Where there is joy

Owen Ramon Denton, one of our latest and greatest joys. Four day old, May 2016

Owen Ramon Denton, one of our latest and greatest joys. Four days old, May 2016

“Find a place where there is joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”Joseph Campbell

What brings you joy? For most of us, there are many answers to that question, and some of us are fortunate enough to discover new joys daily. Perhaps the surest way to survive despair is to grasp these joys and hold them close no matter what else is going on.

Wherever you are today, and whatever you have planned, your day might contain any number of blessings that will bring happiness if you stop to reflect on them.  A flower, a song, an expansive sky or sheltering tree; a baby, a child, a friend, a new acquaintance with a warm smile and winsome personality; a savory snack or relaxing cup of your favorite tea or coffee; all these things, and many more, are out in the world awaiting us, countless gifts with our names lovingly inscribed on them in invisible strokes.

Today, I wish you joy to burn out the pain.

Owen Ramon, one month old, June 2016

Owen, wearing the same outfit Grady wore in his 4-month photo. June, 2016


  1. Ann

    How wonderful that Drew and Megan are continuing the tradition of photos in the baseball outfit! Owen has much darker hair than Grady had at that age ( I went to your ‘Grady’ link and enjoyed seeing them again.)
    Hope your day will bring you and Jeff many delights to burn out the pain.

    • Yes, Owen may have inherited the dark hair, eyes and skin of his namesake (Ramon was Daddy’s middle name). Grady obviously got lots of Megan’s Teutonic blood. Drew’s hair started out dark and thick but by 6 months, it had gone white-blond. I guess time will tell. Jeff and I are looking forward to meeting Owen in person soon — Drew and his family are planning a trip to see us, so we’re excited!

  2. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, Julia. ☕️ It’s a beautiful and bright morning here with sunbeams, birds chirping and the gentle breeze that you referenced. Joy always greets me on Monday and Thursday mornings through “Defeat Despair”. You were so in my thoughts yesterday, being Father’s Day. I watched the video ( you made for your Daddy) that you shared with me from June, 2014. It is so beautiful, more so every time I watch it! I hope Jeff had a good day.
    Please make some Verandah time for yourself…. I worry that you’re toooo busy! Caring, Sheila 😉💛

    • Thanks so much Sheila. I was so consumed with worry over Jeff on Sunday that I had little time to feel sad about Daddy, though I wish I had re-posted the video on FB or changed my photo as a tribute. Thank you for thinking of him. He is still very present in all our minds and hearts, as Ellie Carlyle and Owen Ramon can tell you when they get older! 😀 Oh, how I need some Verandah time! I will prioritize it soon. Meanwhile I am taking a quick Verandah break to visit with all of you here in the comments section. Need I add that I’m sipping iced tea while I do? I thought not! 😀 Thanks so much for walking with us so faithfully.

  3. Carolyn

    Owen is precious. We are here with Jennifer and kids, enjoying every minute . I look at Liam and Emma and can’t believe how old they are . I hope you will find out something that will make Jeff feel better. In our prayers always. I will write more later. Sending hugs and love.

    • Thanks Carolyn. I can remember when Liam was born. It doesn’t seem that long ago, does it? Jeff and I are surviving. He is very brave. Love and hugs to you both.

  4. That precious little face could bring nothing but joy!!! I love the quote by Joseph Campbell. The quilt under Owen is beautiful as well but not nearly as beautiful as that sweet child. Interesting how he is as big at 1 month as Grady at 4. That’s quite an expression on the first photo. He’s going to be one very aware young man. 🙂

    • Thank you Marlene, I hope he will be! Despite being a Fire Monkey, they say his temperament is quite agreeable; cries only when he needs something, and stops as soon as the problem is solved. We can’t wait to meet him.

      • Is that his Chinese birth sign?

        • Yes, the Fire Monkey only come around every 60 years. I was born in the last Fire Monkey year. There are twelve Chinese zodiac signs and five elements, and they rotate so the same combination only happens every 60 years.

          • Thanks for the info on that. Have a wonderful 4th.

            • Thanks, Marlene! Hope you have a great holiday weekend too.

  5. Cherie

    Oh JOY!!!! Another boy!!! I know you are one happy Nana! I am so happy yours and Jeff’s lives are being enriched with happiness in this trying time of health concerns.

    I pray for you all daily and think of you often. Thank you for being here for me to see your JOY!

    Love and Light. Cherie

    • Thank you Cherie, keep those prayers and warm thoughts coming. I think of you often, always with gratitude for your Love and Light! 🙂 ❤

  6. MaryAnn

    WOW! Your family creates only gorgeous babies!!! Congratulations! Someone in the family is a MASTER quilter! It is beautiful & well made! I will take your “joy” reminder to heart today! Love to “my” Dentons!

    • Thank you, Mary Ann. I think that quilt must have been made by Megan’s Mom– she is the only one in the family who fits the “master quilter” honor! I am so glad you like it. It’s a joy and a continual encouragement to stay in touch with you. Sending you much love from all of us!

  7. I love that phrase – joy to burn out the pain. Thank you for sharing that and for being a kindred spirit. xx

    • Thank you, Kathy. Sooner or later we will get together for that phone call we’ve been planning so long…loved the pic of Kevin as I remember him from so long ago!

  8. Wow! beautiful baby boy! ❤
    Congratulations, Julia.
    Things that bring me joy…
    Compliments embarrassed me. But I love seeing my children do well.

    • Merry, thank you. I agree with you about compliments, though I love getting them. I think it’s way scarier watching our kids try things than it was to try them ourselves, and as you say, it’s much more fun to see them succeed. That is definitely a huge source of joy! And speaking of “kids” doing things well, I was super proud of Megan for delivering that 10 lb. 1 oz. boy naturally, after having had a c-section with Grady. She went to an OB/GYN who was well known among Megan’s circle for knowing how to help Moms avoid a 2nd c-section. But I never would have dreamed it could be done with a baby that big! WOW, great job Megan!

  9. Congratulations! Beautiful Baby Boy! ❤
    What brings me joy… my children, only they're adults now. Have their own ideas and ways in doing things. Which is the way it should be…

    • Yes, it helps us stretch and grow for the rest of our lives, doesn’t it? 😀

  10. Amy

    Hi there, trying every way I know to reach you. You know you can call me anytime. We will have Matt. Love you. P.S. Beautiful baby.

    • Thanks Amy, somehow we survived this week. The initial shock is past and we are having that feeling of deja vu all over again. Jeff is doing OK with the chemo so far and we even got a teeny bit of good news late this afternoon — the neuro ophthalmologist told him he could start driving again. I know he was so relieved. His vision is not quite back to 100% but it is much improved and certainly safe enough for driving. Even so, he plans to ease back into it after having been out of the loop for so long. He almost got used to my driving, hee-hee…please pray for him to gain weight. Nothing he is doing so far is helping, which probably means his only hope is to beat the cancer back at least a little bit, as cancer-related cachexia doesn’t respond to normal attempts to gain weight.

  11. Congratulations, Julia.

    Beautiful Baby Boy…Owen Ramon.



    • Thank you, Merry!

  12. You are correct, Julia. There isn’t a day, no matter how challenging, that goes by without my experiencing that which brings a smile or a contented sigh.

    • Over time I think we get better at mining life for those jewels. Oddly, the more misfortune we have to endure, the better we can become at enjoying life. That’s a silver lining for many of us, I believe.

  13. Isn’t he the sweetest. Wishing you joy wherever you can find it, Julia.

    • Thank you Alys, we continue to be blessed with many sources of joy…including you! As I write this, Matt is busily assembling his Ludicrous Library puzzle – quite a challenger, but he loved it from the first few pieces and gets very focused while he is working on it. Thanks for adding joy to our days.

      • That warms my heart, Julia.

        By the way, has the rain let up at all? I can’t believe how bad it is in West Virginia and I think also D.C.

        • Alys, we’ve been in both NoVa and York in recent days, and both have had their share of rain. We do get some dry spells in between, but plenty enough rain left over that I would send you some if I could. Our rain barrels are full and I keep drawing rainwater off and storing it for the long hot summer months that will be on us before too long.

          BTW here is a photo of Matt after he finished the Ludicrous Library puzzle. I tried working a bit of it with him and it was really hard for me, but he loved it and worked at it steadily with no problems. Everything in it is so topsy-turvy but he works puzzles in sections so that actually made it easier for him. Still, it was challenging enough that he really got absorbed in it. https://defeatdespair.com/from-matt-for-alys/

  14. Good morning, Julia! Today my place of joy was near a lake at sunrise. A good sunrise can burn out a lot of pain!
    Pictures of your grand-babies are wonderful, too! These made me want to sing “You must have been a beautiful baby …” oh, wait, you still are!
    Blessings on your day! I’m praying for you often, and your many activities. Whew!

    • Thank you, Susan. With all the tumult, the school assignments have actually been a helpful “forced” distraction. Jeff proofreads my papers and assignments and it gives us both something to focus on that is not related to cancer or disabilities.

  15. He is precious! God bless the happy family. The happiest moments of life, which give meaning to life. Have you met him?

    • Thank you, Bindu! We have not met him yet, but we are hoping to see them this coming weekend. They are taking the overnight train from Atlanta to visit us for the 4th of July weekend. Grady will be like a different little boy when we see him, so it will be like seeing two completely new grandchildren. Of course we are excited! I’m enjoying a rainy day here and wishing I could send you some cool rains and greenery.

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