I collect words. Old cartoons, quotes written on napkins, bulletins from church with a hastily scribbled phrase from the sermon, these are in my keepsake box. I have a poem shared over 30 years ago from my college friend that I pull out about every 4 or 5 years, as amazed at how it still rings true for me as I am at her so beautiful handwriting, handwriting that just means her to me. Most of my favorite recipes are on the backs of bills or a piece of newspaper, jotted quickly as my mother recited ingredients over the phone, surely indecipherable to anyone else.  I have the page from my Chef’s Daytimer where he wrote his phone number when he first asked me out. Song lyrics that have spoken to the places I try to hide, stories written by my children after vacations (my consistent homework assignment for them), those little cards that come with flowers, long dead. Letters, probably every letter I have ever received, all in my keepsake box. I collect words.

I found a rock in my mailbox. I am accustomed to seeing spiders, bills and Time magazine inside but this was a first. It was holding in place a small slip of paper, a scrap that would otherwise have blown away as I opened the box door.  Both were treasures, one a gift to my Plum, the other an encouragement to me. It was lovely and enchanting, so very sweet that a new friend made that effort. A place of usual dread, especially now that money is scarce, became delightful. This note is a keepsake.

A visit to St. Paul several months ago yielded much for our souls, in fact prepared us for this next step in our journey. There we met a family so welcoming I wanted to move to be neighbors, to worship with them. A great fit for my Chef, this man who reached out, shared, ate lunch with us.  A bond was created, Facebook allows it to continue from afar until we can travel north again. Several weeks ago I received this most achingly uplifting email from this friend, apologizing if it was inappropriate but sharing the hope of God, promises of our Lord, hearing our agony.  I read his email over and over, could not find anything wrong through my teary eyes. What I saw was someone who took the time to reach across several states and a great deal of fear to share his faith and let us own our hurt. This email is a keepsake.

When I returned from my trip to Colorado, I found a three page handwritten letter (who does that anymore?) from a young woman filled with such grace that the pages felt warm, they glowed.  I don’t care if you believe me. She is that authentic, she is so real.  Her letter lifted me to the heavens, threw me below the very soles of my feet. I wanted to write to her all last year and didn’t. I selfishly figured she was doing well at college, what would she gain from a missive from me? Why did I ignore that push from God? How grateful I am that she is braver than I, that she listened. Her letter is a keepsake.

Since I have begun blogging and sharing my broken life, my search for grace and those bits of light in the darkness around, I have been incredibly blessed to be encouraged by old friends and new. My keepsake chest is ever filling.  I have become much more aware also of the power of words, spoken written and withheld. Storing up my own treasure of words is not pleasing to God, brings Him no glory. I apologize now for all the letters I haven’t written, for the times I held back. I didn’t trust me, I should have trusted God. I hope now to be an encourager, to leave a rock or an email or write a letter that becomes a keepsake for another someday. I strive to be authentic, to be honest with my words and let God do the rest.  If my blog means something to you, maybe it will to someone you know. It is personal but not private. Please share on your pages to help me atone for all the times I was silent. I am searching for courage amongst my treasures and what I keep finding is you. All of you who have let God push you into acting. May I become that brave, today, to speak truth and kindness with lasting words, words that feel like keepsakes.

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