Winning by Default

Recently, I entered a story contest. I had never entered anything like that before and hoped my work would be good enough to raise an eyebrow or two. I even imagined the judges saying to each other as they passed my work along, “Not bad...this shows potential.” I must admit that my fantasies soared so high that I envisioned them reading the other entries, returning to mine and smiling as they proclaimed, “This is the obvious winner!”

I am certain that all who entered their work were as anxious as I was to discover who had won. The day before the committee was to announce the winner; I discovered that only one entry could win since among the two dozen or more entries only one story had been entered. Being an author, I was certain the winning story was mine because I knew what constituted a story. Furthermore, disqualification of my work was not an option, so I told myself that I had won. “Hurray,” you might say. “Good job!”

However, the idea of winning by default crept in. Now you might wonder why I did this to myself and so did I. Then I remembered the Jewish rabbis attitude towards people, God, and life. These wise men understood how we view the world and they discovered the use of the word adequate covered everything we would experience from cradle to casket. They taught us that when you are born – you are adequate. When you’re a Bar or Bat Mitzvah – your adequate. When you marry – you are adequate. When you graduate college – you are adequate. When you become a Roads Scholar, a doctor, a humanitarian, invent a means of illuminating nuclear waste, solve the problems of the world, and unify the solar system – you are adequate. In Judaism, one can never be more than adequate because according the rabbis we would be elevating ourselves to a position, which belongs to God alone.

This philosophy is valid until we apply it to God incarnate, Yeshua HaMashiach...Christ. In Him, we see the deity of the Godhead and all the humanity of man. Since he called us to be His and walk in a manner worthy of Him, I found myself wondering what He would think of wining or to be more specific, what would He thing about winning by default.

I sought Him, turned to Isaiah 55:8, and read, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

I ponder these words, thought about the apostle Paul, and realized that he gave up everything. I assumed that he had wanted the rabbis to consider him adequate. Yet when Messiah called, he gave his desires no credence – none at all. And we are asked to do likewise.

Now I understand that winning by default or not winning has no value whatsoever unless I am trying to garner applause from men. If that is where my focus is, I will always loose in the end because the things of this world will perish. Only when I strive towards the goal, which is Messiah himself, do I win for then I remember that in Him, I am more than a conqueror!
Category: 0 comments

Alberteen Lambert – A Short Term Missionary Remembers Books that Feed Her Soul

A book I remember from college days, age 18 or 19, was "Letters from Prison" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran Pastor and my hero, who was imprisoned because he dared to stand up to Hitler's blatant evil regime and was willing to die rather than just go along with the program, play it safe and save his life. I will never forget the statement he made from his "Few Articles of Faith on the sovereignty of God in History: "I believe that even our errors and mistakes are turned to good account. It is no harder for God to cope with them than with what we imagine to be our good deeds. (This one got my attention even back then, and I still like to remember it. I believe that God is not just timeless fate, but that He waits upon and answers sincere prayer and responsible action." Wow, we need more men like that!

In Angola, where I was a short term missionary for the Methodist Church (about age 21) I had been given "Letters to Young Churches" by J.B. Phillips, a translation of the New Testament Epistles into "the English of today" which I devoured! It was so apropos to my ministry, seeming to be the answer to every question that came to mind. It is "dog-eared" and falling apart, but I often go back to this book even now to reread what I underlined and wrote in the back and margins.

Here is my list of books that have fed my soul in this last year at age 77, drawn me closer to God, and helped me hear His voice in a new way. They are, 1) Abiding in Christ by Andrew Murray, led to; 2) Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray; 3) Into the Depths of God by Calvin Miller; 4) The Power of Prayer and Fasting by Ronnie W. Floyd. As you can see, God is showing me so many things! I am still very much a "student" of what He has to teach me. Because of that, these books seemed to fall into my lap.
Category: 0 comments

Joyce Lee – Three Books that Mattered

Paula’s Comment - One of the blessings of being in ministry is meeting and being befriended by other servants of the Lord. Ron and I agree that one of our favorite Pastors is John Lee. He leads a small church but has a huge heart as does his family and parishioners. Because of this, I wasn’t surprised when his daughter, Joyce wrote a response to my question. I was amazed by how quickly she responded since her days are filled. Furthermore, the detailed descriptions of each book, and its meaning to her, there sequential place in her life and how they helped her become a daughter any father would be proud to call their own reminded me once more that books can challenge, inform and encourage us but only Messiah can mold us into what He wants us to become.

Joyce's Books...

I read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom when I was fourteen years old. This book gave me a real life example of those who stand up for what is right and encouraged my faith in God by hearing about the many miraculous ways God was faithful to Corrie and her sister.

At twenty nine I read Crazy Love by Francis Chan which helped me see the importance of "loving Jesus" and not only "knowing Him intellectually." It challenged me to think about using finances and time differently. It vividly illustrated that I live my life as an "extra" in the movie where God is the "main character.”

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper, which I read at thirty, coupled with Crazy Love that I read the year before helped me live differently in light of the fact that our lives are short. These books helped me see how to live a practical life with eternity in mind and helped me understand what "glorifying God' in all we do, actually means.

Joyce, thank you for sharing about the books that you found significant and why…
Since we know that, what we are reflects everything we have experienced it is important that we treat reading as we would nutrition. Nutrition for the mind, head and heart is good but nutrition, which yields a bountiful harvest for Messiah, is best. So next time you are looking for a good book to read ask Him and chose what is best which in my opinion, no matter the genre, will always be something that upholds what God values or teach us a Godly lesson.
Category: 0 comments

Melanie Vliet - At fifteen, I read my best friend's copy of Christy

Although I said, I would post your book responses next week my friend Melanie sent me hers today. When I read what she wrote, I felt that her words would touch your heart as they did mine...So I've posted it today since there’s no sense in delaying this blessing.


That's an easy one. At fifteen, I read my best friend's copy of Christy, by Catherine Marshall. This lovely piece of fiction was used by God to motivate me to read the Bible, as Christy's reading of the Bible in the novel was a new and radical concept to me and caused me to wonder what the Bible actually said.

As a result, I was carrying a Bible with me when I took my first college class in the summer between tenth and eleventh grades. A Christian classmate noticed my (actually my best friend's) Bible and asked if I was a Christian. I told her that I didn't know, as I was Jewish but believed in Jesus. She told me that I was a Christian and persuaded me to attend her church's youth Bible study.

At the study, I realized how little I knew in comparison with the others, who had spent their lives in church. I began attending a different Bible study or church service every day of the week in my passion to learn all I could about my faith and catch up with the others. Accordingly, I decided to attend a Christian college and selected Biola. It was at Biola that I met my husband.

It is impossible to guess where I would be now had I not read Christy. Every aspect of my post-adolescent life was affected by that single, seemingly insignificant decision. I am convinced that my precious son Blaise owes his life to it, and without Blaise I would be an entirely different person.

…Thank you my friend for sharing some of your faith journey with me and allowing me to post it. For those of you that don’t know literature reaches people in a way scripture cannot because one only reads scripture when the need arise or our interest is fanned. Chisty is one example of how literature draws people to God.
Category: 0 comments

I Need Your Help

For next weeks Year of 5,000 Books, I need your help. I plan to post your responses to my question, “Other than the Bible, what book, or books did you read that changed your life?” If you’d like, tell me how old you were, how it made you feel and what you did differently. Did you give it to a friend; tell someone about what you learned? Did others notice a change? Why does that book continue to affect you today and why does that matter to you.
Category: 0 comments

Written by Children at a Fifth Grade Christian School - God is Like…

My friend Marilyn sent this to me. I am sharing it with you because it reminded me that when we see life through the eyes of a child we understand them better. Also, when we see faith as they do, we understand what Messiah meant when He spoke about our need to come to Him as a child would.

What follows was written by a fifth grade class in a Christian school because the teacher asked her students to look at TV commercials and see if they could use them to communicate ideas about God. Here are some of the results.

God is like…Bayer Aspirin - He works miracles. God is like…Ford - He's got a better idea. God is like…Coke; He's the real thing. God is like…Hallmark Cards - He cares enough to send His very best. God is like…Tide - He gets the stains out others leave behind. God is like…General Electric - He brings good things to life. God is like…Alka-Seltzer - Try Him, you'll like Him. God is like…Scotch Tape - You can't see Him, but you know He's there. God is like…Delta - He's ready when you are. God is like…Allstate -You're in good hands with Him. God is like...VO-5 Hair Spray - He holds through all kinds of weather. God is like…Dial Soap - Aren't you glad you have Him? Don't you wish everybody did? God is like…the U.S. Post Office - Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor ice will keep Him from His appointed destination. God is like…Chevrolet - The heartbeat of America. God is like…Maxwell House - Good to the very last drop. God is like… Bounty - He’s the quicker picker upper - Can handle the tough jobs…and, He won't fall apart on you.

When I read this, I thought of Matthew 19:14-15 where Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.” Then, I thought of Matthew 18:3, where He said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Then, I prayed for you and me, that we would see Him as clearly as the children did.
Category: 0 comments

PM – Forward - Sephardic Voices - Excerpt from Casa de Naomi - Janice Mireles-Ulibarri

Janice’s Voice – There was a stirring in my heart to follow my mothers’ influence and learn about the Jewish people. I remember my fourth grade class in Parochial School where Sister Demetrius instilled within us the fact that the Jews did not kill Christ but it was our sin’s that put him on the cross. Between my schooling and mom’s love for the Jewish heritage there was birthed within me a tenderness towards the Jewish people. As I reached what some would call middle age this stirring towards the Jewish people and their heritage intensified until I needed to know more. For years, I told people that I was Basque. However, I never went to the town whose name I bore. Then I met a woman whose son is a missionary in Spain. I asked him if he could take me to Ulibarri and he agreed. In 2008, I made the trip to Spain and we traveled throughout the Navarra region until I finally stepped onto the soil that had been home to my family centuries before! Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there was a strong Jewish presence in that region! Could my mother have been trying to tell me something all those years ago? I will never know for sure. However, my journey of the heart allowed me to look at my heritage and history with new eyes. This was a pivotal turning point for me. When I returned home, I told my children, “We have a Jewish heritage.” They rolled their eyes. Months later, my son called and said, “I was waiting for the metro and was approached by a scholarly man who looked at my badge which identifies me by my last name.” He read ‘Mireles’ and asked me if I knew about my name and my heritage. I was able to give him the information my mother had shared with us. I was stunned when he gave me additional information, which proved to me that what my mother had said was correct! I called my mom and I told my brothers and sisters that what she had said was true.” Janice Mireles-Ulibarri has been involved in Messianic Worship since 1994 and served as a volunteer in the Israeli arm in 1999.
Category: 0 comments

AM – First Fruits of the Morning

Good morning…It’s nice to see you again! I hope you woke joyful for this is that day that the Lord has made and we should rejoice and be grateful for all He has done.

Even as I typed these words, I remembered that throughout my own life and while mentoring women time and again I realized how difficult it is to do this. For the tyranny of the urgent pulls at our shirtsleeve and takes us away from what matters most. Years ago, while searching the scripture I discovered three verses which when strung together helped me do what seemed and at times still seems undoable. That dear friends is my posting for this morning.

Before I share them let me pat you on the back as a sort of solace for not finding, once again, what you came here expecting which was the last Sephardic Voice. Let me remind you that the best things come to those who wait for waiting builds character. And let mention that scripture, when ingested and pondered upon while we lay down, rise, and go about our day is most certainly the end all, be all of our very existence for in Him we have our beginning and end. As He is the Alpha and Omega the one who called us forth, let us give Him the first fruits of this day aware that no matter our age or station we are the children of His pasture. Since we pasture wit the Lord let me suggest that you graze upon the scriptures below throughout you day for they will change your life!

The Lord is the light of the world, therefore He “turns my darkness into light (2 Samuel 22:29) as, “I take every thought captive unto Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5) thus daily being “transformed by the renewing of my mind.” (Romans 12:2).

If you think grazing upon the scriptures is silly perhaps you haven’t tried to take your thoughts captive or haven’t been taught how. And understanding, since I came to faith at 40, that not knowing is not an option for us unless we want to be miserable in our walk with the Lord, I will tell you how to achieve the above. Write out the negative thoughts that plague you, pray, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you search the scriptures. Look for the one that resonates within your spirit. You will know you have found it by your reaction.

I know you’re wondering if I ever had any issues to work on so let me share that I grew up thinking I was ugly, fat, stupid and dumb. When I stumbled upon the idea that I'm sharing with you I didn’t really believe that my repeating a simple verse or a few verses three times a day for ten minutes while staring at my image would change me. However, I took my que from Gideon and threw out a fleece to the Lord, sort of challenging Him. Then I search the scripture wondering what verse God would quicken to me. I must confess that I wanted a verse that made me feel that God thought of me as He did His son the Messiah and eventually I was given that gift. To begin with, however, God knew He needed to heal my hurts and gave me 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

This was a far cry from where I wanted to begin. Yet begin I did though grudgingly. In fact I was so upset by what I had been led to that I challenged God insisting, If you want me to believe this make it real! And He did! But you’ll have to comeback to find out how…
Category: 0 comments

Elizabeths’ Daughters Need for Our Prayers - Elizabeths’ Sephardic Voice

As promised, here is Elizabeths’ Sephardic Voice. While you read this, she is hurrying to Spain where her daughter Lisa is trying to hold on so that she can see her mother once again before she sees the Lord. Please join my friends and me as we petition Adonai for the restoration of her health. While you do this remember that in our darkest hour Psalm 55:22 tells us to, Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.

Betty’s Voice-When I was in my early twenties my parents took me on a trip to visit relatives in Saltillo, Mexico where my grandfather Miguel Narro was born and raised. They were rich and very Catholic. They disowned my grandfather when he accepted Yeshua as his Savior and became a Protestant Pastor. Many years later my great-aunt named Rosario (Rosary) confided to my mother that there had been two rabbi’s in the Narro family. After that, my mother wore a Star of David that she had bought. She told my son John David that we were Jewish. My grandfather refused to eat pork but we never knew why. No one ever talked about our Jewish Heritage. However, now I know that some believed we were Jewish and other family members denied it. My father, David Alcala most likely had Jewish ancestry also since Alcala is a Sephardic Jewish name. My great-grandfather Ambrosio Alcala was born in Alcala de Henares, a city in Spain that had an imposing Jewish presence and two Synagogues. Elizabeth Alcala-Narro Bennett is a Sephardic Jew whose children bring the gospel to those in Spain. She worships at a Messianic congregation.
Category: 0 comments

AM – Dear Friend & Angel Fund

Thanks for meeting me here! I posted yesterday that today you’d be able to read another Sephardic Voice. But when you opened my blog, you probably noticed that I added two PayPal buttons and are wondering what’s up? To answer why I have a button for book sales and the Angel Fund I have posted the following letter and material from my website. I will post Elizabeth’s Sephardic Voice tonight.

Dear Friend,

Because my husband is a missionary, we spend many Sundays in churches and revisit them often. When we do women have confided how relieved they are that we have come and how difficult it is to get their non-believing spouse, relative, friend, or associate to attend the service. Though they know the Lord wants them to speak about the gospel, they fear loosing these relationships and remain mute.

I wrote the Casa Series so that men and women could use the gift of literature to reach the lost. These novels reveal a unique people and their history. Both you and those you gift the books to will enjoy the romantic, historic, fiction. In the first volume, Yearning the reader experiences Naomi’s problems, which multiply as she hides who she is and marries Chaz, a man she believes to be Catholic without sharing her secret with him. When she is unmasked as someone other than what he thought her to be, she flees.

As Chaz prepares to leave town, a friend challenges him invoking Gods name. Our hero responds, “Leave God out of this.” This startling conclusion to book one will cause those who have read that novel to read Fulfillment, the second book in the series to discover how our star-crossed lovers’ story ends. They will be surprised to discover the novels name indicates Naomi and Chaz’s desire, which is in Messiahs…Jesus hands. The culmination of their individual salvation stories will guide the reader from our characters journey into their own and show them how to enter into a relationship with Christ our Kinsman Redeemer and experience Gods love for them.

I have signed a contract with Tate Publishing. Casa de Naomi ~ The House of Blessing ~ Book One ~ Yearning will be released in the fall of 2011. While in prayer, I discovered that the Lord wants to get these books into the secular bookstores. That is a tall order since secular bookstores do not carry Christian or Messianic books. However, there is a plan that will accomplish what most believe to be impossible - pre-sell 5,000 books. To my knowledge, no one has pre-sold this number of novels. When we accomplish what most believe to be undoable, the secular booksellers will call the publisher and order the book. And that my friend will get our Lords message spread! I cannot do this by myself. Please help me by purchasing Casa de Naomi – The House of Blessing – Yearning from this blog.

Angel Fund Gifts - Acts 10:4 “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”

When I announced that Casa de Naomi – The House of Blessing – Book One - Yearning was at the publishers, a friend of mine asked how much it would cost. I told her $20 plus shipping. She shook her head and said, “I live below the poverty line.” I had known this sweet sister for some time but never knew her financial condition. Later that day, I met a Jewish woman and spoke with her. As I left, I handed her my card. I wondered if she would call as she had said she would…Or would the cares of this world cause her to set aside for today what matters most for eternity.

The needs of these two women weighed heavy upon my heart. Although one was a strong believer and the other seemed to want nothing to do with Messiah (Jesus), He was drawing both of them to Himself, one for salvation the other for succor. “What,” I wondered, “could I do to help.” I fell back on the fact that I am an author…That is what I do - write and speak. Then the Lord reminded me that the salvation stories I have written were for everyone...Jew and gentile - believer and pre-believer as well - The poor as well as those who could purchase a book - those pre-believers whose friend would gift them a book and those who had no one to give them anything of eternal value.

That dear friend is why I set up Angel Fund Gifts. When you give to this fund, it allows me to gift books to the needy, and the lost. I hope you pray about gifting someone the precious gift of salvation, and then stop by. When you give, please remember that the first book is historic, romantic fiction, and the second novel has salvation stories. If it is possible, please give enough to cover the cost of both books. If you want to use this site to gift a book and have it sent anonymously to someone you love, please mention that. Be sure to leave me your email information so I can contact you when I mail the book.
Category: 0 comments

AM - Forward-Sephardic Voices - Excerpt from Casa de Naomi - Corrine Ehrick

For the past several years, I have been working on the novels, which comprise the Casa Series. I found the Sephardic Jews reticent to speak or write about their experience during the Inquisition. They fear revealing themselves because of the things their antecedents experienced during that time. This generational effect has created an insulated situation. After much research and countless discussions with Spanish Jews as well as dialogues with those who teach history and literature, I discovered that only a few knew of and understood these people’s lives, religious practices, and personal histories. This disconnect occurred due to the ongoing pressure within Sephardic families to remain hidden within a culture that has been hostile to their existence. This started with the signing of the Decree of Alhambra, which began the Spanish and later, the Mexican Inquisitions. This decree was in effect until March 31, 1992. Because of this, it is only now that a few brave people are willing to step forward and share their stories.

It is my pleasure to introduce you to one of the three Sephardic believers in Messiah (Christ) that I interviewed (the others will follow). Each has allowed me to share with you how they moved from where they were to owning their Jewish heritage. They hope that as you read their words you will believe that people are still dealing with feelings of generational fear, which make it imperative that they keep their progeny in the dark about their religious heritage. I also hope you will realize that others who fear reprisals might speak about the horror of the Inquisition so that the information will cause their children and grandchildren to be cautious when speaking about their faith or heritage with anyone outside their family.

Corrine’s Voice - I was born in 1929 and raised in downtown Los Angeles. My religious training was in the Catholic Church as all in our family had done for years. In 1984, my son David told me that we are Jewish. I paid no attention to him although I had prayed in 1970 to receive Christ as my personal Savior. I had left the Catholic Church and was attending an Evangelical Church at that time and beginning in 1974, I found myself more and more drawn to Jewish things. When my Grandmother died, my mother showed me her Baptismal Certificate. I noticed that her Godmother’s last name was Gold. I asked my mother about that as Gold is a very unusual last name for a Spanish person to have and Godparents are usually a family member. She told me that her cousin had told her when she was a child that they were Jews but not to tell anyone. It was then that I remembered my grandfather singing in a strange language out by the chicken coops and my mother saying, “He sings like a Cantor!” The realization that we were not what we seemed to be created within me a hunger to know more. Since then I have invested my time and energy to learn all I can about my Jewish Roots. That investigation has made me aware of the charges the Inquisitor made against my family, revealed the possibility that they may have come over with Columbus and the knowledge that they settled in what is now the southwestern United States. Today through much work on behalf of my family, I have acquired the documents to prove what I am saying. Were it not for the Decree of Alhambra and the Spanish Inquisition we would still be in Spain but due to that decree and its effects upon my family and the Jews still hiding, I am willing to state that what man meant for evil God used for good! For in Messiah Yeshua, I have found my Jewish Messiah and have been able to own who I am as both a Jew and a believer in my Kinsman Redeemer. At 74, Corrine Ehrick began to worship as a Sephardic Messianic Believer.
Category: 0 comments

PM Posting - My Faulty Education and Writing the Casa Series

I have such wonderful friends! No sooner had my emails been received and my blog read than caring sisters in Messiah contacted me to softly and with great care mention a few misspelled words. It isn’t that the words were the wrong words so much as the words were misspelled. It was suggested that I get a grammatically astute friend to check my postings before I post…After all, authors are supposed to write error free. However, that’s not me, nor is it the case with every author/writer. Since I don’t have the wherewithal to miniaturize a friend or associate with spell-checking for a brain I decided to post this story which is really a memoire. If you don’t know this fancy word, it means that I’m writing about myself. When you read the title: "From “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” to See Paula Write,” I believe you will understand why I posted it tonight. My story follows:

When I was a new believer I read Ezekiel 11:19 where God promises, I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Little did I know back then all that this verse would mean to me, or how many times God would challenge me beyond what I felt was my breaking point by this Scripture. However, coming to Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) at forty, I had much to learn, and God put me into, and took me out of situations, and relationships to mold me into this. What you might wonder, is the “this,” that I have become? Well, I’ll tell you, it certainly isn’t the “this” that everyone thought I would be. For as far back as my family and I can remember there was never anyone quite like the “me” I became in Christ, for the beloved has transformed me!

But, let me tell you who I was, so you’ll be able to track with me. Ah, that’s easier said than done, to paraphrase a tune that was popular when I was younger, leaner, and couldn’t learn. Yep! That’s right. The book on my mother’s bedside table was titled “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” but I didn’t know that cause I couldn’t…read, that is. In fact I only discovered the name of the book once I could, you know… read. By now, you’re probably wondering how a kid born into a family of an up and coming Aerospace Engineer who built the fuel cell that got us into space couldn’t read. My parents and the school wondered about that too, but in the fifties, everyone relied on the doctors who visited the school to give them a heads up if there was a problem with any of us kids. Every time I saw the doc, I got a clean bill of health, eye exam and all, which leads me to believe that the guy needed to have his eyes examined!

Now here comes the hyperbole, which if our parents were speaking would be an, “extravagant exaggeration.” If you think I’m kidding, look it up! I did cause as much as I knew that it was the word I wanted to use, I wasn’t one hundred percent sure how to spell it and I wanted to make sure it was the right word! See what taking a short cut through the first four years of elementary school will get you…a major need for dictionaries, spellchecking, and the like! However, I digress. Now, if you’re like I was, almost the most nearsighted person ever born, with very little peripheral vision, there’s only one thing that can make your learning experience a worse catastrophe than the cards you were dealt. That’s being born with a last name that begins with a letter which will absolutely put you in the chair furthest away from the blackboard, and as surly as I’m tellin this tail, that’s just what happened to yours truly! That’s why I call this ditty, “From Why Johnny Can’t Read to See Paula Write.” Speaking of little ditty’s, if you’re interested in what I mean, look at the refrain from Roger Miller’s song “Little Green Apples” which goes, ‘God didn’t make little green apples and it don’t rain in Indianapolis in the summertime.’ Now that’s poetic license if you ask me, and silly to the core! Yet when I look back on the one summer I had to learn everything all my classmates had learned in four years, what’s a little silly between friends?

I’ll tell you what it is, it’s the ability to laugh at our troubles that we hopefully learn to do before we meet the Lord. Because when were facing bad stuff without Him, we’d better know how to laugh or we’ll cry ourselves a river. Though if the truth were told, and that’s what I’m sharing with you, I just learned to be silly this year! You’re probably wondering why it took me so long. Well, I’ll tell you since you seem interested. First, I had to learn how to learn, and then I had to accept myself with all my fears, foibles, and failures. By the time I did all that, I was nineteen and ready to get married, so I found a great guy who loved me back, and we walked down the isle, into wedded bliss and baby diapers galore cause back in the day, pampers didn’t exist. Fact is, back then some of us didn’t even have a clothes dryer. Living close to the ocean in the winter meant hanging the didies, as in diapers’ all over the house. Between babies, bottles, didies, and “The Hubb’s,” life went on happily well into my thirties when I intentionally took myself to college. Now I must confess that I had graduated Beauty College, gotten my Cosmetology License, and gone to work so my guy could finish college. And I must have been a pretty good student, cause I was offered an open-ended scholarship to return and study to become an instructor. Honestly, with my learning curve would you have signed up for that? Course not and neither did I!

However, a strange thing happened on my way to maturity, I discovered I would do whatever I could to make certain my kids had a great start. Anything, including the best preschool I could afford. I didn’t want my kids to end up being taken by the scruff of the neck, by the teacher, and led to the one remaining chair as I was, while she whispered in a voice loud enough to wake the dead, “I’m sitting you next to the smart girl. If you need any help, ask her.” What a confidence builder that was! And, I must add, it was a great way to begin the school year cause everyone knows the really cool kids want to hang out with “the class dummy.” So, given my druthers, I’d have rather run away from “The Hubb’s” who was, and still is the love of my life, than send my kids to school unprepared! Well, boy howdy! Guess where the best preschool was? Give up? Well, I’ll confess! It was part of the local JC, as in Junior College that we have here in California and funny thing, they had room for my sweetie pie! But I had to be enrolled in the College to get her in. So, I kid you not, I’m sittin here today with a four point 0 average, which in my day was the highest GPA you could have, all because of sweetie pie, who is now thirty plus, and has preschoolers of her own.

All of this my friend, brings me to writing, or as we authors used to say, penning my prose. Wow! I only had to try three alternate spellings to get spell-check to figure out what I meant! This is a red-letter moment…time to ring the bell! It may sound a bit trite, but I think it’s a hoot that a gal who graduated third in her JC class, and went on to teach lots of stuff to some smart people is still humbled by the first thing that happened which, taught her, I’m nothing special unless I’m doing something for someone, or answering a higher call. I’ve been doing that all my like, but in a more focused was since March 2007, when God called me to write about the progeny of a small, and relatively unknown group of Jews called Sephardim that were trapped by the Inquisition, and forced into Catholicism to survive, but continued to practice their faith at home.

Before I go any further, remember my saying that I only got funny this year. Well I can prove it! Yep! Way back, way before College, both Beauty, and the JC, people saw me as bookish, and they were right! When you can’t read, and finally can, the light goes on! You know what I mean? It’s like trying to figure out the Scriptures without the Holy Spirit, and then getting every nuance once you receive that Divine gift. Boy oh boy, as a Jew I sure remember when the light went on and I came to know a lot about Messiah, and I still remember a lot about not understanding the Scripture before then. However, that’s a topic for another day.

So being obviously bookish, as in there was always one in my hand, or I was telling someone about something I read. And being married to “The Hubb’s” who had gone to College to become a English teacher, and took classes like Zoology for the fun of it, it took people about two minutes to size me up, and say, “You should be a librarian.” Funny, I finally spelled that word right after all these years, but don’t get to excited, I spelled right, wrong. However, the system corrected it! Nice computer…what would I do without you?

Now, back to the library, if there was one thing I did under-sort-of-stand, it was the Dewey Decimal System. Do any of you out there in reader-land remember that? Well, they put numbers, the name of the book, and the authors’ name, on index cards, but backwards as in ‘all literary people know that library filling systems are backwards.’ I kid you not! The numbers where the first thing you saw when you opened the drawer where the cards were filed. Now if you remember my saying, “I don’t do math on the fly,” oh you don’t remember me saying that until now? My Ops! But…let’s continue, what do you think I did? You’re right! I knew I couldn’t begin to figure out that secret, and even if I did, I didn’t know where to look for the book, so I asked the librarian, after all that’s what she was there for. However, given my age, if you’re in the library, and ask the librarian for help it’s probably not the same one I asked. By the way, if you think asking or looking things up isn’t using the old gray-matter to its best…, Einstein, as in Albert, said when he was asked how he came up with all his theories, “I never memorize anything that I can look up.” Yessiree bob, as in Bob’s Big Boy, Einstein, and me, we be buds!

But I digress! I had this desire which, if the truth were known, as in I’m telling it to you now, had been fanned for over ten years by a sweet sister in the Lord. I had gifted her one of my framed poems as a wedding present and once she read it she kept asking me, “Are you writing?” Ten years of that sort of gets a girl thinking. So having nothing better to do once my workday was over but to wait for “The Hubb’s” to get back from work at ten, and there being nothing on the boob-tube to watch, but repeats, and inane reality shows, smattered with hour long promos for everything I never needed, I sat down at the computer for forty days, and wrote. Oops I forgot, first I said a prayer, asked for prayer, and discovered some of my friends were Sephardic, go figure! See, God was in this all the time! They gave me some literature, I did a ton and a half of research, and then I started to write.

Now if you remember in Genesis 8: 6-7 the Scripture says, after forty days Noah opened the window he had made in the ark and sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth. Well, interestingly enough, I was sending my daily draft to this friend, and after forty days, she emailed me back, and said, “You’ve begun to write a book!” I though she was “pullin my preverbal leg,” cause all I was doing was writing a character sketch for the book I thought I was going to write. I had it sort of all fleshed out in my thinker. It was going to be about three women who meet while hiking the Appalachian Trail, and how the believing one shares her faith with them as they walk along. I had no, absolutely no plans, to write a book about this Sephardic girl named Naomi! I was writing sketches about her as a means of getting to know her before I began to write the story. This reminds me of that old maxim, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans.” Remember that one? If you did, you have a better thinker than I had, cause it never occurred to me that my friend was right! However, once I went back, and read what I’d written, I discovered that Isaiah 55:8 seemed to be written just for me! It says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. So here I was, fully commissioned to a calling I felt ill prepared to fulfill, as in call the other gal…please! Nevertheless, being a Messianic Jew, which means rather stiff-necked, but interested, I began to write and, the oddest thing happened, the characters began to speak to me, and tell me their stories. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Bring in the net! This one’s ready for the loony bin!” But I was, and am as sane as you are. Know why I know? Cause having graduated with honors, I went back to school, yes sir! JC you had me at hello! This time I studied to become of all things, a Chemical Dependency – Lifestyle Disorder Counselor. Which is just a fancy- smanchy way of saying, I found another way to read interesting stuff, meet some really smart people, and help out those that needed a carrying person to listen to them, and hold them accountable, kind of like we do when we’re discipling, and teaching others about Gods Word, and our Christian walk.

So, when the characters began to talk, I listened. After all, that’s what a counselor does, listen, which if you ask my friends they’ll tell you is something I have trouble doing. However, if your anointed and appointed, whether its to listen to someone strung out on drugs, or to the blessing of hearing what I, to this day, believe was a God breathed revelation of what I was to write, its amazing how quiet you become. Why? I’ll tell you why, cause when you’re called, I believe God has already fashioned you to answer the calling. In fact, if we look at good old Moe…, Moses to you, we know this for a fact. You don’t believe me? Well, let’s take a look. First, when the dude finally owns his roots, he tries to stop a fight and ends up having to hotfoot it out of Egypt in a hurry…which if we know and trust in God, we won’t do! Now the second way is Gods way! Here we see God calling, and appointing Moses, and when God sends him back, good old Moe is equipped, and accomplishes Gods’ purpose.

That’s the way it is with me, and you! Me, you ask? Of course you! Why do you think I’m writing this piece? It isn’t cause I have nothing better to do! I still have the last novel of the six to write. You heard me right, six novels in the Casa Series. Five down and one more to go in this series…then it’s on to the next assignment, another series, and another blessing yet to be revealed! So ya see, I have plenty to do. I’m writing this for you so that you’ll know that whatever God has called you to do, if you receive His commission wholeheartedly, and move forward trusting that He will meet you at the burning bush, or anywhere else you need Him! One day you’ll be telling others how God took you, and used you in a way you were never prepared to be used. You’ll be singing His praises, and it won’t matter if anyone asks why you enjoy being a servant of the Servant King, the one who will return to reign in glory. For all the reward people like you, and me will ever need is serving Him, as He called us to, even if it means doing the one thing we know we can’t do. After all, we know that everything here will fade away, so why not answer Gods call, and store up in glory what matters for eternity! Ezekiel was right after all, when God puts a “New Spirit” in you, what else can you do but respond joyfully to His!
Category: 0 comments

AM - Raves for Marlayne Speaking & my true story The Widows Mite

Knowing Marlayne, as I have for over a year I am surprised that I never knew what a gifted speaker she was until yesterday! I was so elated by the events of the afternoon that I, as you might have noticed, didn’t post. Perhaps that’s a good thing since it’s taken me from Friday when I began this blog until this morning at a little before 8 AM to realize that the Year of 5,000 Books is only interesting if I keep, you, my friends, prayer warriors and readers in the loop. That’s what I will do to day. But before I tell you how many books have been sold I’d like to share the last amazing story in a long list of amazing stories so you can see, as I have, how God is working to accomplish His Year of 5,000 Books while I tag along. I must confess, and if you visit my website, you’ll hear more…but I must confess that from the beginning of the first book of the Casa Series this has been God’s project. If you’re wondering how I knew that it’s because I never intended to write these books (again see website) but when I did the characters began speaking to me. Because of this, I called and still call myself a scribe for God. As the one appointed to get the book(s) into the secular marketplace I find myself dubbed, an author/speaker, and now reporter, which is one of the reasons I began this blog. Now that you know a little more about me, here’s the last in a long line of amazing true stories. To quell concerns instead of revealing who did __or said __ I am going to use a letter instead of a name. No, I think it best to use a __ so you can fill in whatever name you chose…Perhaps, if Messiah (Christ) leads, you will chose your own.

The Widows Mite

Ron and I have known __ and her family for several years. She is a unique woman. Not because of her small stature and twinkling eyes, not because in an age when children of certain denominations stayed with their own, her dearest friends were a Jewish and a Catholic girl, and I believe, though she’d never admit that the reason they all got along so famously was because __ saw, as she does now the good in people. All that said this senior citizen is not only a widow who lost the love of her life, she is also one of those tireless saints who has a small place but discovered it was large enough to house her daughter and granddaughters when the need arose. She always has a kind word for everyone and the entire family is devoted to each other, prayer, and the Lord. So it wasn’t much of a stretch for them a few years back when I mentioned that I need to raise funds to have the first novel published to insist, “We will help.” I knew they would for they had been praying for the project while the Lord was giving me the text.

They scheduled an opportunity for me to speak at their church. I was extremely grateful. However, the event garnered little response. That is except for this widow’s mite, which I cherished even more since I had noticed her and her daughter speaking in hushed tones as they looked at what I realized later must have been their meager funds.

Eighteen months later, I returned to that church to speak at a luncheon and share the Lords desire for me to pre-sell 5,000 books. The Pastor, who like this widow and her precious family, had been prayerfully supporting this work felt that many would pre-purchase a book or books. And since this church is one that strives to reach the lost, I rejoiced as I prepared to speak. My heart, which was filled with anticipation, was soon saddened for their new community hall had been built with hard surfaces and no one could hear me!

After I spoke, I packed up everything, answered a few questions, and prepared to leave. Pastor assured me that they would invite me back when the echo issue had been address and I thanked him, though I must admit my thank you sounded hollow. Friends of mine had attended so I listened to their kind words, told them that when situations like this occur (which they have) I know that what God has asked me to do matters for Him more than I realized when I first began. I forced myself to say those words with a smile and an exclamation point at the end. It seems to me they nodded, turned, and left. Only then, did__ walk over to me; place a check in my hand, smile, and turn away.

“You can’t afford to do this,” I said.

She smiled a second time, patted my hand and shared, “Its for the Angel Fund…I want those that cannot afford to buy a book or have no one to gift them a book to be given one.”

That said, she turned and walked away. As I watched, her go I remembered her buying one book for the four of them, grandmother, daughter, and granddaughters, to read and knew she had given the Lord her widows’ mite. I placed the check in the envelope marked “Funds.” It wasn’t until the following day that I took her check out to enter the information into my database before depositing it in the savings account I had set up for the book sales. Before I opened the envelope, I prayed that this family would have enough. Then I reached in, drew out the check, looked at the amount, and gasped! She had not bought one or even two books! Her heart, which knew her treasure, was not to be stored on earth, but in heaven must have listened to the Lords leading for she had given more than most…enough funds for 4 books to be given through the Angel Fund!

I rejoiced, not because of the funds although they are needed. No I rejoice to discover a woman who understand what Messiah (Christ) meant when He said in Mathew 16:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

124 books have been sold! And that because of the Lords help and guidance! Hurray! Let us give Him the praise and the Glory for He has done great things!

4876 books are awaiting a home. And it is my fervent prayer that during this seeming season of sacristy in our country we believers in Gods provision will show, not tell others what we believe by blessing them, with the gift of salvation!
Category: 0 comments

January 15, 2011

Wow! It’s a little before 7 AM and I’m checking my blog! I know two exclamation points in a row is over the top, especially before ones morning coffee, paper, devotional, or whatever you put first in your day. However, today is worship (Shabbat) for Ron and me so I’ve been up for an hour and just like the almost thirty year old in the beginning of the movie Julie, Julia…or maybe it’s Julia, Julie (I don’t remember) I had to see how many people visited the Year of 5,000 books. And YOU didn’t disappoint! Thirty of you checked the blog out! I have to exclaim WOW again! Thanks for taking a gander! When you visit next time, I’d love it if you’d post a comment, buy a book or let me know when you’re going to be in my area so we can meet!

Well as I said this is the Sabbath for me so I’m off to prepare for the day which includes picking a up a friend, greeting, partaking of a potluck lunch and the perfect ending, at least for me, having Marlayne speak to the Congregation Ben David Writers' Group about her journey from writer to author. If your going to be in Orange CA at 1:30 and want to join us, we meet at 1800 E. La Veta, Orange, which is 2 blocks N of 22 Freeway on Tustin Ave., 1/2 block E on La Veta, in a recovery center. That I believe my friend is poetic justice for all of us are recovering from something whether good, bad, inane, or insane because all the issues we face have plagued men and women since we left the garden. Ops, there I go again getting all preachy-teachy, please forgive me, but do come if you can!
Category: 0 comments

January 14, 2011 - In The Beginning

In the beginning, I believe one should try to emulate God. Being a mortal I fall short and must confess that my Year of 5,000 Books, if truly begun the day I signed my contract, should have begun the end of October. Now I know it might seem odd to you that I didn’t begin this blog at once. After all, how can one succeed if they don’t begin? Right…of course, right! However, if you like me, grew up in the paper generation rather than the techno-sphere we inhabit now, you might have needed some help. And tonight I was the grateful recipient of my friend Maralyne Groin’s assistance!

If you’re as rational a human as I am, I’m certain you can add, subtract, divide, multiply and having honed these skills your ready to say, “Paula if you figured your year from October to October it’s shy a few months give or take!” Your right, however, a few months here or there is nothing to God! So keep checking back and ask your friends to visit as well and we will see what God will do…and, oh if you’re wondering if I’m daft or forgot to add PayPal, I must confess that I don’t know how to do that yet. But don’t let that glitch undo your desire to help me, just go to my website and place your order, better yet, place an order, then visit Angel Fund and give a few dollars so I can have books to give away to those who have no one to gift a book to them.
Category: 0 comments