This past August, I invited you to join me in what I’m calling the Snail Mail Blessings Challenge to write and send one hand-written note to someone each week. I had the idea because in this age of instant texts and emails, I’ve been missing the special connection of a different kind of correspondence – the old-fashioned hand-written note.
Well, I’m realizing God also was preparing my heart (and hand) for something special because about a month ago I received lovely note from a woman named Jessika Sanders who has a ministry called “Praying through the NICU” which supports families in the NICU through prayer and other forms of encouragement.
Here’s her note:
Hi Laura! I just had an idea come to me and I wonder if it is from the Holy Spirit! We were in the NICU with our son on Christmas 2 years ago. It was so hard. The kindness of a stranger gifting us a baby toy touched our hearts—especially because it was the one toy I hadn’t gotten our son but had wanted to. ❤️
This year I was thinking of doing something special for our local NICU as well as some of the families in our online community that find themselves in the hospital for the holiday. I would love to gift them a Christmas book to read to their baby. My first thought was your “Goodnight Manger” board book. ❤️ Would you prayerfully consider being a part of this somehow? I know you are a NICU mom and your book is a beautiful blessing. Would you pray about it and get back to me? ❤️ God bless you!
I am indeed a NICU mom. Our son, who is now in college, was born 16 weeks early and spent 105 days in the NICU. And those days were so difficult — facing the unknown, wondering if he would be okay and what the future might hold.
But just as Jessika experienced, during that time, God used strangers to comfort us with words of encouragement and prayer. A teenager and former preemie came to visit the NICU one day, stopping at each isolette and serving as testament to God’s presence and mercy. A monastery of complete strangers prayed for us. A quilting guild of women I didn’t even know, not only prayed, but made a quilt that we still use. Three beautiful examples of strangers reaching out with God’s love in the midst of the difficult.
So, of course, I said, yes. And what would my special role be? Writing a note of encouragement for each book donated.
I also said I would donate three books and my wonderful publisher, Zonderkidz donated 12 more. Jessika was thrilled and she said could match our fifteen with fifteen of her own. And we were on our way. She also mentioned that she and her team would have a book drive and so the totals might be a little bigger. Maybe 75? Would that be okay, she asked. Of course, I said. I would write as many notes as needed.
Well, God has knocked my socks off! The number of copies of GOODNIGHT MANGER that have been generously purchased by kind-hearted souls eager to bless those babies and their families is now approaching 450!
And in the kindness begets kindness department, and because 450+ notes of encouragement is a lot of notes to hand-copy, I have been blessed with a team of friends and family who have offered to pitch in with the letter writing – leaving a space for me to sign. These include:
- an 84 year old former preschool teacher
- my sister and her two kids, ages 10 and 13,
- a dear friend who I’ve known for ages (who has beautiful penmanship!)
- a wonderful friend who is also a NICU mom and was one of the first strangers to reach out to me with encouragement and prayer when our son was first born. (That’s how I met her!)
- a new friend who just loves and idea and wants to pitch in
- a lovely steward of a local Little Free Library who I met when I dropped a copy of LOVE IS KIND off there last year. We have become friends and she is a NICU mom and is eager to pitch in a big way
- and I have a feeling more will join the team in the coming weeks.
I will send the hand-written, signed notes to Jessika. She will then distribute them to her team to be packaged with the books that have been donated. And it’s not just for a couple of NICUs. Her team is comprised of wonderful NICU mamas who have blessed by Jessika Sanders “Praying through the NICU” ministry. They are the ones who will hand deliver the packages to their respective NICUs in at least four states that span the nation!
Learn more about the Praying through the NICU ministry. Interested in being a part of the Christmas in the NICU book drive? Press here. (The book drives runs through 11/15/21.)
In closing, perhaps this post will inspire you to make a list of special people in your life (or complete strangers) that you might bless with a note of encouragement in the coming weeks.