Wednesday, May 11, 2011

God shows His care through a teddy bear

I mentioned yesterday that we were on vacation last week. We vacationed at Smugglers Notch in Vermont. All I can say is "WOW!" The accomodations were truly top-notch.

I also mentioned that we went to some thrift stores. Well, we also did some of the usual vacation things. We went to the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory so our kids could see how teddy bears are made.

We got the brochure that mentioned kids making their own bear at the end of the factory tour. [They're called "Make a Friend for Life" bears. You can see information about them here, but the real bears look nothing at all like the ones in those pictures.] That sounded like something our kids would like, so we called and found out it was $20 each. That sounded pretty reasonable for as cute as Vermont Teddy Bears are ... until we got there and realized those bears looked nothing like a regular Vermont Teddy Bear.

My kids could sew a cuter bear as a first sewing project all by themselves - really. These bears looked like someone either punched their nose into their face or ran over them with an 18-wheeler. Maybe both. They were completely flat, even after being stuffed, with no snout. I can't find words to describe to you how truly awful they looked. I've seen bears at Dollar Tree that were cuter than those bears.

I'm not trying to be overly dramatic here, but I do want to warn anyone else who might visit and tell their kids about making these wonderful bears after the tour. Don't do it; you'll be terribly disappointed. Our kids were.

The tour, however, was absolutely fantastic. We all enjoyed it, even my husband.

The bears they make are also fantastic - but pricey. The smallest ones start at $36. A 15" bear is $60. Of course, my kids both wanted one of those 15" bears, but it just wasn't in the budget. If I'd had the money, believe me, I would have bought them both a $60 bear as a splurge because we were on vacation. I'm sure you're all familiar with a mother's heart.

Since I couldn't afford the bears from the factory, I promised my kids what I could do - I could sew them each their own customized bear that looks remarkably like these teddy bears. I've made jointed teddy bears before. I even found the pattern.

Then we got to talking about which fur was their favorite, and we hit on a problem. My son's favorite was the one with fur that's spotted like a cow. I've never seen that kind of fur in a fabric store, so I wasn't sure I could replicate that one. Oh well. I could certainly try.

Fast forward four days ... We were headed out of town on our way home. We were going past a Goodwill store that we had been in on Monday. We almost didn't stop, but decided at the last minute to take a quick run through to see if anything new came in.

We walked by the toys on the way to the linen section, and my son grabbed something and started getting terribly excited.

"Look, Mommy!! It's a Vermont Teddy Bear!!"

Do you want to take a guess what fur it had?

Yes, it was the cow fur, just like he had wanted. I nearly cried right there in Goodwill. I think my son almost did, too.

Since we had been on the factory tour, we knew everything to look for to make sure it was a genuine Vermont Teddy Bear.

We checked the tag and saw the price - $2.99! (This is the $60 bear.)

Sure enough, it was the real thing!

We outfitted him at another thrift store for $2.00, and we even found him a bear-sized cell phone (Build a Bear brand) at another thrift store for $0.75.

Can you guess whose little boy got a powerful lesson on God's care for His children? Of course, we made sure to tell him it wouldn't happen like this all the time. But God has done things like this for us over and over and over.

But wait! That means that my daughter didn't get one. Hmm, I'm all about fairness but my kids know that life isn't always fair. And I can't always make it fair. It's a basic life lesson that many parents are trying to shield their kids from. Not this parent.

My daughter was fine with me making her a bear to her specifications. She's generous like that. But my husband and I decided that we would be looking in the toy bins at thrift stores a little more closely from now on ... Would you guess what we found yesterday?

How about this guy (or girl, if you ask my daughter)?! Not only that, but we found him at our local Goodwill, the place that's notorious for taking anything remotely of value and putting it into a showcase for close to the same price you'd pay for it brand-new. Obviously someone has never heard of Vermont Teddy Bears, and I'm thrilled that they haven't. He was only $0.50!

The look on her face says it all, doesn't it? This was the exact bear color that she wanted! Are you overwhelmed yet? I certainly am. God is so good to our family. I hope "little" lessons like this stay with my kids for a lifetime. I hope my kids remember that God cares about children and the big "little" things that concern them.

It reminds me of the verse in the Bible, "Or what man of you, whom if his son asks bread, will he give him a stone? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:9,11, italics mine)


Julia said...

That is an awesome story! I am so glad you shard it!

Plynn said...

What a beautiful reminder of God's love for His children.

Shore Girl said...

Love those little reminders that He Cares!

CraftyViolet said...

God works in mysterious ways - my Mother used to tell us that all the time - the problem is most people don't pay attention to the "ways". Glad you did. Nice story.

Ginny said...

Oh, Sophia, what an awesome story of God's provision. I always feel, well, small, when God provides one of my more outrageous wants, but then I remember that God loves me so much that He does things like that. We should never take that for granted.

DeeAnn said...

I love your post. It brought tears to my eyes. When things like that happen I always say there are guardian angels sending kisses to our children. Thank you for sharing.

Melanie said...

Loved this post! God is so good.

Roxie700 said...

What a blessing your children recieved. That is a wonderful lesson on God's love for His children and His love for a mother's heart.
I am a woman 59 years old. My birthday is Christmas Eve. On Christmas day, (the next day) my father brought me a Smokey the Bear teddy bear. I still have that bear and I love it all the more because it was a gift from him.
His ears are a bit tattered, his hat is missing, but he is still my Smokey.

Michelle said...

I love this story, I love the bears and it speaks volumes of our God's love and care for us all. Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Your story gives me chills.
I hope this is a lesson your children will rememeber and retell throughout the years, even sharing with their children.

I see some nice brand name stuffed toys at thrift stores but in several decades I have NEVER seen a Vermont Teddy Bear.

carebear said...

This is great story and am glad it worked out for you! Also know that ebay is a wonderful resource for these bears for less than the $20 you would've spent to make them. I had the same disappointment my first visit - hoping to make a bear, ended up buying a small 8" bear that looks like the $60 bears, but is made abroad, for like $15. Since then my collection has exploded, and only a precious few didn't come from ebay or like you, thrift stores and yard sales!