There I was in an antique store in Toronto, nearly overwhelmed by the selection of antique china. I had never seen so much dinnerware under one roof! Beautiful platters, ten or twelve deep, stood on edge on the floor against shelves filled with china. Hundreds of teacups and teapots so exquisite (and expensive) were displayed behind glass under lock and key. Everything there seemed to have a pedigree. And yet it didn't even matter whether I could afford them or now - I couldn't find anything I wanted to buy. After asking for German teacups and being shown the Dresden's, I finally gave up and steeped out into the fresh air.

But wait - there outside on the sidewalk were "bargain" teacups, some still wrapped in newspaper and crammed into boxes. I was giving them a half-hearted look when I saw it - a sweet, scalloped little cup and saucer with little pink roses and delicate gold scrollwork. No doubt it was Victorian, and I wasn't surprised to see "Germany" stamped on the cup's bottom. I didn't care that afternoons of tea had worn the gold off! I had finally found something I wanted to buy. This well-used little teacup - a new treasure - was going home to Georgia with me.

Perhaps you're like me, and the most exciting leisure activity you can think of is antiquing. There's a certain charm in visiting old things that were used in more genteel days. To me, a day spent prowling dusty antique stores is well spent, even if I don't buy anything. But there is a smug feeling of victory and joy in the air when I take home a lace doily or a teacup that touched my heart. It becomes one of my treasures, and I don't waste a moment of sympathy on those who missed it.

I'm not sure when I decided that I wanted to surround myself with the warmth of well-loved things - but it wasn't soon enough! It wasn't soon enough to keep me from spending the first furniture money we had as newlyweds on a used, black vinyl living room set with a Mediterranean flair, accented by two cheap tables and an ugly orange lamp. It didn't take long to regret that purchase! How I wished I had chosen just one real treasure for my home instead of filling a room with such junk. Ugly is easy to come by and hard to get rid of. But get rid of it I finally did!

Today if you were to come into my home, you would be able to share many of the "treasures" I've picked up since those early days. If you were interested only in antiques, I would show you the sold oak filing cabinet I paid two dollars for, or the old high-top shoes I found in their original box in an old general store. But as much as I love these treasures, I would want to show you more than "things" (even old things). I would want to show you treasures that remind me of my real treasures. In the months to come, that's just what I'll do. I'll paint some of my favorite collectibles for you, ones that represent something deeper - treasures of the heart.

You see, even though I grew up going to church and being an active church member, I went through a time before I realized the Lord had a design and plan just for me. I allowed a lot of junk to accumulate in the treasure room of my heart - ugly stuff - like unforgiveness, fear and rejection that kept me from being content and joyful. But when I realized I was missing the wonderful life God had for me by trying to be the author and ruler of my own life, I didn't want to live that way anymore! I gave my life to Him. Out went the junk! He began to furnish my heart with treasures - real treasures of truths reveled to me one at a time that taught me how to live. Each of the lovely old things I want to show you is a window into my heart - where the real treasures wait to be shared!

You can find more stories by Sandy in the book, SO RARE A TREASURE, written and illustrated by Sandy and published by Harvest House.

This excerpt from "So Rare A Treasure" copyrighted © 2000 is shared by permission from Harvest House Publishers.

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