I was born in Massachusetts, and grew up in a neighborhood surrounded by cousins. It made for a nurturing circle of friends that I could tell stories to. I think that’s where my dream began of becoming a writer. In college, I majored in English with concentrations in writing and theatre. That led to teaching drama, grades K-5, until I headed to Guatemala for three years to be a missionary. Yet, it wasn’t until I became a mother that my faith really started to deepen. I realized I couldn’t do motherhood without God. That inspired me to give retreats for moms, form monthly groups for women, and write faith-based non-fiction. My new book Grace in Tension is the culmination of all that.
I now live in New Hampshire, and contribute regularly to Living Faith, Mornings With Jesus and CatholicMom.com. My freelance work has appeared in These Days, The Secret Place, Chicken Soup for the Soul books and Keys for Kids, and I blog weekly at ShiftingMyPerspective.com.
When I’m not writing, I’m a taxi driver for my three, busy kids ages 17, 15, and 11, do jigsaw puzzles while watching Hallmark movies, and matchmake people to potential spouses, jobs, babysitters, etc. There’s nothing I love more than connecting people to what and whom they need.
Fun Info…Which Do You Like Better?
Saturday or Sunday
Saturday. Ever since my kids were little, my husband and I split the weekend. I get to sleep in on Saturdays and spend the morning in my room sipping coffee, writing, and praying. He takes Sunday as his free day and goes running with his friends.
Post office or UPS
Post office. I’m there a lot, mailing out books that I’ve signed for people. There’s one woman in particular, Maureen, who is so welcoming and helpful. She makes the task more enjoyable. I’m not a fan of running errands. But getting to interact with her brightens my day.
Fruits or Vegetables
Neither! I’m allergic to most fruits and don’t like most vegetables. I do munch on carrots, however, while I’m writing. We have an indoor rabbit, Oreo, who sits beside me while I type on my keyboard. He appreciates when I share!
~ What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always dreamed of being a published author. I always thought it would be through writing children’s stories, or possibly a novel. It was while I was running retreats for moms and monthly groups for women that I realized sharing about my life, the struggles I face, and how God always shows up to help me through could help others. That’s when I began my blog ShiftingMyPerspective.com. It’s all about how Scripture helps me view things through a different lens, one that helps me see the problem for what it is, and what I need to do to solve it. It’s astounding what can happen when we take our problems to God and let Him show us a new perspective, and a new way out. It’s that same concept that wove itself through my book Grace in Tension.
~ How do you do research for your books?
Because all my writing is Scripture based, I spend a lot of time meditating on Bible passages. For Grace in Tension, most of the book is based on Luke 10:38-42. With that passage being just five verses long, I break it down so small, there are entire chapters based on as few as four words. I typed them out and taped them to my computer monitor to keep them the focus of the chapter. It’s amazing how rich just a few words can be when you spend hours reflecting on them. I cannot tell you how many times I found new and profound messages tucked inside that I had never noticed before. It was incredibly moving and powerful to get to be the scribe of those messages and lessons. My hope is that my book reveals new things about that passage, no matter how many times someone has read it before.
~What is one thing that you learned about yourself when you started writing?
I learned very quickly that writing is a lot harder than I realized. When you pick up a non-fiction book, the content is so clear and linear, it seems like the author just typed from start to finish in a concise and logical way. Not the case at all – at least not for me. I almost wore out the “delete” and “backspace” buttons on my keyboard, not because I hit the wrong keys, but because thoughts poured out of my brain in a scrambled manner. I also had to do a lot of “cut” and “paste” to rearrange how the content was laid out so it made more sense. Bottom line: I was amazed at how much editing I had to do. It was incredibly tedious at times, and often it cramped my brain. But in the end, it was all worth it when I hear how much the book is resonating with people and helping them transform their own tension into grace.
~ I would love to know more about your books, can you please share?
Sure! Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary is all about how God doesn’t give us our stress and tension, but He does show up in the midst of it to lead us through. Using the Scripture passage from Luke 10 about Martha and Mary and the dinner party with Jesus as the backdrop, I focus on how God gives us gentle nudges when we’re veering off course by making wrong choices, or making right choices with wrong intention. When we respond to His gentle nudge and adjust what we’re doing, we get back on track and the tension dissolves. However, if we refuse to adjust our choices, and instead, dig our heels into whatever choices we’ve made, we pull on the rope of our tension and put ourselves in tension’s mid-level zone. This is where most of us live by taking on too much, not drawing healthy boundaries, comparing ourselves to others, not asking for help, not honoring self-care, etc. Not only do I give tips and strategies for how to solve all these issues, but I map out a process to transform our tension into grace. I use the G-I-F-T acronym to show how important it is to
G – gauge/identify/name the tension we feel, not the symptom, but the root cause itself. I – Invite those emotions in and sit with them at Jesus’ feet. When we face our emotions, we loosen our hold on them. That’s when they no longer have a hold on us. That’s when we can F- Filter through the situation through the lens of God’s loving eyes. He always sees the good in every situation and helps us do the same. That’s how we see what changes we need to make to T – Transform our tension into grace.
For anyone interested, Grace in Tension can be purchased here: https://amzn.to/3rZWSHq
I also have a new family Lenten devotional out called Abundant Mercy. It’s a page-a-day booklet with scripture, relatable stories and down-to-earth reflections, prayer, discussion starters and activities for each of the forty days of Lent. It’s perfect for busy families who have limited time but still want to keep the meaning of Lent front and center. The theme is about how important it is to receive mercy and then extend it to others. For anyone interested, that booklet can be purchased here (be sure to use promo code AM5TV at checkout for free shipping): https://catholic.creativecommunications.com/Products/AM5TV/abundant-mercy-family-devotions-for-lent.aspx
~ What is a go to scripture for you when you’re feeling discouraged and what is one that always brings you joy?
I’d say 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I’ve been using it as my challenge verse for a couple years. Last year, I honed in on “Rejoice always.” With things being difficult during COVID, it was a nice reminder that there’s always something to rejoice about, if we just stop and notice. This year, I’m honing in on “pray continually.” I feel the most peace when I’m talking with God. I need the reminder that that can happen all day long, not just in the morning when I spend time at His feet.
Thanks so much for this opportunity Dawn. I really enjoyed chatting with you!
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Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary: https://amzn.to/3KOuGjx
Amazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/Claire-McGarry/e/B07NCB7ZKL?ref_=dbs_p_pbk_r00_abau_000000