Julia’s Gifts Only .99 on #Kindle LTO

My book, Julia’s Gifts, is for sale on on Kindle is on sale for .99 from today until Thursday at eleven a.m.

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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. Disheartened by the realities of war, 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.

Reviews:

“Touching story of faith and devotion that is sure to leave a lasting impression.” Therese Heckenkamp, award-winning author

“Filled with fascinating historical detail and a reminder that love never fails and that miracles – great and small – happen all around us.” Carolyn Astfalk, award-winning author

“Touched my heart in many ways.” Theresa Linden, award-winning author

“A romantic drama that unfolds far from home—but takes us to the heart of home along the way.” A.K. Frailey, author

“Outstanding and unforgettable book.” Jean Heimann, author, Fatima: The Apparition that Changed the World

To get your discounted ebook, click here.

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Intimate Preparations #ValentinesDay

candlelightSmallFebruary is the month of Valentine’s Day, so below is a reprint of an article I originally wrote for Catholic Mom and Amazing Catechists years ago.

“And so I take (my wife) not for any lustful motive, but I do it in singleness of heart. Be kind enough to…bring us to old age together.” Tobit 8:7

“..Now, gird up your loins and arise…”  Jer: 1:17

Which scripture verse more accurately describes how a couple should prepare for the conjugal embrace?   Praying for a singleness of heart, without lustful motive…or girding up one’s loins for “war”?

Yet many couples prepare for intimacy by “girding up their loins:” wearing condoms, inserting diaphragms, taking a pill, putting on a patch, having an IUD inserted, undergoing an operation. It seems to me that these couples are preparing more for “war” than for the marital embrace, “protecting” themselves against unwanted pregnancy, “protecting” themselves against their spouse’s fertility.

Compare that to the couples who do not use contraceptives.  They are generous in opening their marriage to children, and when necessary, they use Natural Family Planning and abstain in the fertile time.  They’re not girding up their loins; they’re not “protecting” each other from an unwanted pregnancy.  When they give of themselves in the marital act, it is a total gift, not a partial one.

The question is: How do you prepare for intimacy?

Some might answer, “We watch porn.”  Others may say, “I make sure my diaphragm is in place,” or “We keep a packet of condoms by the bed.”

And yet…are these really appropriate ways for a couple to prepare for the most intimate act between husband and wife?

Obviously not.

So how can a couple prepare? Here is a short list of helpful ways:

1. Pray Together

Marital prayer is an ideal way to prepare for intimacy. When marital prayer is frequent, praying before relations becomes a logical extension.  The conjugal embrace is itself a prayer.  Let’s review what makes this act so holy and meaningful.  In the marital embrace, with their bodies, husband and wife renew their wedding vows.  Becoming one with our beloved spouse is the ultimate spiritual, physical and emotional experience. We become one flesh…so much so that sometimes, nine months later, we must give the representation of that oneness a name.

2. Throw Away the Contraception

No, I’m not asking couples to have as many children as possible.  But what I am saying is that for the conjugal embrace to be honest and life-giving, it must be free, total, faithful and fruitful.  Natural Family Planning allows a couple to love each other as God loves: freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.  NFP couples chart the wife’s fertility signs and, if avoiding pregnancy, abstain in the fertile time. They are not using devices; they are giving themselves fully and they are open to children with each and every act of marital relations.  See my previous post on the Theology of the Body in a Nutshell.  For more information on NFP, check out my previous post on NFP.

3. Healthy Relationship

I know a few couples who fight constantly. These same couples brag that they have a great sex life.  Well, they may have a lot of “good feelings” but when a couple is not getting along in their day-to-day life, sex, even ‘good’ sex, is not going to fix that.  What about the husband who treats his wife in a condescending, critical manner, then expects her to be ready and willing to engage in the marital embrace…or a wife who constantly nags her husband, then wants him to be affectionate to her?  Communicate with one another; treat each other with kindness, respect and love.

4. No Pornography

Some secular marriage counselors recommend that a couple use porn to “spice up their sex life.”  Instead of “enhancing” a marital sex life, viewing sexually explicit videos has the potential of destroying a marriage. Blessed John Paul II said: “…the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.” Porn trains people to be selfish about their sexuality, not selfless. It teaches them to think about sex as something they take, not something they give. Any behavior that causes a person to be self-centered or selfish is never good for marriage. And…pornography can be highly addictive.  Mary Anne Layden, co-director of the Sexual Trauma and Psychopathology Program at the University of PA’s Center for Cognitive Therapy, called porn the “most concerning thing to psychological health that I know of existing today….pornography addicts have a more difficult time recovering from their addiction than cocaine addicts, since coke users can get the drug out of their system, but pornographic images stay in the brain forever.” 

5. Single Candle Light

I enjoy romantic, candlelit dinners with my husband.  Well, why not a candlelit conjugal embrace? In the 15th century, it was common for painters to place one solitary lit candle in their paintings to symbolize the presence of Christ. If you have small children or might fall asleep too quickly afterwards, perhaps you can use an electric candle/light…or set an alarm…but be prudent. A simple, solitary light can bring more symbolism to your intimacy.  And…it can help put you both in the “mood.”

6. Focus on Your Spouse

“Intense love does not measure; it just gives.” This quote from Blessed Mother Teresa is an ideal quote for marriage. Marriage isn’t all about “me.”  It’s about “us.”  What are your spouse’s needs?  Think of his/her needs in all facets of your relationship. Intimate ‘memos’ bring a couple closer.  Notes in your spouse’s lunch, special messages left on his workbench or on her desk, daily texts are all ways to intimately connect during the day and let your spouse know you are thinking of him/her.   The important thing is to focus on the other in all things and when it comes time for the marital embrace, this selflessness will follow naturally.

7. We Can Work It Out

When you consider all the day-to-day challenges like children, work, fatigue, family bed, stress and sickness, it’s often a miracle that a couple has the time to engage in marital intimacy at all.  The spontaneity of early marriage eventually gives way to planning for intimacy.  “Family bed?”  Consider another location for the marital embrace.  Mom too tired?  Perhaps Dad can take the kids out to the park while Mom gets a well-deserved rest after dinner. Dad too stressed?  Mom can have a hot relaxing bath waiting for Dad when he arrives home.

Do you want to prepare for the holiest, most satisfying intimate experience possible?  Treat your spouse with respect, pray together, focus on your spouse, don’t use porn and be creative in finding time for intimacy.

I’ve made the Kindle edition of my book, Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship only .99 for the entire month of February. To download your copy, click here.

An Open Book February 2019 #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:

 

place called sat

A Place Called Saturday by Mary Astor

Synopsis: In 1968, when abortion was still a matter of controversy, Mary Astor wrote this heartwarming story of Cora, who was raped by a young, unknown assailant and becomes pregnant. Go with Cora as she faces the obstacles that will affect her life, her husband’s, and that of her unborn child. (from the inside flap)

My review:  This has been on my book shelf for a while and I listed it as one of my “To Read” books several months ago.  I finally picked it up and when I did, I couldn’t stop.  It’s the late 60’s. Cora is a young married woman. She and her husband have been trying to conceive for a couple of years. One hot summer afternoon, she is raped and a few months later she discovers she is pregnant.  She realizes that the baby is likely the product of the rape, but she refuses to consider abortion, which at the time many doctors would perform in the case of rape.  This makes the relationship with her husband difficult because he doesn’t think he can raise his wife’s rapist’s child.  Cora reminds him that the child is 50% hers. The author, Mary Astor, knows the topic of abortion well because she had at least two abortions in her early career (even if an actress was married, she would be pressured into having an abortion because of career advancement).  Astor later became Catholic and sincerely regretted her abortions.  I suspect that Astor created Cora partly to repent her two abortions.  The writing is a bit stilted at times, but overall, a great read. 4.5 out of 5.

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Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship

On Sale on Kindle for only .99!

Synopsis: Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is a celebration of faith and enduring love. This compilation contains 12 courtship/dating stories which will inspire, captivate and entertain readers. Some of the stories include: a widow with eight children meets a widower with six children; a man asks his live-in girlfriend “what if we stopped having sex,” and is greeted with tears of joy; an atheist falls in love with her Catholic Prince Charming; a woman prays to God for a husband and years later finds herself falling in love with a seminarian; a sailor prays a novena to marry the right girl. What these and all the stories illustrate is that God is the ideal matchmaker.

My review: This is a book I edited and published eight years ago with the help of my friend, Kathy.  It’s a beautiful collection of courtship stories and is only .99 on Kindle (the entire month of February.)

tears in a bottle

Tears in a Bottle by Sylvia Bambola

Synopsis: Becky Taylor, a young woman burdened by great expectations, is lying on a cold recovery table in an abortion clinic when she hears a man’s voice, then gunshots. She holds her breath and lies perfectly still behind the curtain. When the gunman is finished, Becky is the only one left alive in the clinic. This act brings together two strangers who both seek answers to life’s most wrenching questions, mainly: Are God’s love and mercy big enough for every sin? The answer transforms multiple lives.

My review: This is an excellent pro-life novel (although at least one of the antagonists is rather one-dimensional (womanizing and alcoholic) with a compelling story and believable story line, especially in 2019. The characters are generic Christian (not Catholic). I bought this book 20 years ago at a pro-life conference. I’ve read it numerous times and read it again recently. It’s surprising that this book was originally written 20 years ago. It is especially pertinent in light of the State of New York’s recent decision to allow abortion up to the moment of birth.  Disturbing, sad and enlightening, this story is a must-read for those in the pro-life movement. Highly recommend! 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship Only .99 #bargain

Come My Beloved web

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, for the entire month of February, Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is on sale on Kindle for only .99!

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is a celebration of faith and enduring love. This compilation contains 12 courtship/dating stories which will inspire, captivate and entertain readers. Some of the stories include: a widow with eight children meets a widower with six children; a man asks his live-in girlfriend “what if we stopped having sex,” and is greeted with tears of joy; an atheist falls in love with her Catholic Prince Charming; a woman prays to God for a husband and years later finds herself falling in love with a seminarian; a sailor prays a novena to marry the right girl. What these and all the stories illustrate is that God is the ideal matchmaker.

Read excerpts here (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

Reviews:

Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship is a Song of Songs, a book of praise, a treasure-house of faith and romance par excellence!  This truly beautiful collection of Catholic courtship stories is a must-read for anyone discerning a vocation, especially the call to marriage; and for those courting, engaged, already married, or widowed. What a great gift to Holy Mother Church, and a powerful witness that God does make marriages in heaven.  Lisa Mladinich, author, Be An Amazing Catechist: Inspire the Faith of Children, and True Radiance, Founder, Amazing Catechists

Whether you’re courting, engaged to be married, newlyweds, or celebrating your jubilee years together, this terrific resource offers something for anyone looking to grow closer to God and to one another in a loving relationship.  Lisa Hendey, author, The Handbook for Catholic Moms,  The Grace of Yes, Founder and editor, Catholic Mom

Fabulous book that I can’t wait to recommend to all my single and married friends. You truly created a gift for this generation! Dawn Marie Roeder, author It Doesn’t End Here

Pick up a Kindle edition of Come My Beloved for only .99!

If The Morning – March for Life #uniquefromdayone

Since the March for Life is being held today in Washington, I wanted to again share the words of the pro-life song my husband wrote as a teenager. It’s called “If the Morning,” and these lyrics are also included in my novel, Emily’s Hope:

If the Morning

Words and Music by James Hrkach

If in the morning the Savior didn’t rise
Would there be sunshine in your eyes
And in the springtime if the world wasn’t new
Would love still see its way through
And do we stand only to lose it all
By standing just a little too tall

Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know he’s got the right
I know he’s got that right
Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know He’s got it right
And I know that we have got it wrong

And if the dreamer never woke to tell his tale
Would hope be born still by our hands
And if the baby never sees the light of day
Will nightmares conquer all man
And do we stand only to lose it all
By standing just a little too tall.

Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know he’s got the right
I know he’s got that right
Save the baby, save the baby
Because I know He’s got it right
And I know that we have got it wrong.

And if the baby never saw the light of day, of day, of day…

Lyrics copyright 1978 James Hrkach
Photo copyright 2011 Josh Hrkach