A Love Such as Heaven Intended Now Available for #Preorder on #Kindle

A Love Front Only

A Love Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer

Full Quiver Publishing‘s upcoming release, A Love Such as Heaven Intended (Heaven Intended #3) is now available for pre-order on Kindle.  The print edition will be available later this month.

Synopsis:

In A Love Such as Heaven Intended, budding Civil War socialite Josephine Bigelow is inspired by the words of Louisa May Alcott to make a name for herself as an investigative writer covering the plight of Confederate soldiers held in Federal prisons. Little did she know that one of the inmates she would encounter was her brother’s roommate from West Point Military Academy.

Even though her father is a Union brigadier general, Josephine’s infatuation with the handsome Confederate soldier Michael McKirnan is rekindled. As captivating as Josephine is, the last thing Michael needs is to entangle that beauty into his life of intrigue. The strong-willed Josephine will not be deterred and their lives become intertwined as they embark on a journey of a lifetime, trying to stay one step ahead of the military and a madman bent on revenge. As they journey from Washington, D.C., to St. Louis, Atlanta, and finally East Texas, the two of them discover what love, faith, compassion and loyalty truly mean.

Reviews:

“A Love Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer is a sweet love story that history lovers are sure to appreciate. I enjoyed the first two books in the Heaven Intended series, so it was fun diving into the third book. We even get a glimpse at characters from the previous two books. Fans of historic fiction are going to love this!”  Theresa Linden, award-winning author

“Thoroughly enjoyable! This book abounds with the virtues of faith, hope and love.  Lauer shows us that even during times of war, love wins.” Virginia Lieto,  Author, Editor and Public Speaker

“A Love Such as Heaven Intended is a sweeping love story that is nearly impossible to put down. With equal parts intriguing adventure, fascinating history lesson, and blossoming romance, Amanda Lauer has another hit on her hands.”  Leslea Wahl, Author of The Perfect Blindside, 2018 Catholic Press Association winner

“The third installment in Amanda Lauer’s Civil War romance series matches beautiful and determined Josephine with Michael, a West Point Military Academy graduate who seems to be on the wrong side of the conflict. Filled with historical and military detail and a unique setting for a Civil War novel, A Love Such as Heaven Intended will please both fans of history and of romance.”   Carolyn Astfalk,  Author, Stay With Me and Rightfully Ours

 

 

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In Memory of My Sister, Diane

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Sisters 2018 L to R: Diane, me and Laurie

My sister, Diane, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly two days ago at the young age of 62. I’m in shock and still trying to process the news. She had health issues, but she was still working full-time.

One of the ways I handle grief is to keep busy. I’ve been looking through old photo albums searching for photos for Diane’s slide show to be shown at her wake.

Of course, as a writer, the other way I deal with grief is to write.

Diane was the second child and first daughter of my parents. She was also a Christmas present. Born six weeks early on December 24, 1956, she weighed 3 lbs, 15 oz.   My brother Mike was only 11 months old when my sister was born. When the doctor delivered my sister, he said, “I can’t believe it! Two tax exemptions in one year!”

Like most sisters/siblings, we had our good times and bad times.  We fought and made up too many times to count, but in these last ten years, we’ve had a closer relationship than ever, talking on the phone for an hour at a time every few weeks and emailing and texting frequently.

Here are some of my favorite memories and little-known facts about my sister:

When we were small children and Mom put us to bed, we would stay awake and play games like “You Don’t Say” and other guessing games. Often Mom would have to tell us to “Be quiet and go to sleep.”

One time when we were about ten and twelve, Di and I sneaked down to the Christmas tree in the living room before everyone else was awake to see what “Santa” had left.

Diane would give me hints about what she bought me for Christmas. And every year, I’d be surprised because the hints she gave me were only to distract me from guessing what the real gift was. You’d think after several years I would have caught on, but I never did and I was always surprised.

1971:  Diane and my brother Frank found and broke into my diary. They proceeded to mark each entry. If their name was in the entry, they gave it a good mark. Otherwise, there were a lot of F’s.  If I had to be honest, the entries were quite boring, talking about what grades I got in this or that subject. We laughed about it for years. And… I still have the diary with all the notations.

1975: We had a bad argument when we were teenagers. I don’t even remember what it was about. She was so angry that she proceeded to dump a glass of vegetable juice over my head.  I was shocked that she had done it, but then we both started laughing.  I asked her, “Do you feel better now?”  She responded, “Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do.”  That was another memory we laughed about for years.

1976: Di asked me to buy her some perfume when I went to France on a school trip.  I bought L’Interdit and she liked it so much, she continued using it for many years until it was discontinued.  She gave me a old container of it years ago and whenever I smell that scent, I think of her.

An entry from my diary in 1977: “Shopping with Diane is like putting yourself in front of a firing squad.  She must’ve tried on 30 different pieces of clothing in ten different stores and didn’t end up buying anything!”  (I’m not a patient shopper!)

1978: I was babysitting my cousin Eleanor’s daughter and my sister kept calling, but was quiet except for breathing.  I suspected it was her, but she never answered. I was trembling with fear and about to call the police. Finally, she called and laughed.  I was so glad it was her (and not a psychotic stalker) that I also laughed about it.

In recent years, she had developed emphysema so she depended on kind people to help her. She kept a stash of small angel pins to give to those who helped her. She would tell them, “You’re my angel.”

Two years ago, she recommended the TV show Blue Bloods and happened to own the first two seasons and asked if I wanted to borrow them.  I did, and I was hooked. I wound up purchasing the next few seasons and now watch that program regularly.

She also recommended a movie called “Lars and the Real Girl.”  When she told me the premise (a delusional young man strikes up an unconventional relationship with a doll he finds on the Internet), I told her I didn’t think I’d like it.  She said, “Trust me.  You’ll like it.” And, well, I did.  I would even say it’s up there among my top 100 movies. Excellent script, story and acting.  I’ll miss her future recommendations.

We both loved the rice pudding from The Meadows Diner in Blackwood, New Jersey. Every time I visited, I would bring her some (and enjoy some for myself!)

During our last conversation a few weeks ago, she shared with me that she hoped to come up to Canada for our first grandchild’s christening in the summer.  She told me that I would love being a grandmother because she loved being a Mom Mom to Lanna.  We talked about grandmother names that I might want to use. The last words we said to each other were, “I love you.”

I already miss her.  And I wish I could’ve said goodbye to her.  I know I’ll see her again someday and the reunion will be a joyous one.

Requiescat in pace, Diane.

May the choirs of angels come to greet you.
May they speed you to paradise.
May the Lord enfold you in His mercy.
May you find eternal life.  Amen.

December 24, 1956 – March 7, 2019

A memorial fund has been created in Diane’s name/memory to provide for her granddaughter, Lanna’s, education.  If you would like to contribute, here is the link.

Her obituary is here:

AAA all four

1961 L to R Mike, Diane, Frank, Ellen

AAA Di and me 2

1963: My sister (right) and me

AAAA all four Di Comm

Diane’s First Communion 1964

AAA Di and me

1978

AAA My wedding

At my wedding, my sister (right) was the maid of honor

All five 1987 cropped

1987. After my youngest sister (Laurie) was born in 1981, we became five siblings! (L to R, Mike, Diane, Laurie, me,  Frank)

Fasting, Peace and Forgiveness

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Copyright Josh Hrkach, used with permission

Lent is a time of change and sacrifice. In his Lenten Message of 2009, Pope Benedict XVI said, “The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord.”

As we approach Lent this year, perhaps we can take some time to consider the spiritual practice of fasting and how it can cultivate peace in our hearts.

Everyone wants peace: no wars, no terrorism, no slavery, no abortion, no oppression. However, when we start arguing with someone about an insignificant topic, or when we don’t want to admit we’re wrong, or when we have a hard time forgiving someone, it can be difficult to find that peace within ourselves.

How can we foster this peace in our hearts?

Regular fasting (together with prayer) cultivates peace in our hearts. Fasting invites the Holy Spirit in to heal our hearts, our relationship with God, and our relationship with others. Fasting helps us to be selfless instead of selfish.

Let’s take for example, forgiving someone. We are all called to be merciful and forgive those who have hurt or offended us.

But what if the offense is grievous? Say, like torture, abuse, rape, or murder? And what if the person we must forgive is not repentant?

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus didn’t give any exceptions to this rule. We will be forgiven as we forgive those who trespass against us. We are still called to be merciful and to forgive regardless of the offense. We are all called to have peace in our hearts. Forgiveness and showing mercy to others helps heal our hearts and souls. However, forgiving someone, especially those who have grievously harmed us, is not easy and it is impossible without God’s grace. Fasting opens our hearts to this beautiful grace and peace.

Throughout my life, a relative of mine was verbally abusive to me and to others in our family. Eventually, she was diagnosed with a mental illness and, with medication, she was able to stop being verbally abusive. When she got older and began exhibiting signs of dementia, however, it seemed like she was falling back into her former caustic, abusive self.  I had thought that I had forgiven her but realized that I never did forgive her for all the cruel things she had said and done to me. At that point, I had already been fasting for several months, and my confessor suggested that I fast and pray for this relative to help me to forgive her. So I fasted and prayed for her and eventually, I realized that I had been given the grace to forgive her and to speak about and treat her with the utmost love and kindness. I don’t think I could have done that without praying and fasting for her.

Lent is a time of change and sacrifice. Fasting and prayer together will help to cultivate peace and forgiveness in our hearts. Fasting will invite the Holy Spirit in to heal our hearts, our relationship with God and our relationship with others.

Fasting is not an easy practice with our society’s current tendency to overindulge. However, if you can do penitential acts during Lent, if you can fast during Lent, then you can fast all year round!

What I try to do throughout the year is to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays (using the Ash Wednesday/Good Friday fast of no meat and eating two small meals, then one meal that is no larger than the two small meals combined).  I’m 59 years old, so fasting is not obligatory for me, but I fast because I’ve experienced many great spiritual, emotional, and physical benefits.

Always check with your physician before beginning any fasting routine.

Copyright 2019 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Open Book – March #openbook

An Open Book 800W

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for Open Book!  Here’s what I’ve been reading for the past month!   It’s Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent!

 

Into Glorious Light

Into Glorious Light:

Memoir of Converting from Exhausted Atheist to Joyful Christian.

by Paul Keough

Amazon Synopsis: Warning to the hate-crime police: this memoir is not politically correct. What it is, though, is a story very appropriate for Valentine’s Day. It is a story of searching for truth and falling in love with something greater than oneself, greater than humanity, greater than nature, the world and the universe. Paul quickly realized – even as an atheist – that there is no point in trying to make everyone like you. No matter what position you take, there will always be someone on the opposite side of that opinion. Given that, we might as well pursue the truth and do what we think is right, correct?

Truth reveals itself as seen here in these three strange occurrences that challenged his concept of truth:

1. How does an atheist scientist end up married with several children? Is not the world overpopulating from the totalitarian perspective? If that is true, wouldn’t having several children be irresponsible? Why would a trained doctoral scientist from a top university do such a thing? Was he not shocked when he found scientists, business leaders, doctors, scientists, engineers and other intelligent rational professionals were having more than two children?

2. How does a Wall Street analyst in New York City, often considered the center and top of the world, voluntarily leave Wall Street when there was more and more money to be made? Had he lost his marbles? What could be better than making a ton of money? But then we look around and see that most Wall Street professionals do leave Wall Street on average about four years after starting… so the fact that Paul lasted twice that time also seems unlikely.

3. Why would a nerdy science geek break up with a handsome woman who comes from wealth? As an atheist, why would it matter that she claimed to be a witch? If there was no such thing as a witch, or anything like that, why care about any label she gave herself? Except … was there trouble coming from being with a person claiming to be a witch?

My review: Paul Keough has written a compelling memoir of his journey from atheist to Catholic Christian. The eighth of twelve children, his sometimes mentally unstable (Catholic) mother and abusive non-Catholic father made his early life difficult. Often retreating to the safety of his imagination, Keough’s dysfunctional family was not unlike many families.  His religious upbringing was limited to a very brief stint at a Catholic school and CCD.  Eventually, he chose not to continue practicing any faith and, by age 16, he had embraced atheism.  The author takes us on a step-by-step journey from his childhood, college years and young adult life to his years on Wall Street, to his eventual conversion.  Recently published, this book is an ideal gift to those friends, relatives and acquaintances who may be dabbling with atheism.  Highly recommend.

 

Bakhita.jpg

Bakhita: From Slave to Saint

by Roberto Italo Zanini

Amazon Synopsis: In 1948 Aurora Marin arrives with her family at the convent of the Canossian Sisters of Schio, Italy, where Sister Bakhita has just died. Aurora was hoping to see her before she died. She gathers her children around the picture of Bakhita and tells them of the incredible life of the woman that had raised her as her nanny.

Born in a village in Sudan, kidnapped by slavers, often beaten and abused, and later sold to Federico Marin, a Venetian merchant, Bakhita then came to Italy and became the nanny servant of Federico’s daughter, Aurora, who had lost her mother at birth. She is treated as an outcast by the peasants and the other servants due to her black skin and African background, but Bakhita is kind and generous to others. Bakhita gradually comes closer to God with the help of the kind village priest, and embraces the Catholic faith.

She requests to join the order of Canossian sisters, but Marin doesn’t want to give her up as his servant, treating her almost as his property. This leads to a moving court case that raised an uproar which impacts Bakhita’s freedom and ultimate decision to become a nun. Pope John Paul II declared her a saint in the year 2000.

My review: I’m not quite finished reading this book, but I’ve been inspired by its contents, and especially the dictated entries of Saint Josephine Bakhita to one of her fellow sisters.  Her story is one of great suffering and yet she shares her horrific journey with no sense of embellishment or exaggeration.  The strength of this book is in these entries, although the story behind the story is interesting too.  Highly recommend.

PBC

Poor Banished Children by Fiorella de Maria

Amazon Synopsis: An explosion is heard off the coast of seventeenth-century England, and a woman washes up on the shore. She is barely alive and does not speak English, but she asks for a priest . . . in Latin.

She has a confession to make and a story to tell, but who is she and from where has she come?

Cast out of her superstitious, Maltese family, Warda turns to begging and stealing until she is fostered by an understanding Catholic priest who teaches her the art of healing. Her willful nature and hard-earned independence make her unfit for marriage, and so the good priest sends Warda to serve an anchorite, in the hope that his protégé will discern a religious vocation.

Such a calling Warda never has the opportunity to hear. Barbary pirates raid her village, capture her and sell her into slavery in Muslim North Africa. In the merciless land of Warda’s captivity, her wits, nerve, and self-respect are tested daily, as she struggles to survive without submitting to total and permanent enslavement. As she is slowly worn down by the brutality of her circumstances, she comes to believe that God has abandoned her and falls into despair, hatred, and a pattern of behavior which, ironically, mirrors that of her masters.

Poor Banished Children is the tale of one woman’s relentless search for freedom and redemption. The historical novel raises challenging questions about the nature of courage, free will, and ultimately salvation.

My review: This is on my To-Read shelf.

Into Glorious Light by Paul Keough

Into Glorious LightToday is the official release day for Into Glorious Light: My Memoir of Converting From Exhausted Atheist to Joyful Christian.

Amazon Synopsis: Warning to the hate-crime police: this memoir is not politically correct. What it is, though, is a story very appropriate for Valentine’s Day. It is a story of searching for truth and falling in love with something greater than oneself, greater than humanity, greater than nature, the world and the universe. Paul quickly realized – even as an atheist – that there is no point in trying to make everyone like you. No matter what position you take, there will always be someone on the opposite side of that opinion. Given that, we might as well pursue the truth and do what we think is right, correct?

Truth reveals itself as seen here in these three strange occurrences that challenged his concept of truth:
1. How does an atheist scientist end up married with several children? Is not the world overpopulating from the totalitarian perspective? If that is true, wouldn’t having several children be irresponsible? Why would a trained doctoral scientist from a top university do such a thing? Was he not shocked when he found scientists, business leaders, doctors, scientists, engineers and other intelligent rational professionals were having more than two children?
2. How does a Wall Street analyst in New York City, often considered the center and top of the world, voluntarily leave Wall Street when there was more and more money to be made? Had he lost his marbles? What could be better than making a ton of money? But then we look around and see that most Wall Street professionals do leave Wall Street on average about four years after starting… so the fact that Paul lasted twice that time also seems unlikely.
3. Why would a nerdy science geek break up with a handsome woman who comes from wealth? As an atheist, why would it matter that she claimed to be a witch? If there was no such thing as a witch, or anything like that, why care about any label she gave herself? Except … was there trouble coming from being with a person claiming to be a witch?

Purchase the ebook here.

Purchase the paperback here.

Author Biography

Dr. Paul Keough holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and a Ph.D. in Health Sciences from Northwestern University. Paul is a practicing Catholic husband and father of six children who attend Catholic schools in the western suburbs of Chicago. In his free time, Paul enjoys playing chess and stays active by biking, swimming, playing basketball and tennis and working out with his family and friends.

Career-wise, Paul initially worked on Wall Street with high-profile investors, but then Dr. Keough soon realized his true passion was for helping individuals and their families on Main Street grow their retirement funds. Paul left Wall Street to help the average Joe and Jane on Main Street. Dr Keough brought with him the same experiences and knowledge that he used to research investments for the affluent. Since then, Paul has remained focused on helping his clients work toward their retirement dreams.

Dr. Keough has been recognized for his dedication to clients and featured in the media, most notably, on EWTN’s The Journey Home that aired January 2016:

 http://bit.ly/2h9wNBS

or heard him speak on Dan Cheely’s Relevant Radio Show in April 2016:

http://bit.ly/2znOVCc

Recently in December 2017, Paul was interviewed by the podcast SeizeYourBusiness.com as episode 132: “The Information War & Emotional Finance:”

 http://bit.ly/2ja9Mzu

Also, on Dec 22nd of 2018, Paul was interviewed on Montréal CAN Radio Blog:

https://youtu.be/fUW59xS_2_4

Paul is currently the Principal and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) of Turnkeough Wealth Management, Inc., where he supervises all activities of the firm. Paul adheres to applicable regulatory requirements, together with all policies and procedures outlined in the firm’s code of ethics and compliance manual. He holds a Series 65 securities license and earned his health and life insurance license in multiple states throughout the United States.

Turnkeough Wealth Management, Inc. is a Registered Investment Advisor Firm with trades executed through Pershing LLC, Member FINRA, NFA & SIPC. Our disclosures are that past performance is not indicative of future performance and all proforma activities including forecasts are forward-looking estimates and are not guarantees of performance. Any risk mitigation is partial, some risks always remain, and risks are usually proportional to potential return regardless of mitigations.

The approach at Turnkeough is unusual for a wealth management firm. First, they have a mission statement to provide comprehensive life planning. When Paul meets with investors, he asks over 300 questions in three hours in these areas: investments, insurance, estate, education, debt, retirement, legal, tax, real estate, career, marriage, spiritual, family and legacy planning.

Their holistic approach is designed to build confidence and comfort. Their goal is to be a good and loyal servant to each of their clients, offering to help with both their clients’ communities’ long-term benefit and the benefit of the clients’ loved ones. The firm is resolutely committed to serving Christians and Jews by providing honest, caring, and thoughtful professional services.  They hold seriously the higher standards of always telling the truth, providing flawless service, minimizing costs, while providing top notch services with kindness and a smile.

The firm abides by compliance, record-keeping, and regulations, manages and tracks performance and results. But also, they hold themselves to a higher standard. The firm has an ethical board of directors composed of non-voting religious persons.

Turnkeough also tithes and gives to various not-for-profit causes all over the world. “We encourage our team to give and when I’m asked how much I say give, give, give until it hurts and then give some more.”

The firm is also very competitive with other financial firms by offerings services where client goals come first always, by seeking alpha (return above market return), keeping costs low using trading methods, providing real attention and real analysis, without automated robots with the goal of exceeding their clients’ expectations.

For further information, please contact Dr. Keough at: paul.keough(at)turnkeough (dot) (com).

www.turnkeough.com

 

An Open Book – December 2018 #openbook

An Open Book 800W

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for An Open Book. Here’s what I’ve been reading for the past month!

 

Heavenly Hosts

Heavenly Hosts: Eucharistic Miracles for Kids by Kathryn Swegart

Amazon Synopsis: Your children likely know all about the Eucharist, that central ritual beloved by Catholics worldwide. But do they know that God’s presence in the Eucharist is miraculous?

Heavenly Hosts presents documented Eucharistic miracles in story form to bring middle-grade readers to a better understanding of the Real Presence. One story details a fourth-century priest in the Sahara Desert who loses his faith until the Christ Child appears in the Host; this miraculous sighting causes the priest to return to God. In another tale, Antonio, a ninth-century altar boy, stands firm in a test of faith and is rewarded for his fidelity. And in one memorable story in Italy, a thirteenth-century debate over the true nature of the Eucharist is settled when a donkey falls to its knees before a monstrance containing the consecrated Host.

My review: I have been working with the author on the second edition of this lovely book.  Compelling stories about Eucharistic miracles, along with beautiful illustrations makes this a perfect Communion or Confirmation gift. Highly recommend.

RWOutcast front cover

Roland West Outcast (A West Brothers Story) by Theresa Linden

Amazon Synopsis: He’s searching for the truth but is he ready to proclaim it?

For shy Roland West, speech class is synonymous with humiliation. The last thing he wants is more attention from the gossips and troublemakers of River Run High School. But when an outcast’s house is viciously vandalized, Roland needs to find the perpetrators–before they strike again. Yet nothing is as straightforward as it seems. Suspected by the police and ridiculed for his beliefs, Roland draws closer to the sinister truth. When the perpetrators threaten a good friend, can Roland overcome his fear of speaking out and expose them?

My review: I thoroughly enjoyed this installment of the West Brothers Series. Linden creates characters that are real, believable and three-dimensional.  And the story is so compelling, I just wanted to keep reading and was disappointed when it ended.  Highly recommend (and not just for young adults!)

love and responsibility

Love and Responsibility by St. John Paul II

Amazon Synopsis: Drawing from his own pastoral experience as a priest and bishop before he became Pope John Paul II, Karol Wojtyla has produced a remarkably eloquent and resourceful defense of Catholic tradition in the sphere of family life and sexual morality. He writes in the conviction that science–biology, psychology, sociology–can provide valuable information on particular aspects of relations between the sexes, but that a full understanding can be obtained only by study of the human person as a whole. Central to his argument is the contrast between the personalistic and the utilitarian views of marriage and of sexual relations. The former views marriage as an interpersonal relationship, in which the well-being and self-realization of each partner are of overriding importance to the other. It is only within this framework that the full purpose of marriage can be realized. The alternative, utilitarian view, according to which a sexual partner is an object for use, holds no possibility of fulfillment and happiness. Wojtyla argues that divorce, artificial methods of birth control, adultery (pre-marital sex), and sexual perversions are all in various ways incompatible with the personalistic view of the sexual self-realization of the human person. Perhaps the most striking feature of the book is that Wojtyla appeals throughout to ordinary, human experience, logically examined. He draws support for his views on the proper gratification of sexual needs, on birth control, and on other matters, from the findings of physiologists and psychologists. His conclusions coincide with the traditional teachings of the Church, which invoke scriptural authority. His approach ensures that non-Christians also can consider his arguments on their own merits.

My review: I’ve read this book so many times, it’s starting to look ragged!  This is one of my favorite JP II books. It’s hard for me to believe that when I was a young mother, I delayed reading this book for many years because A) I had small children and B) I thought it would be too academic for me.  However, once I did read it, I couldn’t stop.  JP II was a brilliant man and explain clearly why marriage is the proper place for sexual relations and why birth control is contrary to basic vows of a marriage. I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

Donkey Bells

Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas by Catherine Doherty

Synopsis: Catherine Doherty is well known for reviving many holy Christian traditions. In Donkey Bells: Advent and Christmas, Catherine’s three-in-one book on this most ‘expectant’ of holiday seasons, you’ll receive wonderful gifts:

Meaningful and heartwarming stories, the telling of which will surely become a family Christmas tradition. Including: The Little Christmas Angel O’Ryan, How Pride Became Humble, The Christmas Gift, Christmas in Harlem, The Bruised Reed, and others.

Customs which you can adopt into your own Christmas celebration, such as: The Advent Wreath, The ‘O’ Antiphons, Baking Christmas Foods and Decorating, and The Blessing of The Christmas Tree. Traditions surrounding important Advent and Christmas feast days are presented, including: St. Nicholas, The Immaculate Conception, Feast of the Holy Family, New Year’s Eve, Epiphany, and more.

Earthy and inspiring meditations to prepare the entire family for Christ’s coming, including:A Candle in Our Hearts, Little Things, The Gurgle of a Baby, Where Love Is God Is, Looking into the Child’s Eyes, Advent: A Modern Bethlehem, A Short Season—A Long Journey, and many more.

My review: This is my favorite Advent and Christmas book. This is another book I’ve read numerous times. I enjoy reading this on a comfy chair by a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate or tea.  So many beautiful stories and traditions. Highly recommend!

Boston Marathon

A Catholic’s Road to the Boston Marathon by Teresa Hurst

Amazon Synopsis: This book is not about running. While it’s set around training and marathons, ultimately it’s not about that. Instead, this book is about crosses. It’s about overcoming the ordinary fear and suffering that plagues each human soul in this race through life. It focuses on the tremendous value of the cross – with reflections on the Passion of Christ and how we can each relate in our own way. This book reiterates the fact that running is hugely spiritual. As in life, it is setting a goal and pushing yourself to reach it despite pain, fear, or the normal setbacks involved with the spiritual battles we are all called to fight.

My review: This is on my to-read list!  It’s written by a dear friend of mine!