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 http://www.PaulaWordsmith.com, to watch a YouTube video, read what Rod did, see the jacket cover, email me from the site, or buy the book.
Category: 1 comments


Susan Rush said...

Love this post! I was wrestling with deleting something from Just over the Horizon. You just settled the argument with myself . . . it's staying in. Can't wait to read the rest of your novel.

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