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X Marks the Spot

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By Anne Maxwell

Go ahead. 

Admit it. 

As a kid, you hoped you’d find a map somewhere with a big “X” that marked the location of a chest full of left-behind loot. It’s only natural to want to test our sleuthing skills and stumble upon treasure. I can recall even burying some “treasures” of my own in the windbreak of my parents’ farm to later dig and “discover.” Problem was, many of those plastic “treasures” caught at the fish pond during the annual parish bazaar didn’t possess value or longevity. 

Even as an adult there’s a small thrill to be enjoyed in unexpected discoveries. 

Happening upon that last piece of Easter candy tucked away on the shelf in the pantry. (Added bonus if it’s a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg.)

Finding a crumpled dollar peeking out from a pocket while folding laundry. 

Stepping on a long-lost earring that’s revealed when a piece of furniture is moved. (More bonus points if you never gave up hope and kept its mate.)

As I continued yet another round of spring cleaning and purging last week I came across a lot of forgotten possessions. I wasn’t wowed by quality, I was embarrassed by quantity. An abundance of blessings felt like gluttony the more I worked my way through the clutter. 

A couple of donation boxes later, I walked by the old roll top desk that belonged to my in-laws. I’ve always appreciated the quaint desk that once sat in their home. We have it in our family room in the basement now, having inherited it after we lost both of them much too soon. 

I don’t open it often, as we keep a few family mementoes and photos inside that are fun to look at on a rainy day. But the extra time pushed me to go ahead and gently lift its lid that evening. In one of the drawers was the Bible that belonged to my mother-in-law with her name - Karen Selfridge - embossed on the front in gold. I smiled, and picked it up, and began turning the pages. I’d seen it before, but we’ve been safekeeping both of Doug’s parents' Bibles to pass along to our own children. 

I thumbed through the pages, and happened upon the Book of Psalms - one of my favorites. I paged through, looked at a passage I’m particularly fond of. And then, I couldn’t help but tab over to the Psalm I knew was Karen’s favorite. 

It was the one shared at her funeral - Psalm 121, known as A Song of Ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

As I thumbed toward the number, I wondered if I would find the page it appeared on dogeared, or perhaps the text underscored. 

Instead, I found something different. 

There, next to the number of 121, was a lone character written in her hand.


That simple, undeniable mark made it known that there in those lines, those phrases of the eternal word was her treasure. 

Treasure to embrace.

Treasure to cherish.

Treasure to share.

The sight of that boldly marked Bible verse reminded me that the words and deeds we share throughout our lives are the treasure we leave behind. Our faith becomes the treasure most valuable to us.

But it’s when we put it into action that it is truly priceless. 

Karen sang her own song of ascents every day, rain or shine. She particularly praised Him through one of the biggest storms of her life. She was diagnosed with the cancer that would eventually take her life two months before her first grandchild -and the only one she would ever meet - was born. 

She called me up one day as my baby’s due date approached and said, “My cancer is not going to outshadow the joy I have for this baby. We are going to focus on this new life, not my illness.”

I asked myself at the time, “Where does she find that strength?”

I lift my eyes to the mountains … 

True to her word, the day after our Abbie arrived, Karen stopped by the hospital following a discussion with her oncologist about the rigorous chemotherapy treatments that loomed. When asked about the appointment, she merely answered, “It was fine.”

Instead, all she could talk about was how beautiful Abbie was, and the pink dress she had bought for her. Clouds did not cover the ray of sunshine that was the blessing of a granddaughter and Karen refused to be shaken. Watching her hold Abbie with such peace on her face, I no longer wondered what created her resolve. 

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

I pray that one day, I can have the kind of faith that is a treasure for someone to find. 

Read more blogs from Anne Maxwell

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