In late June, I received an email from a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group coordinator in Bismarck asking me to speak at a fall event. The email couldn’t have come at a better time as we were heading home from the funeral service honoring our son’s dear friends Zach and Connor, who were killed in a car accident. Without much thought, I quickly replied to the email, agreeing to speak in late September. After an emotionally exhausting day, I needed a date to look forward to on my calendar.
The past few months, I’ve intentionally kept my travel and speaking engagements to a minimum. I don’t want to miss a moment of my son’s senior year in high school. In order to be at home more and keep a flexible schedule, I’ve had to turn down several opportunities, which then had me fretting my speaking career would stall out. When it came time to prepare my presentation for the MOPS group, it had been a couple of months since I stood in front of an audience. I felt rusty, and I started to doubt whether or not I should even be speaking to a group of moms in a church.
When the day arrived, I left before sunrise to drive to Bismarck—something I haven’t done much since I gave up my 98-mile one-way commute almost three years ago. When I arrived at the church, the ladies were welcoming. I shared about accepting life’s interruptions, relating it to my personal journey. After my presentation and answering a few questions, I sat back down at my table to visit. About 10 minutes later, the MOPS coordinator brought me an envelope overflowing with thank-you notes from the MOPS group.
I sat on my bed that evening in a silent house with the overflowing envelope in my lap. One-by-one, I read each note and then said a prayer for each of those 29 women.In my entire speaking career, I’ve never had an audience hand me thank-you notes before I left. Earlier this year, a class from Cal-Poly University snail mailed me thank-you notes, and I saved them all. The stack of thank-you notes from Bismarck mothers will go in the same drawer, saving them for a down day when I need 29 women encouraging me from afar. (I also was touched to read the North Dakota Mom blog perspective on my topic. Thank you, Jodi!)
A personalized thank-you note is a lost art. I can only name a few people I know who regularly write thank-you notes—and I’m not one of them. I don’t even know if I have stamps in the house. Sorry, United States Postal Service! I plan to change this habit.
Life is full. Our busy schedules often keep us from taking a few minutes to express our appreciation in a thank-you note. Putting a few words to paper brings the gratitude full circle and becomes a treasure worth keeping.
On a late-June day filled with so much sorrow, I said “yes” to a speaking opportunity. Little did I know, the outpouring of inspiration I would receive when I ventured across the prairie and was handed 29 notes of affirmation that indeed I’m in the right place in this season of life.
This week, grab a pen, paper and envelope and sit down for a few minutes to brighten someone’s day with a note.
(This was originally published in Agweek.)