Souvenirs. Don’t you love them? A token, a remembrance, something to bring a tangible reminder of a day or event gone by but that holds significance long after the moment has passed.
I love trips ~ seeing new places, visiting people, making memories. But in our family, part of the fun of travel is both the anticipation before we leave and then the recollection of the voyage after. We love to spontaneously start the game of “What are you looking forward to?” then each family member takes a turn sharing what they anticipate with excitement about the trip. Afterward, I enjoy hearing what everyone most enjoyed about the trip and seeing how the before and after games synched up.
The same is true in this journey we call life. Over and over I’m amazed when I look back on the tapestry of my travels to see how God intricately wove my experience to lead me to where I am today.
In His sovereignty, He had spoken over me Isaiah 61 at a time when I was seeking Him about my calling:
“The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory” (Isaiah 61:1-3).
I had recently been questioning my call. Had I heard Him wrong? Was what I was doing making a difference? Could He still use me?
Years ago as a memento souvenir from a conference I attended with two dear friends, I purchased a thumb ring inscribed with three words. It was inspiring at the time. But I’ve worn the ring every day for more than a decade and as we do (or as I do) with the scuffs on the wall or the freckles on my arm, I began to overlook the inscription with time, growing oblivious to its message.
On a recent trip, ever aware that my boys are growing older and will be leaving home soon, I wanted to provide an experience they would never forget. So I booked a dolphin encounter, where we’d swim with dolphins—surely an experience my sea-animal loving son would love. But to do so required we shed all jewelry including the thumb ring I didn’t even remove when my two children were born!
That evening as I readied for dinner and donned my jewelry once again, the inscription in the thumb-ring caught my eye: “inspire * uplift * renew”
The very words mirrored the Lord had spoken into my heart many years before as I crafted my personal mission statement but had never before connected to that souvenir jewelry:
“To inspire hope, uplift faith, and renew worth to the glory of God”
As I glanced down at that ring, the inscription echoed back the very desire of my heart: to be used by Him to inspire, uplift and renew, for His glory.
Sometimes it might come through a well-timed diagnosis and treatment plan for a patient in my office, other times through a speaking engagement with a power-packed message about hope in the face of adversity, other times a blog post with an inspiring message, sometimes just an encouraging word, bit of advice, inspiring graphic on social media, or just a friendly smile to a stranger on the street. But daily He gives me the opportunity to live out my call.
What do I look forward to most? Seeing lives changed. Hope restored. Faith uplifted. Worth renewed. It all makes me excited to see what He will do next. Sometimes He lets me see, often He doesn’t. When He does, it fuels my desire to keep going and doing, speaking and writing.
God had done it again…reminded me who I was and what I was called for, but more importantly, that He saw and heard. He was there in the planning stages (“What are you most looking forward to?”), He would be there in the messy middle when I questioned my call, and He’d be there at the end of the journey when we’d look at the souvenirs and reflect on the journey together.
Friend, what souvenirs have you picked up along the way during the journey of your walk with Him? Which ones mean the most to you, and why? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.
I have a few souvenirs I love. I’ve worn my Confirmation ring nearly everyday for 20yrs, along with my promise ring, and cross necklace. All of which I received at the same time. I love how each reminds me of a different promise and part of my relationship with God.
Heather, I love that you have several souvenirs to treasure and remind you of promises yet to be fulfilled! He delights in giving us the desires of our heart! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Your writing in this post has a freshness to it and I enjoyed reading it. Keep on inspiring, uplifting, and renewing others with your life and faith.
Thanks so much for those words of encouragement, Diane! All for His glory! Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
I love souvenirs. I have lots of “memory boxes” and love looking over each item from time to time. Special memories are brought to mind and that makes me so happy.
Love souvenirs Michelle although we don’t travel that much. I think my favorite souvenirs are pictures. I have an old one hanging in one of our bathrooms of us in the snow in Colorado at a dude ranch – our son’s high-school graduation present.
Your ring sounds really special, and isn’t it neat how God worked out another trip that caused you to reflect on those precious words.
I love souvenirs as well. My husband and I used to travel before we had our daughter and we always made sure to take something from that place from which we came–whether that was a piece pebble or grains of sand, we pepper our home with memories and trinkets we’ve collected along the way. This piece was so inspiring and we’re so happy you were able to share it with us on #shinebloghop this week.
I have a shadow box that I keep in our bedroom that I started about 3 1/2 decades ago. I stop to look at them occasionally and revisit the places I’ve been and things I’ve done. My favorite thing to do is to pick them up and talk about them with my one child who seems to love them too. It’s a way I can connect her to who I am and what God has done through out my life.
The 4 best souvenirs I have from times with the Lord are
* a red, heart-shaped rock from my favorite beach during a time when I was questioning God’s love for me and my ability to be used by God.
*John 15:1-8, The Vine and Branches, abiding in Christ. Many years ago I went to a women’s retreat with this passage as the theme. It.left a huge impact on my life. A souvenir IN my heart.
* Joshua 1:1-9, as I was reading my Bible over breakfast at McDonald’s one day about 14 years ago a young man came up to me and asked to see my Bible. I slid it over. He opened it to this passage, pointed to it and as he pounder his finger on the page he said, “This is for you,. Take it! Take it!” Then he left. This is where God is commissioning Joshua to lead the Israelites after the death of Moses. Pretty much freaked me out for a while. But as I learned to embrace it, seek wisdom about it, and step out in faith to do it, God is showing Himself faithful to do it! So glad I had the presence of.mind to write it all down and date it. It is a bookmark in that Bible on that page.
* A vision I had about 10 years ago of God’s hands coming out of the clouds pouring anointing oil on my head. This happened at a real low point for me where I was again questioning if God could use me the way I believed He was indicating.
I love how God works! He is so awesome!! And He is working those things in me as I learn to trust Him and not my own abilities. I learned it is not about me (other than surrendering to Him), but 8t all about Him!
What an affirmation! I too have a thumb ring that I bought in a difficult season in my life. Trust in the Lord with all your strength and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6. It has reminded me time and time again to trust Him even when everything seems to crumble around me.