Favorite Advent Books For the Entire Family

It’s often difficult focusing on Advent during the weeks leading up to Christmas when everyone in the secular world seems to be celebrating Christmas even before Advent begins. Here is a list of wonderful Advent books that help us to prepare during this beautiful time leading up to Christmas.


Sarah Reinhard’s book, Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families, is a beautifully-designed book and an ideal gift for those families who wish to embrace the true meaning of Christmas and to grow closer to Christ. I highly recommend this wonderful book to everyone!

I also enjoyed Joy to the World by Kathleen Basi. Great book for the entire family!

My all-time favorite Advent and Christmas book is called “Donkey Bells” by Catherine Doherty, foundress of Madonna House. This gem of a book is filled with stories, traditions, meditations and customs.

Another favorite of mine that I listed in this month’s Open Book is Advent and Christmas With Fulton Sheen.

Beginning with the first day of Advent and continuing through the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, these selections from the immortal pen of Fulton J. Sheen encourage readers to explore the essence and promise of the season. Those looking to grow in their prayer life and become more attuned to the joy of Advent and Christmas will find a wonderful guide in this spiritual companion.

This is another book I read every Advent/Christmas. Beautiful meditations and quotes from Fulton Sheen.

An Advent book that my daughter-in-law introduced me to is Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen: Daily Scripture and Prayers together with Nouwen’s Own Words

It’s similar to the Fulton Sheen book above, but with Scripture and Prayers from Henri Nouwen.

Advertisements

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness – 2017

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach Please do not use without permission

Image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach Please do not use without permission

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 18-30). I also think about the 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 22 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.

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)

 

Joy and Example in Parenting

Sadly, some parents see child-rearing as dull and boring.  Others maintain that their children are “their best friends.”  Still others say that they can’t see any joy in parenting.

Parenting is hard work.  No one will challenge that statement.  From my experience of over 30 years of parenting, there were some days I wanted to crawl back into bed and sleep for the rest of the day.  But we can’t do that because our children are our responsibility and they need us.

Another basic in Robert P. Newberry’s book, Green Beans and Legacies is:  A primary task for a parent is taking the mystery out of how to build a successful life.

Parents can help take the mystery out of how to build a successful life. The author of Green Beans and Legacies, Robert P. Newberry, discusses the difference between fun, pleasure and joy.  On the surface, he says, “it is easy for a child to think of these as being the same.” However, fun and pleasure are usually derived from single experiences and can be momentary and fleeting.  By contrast, “joy is the outcome of long-term commitments to worthwhile goals.”

Delayed gratification, perseverance and faith all lead to joy.

If you have ever fasted for an entire day, then you know how good food tastes when you stop fasting.  There is so much joy in giving up, but there is also much joy in eating when you finally break your fast.

When my boys were small, I would bake cookies.  While they were cooling on the table, they all wanted one NOW, especially the littlest of my children.  However, I would tell them they would need to wait for two minutes to make sure they didn’t burn their mouths.  Even the smallest ones were able to learn about patience. When the two minutes was over, they were able to eat and enjoy the cookies without burning themselves.

Another example was when our #4 son (then a pre-teen) wanted to buy an iPod.  He didn’t have the money and wanted us to lend it to him so that he could have the iPod immediately.  However, we wanted him to work for the item first and then buy it himself.  So he stacked 1200 pieces of wood over a month (hard work for a 12-year-old).  At the end of the two weeks, he had made enough to buy the iPod.

Our example in this regard is important.  How we live and the kind of life we lead speaks louder volumes than what we say.  If I tell my children not to eat a cookie hot out of the oven, but I do so, I am completely negating what I said by my example.

All of us want our children to be happy and have fun.  More importantly, we want our children to grow up and lead successful lives.  Successful adults don’t happen automatically.  We must be there for them and take the mystery out of how to build a successful life.

Check out Robert P. Newberry’s book, Green Beans and Legacies, available on Kindle and in paperback.

Also check out the author’s website:  robertpnewberry.com

 

An Open Book – October 2017 #openbook

Open Book

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

 

Standing Strong by Theresa Linden

 

Amazon Synopsis: (Contemporary Teen Fiction) Having just confessed his sins to his priest–more sins than a kid his age should have–Jarret jumps in his Chrysler 300 and races to the outskirts of town. Emotion overwhelming him, he pulls off the road and flings himself face down behind an outcropping of rocks. Ever since that life-changing night in the canyon, Jarret has felt the presence of the Lord in his soul. Now that presence is fading. Is it his fault? How will he remain faithful without it when he still struggles against the same temptations?

Meanwhile his twin brother, Keefe, questions whether he has a calling to religious life. He’s gone along with Jarret’s bad schemes for years. Is he worthy of such a calling? What would he have to give up to pursue a vocation? Keefe reads everything he can about St. Francis and the Franciscans, but he’s afraid to talk to his father about the Franciscans’ upcoming discernment retreat because his father seems closed to faith. Is he ready to go all in?

Follow the West brothers in this contemporary teen fiction as they struggle through temptations and trials down paths they can barely see, toward goals they desire in the depths of their hearts.

My Review:  I thoroughly enjoyed this teen novel!  Well-written with rich, well-developed characters and a great story.  I’ve read two of the other West Brothers novels, but you need not read the others to enjoy this one. Highly recommend!  5 out of 5.

Motherless by Brian Gail

Amazon Synopsis:  Brian J. Gail has written another heart pounding, page turner of a novel for Catholics who are straining to hear their Church’s voice in what Pope John Paul II called the final confrontation between the Church and the anti Church, the Gospel and the anti Gospel. Motherless takes the reader on a riveting behind-the-scenes journey around the globe to the boardrooms and laboratories where the architects of The Life Sciences Revolution are preparing Mankind’s Final Solution … and into the confessionals and chanceries where the Church’s response is being challenged. Father John Sweeney, pastor of a small catholic parish on Philadelphia’s storied Main Line, is drawn into an apocalyptic vortex through the lives of parishioners Maggie Kealey, Michael Burns and Joe Delgado. Without warning they are ushered through the back door of the Revolution where they discover human embryos being created in laboratories and frozen in cryogenic freezers for a global black market. It is, however, when the Revolution’s ultimate destination is revealed to one of the three that Fr. Sweeney is faced with his greatest test as a pastor guiding a soul to the Christian accountability to truth even in the face of potentially deadly consequences.

My Review:  This has been on my “to read” pile for four years, and I finally had a chance to read it the other day when our power went off. Overall, I liked the story and found it hard to put down (although I didn’t find it “heart pounding” like the synopsis says) but it is basically told in order to evangelize without a huge emphasis on the writing.  I enjoy books that evangelize as long as the writing is polished. And Gail’s writing was certainly good but I was distracted by the novel’s editing issues. Motherless would’ve been a less distracting read if it had gone through another edit or two.  Overall, 3.5 out of 5 and would recommend it if you don’t mind a story that is preachy.

Last of Her Kind by A.K. Frailey

 

Synopsis:  In Last of Her Kind, Cerulean, a guardian alien from the planet Lux discovers humanity’s greatest wealth in the person of Anne Smith—the last woman to conceive a baby during Oldearth’s final years.  It takes the remnant’s most innovative traits to survive relocation, alien exploitation, and save themselves—as well as Luxonians—from extinction. A new order is born as a hungry universe observes humanity’s most enduring trait; its willingness to die in order that others might live. 

My Review:  (In process) I’m reading an advanced review copy of this sci-fi novel that is set in the near future when the human race is nearing extinction.  Anne happens to be the last pregnant woman in the world.  Cerulean is an extraterrestrial who watches Anne and grows a special attachment for her.  Compelling story that is hard to put down.  Looking forward to reading the rest!

Green Beans and Legacies by Robert P. Newberry

Amazon Synopsis: Green Beans and Legacies is comprised of a variety of reflections on raising successful children. They are derived from numerous columns that he wrote during a ten year period when he did seminar work and consulting with many schools and organizations across the country. The columns were written in response to many requests the author received to share his ideas with parents about successfully raise their children. Most of the reflections in Green Beans are “the best of” these columns. The author observes that raising children, like any important task, needs to be done with the end in mind. For the author, that end is a child who becomes a successful adult who is independent, moral and purposeful.

My Review: I’ve been helping the author promote his book.  I really enjoyed this book and found comfort in knowing that I’ve been following the “basics” of what he calls successful parenting (even without knowing the basics!)  It’s a wonderful little handbook on parenting that not only new parents will enjoy,  but even experienced parents will probably find it helpful.  Highly recommend.

When You Fast by Andrew LaVallee

 

I’ve been helping my boss edit his new book, which will hopefully be released on the 100th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima on October 13th.  In this book, Andy shares his conversion experience and how fasting and prayer can change hearts, souls and the world. It will be available on the Live the Fast website only.  Highly recommend if you are new to fasting.

 

Julia’s Gifts by Ellen Gable (Book 1 of the Great War Great Love series)

I’m still working on edits of my new novel, coming November 2017.  I need to hear from two more proofreaders and hopefully it will be finished and ready to publish!

Synopsis: As a young girl, Julia began buying gifts for her future spouse, a man whose likeness and personality she has conjured up in her mind, a man she calls her “beloved.” Soon after the United States enters the Great War, Julia impulsively volunteers as a medical aid worker, with no experience or training. Will the realities of war dishearten her? Will Julia abandon the pursuit of her beloved? Will her naïve ‘gift scheme’ distract her from recognizing her true “Great Love?”  From Philadelphia to war-torn France, follow Julia as she transitions from unworldly young woman to compassionate volunteer.

 

Teaching a Faith-Based Orientation to Life is Vital

Another Basic in author Robert P. Newberry’s book Green Beans and Legacies is: Teaching a child a faith-based orientation to life is vital.

We live in a secular culture that often sees children’s needs as so important that many of these children grow up thinking that the world revolves around them.  Making a child feel unique and special is important.  However, some parents might think that constantly giving in to children’s demands and making their needs more important will feed their self-esteem, but doing so actually diminishes it. And it does nothing to increase their ability to look beyond their noses and see the bigger picture.

The “Me” Generation would have us believe that the world revolves around us.  However, the world does not revolve around any person (most especially, children). We must be able to teach our children that there are “causes and matters” greater than themselves.  Using a faith-based orientation to life will instill morals, virtues and responsibilities, but it will especially focus on hope.

In his book, Green Beans and Legacies, author Robert P. Newberry writes: “The absence of such a faith-based outlook raises difficult implications for children. Dr. James Garbarino, an author and academic widely considered an expert in understanding children who severely hurt or kill other children, notes several characteristics common to children who demonstrate such negative behaviors. Such children do not have any kind of future orientation or hope. They share an absence of any kind of faith-based orientation or spirituality.”

If you want to learn more about the Basics, Green Beans and Legacies is an ideal book to help parents raise successful children. It is available via Kindle and paperback.

For more information on Robert P. Newberry, go to http://www.robertpnewberry.com

 

 

 

 

Quality Time in Parenting

In his book, Green Beans and Legacies, Robert P. Newberry offers a list of nine basics for parenting.  One of them is: A lot of quality time is required to raise a successful child.

The author uses his career as educator, counselor, therapist, lecturer and consultant to share advice and tips on raising successful children. However, Newberry especially uses his experience as the parent of three grown children.  In the chapter on the above Basic, Newberry shares examples of how he and his wife spent quality time with their children, but also how others — like a naval officer who spent six months a year away from his family — spent quality time by reading into cassettes while he was away.  Nowadays, with FaceTime and Skype, absent parents can spend quality time with their children even if they are far away.

When I became pregnant with our first child, my husband and I decided that I would stay home with our children. I enjoyed playing games, reading and playing with Lego with them. Just because a mother stays at home doesn’t necessarily mean she is giving her children quality time, however.  Newberry states in his book: “I know of other parents who are physically with their children often, but are present to them rarely in terms of attention, care and concern.”

I’ve also known mothers who have worked full-time but were able to spend wonderful quality time with their children in the evening and on weekends.

So how do you get quality time if you’re working long hours? Newberry offers an example of writing a Christmas letter to each of his children every year. “Each letter included our own personal reflection of how he or she had grown and matured through the previous year. The letter provided an opportunity to offer encouragement for upcoming challenges and to convey our strong support and concern for his or her well-being.”

When our children were small, my husband worked 60 hours weeks. However, when he was home, he spent time reading to our boys before bed and as they became older, they shared their love of music by playing together in our own family band. In fact, most of our children began playing musical instruments (not because we insisted, but because they wanted to) taking the example of their father’s musical talents, and spent much of their free time learning songs on the guitar, piano and drums.

Quality time with your children is possible whether or not you are a full-time homemaker or work a full-time job.

I highly recommend Robert P. Newberry’s book, Green Beans and Legacies as an invaluable resource for helping parents raise successful children.  Click on this link to download the Kindle edition or this link to purchase the paperback book.

For more information on this Basics and on Newberry’s book, Green Beans and Legacies, click on this link: http://www.robertpnewberry.com

It Takes a Parent to Raise a Child

We’ve all heard the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Although there is some truth to that adage, author Robert P. Newberry challenges parents with, “it takes a parent to raise a child.”

In his book, Green Beans and Legacies, Newberry outlines his “Basics for Raising Successful Children” and makes it clear that there is no substitute for a parent in raising a child.  His first Basic is: The responsibility of raising a child lies squarely on the parent’s shoulders. While getting assistance from relatives, the community and friends can certainly make parenting easier, such help is optional and limited in what it can do. The village or community cannot give your child that “special-ness” that only parents can give.

Mr. Newberry does more than challenge parents, however.  He provides guidance and encouragement, showing parents how to build credibility with their children in order to influence and teach them about how to build a successful life. As one reviewer notes, “Your style of writing is so inviting and inspires the reader to want to become engaged.  The anecdotes are wonderful and make the trials of parenting realistic.”

Mr. Newberry illustrates the importance of parents – not just parents, but parents who are present – in his book.  The author includes eight “Basics” that can easily be used as a self-assessment by any reader in evaluating the effectiveness of how they are utilizing their parental authority.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a stay-at-home parent or one who works outside the home. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the natural parent or the adoptive parent.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a single parent or whether you’re parenting with your spouse.  What does matter is that parenting takes consistent effort and a great deal of quality time.  But, Newberry argues, it can be done very successfully and there is nothing that offers such great rewards!

Green Beans and Legacies is the first of three books in the Raising Successful Children Series. I highly recommend this terrific resource for parents. It is available on Kindle and in paperback here at this link.

For more information on the author and his books, check out his website at: http://www.robertpnewberry.com