From Golden Eye to Emerald Orb

For my dear friend Kat at TheKatWrites:

Dear Emerald,

Hi!  I know! A snail mail letter, right? I thought it would be a chance to practice my penmanship. I know it’s awful.

Thank you, Emerald, for always being what’s needed, for always being so strong, so hopeful. I mean, it’s what you are now even. Literally! The living embodiment of Hope! So appropriate! ^_^ I am ridiculously proud of you, Emerald.

How are your Mom & Dad? I hope you’re getting time with them now after everything. You deserve lots of lovely family time! And I’ll boot any big-headed little space elf who says otherwise. Things are okay here. Jon and I spent a week with Ryand’r after everything but I don’t really think he was doing any better when we left him and I don’t know when he’s coming home.

I miss my friends. I miss our friends. I miss the way things were, to be brutally honest. Even if we didn’t agree all the time–which obviously we didn’t–I miss just being friends. Being together. Life feels too much like a set of checks and balances anymore with my people.

Sorry, I didn’t meant to be all depressing. I just wanted you to know that I appreciate you and I miss you. I love you, Emerald. All the time. You know that, right? I hope so. Hit me up when you’re back on campus and I’ll make us entirely fattening chocolate chip cookies and then you can watch me eat them while I whine at you to eat just one. Cuz that’s how it always goes, right? ^_^

Love you, Emerald. Shine on!


Betsy/Christine - Three Doors Down

BloPoMo Day 7: “Giving Wings to Grace”

Did you know that grace can be sent?

It is as simple as a stamp on an envelope,

A name on a package, or an address in the To: field.

Grace is given in the remembering.

Grace is given in letting someone know that you remember.

Grace is given in the “Hello, how are you?”

Grace is spoken in the “I’ve been thinking about you”.

When we assure another that they are not forgotten in the crush and swell of this world,

That is grace.

We can twine our words round with kindness, compassion, and love, like wrapping paper and ribbon.

We can give grace in a “hello”,

Extend it in an “I love you”,

Gift it with a “you matter”.

We give grace a face when we listen in silence.

We give it wings when we acknowledge another’s pain.

We give it hands when we reach out.

Sometimes, our grace is small, childish, as simple as a shared cookie or bag of caramels.

Sometimes our grace is broken as we work through our own pain, but we make the attempt.

Sometimes our grace is beautiful, opalescent, forgiving, and extravagant.

Sometimes our grace is just blue ink on lined paper and starts out, “I just wanted to say hello”.

NaBloPoMo Day 13: Walking Backward in Words

Last night, as my husband was working on setting up his post-apocalyptic city in “Fallout 4”, I sat on the floor of the den by his couch and opened a particular box. This box holds the dearest of my correspondence. Letters, cards, and photos, precious pieces of memory from friends, family, and loved ones. Stacks are held together by pretty ribbon, several cards or letters sometimes set together in the same envelope to save space. But I was in search of one letter in particular; it is coupled together with a candid photo of me and the woman whom I call my mentor, my “Frodo”.

Of all the years that we have known each other and the times that she has written to me, this is the only letter I have left. The others are probably packed away somewhere else that I cannot recall. So this is the only letter of hers that I currently hold in my close possession, and it is the most precious to me. This was a letter written to me for my wedding day. At the time, Erin was a missionary in Malawi and unable to make it back for my wedding (which broke my heart a little, I admit), but she sent this letter on ahead of herself, with instructions that it wasn’t to be opened until the day of my marriage ceremony. So I waited.

When I rolled out of bed on the morning of July 22, 2006, I reached over to the nightstand, where this letter sat waiting atop my journal. I opened it tenderly and devoured the words inside. It is two pages of plain paper, covered in words written in her lovely hand, and I could hear my beloved Adona’s (what equates to “Bosslady” in Chichewe) voice rising from those words to meet my ears. Even more so, though, I could feel her voice in my heart.

She wrote: “I wish you nothing but joy, Melissa, this day and always. I wish you trials and hard times to challenge you and Ben together. I wish you the simplicity of the moment. I wish you a grand adventure together, laughing, crying, and truly knowing each moment. For these things, and above all else for awareness of His Presence. I will continue to bathe you and Ben in prayer. And it is precisely these things for which I have no doubt — you will find them. You always have, since that first day I laid eyes upon you, and I saw a heart full of love and a life full of potential.”

This is an opinion of me that I have striven to live up to for the past, not only for Erin’s sake but for mine. To be the woman God created me to be, to show to others the love that He showered on me through Erin and other dear ones who have made such an impact on my life for so much the better. Erin saw what God was endeavoring to build in me long before I ever did and she guided me into ministry opportunities that have influenced me ever since.

Over the past almost-ten years, Ben and I have indeed had joys and trials, laughter and tears, and God has never left our sides, even when were stubborn and tried to do things on our own or our way. He has always been there, arms open to us and holding us tightly. And we have only just begun.

I sat and read and cried. I remembered and thanked God for my friend who, though still farther away than I would like, has done and continues to do so much good in my life. For her letter that got a beautiful day off to a memorable and tender start. And for her prayers that continue to follow and cover me day in and day out.

Spotlight: Hannah Brencher, TED Talk: “Love Letters to Strangers”

As a fellow epistophile and lover of letters, I admire Hannah Brencher a great deal and have participated in her love letter writing initiative several times. It’s a wonderful act of love for someone you may not even know but needs your love and encouragement nonetheless, and it might even been an uplift for you own heart and soul.

I hope you will have a listen to her TED Talk and be encouraged/inspired by it.

I Wish You Could See…

Dear World,

I wish you could see what I see.

I wish you could see the beautiful little two-year-old girl twirling in the midst of my living room in her pretty spring dress, church shoes, and winter coat.

I wish you could see the spring sunlight as the rays filter through my living room window and fill my home with light.

I wish you could see my little family at baby’s bedtime, prayers and I love you’s and kisses all round.

I wish you could see the little moments of joy threaded throughout my day. But, even more so, I wish for you to see the ones threaded throughout yours.

Love, Me

A Passion for Letters

In the drawer of my nightstand, there are stacks of letters, cards, and emails, either tied together with ribbons or held together with paperclips stretched to their limit (which will soon breathe their last and be replaced with the aforementioned ribbons). These stacks are representative of people who are important in my life, those who have taken the time to put pen to paper and write to me: their thoughts, their feelings, the happenings in their lives – the good and the bad – their joys, and their struggles. I cannot throw these letters out; there’s too much in them. These are heart strands plainly writ. I could no more be rid of them than I could my own journals.

There are letters that I have lost over the years that I wish I still had, particularly from my first pen pal. We were teenagers and Leah and I became very close, writing to each other almost weekly, as well as checking in and chatting online. I wish I still had her brightly-inked letters but they are surely long gone, unfortunately. So, now, I endeavor to hang on to those notes from friends and family, people I love, those proofs of their effort and heart for me. Most who know me know that I am an epistophile – a person in love with the written tradition. I love the nuances of a person’s handwriting, the time it took for them to create that particular piece of writing. Even when words are crossed or inked out, I enjoy it. It is evidence of thought, of the writer working through their thoughts as they write, either thinking better or more of what they say before they say it, a virtue that has been largely lost these days, I feel.

In my purse, I carry a handwritten “Dear Beautiful Stranger” letter, inspired by the same action taken by For the Wild and the Free. I used to have four of them but three of them found their way into books and onto shelves in several stores around Muncie. I have this one left and am just waiting to find the perfect space in which to leave it for someone to find, someone whom I will never meet but that I hope will pass on the positive message to someone else somewhere else.

Letter writing is a joy. It is an art. It a heart-craft. These letters – like my journals – are the tangible proof of my life, of our lives, of the existence of friendships and relationships. They are proof (some of it) that I am and those whom I love are.

The Sound of a Pen Flying Over a Page

I admit it, freely and wholly. I am a defender of the epistolary tradition. I LOVE writing cards and letters. In fact, I think “love” is too gentle a word for it. I cannot find a term for someone obsessed with writing letters. The closest I can come to it is graphomania,  [grapho-] (Greek) meaning ‘to write’. Just early this morning, I had my husband post a packet of close to ten, if not more, cards and letters for me so they would be sure to go out in the mail today. And, now, my fingers itch to write even more. I keep having names pop into my head of people whom I haven’t spoken to or heard from in a while and, with them, the urge to write a note. I try to be mindful of these urgings, because I never know what that person may be going through or if they could just use a smile and a surprise in their mailbox.

A friend of mine commented that she should hired me as her personal correspondent. I should think that I would like to be someone’s personal secretary, though, as I think about it, it would require a great deal of trust on the employer’s part, as your secretary becomes privy to all your personal business. It also requires said secretary to be a veritable strongbox of secrets and confidences. But I should think that I would enjoy it; learning someone’s voice, putting their heart down on paper, even if it is in my own “hand”. I would have made a very good secretary in the old style, though I have no ambition for power. The mere joy and privilege of being able to read and write and interpret would have been adventure enough for me.

I wish personal secretary was still an option for a career in this day and age. *sighs wistfully*