All in Good Time Social Blitz

 

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All in Good Time by Carolyn Astfalk

Synopsis:

With three rambunctious, young children, Melanie Lombardi can’t see beyond the day-to-day struggle to maintain her home and her sanity since her husband’s sudden death. A second chance at romance isn’t on her radar.

Brian Perella is done with dating, resigned to being the fun uncle and never the dad. Until he meets Melanie and her brood of lively kids on the sidelines of a Little League game.

But when Brian uncovers a co-worker’s secret, it re-ignites a temptation that Melanie can’t know about. It’s his secret to keep until an unexpected diagnosis brings everything to the surface, jeopardizing his future with Melanie and her children, who, when threatened by an unknown stalker, may need him now more than ever.

Catholic Christian contemporary romance.

My review:  I thoroughly enjoyed this new novel which includes a little bit of everything: romance, suspense, and a subject many books wouldn’t tackle with a ten-foot pole: pornography. The author’s writing style, well-developed characters and believable situations kept me reading until the wee hours of the morning. Highly recommend!

Veterans Day-Remembrance Day 2019

My three fathers served a total of 16 years in various branches of the United States armed forces.

My father, Frank Gable, served in the United States Marine Corps from 1946-1950 and in the United States Army from 1950-1954. However, November 11th has always held a special place in my heart because it is my father’s birthday. Today he would’ve been 91. He died suddenly and tragically at the age of 49, just before my 19th birthday. My family and I walked around in shock, trying to get through the days following his death.

Frank Gable was short in stature (around five feet six inches tall), enjoyed watching “Gomer Pyle,” “Hogan’s Heroes” and the “Honeymooners.” He enjoyed playing the card game, Rummy, and Monopoly. His favorite candy was Hershey’s Kisses.  Over the years, he worked as a clerk and mailman. Years ago, my mom shared with me that he is the one who named me. And, when I was 15 or 16, he used to hug me and say, “El, you need to find a guy just about my size because you fit perfectly to me when we hug.” (I did!)

For Christians, the consolation is that we will see our loved ones again. I know that I will see my dad again someday. Until then…Happy Birthday, Dad. Remembering you in a special way today.

My father-in-law, Tony Hrkach (1925-1995) served as a tail gunner in the United States Air Force during the second World War.

Near the end of the war, during a routine mission, Tony’s plane was shot down over Yugoslavia (coincidentally, near his father’s birthplace). Frantically, he and his buddies parachuted out of the airplane. Unfortunately, however, one of his friends hit the side of a mountain and was killed. Tony and the others made it safely to the ground and were captured as soon as they landed.

They were marched for miles until they reached a POW camp. Remarkably, they found the Germans running the camp to be kind and, while it was not easy to be a prisoner of war, they were treated humanely.

When an announcement came over the radio that Germany had lost the war, their captors immediately handed their weapons and guns over to the Americans. Then, in a strange moment of understanding, they exchanged small personal tokens as reminders of their time together.

“I don’t just think of myself as a citizen of the United States; I think of myself as a citizen of the world,” he used to say. His idea was that we should remember first and foremost that we are all human beings, especially in time of war.

Like my own father and many other veterans, my father-in-law enjoyed “Hogan’s Heroes,” the television sitcom from the 1960’s about a German POW camp. The show attempted to put a human spin on such horrific times…the very thing that Tony found in his real experience with the ‘enemy.’  (With thanks to my husband James for writing this account of his father’s experience in the second World War.)

26910466_10212348569646543_8903877012294292610_oMy stepfather, Joseph Power (1933-2012), trained in Parris Island, South Carolina, before shipping out to Korea. He attained the silver badge in Marine Marksman. Like my father and father-in-law, Joe never liked to talk about his experiences with war.  But he would say things like, “Be grateful for warm showers,” or “If that’s your only complaint, be thankful that you’re not being fired at.”

While we remember all those who fought in wars so that we may live in freedom, let us also remember that the real enemy isn’t necessarily the people we fight against, but the evil circumstances that result from greed, lust and power.

Copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach 2019

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day 2019

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Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day but the entire month of October is devoted to Infant Loss Remembrance. James and I feel very blessed and grateful to be the parents of five young adult sons (ages 20-32) and one beautiful grandson. We are also blessed to be the parents of seven precious babies we lost through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. This month, we remember in a special way these seven little souls (and intercessors) in heaven.

Here are a few of my reflections on pregnancy loss:

Among Women Podcast Episode 89 (Pat Gohn interviewed me about miscarriage and pregnancy loss)

Ecce Ancilla Domini, an article on openness to life.

Five Little Souls in Heaven (This article was written 25 years ago and published in the Nazareth Journal)

Difficult Anniversaries/Responsible Parenthood

One of the themes of my first novel, Emily’s Hope, is pregnancy loss.

This excerpt describes Emily’s loss of baby “Seth.”

“I need to push.” She wanted so desperately not to push, to allow her baby to stay inside of her, and for her to continue to nourish and nurture her child, but her body wouldn’t allow that. She pushed only twice and her small child was born. Emily heard a sound like a kitten crying, then realized that her baby had let out a small, soft, weak cry.

As soon as the umbilical cord was cut, the nurse immediately carried the baby across the room as the pediatric staff attempted to work on their child. Emily and Jason sat quietly, their hearts heavy with emotion. A few minutes later, she felt another contraction and her placenta was delivered. She could hear a nurse referring to “him,” and realized that their child was another boy. After a few minutes, the doctor brought him back, his small form still hidden in the blue hospital blanket. He spoke in a hushed, almost apologetic voice, “There is nothing we can do for him.”

He handed the tiny one-pound baby boy to his mother. Jason held onto Emily’s shoulder and watched as she cradled the smallest baby they had ever seen. He was so perfect and looked identical to their oldest son, Jake. His small body was covered with minute white hairs. He was perfect as he struggled to breathe. He was perfect as he opened his mouth to cry. Emily held her new son as gently as she could. Jason reached over and poured a few drops of water on him and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Emily could feel the vibration of his tiny heart beating fast.

The nurse came in with a Polaroid camera and asked if they wanted her to take a photo of their child. Emily nodded as the nurse took a photo of her and Jason and their tiny son. She gazed in awe at this miniature human being and marveled at the fact that even though he was tiny, he was so perfect. His little hands looked like a doll’s hands. She removed the baby blanket and laid his small, warm body on her chest. She could feel his heart beating rapidly. After several minutes, she wrapped him again in the small blue blanket.

Then, in an instant, he was still. She could feel that his heart had stopped and he wasn’t breathing, but he continued to feel warm and soft. He looked like a sleeping angel.

(End of excerpt.)

If you have lost a baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or infant death, please click on the link above “Baby Loss” for resources and helpful links.

Here is a list of other novels that include themes about infant/pregnancy loss:

In Name Only by Ellen Gable

A Subtle Grace by Ellen Gable

Stealing Jenny by Ellen Gable

A World Such as Heaven Intended by Amanda Lauer

Rose, Sola by Carmela Martino

The Rose and the Sword by Gina Marinello-Sweeney

Bane’s Eyes by Corinna Turner

Passport by Christopher Blunt

Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk

For Eden’s Sake by T.M. Gaouette

Life-Changing Love by Theresa Linden

Image and Likeness: Literary Reflections on the Theology of the Body edited by Erin McCole Cupp and Ellen Gable

 

In memory of our seven little souls in heaven:

Baby Hrkach Twins (June 1986)

Baby Hrkach (February 1991)

Baby Hrkach (June 1991)

Mary Elizabeth Hrkach (June 1993)

Seth Hrkach (April 1998)

Lucy Hrkach (March 2006)

Open Book – October 2019

I’m joining with Carolyn Astfalk and Catholic Mom for “An Open Book.”  Here’s what I’ve been reading over the past month (and will be reading this month).

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Ella’s Promise (Great War-Great Love #3)

I’ve been editing, re-reading and re-editing for the past month.  The third in the Great War Great Love trilogy will be published on November 1, 2019!

Synopsis: When she joins the war effort during the Great War, American nurse Ella Neumann doesn’t see allies or enemies. The daughter of German immigrants, all she sees are human beings in need of care. A promise to herself and a promise made to her by an enemy officer become the catalyst for the life she plans to lead after the war. But a handsome Canadian soldier may complicate her plans. In this third installment of the Great War – Great Love series, join Ella in a tale of promises, betrayal and unconditional love.

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Shubert and Sophie 

by Dr. Becky Bailey (illustrated by James Hrkach)

Synopsis: The beloved Shubert and Sophie books build character through conflict for both children and adults. An endearing lightning bug named Shubert, his little sister Sophie, and their friends at Bug Valley School demonstrate using the Seven Skills of Conscious Discipline to solve problems. Shubert’s parents and teacher model Conscious Discipline for adults.

My review: It’s hard to be unbiased since my husband illustrated all these books.  We just gave a full set to our grandson (and signed by his grandfather, the illustrator!), so we read through them again.  When James first began illustrating Shubert, our youngest son was in the womb! It’s hard to believe there are now so many of them and that we have a grandson to give them to! Highly recommend!

WithoutTrace

Without a Trace by Sylvia Wrigley

Amazon Synopsis: True Stories of Aircraft and Passengers Who Disappeared Into Thin Air.    For many, aviation still brings with it an air of mystery, a century-long magic trick. Though most of us will board an aircraft at some point in our lives, we know little about how they work and the procedures surrounding their operation. It is that mystery that makes these losses, such as the vanishing of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, so terrifying.
Without a Trace explores the most interesting of these disappearances: mysteries that have baffled investigators for years. Occasionally tragic, frequently amusing, Without a Trace is unerringly accurate and informative.
The two Without a Trace volumes span 150 years and explore mysteries from around the world. This is volume one, beginning just before the golden age of aviation with a manned balloon swept over the English Channel, and ending with a top-secret spy plane disappearing at the height of the cold war. Each case is laid out in rich detail and presented chronologically, highlighting the historical context, official accident reports and contemporary news surrounding each mystery.
Where did they go?

Sylvia Wrigley introduces the crews, innocent bystanders and rescuers in this collection of true stories. Documenting the popular theories from each case, she uses her knowledge and experience as a pilot and an aviation journalist to demystify aviation jargon and narrow down each disappearance to the most likely explanations.
This collection takes a hard look at the human failings of great aviators, explorers and celebrities who have pushed the limits of flight and ended up at the heart of a mystery. The stories encompass airships, military jets and commercial airlines – all of which have vanished without a trace.

My review: I’m currently reading this.  It’s interesting (and I love a good missing persons/airplane story), but the author’s writing is a bit stilted.  Otherwise, it’s an interesting book. Review to come.

The Time in Between

The Time in Between by William Judd

Back cover synopsis: Fred Nash, an adolescent in the 1960’s, emerging from a repressive home life and seeking to recover from the loss of a first love, finds himself depressed and adrift.  Will he find a true path for himself, or will he succumb to chaos and despair in the midst of a decade of significant cultural change?

My review: This is a moving coming-of-age story about a young man in the sixties. I enjoyed all the different references to music, TV and movies because I was a young child of the sixties.  You can purchase the book here at this link.

The Time in Between by William Judd

The Time in Between

New Book by William Judd: The Time In Between

Synopsis:  Fred Nash, an adolescent in the 1960’s, emerging from a repressive home life and seeking to recover from the loss of a first love, finds himself depressed and adrift.  Will he find a true path for himself, or will he succumb to chaos and despair in the midst of a decade of significant cultural change?

Reviews:

“This is a remarkable book by a first-time author.  It is a coming-of-age story with all the trials and tribulations that that entails.  But it is an evocative remembrance of the sixties.  Bill Judd captures the tone and feel of the time:  the expressions, the tastes, the opinions, the small town parochialism of middle America, as well as the worries and joys unique to teenagers in that time and place.”

Leslie Graitcer, former Executive Director, Bell South Foundation

“Bill Judd’s The Time in Between is a gripping coming of age story interweaving the turbulence of adolescence  with the social upheaval of the 1960’s.  Judd’s personalized approach to the narrative also touches religious and family themes in a thought-provoking page turner, immersing the reader in the travails and travels of the main character, Fred Nash.”

Tom Bartlett, editor, author of Songs from the Lifeboat

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About the Author

William Judd has lived in Concord, NH, for 32 years.  There he and his wife have raised five children.  He is a retired high school English teacher and hospital nurse.  This is his first novel.

An Open Book #openbook Sept 2019

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Today I am joining with Carolyn Astfalk and CatholicMom.com for An Open Book.  Here is what I’ve been reading and planning to read!

 

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Amazon Synopsis: Anna Karenina ( is a novel by the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, published in serial installments from 1873 to 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger. Tolstoy clashed with editor Mikhail Katkov over political issues that arose in the final installment (Tolstoy’s negative views of Russian volunteers going to fight in Serbia); therefore, the novel’s first complete appearance was in book form in 1878. Widely regarded as a pinnacle in realist fiction, Tolstoy considered Anna Karenina his first true novel, after he came to consider War and Peace to be more than a novel. Fyodor Dostoyevsky declared it “flawless as a work of art.” His opinion was shared by Vladimir Nabokov, who especially admired “the flawless magic of Tolstoy’s style,” and by William Faulkner, who described the novel as “the best ever written.” The novel remains popular, as demonstrated by a 2007 Time poll of 125 contemporary authors in which Anna Karenina was voted the “greatest book ever written.”

My review: I just started reading this and I may be doing so for the next few months.  Review to come.

Forgiveness

The Power of Forgiveness by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur

Amazon Synopsis: “The only way to peace is forgiveness.” -Pope Saint John Paul II

As Catholics, we know that God s forgiveness plants peace in our hearts. We also know that there s grace that flows from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Even so, we often struggle to forgive those who have hurt us, so we don t experience the peace that forgiveness can bring.

The Power of Forgiveness includes reflections on the topic of forgiveness, inspirational stories of saints, simple prayers, and questions to help you meditate and pray. By opening ourselves to forgiving others, we participate in God’s mercy and begin the process of healing.   Part of the Companion in Faith series.

My review: Forgiving those who hurt us is not easy.  But when Jesus taught us the words to the Lord’s prayer, He said, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  Jesus didn’t include any exceptions.  Therefore, we are called to forgive others, no matter how much or how deeply they hurt us.

The Power of Forgiveness is a terrific booklet with reflections on forgiveness, inspirational stories of saints, prayers, and questions that help the reader to pray and meditate on forgiveness and opening our hearts to God’s mercy. It is only through opening our hearts to God’s mercy that we ourselves can begin to heal.

Highly recommend.  5/5 stars.

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The Father’s Son by Jim Sano (now available from FQP)

Amazon Synopsis: Despite a traumatic and difficult childhood, 39-year-old Boston sales executive, David Kelly, seems to have it all. While building a life of achievement, material success, and professional respect, an unexpected friendship with Tom Fitzpatrick starts him on an emotional and courageous journey that allows him to confront the truth of his past and the impact it has had on the relationships in his life. The Father’s Son is a highly engaging and masterfully written story that will make you think about faith, family, friendship, forgiveness, redemption, love, and truth, and may prove to profoundly impact how you look at life itself.

My review:  My review will be rather biased since I am publishing this book. But David Kelly’s story is a compelling one.  Highly recommend.

Eden's Sake

For Eden’s Sake by T.M. Gaouette

Goodreads Synopsis: Barely out of college, Isaac trades the quiet of his family ranch for the excitement of the big city with his dream job at an up-and-coming advertising agency. Until his perfect new world is shattered by bad choices, a pretty girl, a moment’s temptation—and a late night walk that quickly spirals out of control. Reeling with the horror of a mistake that can’t be undone, Isaac struggles to get his soul in order. Can he forgive himself? Can he make things right with God? What about Rebecca?

With both their lives desperately upended, and life-changing consequences no matter what they choose, Isaac must face his painful past, finding strength from God to do the right thing . . . and somehow convince Rebecca to do the same.

My review: What starts out as a careless night of drinking turns into a life-and-death situation. Isaac can’t undo his carelessness but he can do all in his power to prevent a young woman from making another mistake.  For Eden’s Sake is a well-written and compelling story about the consequences of sin and the grace of redemption. Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend! 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

When Adult Children Fall Away From the Faith

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Copyright Josh Hrkach Used with Permission

My latest Catholic Mom column: We recently spoke with four older couples about the challenges of parenting adult children, especially those who have fallen away from the faith. One mother shared her sorrow that her son not only has left the Church, but is actively antagonistic towards the Catholic faith and to her. A father of four adult sons talked about the frustration of finding out that his older son (who spent years serving as an altar boy and who had once considered a vocation to the priesthood) has stopped attending Mass. One couple shared the sad situation of their daughter’s same-sex relationship. Another couple was heartbroken that their daughter now considers herself “transgender.” All four of these parents, faithfully practicing Catholics, asked “What do we do now?” and “Where did we go wrong?”

I’m not an expert, but I do have some experience with parenting adult children who have abandoned their faith. Regarding blame: Recognize that our world has gone astray. Our adult children are being bombarded with messages contrary to the faith. Unless we have kept our children in a box their entire lives, they will come to know many more people who are living a hedonistic lifestyle than living a virtuous one.

Here are some suggestions that my husband and I have come up in dealing with adult children who have abandoned their faith.

  1. Unconditional Love: Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

This might seem like an obvious one, but I know some parents who’ve shunned adult children because they’ve stopped going to Mass or are engaging in immoral lifestyle choices.

My gut reaction to that is, “How are they ever going to learn to change if they don’t have your example to follow?” Also, how are they going to experience God’s unconditional love without a parent’s unconditional love? You can love without encouraging immoral lifestyles. If a son or daughter is cohabiting and they visit your home, separate sleeping arrangements should be in order. If you have younger children, this shows them that you don’t agree with their lifestyle choices, but still love them and welcome them into your home … a home that does not condone cohabitation.

  1. Pray for Your Children Every Day

This is also obvious, but a parent’s prayer for his or her child is a powerful one. Our Lady is a powerful intercessor. St. Monica (whose son, St. Augustine, made immoral choices) prayed for her son’s conversion (and it eventually happened!). My husband and I recite the Rosary for our adult sons every day (one decade for each son). Jesus said, “Ask and you will receive.” Storm heaven for them. It is God’s will that our children spend eternity in heaven. We may not live to see their conversion, but we’ll be able to rejoice in heaven with them.

  1. Fast and Sacrifice for Your Children

Fast and sacrifice for your children. When you’re going through a difficulty, offer it up for your adult children, especially those who have fallen away from the faith. Fast on Wednesdays and Fridays (I do the Ash Wednesday-Good Friday fast of eating two small meals, no meat, and the third meal not larger than the two smaller ones combined.) I’ve seen amazing results with fasting because it’s like lighting a fire underneath our prayers.

  1. Look for Opportunities to Dialogue (But Don’t Nag or Preach!)

This can often be awkward. Most adult children of faithful Catholics know what their parents are going to say, but sometimes it still needs to be said. Take the opportunity whenever you can to reiterate your unconditional love for them and your disagreement with their choices to live a life contrary to the Catholic faith. However, avoid engaging in conversation if you know they might be antagonistic, especially in front of other family members. And don’t nag or preach.

  1. Be a Virtuous Example 

You can teach your kids all about the faith, especially in the areas of marital sexuality, but if you are not living that faith, these truths may be lost or ignored. This also goes for even more basic virtues like patience, fortitude and hope.

  1. Find Supportive Parents Who Are Going Through The Same Thing

Find a support network. I’m a member of a Facebook group called “St. Monica’s Moms.” A support network can give us consolation, especially when we remember that we’re not alone in our struggles. We can also pray for other parents going through this and ask for advice or suggestions on how to handle a specific situation.

  1. Be Hopeful

 I know adult children who converted very late in life; I’ve witnessed imperceptibly slow conversion resulting from an adult child’s experience with steadfast parents. Be hopeful. Never underestimate the value of our prayers.

Parenting adult children who have fallen away from their faith is challenging.  Love them unconditionally, pray and fast for them, look for opportunities to dialogue, be a good example, have a support network and remain hopeful that they will return to the faith.

This video is also helpful for parenting young adults who have fallen away from the faith:

If My Child Has Fallen Away From the Faith…

Copyright 2019 Ellen Gable Hrkach