Thursday, March 7, 2013

An Old Trunk and Letters of Encouragement

Letters are treasured possessions.

Even more treasured are those 
that contain words of wisdom and encouragement.
In this day and age in which we live
we desperately need to encourage and be encouraged.

This old trunk is packed full of pages upon pages
of hand-written notes of encouragement  from my mama.

A few days ago, I got a message
from my daughter who is working on her Masters.

She shared one of her writing assignments:

  • She lived less than a mile away from my house and picked me up from school every afternoon; nevertheless, my Nanny wrote me often. She wrote to all of us, usually when we were facing something difficult, but sometimes for no reason at all. The letters were always so thick that the envelope could barely close, written usually on yellow legal paper. As a child, I often read them in haste, trying to get through the long stack of papers quickly. In college six hours away, however, receiving a letter from Nanny was a treat, and I treasured them. Now that she is gone, we all have our boxes full of Nanny’s letters written to us over the years. I’m so thankful my mother never let me throw them away. Through the years, I have often pulled out a letter and read a line or two, just to feel her presence and encouragement when I needed it most.
    Sometimes we need a little encouragement in the faith. Paul knew this and made a practice of writing to several of the early churches, even as he was in prison. We read Paul’s opening words in his letter to the church at Philippi in Philippians 1:3-6, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Imagine being the recipient of this letter! Paul doesn’t heap on admonition or discipline at the start; he opens with praise! I imagine reading the rest of the letter was much easier to swallow after reading the words above, knowing that Paul’s love was strong and his motives were pure.
    • As leaders, it is our job to “celebrate the values and victories” of those on our teams “by creating a spirit of community.” (Kouzes & Posner, 2004, p. 99) We do this by first being grounded in our own faith and mission (heart and head), and then by extending our hands in servant leadership to those around us. It doesn’t take much to listen when people talk and give immediate, specific feedback when 
      • they excel. We must “consider people’s development to be just as important as their performance” (p. 110). Paul knew this truth, and I think my Nanny did too. While the art of letter writing may be old-fashioned, the art of encouragement is not.

        Mama prayed The Word and claimed
        each promise for her family.
        This was one of her favorite verses.

See my name (Bonnie) in the lines of this letter.

Sure have needed to talk to my mama lately.
Maybe, I need to open the old trunk.


  1. Bonnie, I sure understand the need of needing a mother's encouragement. I have several of my mother's notes, letters and journals. They are treasures.

  2. Your letters are worth more than gold!! What a treasure to have them to read over and over again. And Bonnie, I want to tell you what an encouragement you always are to me. Every time I see your name come up, I'm anxious to read your comments because I know they're from your heart and they always make my day!
    Mary Alice


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