Altered with every experience


Each morning finds us slightly different than we were the day before.
Sunrise over the Potomac River as seen from my deck, January 2023

“It was Heraclitus, of course, who came up with the formulation that we are never able to step into the same river twice…The obverse of Heraclitus’s maxim may be that one is never able to step out of the river the same, twice. A neuron in the brain is altered with every experience.”James Atlee

We interrupt these re-runs (as Raynard has so aptly called them) to bring you a new post.

Over the past couple of years republishing the 1100+ posts written during the first seven years of this blog, I’ve often wondered whether to slip in the occasional new entry. I’ve done this only once (or maybe twice?) mostly because I’m not sure I have anything more to say that might be helpful or worthwhile. I can just hear those of you who have ever sat in the same room with me, laughing hysterically at the idea of my ever staying quiet.

Many of you are hanging in there with me after ten years or even more, still re-reading my words. Some of you are even adding your comments here and there, or contacting me with personal messages via email or postal mail, all of which I appreciate. A few of you I have known since childhood, and some have become friends along the way, whether or not I ever met you in person. This community remains a vital part of my life despite my being unable to spend as much time here as in former years.

I am bracing myself for the emotional turmoil I’m about to face as I re-read the posts for the remainder of 2016, and the years following, in preparation for republishing them here. I have dreaded this since I first decided to repost according to a methodical schedule. Perhaps a new post here and there can add some context to what was an almost unbearably heartbreaking time in our lives.

In six years of being a widow, I spent so much of myself actively working to defeat despair in everyday life that I had little time or energy to write about it. Those of you familiar with the multiplying losses of the past few years will know why I say this. Yet, during this time I have grown ever more aware that God’s mercies really are “new every morning,” even during those times when we have to muster a bit more determination to see them.

In a least some respects, these years have been a rare and salubrious gift. Few people who know me well are around to see or notice it in everyday ways, but I believe I have changed and grown more during these years than at any time since I first left home in 1974. Even marriage and motherhood did not change me as much as being a widow did, because until now, all my focus has been outward. I stayed so busy facilitating the successes and challenges of my family that I forgot much of who I was before. Solitude, rest, and time, so necessary to healing, bring other unexpected discoveries.

I imagine those of you in my generation are experiencing this same sort of growth, demanded of all who are blessed to live many decades. For those of you who walked with me here through 2016, and for new readers who are welcome to join us on this journey, perhaps we can compare notes as we step in and out of the river. Neither we nor the river are ever the same twice. What have we learned? How have we grown? What are our new hopes and dreams?


  1. Hi Julia,

    How refreshing to see a ‘live’ post!

    In the picture that you took from your deck it is not super clear to me where specifically the Potomac River is…nor whether those are rooftops in the distance…or what exactly lies beyond the grass in the foreground. Isn’t life a bit like that? We don’t always see clearly what is in front of us. Sometimes we only get a glimpse. You, my dear Julia, have been through a lot. Just know that you are loved, cherished, and prized beyond measure…even on days when you don’t believe that. Live today well (I’m preaching that to myself!).

    God bless you.

    Pat XOXO

    • Hi Pat, the river stretches from left to right of the horizon in the picture, hidden in winter by the hills and rooftops of the townhomes on the riverfront. In summer, of course, you would not see the sunrises as well except from the upstairs windows, because the trees in full leaf would block much more of the view. To actually see the river itself, in any season, I have to stroll a little ways. It’s around a bend, about half a mile from my home. THANKS so much for being here! I have the lovely card you made for me soon after my injury last year, posted on my cabinet door where I see it every day. It means more than I can say! I hope it will not be too much longer until we are able to see each other face to face again!

      • Pat, this is for you. I snapped this photo at the Fitness Center this morning when I went to take Matthew to the gym. You can see that the waterfront Town Center (and soon, hopefully the train station) finally is under construction.

  2. Conrad Sloat

    Encouragement lifts up those in need and has a positive “blowback” benefit on the encourager! So very thankful for Julie’s posts!

    • Thank you Conrad! I am so happy for your steadfast presence here!

  3. Mary Ellen Davis

    Hi Julia! The sunrise photo is beautiful and I had to look up the word “salubrious.” I’m looking forward to your new posts!

    • Thank you Mary Ellen. Your encouragement will help me write the next one, whenever that may be…

      • MaryEllen Davis

        Well, whenever it comes I’m sure we’ll be blessed with wonderful insight and a beautiful photo!

  4. Chris


    Very well said, and nice to see an “original” today, no re-run. 😊
    I can only imagine what the past 6+ years have been like. I can believe that you underwent change, growth, and an evolving array of emotions. Through the process, you’ve received and accepted the consolation and comforting of many, and in return, you’ve been a light and comfort to many, and probably never even knowing the impact.

    The apostle Paul’s words are fitting: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV))

    Life is complex. Our experiences truly are new everyday. We do well to remember the past, with fondness and honor, as appropriate. But Today is the present, a gift from God. May we focus on the journey ahead, with joy and anticipation. “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, so that we may not grow weary in our souls or lose heart.” (Heb. 12:1-3)

    Have a great week! Tell Matt I said hi!

    • Thank you, Chris. I so appreciate your encouragement. The verses you quote are ones that have often spoken to me over the past years, and are especially apt as I try to focus on whatever may lie ahead. May the days, weeks and months to come be filled with blessings for all of us!

  5. Judy

    Julia, whether I’m reading a previous post or a new one, I always love the insights and encouragement that they offer. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and thank you for the loving kindness you spread through your photos, quotes and writings. I love the quote and thoughts you gave us today!

    I have a little something I’d like to mail to you via USPS. Will you be home for the next few days?

    • Judy, I am so happy to hear from you! For a long time I’ve been intending to write you a good old-fashioned postal letter, checking in and asking you how things are going. I will be home for the rest of the month, due to the upcoming surgery.

  6. Good morning, Julia!
    I was delighted to see your new photo – of a sunrise, no less – and from your own deck! My first thought after delight over the photo and new blog entry was “something’s wrong. Julia doesn’t aspire to be up for sunrises!”
    But, as your blog says, we do change with time and experiences.
    Even as I read the “reruns,” there have only been a couple of times that I have had the same thoughts or reactions to them as I had the first time I read them. So yes, even the reruns are helpful to me in new ways now.
    Sending love and prayers for you and Matt.

    • Thank you, Susan. Perhaps the most significant change from my horrific injury nearly one year ago (but who’s counting?) is that I am now a confirmed early bird– something I NEVER imagined. I simply don’t have the stamina for late nights anymore, at least not yet. I only wish I had learned that healthy habit from Jeff while he was still alive. But I’m more extreme than he was. Most nights I’m in bed (lights out) by 9:00 pm or even earlier, so I’m up well before dawn having had more sleep than I ever used to get. So God really does find ways to work for our good in even the most negative circumstances. Thank you for your steadfast presence here!

  7. Julia,
    Wise post. We are our own worst enemy.
    An old American Indian sage once said, “In every man’s soul are two dogs fighting. One good the other evil. The one who wins, is the one you feed the most”.
    We tend to the easy. And doubting ourselves is easier than being confident. Because the latter requires us to take action.

    • Hi Alan, I love that quote. I’m trying hard to feed the right dog, but sometimes the good dog is not around as much, demanding constant attention like the bad one does. If that sounds cryptic, no worries – I’ll send you an email soon with more details. Suffice it to say that if I’d waited even a few more days to write this post, it might not have been written yet. Or ever. Meanwhile, I’m leaning on Lamentations 3:22-24 and similar passages. Thanks for being here!

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