Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Loss of a Loved One, Giving Spiritual Direction, and The Seven Sorrows of Mary

A few months ago, I gave spiritual direction at an Ultreya for the first time since Kevin and I went through the Spiritual Direction Institute (SDI).  I was actually pretty excited since I'd served in every other role at Ultreyas with the exception of that one.  The woman giving the witness talk has been a friend of our family for many years.  She told me she was going to speak on the Seven Sorrows of Mary and asked if I thought it would be an appropriate topic in the middle of Advent.  

I said definitely!  I could think of a number of people who were facing their first holiday season without a loved one.  It's hard navigating those first few months not knowing when you'll be knocked over while riding the waves of grief

Here’s how I began my spiritual direction reflection that evening:  “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” we hear over and over again during the Advent and Christmas seasons.  Well, for some it’s a difficult period to get through, especially if it’s the first holidays since a loved one has passed away.  I know I tend to think of my dad and grandparents who have passed away when our family gathers.   

Over the holidays, many people concern themselves with buying gifts for people.  In fact, some get really caught up in that aspect of getting ready instead of concentrating on spiritual preparation.  What does God want for the holidays and all holy days?  He wants the best we have to offer!

What greater or more perfect gift can we offer the Lord than Jesus Christ Himself?

I’ve gotten in the habit of praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for a person when I find out they are near death or have already entered into the next life.  One of the prayers exemplifies the best gift we can give God: “Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and the Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins, and those of the whole world.”

I also shared with the Cursillistas gathered a prayer I know in both English and French that is perfect for devoting all we have and are to the Blessed Mother.  The following is an excerpt from the Act of Consecration to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, by the Hands of Mary by St. Louis de Montfort: “In the presence of all the heavenly court, I choose thee this day for my Mother and Queen. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present, and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God, in time and eternity.”

Christ’s Passion (a great sorrow) leads to Our Eternal Salvation (our greatest joy)

With deep love can come piercing sorrow and profound joy.

Reflection: How has the Lord used one of your sorrows to bring you and/or others closer to Him?

My Prayer: Lord, please open our hearts and minds to the ways in which dealing with sorrow and grief can help bring us closer to You and one another. Amen.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Riding Dirty (Literally and Figuratively)

I spent some time with my niece and nephew the other day.  We hung out in front of their house, and they mainly played in the dirt.  The five-year-old pretended to be a ninja and dug holes in the yard with sticks.  In the beginning, the 17-month-old would grab a handful of dirt and put the little pile directly on my jeans.  I asked her not to since I was planning on going right from their house to church.  She dropped the next few handfuls on the ground.  I thought I'd gotten through to her until she unzipped my coat, unzipped my red fleece, and deposited the next clump directly onto my turtleneck.  What a little skunk!

I found myself brushing off dirt, picking it out of my clothing and attempting, as best I could, to keep it out of my hair and face.  It occurred to me a little while later that I should have been significantly more uncomfortable that I had dirt on my soul than on my clothing.  I hadn't been to confession in over a month, but there I was bothered more that I had dirt all over my jacket, shirt, and jeans than I was that I had sins on my heart.  I wondered, "what will people think?" when I should be more concerned with "what will God think?"

After playing outside with them and going for a walk, I headed to St. Peter's for Reconciliation and 12:05 Mass.  I didn't have time to take a shower before going, but at least I was spiritually clean before I did the rest of my errands. 

For Reflection: When was the last time you went to Reconciliation?  Do you tend to be more concerned about your outward appearance than the state of your soul?

My Prayer: Lord, help us to place greater emphasis on being spiritually clean, healthy, and whole than we do on our physical appearance. Amen. 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top 17 Blog Posts and Photos of 2017

Here are the Top 17 blog posts and photos of 2017 in descending order.  Thank you for all of you who have been reading and who have influenced our lives this year.  We are grateful for the many blessings we shared with family and friends!



The Joy of Creativity Journal (and My Sister) Have Been My Inspiration

My sister has all of these great books on creativity, writing, arts and crafts, journaling, etc.  I love looking through them, but I usually don't purchase those types of books for myself.  In her infinite gift-giving wisdom, she got me The Joy of Creativity for Christmas.

Every day since then, I have written, drawn, or done a collage on one or more pages in the journal.  I haven't been good about writing regularly in my boring wide rule composition style notebook, but this is a much more inviting way to go.  Once I started working on the collage, I remembered where I'd stashed a pile of collage materials from the previous fall.  I pulled those out and mixed them with the new items I'd cut out from magazines to use.

My sister has inspired me in many ways, often without knowing it.  Though super-busy with two young children, she still seeks out well-written books and reads voraciously.  She does things to keep her creative juices flowing beyond decorating (which she does very well).  The other gift I'm excited about is a copy of one of her favorite books: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.  I haven't read anything by her, so I'm looking forward to it.

Though I work at a Montessori school, I've gotten to see first-hand how effective the methods and materials are when used in the home at my sister and brother-in-law's house.  They were brave enough to do the full Montessori bedroom (no crib, mattress on the floor and a child safe room).  They use many of the positive discipline techniques we do in the classroom.   

Speaking of ways my sister has influenced me, she has living plants at her house. After years of not being able to keep a plant alive, I have several small plants that have made it past several months in our place.  I've finally learned not to overwater them.  I still need to get around to putting many of them in pots, but I'm grateful to have taken initial steps to get some greenery in here.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

On the First Day of Christmas, My True Loves Gave to Me...

 A relaxing morning to open presents underneath the tree with some of our favorite people.

We got over to my sister and brother-in-law's house at a reasonable hour and gradually got into opening presents once the munchkins had eaten some breakfast.

It was delightful not to be in a mad rush to do everything.  In previous years, my mom, sister, Kevin, and I have gone to Mass on Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve.  This year we went the night before, so we were able to spend as much time as we wanted opening gifts and hanging out together.

It worked out very well.  Our nephew dove into his new Ninjago Lego sets.  Our niece and my youngest sister had fun with her new Play-doh.  Of course, there were breaks in there to read books. We all enjoyed the quiche my brother-in-law made.  It had broccoli and little pieces of sausage in it, and the crust was perfect.   

It's a tradition in our family to open stockings first.  It's also a thing that we go downstairs youngest to oldest so we all see the tree and presents at the same time.  (Santa didn't wrap everything under our tree when we were growing up.)  Both our niece and nephew had been downstairs past the tree a number of times and weren't begging their parents to drop everything and let them open their gifts.  It's possible that our nephew wasn't worried, because he had whispered to Mimi (what he calls my mom) more than once what he wanted her to get for him.  He knew she'd come through.

Both kids got some fun toys that allow them to explore and use their imaginations while developing their fine motor skills. (And the early childhood specialists rejoiced!) Their whole family loves books, so there were definitely some of those underneath the tree.

I'm delighted with my gifts and the goodies left in our stockings.  My favorite gift of the season has been quality time with my family hosted at their places (my mom's and sister's).

The material gift I'm most excited about I received has gotten my creative juices flowing: The Joy of Creativity.  I've done more than a page of writing, drawing, and/or made a collage (some of the suggested activities in the journal) every day since Christmas.

Kevin and I gave the gift of year-long memberships to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens to each other.  We both love spending time outside, and my honey knows that's one of my absolute favorite places to take a bazillion photos.

This year Kevin and I opted to give everyone gift cards and buy a book for each of the kids to open Christmas morning.  Since other people hosted the gatherings yet again this year, we thought it would be a good way to contribute to their generous hospitality, something we definitely couldn't manage last year when I was recovering from surgery last December and all the associated expenses.

My sister takes after my father in that she likes to get a live tree and have it trimmed as close to perfect as possible.  She keeps to white lights and an elegant bird motif.  On the top of the tree is a bird's nest with painted eggs resting inside.

There are many reasons Kevin and I are grateful for family. Two of those are that they are willing to host things at their homes and that they have gone to the trouble of making their houses look warm and welcoming.

We don't have a very big place. It's not kid-friendly and the space we do have is taken up by our belongings so we don't usually have more than one person over at a time.  Here at the Potter residence, we did about as much decorating as we were up for last year.  I got the Advent wreath out, but we never ended up lighting it (or the candles). I also pulled out our tissue paper wrapped nativity set, but since I didn't get around to putting that up before December 25th, I put it back in the box of Christmas things we keep in our office.  At least we have the two-foot tree our friend gave us sitting on a table.  It's not decorated or anything (the table or the tree), but it's visible.  Neither of us felt like hanging lights in our windows.

This year, I feel we've done more to prepare for Christ's coming in our hearts by spending quality time with people we love.  That's always been my favorite gift and primary love language.   

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Christmas Season Highlights

The family decorated tree, stockings hung by the chimney with care,
and lots of presents, evident that my mom had been there.
This year we did our usual three family traditions at my mom’s place: decorating the Christmas tree, baking and decorating sugar cookies, and having an evening of hors-d'oeuvres near the brightly lit tree while listening to Christmas music.  

The last of these traditions, we would typically do on Christmas Eve, but since that fell on Sunday this year, which also happened to be the fourth week of Advent, then it meant going to Mass in the morning for that obligation and that evening or the next morning for Christmas.

My nephew was very helpful in decorating the tree.  Since my mom is laid-back, he got to put whatever ornaments wherever he felt like it. Growing up, my dad was the one who would have a fit if ornaments were placed too close together or if there were too many of one kind.  My sister has inherited his love of order and beauty when it comes to their Christmas tree, which has a bird theme.  (A photo of their tree will appear in a subsequent post devoted to Christmas day.)

Our family tree has always been an eclectic mix of hand-made and store-bought ornaments that we’ve collected over the years. Many are ones that my sisters and I made in school or during our arts and crafts undertakings at home.  My mom sewed the tree skirt, which has angels on it.  Ever since the fateful year when misfortune seemed my mom’s lot at least in terms of Christmas trees, she’s had an artificial tree.   

On the Friday before Christmas, Kevin and I joined my sister, brother-in-law, and our niece and nephew for the GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.  I’d only been there once during the Christmas season and seen some of their light display.  It was Kevin’s first time ever seeing Gardenfest.  The theme this year was Stories in Lights.  I recognized and have read a number of the children’s books on which the different displays were based. 

Kevin had fun wearing the one Christmas sweatshirt he has.  He purchased it last year and donned it for several festive occasions.  My husband loves the minions, and he is a good person who generally stays out of trouble, which is why I appreciate this particular challenge to Santa even more.

Christmas Eve Mass at our church was quite beautiful.  We got there around 9:15, so we could hear the full choir, orchestra, and bell choir begin with some celestial-sounding carols.  Our pastor Fr. Dan Brady presided at Mass.  For part of his homily, he played the guitar and had us sing with him to Little Drummer Boy. My mom mentioned having seen the accompanying post on Facebook by a  mutual friend of ours who is an opera singer as well as a midwife. 

Below is a video of the choir and orchestra I took at the end of Christmas Eve Mass: 

Monday, December 4, 2017

That Elf on the Shelf, I Will Talk to Him Myself

Several children at school and at church have talked about the Elf on the Shelf reappearing in their homes.  I smile as they talk about the crazy places they’ve found their Elf.  I’m tempted to have one for the classrooms, too.  If we’re going to make them feel like someone is always watching and listening, we might as well go all out and have it at school as well.  

Another teacher I work with overheard a conversation between two students about what might happen if the Elf or Santa could see and hear everything that someone said or did.  This is a reasonable concept to present to a child or an adult, because God can and does hear and see everything we do.  Much more important than what appears underneath the Christmas tree or "stockings hung by the chimney with care" is what happens after we die. 

Sure, if you pester your younger siblings, the Elf on the Shelf will see it and may tell Santa.  It’s an interesting threat for parents to use during the month of December, but isn’t it more important to teach them that someone who loves them more than anyone else can and does see and hear all that we do, good, bad, and indifferent?

God is watching all of us.  He knows if we’ve been naughty or nice.  He knows if we’ve been sleeping or up watching Netflix.  He sees how we treat our spouse, children, siblings, friends, strangers, co-workers,  the cashier at the grocery store, the person who took our spot in the parking lot…Isn’t that fact something more essential to consider?  Not only does God see everything, but the kids see an awful lot as well. 

Maybe instead of spending so much time building up the Elf on the Shelf as Santa’s secret helper/insider spy, we adults could think some more about how our actions affect others.  We could use some extra prayer time to listen to what God is trying to say to us, what He would like us to do. 

Don’t get me wrong.  Some people have made the Elf on the Shelf an artform.  Their creativity in moving Santa's little helper to different places has been thoroughly amusing.  The photos I have posted here are ones that a friend from high school posted on Facebook.  Her Elf certainly gets around!  

Every time you see the Elf on the Shelf, say a prayer. It could be short or long, one that involves you and/or others you care about.  Have that silly Elf help you grow into your best self by letting it challenge you throughout this season to be careful of your words and actions.  Our loving God is always watching and listening.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Advent Week 1: Bring It On

At the beginning of this past week, I wasn’t feeling ready to hear Christmas music or even pull out the Advent decorations, but now I’m more comfortable.  

I’m still enjoying taking photos of leaves changing colors.  The ones that go out in a blaze of glory are my favorites.  The 60-degree weather we’ve been having is fine by me. I took a really long walk this afternoon, with my camera, of course. 

Reflecting upon my life last December, it’s much easier this year for me to get into Advent and the Christmas spirit.  I’m not preparing for major surgery, seeing more doctors and nurses than I could easily keep track of, traveling out-of-state, or feeling terrified of what organs they may remove while I’m under anesthesia. 

Fortunately, things are much different this year.  I’ve been able to go to daily Mass frequently. Though we still have medical and travel expenses to pay off, I’m not nearly as stressed out about our finances.  Kevin has gotten the raise he was promised months ago, and I have consistent hours at work in addition to the opportunity to sub fairly often, if I want to.  We’ve even been in a position to help a family who is really struggling right now due to their own major health challenges.

We get to spend this entire December surrounded by family and friends, taking part in fun activities and participating in the ministries we usually do.  I’ve reconnected with people we know and love through Cursillo, Christ Renews His Parish, Transformation Prayer Ministry and EDGE (middle school religious education), and I have or plan to see each of those groups at least once between  Thanksgiving and Christmas. The disconnect and isolation we felt and experienced last year has disappeared.  

Lord, thank you for bringing about some much-needed healing and change over the past year.  Please help us be open to the ways You wish to work in and through us this Advent and Christmas season.  Prepare us in mind, body, and spirit for the coming of Your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Thanksgiving Highlights: Best Turkey Ever, Cute Kids, and Feasting

Our family had a lovely Thanksgiving this year.  We all gathered at my mom's place for our annual turkey feast.  The food was delicious, as usual.

Kevin and I have decided that this year's turkey was the best we've ever had.  I contribute this to three things: it came from Wegman's, my mom cooked it to perfection, and cut it as per the cooking show suggestions she'd heard earlier that day. Yum!  We also had mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, and homemade apple and pumpkin pies.

It was fun to have our niece and nephew at or running around near the table.  Our nephew had insisted on dressing up, so he and his sister were looking quite cute for the occasion.  He was very careful with the nonreplaceable crystal goblet of water at his spot.  It was fun to watch him take a huge honking bite of turkey leg.   

Earlier in the week, my sister informed their 14-month-old that Thanksgiving was coming up...and that there would be pie.  She did a hilarious little cheer from her high chair at the mere mention of pie.  Our nephew showed us his "Thanksgiving Ninja" poses post-feast.

Before and after their visit, Mom, Kevin, and I watched some football, another holiday tradition in our family.  We've had some very traditional Thanksgivings over the years and some that were way off the mark.  You can find out about some  of our traveling mishaps, Friendsgivings, and Southern hospitality by reading my post: "Thanksgiving Across the Years."

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Prayer Seeds: A Gathering of Blessings, Reflections, and Poems for Spiritual Growth by Joyce Rupp

I have yet to come across a book by Joyce Rupp that I didn’t enjoy and find spiritually nourishing.  Prayer Seeds: A Gathering of Blessings, Reflections, and Poems for Spiritual Growth is more of the same great writing that leads to meaningful contemplation that I have come to expect from one of my favorite authors.  As someone who writes prose, poetry, and prayers, I appreciate the depth of her insights crafted into poignant words others can easily use in their own intercessions, Scripture studies, and retreats.

In the introduction, Joyce Rupp explains that “[e]ach resource in this book is a type of spiritual seed.  The selections hold the possibility of yielding a harvest of personal reflection and communal prayer.  Some are in the germination stage and will require watering from additional ideas and resources in order to fully activate the potential they hold.  Others are partially grown and will only need minor tending.  A handful…are fully grown and ready for use, supplying all that is needed for harvesting a prayerful experience.” (p. IX)

Tasked with leading the first prayer time of a women’s retreat this fall, I grabbed Prayer Seeds certain I would find the perfect jumping off point for our weekend.  I decided upon a meditation that is best when read slowly to a group who has their eyes closed and can contemplate the words and people who come to mind.  All Saints and All Souls’ days were leading up to our weekend away, so “A Blessing of the Saints” fit perfectly. 

Everything in the book is organized by season, topic, and/or life event, so you can quickly find a short piece to share that is perfect for reflection as an individual or as a group.  There are blessings for a variety of occasions, including: bringing in the harvest, entering a fresh day of life, spring equinox rejoicing, moving to a nursing home, as well as the closing of a casket.   

My drawing of a seed with colored pencils.
The image of a seed appeals to me for many reasons, not the least of which, it holds so much life and potential inside such a small space.  Prayer can be equally as powerful and fruitful. 

I pray that this book and the reflection it leads to will help you as you are harvesting God’s abundance

For more information or to order your own copy of Prayer Seeds, click here.

To learn more about Joyce Rupp and her other books, click here

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Weekend Retreat in Gloucester and an Introduction to Our Lady of Walsingham

We had a delicious meal at Sal's by Victor in Williamsburg.
Back row: Nora and Nancy
Front row: Susan, Eileen, Kami, and me
I’m so glad I went!  After having an accident at work on the previous Thursday, I considered staying home from the retreat.  Once I went to the chiropractor to adjust my seriously sore tailbone and had a Patient First doctor tell me that I don’t have a concussion and that my finger is badly sprained, but not broken, I was still unsure of what to do.  It had been a long, trying day, and I didn’t feel like packing when I got home.

Fortunately, after a rest, some dinner, and some reassurance from my husband that I would benefit from being with my Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP) sisters for a weekend, I got my things together.  I worried I wouldn’t be able fit all that I was bringing into my friend’s vehicle since four of us would be riding out there together with the usual overnight stuff, plus supplies, and lots of food. 

What I should have worried about is getting there.  We inadvertently took a roundabout tour of several Richmond ghettos on our way back to 64 East, and that was while using a GPS and with a navigator.  I’ve been down streets I hadn’t even been lost on before, and that’s quite a feat!

The beautiful farmhouse we rented in Gloucester had four king-size beds and several sofas to sleep on.  There were two bathrooms in the house, both of them downstairs.  It was nicely decorated, very clean, and walking distance from the water.  We had access to the longer of the two piers, which had a few wooden benches on it. 

On Saturday, we sat there to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Rosary.  The weather was nice enough when we got there on Friday to have the house windows open.  Kami and Eileen had arrived first and dinner was on the stove when we finally pulled in. 

We had an abundance of food, which is often the case when we all get together for a potluck, and certainly for a retreat.  The homemade meals and snacks were all delicious, and we had plenty of leftovers.  As per usual, we ate our way through the weekend. 

I’ve only ever been on one outside of church retreat with my CRHP sisters.  I treasure that experience of prayer, community, fellowship, and discussion centered on the Blessed Mother and inspired by a book I recommended for the occasion called Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross by Edward Sri.

I’m encouraged God is still able to work through me each time someone reminds me that I was the one to introduce them to the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  One of the leaders of the Divine Mercy Cenacle that has formed at our parish was serving on team with me when I suggested we sing/pray the Chaplet on our upcoming weekend.  She and many others on the team had never heard of it before.  Some had, but many were still reluctant to add it to the weekend’s schedule.  We did end up including it, and I’m told that they’ve prayed it on every single CRHP weekend, men’s and women’s, since then.  What an awesome Holy Spirit incident!

The week before we gathered, one of our CRHP sisters who had intended to join us for the retreat passed away suddenly and under uncertain circumstances.  Lately, I have gotten into the habit of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the peaceful repose of a person’s soul when we have found out someone we know has passed away.  We shared what we knew of our friend’s death, prayed together for the peaceful repose of her soul, and determined that even if the family doesn’t do something at St. Michael to remember her, we will.

When the leader of the Divine Mercy Cenacle was looking into nearby shrines we could visit as part of our retreat, she came across the only national shrine in our Diocese, Our Lady of Walsingham.  I’d never heard of the place or of that title for the Blessed Mother.  There is a replica of the statue in Walsingham, England, at The College of William and Mary.  On Sunday morning, we packed up and went to the shrine in Williamsburg for 11am Mass. 

I was drawn to the statue of the Blessed Mother holding Baby Jesus, but equally as compelling was the chapel filled with people.  There were a number of college-age musicians and singers, altar servers, and lectors.  After attending a university (Hollins) with a very small Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) and sharing a campus minister with another bigger school down the road (Roanoke College), I was ecstatic to see so many college students gathered for a Sunday morning Mass on campus. 

I recognized their priest, Fr. Glass, because I’d met him when Kevin and I had gone to visit our seminarian brother in Christ John when he was doing his summer assignment at St. Bede’s.  I was incredibly jealous when I picked up a bulletin and saw all of the CCM activities they had planned. Not only did they have plenty of opportunities for daily Mass, Adoration, and prayer, but they also had a number of wholesome social gatherings on the calendar. 

Saturday night my CRHP sisters and I played a game called The Game of Things.  “Things you should not do at a funeral” was one of the writing prompts.  I’d never played the game before.  I’m pretty sure I ended up with the lowest score since everyone could usually guess which list was mine. After all I’m a writer, the youngest one there by at least 15, maybe 20 years, and I like to use my active imagination to make others laugh.   

After Mass on Sunday, which included an inordinate amount of incense for a Mass in ordinary time, we went to a wonderful Italian restaurant called Sal’s by Victor.  The food was scrumptious!  Following our last meal together for the weekend, we made it from 64 East to my doorstep with very little fanfare.  I am so glad I went on the weekend!  I had no idea how desperately I’d needed some time away with ladies who know me and still love me.  I felt refreshed and rejuvenated.  It was the right amount of prayer, faith discussion, relaxation, catching up, and downtime for me.  

Lord, thank you for the gift of these women, for allowing us to come together with the purpose of growing closer to You in all areas of our lives. Amen.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Julia’s Gifts Great War –Great Love Series Book 1 by Ellen Gable

In her latest historical fiction novel, Ellen Gable tells the story of a 21-year-old woman who volunteers for the Red Cross during World War I.  She is sent overseas with one of her closest friends.  Most of the book takes place in France during the war.  At first, Julia is woefully unprepared for the realities of war, though she quickly adapts to getting her hands dirty taking care of injured soldiers in a field hospital in Soissons, France. 

A romance blossoms as the gifts Julia made and/or purchased for her future “beloved,” she gives away to help soldiers in need.  The novel is told mainly from two points-of-view, which adds to the intrigue and interest while also giving us two very different experiences of the war.  A number of detailed descriptions set the mood and the scene for this romance.  Some of the things that happened felt predictable but in a way that felt satisfying, in a Hallmark movie sort of way.    

As someone who prayed for my future husband before I'd met him and even after, before I was sure we would get married, I can identify with the hope and longing of having someone to love.  Like the author, I experienced many years of waiting for a guy I liked to notice me and be interested.  

I love that the author’s husband wrote all of the sonnets that appear in the correspondence between Julia and her beloved.  I also like the notions that prayers will be answered and love will inspire hope in darkest hours.  Both themes strengthen this war-time novel’s appeal. 

I have enjoyed Ellen Gable’s other historical fiction novels.  Among my favorites are: A Subtle Grace and In Name Only.

I’m interested in reading Charlotte’s Honor, Book 2 in the Great War – Great Love Series when it comes out in late 2018.   

Author Links

Virtual Book Tour Stops/Links for Julia’s Gifts
November 1 (Open Book) Plot Line and Sinker
November 2 Mary Lou Rosien, Dynamic Women of Faith
November 4 Karen Kelly Boyce
November 6 Carolyn Astfalk, My Scribbler’s Heart Blog
November 7 Jean M. Heimann, Catholic Fire
November 9 Allison Gingras, Reconciled to You
November 10 Barb Szyszkiewicz, Franciscan Mom
November 11 Plot Line and Sinker Remembrance Day/ Veterans Day post
November 12 Spiritual Woman Patrice Fagnant MacArthur
November 14 Lisa Mladinich, Amazing Catechists
November 17 Barb Szyszkiewicz Catholic Mom
November 18 Cathy Gilmore, Virtue Works Media
November 19 Erin McCole Cupp
November 20 Virginia Lieto
November 21 Elena Maria Vidal Tea at Trianon
November 22 Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold Miller, The Divine Gift of Motherhood
November 23 Leslie Lynch, author
Others: Catholic Reads, Alyssa Watson
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