Please Celebrate the Grand Opening of my "Casa de Naomi Reflections" Blog with Me!

I have not done this before and probably will not do it again. However, I love a celebration! Whenever there is a reason to celebrate from Saint Patrick’s Day, which is decidedly not Jewish, to the Chinese New Year, I’m your gal. So it’s probably no surprise to anyone who knows me, that the party that begin last night at by new, interactive bog, titled “Casa de Naomi Reflections” has landed here. Since I am as passionate about what is going on there as I am about this blog and all you who follow it, I have decided to do a dual posting. This week I am posting the Grand Opening Message from the new bog. I hope you read it and decided that another blog is not one to many. If you do, visit and join.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Casa de Naomi Reflections~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for meeting Naomi and me here. Pull up a chair and stay a while. While you are getting comfortable let me share that this Interactive Reflections Blog is for YOU!

Though one can garner blessings from visiting this blog without reading Casa de Naomi there are benefits to reading the text as we move through Naomi’s story so I have posted Chapter One – A Safe Haven on my websites home page. If you would like to read the first chapter, please scroll down to my website link posted in the right hand column, hit the icon, and read A Safe Haven. Since I will be sighting sentences from the novel with each posting, you might want to read the chapters as we work through them. Although Casa de Naomi is not available on the .com booksellers yet, you can order the novel from my website and I will send it to you as soon as I have the book.

When we consider why we might follow or join anything, each of us reviews our needs and the benefits accrued through participation. If you chose to form or become involved in a Casa de Naomi Registered Book Club, your group can use the material to further discussion. However, whether you participate in a group or not, you can experience the fullness of this and the other novels that follow by visiting this blog weekly, then reflecting on or writing down your insights.

I will post material every other week, and I am inviting you, dear friend, to email me through this blog, my website, Tweet PaulaWordsmith on Twitter, or email Paula Michelson though FaceBook with your thoughts, observations, and anything else you would like to share. I will post your comments and the feedback I receive every other week so that each of you can have a voice thereby making this an interactive, yet personal experience. Should you like your comments to remain anonymous, please let me know each time you correspond.

Before we begin, let me share that I look forward to getting to know each one of you and look forward to discovering what this blog will become since it is our interaction that will define and move this blog forward. Therefore, I feel that I can state with candor, that we are in this thing together and together, I believe we will create something lovely that each of us will value and share with others.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Chapter One - A Safe Haven~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Safety is a fundamental need. Without it, nothing thrives. Since safety is the key issue in chapter one, that is where we begin our sojourn with Naomi. For while you read this Saga and participate in this blog you are choosing to experience Naomi’s life, issues, and her desire as the subtitle ‘The House of Blessing’ indicates, become a blessing and be blessed. My prayer for you is that all you experience here blesses you and prepares you to become a blessing when the time is at hand.

Text: Naomi knew she was in trouble the moment the immigration official had told her, he was taking her to Ellis Island.

• When have you been in trouble?

• Did you create the problem or was it foisted upon you?

• Did someone help you?

• If you received help, did the person expect something in return?

Text: She remembered leaving her family in the middle of the night without an explanation or a good-bye and tears threatened to fall.

• Have you ever left family or friends without telling them why?

• Have you ever felt trapped?

• Did you find yourself wishing for the problem to disappear?

• Were you able to handle the situation as it unfolded?

Text: Naomi gasped. Maybe God is watching out for me after all!

• When troubles come your way, do you engage in wishful thinking?

• Do you believe that behavior is neither good nor bad?

• If you had to face a horrid situation, would someone help you?

• Do you believe that consequences are just or random?

Text: “I used the handcuffs, just as you told me to. Do not worry. She is safe.”

• Are you safe because someone makes you feel or says you are safe?

• What might you have to give up or become to feel safe?

• When you are in danger, can you make yourself believe you are safe?

• Is life more important than the way you live it?

Scripture: Psalm 91:4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge (safety); his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Did You Know that when Messiah wept over Jerusalem and said he wanted to cover the inhabitants with his wings, he was referring to his the Tzitzit (fringe)on his Tallit(prayer shawl) referred to as wings within the scriptures. Numbers 15:38-40, says, They shall make themselves tzitzit on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and they shall place on the tzitzit of each corner a thread of techeilet. And it shall be tzitzit for you, and you will see it, and you will remember all the mitzvot (blessings) of the Lord and do them and not follow your heart or your eyes and run after them.

Summary Question: When Tía helped Naomi enter America illegally, was she thinking of herself or the girl?

Thank you for dropping by. Please send me your comments so I can include them in my next blog, and if this weeks posting has proven to be of interest or beneficial, please invite your friends to drop by.
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NEWS FLASH! This evening my "Casa de Naomi Reflections Interactive Blog” begins.

Writing the Casa de Naomi Saga has been a joy, sharing my writers’ journey with you, a pleasure. The culmination of my years of research, writing, and rewriting is being realized with the grand opening of my "Casa de Naomi Reflections Interactive Blog” this evening, the mailing of my galley proof to Tate Publishing on Thursday, and receiving the published book this September.

Since you have been following this blog, I am certain you will enjoy the new one so I will let you know when it is operational. Please drop by, check the blog out, join, and ask your friends to follow so that you and they can experience Naomi’s life choices and explore yours as well.
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Was President Abraham Lincoln the Descendent of a Sephardic Jew? by Paula Rose Michelson

I have received innumerable requests to repost “Was President Abraham Lincoln the Descendent of a Sephardic Jew?” Since I am in the midst of editing the publishers’ galley proof for the first book about my Sephardic heroine, Naomi, which birthed the research I have posted in my blog, I have decided to repost the Lincoln piece, which you will find below.

Visit and discover how research infuses literature.

The 16th President of the United States of America was born on February 12, 1809. His mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, was a young, poor, illiterate woman from Virginia. She gave birth to him in a log cabin built along the banks of the south fork of Nolin Creek, near what is now Hodgenville, Kentucky. That infant, whom she named Abraham, grew to become a great but tragic national leader.

Lincoln was a man known for his spiritual convictions. Yet, a fascinatingly instructive fact was that Abraham Lincoln was the only American president who did not declare himself a member of any particular religion or faith. This fact has caused many to speculate that he might have been Jewish. After all, his name was Abraham and his great-grandfather was named Mordechai. Lincoln was the only President that had no formal religious affiliation, he was not raised in, nor did he ever belong to a church.

The town of Lincoln, in eastern England, where his ancestors came from, had a large group of Jewish people who build homes there in 1159. Since Spanish Jews had been dealing with programs hundreds of year prior to their Expulsion from Spain, since it was a short route from Spain to England, and since those who fled usually took the name of the town they settled in for their last name, these Jews were most likely Sephardic Jews fleeing oppression. Over time, these Jews flourished, had many offspring, and became a large part of that community. However, during the Crusades riots were fomented against these Jews. The Sheriff of Lincoln saved them by giving them his official protection. The great Bishop of Lincoln, St. Hugh, taught those of the Christian faith that they should love the Jews. His death was marked by an official period of mourning among Lincoln's Jews. Jews flourished in this community and many learned scholars claimed Lincoln as their home. However, in 1255, Lincoln's Jews were accused of ritual murder. Ninety-one of them were sent to London for trial, 18 were executed. However, Lincoln’s Jewish community flourished until 1290 when they were forcibly expelled by edict.

To understand why Abraham Lincoln might have known about his heritage and chosen to keep quite, or why his mother may have never told him, one needs to understand what happened when Edward I implemented The Edict of Expulsion that forced all Jews to leave England. To the Jews this was unfathomable because following the Conquest of 1066, Jews were an important part of Norman English society. English Nobles were constantly in need of money, and borrowed heavily from Jewish moneylenders. William the Conqueror had recognized the importance of the Jewish moneylenders to Norman society, and offered them special protection under law. He declared Jews to be his direct subjects, not subjects of their local feudal lord. Because of this, English kings saw the Jewish moneylenders as a convenient source of funds. The king could levy taxes against Jews without needing the prior approval of Parliament.

The Norman invasion caused the medieval world to undergo a gradual shift towards religious emphasis on a single belief epitomized by the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215, which required Jews and Muslims to wear special dress so that they were easily to distinguish from Christians. Jews were required to wear a special badge. Church proclamations gave official approval to attitudes that were already prevalent in medieval society. Persecution became more evident culminating in outbreaks of mob violence aimed at Jews, which were, common in England, for example, in 1190 a mob killed hundreds of Jews in York.

At the same time as attitudes of intolerance became more common - and more acceptable the emergence of the Italian system of merchant banking made the Jewish moneylenders less vital to the nobility. Measures of punitive taxation against the Jews became common, with the result that there were fewer Jewish moneylenders with ready cash to lend. In 1285, the Statute of Jewry banned all usury, even by Jews, and gave Jews 15 years to end their practice. Unfortunately, given prevailing altitudes towards Jews in trade, few avenues of livelihood were open to those affected by the Statute.

Abraham Lincoln might not have claimed his Sephardic Jewish heritage, or his mother may have chosen to keep mute about his families’ history because of England’s expulsion of the Jews in 1492 when writs were sent to the sheriffs of most counties advising that all Jews in their counties had until 1 November to leave the realm. Jews remaining after this date were liable to be executed. Parliament agreed to a special tax on the Jews. Records are inexact for this period, but it seems that about 3000 Jews were forced to leave England due to the Expulsions decree.

But back to Lincoln...

When Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, entire Jewish communities sat shivah...morning Abrahams death as one would a son. Rabbis throughout the country eulogized the fallen President. Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, the man who created Reform Judaism in this country, began his eulogy with …”Brethren, the lamented Abraham Lincoln believed himself to be bone from our bone and flesh from our flesh. He supposed himself to be a descendant of Hebrew parentage. He said so in my presence.”

Lincoln religions beliefs were often questioned. When asked, he sighted a passage from Scripture that summed up his theology. It was the twentieth chapter of the Book of Exodus that he recommended that every American study, learn and follow. In English, it is usually referred to as the Ten Commandments.

Professor Elizabeth Hirschman of Rutgers University did extensive research and concluded that Abe Lincoln was Jewish
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Writing what was given, then discovering that it was true! by Paula Rose Michelson

The statement, “Writing what was given, then discovering it was true,” sounds like fiction. Yet that is exactly what happened to me when I wrote Casa de Naomi – The House of Blessing novels. That may sound odd to some of you. However, if the Holy Spirit had not told me to refrain from editing what I was given, my natural inclination would have taken over, and I would have eliminated portions of the text where I wrote about places I had never been to, and others I had not seen, or heard about. An alternative might have been, so as not to seem as if I had disobeyed, to have done some research to make sure that such-and-such place did, in fact, existed. However, having heard that I was to leave my writing alone, I did as I was instructed. I would love to tell you that this was easy to do...becoming a scribe for God. But many nights, I was unable to sleep because I had written about Ellis Island, a neighborhood, or a park that I had never been to, or seen a picture of. Leaving what had been written alone was the most difficult to follow instruction that I had ever been given. Yet leave it alone I did!

A year passed, then another. I was writing book four by the time Ron and I began to worship at Congregation Ben David in Orange, California. To some of our friends changing congregations seemed unwarranted. Nevertheless, since Ron and I wanted to serve Messiah where we worshiped, longed to be involved in outreach, and discovered that the heart of this congregation mirrored ours, we had to go. Still it was hard to leave friends whose weekly hugs and hellos made us feel like family. Though we felt the pangs of loss, we were resolute because we were convinced that this congregation was where the Lord had called us.

A chance conversation while standing in line at the Oneg (potluck) after worship gave me an eyewitness account of the validity of all I had questioned but left alone within the pages of the Casa Saga novels, it affirmed our belief in this being our congregation, and our faith family. For Thomas who had graciously offered to spoon some casserole onto my plate asked me what I did. What followed was an amazing discussion during which he told me that the park in Spanish Harlem does exist, the ferry to Ellis Island has two levels, and that the boat docks at a wharf just as I had written.

By now, Thomas and I were fast friends. Although we had not sat down, I was reaching into my purse to fish out my card hoping that we could meet and continue our conversation. While I did this, I was asking if he were available for lunch during the week. Imagine my surprise when the gentleman standing behind me began to ask me some questions about my writing. I answered each one, followed Thomas and my husband to a table, and set my plate down. I scanned the throng, saw the soft-spoken man, waved, and hurried towards him hoping he did not think me rude. When I reached the table he was seated at, I realized that Melanie, a new friend of mine, was seated by him. She introduced me to her husband, Rod. Rod smiled, asked me several unusual questions about my reason for writing, about the people I was writing about, and what I hoped to achieve. Our discussion ended, I turned to leave, thought a moment, turned back and asked if he was bookish since he was wearing a tie with books all over it, or if he loved to read romantic historic fiction since that is my genre. He smiled at me once more, told me that he was The Dean of the Library at Biola College, and that he wanted the Casa Saga for his library! I could not believe my ears! Boila and Talbot Theological Seminary share the same campus and use the same library! Before I knew what I was doing, I asked him why the library would want historic romantic fiction. Rod explained that the library brought in specific works to build up awareness and support the authors. His answer brought a smile to my lips; still I found it hard to believe that my novels would grace the libraries shelves.

When I signed my contract with Tate Publishing, my rabbi asked me to speak about the novels. I found myself in unfamiliar territory addressing the congregation during worship. I had told Doug that I would be circumspect. He suggested that I not worry but cover everything that I was led to share and he would say a few words once I had finished. At the conclusion of the service people bought books, some purchased several for friends. Rod bought two books, which I hoped would grace the shelves of Biola Library, but when I asked him he shrugged and smiled. Prior to this discussion, I had asked him to consider bringing some of my author friends’ books into the library, and became aware that each book, though fiction, might have to undergo academic scrutiny, and assumed mine would as well. Although I will never know why he bought two volumes of book one before reading the novel, I believe it was because I had been faithful with what I was given, and had shared that with him.

A few weeks ago, I approved the jacket cover for Casa de Naomi – The House of Blessing. Last week I discovered that this September or October, the novel would be released, and sent a mockup to the 100 people that had pre-purchased the novel, which include the cover, Sephardic Voice, Historical Notes, and Chapter One – A Safe Haven. When I arrived at the congregation, Rod had finished setting up for the Oneg, which he does once every five weeks. I spoke with him about my desire to speak at the Biola Library about the importance of libraries for writers like me whose fiction requires extensive research into historical facts. He seemed eager to help and mentioned that I might prefer a book signing at the college bookstore. The question I had wanted answered since he had purchased the novel(s), I asked and he affirmed that the books would be in the Biola Library!

Had I done as my head told me and corrected the text, I believe that none of this would have happened! Had I asked Rod before he had time to read what I sent, I believe his response to my library question might have been yes. However, his willingness to help me develop a relationship with the new Dean of the Library of Biola, since Rod will retire in December, and his interest in having a signing for Casa de Naomi – The House of Blessing at the college bookstore might have never been. For left to my own devices, I have occasionally run ahead of the Lord. Therefore, my suggestion to you is...Do what God says without adding to or subtracting from...For within that doing is a blessing fashioned just for you.

Visit, to watch a YouTube video, read what Rod did, see the jacket cover, email me from the site, or buy the book.
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What’s in a name—Marino?” by Paula Rose Michelson

In Genesis 17:5, we read, “…your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations,” and realize that God valued Abraham and gave him a unique name. When we read Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born…And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” we discover the uniqueness of Messiah long before he was born.

Plays and movies have been named Hamlet or Macbeth. Wars have been fought because of ones desire to obtain the unobtainable like Helen of Troy. For centuries, battles were waged to restore a good name, or advance a country whose name mattered to its inhabitants. So asking, “What’s in a name?” is nothing new. Yet it might be one of the most important question that, you or I will ever grapple with because our name defines us as surely as the name of the people group we come from.

For centuries, the name ‘Jew’ seemed to mean ‘money lender.’ This derogatory term occurred in most cultures where the Catholic Church forbad their followers to deal with money. Long before nasty comments were made as a form of separating groups within what was once a homogeneous population, the hidden Spanish Jews, were being called conversos, a title the church gave them, meaning convert. Once these Spanish Jews were baptized into the faith of the state, the church labeled them New Christians, thus making these peoples every action suspect. Most Jews eventually succumbed to the pressure to practice Catholicism. Some pretended to believe but secretly called themselves Anusim—the forced-ones and continued to ‘Judaize’ those who had become Catholic, calling them back to the faith of their forefathers.

Today these Jews call themselves Sephardic, Ladino, or Crypto-Jews to name just a few of the ways they have tried to voice what happened to their ancestors. As with any population that has struggled to survive, an outsider would rarely question why a group would chose one name above the others. Yet I am doing that in this article for living in California and having spoken to many Spanish Jews or the progeny of the Spanish Jews who fled Spain, I found it painful to hear them refer to themselves most often as ‘Marino’ meaning ‘Pig,’ because God told the Jews they were to have nothing to do with pigs. To understand what I mean read Leviticus 11:7, where is says, “And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you.” So to be called ‘pig,’ to be called unclean.”

Researching the history of Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Inquisition I found the answer. Today I am sharing that answer with you.

Simply put, when the Spanish crown decided to eradicate their country of the Jewish population, those Jews who could not flee and would not become Catholic paid a tax and left the country. Many Jews fled to Portugal hoping to find that monarchy favorably disposed to their presence. When the King of Spain discovered that his cousin the King of Portugal had not upheld his edict, he sent his cousin a message warning of dire consequences. Whether any of those threats the king made against his cousin would have taken place, we will never know because the king saw the error of his ways and enacted a law by which all people on Portuguese soil were declared Catholic. Free from the stigma of their Jewish blood, Jews returned to Spain. However, as they crossed the boarded the Spanish labeled them ‘Marano’ as a means of identifying them as part of the population targeted by the Inquisition. It was at this point that these Portuguese Jews mingled with other expelled Sephardim, and influenced the Judaeo-Spanish language called Ladino. Although Portuguese Jewry was not expelled, these Jews were forced to convert to Christianity, through a mass baptism decreed by King Manuel I in 1497. However, many Jews in Portugal, like their kinsmen in Spain, continued to observe Judaism in secret. Hard times followed for the Portuguese Jews, with the massacre of 5000 individuals in Lisbon (1506), the forced deportation to São Tomé and Príncipe where there is still a Jewish presence, and the later and even more relevant establishment of the Portuguese Inquisition in 1536.

As was true of the Jews in Spain, some Jews in Portugal had occupied prominent places of political and economical life. For example, Isaac Abrabanel was the treasurer of King Afonso V of Portugal. Many also had an active role in the Portuguese culture, and they kept their reputation of diplomats and merchants. By this time, Lisbon and Évora were home to important Jewish communities. The Inquisition held its first Auto da fé in Portugal in 1540 concentrating its efforts on rooting out converts from faiths that did not adhere to the strictures of Catholic orthodoxy; like in Spain, the Portuguese inquisitors mostly targeted the Jewish New Christians, conversos, or maranos. The Portuguese Inquisition eventually included the entire Portuguese Empire, including Brazil, Cape Verde, and Goa. According to Henry Charles Lea between 1540 and 1794 tribunals in Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra and Évora burned 1,175 persons, another 633 were burned in effigy and 29,590 were penanced, but documentation of at least fifteen Autos-da-fé between 1580–1640 – the period of the Iberian Union – disappeared, so the real numbers must be higher. The Portuguese inquisition was extinguished in 1821 by the, “General Extraordinary and Constituent Courts of the Portuguese Nation.”

Thousands of Portuguese Jews eventually moved to Amsterdam, Thessaloniki, Constantinople, France, Morocco, Brazil, Curaçao, and the Antilles. In some of these places their presence can still be witnessed, like the use of the Ladino language by some Jewish communities in Turkey, the Portuguese based dialects of the Antilles, or the multiple Synagogues built by what was to be known as the Spanish and Portuguese Jews.

Every country that ousted its Jewish population seems to have experienced a decline in the scope of its reach and the greatness of its monarchy thus causing this writer to ask, “Why would any country or ruler come against the people God calls ‘the apple of his eye?’”
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Tomorrow, “What’s in a name?” by Paula Rose Michelson

Tomorrow find out why one group of people are called: Converso, Anusim, New Christians, Judaizers, Sephardic, Ladino, Anusim, Marino, Jrypto-Jew.
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Meet the Author of the Casa Saga - by Paula Rose Michelson

Whether I was perusing the book selection of the drugstore or walking down the isles at a bookstore, my quest was always the same. I wanted to select a novel about people I might want to met, written by a person I might want to know. That was important to me because as I read the books I selected some of the characters became my friends. These characters internal landscape influenced mine. I learned many important things without having to live the lesson because the characters did that for me.

I believe that may be true for you as well so I have written this piece. You will notice a degree of levity, which I seldom use in my writing, so let me being by saying, “I am not pulling any punches. What I have written is true and because of that, the miracle of God calling me to write is truly miraculous indeed!

~~~~~~~~~~~~From “Why Johnny Can’t Read,” to See Paula Write”~~~~~~~~~~~~

When I was a new believer I read Ezekiel 11:19. "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 (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 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." 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, which 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, 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! 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 Hubbs” 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. “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 Saga. 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 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!
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