#FREE on Kindle: Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship

FREE On Kindle Until Thursday!!

“Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship” contains 12 stories that will inspire, captivate and entertain readers.

The idea for this book came about on Valentine’s Day eight years ago, when several mothers were enjoying each other’s fellowship as our children played and exchanged cards. We began sharing how each of us met our husbands. One by one we recounted our stories. It became evident that God’s hand was truly and firmly present in bringing each couple together. Kathy Cassanto, one of the mothers present, said, “It’s too bad there isn’t a book available with Catholic courtship stories.” My initial response was, “Well, if there isn’t, there should be.”  I immediately went online and discovered that there wasn’t a book containing Catholic courtship stories. So I asked Kathy to be my co-editor, and we set out to find inspiring Catholic courtship stories. We didn’t have to search far. Oftentimes, I simply listened to a small quiet voice prompting me to ask a particular couple, “Would you be willing to share how the two of you met?”

We agreed that the easiest and fastest way to gather the stories was to interview the couples, transcribe the interviews and edit the stories. Most of the stories in this book were from recorded conversations, then transcribed and edited, although some were written by the couples themselves.

As we interviewed each couple, a clear picture was emerging: that true love was far different from the infatuation which is so often portrayed in movies and books.

Each of these courtship/dating stories has its own theme, but all of them illustrate that God is the ideal matchmaker. The stories are uplifting, inspirational, funny, hopeful, romantic.

The complete versions of each story are included in the book, along with family photos of all the couples. Here are excerpts of some of the stories.

David and Posie

Leon and Mary Lou

Robert and Sarah

Chris and Micki

James and Ellen

Mark and Kathy

Andrew and Regina

Michel and Jeanette

Tom and Patty

James and Pati

Damon and Melanie

Mark and Yvette

To download your FREE Kindle copy, click here.

Synopsis: Come My Beloved is a celebration of faith and enduring love. This compilation contains 12 courtship/dating storiesthat will inspire, captivate and entertain readers. Included are the following stories: A widow with eight children meets a widower with six children; a woman prays to God for a husband and years later, finds herself falling in love with a seminarian; 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 couple meet through a Christian introduction service; a sailor prays a novena to marry the right girl. What these and all the stories illustrate is that God is the ideal matchmaker.

To read reviews, more excerpts and watch the book trailer and interview on Son Rise Morning Show, click here.

Text and photo copyright 2017 Ellen Gable Hrkach/Full Quiver Publishing

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A Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion

CMPC photo

My box of contributor copies for a Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion has finally arrived north of the border!   Release date is set for the end of this month.

Created by moms for moms, these hope-filled meditations touch on the issues and concerns you face as you try to get through the day with a sense of God’s presence in your life. Whether you are a new or seasoned mom working in or outside of your home, this inspiring collection of reflections for every day of the year will help you

  • stay in touch with the seasons of the Church year;
  • remember Mary’s loving presence on her feast days;
  • keep company with both new and familiar saints;
  • see the spiritual meaning of secular holidays; and
  • make you smile with occasions such as Houseplant Appreciation Day and National Popcorn Day.

Each day begins with a brief quotation from scripture, saints, recent popes, or important spiritual writers. A personal reflection—written by contributors including Danielle Bean, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, Lisa Mladinich, Elizabeth Scalia, Carolyn Woo, Mark Hart and Jeff Young—focuses on some dimension of your spiritual, emotional, intellectual, or physical life. Each day also includes a brief prayer and a question or thought to ponder throughout the day.

In just a few minutes of quiet you’ll find the boost you need from a friendly voice. Each month also has a special theme such as love, family fun, and slowing down. Start these reflections any time throughout the year and feel your days become more grace-filled and inspired.

Other contributors include: Erin McCole Cupp, Barb Szyszkiewicz, Ann Frailey, Celeste Behe, Jeannie Ewing, Patrice Fagnant MacArthur, Jennifer Fitz, Pat Gohn, Margaret Realy, Leticia Velasquez, Karee Santos and many others!

“Insightful and eminently relatable.”

“The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion is packed full of reflections that are both insightful and eminently relatable. Five minutes with this book will get your day off to a great start.”

Jennifer Fulwiler
Catholic radio host and author of Something Other Than God

To order the book from Ave Marie Press, go here to this link.

Blog Tour: A Catholic Mother’s Companion To Pregnancy by Sarah Reinhard

To celebrate the launch of her new book, A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism, Sarah Reinhard invites all of us to spend her blog book tour praying the rosary together. Today, she shares this reflection on the Transfiguration:

He took a couple of ordinary fishermen and transformed them into apostles. And, a few years ago, he took an egotistical, very full of herself young lady and transformed her into a Catholic. It’s a journey I’m still very much on, a battle I’m still very much fighting, a conversion story I’m still very much writing.

This mystery always makes me think of the many experiences in my life that have changed me, pushed me into more than I was before. Among them–near the top!–is the ongoing experience of motherhood.

It has required me to be open to so many things. I’ve had to stretch and then stretch some more. I can’t help but be amazed at the many times God has used ME as his instrument.

When I look in the mirror each day, it’s not a professional businesswoman who looks back at me, but a mom who is part juggler, part comedian, part chef-chauffeur. I never thought I’d make noodles from scratch and enjoy canning jelly and tomatoes. Who knew I would spend my days this way? Instead of designing the next great tractor ad, I’m stepping on tractors on the living room floor. Instead of writing great ad copy, I’m writing books for Catholic women.

The Transfiguration never fails to inspire me and make me wonder what God has in store for me. I’m pretty sure it’s nothing like what I have planned!

As we pray this decade of the rosary, let’s hold all those brave women who have said yes to difficult and challenging motherhood in our intentions in a special way. Don’t forget, too, that we are praying for an increase in all respect life intentions as part of our rosary together this month. (If you’re not familiar with how to pray the rosary, you can find great resources at Rosary Army.)

Our Father . . .

10 – Hail Mary . . .

Glory Be . . .

O My Jesus . . .

You can find a complete listing of the tour stops over at Snoring Scholar. Be sure to enter to win a Nook (and any number of other goodies) each day of the tour over at Ave Maria Press. (Note on Nook giveaway: only eligible US residents may enter).

To read my review of Sarah’s new book over at Amazing Catechists, click here.

A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism is available from Ave Maria Press and from Amazon.

I’m giving away a free print copy of this book! To win, leave a comment below (before Friday, October 19th) to be entered!

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.

Welcome Risen Jesus by Sarah Reinhard – Review

My latest review at Amazing Catechists is for “Welcome Risen Jesus: Lent and Easter Reflections for Families” which is Sarah Reinhard’s second book. It follows the same easy-to-read format of her first book, “Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families.”

In the introduction, Sarah writes, “This booklet will help you and your family focus each day on the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.”

Like her first book, each day has a think, act, pray section, although this version also includes a paragraph entitled “Fast.” Each page lists a pertinent Scripture passage.

A few examples from the Act sections: “Do you have lunch money or some saved allowance? Give all or part of it to a food pantry or soup kitchen,” or “Wash the dishes or help with the cleanup as much as you can.”

The Fast sections include suggestions such as: “Give your dessert — or the favorite part of your snack — to someone else,” of “Don’t eat between meals today,” or “Do a chore you hate without mentioning you hate it or calling attention to the fact you’re doing it.”

This is a beautifully written and illustrated book. The fact that it is geared to both parents and children is what I love most about it. This offers parents and children a unique opportunity to grow together in faith during the Lenten season and takes only a few moments each day.

I look forward to using this booklet with my own family and I highly recommend it to all families who wish to grow in faith during this beautiful Lenten season.

Copyright 2012 Ellen Gable Hrkach

Atheist Meets Catholic Prince Charming – Robert and Sarah

The second in a series of excerpts from Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship recounts Robert and Sarah Reinhard’s journey towards marriage and the Catholic faith.

Sarah: By the time I was working at the country’s largest John Deere dealership after college, I was cynical and rather atheist. God had proven that He didn’t exist as far as I was concerned. Though I had been raised Christian — mostly Methodist, with some non-denominational charismatic varieties thrown in — I was convinced that reason and logic disproved the supernatural.

Robert: I had been raised Catholic, attended Catholic schools from first grade to graduation, and so I never knew any different. It was an irrevocable part of my life.

Sarah: We had many long conversations over the back parts counter at the dealership, when Robert looked at me and was actually interested in what I had to say (instead of where listening could lead). I found out about his faith life after I had been on a date and bared parts of myself no one else had really cared to hear about; I found out quite by accident. We were on the phone, planning a hiking date for a Sunday, when he said, in his typically no-nonsense way, that he couldn’t get to my place before 10, because he went to 8:30 Mass.

This is the man who couldn’t talk before about 10, getting up to go to church? Just what was so special about Mass that he would want to go? Well, I didn’t care enough then to pursue it beyond a little smile at the fact. But as we continued to date, six months, then a year, I did get curious. What was so special about Mass? How could it be better than time spent with me?

Robert: I had only just started attending Mass again. I had gone two or three years without it and had been far from regular for the ten years prior to that.

Sarah: His mother was very devout and very excited about her faith. Yeah, I thought, she’s just that way. Some people like to sew, she likes to be Catholic. It’s her thing. Big deal.

I had decided to go and see what Mass was all about. The colorful stories about Father Pat enticed me and, I reasoned, they have a book that tells you what to do they must be pretty organized in the Catholic Church, and I value organization a great deal. That first Mass, and for about the next year, Robert held my hand and sat with me and encouraged me. He didn’t ever say anything about me joining the Church. He didn’t ever express that he did or did not prefer that his future wife be Catholic. He didn’t have to.

I used to justify that, rationally and logically, God was a silly notion that was both irrational and illogical. Come on! I would cry in my mind, this makes no sense and besides, none of these defenders of God’s use rational or logical arguments. In my upbringing, I saw the stalwart Methodists and the charismatic Baptists. I spent a good part of my before-bed prayer time wondering if I should be speaking in tongues, as the Evangelical non-denominationals insisted we should. It didn’t take long for me to wonder why it was so wonderful to be saved…and saved…and saved. I was saved at least three times, telling Jesus that He was welcome in my heart. But what if being five made that not count? My mother recounted a story to me where, when I was three, I had asked Jesus into my heart. But at twelve, knowing that I certainly hadn’t held up my end of the “good Christian” bargain, I asked Him again. Because, you know, you can never be too saved, can you? And if you can be saved more than once, how do you know which one counts for good?

Robert: I, for my part, kept silent. I had my own struggle with the Catholic faith. As well, my older brother and I were the main providers for our family for ten years before I met Sarah.

As Sarah wondered about the value of the Catholic Church, I found myself coming home. I sat with her at Mass and felt the comfort of the routine and the ritual. I woke up early on Sunday mornings because I desired that peace. My life had been a maelstrom as my parents struggled, but the Church remained unwavering, and I found I needed that. In the years directly following my coming home to the Church, my family would weather some major storms, including my parents’ divorce and annulment and the death of a baby.

Sarah: By the time I had decided to step foot in a Catholic church, there was a part of me that recognized that the relationship we were building was worth something as silly (I thought then) as marriage. So many people divorced, so many families torn apart: wasn’t your family comprised of more than just the many step-families you might have accumulated? After I met Robert and the thought of marrying him occurred to me, I was alarmed. Was I not a contemporary thinker, freed of such antiquated ideas as marriage? Hadn’t I experienced divorce twice in my own family, and hadn’t I seen how much havoc it wreaked, how much pain it caused, how much hurt it sowed?

I had been attending Mass for a few months when our priest gave a homily on Mothers Day about Mary, our Mother. He talked about how we all have a mother who is unconditional, who is waiting for us, who understands our trials and tribulations. His words spoke to my soul, and for the first time, my hard heart melted. Unprepared for this, I began crying, and then sobbing. I had to leave the sanctuary. I perched on the steps to the choir loft in the vestibule, and after the recessional at the end Mass, Father asked me if I was okay. I could only nod. What was this Church?

Robert and Sarah Reinhard have been married for seven years and have three children. Their entire courtship story is included in my book, “Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship.”

Copyright 2011 Full Quiver Publishing

Favorite Advent Books

Advent is almost here and I’m over at the Amazing Catechists website with a list of my favorite Advent books:

Welcome Baby Jesus by Sarah Reinhard
Sarah Reinhard’s new book, Welcome Baby Jesus: Advent and Christmas Reflections for Families, takes a refreshing, unique approach to Advent.

There are many children’s Advent/Christmas books out there, but this delightful book includes activities and reflections for the entire family.

From the author: “Advent is a season that’s almost forgotten by the secular world. You’ll find Advent calendars, to be sure, but they are really an adornment for the “Christmas season,” which begins sometime after Halloween and ends on Christmas Day.”

Each section encompasses three different activities: Think, Pray and Act. Each Sunday has its own theme. The First Sunday of Advent and the week following is “Get Ready.” The Second Sunday and following week is “Repent.” The Third Sunday’s theme is “Love,” and the fourth Sunday, “Anticipate.” The Christmas season has its own theme:” Rejoice.” There are also stories and activities for the Feast of the Epiphany.

What sets this apart from other Advent preparation books is that it has reflections and activities for the entire family (parents included) so that both parent and child can prepare for the celebration of Christ’s birth.

Sarah Reinhard’s beautifully-designed book is 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 reviewed Joy to the World by Kathleen Basi last year on Amazing Catechists. Great book for the entire family!

My all-time favorite Advent 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. I highly recommend it!

Do you have a favorite Advent book? Feel free to comment…