Letters of Gratitude- A Challenge for the Month of November

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Last November, I completed a Twenty-One Day Gratitude Letter Challenge  Twenty-one letters. Twenty-one different people. Twenty-one different sentiments of appreciation and thanksgiving. Some people I knew very closely, others were strangers. But to each person, I sent my gratitude. I thanked them for being uniquely them, for making a difference in my life, for doing their best for our community, and making the world a better place.

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Words are powerful little things and we often forget how much potential they hold. We get so busy running around, conquering the next thing, shouting short commands over our shoulders. We opt for the fastest modes of communication in the forms of emails and texts. We use shorthand, acronyms, and pictures to express our thoughts and emotions. All the while we are left weary, sometimes lonely, and desiring connection and relationships. I get it. I’ve been there. I’m often there. I’m preaching to me.

For some of us, it’s a season. For others, it’s a lifestyle. For all of us, it’s a choice.

I’m proposing a time time to slow down. A time to reevaluate our priorities, reevaluate our time, and the words we are giving and receiving. I’m proposing taking at least ten minutes each day in November to be intentionally grateful for the people and situations in our lives and then encouraging others with our words.  I’m proposing a new challenge. An every day letter writing challenge with some new prompts and new suggestions that might possibly stretch us out of our comfort zones.

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” – John F. Kennedy

I’m going “old school,” “snail mail,” and if you have a horse and rider to deliver letters that’s even better (Just kidding….maybe I’ve been watching too much Poldark?) You will need paper, something to write with, envelopes, and stamps. Each day, try to find ten minutes to write. It does not have to be an uninterrupted time period. It could be a minute here and a minute there. You can write at a desk, the kitchen table, in the carpool lane, or in the bathroom. It does not have to be a letter filled with long, elaborate, flowing words and rhymed prose (although. so totally awesome if it did) but it does need to be genuine and sincere and point out one or two things you appreciate, admire, and like in the person. Seal up the letter, write the address, and drop it in the mail. And smile! You just made a difference in someone’s life.

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You can find the writing prompts here. They are just a suggestion. Please write to whoever is on your heart. Be creative. Use your church directory, address books, MOPS group directory, pull names out of a hat.

And pray! Pray for the people you are writing to and pray over the envelopes before you drop them in the mailbox. I believe these letters have the power to strengthen and change relationships. Just imagine if 100 people take this challenge for thirty days, that’s 3,000 people who could have their day brightened and possible make a difference in how they look at their purpose and potential! My three kids are doing it with me. So together, that’s 120 people just from our household!!!

So, will you consider joining me in spreading some kindness and gratitude? I would love to hear from you if you do. And if you want to really take the challenge up a notch, hand deliver your letter and spend some time with that person. Oh, just think about that!!

 

A Selected Winner

A Selected Winner

I love receiving mail! I ogle over the Pottery Barn catalogs, shake my head at the quantity and quality of political advertisements, and I used to open up almost every single Publishers Clearing House envelope. The envelopes quite clearly stated that I was a “selected winner” and commanded “final steps were required” to take.

How could I argue and what did I have to lose? For four months, with delusional hopes of winning, I painstakingly stuck every sticker/stamp in the correct place of the catalog all while avoiding household duties and screaming children. After the finalist papers had been mailed in, the house was still a mess, the kids were still screaming and no Prize Patrol, balloons, or an oversized check came to my door.

But the other day, a beautiful, handwritten note of encouragement arrived in my mailbox. The real mailbox. The one located in front of my house on the side of the street.

The envelope did not proclaim that I was a “selected winner.”There were no blaring, red words stating “final steps required” on the front. No stickers to be stuck, no catalog to go through, no other mailings required. Yet, I knew that this letter represented that I was a winner and a prize worth more than money was waiting for me within the words the note contained.

The card was sent from a dear friend (and mentor.)  A friend whom I can depend on and who I trust with my deepest fears and insecurities. A friend who laughs with me, celebrates with me, mourns with me, prays with me and for me.  But best of all, this friend allows me to be me. She loves me for who I am. The good and the work-in-progress. If you have a friend like that, consider yourself an ultimate winner!  There is something liberating and powerful, so divine in a friendship like that. And I am so blessed to have more than one friendship like that.

I did not wait to get into the house but opened the card in the driveway. Each word I read, sunk into my heart. It was a card about me. All the good things that my friend noticed in me.  Leadership skills, vulnerability, faith, and friendship. She called them out one by one in careful, thoughtful, and encouraging way. Have you ever received a letter like that? It is life giving.

The envelope did not state there were “final steps required,” but there were final steps that I wanted to take.

1.) I praised God for the blessing of friendship and the encouragement of others. If you do not have friends in your life, why not pray about it. Ask the Lord to put some people in your path that will be a blessing to you. If you a mom, a MOPS group is a great place to find some friends.

2.) Be an encourager! Each week, one of my goals is to write at least two letters/cards of encouragement to friends and family. It doesn’t need to be a long letter. Just a note to let them know that I am thinking of them, praying for them, and to call out something good that I see or admire in them.  And then pray that the letter arrives at just the right moment.

Make someone a “winner” today.  Mail a “prize winning” envelope today that includes a prize worth more than money. A prize of encouraging words that bless their day.

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PS….One final note on Publishers Clearing House, if you happen to be curious, purchasing something (let’s say three super sharp, never dulling, crystallized scissors and two amazing, can’t-find-them-anywhere-else-yes-you-really-can pencil sharpeners) from the PCH catalog, that really, REALLY does not give you a better chance of winning (exactly as the fine print says.) JUST SAYING!