Running With Perseverance

Nov 28

In endurance sports (i.e. triathlons, marathons, etc), a common challenge is the feeling of racing from behind.  There is a point when your strength, energy and focus seemingly fade.  It is at that point that the real race begins – it is far more mental than physical and fully dependent on personal choice.  When plenty of me would just assume quit, I cue the following rules: (1) Keep moving; (2) Assess – what are my mind & body feeling; (3) What are my truths – trust what I know; (4) Set a plan to finish well; (5) Get after it.  Rinse and repeat …

Over these last several years and the many lonely hours in bed, Jen battled the feelings that her life had become fantastically small.  She had been stripped of the physical ability to do many of the things that previously defined how she redeemed her time – the activities through which she shared time with people; the experiences that built her self confidence; the adventures that formed the basis of future dreams.  She was broken down to the bald, raw predicament of facing who she was inherently – all alone before God – without all of the ‘things’ to which we easily attach in order to artificially define our self worth.

Jen faced the question of ‘Who Am I?’ as she could hear the girls playing downstairs but was unable to join them.  Jen faced the question of ‘Who Am I?’ when she wanted to go for a run on a beautiful day but couldn’t get out of bed.  Jen faced the question of ‘Who Am I?’ when we set aside dreams of career and family adventures.  Jen faced the question of ‘Who Am I?’ when she would have to step away from intentional time with family and friends to be sick by herself.  Jen faced the question of ‘Who Am I?’ when she didn’t have the stamina to communicate all of the thoughts in her head with the people that she loved.

It is from this brokenness that we saw the very best of Jen.

I’ve had some thoughts that our last day together with the girls was a bit of a letdown.  I now see it is as one of our best days.  We had 4 hours planned at the hospital to talk, play games or watch a movie.  In reality, with all of the hospital things going on, we only got about 15 minutes.  But those 15 minutes are seared in our memory.  In those 15 minutes, despite her fading strength, energy and focus, Jen chose to ‘keep moving.’  She knew that her tank was empty, but she leaned into what she knew to be her true, inherent self.  She had learned to be free in God’s grace to simply make herself available and intentionally speak truth into other people.  She sat Maren and Greta next to her and (sensing their nervousness) looked both of them in the eyes and said, “I know that I love you deeply; and, I know that you love me deeply.  Nothing can ever change that.  That is all we need and nothing else needs to be said.”

Jen showed us that running with perseverance and ‘doing today well’ has little to do with the merit of activities, but rather doing the scary personal work of knowing who (and for whom) we are inherently – all stripped down with no borrowed facades –  in order to be free, available and intentional in truth.  I am so frikkin proud of her.  I will go into any battle with her.  I’ve loved her for her companionship.  I’ve loved her for her partnership.  But, I’ve LOVED her for her courage to be broken in order to be free.  She has shown me how to run with perseverance (Heb 12:1-2).

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving?  Nothing else needs to be said.

Love you, guys.

Brad (husband)

46 comments

  1. Kathi Roth /

    So beautifully said Brad. Happy Thanksgiving to you and the girls.

  2. Patty Wheeler /

    Brad, Maren and Greta…sending our love to you all. You all do today well. I watched the celebration of life and watched as you asked the girls to turn around and see how many people were touched by their mom. Millions of people not with you that day are raising our hands. Jen is a gift to us all. She married a great man.

  3. Karin Eppert /

    So thankful that you are sharing Brad! Jen’s spirit is alive and well! She leaves a legacy that is long and true. So grateful for her and your family. Blessings this Thanksgiving.

  4. Lindsay /

    Brad…we woke up thinking of you and the girls today, so to read this is such a gift! Your words are so spot on…she truly knew who she was and what mattered bc of the hard mental work she did in the quiet places with God. It challenges me, and I’m grateful for it. ❤️

  5. Laura Lee /

    Your words are so heartfelt and beautiful. It is clear that Jen has left behind a legacy of love, faith and hope and the greatest of these is her love. God bless each one of you and may he hold you and comfort you in his arms as you navigate this life without her physical presence.

    “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”
    11 Timothy 4:7

  6. Special hugs and prayers for your beautiful family. I am Thankful for knowing and being inspired by Jen everyday. Happy thanksgiving 🦃❤️🙏🏻❤️🙏🏻

  7. Heather Rose /

    Oh Brad. What’s gift to see this blog update appear in my inbox. Your whole family continues to be a bright shining light. Each of you are such an. gift.

  8. Xoliswa /

    Happy thanks giving to you and your beautiful girls all the way from South Africa. I have followed Jens journey since the beginning. Byou have been an amazing husband to her and I pray God gives you renewed strength to raise those beautiful girls.

  9. Conni Carlson /

    Dear Brad,
    Thank you for your beautiful words today. May God continue to bless you and bring peace to you and your lovely girls.

  10. Lori6NV /

    Oh Brad – what a reminder. So many folks you’ll never know learned small versions of these same lessons from Jen, too. I’m sure many of them, like me, are being extra intentional and thankful on this Thanksgiving Day. I saw a suggestion somewhere about “forgetting” your phone on Thanksgiving, in order to be more present. As soon as I saw that – I knew Jen would love that idea. So I’m going to try it (well, as soon an I’m done typing this!) Be present. Do today well. Prayers for you and those brave girls.

  11. Julie Talford /

    I love how you speak her truth and yours; making it raw, making it genuine and encouraging all of us to try to live like she did….in the moment and intentional. Today I am starting my JENspire board (Jen inspired me before, now and always) filled with her photos and sayings to remind me of what a brave warrior she was and what I aspire to be. It is the ripple effect of “Jen-ness”.

    Keep it going people! Thanks Brad for such inspiring words and for the beautiful soul you are as well. The girls mirror that as well.

  12. So thankful to know the Anderson Family. Blessings to you all in this Thanksgiving day.

  13. Ione Timm /

    You are an amazing person! Happy Thanksgiving!

  14. Christin /

    Gosh. What a way to start Thanksgiving. Just like Jen, you acknowledge the hard… and somehow that makes the beautiful shine all the more brightly.

  15. Marlayne Skeens /

    Hugs, Hugs, Hugs ~

  16. Lisa Smith /

    I’m loving every word of this. Thank you again for posting.

  17. What a beautiful love story. Wishing your family a peaceful Thanksgiving.

  18. katie bouton /

    I didn’t know Jen but I have been following her blog for several years. I’ve been trying to think of what I want to say–why I found her life so compelling. It would be easiest to say that she showed me how to be grateful for my life (and that would be true). It would also be easy to say that I admire your family and the respect you showed one another (and that would be true too). But the thing Jen really taught me is this: she knew how to set boundaries. I deeply admire the courage it takes to not try to live up to other people’s expectations or needs. To live truly and deeply, to be clear about what she needed in order to show up in the world the way she wanted to. Jen knew how to say, “This is what I need. This is how you can help. This can not be helped.” I will be forever grateful for the lessons she taught me. Sending all my love and gratitude to you and your family.

  19. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your deep love for Jen. Your family has helped so many of us be more introspective and learn the true meaning of “Do Today Well”.

  20. Shannon Kahrs /

    Thank you Brad for having the strength and courage to post this. I can’t even begin to count all the people who have been blessed by knowing Jen (your whole family)! Her story, her courage, her incredible insight, her funness, her beauty, her love will live on in all the people she touched. She made me do many days better and she makes me do life better. On this thanksgiving I am very thankful for the privilege of knowing Jen!

  21. Darlene /

    This Aunt and Godmother loves you and the girls more than you know. You and Jen also share the beautiful expression with words. Happy Thanksgiving to your family. I have a feeling Jen is near. Darlc

  22. Elisabete Balcavage /

    Beautiful words. Happy Thanksgiving. All our love. Win, E Bella and Maya

  23. Dear Brad,
    You are ‘doing today well’. Infact I think you are doing today really well, and that Jen must be super proud of you. Please keep writing – seeing your post today is so wonderful – you are like Jen’s messenger on Earth.
    With much love from England.
    Xxxx

  24. Cindy Jones /

    Love you too Brad. You don’t know me, I’ve been following along Do Today Well from the beginning. I’m so thankful today for you and your beautiful love for Jen. She was in good hands for sure. It’s so good to hear from you. I’ve been thinking of you and the girls so much. Stay strong-we will all be together again one day coming up. How glorious that will be.

  25. Sharon Parson /

    Gods blessings on you, your daughters and all those whom she loved.
    I always enjoyed this blog, in spite of what ever she did speak to all of us, showing me a warrior in life.
    Love and Light to all touched by Jen.

  26. Linda Howard /

    Hello Brad, this is Linda, Beth’s oldest sister….I cannot articulate as wonderfully as you and Jen, but please know this….I think of Jen every single day….she has inspired me to Do Today Well every day….. To you and Maren and Greta, your Jen leaves a legacy that is deep and far reaching….much love to you all….I give thanks on this Thanksgiving Day to our almighty Father who now holds Jen in His arms forever….

  27. Malia Millard /

    What a beautiful testament to a person who taught us all so much. Thinking of Jen and your family (here in Seattle), I hope you’re Doing Today Well.

  28. Melody Smith /

    Jen will continue to live on in each of us … we have been gifted with either her physical or virtual presence or both. I am thankful for learning much about strength, perseverance and especially love…

  29. Cindy Mitchell /

    Brad, this was a lovely and so meaningful. Happy Thanksgiving to you, the girls and your family.. Jen is with all of you, and always will be..

    • Thank you for this post. Your Jen has inspired me and be a vehicle for God to change me. I’m so grateful to Jen for her giving through her posts. I cannot wait to thank her in person in Heaven someday. She’s a hero to me. Much love and prayers to you and your daughters. God is faithful.
      ~ Jill from CA

  30. Beautiful Brad. Sending our love to you and the girls today. I know you are “doing today well”! Happy Thanksgiving. 💕

  31. Candace /

    I found Jen’s blog in an unconventional way. The childhood friend of one of my daughters was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast cancer when she was 35 years old – and pregnant with twins. Her path has been increasingly challenged, and all who have ever crossed paths with her in their lives are touched by her grace, her faith, and her dignity. Someone on her blog mentioned Jen’s “Do Today Well” blog, so I found Jen. You dont need to be told how she touched the lives of her followers – you already know that. And now it appears that her gift of written word is something you shared with her, for your words are as deep and meaningful as hers….and for some reason I am surprised. It may be because, well, you are a man. That’s a little bit of a “shame on me” moment for stereotyping, but, stereotypes formed for a reason. I thought I remember Jen saying you were an engineer, and since I am married to one, the stereotype fit. I was wrong. I find myself as moved by your writing about Jen and your lives, as I was my hers. If you can find it in your new life to continue her blog, I believe in my heart that you can continue to touch others as she did. We pray for you and her family. We wonder what is going on with the girls in school and in their lives. We wonder how you are doing, and about your new routine. Yet…we dont want to intrude. There is only one, and will only ever be one Jen. Should you find it in your path to continue Jen’s blog, I know there is an army reading, following, praying, feeling inspired, and growing. Please consider updating the blog as you and your North Star see fit, as we continue to pray for you and your family and as we remember Jen…

  32. “My peace I give to you, My peace I leave with you.” This Thanksgiving I am grateful for Brad to love my Jen so well.

  33. Kim Rourke /

    What words!❤️ You give us some of the Jen we knew, but also the Jen you knew; a new perspective for us. Thanks for sharing YOU!

  34. Bonnie B Jackson /

    Beautifully written and expressed Brad!! Jen would be proud, is proud!! Her days spent on this Earth were full of Grace and intention… We’ve all been touched and will forever be grateful for knowing her. I pray that we all Do our Days well Every Day! You Maren and Greta have been on my heart all day wishing you all a most Special Thanksgiving!!

  35. Shelley Carter /

    Reading this post was a wonderful Thanksgiving blessing. Thank you. Please consider continuing to write as you feel moved
    to do so. Jen’s life and her writing was a gift to all of us — even those of us who were never able to meet her in person. I am continuing to pray for you and your girls.

  36. Such beautiful words. Thank you for continuing to share Jen with us. We will miss her. By God’s grace she finished her race so well.

  37. Jenna Schroeder /

    I love what you are sharing here. I love how Jen knew what needed to be said and how it was enough. Truly it’s whats the most important. Thank you for sharing. Happy thanksgiving to you and the girls Brad. We are thinking of you!

  38. Another Jen /

    Thank you for your amazing words. We were blessed to have known her, in whichever ways that transpired.

  39. Shannon Weiss /

    This is just beautiful. Gave me chills. Sending daily prayers and hugs to you and the girls. Love you all!

  40. Miriam K. /

    Dear Brad, thank you so much for posting this. I never met Jen but followed her blog since her diagnosis and came to feel that she was a part of my life. I have felt her absence every day since you told us she passed, and have been thinking of all of you. What a gift to find this post today, it is so generous of you to share these precious moments your family had together with us. As others have said, Jen is an inspiration to so many. I keep thinking of the last words she wrote on this blog: “life is so beautiful”. She stayed true to her words to do today well and find the beauty in the things and people around her no matter the circumstances. We will always love your family and when you write, I feel Jen is still here. Much love to you and your beautiful girls.

  41. Laura Purdy /

    What a beautiful, loving post. Thank you. I’m praying for you, Maren, and Greta!

  42. Jennifer /

    I am so appreciative for your words, Brad. I, like many others here, have thought of, prayed for and cheered for your family from afar.
    Jen’s words, ways and intentions have moved me greatly, for many years now. I lost my mother to cancer when I was quite young. I was a single child, she was a single mother. It wasn’t good. And yet, her love was deep enough to carry me on through to a very good life. I wish this for your girls too.
    Jen’s words have been healing to me in ways that I can’t even quite articulate. I will continue to think of, pray for and cheer for you, your girls and Jen’s loved ones. I hope you will continue to write.

  43. Leslie /

    I’m devastated to hear of Jen’s passing. I don’t know her personally, but she has meant so much to me. I found her blog shortly after she started it, and I have 2 girls the same ages as Maren and Greta. Jen has had a profound, positive impact on my life, and I’m forever grateful. This is beautifully written, Brad, and truly heartfelt. You and your girls will continue to be in my prayers.

  44. Kelly B /

    I continue to think about you and the girls (and Jen of course) every day. Thank you so much for taking the time to post, your words are so beautiful.

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