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Can I get a 👍 for the Letter?

I have previously shared a bit about our family’s journey to safety, health and happiness ( If you have followed along, you know that our daughter spent time in the Utah desert at a wilderness therapy program and is currently attending a therapeutic boarding school.

I decided to start writing about our journey in the hopes of encouraging parents and families who have a young person who is hurting and in need. I would like to provide a few words of hope and a listening ear.

I genuinely enjoy historical fiction novels. I appreciate the glimpse into past human experiences as imagined through an author’s interpretation of the historical record. I particularly enjoy when an entire story is inspired by an obscure mention of a person who really existed. I know these stories are not “true” but that does not mean there is not some particle of truth to them.

Recent Favorite Readings

And I am struck by the importance of letter writing in the stories I read…not only as vehicles for the sometimes-fictional correspondence that is part of the story, but also their real-life role in documenting the events, culture and personality of the time period. Considerable amounts of time were spent in letter-writing – sharing the mundane as well as memorializing the significant. Responses to letters were anxiously awaited, both for personal matters and matters of business.

It is sad that the art of letter-writing has given way to quick emails, thumb-typed texts and instant messages. It was an inevitable evolution, kicked off when Mr. Morse first gave us the ability to send a telegraph. The fax machine was the first intrusion that I noticed – when I could be sent a business document immediately, that set up an expectation of an immediate response and all the processes around that interaction were forever changed.

Our communication today is abbreviated (literally and figuratively), punctuated with easy “likes” and emoji’s, and generally stale. You cannot pour out your heart in a 280-character Tweet and “LOL” does not convey rich emotion.

Re-reading some of our letters made my cry

During our daughter’s time in the wilderness therapy program, our only means of direct communication with her was via letter twice weekly. The first letters we received were, understandably, full of anger and fear. My husband and I fretted greatly over our responses, analyzing each word to ensure it supported her therapeutic needs. Eventually, we shared so much in those letters. She was honest about her past behavior, opened up about her struggles, sought to regain our trust. We shared the impact of her actions to our family, our desires and goals for her, and what it would take to earn our trust again. We communicated in a truly healthy way.

I find that I miss that form of communication with her. Now that we have other ways to visit with one another, we have let the letter-writing fall to the wayside. But some things are tricky to talk about in person, where it is difficult to control your emotions and thoughtfully select the right words. Having an asynchronous discussion where there is no interruption is sometimes the right venue.

Notes "Archived" by Grammy

All of this was brought to mind recently as I came across a stack of correspondence that my husband’s grandmother had saved. She lovingly kept every single invitation, announcement and thank you note that we, including our daughters, sent her over the years. It was touching to see that those quick notes we wrote to her meant enough to deserve a place in her archives. There was also a letter she wrote (but for some reason never sent) at the request of our eldest daughter for a school project where she shared what Christmas meant to her as a child on the family farm – what a treasure!

I do write letters occasionally to our sponsor children with Compassion International. For years I was not a good sponsor – I did not take the time to write, and I figured that I was sending what they needed most in the form of my monetary contribution. But was I???? What if these children needed an affirmation or a reminder that God loves them? Writing back and forth with our daughter taught me that written words are impactful, so now I take a few moments to encourage these children. And I know it is a real treat for them to receive mail.

And isn’t it a treat for you when you receive something other than a bill, advertisement, or solicitation in your mailbox? If you find an envelope with a handwritten address from someone you love, isn’t it the first thing you tear into? A thoughtfully crafted note (even an electronic one) is so unexpected and special.

So, who can you delight today with some written words?

If it would be helpful to know the resources our family has used to seek help and healing:

The Envoy Group ( assists families, at no charge, in finding the right wilderness program, therapeutic boarding school or residential treatment center.

StarGuides ( helps both boys and girls break dangerous addictions through therapeutic wilderness experiences in the beautiful Utah desert.

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1 Comment

I love your beautiful insight and heart.

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