Win a Free Audio-book of Stealing Jenny

Would you like to win a free audio-book of Stealing Jenny?  Just leave a comment below to receive a code for your free book.  The first ten to comment will receive a free audio-book. This is not a contest. All you need to do is leave a comment and I’ll send you a code.

Stealig Jenny AB cover RGB.jpg

After a difficult pregnancy, Jenny and Tom are days away from having their sixth child. But when Jenny is kidnapped by a deranged woman, the family must summon all of their faith as Jenny fights for her life.

Stealing Jenny will keep you on the edge of your seat and probably destroy your sleep pattern as you stay up to find out what happens.” Sarah Reinhard, author, blogger

Advertisements

Open Book – May 2019 #openbook #prolife

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!

 

Unplanned

Unplanned by Abby Johnson

Amazon Synopsis: Unplanned is a heart-stopping personal drama of life-and-death encounters, a courtroom battle, and spiritual transformation that speaks hope and compassion into the political controversy that surrounds this issue. Telling Abby’s story from both sides of the abortion clinic property line, this book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the life versus rights debate and helping women who face crisis pregnancies.

My review: Wonderful, but heart-wrenching, book to read. I wanted to read it before I saw the movie (it still isn’t available in Canada).  I’ve spoken to one of the writers/directors and he assured me they’re doing everything they can to bring the movie to Canada and worldwide. I’m praying that this book and movie will change hearts and lives.  Highly recommend!

Foot of the Cross

The Foot of the Cross by Fr. Frederick Faber

Amazon Synopsis: This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

My review: I read this book during Holy Week. It’s a wonderful book (written in the mid-1850’s by Fr. Frederick Faber) that highlights the Sorrows of Mary being intimately connected to the Sorrows of Our Lord.  I cannot recommend this one highly enough!

DVDyke

The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book

by Vince Waldron with Dick Van Dyke

Amazon Synopsis: The most acclaimed comedy of TV’s golden age, The Dick Van Dyke Show comes to life in this fun-filled and impeccably researched book, the first and only authorized biography of television’s most influential comedy. Readers are afforded full backstage access at the making of one of America’s most beloved comedies in a book that’s packed with exclusive behind-the-scenes anecdotes from the show’s entire cast and crew, including Carl Reiner, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Larry Mathews, and, of course, Dick Van Dyke himself.  Illustrated with more than 150 rare photos–many of them never before published–this indispensable companion to The Dick Van Dyke Show also features the first and only complete viewer’s guide to all 158 episodes of the show, including Carl Reiner’s Head of the Family, the pilot film that started it all.  Written in an engaging style by the Emmy-winning writer and journalist Vince Waldron, The Official Dick Van Dyke Show really is the definitive book on television’s definitive comedy show.

My review: This is one of my favorite classic TV shows (tied only with “I Love Lucy”). I’ve had this book for a few years, but when Amazon Prime added the Dick Van Dyke Show to Prime, I decided to re-read it along with watching all these old episodes. Highly recommend this to all fans of the Dick Van Dyke Show.  It’s a show that the entire family can watch and enjoy.

Tortured

Tortured Soul by Theresa Linden

To be published May, 2019. Goodreads Synopsis: A single woman evicted from her family home. A terrifying specter that only she sees. A dark connection between his past and hers…   After her father’s tragic death and her mother’s recent passing, loss leaves an emptiness Jeannie Lyons can’t fill. Now she must leave her family home, the one place where her parents’ memory still lives.

An old house on the edge of town becomes Jeannie’s new home, one too big for her and her three-legged cat, but she soon gets the impression she’s not alone. Her brother blames her overactive imagination. Her sister-in-law suggests counseling. Her would-be boyfriend is the only one who believes her, but can she trust him? With nowhere to turn, Jeannie must face her inner demons and confront this soul from beyond the grave.

Set in modern times, this supernatural thriller is loosely based on the apparitions to Eugenie von der Leyen (1867-1929).

My review: Like the author’s other books, I was enthralled with Tortured Soul, a supernatural thriller. As usual, I was completely caught up in the story and characters.  Read it in two sittings. Highly recommend. 5/5.

The Lion Audible

The Lion by Nelson DeMille (John Corey)

Amazon Synopsis: John Corey, former NYPD Homicide detective and special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, is back on the trail of Asad Khalil, the notorious Libyan terrorist known as ‘The Lion’. Corey and his partner, agent Kate Mayfield, tracked Khalil across the US after his threats to wipe out the US in a horrific wave of terrorism. But after methodically eliminating his victims one by one, Khalil disappeared without a trace. Now, years later, Khalil has returned to America to take care of unfinished business. ‘The Lion’ is a killing machine on a mission of revenge, and John Corey will not stop until he rids the earth of this tyrant once and for all.

My review: I read this book years ago, but I downloaded it the Audible book so that my husband and I can listen to it when we go on hour-long road trips (which is just about every time we drive!)  We’ve listened to about one-third of it and we are both enjoying it immensely.  DeMille is a remarkable writer and his characterization of John Corey is brilliant, believable and likable (even though he would be considered racist by today’s standards.) Highly recommend. 5/5.

WWWD.jpg

When the Wood is Dry: Call of the Innocent by Joseph Cillo, Jr.

Amazon Synopsis: “Sometimes we must suffer if we are to save souls.” Jesus’ words echo in a recurring dream to Lali Russo, a seventeen-year-old Catholic school girl.  Lali wakes and asks, “Why that dream again?”

Two thousand years ago, the scourged and bloody form of a man who claimed to be God carried the wood on which he would be crucified.  Coming upon some distraught women, He says, “Women of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but for yourselves and your children.  For if these things are done when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

When the Wood Is Dry is published in three parts: I. Call of the InnocentII. Crucifixion, and III. Resurrection.  In I. Call of the Innocent, Lali is called to walk a path of suffering that she struggles to understand.  Praying at an abortion clinic, she encounters the pregnant girlfriend of a notorious gang leader.  She confronts the girl’s boyfriend, the ruthless Ralo as he sharpens his machete.  “Go away, little girl, this is no’ ju beesness.”

As the subtitle, An Edgy Catholic Thriller suggests, When the Wood Is Dry is Edgy – Intended only for mature audiences, Catholic – includes overtly Catholic religious imagery and perspectives, and Thrilling– “full of twists and turns, action and heart-wrenching moments,” as one reader commented.

Some readers who may love the first and third parts may find the second part too intense, so we are recommending that such readers read I. Call of the Innocent, then skip the second part and read the synopsis included in III. Resurrection. More daring readers can journey with Lali in II. Crucifixion.

My review: I helped to copy-edit this series and the story is compelling and the characters, for the most part, well-developed.  The entire series is available in print here. The first book in the series is FREE on Kindle here.

 

 

Infant and Pregnancy Loss Awareness 2018

Pregnancy and infant loss awareness month - october 15Today 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 19-31). 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 24 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 have 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

Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk

 

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)

 

Julia’s Gifts (French) and Stealing Jenny (Italian) coming soon!

Special thanks to Marie Duval, translator, for the French edition of Julia’s Gifts and Daniela Mastropasqua, translator, and Adelia Marino, editor, for the Italian edition of Stealing Jenny!

Humanae Vitae’s Profound Message of Responsible Parenthood

Ellen Gable Hrkach 2014 87

Photo courtesy Tim Baklinski at Two Trees Photography

In this year of the 50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae (Pope Paul VI, On Human Life), I’d like to share our family’s experience with how this encyclical shaped our decision making with regard to responsible parenthood.

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.”

I drifted in and out of consciousness in the ambulance. 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.  One of the doctors suggested that I be put on hormonal contraception. He later advised me to have my remaining fallopian tube tied.  The physician wasn’t the only one 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…”

A year 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 extreme 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, 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 the last six 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 closely monitored. Three years later, our youngest son, Paul was conceived after only one month of trying and born just two days before my 40th birthday.

“… 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 and to limit our family 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 (now ages 19 and 22) might possibly not be here today, my heart becomes heavy.  Both are unique, talented and amazing human beings who have already given so much to our family and to society.  I am grateful to God – and to Blessed Pope Paul VI – because I can’t imagine our family — and our world — without them.

Copyright 2018 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Adam and Paul 2017 (1)

copyright Hrkach (Adam, left, Paul, right)

Kids Adam holding Paul

copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach (Adam holding Paul)