The Great Lamb Buy Back of 2015

"That's where you went," I said, pulling Lambkins from under the couch. I set the stuffed animal in the laundry basket with the other toys I'd picked up after the kids went to bed. "You look how I feel." Discarded, forgotten, unseen, I thought. I didn't dare say those words aloud, but they had been ringing in my mind a lot lately. I glanced down at the stuffed lamb resting on the pile of toys and thought back to that year, to the weekend that my family jokingly called "The Great Lamb Buy-Back of 2015."

It all started with a simple garage sale. I wanted to rid our house of all the clutter that collected everywhere. So. Much. Clutter! One of the items up for sale was Lambkins, my youngest daughter's Beanie Baby, which, I swear, she never played with. On the day of the sale, he was one of the first things to go. A sweet old lady bought him along with some brass figures, an old quilt, two TV trays and a teacup that was missing its saucer. She paid a whopping $6.50 for the lot. I remember the purchase vividly because of what happened next. 

"Where's Lambkins?" My daughter, Anna, asked as I put her to bed that night. "I want him."

"Lambkins is gone, honey. A nice lady bought him at the sale." Wrong answer. Her eyes grew large and filled with tears. 

"Lambkins is gone?" I never knew so much pain could fit in such a small voice. She began sobbing and rocking back and forth. "I want him. I want Lambkins." I tried to calm her. I held her tight to me and sang and shushed and pulled out all my mothering tricks, I even offered to buy another lamb. No dice. She cried harder. Finally my husband stepped in. 

"Mommy will find Lambkins tomorrow," he said. I shot him a look of disbelief. "She'll forget about it by morning," he whispered to me. He was dead wrong.

The next morning, Anna jumped out of bed and began asking for Lambkins. When I again told her that Lambkins was not coming back, she plopped herself on the floor and began enough weeping and wailing to put a professional mourner to shame. And then, she threw up. 

"We have got to get that toy back," I thought. Then I remembered - the lady had paid with a check, I had her phone number. I dug it out of the stack of money from the sale. Jean Carlson, it read, but no phone number just an address. Leaving my husband to deal with the weeping mess of a three year old on the kitchen floor, I got in the car and drove over to Mrs. Carlson's house.

"So, you see, I need to have that lamb back," I finished explaining to Mrs. Carlson as I stood on her front porch. 

"I'm so sorry, but I gave that toy to my daughter. She collects Beanie Babies and I thought she would like it." I took down the daughter's address. Mrs. Carlson said she'd call to let her know I was on my way.

"So, you see, I need to have that lamb back," I explained again to the daughter. "I'd be happy to pay you back." She smiled politely through my long winded spiel. I knew nothing good could come from that smile.

"The toy you are calling Lambkins is actually named Fleece and is a rare edition Beanie Baby," she said. "A pristine Fleece recently sold on eBay for two hundred and eleven dollars." She smiled again looking distinctly shark-like. I swallowed. Hard. 

"And what about one that is not pristine?" I cringed a little, waiting for the answer.

"The one you sold my mother is worth about twenty dollars." I blinked, I swallowed, and finally I pulled out my wallet and a $20. I bought that lamb back and brought it to my weeping daughter. I had never felt more like a superhero.

It was pretty much the opposite of how I felt today. Today I felt invisible. My family never really saw me. They saw the maid, the cook, the boo-boo kisser. They never really saw my heart. I blinked a few times, tears beginning to burn in my eyes. It hurts to not be seen. I rubbed a hand across my forehead. Then I stilled.

"My daughter," a Voice spoke to my soul. "I see you. Not only do I see you, but I know you. Remember what I have said 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!' I know that a pot of spaghetti means: I love you. I know that clean laundry means: I will always care for you. I see your hurts and your joys.     

"One day, they will see too. One day they will see your passion and your compassion. They will see your creativity and your wisdom. They will see your bravery and your strength. 

"One day they will be parents and they will remember your patience with them and the ways you modeled my love. 

"One day their relationship with me will be stronger because of their relationship with you.

My daughter, press on for your labor is not in vain. I see you. I know you. I call you by name."

I took a deep breath, feeling God's loving reminder sink deep into my bruised heart and heal some of the pain. I am known by the Great Shepherd. I am seen by my Creator.

I lifted the laundry basket on my hip, ready to finish my chores for the night. Anna wandered out of her bedroom, looking sleepy. She spotted the toys in my basket.

"Lambkins!" She cried. She snatched him to her chest and went back to bed, crooning lullabies in his ear.