"Mommy, I think Smokey is broked." Four-year-old Maggie held up her teddy bear for inspection. White stuffing tumbled out of his nearly limp leg. "Can you fix him?"
"I don't think I can, but I know someone who owns a teddy bear hospital. We'll take Smokey to Mr. Theodore."
As they drove over to Theodore's shop, Maggie pelted Jessica with questions.
"Will it hurt Smokey?"
"No, he'll make sure Smokey won't feel anything."
"How will he fix him?"
"He'll sew up his foot so the stuffing won't fall out."
They walked into the small shop, Maggie following Jessica and Smokey trailing Maggie, leaving behind a trail of white stuffing. Theodore smiled as he bent down to Maggie's height. "Well, what do we have here?"
"This is Smokey," Maggie replied. "He's broked."
Theodore chuckled. "I see. Don't worry. I'll sew him up just as good as new. But first, I need some information about Smokey so I can take the best care of him." Theodore played the doctor part well, as he asked for information about his "patient." "Smokey has black hair and brown eyes. What about allergies? Does Smokey have any allergies?"
Maggie giggled. "No, silly. He doesn't eat. He's just a teddy bear."
"He is?" Theodore replied in astonishment. "He looked so real, I thought I'd have to hide all my honey." Maggie giggle again, and the questionnaire continued. "We're almost done. You both get a special bracelet to wear, so I know which bear is yours. Here's yours. Smokey will have one just like it. Do you sleep with Smokey at night?" Maggie nodded her head sadly. "Would you like to pick out a new bear to take home while Smokey is in the hospital?" Theodore inquired. "I know it's not the same, but sometimes a brand new friend is almost as good as an old friend. Come here and you can choose a new friend."
Maggie chose a small black bear that looked like Smokey. "Bye Theodore," Maggie exclaimed as we walked out the door. Take good care of Smokey."
"Don't worry, I will," Theodore replied.
Climbing back into the car, Maggie clung to her new bear. "I like Theodore. Smokey will like him too."
"I think you're right," Jessica replied.
A few days later, Jessica brought Maggie back to the teddy bear hospital to pick up Smokey.
As Maggie walked in the door, she saw Theodore. "Is he all better?" she asked.
"Let me see your bracelet." Theodore examined her bracelet closely. "Ah, yes. Smokey. Yes, he's ready to be discharged." He went to the back room, and returned a few seconds later. "Here he is."
Maggie's eyes lit up. "Smokey! You're back! Did it hurt? No? Good." She turned to Theodore. "Why does Smokey have a big red heart sewn on his chest?"
Theodore had a twinkle in his eyes. "Ah. I was hoping you would notice. You see, Maggie, when bears come to my hospital, I always give them a heart check-up. I'm glad you brought Smokey in, because he needed a new heart."
"He did?" Maggie replied incredulously.
"Yes. And you know what? You might need a new heart too."
"But I just went to Dr. Blake and he said my heart is fine."
Theodore chuckled again. "Not that kind of heart. I'm talking about the part of you that hurt when you had to take Smokey to the hospital. It's kind of like your feelings," He explained.
"Oh. Ok. How do I know if I need a new heart?"
Theodore winked at Jessica as he sat Maggie on his knee and began to explain how Jesus wants to give her a new heart. Maggie was captivated by the story, her eyes growing wide with sadness as he explained the crucifixion and wonder at the resurrection.
"I think I need a new heart, Theodore. I know I've done bad things, and I want Jesus to give me a new heart and take it all away."
"Well, tell Him that, like you pray in church," Jessica replied.
"Dear Jesus..." Maggie began, "...and thank you for giving me a new heart. And Smokey too. Amen."
"Amen," Theodore and Jessica repeated.
"New we both have new hearts!" Maggie exclaimed as she hugged Smokey tight.
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