We bought an old house four years ago. It was built in 1919, at the end of World War I. We spent a year and a half fixing it up and restoring what we could to it’s original charm. We love our old house.
One thing I did not know going into this project though, was all the treasure I would find along the way. You see, when you fix up a house, you’re forced to clean things up and strip things down first before you can restore things.
The attic, for example, was littered with decades of loose junk that had been lost in the rafters and insulation (such as paper trash that animals used to build nests). In cleaning out the attic, I found an old Rolling Stone magazine, some plastic game pieces from board games of the 1960s, and decapitated stuffed animals from the 1950s.
But here are the real treasures:
- A Willie Mays baseball card from the 1966 Topps set. I found that under some floor boards in a bedroom closet.
- A full newspaper from the day after the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941 with the headline “War Declared.” That was folded up and tucked back on a high shelf that you could only reach by a ladder.
- My favorite, though, was something I found in the rafters of the attic: A World War II love letter that the woman of the house wrote to her husband in October of 1943 while he was on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. I finally tracked down the descendants of the couple who lived in this house (their children lived here too, of course) and was able to transfer the letter to a friend of theirs who will in turn hand deliver it to the family this summer. The local news station even did a story on this.
In my work, I teach and lead children. I can’t help but think of the connection between finding treasures in an old house and finding the hidden treasures in the children we work with. In fact, children are priceless treasures, and they are standing right there in plain sight. But sometimes, we need to dig beneath the surface and notice the hidden gifts, talents, wonders, and stories that these children carry with them. How do we as parents, teachers, and leaders find these things? By patiently spending time with them, giving them attention, and asking them good questions that pique their curiosities about themselves and the world around them. We are surrounded by treasures called children. And with patience, love, and digging, we can discover more and more of their incredible value and grow to appreciate them for the way God made them.