Monday, May 04, 2009

I was thinking about my last post, and the power of a written letter to cheer someone's life. I have heard so many stories about the power of letters to encourage, instruct, and cheer other people. I am fascinated by books of letters, such as between a notable married couple or a well-known parent to a child.

Once, many years ago, when my children were small, I was trying to figure out how I could reach out to others in addition to caring for my wonderful family. I wasn't sure how to get started. Then, I read in a church bulletin about a woman who had been shut in with illness and some health issues connected to aging for many years. Since she was not able to get out and about, she wrote someone a letter and mailed it every day. When she died, it was estimated that the number of encouraging letters she had written was in the hundreds. Some testified how much her letters had impacted them.

Well, I figured that bulletin article was an answer to my prayer. I thought about the Biblical principle that if you have a little, you will be given more and that if you are faithful in a little, you will be able to be faithful in the larger things. I could certainly write and mail letters, even if I didn't know how else to be an encouragement to others. Also, if a woman whose body was declining could write letter, surely I -- an able-bodied young mother -- could find time to write and mail letters. I could certainly do that without neglecting the charge to care for my dear husband and precious babies, too.

So, I started scouring our church's bulletins for clues about people who needed a letter of encouragement. Each week, I would write a few notes.

God was faithful in that he brought people into my life who showed me some other little ways that I, as a young wife and mother, could share my faith and also serve and encourage others. I was very grateful.

Sometimes, I get busy and forget to keep up my letter writing. However, if I do "get stuck" for ideas about putting my faith into practice, I go back in my mind to that example I read about so long ago. Over time, I have lost the original bulletin article. But, the faithful example of the women in the article -- someone I had never personally met -- has stuck with me all of these years.

In a way, sending a letter is such a small thing. It requires so little on our part. But, letters do mean so much to the recipients, and being in the practice of writing them does train our hearts to be sensitive to the needs of others -- whatever they might be. Also, training our children to write notes and letters is good for their hearts, as well.

I recently read of the letter writing ministry of a preacher from the late 1800's to the early 1900's. Some ideas from that has enlarged my view of what can be done through writing notes and letters. My daughter and daughter-in-law are both really better than I am at writing notes to people.

I've also personally known many examples of women who have been examples for me of other little ways to show kindness -- such as sharing cut flowers from your yard, baking things for others, how to speak a gracious and encouraging word to someone, etc. There are so many gracious, wonderful women around whose examples we can imitate. Tagging along with another woman when she is going to serve someone gives me an opportunity to learn, myself. Also, when someone shows me a kindness or encourages me in some way, that teaches me something, too. I remember what helped me, and I am able to pass that along to someone else. Taking note of models of kindness helps me so much when I want to grow in serving others.



Meredith@MerchantShips said...

Thank you for sharing this! I hope you will give more ideas for serving others effectively in the family years.

Anonymous said...

This is such timely encouragement! We've been enjoying Bob Schultz books for devotions, and this week was a talk on this very subject. It was so much FUN to see who each child wanted to encourage and what they wanted to say! (((((HUGS))))) sandi