Head for Shore

The lake before me runs at an even pace with ripples breaking against the rocky, wooded shoreline. November trees adorned with crumpled, brown leaves shiver in a cold breeze. Evergreens standout, their pine branches waving as if to salute distant friends who never get any closer.

This should be a forlorn landscape, but I sought it out. It’s too muddy to take my usual walk, but my soul craves the sympathetic poetry of natural beauty. Fishermen aren’t crowding the pier this time of the year, though a red car just pulled up, and a man heaved a pole and a bucket from the backseat.

I recently disconnected from my main social media sites. A death of sorts, pulling the plug on a life support that often drained more than fed. I pondered this move long and hard, making several weak attempts to control my online habit with organized lists, determined parameters, and even a few complete breaks. But like a dysfunctional relationship, I kept going back in the hopes that things would be different. Not this time.

Mists of rain turned to heavy drops, and the red car just drove away. Undeterred birds chirp with wild abandon. Crows caw their raucous opinion. Whatever the matter might be, I haven’t a clue. Territory issues? Food source contestants? Perhaps they’re just trolling as they fly by.

2020 has proven to be a heck of a year on many levels. It started out weird when two of my boys, acting as altar servers on New Year’s Eve, fainted on the altar. No explanation. They just fell faint twenty feet apart, at nearly the same moment, for no known reason. They were embarrassed; I was worried; the congregation was confused. Not an auspicious beginning to the year. But it proved accurate. I’m still worried, and now the whole world is confused.

COVID, shutdowns, national divisions, an entangled world, environmental concerns, massive debt, 61+ million aborted humans, 39% divorce rate, (Give or take, depending on your source) relationship dysfunction, collective guilt, heated controversies, out of control rage, and no-end-in-site-isolation, make for an anxious population and an uncertain future. God knows what 2021 will bring.

And there lies the reason that I’m sitting in a cold car on the lakeside, facing a bare woods in late November. The same reason that I disconnected from my social media sites. There is more to life than the clickbait that bots are determined to show me or the hurt, fear, and frustration of a world slipping wildly out of control.

I have to stand on a firm foundation in order to step anywhere. I need nurturing soil to grow. I’ve been thrashing about in the deep end of madness for a weary length of time. God has been generous enough to hold me up, but I suspect that he’d like me to head for shore.

Rain patters on the car roof, a comforting sound, as long as it doesn’t become a deluge. It’s only noon, and though the clouds make for a dim view, I can still see through the tangled woods and across the rippling waves.

My human existence is more than making online “friends” and connecting through a few words before moving on. My brain wasn’t made to filter so many images, the cacophony of opinions, a swirling sea of conflicting realities. My heart doesn’t beat well to the tune of ghost relationships, scammer fakes, or an inundation of offerings. I can’t enjoy any post when I’m drowning in a raging sea of alerts, dings, calls, texts, all flashing pay-attention-to-me notices throughout the day.

God. Family. Home. A rolling lake. Strolling through a November woods. Falling rain. A beautiful poem. Heartfelt words. A couple of inspirational biographies. Sitting in the living room, knitting. Sharing meals with friends and family. Stories enlivened with kids’ laughter. Quiet moments in prayer and gratitude.

There is more to life than online social media.

I’ve decided to live it.

Books by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction Novels

Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend Novels

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter https://amzn.to/3iGqGlQ

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Oldearth Melchior Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

My Road Goes Ever On—Spiritual Being, Human Journey https://amzn.to/2KvF3Ll

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd0z

Photo https://pixabay.com/photos/lake-ontario-canada-hdr-fall-1581897/

A Great Equalizer

Outside the sun shines on still-green grass while glistening spider webs rock in a gentle breeze. Dead, prickly flower heads bob on brown stems while clusters of rust-colored oak leaves rattle against the bare branches of neighboring trees.

Even the indoor plants oppose each other in stark contrast. My green succulents proudly lean their round petals toward the window while my houseplants lay limp, trailing their vines over ceramic pots; clearly, life has become too hard to bear in an upright position.

The great outdoors beckons, though I know perfectly well that the air has grown frigid. I’ll take my daily jaunt along the harvested field next to the woods at twilight—the most honest time of the day—when shadows play with the lingering light rays. Sunshine makes grand promises and offers a glorious spectrum, but inevitably night returns and covers all with the equality of darkness.

Some of the most powerful writers I know contrast bright humanity with our dark side. I always wondered about that. I need to be inspired, enriched, offered a crumb of hope in a mottled world. I can’t live on cigarette butts and broken glass. Turning from divorce and disfunction, cancer and casualties, abuse and absurdities, toward honest marriages, healthy lives, and baby hugs make each sunrise an embrace of possibilities. Yet, no matter how much I value daylight, night still falls. The price of sanity is to accept the reality of good and evil, happiness and misery.

That is probably why I enjoy twilight. It’s the cross over, the time between, the slow-down after a busy day, reminding me that I’m not all-powerful, all-seeing, all-anything. After attending to various matters from decoding modern calculators to figuring out (yet again!) why the toaster won’t toast on one side, I reflect and pray on matters that really matter. My friend’s young daughter who has been having epileptic seizures, an elderly lady’s nephew who fell and broke his back, a recent widower who is trying to figure out where to bury his wife’s ashes, two cases of abused trust, and a country so divided that conversations break down and pointed accusations, like blowing ash, are all that’s left of the fire that used to unite us.

Night is a great equalizer. I see why notable writers dare to tread on such sacred, painful ground. None of us live in continual daylight. No one knows all or sees all. Charging ahead in the darkness leads to dangerous falls.

The sun just dropped behind the horizon and the late-autumn trees appear stark against the pale, fading light. I walk along the uneven field, watching each step, and slow my mind and my heart to ponder and pray. Night falls on harvested fields and evergreens alike.

I head home, following the light of ancient stars, knowing the sun will rise on a new day. Rested and comforted by hope for a future I cannot yet see, I will stand and meet it.

Books by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction Novels

Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend Novels

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter https://amzn.to/3iGqGlQ

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Oldearth Melchior Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

My Road Goes Ever On—Spiritual Being, Human Journey https://amzn.to/2KvF3Ll

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd0z

Photo https://pixabay.com/images/search/autumn,%20fields%20and%20woods/

Put Your Mind in a Better Place

Entertainment for Life

“Temptations prove thee.” A line from a prayer book I read this morning stopped me in my mental tracks. I had been talking the night before with my daughter about the value of professionalism in our world and how important it is to apply the concept to our thoughts as well as our actions. The words struck a chord, reminding me of the value of intentionally directing myself rather than being swept along by roaring currents.

Now at the end of the day, as I listen to the frogs’ chorus, the rustle of wind across the dried cornfields, note the silence of kids gone to bed, and join in a peaceful moment of solitude, reflecting on a day of off-road paths, I realize how many times I was tempted to react rather than put my life in proper order. Not because it would have been good but rather because it would have felt so natural.

I have come to the conclusion that my life is a trial. Seriously. A try-out for something that I can’t see yet. The person that I could be. The life and home I long for. The love that every human desires in the core of his or her being. Free will is the name of the game. And transformation is the goal.

As spokespersons, media personalities, politicians, Google search engines, bots, and a host of realities nudge me through the highways and byways of my online world, I sometimes forget that I make the choice of what I hear, what I see, what I pay attention to, what I react to. I don’t have to get hot and bothered by commentaries. I don’t have to seethe, live in terror, or seek a particular end to someone else’s trauma drama. I can choose my mood and make productive even the oddest moment.

From unexpectedly having to get tires checked this morning, I was able to have a humorous chat with the service guy who proved that a gentleman doesn’t make a lady feel like an idiot even when her ignorance of auto operations should glare with flashing neon lights. I was tempted to feel stupid but decided to be grateful instead.

A surprise call from my sister who is dealing with health problems led to her offering me insight and advice with my own health challenges, drawing us beyond a dark past into a supportive present. I was tempted to end the call early but instead allowed her to be the big sister she longs to be and relaxed in her enduring love.

When a collaborative effort with a voice actor on one of my projects didn’t pan out, I could have been hurt and annoyed. But as the situation remained not only professional but also pleasant, we were able to recognize the situation honestly and wish each other the best and move on.

There are times when the trials of life enmesh me in idiocy, and I need help to break the fear and “What if—” cycle. Conversations with friends, classical music, a prayerful book, a walk in nature, efforts to seek out good, beautiful, and noble realities—even in stories—break the vicious cycle and redirect my mind as well as my feet.

Ultimately, I—and everyone sharing the planet with me—are works in progress. I don’t see all ends. I’m lucky if I see the road a few feet ahead. Flexibly meeting the day while constantly reaffirming my priorities—toward what bears healthy, holy fruit makes every day a good one—no matter how tempting.

Books by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction Novels

Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend Novels

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Oldearth Melchior Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

My Road Goes Ever On—Spiritual Being, Human Journey https://amzn.to/2KvF3Ll

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd0z

Photo: https://pixabay.com/photos/book-flowers-life-basket-read-1210027/

Book Review—When You Fast: Jesus Has Provided the Solution

When You Fast: Jesus Has Provided the Solution

by Andy LaVallee

Published on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe December 12, 2017

Available from Live the Fast (11.99 includes shipping)

Paperback on Amazon (9.99)

Kindle Edition (2.99)

Synopsis:

There are many references to fasting in Scripture. In Saint Matthew’s Gospel, Chapter 5, Jesus puts the solution in front of us when he says, “When you fast.” He doesn’t say “If you fast,” but “When you fast.” As Christians, we’re supposed to imitate Jesus. Jesus fasted before every major event in His life.

Jesus also tells us that “nothing is impossible for us.”

Fasting was so important that Jesus taught it to His disciples to be used as a special deterrent against evil. These are the same evils that plague our world today: the attack on life, the attack on the family, the attack on our religious freedoms, and the attack on Christianity as a whole. It’s especially important to recognize that our actions and our participation can change all of this evil. This is why we are being told by Jesus that “nothing is impossible for us.”

In this short booklet, you’ll learn how fasting is a spiritual weapon. You’ll also learn the basics of fasting, what saints, prophets, and popes have had to say about fasting, and testimonials of people whose lives have been changed through fasting.

Reviews:

“The power of fasting with prayer is biblical (Matthew 17:20 from the St. Joseph Bible, New Edition). Jesus said that there are certain demons that cannot be cast out but through prayer and fasting. The two are a powerful team and Andy LaVallee, through his book, provides us with means to accomplish this goal.”

~Jim and Kerri Caviezel

When You Fast isn’t just one of the best and most thorough books on fasting. In a word, it’s inspiring. Author Andrew LaVallee shares both the physical and spiritual benefits of fasting, from calming our own anxieties to bringing peace to our troubled world. From healing family rifts to opening another’s heart, mind, and soul to the idea of conversion. When You Fast can be a key—can be your key—to a closer relationship with God.”

~Susan Tassone, Author of St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners

“Andy LaVallee has provided the method, the motive and the means for the spiritual discipline of fasting. His book explains why fasting is important and encourages many to take part in this vital aspect of spiritual warfare in the world today.”

~Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Pastor, Speaker, Blogger and Author of Mystery of the Magi: the Quest to Identify the Three Wise Men

Andy’s First Book From the Hub to the Heart

Author’s Bio:

Since 1969, Andy LaVallee has been working in the bakery industry and in 1977, he started LaVallee’s Bakery Distributors. LaVallee’s is New England’s premier provider of artisan breads and other bakery offerings to clients such as the InterContinental Boston, the Four Seasons, Boston College, and the Chateau Restaurants.

LaVallee’s is known by their customers and colleagues for their excellent product mix, legendary customer service and a business model based on servant leadership. With Live the fast Breads, Andy brings his knowledge of top-end; highly-nutritious artisan breads and applies them to the ancient practice of prayer and fasting. We have selected multigrain rolls for this endeavor. These breads are made with no GMO, unbleached and untreated flour, with no additives and preservatives and with flavorful, nourishing ingredients that will help one maintain and finish a bread and water fast. He and his team desire to spread this practice — so beneficial on a number of levels — to greater New England and across the United States.

In recent years, during trips to Medjugorje, Andy grew to a deeper understanding of the practice of prayer and fasting, a practice that is common in this small village. He realized that he had a unique role, perhaps even a duty, to provide high-quality breads to those in America who were interested in prayer and fasting. Andy has consulted with Sister Emmanuel Maillard who wrote “Freed and Healed by Fasting,” Fr. Charles Murphy author of “The Spirituality of Fasting” and others knowledgeable about the practices of a healthy fast and the ingredients of fasting breads. He has also steeped himself in the teachings of the late Father Slavko Barbaric, who integrated into his many noble works, was his role as a humble practitioner and educator of prayer and fasting.

Along with our educational resources and opportunities to build community, we are excited to invite you to Live the Fast!

Andy’s Second Book When You Fast (Jesus Has Provided the Solution)

Interior Life

“The soul that begins to have interior life appreciates the treasure it bears within its heart. Each day it will make a greater effort  to deny admission into the mind of an image that prevents or hinders the soul’s close contact with God.” (In Conversation with God p. 313 paragraph 3)

The whole concept of an interior life intrigues me. I’ve read about saints with highly developed interior lives, and I often find myself longing to be so holy, but as my life catapults through each day, I can’t help but realize that my eight children, my garden, my bit of writing, are all doorways to the interior world of God’s life.  I need not be jealous—I just need courage.

Someone once said, “Hell is other people.” Could it not be true that Heaven is other people also? I glimpse the eternity of a soul when I look into another person’s eyes. As it is quite apparent that God put us here on Earth, together, for a purpose—I contemplate the possibilities. Perhaps in the act of opening ourselves to the larger reality of other people’s vision, struggles, hopes, and crushing failures, we come to see not just the ideal that God has for us, but the grief of the cross lived through broken dreams and the ennobled daring to rise again.

In today’s world, I suppose in every generation, we are faced with a multitude of “hells”— human beings failure to love as He loves. But we are also given a daily opportunity to escape hell by overcoming the hate which feels so natural to us. Hate is no cure.  It offers no hope or redemptive recovery.  Its cousin, bitterness, is only a shadow leading to further darkness of spirit.

It is in the cultivation of an interior life that I allow the grace of God to strengthen me to overcome all the negative influences in my life and open myself to the possible joys of life and hope of things yet to come.  Some would say I am using a crutch to help me over the hard parts. All I know is that through an interior life, I find my life. And through the eyes of others, I glimpse the possibility of Hell—or Heaven.

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

From the Hub to the Heart

When Ellen Gable, president of Full Quiver Press and the Catholic Writers Guild asked me to review Andy LaVallee’s new book, I was not sure what to expect.  I was told it was a conversion story that involved Medjugorje, big business, a fast life, and fasting—I was intrigued. From the Hub to the Heart does not disappoint.  It is a “heartfelt” book written honestly and directly. Mr. LaVallee shares his life journey with all the ups and downs of a phenomenally successful businessman and the spiritual journey of a soul in grave danger. He does not cover up his sins nor his need for repentance.  He embraces the hope that salvation holds out to him, and he sincerely attempts to live his conversion through every facet of his life including his bread business. This is a book I recommend for those who want a fascinating life story as well as family members struggling with despair.  Never give up.  One never knows what God has planned for those who love Him.

From the Hub to the Heart (Kindle Edition)
http://www.amazon.com/Hub-Heart-My-Journey-ebook/dp/B00SXBLD6I/

“From the Hub to the Heart,” Book Tells of Journey From Fast Living to Living the Fast

Boston, Massachusetts   February 11, 2015, /Christian Newswire —  Andrew LaVallee lived the fast life.  A man of extremes, LaVallee grew up in a tough neighborhood and he drank, swore and gambled his way through most of his adult life.  He achieved financial and worldly success in his bakery distribution business. After his conversion, LaVallee embraced the Catholic faith of his youth and felt God calling him to promote fasting.  When he decided to write his story, he joined forces with writer Leticia Velasquez who writes, “This book tells the story of what happened when a movie star known for his portrayal of Jesus Christ in The Passion of the Christ, Jim Caviezel, looked into this successful man’s eyes one day and challenged him just as Christ challenged the rich young man.  He dared Andy to visit Medjugorje, an obscure, poor village in Croatia, where for over thirty years it has been alleged that the Virgin Mary has been visiting earth and calling her children to live lives of prayer, penance, and fasting. Andy’s reaction was predictable; ‘No way am I flying fifteen hours to pray a Rosary!’ But little by little, Our Lady’s call to Andy opened his heart and he boarded that plane, prayed that Rosary and his life has never been the same.”

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston has high praise for Andy:  “The past decade of Andy LaVallee’s life shows the power of Men’s Conferences, the impact of good Catholic friendships, the help of the Blessed Mother to draw near to Christ Jesus, the power of fasting, and the positive impact of Catholic social teaching in the workplace.  We are fortunate in the Archdiocese of Boston to have leaders such as Andy LaVallee who actively reach out to invite others to experience the joy of living as a disciple within the Catholic community.”

Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart, Foundress of Daughters of Mary of Nazareth says, “In (Andrew’s) pilgrimage we each can experience the fullness of our conversion when the new life of faith from within intersects with the old world from without….writing and publishing this journey is yet a testimony of his desire to reach the fullness of his conversion not only for himself but to share its grace with others. May God’s Name be glorified and many people be inspired by this conversion pilgrimage and journey deeper into their own conversion through this book.”

This inspiring book is available in print and on Kindle via Amazon.com and is also available via the author’s website: livethefast.org

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00

What Makes Heroes So Heroic?

Ring, Gold, Middle Earth, Golden Ring

All heroes struggle, but it is their very struggle to overcome their weaker selves that their true heroism is born.

Heroes believe in something beyond themselves and their belief leads to conviction and conviction draws them into action.

Heroes keep faith with faith.

Heroes are capable of deep, enduring love.

Heroes offer and receive spiritual gifts.

Heroes pay a price for their choices.

Tolkien loved and wrote about heroes.  In the process—he became one.

Novels by A. K. Frailey

Science Fiction

Last of Her Kind  http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Historical Fiction

Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)

OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Inspirational Non-Fiction

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00