SQT Friday – Sale, Graduations Etc.

seven-quick-takes-friday-2-1024x727Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes Friday.

1. University Graduation #3 Son

#3 son's graduation from Ottawa University (Image copyright Ellen Hrkach)

#3 son’s graduation from Ottawa University (Image copyright Ellen Hrkach)

2. High School Graduation #4 Son
Yesterday, #4 son graduated from high school. He sang his own music composition “Growing Up” at the graduation ceremony (and got a standing ovation from his fellow classmates and the rest of the audience.) He also won the Brody Armstrong Music Award/Scholarship.

copyright Ellen Hrkach 2015

copyright Ellen Hrkach 2015

3. Big Sale!
A group of Indie authors are holding a huge summer sale. To find out more, click here. Stealing Jenny is on sale for .99! (US customers only!)

4. Catholic Writers Guild Blog
I’m also over at the Catholic Writers Guild blog today. Check out the post here.

5. Live the Fast
Have you discovered the joy and value of fasting yet? Whether you fast on a regular basis or not, check out this website to find out more information.

6. Reading Shelf
Victorious Exile by Echo Lewis

7. St. Anthony Cartoon
When my husband initially conceived this cartoon, he used #2 and #3 son’s images. Both of those boys are now men and both are graduates of university!

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach Please do not use without permission

SQT – Father’s Day Edition 2015

seven-quick-takes-friday-2-1024x727
Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, this will be an all photo Quick Takes, devoted to the father figures in my life and to my husband:

My father and me, 1961, at a picnic. He died in 1978.
Copyright Ellen Hrkach

My stepfather (1933-2012) and my sister, 2011.
Copyright Ellen Hrkach

My husband and his father (1980), who passed away in 1995.
Copyright Ellen Hrkach

1987, with #1 son. My husband has always been a “hands on” type of father.
Copyright Ellen Hrkach

1990. With #2 son at a winter carnival.
Copyright Ellen Hrkach

1992. Rocking #3 son.
Copyright Ellen Hrkach

1997, swimming with #4 son. Copyright Ellen Hrkach

2000. On the beach with #5 son.
Copyright Ellen Hrkach

Did you count more than seven? There are actually eight photos (I couldn’t do this in less than eight!)

Happy, Happy Father’s Day to my father, stepfather and father-in-law in heaven. And a Happy Father’s Day to my husband!

Updated: Copyright 2015 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Seven Quick Takes Friday – Kindle Sale!

seven-quick-takes-friday-2-1024x727Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes Friday.

Emily’s Hope (Kindle Edition), my first book, is still on sale for .99! Click here to download.

1. Graduations!
June is the month of graduations! There will be two in our family: our third son, Tim, is graduating from Ottawa University on June 14th, and our fourth son, Adam, is graduating high school on June 25th. Let the celebrations begin!

2. Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Today is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus! There is a beautiful and powerful novena to the “Efficacious Sacred Heart of Jesus” that St. Padre Pio recited every day. I also pray this beautiful novena every day for all the intentions of my family.

3. O’Donovan Family Series
There’s a unique page for the O’Donovan Family Series on Amazon.com. Check it out here! Both In Name Only (Book #1) and A Subtle Grace (Book #2) have individual pages as well. In name only much smaller
A Subtle Grace front cover Nov2013

4. FQP Newsletter
If you’d like to receive news about upcoming books and sales from Full Quiver Publishing (my company), please sign up here.

5. Catholic Life Support
Stealing Jenny is mentioned in a list of Catholic books over at 365Catholic.

6. Reading-Review Shelf
True Radiance by Lisa Mladinich

7. Cartoon

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach.  Please do not use without permission

Image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach. Please do not use without permission

Emily’s Hope: .99 Sale on Kindle!

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the publication of my first book, the Kindle edition of Emily’s Hope is on sale for a limited time only for .99!

Emily’s Hope is based on the true stories of myself and my great-grandmother. Here are a few of the reviews I’ve received since it was published ten years ago:

“Compelling…a real page turner.”
Damon Owens, Host of EWTN’s “NFP: Embracing the Marital Gift”

“Your book is a vehicle for the whole truth behind the Theology of the Body, presented so that people can see how the teachings of the Church are to be followed.”
Joan Hon, author, “A Trip to Medjugorje”

“There is so much to love about Emily’s Hope — the innocence of young love, the beautiful, miraculous, healing power of love and the beauty of sacrificial married love and its life-giving splendor. This story is not a fantasy, but is a tender and sensitive portrayal of what makes love real and lasting.”
Jean Heimann, Catholic Fire

“This book is a must read for anyone who has ever questioned whether living the NFP lifestyle is worth it or ever been resentful of the deprivations of NFP. I loved this book!”
Christopher Blunt, author, “Passport”

“I would encourage everyone to read this book, certainly young women. It is a book I can wholeheartedly recommend.
David Beresford, Catholic Insight Magazine

“While this book is definitely about NFP, it is also about the love of husbands and wives, the love of parents for their children and the agonizing moral choices we sometimes face. It is also about real people…and about being witnesses to a culture of life in a world overshadowed by a culture of death.”
Kristie Wellman, One More Soul

The new updated book trailer for Emily’s Hope:

To read more reviews, click here: Emily’s Hope Kindle Edition.

Emily’s Hope Kindle Edition is only .99 for a Limited Time Only!

Seven Quick Takes Friday – Emily’s Hope Ten Years Old

seven-quick-takes-friday-2-1024x727Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at This Ain’t The Lyceum for SQT Friday.

1. Emily’s Hope Ten Years Old!!
It’s hard to believe, but my first book, Emily’s Hope, is now ten years old!
Over at my Facebook author page, as well as the Full Quiver Publishing Facebook page, there will be free giveaways all week!EH Cover email smaller

2. Catholic Writers Conference Live 2015CWCO_live_sm
We’re in the final stages of planning for the Catholic Writers Conference Live in Somerset, New Jersey. If you’re a writer and are thinking of attending, there’s more information here at this link. If you have already decided to attend, you can register at this link.

3. Entertaining and Powerful Post From Erin McCole Cupp
On Why I Stay Catholic With the Aid of the Internet. Entertaining and powerful. Check it out here.

4. Difficult Anniversaries, Decisions and Responsible Parenthood
I recently posted an updated article about the difficulties my husband and I faced in discerning whether or not we should have more children. Check it out here.

image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

5. Catholic Life Support
Thank you, Ann Frailey, for mentioning so many great Catholic books in your post a few days ago! (Stealing Jenny was included!)

6. Reading Shelf
Specter by John Desjarlais

7. Hotel Cartoon
We’re getting close to vacation time. This is one of our most popular cartoons!

image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach (please do not use without permission)

image copyright James and Ellen Hrkach (please do not use without permission)

Copyright 2015 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Difficult Decisions and Responsible Parenthood

The end of June every year marks two very difficult anniversaries for me. On June 26th, 1986, during my first pregnancy, I was rushed into surgery to remove a tiny baby from my right fallopian tube. This, after already miscarrying a baby from my womb. I woke up in the hospital with the knowledge that I had conceived twins…and I would be leaving the hospital with neither in my arms.

Seven years later, in June in 1993, I found myself in an ambulance fighting for my life, bleeding internally as the result of ectopic pregnancy complications. It’s hard to believe it’s been 22 years.

Below is a reprint of an article that was published a few years ago. It describes the difficult decisions James and I faced when discerning whether we should limit our family to three boys after a life-threatening pregnancy in 1993.

Pope Paul VI in his papal encyclical Humanae Vitae states: “ Responsible parenthood… has one further essential aspect of paramount importance. It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.”

In the ambulance, as I drifted in and out of consciousness, I didn’t have much time for retrospective thoughts, except “Please God, I can’t die. I don’t want my little boys growing up without a mom.” I was bleeding internally, the complications of ectopic pregnancy surgery two weeks previous, and quickly becoming weaker and weaker. Waking up later in the recovery room, I was thankful to be alive.

“You should not be having any more children.” The words were harsh and at first, we took them as truth. I was capable of having more, but after two ectopic pregnancies and complications from one of the surgeries, we were told that we must limit our family to three boys. The doctors suggested that I be put on hormonal contraception. They later urged me to have my remaining fallopian tube tied. The physicians weren’t the only ones to give the ‘order’ to stop having children. Well-meaning relatives and friends felt it was their duty to tell us that we should not get pregnant again. “You don’t want to be irresponsible, do you?”

“It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God…”

It became evident, as we dialogued with both the physicians and the well-meaning relatives and friends, that they were concerned only about my physical health. Most of them cared little, if at all, for my/our spiritual well being. And, initially, in those first few weeks after my surgery, we felt that we ought to listen to the “doctor’s orders.”

However, as the months went by, I began to regain my strength. We continued using NFP in the most conservative way, often adding one or two days to the rules for extra security. A year later, with heaviness in my heart, I thought of the future and the fact that we would not have anymore children. I wondered whether God was calling us to actively seek another pregnancy. My husband and I discussed it, then brought our concern to our spiritual director, explaining to him that the doctor told us that we should not have any more children. “James and Ellie,” he said, “that is a decision to be made between the two of you and God.” He encouraged us to pray about it and he further recommended that we talk to a faithful Catholic doctor. We knew of a Catholic physician through a neighboring homeschooling community. Her response after reviewing my file was that we could try for more children, but that I would need to be monitored carefully in the first several weeks to confirm that it wasn’t another ectopic pregnancy.

… a right conscience is the true interpreter…”

For the next several months, we prayed together. We deeply desired another child, but we did not want to be careless or irresponsible. After much prayer and discernment, and weighing all the risks, we decided to actively seek another pregnancy.

“…the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities…”

Ten cycles later, we were still not pregnant. We felt at peace with our decision to seek another pregnancy and, although disappointed, we trusted that God knew what He was doing. Eventually, we stopped charting. Another eight cycles went by with no pregnancy and I began to sell off most of my baby furniture. A few weeks later, it dawned on me that I hadn’t had a period in six weeks. The next morning, I took my temperature and it was 98.9. After 18 months of saying no to us, God was saying yes and blessing us with another eternal soul. I was thrilled that another new life, the fruit of our love, had begun, and would be sheltered lovingly in my womb.

With the blessing, however, soon came suffering. I began having debilitating migraine headaches and some days I could not get out of bed. Worse than the physical pain, however, was the emotional suffering. Doctors, well-meaning friends and relatives told us that we were being “irresponsible” and “selfish,” and that if I was suffering, “I had asked for it.”

At 30 weeks gestation, our unborn baby was six pounds and I had already gained 50 pounds. That might not seem like much, but with my four feet nine inch frame, it meant that I could not drive (the seat had to be pushed back so far to allow for my large stomach that my feet couldn’t reach the pedals) and I could not walk without assistance the last four weeks of the pregnancy.

Our son, Adam, was born eight weeks later at nearly ten pounds. The pro-life Catholic doctor who delivered Adam by C-section told me that we could try for another baby someday, but that the pregnancy would again have to be monitored. Three years later, our youngest son, Paul was born.

“…recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.”

The words of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae courageously proclaim the truth of responsible parenthood. The decision to have or avoid another child remains a decision between the couple and God. No one else ought to make such a life-changing and important choice because no one else will have to endure the consequences (and joys), nor will anyone else have to stand before God someday and explain their actions.

Although we could have used NFP to avoid pregnancy permanently to limit our family size to three sons, we chose to listen to our hearts, to answer God’s calling, and to seek more children. When I consider that our two youngest sons (pictured above) might possibly not be here today, my heart becomes heavy. Both are amazing human beings who have already given so much to our family and to society.

For a more comprehensive discussion of our discernment process, check out my recent video presentation for the CC4 Moms Conference on the topic of Responsible Parenthood (or How I Came to Have Five Kids When the Doctors Told Us to Stop At Three).

James and I are so grateful to God for each of our five sons because they are all unique, talented and irreplaceable human beings. We can’t imagine our family and our world without them.
Easter fam cropped

Updated 2015, text and photos copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach