Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One Man's Trash...

It was a pretty innocuous looking box. There was a set of fairly new silver-plate cream and sugar and one older, well-tarnish creamer. A blue crackle-glass vase, a broken toy boat of some kind, an old metal letter holder and a few other odd items were also lying on top of each other in the box. What had caught my eye in the first place was a bisque figurine of a boy. It wasn’t really the type of piece that I collect, but it seems like I can’t keep them in my case at the Tacoma Antique Center where I take my antiques to sell. I put a “maximum bid” number in my auction catalog and kept moving around the room previewing the rest of the lots that were for sale.

The auction was on a Wednesday and the house wasn’t nearly as packed as it was the night before. On Tuesday’s, this auction house puts their “higher end” items up for auction and that draws a lot attendees…some that actually bid, some that I think just enjoy the activity of an auction. Wednesday night is more of a “box lot” and “primitives” night. As a result, the auctioneer goes at a pretty fast pace. Even the on-line bidders have to be quick with their bids or the hammer has already fallen and he is on the next lot.

I had about 15 or 20 lots highlighted in my catalog for the auction and sat in my regular seat with my bidder’s card ready. I won a number items that came up, and lost a few. That’s what you have to expect at an auction. Even though you would like to, you can’t win them all…unless you have boatloads of money to spend and you’re not buying to resell.

The auctioneer called out “lot 1105” as the next item on the block. It was the box with the figurine so I got my card ready. The assistant pulled out a couple of the items in the box to show the audience. As always, Joe (the auctioneer) made comments about some of the pieces and how “with a little work” some of them might be really valuable. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid of $500, then $100, $50…all the way down to $5 before I raised my bidder’s card. Other’s countered with $10…then $15. I sat there briefly, then raised mine for a $20 bid. “Any more bids”, he asked? “Sold!”, and he was off to the next lot.

For the next hour and half, the auctioneer sold lot after lot of items that someone had accumulated for years. At the end of the night, I’d made nine purchases and I settled my account and got my items boxed up to take home. Over the weekend, I went through the items that I’d purchased, deciding which would go into my space at the antique mall and which I would try to sell on ebay. I got box lot 1105 and started to pull the items out. When I lifted out the figurine, my heart sank because there was a small chip his hand. It looked fresh. It could have happened after I’d previewed the box or I might have missed it. Nevertheless, the “one item” that I’d wanted the box for wasn’t going into my case at the mall.

I pulled the other pieces out of the box and realized they were all “ebay” items so I got them ready to photograph. The crackle-glass vase and a small “peapod” spreader were in really good shape so I took a half dozen pictures of each of them and set them aside. I picked up the toy boat and took a closer look at the axel underneath that was broken. It was a clean break so I got out some glue to try to repair it and while the glue was setting, pulled out the metal letter holder. It was definitely an older piece so I cleaned it up and took photos of it as well.

I picked up the toy boat to check the axel and it glued solid. I gently rolled it across my table top and the heads of the two musicians in the boat raised up and down and the hand of the guitar player moved to “strum” the guitar. The other musician’s arm raised up and down but his hand was broken off and the drum was missing. I figured I could put it on ebay for a few dollars and make a little something back on the $20 I’d spent on all of the items since the figurine wasn’t worth selling.

The following day I went to my office after work to start listing the items. As I always do, I went on-line to try to find something out about the piece so I can give a good description to the potential buyers. I typed “antique toy boat” into the Bing search window and a number of entries popped up. I was directed to a site referring to the type of toy as a “Kobe” toy from Japan. A few more searches caused me to stop for a moment. Some of these toy (even in poor condition) had sold for hundreds of dollars. There was one listed on ebay that day at a “Buy it Now” price of $1000. I searched previous sales and decided to post a starting price of $99.95 (which was about $95 higher than I was thinking on Saturday when I pulled the toy out of the box.)

I’m relatively new at selling items on Ebay, but the next seven days were fun. More than 40 people checked out the toy on the auction site and 15 had tagged it on their “watch” list. Within the first twenty-four hours, someone had bid $200 for it. When the auction ended a week later, my $4 investment had turned into a $325 return. The antique letter holder also sold that day and those two items more than paid for everything that I had purchased at the auction the week before.

That…is the thrill of the auction and the satisfaction of dealing in antiques. You never know exactly what something is going to be worth. Personally, I never would have purchased either of those pieces for myself. But for someone else, they were the treasures they were looking for.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jesus In The Mosh Pit

It was an interesting question…one that has been around for a couple of thousand years. I was on my way to work, driving the back streets as I do every morning on my twenty-five minute drive from the little 5th wheel trailer I call home to the office. As I do every morning, I was listening to a local Christian radio station during their morning call-in segment. The discussion topic for the day was “what do you think Heaven will be like?” It was the last call that I heard before I pulled into the parking lot that got my attention and caused me to reflect back on the centuries old question.

The caller responded something like this.

“I think Heaven is going to be like a big worship rock concert with Jesus leading the worship. And during one of His songs, He’s going to jump out into the mosh pit!”

Jesus in the mosh pit…what a concept! For this caller, Jesus was someone who knew how to have fun…at least the caller’s definition of fun. That was her picture of who her Savior is. And it was that thought that led me to my reflection of the question that Christ asks His disciples – “Who do you say that I am?” I love that question probably more than any other question that Jesus asks in the Gospels (and He asks a lot.)

If someone would have asked me that question ten years ago, I would have said the Jesus was my Savior and probably wouldn’t have added much more detail to my answer. The reason is simple…I didn’t really know WHO He was, at least not personally. And my answer would have been right. He is my Savior.

But if you would have asked me that question exactly seven years ago today, my answer would have been different. At that time, I would have been trying to pull myself out of the depression of my arrest, the loss of my wife and family, the reality of unemployment and prison time and a depth of loneliness I’m not sure I’d ever felt before in my life. On that morning, if the question would have been asked, I would have responded that He is my Comforter. Once again, my answer would have been correct.

Over the next several months when I was intentionally spending time with Him as I walked and prayed and wrote in my journal, I met Jesus in a new way. I heard His voice. His presence beside me was real each morning when I would take my walk or climb up on a rock on the hillside overlooking the golf course where I lived. He would ask me questions and I would answer…and when I asked Him, He did the same. My answer during that period would have been that He is my friend. Bingo…correct answer.

He has shown Himself to be all those things and so much more in my life during the past seven years. He’s also my Father…and a loving Mother (with the unique ability to love as only a woman can.) He has been my protector and my source of strength. He has made me laugh…and He has made me cry.

What I’ve discovered during this season of my life is that He is exactly what I need, when I need it! And the reality it, He is all of that to anyone when they need Him. He takes us through every season of our life, whether they be the "good" times in a quiet way...simply there if we need Him. Perhaps doing nothing more that pouring out His blessings on us. And He is also there during the "bad" times when we need Him to give us comfort, peace, strength, courage, relief from pain (both physical and emotional), love or simply His presence.

And when I think about that caller's reponse, I love the fact that if I’m ever at a worship rock concert, He would be in the middle of that mosh pit beside me…having fun as only the God of the Universe could have fun. Now THAT’s a Heaven that I want to spend eternity in!

Photo from Bing Photos