Somewhere in my memory, I have known that I still had them. But actually finding them there in the game closet was still surprising and caused me this weird sense of thrill and embarrassment. Because before there was texting, there were notes. And all of the heartache and drama of middle and high school was recorded in them–passed quietly, secretly through the hands of trusted classmates; slipped discreetly through the locker vents; left in books to be found after school.

Those were the days when we envied the girls with the good handwriting, when we made little acrostics for our inside jokes, when Love Ya Like A Sis made it so we couldn’t sign our name without LYLAS until at least 1994. I know this is proof that I might be a hoarder a little bit, holding on to notes from friends from high school. To be fair, I only have one small box of them. Trust me, there were a lot more than that.

I couldn’t help myself – I read them. And I was shocked at how easy it was to be 14 again, all those young emotions that feel the same way as my old emotions, but for all different reasons. Even though everything has changed, nothings really different.

I still fear.

I still dream.

I still worry.

I still hide.

I still whine about boys. (Even though now it’s because they won’t eat their vegetables).

I still desperately want you to like me even though now I have more tools to handle it when you don’t.

But there are differences, too. Ways I’ve grown up even though I still feel young.

I don’t roll my eyes as much.

I can sit still longer.

I do my own laundry.

I can cook.

And in all these ways we’ve both grown up and are still kids, there has been a sameness that has undergirded it all. There is a constant, ever present Love who has watched us and walked with us and beckoned us out of the dark places. He lived then and He lives now and reading the words of my friends from high school – it reminds me of how he knew then what I know now. And also? He knows now what I have yet to know later.

And it brings great comfort. He is El Roi, The God Who Sees Me, the God who never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

Do you have any keepsakes that help you remember? What are they?

by Emily Freeman, Chatting at the Sky

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  1. 1

    I have a few notes and cards tucked away in my cedar hope chest. I haven’t pulled them out in so long. They take me back to those days just like hearing a song on the radio does. Yesterday a friend and I were discussing age and how even though our bodies are getting older our spirits are still young within us. Mature, but young. Does that make sense?
    Your words bring comfort. Yes, He is the God who sees and heals, the One who is faithful and righteous. The One who is always with us. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. 2
    Lisa H says:

    I found my old scrapbook which was really a yellow 3 prong folder full of notebook paper! I was in 8th grade I think when I started it. That was 1983/84! I was a gymnast and this scrapbook was all about my time in gymnastics, my ribbons & pictures from competitions and pictures of the olympic team that year–MaryLou Retton was my ‘hero’ of sorts! I wanted to be like her when I grew up even though she was only a year or 2 older than myself!!!

  3. 3

    I wanted to be Mary Lou Retton too. Those were magic years.

  4. 4

    Emily,

    There must be something in the (in)writer’s water…or we’re channeling each other or something: my post for July talks about notes I’ve had from childhood, too (ones I STILL have like YOU!).

    And I got my hair cut like Dorothy Hamill in the 8th grade. My two cowlicks made sure it barely resembled the original….

    :)

    • 5

      I got the Dorothy Hamill haircut, but I’d been “growing my hair out” for years, and neither my mom or I thought my Shirley Temple toddler hair was lurking. It was, and my hair went berserk after the cut. It wasn’t pretty. I grew it out again.

  5. 6

    I have saved every card I have gotten from 1st grade on… I went through a few year back and got rid of the “just a signed birthday card” ones, but they still take up a couple of boxes….. It helps me remember how much I was loved and how far I’ve come.

  6. 7

    Oh, the days of notes! I just had a conversation about that with a jr. high/high school friend I ran into the other day. I finally threw mine out more than a decade at though, but it was amazing to sit and read through hundreds of them before they were shredded, ha! I can remember thinking, “Wow, was I REALLY like this?” LOL

    As a teacher, I have kept notes students have written me as well as notes from friends. They are my reminders that at some point, I did something right. ;)

  7. 8

    my students actually still pass notes since they aren’t SUPPOSED to have their cell phones in the class room! i have notebooks from high school and college – the beginnings of short stories, the beginnings of novels, an entire children’s book, poetry, lists, doodles….my husband and i also saved EVERYTHING we used for planning our home (we built when we were married only five years). And, not only has Robin written about notes recently, Beth Moore posted last week about her notes from her EARLY Bibl studies!

  8. 9

    Oh Emily – this may be my favorite post yet. Just reading it brought back so many memories. Wow. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful, blessed, 4th of July holiday weekend.

  9. 10

    That looks like My Box of notes! About 5 years after high school, my BFF( ha) and I found them and read them…SO FUNNY! I finally threw them out, all but a few.

  10. 11

    I was just looking for a recipe and saw all the ones written in my grandmothers writing. Yellowed with age. She gave me them soon after I was married. (at 19) Treasures.I still have cards from over the years but threw all the notes away a long time ago.

  11. 12
    Stephanie Hamann says:

    OK, I just had fun for a moment because of the note in the upper right corner with the neon color pens. I had forgotten those, which gave us the pink, the purple, the blue and the green ink. Totally had forgotten, and it brought a smile. And the fun ways we folded paper made me smile and remember, too. Those days of junior high were really tough for me – a socially awkward, quiet, insecure girl. Thankfully, I too have grown so much from those days, but you’re right – we all still fear and dream and worry and hide – just maybe in a little different way. Thanks for this post with its truth, and its picture – which brought we a smile and memories – both the good and the painful!

  12. 13

    what fun memories and great insight. Life is more of a spiral, where we keep returning at the same places over and over again but at a different level.

  13. 14

    I love notes. I wish I still had a reason to write notes. I was so sneaky. (Okay, two things. First, I am sure I was not as sneaky passing notes as I thought. And second, my husband and I still write notes to each other during church. We are mature.)

  14. 15

    Mercy me … I have a treasure trove of mementos from the past. I can’t bring myself to throw them out, because their discovery each time is just as thrilling as the last. Without them, I simply wouldn’t remember as much.

  15. 16

    I’ve never known anyone to keep their old notes from school unless they were lovers, now married. What a great idea!

    I wish I’d thought to keep mine. My husband fusses at me to this day about throwing too many things away. I throw away and we still have clutter. Go figure.

    I don’t think about it often, but it is something when I sit back and think of how God has been witness to our growth, the same way we’ve witnessed our children growing.

    Makes me wonder, “How proud is He of what He sees?”

    Thanks for the post and love your blog. By the way, I was just talking about your blog to my husband the other day. I said, “Chatting at the sky,” and he said, “What? What is that?” He said, “Oh.” To which I replied, “Isn’t that just the cutest name to give to our prayers … our talks to God?”

  16. 17

    “. . . it reminds me of how he knew then what I know now. And also? He knows now what I have yet to know later.”

    Once more, dear woman, you write with a wisdom far beyond your years. But, after all, wisdom comes from God, and He’s given you a lot.

    Funny, isn’t it, how much kids write to each other instead of talking to each other? I wonder if my kids ever make a special note to remember a particular text. Probably not. One day they’ll probably talk about the texts they sent and received “back in the day.” Right now they’re living through their little electronic notes to one another.

    Hmmm. I wonder if there’s a way to text in rainbow colors?

  17. 18

    Count me as one who wanted to be Mary Lou Retton. And then a little later Kristi Yamaguchi. :)

    I still have my journals from middle school/high school years. You are right…opening them is like opening up a familiar room and remembering everything you felt and did there back in the day. I’m so thankful God’s presence does not shift like those 8th grade feelings! Yes, ma’am.

  18. 19

    I love your reminding us that God never changes! I still have some old journals from high school. It’s fun to look back at them (most of the time…there were some sad memories in there too).

  19. 20

    It must be the week for it…I was going through old notes from high school this week too. I have to admit, I have boxes of them. Notes, journals, all kinds of things. They’re a window into what feels like another world, to a self that seems so near and so far away. But you’re right about what’s constant: for all the then (and now) turbulence in my heart, God never changes. He sees, knows, and loves, always. :)

  20. 21

    I have over 300 letters written by my bff, who moved after 5th grade. Those letters bring all those years back, too, for me. I have diaries. I have precious hand-written letters from my mom, my dad, and my grandparents, all gone from this earth, that tug at my heart everytime I see their distinctive hand. And I have saved the dear little notes from my sons. Too soon, they will be grown. And I need to make sure I leave them with hand-written memories from me.

  21. 22

    Notes, notes, notes! Oh, my best friend recently visited, and she brought a few classic keepers from her shoebox. I miss how everything then seemed slower.

    Great pic, Emily.

  22. 23

    I have all the same notes, but they are from my high school boyfriend who is these past six years my husband! Every now and then I sit on the bed and go thru my memory box to walk down memory lane and remember where we’ve come from in our relationship. So fun to read them.

  23. 24

    I came across an old note passed in class. I had a good chuckle. I was so juvinile.

  24. 25

    I had notes but they’ve been long thrown away.
    When I think back on Jr. High (as we called it), all I remember is the angst and the feelings of being an outsider. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. Consequently, I didn’t have a lot of notes from many friends, just a couple.
    Because of that feeling, I now make sure to make every one around me feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
    And now, I’ve reconnected with many of my Jr High friends and I’ve found out, for the most part, they felt all the angst and turmoil in their lives too! The cheerleaders, the jocks, the brains…they didn’t always feel like they fit in, either. Now that we are more secure in who we are, we have the best time!

  25. 26

    For what it’s worth — I LIKE YOU, Emily :) (Even if we haven’t met in person!!!)

    I have all my journals, creative writing, and most of the letters I received throughout my teen years, as well as all the letters my husband and I exchanged while we were first friends, then dating. I also have photos and a few scrapbooks. Wow! I keep a lot of memorabilia, don’t I?!?!?!

  26. 27

    My best friend went to another school (horror!) and her phone number was LONG DISTANCE. We wrote notes almost every day and then saved them up until we saw each other at church. They almost always said the same exact things. But still, we were compelled to write it all down – again.

    ps – Your friend with the multi-colored pens must have really been out for Friend of the Year. All those colors AND the fancy-fold? No way.

  27. 28

    Sadly, all my notes and journals from my teen years were trashed. I wish I had them now, but I remember it all well enough to know that I am surprised to be 36 and have so many of the same feelings, fears, wishes, etc. Also slightly surprised that my 13-year-old feisty girl can be brought out by other current 13-year-old girls. ;)

    It IS so cool to see that special folded up note. I wonder if I can still fold that way. I shall try! And then send it to my grown-up BFF!

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