Authors: Karen Kingsbury
Tags: #Fiction, #Christian, #General
What readers are saying about
K A R E N KIN G S B U R Y
“Your books changed my life. Thank you for helping me to find God again. I read your last one in one day and bawled like a baby all night and all day today.
GREAT, AWESOME BOOKS. I cannot wait for the next ones to come. I am off to read the Bible. Thanks again, Karen. 1 found GOD!” —Kelly “I recently found your books and have been devouring them ever since. Each time God has spoken into my life through them.”
“I have never read an author like you before: you make me laugh and cry within pages of one another!” —Sarah
“I am an avid reader and find it so difficult to read anything anymore that isn’t yours. Your books have changed my life.”
“Your books are exactly what I have always longed to read.”
“I never enjoyed reading until I started reading your books.”
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your writing led me back to the Lord!”
I( .N G S B URY
TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS, INC, Wheaton, Illinois ii Visit Tyndale’s exciting Web site at www.tyndale.com TYNDALE is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Tyndale’s quill logo is a trademark of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Copyright Š2005 by Karen Kingsbury. All rights reserved.
Logo i}lustration copyright Š2003 by David Henderson. All rights reserved.
Cover photograph of people copyright Š2005 by Brian MacDonald. All rights reserved.
Designed by Alyssa Force
Edited by Lorie Popp
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International VersionŽ.
NIVŽ. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright Š1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
Pubbshed in association with the literary agency of Alive Communications, Inc., 7680 Goddard Street, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80920.
This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of either the author or publisher.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Kingsbury, Karen. Forgiven
Karen Kingsbury, p. cm. — (Firstborn ; 2) 1SBN-13:978-0-8423-8744°6 (sc) ISBN-10:0-8423-8744-7 (so) 1. Women theatrical producers and directors—Fiction.
2. Children’s theater—liction. 1, Title. PS3561,14873F67 2005 813 ‘.54—dc22
Printed in the United States of America
08 07 06 05
8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
iii To Donald, my best friend, my prince charming The years have flown past, and I’m amazed that we’re into our eighteenth year of marriage. I remember our honeymoon and how you’d look at me every few hours and say, “It took so long to get here; I can’t believe we’re finally roamed!”
That’ll teach us to hurry time. With you, Donald, the dance is a beautiful one, sometimes slow, sometimes tapped out in a frantic pace. But I wish the music would go on forever, because every day is better than the last. Can you feel it?
How we’re entering this new phase of life with teenagers?
Stay close by and keep praying!
I think we’re going to need each other more in the coming years than ever!
I love being your wife.
To Kelsey, my precious daughter
I had a sudden disconnect the other day when I took you to get your driver’s permit. I glanced at the little girl beside me, half expecting to see a ponytailed sixth-grader. Because this is supposed to go on forever, right? The part where
I drive you places and we hold deep, meaningful conversations about your friendships and your faith? But instead, there you sat, a willowy young woman with the future shining in your eyes. Has anyone ever been more excited to get behind the wheel of a car? Hmmm. Every minute matters, honey.
I’m grateful for the relationship we’ve shared and the one that will take us into this next stage of your life. Don’t ever forget you’re a one-in-a-million girl, Kels. I love you. Shine for Jesus!
To Tyler, my oldest son
This has been an amazing year for you, my Broadway boy! A lead part in a professional local theater company? I stand back in awe at how God has brought you from that precocious kindergartner walking around the house in an Annie wig singing “Tomorrow” at the top of your lungs to the self-possessed young man, serious about shaping your voice and your acting skills so that you can be an even brighter light for the Lord. Your song is still the soundtrack of our lives, Ty.
I love you. Keep singing for Him!
To Sean, my smiley boy
Everyone who sees you or gets to know you says the same thing: “That kid is always so happy!” You’ve been home more than four years now, but it feels like you’ve been here since the beginning. I love your smile and your energy, the way you listen at devotions every morning. You’ve blossomed in so many ways. God has big plans for you, Sean. Keep trying your best and reaching for the stars! I love you, honey.
iv To Josh, my soccer star
When it comes to picking teams, everyone wants you, and you’re the first to explain the reason: “God made me an athlete,” you tell people. The same is true for your brothers, but I have a feeling Jesus will use your athleticism in a very special way. I marvel at your confidence, the easy way you have of excelling in everything from art to keeping your room clean. But the reason I’m most glad you’re on our team is because of your desire to please the Lord.
Everyone else might be asleep, but there you are, a flashlight under the covers, reading your Bible. Keep your determination, Josh. I love you.
Be first place for God and all the rest will come.
To EJ, my determined chosen child
Long ago, God could’ve led us to any of a million little boys who needed a family. But He chose you, and we quickly did the same. You are living proof of how love and determination, boundaries and praise can change someone for Jesus.
You have no quit in you, EJ, and I stand in awe at that. I love when you think no one’s watching and suddenly launch into a silly song or dance. My heart delights in knowing that your talents are more than running faster than anyone at school. You make us laugh, and one day I pray God uses you to bring a smile to the faces of many people. I love you.
Keep smiling when no one’s looking.
To Austin, my miracle boy
You will always be my little Isaac, the child we were given and then nearly lost. But, sweet boy, you are simply growing up too fast, coming to me more often than before with sweatpants that hit above your ankle. I thank God that you’re still a towhead, still adorable with that toothless grin of yours.
Yesterday I found a dinosaur on my bathroom floor, and I realized you’d been in there an hour earlier. I went to move it, but then I stopped myself and let it stay. My days of dinosaurs on the bathroom floor are numbered.
I love watching you run and gun on the basketball court, love hearing the other coaches ask, “Hey, that blond kid who’s a head taller than the other boys, is he really in first grade?” I’m so proud of your hustle and the way you listen to your daddy. He’s the best coach of all, honey.
Now and in the years to come—whether the sport is basketball, baseball, or walking with God. I’m so glad you’re healthy and strong.
I love you.
And to God Almighty,
who has—for now—blessed me with these.
No book comes together without the help of many people. The Firstborn series draws largely on my personal experiences with family and raising children, including my connection with Christian Youth Theater. We discovered CYT two years ago, and ince then it has transformed our family. Kelsey and Tyler are active in CYT’s plays and tour groups, and we have met many friends who will be a part of our lives forever.
CYT has been the inspiration for my plotline involving Katy Hart and her Christian Kids Theater. I have drawn from much of what I’ve seen play out in real life, while shaping my characters and the backdrop for my stories. Of course, all plotlines and characters remain fictitious and any resemblance to real events is purely coincidental. That said, I owe special thanks to our hardworking CYT area coordinator, Bethany Larson, and to our wonderful director, Beka Hardt, along with the families who have helped inspire me to write about kids theater. We thank God that you are in our area, helping our children have a wonderful outlet to grow and learn in theater arts.
Thanks also to my great friends at Tyndale House Publishers, including Ron Beers, Becky Nesbitt, Travis Thrasher, Anne Goldsmith, Cheryl Kerwin, Kathy Simpson, and everyone who has helped make first the Redemption series and now the Firstborn series such a success. These books are touching and changing lives, and you play a significant part in that. I’m honored to be working with you.
A big thank-you to my agent, Rick Christian, president of Alive Communications.
I am amazed more as every day passes at your integrity, your talent, and your commitment to getting my Life-Changing Fiction out to people all over the world.
You are a strong man of God, Rick. You care for my career as if you were personally responsible for the souls God touches through these books. Thank you for looking out for my personal time, my relationships with my husband and kids most of all. I couldn’t do this without you.
vi As always, I couldn’t do this without the help of my husband and kids, who are so good about eating tuna sandwiches and quesadillas when I’m on deadline.
Thanks for understanding the sometimes crazy life I lead and for always being my greatest support.
Thanks to my friends and family who continue to surround me with love and prayers and support, and thanks to Katie Johnson, who stepped in and helped me more than I could’ve imagined. And to my mother and assistant, Anne Kingsbury, for having great sensitivity and love for my readers. Your personal touch is so precious to me… thank you with all my heart.
And thank You to God Almighty, the greatest author of all— the Author of Life.
The gift is Yours. I pray I might have the in credible opportunity and responsibility to use it for You all the days of my life.
:: , ……….
THE ANSWERS WERE I N S I D E the brown paper sack. At least that’s what everyone was telling him.
Dayne Matthews carried the bag inside his Malibu beach house, set it on his kitchen counter, and took a deep breath. Kelly would be gone until the next day, visiting her agent in Manhattan. Dayne had all night to sort through his questions, all night to catch even a glimpse of the peace he was missing.
He opened the bag and pulled out a thick, heavy book: Kabbalah–Becoming Your Own God.
Dayne ran his fingers over the cover. He’d gone to the Los Angeles Kabbalah Center a few times, and earlier today he’d stopped by and purchased the book.
The Kabbalah bible. He was starting to understand the stuff, and now that he’d gotten past the guilt, past the nagging inner voice accusing him of turning his back on his parents’ faith, he was ready to dive deeper.
A man in a white shirt and white pants had been working behind the counter. He hadn’t seemed to recognize Dayne, but then dozens of celebrities attended the center. Famous actors
probably didn’t impress the guy. Why would they, when enlightenment meant shedding worldly values, exchanging them for a higher level of consciousness?
Dayne had set the book on the store’s counter. “This is it, right? The big book?”
The man smiled, an otherworldly smile. “The answers to life are between the covers.”
That’s all Dayne needed to hear. At this point in his life, he was all questions and no answers. None at all. He was living with his current leading lady, Kelly Parker, but he didn’t love her. Even so, he didn’t want to break up with her.
Filming for the movie started in two weeks. Cut it off with Kelly now and they could forget having any chemistry on camera.
Dayne now flipped the book over and read the inside back cover. An italicized section at the top of the page said: Are you lacking peace? Does traditional religion leave you empty and searching? Come to the oldest truths in the world, the truths that will truly set you free.
That’s what he was missing. Freedom.
He was trapped in his life, locked in with no way out. Not in the situation with Kelly, and not with his biological family, the Baxters. They knew nothing about him because he needed to keep it that way. Otherwise the paparazzi would take away his family’s freedom the way they’d taken his.
And what about his anger? The way he’d gone from a relaxed sort of guy who didn’t get bothered by much to being mad all the time. Mad at his adoptive parents for sending him away to a boarding school so they could traipse around the Indonesian jungle telling people about Jesus. Mad that they died in a plane crash when he was eighteen and mad that he’d lived without any family ever since then, when the whole time he had biological parents and siblings living in Bloomington, Indiana.