12 Days of Love Letter Writing

In the last five or so years I have had the opportunity to be involved in one of the most incredible organizations: More Love Letters. This little movement was started by a dear friend, Hannah Brencher, and aims to write love letters: letters of encouragement for others. It could be an anonymous letter left on a subway seat or the hood of someone’s car, or a letter to someone you love and cherish simply to tell them they are golden, living their best life, and dearly loved.
From December 4-15, TWNMLL is rolling out its biggest, grandest, most festive love letter writing campaign of the year (and it is the most incredible thing)!
They have facilitated this holiday cheer for the last six years by rolling out 12 letter requests over a span of 12 days in December.
12 days
12 letters
Holiday cheer!
These 12 days are the perfect way for you to pause, reflect, and show up in this season whose heart really is all about showing up (thanks, Jesus).
Grab friends, classmates, students, coworkers, or just yourself and a cup of hot cocoa and help bring some goodwill to the world this December. All you need is stationery and a few stamps.

More Love Letters will post a new letter request on their blog each day. Write one letter or write 12! Letters will be bundled up together and delivered by the new year.
Grab your festive cards, your Christmas hats, and join us on social media for this love letter writing marathon. This has been one of the most humbling and fulfilling experiences of my life over the last few years, causing me to really pause and make this busy season meaningful.

Below you will find today’s letter request. This particular request moved me because our younger generations desperately need us to pour into them. I’m a huge advocate for sitting around a table with people from multiple generations simply because we have so much to learn from each other. In this season of our cultures, countries, and lives, it’s hard for adults not to be discouraged. I can only imagine the stress and anxiety this produces in our youth. Please join me in writing to these sweet students and encouraging them to keep pushing forward against all odds because they are worth it.

Wednesday, December 6

More Love Letters received a request for a bundle of letters for students at a school. One of their behavioral specialists wrote to us:

 “REAL school serves middle school students who require structured therapeutic school-based supports and are at-risk in the areas of academic achievement as well as emotional and behavioral development. Most are dealing with challenges at home and in the community–trauma, abuse, violence–as well as mental health disorders. They and their families oftentimes lack access to effective resources and lack exposure to people outside of their communities, city, and the world around them. Research shows that these types of disconnections lead to ongoing struggles: incarceration, homelessness, a lower lifetime earning potential, chronic difficulty getting and keeping a job, living in extreme poverty, lack of health insurance, substance abuse, and chronic depression.

Our students (we currently have six boys in the program, ages 12-14) are resilient, vibrant, creative, outspoken, musical, funny, caring, curious, resourceful, athletic, and often, overlooked. They love to rap, dance, play sports, do arts and crafts, and learn about others. They deserve to feel appreciated and supported. They deserve unconditional positive regard. And, most of all, they deserve to feel connected with others.

I’d love to share letters of encouragement and motivation, of overcoming tough times, and of different life experiences (cultures, cities, people) with our students as well as our amazing REAL School staff members.”

Grab your pens and join us in writing letters to these fantastic students this holiday season! Please address all letters to “Dear Students.”

PLEASE MAIL ALL LOVE LETTERS BY DECEMBER 20 TO:

Students of REAL School
℅ Elizabeth L.
12 S. Stafford Avenue Apt. A,
Richmond, VA 23220
USA

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Legacy

My past has occupied most of my brain space over the last month and, honestly, over the last twenty years. I can’t remember a time since 8 years old that I was not preoccupied by a mistake, a failure, an unfulfilled dream or desire. My greatest dream at that point was to be a cheerleader in high school (which didn’t happen, by the way), but I never fought to dream beyond pom-poms and tumbling practice — sad to say the least.

Since graduating high school I’ve had short term dreams: Dreams about designing t-shirts or going to the beach or one day writing a book. My journey on the World Race wasn’t even a dream. It was placed in front of me and I leapt after it, hoping I would find this illusive dream hiding somewhere among the passport stamps and bowls of rice along the way. Not so. Even then, even still, I was overcome with these holes in me: holes from being unworthy, making poor choices, feeling isolated in my sin and suffering, and holes from an overactive brain and words too full of feeling.

I’ve gone through seasons where I live more in the present than in the past, but rarely do I dream. “Strong desire” is as close to “dream” as I would ever come, perhaps out of fear that dreams would never come true, but more likely because the weight of my past still quietly held my arms by my side, unable to reach up for the whispy, dreamy things, those world-changing dreams we may whisper from now and then but rarely speak with any power, and sometimes even the simple dreams: marriage, family, community, stability.

A dozen times a week someone says the word “legacy” and I immediately sing Nichole Nordeman’s song in my head, always challenged by her words, but rarely in a place to explore them. Tonight on the way home from work it happened again- “it’s amazing the little legacies people leave behind,” somewhere between a story about a man and his mother and a song about change and I began to unpack.

I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me?

How will they remember me? I told a story last night around a table full of strangers, one that rolls off my tongue with ease, about a worship night in a hostel in China and “but what does God really call you?” Amy asked, followed by nights and days of journal entries asking God that very question – what do You call me? What’s my name? – to find the answer written in the very evidence of who He is, whispered day after day to my heart:

beloved.
lionheart.

Beloved, the I AM loved, a literal outpouring of holy, faithful, uncontainable love.
Lionheart. Brave, courageous, generous.

How will they remember me? Right now, not as the physical representation of a holy love. Right now, more as broken and needy, selfish and conflicted. These holes in me hold ownership over me. Joy light doesn’t shine through them because I’m too busy covering them out of shame, regret, and self-doubt.

I don’t want to live life in a pattern, in repetition, season after season the same pain, the same mentality. We are bread and wine, broken and poured out for those around us, not for our own endless cycles. There must be growth, even in the midst of hard things.

Beloved doesn’t run, doesn’t hide, doesn’t wrap herself in scarves of shame and adorn with the jewels of pain.
Lionhearted doesn’t cower timidly in the corner of a room full of success and truth because she sees only lies.

Beloved is rooted, grounded, in Truth and faith. Beloved is a strong spine and she has open hands. Beloved comes alive with joy.
Lionhearted is wild and free… free. Lionhearted dances and sings; She is always in the presence of the Most High. Lionhearted praises and walks through fire upright, confident. (Read: The Lord is within her; she will not fall) Lionhearted comes alive with destiny.

That is the legacy I choose to leave. Today. I choose that today. And tomorrow, again, that is what I will choose. Yesterday is gone and matters no more.

In light of eternity I am this: lionhearted and beloved.

I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering: a child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically
I want to leave that kind of legacy.

Balloons

It’s Wednesday. I came home from work today and listened to Christy Nockels’ latest episode of The Glorious and the Mundane and fell asleep halfway through. I woke up at the very end, early enough to hear the new song she played from her upcoming album. Then I started crying. I cried for an hour. In fact, as I’m typing this the tears are still drying on my cheeks and down my neck.

Over the last few weeks I have had great adventures – to Cloudland Canyon, hiking around Berry, a Braves game, some time with my college besties, and tons of late nights in Cedartown talking and laughing with friends. I’ve posted all those cute photos all over social media because they have been such highlights, but if you think I’ve got it all together, here’s the real answer: nope.

I cried tonight because I’m exhausted from repeating the same things over and over again, day in and day out (I’m so bad at repetition), tired of going to small groups alone and wishing I knew more people at my church, (and in that vein) sad that the church I spent seven years at just fell apart, dissolved, and I lost all those relationships. I’m weary from doing life alone sometimes, of not having people who chase Christ around me, reminders and contemporaries. I miss my groups. I miss my women at Connect and the staff. I miss conversations with Drew and Amy in the Valley, Julie’s chili, fall walks with Em, and “stopping by the church” just to see Jeannene or Lindsey or Paul or anyone else who might be there. I miss having a home church. I love this new place I’m at, but I don’t feel like I belong yet. I know it’s growing pains and I know eventually it will be fine, but right now it is miserably bleak and I feel like a lost balloon floating higher and higher, farther from anything anchored. I look around this cute house of mine at all this heavy furniture – rooted, grounded, too heavy to float away or be moved in a hurry – and I still feel unsettled, a nomad, a wanderer. Not quite where I’m supposed to be. Not quite who I’m supposed to be. Unseen at times, maybe even misplaced.

I know life isn’t all about who you’re with and God is my strength and my comfort and my refuge and my anchor and all of the things for the Bible tells me so and I believe them. I know them. I believe them deep down. But I can’t even read through one chapter of scripture, Old Testament or New, and ignore the community and group-feel woven throughout each story and verse. “Brothers and sisters” it says, “flock” and “my people” and themes about unity and the very idea that God is triune- father, spirit, and son in solidarity, in seamless harmony.  This isn’t a new idea or a new concept. This is why my soul craves community and thrives on hospitality. I can’t do this alone and I’d be gravely mistaken if I thought for one second I could.

Some people are introverts, but I am a people person. I am terrified of the Great Room at church, mostly because there is such a large crowd of people (that I barely know) in a small room. I run in, grab coffee, and sprint to the sanctuary where it is cool and quiet and peaceful. (But I love airports. I know, it makes no sense.) And I love having people at my table. I love conversations in groups or one-on-one. I love knowing people. There is something about really knowing a person – knowing their story, knowing their heart, hearing the way they describe their passions and even the “mundane” stories in life. Something in that connection fills my heart, something in the words and the knowing and being known. It is reminiscent of my relationship with Christ – known and knowing. I don’t always have to be with people, in fact I love waking up on Saturday mornings to an empty house in peaceful silence; I enjoy some nights after work making dinner and losing myself in a book, but not always. Not every night. Some nights the silence is deafening and the not knowing, not being known, settles like a dense fog. Imagine how easily a balloon would be lost in a fog.

I know there’s no easy fix – a lot of time, a lot of investment, a lot of one-foot-after-the-other, and a lot of awkward moments, but truth be told, life isn’t always easy, especially as an adult where everyone’s schedule differs. Sometimes life is a mess on a Wednesday night.

(And yes, I did post that cute blog about how being alone isn't always
 everything just last week and I still stand by every word.)