By Linda Grupp Boutin
I walked to the mailbox today, slipped in the key, opened the door expecting the usual bills, flyers, postcards selling me something. Instead, on top, I found an envelope from a friend. Like so many accustomed to our digital age, most communications come to me in the form of e-mails, instant messages, Facebook, even telephone. It is a rare day to find a decorated envelope festooned with flowers and a big circle it the top left corner with an "L" centered within. I found it difficult to shepherd the dogs, peek at the letter and get myself back into the front door without ripping it open to see what was contained inside.
As soon as the dogs ran in the front door, my attention switched to the mail. I found a brown-tone photo on the front of the card with an assembly of crucifixes on a wooden deck surrounded by leaves. Each brass cross looks unique, but each symbolizes the sacrifice of our Savior. I opened the card and savored the words contained within. "Dear Linda, Thank you so much..."
The words came from a speaker I had helped prepare for our CoffeeBreak ministry at my church, Chino Valley Community Church. This is a monthly event usually held on the first Monday of the month. We start the night with door prizes, play games, listen to household tips, sing worship songs and wrap up the evening with the story of one woman from our church who shares her testimony of how the Lord has worked in her life. We've been doing this for three years from October through May and I have loved every minute of it. I have had the privilege of helping our speakers get ready, practice, learn how to share their stories in a way that will move the audience.
I am a storyteller by nature. Just ask my family who have listened to me spin many a story around the dinner table. My youngest brother says I make it all up, but for me it's like watching a movie. The words I say create images in my mind that I try to express to my audience. I would have fit just fine in the "pre-electronics" days. Sitting around a campfire recounting story is my idea of a fine way to spend an evening. I remember reading Alex Haley's book "Roots" with fascination about how the oral memory of the tribe could recall the day when Haley's ancestor Kunta Kinte was lost to their tribe, whisked away from them but never forgotten.
This was the second Thank You note I've received this week. The other one came from a member of the Aspiring Writers' Forum that I have co-led with my friend, Coleene VanTilburg, for the last four years. A small gift bag accompanied this note and contained a yellow ceramic cross with the word "Smile" across the front. This note began, "Dear Linda, It all started with a smile..." Coleene received a similar card and cross, but hers is blue with a butterfly in place of my flowers. She wrote on her blog this week about the important role that Swallowtail butterflies play in her life. You can read her blog "Considerable Thoughts" at: http://blogforeternity.blogspot.com/.
I must say that Thank You notes bring a smile to my face. Better yet, when I find that my encouragement in another person's life helps them in some small way, this makes my heart sing. It is so easy to get bogged down in the negative news surrounding us every day. It cleanses us of all that negativity when we let one another know how important we are in each others lives.
Tonight as I scrolled through the channels, I found a special on CNN recapping the events in Boston last month. Recovering survivors spoke about how strangers stepped into danger not knowing when the next explosion might occur to help them survive their wounds and get to the hospital. Photojournalists spoke of the photos they took of first the massacre, then followed by the photos of the best of the humanity reaching out to help one another. Pictures showed two men causing death and destruction followed by hundreds reaching out to help those in need.
We can choose to focus on the "glass half empty" in this world. We can frown about all the trouble in our lives and complain about those who don't comply with our agenda. Or we can decide that the "glass is half full." We can be grateful for the blessings that come in our lives, we can acknowledge the "One Thousand Gifts" we each receive every day that we draw breath. We can see the good in one another and forgive the human frailties we each must overcome. It all depends upon the perspective we choose to adopt. Try on the "Thank You note" and see how it fits. It may just give you a whole new lease in life. BTW: special thanks to the two special ladies who brightened my week with notes that make my heart sing.