In the last few years, I have discovered and embraced the incredible power of simple hand-written notes to enrich the lives of others. Every summer when I was a little girl, my parents and grandparents would send me hand-written notes and cards while I was at summer camp. They continued when I went away to school and these have become cherished treasures I keep in my hope chest to this day. In a world of text messages, email, and social media, hand-written notes and cards have become rare — endangered, even — and at risk of extinction. So I’m fighting back to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Thank You Cards
When I was young, my mom instilled in me the value — the importance — of sending thank you cards when appropriate. After my high school graduation party, after our wedding, after my baby shower, etc., it was only natural that I would send thank you cards to each person who thoughtfully shared a note or gift or visited. A couple of years ago, I started stocking generic thank you cards so that, at any time, I could send one to someone who had blessed me in some way. When we were on vacation and our neighbor picked up our mail while we were gone, we were grateful. When we came home to find she had also mowed our lawn, I knew I needed to send a card. I think I also made her a loaf of banana bread, but that’s not the point here.
I have shared my passion for old homes, and I have enjoyed historic home tours in my home town of Noblesville, IN, for many years, as well as in Madison, and Pendleton, IN. At the end of one such tour, it occurred to me how kind it was of these homeowners to invite the public in to appreciate the beauty and character of these houses. I had all the addresses, so, why not send thank you cards? And that’s what I did. The next time, planning to do the same, I was sure to note something specific that I enjoyed about each house. I sent a card to one homeowner in which I commented on her incredible collection of old radios and cameras. She reached out to me after receiving the note, touched by the simple gesture, and I got to know one of my neighbors a little better, all because of a note and a stamp.
Blessing others lifts my spirits, so I started seeking out other opportunities for my notes. I started sending notes to the addresses of homes in our community that were being restored, renovated, or otherwise improved. I would simply compliment them on the work and thank them for investing in our community.
Special Occasion Cards
I’m trying to be better about this one, but the honest truth is, it’s so easy and convenient anymore to send birthday greetings on facebook that I’m not very good about it. However, I do try to make sure each of my nieces and my nephew receives a birthday card every year from Aunt Stacy and Uncle David. Birthdays, anniversaries, new houses, new jobs — all are great opportunities to take a moment to encourage another person. I like to send cards to young people who have served alongside us in the preschool ministry at church, especially as they start back to school or during standardized testing time, or when one of them has a special celebration, like accepting Christ. Whenever I notice someone going above and beyond to serve and bless others, I consider it, “noteworthy.”
When the Blessing Comes Back
Recently, I had an experience with hand-written notes that ended up blessing me more than I could have imagined. On August 11 of this year, we attended a matinee show of, “Million Dollar Quartet,” at Beef and Boards, a dinner theater in Indianapolis. It was a combined celebration of our 22nd wedding anniversary and my husband’s birthday. Before the show began, the emcee announced some anniversaries and birthdays being celebrated by people in attendance. It was at that time we learned that the couple next to us was celebrating their 57th wedding anniversary.
57 years. If that isn’t noteworthy, then I don’t know what is. Every day I see marriages being torn apart and it breaks my heart. I wanted to congratulate them and bless them for the example they set. During the intermission, I went to the little gift shop in the lobby and found a, “Happy Anniversary,” crystal ornament, which I purchased along with a beautiful card and a simple gift bag. It all came up to less than $20. I wrapped the gift, and penned a simple note. I don’t remember exactly what I wrote, but it was something like this:
Congratulations on your 57 years of marriage. You are a wonderful example and an encouragement to us all. We recently celebrated our 22nd anniversary and hope we will have at least as many years as you have enjoyed. I pray God blesses you with many more. Sincerely, your “table neighbors,” David and Stacy Corwin
I took the package back to the table and at the end of the show, as everyone was making their way out of the theater, I handed the bag to the gentleman and simply said, “Happy Anniversary.” I stood there only long enough to notice the slightly confused look on his face and as we walked on out, I heard him say, “Thank you! Happy birthday to your husband!”
All I was trying to do was to offer a small blessing and maybe provide a sweet little memory for a sweet couple. It was the unexpectedness and the semi-anonymity that made it special.
Then, I forgot all about it…
until Wednesday, August 29. I got home from work to find David going through the mail. He was holding a card with, “With Sincere Thanks,” on the front of it. He looked at me with a very surprised expression and said, “You’re not going to believe this.”
The card, which was filled with her hand-written sentiments of gratitude, was from the lady at Beef and Boards. She thanked us for the kind gesture — a simple commemoration of a special occasion. She explained that she hadn’t realized what had happened until they were walking to the car. I felt a little bad when I read, “I was so surprised and embarrassed. I stood by the door hoping to see you, but did not. Had I known, I would have stopped to visit and properly thanked you and given you a warm hug. I hope you did not think us ungrateful.”
Oh, no, that was not what I thought at all. All I thought was that 57 years of marriage is noteworthy. That I now know a little more of their story — their children, grand children and great grandchildren — is just an extra blessing.
She ended her beautifully penned note by wishing us many more years of happiness.
Do the Unexpected
The world can be a cold, unfamiliar and unfriendly place as everyone rushes from one obligation to the next. If I’m ever too preoccupied to notice the beauty around me, then I’m too preoccupied indeed. I pray God focuses my attention appropriately. If I’m ever too busy to respond to a prompt of the Holy Spirit to give a compliment, send a note, or buy a trinket in a dinner theater gift shop, than I pray God will help me prune my activities that I may spend my time in a way that blesses others, honors Christ, and gives glory to God.
Ephesians 2:10, For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.