What we give

They're going to get your goat...literally! I photographed this goat in Germany, August 2005.

They’re going to get your goat…literally!
I photographed this goat in Germany, August 2005

“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.”Ben Carson

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”Anne Frank

WOW, thanks to everyone who participated in the second anniversary blog celebration on Monday.  I will go into all the details below, but the short version is that $2600 in donations are being processed as I write this. YIPPEE!

Before this post gets really silly, I want to start by sharing an article from the NYTimes that was sent to me on Monday by Susan V., a fabulous lady who lives in our neighborhood in Alexandria. (Lucky us!)  Those who chose to request a goat donation will be interested to read this story of how a goat donated to her family literally changed a young woman’s life.

If you were keeping track on Monday, you already knew that we received donation requests for seven goats, three doctor visits, two water filters, one mosquito net, six donations to USO, seven to the ARC of Greater Williamsburg, six to Healing Hands International’s clean water projects (and two to their food sustainability programs) and two to Cerebral Palsy of Virginia, and a partridge in a pear tree plus several anonymous and unspecified donations to various organizations listed.  All that added up to twelve hundred dollars.

Because our donor likes nice round numbers, (s)he decided to round all these totals upward to sort of even things out, which meant DOUBLING that twelve hundred to $2400!  As if that was not enough, yesterday I got a $200 check in the mail from yet another anonymous donor, made out to Cerebral Palsy of Virginia! So the grand total is now at $2600. I hope to be posting some letters from these organizations soon, but meanwhile it was a lot of fun contacting them (“Hello, Madrene, this is Julia…do you guys have at least eight goats available?”) and adding everything up.  And speaking of fun…

My friend Amy, about whom you’ve read here several times before (and who speaks up in the comments from time to time) is currently home recovering from hand surgery after an accident.  I asked her whether she would be willing to use her good hand to do the drawing, since Matt was such a reluctant cheater peeker helper in last year’s drawing.  Like the good sport she is, Amy agreed to do the honors.  For the results, watch this video (or you can scroll down below it to get to the names right away).  DISCLAIMER: We were not drinking anything but TEA when this video was made! We are just normally this silly.

OK, for those who did not have time for the video, the winners are: Sheila, Conrad, Cherie, Ann and Rene — and of course, Amy herself, which was definitely not planned, but was a hilarious surprise.  When she drew her own name out we had a good laugh, but I decided to make it six names instead of five, just so nobody got too suspicious.

If your name was one of those chosen, I will be emailing you to get an address where you’d like your gift card and chocolate sent, and also to find out whether you prefer milk or dark chocolate, with or without nuts.  If you prefer a $10 gift card to Cracker Barrel instead of Amazon, you can let me know that too.  Since Cracker Barrel is my favorite restaurant (they do cornbread right) I always keep a few of their gift cards on hand.

Thanks so much to everyone who helped make this 2nd Anniversary celebration a time to remember. I hope there will be lots of smiles popping up all over the world as the people you’ve reached get a touch of that great Defeat Despair spirit!

The readers of this blog have meant more to me than I’ll ever be able to say (despite my using so many words all the time 😀 ).  I don’t wish hard, sad, or scary times on anyone, but if you’ve ever been in circumstances such as some of us find ourselves facing, you know how much it means to have the warm wishes, prayers and support of other people.  As always, THANKS FOR BEING HERE! ❤ ❤ ❤



  1. Raynard

    Julia for a minute , I was looking for ” the opening credits rolling ( like the Star Wars movies) followed by The Ones they do in The Disney/Pixcar movies with that Lamp bouncing around or maybe” all those birds on a line then that Big Bird weights them down” lol. Had to work the” Time to make the doughnuts shift yesterday ( 4AM Till Noon). Just to let you know a few people on the Upper Room mentioned you to the prayer list and some” seasoned commenters came back recently. Be blessed..

    • Raynard, did you ever see the movie Spaceballs? They had a brilliant parody of those rolling credits at the beginning of Star Wars, plus this ginormous spaceship that keeps going on and on and on. It was hilarious. I think if I worked that shift I would be tempted to just stay up and not go to bed at all until I got home at noon the next day. Thanks for letting me know about UR. One of the things I hope to do with my blogging schedule decreased is to get back over there again and catch up with everybody.

  2. This is terrific, Julia! Thank you so much for sharing all of this good news! It is amazing how such a seemingly small gift can make such a big difference. I once donated a camel through World Vision (maybe silly, but partly because I wanted to be able to say “I bought a camel,” which you hardly ever hear someone in Minnesota say) and I really wonder what happened with that! Hopefully all good – I appreciated the goat story.
    (I was glad to leave the actual purchasing of the camel to professionals, as I know nothing about camels, and would not wish to look in their mouths, as I’ve been told one should do when purchasing a horse.) That’s maybe the wildest or seemingly craziest gift I think I’ve ever given.
    What’s the craziest gift you’ve ever given (if you care to tell)?

    • Susan, I thought about this quite a lot, and I couldn’t come up with anything even remotely as unique as a camel. I must have no imagination when it comes to gifts! Now I have something to shoot for. 😀 Seriously, I think it would be great to be able to five someone a camel, which is bound to be the most useful form of transportation in some areas of the world. Thanks so much for being part of our celebration!

  3. Judy

    Watching you and Amy was such great fun! And her dog Ricker (sp?) is a sweetheart. I’m still smiling…… I absolutely loved the video!

    • Judy, his name is Wrecker, which is hilarious since it is the exact opposite of his personality – you have never seen a sweeter dog. I’m glad you liked the video. It still makes me laugh to watch it. I wish you could have been there but maybe it’s the next best thing. Thanks so much for being part of our celebration!

  4. Thank God for this defeat despair blog!!! I will thoroughly enjoy my prizes!! This is the first time I have won anything. I am so glad the charities will be receiving $2600. Julia, you are so special to share your love with so many. I keep you and yours in my prayers. Love and Light. Cherie

    • Cherie I was very happy when Amy drew your name. I will be sending your package to you today; hope it gets there quickly! Thanks for being part of our celebration! Prayers continue for you and Ron.

  5. Carolyn

    Hello friend, sorry I haven’t sent a note before now. I have always loved reading your blogs and hearing from you. I am still having some vision problems so typing has been hard. Most of ny double vision has gone away but now have it in my reading area. Doctor still working with me, but she wants my eyes to heal. I saw her today and will again in one month. I will be getting some cheap reading glasses and they are going to put in a prism to help until I am healed. At least my vision is clear every where but when I look down. How is Jeff doing and has he seen other doctors yet? You all are in my prayers . We had snow this morning and that is to early. Take care ,hugs to all.

    • WOW, snow already?! They are saying we might get a bit of it here in a few days, but you are farther south than we are. I agree it’s too early! But I don’t want to complain. We had such a nice mild summer so that’s enough to be thankful for. I brought some of my plants indoors this week. Thanks for being here even with your eye trouble. I hope it clears up soon. Jeff did see the lung tumor specialist at Sloan-Kettering, and according to him, there are no magic bullets or cures for what Jeff has; the good news is that it appears to be relatively slowed down at this point. Jeff is still mulling over whether he wants to participate in the NIH study with the T-cells; the doc at Sloan-Kettering warned him that it was a “very tough” treatment (I know it involves at least a week in the hospital, which in itself is pretty hard) so I could go either way as far as my own preference; that decision will be all Jeff’s, and I support him whatever he decides. Meantime we are grateful for each day. Jeff is feeling pretty good although he does have another minor surgery coming up – still dealing with the fallout from his chemo which led to an internal abscess at the previous surgical site, which needs to be repaired. He’s amazing, though. Staying strong, working and staying mostly cheerful. Thanks for caring and keep those prayers coming! You will be in ours, too. Love to you and Terry.

  6. Sheila

    Thank you so much, Julia, and of course to the wonderful person behind the scene! “Thank you” to the wonderful friends that have shared comments, laughs, and tears. Two years have gone by rather quickly. Some days have been better than others (for all of us) but especially for Julia, Jeff, and Matt. We’ve said “Good bye” to Pasha (and others), “Hi and welcome” to Grady and more recently had our friend, Larry, depart from us here. I will carry the love of all with me and ya’ll surely have mine! ☺️

    • Sheila, “Thank you” doesn’t begin to cover it where you are concerned. Yes, it is surprising how quickly the two years have gone. As you mention, we have all survived a lot, and been blessed in so many ways too. I am so happy we connected here! Even if you had been the only person reading the blog all this time, it would have been worth it just for knowing you. Looking forward to many more happy chats at “Club Verandah!”

  7. Amy

    I was honored and had so much fun being a part of your anniversary. Thanks for always helping me to defeat despair. I love you.

    • Amy, I love watching this video and remembering all the laughs we have shared for so many years. Thanks for being there with the shared tears as well. I love you too! ❤

  8. Ann

    Julia, loved the video of you and Amy! Good friends are a thing to treasure.

    Thanks for allowing us to participate in the gift giving. Special thanks to the donor. Ann

    • Thank you Ann! I am so happy you were able to participate! Be watching for your prize to come in the mail very soon. 😀

  9. That was so much fun. Congratulations on the fundraising. What a great response.

    I loved the video and can’t stop laughing at the two of you having fun. Well done, Julia. Big, big hugs.

    • Thank you, Alys! I wish you could have been there, but maybe the video is the next best thing. Amy is so much fun.

      • She looks like fun and the two of you look like double the fun with a cherry on top when you’re together. That’s a true friendship.

        • Thank you Alys, that is so nice to hear. Aren’t friends wonderful? ❤ ❤ ❤

  10. Megan

    Loved the video!! Amy’s awesome-ness radiates and love seeing the evident special friendship you share!

    • Thanks, Megan! I just love being with Amy. We manage to laugh through our tears even when things are not going well. She does radiate!

  11. MaryAnn

    I love you & all your words!

    • Thank you, Mary Ann! ❤

  12. Julia, Congratulations on a successful anniversary party. My only regret, I failed to specify a goat in my selection of CRF. My excuse… I was still in my early days of recovery from hip surgery. 🙂
    Praying with you for you and your family.

    • Not to worry, Merry…our donor threw in an extra goat to cover just such a possibility. (EDITOR’S NOTE: THE PHRASE “THREW IN’ IS FIGURATIVE. NO GOATS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS PARTY.) I hope you are recovering well and I do appreciate that you made the time to be with us. Thanks so much for your prayers! I will pray that you continue to heal and feel much better.

  13. HarryS

    “As always, THANKS FOR BEING HERE! 🙂 🙂 🙂 ”

    🙂 And thank you for being here. 🙂

    • Aw, you’re welcome, Harry. 😀

  14. Rene

    Yay!!!!! I admit that it took me a few minutes to understand what exactly happened during the drawing (thought maybe you were playing tricks on Amy—I have a sister named Amy btw, and she inspires a lot of giggling in her older sisters). I am VERY happy that Amy selected her own name, resulting as it did, in MY name being picked. Amazon will be great, I see more books in Room 27’s future!!! “Chocolates from Julia,” have you ever thought of starting a mail-order chocolate business? Dark or semi-sweet, no nuts, please.

    Thank you Julia, for two wonderful, healing years!!! I’ll get that Phyllis Diller picture to you very soon.

    • Rene, I’m glad you figured out what was going on. I’m with you on the dark and semi-sweet chocolates; definitely my favorites, with our without nuts. But I’ll make sure yours comes without, as you have had enough of nuts with just one viewing of our video. 😀 I am so happy you have been with us here, and I look forward to staying in touch. Can’t wait to see Phyllis!

  15. HarryS

    If God is all-powerful and if God will do for us what we can’t do for ourselves then what is our part in it?

    A lady had come to so thoroughly despise her husband that she wanted to be rid of him and in addition she wanted him to hurt; hurt – hurt – hurt – hurt!

    So she consulted a wise lawyer and vehemently described her hatred for this fellow.

    He listened to her plea and agreed to take her case and he also advised her that if she wanted to really hurt him real bad she should set him up. She should set him up by treating him so absolutely wonderfully that when they were divorced he would probably pine himself away over the loss that grief would overcome him and not turn him loose.

    She felt that was a wonderful idea so she started treating him like a king and a little bit of time went by.
    On a scheduled return visit to the lawyer’s office he inquired how things were going and wanted to know if she was ready to go through with the divorce actions?

    She replied, “Well of course not – he is such a wonderful man that I wouldn’t be rid of him for anything!”
    The lawyer replied, “Well I can see that this case is closed”.

    Didn’t someone say; “As you give, so shall you receive”.

    • Harry, thanks for sharing that sweet story. I agree that what we give comes back to us, usually many times over, although not always in the ways we expect, or directly from the ones we give to. Which reminds me of an old story I’ve loved for many years: One afternoon an elderly nun was looking out the window of her convent room, and saw a young man sitting on the curb of the street outside, looking dejected. From her meager funds she found a $20 bill and tucked it into an envelope with a note saying “Don’t Despair! from Sister Margaret.” She called to the young man and when he saw her in the window, she tossed the envelope to him. He opened and read it, and looked up at her with a big grin and a thumbs-up sign, then walked purposefully away. Sister Margaret thanked God that she had been able to help keep this person from giving up. The next day, she was called to the reception room to meet a visitor who was asking for her. To her surprise it was the young man to whom she had given the money and note! He handed her an envelope of cash, saying “He’s the $100 you have coming, Sister — Don’t Despair paid ten to one.” 😀

  16. LB

    Generous, Joyful, inspiring, Wonderful!
    Thanks for being an example of one who gives, Julia. Awesome!

    • Aw, thanks LB! ❤ I'm so glad you were able to be part of our celebration!

  17. Sheila

    Julia, certain things occur that I would share with you, so it’s no surprise that I would be HERE with a little “Mimi” story. Stephanie went on a women’s retreat for the weekend and I stayed with our 15 year old granddaughter while Bill and Jack went to Willow Tree. ☺️ You know they’re all grown up when you’re “babysitting” but the “baby” has gone to the movies on Saturday night. Home alone! I hope the Denton family is doing well. Back in Garden City, Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, too bad I could not have been there while you were “Home Alone” – we could have had tea, chocolate and giggles just like Amy and I had on the afternoon/evening we made that silly video. WOW, hard to imagine a 15-year old grandchild, but I hope Jeff and I BOTH live to see that happy day! Thanks for telling me your Mimi story. They are my favorite kind lately. 😀 BTW I still plan to update Grady’s page, just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Hope you have a great week!

  18. Sheila

    Julia, I have enjoyed watching that video so much. Bill made a joke about how many “Sheila” slips of paper were in that jar. What a rascal! 😂 Thinking of you often and fondly!

    • Hee-hee, I wondered if anyone would ask that obvious question. Too bad I didn’t think of it in time, but no, there was only one “Sheila” name in there – Amy is just skilled at drawing names, obviously. 😀 I think of you often and fondly, too!


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