Remembering: If you can…

This is our older son, Drew, at Bodega Bay, CA, around 2002.

Lines from one of my favorite poems, If   by Rudyard Kipling:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools…

Update on 11-11-13:
I see that I still wasn’t adding any comments to speak of.  I suppose Kipling’s words speak for themselves!  But I also remember that I was petrified of publishing anything online for the world to see. To see the original post with comments, look here.  I see more familiar gravatars on this one!  Does anyone identify with some of the situations Kipling describes here?  I know I do!  But the older I get, the more I know what he meant when he called “Triumph” and “Disaster” both imposters.  It’s just that they never seem so at the time…


  1. Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build β€˜em up with worn-out tools…

    I identify with the above. With God on our side, we can start again! Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes, those are the very lines that spoke to me when I posted it. I find that different lines from that poem have spoken directly to me at different times in my life, and the ones you mention have never been more relevant to me than in the past several years with various family crises. Thank you for sharing your own experiences with that monumental struggle, and especially for your reminder that we are NOT alone and will overcome with divine help! Thanks so much for being here!

  2. I wasn’t sure I’d seen your first post, but I know I saw and appreciated this one. I had not yet begun to post a “comment”, but enjoyed seeing Gloria’s comment here. On a different blog, I was posting opinions, in more of a “round table” discussion – one where differing opinions added to the richness of the study. As you know, it took me a long time to “catch on” regarding the genre of this community. I hope I am fitting in better this second year.

    • The great thing about this particular community is that everyone fits in, except perhaps the ones I told to go jump in the lake in this post. And even they are welcome here if they behave themselves! I am very glad you have been here with me since the beginning — not just the beginning of this blog, but from birth on!

      • ditto (as used in the script from “Ghost”, not as in “ditto-heads”.

        • πŸ™‚

  3. Raynard

    My best time to “daydream” reading the following magazines.. “Life”, Smithsonian, Nature, National Geographic.( With a splash of Family Circle, Saturday Evening post sprinkled with Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping and Better Homes& Gardens..Now for the “next assignment. Go to Youtube, look up a Jazz/Fusion group( late 70’s ) called Seawind From Hawaii( Lead Singer Pauline Wilson) 2 songs take a listen.. “Follow your Road & Imagine.. you will be “encouraged and “feeling gitty lol

    • Raynard I will definitely try to get over to YouTube and look up those songs as soon as I can…meanwhile household chores are calling and I want to get these comments read before I start pruning outside and cleaning inside. Meanwhile, My name is Julia and I am addicted to magazines such as the ones you describe – thank goodness my local public library has gotten Zinio so I can hoard them for free in digital format on my Nook HD, just in case I ever actually get around to reading them! (Which I actually do a lot of now on trips between York and Alexandria since Jeff still insists on doing the driving as often as he is able – with technology, now it’s easy to read in the dark!) Thanks for the links and for being here!

  4. I remember daily what FEAR really means, False Evidence Appearing Real. You share your life, not just what people see, but what people don’t see. That’s real courage. God is preparing us, and I’m thankful that we see it for what it is!

    • Thanks so much Renee, I enjoyed the lovely gift bag so much. I am so glad you included the program – I was torn between joy at what an amazing day it must have been, and being SO sorry I missed it! I had no idea Corliss and Karen were speaking! I bet it was amazing!! Did anyone tape it? I was thinking of asking Joyce for a copy of her script of the drama – sometime you must tell me all about it; who was in it, etc. I thought the spice candle was such a coincidence after I called you “spice girl” :-). I think “Deborah” is actually a better name for you! (one of my favorite stories is in Judges 4 although I identify far more with Jael! :-)) Thanks for walking beside me and keeping my determination alive!

      • Hey Julia. No one taped it but LaRhodia took pictures. I’ll have to forward them to you. I’m sure Joyce would love getting you a copy of the script as she knows you are a writer too. Wow..didn’t know the candle was ‘spice.’ What a cohinkadink (sp?). Deborah hmmm cool beans! If you are here on this Saturday I’ll be going to the Newport News ladies day, but not until late. People have said some great things about the ladies day, play, and the speakers.

        • Thanks for the update Renee! LaRhodia and I have this thing about cameras, it must have something to do with having the same birthday! I have some cute photos of her taking photos! Not sure what will be happening Saturday but thanks for the invite – hope to see you at church if nowhere else! So glad the day went well!

  5. Raynard

    Julia I am so sorry about”the senior moment I had ( either that or BONK! Upside my head with a wet smelly fish). And my wife just told me to go get my free meal for Veterans day and I just ate bbq rib sandwich and shared with my 2 dogs. Oh The visit to Reading to my sister’s went well. My youngest sister called me today about a return trip for the holidays as I’m on vacation next month( do i wanna go to the outlets shopping? I rather pick ticks off a lion’s back nuff said

    • Raynard, I must have missed something – I didn’t even know what senior moment you are referring to? Your remark about outlet shopping reminded me of something that still makes me laugh. Way back in the mid 90’s our preacher in Hawaii (who was a retired Marine Corps DI) said with a totally straight face: “I’d rather take a beating than go to Costco.” I think he meant it!

  6. Sheila

    Julia, these words “the things you gave your life to,broken” are haunting in terms of healthcare today. Everyday we use the term “non covered item” and watch as our patients deal with the reality of being denied what they need, because of insurance. I’m only the messenger but it really hurts. Hope your week is happy!

    • Sheila, I’m hearing that a lot from friends in the medical field. So many are having their coverage cut back, changed or cancelled. Jeff and I are so thankful for his military career. With all the uncertainty surrounding stage IV cancer, at least we haven’t had to deal with wondering how we will pay for it, or whether it is worth mortgaging the house for the hope of buying more time. Sadly, many families go through this at a time when their hearts are already breaking. I think it would be so hard to have to be the bearer of bad news. All the more reason to have a loving person in that role!

      • Sheila

        You’re very kind! πŸ™‚

        • πŸ™‚

  7. raynard

    I started off a sentence without referring to you by name. Sorta like The Charlie Brown spelling bee (I before E except after C) and when I look at my 3 daughters all born in August and say You know your names lol I could blame it on the chemicals where I work around (Dupont but I digress as they are getting out of the chemical business to grow crops to feed the world.(is this the part where I give out some of my baking and gardening tips.I learned today how to use the Walgreen’s app to get pictures printed happy happy joy joy

    • Oh, I didn’t even know that was a no-no. In that case I apologize to everybody! Because I do it all the time. Like I just did here! πŸ™‚ BTW Happy Veteran’s Day!

  8. raynard

    When I forget names and can’t look at badges I just start talking. When I did traffic enforcement at my job I had a script and sounded like Mr Smith from the Matrix movie. I used that low voice on my wife’s aunts tenant and they told me everything I wanted to know as I stuck to The script lol

    • I don’t know about Mr. Smith but he sounds ominous. I know a street in our neighborhood where I wish you would stake out and catch speeders and people who ignore pedestrians in crosswalks!

  9. Jenelle

    What a joy to see this blog at the beginning. I’m excited! Oh, my. There is something striking about that picture. It may be me, but it seems as though the sun is hiding behind the clouds, waiting for the right moment to part them with bursting light. The sun does that sometimes. It waits and waits for just the right moment to shine upon us with its warmth, reminding us that while we can’t see it, its always there.

    • Yes, it does look like that. Bodega is so beautiful that way. Some of the best beaches in CA are the ones most tourists don’t even know about. I’ve always been amaze how even on the cloudiest day, sunlight is so much more powerful than any light bulb.

  10. Michael

    The above photo could easily be a duplicate of the walk taken close to our little place at Westport, Washington close to the Westport lighthouse, one of the tallest on the Westcoast.
    There is a one mile boardwalk between the lighthouse and Westhaven state park.
    Triumph and despair? I struggled with that. But probably just as many are destroyed by triumph as by disaster. And many are strengthened and made wiser ultimately by disaster.
    Time will tell- “they say the Phillipines nation is the home of a resilient people.”

    • Yes, I think you’re right that the risks of “triumph” often outweigh the benefits – except for those who recognize “those two imposters” for what they are. For years now my Daddy has said “nothing is ever as good or bad as you think it is.” We need to keep the prayers and donations going out for the Philippines – as so often happens, it sounds as if getting the aid to the victims is more a problem than rounding it up to send. I heard from one of the bloggers I follow there and she and her family are doing OK. The recovery period for such things can take a LONG time, though, and when all the camera crews have left, there is always the problem of people forgetting about what they are going through in the weeks and months to follow.

  11. Michael

    Well said and your dad sounds very wise.

    • Thanks Michael!

  12. It might be hard to live such a virtuous life but all good advice. Maybe we all exhibit some or all of them on a good day. In a bad situation, I rely on my husband to be the strong one while I generally am the panicked one going, “OH NO!”. I wonder if he remains calm just for me and inside he’s freaking out too? I used the link to read the poem in it’s entirety. I liked it very much. I don’t know if I’m interpreting it correctly but what I do know is ‘advice’ is easier to ‘give’ than ‘live’, but I’m sure Kipling gave it to his son with love and his whole heart.

    • Yes, what I’ve always loved about the poem is how many huge, profound concepts are stated in succinctly rhyming, perfectly metered lines. Each two-line sequence could be the topic of entire discussions or essays or maybe even books. And each will resonate more loudly at different places in one’s life. YES it’s much easier to give it than live it, which is why the poem goes “If you can…” instead of “Because I did…” πŸ™‚

      • See, that’s another thing I love about my visits too, I learn so much here. “If you can” is so much more meaningful than “Because I did”. I missed that entirely πŸ˜€ Thanks my dear.

        • That poems sets the bar pretty high, but it certainly describes a character worth striving for.

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