Treasure Hunt: Butterflies, Blessings, and Bonnye’s Backyard

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Contributed by Julie Atwood.

When I slip into Tom Thumb on this sunny, breezy Saturday morning, I don’t expect to see many fellow Treasure Hunters—owing to a Vineyard women’s conference being held at this same time. Sure enough, waiting for me in the chairs up front are only two of them.

Cheryl and Abby—the co-leaders.

Greeted by just this pair, it’s easy for me to pour out my concerns for my daughter Rema—whose mission team in Central Asia has suffered a recent tragedy. Peace washes over me as, while Abby silently intercedes, Cheryl holds Rema up in prayer . . . then texts the situation to the church’s prayer team.

“The only others I heard from today were Brandy and Bonnye,” Cheryl informs me after our prayer. “Brandy texted to let us know she’s playing in a rugby tournament this morning. And Bonnye’s home with a bad migraine headache.”

“We’re thinking about just using this morning to drop by Bonnye’s house and pray for her healing,” Abby adds with a grin—then erupts in a spate of coughing.

“You pray for her, Julie.” Cheryl nods encouragement to me after Abby explains her cough results from a lack of sleep.

While I stumble through the words, I sense nothing. But afterwards, both leaders are fixing me with smiles bright as the morning sunshine. And Cheryl adds a thumbs-up as she exclaims, “Wow, I really sensed God’s power coming out of you just now!”

I stare at her in surprise and wonder, then drink in the warmth of her encouragement as she and Abby once more discuss making Bonnye our second human Treasure.

“Let’s text her first and see if she responds,” Cheryl advises. “In the meantime, we can listen to confirm what God has planned for us this morning.” After she and Abby thumb-tap messages into their phones, we all close our eyes.

Swirling behind my squeezed-shut lids, a swarm of butterflies. Darting against a vivid backdrop splashed with pink and purple. For me, this vision proves quite frequent. My cheeks burn a bit when I confess aloud to seeing it . . . again. For the umpteenth time.

But both co-leaders again light up, warm me with dancing eyes and excited smiles. “Butterflies symbolize Bonnye!” Cheryl tells me.

“And,” Abby chimes in, “pink and purple are her colors!”

While another glow suffuses me, they both check their phones. No response from Bonnye.

“She might be sleeping now,” Cheryl reflects. “I don’t feel right about barging in on her if she’s asleep. Let’s listen again to see if God has any other options for us.”

This time, behind my lids, a black bird flutters past. Followed by a small white dog with scruffy whiskers, seated and peering up at me from beneath inquiring quirked brows.

“I got a picture of Bonnye’s backyard,” Abby shares, “as well as migraine. But I also received knee problem—along with bench, pond, and the names Jason and John, which have nothing to with Bonnye. In fact, some of them sound like stuff out at Firewheel Mall.”

Cheryl checks her clue sheet. “I received Bonnye too. And I also got the location clue of Firewheel Mall.”

After one final listening prayer and phone check—Bonnye still hasn’t responded to the texts—we head out to Firewheel.

The outdoor mall is bustling with shoppers, enjoying the morning’s balmy sunshine. In minutes a little girl skips past us, sparkling with multiple colors in Cheryl’s clue of a flowered dress. But when Cheryl intercepts her mom, the harried woman only shakes her head. “Sorry, we’ve got an appointment. Can’t stop for prayer.” We intercede on our own, speaking God’s blessings over mother and daughter after they scurry off and melt into the crowd.

Soon we meet a second mother-daughter pair. Two-year-old Melody, clad in a brightly-flowered sunsuit, clings tight to her mommy’s shirt with both dimpled fists as she swivels round and regards us through enormous chocolate eyes. But her mother Renee offers us a sunny smile over the timid toddler snuggled in her lap. “Sure. We have no specific prayer needs, but we could always use a blessing.”

As we stroll along the walkway, Cheryl and Abby again check their phones. Still no response from Bonnye.

Next, we meet Raoul. He’s sprawled back in a relaxed pose on Abby’s bench . . . near the pond, a spray of flowers, and a tree through which flutters a whole bevy of black birds. But as we approach our prospective Treasure to explain to him our mission, he straightens up and calls to his small son in a volley of soft Spanish. When eight-year-old Raoul scampers over to his daddy—“I’m Raoul the third!” he informs us, eyes dancing with pride—the older Raoul speaks to him using the word dinero. Then, beaming back at us, digs into his hip pocket.

“No, no,” Cheryl protests, realizing what dinero means. “We’re not asking for any money. We just want to bless you.”

After we speak God’s blessings over the two Raouls, the little one blesses us with a glowing grin as he shares, “I’m happy I get to play soccer today!”

“Look, Julie.” Abby nudges me. “That little girl is wearing your butterflies.” As the child skips past us, her colorful insect-sprinkled dress flapping round her in the breeze, Abby notices her mom limping behind her . . . right foot encased in a medical boot. “Sure, that could mean a knee problem,” Cheryl replies in response to my question regarding Abby’s clue.

We all dart ahead in their direction . . . only to notice a cell phone pressed against the mother’s ear. As the family—Mom’s also pushing her toddler in a stroller—veer off into a playground area, we plop down onto a facing bench to await an opportune time to address them. But Mom just keeps on chatting, phone still hugging her ear, as her little ones pump high on the swings.

After we intercede for her amongst ourselves, the two co-leaders once more check their own phones. No text from Bonnye.

When a lanky silver-haired man lists in our direction, one gnarled hand clutching and wielding a cane, we rise to offer him our bench . . . and possibly our prayers. Could he be Abby’s John or Jason? Or even have a knee problem? We’ll never know. For with one sideways squint at us he speeds up his pace, striding past the vacated bench as though refusing to acknowledge its—or our—existence. Somehow we sense he wouldn’t welcome our direct offering of prayers.

Once again, we intercede for our prospective Treasure on our own. Then Abby and Cheryl peek down at their cell phones.

Still nothing from Bonnye.

By now, it’s time to head on back. “Do you still want me to write about this morning?” I ask as we pile into Cheryl’s car.

She offers her sunlit smile. “That’s up to you, Julie. Sometimes God plans quiet times like this for us, because He just wants us to have fun and enjoy each other’s company.” I nod and return her smile as I recall our morning’s chats about music and cats and our favorite characters from Lord of the Rings. All these moments of joy and laughter . . . warming me no less than the leaders’ spoken words of encouragement over me. And still more warmth spreads through me when she adds, “Besides, you have such a gift for tying things together into a central point or lesson.”

I ponder this the whole ride home. What lesson can be gleaned from today?

Next morning, before the church service, both co-leaders flash their phones before my eyes. “Hey Julie, you’ve gotta check out these pictures.” Their own eyes dance delight as I scan the photos.

Bonnye’s backyard.

Shimmering with slews of butterflies.

And adorned with two statuettes of small white dogs. Both of them are seated, and the second pup peers up at the camera from beneath scruffy brows . . . exactly like the dog in my previous morning’s picture clue.

“Yesterday evening I dropped by Bonnye’s house to return some tools,” Abby explains. “And these are what I saw in her backyard. She had been sleeping that morning, by the way. And when she woke up, her migraine was gone.”

Delighted and amazed, I ponder this.

What yesterday morning remained unseen . . .

In yesterday’s Jesus Calling devotion, the Scripture verses had included 2 Corinthians 18 (which, not coincidentally, also proved the verse I’d reached when reading straight from the Bible that same morning to my husband): . . . we’re not looking at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

On a sober note, I realize this verse applies to what my daughter Rema faces overseas . . . as she trusts God through their tragedy with His deeper unseen purpose.

But on a lighter note, I realize this also means God speaks through small white dogs as yet unseen. I also remember that yesterday—at least while we strolled through Firewheel—Abby didn’t cough one second time. And I realize God also heals coughs and migraines when we’re least expecting it . . . even when we feel like His least likely of instruments. Or even when we feel or know nothing at the time.

And I realize we’re sometimes like bright butterflies, flitting round delighting and inspiring folks who view them . . . with no idea, in this world or at this time, of how God uses them to spread His blessings.

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