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I Am Loved

Jessica sat on the front steps of her new home and looked around. “This is our yard, Leanne,” she told her doll. “But we have to share it with the other people in the apartments. There really isn’t anything to do outside. I wish I could take you for a ride in the stroller, but we couldn’t bring it.”

A dark-haired girl came around the corner. Jessica stopped talking. The girl smiled. “Hi, my name is Tammy. Do you live here?” Jessica nodded. “Well, what’s your name?” asked Tammy.

“Jessica,” Jessica replied. “Where do you live?”

“Upstairs,” Tammy said, pointing to a second floor apartment. “I saw you move in yesterday. Do you live with your dad and mom? Do you have any brothers and sisters?”

Jessica smiled. “Yep. I live with my mommy and daddy. I used to have a foster brother and sister, but I don’t have any brothers or sisters now.”

“Why?” asked Tammy. She plopped down on the step beside Jessica.

“They couldn’t come with us. They went to live with their grandma and grandpa. But I got adopted.”

“Oh,” said Tammy. “I used to live with my grandma. But I like living with my mom better, even though she yells at me a lot. Don’t you miss your mom?”

“I don’t see my birth mom anymore, and that makes me sad sometimes,” Jessica said slowly. “But now I’ve got a daddy, and he’s really nice.”

“Well, I’m getting a dad, too. My mom’s getting married soon,” Tammy said.

“Did you pray for a daddy?” Jessica asked.

Tammy didn’t seem to hear. “Me and my sissy are going to be the flower girls and wear pretty pink dresses,” she was saying. “I can’t wait!”

“I wore a green dress when Mommy Jane got married to Mr. Isaac,” Jessica said. “Then we moved here.”

“Are you poor?” Tammy asked.

“No,” Jessica said, surprised. “I used to live in a really big house.”

“Well, I thought you must be poor because you moved here. When my old dad kicked us out we moved here. If you aren’t poor, why are you wearing such an old dress?”

Jessica looked down at her denim jumper. “This is my play jumper. It’s not old.”

“Well, it doesn’t look so good. When my mom gets married we’re going to be rich and live in a big house with a yard. I’m going to have lots of new clothes and toys! Do you have any Bratz dolls?”

“No, I’m not allowed to,” Jessica said. “But I like them.”

“Why won’t your mom let you have them?” Tammy demanded. “My mom gives me everything I want.”

“My mom bought me this doll for my birthday,” Jessica said, holding Leanne tightly. “I like her.”

“Yeah, but she’s just a baby doll. You don’t have any grown up dolls, do you?”

Jessica shook her head.

“Too bad,” Tammy said. “Maybe you can come and play with mine.”

“I can’t go to other people’s houses,” Jessica said.

“No fun!” Tammy said. “Well, I want to go watch my favorite show, so bye!”

Jessica hugged her doll tightly and watched the brown-haired girl disappear around the corner. “No fun,” she repeated to herself. Slowly she got up and went inside.

“Hi, Sugar,” Mommy said, looking up from the box she was unpacking. “Have fun outside?”

Jessica shrugged. She didn’t feel like talking.

“Who was that girl you were talking with?” Mommy asked with a smile. “She seemed about your age.”

“Her name’s Tammy,” Jessica said, and disappeared into her bedroom. Boxes were everywhere. One held a farm set. Another was full of Leanne’s clothes. Jessica dumped it out and looked at the pile. “Baby clothes are boring,” she muttered to herself. Maybe another box had some more interesting toys.

“What are you doing, Jessica?” Mommy asked from the doorway. She didn’t sound happy. “You’re going to have to clean up this mess before dinner.”

Jessica looked around at the scattered toys and frowned. “I don’t want to,” she said stubbornly. She had promised Daddy that she wouldn’t throw a fit, but the angry thoughts just came tumbling out.

“These are just baby toys and I don’t want to clean them up!” Jessica stomped her foot and felt something crunch underneath it. In dismay, she saw that she had stepped on her favorite toy horse. One of its prancing feet was broken right off!

“Oh, Jessica,” Mommy said very softly. “Who said they were baby toys? Did Tammy tell you that?”

Jessica hung her head.

“Do you really think your toys are for babies?”

Jessica looked up at Mommy’s kind face and slowly shook her head. “I’m sorry, Mommy,” she whispered.

“Sorry for breaking your horse or sorry for being self willed?” asked Mommy. She lifted Jessica’s chin and looked into her eyes. “I love you, Sugar, but I need you to obey.”

“Yes, Mommy,” whispered Jessica. She picked up the broken toy from the floor. “Can we fix my horse?”

“Maybe Daddy can,” Mommy said, setting the pieces on the dresser. “But first you need to clean up your room.” She looked around at the jumbled toys and added, “Why don’t you tell me about Tammy while I help you find a place for all your things?”

“Okay,” said Jessica.

As they began arranging the toy barn and farm animals on a shelf, Jessica told Mommy about the girl upstairs. She told how Tammy thought they were poor, and about Tammy moving to a big house when her mom got married. As Jessica tucked Leanne’s baby clothes into one of her dresser drawers she asked about Tammy’s Bratz dolls.

“I wish I had some grown-up dolls,” she said.

“You know why we won’t let you have them,” Mommy reminded her.

“Because they have bad attitudes and aren’t modest,” Jessica said, looking down.

“We love you too much to give you toys that will hurt you,” said Mommy. “I know that’s hard to understand right now. Many things other children have will seem fun and exciting to you. The reason we don’t let you have them isn’t because we don’t care. It’s because we really do,” Mommy said. She helped Jessica stack her pony memory cards in their box.

“It is the same way with God,” she continued. “He always does what is best for us, and He wants us to trust Him. But most people think God doesn’t really care, that He is just trying to keep them from having fun.”

Jessica set her stuffed animals on the bed and picked up Leanne. Mommy sat down beside her.

“Remember the Bible verses Daddy read us last night? How that people despised and rejected Jesus, even when He had come to save them?” Mommy asked.

Slowly Jessica nodded. “They even killed Him,” she said.

“Yes, and said that if God really was His Father, Jesus should come down from the cross,” said Mommy. “Sort of like how Tammy said that we didn’t care about you. But Jesus knew that His Father loved him, and he prayed for those that made fun of Him. Don’t you think we should pray for Tammy?”

Jessica nodded. “She said that her old daddy kicked them out of their house.”

“That is sad,” said Mommy. “Tammy doesn’t know what a loving home is. Even if she does move to a big house, do you think it is going to make her really happy?”

Jessica shook her head. “I don’t think she knows about God like we do.”

“Aren’t you glad we can trust God to give us what is best?” Mommy asked with a smile. “Remember how you used to beg for a daddy? And how I told you we must pray and wait for God to give you the right one?”

Jessica hugged Leanne and smiled happily. “And God answered my prayers!” she said. Maybe Tammy had all the toys she wanted, but Jessica knew that she had parents that loved her. “Won’t Daddy be glad that my room is clean?” she said, slipping her little hand into Mommy’s big one.

“Yes, I know he will,” Mommy said. “Let’s get dinner on so it will be ready when he gets home!”