Winter treasures

Nov 27

Today Maren went to school wearing my favorite sweatshirt that I wore in college and beyond.  It looks big on her but in the cool, slouchy kind of way.  We got her first round of hand-me-downs when I purged my closet into hers.  It’s a good thing I am sentimental about favorites and I keep the things.  She is 5’2″, blows her own hair dry every morning, and has bigger feet than her aunts.  She’s gorgeous in every way.

Two weeks ago Greta played the piano and sang along the words to the song for the first time.  At least, I think it was the first time.  This was a nonchalant occurrence for her; I just happened to be nearby to overhear.  She was playing real notes, a real song, and then singing on tune and on beat to accompany herself.  The child has more musical talent in her right pinkie toe than I do in my whole body.

Maren spent her science class in the hallway at school holding a stopwatch measuring students push each other in crates to measure force.  She had a whole explanation of the physics principles that she learned and applied today. It’s fun to see the complex ideas taking root; it’s happening in so many ways.

Greta’s team of teachers have arranged for her grade to raise money to buy a goat for a child in Africa so they can drink the milk, sell the excess for profit, and use the money for school fees.  Greta’s words: “When we turn in the money I earn, we don’t get anything, but I get to be proud that we helped a family in Africa have a better life.”  Over the past two evenings, Greta has created six toys from our recycle bin including a puppet theater and a robot, and she plans to sit outside next to our mailbox (keep in mind temperature is in the 20s) to sell her toys so she can buy this goat.  Obviously, I am completely thrilled with the initiative from her teacher, the effective communication (and motivation) instilled by said teacher, and Greta’s plans.  Witnessing her giving heart and enthusiastic generosity reminds me of the art auction project we did with Maren in 2015.  There is something about the way 7-year-olds see the world that is so beautiful.  Tomorrow we are going to do some family strategizing to help Greta achieve her goals.

Tonight we parked our two cars in the garage.  This is a rarity; usually Brad graciously parks outside to make room for all the things in the garage.  However the first snow of the winter is on the ground, and today I moved the miscellaneous pile out of the way so that he could park inside.  The grin on his face when he came in tonight was worth it.  This about sums up our marriage.  Grace upon grace for the many inconveniences and idiosyncrasies, and sharing thrilled delight in simple gestures of kindness.  It’s like when he rubbed my back when I was peeling carrots the other night; just simple love, always within reach, always in the form I need it.  His tenderness with me leaves me awestruck on a weekly basis.  How many people can say that after nearly fifteen years of marriage?

In the last two weeks I have developed a cough that shows up with exertion, talking, deep breaths, and positional changes.  It’s minor, as coughs go.  I don’t cough consistently with the aforementioned actions; it is intermittent and sporadic.  I don’t cough when sedentary.  When I was last in the oncology office for my regular chemo and I told him about the cough, Dr. Wonderful sent me for a CT scan of my lungs to check for scary things like blood clots.  (There were no scary things; well, no scary things except for the cancer in my lungs.)  Dr. Wonderful and I agree there is not much to be done except to stay the course and hope that this chemo really attacks the cancer. I’ll be honest though, it’s discomforting to have an actual cancer symptom (rather than a chemo symptom).  I would appreciate your prayers and positive thoughts.

My days are quiet and small.  I don’t feel well, and I’m tired of not feeling well, and I’m tired of answering the question, “How do you feel?” with “Not well.”  There is not much to be done about this either except keep trying to give my body everything it asks for by way of nutrition and rest.  I have eight days before my next treatment, and I am planning to make the most of them — quiet and small as they are; my family makes my reach wide and far.

So many good things are happening.  So much good is being poured upon us.  I treasure it all.


  1. Heather Rose /

    Your life and story is a treasure to me. Thank you.

  2. Hi Jen. You don’t know me but I felt I should tell you I read every one of your posts (for years now) and every one moves me. My Katy is Maren’s age. Sending all good thoughts and prayers your way. xoxo

    • Shelly Camba /

      I will piggy back off of Wendy’s comment, as you do not know me either, and I read every post and pray for you. I can’t even remember how I got connected to this blog, but has been years now. I also send you every ounce of good energy, love, and affirmation that your quiet small days are are lived with such grace and strength.

      • Nima Rothmel /

        Ditto to the above two posts. I’m the one, many years ago who posted and said I don’t normally pray but that I would pray for you. And now I pray for my friend who is going through chemo for breast cancer. I read every one of your posts and worry when there haven’t been any new updates in a while. I continue to put all of the positive vibes out into the universe for you.

        • I am chiming in to say, “me too,” except I remember how I found your blog. Glenna featured you in some way and I clicked over. I think it may have been very recently after you were diagnosed the very first time. Your blog was called “The Anderson Family Zoo” or something like that. You have had my prayers and positive healing thoughts throughout your fight too. xo

  3. I am so sorry you are not feeling well. You have both my prayers and my positive thoughts. I hope you can feel God’s tender love and healing Spirit settle around you and within you.

  4. Sherry Stoffer /

    Jen, you are an inspiration to all. May God continue to bless and keep you in his hands! Prayers for all good things to come!!!!

  5. Lisa Smith /

    Praying now. Love you.

  6. Praying here. Love to you, Kay

  7. Melody Smith /

    Maybe it will be today that God answers my daily prayer to zap the cancer out of your body for good. May his will be done…

  8. Rebecca /

    So beautiful and brutiful. Carry on, my stranger friend. I’m sending love your way. ❤️

  9. Lisa M Marker-Robbins /

    It was so wonderful to see you last month 🙂 What a treat….a highlight of the event, for me, was to stand on stage and see YOU in the audience with Brad. I said thankful prayers that you were willing and able. Your presence was a blessing….and I KNOW meant the world to Jen – she told me.

    When seated at my table your two backs were in perfect eye shot as I watched the happenings on stage. I was struck several times by the tenderness and care I saw between you and Brad which exemplifies exactly what you described here. Beauty <3 Inspiration for all us couples. Thank you.

    I'm praying for your cough (go away!), the cancer (shrink back in the face of chemo – take that!) and your precious family to have an amazing and blessed Christmas season together.

    Hugs and love – Lisa….super long….sorry….but the first two have been on my heart for weeks, and I should have shared earlier.

  10. Kathi Roth /

    Marin and Greta stories warm my heart. Beauty blossoming
    Before your very eyes?. Praying for the cough to
    Be gone, for renewed strength and for continued healing
    Will not stop asking. I’m inspired to do something thoughtful for Joe. Hugs to you friend. Keep warm

  11. Kim Rourke /

    “Small and simple” sounds like “not much”, but oh the difference small and simple can make! Gentle cyber hugs and big prayers coming your way.

  12. Marlayne Skeens /

    The World is a Better Place through the eyes of a child especially when they really understand how helping others are a good thing ❣️They are magical and feel deeply ❣️It truly is The Little Suddle Good Things that makes one feel Whole and Loved❣️You Jen, are filled with Grace❣️Prayers for continued Priceless Memories❣️Hugs ?

  13. Marlayne Skeens /

    oops ~ Subtle should’ve been the word not suddle ~ mic speaking doesn’t always work especially with braces ?

  14. Awake during the night and you came to mind. Grateful to be prompted by the Spirit who knows each of your specific needs, even when I don’t. May you continue to be given the grace you need…minute by minute.

  15. ??????

  16. Julie Talford /

  17. Jeanne Anderson /

    I am so happy that you are surrounded by the love of Brad and the girls. They continue to bring joy to you with the small things they do every day but you also bring unlimited joy and love to them. Your girls are a reflection of your values and positive outlook on life. I’m sending lots of hugs and prayers your way.

  18. Bonnie B Jackson /

    Jen, it truly IS the little things that touch our hearts….. gestures, a twinkle in an eye, a giggle, a touch!! Your heart touches mine and I Pray that you can rest, lose the cough and feel strengthened by the Lord … Praying !!

  19. love you and you beautiful family

  20. Shannon Weiss /

    I smiled reading about Miss Greta. There’s a special delivery coming her way in the mail. 😉 Hopefully it gets there in time!
    I pray that cough goes away xoxo

  21. Julie Hines /

    Hello Jen,
    While reading about the girls it made me smile. Greta was such a sweet girl to have in our zebra class. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Julie Hines

  22. Sending prayers and healing wishes.