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Finding treasures

I guess I’m a treasure hunter by nature. I like old things, and exploring is part of the fun.

One of the first pieces of furniture Sweet William and I bought as a couple was a rugged looking, six legged table he found in someone’s garage.  We gave it the tender loving care it needed, and it sits in the bay window of the living room.

I’ve enjoyed scouring antique and junk establishments, garage sales and thrift stores. Unique things are the reward.

We ventured to our first official yard sale this week, a rite of spring, at an ancient little church not far from home. The women of the church host a sale twice a year in their modern multi-purpose room, and it’s always a good place to search out something of interest.

This year I spied an item that was a close duplicate of what I have at home, a small china hand that I’m sure was originally meant as an ash tray, the gold-plated indention at its wrist just the size of a cigarette. Mine rests on my kitchen counter, near the coffee pot, as the holder of a cream-stirring spoon.

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The small hand used to sit on my mother’s gas stove where she placed the burnt match she used each time she lit a burner or the oven. Because the gas did not run continually in her stove, Mother pushed the burner knob and held a lighted match where the gas escaped to light the fire that would get the cooking started. I’m sure that is against all safety regulations now, but that’s the way it was done in mother’s kitchen.

When she died, that little hand was one of the first things I wanted to take to my kitchen. It held years of memories of good food and my mother’s daily activity. Feeding her family and anyone else who happened to sit at her table was primary, and she did it well.

At the yard sale I snatched that little hand and carried it to where Sweet William was now sitting with a plate of chips and a hot dog. “Look what I found” I said, and we took it home with us, the treasure of the day.

Last week, I decided to go through the contents of the cedar chest that doubles as a window seat in the upstairs office. I had not looked deeply into that space in a number of years.

I pulled all the memories out of the chest and laid them around me on the floor. There were items from our son’s childhood: a baby blanket, high school ribbons and awards; a child’s hand print on burlap and colorful boy scout patches; a green frog costume I made for his elemenatry school play; a couple of baby spoons and a small wallet housing his name and “F.B.I Agent” written on notebook paper.

There was Sweet William’s high school choir sweater, my girlhood autograph book and one belonging to my mother with wooden covers; baby shoes worn by the grandchildren and a faded picture of my dad in military uniform on cloth emblazoned with the United States flag, American Eagle and the Liberty Bell. There are a slew of stick pins, awards for piano auditions, safe driving, school clubs, and employment. An old Bible was wrapped carefully with no one’s name in it. I have not idea whose it was.

I found a stack of 3 by 5 inch recipe cards, the ones we used to keep in boxes before Pinterest boards and on-line organizational tools. They were in my mother’s handwriting, and I thought they had been tossed in the trash years ago for lack of thinking. I looked at each one of them, some written neatly, some scrawled quickly, no doubt in a hurry to get a friend’s delicious dish written down for future meals.

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When I held the items from the ancient cedar chest, nostalgia rose, memories came and tears welled in my eyes. They hold a treasure of experiences, remembrances of days gone by and the people who made those days important.  All of them, even the unknown owner of the Bible, left their imprint on my life.

This week I had opportunity to talk to family members I don’t get to see as often as I like. Those few minutes on the phone are precious, the laughter and love expressed in words and intonation are held close in my heart.

I think once again of how valuable people are, the ones who come for a while and the ones who stay a lifetime, how they all leave a mark in one way or another. They are the true treasures of a life.

I heard somewhere that we have “the precious present” to hold and give our attention. Tomorrow is not a guarantee. Today is a gift to be enjoyed.

I think how time goes by swiftly, children grow up before we are ready, parents die, and I am getting older by the minute. I pray that I can be aware of these days of my life, not only capturing them in my memory but taking the opportunity to express love to people on a daily basis.

There are still words I want to say, encouragement to be offered, prayers to send heavenward. I have life to share and hope to extend.

Time is always moving. I have the precious present and I know that people are my greatest treasure. I don’t want to miss a single one.

be present

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Yard Sales – Yeah, it’s Spring!

It is officially spring even if it snowed today.  And I went to my first yard sale.

Despite the cool temperature, I stopped at three different locations.  My final stop was the only one offering warmth, inside a church multipurpose room.

I bought a fine yard tool for $2, a set of hand weights from 1 to 10 pounds for $5, some fun jewelry at 50 cents each and the cutest little purse for a buck.  It was a good day.

Last year, I determined not to go to every yard sale just because it was there.  I had trouble keeping that goal.  I was still driving my old blue Cadi, and it seemed as if it naturally turned toward what I perceived as the flashing “Yard Sale” sign.  This year, I hope to curb my addiction a bit better.

I’m not much of a mall shopper.  If I go into a retail store, I cannot bear to pay full price.  I want bargains.   Let me spy a garage or yard sale, and pulse begins to quicken as my hands automatically start turning the steering wheel.

I often have a list of certain things as I look for a cheap price tag.  If I don’t need it right away, why not wait to find it at a deal?

It’s the adventure of the search that I enjoy.  I love finding someone’s castoff and trying to figure how I can work some magic with it, and at a fraction of its original price.  Never mind that it has been gently used. There is still plenty of life left.  After all, isn’t it about recycling, reusing, re-purposing?  Giving something new life is exactly the meaning of the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  Or woman’s treasure in this case.

I gave my testimony one time by introducing myself as the Yard Sale Queen.  I have a few friends who are vying for my crown.  Actually they have traveled with me on the Highway 127 Yard Sale during a weekend venture.  It is advertised as the world’s longest yard sale, starting from as far north as Ohio and continuing south to Alabama.  It’s quite a trip, and somewhat like a yard sale convention.

When I look around my house I see bargain buys everywhere, things someone else discarded that have now become my treasures.

It may sound corny to make the comparison, but I will anyway.  I was once a castoff.  My life looked hopeless and of no value.  I felt used up, without a future.  God saw my broken-down condition and determined He could work a miracle with it.  He chose me.  He recreated me.  He made me His priceless treasure.

This is the story of the cross.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

I still don’t understand it, why He loved and wanted me, picked me out of the trash heap.  The cross, the place of suffering and death, is now my treasure.   Jesus brought me hope for new life.  And I thank Him for it!