Interview with Bear Woznick

We recently were able to interview Bear Woznick the author of Deep in the Wave: A Surfing Guide to the Soul. Bear Woznick is quite an interesting individual and we were honored to be able to feature this interview on My Catholic Blog for all of you to check out. Bear holds multiple Master World Tandem surfing titles, co-founded the World Tandem Competition Tour, is a private pilot, plays the ukulele, has a black belt, rides a Harley, and is a novitiate oblate of the Benedictine Monastery of Oahu. SurfingAfter checking out this awesome interview about Bear’s book, his inspirations, and his life make sure to connect with him on the  various different social platforms he is on. You can connect with Bear in the following places.

Facebook fan page : BearsWave.com

Blog Talk Radio: Deep in the Wave AdventureCast

Twitter: @BearsWave

Your book Deep in the Wave: A Surfing Guide to the Soul came out in July of 2012, what did it mean for you to be able to share your life’s experiences with a larger audience?

The response from the readers is what astounded me. I was very vulnerable and transparent in what I wrote so as readers responded to me they felt comfortable sharing with me things in their lives few people knew. It allowed me to see the depth of spirituality and longing in people that might otherwise never have opened up to me or anyone.

What made you want to share your experiences in the form of a book?

I had been challenged by friends that I needed to write this book. They had seen the impact I have had on people one on one, helping them to see their dreams and their gifts and bringing those together to pursue the mission and abundant
lift that God has for them, first by going deep with God and then through servant leadership and touching others life. I felt like I was able to take my readers one by one with my out on an adventure and then set them out on the edge of the
exposed reef of their heart and let them plumb the depths of themselves and then hear God’s voice whispering to them, encouraging them, drawing them and nudging them into a deeper walk.

What do you think people can take away from reading about your life and experiences?

Everyone who reads this book can find themselves in the stories and can in some ways locate themselves on their particular “Ascent of Mt Carmel”. They find encouragement in those days of great surf, big wipeouts, long hold downs and
worst of all when there is no surf at all, that God is there with them as their faithful surf guide, patiently bringing them Deeper in the Wave and deeper into union with him.

Personally, my favorite chapter of the book was “Wave of Healing”. Your encounter with the whale and the whole experience at Rincon was riveting. How did that humbling day in heavy surf change your perspective on life?

The humbling, the greatest gift of God, to bring us to an end of ourselves so that we can find ourselves, to bring us to that deepest place where “deep calls to deep as the waters roar” that place where we learn “when I am weak then I am strong”
That merciful place where all we can do is bend a knee before God, that place of humbling is where we most clearly see God and perhaps where see his gaze rest upon us. That place where no word other than “You” can come from our lips as we see him who sees us, only God can bring us to that place and perhaps through cooperation with his grace we can stay there Deep in the Wave.

The way in which you weave stories of surfing and its trials into personal stories about your life and family is flawless. Are these two things as seamlessly joined as they seem when it comes to your life?

Perhaps Teresa of Leseux learned much as she gazed upon a little flower. I learn everyday as a waterman an insight from God. That is my garden where “God walks with me” in the cool of the day. I sense his pleasure, his closeness and a great sense of adventure permeates my soul for his will is always the most radical adventure possible.

So on top of holding multiple Masters World Tandem surfing titles, being a private pilot, having a black belt, and playing the ukulele. You are also a novitiate oblate of the Benedictine Monastery of Oahu. How do you find time to have so many  passions in life?

I am very careful with the word “Passion” St Augustine taught us that the Latin root for that is the same as “pathology.” People sometimes say to me “you are quite driven.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Driven people
are empty people in a mad rush to fill emptiness with more emptiness. But true passion born out of the marrying of the desires God has places in our hearts with the gifts he has given us is a recipe for a full rich abundant life. I would say I am drawn or led but certainly ndeep in the waveot driven.

I have learned that the time taken going to mass or in prayer is always returned tome, never a waste time. The same is true as I pursue the enjoyment of physical adventure. It also brings me life. These both invigorate and empower our souls. So for those who are production oriented who say “how can you find the time for this or that,” I just think “God has made you a human being not a human doing.” I learned in my ninja training that life is about balance. Being out of balance in a fight or in life is precarious.

You update your blog www.BearsWave.com on a weekly basis, are active on Facebook and Twitter (@BearsWave), and have a weekly podcast. If any of our readers are looking for other ways to interact with you what would you suggest?

To “like” our Facebook Fan page it is called BearsWave.Com

Great things are happening in our Multi-media outreach. We are excited to be a part of Tampa Bay’s Catholic Christian Rock radio station SpiritFM905. People can download their smartphone app or listen on line to our “Deep in the Wave” four minute segment on Fridays at 5:35 East Coast Time. They can also listen in on BlogTalkRadio.Com/BearsWave too. We have all of our archived segments there. In April or May we will begin our new hour long BearsWave AdventureCast there as well. We are already in production for that. They will be able to chat with us live or even call in. I will talk story with adventurous people about their greatest experience and biggest wipeouts and then go deeper and discuss those same areas in their deeper personal life and will draw spiritual and life lessons from those. I am also on several episodes of TV’s Clean Break NBC’s Esquire TV channel (formerly G4). It is a reality adventure show where I serve as the mentor or a Big Kahuna to young men on adventure to find their hearts..

As far as the future, I really sense a call from the Lord “I will make you a fisher of MEN.” Through my DeepAdventure Ministries, God is calling me to target men. The cool thing is that actually women really identify with the message and are
often the first to discover it but then they bring the men in their lives to the message. Men respond more to the wild adventurous voice “Crying out in the Wilderness”. I feel God is calling us men to be courageous not macho, to bravely lay down our lives in servant leadership. Men are sitting on the sidelines too much. Women are so willing and able and make it so easy for us to abdicate our part in that responsibility. “Convert the men to convert the family, convert the family to convert the church, convert the church to convert the world.”

I want to offer DeepAdventure weeks out here in Hawaii too where we bring about ten men and their sons, if they have any who are old enough, out here to Hawaii for a week long Adventure where they have a chance to step out of their comfort zone in many ways and in the process go deeper with God and with each other. I could see filming this for an Spiritual/Adventure reality show on EWTN.

We will continue to produce more books and video of course.

Mahalo for the chance to share this with your readers.

Bear

Make sure to check out the following Youtube video featuring Bear Woznick doing some tandem surfing and is also a trailer for his book Deep in the Wave. Really cool stuff!

Cravings Book Giveaway Winner Announcement!

I just wanted to write a post and thank everybody who visited this blog last Wednesday for Mary DeTurris Poust’s blog tour. We got some really great comments, and even if you didn’t comment we hope that you truly enjoyed the interview! It was a pleasure to interview Mary and to be able to share some information about her new book and inspirations as an author with all of you.

As promised we enteMary DeTurris Poustred all the names of those who commented on the interview to be given the chance to win a copy of Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God. We decided to go with the old fashioned method of writing the names on a piece of paper and drawing from a hat. Our lucky winner was a commenter named Nancy Ward! We are very thankful for all of the comments that were left on the interview. If you didn’t win and still would like a copy of the book, you can find it on Amazon here.

I also wanted to thank Mary DeTurris Poust for including My Catholic Blog on her blog tour. It was a true honor to be a part of something, and Mary is such a wonderful person! You can (and should) visit Mary’s blog Not Strictly Spiritual often for more updates from her.

Interview with Mary DeTurris Poust

Today we have the absolute privilege of hosting Mary DeTurris Poust’s blog tour here at My Catholic Blog. Mary’s blog tour is part of the launch for her latest book, Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God.

My Catholic Blog will be giving away a copy of Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God to a lucky commenter on this post. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post to be entered into the contest. We will be picking our winner on Monday January 14th.

Also in addition to the book giveaway, Ave Maria Press is giving away a $100 Williams-Sonoma gift card. You can enter to win it here and may do so once a day until the 20th of January!

Mary DeTurris Poust

Cravings offers a Catholic perspective on the relationship that exists between food and spirituality. Mary shares her own individual experiences with food, and also the experiences of other Catholics. By using these examples she paints a perfect picture of how Catholics can create an approach to eating that works for them. To make the connection between spirituality and food Mary believes that, “the physical hungers that lead to constant snacking and high-calorie meals often mask something much deeper, a spiritual hunger that can never be satisfied with anything we buy at the grocery store.” You can learn more about Cravings, Mary’s inspirations as a writer, and her other work as well in the interview below. Mary DeTurris Poust is an extraordinary individual and we are so happy that we could interview her on My Catholic Blog.

– Where did your inspiration come from for Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God?

Initially the inspiration came from my publisher, Ave Maria Press. My editors believed in this topic and in my ability to write about it, so I have to thank them for their vision and their confidence in me. Once the book progressed from idea to reality, however, my inspiration came from the people who shared their stories with me. With every story, I became more and more convinced that this book could really help people get to the bottom of their food issues while strengthening their relationship with God. And I experienced that in my own life. I followed the practices I outline in Cravings as I wrote the book, and I noticed a dramatic shift in my spiritual life and in my relationship with food.

– I can see how food and self-image are closely related, but where do you see God as fitting into that picture?

I don’t see God so much as fitting in as holding it all together. We absolutely cannot face food or self-image issues without bringing God into the picture and without delving into our spiritual life. We often separate our lives into compartments: my physical self (where food fits in); my emotional/mental self (where self-image fits in); and my spiritual self (where God fits in). When we try to tackle just one area without the others, something – or someone – suffers. So we need to look at our lives from a more “holistic” place and really start to see how one area affects the others. Are you hungry for potato chips, or are you hungry for happiness, for peace, for self-acceptance? When food becomes a substitute for something else, we run into trouble. I think many people in our society are hungry for something more in their lives, and that involves getting to know God on a deeper level, not getting to know Ben & Jerry. So God is intimately and critically involved in our relationship with food and our self-worth.1-59471-305-7

– What is the main message that you hope readers will take away from Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God?

If I had to sum up my hope for this book in one line it would be this: I want people to come away from Cravings knowing that they are loved by God for exactly who they are right at this moment. That doesn’t mean they might not want to improve in some areas or work on issues that have been plaguing them, but that they know deep down that even if they don’t lose the 20 pounds, even if they never fit into their old jeans, even if they continue to battle whatever demons drive them to use food (or alcohol or shopping or gambling or any number of things) as a weapon against themselves, they are beautiful and beloved in God’s eyes. We are “wonderfully made,” as we hear in Psalm 139. When we can learn to start from that place of love and acceptance, powerful things begin to happen. The bonds of self-hatred and food obsessions are broken.

– When did it dawn on you that writing was something you truly loved?

I had been a good student in English or language arts classes as a kid, although I didn’t love to write and I certainly didn’t see it as a career path. Then in my freshman year at Pace University, my English professor (a Catholic sister, even though it wasn’t a Catholic college) suggested I might want to think about writing as a major and a career. It kind of blew me away. I don’t know if that thought would have entered my mind if she hadn’t planted the seed. And so I declared English as my major with writing as my concentration. I really planned on using my writing in a business field – marketing, advertising, public relations, but then I walked into my first college journalism class and everything changed. I knew I wanted to write for newspapers or magazines and set out to make that happen.

– You have written in several different forms including newspapers, magazines, journals, reports, and books. Do you have a preference when it comes to writing or do you enjoy it all? What are some similarities and differences that you have found?

I really have written for just about every type of publication, all the things you mentioned and then some. Prayer books, annual reports, cable TV scripts, fund-raising appeals. You name it and I’ve probably written it. When I started out, my first love was feature writing for newspapers, especially personality profiles. I loved meeting people and then telling their stories. In more recent years, my writing has taken a decidedly spiritual shift. I wanted to write less about the business of the Catholic Church – controversial issues, latest happenings, etc – and more about the heart of the faith. That transition was really prompted by the time I spent writing “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism.” That book project was as close as I get to a “conversion experience.” It made me want to focus my writing on helping people walk the spiritual path. That being said, I do think my many years as a journalist paved the way for this. I continue to write for newspapers, magazines, and other publications even as I write my books, and I try to blog daily at my own blog, Not Strictly Spiritual. The common thread in all of it is honesty and a willingness to put myself out there in front of my readers. No matter what I write, I write from the heart and from my truth.


– For anybody who hasn’t seen the TV show, Guided by Grace, that you co-host, can you explain what the show is typically about?

Well, this is a very new show. We’ve got three shows in rotation right now with three new shows slated for February. Television is new for me, so this was a leap of faith, but I am loving it so far. Telecare (out of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y.) wanted to produce a show that would be a Catholic version of “The View.” So we have four women talking about issues that are important to us, our families, and our faith lives. It’s like having a conversation in your living room, and that’s what I hope viewers get from it – that we’re inviting them into a conversation. Although it airs in the tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT) right now, it is available for live streaming and in the archives at www.telecaretv.org


– So Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God is your sixth book to be published. That’s awesome and impressive! What can we expect next from Mary DeTurris Poust?

Right now I’m focusing on getting the word out about Cravings and my other new book, “Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality,” which came out just a few weeks before Cravings. That book focuses on weaving prayer into everyday life, and that’s something I’d like to write more about on my own blog Not Strictly Spiritual (www.notstrictlyspiritual.com) and for other publication. I’m also hoping to do more speaking engagements and retreat-type events related to Cravings and Everyday Divine because I think part of the power of those books is putting them into daily practice, and sometimes that takes a little push. I’d like to give people the push they need to take that next step on the spiritual path. And I’d like to walk with them. I always tell people that just because I’ve written all these books doesn’t mean I’ve got it all figured out. I’m on the journey, too, and talking to readers – in person, by email, on my blog – is a gift and a blessing.

Catholic Messages You Can Find in The Hobbit

Since Peter Jackson’s version of The Hobbit is now out in theaters I figured I would remind everybody that J.R.R. Tolkien was devout Catholic. Tolkien has always been remembered as such, and repeatedly told people that his books namely the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy are chocked full of Catholic morals and lessons. I’ve always been a big fan of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, and also find Tolkien’s devotion to his religion to be inspiring.

I came across a post this week titled, “5 Ways to Watch the Hobbit like a Catholic”, and thought to myself that it seemed like a cool concept. The post is awesome! It draws comparisons between different aspects of the Hobbit and lessons that Catholics should hopefully find familiar. This guide is pretty cool to somebody who read the book, however it would also make for a great read after seeing the movie. It really helps tie everything together, and clarifies the message Tolkien tried to send in his work.

Interview with Brendan Barth

Author Brendan Barth lives in San Francisco, California with his wife and teaches at a Catholic school. He is the author of Andrew’s Christmas a children’s book about Christmas. The thing that I loved about Brendan’s book was that it is faith based and that is something difficult to find today. We had the pleasure of interviewing Brendan Barth about his inspirations and about Andrew’s Christmas.

Catholic Author Brendan Barth

So your book Andrew’s Christmas came out in 2011, what were your inspirations for creating a holiday themed book?

The inspiration came from teaching; my students came in hardly knowing anything about the origins of the Christmas story, from the Infancy Gospels to how the traditions came to America. So I set aside some time to do a unit plan on the history of Christmas, because if these smart Catholic students are so clueless on the history, how can they be confident about how they, in their present lives, view the season in relation to their faith?

What is the one thing that you want young readers to take away from Andrew’s Christmas?

That Christmas isn’t about commerce, and not to let that divine spark in all of us be dulled by media. This is a time for reflection and redemption, to be better people all year long. Hopefully, it’s a message that will connect also to the parent who is reading the book to their child.

Andrew's Christmas by Brendan Barth It seems that so many holiday books focus on things other than the birth of Christ. What inspired your focus in this book?

Because it’s in the name: CHRISTmas, meaning Rite of the Anointed One. If we as people of faith don’t have this in the forefront of our minds and actions, the reason of the season becomes meaningless. So then people write books on reindeer or gift wrapping.

When did you begin writing and what made you want to continue doing it?

I always loved to write, whether it was letters, stories, even papers for school. If I don’t write every day, I feel bad. And to this day, I believe writing is the most elegant way to express an idea that is lasting.

Where did the idea for Andrew’s journey through the tree’s ornaments come from?

The idea came at a Christmas party at a good friend’s house. His six year old child at the party was bored by all the adults and their conversation, and he sat me on the couch and wanted me to tell him a story. We were looking at their Christmas tree with the angel on top, and I just riffed about what if we became really small and could have an adventure in the tree? He liked the idea, and we just did it. His name, by the way, is Andrew, and he and his family are true faith filled Catholics, and an inspiration to me personally as well as in my writing.

Will there be more children’s books or other books to come from Brendan Barth?

Yes! I have eight more planned based on the Andrew character on topics such as fear, faith, family, and Easter. The next one, hopefully out soon, will be on prayer.

You can find out more about Brendan Barth on his website or by following him on Twitter!

Interview with Charlotte Ostermann

Charlotte Ostermann, a Catholic convert, is a freelance writer and editor. She is also a veteran educator, poet, homemaker, humorist, and spiritual mentor. Her newest book, “Catholics Communicate Christ: How to Serve the Catholic Church as a Writer” came out two weeks ago, and we had the pleasure to interview her about her new book and some of her inspirations!

 So, your Kindle Book, “Catholics Communicate Christ: How to Serve the Catholic Church as a Writer” was released on November 7, 2012. What prompted you, or inspired you, to write this book?
I went to the Catholic Writers Guild LIVE Conference in August, and was profoundly grateful for all the encouragement I received. As I drove home, my heart just overflowed with the desire to share that encouragement, and some of the great practical advice, with others. I know how it feels to be very hesitant and unsure about ‘self-promotion’ as a writer who wants to give God the glory. At the conference, humble men and women, and godly priests assured us all that, if God gives the message and the skill, then we ARE honoring Him if we do everything we can to get that message into people’s hands, computers, consciousness! Something inside me opened up – I say I ‘got over myself’! As I reconsecrated myself, and my writing, to Mary in the days that followed, this booklet became a reality.

How long have you been writing? And how did you get started?

I’ve been writing since I was a child! I don’t know what it feels like to go through life without turning everything into words – experiencing life as narrative, wanting to share what I learn with others, turning passion into poetry. As a non-Christian, I never wrote professionally. After I became an evangelical Christian, I wanted to write – to share the Good News – but God seemed to hold me back. After I became a Catholic, I felt so glad He had caused the seed to ‘fall into the ground’ for a time. I needed to mature, to have my writing burned into my very being, to be purged of self and error as much as possible so that Christ-within-me could shine. My hubby took all the kids to Colorado for a two-week camp out fifteen years ago, and in that at-home quiet time I began to write and haven’t stopped since! One of my first Catholic venues was Canticle magazine, and Envoy published my conversion story, “A Closet Catholic Comes Out’. Since then, that writing retreat has been the annual event I most fervently look forward to! Russ, God bless him, has taken kids as young as two so I could have this amazing experience.

In your Amazon biography, you mention you live on a “farm wannabe” north of Lawrence, KS. What do you mean by “farm wannabe”? I’ve never heard that phrase before.

Ha! If you knew what lame ‘farmers’ we are, you’d see what I mean! We get the importance of sustainable agriculture, organic food, distributist initiative, and all that, but we are city-raised and pretty lazy gardeners, so it is truly a ‘Patchwork Farm’ (our new name for it). Most of our activities are in town, so we don’t feel like ‘real farmers,’ yet the land is here and I think it sort of hopes we’ll grow up. There’s a big garden, chickens who do actually lay eggs for us, two goats that my daughter will be milking in the spring, and some ducks we call ‘farm props’. As Chesterton said, “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly”!



Why do you feel it is important to find more writers in the New Evangelization?

Here’ s the huge truth: EVERY SINGLE PERSON stands at the intersection of a unique set of realities. Only he or she can fully respond to those realities, and to those people. Everything we writers are saying is already ‘out there’. None of it is original with us. We are all re-writing truths you could get from a hundred other places. But each of us is speaking for a new audience. The Gospel hasn’t been realized fully until it is realized, re-presented, made real through each of us. If you deal in words, you MUST get the truth of what God has done for you into words!! Some writers are going to be true ‘artists’, but many, many more will simply be human beings – ordered to words not necessarily because we are artists with words, but because we are humans created in the image of the Word. The use of words is a critically important skill in the New Evangelization because it is, in itself, a recapitulation of the human person!

You mention that our words can help “stem the tide of destruction”. How do you, as a writer yourself, stay motivated to continue writing and spreading God’s word?

Well, I think of the architect Gaudi, in his last years, working on the Sagrada Familia. He was asked a similar question and said that if he did not create, did not do this work, he would die. I feel the same way. I simply do not know how I would live without shouting about the hope that is in me, the joy that overflows from me, and the destiny that is mine and yours and everyone else’s!!

You mention the Catholic Writers Guild. How has the Guild helped you develop as a writer?

Frankly, the Guild hasn’t helped me develop as a writer so much as helped me feel I am in a community of people who understand this Thing I Do! In the ‘real world’ of daily life, there are not a lot of people who understand the drive to be creative, to give oneself with abandonment, to do work that is essentially lonely because of a love for people. People misunderstand and reinforce our own hesitations and inhibitions. They hurt us and that’s a challenge to deal with, because we have to stay vulnerable to keep giving. In the Guild, we have others who understand the various struggles of the writing life, and who can help us stay the course. Since it is solidly Catholic, we don’t have the different issues that come up among fellow writers who understand writing, but have no comprehension of what we go through when writing is a religious kind of vocation.

Interview with Michele Bondi Bottesi

Mother, author, publisher and inspiration: Michele Bondi Bottesi shares her journey and talks about the process of creating Catholic literature and the importance of keeping faith.

I like the fact that when you are self-described first as a mother, then Catholic author and publisher, then psychologist.  I think our current society (2010) is wrapped-up in labels, and not enough in vocations.  How long have you been writing and publishing, and what (or who) inspires you to write?

I agree; we must be very careful to remain willing to do what God asks of us and not rely upon our own understanding.  Throughout the lifespan we are called to integrate multiple roles simultaneously.   The vocation that will always mean the most to me personally is the one that I was called to first and foremost, the Holy Apostolate of Motherhood.  I love that fact that that the job description is a mile long yet the title is humble, there are no prerequisites to getting the job, no degree is required, payment doesn’t involve money, God is the Boss, and He’s very nice.

As I child I loved writing and creating little books.  In elementary school one of my books was entered into a contest and I prayed that it would win first place.  That book didn’t win, but the event was prophetic.  Decades later, God commissioned me to write and publish a series of books that focus on our purpose in life from a Catholic perspective.  In the last three months, those books have been honored with four first place awards.

In between my writing as a child and then again as an adult, four pivotal events occurred that were crucial to my formation and prepared me for the work God wanted me to accomplish through Joseph Karl Publishing.

The first one was the death of my father during my senior year of high school, which led me to abandon my greatly anticipated plans of going away to school to study journalism.  Instead I chose to remain home with my mother, applied to a local university, and without even knowing why changed my major to psychology.

After earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in psychology, I was accepted into the doctoral program in educational psychology at the same university.  I completed the coursework and the written and oral exams required for the degree.  When it came time for my final requirement, the dissertation, I was surprised to encounter resistance by some members of my committee.  That resistance increased and my committee created extra requirements not given to the other students, and they seemed impossible to carry out.  I worked very hard and met them all.

Then the second pivotal event occurred.  I prepared my dissertation proposal, defended it, and my committee approved the work.  Later that day, the committee acted against the decision they made in good conscience.  They reversed their decision to accept the proposal and I was not allowed to finish that last requirement necessary to obtain my degree.  Even though I still had a one year grace period left to meet their requirements, I was denied that as well.  No formal justification was given to me, not even when I requested it in writing as I prepared to take the department to court.

It was as if roadblock after roadblock was placed directly in my path and eventually, there was no possible way to move forward in that direction. The court battle never materialized, because right after I was denied my degree, the third pivotal event occurred.  My three small children and I stopped by our mailbox on the way to the store and discovered that I had been served divorce papers.  They had been filed on my birthday.

For seven years before, during, and after my divorce my family was persecuted terribly, and it was during that time I experienced unprecedented supernatural events.  It was during my divorce that God summoned me to write a book.  He placed the contents of the book on my heart, and although I knew it was there, I did not know the contents of the book until I started writing it.

Being aware of the presence of the book helped prepare me over time for the work that was coming, and I had to wait for His most perfect timing to begin writing it.  It was impossible to begin the book immediately because for years my focus was on surviving each difficult day.  At the time I felt that my time, energy, and financial resources were being stolen from me, until I was granted an understanding that everything belongs to God, and my experiences were vital to the work that was coming.  What Satan meant for evil, God was using for great good.  All I had to do was cooperate.

Several years later I was standing by my computer in the living room reading a letter from Priests for Life when I heard, “I want you to do more.” When I inquired what I was supposed to do exactly there was no response, but it soon became clear that the time had come to write the book.  Things progressed rather slowly.  Then one day I learned of a man whose wife filed for divorce; in great despair he ended his life on Christmas Day.  That was a fourth pivotal moment, and led me to finish writing Your Personal Apostolate:  Accepting and Sharing the Love of God.

Those three pivotal events were catastrophic, and yet they had great purpose because they shaped and prepared me for the work God wanted me to accomplish down the road.  Each of us has an apostolate that begins the moment we are created.  We are called by God throughout our evolving apostolate to be sacrificial and obedient, always striving to love in greater measure. We are reminded that all we do should be for the glory of God and salvation of souls.

After that book was finished in the spring, I was at a children’s Mass when God instructed me to rewrite the book for teens, preteens, and younger children.  That summer my teen and preteen sons Andre and Nick wrote those books with me and they were published in December 2009.  God commissioned other books along the way, including God Moments:  Stories that Inspire, Moments to Remember and Our Treasure.  He also requested that One Man’s Journey to Freedom: Escape From Behind the Iron Curtain by Gene X. Kortsha be immediately prepared for publication for a global audience.  That life-changing book was just nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Letters.

My writing mentor in heaven is Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.  Other intercessors have been Pope John Paul II, St. Pio, St. Therese, and Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey.  During our second year, St. John Bosco joined us to guide the work of our youth division.  St. Anthony and St. Michael have been of tremendous help to us this year.

This past spring, God instructed me to take my children to Holy Mass on weekends at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Slovak Catholic Church here in Michigan.  While that came as a huge surprise to me, we have already experienced tremendous spiritual growth as members of the parish, and Fr. Ben Kosnac has been instrumental in helping us achieve the work God wants us to accomplish.

“Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5)

There is one more pivotal event that I did not mention. While I was still married, I asked God to make me a saint.

Do you think your background in Psychology and Neuropsychology helped shape your observations and paths along the way?

Without a doubt, Divine Providence led me to study psychology, for it is the study of human behavior that helps me so much in my work today.  Our mission is to know God, love Him, and serve Him.

The study of the development of the human person is so vital to our understanding, respecting, and serving each other throughout the lifespan. My absolute favorite theory is attachment theory.  The research clearly shows, and it makes perfect sense, that outcomes for people are best when they are loved and nurtured.  This coincides with what God asks of us, because we were created in love, to be loved, and to love in return.

A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
— John 13:34-35

How has faith helped to fill in the gaps that science may not have answers for?

The more we seek to accomplish our own will, the more limited is our understanding.  When we demand proof to satisfy our pride, or look to change what God has determined is Truth, we then see even less.  Pride creates a barrier between us and Truth, and that is why obedience is such an important virtue for us to acquire.

We must be on constant guard against arrogance.  Learning for the sake of serving God is honorable and accomplishes great good.  When we practice humility and obedience, and pray to the Holy Spirit for wisdom, we come to know the Truth we seek and are content to know and accept the Truth set forth by God.

Michigan has been hard hit in the last few years.  Even though I am in New Jersey, I have close friends that live in Lake Orion, Novi, Pontiac, Oxford. Thinking in terms of a personal apostolate, what can folks learn now as they see neighbors losing homes and may be struggling to put food on the table?   Faith is surely being tested.

We must ask God to help us see these circumstances from His perspective, and grant Him permission to work in us in good times as well as during hardships.  It is vital that we allow ourselves during times of great trial to grow in ways that at times are hidden from us.  From our perspective we may feel alone and inconsolable because our hearts are broken.  However, when we abandon ourselves to the will of God, much good is accomplished for ourselves and for others.  We must not rely upon our own limited strength and understanding to get us through these trials.

It is important to remember that every apostolate is constantly evolving through all the circumstances of one’s life.  A Nine-Day Novena to the Holy Spirit is very beneficial during times of discernment and also comforting during times of suffering.

What inspired Joseph Karl Publishing?

God founded JKP, He is the genesis of all of our work, and everything we do relies entirely upon Divine Providence.  By the end of this year (2010) we will have published six exceptional books and more life-changing reading is in development for 2011 and beyond.

Our mission is clear: to encourage, inspire, and continue the faith formation of the more than one billion Catholics around the world and to lead souls to Christ.  God wants every single one of us to know how much we are loved and valued, and that we are to recognize, accept, return, and share His love with one another.

How do you find the time to post on your blog so frequently (very impressive!)?

God inspires the stories, articles, interviews, videos, and photographs.  In the beginning, we shared a very sweet exchange every time He gave me an assignment.  It went this way:  He presented the idea and I responded by asking Him, “When am I going to have time to do that?”  Then He would provide more inspiration and I would end playfully with, “You write it.”   That playful banter helped me get accustomed to accomplishing God’s will through Joseph Karl Publishing.

During this second year there has been an increased sense of urgency to the work along with an understanding of how vital it is for us to cooperate with God’s will.  We must take heed, for often we allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking that there is plenty of time later for holiness, self denial, and service.   We must understand that our cooperation is not meant to benefit just ourselves, but also benefits others who may be in need of our cooperative response the present moment.   Our choices impact our own spiritual welfare as well as the spiritual welfare of countless others.  We tend to not realize, underestimate, or even reject the tremendous, incalculable impact our choices make on so many others.

This past year of increased urgency, we must pray that every individual be willing to “see” as God sees and not rely upon our own understanding.  He has a mission for every single person.  Each of us must strive to journey ever close to Him in order to properly discern our evolving apostolate and carry out the work He has for us to accomplish each day, moment by moment.

Being responsible stewards of our time is vital to our discipleship, and that is a tremendous challenge in our modern era.  In order for God’s will to be accomplished through me, my entire life revolves around participating in Holy Mass every day I can possibly attend.  Many people feel that they do not have time to go to Holy Mass, or like me, never even considered it.  I friend of mine recently observed very poignantly that when we put God first, He helps us through our day so we can accomplish what He asks of us.

Congratulations for bringing your young children into the writing as well, can you share a bit about their experience writing?  Did they enjoy getting involved?  I took particular notice of Andre’s blog post on “Why should I Go to Mass?”

What I love the most about Joseph Karl Publishing is that God is clearly the genesis of all our work; through the work we see manifested His unfathomable love for every single person.  The idea to include my children in the mission belongs to God, and was the answer to prayer.  As a parent and especially as a single parent, I am painfully aware of the forces of darkness pursuing our children in the modern era.

They are constantly tempted to spend time on useless activities and to seek joy in material things, while disobedience, arrogance, and selfishness are marketed to them as desirable behavior.  There are many activities which appear so appealing and seem so benign, but the reality is they are extremely harmful.   This is very, very alarming.

As I mentioned, the assignment to write the youth apostolate books was given to me during a children’s Mass.  That summer my teen and preteen sons worked with me on the text and wrote the personal reflections from a teen and preteen perspective.  We are absolutely delighted with those books because they share the apostolate message with young people, and encourage them to accept, return, and share the love of God throughout their lives.  In June 2010, Your Teen Apostolate and Your Preteen Apostolate were named Best Children’s Books of the Year and Best Family Life Books of the Year by the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and in September 2010, Your Preteen Apostolate was honored with a Purple Dragonfly Children’s Book Award.  Final placements will be announced in November 2010.

Allowing God to work through them to create these books has helped my children gain a greater understanding of the sacrificial nature of our walk with Christ.  They also have begun to develop time management skills as they consider their obligation to be responsible stewards of the time they are given.

Thank you for your kind words about Andre’s article.  Hopefully Andre and Nick’s accomplishments lead them and their peers to understand that God is at work in them, too, not just someday but right now.  Their contributions are already vital and contribute much to our world.

No wonder your blog is a success; you share your experiences with the reader — through words, photos, thoughts and actions.  What new topics are you looking to share with your blog readers?

Joseph Karl Publishing’s mission is to encourage, inspire, and continue the faith formation of Catholics around the world and to lead souls to Christ.  One vital way to accomplish that is to reach out people during very difficult, painful times in their lives.  Often times we do not realize the tremendous benefits that are obtained for us and others when we chose to do God’s will in the present moment.  My favorite ways of encouraging, inspiring, teaching, and leading souls into greater intimacy with Christ is through the use of short stories, photographs, and short videos.

I plan on writing more about major life changes including death, divorce and single parenthood, career transition, illness, and death.  I would like to offer more material for grandparents and seniors.  Also look for material that reaches out to those who have left the church, lukewarm Catholics, and those looking to become Catholic. We live in a time when so much information is available to us, but not all of it is true.  We must be willing to seek and accept Truth, which leads to authentic and lasting joy.

I also feel very strongly about encouraging the faith formation of devout, obedient Catholics pursuing greater Divine Intimacy.

By the way, I am so glad you posted Father Calloway’s presentation!

I am delighted that you enjoyed the video clips of his presentation. Fr. Calloway’s testimony is very powerful and demonstrates God’s great mercy and tremendous love for each one of us.  We are also reminded of the power of prayer to change lives, and that each one of us is necessary.

What can other folks do to help inspire and create new relevant Catholic content?

We must be open to allowing God to work in us. Often we stop or hinder this process because of pride, our faith is lacking, or we do not reverence His judgments.  How often we rebel, disrespect His timing, and refuse to serve Him in the present moment.   I encourage everyone to go to Holy Mass, receive the Eucharist, and go to Reconciliation often.  If we ask and then listen, God will tell us how He wants us to serve Him.  We must remember that it is very important for us to help others with their apostolate and not focus exclusively on our own particular mission.

What is next for you and for Joseph Karl Publishing?

We published the first three apostolate books in the series in 2009.  Our next book, God Moments, will be published and available the first week of October 2010.  Two more books are headed to publication by the end of the year.  Our Treasure is a keepsake picture book that reminds children that the Eucharist is our greatest treasure on earth.  The exceptional illustrations for this book are by gifted artist Kristina M. Pope.  One Man’s Journey to Freedom:  Escape From Behind the Iron Curtain by Gene X. Kortsha is a brilliant memoir and has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Letters.  This life-changing book will be available by December 2010.

Every book that we have published is an expression of Christ’s great love for every single person ever created.  We are eager to meet the people He will send to accomplish the work that is to come, as Divine Providence provides for our needs.  Four more books in the apostolate series, the sequel to God Moments, and a series of prayer booklets addressing specific trials are in development for 2011.