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Story Sunday #6: My Brother’s Keeper

After Seth’s near-death, Reuben pleads for his new brother to treat Paul and Temira well.

Oh my goodness, guys, I am SO sorry that the wrong email got sent out for this post. I have no idea how it happened, since it somehow went out before it was scheduled… I’m really sorry. I’m going to have to figure out what caused that. But anyways, I hope you all enjoy the post!

First of all: a very, very happy Easter to all of you! Sing hallelujah and rejoice, for he is risen. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” 

Matthew 28:2-6

The Details on This Week’s Writing

Number of words written: I’m going to be completely honest. I only wrote 5,783 words this week, falling quite short of my 10k goal. But that’s okay. I’m going to try again this time around. Because if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

What I did: I did character interviews, and it was great! I realized I really need to get to know my characters a lot better if I’m going to develop them well and make them relatable and genuine to readers.

So I did a character interview with Seth, and let me just say I learned much more about his unusual upbringing and his anger/trust issues. As well as some very kind and loving parts of his nature that made my heart melt.

I’m also halfway through a character interview with Reuben, and let me say his interview is just so interesting. He’s so different from Seth, despite the fact that they have the same parents and many of the same experiences. Surprisingly, although they have the same parents, their upbringings are actually quite different. Well, when Reuben was growing up, Paul and Temira were much younger, and Paul’s ministry was still in the relatively early stages. Also, although I’m not a parent, I’ve learned that parenting actually looks extremely different from one child to another. Each child has his/her own personality, needs, strengths, weaknesses, temperament, etc. So what works for one child might be a pure disaster with another. Anyway, it was fascinating to dive deeper into Reuben’s character. He’s very insightful. Which you guys will see in this week’s diary entry….

This week I continued writing a speech (not included in the word count) I will be giving at school this coming Tuesday. I’m very honored and very excited that I was asked to be a speaker for this Student Week of Prayer, but I must admit I’m also very nervous. This will be the first time I speak in front of a large audience. I finished preparing the actual speech last night and am rehearsing it. Praying for God to use me as an instrument of his grace!

Highlights: I really enjoyed both Seth and Reuben’s character interviews, but I would have to say that Reuben’s interview was the most striking. I should mention that I interviewed the adult Reuben, rather than the child Reuben. I’m definitely planning to interview child Reuben during my character interviews, but getting to know adult Reuben is more at the top of my list since he’s an adult for most of the novel.

I feel that Reuben (and this is probably the main difference between him and Seth) is by nature practical and thoughtful. He prefers to learn by observance rather than asking many questions, since by his way of thinking it’s more effective to do the research on your own. (Personally, I would agree.) He was also the sort of kid whose mind is older than the body. The thing I enjoy most about his character is how quickly he becomes the caregiver to Paul and Temira. He makes his appreciation and respect obvious. I love how he’s not concerned for himself and his own misgivings about Paul’s ministry, he’s only focused on making things easier for others. Honestly, in a friend group, Reuben would be that one drama-free friend everyone goes to for advice. And we all need that one friend, right?

We can never be perfect writers, but we can be prayerful writers.

Thoughts/experiences: The first thing I do each time I sit at my computer to write The Apostle’s Sister, is pray. I’m not sure if I’ve said this before, and even if I have, I think it’s time I begin to say it more often: Please pray every day before you touch your keyboard. Prayer is sacred, and it does work. I want us all to be able to say we write our stories prayerfully. I am not a perfect writer, and neither are you. But we can all be prayerful writers.

Today’s diary entry: Well, you surprised me. I’ve received multiple requests to share a diary entry from Reuben, and this week that request actually won majority rule. I’m very excited for you all to read the diary entry! I’m really glad I wrote about Reuben this week. He is a major character (perhaps more like semi-major, as Seth is the nephew who gets the most “screen time”), but I realize you guys don’t hear too much about him. So I want you to get to know him better. I got to know him a lot better this week through both his character interview and his diary entry, and I greatly enjoy his role in the novel. He strengthens it in a way I didn’t really see clearly before.

Many of you have been requesting to hear Reuben discuss his family. So that’s what I did for today’s diary entry.

Without further ado, I hope you enjoy!

There is a certain regret that brings grief, evading description.

This night I found my parents sitting quietly outside, with Seth sleeping restfully in my uncle’s lap. During the past weeks they seemed their happiest yet, despite Seth’s serious battle with the cough; Uncle Paul’s recurrence; and Mother’s desperate consultations with Luke. I must admit I was beyond understanding of their contentment, in light of their child’s dying state and their perpetual suffering. Mother’s eyes did not mist, and Uncle Paul showed an even lesser anguish than she did.

Their child will live now, but as soon as they received this news they lapsed into something directly opposite their former peace. In fact, I haven’t heard either one of them speak since. Uncle Paul, despite his resilience, is rather weak from his hours of fighting alongside his new adopted nephew, and Mother does not look at her brother. She only looks at the son she brought home. They have lost their spirit.

Luke requested me to go and speak to them patiently, since they consider submission only to me. After I had sent them away – still not looking at each other – with the command to rest, I took my new brother and fed him carefully with something Luke had prepared.

I may or may not have laughed when Mother announced the child’s name would be Seth, since it entered my mind that perhaps he would be replacement for me. But when I carelessly mentioned it, hurt crept into her eyes, so briefly I was left wondering if it had even been there. Her glance toward her brother was tentative, almost frightened. His jaw was set, but when his eyes met mine I saw a hurt as deep and vulnerable as Mother’s. He shows such emotion rarely, if ever.

I knew then how my remark had caused them pain, without such an intention. In Seth’s face, I see my own reflection.

I was three years old – exactly Seth’s age – when Uncle Paul came to Mother and me. I was too young to remember what happened, only that he paid a dear – very dear – price for us. I would often dream about it. Haunting memories are hard for a child to forget. Uncle Paul would comfort me, but he explained nothing. My mother explained nothing. Only years later did she finally tell me that my uncle paid with his own flesh and his very life. He has still remained silent over it, and he never will speak. He expresses his failures, sometimes very bitterly, always with pain through which not even Mother can reach him; but pretends there was no sacrifice.

Knowing what he did, I often wonder what I did to deserve such love. As a child, I always knew I was loved, even when I was furious with my parents. My deepest regret is that I never appreciated them, even knowing the depth of what they did for me. I cannot imagine any love stronger than what Mother has for her brother, and she suffers much.

My only prayer for Seth is that he will appreciate and love our parents as I did not. Watching them with him, I know now what they went through with me. I sent them through heaven and hell, and now they are bringing up another child, in the midst of the flames of hell for him. And for God’s sake, he has a father as I have a father. Uncle Paul never needed to be here. He could have rightly devoted his entire life, his every hour, to the ministry. But he loved Mother and me too dearly, and now he loves Seth the same way. Will this child care about the tears shed for him? I remember vividly, as a child, following my uncle into his sanctuary of prayer, to find him weeping on his knees. On account of me.

Their only fault is that they love too much. And they believe I no longer belong to them, and that they have already failed Seth.

I hope you enjoyed that! I know it’s very reflective and not a lot of action, but I really wanted to go deep into Reuben’s thoughts. How do you guys think I did with today’s diary entry? Let me know if there’s anything I can do to improve!

If you’d like to vote for next week’s diary entry, complete Story Sunday Survey #6 HERE.


Discussion Question: Why do you think Temira and Paul were strong during Seth’s illness, but lost that peace when he began to get well?


You know the drill – eat, pray, write, repeat!

JC

By Joy Caroline

Joy Caroline is a fifteen-year-old Seventh-Day Adventist Christian and Biblical fiction writer. Her two novels, The Apostle’s Sister and The Anointed, are about St. Paul from the perspectives of his sister and nephew. JC also enjoys reading, sketching, watching Hallmark's When Calls the Heart, and trying delicious desserts. You can find her at her website, joycarolineauthor.com.

16 replies on “Story Sunday #6: My Brother’s Keeper”

Yay! As sad as this post was, I was so excited to finally see Reuben! I absolutely love his reflection and going deep into his thoughts! Thank you so much for showing us!!

As always, wonderful post! Don’t worry about the word count – I wanted 8k and ended up with 6k. Better some than none! And character interviews? Do we by chance get to read them? Kind of a “Meet the Character” thing? Pretty, pretty, pretty please? With all the sugar and chocolate or whatever treat you like on top?

Prayer is so important. I try to pray before sitting down to write – not always successful, but I try. Just as we dedicate our lives to God, we need to dedicate our books, as well. We are writing them for Him – why wouldn’t we want to give them into His hands and ask Him to guide us as we write?

Reuben seems like a sweetie. A bit cynical with some hidden pain and self-esteem issues, but a sweetie. And he’s definitely observant. Few people pay attention to others’ eyes, which are a window to hidden reactions, emotions, feelings, and general mood.

I wanted to respond to your discussion question, but my mind’s drawing a blank (that does not bode well for my writing). Knowing myself, I’ll probably think of something later (and’ll probably insert it into the psychology paper I’m working on, cause that’s just something I’d do). If that happens, I’ll return and post another reply. Really enjoying the discussion question element, though!

Thank you! Yep – better some than none! Hmm… perhaps I shall post some character interviews in the near future. It would be cool if I let my followers ask the questions through a Google Form or some such means. That could very well happen after my other scheduled posts are released.

Great point. I think of myself as the pen (or the keyboard, LOL), while God is the true Author of everything “I” write. He’s the one holding the pen (or typing on the keyboard!).

Reuben is VERY observant. Probably one of the defining traits of his character, actually. I mentioned in the post that he prefers not to ask questions and instead search for his own answers. He is really good to Paul and Temira, but yes, he does have a few grievances he doesn’t talk about.

I think today’s discussion question was a bit tougher than the others so far (I mean, even I had trouble coming up with answers for it). I came up with several possible conclusions, but after some thinking, decided the following theory is the most plausible:
Paul and Temira were so overworked during Seth’s illness that they had little time to mourn their situation, and couldn’t risk any strength on being doubtful. After it was all over their exhaustion caught up to them. Maybe they’re feeling a bit unworthy to raise another child. Maybe they thought their time for that had officially passed, and suddenly they’re responsible for the upbringing of another little being.

Studying psychology must really help you get into characters’ heads! No wonder your analysis are always so on point!

Madi, I love how you said that “Just as we dedicate our lives to God, we need to dedicate our books, as well. We are writing them for Him – why wouldn’t we want to give them into His hands and ask Him to guide us as we write?”!!!!!!❤️ Such true words, girl, such true words!!!!!!💗💗💗

Eeeekkkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We got to see a diary entry from Reuben!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!😃😃😃😃😃😃😃 I LOVED IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!😃😃😃 Seriously, I absolutely LOVED it!!!!!!!!! It was amazing and I loved how he reflected on his thoughts about his family!!! I am impressed at how developed your characters are, JC!!! You’re doing FANTABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!! For the discussion question: maybe after remaining strong while Seth was sick, their spirit was exhausted and they didn’t have any strength left.

Also, I’m so sorry I haven’t gotten back to you on TAS. I had so much going on last week and beginning of this week. But, I did start reading Ch. 4 today I truly am enjoying it though!!!!<333 Also also, a couple of weeks ago I watched the second episode in the Little Women mini series, so I thought you might like to know that. 🙂

Yay, I’m glad you liked it! Oh, thank you. I enjoy developing my characters but have trouble actually reflecting that development in the story. Definitely need more practice on that! Great thought on the discussion question. I agree with you.

No problem at all! I completely understand – we’ve all got lots to do. I’m really grateful that you’re giving me your time and input! Truly appreciate it.

Cool! It’s such a great series. I can’t decide whether I like Episode 2 or 3 better.

Great talking with you!

I have trouble reflecting the development of my characters in the story too, so I feel ya. 😉 Thank you! 🙂

Aww!!!💗 Of course, girl!!!! I’m happy to help! That’s what friends are for!!!<3

I know right?! It is really good!!!!!! I can't wait to see the last episode!!😀

It's great talking with you too!!!!!!!!!!!😀💗

It can be pretty tough, that’s for sure. Characters are such an important part of a story, and if they don’t feel right, I can guarantee I won’t like the book!

Thank you – you’re a great friend!

Hey, JC!!!!!!! 🙂 So, I know I normally give you writing updates and since today is the first time I worked in my WIP in awhile, I thought I’d share with you how it went. Sooo, I wrote 347 words total today. My WIP is now at 10197 words. So that’s where I stand in my writing life. I hope things are going well for you and that you are having a great evening!!!!!!💗

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