Claire McGarry is the author of Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary, and the Lenten family devotionals Abundant Mercy and With Our Savior. The founder of MOSAIC of Faith, she endeavors to fish for more people to bring to God through her speaking engagements, retreats, women’s groups, and writing. A regular contributor to Living Faith, Mornings with Jesus and CatholicMom, her freelance work has appeared in These Days, The Secret Place, Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Keys for Kids and various Guideposts publications. A former lay missionary in Guatemala, she now lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children, and blogs at

Claire graciously took time out of her busy life to do an Author Q&A with me. I am so blessed to have learned about her latest book and all the wisdom and encouragement it has to offer. I know this book will make a great Christmas gift for the people you care about! Get your copies here: Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary.

  1. How did the idea for Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary develop?

Thank you so much for this opportunity to share about my book and its journey. It means a lot!

The genesis of the book began back when my kids were little. I had a terrible mothering week – not just a day, but the entire week. That Saturday, I found myself at the feet of God, pouring out my heart and all the stress within it. After hours of praying, crying, and journaling, I felt incredibly renewed! I was amazed that I could go from wanting to run away from motherhood, to feeling empowered and excited to return to it. That renewal made me want to try harder to be the best mother possible for my kids. The experience taught me how critical it is to partner with God and seek His help, wisdom, and strength in whatever we’re doing.

I wanted others to have that same experience. That’s when I felt called to run monthly groups and retreats for moms.

Each time I ran a certain retreat on the story of Martha and Mary from Luke 10:38-42, I kept getting the feedback that it would make a great book. In the way that only God can work, one door and then another miraculously opened for me. Here we are now with Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary finally out in the world!

  1. How long did it take from concept to publication?

Believe it or not, it took four years for this book to go from pitch to print! Multiple circumstances led to the delay: the pandemic, my editor going out on maternity leave weeks earlier than expected, etc. Yet, all of it was God’s perfect timing. As much as I wished the process were faster, in retrospect I can see how the book is much better for those delays. I was given significantly more time to pray for the manuscript and polish it so it could be the best book possible for what I felt God wanted me to say. 

  1. What interesting story or stories do you have about the writing of the book?

Probably the most interesting twist in writing this book is where it was written. My plan was to start each writing day at the Adoration chapel at my church, then go home to work at my computer in my first-floor office. Shortly after I began the manuscript, however, COVID hit. Not only did they close my church, but they closed my kids’ school too.

     Like all of us had to do during that challenging time, I pivoted. That’s how I began each writing day in my car, parked outside the Adoration chapel, sipping my coffee and eating breakfast with God. Then I drove home and wrote in my new office space: our second-floor master bathroom! It was the only space in the house that wasn’t occupied by kids doing remote learning or my husband working from home. I got creative and built a stand-up workspace over our jacuzzi tub. I would hazard a guess that I’m the first author who’s written the bulk of her manuscript in the bathroom!

  1. How is the book organized?

Each chapter begins with a relatable story about a particular source of tension (e.g. – lacking limits, competing/comparing, getting distracted, trying to do it all, running on fumes, etc,), a segment connecting that story to the one of Martha and Mary found in Luke 10:38-42, practical tips and strategies to avoid that source of tension, a prayer to lead the reader to the feet of Jesus, and questions for reflection to personalize the content.

The questions for reflection at the end of each chapter are presented in the G-I-F-T format I developed while writing the book:

G – Gauge/Identify/Name: When we bring our stress and tension to God, He helps us gauge, identify or name the tension we’re feeling. Often, we label the symptom and not the root cause. We can’t fix a problem if we don’t identify it correctly. God can help us trace our stress and tension to the actual source and name it for what it truly is.
I – Invite: I believe that if our stress and tension isn’t going to put us in spiritual or mortal, God asks us to invite it in and look it squarely in the eye. When we do, we loosen our hold on our emotions. That’s when our emotions no longer have a hold on us.
F- Filter: Once our emotions have dissipated, we can look at the situation through the filter of God’s loving eyes. He always sees the good in everything. We can too if we view things through His lens. That’s how we recognize the gift He’s tucked within our tension.
T – Transform: Often, God is calling us to make a change that will transform our tension into grace. It may be an outward change in how we’re going about our days. It may be an inward change in how we respond to things. Either way, He partners with us to implement that change so we experience that transformation and the grace on the other side.

  1. How is the book best used?

Individually, it’s meant to be read slowly and thoughtfully so the reader can personalize it and spend time at Jesus’ feet working through the G-I-F-T process with each chapter. If it’s read as a group, my prayer is that the questions for reflection spark thoughtful discussion so God can further speak through the different people in the group, adding yet another way to hear His voice.

  1. What do you hope readers will gain from your book?

Above all, I hope that readers stop running away from their stress and tension and, instead, view it as an opportunity for grace. It’s been incredibly gratifying to hear that the G-I-F-T process is helping people work through their struggles at the feet of Jesus. My greatest hope is that readers experience such positive results, they continue to go to God with their problems until doing so becomes a habit.

  1. What are your hopes for the future of this book?

I would love to get this book into as many hands as possible so I can lead more people to God through it. Whether it’s individuals, book groups, prayer groups, etc., I pray the G-I-F-T method blesses people and inspires them to bring their stress and tension to the feet of Jesus for transformation. Then, like the Faberge shampoo commercial from the 1980’s, I hope each person then tells two friends, who tell two friends, and so on, and so on….

  1. Any last thoughts or remaining points to cover?

While writing the book, I felt my calling shift. Where before, I felt called to fish for moms to bring to God, I now feel called to fish for all people to bring to Him. Consequently, I broadened the scope of the book so it hopefully resonates with everyone: male, female, married, unmarried, young, old, people with kids, people without them, you name it.

Lastly, even if people don’t get the book, I highly encourage everyone to try the G-I-F-T method. I’ve used it more times than I can count and it always works. As long as we go to God with our ears and heart wide open, He will help us transform our tension into grace.  

Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity! I feel blessed to have been able to talk with you and share all of this with your readers.

And my gratitude in return to Claire McGarry for her vital work in leading others to a grace-filled life in Christ!

Don’t forget to order your copies of Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary in time for Christmas!


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