Yonder lies the way

A walkway adjacent to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, January 2008

A walkway at the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, January 2008

“The hour is ripe, and yonder lies the way.”Virgil

In most ways I’m a cautious person.  I tend to fall into what a friend once described as “paralysis by analysis,” so fearful of making a mistake that I think and re-think decisions far too long.  This blog, however, was an exception that could best be described as an impulsive action.

The Saturday morning in November after we first learned that Jeff’s liver tumors were “probably metastatic cancer,” I lay in bed brooding over the many dismal situations facing people I knew personally.  Some faced life-threatening illness; others had lost their jobs and gone months without finding employment; still others were grieving the loss of a loved one, and many were terribly worried over the outcome of the recent elections.

I realized every difficult situation I knew about firsthand was matched thousands or even millions of times over, all around the world.  It was as if there was a whirlpool of despair threatening to pull large numbers of people under, drowning us in sorrow.

I knew next to nothing about blogging, had never used WordPress, and had often dismissed the idea of creating my own blog because there are so many out there already, publishing far more impressive content than I would be able to produce. I had never been able to come up with a theme that seemed to fill a gap in the blogosphere.  But I also knew that I must find something to do that would distract me from the worry that would consume me if I allowed it to take over.

I had read of research indicating that looking at photographs was a highly therapeutic defense against depression.  And I have always taken solace in reading the reassuring, inspiring or insightful words of others.  I have a huge archive of photos I’ve been taking by the thousands for many years.  I decided to publish a blog featuring one of my photos and a quote for each day, and share it online with whomever might find it interesting.

At breakfast I told Jeff I was going to create blog called “Defeat Despair.” Having listened to thousands of my ideas over the years, he merely smiled and encouraged me to try it, knowing full well how often my ideas evaporate into the busyness that makes up most of life.  He and Matt went to the gym to exercise, as is their custom on Saturdays, and then out shopping for an hour or two.  By the time they returned, I had written and scheduled three blog entries, learning WordPress as I went along.

Today is my 135th daily post, and I have enjoyed this journey more than I could have imagined.  I feel so grateful to all of you reading these words: those whose wonderful blogs and photos give me inspiration and examples; those whose generous comments and caring thoughts and prayers have made each day easier to bear; those whose friendship I have treasured for years, and the new friends from all over the world whom I have never met face-to-face.  I am thankful my Saturday morning impulse was not lost to the careful hesitation that has held me back so many times in the past.

If you have a goal or project you are putting off, something you know you should do but can’t find the initiative to take that first step, I hope you will be able to summon the confidence, energy and wisdom to head in the right direction.  In the words of a heroic Tennessean who died at the Texas mission pictured above, “Be sure you are right. Then go ahead.” May your path be illuminated by eternal truths and made beautiful by the fellowship of kindred spirits who will walk beside you through whatever comes.


  1. Bobby Harris

    I am glad you made the decision to write the blog. I look forward to it every morning. You have pointed me to scripture, made me look up sources, and kept me praying. I don’t always comment but I am always there thinking about you and Jeff and Matt and praying.

    • Thank you, Bobby. It’s so nice to have you visit us here. We really appreciate the prayers and thoughts. Love to you both.

  2. Julia I am so glad you moved forward in the gift that God has blessed you with. You continuously encourage me to keep moving forward. I often say to others in response to their courteous question: “How are you today? I say I’m putting one foot in front of the other and letting God do the rest.” HOWEVER, God uses you & your gift to help so many others (& myself) with ‘the rest.’
    Thank you for sharing your life with all of us. Through your blog I can visualize all of us grabbing on to one another in a circle of caring that keeps going around the world. Can you see it?

    • Yes, Renee, I can see it AND feel it. There are so many blessings in staying connected to other people. All of us have trials and struggles, and we need each other’s concern, support and prayers. Plus there is so much to rejoice in and that is always magnified when we share the joys. Thanks for your words of encouragement and steadfast support.

  3. I feel great respect for you after reading this. I know how hard it is to do something else when we are distressed. Advising others is easy but when we are there we are never short of excuses and justifications.
    I too had the same doubts when I thought of my own blog. You are going on well – 135 posts! Great! Congrats!
    Let me try to go ahead after analyzing (without getting paralyzed) 🙂 Prayers for you and your dear ones…

    • Thank you Bindu, I really enjoy connecting with you here and on your blog as well. We really appreciate your prayers! We believe all the prayers and support of others keep us encouraged to take one day at a time in faith and not worry too much about all the uncertainties of the future. I send along my own prayers of thanks for you and your family; I hope you have a week full of blessings!

  4. Carlyle

    Your mother and I really enjoyed reading about the history of your blog. From following it every day and reading the comments of the various readers I would say you have a very successful “distraction” going. Keep it up!

    • Thanks Daddy, I am so happy that you and Mama read the blog each day. As long as you keep reading, I will keep writing! 🙂

  5. Carolyn

    I enjoy reading your blog and just keeping up with you and the family. I have you all in my thoughts and prayers. How are things going with Jeff? I am feeling good and praying for markers to be down. Keep up the good work on your blog and give my love to Jeff and Matt. Carolyn

    • Carolyn, thank so much for visiting us here! I am so happy you like the blog. We will keep praying that you AND Jeff will continue to heal and have many more years with us. Jeff is feeling pretty good. He and Matt send their love– along with mine– to you and Terry.

  6. Sheila

    Julia, after reading your blog this morning I went back to November and read some of your “foundation” blogs. You have shared so much of yourself, your loved ones, and your life here. Your words and photographs have become an important part of my day. You are truly an inspiration and I thank you so much. Always with a prayer, Sheila

    • Thanks Sheila! Hearing from you has become an important part of my day, too – isn’t it neat how that works? This blog was a big step for me; I’ve always been a fairly private person, and in the beginning my intention was to stay as anonymous online as possible. But on balance I guess I am more gregarious than solitary, and I find it hard to stay impersonal in my writing. I’m happy that people are willing to read it 🙂 and I appreciate your kind comments, thoughts and prayers.

  7. A resounding “Praise the Lord!” You and your words/pictures are an inspiration.

    • Thank you Barb! I really appreciate your visits here. You helped me learn about blogging so it’s a special treat to read your nice comments.

  8. amen. as i have expressed my gratitude before, especially since i’m an early riser, Thank You, dear Julia, for saying, YES! > with honesty & hope. Tis my Joy to share you daily journey and Pray for you & yours [those share a need also] usually is the same prayers i will recall through the day. Blessings abound on Palm Sunday :+)

    • Thank you Kate. We really need and appreciate your prayers, and I pray that you and your family will be blessed also. Wishing you many happy moments this week.

  9. Kathy

    You are a great encouragement to me, Julia. If you can write 135 posts, I will certainly be able to contemplate each and every one, saving some for a rainy day. I keep a list and check them off, as I read and comment, so I won’t miss any. I don’t want to part with them, just like you and your Chronicles!

    • Thanks Kathy, I am happy to have you visit here and I’m so glad you like the blog. Maybe eventually I’ll get through all my old SF Chronicles and find something interesting to post here as a “time capsule.” But at least digital stuff doesn’t take up nearly as much space!

  10. “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
    ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
    I am glad you and I are kindred spirits and I wish I had half your drive and energy to see something through to the end. I have alot of half finished projects. Hardly any 1/2 read books though so I guess that’s good. Love ya.

    • Yes, I definitely have you beat in the “half read books” category! But I think you have at least as much drive as I do. Your house is always a lot better kept than mine, I know that :-). In any case, YES I am so thankful we are kindred spirits and in 1990 when we first met I could never have known in how many ways I would depend on you in the years to come! Thanks for being here my friend.

  11. merry

    Thanks for sharing in your blog. I’m always encouraged when reading. Hope you had a wonderful Palm Sunday.

    • It makes me very happy to read that you are encouraged by what I write here, thank you for telling me! Yesterday was indeed a very nice day. After church it started raining, then snowing! and by the end of the day it was white and beautiful outside. We had a cozy day indoors together all day, a rare gift.

  12. Julia, I am so very grateful that you decided to carry out your idea of doing this blog. It has encouraged so many, including me. Your quotes, scriptures and beautiful photos are so inspiring. You are a talented writer as well as photographer, and I look forward to each and every entry.
    Give my love to Jeff and Matt. Our prayers continue for all of you.

    • Thanks so much, Nelda. It’s a great joy to be in touch with you and to know you are enjoying this blog. Your family was a shining example to Jeff and me during our years as young parents. We are still in touch with so many of the people we knew during that magical time on the central coast of CA, and we often talk with them about what a blessed time those years were in all our lives. You and Bill were very influential in the wonderful fellowship we enjoyed. Thanks for the prayers! They are helping us to survive.

  13. Julia, I’m so glad you came to WordPress and have now become an important part of my day. I look forward to your photo’s and quotes but most of all, your insights about life. I’m happy to be part of your ‘therapy or diversion’, I only wish I could do more. Hugs xK Congratulations on 135 posts, keep ’em coming. ❤

    • Thanks so much, you have helped a lot already. Your blog is my happy place :-). I appreciate your visits here!

  14. again, another amazing and beautiful post. i am so proud of you and honored to call you my friend. i hope that one day i can give you a strong hug in person!

    • Lisa, I too hope we will meet in person one day. Meanwhile I also take joy in reading your posts, I always learn more about a part of the world with which I’m not too familiar. Thanks so much for your kind words – sending cyber hugs!


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