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Story Sunday #9: He Was My Giver

Over twenty years after her marriage, Temira wistfully remembers her long-deceased husband.

Story Sunday salutations!

The Details on This Week’s Writing

Number of words written: 2,239 words. I know I’ll achieve that 10k someday! XD

What I did: There is a lot of research to be done for my King Hezekiah short story. So it will take me quite a while longer to finish than I originally thought, which means you guys won’t get to read it for a while yet.

The short story focuses on these events:

  • Sennacherib’s cruel persecution of Hezekiah, bloody invasion of Judah, and vile blasphemy against God. (Sennacherib was the powerful king of Assyria.)
  • Hezekiah’s anguish over his kingdom and attempt to comfort his people. This consequently led to a severe plunge in his health until he became so sick that he almost died.

In the short story, I also explore Hezekiah’s childhood and family backstory, which you guys know is my favorite thing to do with Bible figures.

The Biblical narrative of Sennacherib’s invasion is so detailed that it’s difficult to follow all the details, so I’m reading carefully through that narrative and taking notes. I’ve got to be sure I know the whole story and keep the facts straight, since y’all know my number one grievance with attempts at “Biblical” fiction is how it’s obvious from their book that the author certainly didn’t read the Bible. That leaves the worst possible effect on readers and is something I must avoid at all costs. So I’m taking it slow through Sennacherib’s story, as well as the stories of Hezekiah, his father Ahaz, and his grandfather Jotham. I am reading all three books – 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah – carefully, since one book often contains details the other two don’t, and so forth. I also had to do extra research on many details.

So this story will be a while in the making. I don’t mind that, though. I’m really enjoying working on it! It’s a thrill to write about Hezekiah, since he is such a loveable and admirable Bible figure. Everything about the short story is fun to study, brainstorm, and write.

Highlights: It’s always an epic experience for us writers when we’re trying to figure out a story element, and then we have that triumphant moment when we do figure it out! That’s why ya never give up.

While reading the account of Hezekiah’s illness in 2 Kings 20:1-11 and Isaiah 38:1-22, I realized something crucial: I didn’t know what was specifically wrong with Hezekiah. Both accounts state that once he prayed and was promised he would get well, the prophet Isaiah instructed his attendants to apply a paste of figs to his boil.

Now, I will be the first to readily admit I know next to nothing about medical stuff. So I had no idea how a boil could be the cause of a deathly sickness. The only two things I knew about boils were (1) that Job had them, and (2) I thought in a vague sort of way that they were just extremely painful, big blister-like things. I knew I definitely needed to research that for the story.

Accordingly, I read all about boils on reputable medical sites. I even looked at pictures. And note: I absolutely DO NOT recommend looking at pictures of boils; if you’re anything like me, it will make you feel sick yourself.

But that recommendation is for normal people. Writers are very abnormal people, and as such, we do abnormal things for the sake of our stories. Call us crazy if you like, but we will even go to the extent of looking at photos of boils.

If you are a writer (or if you’re interested in going into a medical field, LOL), I absolutely HIGHLY recommend looking at pictures of boils. It may make you feel sick, but if your character’s got a boil, you need to be able to accurately and vividly describe the boil’s appearance, the character’s pain, the treatment, etc. Now that I know everything I can about boils, I’m prepared to write accurately about them although I’ve never had one! (Thanking my lucky stars for that!)

Anyways, through this research, I discovered the exact name of Hezekiah’s illness. Through my research, I learned it is highly likely Hezekiah had sepsis, which is a deadly complication of a boil. This is how Healthline describes it:

“Sepsis is a life-threatening illness caused by your body’s response to an infection…. This type of infection kills more than 250,000 Americans a year” (O’Connell, Sullivan).

The symptoms of sepsis are awful. They include (and these are only some of the symptoms): an extremely high fever or an extremely low body temperature; extreme pain; a pounding heart rate; such fast breathing that it feels like you’re running a death-a-thon; nausea and vomiting; and unconsciousness.

Poor Hezekiah…!

Even though I feel terrible for Hezekiah, it was interesting to research and triumphant when I figured out his illness. Now that I know all about boils and sepsis, I’m very excited to write about it in the short story. Knowing that you’ve done your research and figured stuff out is the best feeling. You know your story will be good and that readers will be able to tell – and will appreciate – that you obviously researched carefully.

I’ll list the articles I read right here in case y’all are interested in learning about boils and sepsis. Who knows? Maybe the articles will come in handy one day for one of your own stories! Here are my sources in case you’d like to check them out:

Those articles are there in case anyone among you feels like learning something new and random. XD

Thoughts/experiences: This week my life changed. I had a conversation with a mentor this week that really helped me.

I confided in her about the confusion I’m experiencing in regard to The Apostle’s Sister and The Anointed. At the time of the conversation, I was feeling pretty down about all of it. But afterward, I was encouraged and reinvigorated, and I still feel that way now. My mentor really helped me feel way less stressed and overwhelmed.

I glorify God most when I am having fun and finding joy in what I do.

She told me that I should be proud of myself for what I’ve already accomplished with my novel, and that I have a rare gift. She advised me to focus on having fun, learning as much as I can, gaining more experience through working on other stories and poetry, and not stifling my creativity. That really got me thinking. (I’m using “really” really often, LOL.)

She made me realize something extremely important: that God has given me this gift, this passion, this love for my St. Paul story and for writing in general, and that I glorify him most when I am having fun and finding joy in what I do. Society tries to convince us that God doesn’t want us to have fun and be joyful; he wants us to be serious and strict with our calling. That isn’t true at all.

I feel very free now – I feel light as a bird. God wants me to have fun and be joyful, both in writing and in life. He doesn’t want me to feel burdened, flustered, stressed, or grieved about writing, because that’s not bringing him glory. A joyful, hopeful, faithful writer will result in a joyful, hopeful, faithful reader. So I’m going to stop putting all this pressure on myself. I have a new goal now, and it’s not becoming a published teen writer or even writing 2k words per day. It is to glorify God by having fun and being joyful; basking in his presence and allowing him to guide and comfort me as I write. This is a big decision for me, and it has much to do with the writing crisis I’ve been pretty vague about these past weeks. So I’ve just told you guys a big chunk of what’s been going on. And a whole post will be coming out about it soon.

My new goal is to glorify God by having fun and being joyful; by basking in his presence and allowing him to guide and comfort me as I write.

I still don’t feel ready to go back to working on my St. Paul Biblical fiction, and now I realize that’s okay. I was nervous to have to tell you guys that in today’s post, because to be honest, I feel ashamed having to admit that I’m still not working on the book I’m always blogging about and of which I call myself author. But now I realize I should never feel ashamed of where God is leading me. I am indeed the author of this story – no, God is the true Author, and I have the honor of being his instrument. I am a writer in God’s eyes. I will rejoice because he has given me the honor and blessing of placing this story in my heart. I am so honored and blessed that in his eyes, I am worthy to call myself his instrument.

I feel happier and freer than I have in a long time, y’all. And I’ve got Jesus to thank, for giving me my wonderful mentor to teach me this. He spoke through her this week. She is one of my biggest supporters, and I’m so grateful to have her.

I pray you guys have joy and fun in your writing journeys as well. Know that I’m praying for you each day, and if you ever need encouragement, please let me know. I’m more than happy to support you.

Today’s diary entry: This week the majority voted for a diary entry from Temira about her deceased husband. This was definitely an interesting one to write. I hope you all enjoy it!

Before we start, I want to let you guys know that from now on, I will dedicate one Story Sunday per month to doing a special request diary entry. You know how on the form, you can make suggestions to me of other characters (besides Seth and Temira) whom you would like to see diary entries from? The first Sunday in each month, I will write a diary entry on a randomly chosen special request. I definitely don’t want your special requests to be left at the bottom of the pile – I want to write those too, because y’all have awesome suggestions! So next Sunday, I will have a special request diary entry for you guys. Therefore today’s Story Sunday Survey will be open only to special requests.

Alrighty, enjoy today’s diary entry!

Twenty and three years ago, I was married to Reuben’s father. I remember Naboth with love and with an aching heart.

I remember the days of the wedding just as if it had not been so long ago. As I approached the altar of my union, I knew how those poor rams feel when they are dragged by the horns to the altar of the priest. I was caught, and once I reached the end, I would be laid upon the altar and my throat opened.

As I stepped beside my betrothed, I was grateful my face was virginally hidden by the veil, so that no one might know my turmoil. I knew that this very night, my face would be virginally hidden no longer. How could my father do this to me? He smiled with pleasure from that moment until the evening, when I was led away to Naboth’s chamber.

I did not conceive that night, nor any night for three years. Rather, I was barren. My father was furious; my husband was disgraced.

I knew my husband was pitied by all. People said, “How good and patient he must be with his wife, not to divorce her when she produces for him nothing, not even a daughter.”

I was infuriated by such remarks, but I had no power to speak a word. Naboth locked me in the house for more than a week at a time, when he beat me so badly that my face was black with bruises. No one knew how he abused me, and even if they had, it would make no difference. People believe a man has the right to beat his wife if he chooses, if in any way she does not satisfy him. I alone knew that the reason he didn’t divorce me was not mercy – it was because of his obsession with beating and manipulating my body. I had never known a man could be more cruel than my father.

Father had known Naboth’s reputation for roughness and cruelty before we were betrothed. Everybody knew he also had a fondness for wine, which accounted for much of this. Father could not have cared less. Naboth’s father, a very wealthy man, asserted his son was in love with me, and would give me immeasurable riches if I married him.

Father had many such requests, for I was considered one of the most beautiful girls in Tarsus. However, I was already very old and not yet nubile. Father was angry; he said he could do nothing with my beauty if I could not bear sons. He would not admit it to anyone, but dismissed all requests with the claim that he and Mother wanted to keep me a while yet.

I was every day of seventeen years before the miracle happened. Father lost no time in arranging my betrothal to Naboth, who yearned for me. From the day we were betrothed, I hated him more than I imagined I could hate anyone. I didn’t know whether to hate Father for forcing me to marry him, or to throw myself into hating Naboth. And that was when I thought I hated Paul – not Paul then, but Saul. I hated Naboth more.

Finally he swore to divorce me, claiming I had one more chance at his patience. I would have experienced incredible relief at this promise of freedom, except to be cast away would mean Father would blame me. He and Mother would leave me in the streets. I didn’t struggle against Naboth’s defiling me again; then I made my last tearful plea to Jahveh. Please give me a child.

My prayers were answered.

Months later found me clasping Naboth’s hand, nursing him. He was dying of some terrible fever, the blood spilling from his lungs. And I began to love him, greatest miracle of all. I couldn’t forgive my husband or anything he had done, but I could forgive this sick and suffering child. I loved him as passionately as I formerly hated him.

The morning he died, he placed his shriveled hand on my abdomen, rounded with his child. For the first time in our three-year marriage, his touch was tender and gentle. He was weak; I laid my hand over his to comfort him. Thus we both felt the child rustle within me.

The father’s eyes filled with tears, and he called the mother good.

He charged her to care for their child.

That child was Reuben; and I named him thus, for this son removed my shame. I grieved for Naboth. He was my giver; I still love him because he gave me Reuben. At times, I must admit the world still does feel black, because he came to such a tragic end. If he had lived a little longer… if Paul had come while he was still living… perhaps my husband would have believed.

But when Reuben was placed in my arms, Paul was still far from us. And that was best. The Lord works in his own good time.

I hope you guys enjoyed this week’s diary entry! You can complete Story Sunday Survey #9 here. Remember that it is open only to special requests.


Discussion Question: From this diary entry, what kind of father do you perceive Paul and Temira’s father to have been?


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.

4 replies on “Story Sunday #9: He Was My Giver”

The Assyrians were nasty folks. I (foolishly) did some research on them a few years ago and found a number of disturbing practices they adhered to. One of which was skinning their victims and hanging those skins on the walls of the city/nation/town etc. they just conquered. Yeah. Not to give you nightmares or anything, but there’s your nauseating fact of the day.

Hey! You’re 2,239 closer to the end of your book. And I totally get having to research a disgusting topic for a book. I can’t remember the amount of times I’ve looked up infections, broken bones, side effects of poison, poisonous herbs, and what happens when someone’s hanged and what their injuries are if they survive (now that I look at the list, my writing seems really, really dark). Such is the life of a writer, I suppose. Investigating disturbing topics so we can write with accuracy. Our characters should be grateful for the things we endure to give them the best story possible.

Man. Poor Temira. You really wrote her agony and suffering well! In my opinion, good riddance that her husband died. To answer the question, I would say their father was a cold-hearted man who would sacrifice his children for personal gain.

Right? I was doing research on their Molech sacrifices and boy, talk about gruesome. So sad that the Israelites fell prey to that kind of unspeakable evil, and they knowingly followed such practices. Hezekiah was one of the very few kings who actually removed the high places. There were other good kings in the line of Judah, but even they allowed the high places to remain.

Thanks! Ah, yes, relatable! I’ve had to research tons of similar things for TAS, since Paul’s life was far from the easiest, and he had to deal with all the horrors of that day. It is one of a writer’s responsibilities. Preach! Our characters should be very grateful! 😂

You said it well – poor Temira. I’m glad you think I portrayed her emotion well. He certainly wasn’t a kind husband to her, stating it very mildly. In TAS, that’s actually the reason why Paul writes extensively in his epistles about how husbands should treat their wives with tenderness and honor. Hearing that Temira went through that alone really intensifies his guilt when he finally returns to her.

Your view of Paul and Temira’s father is also very accurate. He is the entire reason why the two of them, especially Paul, have such emotional trauma. Their father’s effect on them is evident throughout the entire novel. He is the reason Paul tends to have such a low view of himself and why he can never purge himself of guilt. On the positive side though, his father is also why he is so gentle and caring with Reuben and Seth.

Thanks for the insight! 🙂

LOOOVED the story, as always!!!!! I mean, I know I’m soo terribly behind, but not because I don’t wanna read your awesome stories. I’ve just been having my own share of struggles in life and writing, so I definitely understand how hard it was to admit that you’re not working on The Apostle’s Sister, but always know Imma cheering you on through all ups and downs!!!!!! *waving pom-poms* This is gonna sound like really, really crazy, but I’ve just been soo down in life since like January, but I think the reason God’s been letting me stay there (not just for the amazing lessons He’s been teaching me) is because of Heir to His Crown. That story has a lot of emotional depth to it, especially because Keenum is often border-lining depressed most days and I’ve noticed how I just write whatever I’m feeling that day. Then when I go back through and read it, I think man, this is just so raw and real and I know it wouldn’t have been that way had I not been going through what I’ve been going through.

Buuut that’s enough about me. I think your Hezikah (I think I spelled that wrong) short story sounds AMAZING!!!!! And ssshh, don’t tell anyone this but Temira is probably my favorite character in your novel!!!!! *cough* That may or may not be the reason why I keep voting for her. *innocent smile* XD Can’t wait for the next story!!!!! <333

Thank you! Aw, girl, I totally understand. Life can get tough and crazy busy, and it’s completely okay if we’ve got to skip a few things sometimes. I want this blog to be a place people can come to for fun, encouragement and relaxation, not a place where they feel they’re pressured to read every post.

That means a lot to me, especially since it is really hard to admit I haven’t been doing much writing lately. God really knows what’s best. I recently heard an amazing sermon where the pastor talked about how right now God is preparing us for “a moment” and the struggle is going to be more than worth it when we experience that moment. And he absolutely prepares us for that moment using our writing. Absolutely relate to you on that! When I’m feeling heavy or stressed after a long day I immediately think of my story, and I sit down and write a scene where Temira is dealing with something tough. It’s pretty comforting.

Thanks! LOL, that’s awesome! I’m glad you like Temira that much! I would have to say Paul is my favorite because without him, she wouldn’t have become who she did. But she definitely is the heroine of his story. Thank you for commenting! 💗

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