Are you one of those people? You know, a card hoarder. I think it could be genetic.
My grandmas saved shoeboxes full of precious cards and notes given to them by friends and family over the years. One grandma had every birthday and anniversary of her kids and grandkids penned on the wall calendar in the kitchen. She had a stash of all occasion cards, and I don’t remember Grandma forgetting any of her four kids and their spouses, eleven grandkids, and four great-grandkids’ birthdays until her last years.
When my grandparents passed, the family found many of these tucked away old cards and letters, bringing back memories, love and laughter, and the answers to long-held questions for those who craved knowing more about their family history.
As a child, we lived on the farm, and it was a big deal to go to town to do the shopping. I got an allowance for chores from an early age and learned to save for gifts. It wasn’t a lot of money, but things didn’t cost as much back then. Dad usually ended up with Aqua Velva and a tie every year. Many farmers wear them, you know. Mom would get a pretty necklace or embroidered handkerchief from Woolworth’s discount store. If there was any money left, my little brother might get a trinket. I usually saved for something bigger for myself, like one of those tiny turtles eventually banned from being sold because children were contracting salmonella from them. It’s a wonder I’m alive.
Anyway, if I didn’t make one, picking out the perfect card was serious business for me. I would go to the drug store and scan all the cards for just the right one for whom I was buying.
I remember one year, I must have been around eight years old and spent a considerable amount of time browsing the cards for Mother’s Day, and the card I picked out cost a dime over what I had in my pocket. I scanned the cards again to find the second-best, but my heart was set on the first one because it was the right message. I counted my money again to make sure. Sigh. As I walked away to pay for second-best, I saw a glint out of the corner of my eye, bent down, and picked up a dime that was on the floor partially hidden by the display rack. Happy doesn’t even begin to describe my good fortune that I still remember 52 years later. I cared that much about the message and so did God.
When we moved last year, I sorted through cards, letters, and old handwritten prayers from decades ago. It was fun to read my detailed petitions and marvel at how God answered them. They brought back memories of lean times, uncertainty, my grandparents, pain, helping people, Mother’s Day when my children were little, birthdays, anniversaries, apologies, thank you’s, and singing songs long forgotten. Some were store-bought, but the most cherished of all were the sentiments scribbled on a scrap of paper by a child’s hand.
Occasionally, I’ll find a note in one of my bibles or a book that comes at a time when the message or memory is dearly needed. For a moment, I’m taken back in time and encouraged with love and hope. Sometimes that’s all it takes to change the path of the day and fill me with humble gratitude.
So if you are a note and card keeper, I encourage you to be selective. While old messages of encouragement and love are comforting and welcome, anything less than should be sifted carefully. Your heart matters. Cover it with loving words. We want to move forward with joy, not stall while looking behind.
God cares about the messages you keep.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8