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Even when it's very, very dark, there's a light shining somewhere. Dam Neck, Virginia, September 2013

Even when it’s very, very dark, there’s a light shining somewhere.
Here’s the full moon, shining on Dam Neck, Virginia, September 2013

“If you want to get your message across, shut up.”Mardy Grothe

I don’t take this advice nearly as often as I ought to, but today, I get it.  I schedule these posts about two weeks in advance, so I have no idea how I’ll be feeling when this post is published.  But right now, as I am writing it, I am just treading water.  Maybe my wonderful and funny and highly intelligent readers can help write this post for me.  Got any sunny, happy or at least wise thoughts to share?  Today, I am attempting to Defeat Despair by keeping my mouth shut!

Wish me luck.


  1. HarryS

    Back in the days of the sailing ships they often find themselves in an area of swirling winds near the equator which their sales could not catch and propel them onward.
    They simply had to wait for a shift in the wind and a positive flow.
    These were called “the doldrums”.
    I get caught up in these spiritual spaces sometimes. 😦

    I gave myself to Him —
    And took Himself, for Pay,
    The solemn contract of a Life
    Was ratified, this way
    — Emily Dickinson – I gave myself to Him

    People seem to think that this poem refers to marriage and I can see that but for me I think it refers to the mystical union with holiness. 🙂

    • Wow, thanks Harry! I had never seen that poem by Dickinson and I agree, to me it’s obviously NOT primarily about marriage, though an analogy could be made. After all, Dickinson was never married. I appreciate your words today, and thank you for giving me a lovely verse of which I was totally unaware!

  2. Children learn the nursery rhyme:
    I see the moon;
    The moon see’s me;
    God bless the moon, and God bless me!

    • Eric, I am just now moderating the comments, and you may not believe this, but you and another reader had the same response! Though her comment will appear below yours, neither of you knew of the other one’s answer. Read on to see who it was!

  3. Lani (Morgan) Beagle

    Sometimes we just hang on. Nothing bright and cheery to say except……..God is still there; He has not left. Hang on. We typically have the hardest time waiting. “Wait on the Lord”, “Trust in the Lord”……….”Those that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” Isa 40:31. Anyway, I am also ‘with’ you right now and will pray for you. Hugs for you and yours, Julia.

    • Lani, thank you so much. It means a lot. It just occurred to me that, other than my biological relatives, I think you have known me longer than anyone else who reads this blog. What a joy it is to hear from you and be in touch with you after half a century of knowing you! Your words will be a comfort to me.

  4. Ann

    Oh Julia, you can make it through these hard times. Go for a walk or sit on a bench outside, soak in the beauty and stillness.

    • Ann, you will be happy to know that I did exactly that this morning. I woke up much earlier than usual, and chose to take a walk just after daybreak, while it was still cool. I saw that many of my neighbors had the same idea. It was lovely. Thanks for your words of encouragement!

  5. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. As you know I often say ” Make it happen!”. Last week (for whatever reason) it just wasn’t HAPPENING. Healthcare is a tough place to be right now, personally and professionally. After our staff meeting on Thursday, we seemed to exchange our “doom and gloom” for ” Together we can do this!” and we ended our week on a happy note. Stephanie, Bill, and I were having lunch in our break room on Friday, when Stephanie said it best: THERE’S A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL AND IT’S NOT A TRAIN! 🙂 Prayers for the coming week, Sheila

    • Sheila, my heart goes out to everyone involved in health care right now, whether as a provider or a patient. The troubles in the system have been brewing for decades, and no matter how it all ultimately ends up, it’s going to be so painful for so many. Thank you and Bill and all your staff for maintaining such a positive and determined attitude! Not only does it benefit your patients and the country as a whole, but it’s a great example to me. YES we can make it happen! That will be my mantra for the week (now I just need to find out what the “it” is :-)) I will remind myself that the light is not a train! Love and many thanks for your steadfast presence here.

      • Sheila

        Your supportive words are very reassuring. Thank you my friend! I’ve enjoyed reading the nice comments tonight.

        • Thank you Sheila. This blog would definitely not be the same without you. 🙂

  6. I wish you more than luck, I pray with you and the community here for the sure and certain knowledge that the God of our understanding will provide for you, your family, and for all of us. You are such a link to the light for me personally, may God’s mercy minister to you personally also.

    • Cheryl, I appreciate so much your words of encouragement. Any time I hear from someone that they have benefited from anything I have posted here, it really brings me joy. Thanks for bringing me joy today with your presence and your comment!

  7. “I see the moon, and the moon sees me. God bless the moon, and God bless me!!” Gorgeous photo. Keeping you in thought and prayer. Love you. A

    • Amy, as noted above, you and Eric had the exact same response. I guess great minds think alike! I’m having “virtual tea” with you today! And with many others of you tea-drinkers out there. Or coffee. Love you back!

  8. One of the most difficult traits to develop and use properly is knowing when to be quiet. When I’ve perfected it, I’ll let you know. In the mean time, here is a post I posted a few weeks ago with a photo of the same full moon – which caused me to pause in awe (a “shut up” sort of moment).

    • Barb, this is amazing! You answered my plea back on August 26, before I even asked it! And I had no idea about what you had said, since I had not even seen this post. One of my pity parties lately has been about not being able to stay in as close touch with my friends, family and fellow bloggers as I would like. People are saying to me, “I did not get your latest update on Jeff,” and I have to tell them, “I haven’t done a latest update lately!” Perhaps for me, silence will be forced by exhaustion :-). Anyway, I found tremendous encouragement in the words of your post – thank you!

      • P.S. as you know, I would likely not even be blogging at all except for your example and encouragement…

      • Means so much coming from you, Precious Lady! Love, kisses, and prayers!

  9. Terri Wallacker

    Julia, your few words made a big impact on me today. I need this advice on this very day and I’m trying so hard to follow it. You, as always, hit the mark. Hope things are going well for you and your guys. Julia, I so wish I had known you better when you attended the Fairfield congregation! I missed out! Blessings,Terri Wallacker

    • Thanks Terri, for being here, and for your kind words. I am always happy to hear that what I write might resonate with someone else. Perhaps at some point in this life we will have more time to get to know each other in person, but if not, maybe that’s part of what we will enjoy in heaven! My friend Jeanie used to say that her hope for heaven was that she would be able to love and enjoy all the people she loved, and really everyone else, without limitations imposed by time, energy and other considerations of being human. I hope you have a wonderful week!

  10. I thought I would share my hope with you today, sweet Julia. He is big enough!

    • Starr, thank you for sharing this beautiful reminder! I tried to leave a comment at the post, but it wouldn’t verify my WordPress credentials (or Open ID either) – not sure what I was doing wrong. I DID finally figure out how to follow your blog in my WordPress reader :-). Thanks so much for being here – you understand my life in ways that few other people can!

      • You are so welcome. It is an awesome thing to be a part of the body of Christ and to feel a connection with those we meet briefly along life’s path. I pray that God will lift you up above your circumstances and continue to enable you to be such a beautiful bearer of Light!

        PS…not sure what the problem was with the connection. This technology continues to be a mystery at times. Thank you though.

        • Thank you Starr. I also went in and subscribed to your other blog; I didn’t realize there were two different ones. You are a prolific woman!

  11. Jenelle

    Julia, this post comes at the perfect time! This week I was sick and kind of forced to “shut up”. It was such a fantastical learning experience for me (and those around me) that I decided I need to be still and enjoy quiet more often. It’s hard to find that quiet time with small children, which is why I’m walking more. Alone. With NO scooters or bikes. Barb’s comment reminded me of Ecclesiastes 3:7 …”A time to keep silent and a time to speak.” Bring on the stillness! I’m glad you took a morning walk. That sounds magical.

    • Thank you Jenelle. So much of what we do as women requires communication. It took me quite awhile to realize that I don’t always like to talk, but those who like it even less than I do tend to rely on me to do more of it than I might like (if that makes sense??) And YES, it is almost impossible with small children; they learn to talk, in large part, based on being immersed in our speech to them. But I have no such excuse. I need to learn that if a few words go unheeded, it’s highly unlikely that more words will reverse the pattern. I appreciate your presence here and your comments; both are a source of encouragement to me!

  12. Barb of Crown Point

    Not my words but this was in a devotion I read today from Dr Stanley that makes me think of being in that desert or between time:
    “Whether we are sinking in a sea of pain or anxiously seeking a taste of God’s living water, the Lord hears our cries. And He says again, “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him” (Ps. 91:15).”

    • What a beautiful promise. Thanks for reminding me (and all who read these comments) that we are not alone, even when we may think we are. Thanks for being here today, and for your encouraging words!

  13. Kathy

    Julia, When I read your blog today this meditation popped into my mind… has been helpful to me over the years…

    ” A traveler was visiting a logging area in the Pacific Northwest and was interested in seeing how the logs that would be used for furniture were chosen. As the logs came down the stream, the logger would suddenly reach out and hook one, pull it up, and then set it down. He would sometimes wait for a few minutes before grabbing another. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to his choices.

    After a while, the visitor said to him, “I don’t understand what you’re doing.”

    “These logs may all look alike to you,” the logger said, “But I can recognize that a few of them are quite different. The ones that I let pass came from trees that grew in a valley. They were always protected from the storms. The grain is rather coarse.

    “The logs that I pulled aside are from high up on the mountain, where they were beaten by strong winds from the time they were quite small. That toughens the trees and gives them a fine grain. We save these logs for choice work. They’re too good to be used for ordinary lumber.”

    It was through the trying and testing that the logs were prepared for choice work.

    The same could be said of us as Christians. If you were to ask Moses how he became who he was, he would remind you of his trials with Pharaoh and his times of testing in the wilderness. If you were to ask Joseph, he would most likely refer back to his years as a slave, his imprisonment on a false accusation, and his imprisonment in Pharaoh’s dungeon. Talk to Peter, and he would probably point back to his denial and how he learned many difficult yet important lessons.

    Maybe you find yourself facing something similar in your life today. Maybe God is preparing you for a choice work.

    Many people are praying for you and your family, Julia!


    • Kathy, thanks so much for taking the time to share this wonderful meditation with us. I have thought so often about Joseph and all that he went through in prison, and how he was betrayed by his own family, lied about for his refusal to do evil, and forgotten by those whom he had helped to get out of prison. How alone he must have felt! At times when I have felt disrespected or ill-treated (especially when such treatment was related to my advocacy for Matt), I repeat to myself Joseph’s inspiring words in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Not that anything I go through or accomplish can compare to Joseph’s story, but it is inspiring when I deal with the relatively smaller burdens in my little corner of the world. I really appreciate your sharing this; it will stay with me, as I’m sure it will with many who read it. Thanks especially for the prayers, which mean so much and which are helping us get through each day.

  14. Nancy

    This one is from James, Julia…he was up this morning, early as usual, and I heard him reciting Henley’s “Invictis”. Seems the boys (he’s at an all boys school now) had memorized it in their P.E./Health class and repeat it together at each class time. He’d not mentioned it to me before. The words “my unconquerable soul” and “menace of the years finds, and shall find me, unafraid” leads to the final portion of the poem “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.” I’ve found myself reading it again and again today. Maybe it will bring some solace to your soul too…

    Love and blessings from all of us…Nancy & Boys

    • How sweet, Nancy! Hard to imagine how grown up James is already. It did put a smile on my face and a comfort to my heart to think of him reciting this poem. Thanks for being here, love to you and your boys…or perhaps I should say “young men.” 🙂

  15. Dear Julia, I’m rather late to comment in this long list of great advice.

    One is a cliche: that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and the other from the Dalai Lama “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” I’ve had dark days, some of the darkest when we were still trying to diagnose my young son. I just kept moving forward, looking for ideas, advice, resources to help him through. I remember standing in a closet at an IEP sobbing out of anger, fear, frustration and sadness. We’ve come a long way since then. Sometimes you have to ‘get it out’.

    Fresh air, exercise, gardening, volunteering, writing even napping or other self care can help. Watching a comedy that makes you laugh out loud is also good for the soul.

    My heart goes out to you.

    • Alys, thanks so much for this helpful message. Your remark about the IEP tells me that you have indeed been where I’ve been many times. On October 18 I have a blog post scheduled that refers (briefly) to my experiences at countless IEP meetings over the 20 years Matt was in public schools. Suffice it to say that IMO the Spanish Inquisition had nothing on the IEP meeting as a form of torment. And YES, we have all come a long way since then! All of the remedies you list have been sanity savers for me. In fact, Matt and I “slept in” this morning, which is one of my favorite coping strategies! (Tea or coffee, anyone?) I do need to get out a funny video and do some serious laughing – it’s been far too long since we’ve done that; thanks for the reminder. Last night we were stuck in traffic and I pulled out my handy little October Reader’s Digest and read aloud a hilarious article about funny reviews posted on the internet. I laughed so hard I couldn’t get the words out. I love it when that happens. I appreciate your visits here, and your understanding!!

  16. A lot can be said without saying a word, just a look will do fine. No words can convey the look on a parents face when they see their child for the first time, or in my case, when I first brought Buddy home 😀 You don’t have to say anything for a spouse to know you’re not on board with their last idea when an eye roll will do. I don’t need to say a word when I’m unhappy with someone (although I probably will) they’ll see it on my face. Life has few secrets for those of us who wear our hearts on our sleeves, bit of an open book I fear. I can sense a difficult day without getting your whole story and I’m concerned for you Julia. You’ve put so many smiles on my face. I hope I can return the favour. Big Hugs xoK

    • Hi K, the nice thing about this blog is that the posts are usually two weeks old by the time you read them, so often my day will have gotten better by then. Having said that, I am definitely slogging through a hard time and like you, I too wear my heart on my sleeve. After 57 years of it, I’m convinced that no matter the disadvantages of having no secrets, it’s far more insidious to have lots of them inside, eating away at one’s body and soul. You always put a smile on my face! I went to your blog last night for a bit of California sunshine and along with that, I got the adorable pics of Blossum and Petals – triple grins! I am hanging in there, still able to relish the blessings, and sometimes (often) that is enough. Thanks for being here and for caring!


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