by Mae Parks
Remember the Beanie Babies craze in the 90's? It seems bizarre that plush toys were seen as a worthwhile financial investment. But at the time, many had high hopes of preserving a five-dollar plush toy to later sell as collector's items for hundreds, even thousands, of American dollars.
My daughter turned six this weekend. A couple of Fridays prior, as we were ending our Connect Group, she was in tears. "I really love this Squishmallow and I'm sad I have to leave it here" (She gets very emotional when she's tired). I told her that the big plush toy belongs to our host's home. I took a photo of it and said maybe I can find it online for her birthday. She agreed and gave it one final hug.
That weekend, I was on a mission to find her that same Squishmallow plush toy. It's gotta be $20 at Walmart or Amazon...or so I thought. I searched high and low all over the internet. The 20-inch stuffed animal has become a collector's item priced at $145 plus tax and shipping fee. So I did what every mama would do- NOT buy it! I was preparing to give my daughter the disappointing news when I had the desperate idea of asking our Connect Group host if she would be willing to sell their Squishmallow and that she could name the price. If it was gonna be expensive, at least the money was going to a friend instead of a big-box store.
Shameless move, but how blessed are we to have friends that we can trust with bold questions? Her response was a generous yes and that she would give it to my daughter for free. WOW! A quick couple of days later and it was washed and packaged in a gift bag. She literally could have stuck it in a black garbage bag to conceal, but no, she went the extra mile (Brittany Henize is the best!). Fast forward to my daughter's birthday- she finally got to open the present and she absolutely loved the Squishmallow from the Henizes.
I have learned three lessons:
1. Have a group of people in your life to lean on. At my church, we have Connect Groups a couple times each year. These groups have helped me build relationships AND we received a nice stuffed animal! Ha!
2. Material items can mean so much to us. My daughter really wanted that thing. And I really wanted to get it for her. Sometimes, we fully focus on acquiring something so much that we end up paying outrageous amounts of money, or in my case, asking shamelessly.
3. If we have the ability to care about inanimate items THAT much, can you imagine the depth of love towards a living thing? Like a plant, or a pet, or your own child? We have a lot of love to give.
And God has even MORE love! God loves us far more than a collectors item. He longs to have each one of us and goes after each of us. He leaves the 99 to find the one that is lost. The Creator of the whole universe is desperate for you! Can you imagine?
James 1:18 says " He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true word. And we, out of all creation, became His prized possession." We are God's prized possession, not just in the sense that we are proudly displayed on a shelf, not just to be left untouched and preserved in mint condition, not just that we can be investments for future financial profit. We were made in His image (Genesis 1:27), and He continuously loves and cares for us. Our needs are covered, God has promised in Luke 12:6-7:
"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows".
As soon as we acknowledge His word and start loving Him back, we can live for Him with joy in our hearts!
“They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”
~ Psalm 139:17-18
God made us, watches us, provides for us, and is always on our side from our first breath to our last and forevermore. No collector's item will ever compare.