How to write an encouraging note or letter

Posted by Amanda Bridle on

There are many difficult situations in life where we want to express our care but struggle to know what we should write. We can especially be at a loss for situations that are chronic.

“Get well soon” doesn’t necessarily apply if someone has been diagnosed with a condition that will be a part of their life permanently. Recovery from accidents or treatments for cancer can be long-term endeavors. 

When your loved ones struggle with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or addiction the need for support is ongoing. Similarly, there are life circumstances that can be painful and difficult for long stretches of time. Difficulties in relationships, parenting struggles, aging parents, divorce, job loss, and infertility are all examples of situations where you will need to offer support and encouragement more than once.

Hand holding a green greeting card with a floral wreath. The words inside the wreath read: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27.

Let me help you write an encouragement card or letter

Read on for a step-by-step guide on what to write when your loved one faces chronic or long-term difficulties. I’ve also included sample phrases to help you write your note of encouragement with confidence. Additionally, we’ll cover what not to write as well so you can avoid common missteps.

Related: You may also wish to download my free Guide to Writing Sympathy Cards: What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say.

How to write a note of encouragement and support in the face of long-term situations

1. Begin with a greeting

All notes generally start with a greeting such as “Hi” or “Hello” or “Dear” and then follow with their name. Or begin even more simply with the person’s name alone followed by a comma.

2. Open with a statement of sympathy

You will want to acknowledge the current situation and the pain they are feeling.

I am sorry to hear…

I heard about…

I am so sorry you are dealing with…

3. Mention you have been thinking of them

If you are confident you share similar religious beliefs you can reference that:

I have been praying for you…

I have been praying for healing…

I have been praying you experience God’s peace in the midst of…

Or you can be more general:

I have been thinking about you…

You’ve been on my mind…

My heart aches to know you’re hurting…

4. Optional: Offer specific help (and follow up)


If you are in a position to offer tangible assistance do so. This is going to be based on your relationship with the person and what they will be comfortable receiving, your geographic location, and your own personal bandwidth. The situations we’re discussing here tend to be longer-term so keep that in mind before making your offer. 

How to help someone having a hard time:

 • Help them with their daily and weekly routines: walk their dog, pick up their child from school, bring a child to practice or lessons
• Provide a meal (fresh at the time the person usually eats or frozen meals for later)
• Text them when you are going to a store and offer to pick up whatever they need
• Assist with lawncare or plant care
• Drop off library books and/or pick up holds from the library
• Stop by and do some light house cleaning or laundry
Do not ask the person what they need. Most people will not feel comfortable asking. People might not be thinking clearly if they are going through a difficult time.

Make an offer that is clearly defined and detailed:

I am available at 2:00 on Tuesdays. Can I stop by and help you with laundry?

I will be going to the store on Saturday. What can I pick up for you?

I want to bring you dinner on Tuesday. What time does your family usually eat?

Can I bring… home from soccer practice for you?

5. Finish with words of kindness

You might encourage people to take good care of themselves:

Be patient with yourself. Healing takes time.

Be gentle to yourself.

You can also express your love and affection:

I love having you in your life.

I am so glad we’re friends.

I am honored to know you.

6. Close in a way that reflects your relationship

If it suits your relationship you may choose to simply sign off with the word “love” followed by your name. Be more creative if it feels right. If you and the person you are writing to always part with the same phrase, use it here.

Christian Exodus 14:14 greeting card for sympathy or encouragement

What not to write or say to someone going through a hard time

When it comes time to write a note of encouragement or support in the face of difficulties it is equally important to know what not to write. None of us wish to be insensitive or unkind but often do so when we are unsure of what to say.

Avoid explaining why something is happening

None of us know why bad things happen. Trying to explain why this situation occurred does nothing to lessen the pain. Your loved one doesn’t need explanations. They need your comforting presence and care.

Avoid trying to find purpose or meaning in what is happening

A person who is suffering might eventually find deep meaning and purpose arises from their difficulties. However, that is a very personal spiritual journey. An outsider cannot assign meaning for the one who is suffering.

Examples of this (avoid):

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Now you’ll learn…

Think of all the good that will come…

You’ll be able to help others…

Avoid saying “it could be worse”

When a situation feels bad, there is no comfort to be found in a friend announcing that it could be worse. Your role as a loved one is not to force optimism or cheer but to just be there and present through the difficulties

Examples of this (avoid):

At least… (anything that comes after these words is generally not helpful)

Avoid giving advice or trying to solve the situation

The only time it is appropriate for you to offer advice is if two conditions are met. First, you are a professional with relevant expertise and experience. Second, the person asks for your professional opinion. If either of those are missing, keep your mouth shut (or put down the pen in this case).

Examples of this (avoid):

Why don’t you just…?

My friend tried (remedy/procedure/therapy/vitamin)…

Just stop worrying…

Avoid saying you understand 

Listen, if you’ve had a similar difficulty you might actually have some insight or understanding. We do have to be careful about bringing our own experiences into the situation. Don’t assume the person is reacting the same way you did. They might have a very different experience or view.

That said, you can reference your own experience carefully:

I know I am not you but when I experienced (something similar)… I found…to be helpful.

When… happened to me, I felt… Maybe you’re experiencing something similar?

Reaching out is always the right decision

Don’t let this list of warnings stop you from reaching out with a note, a quick text, or a meal. People need friends and loved ones who can care for them through the entirety of a difficult situation, even if it lasts months, years, or a lifetime.

Just knowing someone is thinking of you is important. No one wants to be alone in their suffering. Saying something (even if it is not quite right) is always better than saying nothing.

Consider reaching out on regular basis

There is often an outpouring of love at the beginning of a difficult situation but then everyone else goes back to “normal” while the hurting person is still suffering. The kindest thing would be to commit to reaching out on a regular basis. You might put it on your schedule to reach out every week or every two weeks. Or you might do so whenever the person comes to mind. Either way, feel free to reach out more than once.

Short notes are also welcome

If writing frequently feels overwhelming, consider short and sweet notes to let the person know you are still thinking about them. Short notes of encouragement can be just as powerful.

Short phrases you might write:

Thinking about you today!

Just wanted you to know I love you and am thinking about you.

Need more ideas on what to write in a short note?

I offer a free download with 40 Affirmations to Write on Postcards. These short and supportive phrases can stand alone. Or they might just get you started with writing a longer note.

 Scripture verses with the word hope printed on greeting cards

Bonus idea: Organize a group of folks to send weekly notes of support

If you run in the same social circle as your friend or if you have a group of people in common (church members, coworkers, club members, etc.) then you can rally the group to provide weekly notes of love and encouragement.

Think carefully about how much to share

If everyone in the group does not already know about the situation, consider carefully what the person would be comfortable sharing. Always err on the side of privacy. You could always say something generic like “Alice could use a little extra love and support right now” without going into any details. Alternatively, if the situation is widely known then the approach can be different: “We’re going to send weekly cards to Frank for the duration of his cancer treatments.”

Consider who to invite

This will vary by the situation and the relationships. If you don’t have all the email addresses you need, you may consider asking people you have in common. Or reach out over social media to build a more robust email list.

Utilize an online sign-up platform

The best way for this project to run itself with little oversight from you is to utilize a free sign up website like Folks signing up can choose a date that works for them. This way you can make sure your loved one doesn’t get 3 notes in 1 week followed by nothing for the rest of the month. The sites usually send automatic reminders too which is very helpful.

Create a sustainable schedule

I generally suggest once per week as a schedule that works fairly easily. If the schedule is large enough (or your pool of writers small enough) you might ask folks to sign up to write twice instead of just once. You might also consider if there are certain special dates to align with (like a treatment schedule).

Offer suggestions of what to write

A few prompts can help people who might feel hesitant to write. You might includes some in your email invitation along with a link to the sign up page.

Suggestions for encouraging or uplifting mail:
  • Share a favorite memory
  • Share what you love about the person
  • Share what the person has taught you
  • Share a favorite (and appropriate) Bible verse or quote 

Handwritten notes tell people they are loved and seen

There is never a wrong time to tell people that you care and you’re thinking about them. Consider this your invitation to pick up a pen today and send some love through the mail. I promise you won’t regret it.

Need some encouraging cards to send?

I have a few I'd especially recommend:


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 How to write an encouraging note. What to say when there are ongoing difficulties.


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How to Write a Thank You Note

Posted by Amanda Bridle on

I am here to declare handwritten thank you notes will never go out of style. 

Yes, handwriting a thank you note takes a bit more time and effort than a text. But writing a thank you note in response to a gift is more than doing the proper thing that makes your grandmother happy. A thank you note becomes a gift itself! 

Before you panic, read on for simple step-by-step instructions on how to write a thank you note. I will even help you write a thank you note for gifts you don’t like!

Thank you note with Scripture from Ephesians 1:16. I never stop giving thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.

The basic format of a thank you note

Begin with a greeting

The simplest way to begin a thank you note is with the classic Dear (name). Always address the person the same way you would in real life. If you have a more formal relationship then it is best to continue that: Dear Mr. Rodriguez. If you had a more casual or closer relationship then it might make sense to begin with a familiar greeting the two of you use in real life. 

Say thank you and add some details

Begin by stating what you are thanking the person for and add a descriptive word if possible: Thank you for the beautiful hand-knit scarf. 

Follow that up with another sentence or two with more detail. You might comment on an attribute of the gift or how you intend to use it. The color matches my coat beautifully. I know I’ll enjoy it all winter long when walking across campus.

Need help with what kind of details to share? Keep reading to find out some specific things to share for different kinds of thank you notes! 

If it makes sense for the particular circumstance, you might also comment on the actions or thoughtfulness of the gift giver. I am always so impressed with your knitting skills! 

Close the note with a last expression of thanks

Before signing off, I like to include one last expression of gratitude. Thank you again for the thoughtful gift. Then close the note with a phrase that suits your relationship with the person and the occasion: Love or With gratitude or With appreciation. Finish by signing your name.

Different kinds of thank you notes need different details

Thank you notes for gifts (including ones you don’t like!)

When writing a thank you note for a gift you always want to state what the item was that you were given. Then the gift giver has confirmation that the gift was received. 
If you appreciate the item feel free to add detail explaining what you like about it or how you intend to use it. 

If you don’t like the item, still express thanks for it. Then add an additional sentence complimenting the gift givers thoughtfulness: It was kind of you to think of me or Thank you for remembering my birthday.

Thank you notes for gifts of money

For gifts of money it is still appropriate to state what the gift was. In this case the follow up sentences might explain how the money is going to be used. Thank you for the graduation money. I will be putting it towards textbooks. When you’re teaching young children how to write notes, be prepared for their honesty! Thank you for the birthday money. My mom is making me put part of it in the bank.

Thank you notes for help, acts of service, or the gift of time

Again, start by stating what the gift was: Thank you so much for picking up Joseph from track practice on Tuesday and Thursdays

Follow up with an explanation of the impact their gift had: I am so relieved to have that logistical challenge solved. Your support during this busy season means the world to me. Our family is lucky to have friends like you.

Thank you notes for playing an important role in your life

I like to call these “notes of gratitude.” Sometimes we choose to send them at special occasions like a retirement or the end of a sports season or school year.

There’s never a wrong time to let someone know that you see the work they are doing and that you appreciate their efforts! 

Thank the person for what they did for you.

It could be anything that helped you become the person you are today: parenting, grand-parenting, teaching, coaching, mentoring, listening well, showing up when no one else did. 

Include details about how they performed their role.

Was your piano teacher especially good at explaining tricky pieces in a way that made sense? Did your college professor push you to be a better writer? Did your friend listen patiently without judgment for over a year until you finally made the change you needed all along? Praise the person for their attributes and good attitude.

Make your thank you note especially heartfelt by explaining the impact the person had on your life.

Think about how they made you feel, what you learned, and how your life turned out differently because of them. Often, people don’t realize the impact of their presence in each other’s lives. Sharing this can be just the encouragement the person needs to continue on with the work they do.

Send your thank you note today

Maybe you’re embarrassed by how much time has passed since you received a gift and you feel like it’s “too late” to send a note. Maybe it has taken a decade or two of your own adulthood to realize the importance of what someone did for you when you were young. That’s ok! Send the late thank you notes anyway. The only time it’s truly too late is when a person has passed away. None of us know when our last day will be. I cannot encourage you enough to take the time to tell someone what they mean to you while you are still able.

Need to stock up on thank you notes?

You might be interested in shopping our Bible verse thank you notes.

Set of 4 thank you note cards each featuring a different Scripture

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How to write a thank you note. What to say in every situation. Power and Peace Design. Bright, colorful, and modern Bible verse stationery and gifts for connection and celebration.


Want more letter writing tips?

I send out fantastic emails on Saturday mornings (not to brag!) and I really don't think you should miss them. One of my favorite things to share is writing prompts. I don't want anyone to be intimidated by a blank card ever again!

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10 fun things to write on postcards!

Posted by Amanda Bridle on

Postcards aren't just for vacation. Send them year round for joy and connection. Read on for 10 prompts that will inspire you to pick up a pen today!
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What to write in a graduation card

Posted by Amanda Bridle on

Graduation season is upon us! If there's a high school or college graduate in your life you probably want to celebrate their accomplishments and encourage them as they begin a new chapter in life. You may be wondering what to write in a graduation card beyond a token "congratulations." Or you might be searching for the perfect Bible verse for graduation.

Read on for 3 things you can write in a card for graduates:

1. Tell your graduate what gifts you seen in them

2. Write a personalized prayer or blessing for your graduate

3. Share your own story with your graduate

Pen in hand? You got this! Let's write a message to be remembered.

Helpful hint: many young folks are not able to read cursive so you're better off printing.

Christian graduation card with Psalm 106:1

1. Tell your graduate what gifts you seen in them

Many graduates don't have a clear next step in mind or they might have anxiety about the choices they have already made. Either way, calling out the God-given gifts you see in them can go a long way in boosting their confidence. 

Share what you see and share the growth you've observed in them. Delight in who they already are and reassure them God will use them. I especially love Ephesians 2:10 as a promise we all have work to do.

2. Write a personalized prayer or blessing for your graduate

Try a list form with the heading "my prayers for you." Things that might be on your list: peace in your heart, good health, a sense of direction, the feeling of home.

Or model your blessing after the one found in Numbers 6:24-26. Or perhaps add a few personalized lines to the end of the Scripture.

3. Share your own story with your graduate

If the graduate in your life has only known you as a settled and secure adult, then they might now know the journey the Lord has taken you on. 

Maybe you changed your major a time or 2 or 10. Maybe you switched careers in midlife (or more than once!). Maybe God has surprised you in some unexpected way. 

Share your honest story along with the hard-earned wisdom God has gifted you with. Your personal musings might just be the reassurance your graduate needs.

Want more letter writing tips?

I send out fantastic emails on Saturday mornings (not to brag!) and I really don't think you should miss them. One of my favorite things to share is writing prompts. I don't want anyone to be intimidated by a blank card ever again!

Sign up today:


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3 heartfelt ideas: What to write in a graduation card. Bonus: 2 perfect Bible verses to use!

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Use the Bible to write a love note

Posted by Amanda Bridle on

Look no further than Scripture for beautiful words to inspire a sweet love not to your husband or wife.
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