The following article is reprinted from the 3/10/2010 Catholic Exchange Column written by author and publisher of Bezalel Books — Cheryl Dickow. Two of the more current and popular Bezalel Book offerings include: ALL THINGS GIRL and ALL THINGS GUY. These books are wonderful “basic training manuals” for young girls and guys. Thanks to Cheryl for the nod about Catholic Vitamins.

Have You Had Your Catholic Vitamins Today?

March 10th, 2010 by Cheryl Dickow

Like many women – and I assume many men as well – I am finding it a bit overwhelming to discern how much time I spend on the Internet for pleasure’s sake and what sites are worth my precious, dwindling time. This is a separate issue from the fact that the Internet is part and parcel of my work day. Here I’m referring to the time spent visiting sites that are for my enjoyment, fun, and on the edge of being deemed “necessary.” Daily questions include: what podcasts have a proven track record and are worth downloading and what blogs will be worth visiting?

In fact I wasn’t surprised when a friend recently shared with me a link to a study citing Internet addiction by women – we’re talking regular housewives-reading-blogs sort of women – as contributing to a growing reason for divorce. Women following the tweets and blogs of other women have oddly become a phenomenon with dire consequences. So I am always on the lookout for sites worth knowing about and sharing and it was that I lately came upon the site of Deacon Tom Fox and his wife Dee: Catholic Vitamins. It is a breath of fresh air and worth your precious time! It has an excellent variety of topics and a great list of guests.

I asked Deacon Tom and Dee if they would share with the Catholic Exchange crowd a bit of their experience with Catholic Vitamins.

Cheryl: It was my good fortune to find Catholic Vitamins and the work you and your wife Dee are doing! Can you tell us when and why you began your site and how you came up with the truly unique and wonderful name www.CatholicVitamins.com?

Deacon Tom: After attending the 2009 Catholic New Media Conference in Texas, Dee & I were talking on the long drive home. One of the areas that I preach about often is conversion or reversion to the Catholic Faith. I started praying about being pumped up about the faith and what came to me was the idea of doing feature topics and interviews about practices that could restore people’s faith practice. Just a week before, I had been at Franciscan University in Steubenville and had listened to a priest’s powerful reversion experience while at Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. It all just started coming together: vitality, zest, renewal: just like vitamins are supposed to do for us – that’s when, at the end of prayer – Catholic Vitamins was “born.”

DEE: After discovering and listening to many Catholic podcasts I began to think “Gee, I think we could do this!”

Cheryl: I particularly love the colors and graphics and feel quite drawn to spending time on the site. Has the site grown and changed from your original thoughts, designs, and/or conceptions?

Deacon Tom: The website has been the subject of some on-going discussion and sometimes disagreement between Dee and me. I wanted a site that spoke to vitality, to youthfulness, to families, I think that we’ve achieved that look.

DEE: I like the colorfulness of the site! I would still like to “tweak” some of the areas a bit and that may come eventually. I think adding the word “Podcast” to the title might help clarify our project to those who might be turned off by just the CV title, thinking it is a site for selling vitamins.

Cheryl: As a writer I know that everything I write has meaning and value but some articles or books stand out in my mind more than others. Is that the case with podcasting? Are there particular podcasts that are near and dear to you both?

Deacon Tom: Our first real show was Catholic Vitamin A for Adoration. Fr. Mark Rutherford was our guest and we received so many comments from people touched by his story. I liked CV J for Joy – we had Internet friends call in and share about where joy comes from in their lives. We had a musician, Mike Strickland who wrote a song called Spread Joy – it was posted on YouTube and went viral – winding up on Good Morning America!

DEE: I too liked the episodes Tom mentioned, but I also loved our CV F-Family 2-part podcast; I always love hearing of real-life family experiences and in a family of 13 children, there were many of those.

Cheryl: How has working together affected your marriage? Are there ways in which you’ve come to see one another differently? Is so, would you mind sharing with us?

Deacon Tom: We try to be ourselves and upbeat. Sometimes we bring our problems and struggles into the show with us. We may see that unfolding and try to do something…. re-record a segment or change our approach.

DEE: Doing this project together makes us practice “patience” with each other on a weekly basis!

Cheryl: What sort of feedback do you receive in regards to your work and how has that affected both what you do and how you serve God?

Deacon Tom and Dee: We’re both like sponges – we can’t get enough feedback. And almost all of what we get is nice to hear – nice to receive. One young mother wrote to us from Germany (I believe it was). She had a troubled late term pregnancy and was on forced bed rest. She happily wrote to us after the baby was born to tell us she listened several times to the Catholic Family show because it reminded her of what it meant to give the gift of self as a parent. We are surprised when people pick us up all over the world! Then, as is probably the case in most situations, we may never hear from listeners until they are touched with a certain topic – or a guest speaks to them in a special way.

Cheryl: Do you have any particular thoughts or words of wisdom that you both would like to share with our readers?

Deacon Tom: For me, the secret to success was finding Dee. Dee went through all four years of deacon formation classes with me and attended all days of spiritual formation! Then for our Catholic Vitamins venture, even if she was hesitant in the beginning, she has taken ownership of the show and her parts. She is often surprised at the ways we touch people’s lives.

Cheryl: Dee, I always like for a woman to get in the last line and wondered if you could give us some parting words of wisdom.

Dee: When we are young, and in love, and get married we really have no idea what our future will hold. Being married for 46 years, as we have, we look back with amazement at the paths our lives have taken.Tom’s call to the Diaconate was something I would never have imagined, but once that “call” presented itself, I couldn’t see myself being anything but supportive to this vocation. Going through the 4-year Diaconate process by his side was rewarding for me as well. The vocation of marriage should also be one of support for each other (and throw in lots of laughs along the journey!).

Cheryl Dickow is a Catholic publisher, author, columnist, and speaker. She is the co-author of All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters which has been endorsed by Dr. Ray Guarendi and Tarek Saab and featured in Bill Donohue’s Catholic League magazine, The Catalyst. Her publishing company is Bezalel Books www.BezalelBooks.com where her focus is to publish great Catholic books for Catholic classrooms and for family reading. She has a Master’s Degree in Education and lives in the beautiful state of Michigan.

February 23, 2010

To: Jacklyn Johnston, Publicist @ Thomas Nelson
To: Heide Hess Saxton, (Wonderful) Author :-)

Dear Jacklyn and Dear Heide:

It has taken me quite a while to complete my work — my joy at being able to review My Big Book Of Catholic Bible Stories. Excuse the delay caused by work on our podcast (Catholic Vitamins), some necessary travels and recent minor surgery and physical therapy. All is good; God is good.

What I decided to do was to put the book to the test, so to speak. After my own personal review – I loaned it to a young mother of five daughters. After she had the book for a few weeks, I sent it to a trusted DRE for young children at a parish where I used to minister. Their comments and reviews mirrored my own warm and appreciative feelings for this wonderful book. So three of us — coming from differing places in the Body of Christ have sort of constructed these review comments:

- We really liked the Summary Box at the top of each story. They were easy to read yet get the points across.

- Children absolutely love the pictures. The DRE said that she quickly noticed the detail in the illustrations — she says these images are the first thing that children look at when they turn to a page. The illustrations ‘really bring the stories and the people alive. They are very colorful.’

- The ‘Going Deeper’ section is also helpful. Again, the DRE said, ‘What a great idea to include what season the story is associated with.’

- The ideas for family projects and crafts is a great aid for parents or religious education teachers.

- The book is well indexed and easy to ‘get in to’ and find what one might be interested in.

- We love the prayers throughout the book.

- The Quotes, facts and ‘special words’ sections of the book are wonderful aids to reading and learning.

So there you are: a real-life mom…. a busy and successful DRE… and this deacon are so pleased to highly recommend My Big Book of Catholic Bible Stories. Thank you so very much for sharing this exciting new book.

Blessings.

Deacon Tom Fox

Things to Share

‘Twas the night before Christmas & out on the ranch
The pond was froze over & so was the branch.
The snow was piled up belly-deep to a mule.
The kids were all home on vacation from school,
And happier young folks you never did see-
Just all sprawled around a-watchin’ TV.

Then suddenly, some time around 8 o’clock,
There came a surprise that gave them a shock!
The power went off, the TV went dead!
When Grandpa came in from out in the shed
With an armload of wood, the house was all dark.
“Just what I expected,” they heard him remark.
“Them power line wires must be down from the snow.
Seems sorter like times on the ranch long ago.”

“I’ll hunt up some candles,” said Mom. “With their light,
And the fireplace, I reckon we’ll make out all right.”
The teen-agers all seemed enveloped in gloom.
Then Grandpa came back from a trip to his room,
Uncased his old fiddle & started to play
That old Christmas song about bells on a sleigh.
Mom started to sing, & 1st thing they knew
Both Pop & the kids were all singing it, too.

They sang Christmas carols, they sang “Holy Night,”
Their eyes all a-shine in the ruddy firelight.
They played some charades Mom recalled from her youth,
And Pop read a passage from God’s Book of Truth.
They stayed up till midnight-and, would you believe,
The youngsters agreed ’twas a fine Christmas Eve.

Grandpa rose early, some time before dawn;
And when the kids wakened, the power was on.
“The power company sure got the line repaired quick,”
Said Grandpa – & no one suspected his trick.
Last night, for the sake of some old-fashioned fun,
He had pulled the main switch – the old Son-of-a-Gun!

–Anonymous

Christmas Eating Tips

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Holiday spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare.. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Holiday party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple , Pumpkin , Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and shouting “what a ride!”

M e r r y C h r i s t m a s !