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Friends,

We’ve shared this online space for about four years – and shared space in newspapers for close to seven – so it’s time to make some small adjustments.

I’ve decided to stop writing each week for the GateHouse newspapers. They were wonderful to work with and I loved the thought of being nationally syndicated, but I want to use my time differently. There are things I want to do to promote my book, improve this blog and grow our community on social media… and that all takes time and energy, too. So, I made the decision to cut back for my family. For my own spiritual growth. For a chance to rejuvenate.

I’ll still be writing here – just without the pressure of a weekly deadline – and you can still find my news articles about faith and compassion in the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle. They’ll appear there every other Monday.

I’m also helping a dear friend write a book that we pray helps many, many families who are healing from sexual abuse. I’m excited because she not only shares her family’s story but offers practical advice and spiritual encouragement. Much of the first draft is done, but we’ll soon finalize our book proposal and start looking for a literary agent. We would so appreciate your prayers for this project.

I’d love to hear how I can better serve you dear readers, so please let me know what you most enjoy and what you most need.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

Marketta

 

IMG_8775My soul sometimes gets restless. It grows tired of the day-to-day. Of meetings and schedules and rushing.

It wants to try something new. Or travel. Or redecorate. Or sit and day dream. Because my soul – the very center of me – craves space for creativity and beauty.

I forget that the God who painted stripes on the zebras and chose a brilliant red for the cardinal, shaped our souls, too, and I imagine his fingerprints are still there from when he created us.

In the Christian scriptures he asks us to focus on what is lovely and true and pure and just. I suspect he means it more as a daily practice than as an afterthought, something that works its way into my routine well before my soul is heavy with negativity and the clutter of busyness.

So, I’ve been wrestling with what it means to live more creatively in the everyday. At first I focused on the lovely, noticing the smile in front of me and seeing the art in the clouds – even if for just a moment. I added pictures and podcasts that inspired and strengthened me. I spent time with friends who encouraged and uplifted me. All of it fed my soul.

But living creatively requires more than mere beauty and gratitude: It requires risk.

In order to share more of myself, I must risk being known and rejected. In order to work for what is just and serve others in way that isn’t tried and tested, I must risk failure.

“Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact, it isn’t evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new,” writes Ed Catmull, president of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation and author of “Creativity, Inc.”

He goes on to explain how the fear of failure can crush the best of creative businesses, but, “The antidote to fear is trust.”

I highlighted it in yellow.

Suddenly Catmull’s words about business make living more creatively seem a lot like living more faithfully. And a lot like trusting the Creator, who is lovely and true and pure and just.

finding

In today’s brag-about-being-busy world, where does the slow process of pen and paper fit in? It fits in the nooks and crannies of our days — and it fits in the spaces we schedule for it.

If you want to send more notes and letters, then carry them with you when you take your car for an oil change and when you get your hair cut. Tuck something to write on in the glove box for when you’re waiting on kids at practice. Buy postcards and fill them out on the plane.

Writing cards and letters isn’t a race or a competition. It’s about sharing your heart with one person at a time.

And finding time for that one person isn’t so hard.

If it helps, schedule a day each week or a day each month to send birthday cards and notes. Or, make it a task that you associate with something you already do. Watch your favorite TV show and scribble down your message during the commercials, or write while you’re waiting on the towels to dry.

If you need a little inspiration, or a reminder of the benefits of staying connected, flip through “Write Back Soon” by Karen Benke or join the Letter Writers Alliance where $5 gets you a lifetime membership, free stationery downloads and optional pen pals.

Just remember that no one is keeping score. You can write seven letters a week or seven letters a year. What matters is that you reach out to people — that you offer joy and grace and encouragement. Then, writing letters becomes something sacred and we all win.

file781261141191So, you’re interested in sending a little joy and encouragement through the mail, but you aren’t sure who to write to?

Maybe these questions will help:

  • Is there someone you should thank — someone who sent a gift or an invitation? Someone who gave you a great piece of advice or a kind word?
  • Do you have a relative who has been on your mind? Maybe someone older or someone who doesn’t get out as much as he or she would like?
  • Did you read a great article or see a cartoon that made you think of someone? Could you go through your craft or hobby supplies and send a few extras to someone who would enjoy it?
  • Who have you been praying for? Is there someone you know who is ill or struggling in any way?
  • Are you friends with children? (I’ve never met a child who didn’t love to get mail with his or her own name on it!)
  • Have any of your friends moved to a new city? How about writing to a friend whose family lives far away?
  • Is there anyone whose work you admire? A mother who is doing a fantastic job? A teen who volunteers and makes a difference in the community? A neighbor whose garden brightens the whole block?

If you’d like ideas for what to write in your letters, click here. Need some inexpensive supplies to get started? Click here. Or, if you’re wondering why writing letters is holy work, read this.

Tomorrow, I’ll share tips on how to find time to write letters, so check back — or make it easier on yourself and add your email to the box on the lower left, and I’ll send articles directly to you. Until then, happy writing!

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Sometimes the hardest part of writing a letter is getting started, but once you have those first few sentences, where do you go from there?

Try asking a question. You may learn something — and you may inspire a person to write you back. Do you have any big plans for the new year? What projects are you working on around the house? Have you read any good books lately? Answer the question yourself and you’ve just written a whole paragraph!

Share a quote, a line of poetry or a scripture. I like Hebrews 6:19, which says that hope is an anchor for the soul. Sometimes I slip in decorative quotes like these that are meant for scrapbooking and journaling. They are inexpensive, especially when I use a 40 percent off coupon at a craft store, and they give me something more to talk about.

Tell him something you admire about him. People like to have kind things said about them, and they especially like to be able to save those words and return to them when they need a reminder that you are in their corner.

Send a photograph. It’s rare to get pictures printed anymore, so take a snapshot of something silly or something you think is beautiful. Explain it in your letter.

Feel free to tell something personal. That’s the beauty of a letter. You aren’t publishing it so that dozens — or even hundreds — will see it. You are writing to one person who wants to know how you are really doing. One person who doesn’t demand the glossy version of your life.

IMG_9172If you’d like to write more letters, join us this week. Yesterday we talked about supplies to make corresponding easier (and less expensive) and tomorrow we’ll discuss how to find people to write to. Check back here or slip your email address in the box on the bottom left and I’ll let you know when the new posts are up!

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