Twelve Smooth Stones – a modern-day Esther story

THUMBNAIL_IMAGELast night was my first speaking engagement for Twelve Smooth Stones at our local library.  Several commented that after hearing what I said, it made them want to read my book! So… I thought I’d try to tantalize some of you as well!

I’d like to give you three different perspectives about the book; but first, just a little background:

Twelve Smooth Stones is a modern–day Esther story.  Esther Ruth Raul faces some of the same trials that Esther of the Bible had to face:  She’s brutally taken from her home, and because of her beauty, placed in a situation she would not choose.  But God is leading and she comes to realize that she too is being “brought to the kingdom for such a time as this.”

Excerpt from Twelve Smooth Stones, Chapter Four:

               Monday morning, August 14th, dawned dreary. The sun would not shine today. Esther looked out her window as the trees dripped from the evening’s thunderstorm. The air felt fresh and clean, and the colors in Mother’s garden glistened vibrantly even without the sun. But in spite of all this, there was heaviness in the air. All seemed strangely quiet.

               Esther would often look back and wonder if nature had a premonition about the day’s agenda. Even the birds were not singing their usual morning canticle of praise to their Creator. She dressed quickly, putting the degrading yellow star on her sleeve. Today it seemed to mock her, as if to say, “Here I am, come and kill me!” Last, as always, the locket was placed around her neck and tucked underneath her blouse. As she descended the stairs, the sweet aroma of Mother’s morning scones tantalized her stomach. She was hungry.

                When everyone was assembled, Father bowed his head for prayer, and Mother poured the rich brown coffee. Scones and coffee were Esther’s favorite. It was a usual morning— the usual amount of banter, the usual clinking of silver and china, the usual sweet fellowship, the usual tasty morsels. All that was missing were the beautiful splashes of color that would adorn their table as the sun’s rays washed in through the stained glass window. Esther instinctively looked up at the window to admire its glowing translucent colors when suddenly, every shred of normalcy was shattered by a rock crashing through the colored glass. Mother screamed.

                “What—” was all Father had time to say before the pounding of the front door brought him to his feet. Ad and Daan were close behind their father as he went to the door. The sense of foreboding seemed to blanket Esther’s world. They were here— shouting and pushing into their privacy, their sweet, tranquil home. At first she thought that they only wanted the men, but two soldiers were heading for her and Mother, shouting, pushing, and cursing.

                Before she knew what was happening, Esther was outside on the front sidewalk, and Mother was behind her. Her precious father and brothers could only watch as their women were herded like cattle out into the street. It was then that she heard her mother’s voice speak such angry forbidden words.

                “How dare you come into our home like this?” her mother shrieked. “Who do you think you are? You are no better than us! In fact, you are less than the lowest of God’s creation. Snakes! All of you— snakes! Barbarians! Murderers!”

               As if signaled by the last insult, with half a sneer and half an air of total indifference, the soldier standing behind her pulled his revolver from its holster and shot her in the back. Mother seemed to stand there for a moment— frozen in time and forever etched in Esther’s memory— before she crumpled into a heap on the front steps.

               The soldier simply stepped over her and pushed Esther ahead. “No!” Esther screamed, but Father was there pulling her away to join what seemed to be the entire neighborhood. They all looked shocked, stunned beyond comprehension. What could they do? Nothing but survive…

Twelve Smooth Stones  is a love story as well as an historical fiction; but mostly, it’s a quest for the truth!  Next blog: Love story!!! 🙂

If you’re interested, you can purchase my book at:Create Space, or on Amazon.

“We have liftoff, Houston!”

When I think about all the hours and effort that would go into space exploration, I feel as though my effort to get Twelve Smooth Stones out there is minuscule; nevertheless, we finally have a date!  Thank you for all of your encouragement and support.  Am I excited?  YES!

I will be posting character sketches including clips from Twelve Smooth Stones over the next few months just to help you to feel like part of the family!  I hope you enjoy them AND they pique your interest. Again, many thanks for all your support.  I wish I knew who you all are, but unless you write a quick note on the blog or email, I have no clue.  I would love to hear from all of you, so if you get a moment, send a comment!

Esther Ruth Raul – main character

Sixteen-year-old Esther and her family live in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.  The year is 1944, and they have cautiously lived and helplessly watched as the long arm of Nazi tyranny reaches into their community.  Now, it has come to their front door.      

    Monday morning, August 14th dawned dreary.  The sun would not shine today! Esther looked out her window as the trees dripped from the evening’s thunderstorm.  The air felt fresh and clean and the colors in mother’s garden glistened vibrantly even without the sun.  But in spite of all this, there was heaviness in the air.  All seemed strangely quiet.  Esther would often look back and wonder if nature had a premonition about the day’s agenda.  Even the birds were not singing their usual morning canticle of praise to their Creator.  She dressed quickly putting the degrading yellow star on her sleeve.  Today it seemed to mock her, as if to say,” Here I am, come and kill me!”  Last as always, the locket was placed around her neck and tucked underneath her blouse.

            As she descended the stairs the sweet aroma of Mother’s morning scones tantalized her stomach!  She was hungry!  When everyone was assembled, Father bowed his head for prayer and Mother poured the rich brown coffee.  Scones and coffee – her favorite!  It was a usual morning, the usual amount of banter, the usual clinking of silver and china, the usual sweet fellowship, the usual tasty morsels.  All that was missing was the beautiful splashes of color which would adorn their table as the sun’s rays washed in through the stained glass window.  Esther instinctively looked up at the window to admire its glowing translucent colors when every shred of normalcy was shattered by a rock crashing through the colored glass. Mother screamed.  “What …,” was all Father had time to say before the pounding of the front door brought him to his feet.  Ad and Daan were close behind their father as he went to the door.  The sense of foreboding seemed to blanket Esther’s world.  They were here – shouting and pushing into their privacy – their sweet, tranquil home.  At first she thought that they only wanted the men, but two soldiers were heading for her and Mother, shouting, pushing, and cursing.  Before she knew what was happening, Esther was outside on the front sidewalk and Mother was behind her.  Her precious father and brothers could only watch as their women were herded like cattle out into the street.  It was then that she heard her mother’s voice – such angry forbidden words!

“Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him?

Who will say unto him, What doest thou?”

Job 9:12

“…for such a time as this”

It is 1843.  A weary mother sits in her one room log cabin in the back woods of Virginia.  She attends church when the itinerate preacher comes to her “neck of the woods.”  She works hard to keep her little cabin clean, her children fed and her husband  happy.  At times she wonders what life is all about.

Germany, 1932: a grandmother looks back over her life.  She has worshiped God every Sunday.  Her children would call her blessed.  She scrubs the floors, irons the shirts, and plants a garden.  Much of what she does today, she does every day, and she wonders what life is all about.

It is 226 AD.  A young father looks anxiously at his family as the soldiers march through their little town.  They are Christians.  They have seen others persecuted for their beliefs, but God has spared him.  He works hard to keep them fed at the only job he knows to do.  He wonders what life is all about.

She sits at the computer.  She has raised her children for the Lord.  She serves God in her church and teaches a Bible study to teens.  She is busy for the Lord, but sometimes she wonders what life is all about.  I am that woman.

Do you ask the same question that has echoed down through the ages:  What is life all about?  I remember walking up the stairwell EVERY day in high school with a dear friend.  She would turn to me and ask, “Hummski (that was the polish version of Hummel), what are we doing here?”  I would ask her the same question.

Was this Esther’s question as she was taken from her home to a foreign land to live with a cousin, only to be taken again from home and entered into the king’s contest for a new queen?  What is the answer to that age-old question: what is  life?

Our chapter of heroes will help us a bit: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”  (Heb. 11:13)  The answer is twofold:

  1. Remember that we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”  We often sing that last stanza of Amazing Grace, but do we stop to think about the meaning of those words?

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun;

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, than we first begun.

As a born-again child of God, this life is just the practice session for eternity!  Keeping that in mind helps us to live our lives in step with God!  What we accomplish here WILL be rewarded there.  We will never be disappointed in eternity for living for Jesus. (F O C U S 🙂 )

2. …for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14)  These were the encouraging and rebuking words of Moredcai to Esther as she lived in the safety of the King’s palace while a death sentence hung over all her people, the Jewish nation.  Because of her actions, the nation was spared.

What is God’s mission for you?  He has something for each of us to accomplish.  Among the days of routine and sometimes drudgery, there is a task that God has for each of us.  Perhaps it’s just a smile to a neighbor,  a soft answer to the telemarketer, or a sweet spirit in our homes; however small or great the task, live in the light of doing “all for the glory of God.”

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do,

do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor. 10:31