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.