Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chapter 30 plus some welcome news!!

Two seconds ago I got some really amazing news. No, it's not about the Goodreads Choice Award. SING ME TO SLEEP didn't win, but thanks to all of you and your help and votes, we made a darn good showing.

This is even better than that! After weeks and weeks watching and waiting for this incredible recording of the song that changes Beth's life the Amabile Youth Singers were so gracious to produce for me, I'm delighted to announce "Take me Home," from SING ME TO SLEEP is now available on iTunes.  Harriet Bushman, composer and arranger, astounded me with what she turned my words into. We're mourning here in Arizona--I cried again today when the TV coverage showed the gigantic 9/11 flag hung between two ladder trucks in front of the church where the little nine-year-old girl's funeral was held. I'm going to close my eyes and listen to this and feel better. Please, please buy it! Harriet and I donated our royalties, so all the proceeds go to keep the Amabile family singing.

After Tuesday's scene, I thought we could leap ahead a few weeks to Michael agreeing to meet with the missionaries, but every time I tried to imagine it, my mind got fuzzy. Cold medicine? Congestion? Or not the right scene?

I stonewalled yesterday and couldn't write anything. This morning as I pondered what I should write instead, I saw Michael driving home from his day with Leesie attacked by doubts. Ah-hah! No fuzzy head. Despite cold medicine and congestion that defies all concoctions, this next chapter flowed as fast as I could scribble and took Michael to a place I hadn't planned. A place I tried to skip.

I've been lying in bed too miserable to even read much, so I've watched hour after hour of coverage of the Tucson tragedy. The senseless massacre. The waste of precious lives. The heroism. The miracles. This week, I needed to be where this scene ends, and I'm grateful to Michael for taking me there. I hope it speaks to your hearts, too.

Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  07/01
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

I was on a total high all day today. When Leesie and I picked up Aunty J, she beamed at me and swore her foot felt better already. Wound treatment in the hyperbaric chamber takes a series of one or two hour sessions over days—maybe weeks—so it was probably just the O2 high talking. She made me feel amazing, though.
Amazed. Astounded. That’s kind of how I’ve felt since last night. The high lasted all afternoon while Jaz telephoned all her friends from church with the good news and hit them up for rides to and from the hospital, and Leesie and I slowly forged ahead reading The Book of Mormon. We’d read, she’d explain, and I asked questions.
I got suspicious when she insisted on skipping a whole bunch of chapters.
“What’s in it?” Maybe that’s where they hide all the secret stuff about polygamy.
“Isaiah. Bible prophet. He wrote in code so the king wouldn’t off with his head. I get lost. Nephi explains what it means here.” She smoothed down the page.
I believed her then—every word. She was so intensely happy. I’m tempted to give a thumbs up to the missionaries just so I can watch her. I want to keep her happy. She hasn’t been like this for so long. I always knew this was a huge deal for her, but seeing how thrilled she is that I’ll finally admit there seems to be a divine power out there makes me wish I could have come to this sooner. I was grieving, angry. Stubborn. Proud. An idiot. Today, after everything we’ve been through, how could I not believe her?
But now as I drive through Georgetown at rush hour worrying that I won’t make it back to East End in time for the night dive I swapped my mornings dive for, cursing my own stupidity for not taking the northern route, I wonder what’s in those mysterious chapters. Maybe I’ll read them myself. No harm in at least looking at them.
How can I doubt Leesie now? Doubt those feelings that seem so real to me. I know—it’s stupid. I should. I love her. I know she wouldn’t lie to me. But how do I know the divine essence I felt are the Beings she describes? That’s a huge leap.
I’m working hard searching for that essence in the Book of Mormon. So far I’m touched and intrigued, but who is to say I won’t find the same essence in other holy books? Should I study those, too, and pray about them? Does the Book of Mormon being true make everything else false? Leesie believes in the Bible like other Christians, plus a bunch of stuff Joseph Smith wrote. Not stuff. Revelations.
If I were in love with a Budhist girl or a Catholic girl or a Jewish girl, would I have these feelings about her faith? Am I imagining everything to please Leesie? To keep her?
I used to think all religion was crap—crazy stuff used to enslave people. Isn’t that what most educated people really think? Whether they go to church or not? But if there is something real in the concept of God, is there something real in all religion? Is some lies? Some truth? How does he feel about all the evil stuff people have done—still do—in the name of religion? Is He down with crusades, burning witches, and suicide bombers?
I can’t comprehend the whole Jesus Christ dying for my sins thing. Leesie says no one does—you have to take it on faith. Feel it.
Faith. That’s another thing I don’t get.
I see it in Leesie. She’s got too much faith—in me.
I make it to East End with no time to spare for dinner. It’s okay. Leesie fed me and Jaz a giant lunch. I’ll live. I bolt down to the dock and start flinging tanks into the boat. I push myself into a frenzy so I can’t think up more doubts, more questions. I work so fast the boat is ready ten minutes before anybody’s going to show up.
I’m sweaty and hot, so I slip off my T-shirt and stand in the dock shower a minute. I close my eyes and try to recapture how I felt when Leesie and I prayed together before I left Aunty Jaz’s shack. She didn’t make me kneel down or do anything freaky. She just took my hand and bowed her head right there where we were sitting. “Bless Michael as he learns line upon line that he will come to know and Love Thee, Thy Son, and Thy gospel.”
Line upon line. Step by step. Standing on the lonely dock with my face turned up to the refreshing cool water, I try to address Him—Leesie’s God—not just a divine essence. “Dear Heavenly Father,” I whisper and can’t continue.
I’m engulfed in love.
A father’s love.
A brother’s love.
A love that feels like home.


  1. Oh, Angela. This is beautiful. He wasn't the only one that felt the spirit. I'm bawling here. Thanks for posting this tonight. I needed it.

  2. I loved how you wrote that he was having doubts, it was good to see that he is not just taking this all so easy. And I love the end, I have goosebumps and everything...crying again too. I'm loving this, and am so happy for Michael. I have wanted this for him, forever. Not just for Leesie's sake either. Because he needed this for himself.

  3. I wanted him to be done with doubts--but he wasn't. Couldn't possibly be. I just let him vent, and Michael did the rest.

  4. I think it makes it more real that he is having doubts and that God steps in.

  5. First off -- love the skipping of the secret/mysterious chapters! LOL

    I agree that is very realistic for Michael to have doubts considering his background. Beautiful ending!

    One part that confused me -- the part where he says: "How can I doubt Leesie now? Doubt those feelings that seem so real to me. I know -- it's stupid. I should. I love her." He should what? Doubt? Or do you mean to say something like "I should believe her."?

  6. I am probably the only person reading this right now that feels a little frustrated at how things are going. I feel like he should have more doubts, more temptation trying to lead him from the truth. I was born a member of the church and I was doubting and tempted to leave the church for years. Not to say it has to be that long, but it is a life changing event and if he is already questioning whether Leesie is being honest, then maybe- just maybe- he should go at it alone for awhile so that everyone involved (including us) knows that he gained his testimony for himself and not out of love for someone else. It has to be his own personal thing. Just my opinion, hope you all don't come to my house with pitchforks in the night!! haha...

  7. Thanks everyone for the feedback. I appreciate it. Gayle,you're right. That part is confusing. I need to reword it.

    And, Anonymous, we never use pitchforks here! I think you raise a very good point. In my earlier notes, I planned for Michael to study with the missionaries without Leesie knowing and have him surprise her with it, but I discarded that idea. He's always wanted her to teach him about her world like he taught her about his. That's why they are working together. I'll keep this in mind, though, for future chapters and as I revise. I do have a few twists and turns to throw in the mix, though.

    Next post will be on Monday, okay? I'm feeling better, but have to catch up on life. Have a great weekend!

  8. Angela, I really liked how you say that he wants her to teach him, like he taught her about his world. Do you mean when he taught her how to dive and all that? Those were some of my favorite chapters, they seemed so spiritual and intimate in their own way. And the way he felt when Leesie was finally able to dive and not be afraid was magical, if I recall he even cried. And it was so beautiful between them. That is why I love that she is teaching him now, so they can go through it together. It's magical, this story.

    As for Anonymous, I think what you say is very true..but also not. :) I have been a member of the church my whole life and have never once felt doubt of any kind, or wanted to leave the church. So what you say is true in a way, but also, everyone is different. My dad knew the church was true before my parents got married, but they did not marry in the temple. He believed it..but was not yet ready. And my mother helped him learn and love the gospel, and they we're sealed for time and all eternity a year later. Just saying, everyone is different, some people need a lot of time, and some don't. :)

  9. Yeah, Chaleese. I was talking about Michael teaching Leesie diving in Unbroken Connection. That's one of my favorite parts, too. Writers do things for kind of weird reasons. I want this section to mirror that section so there's symmetry in the story. I love it when I can make a novel come full circle--end where they began, but so much richer for the journey.

    As Michael ventures into Leesie's world (the church), she's there as his guide. And I think that will only deepen their feelings for each other.

    But back to Anonymous, Michael has been around Leesie and her faith for almost two years now. He's familiar with all the outward concepts. He's rejected it a lot. I hope he learned from that experience. What he's done for Leesie to protect her and help her recover her faith has softened his heart.

    I need to work on this scene to make that clear--maybe with a flashback to their big fight in UNBROKEN CONNECTION--and keep it in mind for upcoming scenes.

  10. just love it!
    and congratulations for the itune!!
    i´m going to see if i can buy it ;D
    love it!! <3
    thanks for all!
    i read you!

  11. A part of Michael's appeal for me is how relatable he is. Him and Kim, too. It's kind of only natural that he'd have doubts after such a huge leap of faith-especially since he's been so resistant to it ever since he met Leesie. And now that he did, I love him all the more for it.
    I loved this scene Angela. It's perfect. Perfectly Michael. And now he and Leesie are finally perfectly perfect for each other, in every way.

  12. Chapters like this, keep it real. Fantastic job, Angela.