Commitment and Confrontation, by Paula Rose Michelson

Since the previous chapter ends with Chaz and Naomi agreeing, “All will be well with us,” I believe we sighed with relief. However, the next chapters title ‘Commitment and Confrontation’ shows how quickly what is longed for can become something very different when something or, in this case; someone is added to the mix.

Synopsis Summation of this Chapter

While Chaz woos his bride, Naomi gets a call from Victor, discovers a girl needs her and rushes out, returning with Lola in tow. Where before, love and thoughtfulness flourished, now the stage is set for tension, which escalates until Lola decides she wants Naomi’s life and husband.

Reflective Questions

When and why have you lost your focus?

Who do you blame?

What do you wish that person had done differently?

How could you have handled the situation better?

Those who know Messiah turn things over to Him easily if we remember that Romans 8:37 says, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

If you are struggling, remember there is a friend who will never leave, forsake, or abuse you. When you turn to Him, your darkness will become light as He illuminates your understanding through knowledge of Gods Word. 

If you are struggling, remember there is a friend who will never leave, forsake, or abuse you. Turn to Him and your darkness will become light as He illuminates your understanding through knowledge of Gods Word. 

An Arranged Marriage, by Paula Rose Michelson

When we choose to do something that we’re not prepared for don’t we all want to say, “Amor, be patient with me. I am new at this and not certain of what to do, as I have no one to explain things to me. Please give me some time and I will come to you.”

Furthermore, I believe we all hope or pray the person who’s heard our heartfelt plea will respond, “You take all the time you need,” as Chaz did, and then added, “I will wait.”

Many who read Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, Book One asked me if there really are men like Chaz. My answer, a joyous “Yes!” is always tempered with the added comment, “If you’re willing to overlook what cannot be changed, and are willing to change yourself, and apply that same attitude towards others, most relationships will stand the test of time… that is, unless you haven’t been truthful for nothing of value can withstand the onslaughts of life, which eat away at what one wants to hide more than dishonesty.

Throughout this chapter you’ve seen what I mean as Chaz tries to bind his brides heart to his, Naomi keeps her secrets secret finds and herself…

What would you do if this were you? Perhaps you’d wait and see what will happen tomorrow.

God’s plan is quite different because once a marriage has taken place he sees the couple as they are depicted in Genesis 2:24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

So I ask you, have you known yourself with all your highs and lows, strengthens and short comings, and like yourself well enough to own who you are? If the answer is “Yes!” then you are ready for the challenges life will bring your way including the biggest one of all, MARRIAGE! No matter how long you’ve known the person or how well you’ve managed to be true to yourself while not making others uncomfortable, marriage, even the very best, will put you to the test.

Until we meet again, may you continue to ponder what makes you wise, caring, and able to handle what comes your way, then think of how Gods Word light your path.

Courtship, Marriage, and Yet…Strangers by Paula Rose Michelson

In 1 Corinthians 13: 12 Rabbi Shaul (the Apostle Paul) wrote: For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. As I read today’s posting, I wished that Naomi, and others who do not yet know Messiah could experience the comfort these few well chosen words would bring. Then I remembered that everything is in God’s hands, and the one who created the universe and holds it together by the power of his word is able to do all things, and in the perfect time. So if you, dear friend, are facing obstacles take heart for he cares for you.

Segments from the Text

                Naomi could not stop herself from wishing for a fuller life, a life where she would receive those things that she knew would complete her. She looked at Chaz and sensed a yearning within her that prior to their encounter she had never felt before. She wondered if the metamorphosis she witnessed outside her French doors each spring, when caterpillars spun their cocoons and emerged later in the season as beautiful butterflies, could be hers. Though she yearned to find out and become all Madre Vida had spoken of on her first night at the casa, she forced herself to asses this situation from a practical viewpoint. Her heart would have none of it, and against her better judgment, she found herself wondering, Could I become all God created me to be? Aware that her life was one of service to others, she upbraided herself, Be happy with what you have.
                Even as she agreed to his seemingly innocent request, she thought, Will I still be able to accomplish all I have committed to do if I give my heart to him?“ Good. I will court you so you can decide if I am worthy of your hand in marriage.” Naomi gave him a tentative smile. “There now, that was not so hard, was it?” Chaz took her hand and led her out of the attorney’s office.

                It was no surprise to anyone, least of all the attorney, when he opened the paper and found their wedding announcement in its pages. Overjoyed to have accomplished his desire and pleased that he had found the woman a worthy husband, Ralph waited until he knew the priest was free, hurried to the church, found Padre Paul, opened the paper and read, “Naomi Blanco is to marry Chaz Romero—” “Yes, it is true.” The padre wiped happy tears from his eyes. “I know because I am officiating at their nuptials.”

                Naomi’s wedding day was the best and the worst day of her life. When her voice trembled with emotion while she pledged herself to Chaz, she feared the very edifice they stood in would crash down upon her. She felt herself a fraud. How, she asked herself, can I pledge to love, honor, and obey without telling him about myself? Yet, she stifled her worries and exchanged vows and rings. Then she lifted her veil to reveal herself to him, knowing all the while that he did not know her at all. Chaz looked at her and smiled. She smiled back. As she did, she hoped that the joy that infused the moment with the bright light of promise would become a reality.

                Chaz realized he did not know where to spend the night. He found himself feeling as if he were a guest in the casa. He picked up his suitcase, which contained all he had chosen to bring to Naomi’s house at this time, and walked to the door she had closed. He was not happy that he had purposefully not told Naomi everything about himself. But early in their courtship, he had realized that if she understood his work and his world, she might deny him her hand in marriage. And that he would not allow.

Reflective Questions

What does Naomi fear?

What do you fear?

What does Chaz fear?

What will turn their fears and yours into blessings?

Until we meet again remember…

Psalm 111: 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

Proverbs 1: 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge

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Naomi and Chaz Meet, by Paula Rose Michelson

The Text
                Ralph had them meet at his office so the man could explain the effect Naomi’s words had on him and the extraordinary change he experienced once he had signed her pledge book.
                “It was as if I was one dirty and thrown away by life, lying in the gutter, defiled by the refuse of the world,” he told her. “Then a miracle happened to me. Do you know what that miracle was?”
                Mesmerized by this man, Naomi silently shook her head. Chaz’s eyes never left her as he stood, walked over to her, bent down, and softly whispered in her ear, “It was you. You saw me as I could be. What you said to me, the pledge you made me sign, the words you made me say, were
the first positive words I ever took to heart.” Naomi turned her face and looked directly into his eyes so she could see if he was lying.
                Chaz smiled at her. “You changed my life, and this life of mine, it is yours if you will take it.”
                Shocked, Naomi pulled…

Please reflect upon Matthew 6:21
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Now ask yourself: What is my treasure, where is my heart?

Author’s Comment
So far we’ve been experiencing Naomi’s life sentence by sentence as it unfolds—now we’re about to experience the incredible wonder of being loved—and the gut-wrenching pain of knowing that the person who loves us would not feel that way if they knew who we really are. I’m using the term ‘we’ because I believe that all of us, in one way or another, have allowed people to think about us as they do, and that’s understandable because our need to fit in, sometimes causes us to deny ourselves. Yet as we will see denying our reality never…

Author Changing this Blogs Format
From now on, I'll be using excerpts from Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing Book One. I hope to work through a chapter a week without giving to much away so those who are reading the book can enjoy the ride. 

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An audio version is available at Just download Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing Book One from the iTunes website and you on to an e-reader with audio capability from and listen!

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Until we meet again, may your life be filled with Yeshua’s Blessings!

A Reprobate, a Philanthropist, or a Husband, by Paula Rose Michelson

What others plan for us might seem to come true, at least on the surface. However, under all their expectation is the reality that when given few choices one might agree without intending to fulfill a commitment. Perhaps you are like Naomi and me wishing to create no need for others to examine us too closely and find us wanting we have taken what appears to be the easy route. Yet within every choice come a myriad of other choices and expectations. If we were to look backward and examine what happened, I believe we would see that Gods plan for us occurs whether we took the easy of difficult road. Mine, Naomi’s, and perhaps your journey has, at times, been stressful. However, the good news is that we now know much more than we did when we began, and those others who seemed to have it easy, traveled down a different road yet learned what they were supposed to learn, which proves to me that God; thought not orchestrating our lives, does know the end from the very beginning.

The Text

                “Padre, that sigh sounds like it has come from a man who has a great weight within his spirit. Are you burdened, my friend?”
                “Many things concern me. I have burdens and worries for some who are in my care.”
                “I know what you mean. I am concerned that we have not acted well for Naomi’s sake, and this weighs heavy on my heart.”
                “I understand. But what can we do? She is a woman now set in her ways. She needs no one.”
                “That is true. However, that does not mean that she is complete. We know a woman needs a man just as we need our faith in God.”
                The priest frowned. “What are you suggesting?”
                “Oh, have you not heard?” Ralph asked with a wide-toothed grin.
                “One of Naomi’s reprobates has become a philanthropist.”
                “And how did this come about, my son?”
                “It seems that Naomi gave him a few dollars when he was in a bad way. I understand she had him sign her pledge book. The rest of the story is as unlikely as her own is. I have heard it repeated that he said from that day to this, he kept his pledge. In making it the cornerstone of all he thought and did, he was blessed beyond his capabilities or understanding. All this man now asks is that he may approach the lady with a proposal of marriage.”
                “This must surely be of God. But why would she marry now? She is able to accomplish all she wants without a man. What would motivate her?”
                “Ah, Padre, one should never underestimate the desires of the heart once it is fanned,” the sly barrister said. “We do not need to promote this union, but let us introduce the man to Naomi and see what God will do. After all, it is not good for a woman to be alone, and as Naomi ages, who will take care of her? Not everyone can be as fortunate as La Señora was when she selected the little mouse to care for her and carry on her work. After all, Naomi has done well. Does she not deserve a portion of her life for herself?” The priest was about to answer, but before he could, the attorney added, “And this man, Chaz, has a connection to our lady like none of the others that have visited her before.”
                The priest considered everything the attorney shared, believed the matter settled, and stood to leave. “I see that you have been thinking about the lady’s situation a great deal. She will at least want to meet him and hear his story. Perhaps this is the man.” That said, he turned and walked out of the eatery.
                The attorney followed on the priests heels, reached his office, and called Naomi. When she answered, he asked her to meet the man her actions had saved from, as Chaz himself had put it, “A life without meaning.” Ralph had them meet at his office so the man could explain the effect Naomi’s words had on him and the extraordinary change he experienced once he had signed her pledge book.

Author’s Comments

The attorney has presented so many possible suitors to Naomi that he’s sure she will finally chose this man because they both work to help others and have a unique tie. Perhaps for some mutual goals, a common faith, and language are important. However, I’d like you to close your eyes and picture Naomi: an illegal immigrant, admired by all, a Jew, afraid to tell her best friend about herself. Now consider the two choices facing her, what would you do if you were her? 

Reflective Questions

What have you signed up for?

Do you like your journey so far?

Would you like to make a different choice?


Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”


May you walk in the sure knowledge that God always planned for YOU!

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An Arranged Marriage, by Paula Rose Michelson

Author’s Observation

It is said that a vacuum must be filled. In Naomi’s case many who thought her to be of no import now want to insure their plans by making certain that she is cared for. I believe many women have experienced something like this. Though I am not a proponent of women’s roles that are unbiblical, I’ve worked with women and know that under all the polite redirect some still believe women need to be cared for. Before you read today’s post, ask yourself:

If someone takes care of a women and all she owns, will she still free to be herself?

Is caring for someone and marrying them the same as loving them?

The Text

                As Naomi’s reputation for caring and good works continued to increase, so did her visibility within the little community. Many took note of her, a self-possessed woman with a sizable dowry and a thriving business. Suitors tried to win her but none knew her well enough to claim her attention. None could draw her heart away from its single focus. Both Padre Paul and the parish’s attorney, Ralph Martinez, tried to introduce her to good men who would look after her and be happy to manage her estate with their assistance. After many failed attempts at matchmaking, they concluded that although the little mouse was no longer timid, she would never marry because she was married to her work.
                Early one April morning, the priest rushed toward the rectory, heard hurried footsteps behind him, and turned back. “Padre Paul,” the attorney rasped as he hurried toward him. “A word please, Padre.”
                “I am on my way to take a rest from the duties of the morning.”
                “But, Padre, I have good news that I know you will want to hear since it concerns our little mouse,” Ralph said with a wink.
                “I am always interested in good news.”
                “Yes, I know you have the welfare of the entire parish on your mind.
                That is why I came to you first. I know how much Naomi’s situation has weighed on your mind.” He redirected the priest’s steps.
                “That is true,” Padre Paul said as they walked along together.
                They reached an eatery the attorney frequented. “Would you like a coffee, my friend?”
                “Sí, gracias, a coffee and a talk, eh?”
                “This place makes good coffee. Let us sit on the patio away from the crowd. I have something to discuss with you in private.”
                His curiosity aroused, Padre Paul raised no objection when the attorney pulled him inside, lead him to the patio, and selected a table. The good padre ordered the coffee Mr. Martinez recommended. Once their coffee arrived, he drank slowly and settled into his chair. Since the attorney seemed to be taking his time, the priest looked around. It is comfortable out here. He took another pull of his espresso and watched the pigeons descend upon the remains of a meal on a nearby table. They behave as some people do. He believed Ralph had brought him to the eatery to hatch another scheme. As he considered how to sidestep becoming involved in another failed attempt at matchmaking, he remembered he had told the attorney that he was no longer interest in wrestling control of the estate from Naomi. When the attorney had questioned his decision, he had informed Ralph that he believed Naomi had proven to be as competent as she was caring. While he thought about their heated exchange, he sighed. He knew that though the attorney had heard him, Ralph would still try to involve him in his schemes.

Today’s Scripture has always helped me sort out offers, perhaps it will do likewise for you.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Until we meet again; may the peace of Adonai surround you.

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Since the day Naomi slept in the Garden, by Paula Rose Michelson

Reflective Questions

1. Have you ever fallen asleep and awakened to a new reality?
2.  Have you ever pledged yourself to a cause higher than yourself, to a spouse in marriage, a child, or a person in need and found your wants, plans and desires diminished by that commitment?
3.  Have you done so willingly or did the situation you faced require you to choose something you had not ever considered before.

The Text

                Since the day she slept in the garden after Madre Vida’s death, she had kept her secrets. Now as she sat in the garden, watching Justine and Bobby with their children, and Maria with her husband and two stepsons, she was at peace. Only in America could women from such different places become amigas, she thought as she watched Carl and Miguel, Maria’s stepsons, throw their football back and forth. Justine’s youngest, Roberto, came over to sit in her lap. But before he did, he demanded, “Tía, tell me about the time you loved me the most!”
                Naomi smiled at him. “Roberto, I have always loved you.”
                “But, Tía, remember it was right here on your patio!” Roberto stomped his foot for emphasis. “My mother has a picture of it taken on my third birthday when I was still a little boy.”
                “I remember that birthday. I was sitting on this very chair and you came up to me, lifted your arms, and hurled yourself into mine. I caught you and said, ‘My, what a fine bebé you are, my Roberto.’ But that was a long time ago.” She tousled his curly hair. “Now you are a big boy, six years old.”
                “Sí, I am un hombre.”
                “I can see that you are!”
                “Look, Tía!” Julie twirled around the patio on her toes like a ballerina. “Look at what I can do.”
                “Every Sunday the same old stuff.” Alex picked up his mother’s car keys and headed for the door.
                “Alex, these comments of yours are not necessary,” Justine called after him. “Apologize at once!”
                Alex held his head high while his eyes glared with all the machismo pride he could muster. “Sorry, Tía, it’s not your fault you have so many bambinos around.”
                “I give up!” Justine looked at Carl and Miguel to see if they heard Alex’s comments. “What is a mother to do? He is too old to spank, taller than me by a head, and running wild as can be.”
                “Now calm yourself,” Naomi chided. “He is a man. It is hard for him to be around the little ones all day long. Relax, Carlos and Maria’s boys are too far away to hear what he said. Besides, Alex is a good person. Do not worry, he will be—”
                “I know,” Justine and Maria interrupted, “a blessing.”
                “A blessing—who wants to be a blessing?” Alex stormed out of the casa.
                Maria and Justine looked at Naomi.
                “Let’s pray,” Maria suggested. The two of them bowed their heads and prayed. Naomi stood and cleared the table. What a blessing to have this family, she thought, as she did every Sunday, truly a gift from God. If the others had realized she was not praying with them, they would not have thought it odd. For they knew it was her inner strength and capabilities that placed her in the position Tía had trained her to fill. They, as all who lived in the barrio, were aware of Naomi’s ceaseless efforts to enlarge her ability to assist those in need, not just at immigration, but also within their community.
                Many had heard her say, when giving someone a hand without making it feel like a handout, “Today I help you. Mañana you will help someone else.” Usually those in need would hear this and stare at her as if she were crazy. She would smile, pull out the little green book from the oversized black purse she had inherited from Madre Vida, open it, and have the person sign a pledge that he or she would do just what they said when the time came. Once they had done as she asked, Naomi
would put the book in her purse, look the person in the eye, and ask, “Comprendes?” Then she would wait until they said, “Si, comprendo.
                Those who watched her do this with the most down and out reprobates laughed behind her back. Yet over the years, stories had come back to her, some in letters, and some as one hears news through the network of the niñas, who were married or in business. Each time a story would reach her ears, she would smile and remind herself, You will be a blessing! A curse can become a blessing. Her smile would light up her inner most being, and she would think about all that happened to bringher to this place and tell her heart, What a blessing it is that Madre Vida chose me and gave me this life of purpose. Then that unexplainable feeling would cross her mind once more, and she would wonder if God had not brought her to immigration, into Tía’s care and to Casa de Vida for such a time as this.

Scripture and Authors Question
Psalm 65:4 says, Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.

Do you know that you, like Naomi, have been chosen? do you know that your sins cab be forgiven? If you doubt me, a reading of Psalm 65: 3 will convince you, for it says, When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.

Our sins will be forgiven when we ask Messiah Yeshua to forgive them for he is the only sacrifice that a righteous and Holy God can accept. If you haven’t yet claimed him as you Kippur, do so today!

Until we meet again, may Messiah’s blessings be yours.

Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing Book One

I Will Become a Blessing! by Paula Rose Michelson

Have you ever struggled and found yourself speaking what you longed for out loud? If you have then you are like Naomi. And like Naomi at the time she made this statement which to me sounds like a promise, I wonder if she gave any thought as to how she could achieve her goal. I know that when I made similar promises to myself I found that I sometimes lacked the resolve or ability to accomplish what I committed to. Perhaps that has been your lot to. If so, I hope today’s post allows you to see hidden options within whatever you are facing.

                Until we meet again, I pray that God Blesses YOU!

The Text

                News of Tía’s passing brought all who knew her to visit the house. The door to the casa was seldom still. Many came the day she died. Others paid their respects during the six days that followed. Life for Naomi and those in the little barrio of Spanish Harlem that extended into the surrounding suburbs changed. Everyone felt the disruption. Although people had seldom visited the casa before, it seemed that they now traveled hours to pay their respects to her family, of which Naomi was the sole representative. Those who knew her before marveled at the change they saw in the young woman’s bearing and demeanor. Many who came identified themselves to her as a member of Las Niñas. Each woman would say no more than this as they reached into their purse or pocket and handed her a small wad of money or a few coins. Naomi was shocked that anyone would think of money during such a time. One woman noticed her look of disdain and pulled her aside. “Listen, this is not for you,” Justine said. “It is to continue the work for the niñas. Comprendes?
                It appeared to Justine that Naomi did not know what she meant when she said “yes” so she insisted, “Come, I will show you!” She took Naomi to the office, closed the door, pulled out the blue companion volume to The Book of the Tías, and placed it in Naomi’s hands. “Open it.” Naomi opened the book and saw columns of names and numbers. She looked up with tears in her eyes, aware that she was finally grieving her loss. She was unable to speak. Sensing this Tía’s state of mind, Justine explained, “We all paid. Each  month after we left, we all gave a little so others could have a good life. But you are her chosen one. I fear you will pay with all of your life rather than a few coins here and a dollar or two there as we have. May God bless you, my sister, for continuing Tía’s work.” Naomi forced a wan smile.
                “I live only a few blocks from here.” Justine picked up Tía’s phonebook and pointed to an entry. “Here, this is my phone number. Call me whenever you need my assistance. I will help you as I did our tía. And always remember that our tía said, we would become a blessing.” She turned, reached the threshold, and realized that Naomi had not budged. Since Maria was staying at the casa for a few weeks, Justine opened her mouth to call her. Before she uttered a syllable, she thought of all this Tía’s life of service entailed, decided to befriend her, and asked, “How can I help you?”
                Naomi blinked but did not respond. She took Naomi outside and settled her by the fountain. Naomi looked at her surroundings and hoped they would prove as restorative as they had in the past. However, she was unable to relax and fiddled with a loose thread from her sweater while her agitation mounted. Justine noticed her behavior. “Be at ease. It is two o’clock. People are working, busy with their children, or cooking dinner. No one will come to visit until this evening. Rest. I will bring you something to eat and drink. Then you must sleep. I will stay the night, as I told mi esposo, Bobby, I would.”
                Naomi nodded, grateful to yield to the woman’s care. Freeing her mind as best she could, she leaned back into the arms of the wicker chair. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. Confronted by sorrows that haunted her, she silently admitted, Madre Vida died before my training was completed. The very morning she died my adoption papers and my citizenship papers arrived in the mail. But there was no one to thank or to share the moment with. Finally relaxed enough to think of other things, she listened to the birds chirping, closed her eyes, and thought, The sunlight filtering through the trees does feel nice. She breathed in the sweet smell of newly mown grass, remembered Spain during harvest, and drifted off to sleep. She heard it before she knew what she was hearing. It grew louder and louder. She felt as if her body would rip apart. The fear of the unknown gripped her. No, I am not afraid of the unknown. I am afraid of people finding me to be less than they need me to be. She broke into a cold sweat and ran her fingers through her hair. Sensing she had forgotten that she was in America and needing to feel safe, she told herself, These things could not happen to me here, not in America. You are safe. You are a woman of means with a mission to accomplish. Almost awake, she searched to find a way to make her fears vanish. Since she had lived with the fear that others would discover her secrets, she knew that was the problem and pledged to die rather than reveal her faith or her illegal status. It took less than a heartbeat for her to calm. When the last vestige of her fear had passed, she forced herself to think of the future and silently proclaimed, I will be a blessing!

For me, the biggest blessing is found in Romans 5:8 for it says; But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Casa de Naomi Fulfillment Opened Today!

Before a new Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing novel is released, I begin a new blog. Although you may not know it, the blog you're reading was begun four months before book one released. From August 29, 2011 until the end of December many of you dropped by. However, the number of blog followers grew exponentially once the first book of the Casa Saga was released.

At this point, I feel confident in beginning the blog for book two because those who have read book one are eager to find out what happened. So between the now and the release of book two, I'll be posting hints every week. This is sort of like a scavenger hunt, but unlike them because the clues, and answers can be found in Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, Book One. Since the person that finds the answers will win an author inscribed copy of book two. I hope you'll all try to find out what I've added or omitted because those issues will lead you to the...

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Not Knowing What Else to Do, by Paula Rose Michelson

Life and what we make it, is influenced by what we aspire to become, or the situations we find ourselves in. Although many might think they had all the options in the world to chose from, as we become immersed in the reality of one choice, others seem to pale by comparison. For some, doing what must be done becomes their life’s work, others chose themselves. Either way, whatever one chooses defines and can sometimes trap them into a life they would have never chosen if they knew what would happen next.

The Text

                Whether it was the responsibility of their mission’s success or Madre Vida’s words that caused Naomi to have a sleepless night, she was not sure. All she knew was when bird song roused her, she stayed in bed, lulled to sleep by the chirping she loved so much. It seemed that only a few moments had passed when she heard someone. It must be Maria, she thought. She glanced out her French doors, and noticed it was still early morning twilight. Perhaps I had a bad dream. She listened intently and heard the sound of distraught wailing. Aware that something was terribly wrong, she jumped out of bed, opened her door, heard the sound of fervent praying, and looked toward Madre Vida’s suite. Maria stood in a pool of light at its entrance.
                Naomi raced down the hall, thought of her adoptive madre’s words to her, and silently prayed, Madre Vida, please do not be— Before she completed her prayer, she remembered herself screaming, “Abuela Sosa, please do not be dead!” She forced her mind back to the present and shuddered. No! she told herself, I cannot let someone I love die again! When she reached Maria, the young woman was wailing as tears streamed down her face. Madre Vida is already dead, Naomi thought. She reached out to Maria. The young woman turned toward her but did not seem to recognize her. Not knowing what else to do, and not able to look inside the suite, Naomi pulled her close. Maria sobbed. “Tía always liked to wrap her neck with as many scarves as possible. She told me it kept the chill from her old bones.” She pointed to the bedpost. “But look what has happened.”
                Naomi forced herself to look into Madre Vida’s room and gasped. Vida’s face was ashen gray and looked more like a death mask than the caring woman Naomi knew her to be. Steeling her resolve, Naomi scanned the ornately carved bedpost and saw where Vida had gotten her scarves caught. “She is dead,” she said gagging on the words as she spoke them. She strangled to death, Naomi silently admitted as tears welled up. Aware that Madre Vida would frown on such behavior, she dashed them away as she told herself, There is much to do before you can grieve.
                She turned toward Maria, steeled her heart for the task ahead, and demanded, “Why are you here this early?”
                Maria gulped back a sob. “It was our secret. Tía did not want me to tell you. She feared you would get up every night to tend her.”
                “Maria, tell me what you are talking about!”
                “She was … I mean … always got cold … at this hour. She wanted a hot water bottle … for her feet. She said it helped to warm her old—”
                “We need to call the doctor! He must come and tend her!”
                “But … she … is dead,” Maria sobbed hysterically.
                “I need to call the doctor now! I do not want her to be attended by strangers.” Naomi took two steps and turned back. Maria stood riveted at the threshold of the suite and continued to look at Madre Vida’s corpse. Her sobs echoed throughout the house.
                “Come with me.” Naomi took her to the kitchen and brewed some chamomile tea. “Drink this. Calm down and tell me why you were in Tía’s room at this hour.”
                “But I already told you,” the young woman wailed as she sniffled and wiped away her tears.
                Blinking back her own, Naomi forced herself to calm down. “I had trouble hearing what you said … tell me again.”
                “Oh, forgive me.” Maria glanced at Naomi for support. Naomi nodded, so Maria continued, “Tía always had me come in at this hour. She said her feet were cold, so I brought her a hot water bottle because she told me she could not sleep when her feet became chilled. It was a little secret between us. She didn’t want you to know. She feared you wouldn’t leave her to do, as she put it, the things of first importance. This time, however, she was as you yourself saw her. I believe she is with the angels now.”
                “Sí … she is gone from us.” Feeling removed, yet overwrought by the situation, Naomi stood and walked to the office. She dialed Dr. Apayo’s number. When he answered she said, “Madre Vida is gone from us … please come.” She returned to the kitchen. Maria was crying while she rung her hands in despair. Not knowing what else to do, Naomi’s training took over and she focused on the young woman’s needs.

Reflective Questions

Other’s needs keep Naomi in the casa in El Barrio. What keeps you where you are?

A pledge becomes Naomi’s life. What pledges have you made?

Helping others causes Naomi to keep her secrets hidden. What are you hiding and why?

1 Corinthians 13: 12, For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known

Until we meet again may you experience Messiahs blessings.

Becoming a Blessing, by Paula Rose Michelson

As often happens, we intend to become one type of person, but because of circumstance become another. This has been Naomi’s journey, mine, and maybe yours as well. I say that about us because although we might make plans, life and the needs of others may cause us to feel or force us to make other life choices. Having spoken with many women over the years that gave up their dream, I can attest to the fact that though the end result might look different than the one you intended, whether you are other or self-centered, you will probably remain so unless you learn to evaluate everything through a different lens. In Naomi’s story we see that the girl, who left hearth and home to help her family, has now been appointed to help everyone. One wonders: Can she do this while hiding who she is? Can she reconcile herself to the situation she is in and find joy in doing for others while she continues to deny herself? You might ask yourself these questions as you read today’s blog. God Bless!

The Text

                Naomi was finally able to leave the confines of the casa. Though she rushed from citizenship classes to the market, visited Victor at immigration, and allowed some married niñas to take her shopping for a wardrobe befitting her new station, she savored her freedom. Yet as busy as her days were, the time she valued most was her daily meeting with Madre Vida. There was much for her to learn, and her American madre knew what and how to teach her. Every night she and her mentor would have their meeting in the old woman’s room while they ate their dinner together. Sometimes she was with her for hours. At other times the old woman’s fragile health caused them to end their sessions as soon as dinner was over. The time they spent together had a single focus, to prepare the young woman for the world outside and the work she would carry on. Though Naomi was grateful to be able to study to become a citizen, she knew that what Madre Vida taught her would allow her to fulfill her obligation. Although she wanted to understand all she was told, it never failed that just as she began to grasp what the old woman was saying, Madre Vida would wave her away. “That is enough for tonight. You think about what I have taught and tomorrow you can tell me how you applied the lesson.”
                “Are you never pleased with me, Madre Vida?”
                “My child, I know the doctor told you everything about my condition so you know this will most likely be my last spring.” The old woman wheezed. “I must do everything I can to prepare you.” Naomi gasped. Madre Vida turned, locked eyes with her, and willed her protégé to act, as she must. “When I was given charge of Tía Esperanza’s affairs, little notice was taken of me. I was able to learn as I went through the tasks of each day. But did you not notice the cunning looks that crossed the faces
of our good padre and Mr. Martinez when they learned that you were to become my own daughter? Surely, you could not judge, as I did, that you may be in danger from the men I hoped would assist you. Learn what I teach you so that you and our work will flourish. And you, in due time, will find another to take your place. Remember, do not put your trust in men, but trust in God alone.”
                Naomi nodded, aware that she had noticed these things. However, these concerns paled when she thought of Madre Vida’s life ending. Do something to help Madre Vida, she scolded herself. As she did, she knew there was nothing to do except keep faith with the pledge she had made so she
forced a smile. “Do not worry, Madre Vida, I will do as you have taught me.” Before she finished speaking the words, she remembered herself as an adolescent telling her mamá in Spain the same thing. In the next heartbeat, she thought about the night she fled rather than deal with that life. After all these years, Naomi’s feelings of shame drew her back to Spain as nothing else had. Then just as quickly, her mind brought her back to the present.
                Madre Vida watched the telling play of emotions cross her daughter’s face. “I see that you understand. Let us use our time to prepare you and give you what is necessary for success. In success, there is much pleasure, especially when it means the lives of the little niñas are changed. People you have never met will have better lives because you helped these girls stay here. Is that not something to strive toward?”
                Eyes alight with unshed tears, Naomi nodded and said, “Yes.” As she did, she found herself rejoicing, Me, the girl who was a curse, now a blessing. What magic is this?
                “I see that you understand.” Madre Vida glanced at her bedside clock. Aware that this was her benefactors signal for her to say good night, Naomi stood, kissed the old woman on the forehead, and left the room.
                What would it feel like to be a blessing? Naomi wondered while she walked through the  house. Would it be evident to everyone? Or would it be like the last time mi mamá was with child? Oh, do not draw attention to yourself. If you do, others will discover you are a liar and a thief, she told herself, for though she had agreed to become all her American madre was teaching her to be, she still feared exposure.

Author’s Comment

It seems that no matter what Naomi chooses, she, like us, finds herself at the crossroad of life. Fear lurks on one side, and she might choose to live in fear because she has been schooled in that reality. Each of us deal with choices sometimes daily, or weekly, or yearly. The sum total of our choices colors our world, affects our state of mind, and defines us.

Breaking free of the tyranny of choice or the consequences there of have caused children to disown their parents, adults to move so they can reinvent themselves, and (I believe)  made some therapist wealthy.

When everything is rearranged to our liking, underneath it all, we are still as we started out. For the human condition draws us back to the familiar. Therefore, all I can suggest, the only change agent that I know works, is putting our trust in God, so I end with the three Scriptures below and pray that as you read them they will speak to your need and bestow upon you Messiah’s Shalom, the peace that transcends all understanding.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

Isaiah 43:1 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

How will I do this? by Paula Rose Michelson

I believe that each of us has had experiences where we had to overcome insurmountable odds to achieve a goal we had not set for ourselves. Solving problems and overcoming obstacles is part of the human condition. In retrospect many have admitted that though the challenge was one they would not chose they learned a great deal about themselves as they dealt with the situation.

As you read the text ask yourself:

What would I do?

Why would I do it?

What would I do next?

The Text

                “Sí, sí … yes, but how will I do all this?”
                “We will call for assistance from my friend Myra. She will send a girl to you who you will train to take care of me. There is too much for you to do all by yourself. At night, you can take care of me. During the day you will serve me best outside the casa by taking caring of what is ours.” Naomi’s eyes widened as Madre Vida spoke about her new responsibilities. With each utterance, she became more overwhelmed. Her fear was evident to the old woman, who pointed an arthritic finger at her and insisted, “You can do this! I have chosen you because I know you will succeed! Do you believe me?”
                Naomi nodded, surprised that she truly did believe the old woman.
                “Yes, Madre Vida, I do.”
                “That is good.” She pulled the edge of her sheet over the blanket so the soft fabric was against her tender skin. “I am hungry and thirsty. Please bring me something to eat before I fall asleep again.”
                Naomi ran to the kitchen, put together a simple meal, and it brought to her. She set the tray on her bed and turned to leave. “But, child, where is your meal?” Dashing to the kitchen, Naomi fixed another tray as she pondered the strange turn of events.
                When she entered the suite, the old woman smiled. “I am glad you have chosen to stay.” So much freedom … so much responsibility, Naomi thought. How can I handle everything and discover who I am? The old woman looked up from her cold beet soup, sweetened with a slight zing from mild chilies, and studied her daughter’s face. “What is troubling you, Naomi?”
                “Forgive me, but I am concerned. I do not know how to do any of the things you want me to do.”
                The old woman chuckled. “You will learn.” She mopped up her bowl with some bread and added, “Just as I did.”
                “Just as you did?”
                “Yes, exactly as I did.” Madre Vida shared how her own adopted madre, Esperanza, had taught her the very things she would teach Naomi. When Naomi realized that Vida had felt as ill prepared as she felt now and made it through, she relaxed. “Listen, why do you think I never brought another niña here after you? Why do you think it was only the two of us? I know you were aware, since some of my grown niñas stopped by to visit, that many girls were here before but none since you came. Even in town, they would ask about you, but I kept you sheltered with me always. Never did I farm you out. Did you never wonder why? Did it never seem odd to you that I never treated you as I treated them?”
                “Well … yes, I did wonder about that. But I have always been treated differently no matter where I went, so it did not seem so unusual.”
                “Then you know that you are one who was set apart. I do not know why, but my good fortune is that I found you and was able to get you for myself. I have watched you. I know you. You can do all I ask of you. You will bring blessing upon my name long after I am gone. And the people here will come to know how much you care for them as you do what I tell you to do. Now I am tired. You must let me rest.”
                Pondering this strange turn of events, Naomi took Madre Vida’s tray from her feeble hands. The old woman smiled up at her. “I was one such as you. Tía Esperanza gave me this work in trust. I learned to do it and you will as well. Now leave me, for I must sleep.”

                Naomi walked into the kitchen, set their trays on the counter, and hurried to Madre Vida’s office. She entered, looked around, and realized it was now hers, as was the success for the work Vida trusted her to continue. She walked to the massive oak desk and sat down in the chair the old woman had sat in a few days before. Knowing her madre as she knew herself, Naomi reasoned that the top drawer held information she needed. She opened it and took the items out one at a time. There were timecards for the employees at the market, files for expenses and vendors, and legal agreements for those who rented space there. She found a file titled Immigration, opened it, and saw the papers Mr. Martinez had drawn up for Madre Vida. She set them aside. Under those, she found a file with her name on it.
                She took it to the kitchen and brewed a cup of tea. As the sun began to set, she flipped on the outside lights, stepped onto the patio, lit the torches, sat down, and opened the file. When she scanned its contents, she saw a diagram that would lead her to a book, which Madre Vida mentioned as important. She hurried to the office and found a unique book bound in red where the diagram showed it would be. Eager to look through the file, she returned to the patio, sat down, and placed the book on the table, intending to look at it later.
                When she flipped the page and read, “Detener … stop. Go no further until you read The Book of the Tías,” whatever illusion of independence she had vanished almost as fast as it had come. She picked up the book and leafed through its pages. “It seems I received my freedom so I could do what these women require of me,” she mumbled. Yet as she read, she found the entries fascinating. Esperanza, who had begun the work, wrote the first entries. Those that followed were from Madre Vida. As Naomi read her adoptive madre’s entries, she saw the date when Vida first mentioned that Naomi would be her successor and realized that it had been written it shortly after she arrived at the casa. Madre Vida’s last entry to her was a paraphrasing of the last words Esperanza had written to Vida, the girl who would continue her work. Aware that they applied to her as well, Naomi spoke them aloud. “Be fearless. Those who have come here need your assistance.” Though she spoke the words firmly, she was not firm in her resolve and stayed up all night trying to figure out how she could realize her plans and continue the work she had benefited from.
                As the shops prepared to open for business, Naomi yawned, and stretched in an effort to clear her mind. She could not stop herself from thinking, My letter seems different, as if Madre Vida chose me not because I was convenient but because of some inner quality she knew I possessed. She hinted at this when she wrote, I searched for you until I found you. I sheltered you and kept you safe. You have received more than anyone else has. I expect you to do what those who are behind you ask you to do and what those who are coming need you to do. I have equipped you to do all I have given you to do.
               Moved by the letter, which had been written years before she heard the words spoken by the woman herself, Naomi wondered, What did she see in me all those years ago—a frightened, scrawny, wide-eyed girl with nothing to offer? What made her choose me? She assumed she would never know. Yet she held The Book of the Tías in her hand, bowed her head, and accepted the commission. Her fate sealed, she admitted, I will never find you, mi tío, because I will never look for you. My heart is committed to meeting the needs of those, like me, who face deportation. She knew that the letter she had tucked into her skirt pocket so long ago would go unanswered. Here is a mission God equipped me for. I will not walk away from it … not for mi tío, not even for my family!
                Her future sealed, Naomi remembered fleeing Spain because she had feared others would discover her to be a Jew in a country that allowed only one faith, that of the Catholic Church. She remembered Madre Vida hiding her in the casa and feeling safe. As she thought about her journey, her old worries found voice, and though she would never tell a soul, she remembered that the last name she had given to Mr. Sosa, Victor at immigration, and the one Madre Vida had given the attorney which would appear on her adoption papers was not hers. Aware that she must return to immigration bearing that false name, she found herself more fearful of deportation than before. Realizing there was no one she could take her troubles to, she got on her knees and prayed, “Oh, God, help me to help others as my tía helped me. Allow me to know you and guide me always in the way I should go.” She felt a heavy weight lift from her. Infused with the joy, which comes when one casts their burdens upon God, she felt the strain she had been living under vanish. By agreeing to take the role of Tía and praying to God for his wisdom, I have again become as I was before the ruinous poison of the Jewish curse caused me to flee seeking a safe haven, she thought. If only—the memory of her childhood wish, quiet for all these years, stirred, if only it had happened sooner! At that moment, she felt as if she could again hear herself, as a child, praying to God. She had wanted others to think of her as a true daughter of Spain rather than a Jew. She had asked God for that blessing. However, her request had gone unanswered, and the children had continued to call her names, chasing her home as they yelled at her that she had killed their Christ.
                Naomi cried out, “Oh God of my fathers, God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, help me do as I am asked! Keep me safely hidden in you and I will serve you all the days of my life.” She sobbed, aware that by accepting the role of Tía, she had become visible and all the terrible things that happened to her before could happen again. For one such as she, who had mastered the art of being invisible, putting herself in a situation where many would scrutinize her was unsettling. Yet she was committed to assist those fleeing situations too painful to describe.
                Emboldened by a renewed faith in the Lord and her position in the community, she asked, “What can they do to me now? As Tía’s chosen one, I have wealth and a good reputation with Madre Vida. No one would dare question me about my ability or my heritage. They will know Madre Vida choose and trained me and that will be enough for them.” She realized the protection wealth would afford her and smiled as she stood, blew out the candles, and went to bed.

Until we meet again, may you be emboldened to move from what is to what is yet to be.

Visit to buy Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing Book 1 and pre-purchase a prerelease copy of book two