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A Fan Letter After 30 Years: Writer Wednesday

January 28, 2015

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Last Sunday my husband and I were greeters at church. When we finally finished greeting folks and headed into the sanctuary, the usher handing out bulletins handed me a personal note that someone had written covering my bulletin. It had been left with the stack of bulletins by a woman who helps bring a group of volunteers from Pleasant View Inc., a wonderful agency in our community serving adults with special needs. The volunteers come every Friday to our church to fold our bulletins because it is something they enjoy doing and it is a way for them to experience the joy and camaraderie of volunteering.

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Here’s the note. (Click or flick to enlarge.)

Of all the ways I have received communication from readers of things I’ve written, this was the most unusual. I walked into church all pumped up. To hear from a reader who had obviously been moved by one of my early books—after almost 30 years! I was blown away and grateful to Marianne for writing the note.

The first book she was referring to is called For the Next Nine Months: Meditations for Expectant Mothers, published by Zondervan in 1982. I wrote the journal type entries and prayers, and found scripture verses to accompany each meditation, while expecting our first child in 1981.

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This story gets even more special. I called the number she gave and yesterday we spoke by phone. Not only had she loved the book, she had planned to name her baby after me if it was a girl. Her mother’s last name had been Davis and so she felt that was special too. (My own mother found my own name in a book, too, by an early prolific Mennonite novelist, Christmas Carol Kauffman. That writer had a character with the slightly unusual spelling of Melodie.)

Marianne and her husband ended up having a boy and named him Michael. My oldest daughter, the one about whom the meditations were written while she was gestating, we named Michelle. Pretty close—they come from the same root name of course!

P1070091Michelle when she was four days old.

Michael is now married but it his sister, Marianne’s daughter, who just had a baby. Marianne wanted me to know that the baby she prayed over every day as he was growing inside her while reading my book “turned out well”—a good son with a great job. And obviously she feels the same way about her daughter that just had a baby!

Very cool. How amazing to hear the back story. Marianne did not live in our community at the time she read my book, so when she saw my name in the church bulletin: “Stuart and Melodie Davis, greeters” she knew she had to find out if I was the same one who had written the devotional book.

My daughters also enjoyed reading the meditation book while they were expecting in 2013—even though to read it, it feels dated now. So much has changed about how we have babies in North America today, from baby registries (one of the first tasks of many expectant parents) to husband involvement in labor and delivery (now almost always husbands or boyfriends participate in those phases, which was pretty new in 1981), to routine, sophisticated ultrasound pictures. (Our daughters’ labor and delivery experiences here and here.)

P1070092Early ultrasound of Michelle, three months gestation, 1980.

But I hope that the emotions and basic experiences of pregnancy are somewhat universal and timeless as we go through the miracle that has happened since the beginning of time.

***

Did you ever receive a note or letter that blew you away with surprise and wonderful feelings? I’d love to hear your story!

***

ForTheNextNineMonths

The For the Next Nine Months book is only available from used book sellers online and through Amazon.

In conversation with Marianne, the devotional book for new mothers she was remembering may have not written by me, but my book Why Didn’t I Just Raise Radishes: Finding God in the Everyday comes close to that with stories and prayers from our early days of raising children, also available only as a used book on Amazon etc.

However, the publisher I work for, Herald Press, has just brought back into print three books for expectant or new parents, Meditations for the Expectant Mother and Mediations for the New Mother, by Helen Good Brenneman, (mother of my high school friend Tobi) and also Meditations for New Parents by my college friends, Sara and Gerald Wenger. Check them out and stock up—on sale now until Feb. 2 for just $5.99 each.

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2 Comments
  1. Your stories show the power of the written word and of love in action. It’s wonderful to receive special notes, especially unexpectedly. It didn’t escape me that the expression of gratitude came also in writing.

    You asked about my experience. Once I pointed out a special scripture (Psalm 40:17) to a discouraged pastor. When he mentioned its impact on his life many years later, I had forgotten about the whole incident, but he didn’t! Yes, I have received notes from appreciative students, a paperweight and even a musical apple.

    “Cast your bread upon waters. . . .” Your stories demonstrate this truth.

  2. Lifting up a discouraged pastor–very special indeed, more so because it went forgotten by you. A man in my small group has shared (more than once) the story of how a young man later told him he considered John a mentor–to which my friend says “I had no idea.” I did not expect much out of this post–I frankly threw it together quickly and (found mistakes later in the morning) but it has been a sweet reminder (especially comments made on Facebook rather than here) of your last quote, “Cast your bread upon waters.”

    If blogging had been around when I wrote that pregnancy devotional…. 🙂

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