You’ve Got Mail

Waiting at the post office that morning, 15 years or so ago, I suddenly felt like I’d come home to Mayberry.  Not really a warm and fuzzy Aunt Bea sort of feeling.

“Hi, Pam!” the woman behind the counter greeted me.  Someone I really didn’t know, except when I came in to post a letter or glanced across the pew at church.  She looked my envelope over, front and back, then remarked on where it was going, chatting amiably.  “Hey, I saw your name in the prayer request section of Sunday’s bulletin yesterday,” she leaned in to tell me… soto voce.   “When’s the surgery?”

I wondered if I looked as startled as I felt.  Sort of stammered out that I hadn’t realized they’d actually put my full name in it.  I’d thought it was just a group of elders who prayed for requests during the week when I’d filled mine in. Somewhere sequestered… like in their office…behind closed doors.

How’d she know my full name anyway…except for reading it on my mail…?

“Honey, don’t worry ‘bout that –“ she said, flipping my letter – and heart – into her box.  “It’s good to have many pray-ers…”

Yes, it so was.  Nothing meant more to me.  Yet — this sort of felt like my personal details flapping on the line for all to gawk at.  I wouldn’t have been so explicit if I’d known…

I’ll never do that again, I promised myself.  Or at least, leave my last name off the prayer card.

  I will surround you in prayers…  came a whisper, quieting my riotous thoughts truly soto voce, on my drive home.  Even from those you don’t really know.  Sunshine on my shoulder.   Would you have it otherwise?

Laughter skittered away my indignation then, along with images of Barney Fife garnering the latest gossip in the barbershop.  Sneaking a call to Thelma Lou to spill it – on the Q.T.   Oh well… the more prayers the better.

Home, I turned the key in my apartment mailbox, flipped through bills, tossed mailers to the side.  A small card fell out.  Ah, real mail.  Only – whose handwriting was this?  No return address…

A pretty floral card, I opened it expectantly.  Dear Pam…  and then…

A brief, heart-melting prayer.  From a stranger.

Words written as if she knew my concerns.   As if she knew me.

So simple…genuine…that tears stung sudden and warm.

A signature I didn’t know.  The name of our church beneath it.

Turning a phrase, like a lifesaver, in my mind.

How beautiful are the hands of those who take                                                          pen and prayer to paper for another.

Words I could hold and read again.  Save in a treasure box with others beribboned on my heart.

Recalling this day yesterday, I remembered another long ago note, wondered where I’d stored it, pulled out a box to search.

I didn’t find the one I was looking for.  But others… colorful and fragrant with memories as fresh-dried petals…tumbled out.

Pages upon pages from a young pen pal who wrote me my first – possibly only – fan letter, after reading my debut story in Highlights.   Filled with all her little girl-to-young womanhood sharings of faith and dreams and living moments.  Captured on ruled paper and in drawings sketched for me.

A sweet thank you from another young friend when she started college a few years ago… sharing how some “day-brightener cards” I’d written for her were lifting her spirits.

Day brightener? I mused momentarily.  Oh, yeah.  How I’d enjoyed putting together a stack of envelopes for her to open at different times, thinking back on my own days away at school, praying for God’s leading to make the words just what she might need to hear in each moment.

The first time she felt homesick.  The day when things seemed blue.

“I have only opened two of them,” I read again now, “the one for my first night in the dorm and the one for when things seem to be ‘going wrong.’  The words you wrote just seemed to fit right into place!”

I could hear the smile in her handwritten words even as I held the card again.  Feel the wonder of how God can do that… give us the right words before a moment even comes.

An old birthday card from my mom came next…written before her illness. Undated. Talking of missing me, home news and prayers… bringing her back into the room, like Meg Ryan’s mom twirl-dancing across memory days of time in You’ve Got Mail.

Hmm… You’ve got mail.

The postmistress had had my mail that day.  Maybe… in a way… sent by God.

Today, like Meg Ryan, technology is sending me mail.  Blog comments that bless, encourage or lift me to prayer…in some way do make community, though in other ways, maybe…steal it.  Form bonds halfway across the world with kindred people.  Introduce me to heart-catching writers and women of integrity.

And obviously, I’m jumping into blogging and emailing and connecting online.  Thrilling to this high-tech, quick and easy way to journal… Enjoying this close-knit style of writing.  Like creating my own magazine of sorts.


What’s more fun than discovering a hand-addressed envelope found tucked between unsolicited ads and countless bills?

Can texting replace holding the handwriting of someone I cherish, in my hand?  Stamped with love.  Last minute PS’s lining the back flap so I have to turn the envelope around to read.  Meant and shared just for and with me…unless I wish to pass it on…and not diminishing my value with a host of other addressees

I love envisioning a perfect card to lift someone and finding it on a store shelf! Taking time to write out my own prayers and I’m thinking of you’s and You mean so much’s.

And knowing the one I send it to will hold it as if I were right there with them. And whenever they’re needing the touch of a friend’s hand, even re-read again, find fresh light and hope in at some distant time when it again falls out of a box and into their lap…

Dearest Ones: A True World War II Love StoryI think of a beautiful book I read several years ago…  Nothing but letters.  Amazingly written daily, weekly, from a young Red Cross woman of the 1940’s to her family at home.  Unraveling her life story with incredible detail, like an intricately-woven novel she could never have told otherwise.  Revealing her innermost moments in lands across the world, in England and France war zones, in falling in love.

Much more intimate, tender and true than ever she could have expressed online, had that even been a dream in someone’s mind.

And how, in between the ordinary or mundane topics we may occasionally scribble off, so many of our paper letters and cards are so like those that freeze-framed her story.  Bits and pieces of our memoirs.  Detailed in the moment.  Sent out heart to heart.

Yes…the joy of “you have a comment on your blog” IS fun.  You’ve got mail.  Love it.

And there are times when I wish all my friends would use email more.  For those quickly dashed hellos…catching up… keeping in touch when there is just… too… little… time… to… write.

I’ll admit, I measure out my handwritten letters with greater space between, these days…

  Only… whenever I want a good feast…

Give me the personalized handwriting that instantly brings a friend’s laughter close!

Give me the card I can take out and hold without powering up my computer.  Take time to think about and savor on my own.

Penmanship that immediately skypes dear ones to mind with their unique swirls and dots and loops — any time of day or night – even across heaven and earth!

And let me always take time to send an occasional one myself.  Remembering and cultivating a blessing that can never go out of style…

A touch of Mayberry tea and conversation.

Yes, Lord, yes.  How beautiful are the hands of those who take pen and prayer to paper for another.

And now, if you’ll excuse me… I need to go check my mail.

Snail mail, that is.  🙂

©  Pam Depoyan

Do you have a favorite old letter you

occasionally take out to re-read?

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About Pam@Writing...Apples of Gold

I love to hear your thoughts, even chat back and forth amongst comments.Won't you join the conversation? :) ..................................................................................................................... May my stories refresh you, like a whisper from our Father's Heart !
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29 Responses to You’ve Got Mail

  1. Lynn Morrissey says:

    Pam, I continue to enjoy so much reading your exquisite posts, and for this, I’m so grateful for the convenience of technology. You can literally reach the world with the click of a mouse, and then we all have mail. Still, I perfectly understand your love and yearning for the handwritten letter, the calligraphed envelope, adorned with the writer’s unique penmanship, an extension of her heart, and brigthened with colorful stamps and stickers. Thumbing through endless mail tedium, these handcrafted gems appear as unexpected treasures. I was just thinking the other day how few of these I receive; still, it doesn’t deter me from writing them myself. One time (just for fun and not as a contest), I decided to count how many handwritten messages I posted (letters, greeting cards, and postcards all *counted*). Near the end of the year, I stopped counting at 800. Really! But this is so easy to do, if you acquire a “stationary wardrobe,” as author Alexandra Stoddard dubs it in Gift of a Letter:
    If all your accoutrements are readily at hand (addresses, pen, stationary, greeting cards, stamps, stickers, sealing wax), then when the occasion or mood strikes, it’s so easy to put pen to paper and pour out your heart. (If you have to take the time to locate things or make a run to the store, you often just won’t do it). I must say that it is even more pleasurable to receive a handwritten note than to write one. I cannot tell you how precious to me is the handwritten letter from my father, where he expressed his love for me on five little note pages. He could never *say* “I love you,” be he could write it. Daddy has been gone five years ago, and I just re-read his letter last month, and was deeply touched again. I palpably felt his presence. My mother just wrote me a seventeen-page love letter, and it, too, is something I will treasure forever. What you are saying here is very important. Spoken words are ephemeral, but written words are permanent–and *handwritten* words are all the more meaningful, because they are an extension of one’s personality and soul in their unique, physical epxression. You wrote this beautifully, Pam, and I thank you! I hope you have lit a fire under your readers!

    • Thanks for sharing all that, Lynn! I used to have a lot more store of stationary.. these days I have a lot of cards I’ve picked up and should be using. Sometimes it is just easier to type than handwrite, too. Love the letters you have from your parents. That’s so beautiful. I’ve read some decorating articles by Alexandra… will have to check this out. Yes, I am grateful for technology and for being able to connect with so many I’d never know otherwise. It is amazing sometimes!! But I hate when people want it to totally take over. Saying real books are going out and no one will write letters anymore. How kids are not being taught to make their penmanship even legible these days, let alone a part of who they are. (Will they even be able to sign their names?) And coming across those letters (I don’t keep them all anymore, but the ones that mean most) made me think of it. Like looking through photos and finding memories you’d forgotten. Also, of someone who once told me how they loved my letters…and how I prayed that they would feel the Holy Spirit even as they held my written prayers. I agree… it is most fun to be the receiver! But that means taking time to reciprocate too. So glad this hit home with you too! 🙂

      • Lynn Morrissey says:

        You will love her book, Pam. And what a treasure you have to be able to re-read old letters and cards. Yes, perhaps, we can’t save them all,esp. if someone just signs her name, but the one where the writer took time to bare her soul…..ah, those are the treasures. And don’t get me started about kids and writing. They all print, but at least it’s in their hand! =]
        Love you!

  2. Cherry says:

    Linking up after you at On Your Heart Tuesdays – yes, words that we can hold in our hands and read over and over again are so meaningful. Thanks for this reminder …

  3. we are neighbors today at Jennifer’s…oh I love handwritten letters and i actually still try to do those…I love an author named Mike Mason…He is wonderful and His writings influenced me greatly…so I wanted to write him a note….at this time…nothing on the internet…not webpage. So I looked him up in Canada…hand wrote a letter… and mailed it to the and address I prayed was his…and prayed if he was to receive it God would get it there. Probably about 3 months passed and my son walked in with a letter…telling me I got one from canada…I thought it was probably junk mail until I saw handwriting. Mike mason wrote me back…and thanked me for writing him…how it encouraged him and he was keeping the letter to read when he got discouraged. This ministered to me how important it is to just drop someone a note to say thank-you…I am thinking of you. I really hope handwritten letters don’t become a lost art. great post…blessings~

    • I love that story, Ro! So, so encouraging. We just never know who God can lift up with our words! It reminds me of how God has had me encourage someone who is basically a stranger in my life… sending letters. I haven’t always received answers, but what I have received has shown me everyone needs an encouraging word and God uses our letters in ways we can’t imagine! I think Mike will definitely re-read your letter at times when he needs that word, and how beautiful to know how God will keep speaking those words from your heart and His. I’m so glad you were able to find his address. I’ve been wanting to write similarly to an author named Sara Mills…she used to have a website but after her young husband suddenly passed away, her site seems to have vanished. Such a common name, I’m not sure where to reach her. Your story blessed me, too! 🙂

      • Lynn Morrissey says:

        Ladies, I loved reading this exchange. You’d be amazed at who will write back (whether in their own hand or typewritten–but personal. How I treasure such letters from authors and speaker I admire like Elisabeth Elliot, Emilie Barnes, Florence Littauer, Anne Ortlund, Carol Kent, Patsy Clairmont, and on it goes. This speaks to me of how precious and unselfish these women are. They are the real deal in Christ! Hey Ro, I really like Mike Mason, too. I’ve only read his “Champagne” book, but I loved his writing!

  4. Rebecca says:

    It is true that somehow snail mail just seems so much more meaningful. I love going to the mailbox each day with the hopes that there will be something “real” in there 🙂

  5. Oh Pam … What a great post. This really touched my heart, and has me thinking about some people who I will write cards to today. Thank you for the nudge.

    • Your words touch me Jennifer. So glad it put some people in your mind for that! Wish I could send your daughter one today. Her story reminded me of when I was 10, going through something similar… my mom had to tell me just what you told her. But over it all was that same knowing His love is unstoppable that you shared with her (and my mom with me) that made all the difference. Been praying for you and Lydia this morning. 🙂

  6. Denise says:

    Truly enjoy your writing, bless you.

  7. Lynn,
    Thanks again for your words here. Yes, I talked about handwriting (or printing), but it doesn’t have to be. I’ve typed a lot of letters too when lengthy…but it’s the personal letter touch that is uppermost. I meant to say how incredible 800 letters in a year sounds to me, even in the days when I used to write them all the time. You must be prolific! How wonderful that all those authors have answered you. Yes, those are keepers. 🙂 I love the idea of letting even strangers who have touched our lives, like authors etc, know just how much… Read once about a college teacher who had her students write to celebrities etc like that, just to encourage. Great idea.

  8. Michelle says:

    Such a good reminder to take a moment to write when God puts it on our hearts to be a blessing to others. Thanks:)

  9. Eileen says:

    Pam, this is one thing I struggle with…sending notes of encouragement to people. Thank you for the reminder how important it is.

    • Eileen, sometimes even a sentence or two is all it takes. Just knowing that someone cares. The note that church stranger sent me touched me so much because she didn’t try to come up with anything directed at me. She simply wrote out a short prayer, and signed it. So encouraging because it was heartfelt and I think God-inspired. I love how God can give us even just a few words as we ask… because His never fail to touch. Thanks for your words here! 🙂

  10. Your debut writing assignment was in Highlights, how fun. I used to love that magazine as a child. I have stacks of cards I’ve kept from others in boxes and in my nightstand. They are like journal entries, calling up moments and adventures in my life soon forgotten with life’s busy pace. I love to send cards and admit since getting into the cyber world, I don’t send as many. But I do love receiving them and think your nudge might just move me to action. Btw, your first paragraphs reminded me of the book the Postmistress. If you haven’t read it, I think you would enjoy it. Have a great weekend Pam.

    • Yes, it was a non-fiction article about 1936 Olympic ice skater Sonja Henie – at the time of the 50th anniversary of Olympics, so Highlights was interested. (I actually have a printout from the magazine article attached on here, under Portfolio.) I love that about cards, because it is so true, like journal entries. I don’t send as many letters any more either, but do when I can. I’ve never heard of that book – will have to check it out. Thanks, Shelly! Enjoy your weekend, too.

  11. Betty Draper says:

    Your post was precious reminder how I need to send more hand written cards. So easy to communicate by email or fb and forget card sending. I have a stack of empty cards with a list of who I want to send them too. Tomorrow is the day I grab my pen and start the process.

    We just went through a drama recently concerning my husband who ended up in the hospital with malaria of all things. It’s been a year since we came home from Papua New Guinea sure enough after countless test and heavy meds they discovered it was malaria. The parasites can live domnant for over a year and for what ever reason release into ones blood stream and then that person gets sick. God was surely with my Ace who battle it five times overseas only to find his worst case was the one right here in good old America. I said all that to say…I knew the fastest way to get prayer started was through fb…two minutes after clicking post I was getting feed back from all over the world of prayers being sent up for him. This modern age we live in has made possible for an abundance of prayers to be lifted up to the throne just by one little click. I have gripped and gripped about fb not being personal, want that card, call, face to face but this one time I was thanking God for fast comminications.

    Back to the cards…I think two cards came in…one precious homemade one. But over 250 some prayers were posted on my fb and that is not counting the ones that came in to our son and daughter fb. This fast communications will be use of our Lord some day, every eye will see Him…how…could be fb and tv and cell phones and tablets and what ever else making a picture for all will see Him in His glory. Blessings my wise hearted sister.

    • Thank you so much for all you shared here, Betty. I agree with all your points! This age of being able to get an entire world, literally, praying for you is amazing! And such a gift of God! I do not put that down at all… it is an incredible thing to be able to share the way we do these days. But in all of that, I don’t want to lose sight of the beauty in handwritten or even typed letters and notes that come in the regular mail. No need for it to be exclusively one way or the other, is there? Benefits and gifts to both. I’m so glad that this post has inspired so many here to get out a pen and card this week though. I found so many cards that I bought to do that and never sent out… so its time to start doing it more often. 🙂

      I had a friend awhile back who went to Africa for a mission trip and ended up with Malaria recurring, so I know how terrible it can be. I’m so glad your husband had so much prayer surrounding him and he is better! This age we live in for communication is
      wondrous! Happy card writing!

  12. Thank you for this beautiful post. Receiving letters and cards in the mail is such a treat. I always display my cards proudly and then store them away later for safe keeping. Thank you for sharing and for linking up at Legacy Leaver Thursdays!

  13. Hello, Pam!
    Oh, thank you, new friend. I am so thankful you gave me your link because I would not likely have found you otherwise…You are one gifted and fun-to-read writer!! Thank you for such a poignant word pictures! I will definitely be back 🙂 Blessings to you!

  14. DebG says:

    I’m so sorry that I’m late reading this wonderful post. I saw the link over on Jacqueline’s blog and stopped by….just love reading not only your post but all the thoughtful comments.

    I love writing letters and have done so for years. In fact, when i was working in an office 33 years ago, a young engineer came for an interview. I had access to his resume so dropped him a quick note afterwards telling him I appreciated his Christian witness and wished him the best in finding a job. I had no clue that he would write back–4 pages! We became pen pals states apart from each other.

    Fast forward…we’ve been married 32 very happy years. Letters do mean something!

    • Wow, Deb…what an incredible story! Sounds like one for Guideposts or something!

      You are not late… never too late to comment on a post. You made my day! So glad you enjoyed what I wrote here and all the comments… Please come again! I’ll check out your site too…:) I’ve been visiting so many, I’m not sure who “Jacqueline” is, but maybe know her blog by a different name… Thank you for all your lovely words and for sharing your story!

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