Treasure Hunt

March 18, 2009 | 13 comments

We drew maps with ballpoint pens and copper-brown markers. Dashed lines marked the route. “X”s pinpointed anticipated treasure.

This was our first Treasure Hunt of the season, for it was the warmest in Iowa so far this year. So eager we were, that we each made our own treasure map. Mom’s route garnered the rapt attention of her pint-sized hunters because it held real hope of treasure at X-marked spots.

What would they find at journey’s end?

Anna, 4, ushered in our hunt with a ceremonial opening of the deck door, a passageway uncrossed for months. With her own map in hand, she uttered the fiercest of pirate cries: “This way, captains! I know where the treasure is!”


The Great Treasure Hunt of 2009 began with the sun setting over spruce trees, the squish-squish of soggy sod, the smell of spring’s doorstep … and the pained cries from my children.

“STOP! I said STOP!” Anna cried. “You’re supposed to follow my map. We’re going to the Berry Blossom Tree and the Lightning McQueen Desert! STOP it, you guys!”

“No, Anna!” Lydia retorted. “We’re going over HERE! Don’t you know anything?”

Then came complaints of chills, gopher holes large enough to swallow small children (Were anacondas hibernating in the yard?), and a patch of thistles and cockleburrs that clung to our socks and pantlegs.

For Lydia, the journey through Thistle Hollow was especially painful: she was wearing flip-flops.


“Follow me,” I assured them. “I know the way through. Follow my steps. Don’t be scared, girls.”

We made it through the prickly patch, to the refuge of evergreens, nearing the promise of treasure at the X. Along the way, we picked up nature-made treasures for our buckets: rocks, muddy corn cobs, sticks, blue-green spruce sprigs.

We passed through Secret Entrance, at Gate of Red-Twigged Dogwoods, to our favorite place: Sunset Overlook.

Here, on the distant side of the dogwoods, we grabbed hold of a treasure bigger than our buckets. We saw our church, there on the western horizon, under bluish-pink light that seemed more fitting for sunrise than sunset.

Lydia stepped flip-flopped feet on snow, the last patch in the yard. A reminder of what was gone … and what was to come in its place.


After a game of hopscotch and “chalk-rock” drawings, the last X beckoned. The final treasure, at last? In the garage, atop the freezer, their reward waited: A Hershey’s bar and M&Ms.

I asked the girls: What was your favorite part?

The candy was good, they said, but the hunt was even better.

I’ve heard the saying: “Life is a journey, not a destination.” I suppose life is a lot of both. We’re headed for a Place, the Best Place, but we’re also on a journey. What if I had only the destination in mind, at the expense of missing the journey? Would I have missed the point of the journey?

Would I have missed the lesson found in the struggle over which map to follow?

Would I have missed the value of searching for lost treasure? Or the joy in finding it in the simplest things?

Would I have overlooked the comfort found when I, in prickly places, heard someone calling: “Follow Me.”

Would I have missed the discovery of snowy patches that held out hope?

Would I have overlooked the beauty of finding myself on the cusp of a seasonal shift — knowing that I — flip-flopped and bare-toed — would one day feel the warmth of the sun?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. — Matthew 6:21

by | March 18, 2009 | 13 comments


  1. Rick D.

    In one of the 12 Step programs, there’s a saying – don’t give up five minutes before the miracle. Good reminder to be steadfast and follow through – and great photos of the little blessings we can so easily chalk up to background scenery in our lives.

  2. Sherri Watt

    Hi Jennifer,

    Great fun! I did this with my son and 11 other children for a birthday party once. I had taken a wooden box, painted it like a treasure chest and filled it with goodies. He is now 25 and still has great memories of the event.

    Keep making memories!


  3. Billy Coffey

    Amazing. I always come here knowing I’ll leave happy.

  4. janelle

    I love picturing the three of you on this little expedition; learning, growing, changing, trusting. It makes me smile. But even more so, I love the spiritual expedition (for all the same reasons) that you and your girls are on.

  5. casey

    I love planning things like this for my kids too. It helps them learn to work together.

  6. Prairie Chick

    I love the parallel you have picked up on here. I do these treasure hunts as well come spring (sadly still not in view up in these far northern reaches), I will remember this.

  7. chrissymae13

    Love it! Treasure hunt is a great idea. And what a way to relate it to our faith journeys!

  8. Alleluiabelle

    What an enjoyment and fun adventure for me as well, as I read through your post. Yes, we all are on a journey and I’ve learned that the simplest things en route to our destinations, are always the best part with something waiting around the bend to glean and learn from. Loved your post.

    Peace and blessings,

  9. girlforgod

    So cute! Glad you had a fun day!!!!

  10. valerie lynn

    What a blast you had! Sounds like everyone had a lot of fun! Awesome! I have an award for you on my blog my friend! Congrats!

  11. TUC

    What fun!

    “The candy was good, they said, but the hunt was even better.” Smart girls.

  12. hope42day

    I used to do this every Easter with my boys. I loved the picture of the flip flopped toes standing on snow! As for the journey, X marks the spot when God is the guide.

  13. TUC


    I have awarded you the Thinking Blog Award over at my place. Whether or not you participate in the such things, I wanted you to know that I really like what you write about on your blog.


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