I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing Letters of Thanks

Photo by chappy14

Like many of you, I want to be a published novelist. November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. Skimming the website’s history doesn’t reveal exactly why this month was chosen. Whoever heard of expecting anyone to write a complete, 50,000-word novel during November? Don’t they know how busy people are? Of course, it’s hard to say, in the twenty-first century, when we’d ever slow down with nothing left to do with our time except write a novel. None of the other months during the year seem to be lazy and carefree, either.

But November is also the time when our hearts turn to thanking those people we are grateful for every month of the year.

When my husband was alive, I’d periodically remind him about the “just-in-case” letters to our children (and one to my husband) that were stashed in my sock drawer. Every few years, I update the letters, mentioning current interests or skills and spiritual gifts I’d see in their lives. I hope to encourage them and remind them of my love if there is ever a time when I’m not here to do that.

One trying school day, a math teacher, Franciscan Nun Sister Helen Mrosla, departed from the curriculum and asked students to list the nicest thing they could think about each classmate. She compiled the comments and gave a personal list to each student. Years later, after one of the students, Mark Eklund, died in Vietnam, the list was found, taped and re-taped, in his wallet. At the funeral, many of the other students also revealed they’d saved the list as one of their prized possessions. The inspirational tale of Sister Helen Mrosla, “the teacher who made a difference,” has been widely circulated all over the internet and featured in numerous books, like Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read about it here.

Instead of worrying about reaching a self-imposed NaNo word count, I propose taking time to write a letter to at least one special person in your life telling how much he or she means to you. Who knows? Maybe your letter will be more meaningful to someone, more used by God, than the words in any novel you ever write.

Roxanne Sherwood

Taking time to be thankful: There are so many people who love and encourage me: seven wonderful children; a mother; siblings & their spouses; precious friends like the Ponderers; and a new man in my life. I love, appreciate and thank God for each of you!

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you’d like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you’re thankful for!

Second photo by photo by lusi


  1. Roxie, I love your idea of "just in case" letters for our children! And you've challenged me to write a letter to someone, letting them know what the mean to me. Sometimes that can be really hard to do. Great post!

  2. I'm challenging myself too. My "just in case" letters are a bit outdated.

    Pat, don't you think most worthwhile things are hard to do?

  3. I'm mulling over who to write to . . . thanks for the challenge, Roxanne.
    I am thankful for our friendship lasting all these years!

  4. What a great idea, Roxanne!! And you know, it's interesting...I've been thinking lately about how I haven't written near as many letters to my grandparents lately, have let emails from friends go without response, haven't made as many calls to people I care about...mostly because I've been so dogged about this novel-writing thing...But if it's taking the place of staying in touch with the (real) people I love, that's baaaaddd...your post was such a great reminder to me...thanks!!

  5. Melissa,

    When I first started writing, I had a closed-door policy. But I didn't have a contract or a deadline. I realized I was shutting out the people I love. Now, my door is open, and the kids come in as needed. If I'm on a deadline, that may change. But for now, I'll take their interruptions while I'm still someone they want to talk to. But I'm as guilty as you about not writing those letters just to get another chapter written.

    Beth, I'm thankful for our friendship lasting all these years. I treasure you!

  6. Roxanne, as has already been stated, I love, love your idea of "just in case" letters. I am going to do that! I've pondered (used intentionally! :)) how to pass on words of encouragement to our kids in the event I'm ever not here to do it in person. Your letter idea sparked within me. Thanks for the inspiration and for the challenge to keep my priorities in their proper order.

    I'm so very thankful I got to know you a little bit at SC! :) Hope I get to spend more time with you in the future. :)

  7. Jeanne, So glad I got to know you! As you tuck those letters away, I hope you'll have the chance to share with other moms of young kiddos. Hopefully, "just in case" will turn into letters our kids can cherish when we ARE there.

  8. Rox~ I also love the "just-in-case" letters! I immediately shared that idea with my husband, who also loved it.

    Like you, I wondered about the November choice. I know it was because it was a month with 30 days. Of the other 30-day choices, there doesn't seem to be one that is better...April, June, September...I don't think it matters when one embarks on a challenge like this, all kinds of stuff will come up. That's why, like you point out, we have to have perspective about what is truly important, and to have priorities. I get caught up in the excitement of starting every year, and I thank you for the reminder to make sure the people I love never feel they take a back seat to my writing. =)

  9. Roxanne,
    I loved your post. I write those letters to my children. My Mom died when I was 18 months, so I treasure every day with my children (even in the midst of the stacks of laundry). At the same time, I am very cognizant how quickly life can change. I want my kids to know just how much I treasure them. Thanks for reminding me to update those letters.