A wonderful thing

For all who pass this way, a bouquet of appreciation.

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” ― Voltaire

The sixth anniversary of this blog passed recently, without mention by me or anyone else. The giddy hope that inspired a feeling of celebration on the first and second anniversaries gave way to reality, although I did recognize the milestone in a small way for the third year. The fourth passed in an abyss of grief, and by the fifth, I suppose I didn’t see any reason to note the anniversary of a blog that had gone from seven posts per week to just one.

I look back at the videos from the first and second anniversaries with stunned silence at how much can change in a very short time. Yet there are those of you– you know who you are– who have been with me through all of it, for all six years. That in itself is worth celebrating; it is a thing of wonder. Through your steadfast encouragement, what is excellent in you has belonged to me, and has enabled me to survive.

To those who come and go, joining us as you are able, I appreciate your presence here whenever you are with us. I sadly recognize how absent I have been from my friends’ blogs, and I know how life gets in the way. Please know that I am happy to hear from you each and every time you make your visits known to me, and rejoice when our paths cross online.

To those who contact me privately to share your appreciation of a post or a photo, I enjoy hearing from you too, and I understand that making a public comment is not something everyone is willing to do. Having loved many people who are intensely private and averse to such open sharing, I understand that individual messages are more meaningful to many. Thank you for being with us and for letting me know you are reading.

And to those who visit silently, I appreciate you too. Though I may never know you are reading these posts, I am always surprised and delighted to hear for the first time from someone who has been following the blog for years without my realizing they were. Some are people who know me only through the blog, and others are friends from long ago, but each reader, known or unknown, has a special place in my heart.

For six years, this blog has been a connecting point for me, a family I did not know I had until I stumbled onto WordPress as a means of coping with crisis and devastating grief. I appreciate you!


  1. HarryS

    Asher yat-zar.

    Back around 1999 when I was embarking on a four-year course called EFM which is presented by the University of Sewanee.
    It is presented before the church and as part of the curriculum is a daily communication with God in written form.
    Some of these were shared in our groups.
    I was urged to send some of these out by email and with a degree of reticence agreed.
    This rapidly grew into a very enjoyable part of my spiritual journey and I have shared some things over the years which have been an unusual Grace for me.

    I had right knee replacement surgery last December and about 1 month ago I had an abrupt fall resulting in injury to the replaced knee which has seriously interfered with my daily living schedule and resultantly has been omission of many of these mailings.
    A very few you have written and notified me but lots of it has been due to injury, illness and continued recuperation and certainly not by omission to any particular person.
    I hope to resume this practice of mine as soon as possible but I’m not sure exactly when it might be.

    I want to add that I have “worn out” the Asher Yat-zar prayer during this time feeling that I might be challenging God to prove it to me.

    He already has and he continues to do so.


    • Harry, I had no idea you had been injured. I hope that this finds you feeling better and getting stronger each day. Based on what I have heard from others and experienced myself, I think we often challenge God to prove things to us, or at least ask to be given some sort of indicator. Despite the warning of Jesus in Matthew 4:7, I think that it’s human nature to ask God for proof, and passages such as Malachi 3:10 (and stories such as Gideon and the fleece, in the final verses of Judges 6) seem to encourage this to some degree. May your prayers for health continue to be answered with a resounding “yes.”

  2. Chris

    Julia, nice flowers! I’m glad to be a part of your extended family, via the UR. Many of us have grown to know you, Jeff, Drew and Matt thru this blog. I’m thankful for this. Have a blessed week, and happy Thanksgiving! 😊

    • Chris, thanks so much for your kind and encouraging words. We are blessed to have you with us!

  3. Ann

    Julia, I have been with you for the whole journey and, boy, do I appreciate you and your blog. It’s hard to imagine how much time and effort you put into finding the right picture, the right quote and then marrying them with your words of inspiration. Now I am curious, which comes first…the words? the picture the quote?

    Your blog helps me deal with the onslaught of bad to horrifying news served up 24/7. I sometimes go back through the archives for more to read.

    Keep on keeping on!

    • Ann, thanks so much for your encouraging thoughts. In answer to your question, sometimes it’s the photo, sometimes the quote, and sometimes an idea for which I seek a quote and a photo. Probably about equally divided among the three, now that I come to think of it. For today’s post, I knew I wanted to talk about gratitude, due to the season of Thanksgiving. I am thankful to know you are steadfastly with us here and are able to find something of value in what I write. I do remember that you have been with us from the beginning, and I love that! And you. ❤

  4. Sheila

    Good Monday morning, my dear friend! 🧡 Thank you so much for the friendship that is unlike any other that I have! We have walked the walk, enjoyed and laughed, then shared and cried. It’s special, what we have here! I’ve told you before that “You’re smart and I’m understanding.” 💖 Of course, I’ve mentioned many times “walking on sunshine” and Southern this and that. 💛 We’ve shared Pasha and Salty and of course, Walter (Juia) ‼️Memories here are very personal and you’ve started so many days with determination and love that mean so much to me! ♥️ Thank you for the bouquet this morning. Love crosses the miles to You and Matt. 🙏🏻

    • You are right, Sheila, this is a friendship like no other I’ve ever had. I think I may have mentioned this to you before, but during those first years of Jeff’s illness when I was blogging daily, I heard from you DAILY and one day I realized, I could not say that about anyone else in our lives, whether they were friend or relative. You may never know how much it meant to me that you were with us every single day, and took the time to let us know. But I do know that you were a pillar of strength in a very difficult time, and continue to be so. As Misifusa says, SHINE ON my friend! Love you! ❤

  5. Susan

    Julia, as one of the silent visitors, I have appreciated the time you’ve always taken to share your thoughts, your photos, and your deep insights. I admire the strength you’ve shown through your grief, although I wish it is something you would never have had to go through.

    • Susan, thank you so much for being here. I am so grateful we finally did get together for that cup of tea! I appreciate your driving out to spend some time with me. Speaking of strength, you’ve been through quite a lot yourself! I still want to hear more about Ireland. Hope to see you again soon! ❤

  6. MaryAnn Clontz

    You, my beautiful friend, once again, spark our hearts with joy by your word choices! It feels as if I am in the room with you! Sending much love!

    • Mary Ann, reading your words brought me comfort, thinking of you being– in spirit– right nearby. We simply MUST make that happen somehow– here, there or someplace in between. Till then, you know our hearts are with you!! ❤ ❤ (that's my heart and Matt's 😀 )

  7. Sweet Juila, has it already been 6 years? Goodness! Coming here through my crisis with Ron’s health and finding love and light has been a comfort for me. I always think of you and Matt and pray good things for you. Please know how much you have touched my life with your blog. I love you!😍 Love and Light!🌟🌟🌟

    • Cherie, it is hard to believe, isn’t it? And yet these have been the longest, hardest years of my life. You have helped to make it bearable and your prayers, love and light are part of how we survive. Today at church one of our sisters spoke of the 16 years she and her husband lived in Africa, where they saw much suffering that challenged her faith and understanding. She said “I finally realized I don’t have to understand it.” I felt as if she was talking straight to me. I can’t figure out why the bad things happen, but neither can I explain the presence of grace, of which you are a part! Thanks so much for being with us! Love you too! ❤

  8. Judy from Pennsylvania

    Beginning my day by seeing your bouquet of beautiful flowers is delightful! Today is Thanksgiving Day and there is much to be thankful for, including your blog and its remarkable ongoing stream of insights and charming photos. Thank you, Julia, for sharing your God given gift for using words and art. You have enriched my life and, yes, even given me hope during those times when I too felt on the brink of despair. Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. You are loved.

    • Judy, your words are so encouraging to me. Of course I love to hear anything good said about my writing or photos, but more than that, it means so much to think that anything I have said or done has helped someone else. It saves me from the feeling of meaninglessness that so often threatens my peace of mind. About those flowers…they are special because they were on the table when I took Mama and Daddy out for lunch to celebrate their 65th anniversary, and a year later, a few days after their 66th, Daddy died suddenly. But through the photograph, those flowers and the memory of that day live on. Thanks so much for being with us on this long journey. In the years since I started this blog, whenever I have passed through Pennsylvania, I have thought of you!

  9. I have never been able to post seven days a week. In the seven years I’ve been blogging I’m down to once or twice a month and call it good enough for now. We are always happy to hear from you when you are so moved to post. You’ve had a lot on your plate these last few years so be kind to yourself about it. I was just thinking I had printed out an address label to send you a Christmas card but it probably won’t reach you since you have moved. I still send out cards though it’s a dying art. Happy belated anniversary, Julia.

    • Thank you, Marlene. Once a week for posting seems about right for me now but as you say, we have to balance all our activities and be content with good enough. I am so happy you still send out Christmas cards! So do I, for anyone who likes to get them. I sent you my new address and I’m glad you got it — let’s keep that dying art of “happy mail” alive and well! Giant Thanksgiving hugs coming your way!

  10. Raynard

    Happy belated Thanksgiving.Was so busy getting early jump on Christmas. Now time to get the new car next week. Oh Mary starts new job December 2nd. Ask me later what it is.siting in Goodyear getting her a new battery. I really new and appreciate all the help I can get planning her 60th birthday party. Small is less it’s a wonderful thing.Do you know how to video chat no no no not Facebook. I digress I just threw a hint out and yes Mary started playing Christmas music.

    • Hi Raynard, I must have missed something somewhere along the way (what else is new, right? 😀 ) because I didn’t know about Mary starting a new job. Keep me posted on the 60th and let me know if you decide to head this way (DC area or SE VA). Re: video chat — Jena (my friend and fellow tea-lover from Alaska) has introduced me to Marco Polo so we can video chat. She sent me a view of the gorgeous mountains from her classroom window. Do you use that program or another one? Slowly but surely I’m learning how to do things with smart phones, but I still prefer a big screen and QWERTY keyboard. Plus whenever I see myself in the cell phone camera, it scares me and I have to turn it around and show something else. I can’t type very well with my thumbs. Used to be that saying someone was “all thumbs” meant they were clumsy but now it must have the opposite meaning? I digress! BTW tell Mary I’m about to crank up the Christmas music myself. Joy to the world!

  11. Callye Gibbons

    Thank you for connecting with me as a more silent weekly regular. You have been a needed encouragement.

    • Callye, I am so happy to “meet” you here in the comments section! Thanks for being with us– and for letting us know you are here! I am glad you have been able to find something worthwhile here.

  12. Dear Julia,
    I can’t help but think of your once-a-week posts as being like a little candle. It still brings light and hope wherever it shines. You may be disappointed or discouraged by backing off to once per week, but I see this as a candle that is STILL THERE.
    Beautiful. 😀
    Sending love and hugs,

    • Thank you, Susan. I think that’s a great analogy, and I appreciate your kind words, thoughts, and faithful presence here and in my life! ❤

  13. Lydia

    Your courage, your optimism, your inspired words and your photos have been a source of joy and happiness. I have prayed for you and Matt, and continue to pray for joy, the joy that is everlasting even in times of despair. “Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11

    • Thank you, Lydia. I am honored and tremendously comforted to know that you pray for us. And thank you for sending me that beautiful verse. When we speak sacred words to each other, we feel the life in them. I feel so happy to think that you have enjoyed the blog, and I’m so glad you are with us here! So your comment brings me some of the joy you are praying for. 🙂

  14. Mike

    Six years .Wow? I have been here five? Your’s is really the only blog I follow and I met you onthe UR site along with brother Raynard. It seems many of the UR writers have blogs and I have perused a couple. But really who has the time or energy to follow fifty blogs?
    We saw a cute movie last night with a Southern (Texas) frame of reference- Dumpln with Jennifer Anniston who always surprises me.
    The Ashley Britllaint quote on writing was life changing and I too am now carrying a pen.
    On a sadder note, my little sister Susan is now in hospice and the future looks- uncertain for her. She is back in Washington, state.

    • Mike, I’m so sorry to hear about your sister. I hope she is able to be comfortable and comforted. Guess what — you have been with us the entire six years. You were one of the first readers who found us. And yes, many of them came directly from UR. There are so many good blogs I wish I could follow. I have had so much to cope with since Jeff’s death, and much of it (especially the paperwork) feels like busy work to me. But I think in a way it’s good to have limited time for being online, because it forces us to be out in the “real world” which, though decidedly UNfriendly in many respects, is also home to a lot of good people. Too much computer time can get very depressing, at least for me. My friend who killed herself many years ago, had gotten to where she spent most of her time on the computer during the years just before she died. That has been a cautionary tale for me. Though I treasure the hundreds and hundreds of emails we exchanged after our transfer to another state meant we no longer saw each other, I do think that computer use is a two-edged sword. Ideally I think there needs to be a balance of in-person interaction with digital exchange. Both have advantages, but there is no substitute for old-fashioned human contact.

  15. Mike

    Your comment about flowers and stuff not being handed down to a younger generation- yes. Oh well and kind of sad. But maybe we can cut down on some storage issues. We already have a mid-size u haul capacity of stuff after being here only a year. Dana Carvey does a comedy bit abouit having only one pict of himself from childhood -a small 3×5 inch black and white shot from grade school ,while todays kids are deluged with photos from an early age. Most photographed generation- the Millenials.
    I did not know about the Elf on the Shelf tradition till I moved here. I understand this tradtion may have started in Marietta?

    • Mike, yes, we can definitely use some decreased need for storage. Isn’t it amazing how stuff accumulates so quickly? When we first got the townhome in Alexandria, I told Jeff we would keep it sparsely furnished and just come home to York on weekends, holidays, etc. About two or three years in, he said “what happened to the idea of keeping this place sparsely furnished?” 😀 and he was right, the stuff — especially books and paperwork — just seems relentless. As with time that gets overtaken by too many activities, stuff just seems to expand to take up more space than we have for it. Re: the photographs, there has to be a balance point. I treasure each and every old photograph from my childhood, and I’m very grateful that Daddy took far more pictures than many parents of his generation, but still far fewer than I took. I am mostly unfamiliar with the “Elf on the Shelf” products, although I got a big kick out of a funny competitor who came up with the Mensch on a Bench idea, which seems to be part parody and part serious!

  16. Mike

    That was one of the 6 warning signs I read yesterday on eve of Sandy Hook tragedy about these young shooters. They are on the internet, reading about guns and mass murderers. Obessing about mass murder and some have been shunned and bullied.
    I can send you a nice pict of a Maple I took-. Do you know where RydallGa. is? I will be going there next week.
    Six years I can’t believe it.
    The name of Carveys routine is 60, straight, male,– or something like that. He pokes fun at his Lutheran upubringing and asks the question. ” What if Jesus had an older brother and what if Jesus had a teenage son. It is easy to be a saint if you don’t have teenagers.
    We have discovered that many or most of the Town HOuses here don’t have much insulation and though the thermostat says 69 degrees the floor is freezing.

    • Mike, I really do wonder how anyone can believe that feeding young minds on continual violence does not have a detrimental effect on mental health. Yet decades ago, when Tipper Gore (then wife of soon-to-be VP Al Gore) wrote a book about it, she was shamed and blamed and parodied into silence on the topic. I have heard of Rydell GA but haven’t the faintest idea of where it might be. I grew up strangely ignorant of most of Georgia, as if the Atlanta metro area was a self-contained island (I thought of it more as an oasis) in a state of tremendous geographic and demographic diversity. Kind of a shame that I never got to know it better than I did. Re: the townhouse, I’m surprised that you are having problems with the heating. One thing I totally loved about our Alexandria townhouse is that our power bills were ridiculously low and the entire place stayed toasty warm. Even the basement which I thought would be cold in winter, since it stayed so cool in summer. But since the furnace was down there, it stayed warm. Seriously, I think our highest bill in the winter was maybe $60. But we were in the middle and had other homes on either side, which I’m sure helped keep us insulated. Not so with our houses, where I keep the space heaters handy to run near my feet where ever I happen to be sitting. Pasha used to love space heaters as much as I did. Whenever we had the gas fireplace or space heaters running, he would sit so close that we would literally start to smell burning fur and have to chase him away from the heat source!

  17. Mike

    I tried to send a gorgeous maple pict today. It almost looks like two trees together.

    • Mike, as you know, I got the photo and it really is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing it!

  18. Mike

    I will try and get you a pict of the yellow Ginko by the Canton YMCA, but it may be too late. My sister passed Monday night so it is a bittersweet holiday for us.She passed one day after her son’s birthday. Justin her only son. Kris is coming down for Xmas and this is the first time my DIL Rachel will be spending a major holiday without her mom. We invited her parents to come down but they declined. Rachel is an only child and is very close to her mom. So we feel a little guilty. But not too much.
    We fly to Seattle on Jan 18th for her memorial service, I don’t know if you heard, but there was a mini hurricane /tornado south of Seattle last week in Port Orchard that destroyed 12 houses and litterally flattrened them. I doubt anyone in Washington has tornado insurance. Very bizarre weather patterns. I did not realise how Northwest weathern patterns can often travel east all the way to the southern regions-like here. But they show that on the maps. I imagine you are having some weird weather stuff happening where you are in York.?

    • Mike, I am so sorry about your sister’s death. I recall your telling me that you lost your father just before Christmas several years ago, so this time of year will now be even more difficult for you. You hear a lot about older people remembering times gone by, but I think people usually associate that with good memories. I’m finding out that one of the harsh realities about aging is that we also have many sad and painful memories that can be hard to shake, and for many of us, those sad memories continue to accumulate the older we get. I hope that you have safe travels to her memorial service. No, I had not heard about the tornado in Seattle. Our weather has been pretty typical of December lately, although we did get two snows so far which is very unusual, especially the snowfall of November 15.

      I’m happy your daughter in law is willing to come spend Christmas with you and I’m sure she appreciated your asking her parents, even though they declined. It’s always nice to be invited.

  19. Michael

    Went to tell us museum. In Cartersville today. Have not made it to blunt museum yet. western art.

    • Mike, I am really happy for you that you are exploring your new home town. You have already seen so many places that I never saw even after spending almost all my childhood and youth living in the area. Well done!

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