SCOTTSDALE — Julie Carrick often tells her story through song and spoken word as part of her traveling catechetical ministry.
For the first time she’s sharing the graces she has found, largely throughout her adult life, via the written word. Her debut book, “Unfailing Grace,” hits Amazon Jan. 28 with orders already going out and e-books available for immediate download. A book signing at her home parish, Blessed Sacrament, is scheduled for Feb. 1-2.
Music-lovers don’t despair. Her captivating voice and polished piano strokes found their way onto the pages as well. Carrick, through the ingenuity of her husband and business partner, Kurt, has uniquely woven her songs into the book. A series of QR codes allow readers with smart phones to instantly hear the song mentioned as well. Lyrics accompany the codes on page.
Don’t be tempted to think the 24-chapter book is about the life of a musician though. It’s about a woman’s Catholic faith and how to live it, most notably in the valleys, but at all points along the journey. Or, as part of the subtitle calls it, “Showing the Beauty of This Tapestry of Life.”
Parts of that tapestry are not the prettiest colors, however, including jarring words in the opening pages. As such, the musician-turned-author recommends “Unfailing Grace” readers be ages 15 and older.
Author: Julie Carrick
Publisher: Paper Raven Books
Release Date: Jan. 28
Length: 311 pp.Amazon. Unsure? Download related short story free
Book signing: Feb. 1-2 at Blessed Sacrament in Scottsdale
Evening of Reflection of Unfailing Grace: March 18 at Blessed Sacrament and includes other artists from Carrick Ministries
The book is far from despair though. “How Adversity Magnifies The Grace Within” is the other subtitle and below them both sits a calla lily flower. Carrick said it represents the resurrection, a theme seen within the pages covering her marriage, daughter’s health and her own. The droplet of water gently falling off the petal speaks to the water coming out of Christ after His crucifixion.
The faith is not one that’s for wimps, Carrick said, noting that of the 11 disciples after the crucifixion, 10 died a martyr’s death. “Without any of the suffering, we cannot see the grace revealed. We really do have to give thanks for the suffering. The culture does not like that,” Carrick said.
Life’s trials can either draw you closer into Christ’s heart or make you angry and start questioning God, Carrick said. She called it a gift that she grew closer to God as a result. She prays readers do, too.
“My prayer for myself throughout this was when people connect, it’s not with me as an author. They connect to the grace of their Catholic faith,” Carrick said.
That’s not to say readers must be Catholic to benefit. Carrick, who has expressed so much of her life stories in song, hopes the book helps readers realize they, too, have a story to share and discover the avenue for doing so.
“When we share our stories, we affect lives differently. We share our stories and the good and the bad and the ugly is all included,” Carrick said.
Pope Francis touched on the same thing for this year’s World Communications Day message. The theme is devoted to storytelling. He encouraged stories that build up, aid in rediscovery of roots and muster strength to move forward together.
“Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us. A narrative that can regard our world and its happenings with a tender gaze. A narrative that can tell us that we are part of a living and interconnected tapestry,” the pope wrote, “A narrative that can reveal the interweaving of the threads which connect us to one another.”
To further connect with readers, Carrick heeded the publisher’s advice to also look at her stories from outside the Catholic faith. The Catholic singer/songwriter with 11 albums and 25 years of ministry to her name wasn’t silenced in her faith, but urged to enlighten non-Catholic readers about it. So, when the tabernacle is mentioned, so is “that precious gold cabinet that holds Holy Communion, Jesus” and a description of a visiting priest who “prayed silently a decade” outside the Carricks’ front door is followed by, “which is 10 Hail Mary prayers.”
“I didn’t expect that it would make me go deeper,” Carrick said.
Neither did one reader, Fran, from Iowa, who already offered Carrick some feedback. “I am a cradle Catholic and I have learned so much about my faith through your life experiences. Such a gift!” she wrote.
Richard, from Michigan, wrote, “My wife and I needed this book right now … Thank you for your transparency. Knowing what you went through and the joy now gives me hope for us.” Carrick said demographics showed that 60 percent of Facebook users looking at it before the release were men.
Kurt Carrick said his wife’s book, which is very much their story, is meant for anyone looking at their life and asking, “How am I going to get through this?”
The answer boils down to grace, Julie said. “From the moment I was baptized, I was filled with grace and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit that God knew I would need,” Carrick told The Catholic Sun a week before her book’s release.
She explained that the other sacraments helped further open those gifts through the Holy Spirit. “It’s all there. If we don’t open the gifts and use them, then we’re in trouble.”
People will fail, but His grace never does, she said. “When we fail to use the grace, that’s when we fail.”