Ideas for a Letter of Encouragement

In my tween and early teen years, I loved collecting pen pals. I would introduce myself to girls my age at homeschool conferences and camp grounds and ask if they would like to be my pen pal. Many of those girls never responded to my letters, but a few became friends I’ll love for life. We used letter writing to learn about each other. We used letter writing to encourage each other in the Lord. We used letter writing to love each other well.

Letter of Encouragement

Letter writing has become less needed and less practical as digital communication continues to develop, but it still holds a special place in my heart. Opening an email doesn’t hold the same excitement as opening the mailbox to find a note from a friend. Reading words on a screen lacks the personal, heart touching warmth of handwritten words on paper.

Who in your life would benefit from a letter of encouragement right now?

Right now many of us are at home. Many are struggling with feeling isolated, feeling fearful over job status and the economy, feeling anxious about the health of those we love who are elderly or immunocompromised.

By all means, this is a good time to take full advantage of digital communication. Text your friends. Video chat with your grandparents. Live stream your church service. But maybe remind yourself how to write a letter too.

How to Write a Letter

These days, the biggest challenge for me is figuring out what to write. My friends are only a few taps on my cell phone screen away. We often share details of our lives on a daily basis.

What is left to write a letter about?

Here’s a few ideas:

  • Copy a poem (or write an original one)
  • Share a Bible passage (if you want to make it fancy, you can write key words in a different color to make them stand out)
  • Explain what God’s been teaching you through your current Bible study or from the most recent sermon at church.
  • Free write your thoughts about the happenings of the day. I find I often share facts via text message, but the deeper thoughts of how I’m responding to those factual events come easier in a letter than a text message.
  • If you’re a writer, hand write a short story. A friend of mine and I have done this by trading story prompts. The story has to fit one one note card or sheet of paper.

This isn’t the time to try to follow your grammar school guidelines for how to write a letter. You don’t need proper salutations or formatting to send a letter of encouragement. Letter writing isn’t about perfection, it’s about communicating and making someone feel seen and valued and special. And also having fun. Don’t forget to have fun with it!

Little Gifts to Add to a Letter of Encouragement

A day or two ago, someone posted in a Facebook group that, because of the Coronavirus quarantining, they’d had to cancel the baby shower they were planning for a friend. This person reached out to the Facebook group for ideas on how to love the expectant mama on that day despite the need for social distancing.

I threw out a few suggestions, and her favorite was the idea of a “letter shower” with notes containing special little extras.

You might be surprised at how many little gifts you can tuck into an envelop without adding to the shipping cost. USPS rules indicate that one postage stamp covers a standard sized envelop no thicker that 0.25″ and weighing no more than 1oz.

I keep a little gift bag in my closet filled with tiny gifts that meet these qualifications. Here are some of my favorites:

As you can see, there are many options to sending little gifts in your letters of encouragement. If you don’t like these or get bored of them, try googling “flat things to send to penpals” or “tiny gifts that fit in an envelope” to find more options.

Other Extras for a Letter of Encouragement

Now you have your note and maybe a little gift. There are still plenty of ways to jazz things up even more. If you want to go all out, here’s some more ideas:

  • Add stickers to your note. Wait. Aren’t stickers for kids? Not anymore! Last year one of my co-workers found a bunch of faith based stickers on clearance and grabbed them for me. I love adding using them to pretty up my letter writing (and my journaling). The ones she got me are from Illustrated Faith, and they’re great!
  • Washi Tape. Washi tape is perfect for using inside the note or to seal the envelope. I’ve even used it to frame the mailing address!
  • Wax Seal. A word of caution, wax seals have a habit of falling off in transit. I guess the postal service of medieval times was a little less rough. However, wax seals are a ton of fun. I might try putting a piece of clear packaging tape over the seal next time I try one. Maybe that will hold it on.
  • Fun Postage Stamps. The post office is always coming out with new stamp runs. Why use a boring stamp when the fun ones cost the same price? I shared my current favorite stamp design in 5 Things I Loved This February.

Right now we’re all feeling the need to support each other because we’re all, to varying degrees, feeling the impact of Coronavirus. But it doesn’t need to take a worldwide pandemic to get us checking in on each other and finding ways to make someones day a little happier. Sending letters of encouragement (my friends and I call them “happy mail”) can be a wonderful, everyday little joy of regular life too.

So go ahead. Grab some stationary (or a simple piece of printer paper) and a pen. Pick a friend or relative to write to. Or do a Google search and find a letter drive for a cancer patient or a nursing home. Pick one of the options for how to write a letter. Maybe add some stickers and washi tape. Maybe tuck in a little gift. Write an address. Add a stamp. And you’re done.

When was the last time you tried your hand at letter writing? Do you love receiving letters of encouragement? Which tuck in gift do you want to send to someone? Who are you going to send a letter of encouragement to?

Gifts to Add_Pin

Washing Feet In the Midst of Coronavirus Panic

Washing Feet Coronavirus

Wash hands first, then wash feet.

I saw this quote on Instagram several days ago. I can’t find the source now to credit the person who wrote it, but those simple words helped alter how I am thinking about Coronavirus and how it is impacting the world.

Historically, Christians have been at the forefront of helping in the face of calamity. I don’t want that heritage to stop with my generation. Maybe this is our opportunity to carry on the legacy left to us.

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Never Walk Alone: A Novel Devotion from Dare

Have you ever felt alone? Unwanted? Like the effort you put into life barely keeps your head above water and true fulfillment is an unreachable ideal?

Reading the beginning of Dare makes my heart ache for a character who has spent his life serving a master with many demands and no love. Like many people, this character spends his life serving a master who rules through fear but doesn’t realize he is lonely and and unwanted and wants something more.

Never Walk Alone

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Don’t Waste Your Time On (Trifling) Fiction

Face it. You can’t live with your head in the clouds forever. Fiction whisks you out of the real world and builds unrealistic expectations. Readers of fiction can become discontent with the lives they are leading. The lesson? Don’t waste your time on fiction–instead, determine to choose books that inspire.

Fiction Waste

 

A Bookworm Reacts to Fiction Bashing

Every time I read a blog post that bashes fiction or hear someone boasting that they only read non-fiction, I cringe. I grew up with my nose in a book. When I read A Little Princess for the first time, I immediately identified with Sara when her father said,

She is always sitting with her little nose burrowing into books. She doesn’t read them, Miss Minchin; she gobbles them up as if she were a little wolf instead of a little girl. She is always starving for new books to gobble.

So, what do I mean when I repeat the naysayers’ mantra of, “Don’t waste time on fiction”? Obviously I’m not telling you to throw out every novel in your house and feed yourself an exclusive diet of non-fiction. You wouldn’t listen to me anyway. On the other hand, I can’t deny that it is entirely possible to waste time on fiction and be negatively impacted by it.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. –Philippians 4:5

The Good and the Bad

Dear reader, don’t abuse fiction. Don’t neglect necessary and needful things like reading the Bible, doing school, working diligently, serving others, and spending time with God in order to read “one more chapter.” Don’t choose books that fill your mind with unholy thoughts.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. –Philippians 4:8

When people turn their backs on fiction, they’ve often been exposed predominately to books that don’t turn their thoughts to things that are true, lovely, pure, and of good report. That’s a tragedy.  There are many stories that can help you do exactly what Philippians 4:9 directs. That’s why I love fiction so much.

Fiction and Me

Novels have had a huge impact on my life. I can point to particular books that have shaped and grown me to the person I am today. The Hundred Dresses taught me to care about people who are different, left out, or made fun of. As a very young reader, I remember finishing this book with a determination to befriend anyone who didn’t fit in–a determination that led me to make a point of greeting each newcomer at homeschool group and church. When I was twelve, A Family Apart renewed my interest in orphan care, a passion that is a huge part of who I am today. At sixteen, Safely Home pulled me into the life of a Chinese Christian and suddenly made the persecution I had learned about my whole life real. Without Alcorn’s novel, I might never have written Counted Worthy.

These books are a tiny sampling of the timeline of fiction that positively impacted my life. These are the books that make me want to cry out in protest when people dismiss fiction as being less worthy that non-fiction.

Non-fiction can teach the mind, but fiction inspires the heart. [Tweet This]

Don’t Waste. Spend Wisely.

Don’t waste your time on trifling fiction. Spend it wisely on stories that teach your heart to care about the things God cares about.

Yes, stories have a tendency to change our expectations and cause us to look at the world with different eyes. This can be destructive, but it isn’t always.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. –Romans 12:2

Don’t choose novels that pull your mind away from what matters. Instead, find stories that cause you to–in the words of Do Hard Things–rebel against low expectations. Don’t choose novels that fill you with selfish discontent. Instead, find books that make you want to shed mediocrity and seek God’s best.

Don’t waste your time on books that shrink your world to yourself (and maybe an imaginary, perfect significant other that doesn’t exist). Read fiction–and yes, non-fiction too–that inspires bigger living.

What books have inspired you to care about things that matter? What makes you love fiction?