Angel Resolved—The Fourth Book in the Lauren Drake Trilogy
There I was, about two years ago, wrapping up the rough draft of Angel Reconstructed. I had developed the characters, added the conflict, and shown the depths of depression along with God’s faithfulness. The problem was I reached 90,000 words and wasn’t done. In fact, I felt very far from “happily ever after.” I sat on my couch toward the end of the summer two years ago perplexed. So, I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed.
Write a fourth book, immediately came to me, freaking me out. Four books in the series? What in the world?
“But where would I cut this one?” I argued, scrolling backward. When I stopped, I gasped. “Not there.” Then I went forward and frowned. As always, the Lord was right. The best place to end Angel Reconstructed was indeed on a cliffhanger.
“My readers won’t be happy with me,” I said aloud, cutting the dozen pages I had beyond that heart-wrenching scene. “I don’t even have a name for a fourth book,” I said as I pasted the extra pages into a document. Angel Resolved immediately came to mind. This was shocking because, well, most of my books don’t have an official name until the rough draft is almost complete. But as I typed the title page, it felt right. Thus it began. The book that was never meant to be.
By the time I reached the third chapter, the theme had begun to form in my mind. It came clear during a conversation between Shelly and Lauren.
“No more drama for a while though, okay?”
Lauren chuckled. “I don’t know, Shel. I’m beginning to think life is one big drama. I guess as long as God is the author and director, we’ll be okay.”
I laughed as I typed the words, thinking of all the drama my best friend, Tammy, had walked through with me over the past eleven years. Depression, serious financial hardship, severe physical pain, brain trauma and anxiety due to the car accident. Yes, there have been times when we laughed until we cried, fun homeschool field trips with our kids, and relaxing nights in her spa while our hubbies were at work and our kids watched a movie. But there was a lot of drama, many hardships. That’s why I dedicated this book to her. Out of appreciation for her constant prayers, encouragement in the Word, and believing God for miracles in my life. When I typed out the dedication at the end of January after finishing the rough draft, I remember thinking, “Lord, there’s no way I could ever be that good of a friend to her.”
I’ll never forget how my heart sunk two months later when I received the following text from her:
“I found a lump. Please pray.”
I prayed and prayed and prayed. And unfortunately, every time I did, I had this awful feeling that it was going to be cancer. And it was.
The journey was long with a myriad of emotions, but we took it together. On our knees. Most nights when we sat together, I felt at a loss for words because my heart ached too. I didn’t want this road for my friend. I would have gladly taken the burden from her because when you see a loved one suffer, you feel completely helpless.
But there was surgery and a complete diet change. And lots of prayers. July came and we celebrated my birthday together, and though we didn’t talk about it, we both believed she had beat cancer. It seemed we had reached the other side and I was grateful.
Weeks later more tumors appeared and then there was a scan showing it was in her liver and lungs. More drama when we were so done with it. More tears and questions. Not because we lost our faith but because it was so hard and kept getting harder until she ended up in the hospital in tremendous pain. That was the point that I realized the truth behind the novel I was now revising. We are meant to do this life together. Suddenly nothing was as important as being at my friend’s side. I was still caring for my family, still working, but she was my priority. Sitting at her side, making sure her kids were taken care of. Organizing meals and answering texts and messages from others in her life was not a burden, but a necessity. I cried more tears that I could count and prayed the same prayer with almost every breath.
“God, heal her.”
Because she’s my friend and we were meant to go through life together.
And then when my husband had a heart attack the day after she came home from the hospital, I texted her husband the news so he could tell her. She was in so much pain I didn’t want to burden her with the news, but we’re friends and we do this life together. I cried when her text came.
“What can I do? I feel so helpless.”
I cried because I knew she would and honestly, I wished she felt better so she could be by my side. Yet God knew what I needed was to rely on Him, to worship Him in the midst of the hardship (read about it here).
I’d like to say the healing has come, but we’re still waiting, still praying, still believing. If there’s one thing my friends Lauren and Tyler have taught me through this novel, it’s that God is good and we can trust Him to carry us through the hard times. Though our faith is personal, we aren’t supposed to walk alone. God brings us different friends for different seasons. In the past two years, I’ve gained an amazing author friend who makes me laugh harder than I thought possible, a church friend who understands me deeper than most people who have known me for decades, a prayer warrior who prays without ceasing. The lie from Satan is we need to be ashamed, strong enough to endure on our own. Angel Resolved is not a fictional story, it’s a reality that can be lived out in our lives. “We do this together” should be the anthem of every Christian friendship. Tammy and I have both been blessed by the people who have rallied around us with prayer and support. But it requires transparency, honesty, commitment. A commitment to God and His people. Imagine how different the world could be if only it was a reality…
Well, I don’t have to imagine because I’m living it. Is it easy? Not at all. Heart-breaking? At times. Exhausting and mentally draining? Absolutely. But then there’s this peace that surpasses all understanding. I can’t explain it because, well, it’s indescribable. But it’s real. When you care, when you sacrifice for others, when you love, it will cost you time, effort, and a piece of your heart. But it’s worth it.
“We’ll get through this, together,” was a phrase I found myself typing over and over again through this novel because that’s the reality. To live in victory, to make it through the valleys, we need to walk together. My prayer is Angel Resolved will bring that reality to light for you. That God will bring you Christians to walk with and support you as you go through life. He is good all the time and His glory will prevail when we trust fully in Him, but we’re only human. We need others to remind us, walk beside us, carry us when we are weak. Ah, what a beautiful thing it is, the body of Christ, the love of our Savior in the flesh. Maybe that’s why this is my favorite book in the series. I hope you feel the same.