Thursday, March 28, 2013

Looking back, Letting Go—Moving Forward! by Paula Rose

I had not planned to post another blog this week simply because I told myself that once a week was enough. “After all,” I cautioned, “who’d want to read… or even find enough time if they did, to drop by more than once a week?” Yet the events that led up to my decision to irradiate my website as in “it’s not there and will never arise like that mythical bird did from the ashes,’ made this posting a must!

So one might ask, “If you set up a website and used it for several years why delete it?” Since this is a good question, I’ll share that, I never set up my website! The site and management thereof was gifted me by wonderful friend who offered to do this the day I told him, I’d signed a book contract with a publisher. While at lunch, he asked some questions and came back a week later with everything! That’s right! I was blessed and knew it! However, I had no idea how much time this blessing would require of me. But I soon discovered that I needed to write and keep writing to refresh the site so readers and those searching for methe authorcould find me. Suddenly the number of ‘hits’ seemed to matter, so I found myself checking in case my friend would ask what was going on. I was grateful, and delighted to have friend who cared about my work!

This bliss continued until the release of my second book. I say that because since then the site’s been hacked three times. I believe the first time the hacker was just trying to see if he could get in! The second time material I’d written was lifted and my site manager told me he found it for sale on the internet! All of this I dealt  with and then….the preverbal ‘other shoe’ dropped when I discovered the site had been suspended because the hacker returned and left so much infected matter that it wasn’t safe for anyone to visit!

As the wife of Messianic Missionary, Ron Michelson, I’d been privileged to serve within Chosen People Ministries and knew this could happen because of anti-missionary activity. Yet it never occurred to me that I’d be targeted! But that does seem to be what happened!

Yet I am not crying out, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” as Yeshua did while hanging on the cross. He spoke these words from Psalm 22:1 to tell the people that he, The Messiah was there! In other words, God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, whom he renamed Israel—He who made everything and holds it together by the power of HIS WORD IS FAITHFUL! Today, I chose to walk in the knowledge that, he who began a good work in me is more than able to complete it!  My prayer is that you know, or will come to know the amazing reality of placing your trust and life in the one who died that you might live FOREVER!  

Paula Rose Michelson is the author of the Casa Saga Books.
To view them use this url:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Best Day Ever, by Paula Rose Michelson

When Skip woke up it was early; that is early for a little boy who’d only gotten a few hours sleep. He bounded out of bed with a smile as he remembered how easy it’d been for him to make his mom see his side of things. “After all,” he’d explained,” tomorrow’s the big day, the last day of the World Series, and Babe Ruth’s batting first! I’ve just got to be there with his bat all cleaned and spruced up! He’s counting on me to hand him his special bat!”
            As Skip rushed to get dressed, and gulp down some breakfast, he remembering how the big guy had come over to him when the Yankees arrived at Wriggly Stadium. He’d looked him over from head to toe and handed him his bat. “Sonny this here’s special!” He winked, and walked away to chat with his teammates’ gathered in the dugout. That was all The Babe had to say cause Skip knew what he meant. The bat was in his care. Babe had entrusted it to him! It was his job to take care of it, bring it to him when he was at batting practice, and hand it to him when he headed to the mound. So every night of the series, Skip took it home and cleaned it up. Last night he’d taken more time than ever before cause Babe just had to win one more time. If he didn’t win, Skip knew he was gonna feel awful cause he was rooting for Babe and against his own team. Pushing that thought aside, he reminded himself, Babe is counting on me, that’s what matters! And at nine Skip knew what mattered to Babe case without his favorite bat, The Sultan of Swat, as many of his fans called George Herman Ruth, Jr., the team would not— could not win—the penitent! Yep Skip told himself as he sat down for breakfast, and gazed longingly at Babe’s bat rubbed to a high gloss sheen, without me, and this bat, the Wizard of Wham may strike out!
            As his mom set a bowl of cereal in front of him, he looked at her, pulled out a Babe Ruth bar he’d been saving for the big day from his pocket, peeled back the wrapper, and took a big bite. His mom sighed and sat down across from him. He knew he was gonna to get a lecture; Skip did, for mom didn’t allow candy first thing in the morning. In fact, as Skip sat there munching away he could almost hear her litany of reasons why. However, to his surprise, his mom put the cereal in front of herself and began to eat. Wow, Skip thought, I haven’t left the house, or gotten to the ballpark, and this is already the best day every!    
            Mom smiled at him. “Big day today.”
            Now Skip knew he’d died and gone to baseball paradise cause his mom never mentioned anything about the game! And she never ever used words like big unless she was talking about a Bible Study, church, or Pastor Ethan Smithers who in mom’s eyes was taking much to long to ask his sister Betty Jean to marry him. But, Skip reckoned, as he looked at the bat one more time, that has nothing to do with me. He cautioned himself, Keep your mind on the game, Babe needs you!
            His candy bar done, Skip stood, tossed the wrapper in the trash, and put on his official baseball cap.
            “Have a good day.” His mom smiled as he picked up Babe’s Bat, nodded her way, and headed to Wriggley Field. Yessiree Skip thought as he walked the five blocks to the field, it sure doesn’t get any better than having the New York Yankees playing in Chicago!       
            As he walked along the other batboys joined him but none of them looked his way. They think I’m a traitor to the Cubs the boy sighed as he nodded at the guys who used to swat him on the back when they came up from behind, and with whom he secretly wagered on the games as he whispered, “Don’t tell my mom or I’ll get a lickin’.” When he glanced back, it seemed to Skip that the other guys were as focused, and determined as he was that their favorite player was gonna to pull it off. Yep! Each of the boys had a player that they rooted for, and until Babe handed him his bat, Skip’s had been Charles Henry Root. Hank, as Skip though of him when he fantasized about the friendship they’d have one day. He’d never missed a day when the guy born in Middletown, Ohio, was pitching, cause in Skip’s book he was the best there was! And Skip figured he should know since he’d been around the game all his life.
            When the batboys got there, the stadium was empty except for the people who made the event what it was, like the guys lining the field, and gramps who sold hotdogs. If anyone had asked Skip about the slow peaceful start to his day, he would’ve smiled. I like it this way, kind’a helps a fella get into the swing of things before the guys start swinging. Ya know what I mean? Of course, he’d never have spoken like that when his mom was around cause she insisted on good manners, the correct use of words, and perfect diction. However, having lost his father in an elevator crash some years backmore years back than Skip could rememberhe’d learned to be the man of the house and save his boy activities, attitudes, and the use of sang, for when he was far away from home, and the responsibilities of being the man.
            So as the stands filled up, and everyone settled down the game began. The pitchers pitched, and the players played. The boys did their job, and the crowed cheered. The vendors sold food, and the heat beat down upon the hushed throng as each one there rooted for their team, and their guy. In between at-bats, the boys traded jabs, and baseball cards, and while their personal favorite was at-bat, each boy said a prayer. When anyone one else got up to bat, they heckled them unmercifully.
            Yet, as idyllic as Skip’s life looked to others, it was with a longing born of an unspoken need, that the batboy handed Ruth his bat on that fateful day. The boy knew that Ruth, and the team had been unstoppable back in 1927 when the Yankees were known as Murder’s Row cause of the strength of its hitting lineup. Heck, Skip thought, as Ruth took his bat in hand, back then the team won a record 110 games! As Babe swung the bat a few times, the boy wondered, Can he still do it?
            He’d heard the rumors, read about arguments before the Series began, and as the game progressed, the fans heard the two teams throw verbal barbs at each other, which his mother would have spanked him soundly for as she insisted, “My boy does not speak that way, not in my house or anywhere else!”
            But, shrugged Skip with a smile, this ain’t home, its Wriggly Field! This is baseball!
            If he’d looked at the bleachers, Skip would’ve seen that fifty thousand cubs’ fans agreed with him. However, rooting for the other team, he kept his head down, and did his job. Except for earlier in the day when the teams were still warming up, when he’d looked up then, it was to watch Ruth, and Lou Gehrig put on an impressive batting display during practice. Ruth launched nine balls to the outfield stands while Gehrig hit seven, then as quickly as Skip looked up, he hunkered down again. That is until he handed The Bambino, his bat. The Babe must have sensed that Skip needed something from him, though the boy never asked The Colossus of Clout why,  he smiled at him, winked, and whispered, “This ones for you son,” as he called the shot, and pointed to the center field bleachers during his at-bat. Skip knew it was Babe’s declaration that he’d hit a home run out of the park. Skip nodded, smiled, and stepped away, and the man who was called, The Sultan of Swat, The King of Crash, The Colossus of Clout, The Babe hit what for want of a better word, was dubbed a “Ruthian!” As everyone stood to watch that beautiful, powerful, ball sail into deep center field, past the flagpole, and into the temporary seating in the streets, the crowd went wild!
            At that momentous moment, Skip witnessed a miracle! It wasn’t the miracle of the shot Babe called, and it certainly wasn’t the fact that he had won his bets even though his mom could certainly use the money, since school had started and he needed new shoes. No, the miracle Skip witnessed that day had nothing to do with the shot ‘the home run king’ called. It had everything to do with the fact that before the Titan of Swat headed out to slowly jog around the field savoring the joy of being able to shape the game one more time to his liking, George Herman Ruth, Jr. turned to Skip, handed him his special bat, and smiled. “Thanks son for helping me today. I wish I had a boy like you. Your dad’s a lucky guy!”
            Skip waited until the Babe left. Then he headed home. The other guys had left earlier. After all, he thought to himself when he headed back all alone, who’d want to hang around with a guy who rooted for the other team, the team that won. Nobody, that’s who. He tried to pretend it didn’t matter to him if they all walk back together or not. However, it mattered terribly. You see Skip had always thought life had given him a raw deal. Which is a hard way to feel when your still in elementary grade school, and don’t know how to get over losses so profound, but never spoken about as having no father. Yet this time as he ruminated on all the things he and his dad would never do, the face of Babe Ruth smiled at him, and he heard, “Thanks son for helping me today.”
            As he turned down his street, Skip was joined by the other batboys who’d felt sorry leaving without the little guy, and retraced their steps to meet him. “Okay, my guy won, so what of it,” he said nonchalantly as they walked along together. The others were surprised because they knew Skip liked to harp on every good thing that happened to him. The other guys tried not to mind cause they knew how tough Skip had it, and all of them realized what happened at Wriggly Field was the biggest, and best thing that’d ever happened to the kid. Yet when they asked Skip about the game all he did was smile. “This was the best day I ever had!”

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Come, Experience the Butterfly Grove, by Paula Rose Michelson

Though I planned to be off line on this Palm Sunday, I felt the need to post this story! I know that might seem odd, but odd or not - when the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) directs, I must do. Today I've posted a story that made me think of my Messiah, rejoice, and cry as I wrote it. I hope you do likewise as you read it. God Bless!

Come, Experience the Butterfly Grove

Fran had not been outside much, what with getting her eldest, Analise off to her second year of college, and settling in for the fall. She was a practical woman, with brown hair and such a petite stature that many thought her no more than a teen. Yet, once one got to know her, they soon realized that she was a force to be reckoned with. She, like the house she ran, did things in a no nonsense sort of way. Underneath it all, she was one of those sweet souls who had devoted herself to hearth and home. Because of this, it was surprising to her two daughters who still lived at home and her husband when she looked up from her Sunday read and sighed, “The Fall Festivals on this weekend.” She waited for a reply, even a smile will do, she thought, but no one said a word. Her husband turned to the next page in his Wall Street Journal’s financial section and continued to read.
            Setting her paper aside, Fran stood and began to clean up from breakfast. She did not harp on the matter for she understood how much everyone needed to rest on Sunday since the week was full of commitments and their Saturdays were busy with their Messianic congregation, family, and friends. Still, she thought to herself as she washed up the dishes and set her kitchen to rights, the fall is a beautiful time of year. Nature is arrayed in her very best. The leaves of the trees are changing color from dappled green, to burnt-orange as the season ushers in the winter. Thinking that it had been a long time since she waxed poetical, she took the trash round back, and was hit with a blast of frigid. Her face numb from the unexpected unsought she closed her eyes and hoping her picture of the day might somehow be realized though, the air turns crisp, not fridge, and the days grow short. Yet as much as Fran tried to keep her thoughts from the festival, she found herself again wishing to go. You are not traipsing out there without your family, she scolded herself as she headed in, pulled her warm coat out of the hall closet, and headed out again determined to walk off her desire. She took her usual route past the city park that was five block long with its beautiful marshes, walking trails and manmade beach, around the high school, and back again.
            Looking up she saw a flock of birds flying off to warmer climes, and smiled, it is a time of making taffy, and curling up with a good book. Feeling better already, she hurried her pace as she walked along until she found what she called, for want of a better word, her center. She thought of the day Renniha, her second daughter and the most inquisitive of the three had asked, “How do you manage to always look and answer appropriately?” Well, she remembered admitting rather shamefaced that she did not have a grand bible teaching to impart, I ask myself how I would like to be treated, and treat the person I am with that way. Fran remembered that Renniha had stared at her, just as her family had done today. Pondering her daughters reaction, for perhaps the tenth time since the incident happened, Fran wondered, why does it matter to you what she thought, as long as she behaves properly I have done my job!
            By now, Fran was in a sweat, whether from the weather that had warmed up as the sun reached its zenith or from her own musings, she was not sure, as she hurried back home. All she knew as she opened the front door and put her coat away was that today she would take her own advice and treat herself as she would others.
            As she hurried upstairs to get ready to leave her husband hollered, “Where have you been? I have been looking for you!”
            Peeking out from their bedroom door, she smiled, “Walking, thinking, and now I’m getting ready to go the festival!”
            Before she could utter another word, Fran saw two bedroom doors fly open as her daughters whined, “But mom, you promised…”
            Fran had never, for as long as she could remember interrupted anyone. However, she had, had enough! So with as well modulated a tone as she could muster, she insisted, “The weather has warmed up, and it’s a wonderful day for an excursion!”
            The sister rolled their eyes. They had learned long ago that when their mom spoke that way, one or both of them, was going to have to do whatever she wanted. Without saying a word Laila looked at Renniha, and nodded in their mothers direction, as if to say, ‘you’re turn.’
            Renniha sighed resigning herself to the outing. However, Fran was aware of all they were not saying and announced, “I don’t want any of you to put yourself out on my account!”
            The girls looked at each other, shrugged, and turned way.

            Ten minutes later, Fran was behind the wheel of their station wagon and heading out all by herself. She felt a little sorry that her brood had decided to forgo the event. However, as she pulled onto the level graveled place where the sign directed visitors to park, her sprits revived reminding her that this was her day, not theirs and that she deserved to do something for herself every now and then.
            Even before she locked the car door, Fran spotted the old farmhouse, which someone had bequeathed to the town. As she walked toward it, she was taken back to another time, a time when life was simpler. It was only upon reaching the place that she discovered the grand Victorian nestled in the trees, some distance behind it. Wanting to inspect it more closely she headed out and spotted a meticulously calligraphied sign that read “Butterfly Crossing” on a pristine field of white with raised letters of forest green. I saw one just like this when I parked, she thought to herself aware that the place had so captivated her imagination that her practical nature had taken a backseat to her sense of joyful exploration.
            Feeling unfettered by obligations, she walked up the winding path to the Victorian and as she neared the place, Fran realized that it had been built to look much like the brownstones in San Francisco. She paused for a moment, and thought about the people that might have once lived, or visited the place, which was adorned for the season, resplendent in all its Victorian trappings. Interested in the buildings architecture, she mounted the wide veranda that enwrapped the small but pristine Mans, and walked around, as she peered within to view its rooms. She would have gone in but trying the door, found it locked. Thinking there might be someone about with the key, she turned intending to search for them. She heard the sound of children’s laughter, and headed toward them. As she did, she spotted another “Butterfly Crossing” sign. All right, she thought, I get the message! Yet, as she neared the children, she laughed inwardly butterfly crossing, why that is silly!
            Perhaps if she had not discounted the words, and thereby found herself needing something else to think about, Fran might not have looked up to gage the weather front that was slowly approaching and noticed that the trees across the field, were aglow with moving, shimmering, and varied colors. As she happily exclaimed later, “I will never know for sure what drew my attention toward the fallow field, for I was interested in the Mans, and did not look at anything else once I spotted it!”
            All Fran knew at her moment of discovery was that as she stepped on to the field, her feet began to sink into the moist brown earth. An old gray haired gent in a wagon filled with hay pulled up along side and asked, “Do you want a closer look at the butterflies?” Suspending her version of reality, Fran nodded her head excitedly, got into the wagon, and watched with baited breath as he brought her within a few inches of the beautiful and varied array of the butterfly grove. She watched in wondered awe as the old gent lovingly explained, “This grove of trees is in their flight path. They stop here each year, eat till their full, and fly off to continue their migration to warmer places where they winter.”
            As she listened to his soothing voice, Fran felt herself surrounded by Monarchs, almost as if she was one of them. She felt the beauty and serenity of their rhythmetic wings that moved the leave of the trees to stir ever so slightly, causing them to look, for want of any better observation, like a living organism. Fran found herself wishing to be one with them, and suddenly aware of that idea, she paused to think. Nevertheless, not being fashioned to be other than she was, at some point she heard the gent’s voice continue, “When they stop here they bring a blessing, and because of that people come to see them from miles, and miles around. In fact,” he smiled knowingly, “that’s why the family that owned the place left it to the city, and made certain that this place was marked as a Butterfly Crossing. But,” he cautioned, “you won’t find many town folks here because their used to the butterfly days. Besides,” he chuckled, “sometimes the pretty little things are nothing more that a darn nuisance!”
            Fran looked at him quiziqually. The old gent must have sensed her unasked question because rather than swat the teams rump, and direct them back to the bale of hay where others waited patiently to be taken to the trees he sighed, “Having them here is an amazing experience. Until they get in your path, causing you to chose a different route. Worse yet, they make it impossible for life, to continue in any orderly fashion because of all the visitors. Then, he sighed sadly, as he swatted the horses rump with his reigns and they headed back to the hay bale, “as quickly as they come, their gone. I think their about ready to fly away, since they’ve been here for a week and that’s about as long as they stay.”
            She understood more than the old gent said, for having said goodbye to Analise last year as she headed off for her first semester at Stanford, and facing the same ordeal with Renniha’s leaving after the holidays to take up residence in Palm Springs where her grandparents and fiancée live, Fran knew she was facing another loss. Yet, as Fran, headed back to her car and turned back to glance longingly at the grove, she reminded herself that she had learned to let go, as she unlocked the door. As she started the motor, she turned back for a last look and sighed, their have been only a handful of places in my life that I have regretted leaving, and I most assuredly I have never allowed myself to regret leaving a place I can visit again. Nevertheless, even as she told herself that, and turned her gaze away from the Cypress trees and focused of the road, she felt a pang of sorrow that reminded her of how she had felt and would feel again.
            Years later she would admit but only after her husband of sixty years had died, that, in the comfort of old age she had learned to let go of each member of her family, and many other things, and learned how to say hello to the unexpected with a smile.
            Yet when she left that grove the first time, Fran found it hard to shake off the feeling that in leaving it she was loosing something special. “Perhaps you have felt that way at times too,” she told them, her aged voice resonate with the joy of her discovery thirty-some years before as she continued, “Its, to hard to put it into words because they still fall short, yet if I had to explain it I would say, its like a leaving when one should be cleaving.” However, that first time, as Fran hurried home to get dinner started; she realized that she was glad she had taken the time to steel away.
            As she hurried in the front door a chill wind came off the Back Bay, and Fran sighed bidding a fond farewell to fairyland fantasies as she hung up her coat. Renniha, her very grown up nineteen year old greeted Fran, and listened as her mom waxed lyrical about her experience. While she did, Renniha realized, yet again, what a gifted poet her mom might have become if she had not married and devoted herself to her family.
            “Please come to the butterfly grove,” Fran begged, her eyes bright with the possibility of sharing one last outing together before the daughter that was, became the woman that was to be. As Renniha aquesied, Fran thought, it might have been my not taking no for an answer, I will never know for sure! However, she did not care as they headed back together. All she knew was that they were headed back; just the two of them, and that was enough for her! When they arrived, Fran discovered Renniha was placating her. At least that is how it seemed to her when they reached the bale of hay, found the kindly gent gone, and had to wait until he returned while Renniha silently fumed.
            However, it was all worth it to Fran when her daughter spotted the Monarchs. As her daughters face lit up, Fran took a silent photograph and stored it in the memory of her heart as she etched Renniha’s expression of delight upon her mind. This moment she sighed will be one of my favorite ones to remember because it will remind me of our precious time together! As the butterflies did their colorful dance for Renniha, mother and daughter stared in wonder, speechless yet united in a way they had never been before. Then as the sun waned, the two of them headed home, savoring the memory.
            As they got out of the car, Renniha turned to her mother and exclaimed, “Thank you insisting I come, and see!”
             Fran smiled back thinking that was the end of it, but it was just the beginning. From that time until Renniha left, everyday whether it was good weather or fowl, the two of them headed out to the grove. It was a season of sharing, and carrying. Of growing close to each other as they prepared to say goodbye, for her second daughter was intent on heading down south, and Fran was saying put keeping hearth and home for her and Mort, happy to be there whenever either of their gown daughters could visit or drop by.  
            Yet as surely as the seasons came around again, the butterflies came back, and this time Fran made the pilgrimage with Laila, her youngest. However, knowing she would be her last child, and that the teen was just a few years shy of flying the nest, instead of watching the array of color as she had before, and allowing herself the fantasy of wondering what it would be like to live the life of the Monarch, Fran watched Laila.  
            The years, and the cycles of life ebbed, and flowed and before anyone knew it, Fran and Mort were old. Then one day quite unexpectedly Mort died. However, when the daughters returned for the funeral, and spent some time with their mother, and they asked about their fathers last words, Fran smiled, “He said I will meet you there.”
            The sisters did not know what that meant, but sensing it was something private between their parents, they chose not to pry. However, rushing to their mothers bedside eighteen months later to say goodbye as she prepared to leave them Fran asked, “Remember coming to the butterfly grove?”
            Each of them nodded, for visiting the grove had become a family tradition and even though the family was disbursed, at least once a year they all came home with husbands and children in tow to head out too the old farm.
            Seeing her brood nod, Fran smiled, “That my children is how God looks at you and me. He looks at us as any loving parent would, for we are His whether we believe or not.” Seeing some of her grandchildren look at her questionly Fran sighed, “How do I know? I cannot explain it all, but in the same way I found myself drawn to the Butterfly Grove, God is drawing us to Him, even now. Even now, he is calling to each of us through the Ruach Hakodesh, “Come and see.” Even now, the women are racing to the tomb. Even now, the angel is saying, “Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.”
            Analise, Renniha, Laila, their husband, and children nodded as grandma Fran continued, “Even now, the butterflies are flying away. Even now, it is time to decide what you will give your life to, the world, or the Messiah. Even now, before the sunsets, and all is hushed, even now there is time before the last butterfly flutters by. Even now Mort waits for me there.”      

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Early in the Morning, I Will Seek Your Face, by Paula Rose

Romans 12: 1 “Therefore, I urge you…in light of God’s mercy, to offer your body’s as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.”

O’God my rock and my redeemer there is no one like you…No one who understands me as you do. You know that my desire is to please you. Yet I am unable to do so without the guidance of the Ruach HaKodesh...the Holy Spirit. Remind me, therefore, O’Lord to walk close to you. For I am as a young child who at times wanders from away youthe only one who knows what is best for me. But where can I go and what can I do without your guidance? What can I accomplish that has merit in your sight or value for eternity unless I stay close to you? 

As a young child, I needed to venture out to explore my world so I could eventually become a separate and distinct person. However, my relationship with you is the antithesis of this. In order to present myself to you a sacrifice that is worthy and pleasing, I have learned to seek you first and keep you close to me throughout my day. My hunger to become a worthy disciple of yours has allowed me to break though my own desire to be an island unto myself. I admit that I need your presence in my life moment by moment in a way I never needed anyone else.

Although I am aware that I have the freedom to choose to spend time with you early in the quite hours of the morning, or not, each day I have to chose whether I want to be a living sacrifice for you or to sacrifice my life upon the altar of some other god who is not God at all. Thank you, Ha Shem (the name, which means God Almighty) for calling me to spend time with you this morning. I know that by putting you first in all that I do I will not waste this day storing up treasure that does not last and creating a life that has no significance but is full of wasted potential.  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

No Christmas for Me, by Paula Rose

Though it’s March and Christmas is many months from now, now seems to be absolutely right time to post this writing which I wrote and gifted to my children and grandchildren a few years ago. I say that because many have read my writings, or books, but few know me, as I was, and to really know someone it's important to understand where they come from. Moreover, as a Messianic Jew who has claimed atonement in Yeshua (Jesus), I hope to honor Him today in some small way. As you read, it is my prayer that you will ask God to show you one or two people that will be touched by your story as others have by this snippet of mine.

No Christmas for Me

In the 50’s, Christmas - that happiest of times - and all that went with it like family get-togethers, tree-trimming, special foods, carols and yes…even miserly old Mr. Scrooge was  denied me. I was Jewish and not allowed to speak about Christmas or the one who made this holiday and the season this wonderful time of year what it was.
            I had my holiday…Hanukkah. Unlike Christians who had a holiday, which was easy to spell and even easier to understand, I always had to explain that Hanukkah wasn’t the Jewish Christmas.
            While Christians were decorating a tree with festive regalia, I was making papier-mâché menorahs and dreidels. My brother and I glued blue and white construction paper into chains and hung them from the ceiling. They resembled the green and red paper chains we made in our schools classroom to decorate the small tree our teacher called a festive tree…We knew it was really a Christmas tree.

            The year I turned eight, Jewish families in my neighborhood began putting up Hanukkah bushes - evergreen trees flocked in white with blue balls and lights. Some displayed them in their window.
            My mom would have none of that in her house.
“We are Jewish. Jews do not celebrate that holiday!” she would say.
            I tried to smile as my brother helped me hang the glittery “Happy Hanukkah!” sign.  

            As unschooled in Christmas as we were, we knew it didn’t belong in a yuletide home or ours. It looked like we were decorating for someone’s birthday.
            Our celebration was nothing like a birthday. What we celebrated was a real miracle! Fro the Macabees and those who joined them fought against religious tyranny and our faith was preserved. However, that wasn’t the miracle. The miracle was that one day’s worth of oil burnt for eight. 
            Today I realize that if there hadn’t been a Hanukkah, there wouldn’t have been a Christmas. If the Jewish people had vanished, where would the Messiah have come from? If he did come, who would have recognized him? Without the biblical accounting of his birth and prophesies of the miracles he would perform, how would anyone have recognized him when he did appear? He was to come from the seed of Father Abraham of the house of Judah, and be David’s direct decedent. But, if the Temple records were destroyed, how could anyone prove their linage? If we take it a step further, how would those wise men in the east, we’ve heard and sung about during every Christmas play, have known to watch the sky and when to come seeking the child of promise?
            I know to ask these questioned now. However, at the time the only miracle I was considering was the one it would take for me to be allowed to celebrate Christmas. That was my secret yearning. And I couldn’t tell anyone! After all, Jews don’t celebrate that holiday. Or do they? I wondered. My Shabbat School text mentioned something about a crazy Jewish man named “The Apostle Paul,” who followed Jesus. Because of this, it seemed to me that this Jesus was a Jew. But there was no one for me to ask.
            I returned to school the Monday after Thanksgiving with Christmas in my heart. I had a burning desire to live a life that seemed more fulfilling and less like something I always had to explain.
            When I entered my classroom, I noticed my teacher had a smile plastered on her face. She seemed somewhat pained as she explained the Christmas craft project we were going to make and give to our parents as gifts.
            Christmas ornaments, I thought, I can’t bring that gift into my home. And before I knew what I was doing, I blurted, “I can’t make those. I’m Jewish.”
            My teacher turned, looked at me, and pointed to the door. I stepped outside and waited, knowing I was in trouble. My folks had impressed upon my brother and me the art of fitting in. Yet how do you fit in when the very thing you’re supposed to loath draws your attention like nothing else has? That’s what I thought I’d ask my teacher when she finally stepped outside to speak with me.
            Instead, when she joined me, she seemed rushed and said, “Fine. Make whatever you wish. I’ll give you a passing grade for the project. But in the future leave your religious practices at home.”
            Leave my religious practices at home, I thought. How can I leave mine at home when yours confront me!
            Two nights later, during dinner, mom told dad about the incident. I held my breath and didn’t let it out again I realized she didn’t know the child was me. When I knew I wasn’t going to get in trouble, I listened in an offhanded sort of way and heard mom say, “This was hard for the teacher since she’s Jewish.”
            So even teachers have to hide who they are, I thought as I tucked my yearning for Christmas away. I promised myself I would never think of it again.

I found a sense of peace - shalom within my Jewish faith. The seasons rolled by, until I was nineteen. I met a wonderful man named Ron who loved me and agreed to become Jewish so we could wed. When our children came, we raised them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, observing all Gods Feasts and attending Synagogue every Shabbat.
            Life was good... Except for this nagging question…Who was Jesus?
            At fourteen, my brother, who was 21 months younger than me, asked me to read Isaiah 53 with him. I was struck by the portion that spoke of the suffering servant who was without sin but bore the iniquity of us all, and began to cry. 
My brother asked me, “Who’s this?”
            I remember answering, “It’s Jesus of course.”
            “I thought so. What do we do now?”
            “Nothing! Do you want to be disowned, thrown out on the street? Our parents will sit shiva for us.”
            “But we’re not dead!”
            “We will be to them!”
            We Jews have laws and our law forbids us to believe in “That Man.” We can believe in anything or nothing but not him. My brother knew that and so did I.
The holiday season before I turned thirty, a new friend pulled up in front of my home, hopped out of her car, and presented me with a Christmas themed gift bag.
            “I thought you should have this cause it’s the first letter of your name,” she said. She hopped back into her car and sped away before I could utter a word.
            I entered my home, walked to the kitchen, and placed the bag on the table.
            A few minutes later, my youngest daughter, Cheryl came in heading for the cookie jar. She glanced at the kitchen table and froze. “What’s in the bag, Mom?”
            “I don’t know.”
            “Open it!”
            “Okay.” I opened the bag and pulled out a Christmas ornament. As much as I wanted to be angry, sweet little piglet wrapped around a huge letter “P” was hard to be angry at.
            “I want one too!”
            “No.” I smiled and put the present back in its bag. “Christmas isn’t for us. We’re Jews. Remember?”

When I turned forty, I discovered I was wrong and gave my life to “That Man.” I like to refer to him as the lover of my soul because he loved me enough to ransom my life with his. The only thing he asked of me was that I walk in a manner worthy of him. Immersion (baptism) seemed important to him, so it was to me as well. Moreover, the mikvot as Yeshua and all Jews call this act of cleansing is not foreign to us, but even before I knew there was to be one for new believers where I worshipped and understood that this emersion was different than any other. I was eager to participate, but my joy was increased when I called the pastor for the date of the next baptism, and discovered that it fell between Hanukkah and Christmas! Since making a public confession of my faith was going to be the most significant thing I’d ever done, and being one who likes to celebrate important events with friends, I decided to throw a party afterwards. I didn’t call it a Christmas or Hanukah party. I simply called it what it as…a celebration of a new life. When I entered the water, all I could think about was how fitting it was for me to celebrate my first Christmas by following my Messiah in the mikva as a celebration of my liberation from the curse of sin and death.
            I had wished for a world where I could be free to celebrate Christmas. Now I know that Christmas isn’t about a tree, ornaments, family get-together's, special foods, carols - or even miserly old Mr. Scrooge. Every day Christmas is about my Messiah and me. It’s about putting my wishes away and entering into everything that he has lovingly prepared for me. That is the greatest gift of all - better than Christmas or Hanukkah put together because this gift never loses its eternal value. A life exchanged…a life forever changed.

I read this:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cora’s Forever Blessing, by Paula Rose

This wonderful, tearful telling is a true story. I know, for I’m the Paula, Cora is talking too.

       To hear Cora tell it, and she should know since this is her story, “It all started when I watched my missionary friend Paula pick up “Stern’s Complete Jewish Bible” and sigh, “I wish I had that.” I watched her place the longed for text back on the book table before worship began.
       As I turned toward her, I looked at the Bible and nodded. I understood what she meant, for my husband, Greg had died eight years earlier and hardly a day went by without me silently sighing…I wish I had… However, I’d promised myself that I would not utter these words aloud for I knew the effect they would have upon my daughter, Debbie who’d lost her dad at an age when girls need them most. I kept my secret pledge. By now, I had trained myself to stop my thoughts before I finished them. Yet as I looked at the Bible, Paula’s desire mixed my own unmet yearning to see, speak with, or experience my husband’s loving care and concern for me once more.
       As we took the seats her husband, Ron had saved for us, my friend turned to me and asked, “How’s your vertigo?”
       “No better.”
       “You call your doctor on Monday!” she insisted as others greeted us and the seats filled up.
       Our worship leader came forward. All of us who believe in Adonai and His Messiah, Yeshua - Jesus Christ stood sang several other worship songs and ended with the best song of all the Shema. Then the sermon began. While everyone focused on the message, I found that I could not shake off my friends’ comment, not the one about seeing the doctor for she had been telling me that for weeks. No the comment I could not shake was her “I wish” statement. As I sat in our congregation of worshipers, I felt all alone and my heart turned towards Greg. As I did, I understood all that she meant and at a gut reaching level, I understood more, much, much more. Somehow, my unspoken need and my friends wish melded together.
       When the service ended, I nodded in the direction of the bookable. “It’s only twenty dollars.”
       “Money’s tight.” We headed to the room where our potluck lunch was being put out.
Before, I could respond to her, several women rushed by admonishing, “Hurry up! We have to get everything for the Oneg before the line forms!”
We hurried our pace and soon both of us were busy making sure everyone who came received a blessing with their plate of food.  
       I am certain Paula thought no more about her remark until the next Shabbat when I raced in, and unobserved bought the Bible, she’d looked at the week before. As I handed it to her I smiled. “I got this for you.”
       Unwrapping the treasured tome, she clutched it to her chest and mumbled, “You shouldn’t have,” which everyone knows is Jewish shorthand for ‘thank you.’
       “Oh yes I should!” I exclaimed. Certain my friend had seen the look of joy on my face, I continued, “You’ll never understand what a blessing it is for me to give this too you!”
       Looking at me intentally, she said, just as I hoped she would, “Tell me.”
       “Let’s get lunch,” I suggested and she agreed.
       Neither of us ever hurried through the line as quickly as we did on that day, nor are we known to be women who excluded others from our conversation. However, this was an unusual discussion and although I am not certain why it seems that no one else sat by us, but I might be wrong. All I know is that from the first word it seemed as if we were alone. That is except for Adonai our God, and His Messiah, Yeshua who I believed had engineered the whole thing.
       Well, if you have ever witnessed a Jewish woman trying to act nonchalant and failing miserably, that is the picture of Paula as she played with her salad while she waited pensively.
       I must have grinned from ear to ear, as I began, “I knew I was to give you this Bible. I’d bought several of them sometime ago. So last week after I left, I went home intending to take one off my bookshelf and wrap it up to give you today. I’d been cleaning house the week before and when I went to the bookshelf where I kept them, I discovered they were gone. Baffled I began to search for them. I knew there were several and thought, they should be easy to spot, for I have always kept books with the same title together. However, that was not the case with these! At least that’s what I’ve decided to assume for I never found them!” I exclaimed with rapturous elation.
       “Did you buy this today?” she asked. It was then that I realized she’d noticed the gift was covered in plastic as the publisher might have done instead of gift-wrapping as I would have if I had brought one from home as I had originally intended.
       “Yes!” I exclaimed but as I did, I watched Paula’s joy morph into silent reproach. Brushing aside her unvoiced concern I continued, “I tore threw the book shelves and then went room by room in search of them. They never showed up! But I refused to give up!”
       By now, I could see that my friend was as anxious as I’d been. Unable to build the suspense any longer, I smiled broadly, “I opened the door to my downstairs hall closet and began to pull everything out as I thought, why, would these Bibles be in here.
       “That’s a very good question,” my friend eagerly agreed.
       “That’s what I was wondering while I pulled out everything. I’d never put any books in the closet where we hag our coats. I keep a few boxes of holiday decorations in the closet and take them out annually to decorate for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and other special days. The other boxes I’ve stored there, boxes filled with items I never look at like the topper to our wedding cake, and photos of our honeymoon. Pushing though my desire to turn away from these pieces of a joy-filled life, I promised myself, I will live for today. But your need for that Bible caused me to override everything else and I pulled everything out. At the very back nestled under the stairway was a lone plastic box with a cornflower blue lid sitting on top of some board games my daughter and I haven’t played in years. I had never seen it before. Even before I touched it, I knew there was something special inside from Greg for his favorite color was blue, and not just any blue, but the exact cornflower blue of the lid. Since the back of the closet is wedged under the steep incline of the stairs, I got on my knees and inched my way along until I could get to the box and wrestle the lid off. I knew it was from Greg and hurried as fast as I could. However, when the lid lifted easily I feared I was wrong, and whatever this was, it was not from Greg, and would not fulfill my secret longing! Greg had always been a stickler for making certain that everything was packed away securely, as in airtight. Besides, I berated myself; he wouldn’t hide something away for me to find later for he died suddenly of a massive heart attack! However, as I pulled at one corner of the lid, it lifted effortlessly to reveal his journal! As I stared and the cornflower blue leather with our names embossed in gold, I remembered the times I had hounded him to record the dates of all our adventures. When he responded he was to busy, I would tell myself to do it, but I put it off and then he died. The idea of looking at the pictures became more than I could bear. Yet as I read his journal and forced myself to drink in each picture he had included I felt more than blessed, I felt and still feel loved.”
       “But,” my friend sputtered, “aren’t you angry that you didn’t have it until now!”
       “No,” I smiled, “Greg left this for me to find when I needed it most.”
       “You needed it now?” Paula asked.
       “Yes,” I smiled, “I did, and I didn’t even know it until I called Debbie who said she’d be right over, and I began to cry uncontrollably. When she arrived, we unpacked everything he had placed so lovingly in the box for us to find. That evening I shared everything. Even the things I had promised myself I would never share. Once all my tears were spent, my daughter understood her father and our love better than before and the vertigo was gone but this blessing is as new this Shabbat as it was last week, and I know it will last forever!”

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Patchwork Quilt, by Paula Rose

While preparing to speak at a Women’s Ministry event in 1999 that was focusing on time, and what we do with it, I wrote the ‘Patchwork Quilt.’ Little did I know then all that would befall our country, those I know, or Ron and I. Back then our days passed as peacefully as water flows downstream. And as it was it seemed it would always be. Though changes would occur, I believed they would be welcomed blessings like daughters falling in love and getting married. Yes, we even believed our country, that bastion which stood for God and individual rights, would continue to do so.

However, those days seem like a bygone era. Within this season, I see issues being manipulated to create so much stress that one might walk away from what they believe. Therefore, I felt it time to share this writing. I hope as you read it, you realize that the times that try or trouble our souls are the times when Messiah can shine forth as that eternal beacon on a hill. That is what he asked us to do: to speak words of eternity to a lost and dying world. Remember it all began in Bethlehem (the house of bread, of which His is the one and only provision)! While it is still Today, let us share the only provision for eternity! May God bless each and every one of you who does as He asked!

Lord, I am just a patchwork quilt made up of scraps and bits.

Colors that many or may not harmonize,

Fragments of most any size,

Sewn together with starts and fits.

Some may look at me and see the treasure of the years,

And realize that the seamstress chose fabric that was near and dear.

Others may see a shabby relic of the past,

And wonder why anyone would put forth the effort to make my fabric last.

But, You ‘Oh Creator of us all’

Know that in my life You have a heart call.

For You are the thread that holds together all,

The bright, the faded, the large, and the small.

I know that even though I am frayed and worn and some of my stuffing is torn,

In my present condition, I am a gift of your love.

May I be used to minister to those who need to hear of You enthroned above.

For without the threat of redemption that forms each perfect stitch,

Life would have no meaning, and pain would have no glitch.

I know that each trial woven into my faded tapestry,

Is another reminder of how great your love is for me,

Greater than the care of the weaver who fashioned each piece of cloth

From whose fragments, I am made.

For, when I received Your son by faith, my life itself you saved.

So let me step out in faith

To assume the mantle of change,

Let me put all my trust in You

As the fabric of my life, You rearrange.

Strengthen me for Your service. Keep me dedicated to Your cause.

Remind me that I was created to follow Your Godly laws.

Allow me to continually glorify You as You change me into something new,

Replete with an anointing that will last my whole life through.

Now when others see me, a new creation I will be.

But, underneath the memory of the patchwork quilt they will see.

And when they ask me of the ministry they have profited from,

I will tell them of Your calling, and of Your Only Son.

For in duplicating my life’s call,

Eventually each Patchwork Quilt will become,

Heavenly tapestries,

Your glory to share with all as we Your Son, recall!