Since I started

I wish I could tell you my desk looks like this, but only in my dreams!
From the Mint & Gold Styled Stock collection at Pixels & Design

“I’m a writer by profession and it’s totally clear to me that since I started blogging, the amount I write has increased exponentially, my daily interactions with the views of others have never been so frequent, the diversity of voices I engage with is far higher than in the pre-Internet age—and all this has helped me become more modest as a thinker, more open to error, less fixated on what I do know, and more respectful of what I don’t. If this is a deterioration in my brain, then more, please.

“The problem is finding the space and time when this engagement stops, and calm, quiet, thinking and reading of longer-form arguments, novels, essays can begin. Worse, this also needs time for the mind to transition out of an instant gratification mode to a more long-term, thoughtful calm. I find this takes at least a day of detox. Getting weekends back has helped. But if there were a way to channel the amazing insights of blogging into the longer, calmer modes of thinking … we’d be getting somewhere. I’m working on it.”Andrew Sullivan

This is published post #1000 for me at this blog. That’s a lot of words, and that’s not even counting my chatty responses to the comments that many of you have been generous to leave here. As I thought about what to say and how to mark this milestone, I kept thinking that it’s time for someone besides me to speak. I choose you!

The quotes, of course, are my attempt to bring other voices into every post, as are the comments and even the photos from others that I began to feature here. Today’s quote is maybe the longest one I’ve published, but it captures so perfectly how I feel about blogging, though I can’t claim to be a professional writer. All of us who enjoy reading and writing face the same dilemma Sullivan describes here, the same need for balance between our online lives and our non-digital existence, the one that does not depend upon any video screen.

But for now, here we are online, and in celebration of this milestone, I thank you for making it possible. I would not have continued this blog if not for the amazing community of friends I discovered here. If you are so inclined, please leave a brief comment — or a long one, I like those even better! — and let me know you are out there. The other day in a store as I was chatting with someone standing in line with me, I realized that I really, truly have always believed (in most cases, anyway) that a stranger is only a friend I haven’t met yet. If I haven’t met you yet, I’d love to! And for those of you whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet here, once or many times, welcome back to our virtual Verandah. The weather is lovely; it’s a perfect day for an iced tea, or hot tea, or coffee or lemonade. Bring whatever snacks you like, and let’s chat. And thanks for being here!

43 Comments

  1. Hi, Julia. It’s been a while, but, it’s nice to hear from you. Yes, I am still here, This is my fourth year, and like you, I have met many new friends and read some wonderful books. and enjoy reading interesting blogs. Yours’ is one of them.This post hits home for me because even though I am retired I am still kept quite busy with life. I am now 74 and although the years are slipping by my mind doesn’t seem to care, it still works. ☺☺, thank goodness. I do however find my character changing. Listening more, enjoying meeting new people and reminiscing with old friends. My circle is growing larger as I get older. Blogging has been a large part of this and I have discovered that although I have not met many of the people that I now consider my friends it doesn’t matter, they are people that I care about. It seems to me the internet has made the world smaller and more accessible to each of us.For me, it is almost like traveling to countries, states, cities, and towns that physically I know I will never step foot on, yet I feel connected to them through meeting and exchanging thoughts and chatting about life. It’s been an eye-opener for me and I am enjoying it.
    Great hearing from you again, and loved your offering. Hugs from Florida. ☺☺

    • Hi Patricia, it’s always a joy to hear from you. I don’t know whether you knew this but your book was one of the very first books I got when Jeff gave me my Kindle Paperwhite, and I was instantly hooked! But it took me awhile to figure out how to use it and I got so excited when I realized there were photos! 😀 It’s now well worn but your book is still on there. I didn’t remember that you are older than me — you definitely have a youthful outlook on life so hold onto that! Yes, those of us who blog can understand the joy of having friends one has never met in person. Sometimes the conversations we have in writing can go as deep or even deeper than the face-to-face variety. The interruptions and distractions get filtered out. When you mentioned traveling to places you may never visit in person, of course I thought instantly of my “visit” to Sicily through your eyes. I still hope to make it there one of these days but even if I don’t, I do feel I know it in a way I could never have picked up from a tourist guidebook. Thank you so much for sharing the journey there– and here! ❤

  2. Jim Beavers

    Congratulations on #1000! Your blog is the way I start my day, every day. Thank you for what you do.

    • Thank you, Jim. I am so happy you are still with us here. It’s always a joy to hear from you.

  3. Congratulations on your 1000th post! I (we) long to hear more from your insightful and sincere collection of words. I have always known that you were a professional writer–yes you are–who would tell you otherwise (smile!) I am in a position to actually listen to your powerful communication skills and I am in awe and amazement. You encourage and influence so many people across the globe. You go girl! God is pleased!!!

    • Renee what would I do without you cheering me on? Thanks so much for your presence in my life. You are a source of strength to me and even when I can’t say what I’m feeling I know you understand. I am so grateful to be blessed with your steadfast and inspiring friendship!

  4. Amy Hill

    WOW!!! 1000 BLOGS!! That is a whole lot of words. That deserves a party. Like a cake and ice cream, balloons and horns kinda party. But lacking the know how to make that happen in the computer (I am sure someone with greater tech skills than I would be able to create one here) I shall just put up some of my favorite quotes on writing. I am sure you know a lot of them. You probably gave me some of them or pointed me the direction of finding them at one time or another. Congratulations on number 1000 my friend and keep up the good work of “Defeating Despair”. I know it’s an ongoing, minute by minute fight. Ephesians 3.16
    “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who have been put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” Ray Bradbury
    “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” Ernest Hemingway
    “Anyone who is going to be a writer knows enough at 15 to write to write several novels.” May Sarton
    “You don’t write because you want to say something. You write because you have something to say.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
    “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou
    “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” Robert Frost
    “I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide.” Harper Lee
    “If there’s a book you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison
    “We write to tase life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” Anais nin
    “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.” Isaac Asimov
    “I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don’t know what I did before that. Just loafed, I suppose.” PG Wodehouse
    “The best time for planning a book is while your doing the dishes.” Agatha Christie
    “If you want to be a writer, you have to write every day;;;You don’t go to well but once daily.” Walter Mosley
    “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Thomas Mann
    “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Anne Frank
    That last is my favorite I think. There are several I really like. I love the Agatha Christie and I I chuckle every time I think of Asimov speeding up his typing but Anne’s has stuck with me. How impressive that a little girl in an attic should find her courage come anew as she wrote. I am sure that is what gave you strength to get to 1000. God bless. I love you. Congrats again.

    • Amy, thanks so much for sharing these quotes. I loved them all and I don’t remember giving any of them to you– in fact, most of them were new to me or at least not remembered. I laughed out loud when I read the Wodehouse quote. He is hysterical. Have you read any of the Jeeves books? Yes, the Anne Frank quote is wonderful and how fitting that you were with me as I stood for the first and only time in the tiny room where she wrote such timeless words. She is a sterling example of defeating despair!

      • Amy Hill

        I am pleased some of these were new for you and that you enjoyed them all. I do love the Jeeves books and yes that is a funny quote, just loafed before he was five years old. 🙂 I can’t believe how the years have flown since we first became friends. Hardly seems we could have covered ground from CA to Europe and been here on the east coast for almost 9 years together. Surely we could write a book. 😉

        • Sadly I wonder whether five-year-olds are allowed to loaf much anymore. I didn’t even go to kindergarten. Not that that’s an argument against it. 🙂

  5. I don’t see the point of blogging or reading blogs unless there is space for comments and the likelihood of a reply. I have given up reading a number of blogs either because the commenting was switched off or because I never got a response to my comments. If I just want to read and not have any exchange, I’d prefer a book.
    I like having a blog because it genuinely is my space on the internet – should anyone leave an unpleasant comment (not that it has happened, other than as spam) I don’t have to have it there. As it turns out, though, my blog and the blogs I follow are positive places to visit and, whilst there is a diversity of voices, there is respect.
    So, keep up the good work and it has been a joy to meet you here.

    • Thank you Jan, I identify totally with all that you say here. I think the real joy that sets blogging apart is the interactivity of it. After a year of blogging I realized that all I ever wanted to do with my writing was connect with other people, and blogging gave that to me in a way that writing articles or even getting a book published (the latter of which I’ve never done) could not do in the same way. Thanks for the encouragement! I am so happy you are here.

  6. tpeastin

    Bravo on reaching this milestone, Julia! I’m super glad that you’re back on your Monday/Thursday routine. Even when you had stopped posting for a while, my own routine had become so ingrained that I had never stopped looking for your posts on those days. Keep on keepin’ on! XOXO

    • Pat, I am happy that you never stopped looking for my posts. You have played a very significant role in helping me “keep on keeping on” and you have a knack for showing up in my life when I most need your encouragement. I went back tonight and read the post I wrote about our visit, and it always puts a smile on my face. Thank you for being here! ❤

  7. Sweet Julia! Congratulations on your 1000th blog! You are such a JOY!!! You have added a lot of love and light to the world. I LOVE YOU!!!!

    • Thank you Cherie! You are such a blessing to me and I continue to pray for you and Ron. I am so grateful for the love and light you send me here! ❤ Love to you always.

  8. Megan

    Congratulations on post 1,000! You’ve brought a lot of joy and friendship to a lot of people! And now there is a treasure trove vault of posts to search on a rainy day! 🙂 Lots of love on this landmark day! (And yay for lovely DC weather!)

    • Thank you Megan. Yes, the weather was about as perfect today as it could be. Sunny but not hot. I am grateful you are here! Love and kisses to all four of you but especially to Grady and Owen. 🙂 ❤

  9. Paula Escobell

    Julia,
    I have followed your blog for since you began this endeavor. I had the privilege of knowing you and your family when we both were at the same congregation in San Antonio, Texas. I had the opportunity of watching Drew and Paul McClung grow up together and was able to visit with them both at Paul and Nancy’s wedding last year. What beautiful men they have become!
    There is no eloquent way to adequately express to you my heartfelt gratitude for the “too numerous to count” ways you have inspired me over these 1000 entries. You always have- and always will continue to challenge me to look for God in the smallest of details. That He is present. That He is real. That He is active. And, most of all, not to give in to despair, which I must confess is very easy to do if I am not continuously on guard.
    All I can muster up to say is Thank You.

    Love,
    Paula

    • Wow, Paula! What a thrill and honor to know you have been here with me all along! I had no idea. I wish we had been able to go to Paul and Nancy’s wedding. It took place very near where my Mama and Daddy lived for many years. Small world! Jeff and I were always deeply grateful for the friendship Drew and Paul share. I so appreciate your kind words about the blog. Yes, it is so easy to be pulled under by the continual presence of sad and discouraging and outrageous things that go on in our lives and in the world. It seems to be a struggle for almost everyone. In my youth I was captivated by the words of 2 Corinthians 8-9 which have stayed with me all these years: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” I am often too weary to really feel the strength of those words, but it is something to which I can aspire. Also the book of Philippians is a continual light in my life. Thanks so much, Paula, for letting me know you are reading. It means a great deal to me. Love, Julia

    • Paula, that is beautiful! Thank you for expressing your sentiments. So well said.
      Julia, I agree about what a blessing this has been, for me, although I started following Defeat Despair about a year after you started.

  10. MaryAnn Clontz

    Julia, You came to mind when I read the devo this morning! My desire was to send it to you & you offered the best avenue! I love communicating with you through your blog. Sending hugs & love to you & Matt!

    “Contagious Calm by Max Lucado

    How many disasters have been averted because one person refused to buckle under the strain? It’s this kind of composure Paul is summoning when he says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything…” (Philippians 4:5-6 NIV).

    The Greek word translated here as gentleness describes a temperament that’s seasoned and mature. It envisions an attitude fitting to the occasion, levelheaded and tempered. This gentleness is evident to all. Family members take note. Your friends sense a difference. Coworkers benefit from it.

    The gentle person is sober minded and clear thinking. The contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others, “God is in control.” Pursue this gentleness. The Lord is near– you are not alone. You may feel alone. You may think you’re alone. But there is never a moment in which you face life without help. God is near—be anxious for nothing!”

    From: Anxious for Nothing

    • Mary Ann, thanks so much for these words! Max has touched so many people with his writing but he touched me most with the kindness he showed to Matt when we used to visit services at Oak Hills. I think Max is even better as a preacher than as a writer. This passage is helpful for me because, of all the fruits of the spirit, gentleness is the one I have the most trouble cultivating. Not that the others are a breeze, either, but none feel so opposite to my personality. Having this description will help. Thanks for being here and for being in our lives all these years! ❤ ❤ ❤

  11. Raynard

    Julia hope you got the pictures of my last two cakes.As we speak now,I have a red velvet cake in the oven now. I still remember how I got into writing along with how I got into radionas a volunteer DJ at the base radio station while stationed in Turkey.My older sister who is a paraplegic in Florida was the baker in the family but surprisingly I wasn’t inspired by that. I believe it was Home ECT in middle School.To answer your question,I don’t do pumpkin pies.I just stick to Watching The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.. I digress.

    • Raynard, my inbox has become digital quicksand, eating up emails right and left before I get to them, but now that I know they are there, I will go hunting for those cakes because I need some virtual sweets. WOW, not many people I know can say they were a DJ in Turkey. In fact I think you are the only one. I wonder whether they still teach Home Ec in schools? If they do they probably have to call it something else. It’s A-OK with me that you don’t do pumpkin pies because I don’t eat them either! Not even virtual ones! Thanks for being here with us all these years. I checked my stats today and the blog post featuring you, Mary and Ms. Ella is still the record holder with the all time highest number of views in one day (I think it was 627). Your Upper Room fan club must have showed up en masse! Keep on digressing, it keeps us on our toes!

  12. Sheila

    Oh, Julia, what we’ve shared is beyond words, I suppose. We clicked! Similarities, and even differences, made for a really special friendship. So much has happened since I came to Defeat Despair by way of the Upper Room devotional. We have shared sorrows, happiness, gifts, Pasha and Salty, encouragement, and our beloved “Out On The Porch” calendar, that seemed to bond us, across the miles. I congratulate you on the post #1000 milestone! You have given so much and I am so proud of you, my friend. I keep you forever close,in my thoughts and my continued prayers. I love and admire you! Sheila💛

    • Sheila, thanks so much. When I count the blessings I have received from this blog, I count you two or three times, and that’s before I get to Salty, Jack, Walter or Bill! Our virtual Verandah is a very real place to me and it has been a retreat and a solace more times than I could count. The flowers you sent Mama after Daddy died meant so much to her. I will always treasure the memory of having you and Bill at Jeff’s graveside ceremony with us. I love you my friend!! ❤ Thanks for being here!

  13. Dorothy Walker

    Congratulations Julia on your 1000th blog! I look forward every Tuesday and Friday here in Australia to reading your inspiring words, and love e quotes and pictures. When you had time off I went back to when you started this endeavour and read early blogs. How do I send pictures to you? Keep up your wonderful sharing, love, Dorothy.

    • Thank you, Dorothy! I am so happy to know you are reading this blog from halfway around the world! I hope you are having a lovely springtime. There are several ways you can send me photos. The easiest way is probably to send them to me in email as attachments. You can only send 3-4 per email that way if they are large files, though. Also if you are on Facebook you can send them to me there (just click on my Facebook icon at the right of the blog page) or if all that doesn’t work, we can figure out a place to upload them into “the cloud” where I can access them. Dropbox and Google, among many others, have free cloud accounts for such things. I so appreciate your interest in the blog and your presence here. Love, Julia

  14. Harry Sims

    Balance and Priority

    A Morning Resolve

    I will try this day to live a simple, sincere and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.

    In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, (Internet surfing, web blogging) and sleep which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right.

    And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen. – Forward Day by Day. – Parenthetical insertion by Harry.
    It’s terribly easy and alluring for me to go to and returning to anything that brings me pleasure (is that odd or is that God) so I have to rely on The Mysterious Power to guide me.
    Harry

    • Thank you, Harry. I think many of us can use your parenthetical insertion into that prayer. I don’t have any experience with addictions to substances, but I certainly think the online world must be powerfully addictive for many of us. As with so much else, what is good and beneficial in moderation can be detrimental in excess.

      • Harry Sims

        And by the way; 1000 and counting I would pray.

        Harry

        • Thank you, Harry. So far it’s “and counting” for as long as I can manage it.

  15. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. ☕️ I came HERE this morning, as I often do, to get my “Julia fix”! I’ve enjoyed reading the comments (from familiar names) and your replies. I couldn’t help but smile, remembering,so often, the 5:00 AM ping that I would hear from my electronics and I knew YOU awaited my day. We were in Bristol TN in 2014 and I was having a hissy fit to get a wifi connection to be able to communicate. You’ve become “My friend, Julia” to most of my family and friends. 👋🏻Hi to Matt!👋🏻 Happy Friday! 💛

    • Hi Sheila! I am honored that you start the day with me so often, and that you call me your friend! I have been very good at not peeking and have no idea where we’ll be meeting tomorrow for our virtual tea time, but I truly look forward to it. Hard to believe how quickly those pages turn over. BTW I don’t know if anyone outside the south has “hissy fits” but I am certainly no stranger to that ailment myself, and a good cup of tea is a perfect remedy for all manner of hissy fits! Hope you and Bill and “the guys” are having a great weekend. ❤

  16. Linda

    What a lovely blog, Julia. You are an inspiration.

    • Thank you, Linda. I appreciate your visiting me here!

  17. Ann

    Hi Julia, I’m enjoying a cup of coffee and enjoying the company of my dog, Bolt. The tea olives are blooming here in South Carolina and it’s not scorching hot yet.

    I think that I have read every one of your 1,000 blogs and even won your contest-twice! We’ve never met in person but I feel like we are old friends. Thank you for sharing Your family and friends, your joys and tribulations, your incredible photographs and quotes, and most of all your words and thoughts.

    You are going through a valley right now but this too shall pass. Lean on us! You have many friends and admirers out here.

    • Ann, I think “Bolt” is a great name for a dog! Jeff and I planted tea olives over ten years ago but they never did much. One eventually died and the other might be hanging on but I haven’t been back to our “lower 40” since Jeff died; it’s all overgrown and I don’t have the heart to clear it yet. So I have no idea whether that tea olive is even alive anymore. I think there was too much shade where we planted them. I am so glad you’ve been here reading all the blogs and I remember getting a kick out of your winning twice. You didn’t even draw your own name out like Amy did, hee-hee. Thanks so much for your encouraging words! It means more than you know.

  18. Carolyn

    Hi, I could not open this blog last Thursday and I was happy when I got it today. Your blogs mean so much to me. We are not able to be together ,so when I read you blogs I feel very close to you and Matt. Keep on writing my friend. Love and hugs .

    • Thank you, Carolyn! I’m glad you were able to get the blog, even if later than usual. I’m so happy you are able to stay in touch with us this way. It will be 30 years ago next year that we met for the first time, but you have stayed in our hearts always. ❤ Love to you and Terry from Matt and me!

  19. Dear Julia,
    Congrats! That’s a lot of posts!
    This blog attracted me with the very first post I read. Anything genuine, anything that comes from the heart will surely attract others and leave a good, long-lasting impression. I decided to be a frequent visitor. Yours is quite a familiar name to my family as if we have known each other for years. Your words have always inspired me and I am thankful for the posts in which you mentioned my name and blog.
    Wish you all the best! Keep on writing, keep on sharing your thoughts, experiences and feelings with us.

    • Thank you Bindu, this comment means so much to me! I am so happy you have been with us, and I too have learned so much from you. Now when I hear of Kerala I always think of you, and often I remember your love of walks, your devotion to your parents and family, and your faithful career as a teacher. I hope we will continue to meet here often over the years to come, and who knows, maybe someday even face to face! Meanwhile thanks for being here. 🙂

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