I like to collect old things. But not just any old things. They speak to me. Good chance you’ve seen something so random that sparked something in your soul that at the moment made absolutely no sense but, You. Had. To. Have. It.

I get you. I am talking full on emotional response to something so precious that I have to take it home with me. Be it a garage or estate sale, thrift store or antique mall. My instagram feed is full of accounts of collectors with cupboards full of vintage pyrex, santa mugs or antique needlework. Even if the item collected isn’t my choice of interest, the proud display and glorious order of finds that I am sure has taken years and care to collect sparks more joy than a clean Marie Kondo closet.

My personal collecting began with a vintage handmade apron with pleats, cross stitching and airy linen red and white gingham. It was so darling, and in a “FREE” bin at a garage sale. I scooped it up and pictured it hanging on a hook some day in my grown up kitchen. I had no idea as highschooler why I was so drawn to it.

As the years have passed, I totally get it now. Browsing antique malls and thrift stores soon became a pastime I adored. Feeling transported to other times, and seeing items that had well worn edges was like a warm hug. From time to time a little apron would appear, and I would marvel at it’s craftmanship. These weren’t mass produced at Target or ordered in bulk on Amazon. They were sewn with care by the woman who would wear it. With pockets at just the right distance from her hip, each apron slightly different from the next. Some were lined with ricrac and others with ruffles. Some were petite with just enough fabric to save a dress from stove splatter and some were full coverage for those deep clean days. But they all had something in common, a delight and beauty in homemaking. The careful attention to detail, the color and pattern reflecting the maker. I can almost see that some of them were talented cooks and bakers while some were more graceful hostesses. Some have been washed for decades and some are still crisp from starch. I imagine their stories. How many toddler tears they probably wiped. How many of them were lifted up to wipe their own tears and hold their faces while they felt the same emotions I do some days. Overwhelmed with the great task of providing for your family. (Dinner time comes way too early most days, am I right?) I see time worn hands with arthritic swollen knuckles, golden wedding ring sliding backwards, gently looping the strings into a bow as she pulls it taught. She gets up and prepares a meal for one, as she Is widowed and her children have gone, but she values herself to get up and take care of her own body and soul. She is worthy of care, as the years marched on. It’s the stories that made me want to collect.

As I moved into adult hood, collecting has been something that I never envisioned myself doing, but here I am, giddy about a vintage metal tray, an ironstone pitcher or creamer, a blue and white china plate, or a beautifully pieced quilt. They all have different characteristics that I love, but the common thread is the story my mind’s eye sees when I find it hiding in the thrift store shelf or estate sale table. My collection probably won’t bring any value or monetary fruit to my children when they have to sort through my collections some day, but that’s not why I collect. I collect because of what each piece that speaks to me represents.

Psalms 56:8 tells us that our Heavenly Father is a collector too. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded them in your book.” Now why on earth would the creator of the world want to collect our tears? He needs nothing. The wind and waves obey Him. But here He is, with a jar full of our tears. The collector isn’t storing up these tears because they will give him financial gain or prove to be a wise investment later, He collects them because of the story, the person, the cause of the tears they represent. Those tear producing moments are precious to Him. It sparks a love and adoration in the Father’s heart that is worth scooping up, taking note of, and holding near to His heart. The chances of many of the original owners of the aprons and dishes I have still being here are slim, as they were no longer needed or desired by those who were responsible for the estate. Unlike these things we love here on earth, the tears of our brokenness, or grief, our great joy and tears of laughter, are so incredibly valuable to God, He chooses to collect them. He sees a value in our stories that others never will. When our trials or breakthroughs may be old news to those around us, that moment and all those feelings we felt since then are still near to the Father’s heart. Not forgotten. Not dismissed.




When I think the tears I have shed are so adored, far beyond what I can imagine, I am even more in love with the Collector.

Published by abbemichelle

Writer and artist, believer of all things being made new. Wife and Mother, founder of 21:5 Ministries, and Doll Design Co.

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