Friday, October 21, 2016

31 Days of Free Writes: Study, 31 Lessons : Seize the Time

Monday is one of the sweetest days of my life.  That day, four years ago.
I got the October baby I had wished for.
October, 24th, 2012. 
A dark complected, bright eyed baby, cloaked with black hair. 
My third girl. 
I remember for so many reasons I had always wanted three girls.  A band of girls.
She was my final wish.
I had always dreamed about having a harvest baby too. I love all my kids birthdays, but I enjoy her season and birthdate the most. 
Because Moriah was the third and I was already deep in mothering two other girls she sometimes fell through the cracks. Many times. 
I babied her the longest in nursing, but she didn't receive the same attention, the same hours of story reading, the same showering of undivided attention.  There was just too much going on.  I was homeschooling older girls too and as Moriah grew and toddled around she occupied herself mostly as the older girls and I did things. 
She became quite the master of playing within her own imagination. 
In fact she plays so well by herself arranging her rainbow colored ponies and flying dolls above her head, she can easily play for an hour all by herself and not look away. The house is quiet except for her room where a fast paced conversation is taking place between Moriah and all of her toys.  
She is quite the contented and independent little girl. 
But I was missing her, missing the blossoming of Moriah.  
I felt it, that i was losing the knowing of her in all that was transpiring.
Especially last year when I wasn't the best.  I was at my worst.  
Last January, I gave up homeschooling and entered into being a mama who dropped her older kids off at school and kept her toddler and infant. 
It was new and unfamiliar.  I needed this respite. My mind and heart were unraveled and reeling.  
I wasn't the best mom, I wasn't able to be.  Too much going on. I made it through the days but not thriving.  
But this August when my older girls returned to school I decided to make this year the year I studied Moriah.  
I knew October leaves would mean my three year old was leaving and turning four. Now was the time to know her. To talk with her at length.  To hear her ideas.  To try to plan and do so many things she would love.  To take her places just because she alone wanted to go.  No input from big sissies.  To get cups of frozen yogurt and lay beside each other while the baby slept and watch the same show she always wants to.
To massage her feet after her bath as she laughs and smells like lavender.  I never did that before, but I love doing it now.
She has started talking so much.  She stays up the latest with me at night settling beside me to snuggle and chat. 
It's making a difference.  She is animated, enthusiastic, and babbling like a running over brook. 
She is expressing stories, thoughts, and dancing with all of her heart. 
It's simple really.  It's just being present to the presence of her.  Watching the world open up by watching her unfold. 
I'm so thankful for these moments I get.  A grace gift.  A gift I don't deserve, but get to enjoy.  A gift where I get the season of time to invest in my almost four year old.  To celebrate her and strengthen bonds.  To focus on her.  
Let me tell you, she has the most gorgeous brown eyes and golden hair. 
A nose that crinkles when she smiles and a tummy that is round and spills out of most of her clothes. 
I'm in love with Moriah more this year.  This is the year I study her.
I'll close with this poem from Irene Foster.  I read it when I was a new mother and always loved the sentiment it captured.  I used to keep it on my fridge to remind me of what was important. 
I lost my way for a while, but now I'm refocused and resolved.  And part of this resolve lies in these old old words...

"Now is the time to get things done…wade in the water, sit in the sun, squish my toes in the mud by the door, explore the world of a girl just four.
Now is the time to study books, flowers, snails, how a cloud looks; to ponder “up,” where God sleeps nights, why mosquitoes take such big bites.
Later there’ll be time to sew and clean, paint the hall that soft new green, to make new drapes, refinish the floor – Later on…when she’s not just four.”

My Moriah 

Everyone of us have a special place in our heart for Third Girl 

Those eyes, Chocolate like Daddy's

My teacher, this year. About what Is important and how to slow down and savor the world 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

31 Days of Free Writes : Neighbor, 31 Lessons : Know Your Places and Your People

It always strikes me with irony that most people don't know their neighbors.  Well maybe its just younger busy couples or people. People my age or bracket.
People rush in and out to and from places, and its usually our neighbors that we glance at as we take out recycling or hear through open windows.
But do we know them? And do we ever reach out in friendship? Or care?
I remember being very connected to the neighbor hood kids that congregated at our house growing up.
My mom was that neighborhood mom.  You know, the mom whose house the kids all flocked to?  The house with the snacks, the crowded basement, and the baseball games and sprinkler runs down the back yard slope?
I have a very funny memory of my mom's summer game of 'Kitchen Window'  A game she came up with for kids to try to get tennis balls into her small second story kitchen window. (While she was cooking dinner)  I don't know how it started but if we could actually make a tennis ball into the second story window without her playing goalie and deflecting  it with her roll of aluminum foil we won the game.  When you are very short and small it takes awhile to make it in there :) The neighborhood kids loved this game and my quirky mother.
She always let us "Play".  An allotted time.  Usually a two hour time frame that ended promptly at 5 during the week day before my dad arrived home from work.

This summer my own family and I moved back to our "old house" that feels new to us again and our street is swimming with kids.  When we left and only had one buddy to play with, but now there are several.
In fact today my front yard was dotted with a mosaic of freshly fallen brown crunchy leaves and ten bare foot children.  *Some were mine of course.
I have found myself enjoying my brief chats with the neighbor moms or our beloved next door neighbors.  It gives a sense of home and security when you share love and life with neighbors.
You take thick slices of cake across the grass on china plates and share the love.
You exchange simple Christmas gifts or wreaths.
You help move in furniture or clear off sidewalks
You look after each others pets
You offer ice cream cones to kids dripping puddles of cream all over the front stoop.  Or hot chocolate and marshmallows across the chain link fence on cold days.
You walk across the sidewalk waving at each other and asking about life.
You sit on each other's back deck and eat hamburgers and watch each other's kids chase the summer night lights of fireflies...
You pray for them. I have been so blessed by hearing my kids lead their dad and I in prayer for their neighbor friends.
(And yes sometimes we have those difficult neighbors that we avoid at all costs, or sometimes we can become that annoying neighbor or are that neighbor of angst)
It takes intentionality, but being a friendly neighbor and knowing the people if possible that actually live next to your own patch of grass is important.
While we were gone for the year and few months, my favorite neighbor, a 94 year old man died.
Today as I watched my newly walking one year old stumble across the falling magnolia leaves and hand me a waxy yellow one I was sad that I couldn't look out and watch my elderly neighbor sipping his rose colored wine and hear him tell me again me how lucky I was to have "those kids and please tell them I love them. God love them. But tell me you aren't having any more. " His constant slightly slurred five o clock refrain, his eyes misty.

The word neighbor also makes me think of neighborhood and that extends past just the "hood" or whatever you live in.  It's good to know the actual area and town you live in.  To find things within your city to explore, be a part of, and enjoy.
It's something that kind of automatically happens from being a part of the work force or your kid's school or a local church, but many times in the rush of life we have to be intentional to actually know the places we live.
For example, I remember when a cousin of mine came up to visit when I was in grade school.  He told my parents he was visiting a natural bridge that he had heard was near our home.  The funny thing was my family hadn't visited the bridge in so many years that we couldn't even remember it.  My cousin drove about three hours and took my sister and I to a place that was in close proximity to our home that we hadn't frequented. He took lots of pictures of a place we just knew by the billboards we passed on the interstate.
Isn't it funny that the places we are near are many times the places we don't come to know.
They are near and 'reachable' and so many times we never venture to go.
We aren't intentional.
Where's a spot in your places of life that you know and love? The you have intentionally scoped out or perhaps stumbled upon? ( I can think of a park my husband and I frequented in the town we went to college in, it was a special place that always reminds me of us and young love).
A place that deepens the richness of experience of living where you do? (This weekend we will go hiking to the same place we go every October, all together because it's what we do and it is a seasonal rhythm)
A place that brings you joy that is near you? A place that has finger printed your family? (That place that you all prefer for a thin and crispy pizza or where you want to Saturday morning breakfast?)
Or a place interwoven into the memories of your family yet connected to your community?

This topic of knowing that which is near made me think of the people in our own homes.  The people that we are supposed to know the most yet sometimes know actually the least.
Do we make an intentional effort to actually know the people we share a bathroom with, a bed with, and a spin cycle with?
How do we practice intention with these neighbors so that they never become drifting strangers floating away on one sofa as we are isolated on another in the same room?
Intention is the force but there are so many different ways to achieve this knowing. Ways that fit you personally.
 I've started to play a silly game with my husband that has this desire behind it, to know someone more that I think I already fully know...
Even though we have known each other now half our lives almost I ask to be told something he likes, wants, or enjoys and something he remembers that I don't know about. That is unrelated to me and the him I knew and know.  The him that was before me and separate of me.  That I might know Him. And keep knowing Him. That I might keep knowing the growing Him that isn't the same Him I used to know.
It's a fun game and kind of surprising. With poignant responses and unexpected funny ones too.

Finally, knowing that which is near reminds me of this verse in Acts 17:26-27
"And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though he is not far from each one of us."

God has set us in these places at these times with these people and with these boundaries that we should seek Him and find Him and know Him.  And He is near, not far from each one of us.  He's on the street where we live, the home we share, the witness to every thought, dream, and whisper of our heart.
Do we make intention to really know that which is within the realm of our touch?  The natural elements, the family, friends, and the God?
Do we rush past the familiar, obvious, the always there for something else and miss out on the rich here?
We all do, without intention.

This was when I was just getting to know my husband.  Many years ago.
 I'm sorry we let that wane.  But we have started again :) And it is fun 

31 Days of Free Writes : Park

Kite flying fun 

I smiled when I read this word prompt.  It's light, breezy, azure.  It's cheerful, playful, and full of laughing children life.
This word prompted me to reflect for a few minutes on all of the park hopping my girls and I have done for the past almost nine years.  The nine years of being a mama. I need parks.  Places to go and leave home.  Places of play and recreation to reframe all of our minds and attitudes.  Mine and theirs.
I decided to look through old pictures and saw my first two girls round cheeked and babies playing in mulch and with chubby legs hanging loose out of swings.  Feet never close to brushing the dirt.  It's funny how now oldest girls sneakers shuffle sliding all over loose sandy dirt.  Legs long now.
I saw pictures of kids running from geese, a picture of a quite funny goose we visited regularly and fed named Ezra.
A collection of memories flooded back.
Picnics on old quilts stained with juice boxes and slices of watermelon.
Legs dangling from monkey bars.
Slides we cheered and coaxed kids to come down.
The time I decided to let my daughter slide down with me and we shot out landing hard.
Emergency bath room runs or perhaps the time we fell in a creek and my two year old ran around in some cartoon undies and a tee shirt and sneakers.
Parks we scattered unending bags of saved stale bread to the swarm of ever approaching ducks.
Hills my kids have rapidly rolled down, rumbling and tumbling over steep soft yet uneven earth grabbing grass with their shirts and dancing with the dirt.
See saws, swift merry-go rounds, and sand boxes shoveled through.
There were all the hours I spent knowing other mothers. Our conversations were rich, but halting between kid rescues and trips down the slides and conversations enjoyed a bit at the safe slow of swing pushing.
Yes, I've become close to friends in wide open spaces draped with jewel blue skies with the background music of so much squealing, chasing, hide n seek and imaginative play.
Let me describe my favorite park to you.
It's a quiet, gentle gem that you barely ever notice.
I usually rotate parks and my city has many.
One day waiting for my girls to finish art class I found the perfect playground park tucked into the iron fenced corner of an adorable neighborhood.
Bright playhouses stand ready for games of house, play equipment complete with a trap door and sand box.  Climbing structures with many angles and a tall slide perched up top.
And for the moms wishing to actually talk?
A park small enough to watch everyone at one time and a fence that hems all kids in and keeps others out.
 It even has tables with umbrellas and Adirondack chairs to kick back.
As a bonus a cup-cakery is diagonal across the street.  It's the perfect park that is tended with care and beautiful flowers.
Really its a neighborhood park that resembles a fun backyard for kids to play with abandon and moms to sit back and breathe easy.  It's lovely.
So thankful for parks and all of the childhood we've spent there....

Hill Running (And falling) 

First baby with newfound swing joy..8 years ago! 

Fourth baby wrapped up against March coolness on his first trip to our favorite neighborhood park 

Peter Pan themed park 

Some Wild Goose Chase, 2nd Girl is making some loud noise 
And the perfect treat for after park play
An adorable cupcake 

or some sweet cups of mint chocolate chip and birthday cake 

Hide N Seek 

Monday, October 17, 2016

31 Days of Free Writes: Little, 31 Days : Pursue Creativity and Personal Ideas

My baby girl is a week shy of being four.  She's at the age where so many of her statements are just adorable.  Things that make you smile while she nods her head and her eyes widen big emphasizing a story.
She has been using this seeming contradictory adjective to describe things lately, "Little- Big".
She's 'little- big' and so are many things she likes.  This makes me laugh every time. Yes, she's a little girl with a big personality.
It reminds me of this quote I recently read by Paul Kelly, "From little things big things grow."  
This quote is applicable to all of life, but it really related to the thoughts my girls and I read this past weekend.
Sometimes when I get library books I try to go for themes.  Of course there always a few straggling off topic books but often times I will try to have the books relate to one another.  Three books we read this week talked about ideas and two of them more especially about one curious boy turned prolific inventor Thomas A. Edison.
Have you ever studied Edison?
I remember being a child and watching a biographical black and white movie about Edison's life.  I can picture some scenes from this movie.  Edison taking naps when staying up around the clock tending to a project, an experiment, working on a deadline.
I remember the excitement when he "turned on all the lights" in a particular area of New York City and a scene from Menlo Park. His laboratory.
I had forgotten so much of this movie, but these books were filled with trivia and details of Edison's amazing story.

  It amazed me that Thomas only had a few months of formal education.  His mother dissatisfied with his teacher who insulted Thomas's intelligence decided to educate Thomas herself.  She allowed his experiments and Thomas voraciously read.  One book listed his proclivity to read entire shelves of library books. He loved to learn.  
Thomas's intelligence and curiosity was nurtured by his mother who he described, "the most enthusiastic champion a boy ever had."  
Thomas' story is incredible which you know if you have ever read about it. He went on to patent 1,093 inventions. Without Edison we wouldn't hold an iPod and listen to music (He invented the phonograph), we wouldn't have vending machines, the incandescent light bulb, movies, cement, electric power grid, x rays (fluoroscope), and so many more things.  
Edison was quoted to say of his work, "I never did a day's work in my life.  It was all fun." Edison was well known to work around the clock with little sleep.  Yet it was enjoyable to him and he was not put off by failure.  He said, "I know several thousand things that won't work." 
That's an indefatigable spirit fueled by a love for figuring things out and creating something new, something unseen to others, but alive in his mind.  His ideas realized in real life.  
His ideas had to start somewhere.  In his mind, his heart, and fueled by all of the things he studied and was interested in.  
That leads me to the book my girls and I read three times this weekend .
What Do You Do With An Idea?
This book is clever.  A child discusses his idea, from conception through it's formation, nurturing, through discouraging times where the child almost gives up on his idea due to the criticism of others and yet he decides to hang onto this idea.  
"I worried what others would think.  What would people say about my idea?" He asks. 
He describes the joy of his idea with these words, "But there was something magical about my idea.  I had to admit, I felt better and happier when it was around." 
My favorite lines in the book comes after the boy decides he will hang onto his idea, "But then I realized, what do they know?  This is my idea, I thought.  No one knows it like I do.  And it's okay if it's different, and wierd, and maybe a little crazy. I decided to protect it, to care for it.  I fed it good food.  I worked with it, I played with it.  But most of all, I gave it my attention." 
The pages turn from mostly colorless illustrations to colorful pages after the idea comes to life.  The idea is finally a success and the book closes with these words, "And, then I realize what you do with an idea...You change the world." 

I read this book slowly three times to my oldest girl to make sure she soaked it in.  I wanted her to latch on to this.  It was the perfect punctuation to our books about Thomas Edison.  It was symbolic in a way of Edison and all of his individual ideas.  All 1093 of them.  
My oldest girl spills over with ideas.  Always. 
I try to foster this, but sometimes her ideas kind of wear me out.  After reading about Thomas I don't want to dampen that spirit within my oldest. 
The spirit of creativity that conceives an idea and gets the delight of seeing it come to real life.  
It all starts with an idea, and an idea comes from what we digest mentally.  
All of the things we decide to study become new tools we then create with.  
We get great joy from creating because we are image bearers of a creating God whose mind thought and then His words formed every plant, splash of water, and human eye we have ever seen.  He gave us the joy of creating when He graced us with His image.

What about you? Do you have an idea that has been deeply embedded in your heart, blossomed in all of its vast layers within your mind, and grabs at your spirit?  What is it?
What will you do with it?
Will you discard it under the scrutiny of others or will you decide instead that it is fine if no one else is passionate about it or can envision it as you can...Because after all it is your brilliantly beautiful idea... :)
I love what Emily P. Freeman says on her blog, "I’m convinced that the world is teeming with great ideas hiding in the shadows and that beautiful art is locked inside the minds and hearts of people like you."  She goes on to list four reasons we neglect or give up on our art, our ideas.  It's so worth the read: 

This article very interesting, listing the way that imagination comes largely from what we take in and memorize.  

Or maybe you are like me and don't have so many amazing ideas, maybe just a couple ideas personal to you that hover in the corners of your brain. You think and play with them some, but quickly shelve them if they seem silly or frivolous.
Or maybe you are also a mom or dad or spouse that is believing in someone else's dream or idea?
You're the dreamcatcher when someone decides to give up.  You keep believing for them.
Maybe it's just a little-big.  Like my youngest girl says.  Something little now, like the egg shaped idea in the book.  But it grows and matures over time and something quite big is one day born.
It's important to be that champion like Edison described his mother to be.  We all need someone who believe in us and our interwoven ideas.  So we will believe in them too.  We give each other the courage to confidently create.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

31 Days of Free Writes : Move, 31 Lessons: Make people Feel at Home

My sister has moved so many times that I cannot even calculate it.  Really since 2006 when she graduated she has moved to a new place either every year or every year and a half.  Maybe there was one stint that lasted two years. 
My dad and my husband have hoisted her couches and collection of furniture up many apartment complex stairs. 
My mom has come to help clean and bring an opening meal to christen the apartment with and the offer to the new roommates.
My sister is almost thirty now and still works all of the time literally.  Except for Sundays.  And I mean from sun up to almost down every day, but Saturday where she just works eight hours.
While she was in college sharing rooms with three girls I always wanted to clean my sister's apartment.  I remember one year when her apartment was close by taking my two oldest girls to her apartment and trying to deep clean for the week. 
Back then she wasn't concerned so much with cleanliness and seeing that always bothered me. 
I wanted my sister to feel at home. 
To be living in a place that felt like a haven from all of the hustle.  Not just a landing point to sleep and eat a few scraps of food. 
My mom and I would fix her one large meal that we would share together over plastic plates and she would eat the leftovers for the week. 
I loved doing that for my sister. 
I love to take care of her in tangible ways.
Another year my mom and I would combine items for care packages to send her even though she just lived an hour away.  It was a joy to do so.
Recently I was reading a single woman talk about the importance of home. Of making home.  No matter if you are single and living a rather nomadic lifestyle or a family living under the same eaves year after year. 
Everyone needs to "make home".  I liked her terminology.  (The Lifegiving Home - Sally and Sarah Clarkson)
The other day I walked into my sister's home with a tray of blueberry muffins I had picked up for her and noticed that though her apartment was now usually quite clean and the decor was bright, stimulating and all matched nicely it still didn't seem like home.  She has expressed that to me.  How its hard to live there.  This summer she walked through a very surprising tragedy.  An unexpected death that has produced so many haunting questions.  She's spent a lot of time trying to make sense of it. 
I have sat beside her on the couch listening to her try to sort it out and trying to pull out the "Why?" and "What could have been done?" 
After my observation the other day and the decade of nomadic living my sister has lived transitioning from college to adult and most recently after this life jarring situation I have decided I need to help my sister 'make home'.  
That it doesn't matter if she has a husband or children.  Just she and her cats.  It's still as important. It's necessary to the soul to have a safe haven, a safe place to land in hard times, a place to go and shut out the world so she can rekindle and nourish her soul.  I want her to enjoy being home.  
I want her to make home and feel settled no matter if she has moved oh so many times.  I sense she wants it too. 
Maybe now is the time :) 
I guess my mom and I will be bringing meals to set on her lovely new dining room furniture and try to fill her home with home.  Perhaps we can locate some snuggly throws, sweet smelling candles to flicker, soothing air fresheners, and soft pillows to surround her. 
More than anything this year as I pray for her healing I'm praying for her to find home.  
Have you ever helped someone make home? Have you had a child who just ventured out on their own that you sent care packages to as a glimpse of home?
Do you have a single friend that you invite in to your family welcoming them home?
Many times we shower people embarking on marriage with gifts for their new home.  We are essentially helping them make home. But why not single people too? Honestly, they probably need the sense of home just as much if not more. Their home needs to be celebrated too.
Now is the time to make home if you are single.  Not to be waiting to fill your life with things that feed and steady you when you leave your work and come to your dwelling.  You need things that bring life to you now.  Right now in the life you are now in.  Don't wait to find it.  And we shouldn't wait to bring it to you, in little and big ways.  

My sweet sister, Faith 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

31 Days of Free Writes : Sky (31 Lessons : True Blue Friends)

When I read the word sky I instantly thought of my friend Stacie.
I met Stacie in second grade and we remained close. friends until we graduated from high school.  Stacie had a profound impact on my life.  Stacie had a very deep relationship with Jesus and was a well of spiritual wisdom and insight from a very early age.  I went to church with Stacie, sat in Bible studies she led during high school, and listened to Stacie pray.  Listening to Stacie pray was unlike anything I had heard.  She spoke so ardently to God that listening to her communicate with Him left you wanting to hear more.  More of the conversation.  Hear more of such real conversation. It was no simple, "God bless this food" or "God heal this or provide this".  It was more like a child speaking confidently and with full passion to their Father and the conversations lasted at length.  It wasn't forced, showy, or pretentious.  Hearing it left you knowing it was nothing but authentic.
Whenever I think about godliness I think about Stacie.  Unkindness never crossed her lips, she never said ill things of anyone, and she was always positive.  Stacie was very funny, but in the purest of ways.  So much laughter, but of the sweet and innocent kind.

One thing Stacie and I did over the years was to call each other on the wall phone (no one had cell phones) whenever we saw a beautiful sky.  Yes, no texts of , "Look at that sky!" or "Did you see the moon?" Our calls were short and sweet.  Enthusiastic observations.   We shared the sky.
As the years have passed I have always been fascinated with looking at the sky.  It started in our friendship, but it didn't leave me.
If the moon is full and  hanging low, golden and cradled on the edge of the horizon I always call my parents.  The moon round and low always takes my breath away and I always have to tell someone.  It's like that feeling of, "This is to beautiful, too unordinary to miss it."  It always strikes me when I see a fiery sunrise or sunset or a brilliant blue sky marbled with soft wispy clouds that glory is around us every day and we barely awake to it.
Stacie and I shared the sky joy and I awoke to how glorious it was.  I never went back to sleep. :)
Stacie lives in the United Kingdom as a missionary now, but sometimes I still think about the sky she looks up at.  That even though I can't see her, hear her voice, or visit her I can still look at the sky and and know it's endless expanse covers her too.
Thinking of Stacie and the word sky reminds me of a Shoe box card I still have from her that said something about the importance of True Blue friends.
New friends are important, they are the candidates for our old friends one day...but they are still new.
Old friends or True Blue friends are irreplaceable.
Do you have some?
I do.  God has really blessed me with several friendships from many years ago.  Friendships that lasted past the decades and all of the life changes.  New friends are needed, but old friends help us find our way when we have lost it.  They know us.  They know who we have been both good and bad our strengths and weaknesses.  They love us past this season, these handful of moments.  They have been with us and will be with us.  They are in it for the long haul.
They've watched you get married, been a bridesmaid, threw you baby showers, held your baby fresh out of the womb, ran fast behind you in playground freeze tag, and passed the volleyball to you in the gym of your old high school.  They have long been with you.
To maintain these friendships requires intention, but not a crazy amount.  Old friends aren't insecure that you are going to leave them or it's over.  They know you and know that your friendship is held fast and safe in the tension of time.  It's a part of who you are, your story, and you won't be ending it even if months stretch out without a conversation.
Just like a clear blue sky, old friends help us see our lives more clearly. Help us clear away the clouds of now and see our lives from a better bird's eye view.

31 Days of Free Writes : Mail, 31 Lessons : Send People Notes

I remember being seven, maybe eight watching her lay the rectangular box on the dining table and open the lid, pulling out stationery arrayed in a variety of floral patterns.  This was my mom going through her letter box.  A box filled with writing tools, feminine paper and embossed envelopes, and even lilac scented candles to rub on the back of the paper to make the letters "smell pretty".
As my mom wrote her notes she would hand my sister and I pieces of bright colored paper and a collection of cheerful stickers to bedazzle our simple letters with.
This was how my mom kept in contact with her niece, aunt, and special close friends.  The letter box.
She faithfully sent out boxes of Christmas cards out every year.  You know before people mostly just plastered pictures on generic notes and Merry Christmas.
She still does, usually writing out quite lengthy personal notes.
She always hangs her Christmas cards up every year and tells me updates of her friend's lives.
Christmas cards aren't my thing, I think i've only ever sent them out twice. ( I usually send out family Valentines cards) and I don't buy stickers and pretty stationery usually, but notes, letters, and snail mail are important to me.
I watched my mom write letters to stay connected and I followed.  My dear friend Jenna and I have exchanged so many cards and notes over the past twenty two years that I could scrapbook our lives with them.  Mail, notes, and cards are the things I don't throw out.  I like to open the boxes and read them again, watch the history of the love I share with friends take form line by line in the hand scrawled words on Hallmark cards, Thank-You cards, or college lined paper.
I think people still like getting letters and cards.
I think it says, "I value you" and the message is received any time someone takes the time to write out a heartfelt note, address it, and stamp.
One nice thing about a message you receive in normal mail is that you wait for the reply.  It's not a constant volleying conversation. Letters have thought to them, they aren't things that you quick text with little thought and far too much impulse.  Letters are from the heart. Letters bear the mark of sincerity.
I have had friendships I have kept solely based on letter writing.  One friendship where I could call, email, or text but only wrote letters across states to keep a friendship since elementary school going.
I remember when I finally got to see my dear friend again after ten years I could hardly wait. The letters had been our only connections for all those years.
I used to type out letters to my parents, grandmother, and inlaws once a week saying what their grandchildren were doing, what silly things they had said, and what adventures we had enjoyed.  It seems trivial and I suppose it was, but it was a connection that let them see into our lives for that season.  I was told they missed it after I quit.
Even little notes make the statement that you care.
I try my best (even though sometimes I forget) to pen or crayola marker some short note out to my girls on paper towels or napkins each day with their lunch.
Sometimes my three year old sits with me and does her own abstract art work.  It gets kinda challenging coming up with some short jingle or peppy line to send their way at lunch time.  But I know it still means a lot.  Especially to my second girl.
Do you like to write letters? What do they mean to you?  Why do you find them appealing?

I'm that person that isn't great about sending out Thank-You cards in mass quantity.  Which is annoying I know when you are the recipient of a baby shower.  I don't know why, it overwhelms me and so I end up writing some notes but then just approaching people and telling them Thank - You.  I'm better at individual Thank-You notes, one person at a time.
I've been thinking a lot lately about what I am going to do in November to tangibly give thanks.  What could I do?  I've decided instead of just writing down things I'm thankful for every November day I'm going to do something different for me.  I'm compiling a list of thirty people who have been a blessing to me and made a difference in my life.  I think I'm going to send them a letter.  One letter for every day of November to say, "Thank You".

Three year old's Napkin Art 

So sometimes my napkin notes are a bit of a stretch, but they are from the heart :)