"You have to stay here with Nana, Lily. I can't take care of you anymore. I'll find a job and a place for us to live, and I'll come back and get you." Mama promised.
That had been two years ago, and Mama had not been back since. She wrote three letters explaining she had not found a job, and that was that. No phone calls, no other forms of communication. Mama had just up and disappeared.
Mama was like that, always had been. In the ten years of Lily's life, her mother had left her often with family members and so-called friends while she went off chasing rainbows and dreams.
Not that life with Nana was all that bad. At least Lily had a bed to sleep in and food to eat. Nana was a strict woman, though, always correcting Lily's actions and manners. She made Lily keep house and do most of the cooking, but Lily didn't mind. She just wished Mama would come back and get her, as she promised.
Living with Nana was better than living with Uncle Jake, her mother's brother. He had yelled at her and hit her a few times when Mama left her with him a few years back. Nana didn't yell or hit.
Still, Lily was lonely. She went to a small country school near Nana's house, but the children there made fun of her because they knew about Mama. They teased her about being left with Nana and because she didn't have a father.
The best thing about living with Nana was that Lily got to go to church. Lily loved church. She liked singing in the choir, and she adored her young Sunday school teacher, Miss Erica.
Miss Erica seemed to have taken a liking to Lily. She was always telling her how pretty she looked in the second-hand clothes Nana bought for her. She even took her into the lady's room and showed her how to braid her long curly hair.
Best of all, Miss Erica told Lily all about Jesus. She explained who He was, and how much He loved Lily.
"When no one else loves you, Jesus loves you!" Miss Erica exclaimed with light dancing in her blue eyes.
Lily thought Miss Erica was an angel. No one else took the time to talk to her about anything. Mama did when Lily was younger, before she started farming her out to other people.
"Miss Erica, if Jesus loves me, will He answer my prayers about Mama?" Lily asked one Sunday before class started.
Lily had told Miss Erica all about Mama. Miss Erica seemed hesitant to answer at first, but then leaned forward and whispered to Lily.
"Lily, pray to Jesus that your mother will soon have a healing in her heart, and ask that He guide her in all that she does. Talk to Him, pour out your heart, and ask only for His will in this matter."
Lily suddenly had an idea. She prayed for Mama's heart to meet God's will, because she knew in her own heart God wanted them to be together again. Then she prayed for Nana's heart, and those of her classmates.
That was when Lily started to notice changes in others. Nana began speaking with tenderness in her voice and started helping Lily with the housework. A girl at school became friendly with Lily, choosing her as a partner on a school project. Lily felt loved and wanted again.
The thing that Lily prayed the hardest for didn't seem to be happening. Mama didn't come. Lily just knew Jesus would heal Mama's heart, and she would come any day. Months went by, but Lily was still holding out hope.
It was one fine summer day when an old car pulled in the driveway. Lily heard the crunch of gravel and ran to the door. Lo and behold, Mama got out of the car! Lily practically flew into Mama's open arms.
"I've come to get you Lily.” Mama was crying. “I found a job nearby. I found a house just down the road, and most importantly, I found Jesus!"
"Oh, Mama, I knew you would!" Thank you, Jesus!