Woe to Beautiful Women

This really isn’t a subject that I’m personally familiar with!  The only time I’ve been called beautiful is the day I walked up the aisle  – bless my dear husband-to-be!  I’ve often been thankful that I wasn’t beautiful.  There are many pitfalls for the raving beauties.

We are a visual society, and if you don’t know what I mean, just go to your local mall!  The visual sensory can be attracted in all sorts of ways – my favorite is the huge chocolate covered strawberries!  My mouth waters just writing about it!

Whether you are referring to the Bible’s Queen Esther or Esther Ruth Raul from my book, both ladies were beautiful. Esther Ruth hated her looks because it caught attention that she did not wish for; however, as you can see by the following excerpts, it also caught the attention of three men in her life, and by doing so, her life was forever changed.

First, Gabriel Bachman, her high school sweetheart:

Gabriel Bachman was the smartest boy in the class ahead of hers. Bright and talented as well as strong and handsome, every girl’s dream was for Gabriel to notice her, but it was in Esther’s direction that he set his cap…

All semester he had looked for an opportunity to talk to this beautiful young lady. He wondered, at times, if he was only drawn to her good looks. Yet after many sleepless nights with thoughts only of Esther, he realized that she was not only beautiful and bright, but her heart was genuinely beautiful as well. He watched her devotion to her father and mother, her kind yet sparking exchange with her older brothers, and her gentle, respectful ways toward her elders. He often referred to her in his mind as his Queen Esther. Surely the captive maiden of long ago couldn’t have been any lovelier.”

(MacAvoy, Wanda. Twelve Smooth Stones (Kindle Locations 211,221-225). Kirkdale Press.)

Then there’s Kurt Gerstein, the SS officer at Auschwitz.

“As the doors of the train cars were opened, Kurt could see the usual distorted faces as they tried to adjust to the blinding sunlight and their new surroundings. The lying facades of the soldiers sickened him as they spoke condescending words of comfort to the people, assuring them that all would be well. His own mask of total nonchalance nearly slipped when he saw her— a young woman, perhaps sixteen to eighteen years old, and beautiful, in spite of her ragged appearance. She was being sheltered by three men, probably a father and two older brothers.

He stepped forward. “You there,” he commanded. He could see the startled look on her face and the horror on her father’s. If only he could tell the truth about what he was about to do. “The girl. Come! Stand here,” he ordered, his features masked in false indifference. Another wrenching goodbye.

Later, after they had read scripture together and prayed together, life takes a very different turn:

“Silence. He was still on his knees. As he gazed up at her, she felt flushed, unnerved. His face was just inches from her own. Something was passing between them, but Esther didn’t know what it was, or perhaps she didn’t want to admit what it was.

Kurt broke the spell by coming to his feet. Control yourself, man, he reprimanded himself. Walking to the closet, he busied himself there until he heard Esther leave the room, quietly closing the door of the bathroom behind her. He let out a slow sigh. If he had interpreted the look in her eyes correctly, life had just gotten a little more complicated.

Esther couldn’t seem to catch her breath. She was trembling. What is wrong with you? What are you thinking? First, you start reading about the Christian Messiah, and now your heart is falling for a Gentile! What would Gabriel think of you? Her face burned with shame and confusion. She must remember who she was— and who Kurt Gerstein was as well.

MacAvoy, Wanda. Twelve Smooth Stones (Kindle Locations 863-368,1381-1388). Kirkdale Press.

And then there’s Issac Hirch, an Israeli with a hurting heart:

“Isaac had driven her to the dock, helping with every detail. As they had stood waiting for clearance to board the ship, he had taken her hands and held them tightly. “Please, don’t forget us,” he had said, his dark clear eyes filled with anguish. It nearly broke her already torn heart. Was she making a mistake? Oh, why did life have to be so hard?

She had tried to explain all the reasons she could not stay. He had been so broken— so much so that he begged to come to America with her. “No, Isaac. You cannot leave all that you have worked for. It wouldn’t be right.”

“But I—” He had hesitated, weighing whether the words should be spoken. “I love you, Esther. Don’t you know that?”

“Isaac, you are breaking my heart.” She looked away, a sob catching in her throat. Gently, she reached up and pulled his head to her lips, kissing his forehead. He had moved with actions fueled by years of pent-up emotion— pulling her close, kissing her lips and cheeks and hair before wrapping her in his arms.

“How can can I let you go?” he sobbed huskily..

MacAvoy, Wanda. Twelve Smooth Stones (Kindle Locations 3726-3732). Kirkdale Press.

Ah, the difficulties of being beautiful!  Men falling in love with you at every turn!  Seriously though, I’ve seen heads turn and look at a beauty as she innocently passes by, and have listened to the frustration beautiful women experience at those times.

I am thankful that I am not beautiful; however, I long for the inner beauty that only comes by obedient surrender to Christ – allowing His Word to chisel away the the ugliness that comes so naturally! Esther give us a good example in that she truly was beautiful on the inside too, and when heads turn because someone just caught a glimpse of Christ in us – that’s a beauty worth beholding!

 

Advertisements

Twelve Smooth Stones – The Way of Truth

How do you write a story? Where do the thoughts come from?  I’m not sure how other writers answer that question, but for me, I believe with all my heart that the idea for Twelve Smooth Stones came from my heavenly Father, hence the dedication:

I dedicate this book to my gracious Heavenly Father, who gave me the idea in the first place and then led me every step of the way.

The idea was a combination of thoughts: what would a modern-day story of Esther look like?  What if an heirloom locket could be the means that would help to make the connection in a young Jewish girl’s mind from her heritage to the truth about Jesus Christ.

The following is the final excerpt from my book and was the spark that flamed into Twelve Smooth Stones.  It’s quite a long excerpt and perhaps some background is needed. Esther, taken from her home in Amsterdam and surviving Auschwitz, moved to Israel, hoping for a new life.  She is now in America and has long ago lost the beautiful locket that had been a family heirloom – the twelve gems each representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  She is presently living with the Porters, the family of a young Christian girl whom she befriended on the ship from Israel to New York City, and is working for the father in his hardware store.  She has a son, David:

The day was bright but cold, and everyone seemed to need paint. Esther was so tired by the end of the day that she decided that she would miss the Bible Club that afternoon. But when Gladys came through the door with Little David laughing and sharing some special secret, her feet suddenly didn’t feel so tired. Besides, all you do is sit and listen— Libby does all the work, she thought.

David was still giggling when Esther gave him a hug. “And what is so funny, young man?” she asked in mock sternness.

David saw the twinkle in her eye. “Aunt Gladys was just telling me about the time she—”

“Now hold on, partner,” Gladys said with a cowboy twang that had David in stitches. “Are you going to tell my secret?” David beamed. He adored Gladys almost as much as she adored him.

“Well …” he said as if considering his answer. Gladys pounced on him, tickling his sides. “You better not, or I’ll tickle you to death!” David was nearly rolling on the floor with laughter when Mr. Porter came over.

“What’s going on here?” He played the part of a disgruntled adult, but the sparkle in his eyes gave him away.

“My partner here was just about to tell this woman our secret,” Gladys said, pointing an accusing finger at the little traitor.

“Ah,” her father exclaimed, “a serious offence.” He looked down his nose at David and then bent down to talk to him face to face. “You know, we are nearing the time when secrets will be on every one’s mind.”

David looked curious. “What do you mean, Grandpa John?”

Mr. Porter leaned a little closer and whispered in the little boy’s ear, “Christmas.” David’s curiosity turned to confusion.

“What’s Christmas?” For all of Mr. Porter’s intuition, he completely forgot that David was Jewish. He looked up at Gladys, who was smirking at him, and Esther, whose eyebrows were lifted, and sputtered on. “Well son, Christmas is a very special time of the year when everyone gives presents.” He longed to tell the boy the whole story, but he knew it was not his place.

“But why?” came the innocent response. Gladys’ eyes softened, and Esther came to the poor man’s rescue.

“David, we will talk about that soon, but don’t you think we had better get to our Bible Club?” As if on cue, Libby came sweeping into the building, flannel board in tow. The usual crowd of youngsters began to arrive with a couple of new faces that Libby introduced as children from her Sunday school class. For some reason, the statement tugged on Esther’s heart, and she pictured Little David sitting among the men at the synagogue looking totally lost.

After the usual attendance, Libby flew into the memory verse with her usual flair. “Could one of you older boys find Galatians 4:4 and read it for me?” Several of the students furiously looked into their Bibles to be the first one to find it. A tall, red haired boy’s hand shot up in the air. “Danny, you read it, please.”

The boy cleared his throat and read with a heavy brogue accent. “ ‘ But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.’  ” He looked up and smiled. Libby obviously received much affection from these children— they adored her.

“Thank you, Danny. Now we have been learning a lot about the Old Testament, but today we are going to look at the New Testament. In fact, we are going to talk about heaven, and I have something very special I want to show you.” The excitement buzzed around the room. Libby often used objects to help the students have a visual picture to remember the lesson.

She went on to explain the verse, stating that all the Old Testament pointed to the time when God would send His Son to earth, made of a woman. “Who can tell me what holiday we celebrate that speaks of this wonderful event?”

Hands shot up, and one girl answered excitedly, “Christmas!” David looked back at his mother with wonder, his face shining. Esther would never forget the way that Libby spoke of the coming of the Messiah that day. She made everything so plain that for the first time, Esther began to understand.

“God told us exactly when, where, how, and why He sent us His Son.” Using each adverb as an outline, Libby swiftly moved through many of the Old Testament verses that they had studied, and then read verses from the New Testament where they had been fulfilled. “Can anyone tell my why God sent Jesus?”

Again, hands were raised, and another girl answered, “So we could go to heaven.”

Libby smiled. “Yes, Patricia. And that’s what we will be talking about in the next few weeks.” Her eyes were shining, and the children knew it was time for her surprise object. “Do you remember the beautiful stones that God used to decorate Aaron’s robe?” Heads nodded.The students had especially enjoyed the lessons about Moses, the tabernacle, and the high priest’s garments. Libby turned to Revelation.

“In the very last book of the Bible, God gives us a description of heaven. It also has twelve of something— twelve foundations— and they are not made out of just ordinary, ugly cinder blocks like our houses are here. They are made of beautiful gems, just like Aaron’s robe— jasper, sapphire, emeralds, and topaz, just to name a few. God used every color imaginable to make these foundations.” Her excitement swelled as she spoke of her favorite topic.

“Just imagine! Each foundation will sparkle and shine in twelve glorious colors. And God used pearls to make the gates and gold— pure gold for the streets. God wants us all to be in heaven with Him forever. Don’t ever forget that.” Her eyes twinkled as she turned around to take something from her bag. She put it into her hands so that no one could see it. “Can you guess what is in my hands?”

Several gave answers, but each time her reply was, “No.” Libby’s face grew serious, even wistful. “Someone very special gave this to me, and every time I see it, it makes me think of heaven— partly because of the twelve smooth stones, but mostly because the one who gave it to me is there right now.” She opened her hand and held out a locket with deep etchings and twelve colorful stones around its oval shape. It was a beautiful locket— it was Esther’s locket.

MacAvoy, Wanda. Twelve Smooth Stones (Kindle Locations 4911-4912). Kirkdale Press.

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.

You Jew!

IMG_3940“You Jew,” the one teen said.

“Don’t say that. You know what Mrs. B said.”

The conversation had me curious.  What did Mrs. B say to her students?  I happened to be substitute teaching at our local public high school one day when I overheard this conversation.  So I asked: what did Mrs. B say?  I was told that the students were not to call each other ‘Jew.’  My next response was, “Why would you call anyone a Jew?”

“Because it’s a bad name,” came the answer.  Since then, I have taken any opportunity that comes my way to ask students what they know about these people called Jews; and I’ve been shocked to find out that they know very little, AND what they do know is all negative!

One student told me that Jews were poor people, sort of like hobos.  Another said that they were bad people!  Where are they learning this?

As a fifth grade chorus sang a beautiful song in Hebrew, I again started to question them.  As I mentioned the Holocaust, I was shocked to find out that only one girl knew anything about it!  When I asked why people would want to kill the Jews, one girl raised her hand and said, “My Dad said it’s because they killed someone.”  As I continued to question her, she wouldn’t say who they killed; and unfortunately, it wasn’t until I was thrashing it out in my mind on the way home that I realized that she was probably referring to Jesus, but was afraid to say it!

As a child, I was also negative against the Jewish people.  Why?  Because I was told that they killed Jesus.  Did they?  No, my friend – each of us drove those nails into His hands because of our sin.  Yes, the Jewish nation rejected Jesus and, for the most part, are still rejecting Him; but we cannot blame them for Jesus’ crucifixion.

As Twelve Smooth Stones began to take shape, I realized how much I love the Jewish people.  My heart aches for them and their blinded eyes.  Perhaps my greatest desire for Twelve Smooth Stones is that someone, Jewish or Gentile, will read it and relate to Esther’s struggle to find the truth and find it themselves.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, I’d be honored to have you read it and share your thoughts. You will find it at Kirkdale Press.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you freeJohn 8:32 

Twelve Smooth Stones to be Published March 20!

twelvesmoothstones-1200x1600When I began this journey, everyone said it would take about two years to publish a book and they were right! Now the day is here and all I feel is numb!  Here’s the info:

You can visit www.kirkdalepress.com and find the book and an author bio there, or go directly to http://vyrso.com/product/30540/twelve-smooth-stones.  This is a pre-order – the book will be out on the twentieth of this month!

Thank you for your patience and support.  May you be more than just entertained by Esther’s story; may it encourage your walk with the same awesome God that directed her every step of the way, and to God be the glory!

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation…” Isaiah 61:10

Hope Deferred

 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.

Proverb 13:12

When I got the email that the publication of Twelve Smooth Stones was pushed back to March, I experienced this verse first hand.  It seemed like I had waited forever for the August date and March was not even on my radar!

They had told me at that time that editing would start in late fall, and I anxiously waited to hear from them again, all the time thinking that instead I would receive a “dear John” letter!

Well, the editing has begun – hence the slow-down in blogs!  Sorry about that, but the dead line is just around the corner for the first editing.  How exciting!

Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive in this book project.  I must say that I am SO excited.  For so long, it just seemed like a dream, but now it’s a reality.

And isn’t that just how we will feel when we see our Lord in the air?  He will be there – really be there, after centuries of hoping and looking and waiting!  What a glorious day that will be!

Keep looking up!

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Dealing with Disappointment (Part Two)

 Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.”  Proverbs 13:12

You may have noticed that the countdown calendar is not on my blog page any more.  That’s because I just heard from my publisher that the date of publication has been moved back to March 2013.  That is very discouraging! FYI:

  • Feb 2011 – finished Twelve Smooth Stones
  • Mar 2011 – submitted the book proposal to Christian Manuscript Submissions.com
  • Jun 2011 – contacted by Kirkdale press
  • Oct 2011 – signed a contract with them
  • Mar 2012 – received the August publication date

Discouragement 101!  Hope has truly been deferred, and I apologize to you dear folks who seemed just as excited about the book’s publication as I was!

So what were my reactions:

  1. Unbelief – How could this be?
  2. Anger – How can they do this to me?
  3. Discouragement – Why am I even doing this?
  4. Doubt – Who do I think I am anyway – I’m not an author!
  5. Blame – Why did you do this, Lord?
  6. Refocus –

Why did God do this?  Do I know?  No.  Do I need to know? No.  I just need to take this opportunity to build my trust in Him.  He is my heavenly Father.  He GAVE me the book, so what He chooses to do with it is His prerogative, not mine.  Can you imagine a servant to the king, or an aid to the president telling him what to do?!  I get a better understanding of Nehemiah’s situation when he stood before the king, not hiding his discouragement.  His sad countenance caught the king’s attention and the Lord used it for good; but how quickly we jump over the phrase: “…Then I was very sore afraid,” (Nehemiah 2:2)

So what do I do?  Do I write a scathing letter to the publisher?  I may ask some questions, but the way I approach them must be in line with my faith in God.  His character must be seen in me, no matter the circumstances!

“…but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life”  This phrase is mentioned eleven times in the Bible: three times in Genesis, four times in Proverbs and Revelation.  It makes a fascinating study; however, I’ll just share Matthew Henry’s comments:

Nothing is more grateful than to enjoy that, at last, which we have long wished and waited for: When the desire does come it puts men into a sort of paradise, a garden of pleasure, for it is a tree of life. It will aggravate the eternal misery of the wicked that their hopes will be frustrated; and it will make the happiness of heaven the more welcome to the saints that it is what they have earnestly longed for as the crown of their hopes.

This has been a great lesson for me in trusting God.  I hope it is a help to you as well.

FreeDigitalPhotos.net