The Prompt of Anxiety

Jan 31

I’ve been feeling anxious these days.  And I’m thankful for that.  The anxiety itself is not fruitful, but it can be an excellent prompt.

Whereas December was a month for family time and adventure, January has been a month to reset our home base and try out our new norms.  I’ve been blessed with time away from work, but now is the time to return and put our new normal to the full test.

I have some butterflies about work, but that’s not what has been stealing my thoughts of late.  The predominant thought has been whether I really have what it takes to be the father I want to be and that the girls deserve.  Sifting through reams of papers, pictures, cards, and journal notes this past month has brought more color and breadth to Jen’s highlight reel.  Unfortunately, Jen’s highlight reel continues to trigger in me a juxtaposition with my own lowlight reel.  I can’t undo or redo past opportunities.  Still, I often wonder why I couldn’t consistently see her with this much clarity all along.  Will I be able to see and prioritize my girls with the same clarity with which I now see Jen?  How will I fare without the tag team effort of a spouse?  How will I muster my ‘A game’ consistently every day?  That’s been challenge enough while away from work.  How about when the demands of work set in and the sirens call out to my pride of performance?

I’m amazed at how quickly I can veer from center.  It was just the beginning of this month that the truth of grace leapt from our boat ride photo.  Truth has deep, permanent roots.  Still, my attention is easily stolen.  I default to self-sufficiency; when I feel that I may not have what it takes, I get anxious.

“Don’t you know that God chose you to raise these girls?”  “No one has asked you to be perfect.”  “What will happen when you fail?  Maren and Greta will be used by God to teach you grace.”  “You have the opportunity and authority to move forward and stretch your ability.”

These comments were from some of my ‘foxhole’ buddies.  I am honored to say that these guys love me enough to listen with rapt attention, speak truth, and seal it with a bear hug.  Their bumper rails help me to see my true self – lest I become disoriented by the echo of my own thoughts.

“Do you have a hard time accepting grace?” asked another.

Full stop.

Piercing silence.

This was the ‘prompt.’

“Yes, I do.”

God had reached through the anxious discomfort to look me in the eyes and ask me where I’m placing my ultimate hope … the cross … THE grace.   If I struggle to receive grace from others, how well do I understand the grace of the cross – where I’ve placed my entire bet?  It’s not a matter of whether I have what it takes to perform well as a great dad.  It has to do with whether I will choose to live in the freedom of how he’s wired me – trusting that God will deliver the best story.  Know my role.  Stay in my lane.  Trust in Him.  After all these years, I still have so much to learn about faithfulness … it’s probably a good time for me to open my hands, depend on others, and start asking God to fill in the gaps.

This week has been a great reminder that we live in a much bigger story than ourselves.  Jen has run ahead, yet we have much mission and adventure in store for us here.  We are called to a role, but none of the roles are isolated nor greater than our respective wiring.  He stitches us together in a tapestry called community for a reason.  The journey will be filled with wonder, provided control is wrested in favor of joyful hope.

I sure am thankful that through the emotion of anxiety truth was prompted.  It does take a village.

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted.”  – Christine Caine.




  1. /

    Brad-wow! Thank you for that word. It was perfection.

  2. I’m praying for you and for your girls.

  3. Kathi Roth /

    The love you have for your girls, the foundation you and Jen laid, your village and your God will see you through. There is freedom in knowing our hearts motives and trying our best all the while resting inHim who fills in the gaps. Prayers continue for you, the girls and your village❤️

  4. Patty Wheeler /

    Brad, you inspire me with your falith, love, honor, integrity and so much more. I was just talking with a friend today and we were saying how helpful it would have been to have had been given a manual on how to raise each of our children when they were born to anticipate the challenges they would face. We giggled of course. We just loved them and tried our best as you are doing. My mom, who will be 98 in February, became a widow with 5 children 50 years ago. She hadn’t worked outside the home in 23 years, went back to school to brush up on her skills, retired at 65 with her own pension and benefits and to this day inspires all her family. Just like you she relied on her faith to keep moving on. You’ve got this!

  5. suenitz /

    Hi Brad. Your story is written on God’s heart, from beginning to the end. I love that you are allowing Him to continue to be a part of it. As you fill your days with Faith in God, Hope for your best and Love for your girls may you continue to be blessed with all the fruits of the Spirit.

    But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
    ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬ ‭

    One day at a time…

  6. Kim Rourke /

    You came full circle as you “talked with us” in your post, and in doing so you reminded all of us that with faith, hope, and love we can be open to God’s grace. One day at a time! We all “stumble“ and need to take a breath and start again. Your village is there for you just as they were there for you and Jen.
    Be gentle with yourself these first few weeks back to work.

  7. You are doing great, it’s scary I know. You will look back on this time in awe, proud of the growth both you and the girls are making. Some days just surviving the day is ok! The dishes can be done tomorrow, a forgotten appointment will not matter. Hug those girls, cry a few tears and know that with your community and with your girls you are all enough.

  8. Marlayne Skeens /

    Dear Brad ~ Peace be with you ~ continue holding onto GOD’s right hand ✝️🤗

  9. Stunningly beautiful writing Brad. D and I love you so much!!! Thanks for sharing your journey. Sounds like you have some amazing foxhole friends speaking into your life, and you are wise…you are leaning in and listening and opening yourself up to grace! Bravo! We’re all cheering you on!!!

  10. Brad — I’ve seen you interact with your girls and I’ve heard the pride in your voice when you talk about them. While I cannot imagine how challenging things are for you right now, I have no doubt that you are absolutely the best dad Maren and Greta could ask for. You will love them fiercely, and they will continue to grow as the beautiful people they already are. My love and prayers are with all of you, but I am 1000% certain you have earned the right to use the trending hashtag #girldad and most of us (moms AND dads) could learn a lot from you on how to be an amazing parent!

  11. Thank you so much for your posts. They are truly encouraging me through a season a fear and doubt in my ability to do what God has called me to.

  12. Alicia /

    Thank you for those words, Brad. They are something I needed to hear, as I always feel I’m falling short as a parent. I’m so glad that you are writing here, and hope you continue for years to come!

  13. Melissa /

    This is beautifully written. I followed Jen for years and loved her raw and truthful writing. It’s wonderful for you to continue to use this space to share your raw and truthful writing. What a lovely way to honor Jen. Praying for you and your girls as you navigate your new norms. Thank you for continuing to share your family in this space.

  14. I have no words. Your summation and expression of all you emotions, thoughts and truth telling tells me you are the perfect person to be the man, provider, Prince Charming and Dad that these girls will be the very best version of themselves. We believe in you. We will gladly hang on your coat tails and bloom together.

  15. Jenna Schroeder /

    Thanks for your beautiful honesty. Grace is hard to receive, but it truly is the most freeing thing. Praying freedom over you. You’ve got this! Because, He’s got YOU! We are in your corner my friend.

  16. Bonnie Jackson /

    Trust the Lord with All your heart and lean Not on your own understanding…in all your ways acknowledge Him and He Will direct your path..
    Brad, this is so True!! You were most definitely picked to be Maren and Greta’s Dad just as Jen was to be their Mom!! The Lord has you all in the palm of His hand and His Grace is richly on you!! Your village is Here!!

  17. Conni Carlson /

    Dear God, continue keeping Brad and the girls in your grace. Amen.

  18. Brad – so beautiful to see your courage coming through in words. Your self-awareness and anxiety is what proves you are already EXACTLY the Father your girls need.

  19. Lisa Smith /

    “ Still, I often wonder why I couldn’t consistently see her with this much clarity all along.“

    I feel exactly this way about losing my mother-in-law to cancer. I’m not comparing my loss to yours, the loss of a spouse is incomprehensible and I ache for you. But maybe it is of some comfort to know that this perspective is only possible in such a loss? That you could not possibly have loved her more or ‘seen her more clearly’ on this side of heaven…

    Your process is so valuable. Thank you for continuing to include us all in it.

  20. Christin /

    You’re looking ahead while also actively being a badass dad right now (borrowing an Anderson word right there 🙂 ). You’re, hands down, doing this well.
    Thank you for sharing with us. I’m a better person every time I read this blog.

  21. Brad, I think you always saw Jen with clarity…that’s what allowed you to fall in love. That “clarity” was clouded (probably intentionally by God) during Jen’s long battle, as a coping method to help you get through each day. I loved knowing Jen as a child, but she wowed me as an adult. Her journal made me reexamine how I live my life now. You’re continuing to shed new light with your writings. I know nothing about you personally, but through “Do Today Well”, we all came to “know” the Andersons. You’ve got this, Brad. Don’t second guess yourself. And please continue with the blog. Whether you realize it or not, you’re still giving us guidance. Thank you.

  22. So well expressed. Golly! I seem to remember Jen writing that she loved how you two would go deeper into subjects. That you would prompt her to keep digging so to speak and how it always led to growth. Keep going but know that God is so so near to you as you walk and He will be faithful to you. He’s your Father and has promised you so much. And we will all praise Him along the way. You & Jen, your story grows my faith. He’s real.

  23. Brad- oh my heart. I’ll be blessing you to be filled with all joy and hope and believing as our God of hope fills you with the Holy Spirit so that it overflows out of you. Especially for times when you forget that grace is a good thing, a benefit- not a negative outcome for those that are weak or incompetent. It is a super power that fills our days and thoughts with beauty even when the circumstances aren’t ideal. I bless your 2020 year to be a journey of living by the Lord’s unforced rhythms of grace.