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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