Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year, New Chapter - 27

I hope you all had a happy and safe New Year. Thanks for all your good wishes and encouragement. Thanks, too, all of you who voted for SING ME TO SLEEP on Goodreads. It's was cool and exciting to be nominated, but now it's a relief to have the voting over. All last month I felt like there was someone else I should be contacting. Winners will be announced in January's newsletter. I'll let you know if I get any exciting news. 

Here' the dive log I promised. I might have to cut some of this. I don't want to get too preachy or deeper into doctrine than I need to for the story's sake. But Michael would have questions. Lots of them. At this point, I'm simply writing what comes. If I overwrite, I'll cut back when I revise. As always, I'd love to get your feedback. 

More tomorrow. Enjoy!


Dive Buddy: Leesie           
Date:  06/29
Dive #:
Location: Grand Cayman
Dive Site:
Weather Condition:
Water Condition:
Water Temp: 
Bottom Time:  

            As I drive home from Aunty’ Jaz’s and all the next day while I’m diving, I keep thinking about what Leesie told me. To become a Mormon I have to believe in Jesus Christ. Not just that he was a great man who taught stuff that changed the world—for good or ill—depending on your point of view. I have to believe He’s God’s son—a God himself—my brother. And He came to save me. From what I’m not sure. I need to ask Leesie.
            Leesie says God and Jesus aren’t some indescribable divine force. Joseph Smith saw them. They have physical bodies. What about the Holy Spirit? How does He fit in?
            And there’s this huge hole in Leesie’s logic. If God is literally the father of our spirits, don’t we need a mother up there, too? Is that supposed to be Mary? But how could she be Jesus’s mother on earth while she was being a mother in heaven.
            I only have to work the morning. After I unload the dive boat, I grab a sandwich and head out. When I get to Aunty Jaz’s, Leesie’s in the front clipping the giant bougainvilleas that overwhelm the shack.
            “Ouch.” She yells and drops the clippers. “Did you know these things have thorns?” She shoves her thumb in her mouth. 
            “Yeah. You need gloves.”
            She kicks at the clippers. “And better clippers.”
            “Want me to help?” I look at the mess she’s making. “We used to have these in Phoenix.”
            “I don’t know.” She takes a few steps back and surveys her progress. “It seems hopeless.”
            I slide my arm around her waist. “We can do it together.” I kiss her, and she squirms.
            “Gross. I’m all sweaty.”
            I kiss her again. “I like sweaty.”
            She claps her hands over her ears and starts humming a tune that sounds like something they sang in church Sunday.
            I laugh and release her. “I’ve got some questions for you.”
            “Really?” She slaps at a mosquito on my arm. “We need more bug spray, too.”
            Leesie washes up quick while I take cover from the mosquitoes with Aunty Jaz on the screened porch.
            “That girl just doesn’t stop—does she?”
            I sit beside Aunty Jaz. “Not when she gets her mind set on something.”
            Aunty Jaz looks back to make sure Leesie’s still inside, leans over and whispers, “She’s been busy at that computer late at night and early in the morning. She won’t read any of it to me, though.”
            “Me, neither.” It’s good to hear she’s working on her poetry, though. She’s progressing faster than I expected.
            “How are you doing with that Book of Mormon?”
            I lower my voice. “I kind of got stuck. Leesie’s helping me. Is that allowed?”
            Aunty Jaz’s face splits wide with a smile. “Of course. So that’s why she gave me that big kiss last night.”
            I give her a big kiss on the cheek, too.
            Leesie catches us. “Are you trying to steal my fiancĂ©?”
            Aunty Jaz slaps my back. “I’ve turned his head, sweetie. I have that affect on men.”
            Leesie takes my hands and pulls me to my feet. “Mind if I try to win him back?”
            “You can try.” She winks at me.
            Leesie winds her fingers through mine. “We’ll be back in a couple hours. You’ll be okay?”
            “My nurse arrives shortly.”
            “We can stay until she comes.”
            Aunty Jaz shoos us with both hands. “Get along.”
            As soon as we’re on the road driving towards Georgetown, Leesie bites her lower lip and folds her hands in her lap. “You have questions?”
            “Yeah.” I swallow. My thoughts are in a jumble. “First, how does the Holy—”
            “—fit in?”
            “He’s the third member of the Godhead.”
            “With God and Jesus?” I glance over at her. She nods. I look back at the road. “Why do you call him a ghost? That’s weird.”
            “He doesn’t have a physical body like Jesus and Heavenly Father so he can communicate with our spirits.”
            “Okay. Whatever. You know, this whole Heavenly Father thing has a big problem. Who’s the mother?”
            “We don’t know.”
            “You think God had all these children by himself? Think about it, babe. That makes no sense. Is it Mary?”
            “No. She’s Jesus earthly mother.”
            “And Joseph’s his father—so how is he different than everyone else?”
            “Check you Bible stories, hon. Joseph wasn’t his father. Mary was a virgin, remember?”
            Not really. Never read the stuff. “So it was like magic?”
            “You read the scriptures about it yesterday. The spirit overshadowed Mary and then she was pregnant. Mary says ‘great things’ were done to her.”
            “You’re saying she slept with God?”
            “I’m saying we don’t know the details. But she’s called a handmaid of the Lord. In the Old Testament handmaids bore children for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They became wives.”
            “Wives?” I frown, confused. “You think God’s a polygamist? I have to believe that?”
            “No. I’m guessing here. God made the rules. His relationship with Mary wasn’t based on sin. All you have to believe is Jesus was His son.”
            “Not a fast-talking Jewish girl’s ba—”
            “Don’t say that.” She grabs my arm. “It hurts.” She presses her hand to her heart.
            “I’m sorry.” We drive in silence a couple miles. We reach the outskirts of Georgetown and traffic slows up. We get stopped at a red light. I turn to her. “You believe all this stuff—literally?”
            “Yes.” She meets my searching gaze. “We do believe in a Mother in Heaven, but she’s not Mary.”
            I shake my head. “I’ve never heard you pray to her.”
            “No. We pray to the Father in the Son’s name.”
            “What does that mean?”
            “Jesus takes our prayers to the Father and pleads for us.”
            “And what does the mother do?”
            “We don’t know for sure. I think she’s there, part of everything—sharing like parents do.”
            “Are you making this up? You’ve never mentioned her before.”
            Leesie’s voice takes on an intense tone. “It’s very sacred doctrine.”
            “So we were one big happy God family?” Sounds more like sci-fi than religion.
            “In heaven? Before we came to earth? Very big. Mostly happy.”
            I lean back and shake my head. “How could perfect, all-powerful God-parents make their children live in such a horrible place? Suffer like—” Me. And her.
            “We chose to come here. Fought for the privilege.”
            “Fought? Who?”
            “Our other brother.”
            We’re at the store, so the question I have about that gets lost in buying mega-clippers, two pairs of thick gloves, six different types of mosquito killer, and a giant bag of potato chips.
Leesie naps on the drive back to Aunty’s Jaz’s, so we don’t get back to our private discussion until late that night when Leesie kisses me goodnight. “Did I freak you earlier today with the Heavenly Mother stuff?”
            “Nope.” I smooth my hand over her furry head. “It’s no stranger than everything else.”
            “It’s why the temple is so important.” She can see I’m not following. “The family is a divine entity. The heart of everything in heaven and earth.”
            “So you need to stick them together?” I stroke her cheek.
            “Seal them.” She presses her lips into my palm.
            I hug her close. “Why isn’t it automatic?” It should be. People who love each other should be together forever if they want to be.
            “Nothing’s automatic.” She leans her face onto my hand. “God’s too good of a teacher to go for that.”
            “He’s God.” I crouch down so we’re eye to eye. “He could cut us some slack.”
            “If this is a test”—she touches her nose to mine—“he’s got to make it hard enough for us to grow.” She kisses me and retreats to the doorway. “Have you prayed?”
            I shake my head.
            She blows me a kiss. “Try.”


  1. Loved it. Especially the part when she starts humming the church song, I laughed out loud! I hope all of this information doesn't freak Michael out too much, because it seems like he's trying so hard.

  2. I have to be honest. I've loved everything up to this point but this chapter kind of threw me off track. I feel like we're losing the REAL Michael with little struggle and Leesie has crossed over into piety, but I don't know where you're going with everything, either, so I'm merely offering my thoughts about today's post. I guess I just miss Michael and Leesie's relationship outside of church discussions...

  3. I LOVED this. I am loving Michael being so interested in the church, I can't tell you how long I have waited for this to happen, for Michael to be even remotely interested. So happy. I am excited to see where this goes...And I'm loving the religion talk, it's REAL, and Michael is like any other person who is interested in learning about the's what should and would happen in real life.

  4. I appreciate this feedback--especially your honesty Foxboxy. That's what I need to know. This dive log is pretty much all church talk and not enough relationship. I think you're right. I need to balance it better. I'm like Chaleese. I've been waiting for Michael to finally be interested, so the religion talk is spilling out all over the place. Yeah. It is what would happen in real life, but this is fiction. Real life doesn't always work in fiction. And this is a rough draft, so I didn't even fill in all the stage direction. A lot of it is just talk.

    Question, do you see Michael's interest in discovering more about Leesie's beliefs, losing the real Michael or finding the real Michael? Who is the real Michael?

  5. I don't think the real Michael is lost. I think this is Michael finding himself. I don't think he is any different, besides maybe starting to believe in something amazing...:) The Michael I love is still right there. He will always be him, no matter what, just one that is not so lost, and believes his life has a purpose. Does that make sense? Sorry for my rambling...:)

  6. I think this is a little too much at once. I like that Michael is finding God. But I am a little confused-- maybe it is because the differences between Mormonism and the form of Christianity that I grew up believing?

    Anyways- I think his questions are all good- I love that he is asking instead of blindly accepting.

  7. I love that he is asking questions -- he would definitely have a lot of them! But I agree that it might be a bit heavy on the church talk all at once.

  8. Sounds like we're unanimous. I'll have to cut it down to a minimum. Maybe spread it around some. I'll keep that in mind when I revise.

  9. I am late in commenting on this, but I do see the REAL Michael slipping. Thanks Foxyboxy for pointing it out. Those I know who have joined the mormon faith, don't just jump into submission (and if they do, they are out of it before they even started) and that is what I feel Michael is doing. If he can only be with Leesie if he believes in what she believes in, isn't that a disaster waiting to happen. He was a complete opposite person for his entire life that I don't see him all of the sudden jumping ship on his old life and enveloping himself into a new one so fast. I also don't see any temptation dragging him away from Leesies life, which unfortunately would be very prevalent. Then again, maybe it is coming...

  10. I love how deeply moving it all seems, but I think there's too much of religion coming in and now it's a bit difficult to see any difference between the Michael here and the Leesie in Taken By Storm. Infact the Michael in the recent posts sounds way different from the Michael who has been. I can't tell if it's Michael finding himself but sometimes it feels like he's trying just too hard. But that's just my opinion.