Thank you!

Ellis' dogs in birthday attire

Thanks to everyone who participated in my online blog birthday party on November 9, and to all the winners (for details on who won, please see this post).  I have now mailed out all the prizes and party favors, except for a few people I emailed for clarification, addresses or other information.

So, those of you who sent along your address and party favor requests, and those who won prizes, be watching your mailbox! If you do not get anything from me within the week, please let me know so I can follow up.  If gift cards are lost, they can be re-issued if reported promptly.

If anyone forgot to email me your address, let me know which party favor you want and send your address along with your request.  Those whom I’ve emailed for more info, I’ll do my best to get your prizes or favors out this week.

Thanks again for helping us survive this past year.  It really flew by for us, despite the heartbreak, pain and trauma we (and especially Jeff) endured.  Just goes to show you; it really is true that time flies whether you’re having fun or not.  Thanks for adding fun, fellowship and encouragement to my daily posts!  I hope to see you here often in the coming year.


  1. God willing, I will be there with you, and I will bring Carolyn along. Monte Holland

    • Thanks Monte, I will be happy to see Carolyn here too!

  2. Judy from Pennsylvania

    What a fun idea! I visit every day but have only posted once, although I also emailed a hello to you a couple months ago. I do plan to visit on 11/9 and leave a comment. It seems that I’m still shy about writing public comments but maybe it’s time to just get over it and on with it. Thanks for the encouragement, Julia!

    • Judy, I enjoyed your email so much, and just a couple of days ago I went to your website and saw some of the lovely wooden art you and your husband create. Jeff and I have been planning for the longest time to go to the Lancaster area, Hershey, Gettysburg, etc. and visit the many interesting sights there. We’ve never been. If you drop by on 11-9, please be sure to give our readers a link to your website. Many of us enjoy reading about these traditional crafts and knowing they are being preserved by people who are willing to devote their time and skill to mastering the processes. I will look forward to seeing you here!

  3. Rene

    I feel like an idiot, but I haven’t seen a place to comment on any of your recent posts (except this one, thankfully). Is there something I’m missing?

    • If you are reading the blog via email, or in a reader or on Facebook, I believe you have to “click through” (usually on the title) to get to the actual web page for that post, where you will have the “like” and “comment” options. Let me know if this works for you; if not, we’ll try something else…

  4. Rene

    Because I really do want to be part of the party :).

    • …because I really do want you to be part of the party, too! 🙂

  5. I don’t always comment, but I do read your blog every day. Congrats on making it a year!

    • Thanks so much! I am so happy to have “met” you online, and really do appreciate your encouragement.

  6. merry

    Julia, congratulations! I’ll be joining you for your party. I would like one of your party favors…the “merry” Christmas ornament!! :~} lol

    • Perfect for you, Merry! 🙂 Thanks, and I will look forward to seeing you here on the 9th!

  7. Count me in. You help brighten my day when I read here. You have so much strength coming from the Lord

    • Thank you! I always feel so happy when I hear that people enjoy the blog. I will look forward to hearing from you again on the 9th!

  8. merry

    I enjoy your blog and pictures! thanks for the invitation. Keeping you, Jeff and Matt in our prayers. And sweet Grady!

    • Thank you, Merry. We really need and appreciate the prayers. I am always happy to hear from you!

  9. Diana H. Thomas

    Julia, I will be here for your party if I remember. I come here infrequently because of time limitations, but do appreciate your comments on the Upper Room page.

    • Thank you, Diana! If I think of it I’ll try to remind you. I know what you mean about time limitations. I don’t spend nearly as much time as I would like on my favorite blogs. Thanks so much for being part of the Upper Room family, too!

      • Diana H. Thomas

        Julia, I just looked at Grady’s page and have to tell you that I’m glad to see the name Grady carried on. My brother’s middle name is Grady, which he goes by except at home. Then he’s Gray. He was named Albert Grady Harris III, after our grandfather (Bert) and our father, Al, or Albert. And my sister, Celestial, also just became a first time grandmother in July at 60. So much joy with the new baby!

        • Diana, thanks for sharing these details – they have a startling similarity to our family, where my grandfather’s name was Bert, and my brother’s name is Albert! My grandfather, who died when I was just a baby, was actually named Albert too, but I never heard him called anything but Bert. And my sister Carla just became a first-time grandmother at 60! It’s funny how these common threads in our lives intersect. Thanks for being here!

  10. I will try my best to be with you on your birthday celebration.

    • Thank you, Jim! I will look forward to seeing you here on the 9th.

  11. Debbie

    I try to read daily but when I don’t, I go back and read the ones I missed. I often do this in the middle of the night as I often have a hard time falling back to sleep and you always provide me with some positive thought. I still am waiting for the first grandchild from my one and only son and love hearing of your experiences. I am also a semi retired nurse so I do look forward to the medical updates.Lastly, I pray for you and your family and yes I want to come to the party. I did find your site from the Upper Room.

    • Debbie, thanks so much! Your words are a blessing this morning. I too had a mostly sleepless night, and I’m well acquainted with insomnia, going all the way back to childhood. If my words can comfort you during those soul-grinding sleepless hours, it makes me so happy. Thanks so much for being here, for your concern and your prayers. Our being able to keep going each day is testimony to the faithful prayers and even more faithful answers.

  12. Larry

    Yes, will be there. Just trying to figure out how to sing happy birthday with a pc keyboard! Larry and that mystery butterfly!

    • Larry, you could always record yourself singing and then attach it as a .wav file. Or maybe not. 🙂 I will look forward to having both of you “alight” here on the 9th!

  13. Roger

    Yes, I plan to be at the party.

    • Good, I’m so glad!

  14. kjyaccino

    Sure, I’d love to be included in your party. What a fun idea! Wishing it could be real-life, instead of virtual! Love to all of you.

  15. Emily Laveder

    RSVP…cannot believe it’s almost been a year!! WOW! You have walked such an enduring road during this past year. You have been steadfast and encouraging during a time when you could have chosen despair. You have lifted spirits and helped others at a time when you needed it perhaps more than ever. I am so proud to call you family. LOVE YOU!!

    • Thanks Emily, I will look forward to seeing you here on the 9th! Love you too!

  16. Megan

    Julia, I’m not sure if my earlier comment went through since I tried to do it on my phone. Just wanted to RSVP for the party! Also, Drew put 2 and 2 together today and November 10 was when we first found out we were pregnant with Grady! What a day!!

    • Wow, it’s a good thing you did not call to tell us, or maybe this blog would never have gotten started! Seemingly everyone we knew was facing some sort of heartache, discouragement or setback – if I’d had some happy news that day, I might have gotten distracted and forgotten all about my idea! It is interesting to find this out, though. I will look forward to seeing you here on the 9th!

  17. Look, I found it!! Don’t worry I will definitely want the chocolate!! 🙂

    • Well, as Gomer Pyle might say, SUR-PRIZE, SUR-PRIZE, SUR-PRIZE (only with Sgt. Carter’s sarcasm). You might be the only person I know who loves chocolate as much as I do!! But you have to win third prize for that, unless you want me to come up with some sort of chocolate party favor…

      • Does it say something sad about me if I say I would be content with third place? 🙂

        • Not at all! It might be more fun than the other prizes since you probably couldn’t talk yourself into spending a whole gift card on chocolate…or could you? :-). BTW, guess who ended up eating the last piece of chocolate bobka? Hint: it wasn’t Jeff. He didn’t feel like eating it and I didn’t want it to get stale. Tough job, but someone had to do it.

  18. Nancy

    Happy Birthday Blog soon, Julia….I’ll see you on the 9th.

    • Hooray! 🙂

  19. MaryAnn

    WOW! Julia, if you want another career, party planner is the ticket! This is terrific! I will be at the celebration on Nov. 9, 2013. At the party, I will keep my comments as brief as possible, since I tend to spout about yours & my favorites. ~~heehee~~
    I love you,

    • Thanks Mary Ann, I will look for you here! Love you too.

  20. Jenelle

    I’m SO coming to the party! What a fantastical celebration this will be indeed! I want to send you, Julia, a present… 🙂

    • Awwww, thanks Jenelle. In the words of a blog I follow, for all of you, your presents will be your presence!

  21. I’ll join you on the 9th, Lord willing! Love you and love this idea!

    • Thanks Carla, I will look forward to seeing you!

  22. Penny Schau

    I will try to play that Day so you will know more about those who read your blog.

    • Thank you! Are you in the Netherlands? I often have pictures of Keukenhof here, since I love flowers so. I hope to hear from many readers from other countries that day. I will look forward to seeing you here!

  23. Mary Ellen

    Hi Julia! Happy blog-birthday! Have enjoyed your blog since you first posted the link in the Upper Room, which I also follow daily. I pray for your family and others in the Upper Room. I just rarely post. Only once or twice …. But I love your photos and encouraging, insightful words, and I will always come to a party!! Looking forward to it!

    • Hi Mary Ellen, thanks so much for visiting us here, and I will look forward to seeing you at the party! (love your email name, btw).

  24. Kathy

    Julia, You are just amazing…..the ‘bees knees’ as my grandmother used to say!! I’ll be RSVP’ing to the party!

    • Thank you, Kathy…I will be happy to see you there!

  25. Rene

    Ok, I figured it out. When I first go to your blog page, it does not show comments, but when I click on the month and then the post, I get a comments page. So, I will be here on November 9 and I will find something to talk about! Have a beautiful Sunday Julia, et al.

    • Wow, I had no idea it was so complicated…it makes me appreciate the comments that much more! When I comment on other people’s blogs I can’t do it from the blog feed, although I can click “like” from there. I have to click through, which I normally have to do to read the entire post anyway. I do know I had to start using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer; apparently it has issues with WordPress, even though I had the most recent update. I am told these things tend to work differently in different browsers, mobile vs. desktop, etc. – seems as if everything just keep getting more complicated! In any case, thanks for making the effort! I’ll look forward to seeing you on Nov. 9th.

  26. Rene

    I have heard that Firefox is better than IE at weeding out viruses & such.

    • Yes, so far I’ve been happy with Firefox, and only recently started having problems with video while using it. I have my settings in a very conservative, max-protection zone, so I suspect I’m not allowing enough of a buffer (in terms of space allowed) to enable video viewing. I’ll have to go back and tinker with it when I have time.

  27. Nancy

    Today is the first day I have ever seen or visited your blog! It is very exciting because I feel like I have found a new friend. As time goes by, I will post more often. I am in grad school to become a professional counselor and am also doing an internship. Thank you for creating such a beautiful place for people to visit and connect with you and other readers of your blog. I do intend to visit on November 9th.

    • I’m so happy you found us! This is a community of many friends, some of us who have known each other for years, and some who have met only online. You have chosen a vocation that is sorely needed (as I’m sure you know) and I wish you every success in grad school. For me, I enjoyed my graduate years so much more than my undergrad years, partly because I was old enough to realize that school was not primarily about having fun, but about the privilege of learning. It sounds corny but I think there are those who will know what I mean. I will look forward to seeing you here on the 9th!

  28. Sheila

    Julia, I wouldn’t miss it! You have enriched my life so much. Although our circumstances were somewhat different but somehow the same, we clicked. 🙂 I consider you a friend, and hope and pray that many blessings will be yours in the upcoming year!

    • Thank you, Sheila! When I count all the blessings that have come to me from this blog, you are among those at the top of the list! I will be happy to see you here on Nov. 9th – it will be here before we know it. Have a lovely weekend!

  29. I’ll be there for sure 🙂

    • Thank you! See you there! 🙂

  30. This is by far one of the loveliest posts I’ve ever seen ~ I love the idea of a holiday party marking your one year anniversary of posting! How wonderful! It really is a special time in a blogger’s life to have written (and published!) 365 posts! Congrats to you! I am truly honored to attend your fete and I’ll bring the champagne for tomorrow as we toast to you! ♥♥♥ Cheers! ♥♥♥

    • Thank you so much! I appreciate your encouraging words and your lovely presence in the blogosphere. Yours was one of the first blogs I remember visiting!

      • How sweet ~ thank you! I always enjoyed your blog as well. Keep smiling…keep enjoying life and Defeat Despair! I truly love the name of your blog and all that it entails.

        • Thank you! As I mentioned to you previously, your blog was an early inspiration to me :-).

  31. Ann

    Here’s my RSVP! I must confess that I’ve been anticipating the party for weeks but only realized you requested an RSVP today. How in the world do you find the time and energy for all of this?! Glad you do😊

    • Hi Ann, thanks for the RSVP. It’s not a requirement but I did want to have some idea of how many to expect. I find the time and energy to do this by neglecting other less appealing chores (you don’t want to see the “to file” folder that has turned into a huge tote bag) but I decided one year ago that I needed to create a space for myself where I would feel “required” to do something positive and fun. I think on balance it’s been a wise decision, though I have a lot of cleaning and clearing to get to eventually! But as I told Jeff, on my deathbed I don’t want to say “well at least I had the cleanest house in town.” No danger of that! 🙂

  32. You go girl! As a fellow “365’er” I am inspired by your writings day after day. And as you know, it can get really tough to get a post out sometimes. I too, am not sure what I’ll do once the 365th day is over for me, which will be December 31st…I have grown to love the challenge it brings, so maybe I’ll continue but I’ll definitely be praying for guidance on this.
    Happy Blog Birthday to you and I love this virtual party idea!
    If I may, I’ll respond with my address via the email?
    Blessings to you and I wish you the very best of luck! Thanks for being one of my first real supporters on WordPress and I’m glad to have you as a friend. 🙂

    • Thank you! I agree, the idea of whether (and/or HOW) to continue is one on which I’m praying for guidance as well. I did get your email, thanks so much for your support! You are still the only other individual I know of who has posted DAILY for the past year and I’m glad I’m not the only one! 🙂

      • Can’t wait to party with you tomorrow. Have been waiting for your celebration!

        • Rosalie, I will be so happy to see you here tomorrow! Thanks for celebrating with me!

  33. RSVP – please do not include me in the prizes or party favors, though I genuinely applaud the participation of all the others who do so.

    • Nyah, nyah, nyah, you can’t stop me!! 🙂 (See response to your other comment on today’s post 11-9-2013!) BTW that is an actual quote from the young Al on a number of occasions, one being when he was swaying back and forth in the very top of a frighteningly limber TALL tree in the woods bordering our back yard, and Mama was standing on the ground yelling “Albert, you come down from there RIGHT THIS MINUTE!”

  34. I hope you will continue in any fashion that is positive for your own journey. I look forward to your blog everyday, as it expands my world. God bless you and thank you for a wonderful year of sharing.

    • Thank you so much, Cheryl! Those who visit this site are the most generous group of people that I know of. I’m so happy you enjoy the blog. I appreciate your taking the time to let me know. I hope to see you again in the coming weeks.

  35. Ron Wood (London, Ontario)

    Dear Julia, my name is Ron Wood (London, Ontario). The greatest gift for me is the sharing of love of Family and Friends. A gift you have so beautifully shared with us throughout the difficult time that you and your Family are enduring. I look forward to hearing from you in whatever forum you choose. God bless you and your family. Here’s to Happy Endings to all your trials.

    • Thank you so much Ron, you are among the many delightful “northern neighbors” whom I’ve met in cyberspace. Your collective online presence is almost as lovely and enjoyable as the Canadian gardens that never cease to amaze me. It’s probably not coincidence that my favorite contemporary writer, Malcolm Gladwell, spent most of his childhood in Canada (Ontario, actually!). I appreciate your visits here and your words of encouragement.

  36. It is a great day! CONGRATULATIONS! Your impressive and expressive blog posts are an added ‘spice’ in my day and I’m sure many others will agree. You must continue. Even if it’s a just a paragraph a day. Besides that, it’s therapeutic for all of us including…..????!!!!

    • Renee, in my mind you are the original “Spice Girl” so I am very happy to learn that I add to the blend! YES, it’s therapeutic for me, and maybe even takes some of the pressure off your ear so I don’t have to bend it so often!!! 🙂 Keep on shining my friend!

  37. Carolyn

    Here is my RSVP. Party time.

    • Party time for sure! How cool is it that your birthday is so close to this blog’s birthday? 🙂

  38. missed reading this yesterday but saw it today — will comment on today’s post

    • I will look forward to it! 🙂 As I often say, you get much of the credit (or blame?) for this blog, Facebook, etc…for which you have my lasting gratitude!

      • I’m grateful I played a small part in helping you start blogging. The inspiration and beauty of your writing has been used (and will continue to be used) to touch so many lives. God bless you and your family.

        • Thanks Barb – I still dream of getting together again one day. Maybe you and Ann and I will someday look back on our “youthful” days at WTP and all the people at the banquet who must have been thinking, “Are you SURE they are not serving alcohol here? What is up with the women at THAT table?!” 🙂

          • One of my fondest memories. I still think about that conference on a regular basis and all I learned and the fantastic people I met!

            • Barb, at the BRMCWC I heard the dynamic and unforgettable (and hilarious) Torry Martin talk about “divine appointments and holy introductions.” He said that people come to these conferences looking for agents and publishers, but he encouraged us instead to pray for, and seek, those unexpected, God-directed connections that are, in the long run, often far more beneficial for us. I have found so much truth in his words. No doubt in my mind that the biggest benefit of attending a writer’s conference is the chance (maybe for only the first or second time, really) to be among those who understand us and our eccentricities, and will literally change our lives in large and small ways. Not to mention which, you now know about the “ugly override” setting on digital cameras! 🙂

  39. Congratulations dear Julia on your pending Blog-iversary, it’s just been a pleasure to visit with you here and share messages, thought’s and life’s highs and lows. What a fun and generous post you’ve made for us to join in on, thanks for your invitation! I’ve said it so many times, “this blogging thing turned out much bigger and more special than I could have imagined”, but it worth repeating. Grateful for all the friendships but especially a few really special ones, I think you know who you are 😀

    With that, I suspect the favour I would love is a handmade bookmark with one of the many wonderful quotes and Julia photo’s. How would I ever choose?

    For those of you visiting WP or Julia for the first time, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Kelly, my WordPress friends call me Boomdee as I (along with two lovely kitty cats) am the proprietor of It can be a silly place some days as I try not to take life too serious at Boomdeeadda. Not surprisingly there’s usually more to be learned from the comments than the actual post, LOL. But that’s exactly how I like it. Do drop by, would love to see you. Any friend of Julia’s is a friend of mine 😀

    Thanks again Julia, generous hugs xK

    • Thanks Kelly, I would only add that your blog is one of the first I discovered, and it made me feel as if I had stepped out of the black and white tornado-hit house into the colorful land of Oz! Such stunning crafts and cute kitty photos, but one of the posts I most fondly remember is a wonderful wintertime walk in your city (which others can read about here). You headed to — where else? — a BOOKSTORE where you bought lovely craft magazines, and told how you’d recently donated 300 of them (!) to a local library – I was torn between saying “Good for you! They will be enjoyed by others and the money will go to a good cause!” and thinking “I could NEVER EVER part with those lovely craft magazines!” and thinking “OOOHHHHH NOOOOO, you could have donated them to ME!!! 🙂 I would have GLADLY paid the shipping!” But given the high international rates, uh, maybe not. Anyway, that vicarious online walk was a lovely mini-trip to another world for me. One of many a dreary and sad days when I headed to Boomdeeville for my “happy fix” and was never disappointed! Thanks for EVERYTHING including being my constant and steadfast supporter as I learned the blogging world, and for answering so many behind the scenes questions about WordPress (“Hey, how do I…?”). Spoiler alert: (as if anyone didn’t already know) you are among the statistical top 6 commenters who are finalists for the DDCAA!

  40. Debbie

    I am Debbie from Delaware and have posted once or twice on this site, but I read it and if I miss a day I go back and read the ones I missed. You have been an inspiration to me as I deal daily with self induced stress. I love you photos and I hope you continue to post them. I think you need to do what makes you most comfortable in terms of how often you post. I like you can not say I am going to do something and then not do it. My life as a doctors wife retired nurse and the mother of an adopted son has given me many happy times but stressful ones also, especially when my son left for college and I was an empty nester. My son just got engaged on his 25th birthday and we are looking forward to many happy times ahead. I found your site from the Upper Room which I try to read daily. I am active at our church and am president of our Altar Guild this year. Happy Birthday and Thanks for a job well done!

    • Debbie, thanks so much for taking the time to introduce yourself here! I think people who have not worked in the medical field, had loved ones there, or even been around it often as a patient or caregiver would almost always underestimate how demanding a life it is, for the providers and their families. “Happy but stressful” captures it succinctly. CONGRATULATIONS on your son’s engagement; our older son got engaged at almost the same age and I think it’s a good point in life to take on such a momentous decision. I appreciate your reading the blog and I’m so happy to know you have found it helpful. Thanks for joining the party today!

  41. I have enjoyed your blog and will continue to pray for you and all your family. I think you should not feel obligated to post on any time frame, but rather whenever you feel like it or have time. It should be a release for you, not a duty. I’m on a layover now, but will be hunting next week and enjoying all the woods have to offer! God bless!

    • Thank you Don! I’m so happy you took the time to be here from whatever city/hotel you are in at the moment. I hope you will enjoy both the sky and the woods during the coming week! We so appreciate your prayers for all of us. I am very grateful you have been a part of our family since childhood. You have brought us many laughs, much fun, much encouragement and wonderful friendship. Thanks again!

  42. Kathy

    Hi Julia,
    I am an avid follower of your blog, and if I missed a day, I always went back to catch up. My advice: I urge you to publish your 365 entries as a devotional book. I hope the librarian part of you agrees with me 🙂 Of course I know it is not as simple as merely wanting it to be published! Publication may seem daunting right now, but I hope you consider it. In the meantime, my suggestion is choose your favorite day of the week and post on that day except for holiday weeks; give yourself a break. (How kind of me!) I have enjoyed your succinct style, as well as the beautiful photos to which you can give personal captions. All the quotes are thought-provoking. Thanks for your hard work and tell your family I appreciate the time you gave towards the blog this past year.

    • Hi Kathy, thanks so much for being in touch with me since those long-ago WTP days, and for following the blog so faithfully. I have had several suggestions and/or requests to publish the blogs as a book, and I am flattered each time someone suggests it — but of course I wouldn’t know how to go about that on my own, and just haven’t had time to contact some of my own contacts who really know a great deal more about it than I do. So it’s on my “someday” list to explore the idea, but I know it will require more time than I have now. My dear friend Ellis had people clamoring for her fascinating Katrina blog to be made into a book (and I was among that group). I was privileged to be in on much of the process via her updates and galleys, and despite her having a traditional, highly regarded publisher that knew a good opportunity when it saw one, and was with her every step of the way, it was work, work, work on her part. It paid off with a book that has true historical value, as well as winning her numerous well-deserved awards and more writing gigs (you may have read her in Salon or heard her work on NPR) but even for a person of her creative genius and boundless energy, it was a formidable task. So you are right, it does seem daunting from where I now sit. I will take to heart your suggestion to give myself a break, and will do it one way or another. I truly appreciate your support and words of wisdom. I am thankful to have you with us on this journey!

  43. Sheila

    Thank you, Julia. I feel as though I’ve already received my gift, actually 300+ gifts. A gift awaited me everyday that I received your blog in my mailbox. You have become my friend (adoption pending ☺) and I feel sure that one day we will really meet. You have taken me to many more places all over the world than I could ever reciprocate. I could only give you my workplace stories, my day to day beach stories and camping weekends. But we really have given with our hearts! Best wishes to you in anything that you embark on.

    • Sheila, your unfailing generosity to me (and my family) has been a remarkable gift this year. I may have taken you all over the world, but you are the ONLY person I have ever known who has lived out the fantasy of actually living on the beach – on even ONE side, let alone in the front yard AND the back! — and has an RV to camp in too; two dreams I’m quite sure I will personally never achieve in this life. So we have been able to enjoy each other’s blessings vicariously! I do feel sure we someday will meet in person – as Boomdee and Alys can tell you, such friendships are a special delight of the blogging world! Thanks again to you and all who give with the heart, here and everywhere!

      • Sheila

        Julia, I came back this morning to read your words,again. We do live in a unique setting and honestly have been considered eccentric by some. It may not be normal or a “proper house” but it’s HOME for 28 years. It’s a cottage compared to the mansions built after Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Even so, it affords us the SAME sunrises and sunsets! That’s the Majestic of it all! I dreamed that Bill and I met you last night. I told you first thing that I talked like Dolly Parton…. and that’s the truth. 🙂 Never a dull moment! Maybe I’ve given you a smile this morning. Have a good Sunday!

        • Well Sheila, “unique” “eccentric” and “talking like Dolly Parton” are all things I am completely comfortable with. The “unique” and “eccentric” need no further explanation since you have been reading my comments as well as those of my brother, sister and father! As for the accent, having lived in Tennessee for a combined total of nearly 12 years, and having been married to a Tennessean for 33.5 and counting, some say I’ve got a bit of a twang to my Georgia accent myself – you can listen to the video I just posted and see what you think! Yes, I am smiling!

  44. Larry

    While not blogging very often, we have visited everyone of your posts for the past year. We have kept in touch by this blog and felt your need to defeat despair as it is indeed a necessity. There is great comfort in knowing the support you have found here with so many friends. We will continue to watch for your posts and enjoy each one of them. The butterfly enjoys the pictures from around the world and andfrom pictures decades before..

    • Thanks so much Larry, and the butterfly’s silent, unobtrusive enjoyment of this “garden” has been one of the greatest blessings here! 🙂 P.S. did you know that the very first little gift I ever gave that butterfly was a set of little soaps shaped like butterflies? You might even remember seeing them!

  45. Maggie

    Dear, dear Julia, I think you should do what is best for you with the blog. From my perspective, you gain energy from your interactions with other people, and I think you would miss it too much for you to give up your blog. I do like the idea of your broadening the type of content you may include, and even giving yourself permission to post a brief but meaningful quote. In this month of Thanksgiving, and the month of your and Jeff’s birthday, I feel incredibly thankful for your friendship and your love….and am sure many people feel the same way!

    • Maggie, thanks so much for being here tonight, and for your words of encouragement. I am reminded of a phone conversation we had many, many years ago when we were both young wives, you in Virginia and I in Ohio, and I was struggling with the loneliness and isolation that seemed embedded in being a mother with toddlers, despite my having an airline job that literally required me to talk pretty much the entire time I was at work. I don’t remember exactly what our conversation was about; in my memory it may have centered on the worries over Matt’s heart, and/or the almost legendary differences in temperament between Jeff and me, and his tendency to be as taciturn as I am loquacious. At one point you said something that was kind of an aha! moment for me, as crazy as it seems now that I would have so little self-knowledge. You said, “So much of the way you cope with life is through talking things over.” You said this not in a critical way, but more as a reassurance that it was only natural for me to feel this strange angst that so mystified me when I had no outlet for my need for verbal exploration. Aside from my very understanding sister, my rowdy and not-always-sensitive family had often made a great deal of fun of me for my talking. I think you somehow gave me permission to be who I was, without denigrating Jeff being who he was (I think you have always understood us both). All that to say, perhaps this has also given me a kind of fearlessness about my hypergraphia as well!

  46. Penny Schau

    I am from Kansas and read your blog and most comments every evening. I first found this through a post on FB. After I read your blog I read The Upper Room. I relate to so much of what you say and find myself praying for you and your family and feeling blessed by what you have shared. That said I feel you should continue in any way that is healing and enriching for you. Bless you and whatever you decide and thank you for this chance yo join you.

    • Thank you so much, Penny! Our daughter-in-law Megan is from Kansas, too! Jeff and I loved that state when we drove through and went to church there years ago while moving from California to Virginia. I appreciate your taking the time to visit tonight and leave a comment here. I’m so happy and thankful to know you have been praying for us and reading the blog!

  47. Ann

    Hi Julia,

    On Saturday, I received a nice note from you, my bookmark and the Amazon gift card! Thank you for all three! You are the one who deserves the presents though, not me. Your blog has and continues to be such a meaningful part of my day.

    You and Jeff have made it through a very difficult year even though I bet there were times you thought you wouldn’t/ couldn’t. Continued blessings and strength for you both.


    • Thanks Ann, today I feel as if we need it. This morning the surgeon said to Jeff “this will be more painful than last time” and I said, “OH NO, it was HORRIBLE last time, and he is a guy who is very stoic about pain.” Dr. H said “Yes, I figured out I couldn’t believe him when he kept telling me he was fine.” Seriously, Jeff has been through way more than I have, but as you say, there are many, many times when we both thought we had been pushed to the limit and then survived even more. We are grateful and just have to keep trusting. Thanks for walking through this with us. Glad you liked the bookmark! 🙂

      • Ann

        Seems like the doctor should be able to control the pain with meds. Be sure to get Jeff to start taking the meds before the pain takes over. Easy for me to say😊

        Many times the doctors tell you the worst scenario so what really happens won’t seem so bad.

        • Yes, we are hoping and praying they are just preparing us. After the last surgery there were so many unexpected complications post-op and things went so bad after the surgery itself going well, that I think they are just a bit nervous about it all, as are we. Jeff is a dentist so he has a lot of respect for pain control! The worst part for him last time was when he first woke up after anesthesia, before the meds had a chance to really kick in. What scares me most are all the risks, but we just have to hope and trust things will be easier this time. We are very grateful that this surgery is being offered to him because they wouldn’t go to these lengths if they didn’t believe he had a chance to beat the cancer.

  48. Dear Julia,
    I enjoyed visiting your blog. Your strength and optimism that you share with others is inspiring and founded on right reasoned common sense. The burdens that we must at times endure are greatly lightened when we come to understand that they have been endured for us before.
    I thanks you for taking the time to read my recent essay “Of Truth And Reality,” on the Contagious Optimism blog. Your kind thought is much appreciated. I hope you found value in my contribution.
    Alan Malizia

    • Alan, Thanks so much for visiting my blog! I did enjoy your essay, and sent it to my father, who taught all his kids about Don Quixote. It was helpful for me to think about the very real difference between “truth” and “reality” because it’s so easy to confuse the two! I appreciate your visit and comment here!

      • Julia,
        Thank you for you kind comments and hope your dad enjoys my essay as well. Just received your response to “Humilty Checks Humiliation.” Thanks again. I just began a new blog separate from “Contagious Optimism.” Its titled “CROSSROADS.” Hope you get to visit it at Have a blessed and Happy Easter.

        • Thank you, Alan! I will look forward to visiting CROSSROADS. I wish you a Happy Easter too!


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