The Persistent Birthday Note


It sits on my bathroom counter – that pesky, persistent, amazing birthday note from years ago. Every day I see that note when I brush my teeth. Every morning and every evening I see that note and allow the words to tumble around in my mind and heart. I let the words in. Again. (Twice a day is good for teeth brushing, right?)

It’s not a fancy birthday card. It’s not even a real birthday card you purchase at the store. It’s just a note. A blank notecard that had been sitting in a drawer waiting for the words to be scribbled, the stamp to be placed, and the mail carrier to deliver. This precious, persistent note is something that God has used in so many deeply profound ways during these last few painful and confusing months. It was 12 short lines written on a small notecard.

My friend sent the note to me about six years ago when our family was in the thick of a brutal leukemia battle. I may have first read the birthday note while sitting cross-legged on a rickety cot in a hospital room or I may have been sitting in my car in the hospital parking garage, praying for enough strength to face what lay ahead. I don’t even remember when I first read it. I don’t remember receiving it. The note had long since been forgotten until recently found during a move from one house to another. The providence of God.

The words expressed weren’t just the typical birthday wishes. They weren’t even the assurance of prayers for healing and hope and rest typically received and appreciated during an extreme health battle. And to be honest, I don’t even know if the words fully resonated with me when I first received them. But, oh, do those words ever resonate deeply into my soul today!

Let me tell you what she said because you may have a friend who needs to hear these words from you today… in a phone call, a text, or even a note that you put in the mail! My friend told me four things that she was praying for me in the season ahead. These four things are so huge to me. Remember, I read these words every morning. I need these words every day. She wasn’t praying for rest or comfort, she wasn’t sending sympathy. All those things are good, but they just simply don’t touch the deep places of my soul these days. Here’s the four things she was praying for me: Endurance, Courage, Peace, and Purpose.

Those are solid words. Those are things only God can bring. The strength of endurance when you feel like you’ve long before crossed the threshold of expending every single ounce of it that you could possibly have. The grit of courage in the face of the impossible. The miracle of real peace when it just isn’t possible any other way. I’m talking about real, deep, gut-level peace that makes no sense apart from God. This is not fluffy, “I think I can” kind of peace. That simply doesn’t work in the trenches. And the last word she was praying for me was purpose. The assurance of purpose. I’m still wrapping my mind around that word and it brings confusion to my heart. It’s a work in progress.

Who in your life needs words of encouragement from you today? It doesn’t need to be amazing. It doesn’t need to be profound. It just needs to be. It just needs to be real. Real and simple will pierce through the pain and confusion. It may not today, it may not when they first receive the note, but be assured that God will use your words in His time, for His purposes.

Maybe you’re telling yourself that it’s too late. The birthday has already past and you’ll have to wait till next year. You don’t! Or maybe it’s been too long since the tragedy and a note would just be awkward at this point. Here are the first words on the note that sits on my bathroom counter: “Happy (belated) Birthday!” Belated doesn’t matter. Belated is sometimes better.

You are a gift to someone today.
Who is it?
Who needs a word of encouragement from you?
Write the note. Write it today.
Allow God to use your simple, stumbling, imperfect words to bring life and encouragement to a hurting, struggling heart.
Your words may bring encouragement today.
Or not.
Your words of encouragement may take many years to bring the hope intended.
It doesn’t matter.
Put your words into God’s hands to use as He does best.
In His time. For His purposes.

The persistent note written years ago sits on my bathroom counter today, giving me some of the things I need every single day. The note speaks to me every day. It reminds me that I am not alone. It gives me the encouragement I need to turn to God for my endurance, my courage, my peace, and my purpose. It’s the birthday note that keeps on giving.

Write the note today,
Carol Stoecklein