Because we are so loved

A beautiful afternoon with Dr. Santos and Ellen Rodriguez, Fayetteville, Georgia July 2013

A beautiful afternoon with Dr. Santos Rodriguez and Ellen Rodriguez
Fayetteville, Georgia July 2013

“I believe, with every fiber of my being, that when we are struck down by adversity, God weeps with us and, then, because we are so loved, heals us in ways we can never expect or even imagine.”Sarah Ban Breathnach

I’ve shared here in previous posts that the past eleven months, although fraught with devastating events, have also been filled with unexpected graces.  Among these are the many reunions, mostly by mail or online but also occasionally in person, with people who are praying for us and supporting us with good wishes and expressions of love.

Each letter, gift or visit comes with its own unique blessing.  To those of my readers who have sent me things in the mail: you will never know how much I treasure these tangible symbols of kindness from people I’ve never met face to face.  To the many friends we heard from for the first time in years: it has been such a joy to be back in touch!  Meeting with Cindy and Henry, my friends from the Upper Room fellowship online, whom I’d never met in person, was another wonderful experience.

As I write this, I am thinking especially of how the past ten days have brought to mind the words “my cup runneth over,” and I’m not thinking only of our precious grandson.  Months ago, when Jeff was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer after receiving the first diagnosis of apparently unrelated cancer in the appendix, I got a very special surprise in the mail.

It was a letter from my all-time favorite teacher, whom I had not seen since I was in her fourth grade classroom 1965-66.  She and her husband frequently visit my mother’s health food store and chat with my younger brother who works there, who also was in her class several years after I was.  Through him, she learned of our circumstances and sent me a lovely letter.  It would not be an overstatement to say I was thrilled to hear from her.

A few weeks later she sent me a beautiful devotional book, and I phoned my mother and said “please tell Ms. Rodriguez that the next time I come to Atlanta, we MUST have lunch together!’  That dream came true the day after I held my grandson for the first time, as my parents and I enjoyed lunch with this remarkable couple.  She looks amazingly like she did almost 50 years ago! And her husband (a physician who is 94 years young) was absolutely charming.  I told my mother she should pay them to hang around her health food store; they are the best advertisement for nutrition that I have ever seen!

Those of you who are also Facebook friends (anyone is welcome 🙂 ) may have seen this photo before, which I shared with a couple of my classmates who are on Facebook and were equally happy to see the photo of our beloved teacher.  Sharing memories of our childhood years was another blessing.  As with most of God’s gifts, this one just keeps on giving.

During the very dark days of Jeff’s devastatingly poor prognosis, before we knew he would have such a good response to treatment and again when the healing after the liver resection seemed an almost impossible goal, it was hard to focus on or imagine all the ways God could bless us through the many crises we had endured since September.  Many days, all we could do was put one foot in front of another and get through that day.

Yet we continue to be upheld and sustained by the myriad ways God is taking care of us, mostly through people such as you.  Thank you for being part of a healing that we could never have expected or even imagined.  Should you find yourself in a dark and lonely place, HANG ON and have faith in the goodness that surely awaits you in the future.


  1. Bobby Harris

    God is good. I am thankful He is using you to show His love. You all are continually in my prayers.

    • Thank you Bobby. We are always happy to hear from you. Let us know the next time you are headed our way!

  2. Harbin77

    Great Picture. Jim

    • Thank you, Jim! I appreciate your visits here!

  3. Carlyle

    Wonderful picture and your remarks on the blog were thoughtful and inspiring.

    • Thank you Daddy. I am so happy you and Mama shared that wonderful lunch with us. I only wish you and Mama hadn’t refused to get into the photo! But I will always remember you there even without you being in the picture. 🙂

  4. What a wonderful post! Isn’t it a joy to see how much God loves us! Over the past few days I have been led to read the book, ‘The Shack.’ I knew it was going to be a blessing from God because he keeps speaking to me until I get it…He knows eventually I will listen. Julia – your blog is truly something to behold with all of it’s illuminating words, pictures, and the grace-filled walk we are taking with you and your family, as we see God’s care through your eyes. I love it!

    • Thank you Renee! I have that book and Jeff has already read it, but it’s on my very long “to read” list. I think I remember Bobby Harris telling me a bit about it years ago. It was great to see you today even though briefly – and I hope to see you again next Sunday! Thanks for being here!

  5. Carolyn

    God is Good and I loved your blog today. We all have so much to be thankful for and to have been in contact with dear friends again. What is next for Jeff and how is he feeling these days? I’m doing okay, just waiting for my next eye appointment, Sept.5th. I hope that the Graves will stop and maybe then my eye can be put back in place and I can say good bye to the prism. Oh well, I will take it one day at a time , like last year, and every thing will work out, I have faith. Love to all.

    • Carolyn, you are an inspiration to me just as Jeff is. I am sorry you are having so many challenges to deal with but you are a great example of keeping a good spirit through it all. Jeff is working full time; going in at 6:30 a.m. for chemo and radiation, and then a full day after that. His stamina is incredible and we thank God that he is doing well so far with the treatments, but is starting to lose his appetite somewhat. I will pray that your eyes get better and your follow up CEAs stay nice and low! I am dreaming of our celebration dinner together for you and Jeff in 2017 for the 5-year mark! Love to you and Terry.

  6. Carolyn

    Just watched Grady’s video, he is so cute.

    • Thanks, I thought it was precious too. Wish I could see him in person.

  7. MaryAnn

    Julia, it fills my heart to hear of your sustained joy in the midst of the trials! You are a shining light of God’s Love! You are loved by many & lavish love abundantly.
    I am blessed to be among them. MaryAnn

    • Thank you Mary Ann! You have been a steadfast encouragement to me for over 14 years now! Fair warning – one of these days your face may just show up on this blog!!! 🙂 I have a post in mind already, but it has a Christmas theme so I will save it for later in the year. Thanks so much for being here!

  8. merry

    A lovely picture of you and your friends. I would like to share with you a sign in my doctor’s office: Attitude is Everything
    There is two ways to live your life…
    One is as though nothing is a miracle.
    The other is as though Everything is a Miracle.

    I believe you have chosen to live as though everything is a miracle. And it is…
    Praying for you and Jeff, Matt and Grady& family. blessings..

    • Thank you Merry! I can remember, when I was a young girl, reading Walt Whitman’s poem about miracles and really identifying with his wonder at the world. Thanks so much for your prayers and friendship, I really appreciate your visits here!

  9. Jenelle

    Julia, you’re love for God’s grace and thankful heat was so evident in this post. This story, your story, Jeff’s story will all be used for the Lord’s glory. What a testimony to faith! I’m happy to read that your cup “runneth over” lately. It reminded me of a time early in 2013 that I couldn’t fathom how much I was being blessed with love and mended relationships. I wrote about it on a friends blog and here is the picture I used, May you have many more overflowing days to come!

    • Jenelle, I appreciate your kind words and encouragement! Do you have a link to what you wrote? I saw the picture but would love to read your story! Thanks for joining us in prayer for more blessings to come. I really appreciate your visits here.

  10. Sheila

    Thank you, Julia. God is love! I’ve read this several times today…. so beautiful. Love, Sheila

    • Sheila, “God is Love,” one of the first verses we learn as children, but understand more and more with every year that passes…thanks for bringing this verse to mind!

  11. My gosh, you all look wonderful and I can’t believe Dr. Santos Rodriguez is 94 ! I sometimes wonder if teachers realize what an impression they leave on us. Years later, I can still think of my favourites and smile. How nice to re-unite and lunch together.

    • He really is remarkable, but she is as amazing as he is. Teachers really do have a pervasive and lasting influence on their students. When I was in her class, I even named the tiny little dolls who lived in my dollhouse after her and her sons! All these years later I have never forgotten how lucky her students felt to be in her class. She is still the same graceful and lovely lady.

  12. Julia. What a lovely uplifting post. I knew you were going through hard times and that Jeff was seriously ill, but came to your blog too late to realise just how bad its been. Your fortitude is an inspiration. And I love the photo. You and your old teacher look so happy in it.

    • Thanks Jules, she is a wonderful person and it was such a joy to be with her again. That whole week was full of blessings that really lifted my spirits.


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