Seth Haines is an attorney who lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He is the organizer of the Mother Letter Project, and is currently attempting to collect additional letters in an effort to raise funds for Compassion International's Malaria Intervention Fund. Seth is married to his lovely wife Amber and they are raising three young boys.
I celebrated New Year’s Day 2008 in small village in Mozambique, Africa. I shared the day with complete strangers who did not share my socio-economic class. I shared the day with people of great need.
Upon returning, my wife, Amber, and I decided to approach the 2008 Christmas season differently. Instead of purchasing those Christmas gadgets of which we are so fond (who doesn’t love a good gadget), we decided to "create Christmas" and donate what we would have spent to the village in Mozambique.
For my part, I began compiling a series of open letters from mothers, to mothers. My goal was to collect letters which would encourage Amber, and present them to Amber for Christmas. As part of this effort, I requested email letters from several women including Shannon, from Rocks In My Dryer fame. Shannon agreed to contribute a letter, and further asked if she could publicize the project, asking other mothers to contribute their own letters. What happened as a result was truly unbelievable.
Over six-hundred letters poured in from mothers around the world, and on Christmas day, I presented those letters as “The Mother Letter Project ” to Amber. She laughed and cried as she poured through the stories submitted by complete strangers. She found encouragement in identifying with the struggles and joys of other mothers.
However, we have experienced an unintended consequence as a result of the letters—our relationship has been strengthened. We have learned lesson after lesson from the lives of others and feel encouraged through their stories.
As an example, Kari shared about her young son, who spent his last days experiencing seizures in a hospital room. She held his hand through sleepless nights and was by his bedside when he made his way to the next life. In telling her story, she actively rejects bitterness and, instead, recalls the love for her son. She encourages us, through her sorrow, to
Parent them intentionally and with purpose. Enjoy every opportunity where little hands seek yours and find contentment there…. Revel in the snuggles after dark that provide the chance to hear the softly spoken thoughts from the bottoms of their souls. Breathe them in deeply. …[R]ecord those little moments you think your heart will remember forever. Every memory captured in time will be worth its weight in gold.
Kari’s story was not singular. Others shared similar bits of hard-earned wisdom and Amber and I have tried to learn from that wisdom. They have encouraged us to cherish children. They have encouraged us to make time for each other. They have encouraged us to love well. And in listening to those stories, we have been deeply impacted.
Your stories have the potential to affect others. Share those stories with someone you love via letter. Those letters, even if written to a complete stranger, will affect the recipient's way of living. It will shape their primary relationships. And that is a gift that money cannot buy.