#GraceofYesDay – Saying Yes to Motherhood


Today is “GraceofYesDay!”

Lisa Hendey, author of “Book of Saints for Catholic Moms” and “Handbook for Catholic Moms,” has written a wonderful new book, entitled “The Grace of Yes.” Today, for its launch, she has asked people to share how we say “Yes” to God in our everyday lives. I’m linking up with other bloggers over at Catholic Mom.

For me, saying “Yes” to motherhood has been the most joyful and grace-filled way to say “Yes” to God. In this updated article from a few years ago, I share what that all means:

image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

image copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach

On June 26th, 1986, I was rushed into surgery to remove a tiny baby from my right fallopian tube. This, after already miscarrying his or her twin from my womb. I woke up in the hospital with the knowledge that I had conceived twins…and I would be leaving the hospital with neither in my arms.

Thankfully, a year later, after nearly nine months of morning sickness, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy and, two years after that, a strapping nine pound son. This was followed by two miscarriages and these losses had me questioning whether we should continue to be open to life. Despite the losses and difficulties, our third son was born in 1992. Even after my tumultuous history, my husband and I decided to be open and, not long after, became pregnant. A short while later, I found myself fighting for my life.

In the ambulance, as I drifted in and out of consciousness, 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, James and I 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. The doctors suggested that I be put on hormonal contraception (we refused and instead used NFP). They later urged me to have my remaining fallopian tube tied (we again refused). The physicians weren’t the only ones 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?”

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 that the doctor had “ordered” us not to have 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.

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 say “Yes” to God and actively seek another pregnancy.

Ten cycles 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 suffering. I’m four feet nine inches tall, so even my healthy pregnancies had been challenging, but this one even more so. I began having debilitating migraine headaches and some days I could not get out of bed. I developed a hernia and my stomach was so large that, by 30 weeks, I could not drive and even walking became painful. Worse than the physical pain, however, was the emotional suffering. Doctors, well-meaning friends and relatives scolded us for being “irresponsible” and “selfish,” and that if I was suffering, “I had asked for it.”

Our fourth son was born healthy, at nearly ten pounds. The pro-life Catholic doctor who delivered him by C-section told me that we could try for another baby someday, but that the pregnancy would again have to be monitored. After another miscarriage, three years later, our youngest son was born.

Saying “Yes” to motherhood meant enduring four miscarriages and three ectopic pregnancies and, with those, the physical and emotional suffering. But saying “Yes” to motherhood has also brought overwhelming joy with the births of our five sons, continued graces and the consoling knowledge that our seven unborn children will greet me one day in heaven.

When we were a young married couple, I naively thought having children would be “easy.” I had no idea of the sufferings I would endure, but equally, I could not imagine the kind of joy being a mother could bring. Although we could have used NFP to limit our family size to three sons, we chose to listen to our hearts, to answer God’s calling, and to say “Yes” to more children. When I consider that our two youngest sons might possibly not be here today, my heart becomes heavy. Both are unique young men who have already given so much to our family and to society.

Despite the difficulties, I am grateful that I said “Yes” to motherhood, continue to say “Yes,” and feel tremendously blessed to be the mother of five unique, talented and amazing human beings here on earth as well as those seven little souls waiting in heaven.

Copyright 2014 Ellen Gable Hrkach

copyright James and Ellen Hrkach

copyright James and Ellen Hrkach

7 Quick Takes Friday – Conference Highlights Part I

Please join me and other Catholic bloggers at Jen’s Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday.

I’m still “recuperating” from the Catholic Writers Conference/CNMC/Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show in Dallas last week. It was exhilarating and utterly amazing to meet and spend time with so many like-minded Catholics. I can’t wait to attend next year (despite the exhaustion I’m still feeling). However, before I get to the Quick Takes, I wanted to wish my second oldest son, Ben, a very Happy 23rd Birthday!

Today will be an all photo Quick Takes with cool photos from some famous and yet-to-be famous Catholics!

1. Jennifer Fulwiler
I’ve been wanting to meet Jennifer Fulwiler from Conversion Diary since I began reading her blog and participating in 7 Quick Takes last year. She’s one of the most entertaining bloggers I know. In the photo below, you’ll notice that we are both sitting. Something I didn’t know is that Jen is quite tall. Well, when I take photos with tall people, the only thing that usually shows up is my head. Hmmmm. Jen came up with the idea for the sitting photo. Thanks again, Jen!

2. Jeff Cavins
Okay, so Jeff is also tall, but at least some of my body got into this photo. He’s a great guy and he actually asked me for marketing advice. Cool.

3. Doug Keck from EWTN’s Bookmark
I had an opportunity to be interviewed by Doug Keck, host of EWTN’s Bookmark. He’s a great interviewer and a really nice guy.

4. Immaculee
I know this isn’t an actual picture with Immaculee, but I did get to meet her and asked someone to take a photo. Unfortunately, the photo was accidentally deleted, so I figured that this was the next best thing. Immaculee is also very tall, beautiful and downright saintly. If you haven’t already read her books, check them out at this link.

5. Author and Blogger Sarah Reinhard
Sarah is one of my favorite authors and bloggers. She’s funny, enthusiastic and just a great person to be around.

6. Val Bianco and AnnMarie Creedon
Val Bianco is the author of Sons of Cain, a Catholic thriller. He’s a big teddy bear of a guy! (If you haven’t read his book yet, I highly recommend it!) To his left is AnnMarie Creedon, author of Angela’s Song, Full Quiver’s soon-to-be-released Catholic novel.

7. Catholic Mom Contributor Photo
Lisa Hendey, founder of Catholic Mom, arranged for attending contributors to pose for a group photo. Lots of well-known Catholics in this photo! Which contributors can you recognize?

photo courtesy Lisa Hendey

Next week: Conference Highlights Part II.

For more Quick Takes, check out Conversion Diary.

Unless otherwise noted, photos and text copyright Ellen Gable Hrkach.

A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey

A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms: 52 Companions for Your Heart, Mind, Soul and Body by Lisa Hendey is a beautifully written, well-researched and extraordinary book which showcases 52 saints. The reader can focus on one saint per week (although some people might prefer to read it straight through). I especially like the format. Each chapter begins with basic information about the saint, their feasts, patronages, etc. A story of the saint follows, with lessons, traditions, quotes from the saint, then a week of scripture passages, saint-inspired activities for Mom and children and ends with a prayer and something to ponder.

This is is an outstanding book with inspiring quotes from the saints and scripture passages unique to each saints’ lives and traditions.

The list of 52 saints is not meant to be all inclusive, although I did notice that six of my favorite saints are included: Virgin Mary, St. Anthony, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Gianna Molla, Blessed John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

This is a wonderful, inspiring and informative book that should be on every family’s bookshelf. I highly recommend it!

Order A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms from Amazon or Ave Maria Press.

Copyright 2011 Ellen Gable Hrkach

A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey

I am still anxiously waiting for my review copy of this book, so my review will follow soon.

However, what better way to celebrate All Saints Day than to buy a book of saints by an incredibly gifted author and speaker, Lisa Hendey. From the product description it says: Lisa Hendey’s enthusiasm for saints is contagious. Building on the success of her first book, Hendey continues her work as the Catholic mom’s coach to nurturing hearts, minds, bodies, and souls–this time through the rich Catholic communion of saints. With the warmth and candor of My Life with the Saints by James Martin, S.J., Hendey eloquently links personal stories, scripture, prayer, and simple soul-strengthening exercises into this rich spiritual resource for Catholic women.

Hendey offers one saint per week–some famous, some lesser known, some whose cause is in process–to offer companionship and guidance for the challenging, often under-thanked vocation of Catholic motherhood. She introduces Therese of Lisieux, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and Patrick, as well as Gianna Beretta Molla and Chiara Badano. Each week offers a thematic prayer intention, biographical and devotional information about the saint, lessons learned, daily scripture meditations, prayers, and practical, spiritually rich action steps that help moms incorporate the wisdom and exemplary faith of each saint.

A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms by Lisa Hendey is available on Amazon.com.

Interview at Catholic Mom

I was recently interviewed by Lisa Hendey, founder of Catholic Mom.com.


Here’s the prologue to her interview:

I love a good love story, and even more so when it’s a “real life” story of the triumph of love. That’s probably why I instantly fell in love with Come My Beloved by Ellen Gable Hrkach and Kathy Cassanto. In full disclosure, I’ll share that I actually already loved Ellen – she and I have been writing friends for years, she is a contributor here at CatholicMom.com, and we’ve even had the pleasure of meeting and spending time in person. So I guess perhaps I was predisposed to enjoyment when Come My Beloved crossed my desk. But the truth is that this is a wonderful book — and in an age when marriage is often under attack — a greatly needed shot of encouragement not only for married couples, but also for engaged couples discerning their vocation together.

And the start of the interview:

Q: Tell us about Come My Beloved – what prompted you to compile this book and what will readers find in the book?

Everyone loves a love story, especially a true life love story. In this day and age where divorce is unfortunately common, love stories which lead to joy-filled marriages give us hope.

Come My Beloved is a celebration of Catholic courtship and love. Readers will find different courtship stories, from couples who have been married a few years to other couples who have been married for many years (one couple in the book has been married for 58 years).

As to what prompted me, two years ago, on Valentine’s Day, a group of homeschooling mothers had gotten together so that our children could exchange Valentine’s. Because it was Valentine’s Day, we began sharing how we met and married our husbands. My friend, Kathy Cassanto, remarked, “I wonder if there is a book out there with Catholic courtship stories.” My response was, “If there isn’t, there should be.” Thus, the idea was born.

To read the article and interview in its entirety: