Letter Writing by and to Those Affected by Chronic Illness
“A Letter is a Joy of Earth…” wrote Emily Dickinson in 1895, and she’s right. The art of letter writing can be a vital, life-giving ministry of hope to those who are hurting, grieving, recovering, homebound, lonely, ill, depressed, or isolated.
While life-giving to the receiver, letter writing is also life-nourishing to the writer. Studies have shown that putting #PenToPaper:
- builds motor memory
- increases brain development and cognition
- makes physical wounds heal faster
- keeps us focused on the present moment
- improves sleep
- elevates our mood
- decreases stress and depression
- increases creativity and critical thinking
- improves our overall well being
J. R. Miller, author of Intimate Letters on Personal Problems, published in 1914, wrote:
“…Go on, my dear friend, in your ministry of letter-writing, and let Christ use your pen in this way for his service. God has given you a big heart—a great fountain of love and sympathy and cheer. Let the streams pour out continually in all directions, to bless the world. Hundreds and thousands of people need encouragement and uplifting. You will scarcely meet one man or one woman…whom you cannot make a little stronger or braver—by saying the right word.”
Would you like to put #PenToPaper to encourage and lift another up, to offer hope, to let someone know they are not alone, that are prayed for, cared for and loved?
If writing longhand is difficult for you, remember that letters don’t need to be long to remind someone that they matter. The important thing is to begin. And there is no better place to begin than prayer. Ask God who needs an encouraging word or a handwritten prayer today.
Write A Letter
Would you like to offer a kind word, encouragement, an inspiring quote, or prayer to a fellow chronic illness traveller? On hard days when it seems almost impossible to take one more step, sometimes it soothes the spirit to extend ourselves a bit. Writing a note to a fellow traveller could be just that.
And it’s simple to do!
Stop by the Prayer Pond and as you read through the requests, when God tugs at your heart, pause and pray, then consider writing a note, card or letter to encourage that person too.
Who do you know that you could bless with a note of encouragement? Ask God who you could send a little #PenToPaper love, then just write from the heart – a scripture verse, an inspiring quote, a prayer, and/or a few few short sentences to brighten someone’s day.
Would you like to receive a note of encouragement? We invite you to sign-up, so encouraging and inspiring #PenToPaper snail mail and other fun printed materials can find their way to your mailbox.
Sign-up to receive special mailings from us. You are our community and we would love to bless you with beautiful images, encouragement for your day, and the opportunity to inspire others. (Limited international delivery.)
CARD MINISTRY FOR TEENS & YA
Teens and 20-somethings would you be blessed to receive cards in the mail? Encouraging and inspiring #PenToPaper snail mail and other fun printed materials can find their way to your mailbox. Sign-up today! (It’s safe and secure.)
Where do you begin?
There are many good places, but the best is in prayer. Ask God who you could encourage with a note or letter today. And when He prompts, start writing. If you need a few ideas, here are a few of our favorite:
WRITE TO MEMBERS OF YOUR CHURCH
Ask your pastor if there are people at your church who could use a card or letter. Someone who is:
- Recovering from surgery
- Celebrating birth or adoption
- Grieving a loss
Your card or letter will remind someone that they are valuable members of the Body of Christ, without whom the Body is incomplete. We need each other. What better place to begin your Ministry of Letter Writing than in your own church family.
WRITE TO A SOLDIER
Operation We Are Here – Write to deployed and active duty military members, new recruits, wounded warriors, caregivers, veterans, and families of the fallen. This one-stop HUB of resources for the military community:
- Creates awareness of the challenges of the military community
- Offers practical suggestions to churches, communities and individuals on how to support and encourage the military community
- Provides a comprehensive list of resources for the military community and its supporters, including:
- Practical insights in caring for the military community
- The only interest-based list for military supporters
- Free Thank You cards to download, print and share
- Tips on writing letters to deployed military
- Free downloads for kids (coloring pages, etc.) to send to deployed military
WRITE TO PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS
Open Doors USA offers a wonderful opportunity to write to a persecuted Christian in another part of the world, reminding them that they are not alone or forgotten, that someone cares and is praying.
WRITE TO LOVED ONES
Notes and letters to loved ones not only draw us together, but they can become a historical legacy of family news, favorite memories, encouraging Scripture, and heart-felt prayer, reminders that we are thought about, loved and cared for.
WRITE A LOVE LETTER TO YOUR SPOUSE
Today might be the perfect day to write your spouse or fiancé a love letter. Here a few quick tips:
- Share how your spouse has touched your heart. What do you admire about your spouse?
- Share a favorite memory about your spouse.
- Write about a favorite song, quote, movie or food reminds you of your spouse.
- Write about a funny moment that has turned into a favorite memory.
- Reaffirm your love and commitment. These are words we can never say enough.
- Close with words that mean something to both of you. If you don’t a phrase you use, maybe today, with this letter, is the day to begin.
WRITE A NOTE OF ENCOURAGEMENT TO GIRLS AROUND THE WORLD
To Love Ourselves was founded to invite women into a Christ-centered community that builds each other up and encourages collaboration. “We believe that we’re all in this big, beautiful world together and the best thing we can do is pour into one another.”
WRITE TO A NURSING HOME RESIDENT
Love for the Elderly – Many nursing home residents are lonely, having few local relatives to care for, look after, or love them. Your letter could change that. Founded by Jacob Cramer, when he was just 13, Love for the Elderly is a five-year old, non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of seniors with kindness and joy.
Interested in connecting locally? Call a local nursing home and let them know you’re interested in sending a card or letter to someone who seems lonely or down. They’ll be able to get you started.
WRITE TO A MISSIONARY
Missionaries love to receive:
- Good News – Real stories about God’s love and provision, especially in the small things, the poignant moments. These are some of the most encouraging letters we can send.
- Questions – Ask them what they’re learning and share with them what you’re learning. It builds camaraderie and friendship.
- Your Story – Your story helps build a library of stories that missionaries can share with those they work with and teach.
- Life Events – Share the excitement of engagements, weddings, new babies. Share photos and don’t forget to include the hard events too: losses, illnesses, deaths.
- Love and Appreciation – Remind missionaries that they are loved and that you’re grateful for the work they do. This helps especially when times are difficult.
WRITE TO A FOSTER CHILD
Braid Mission – Many foster children never receive holiday, birthday, or “just because” cards. Braid Mission makes sure they do. Inspired by stories of the unique challenges facing foster youth and convicted by their faith, founders Rebecca Edwards and Christopher Chase, set out to create a new community built around mission to the foster system. Throughout the year, they send birthday cards to youth ages 6-16, as well as encouragement cards to staff and social workers.
WRITE TO A COLLEGE STUDENT
Do you know a current college student, a niece or nephew, a friend’s, neighbor’s or co-worker’s child, someone from church? Writing to a college student can be such a blessing. Make it fun! Include local news, an update from the neighborhood, a joke, a memory from your own college days, and end with a few words of Scripture, and a prayer for them. These can be a stressful days for a college student. To know someone is thinking about and praying them can make a big difference, especially for those who are far from home.
EXPRESS YOUR GRATITUDE
Once a week or once a month, choose someone in your life who has made a difference and thank them for it. Your list could include a loved one, your pastor, a doctor, nurse or medical assistant, a teacher who had an impact on your life, your mail carrier or delivery person, a neighbor or friend, the founder of an organization who’s work you appreciate, a local business owner, dog groomer or vet, your hair stylist, a server at your favorite restaurant, a checker or bagger at a local store who was especially kind to you. Your thank you will likely mean far more than you will ever know.
WRITE A LETTER TO A STRANGER
The World Needs More Love Letters began when founder, Hannah Brencher, unable to figure out how to exit her own sadness, started writing and leaving letters around New York City for strangers to find. She’d grown up with a mother who often left her love letters tucked into boxes and bags. Hannah started writing those same letters to strangers. On the front she’d write, “If you find this letter, it’s for you.” After writing nearly 400 handwritten letters, the idea for More Love Letters was born. Hannah built a website and started delivering love letter bundles around the world. Since 2011, letters have been written and found in 50 states, 73 countries, 100 campuses, and 250,000 letters have been delivered to people in need.
A LETTER IS A JOY OF EARTH
Letters remain some of the most influential and treasured historical documents we have. Much of the New Testament is the collected letters of Paul to the believers in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae and Thessalonica, as well as personal letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon.
“You have a touch in letter writing that is beyond me. Something unexpected, like coming round a corner in a rose garden and finding it still daylight.” Virginia Woolf
FOR IT IS IN GIVING THAT WE RECEIVE
“…Go on, my dear friend, in your ministry of letter-writing, and let Christ use your pen in this way for his service. God has given you a big heart — a great fountain of love and sympathy and cheer. Let the streams pour out continually in all directions, to bless the world. Hundreds and thousands of people need encouragement and uplifting. You will scarcely meet one man or one woman…whom you cannot make a little stronger or braver — by saying the right word”. J. R. Miller
C. S. Lewis
A repackaged edition of the revered author’s collection of personal letters—a curated selection of the best of his correspondence with family, friends, and fans—and a short biography by his brother Warren Lewis.
Letters of C. S. Lewis reveals the most intimate beliefs of the great British writer, scholar, lay theologian, broadcaster, Christian apologist, and bestselling author of Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many other beloved classics. Written to friends, family, and fans at various stages in his life, from his youth to the weeks before his death, these letters illuminate Lewis’s thoughts on God, humanity, nature, and creativity. In this captivating collection, devotees will discover details about Lewis’s conversion from atheism to Christianity as well as his philosophical thoughts on spirituality and personal faith.
St. Therese of Lisieux
Letter writing at the end of the nineteenth century was an important activity for the people of France. Those who received letters from family and friends alike usually kept the hand-written texts sent to them as precious gifts. That is why this collection of letters by and to one of the greatest saints of modern times is so interesting to us today. No mere notes slapped together in distracted haste, the missives found in this volume reveal communications of warm personal sentiment along with expressions of lively spiritual development.
Thérèse’s efforts as a fifteen-year-old to enter Carmel before reaching the required age appear in revealing detail. This tortuous course of a very subtle diplomacy is set out not only by the letters of Thérèse herself, but also by those of so many others who shared her hopes and eventual victory.
Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw
Born of a friendship spanning a quarter of a century, Madeleine L’Engle and Luci Shaw’s Friends for the Journey considers the golden quality of deep and lasting friendships, showing that the common ground of love for God transcends even separation.
A heartwarming memoir of love and faith from Hannah Brencher—founder of The World Needs More Love Letters—who has dedicated her life to showing total strangers that they are not alone in the world.
Fresh out of college, Hannah moved to New York ready to change the world. Instead, she found a city full of people who knew where they were going and what they were doing and didn’t have time for a girl still trying to figure it all out. Lonely and depressed, she noticed a woman who looked like she felt the same way on the subway. Hannah did something strange—she wrote the woman a letter. She folded it, scribbled “If you find this letter, it’s for you…” on the front and left it behind.
There is something about receiving a handwritten note that is so powerful in today’s digital era. If You Find This Letter chronicles Hannah’s attempts to bring more love into the world—and shows how she rediscovered her faith through the movement she started.
The ministry of letter writing can be vital and life-giving to those who are hurting, grieving, recovering, homebound, lonely, ill, depressed, or isolated. This ministry embraces intentionality - a purposeful slowing down - as we write, sharing news, encouragement, love, inspiration,...
O God of the Broken Beautiful,
You take the most common, ordinary things and transform them
into nourishment for body and soul.
Thank you for feeding us well.
We began with gratitude, Lord,
but we need to also make space for lament today.
Our hearts are broken,
We are people who always hold some kind of pain... #ChronicJoy #DiscoveringHope #prayer
Looking for thoughtful and encouraging ways to put #PenToPaper in action? Or perhaps a gift to inspire others to begin writing notes? Choose from these beautiful notecard collections.
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