Want Less Stress and More Peace This Advent?

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve been invited to host the Catholic Mom Advent Book Club! On the first three Monday nights of Advent (Nov. 29th, Dec. 6 & 13), I’ll be discussing how the principles of my new book, Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary, can be implemented so we experience less stress this Christmas season and find more time to sit at the feet of the Christ Child.

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Fully Dependent

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The Lord is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him. Exodus 15:2

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I have asthma, but a mild case. Or so I thought. When my inhaler ran out back in March, I thought I’d try to go without. I hadn’t had any issues for years, and thought maybe I didn’t need it after all.

Come June, I was coughing like a two-pack-a-day smoker. Trust me when I say: This is not the time to be coughing out in public! People would look at me as if I were evil, and move clear across the store.

Worse yet, the pharmacy wouldn’t refill my prescription because it had expired. I hadn’t seen my doctor since pre-COVID times. The pharmacy made me wait until I could make an appointment and see my doctor to write a new prescription.

Once I got a new inhaler, it still took three months before I stopped wheezing. It seems it takes time for my lungs to recuperate when they’ve been denied what they need for so long.

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Today is Book Release Day!!

It’s FINALLY here! The Release Day for my new book Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary! I NEVER could have reached this point without my amazing editors at Our Sunday Visitor (OSV), Mary Beth Giltner and Rebecca Martin. Their patient guidance and expertise brought this book to a whole new level. I am so grateful for their wisdom and talent.

The other wonderful announcement is my book SOLD OUT on Wednesday – two days before it even released! (No worries if you haven’t purchased your copy yet. The printing press is hard at work getting the 2nd batch ready. You can still order yours today here). That only happened because of my INCREDIBLE Launch Team – a group of over 50 SPECTACULAR women who took on the task of launching this book into the world, despite the busyness in their own lives. It took a village to spread the word about this book and, without a doubt, I have the greatest village ever!

And then there’s you – my readers, who have consistently and lovingly supported me through all the years I’ve been blogging. It’s been your faithful reading and commenting that have lifted me up on the hardest days of making this book a reality. Words cannot express my gratitude!

My goal in writing this book was to fish for more people for God. If you’d be willing to spread the word about it, you’d be helping me cast the net that much farther to bring more people to Him. May God bless you all, and may He transform your tension into grace.

Blessings and grace,


P.S. – To see what people are saying about the book, click here.

*This post contains affiliate links.

The Need for Reminders

I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness… Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again… Romans 15:14-15

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Now that my kids are seventeen, fifteen and eleven, correcting them is a bit trickier than before. They get defensive and think the problem lies with me – that I’m being overly critical.

I’ve found myself having to explain how it works: They are great kids. But they should never get complacent and stuck in their ways.

It’s my job to help them learn, grow and try harder to fix bad habits and mistakes. I love them too much to let them settle for being good when I know they can be great. The only way to achieve that is to become aware of their mistakes, own them, correct them, and then do better the next time.

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The Answer Key

The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables. Luke 8:10

Trying to get my kids off of screens during the COVID lock-down last spring, I created the “Pandemic Pyramid of Unplugged Activities.” I put suggestions for creative activities on a bulletin board and offered special treats for each tier.

Mason chose the “Secret Code” activity. He had to create his own secret code and then write a poem with it. For a kid who can lose focus the minute a butterfly goes by, it was pretty impressive to see the time and energy he invested in this project. The poem he wrote was pretty clever too!

For those of us who didn’t know his secret code, we had to use the cipher that mapped out what each symbol meant. If we didn’t have access to that, his poem was just a bunch of squiggles on the page.

The experience helped me understand Jesus’ comment in Luke 8 about His parables and who understands them.

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The Hem of Our Robe

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This is what the Lord almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.'” Zechariah 8:23

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Our new pastor is giving mini-classes at our parish on different topics. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and well spoken. He’s worked directly with two Popes, the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO). When he teaches, he’s extremely convincing because he’s so learned and passionate about the faith.

When it came time for the Q & A portion of the class, a woman asked the same exact question that was on my mind: “How do you have a conversation about our faith with someone who doesn’t believe?” Like me, I think she felt ill-equipped. Unlike him, she and I aren’t learned enough to defend all the rebuttals.

My esteem for him grew even more with how he answered her.

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Burning It Away

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“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

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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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