Authors: Deborah Bedford
Copyright © 2003 by Deborah Bedford
All rights reserved.
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First eBook Edition: August 2003
PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF DEBORAH BEDFORD
WHEN YOU BELIEVE
When You Believe
gently explores the hearts of two women—one younger, one older—and the desperate secrets they keep hidden inside.… Deborah
Bedford takes us on a journey inside those hurting hearts, plumbing their depths, seeking answers to questions we’ve all asked:
‘Does God listen to our prayers? If He listens, does He care? If He cares, why doesn’t He answer?’… This touching story
demonstrates how carefully He listens, how much He cares, and how grace-filled are His answers.”
—Liz Curtis Higgs, author of
Thorn in My Heart
“Deborah Bedford spins another stirring tale, drawing the reader into the story with her trademark charm. But don’t be fooled
by the charm—
When You Believe
’s innocent setting quickly becomes the cauldron for a compelling story full of pain, deceit, and ultimate redemption—a story
you can’t put down from start to finish. Give this one to any person who has lived in silence with secret pain.”
—Patricia Hickman, author of
“Faith and love gleam like twin jewels in
When You Believe.
A heartrending story of redemption and hope.”
—Angela E. Hunt, author of
The Shadow Women
A MORNING LIKE THIS
“The writing is solid, the pacing steady, and the description satisfying.”
“A compelling read that will appeal to readers of all kinds, but particularly of Christian books.”
Southern Pines Pilot
A Morning Like This
with tears in my eyes and hope in my heart. Deborah Bedford reminds us that nothing is too hard for God, no heartache is
beyond the reach of His comforting, healing hand.”
—Deborah Raney, author of
Beneath a Southern Sky
“Real problems… real faith… and a God who gives songs in the night.
A Morning Like This
reminds us all that we can do more than just ‘grin and bear it.’ We can overwhelmingly conquer.”
—Stephanie Grace Whitson, author of
Heart of the Sandhills
A ROSE BY THE DOOR
“A story of relinquishment, reconciliation, and grace… grabs the reader by the heart and doesn’t let go.”
—Debbie Macomber, author of
Ready for Love
A compelling page-turner and a surefire winner from Deborah Bedford.”
—Karen Kingsbury, author of
A Time to Dance
To the ones who hide what happened even from themselves,
who don’t speak of it because it just wouldn’t do.
To those whose hearts have yearned to be pure before the Father.
To author Sherrie Lord, who read several versions of this manuscript and made so many wise, helpful, and godly suggestions.
To Natalie Stewart, whose prayers have kept me writing with joy. And to Sheila Oreskovich who, with one phone call, was always
there to pray and sing Psalms over these pages. Your
means so much to me.
To Charlene Zuckerman, who made me go kayaking right when I needed it most… even though there
whitecaps on String Lake. To Maria Miller, the best neighbor anyone could wish for, who has saved me more than once during
a deadline and who let me borrow the incriminating evidence found in Chapter 14.
To Pastor Mike Atkins and my family at the Jackson Hole Christian Center, because your hunger to be lovers of the Lord has
taught me so much.
To Bev Elgin, counselor at Riverton High School, who was willing to spend so many hours answering questions and giving advice.
For space, I wish to thank the staff at The Bunnery in Jackson Hole—you’ve kept my heart and my tea warm the entire time this
piece of writing has been in the works. I also thank the staff at the Teton County Library for the comfy chair, the sunny
table, and the assistance with reference books and interlibrary loans.
To my family at Warner Books, each of whom works so hard to get God’s message out in the right way—it is a privilege to stand
beside you and to be on your team. You are each so dear to me.
To Kathryn Helmers, Agent 007, whose passion and faith and
can never be replaced. May you soar with the Father, dear one. I can’t wait to watch and see what the Lord will do!
To my dearest P., who read one last draft of this manuscript, and who offered so much insight. Thank you for letting me tell
your story. You have awed me with your willingness to be honest before your heavenly Father and before me. I have learned
so much about being
in front of God from you, and that, as you know, has changed my life.
The truth is incontrovertible.
Panic may resent it;
ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it;
but there it is.
This then is how we know that we belong to the truth,
and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence
whenever our hearts condemn us.
For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.
1 John 3:18-20
The afternoon started like any other afternoon. The first Tuesday of October was a solid, bright school day and, outside on
the school steps, the sun fell across everyone’s arms like a warm shawl. The glare on Lydia’s desk had veered to the left
along the windowsill. She knew it was after two
yes, because the shadows of the sumac stalks outside all bent toward the east.
Lydia Porter had been in her cubicle at Shadrach High School ever since the second lunch bell. She still had three months
to work on this Missouri standards-test schedule, and it would take her that long to figure it out. If the juniors and seniors
tested upstairs, she’d been thinking, the sophomores could take over B-hall downstairs. But that would leave a quarter of
this year’s freshmen wandering around A-hall after third period with nothing to do.
Her biggest challenge every year, this test schedule. She propped her chin in her palm and stared at her notes. That’s when
began at the counseling office door.
The door opened five inches and a teenager’s head appeared in the crack. Amazing how the young ladies always acted so hesitant,
when the boys just burst in.
A little wave, an uncertain smile. “Miss P?”
“Hey, Shelby. How are you?”
For the moment, the teenager left the door open behind her. Halls that in nine minutes would be coursing with students—friends
shouting, conversation rising—stood empty. Rows of beige metal lockers waited, closed. Except for the hum of incandescent
lights in the ceiling and the far, muted voice of someone’s emphatic lecture in a classroom, the building was quiet.
“I’m… I’m okay. Well, I guess.”
Lydia’s chair rolled over the plastic floor mat with a welcoming clatter. “So, how’s that leg?”
Shelby had gotten hurt tripping up the goalie from Osceola in the third game of the season. Since then, everybody had teased
her about how, for a gentle and sweet girl, she’d been getting downright mean on the soccer field.
“It’s getting better.”
“Yeah.” A pause, while they studied each other. “Miss P? You got a minute?”
“Sure I do. Come on in. What’s up?”
“I was hoping… maybe… we could talk.”
“I’d love to.”
In Shelby came, her messy bun sprouting from her crown like a rhododendron and her sunglasses perched high atop her head.
She pulled up a chair, adjusted her tiny skirt, and sat. She stayed a good minute with her knees together and her feet splayed
apart, her clog-toes tapping the ground.
She fiddled with the engraved nameplate on Lydia’s desk that read, “Miss Porter. School-to-Careers Counselor.”
“So,” Lydia asked in a light voice, slapping her legs with her hands, settling in. “You been thinking about colleges lately?”
“No, not really.”
Shelby Tatum was one of Lydia’s favorites. She was one of those lucky kids whose mother showed up at every parent/teacher
conference, giving proof to their favorite dictum in this office: the parents who showed up at teacher’s conferences were
seldom the parents who needed to. Recently, Shelby’s grandfather had sold an old house down in Barry County and her parents
had let him build a guesthouse on their property. Such a blessing; most kids never even got to know their grandfathers. And
Shelby’s stepdad parked himself on the sidelines of every soccer game, roaring his approval of her team. Every week he’d be
there with his golf umbrella, a folding chair, and a dilapidated briefcase as wide as a corn-fed piglet, filled with documents
from Place-Perfect Missouri Real Estate, where he worked.
So college wasn’t the right button to push. Well, she was only a sophomore. Lydia probed a little further. “Your classes coming
“Yeah,” the girl said. “Okay.”
Over the past year Shelby had sealed Lydia’s admiration by launching into those loose, comfortable conversations in the hall.
Not the way adults launched into them, mind you, but the way only a sixteen-year-old would do it: stony silent if you dared
ask questions, burbling torrents of information when you least expected it.
That’s why it seemed odd today, after the door shut quietly behind them, that Shelby didn’t have anything to say.
Lydia’s pointed questions, Shelby’s short, vague answers, fizzled into silence.
A heavy breath lifted Shelby’s breastbone and set it down again. Her eyes had taken on an unfathomable hue, a darkness that
made Lydia lean forward.
No, I can see. It’s more troubling than school stuff.
She waited for Shelby to volunteer something. She knew she had to be willing to wait. This girl who normally gestured largely
to her friends in the hallway, who slumped against her locker chattering on her cell phone, now sat with her chin against
her collarbone, a twist of hair fallen from her bun, hiding her face. As she studied her, Lydia noticed the swollen eyes,
the smudges beneath them as dark as slashes of purple lipstick. She had never seen Shelby this distressed.
Lydia felt a draw toward the girl so strong and natural that it might have been a tide in the ocean or the pull of the moon.
She cared so much about all of them, especially the discomfited ones—the ones who had pushed boundaries a little too hard,
the ones broken and flailing out against people, who didn’t understand how worthy they were.
A sense of warm purpose welled in her bosom.
How she longed to touch these kids with her heart, to share with them real tools for living instead of the slick pages of
It’s the future you see in this place, never the present,
Never the present, until a worried student comes walking in the door.
Now that Lydia thought about it, she remembered Amy Mera mentioning that Shelby, usually a stellar student, had missed homework
in history. She hadn’t finished a French II assignment, either.
So she asked, “You’ve been having trouble keeping up in class?”
Besides soccer, Shelby sang in honor choir, had been picked to be on the mock trial team, and came early for meetings of the
student council. And, as everyone knew, the good kids could get way too busy.
Shelby had kept her backpack slung by one strap over her shoulder. Now, she let it slip to the floor between her legs. “If
I had problems in one of my classes,” she asked as she replaced Lydia’s nameplate on the desk and reached for a paperclip
instead, “could you help me?”