Running With Stillness

Dec 18

Running With Stillness

[Thundering surround sound of a waterfall & rapids]

Not many words.  Just lots of giggles.  Big smiles.  And a bear hug to avoid getting swept away.

Like many this season, we’ve been on the run.  This last week we decided to throw into the mix a last minute, epic adventure trip for the girls and me.  We did a lot and saw a lot.  If I recall, about 3,000 pictures and a bunch of video worth.  Epic beauty and a painted ox cart full of memories.

In reflection, what were our very most favorite moments?  The times of stillness.

Sometimes that meant a hammock.  Other times it was a pause or mental picture while on the go.  In all cases, they were times that we stopped to smell the proverbial roses.  They were times that we held long enough to look each other in the eyes as if to freeze the moment.  They were times to look at and absorb natural beauty while pondering the micro and macro complexity of God’s creation. The stillness included every bittersweet morning waking pre-sunrise to the same nature sounds that Jen and I enjoyed here on our honeymoon.  The stillness included the times of interdependency and trust when Maren, Greta and I were not sure of what would come next.

It hit me on this trip that it sure seems that the sweetness of life is found when I stop to acknowledge the truths in what I am experiencing or what I already have.  In the stillness, I find that my hope is reaffirmed; I feel that God has been sketching my dreams there, as well.  When I am still, my senses seem to come to full capacity.  I ‘see’ more clearly, simply, and with priority.  I ‘hear’ more perceptibly and empathetically.  I ‘speak’ more purposefully and with a measured tongue.  In the stillness, I also feel that my heart is laid bare.  Sometimes the stillness is sweet.  Sometimes it is bittersweet.  Sometimes it is raw and unpredictable – and that can be scary and lonely.  This is where I found myself needing to fight (or do the hard work that Jen has described) to not reach for a distraction or to ‘self-medicate’ through some sort of vice.

The ‘anxious squeeze’ in my chest was there with me on those pre-sunrise mornings.  I felt free not to wipe away the quiet tears as my girls slept.  I thought about the adventures that Jen and I had here and how we dreamed of returning with our future children someday.  I thought about the big smiles and eyes of wonder I was seeing now from the girls on our various tours.  The “here, but not fully yet” reality of freedom in Jesus was palpable.  I laid there each day feeling like I was in some sort of warp zone.  I was at peace, feeling complete.  I was filled with joy.  And, I was super sad.  It was uncomfortable, but I was glad not to flee.  In stillness, I was being affirmed that our life is (still) beautiful and that I needed the sadness to experience all-encompassing joy.

A friend asked me this week how I am doing.  I said that in some ways I feel as alive as ever – I’m seeing and hearing well.  The girls are sharing moments of grief with me – in their own time and way.  Peace, joy and sadness are seemingly in balance.  I’ve even felt an almost strange increase in freedom to pursue heart desires.   I still think with Jen and chat with God daily.  I am loving the super-saturated time with Maren and Greta.  And, yet, I miss Jen dearly.  I’m honestly not sure what that all means, just yet.  Still, my heart is clearly gravitated toward family in this (strange and unorthodox) holiday season for us.  There’s only one thing that I really want this year … undistracted, honest and endearing conversation with each of my family members.  I hope that this season allows for stillness and through it peace, joy and a dose of restoration.

May God’s peace be with you this holiday season.

Brad (husband)

P.S. Thank you for all of the recent blog comments.  I have read and re-read them several times.  I very much wish that we could sit in my family room and chat.  We all have stories worthy of sharing.  The depth and richness of your unique experience is evident and your words are both encouraging and inspiring to me.


  1. Heather Rose /

    Brad I appreciate you. I appreciate that you have picked up exactly where Jen left off. This beautiful family of yours fills my heart with wonder.

  2. Kelly B /

    Brad (and girls) – I am so glad you got a chance to get away, especially this time of year when the day to day can get so congested. I imagine that vacationing in the same place as your honeymoon was indeed bittersweet, but I’m sure that Jen just loved that you took the girls. Jen taught us all valuable lessons. Be honest in the moment, prioritize your time and energy, and do today well. You are living these lessons.
    I wish you and the girls a holiday season of quiet stillness, dimpled giggles and the peace of mind knowing that you are doing such a good job.
    Obviously you don’t owe us (Jen’s stranger friends and followers) anything, but we do love hearing from you. Your writing is so eloquent, so poignant……she would be so very proud.

  3. You paint a beautiful picture with your words. Sending love and hugs today, tomorrow and every day! XoXoX

  4. Lisa Smith /

    I cherish this family blog so much. Thank you Brad for sharing with us. Your process is beautiful and refreshing. Sending long tight hugs from California.

  5. Thank you for continuing to share your family with us 💙💜💜

  6. Tiffany Wellinghoff /

    I love the way you are living well and loving your girls the best way possible…by being present and intentional! In the quiet moments, the raw and the real come out…but in the quiet moments we can hear God whisper to us. Some may ask why He whispers when we need Him most…but I think He whispers because He is so near to us! We are praying for your family each and everyday!! 💕💕💕 Love you!!
    Team Wellinghoff (Steve, Tiffany, Kaitlyn, Alyssa, Emily & Amaya)

  7. Brad, man, you are as eloquent a writer (and thinker and feeler) as Jen. So beautiful. You’re all in my thoughts and prayers daily.

  8. Patty Wheeler /

    How wonderful! Those girls are blest to be surrounded by love and adventures. Look at those smiles. Merry Christmas!

  9. Brad, I love that you are continuing to blog. It helps me to best know how to pray for you and the girls through this time. And it reminds me that life can be beautiful in the mess of the paradox in which you are finding yourself. Thanks for being vulnerable and real. And thanks for sharing that with us. Praying daily for you guys!

  10. MBTimmel /

    I am so happy that you have continued Jen’s work. Reading your words “grounds” me. Especially during the Christmas season. I had lunch with a dear friend today and we talked about being aware of not realizing the silent burdens we all carry on a daily basis. Then I came home and read your words. We all have stories, no doubt. Life is beautiful, and sadness makes joy that much sweeter. Peace to you and the girls.

  11. Karin Eppert /

    I love love love that you and the girls are still living life to the fullest. Jen’s spirit of living today well is clearly evident, and I see her in the picture of you and the girls. Keep sharing please! I love feeling connected to her and your family! Blessings and prayers for a filling Christmas this year.

  12. Shell Powell /

    Love you guys so so much. Sending the biggest squishiest hugs we can from Brisbane, lots of love from Shell, Dame, Jake n Brodie xxx

  13. Linda Howard /

    Brad, you and Maren and Greta are in my prayers often….God bless you as you navigate your new “normal”……

  14. Kathi Roth /

    If hugs can be sent through wi-fi then gigantic bear hugs to each of you. Your words have such depth of feeling and beauty. Thank you for sharing with us.

  15. Lisa Marker Robbins /

    Thank you for continuing the blog, Brad. It’s beautiful and hard and we are praying with you.

  16. Another Jen /

    Sending you all love from a stranger. Thank you, Brad, for continuing to share your family’s journey with us.

  17. Candace /

    Stillness, conversations with each family member, and joy…because of your words, and the thoughts they create in my own open mind, I will focus on these concepts this holiday season. Thank you for that beautiful holiday gift. May God continue to wrap you and your family in His loving embrace….

  18. Newbie friend /

    Undistracted, honest and endearing conversations – priceless gifts we can all give and receive. Happy to hear that you three continue to “Do Today Well”, even during this season of adapting to the new normal. Thinking that you could combine your writing with excerpts of Jens blogs to create a wonderful devotional. Keep it up!

  19. Shelley Carter /

    Brad – I never had the privilege of meeting your precious Jen, but followed her blog for years and commented time to time. She was, and continues to be, a great light in my life. I loved how she did everything with intention and centered her life around her faith in God even when the path was hard, scary, unpredictable, and sad. And I loved that she found joy throughout everything. I have spent the last two years walking with my Dad through cancer and I have used her as a model time and time again. I just wanted you, Maren, and Greta to know what a profound impact she has had on my life.

    I also wanted to thank you for continuing the blog – I have been praying for you and the girls, and even though we have never met, I love hearing how you all are doing. My Dad passed away a few weeks before Jen, and reading about your journey is reaffirming and comforting to me in so many ways.Grief is hard, and losing someone you love can be excruciating. But your post is a wonderful reminder that there is joy in the suffering and peace in the closeness of God. I will be praying for a joyful and peaceful Christmas for your family.

  20. Marlayne Skeens /

    Thank you Brad for your clearly chosen words ~ comforting to me ~ I lost my husband on Mother’s Day this year to early onset Alzheimer’s ~ everything has changed and nothing has changed because I still have joy in my heart which God has filled and blessed me with ~ Merry Christmas 🎄

  21. Kim Bunn /

    Brad, these blogs are great. I am glad you have continued them.

  22. Brad, not a day goes by where I don’t think of, and pray for, you, the girls and your families. The message at our church last Sunday was on peace…and how we have the peace of Jesus but we still face the reality of this broken, fallen world. We long for a day when there will be no suffering, death, pain, grief, sickness, etc. Living in the “already but not yet” is gut wrenching. I appreciate your writing. You and Jen have the same spirit and it is a gift. I pray that in the midst of suffering and grief, Jesus ministers to your hearts and gives you peace like a river. Thanks for reminding us of the importance of spending time with people and conversing and being still. Praying for you guys.

  23. Bonnie B /

    Brad, love that you’re continuing to open your heart on the blog… Jen would Love that!! Prayed for you on your Wonderful adventure with the girls and it seems that the Lord answered your hearts desire. Bittersweet mixed with the Sweet… It truly is in the Quiet that we find Rest, Understanding and Love beyond words!! We love you and look forward to hugging your neck ❤️

  24. I love that you are on this adventure with the girls. I was just thinking if you guys, wondering how you are doing. This paints such a true and authentic picture of the dance of sadness and joy. Praying for you all. Thinking of your Jen often, and knowing she is in the sunsets and the snowfalls and al the beautiful things God graces us with. Lots of hugs. Keep leaning in…

  25. Angela J /

    Brad, so glad you are taking time with the girls to have an epic adventure. It’s a good and hard and weird thing to realize that even in the fresh trauma of grief, we can feel shattered and still see beauty and realize that we can have fun, experience new joy and continue to feel incredible loss. I hate that your kids know this kind of loss so young. I love how well you & Jen loved them and handled the hard, life altering reality of cancer and gave them space and agency for their own feelings and reactions – without judgment. I’m glad they are learning right off that they can keep loving and having fun – even missing their mom so deeply. And that all of that is okay. I’m grateful you are holding your pain and looking at it honestly, feeling it, thinking about it, without covering it up. It’s so hard and yet you’re doing it. Jen was good about that too, though I only knew her from this blog. Holding so many different emotions and feeling them, honoring them, and letting them pass. What you are doing is holy work and — what an example you have both set for the girls. I have thought of you all many times especially with holidays already here. I am still missing my mom (I will miss her for the rest of my life) and the holidays are definitely “hands full of different emotions” times for me, even after a full year. Heart tender for you guys and glad to have another Anderson voice on the blog. If we can’t hear Jen, we can hear Brad, and Jen through Brad. God bless each of you.
    Blessings from Michigan –

  26. Conni Carlson /

    So glad you and the girls are experiencing exciting adventures of the heart despite the sadness you all must feel. God bless you during this holiday season and forever after.

  27. allanah powell /

    Jens heart would be bursting with pride Brad . What a wonderful man and father you are . You continue to raise those beautiful little girls as Jen had intended . You are still an awesome team , even though your our beautiful Jen is no longer with us . Sending lots of hugs anhope you have a wonderful Christmas. Lani ❤️

  28. Nancy Carrell /

    I am in tears of joy and grief as I read your beautifully expressed blog!!! Continued prayers for you and your girls.

  29. Julie Talford /

    Oh my word there is even a picture. Be still my heart! I love the happiness it shows! Your words are so genuine and raw but are intertwined with such peace. Thank you for baring your soul with us just as Jen did. She is surely smiling down on you 3 at all times even as you rest. So thrilled you can find time for these special moments. Wishing you 3 a peaceful holiday season. Cheers to you for creating these special memories. God bless you 3. ❤

  30. Shannon Weiss /

    That’s a beautiful photo of you guys! I love you are continuing with the blog. Thinking of you all daily. XO

  31. Christin /

    I love when my inbox says there’s a new post, and I strangely need(deeply appreciate?) having this window into your lives. Each step forward you take resounds with love, hope, and faith.

  32. Lindsay /

    Brad and girls…God has continued to put your family on the forefronts of our’s absolutely crazy how God can use such times of sorry to still minister to us…and how you sharing the realness…both the beauty and sadness ministers to us all as well. Praying for God’s supernatural comfort to be with you all and that your family time is filled with richness. ❤️

  33. I love that you have continued to post and express your processing here. I was resigned to forever wondering about Jen’s family when she was no longer able to post, so I’m glad for a small glimpse of you all continuing to do your days well. Hugs to you and your family from someone you have never met but whose thoughts have been with you.

  34. Maureen /

    Brad, thanks for taking the time to fill us in on how you and the girls are doing. Although I don’t know you at all, you are on my heart as you move through the grief. And see the beauty. You are a beautiful example of how I feel Jen would be wanting you to deal with this!

  35. Brad~thank you so much for continuing on where Jen left off. I am one of her many “stranger friends”…somehow I found your sweet family way back when Jen blogged with ‘The Anderson Family Zoo’. So needless to say I’ve been around since the beginning of Jen’s courageous fight. She really had a way of telling her and your family’s story, so that I (we) all fell in love (in a non creepy way) with each of you. The way she spoke of you, bragged about you (in the very best way!)…well it was easy to see what a love story you have. And what an incredible, loving, FUN mom she was to Maren and Greta! It absolutely breaks my heart that she has passed onto eternity…because of the huge, vast Jen shaped hole in your hearts. I am so glad that you and Jen intentionally designed a village that will be there for the girls in any and every way❤️Jen taught me so many things….many times I would re-read her posts bc wow! So many “things” that she brought to clarity; her words could reach straight into my heart and grab hold. Incidentally your posts have also given me new perspective and a deeper understanding of “stuff”. One of the many “lessons” learned was “problem vs probwem”…she was always right on point and so poignant. I am praying for you and your beautiful girls. That you feel God’s peace and continue to totally rock one of Jen’s legacies…to Do Today Well. I know that Jen is smiling down and giving you a big high five❤️ -Mary

  36. Jen Roesch /

    Last minute adventures are the best adventures! Thank you for sharing this with your new “stranger friends”…I really enjoyed this post. It feels like you brought the girls “full circle” – back to the beginning of your story with Jen. What a beautiful opportunity for them to see what she saw, experience the things she experienced, and yet create new memories together. This must have been incredibly bittersweet for you, but a wonderful win for your “team”. (High fives all around)

  37. Hillary in California /

    Brad. There are lots of good dads, but clearly you are a GREAT one. Prioritizing your girls right now amidst the sadness and new normal is incredibly important. The joy in this photo brought me to tears. YES!- take the big trip, reevaluate in the quiet moments, hug your girls more often than normal and tell them how much you love them. There is a huge community rooting for you and praying for you–I hope you can feel it especially when you aren’t reaching for a vice to distract you. Loved that sentence bc I think that is when huge strides are made…or even small strides.
    Can not thank you enough for your incredibly thoughtful, wise words.
    Sending you strength as you navigate all of the various emotions and love to all of you.
    -Hillary in San Diego

  38. The posts you have written are so rich, I find myself more aware. Goodness your beautiful daughters are so blessed to have a Daddy’s love like you give. Jen shared with us what your love did for her and it was such a gift to hear of it. And to think your daughters get that attention to detail love, that deep and kind love too, well it just blesses me to know two little girls get to know that! That love seemed to just awe Jen! Well done!!!

  39. Shari /

    Brad, you and the girls are always in my thoughts and prayers. I am so happy that you and your beautiful daughters were able to go on such a special trip together. You are a wonderful writer. Thank you for blogging and letting us know that you all are doing okay. Wishing peace and happiness for you, Maren and Greta in 2020.

  40. Sue Liddle /

    Brad (and girls): I wanted you to know what a profound impact Jen has had on my life. I was one of those Anderson family zoo followers and have been here ever since. I have no idea how that even happened (probably facebook-or God not that I think about it). I never got the change to meet Jen in person, but that didn’t matter as I felt her through her words. Then got Cancer and she guided us even more. What a blessing to have been on the receiving end of all her beautiful words. In 2015 I lost my husband at the age of 35 (police officer line of duty death) and she didn’t know me, but know that she lifted me. I knew that if she could do each day well with cancer that I could do each day well with grief (as you are all doing now). Last night I watched the celebration of life ceremony and I can honestly say I have never seen something so beautiful. The ENTIRE time I prayed that I could have as intentional relationships with people as Jen did and that my life could be even slightly as impactful as hers. Thank you for sharing that with us. Thank you Jen for showing up and doing today well. Thank you Brad for allowing us to follow you now in your grief as you and the girls tackle some tough days. My son was 10 when his daddy died and this next phase can be hard but you have the tools given to you by God and Jen to persevere. So sending much love from another impacted life (this one in Iowa) hold tight to those amazing memories of your wife/mom. She will be missed but her legacy will live on. Sue