We’re a parade

Susan, Amy, Matt and me, warm and cozy at Cracker Barrel, November 2017

“Friends: we’re a parade – even by ourselves!”Mary Anne Radmacher

Pictured above are three people whose presence in my life is a tremendous blessing. Without going into the details, let’s just say that without friends and loved ones, life is unbearable. But with them, it can be a celebration, even in the midst of unceasing woes.

Many of you who read this, whether you realize it or not, are part of our parade. When I started down this road just over five years ago, the path ahead was dark and thorny, and my trepidation of what might lie ahead was well justified. “Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” as Dorothy said. Only in our case, it was illness, surgeries, and death. And the end of this path, as far as what is in store for Matt and me, is far from clear to me even now.

What is clear to me is perhaps the most important truth I can grasp right now: we are not alone. So many of you walk with us, march with us, run with us, even dance with us at times. If you believe life can be beautiful despite the hardships and sorrows– if you understand that we are blessed just to awaken each day– if you are determined to leave the world better off than you found it– you belong in our parade! Look at the photo above and imagine yourself there. It’s a bit blurry, as it was taken by a lovely staff person at a restaurant in low-light conditions, but you can see the warmth of the cozy fire and feel the joy. Come with us! The road ahead is uncertain, but what an adventure it will be.



  1. The second and third paragraphs above end with a similar sentence expressing uncertainty. I would like to cite two Bible passages that suggest one is wise (or at least not a fool) to feel uncertain about tomorrow. The first is one you have cited recently – James 4:13-15
    The other is Luke 12:16-53

    • Yes, so much in which we place our trust is sheer illusion. Or in some cases, delusion.

      • A good example would be the honored profession of surgeon. My Surgeon just left the room, after a handshake (he extended his hand), and with a smile on his face. He has me hopeful for a soon-to-come date (December 20). BUT, I try to put my trust in other authority than his word. This is a despair defeating resolution.

        • Yes, no matter how skilled any professionals might be, they can only do so much for us. From plumbers to car repairmen to CEOs to surgeons, sooner or later each will find themselves saying (maybe often) “I’ll do my best, but I can’t promise success.” Thus the psalmist rightly says, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

  2. Renee West

    Life is an adventure my precious friend and I’m forever thankful for the friends that God has given me. Most importantly, profound, and life-giving is knowing that God is my friend. Everything else is a plus! You and Matt are one of my BIGGEST PLUSES!

    • Thank you my stalwart and faithful sister! I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through these years without your steadfast friendship and encouragement. Psalm 37:6!

  3. Carolyn

    Right there with you. I don’t know what we would do without family and friends. Friends maybe far away but always in my heart. I love going to Cracker Barrel when they have the fire burning. God bless my friend and the family and I will send you a message soon. Hugs and love.

    • Thank you, Carolyn. As always, you stay in our hearts and in our prayers. We remember you with fond gratitude at this time of year, and the rest of the year too! Happy Thanksgiving to you and all the family. Hugs and love to you all.

  4. Carolyn Coleman

    Much needed words. Thank you for the reminder.

    • Thank you, Carolyn. I’m so happy this post has encouraged you! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Drop me a line sometime and let me know how you are doing. After all these years, you are still the best “boss” I ever had! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. We can all be happy with life when it’s all going our way. It’s how happy we are when it’s piling on the manure that shows our character. You come armed with a big shovel and a smile. You’ve got this, girl. I’d be in your parade anytime. Giant hugs and holding you in my prayers that Matt’s situation gets resolved for the best.

    • Thank you Marlene. You have a way with words, and a real gift for encouragement. You can be the drum major in our parade! I hope to write you soon to catch you up on the latest. In the meantime, thanks so much for being here and for being you. Giant Thanksgiving hugs!!

  6. Harry Sims

    Zip a de do da
    Zip a de de day
    My oh my what a wonderful day.

    • Harry Sims

      Zip a de do da
      Zip a de day
      My oh my what a wonderful day.

      • Harry, I hope that your Thanksgiving is “satisfactual” in every way, and that plenty of sunshine will be heading your way. Give Mr. Bluebird my best regards!

        • Harry Sims

          You know what; you know how to bring a broad grin to a fellow’s somber face!

          • Thank you, Harry. Probably not too many of us are old enough to remember that song.

            • Ann

              I love that song and sing it to myself when I need an attitude adjustment! Several years ago I had to have several MRIs in preparation for surgery. As I lay in the MRI ‘tube’, I would sing this to myself in order to keep calm.

              • Ann, what a great idea! I’ll remember that if I ever have to have another MRI myself. (The neurologist advised me to have one every few years, but I can’t seem to prioritize it right now ๐Ÿ™‚ )

  7. I love your parade Julia. ๐Ÿ™‚ Much love to you on your journey.

    • Thank you, Denise. I’m so happy you are here!

  8. Judy from Pennsylvania

    Such a great idea, having a parade of friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving week and to show the gratitude we have for their presence in our lives! I’m wondering if you have a way of knowing how far this parade of blog friends & family extends? What countries over the past 5 years? What states? Let’s do a conga dance line! Bet it will be a long line ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Judy, thanks for this fun comment, which really brightened my night. Actually, WordPress keeps fairly detailed statistics that are accessible to all bloggers who want to look into their site stats, but I confess it has been years, literally, since I checked them to any extent. With your question, I went back to my stats page and found that as of today, this blog has had visitors from 170 countries. Of those, exactly 100 have had at least ten visits to our little corner of cyberspace. Not surprisingly, the USA leads with over 250K visits. The stats are not broken down by state, however. The next four countries, in order, are: Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom — all with several thousand each, and not too surprising since these are places where English is widely spoken. Rounding out the top ten, in order, are India, France, Germany, New Zealand and the Philippines. Scrolling down past the first several dozen countries, here are some random numbers that will give you an idea: Bangladesh with 52 visits, Croatia with 39, Peru with 32, Tunisia with 20, Belarus with 16, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan with 8 each, and several countries tied for last place with one visit each, including (among others) Namibia, Northern Mariana Islands, and Sierra Leone. Bear in mind that it’s likely many visits could have been registered by readers from other places who read the blog while traveling. A great many people in the blogosphere have extensive travel experiences. The sum total of all WordPress bloggers and readers make quite a parade indeed, and it belongs to all of us, bloggers and readers alike. Thanks for this question. It has given me some much-needed perspective tonight.

      • Judy from Pennsylvania

        Oh. My. Gosh. Those are fantastic numbers! OK, if each of the 250,000 USA visits represents one enthusiastic conga dancer, and each dancer takes up 3 ft. of space, our line will be (pause while I quick grab a calculator…) 142 miles long! That would stretch from where you are in Virginia to past my area of Pennsylvania. O how I love the imaginary visual of us all dancing in that line and having such silly fun! A perfect way to for all of us to defeat despair. โค

        • Judy, I love your enthusiasm and your ideas! Just to clarify, what I am referring to as a “visit” means a pageview. This is measured by the number of times someone reads a particular blog, with repeat visits in the same day or from the same address not counted. In other words, if you have read every one of my blogs since the beginning, over 1000 of those visits would be yours. Visitors are counted separately, and as of this morning, there have been 78,859 unique visitors (as I understand it, more than one person reading from the same device or online address would still only count as one visitor). The stats are far from precise, but they do give a good idea of who and where the readers are. So, 78,859 would still be quite a conga line! Like about 45 miles. I’m not the best at stats and I may not have a complete understanding of how they work, so that might be why I don’t spend much time on that page (and why I decided to quit my PhD program, hee-hee, since I would have had to really get good at stats to succeed at it — I left with a 3.87 GPA, but if I had taken stats yet, that would most likely have been MUCH lower!) Still, I love your image of a conga line! Let’s keep dancing, and inviting everyone to join in!

      • Ann

        Fascinating to know your blog has been read in so many corners of the world.

        • Thank you, Ann. For me, that was one of the biggest surprises about blogging. I honestly think the cumulative power of many friendly blogs can be a powerful tool for world understanding and peace. At least I hope so.

      • Just out of curiosity (to see if I undรจstand how it works): if you had replied to a comment made upon the first viewing from a person from Azerbaijan, and what ensued was a rapid-fire 3 – message exchange thereafter, would that register as 8 visits? (Of course eight individuals, each looking one time, would register as eight visits.)

        • Eric, comment stats are completely unrelated to what I call “visits” or page views. Comments are tallied separately. As of this morning, the total all-time comments– which of course includes my replies — are 29,231. That’s a lot of communicating! Back to the “visits” stats — otherwise known as page views– please see my comment to Judy to find out how that works. In short, the page views are based on how often people visit the site. Thus one person visiting 5 different pages, or 5 different days, would generate 5 visits, but would only be counted as one unique visitor (of which there are 78,859 as of this morning). Multiple visits from the same device or online address do not count as visits unless they are on different days or from different devices, as I understand it.

      • WOW! It sounds as if we may be somewhere between a Battalion and a Regiment of people joining together to Defeat Despair!

        • Yes, we are definitely a parade! And if you check the photo, you appear to be at the head of it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. The road is paved with uncertainty. Sometimes it’s one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time. I’m glad you have a growing parade of people who love and support you.

    There are a couple of cards making there way to you via snail mail, Julia. Thinking of you today and always. xo

    • Thank you Alys. I got the beautiful cards tonight. I so appreciate your friendship and presence! โค

      • I’m glad they made it to your postbox, Julia. xo

        • So am I! Meanwhile my imaginary letter keeps getting longer. If I don’t get to it soon, I’ll have to throw in the towel and call!

          • I would love a phone chat, Julia. Do you have my number? I’ll email it just in case. xo

            • Got it, Alys! Thanks. ๐Ÿ™‚ ALSO I got the lovely Christmas package from you. I am not doing a tree nor any decorations at all this year, but I have put the gifts you sent Matt and me on our fireplace mantle, and they are our decorations ๐Ÿ™‚ and we will open them on Christmas Day!! Thank you for always being so kind to us. โค โค โค

  10. Good morning, Julia!
    One of my first thoughts upon seeing this photo posted was the Sesame Street song, “One of these things is not like the others ….” Clearly, it’s the one in the purple and sparkly turquoise! LOL
    On a deeper note, I see this as confirmation that we don’t have to all be the same to love, support, and encourage each other. Everyone is unique, but everyone is part of the human community and can join in the parade!

    • Susan, your outfit wasn’t THAT flashy! My answer that song’s question would be far more prosaic: “Three are smiling women, one is a dude with his eyes closed.” ๐Ÿ™‚ Just goes to prove your point about everyone seeing things a little bit differently. How wonderful that a photo of only four different people contains such a variety. I have always found it astounding that there can be so many people in the world, and no two alike. Way more fascinating than snowflakes being different!

      • Amy Hill

        I was thinking, “How nice Susan’s boots look. I should have had on some pretty boots instead of tennis shoes. That would have made a nicer photo.” I didn’t notice that Matt had his eyes closed and Julia looks very happy and radiant. It was a fun evening. Yes it certainly is world of variety and how great a gift that is.

        • Amy, I totally love those boots too, and the best thing about them is how quickly she could put them on and take them off. I was amazed. It took me longer to slip on my regular old elastic-banded athletic shoes. Truthfully, though, Susan’s much more graceful than I am. I don’t know if I could manage her skill even if I had an identical pair of boots.

  11. LB

    Love that picture, Julia, and know that I always to be in your parade – you’ll just have to tell me when to be quiet now and then (you know me).
    I’ve had you on my mind, as I always do, knowing how difficult this time of year is, and how difficult holidays are after losing a loved one.

    • LB, please don’t be quiet! I need your enthusiasm and SOMEONE besides me should get a word in now and then. ๐Ÿ™‚ I got your lovely card– thanks so much for caring, for being here, and for being you! โค

  12. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, Julia. โ˜•๏ธ Our โ€œlife paradeโ€ is certainly better together! I feel as though I skipped off for a week but you were never far from my thoughts, especially Thanksgiving. We went to a family friendโ€™s farm in a rural area two hours away and really played the role of pilgrims, just in the โ€œtin condoโ€! Yesterday, as Bill and I walked Jack on the beach, I marveled at the diversity we can experience in a few short days. The same is true as we consider the many differences that we experience along this path called LIFE! Iโ€™m so fortunate to share these days with you, my friend. Much love to you and Matt! ๐Ÿ’–

    • Sheila, I loved seeing your FB page of the “tin condo” — it’s much bigger and more impressive than your affectionate nickname for it would imply! (At least I assumed that was your tin condo I was seeing.) Don’t you just love how many different kinds of terrain can be reached within an easy drive? One thing I loved so about living in northern Californa was that pretty much everything from snow to warm sunny beaches to mountains to glacial lakes or stunning parks such as Yosemite were within an easy drive. The east coast boasts almost as much splendor We may lack the breathtaking cliffs and temperate climate, but at least we don’t have to worry about those horrible wild fires. And here in Virginia, we never have to ration our watering as we did in Texas and California. Every place has its gifts– something all pilgrims learn! Love you Sheila. I am thankful for you and so happy you have been with us on this long journey.

  13. Amy Hill

    What a crew. That was a fun night. So glad that lady took the photo. What a nice parade. Thanks for making me part of it. God bless.

    • That was fun, wasn’t it? We must do it again soon. Susan, are you reading this? ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ Of course Cracker Barrel is a large place so many others can join us too.

  14. Rene

    We spent Thanksgiving in Idaho with our youngest son who is attending BYU there. We stopped at a Cracker Barrel for the first time on our drive there. I remember you mentioning it (multiple times) & I forced us to stop there for lunch. I had chicken & dumplings; not as good as my mom made but the mac & cheese I had on the side was delicious and I learned that I love fried okra as well as dried.

    • Rene, how fun! I’ve never gotten the chicken and dumplings, but they do know how to do cornbread, which almost nobody in the restaurant business seems to do right (IMO). Always too much sugar and white flour. I never had dried okra! But I was no real fan of the fried variety my Mama served. My favorite thing at Cracker Barrel, aside from the cornbread, is the hash brown casserole.

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