At that very moment an old man, weathered and leathery-looking, came hobbling out of the saloon. He had heard the conversation and knew it looked hopeless but he also knew that with hard work, success was possible. (Apparently, the villain just wanted the mine for himself.) The old fella declared boldly in a pinched, uneducated voice, "Thar's gold in them thar hills!!" His statement (so funny sounding) immediately became a by-line for Mom and me.
If I faced something that required more work than I originally thought but the reward would be great, Mom would look at me, wink one eye and in her best imitation of the old miner she'd say, "Thar's gold in them thar hills, Sheri!" (In other words, keep working. Don't give up now!)
If I found Mom quietly crying because of some disappointment, I would slide up beside her, give her my best daughter hug and whisper, "Thar's gold in them thar hills, Mama." She would start chuckling even if the tears weren't quite finished. "Well I sure hope I find some soon," she often answered.
I hadn't thought of our little inside joke for a long time, until this morning when I struck gold. I'll have to back up a bit to explain.
We purchased our current home eleven years ago. We had just become pastors in FL after serving as evangelists for six years. During the evangelist years, we lived in a forty-foot RV. I can assure you that living as a family in 400 square feet helps you know what household items are important and which ones you can live without.
Moving from the RV back to a full-sized home left me with quite a few vacant spots. We needed everything from beds and bedding, to living room furniture, lamps, decorations, even a shower curtain. Needless to say, I was constantly on the look out for inexpensive ways to fill our household.
The young man we bought our house from was a bachelor engaged to be married. The house had been, for him, simply an investment so his furnishings were rather sparse as well. At the walk through, I noticed a lovely set of dishes he had just sitting against one wall.
"Those are beautiful," I commented.
"One of the ladies in my church gave them to me," he said. "We won't use them. Would you like them?"
Although dishes weren't actually on my list, I really liked the look of them and answered, "Sure!" It was a complete service for eight and FREE. If I didn't use them, one of the girls probably would. The dishes promptly went into storage in the garage.
Fast forward to my season of purging and reorganizing - that would be now. The dishes I've been using for everyday ware are lovely but after five years of constant service they were showing their age. I decided to sell them in the yard sale we had and start looking around for a replacement set.
That's when I remembered the dishes in storage.
They would do just fine as my temporary set. Only problem, our family has grown to 13 and we would need more dishes. I went online to search out where to pick up a few more pieces. That's when the discovery was made.
The simple blue and white plates, cups, saucers and such that had been sitting in dark storage bins for eleven years are actually a fine grade of willow ware made in Stafforshire, England. It's known as the Winston Churchill collection.
The meat platter alone cost over $300! I was in total shock. I had no idea such exquisite and expensive beauty had been hidden away in my garage, serving no one all these years.
This morning as I carefully unpacked, washed and shelved the Winston Churchill collection, my mind whirled with so many unanswered thoughts:
- Who was the original owner?
- Was it a set slowly collected or perhaps wedding dishes for some young bride?
- Were they often used or seldom?
- Was there laughter around their table, too?
- Why did the lady give them to the bachelor?
- Was no one in her family interested in them?
- Did no one appreciate their value?
As always, the Lord used my ponderings to whisper a truth to my heart. "Sheri, there are pockets of gold hidden all around you. You must have eyes to see it and a willingness to work at mining the gold. Appreciate what I've placed in your hands."
For me, that translates to:
- Watch for the people around you who are pure gold. They may be quiet and you may have to mine their gifts. But appreciate them; see them!
- Watch for the moments of gold. A pat on the face from tiny jam hands. A tender kiss good-bye. A hug from a true friend. A casual, "Love you, Mom!"
- Watch for the golden life lessons. Hardships that made you stronger. Lonely times that push you toward friends. Answered prayers that remind you of God's faithfulness.
All this from a revived set of dishes.
I wish Mom were here this Mother's Day to marvel with me over this amazing story. I wish she and I could share some coffee using the finely crafted cups. I wish I could eat one of her wonderful meals served on the rich blue and white pattern. That can't happen.
But I can imagine the twinkle in her eye and the wink as she would surely look sideways at me and say, "Never stop looking, Sheri. Thar's gold in them thar hills!"
Here's praying you'll find the gold waiting to be discovered in your own life!