From the Shadows – Conclusion

If you haven’t read part 1 of this story, click here to catch up!

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When I reach the well, a stranger is sitting on the edge, surrounded by a haze of dust and heat. He says he’s thirsty, asks me for a drink. I narrow my eyes with sun and suspicion, wondering what he really wants from me.

But thirst? I understand thirst. Thirst is what pulls me out of hiding every day.

Continue reading “From the Shadows – Conclusion”

From the Shadows – Part 1

Hello! It’s been a wee while since I’ve posted on here, and it’s been an even longer while since I’ve given you anything but poetry .I thought I would shake that up a bit today. 😀 Not that poetry is bad, but it’s good to have a variety once in a while, hey?

Continue reading “From the Shadows – Part 1”

Book Review – The Heart Changer

Greetings and salutations! I’m super excited for today’s blog post, as I’m going to be reviewing a very hot off the press book for y’all! Like so hot off the press it literally came out yesterday… 😀 (For those wondering, I’ll share my last NaPoWriMo post next week). So let’s get onto the review…!

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First, some stats….

Number of Pages: 112

Published in: April, 2019

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction

Back Cover Blurb: 

Can an Israelite captive, wrenched from all she loves, serve the very man who destroyed her village?

Miriam is asked to do the impossible: serve the wife of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Clinging to treasured memories of home and faith, Miriam faces captivity with worry and bitterness. Little does she know the Heart Changer is wooing and preparing her for a greater mission—far beyond what she could imagine.

This middle-grade historical novel reflects the heartache and angst of a young refugee in a foreign land where all hope seems lost.

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So, what did I think of The Heart Changer…….. 

I really liked it! 

Now obviously I’m not a middle grade reader, but I still do have a fondness for middle grade books (as shown here :D). Throw in the fact that I’m a huge historical fiction fan, plus the fact that I also really enjoy Biblical fiction- and bam! You potentially have a winning book on your hands! And this was one such book… 

Mrs Del Boccio’s writing style is very accessible, but also vivid and just well put together. It is obvious that she has put a lot of time and effort in to researching the history and culture behind this story. As a huge lover of history, I really appreciate this, as it’s always rewarding to read books that actually feel (and are!) historically accurate! 😀 The setting of the story was very vivid, and as the reader, I could really picture the busy Syrian cities and harsh lands that Miriam travelled through. The different settings that she found herself in throughout the story were well written and it was easy to step into her story and see things through her eyes. 

_The day had started with so much hope. Now despair covered her like a heavy cloak, hiding any chance of redemption._ - Chapter 1, The Heart Changer (1)

I also really appreciated how Mrs Del Boccio tackled the story… Obviously this is based on an actual Biblical account, and there are certain facts you have to deal with. It’s not exactly an easy story to retell for MG readers… I mean a girl is captured and exiled from her home, alone, not knowing if any of her family is alive, then forced to serve a pagan family, the father of which then deals with a horrible skin disease… There is a lot of potential red flags in the story, but Mrs Del Boccio deals with them in a gracious and thoughtful manner. I thought that the story content was extremely well done for a MG audience – real enough for them to feel the reality of the pain and suffering, but at the same time not too overwhelming for their age. I also thought that the whole theme of a refugees  is a very appropriate one in this day and age where refugees are such a hot topic… I really found it interesting to look at this topic through this Biblical story in a new light. 

I also found all the underlying themes woven throughout the story very encouraging… There is a lot of talk about bitterness, anger and sorrow, and how it can affect your heart. In Miriam’s case, she went through a long process to deal with all the emotions that were brought up through her capture… It is emphasized that in the end the only thing that can make the true change in someone’s heart is God. He is the ultimate and only true Heart Changer, and his work is very needed in everyone’s heart. I really appreciated the gentle, but persistent way that Mrs Del Boccio underlined this fact. I think that MG readers can really benefit from learning these important truths through this story… That’s one of the reasons I love fiction so much! You can learn so many integral life lessons through the medium of story… After all, story is so very powerful…

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All in all, I really enjoyed this book! It’s a meaningful story for all ages, with a style that I think will appeal very well to MG readers.  So if you know any people that would appreciate a MG historical fiction book – point them to The Heart Changer! And make sure to order your copy soon. 😉 You can find it on Amazon here.

Make sure to check out The Heart Changer book trailer here.

And if you want to learn more about the book in general and Mrs Del Boccio’s other writings definitely check out her website.

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So that wraps up today’s blog post! I hope you enjoyed the review! 🙂

Let’s chat in the comments! Have you ever come across any MG Biblical/Historical fiction before? Are you planning to read The Heart Changer?

A Chosen Life – Finale!

Hello! I’m very excited because today is finally the day that I get to share with you all the finale of my short story! It’s been a long time in coming – 5 weeks in fact – and I hope you haven’t become too impatient! Hopefully this last bit will live up to all your expectations. 😉 If you haven’t read part 4, you can do so here. Now, without further ado, may I introduce you to… the finale of A Chosen Life!

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The next moment, Elah began to push. In the time it took for me to draw a handful of breaths, the child’s small and slippery body slipped out into the silent world, into my waiting hands. I drew it up onto a piece of cloth I had waiting in my lap and began to rub it vigorously. It was small and silent, eyes crinkled shut, body covered in blood. The silence grew louder, deafening our waiting ears.

Oh God grant mercy.

Then, a mewling cry erupted from its tiny mouth. Then another. And another.

“Thank God!” Elah gave a sound between a laugh and a sob and reached out her hands for her long-awaited child. I handed the naked baby to her, and watched as she drew it close to her, tears running down her cheeks. “The LORD has seen, and he has provided.” Aram said softly, bending over his wife and child.

“And what exactly has he provided?” Puah asked with a nearly undistinguishable note of worry in her voice. She looked at me, fresh fear in her eyes. I shook my head, sending her a reassuring look.

“Oh!” Elah’s voice broke as she peeked between the baby’s legs. “Oh praise the LORD, he has given us a son!” Fresh tears rolled down her face as she clasped her son close to her.

The phrase rolled around my head

Praise the LORD!

A son!

The words I had dreaded so deeply as I had stood on the threshold of this house not long ago now held no fear in them – only mercy and peace. My heart was no longer thudding in fear of what man could do to me – the fear of God was greater.

Puah and I worked quickly then, delivering the afterbirth, cleaning the child and mother, settling them into the bed. As I began to pack my satchel, Puah cornered me and whispered “Shiphrah, it is a boy.”

“Yes…” I responded, hands busy retying bunches of herbs.

“Remember the decree?”

“Yes…”

“Shiphrah, our lives are at risk.” Her normally jovial face was crinkled with concern.

“Have no fear, Puah. We have the God of Israel on our side. We are to bring life, not death. And I am confident in my decision.” My whisper was soft but steady.

“Very well then.” Puah bowed her head in assent. “I shall submit to your decision. Let what will, come to pass.”

I turned back to Elah who was reclining on the bed, her son suckling at her breast. Though she was limp with exhaustion, her face was shining with a joy unspeakable. A lump grew in my throat at the sight. The barren woman redeemed. The mercy of the LORD was truly great.

“I give you many thanks, Shiphrah.” Elah said softly, her eyes shining. “And you too, Puah.”

“You have granted mercy upon my household,” added Aram, tearing his gaze from his tiny son to look at us. “We are deeply grateful.”

“Thank the LORD, the God that we all serve,” I responded. “It is he who has granted mercy this night. To him belongs all praise.”

“Yes, to him belongs the praise…” echoed Elah, her gaze dropping down to her son.

Peace flooded the room, warming my heart, and filling my gaze with unshed tears.

I had chosen life.

Perhaps at the risk of my own…

But I had chosen the right.

And I knew my life would never be the same again.

“So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.” – Exodus 1: 20-21

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Aaaand, that’s it!! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this short story as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you! 🙂

Let’s chat! How did you like this finale of the story? Have you enjoyed reading my take on Shiphrah’s story? What other Biblical accounts would you love for me to put a fictional spin on? Let me know in the comments below. 😉

 

A Chosen Life – Part 4

Greetings, and happy February to you all! My weekend so far has been full of snow… A ‘snow bomb’ hit the area where I live on Thursday evening, and dumped about 7 inches on us. Since then we’ve been revelling in this rather unusual cold white stuff. Long snowy walks, igloo-making, sledding and lots of fun and laughter have comprised the past 48 hours. It’s been such a lovely way to start off the new month!

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I captured this photo in a field at sunset yesterday after it finally stopped snowing… Such beauty!

Anyways, let’s move on from cold and snowy England back to our story set in the black of an ancient Egyptian night… If you haven’t read part 3 of A Chosen Life, you can do so here. Now onto part 4! 

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A scream tore through the air, ripping me from my memories.

Elah was writhing in the grasp of Puah and Aram, her body taut with pain. “Elah, listen,” I spoke forcefully. “Listen to me.” She gasped in distress and then went limp as the pain passed. “Elah, look at me.” She looked down at me, pain and weariness spilling from her eyes. She struggled to catch her breath, tears pooling in her dark eyes. “Elah, when the next pain comes, push. Push with all you have. You must deliver this child. Don’t scream, just push.”

She nodded weakly in assent. I had seen the look in her eyes in others before. It was a look of ultimate weariness, of growing despair, of extreme pain. I had seen it in hundreds of other women before. I had felt it in myself, years before. But I knew it was a sign that the end was near – when a woman looked like that, the child was near to drawing its first breath.

Watching her breathe raggedly, I felt a sudden kinship to this woman. We were so different – she Hebrew, I Egyptian. Our people were divided – one the slave, the other the conqueror. And yet, we were so alike… We worshipped the same God. And we both had lived through the immeasurable pain of an empty womb.

I had too failed to produce a living child. It was a nightmarish stigma – for a woman to fail to conceive and bring to fruit a child was a failure to fully live. This was my reality. This was her reality.

In my pain, I had chosen to become a midwife – chosen to replace bringing my own children into the world with the responsibility of bringing hundreds of other children into the world. But this woman…

This was her reality.

The pain.

The fear and hope mingled with tears.

The endless waiting.

The sorrow hidden by darkness.

A final chance.

And was I to crush all hope?

Desires waged war in my heart as I waited, the life of a child resting in my hands. If I feared the king, I would obey him. If I feared the God I followed, I would obey him. Oh Great God, grant me wisdom!

The next pain wracked the woman’s body, and she pushed as I mechanically instructed her. Looking up from my squatting position I saw the three faces above me – Aram’s tight with worry, Elah’s lined with pain, and Puah’s all calm as she murmured encouragement to Elah. I felt again for the child, and this time I brushed its head with my fingertips.

“Now, Elah! Push!”

The woman bore down again, channelling her pain into a strength greater than one would’ve supposed she could give, given her fatigue. I had seen it time and time again – the incredible pain, the despair, the exhaustion, followed by a leonine effort to bring the awaited child into the world. It never ceased to amaze me. Where did such strength come from?

The fear almost choked me. The moment of reckoning was nearly here. If this child was a son… A son. How could I kill any child, much less the only child of a barren woman? The decision I faced overwhelmed me, and my brain raced in circles.

Kill the sons, spare the daughters.

I have had three others, all born dead…

Oh God, grant me wisdom.

The people of Israel are too many and too mighty.

I beg of you, grant mercy upon my household.

Is this decree clear, midwives of Egypt?

I beseech you to grant me wisdom!

Suddenly the child’s head bulged into my hands. Elah gasped in pain and her body shook with a violent trembling. “Oh God!” She whispered. “Grant mercy!” In that moment, a life suspended in my hands, my heart echoed her prayer.

Oh God, grant mercy.

And then… peace.

In the brief moments before the child’s body was delivered, the room was silent. All the fear passed from me, leaving me feeling strangely light. It was as if a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders. In that instant I knew that the mercy of the God I followed was greater than any fear that the king could instil in me.

I knew what I was here for. To grant life.

I feared the God of Goshen, the God of the people of Israel. The fear of the King’s wrath was nothing compared to the reverence I held towards the God of the Hebrews. I was at peace.

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Come back next week for the finale of A Chosen Life

Let’s chat in the comments: How have you enjoyed the story so far? Do you think Shiphrah has come to the right decision? Do you think the baby will be alright?