For as long as I could remember, I collected memories. I have my second-grade report card, my junior high basketball schedule, my megaphone necklace from the cheerleading years, and the monogrammed napkin from my wedding. I collect small trinkets in shoeboxes, dresser drawers, and memory jars. In the 1970s and 1980s of my childhood, photographs meant having money for film and developing. Photos were only for special occasions, but trinkets could be slipped into one’s pocket and saved.

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I wrote about collecting memories in my new novel, The Memory Jar, but I also realized that in addition to collecting trinkets I’ve also collected stories, prayers, and Scriptures. I’ve been journaling for twenty years. I have thoughts tucked inside spiral-bound notebooks, leather journals, and everything in between. I keep these journals in a few boxes under my bed, and I enjoy pulling them out. Many prayer requests fill their pages. I smile as I can see time and time again how God answered those prayers. Sometimes God didn’t answer like I expected, but He always had a plan—a perfect plan. Better than I could have ever figured out.

There are times I try to imagine what my children and grandchild will think when they’re reading through the pages. Inside are my questions, cries of my heart, and even confessions. There are also prayers of surrender and praises. The picture they’ll see within my words is that I was completely human with joys and struggles like anyone else. Mostly I hope they’ll see that no matter what, I turned to God. I depended on Him in all circumstances.

My journals remind me of the stones of remembrance displayed in Joshua 4:20-22,

It was there at Gilgal that Joshua piled up the twelve stones taken from the Jordan River.

Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’

Have you set up stones of remembrance in your walk with God? Think back to those transforming moments. Then find a journal to write down your remembrances of God’s goodness in your life. If you have any mementos, collect them in a jar. As you remember God’s work, you’ll be amazing by how much is already captured in your heart!

Amish Proverb: A happy memory never wears out.

More about The Memory Jar: Every year, 30–40 young Amish men descend on the cozy little town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive ‘resident’ status for the hunting season in the fall. They arrive as bachelors, but go home with brides! Sarah Shelter has lived in West Kootenai for the last ten years and wonders if she will ever fall in love. Since the tragic death of her best friend, she carries her memories in a jar along with the small items connected to them. For just as long, she’s also been carrying around her emotions instead of allowing them to penetrate deep into her heart. Now she’s met a kind and gentle man who may be able to break down the wall. But can Sarah risk her heart to finally achieve her dreams?

—Tricia Goyer

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