Running for the End Zone

By Janice Lane Palko

I recently celebrated my birthday. Now that I’m past the fifty-yard line of life and heading to the end zone, I can no longer deny that I am aging. When I was in my twenties and thirties, I could ignore the subtle signs of the advancing clock, and in my forties, platitudes like “forty is the new thirty” provided a flimsy veil of denial that I was growing older. However, when you hit your fifties, your children are grown, you are now called grandma, and conversations with friends gravitate toward aging parents, physical ailments, and possible retirement dates, there is no denying the obvious: I am getting older.

Many of us take a passive approach to our advancing years, believing that how one ages is out of one’s control–that it’s something that just happens to you. Others go into warrior mode and fight the “dying of the light” with hair plugs, Botox, and sundry other remedies in an attempt to vanquish the inevitable. This birthday spurred me to examine how I wanted to age. I decided I didn’t want to take the “curl up and die” approach and surrender to Father Time, but I also decided that I didn’t want to take the “aging rock star” approach and look foolish trying to cling to my youth at all cost. So how to approach this process of growing older? The second chapter of Luke’s Gospel provides the prescription. This last line jumped out at me as this chapter concludes: And Jesus increased in wisdom, and age, and grace with God and men.

It may seem odd talking about growing older when considering the immortality of Jesus. Though human and divine at the same time, Jesus, nevertheless, did age in body as is evident from his progression from birth as an infant to his culmination as an adult man in his thirties. Therefore, Jesus knew what it was to grow older, and as in all things, He provides the example for all humanity. This verse from Luke is His prescriptive on aging, and it implies that it should be an active, deliberative process that includes three aspects.

The first aspect is to grow in wisdom. To age following Jesus’s example, we must actively pursue wisdom. What exactly is wisdom? Proverbs 9: 10 tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Fear in this sense does not mean wariness of God, but of a healthy knowledge of His magnificence and our place and God’s place in His grand design. To acquire wisdom is not to gain knowledge but to be always persevering to know God and know ourselves in relation to Him.

The second aspect is to grow in age. While we know that Jesus advanced in years, many commentaries say that this phrase actually means to mature. Not only did Jesus grow in wisdom, but he flourished into our Savoir. What does it mean to mature? It means to become what God intended you to be, to embrace and fulfill your mission on earth. So, we are not only to gain knowledge of God and ourselves, but we are also to channel that wisdom into serving God by becoming exactly who He intended us to be.

Finally, we must grow in grace. Now, if Jesus is perfect, he could not have grown in grace as we usually think of it. Most biblical scholars take this passage to mean that Jesus performed greater and greater works for men and for God. Therefore, to follow in Jesus’s example, we must continue to acquire knowledge of God and ourselves and strive to fulfill our mission on earth. However, unlike Christ we are not perfected in grace. As such, we must rely on God to help us do greater and greater works in His name.

So, our golden years are designed not to be a passive time of acceptance of the elapsing years or an unreasonable attachment to bodily youth, but to enjoy a dynamic time of continued growth and development. We are to continue our run all the way to the end zone—perhaps with flagging physical strength and failing breath—but, nevertheless, with a vibrant spirit filled with wisdom, maturity, and grace.

Posted in Beauty, Catholic Theme, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Faith, Family Life, Hope, Spiritual Life | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

This Year, Experiencing Death and Resurrection during Holy Week became a Personal Reality

Author’s note: The following was written during Holy Week. It has to do with my wife’s death, funeral and the fresh grief that followed. I thought I should share it here. 

Marty’s funeral was April 6th. Everything was perfect; the Mass, the music, the people, the cemetery and the traditional “fellowship” that followed. I arrived back home about 3:30 pm and headed to the dining room table. I looked around and the reality of the moment sent a shiver though my body. I realized I was alone . . . very alone. I began to cry (yes, men do cry).

So I sat down and sobbed and fought hard to stop. I blew my nose, took few deep breaths and unconsciously stared at the paperback book in front of me. It was an old book of quotes. I have no memory of placing it there but I must have. Just like that it was in my hand. (In retrospect I believe someone unseen guided my hand to it).

I flipped it open and read the first quote staring at me. It was from Edgar Allan Poe about his wife: “Deep in the earth my love is lying and I must weep alone.” I read it again and thought how pathetic that was. The quote from the great writer embraced nothingness. It was so sad. It also jump started my brain. My crying turned into deep breaths and then my thoughts jumped to Holy Week and Resurrection. I was supposed to be rejoicing. Whatever was my problem?

Well, like everyone else, I am human. The death of a spouse leaves a deep hole inside you. When you get back home after everything is over you see her everywhere. That’s the way it is. You are wounded and bleeding. (I know–I lost my first wife 14 years ago to cancer.) Slowly, over time, the wound closes. Inevitably it leaves an unseen ugly scar which you learn to live with.

Once again I mentally dashed to my citadel, aka my Catholic faith. It was that pitiful quote from Poe that made me realize I had been witness to a great journey. I had stood by as my wife received all she needed from her Catholic faith to advance from this earthly life to the next. I even posted on Facebook how she had received her “Jesus hug” when she arrived.

There is a grief process we all go through when struck by the death of a loved one. But our magnificent and comforting faith can become our “fortress of solitude.” It eases the pain; it can dull the ache in your stomach; it can help you fall asleep. (For me, a Rosary in hand is more powerful than any Xanax.) Most of all, our faith helps us to make sense of what has happened.

My wife was blessed to receive an Apostolic Pardon when she was on life-support. Seven days later she came off life support and the next day received Holy Communion. Two days after that, she was still breathing on her own but unconscious. The infection had traveled to her heart.

She was transferred to Hospice House and, upon her arrival, my son and I said a Chaplet of Divine Mercy at her bedside . The next day a group from the church came by and said a Rosary and a Chaplet in her room. The last morning of her life an old friend of mine from the SVDP Society came in and we said a Chaplet together. The Chaplet is very powerful when said by someone’s death bed. If I count the Apostolic Pardon, the Chaplets, and the Rosaries, plus Holy Communion, she was most definitely prepared for her impending journey.

Holy Week is upon us. We journey with Christ through His passion and death and then we rejoice at His Resurrection. It was all done for us for one reason—Love. This year my wife gets to witness it all, up close and personal. I can see that great smile of hers beaming everywhere. I have absolutely nothing to cry about, do I?  But, since I am human, I’m sure a few more tears will find their way into the days ahead. But it is all GOOD.

Happy Easter everyone.

Copyright 2017 Larry Peterson
This article was originally published at Aleteia.org on April 17, 2017.

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: April 30, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Acts 2:14, 22-28

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven and addressed them in a loud voice: ‘Men of Judaea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, make no mistake about this, but listen carefully to what I say. ‘Men of Israel, listen to what I am going to say: Jesus the Nazarene was a man commended to you by God by the miracles and portents and signs that God worked through him when he was among you, as you know. This man, who was put into your power by the deliberate intention and foreknowledge of God, you took and had crucified and killed by men outside the Law. But God raised him to life, freeing him from the pangs of Hades; for it was impossible for him to be held in its power since, as David says of him: I kept the Lord before my sight always, for with him at my right hand nothing can shake me. So my heart rejoiced my tongue delighted; my body, too, will rest secure, for you will not abandon me to Hades or allow your holy one to see corruption. You have taught me the way of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


APRIL INTENTION PRAYER

The Gloria
Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace to men of good will. We praise You. We bless You. We adore you. We glorify You. We give You thanks for Your great glory. O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: you Who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. You Who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. You Who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For you alone are holy. You alone are the Lord. You alone, O Jesus Christ, are most high. Together with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Leave a comment

Finding Patience, by Virginia Lieto and Carole Hahn Panzner

When the Livingstone family relocates, their daughters miss their old neighborhood and friends. The eldest, Faith can’t wait for school to start so that she can make new friends. Unfortunately, Faith is shy, and the children on the school bus, her classmates, and the lunchtime crowd seem more interested in each other than in Faith.

After a stressful first day, faith runs to her bedroom to hide her disappointment. Her perceptive mother follows her and offers advice, “It takes time to make friends. You just need a little patience.” Together they pray that God will give Faith patience.

Unfortunately, the following days bring neither friends nor patience. Mr. and Mrs. Livingstone decide that a puppy could brighten the spirits of their daughters. No, he isn’t called “Patience.”

Faith suspects that patience, the virtue has arrived when she is able to ignore an obnoxious classmate, but knows God answers her prayers when she makes her first new friend. You’ll never guess her name.

Virginia Lieto crafts a relevant and timely story with universal appeal. Suitable for young readers, for story time in class, and for home reading, it addresses a problem children face in our highly mobile society.

Carole Hahn Panzner’s illustrations capture the emotions of the entire Livingstone family. The poignant drawing of Mrs. Livingstone consoling Faith after her first day in her new school delivers a powerful non-verbal message which not only supports the text, but it touches readers of every age, sharing both Faith’s agony and her mother’s concern.

Consider Finding Patience as a comforting gift for families with young children who have relocated or who will soon do so.

I won my review copy of Finding Patience thanks to the generosity of the author as she supported the launch of Carolyn Astfalk’s latest release, Rightfully Ours.

Posted in Book Review, Catechetics, Christian education of youth, Faith, Family Life, Fiction, fiction, Juvenile fiction, Prayer | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

CWG Prayer Chain Post: April 23, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

First Peter 1:3-9

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into a heritage that can never be spoilt or soiled and never fade away. It is reserved in heaven for you who are being kept safe by God’s power through faith until the salvation which has been prepared is revealed at the final point of time. This is a great joy to you, even though for a short time yet you must bear all sorts of trials; so that the worth of your faith, more valuable than gold, which is perishable even if it has been tested by fire, may be proved — to your praise and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. You have not seen him, yet you love him; and still without seeing him you believe in him and so are already filled with a joy so glorious that it cannot be described; and you are sure of the goal of your faith, that is, the salvation of your souls.

 


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


APRIL INTENTION PRAYER

The Gloria
Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace to men of good will. We praise You. We bless You. We adore you. We glorify You. We give You thanks for Your great glory. O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: you Who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. You Who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. You Who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For you alone are holy. You alone are the Lord. You alone, O Jesus Christ, are most high. Together with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

The Twelve Steps to being a Spiritual Writer

lrosarykeyboard

Step Nine – Make direct amends to fellow writers, publishers, illustrators, family or readers that I may have harmed wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Last week we worked on reparation. Did you make amends for your wrongs? Did you find creative ways to repair harms you had done? Starting is not easy, but the journey becomes a joy once you discover the benefits of restoring your soul to the status it was meant to be in. Next Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday! What a Blessing! As you go about your list and make reparation to those you have harmed, others will be revealed to you. Healing is an ongoing process. Isn’t the Mercy of Jesus great! Lent is ending – the Resurrection has come, and Mercy is around the corner. Making reparation is not always easy. If you have faced rejection- unite that rejection to the rejection of Jesus. It is a healing process – well worth the journey.

 

Now is the time to make amends to you. It is often harder to see the harm you have done to yourself than the harm you have done to others. How have you harmed yourself as a writer? Have you put your writing last in your life? How will you make reparation to yourself? Have you been afraid to step up with courage and send your work out? What will you do to forgive yourself and step forward? Did you use false humility to talk down your gift? Were you afraid to ask for that review? Did you turn down that speaking engagement? The list of harms that you have done to yourself as a writer is endless. Forgive yourself and make reparation to yourself. Ask Jesus to open your eyes to the harms you have done to yourself as a writer. Now go forward to heal your relationship with the writer within you. Find creative ways to heal. Maybe you need to spend quality time writing or promoting your own writing. Maybe you deserve to go to that writing retreat or conference. Perhaps you should take that short story or novel and flood the publishing world with query letters. Be as careful and creative in making reparation to yourself as you were in making reparation to others.

 

This week, while I was saying the rosary, I was given an insight into the mystery of the Garden of Gethsemane. In His suffering, Jesus asked the Father if the cup of pain he was given to drink could be taken from him. He didn’t want the suffering he was given. He wanted to choose his own suffering. Don’t we do that? As writers, and as people, don’t we often create our own suffering rather than deal with the suffering we are meant to work through? Facing the suffering of our past is especially difficult. As children we used coping mechanisms that we carry over into our adult years. We may choose the suffering of addiction, to food or drugs or alcohol, etc., instead of working through the abuse we suffered as children. We may even hide our writing – allowing it to be ignored rather than fully experiencing the neglect we felt from our family. We can use the suffering we choose as a distraction from the need to fully feel and eventually forgive the suffering we didn’t choose in life.

We distract ourselves from the pain of the present also. Is the fear of facing the rejection we get as writers the suffering we can’t face? We can avoid it by reworking that story over and over again. Is the fear of attention to our work replaced by a false humility about our gift? Why is it that we writers do more harm to ourselves than others? We want to choose the suffering we can handle. Isn’t it easier to try another diet, go to another meeting, and choose our own failure, instead of living in the truth of the suffering we have been given. Let’s spend this week looking at the harm we have done to ourselves as people and as writers by trying to control our own suffering. Let’s ask God for the courage to take the cup we have been given.

We need to remember that the suffering cup we have received is the one God knows will lead to our resurrection. Personally, and in our work, we need to face the cup we are given and work our painful way through it. That will lead to our own Easter. We are followers of the Cross. As we walk through the pain of isolation and dismissal we need to know that He is with us. As we face the fear of ridicule and dismissal, we need to carry that cross, face that suffering and arise from the grave. Let’s take our cup and follow Our Savior. We have a mission of writing as He had a mission of Salvation.

So this week look at how you have harmed yourself and your writing career. Look at the distractions and suffering you have chosen instead of the suffering you were meant to work through. This week, make reparation to yourself! Next week we will move on to the next step in becoming the writer you were meant to be!

Karen Kelly Boyce is a mother of two and grandmother of two who lives on a farm in N.J. with her retired husband. She and her husband love to camp and take ‘road trips’ around the country. She has published four novels and three children’s books. Her website is www.karenkellyboyce.com

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CWG Prayer Chain Post: April 16, 2017

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Happy Easter!

Jesus Christ is risen!

800px-Andrea_Della_Robbia_Bode_Berlin_1

Andrea della Robbia, 16th century, Bode Museum, Berlin

 


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


APRIL INTENTION PRAYER

The Gloria
Glory to God in the highest. And on earth peace to men of good will. We praise You. We bless You. We adore you. We glorify You. We give You thanks for Your great glory. O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father almighty. O Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father: you Who take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. You Who take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. You Who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us. For you alone are holy. You alone are the Lord. You alone, O Jesus Christ, are most high. Together with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Comments Off on CWG Prayer Chain Post: April 16, 2017

Render Unto Uncle Sam…

jesus risenAs I reflected on what I would discuss this month, I felt called to juxtapose two familiar quotes. The first comes from a hero of the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin, written in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy in 1789. Franklin said,

“Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

If you are reading this on April 15th, I apologize if you feel as if I have poured salt into a gaping wound. I offer a prayer if you still need to file your taxes with Uncle Sam. I also commiserate if you owe money, having already bit the bullet and sent in a check for several thousand dollars. Tax day provides a painful reminder that while geniuses can make a cell phone more powerful than an old home computer, they can’t figure out a way to get rid of the IRS. Still, even if they got rid of the paperwork, the feds would find a way to take your money.

As certain as we will pay taxes, we will also die. Scriptures points to only two people, Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) and Enoch (Hebrews 11:5) who escaped death. As Catholics we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus and the Assumption of Mary, but even they had an end of life experience. There comes a point in every person’s life when one truly comes to grips with their own mortality. Unfortunately for some, that moment arrives only at their death bed. After losing five friends to cancer in the span of five years, the Lord asked me to face my mortality much earlier than most. This has defined my discipleship, formed my writing, and redirected my life.

This brings me to the next quote. They are the words of Our Lord spoken to the Pharisees in response to an attempt to trick him into taking sides either for or against the Romans.

“Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” – Our Lord in Matthew 22:21.

Jesus does not fall for the trap and instead tells us to take our Father’s side. What if we applied this reasoning to Benjamin Franklin’s quote? The gold coin that bore the face of Caesar belonged to Caesar and so did the taxes the Jews had to pay, but can we extend this concept even further? What if Jesus didn’t just mean Caesar, the man, but Caesar as a representation of the world? Can Our Lord want us to give back to the world all things that are worldly?

What about the other half of both quotes? Franklin tells us death is certain but Jesus tells us to give God what is God’s. Since the power over life and death belongs to God, I ask you to consider that just as Caesar can represent the world when Jesus asks you to give up of worldly worries, Jesus is asking you to give your entire life to the Father. It belongs to God. Sell all you have and follow me (Matthew 19:21). Leave your father and mother and follow me (Luke 14:26). Let the dead bury the dead (Luke 9:60). The harsh emphasis that Jesus puts on this call is repeated throughout the Gospels.

As Christians in a secular world, we have many responsibilities that we must fulfill. These belong to “Caesar”. Jesus Christ says give your life to Him. In His wisdom, He gave us the Church and the Sacraments to strengthen us. We will struggle, we will fall, we will suffer, and we will die. Throughout all of that we will find moments of grace, be lifted out of darkness, be healed of our iniquities, and hope for eternal life. This year, symbolically, we leave both the tax season and Lent behind and enter into Easter. May we find comfort and joy in the glory of the Resurrection.

 

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

CWG Book Blast – Cynthia Toney’s “6 Dates to Disaster (Bird Face series, book three”

This month, the Catholic Writers’ Guild is touring Guildie Cynthia Toney’s book, 6 Dates to Disaster (Bird Face series, book three).”  It is an SOA winner.

Teaser:6 Dates to Disaster FC 5x8

When Wendy’s family has money problems, she must find a way on her own to see Mrs. V and Sam again—but in the process will she lose everything she counted on for the future, including David?

Summary:

For her mom’s birthday, Wendy finds an old jewelry box at a flea market—the perfect gift for someone who loves salvaged junk. But inside the box is a cryptic note that appears to have been written recently. Who wrote the note, and did the intended recipient ever see it?

Wendy’s curiosity leads her on a search with boyfriend David at her side and eager to help.

But Wendy needs more personal and urgent help—the financial kind—because her stepfather has lost his job. The family’s plan to visit Alaska on vacation is headed down the sewer like a hard Louisiana rain. How will Wendy ever see Mrs. V or Sam again?

When an opportunity arrives in the form of tutoring Melissa, one of the Sticks, Wendy’s money problems appear to be solved. Until the arrangement takes a turn that gets Wendy into trouble like never before.

And in the final months of ninth grade, she might lose everything she counted on for the future.

Benefits to the Teen and the Family:

This story addresses academic honesty and communication with parents and demonstrates how abandoning either might affect a teen’s relationships and future.

“6 Dates to Disaster” is a Finalist in the Grace Awards.

Website: http://www.cynthiattoney.com

Blog:  http://birdfacewendy.wordpress.com

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/birdfacewendy

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/CynthiaTToney

Twitter: @CynthiaTToney

Instagram: @CynthiaTToney

Pinterest: Cynthia T. Toney, YA Author

LinkedIn:  www.linkedin.com/in/cynthiattoney

Excerpt:

A tightly folded piece of blue paper was stuck in the back corner of a drawer. I pulled it free and unfolded the bottom of a page from one of those small-sized spiral notebooks people use for journals. It had one edge of ragged paper fingers torn from the spiral, but the paper felt crisp and looked clean. Where had I seen paper like that before? I opened it.

Meet me in the park after the Mardi Gras parade. It was written in a loose, flowing script that could belong to a male or female. No signature. How odd.

My back straightened.

Someone had hidden this note. Hidden it where no one else would find it, shoving it like that to the rear corner of a drawer so small. To keep the meeting a secret without throwing away the note—and still be able to look at it again later. Or, maybe the note never arrived where it was supposed to go.

My curiosity kicked in like it had when I’d learned about a lost uncle no one in the family wanted to talk about.

Who’d written this note, and where was the person it belonged to? One thing for sure—the sender must be someone important to the recipient.

My eyes narrowed. Was the note a directive for a romantic rendezvous? An exchange of some sort? What? How did an old jewelry box wind up at the flea market with what appeared to be a new note still inside?

If the message referred to this year’s Mardi Gras parade, it was scheduled for next Saturday.

Anticipation drummed in my chest.

What if the sender or the recipient showed up at the park next Saturday and no one else came?

I threw away everything from inside the box but kept the note.

Bio:

Cynthia writes novels for preteens and teens because she wants them to know how wonderful, powerful, and valuable God made them. Her contemporary and historical fiction has twisty plots with elements of mystery and romance—because life is complicated. Ask any teen! Cynthia’s Bird Face series (so far) includes 8 Notes to a Nobody, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, and 6 Dates to Disaster. Her coming-of-age historical, The Other Side of Freedom, releases August, 2017. She lives in Texas with her husband and dogs.

Buy Links:

Amazon Paperback:

https://www.amazon.com/Dates-Disaster-Bird-Face/dp/1944120246/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Amazon Kindle edition:

https://www.amazon.com/Dates-Disaster-Bird-Face-Book-ebook/dp/B01MXUMV8K/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Barnes & Noble Paperback:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/6-dates-to-disaster-cynthia-t-toney/1125288374?ean=9781944120245

Books-a-Million Paperback:

http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Dates-Disaster/Cynthia-T-Toney/9781944120245?id=6564263577253

Tweet: Her goal is Alaska. Her family is broke. Is a chance to make money the answer to a prayer—or the road to disaster? www.amzn.com/B01MXUMV8K

Posted in Catholic book blast, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Faith, Family Life, Fiction, fiction, Juvenile fiction, Young Adult Novel | Comments Off on CWG Book Blast – Cynthia Toney’s “6 Dates to Disaster (Bird Face series, book three”

Rightfully Ours, by Carolyn Astfalk

Rightfully Ours (cover), by Carolyn AstfalkRightfully Ours tells of buried gold, but more importantly, it reveals something far more precious in rural, North Central Pennsylvania.  The treasure hunters, Rachel Mueller and Paul Porter, find themselves in the Mueller’s kitchen early in the school year, flummoxed by their improbable and unforeseen encounter. Blame it on Ron Mueller, who guards Rachel, his fourteen-year-old daughter, with strict rules about dating. He quickly introduces potential boyfriends to his “three-barrel shotgun” to assure their compliance with his standards. But his response to economic pressures—leasing the southern portion of his property to a gas-mining/fracking operation and renting an in-law cottage located near his house—unwittingly creates conflict, temptation, and a compelling story.

Sixteen-year-old Paul, the brother of one of the fracking roughnecks, is Ron’s tenant. He and Rachel live next door to each other and ride the same school bus. Thrown together, Rachel’s awkwardness and Paul’s resentment keep them apart. Eventually, Paul’s teasing tells Rachel that heknows she exists. Slowly their relationship warms and later endures tragedies, misunderstandings, discoveries, and disappointments.

Paul’s unearthing of a Civil War artifact in Rachel’s garden inspires him to write the term paper of the century. As part of his research, Paul and Rachel discover something controversial and of great monetary value—something to excite history buffs and the custodians of Fort Knox.

Despite Mr. and Mrs. Mueller’s efforts to discourage teen passions, Paul and Rachel find themselves unsupervised. They weigh what is best for their short term relationship against what is more valuable in the long term. Young readers will be able to identify with Paul and Rachel as their love develops, and to feel their pain as storms tatter and threaten a far more valuable treasure, one they may soon lose.

Carolyn Astfalk brings life to the pages of her books. She fills her teen romance novel with tenderness, humor, and irony. As with Romeo and Juliette, parting with Rachel and Paul will be “sweet sorrow.”

I had the privilege to work in the Catholic Writers Guild Fiction Critique Group with Carolyn Astfalk as Rightfully Ours came to be. She shared each new chapter and eventually sent me a review copy of the completed book. I’ve enjoyed all of Carolyn’s published and unpublished novels including Ornamental Graces and Stay with Me. I am grateful for her assistance with my own efforts.

Posted in Adventure, Book Review, Catholic Fiction, Faith, Fiction, fiction, Humour, Juvenile fiction, Love, Novel, romance, suspense, Young Adult Novel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments