂

  21. Jen –
    Praying for you daily. I am humbled by your grace, humor, strength and resilience. You rock!

  22. Julie /

    Good job mommy-ing! Sometimes after this kind of day, you might just want to high-five yourself! Congratulations on your new head.

    Julie + baby

  23. Marsha Vonderwish /

    You are such a good Mommy! What a wonderful way to handle your hair loss. And yes, you are beautiful with, or without, hair. When I lost mine I felt lighter, almost free. It was a badge of honor.
    We have never met but I’m an old friend of your Mom’s and been through the ‘C’ battle 3 times. And I’m still here!
    Thank you for sharing your journey with the rest of us! Praying for you and your family.

  24. Heidi /

    I just wanted to tell you that I have been following your journey without commenting since you began this blog. Today I felt compelled to comment, just to let you know that I am yet another stranger who is standing firmly in your corner, wishing you and your sweet family the very best. I am grateful to you for sharing your candid, thoughtful, joyful spirit – I am learning a lot from you, and since that seems a little creepy without even introducing myself, I thought I’d say hello.

  25. Christy /

    Thank you for sharing this journey with us. You are an inspiration! Praying for you and your family.

  26. You’ve left me speechless.

    I feel like I”ve just been part of something so very special.

  27. Shannon /

    …”strawberry blonde bird’s nests”

    You ARE blessed!

  28. Dave Schreier /

    Praying without ceasing. You are beautiful!

  29. Faithful reader, first time commenter. I am 32 years old. Mama of two precious kiddos. Wife to a rock star husband. I could be you. But, I’m not. And, so I pray for you, each and every day. And today, not unlike the others, your beauty and grace as you tackle this fight brought me to tears. You are a walking, talking, breathing cancer-beating machine!

  30. I have never read a more beautiful description of losing one’s hair to cancer. You are blessed. As always, sending good thoughts and love you and your family’s way.

  31. SandraA /

    The birds in your area are chirping away. God bless you and your family.

  32. What a beautiful story. Picturing baby birds being born into nests made of your hair is heart warming. So happy Maren was able to have a positive moment out of it!

  33. Laura FitzSimmons /

    I’m a friend of Ami K’s and praying for you from Denver. Coincidentally, I see that a dear old friend of my husband’s, Dave Schreier, is also following your journey… no surprise you would be connected with such beautiful people, given how beautiful and inspiring you are yourself. Although we’ve never met, I want you to know how very important your journey is to me and how often you are in my thoughts. Laura F.

  34. And just think, you can now fit in better with motorcycle gangs! Bonus.

  35. Al Iverson /

    Jen, you are a Mathie! Consummate strength and the red hair. You will continue to stay in the prayers of the Iverson’s forever! Keep showing that spirit Sweetie. All our love, Al, Jane, Abby, Annie, Trey and the newer members…, Parker, Jon, Tommy and T-minus 2-4 wks for Brooklyn! Dogs, cats and a Gecko included.

  36. Erica Snipes /

    Haven’t checked in in a few weeks here, but have not stopped praying. From the comments here, you are well loved by stranger and friend alike. I love the peacefulness you have in your writing, Do Today well…that’s a great idea. And I love that you have given the birds of your neighborhood some very soft nests to lay their eggs on, so they can enjoy that early time of snuggling their young on something so soft and beautiful. Kind of like giving the birds the softest swaddling blankets in the world. How nice :). My family has a long love for cardinals and blue birds, and believes that having some of those kind of birds in your yard is a wonderful thing. I will continue prayers for your family, and also will pray for the chirpers that are giving a soundtrack to your days and watching over you with care. Much prayer and love to your family. 🙂

  37. natalie /

    You are my hero. I am the same age as you. My kids are the same age as yours, but they are both boys, and they are wonderful. I love my husband, like you do yours. Our lives were very similar until a few short weeks ago. But yours changed… and through your change, I have been inspired to change mine too. Because of you, I am trying to live each day well, do my best, and appreciate every little smile, laugh, and conversation. I appreciate my moments more. Thank you. Still praying for you and yours. Fight like a mom.

  38. Julie T /

    Well I knew you were beautiful within from the moment we met so no surprise that you are beautful now with no hair. I love the way you put this ceremony into words…almost like a song. love to you x4.

  39. I love that you helped your daughter feel some control. What a great mama and FIGHTER you are! Rock on mama!

  40. Kim Anderson /

    You have such a beautiful heart! Praying for you and your family.

  41. Katie /

    I stumbled across your blog by chance and have been following your story. I just want to thank you for showing people that God is good, no matter what. You have really reminded me that in all things we need to persevere and be joyful for Gods grace and mercy are new everyday. Praying for you and your family.

  42. Steph /

    I want to wrap my arms around you, and giggle with your little girls, and pray with you, and be your friend. But since the space between us is as large (or small) as cyberspace, I will continue to life you and your family up in prayer. Love from Kalamazoo!

  43. Nomads By Nature /

    You amaze me each time I check in with you here with your strength, humor, and grace and you inspire me to take the challenges I am facing and tackle them with the same level of dedication and spirit. Thank you for being a life teacher and for sharing your faith and your walk with God through cancer. Warrior on! Sending you prayers for speedy and complete recovery.

  44. How did you know how to make Maren feel so comfortable and empowered?!?! You are an amazing mama. I’m so glad you have such wonderful family and friends surrounding you. God bless you all.

  45. Cyndi /

    I’ve been thinking about your latest story and why it affected me so deeply when I read it. Here it is… Your response with Maren was PURE LOVE. It was beautiful, and it was tangible. And I loved that you could see Brad’s gaze of love for you. What gifts for Maren…and for all of us reading about it. Ah, sweet Jen, I think God is particularly fond of you Andersons.

    And I know you are thinking that shine around your head is from the baldness, but I think it is your love shining through!


  46. Rebecca /

    Blessings to you and your family. I am one of those Monkee “strangers” who you have touched greatly by your strength and courage. My hair is almost long enough to cut for Beautiful Lengths and it is you who has inspired me. You are an amazing mama!

  47. What a BEAUTIFUL Story 🙂 Your children are learning so much Love from you ~ What a Blessing ~ Good things can come out of bad ~ Hugs today & all your tomorrows ~ Continued Prayers & Peace ~ Marlayne 🙂

  48. I love this:) I am also a monkee following your brutiful journey! XO

  49. Emily H /

    Prayers for you and your family. I found you from Momastery.

  50. *deep breath*. Maren is a darling.

  51. I can’t even think of anything witty or clever. My heart is just so full for you all. Thank you Jesus for joy and loved shown to these children by their precious Mama.

  52. I love that you managed to keep your little girl close and unafraid – this was a most beautiful piece of writing. I am a stranger here via a friend’s blog – add me to your corner/cheering section. I will be sending strength & prayers.

  53. Melanie Mattingly /

    Hi, Jen, I am an old friend of BonnieBJ’s…her daughter is Mary. Bonnie sent me your link…and I’m so glad to begin praying with you. I can just picture the red bird’s nests in the neighborhood…beautiful…


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