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We all experience tension. How we respond either diffuses or ignites it. If lit, our tension can escalate, causing us to feel stretched beyond our capabilities. When we reach this state, we lament that God has abandoned us, and we head in the opposite direction.
But what if God does hear our cries for help and hides a gift within the tension? What if we moved toward our tension, instead of away, and found and unwrapped that gift? What if applying that gift to our struggle would transform it into grace, guiding us to a new response, one that could lead to the “better part”?
Grace in Tension is the guide that helps us do just that. Centered around the story of Martha and Mary in the Gospels, we follow the sisters’ transformative journeys through their own struggles. Imagining what transpires between Scripture verses, we’ll see their initial tension become the catalyst that drives both Mary and Martha to the feet of Jesus, the place where all wonderful transformations take place.
Simultaneously, Grace in Tension explores the more common areas where stress arises in our own lives today. Like a trail of breadcrumbs leading us home, each chapter ends with a thought-provoking prayer to inspire us to go to God with our problems, followed by questions for reflection to help us see all the ways He’s working for our good.
Ultimately, we’ll find ourselves embracing this tension-as-gift approach, viewing it as a reminder to spend time in prayer at His feet. Each time we do, we’ll find and unwrap the gifts in our own struggles, using them to transform our tension into grace so we experience the joy God wants to bless us with always.
“Discover the gifts of grace and peace amid life’s tensions. With a fresh approach to the story of Mary and Martha, Claire McGarry uses heartfelt language, humor, relatable stories, and practical advice that illuminate insights into Jesus’s love. There are important life lessons for every reader to find.”
Shanna Crowell, speaker, blogger, women’s ministry leader, Centerpoint Community Church, Salem, NH
“Each chapter reads like a personal devotion, filled with relatable stories, questions, and a fresh-look exposition of Mary and Martha from the Gospels of Luke and John. Claire systematically unpacks the theme of moving toward grace amidst the tension of life’s circumstances. Grace In Tension is an enjoyable reminder of Christ’s gentle ‘nudge’ toward receiving and giving His grace in our lives.”
Rev. Zachary Crowell, MDIV, pastor, Centerpoint Community Church, Salem, NH
“Claire McGarry introduces a unique and masterful approach to contemplating the Scripture on Mary and Martha. She marvelously illuminates each aspect of these Bible verses which opens the reader to experience a deeper awareness of faith and of themselves. Grace in Tension is incredibly healing, inspiring, and empowering!”
Allison Gingras is the creator of, and a contributing author to, the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV)
“If you have never thought of stress as a gift, pray this book. Claire seamlessly blends everyday holiness with its challenge of prayer and responsibility and the Scripture story of Mary and Martha. In so doing, Claire reminds us that ‘Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the Present.’” (Bill Keane via Eleanor Roosevelt)
Sister Bridget Haase, OSU, Thirty Days Praying the Imitation of Christ
“In Grace in Tension, Claire McGarry provides readers with a treasury of concise yet deeply spiritual reflections. With engaging anecdotes that have universal appeal, McGarry invites us to examine the intricacies of the relationship between Martha and Mary while showing us how all our relationships, including our relationship with Jesus, can be strengthened through God’s grace.”
Terence Hegarty, editor of the U.S. edition of Living with Christ, a daily liturgical aid published monthly in the United States and Canada.
“With Grace in Tension, Claire McGarry gives us the G-I-F-T of spiritual empowerment to face life’s conflicts, stress and stumbles with a new perspective. Claire openly shares from her own challenges while accompanying us along a proactive path to prayerful transformation. Life is full of rough stuff these days. Grace in Tension frames a terrific method for letting God walk with us even when times are difficult. A powerful, proactive prescription!”
Lisa M. Hendey, author of The Grace of Yes
“In a time when so many people are experiencing tension, stress, anxiety, and fear in the face of the world’s many challenges, Claire McGarry reminds us to rediscover the grace of God in our midst. Drawing on the powerful scriptural witness of the Gospel of Luke, McGarry invites us to see Mary and Martha as companions in our contemporary spiritual journeys. The reflections in this book provide readers with practical opportunities to renew our way of seeing the world and deepen our prayer lives by putting our faith into action.”
Daniel P. Horan, OFM, Director of the Center for Spirituality at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN and author of God is Not Fair and Other Reasons for Gratitude.
“Like McGarry, I am a Martha. So, the structure of her book flowed wonderfully for me as a devotional resource. I would recommend it to anyone struggling with ‘doing’ over ‘being.’ McGarry’s G-I-F-T is a gift to help us Gauge, Invite, and Filter so to be spiritually Transformed.”
Rev. Dr. Lawrence Jay, Ordained American Baptist Pastor and Executive Director of Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center, a ministry of the New England United Methodist Church
“In spite of identifying herself as a ‘Martha’ who is always too busy to sit and listen, Claire McGarry definitely proves herself to be a ‘Mary’ for her readers. She truly listens to Jesus’s messages in the Bible, and helps deliver his truths to us. This inspiring book is a must-read for both individual and group study.”
Pastor Mary Lindberg, Chaplain, Columbia Lutheran Home
“In her book, Grace in Tension, McGarry offers us practical wisdom and a pragmatic approach for discerning the tensions that keep us from moving forward in faith. The G-I-F-T method of prayer brings scripture alive, makes it more accessible, and more present in our daily struggles. A must read for anyone looking to conquer the tensions that undermine their emotional and spiritual growth!”
Paul O’Keeffe, 0FM, MTS, LICSW
“Warning lights. Tug-of-war scarves. Currents. They all can be signs of tension—or signs that grace is at hand. Claire McGarry shares poignant, sometimes funny, stories from her own life as she cracks open scripture on sisters Mary and Martha—and gently shows us the gifts with which God lavishes us when we trust.”
Melanie Rigney, Sisterhood of Saints (www.rejoicebeglad.com)
“Our natural inclination is to push stress and tension away. But through her insightful and Spirit-guided reflections on Martha and Mary, Claire McGarry invites us to look more deeply into that tension to discover the gift of true peace that lies within. A game-changer for us all!”
Lindsay Schlegel, author of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God
“For Catholic women who, like me, deeply identify with Martha in her worry and distraction, Claire McGarry’s balanced discussion of how busy women can learn to sit at the feet of Jesus is both a challenge and a gift. Learn to find the grace amid your daily cares and burdens.”
Barb Szyszkiewicz, editor at CatholicMom.com and author of The Handy Little Guide to Prayer
“Are you striving to be a Mary in a Martha world? I think we all know which woman we should be, but deep down we can all admit which one we really are. Claire McGarry’s book, Grace in Tension, gave me new eyes to that passage in Luke, showed me how to unpack it deeper, rejoice in being both a Mary and a Martha and see the G-I-F-T of it all. Brava, Claire!”
Kathryn Whitaker, author of Live Big, Love Bigger