Leadership with heart, mind, and soul

A Life Well Lived: Debbie Harned

Added on by Sam Davidson.

Debbie was someone who lived on the periphery of my life. Like so many people to so many of us, she was one of those individuals you know at a certain point due to a certain circumstance that you know will change (high school, church, neighborhood). But, Debbie was someone I never forgot, even though I went from seeing her on a semi-regular basis to not at all.

To me Debbie exemplified a life well lived, and the stories told at her funeral today proved it. You would expect to hear that about someone who passed away after 80 or so years, but Debbie was only 47, leaving behind a husband and two young sons.

For me, Debbie was someone who made sure that everything she did had meaning. She thought no task was too insignificant to be done, especially if it was done for someone else.

This is what led her to write letters to people literally all over the world. As the founder of Anchor Ministries, Debbie knew the powerful encouragement that can only come with a hand-written letter. It today’s world of quick emails and impersonal communication, a letter that arrives in your mailbox can nearly seem like a relic from the past. But there’s not a single one of us who still doesn’t like to get mail, whether it’s a birthday card from grandma or a postcard from a friend abroad.

Debbie knew that people the world over were going through tough times and needed to be given hope. And Debbie thought that a small symbol of this hope would be a letter. So, she set out to write words of encouragement to people she’d never met, people who needed a friend, people who needed to know that they were not alone.

And so she wrote.

And wrote.

And wrote.

And when she was done, she’d sent nearly 14,000 letters. That’s the equivalent of a letter a day for over 38 years.

In this simple act that happened in minutes at a time, Debbie changed the world. She used a sheet of paper, a pen, an envelope and a stamp to spread hope around the globe. One simple act, with such deep meaning, can really make a difference.

Who should you write a letter to today?

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