I find lately that the Holy Spirit has been using my children and our circumstances to teach me valuable lessons in life.  I will never forget the valuable lesson I learned from my daughter and her “Dolly”.

My oldest daughter, Lindsay, has had Dolly since she was about six months old.  Over the last 4 years, Dolly has been through a lot.  Dolly has traveled with us.  She has accompanied Lindsay to almost every function every day of her young life.  Dolly has been washed so many times she has lost all her color and now appears to most people just be an old rag.  We have been fortunate that we have never lost Dolly.  We’ve left her behind and had to go back for her and we’ve had people notice her lying around and return her to us and she’s been left at home on occasion, but we have never lost her.

One afternoon I had to stop for groceries at Walmart.  We had been busy all day and the kids hadn’t had lunch so I thought we would just grab a quick bite at McDonald’s and then grab our groceries and go.  As soon as we sat down and I started handing out the food, Lindsay announced she had to go potty.  I asked her to wait but she couldn’t.  I grabbed her up and rushed her to the bathroom to try and salvage her clothes so that we could finish our grocery shopping.

When we got back to the table we noticed that Lindsay was apparently sitting on Dolly when she had her accident.  Dolly had absorbed most of the pee.  I picked her up and tossed her in the shopping cart.  I rushed the kids through their lunch and we proceeded to grab the few items that we had to have and we left.

I had my oldest son put the groceries in the car while I placed grocery sacks on the chair so Lindsay wouldn’t get the seat wet.  My son returned the cart and we went home.  As I cleaned up Lindsay, my son emptied the car.

As soon as Lindsay was clean she asked for Dolly.  I asked my son what he had done with the doll.  He didn’t know.  I pointed out that he had emptied the grocery cart and therefore, he would have had to do something with the doll.  He said he never picked it up.  OH NO!  We had left Dolly at Walmart!  Lindsay began to cry.  She knew she would never see Dolly again.

We quickly put away the perishables and I rushed everyone back into the car.  Perhaps if we hurried, we could find Dolly before someone threw her in the trash.  I just knew that if anyone had found Dolly they wouldn’t see a beloved child’s doll, they would see one wet, smelly old rag and would probably throw it in the trash.

On the way back to Walmart I thought this would be a good teaching experience for my daughter to learn to trust God and I also knew that if we were going to find that doll we would certainly need His help.  I asked everyone in the car to pray for us to find Dolly.  Lindsay prayed as if she were praying for a loved one to be cured of a terminal disease, but I still feared the worst.

As we pulled into the parking lot I asked my son where he had returned the cart.  As we pulled up to the cart return I was relieved to discover that it was full of carts.  I had been afraid they would have rounded up the carts and taken them inside already and we would be spending hours looking through every cart.  My son and I got out of the car and started looking at the carts.  About three carts into the search we found her.  Dolly was still lying there waiting for us to find her.

I said a quick prayer of Thanksgiving to God for helping us find her so easily and then I asked my son to pick her up and take her to the car.  He said, “I’m not picking her up.  She’s covered in PEE!”  I had the same thought as I reached down and picked Dolly up with two fingers hoping to grab a dry corner.  I carried her to the car holding her smelly, wet, beat up old body away from me so she wouldn’t get anything on me.  As I opened the door to the car to put her inside Lindsay cried out, “Dolly!” as if she was an old friend that hadn’t been seen in years.  Lindsay reached out to grab Dolly and bring her close.  It didn’t matter to Lindsay that Dolly was covered in pee.  She loved that doll no matter what she looked or smelled like.

On the way home that night I realized that must be how God sees us at times.  We must look pretty bad at times, all beat up and smelly.  Who would want to even come close to us?  It doesn’t matter to God how messed up we are.  He still reaches out to pull us close to Him.  He still loves us despite it all.

As long as Dolly is a part of our lives, I will have a constant reminder of how great God’s love is for us.

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