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Announcing the Catholic Mom Advent Book Club, featuring Catholic Mom contributor Claire McGarry's new book, Grace in Tension.

Claire McGarry will host a discussion on how the principles of her 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. 

Please join us on the first three Mondays of Advent (Nov. 29, Dec. 6 & 13) at 7 PM Eastern on Facebook Live at Facebook.com/CatholicMomCommunity.


Here's what we'll talk about during this Book Club:

Session 1 (November 29): In this session, Claire shows us that God can and is working for our good in the midst of our tension. Walking us through the G-I-F-T acronym, she’ll help us see that applying it to the stress of the Christmas season can transform it into grace. 

Session 2 (December 6): In this session, Claire outlines four major ways we can reduce tension so we experience the joy of Christmas.

Session 3 (December 13): In this session, Claire outlines four additional ways we can reduce stress so we find the time to sit at the feet of the Christ Child.


Grace in Tension


Why we're reading this book during Advent:

Advent is a busy time for moms. Advent is a time when we can definitely give in to that temptation to be "anxious and worried about many things" -- after all, we're usually the ones who take care of all those details that make our family's Advent and Christmas celebrations meaningful and special. That means we're often taking on too much, and midway through Advent finding ourselves nowhere near that ideal of peaceful, intentional preparation.
It's good, during Advent, to take a little time for ourselves and use the techniques Claire shares in Grace in Tension to acknowledge our feelings, make an effort to view the situation through God's eyes, and take action to scale back, even in small ways, so this holy season doesn't become an unholy frenzy.


Why I love this book:

For Catholic women who, like me, deeply identify with Martha in her worry and distraction, Claire'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.

When we think about the story of Mary and Martha, it's very easy to fall into the "Martha bad, Mary good" trap. Claire does not do that in Grace in Tension (and that's why I'm reading the book for a second time).

When Mary chooses to sit at Jesus' feet while Martha chooses to serve, I think initially Jesus approves. He knows both decisions are made with the sisters' hearts. Each sister is living out her "better part" by drawing closer to God with her choice. It's clear that sitting and listening to all that Jesus has to say definitely brings Mary closer to God. After all, Jesus affirms her choice by calling it "the better part." Yet choosing to serve Jesus as Martha does can bring her closer to God too. There's a sacrifice that comes from serving and a beauty in putting others' needs before our own. Both paths lead straight to God. Martha's problem isn't that she chooses to serve. It's that she eventually compares her choice with her sister's. (67)


It's not highly likely that I'll be able to change my natural Martha tendencies. Cooking for my family and our guests is a big part of how I show my love. And over the years, I am happy to report that I have mellowed, so my family doesn't have to live with Screaming Meemie Party Mom (yes, I've been called that and yes, I'm 100% guilty) every time company is expected.

I probably can't change my tendencies, but as Claire encourages readers of Grace in Tension, I can -- and should -- derail the anxiety and worry that I often allow to carry me away from the joy of the moment. By taking steps like choosing a new response, drawing healthy boundaries, asking for help (and accepting it without judging), and adjusting expectations, in addition to the 10 other steps Claire outlines in this book, I can find the gifts God has for me in the moments where He has placed me.

Advent is a time to sit at God's feet. And it's usually a time when we wrap gifts. This Advent, unwrap God's gift to you: the grace within your tension and the transformation of your heart and mind.


Click to tweet:
Discover peace with Martha and Mary this Advent: our next Book Club features Grace in Tension by Claire McGarry. #catholicmom

Can't make it to our Book Club meeting? You can always catch these Facebook Live events on replay on Facebook or on the following Saturday on CatholicMom.com. Sign up to receive our Book Club newsletters and you'll receive a link to that Saturday article each week, plus advance notice of our next Book Club.

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Copyright 2021 Barb Szyszkiewicz
Images copyright 2021 Claire McGarry, all rights reserved.
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