Burning It Away

Published on CatholicMom.com

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Luke 12:49

A couple years ago, I figured out that if I double or triple whatever I’m cooking for dinner, I can freeze the extra portions for later. It’s such a relief to have future meals all ready to go in the freezer.

There’s one recipe I created that includes wine in the sauce. Tripling the batch means I have to pour the entire bottle into the pot. When my daughter saw this, she was shocked. She proceeded to tell her brothers that I was going to get them drunk at dinner that night!

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Launch Team Invitation

I’m excited to announce I’m assembling a Launch Team for my new book, Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary. Any and all help you can provide will be immensely appreciated and invaluable in getting the word out. My goal is to get this book into as many hands as possible to help readers transform their stress and tension into grace, and draw closer to God. Your effort and influence will be instrumental in reaching that goal.

Every Launch Team member will get advance digital content before anyone else reads it and be eligible for fun giveaways! You’ll also be invited to join a private Facebook group where I’ll provide step-by-step instructions on how to participate, as well as images and text to copy and paste right into your feed so posting is quick and easy. (Don’t worry. If you don’t use Facebook, I’ll keep you updated via email.) You then get to decide how little or how much you’d like to be involved. Again, any level of participation would be so appreciated. You matter and your voice does too!

For a summary of the book, scroll below. To apply for the Launch Team, click here. (The application takes about a minute to fill out.)Thank you in advance for your help in the lead up to the November 12th release date! Woohoo!

Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary
by Claire McGarry


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 Luke 10:38-42, 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.

The Wings of Our Gifts

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

My husband bought “exotic” birdseed for our feeder. It’s very aptly named. It attracts beautiful finches, vibrant cardinals and delicate black-capped chickadees. I sit on my back deck, mesmerized by them all – at how delicate and detailed their feathers are, how thin yet sturdy their legs and claws are, and how unique each one’s beak is.

It was a friendly and trusting bluejay, however, that taught me an important lesson.

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Check Your Pockets

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12:11

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

I’ve been doing laundry long enough to know that I should check the pockets of garments before throwing them in the wash. But I can be lazy. More than once, I’ve consciously decided to skip this step just because I couldn’t be bothered. 

Most times it’s fine. But if and when there’s that random tissue tucked in a pocket, the havoc it wreaks is astounding. The tissue gets shred into a million pieces that cling to every item of clothing and to the barrel of the washer itself. When you pull the laundry out, it’s like a snowstorm showering flakes all over the floor. 

The cleanup is like a hazmat operation: everything needs to be shaken out and rewashed at least once, if not twice. Then the floor needs to be swept over and over again.

Those shreds of tissue are like pine needles on a dried up Christmas tree. You find them in corners and crevices weeks after the incident, no matter how many times you’ve swept. That’s when I really kick myself, realizing that if I’d just taken the two minutes to check the pockets, I’d have saved myself all the resulting work.

I’ve had a few interactions with people that have had the same end result.

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Putting It Into Practice

But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. Luke 6:49

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

My sweet, eleven-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, has a tender heart. The positive side of that is she has immense compassion for others. She puts others before herself and goes out of her way to help anyone in need.

The negative side of having a tender heart is that it bruises easily. When that happens, she gets overwhelmed by her feelings and doesn’t know what to do with them.

We had a heart-bruising day last Friday.

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When Jesus Stays Silent

Published on CatholicMom.com

Jesus did not answer a word. Matthew 15:23

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When a mother approaches Jesus in sheer anguish, begging Him to heal her demon possessed child, Jesus doesn’t utter a word.

Someone more timid could have read His lack of a response as a rejection. Admitting defeat, she might have turned around and left. But not this mother. She views Jesus’ silence as Him listening. She also sees it as an open door to walk through. Not only does she walk through that door, but she gets close to Jesus, drops to her knees, and pleads for His help.

What happens next is a conversation between the woman and Jesus – a back and forth that challenges the woman to further advocate for what she needs, and further clarify for herself how Jesus is the only answer. The entire process galvanizes her faith, cementing it so solid, Jesus grants her request because of her faith.

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Who Is Your Great Assembly?

I do not hide Your righteousness in my heart; I speak of Your faithfulness and Your saving help. I do no conceal Your love and Your faithfulness from the great assembly. Psalm 40:10

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

I used to think that proclaiming the Good News meant standing on a soap box, on a corner, shouting out about God’s love and faithfulness. That really isn’t who I am, nor is it in my skillset to proclaim, off the cuff, about God’s magnificence.

I used my shortcoming as the excuse for why it wasn’t up to me to speak publicly about God’s goodness. Instead, as a doer, I joined the missions. That’s when everything changed.

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What Can You Reclaim?

“I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket. In distress you called, and I rescued you…” Psalm 81:6-7

For years now, I’ve been in the taxi-driving stage of motherhood. That means I’m in the car upwards of two hours a day, shuttling kids to work, boxing, robotics, gymnastics, you name it. Although I’ve enjoyed the bonding time when my kids choose to open up while in the car, there are days when it feels like a waste of time.

That all changed a few weeks ago.

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What to Wear

Published on CatholicMom.com

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.'” Matthew 22:8

I’ve been to several weddings where I’ve missed the mark on how to dress. Based on the bride and groom, and what I perceived their vision for the day to be, I either overdressed or underdressed for the occasion. The level and duration of my discomfort depended on my self-confidence that day, and just how much my mistake stood out. I always took consolation in the fact that at least I tried, and that all eyes were focused on the couple of the day, not on me and my wardrobe faux paus.

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What’s in the Parentheses

Published on CatholicMom.com

(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) Numbers 12:3

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Of course, we all know who Moses is and just how righteous he was. But what if someone were new to her faith and opened the Bible to Numbers 12? If she just read the first two lines, she might be swayed by what Miriam and Aaron say about him. They complain about Moses in such a way that might make her think he’s a glory-seeker.

It would take reading that third line, in parentheses, to clarify for her that Moses is very humble. In fact, he’s the humblest man on earth.

But if she were in a rush, and couldn’t read on, it would be an injustice to Moses and to herself.

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