Clare Marlow

Clare: obsessive watcher of shore birds who loves spending hours shopping online for things she’ll never buy

Hope—When the New Year Starts Hard

Hope—When the New Year Starts Hard

On the very first day of the new year, there are aches pressing on my want-to-start-the-year-afresh heart. Holiday wounds to my spirit haven’t yet dissipated. Gut-wrenching news coverage continues relentlessly. A friend’s tears leak through the phone after she learned her daughter’s lifelong best friend lost her husband unexpectedly while he was on a business trip the week before Christmas. Things around the house start breaking. Again. Haunting my holiday-tapped budget and any energy I might have mustered up to tackle the new year with fresh resolve. Another year starting hard. How many others, I wonder. How many women—strong women—are out there who feel a new year doesn’t mean a new year, just a continuation of last year with its wearying ups […]

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5 Simple Prayers for Your Husband

5 Simple Prayers for Your Husband

After the movie War Room came out in December 2015, many Christian women raced home from the theater and set up prayer rooms in their homes. These are little spaces—wherever you can seek one out—where you can pray, alone and in peace, and paper the walls with Bible verses and prayers. I did the same, but it wasn’t after I saw the movie. It was about eight months later, one morning last summer when I was reading my Bible and a particular verse struck me so deeply that I went scrounging in the office for a 3×5 card and wrote it down. I was about to tuck it in my Bible when I suddenly heard God whisper, “It’s time. Go create your

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Keep Fighting There's a Plan for Your Life

Keep Fighting; There’s a Plan for Your Life

I was listening to the radio recently and I heard an emotionally wrenching interview with one of the victims in the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. Tony Sanchez and his best friend—who did not survive—were on their way out of the club when the shooting started. Tony unpacked his terrifying account of that night … flinging himself onto the floor and hiding his head underneath a sofa, from where he could see seven other people lying dead from gunshot wounds to the head. He spent 20 or 30 minutes lying there, quaking, in the growing pools of blood. Just when he convinced himself that he’d be OK, he became the shooter’s target. The murderer put four bullets in Tony’s back. The bullets passed through his back and went into his left arm, shattering nearly

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The Edge of the Cliff: How to (Safely) Take a Risk

When I was growing up, my dad frequently took us on Saturday adventures in the desert. We lived on the outskirts of Phoenix, and he always had some kind of four-wheel drive vehicle, so his goal was to get us as “off-road” as possible without my mom passing out. She would pack lunch and my brother, sister and I would pile in the back of the truck or SUV, and we’d go hunting for creeks and ghost towns and old mines. My dad was famous for taking roads that only he could see. He’d say, “Let’s go this way!” and my mom and us kids would peer through the windshield at the dirt and rocks and tumbleweeds and say, “We don’t really

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10 Ways to Help Your Daughters Accept Their Bodies

When my daughter was a little girl we had a storybook that explained all of the different parts of her body and how each one had a unique and special job to do. It was a cool book with great pictures and it gave her a sense of awe that we all should have about the unique and complex functions of our bodies. As she got older, our discussions morphed into talking about the exteriors of our bodies. You know, about our shape (all wrong) and our hair (again, all wrong). How my body needed more exercise, how hers wasn’t functioning as well as the other girls at certain sports. How the cutest-ever clothes didn’t look right on us. Toss in our

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seeing the good in a mixed season of life

Seeing the Good in a Mixed Season of Life

Author Margaret Feinberg wrote a blog about seasons of life and challenged readers to identify the season of life they’re currently journeying. I couldn’t. That’s because I don’t think we’re ever in just one season. My life has seasons, most definitely. But typically it’s not just one at any given time, but a combination of many seasons that I’m traveling, juggling, surviving … and sometimes overcoming. For example, I am definitely in a season of grief. I’ve been in this season before, at the very bottom of what seemed a bottomless pit, when my husband died 12 years ago. I was in a raw season of grief again when my daughter, my only child, moved away to college and I came home

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Do You Know What is Killing Your Gratitude?

Do You Know What is Killing Your Gratitude?

Just before I left the nail salon after getting long-awaited pedicures with my visiting daughter, I flipped through a pile of magazines at the dryer and caught this Cosmopolitan headline: ”You Deserve Great Sex.” It wasn’t the sex part that gave me pause; that’s typical Cosmo (a magazine I always check to assure is hidden from inquisitive young eyes in the grocery store checkout line). It was the first two words—You Deserve—that sent my mind spinning, because it was about the fourth time in the past week that I’ve seen those words on something aimed at women. They’re everywhere: magazine covers, Pinterest boards, Instagram posts, billboards, product packaging, and interrupting Carrie Underwood on my radio. According to pretty much every advertiser in

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Mother Teresa's Hope for the Faithless Days

Mother Teresa’s Hope for the Faithless Days

She struggled with doubt and melancholy for years. Despite a wholehearted commitment to serve Jesus in the most difficult situations one could possibly find on earth, she went years without hearing from God and at times wrote in her journal that she even wondered about His existence. Yet Mother Teresa never gave up her faith, despite her depression, God’s perceived silence, and her doubt over whether he saw her every day as she followed His command to care for His most destitute children. As I listened to a radio talk show host and her guest discuss Mother Teresa’s struggles with her faith, I felt even more respect and awe for how she lived her life. She may have doubted God, but ultimately

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Your Best Is Actually Good Enough

After watching a movie on Netflix last weekend, we caught the tail end of the USA men’s gymnastic trials for the summer Olympics. At the end, the selection committee agonized over which five of the athletes to choose for the U.S. Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Both my husband and I found our eyes leaking tears along with the amazing young men as their names were announced. One of the last gymnasts we saw compete was Danell Leyva on the double parallel bars. The commentators slightly dismissed him as he started out, mentioning hiccups in his earlier performances, but he showed they were wrong. His routine was flawless and breathtaking. The only hitch I saw was a tiny hop upon landing

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6 Bad Coworkers and How To Deal with Them

6 Bad Coworkers and How To Deal with Them

If you’ve ever had any kind of job, you’ve been taxed by one or two bad coworkers. It’s not that they’re bad people necessarily. It’s just that they’re not the greatest coworkers and can be a bit draining. Dealing with challenging coworkers can drive you to go to too many happy hours, or at least to go home and regularly dump your woes on your family or friends. Sadly, there is little you can do to change people, but there are ways to minimize their impact and the havoc they wreak on your mental health. Here are a few ideas on how to rise above: 1. The Gossip I can feel your blood pressure going up by just reading the term! This is

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Freedom From Your Smartphone Addiction (Not Really)

Freedom From Your Smartphone Addiction (Not Really)

Oh good grief, you say, you’re not addicted to your smartphone! You just like it, and, you know, it’s how you communicate with your friends and family. And you get such great ideas from Pinterest and Instagram! And your friend’s mom is having surgery across the country, so it’s absolutely necessary to check Facebook to find out how it went! And your kids need to be picked up and you need to be ready! I get it! Because if my iPhone doesn’t ding or I don’t see an alert show up on my Snapchat icon every 30 seconds or so, I have to check! Did I miss it? I. CAN’T. MISS. IT! Well, actually, I can. And you can, too. Because the truth is,

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5 Steps to Remake Your Wardrobe

5 Steps to Remake Your Wardrobe

If you’re like me, a few new articles of clothing might accidentally fall into your shopping cart when you’re out shopping for someone else. And who doesn’t love a good sale—especially when you’ve got gift cards burning a hole in your pocket!? But new clothes mean less closet space. And, again if you’re like me, there are things in your closet(s) you haven’t put on your skin in a year. Or in years! So here are a few easy ways to work through your closet so that what’s hanging in there is what you’ll actually love to wear: 1. Divide your clothes into four categories (you can do this right in the closet): always wear / sometimes wear / rarely wear /

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Young Cop, I’m Praying for You

Exactly 12 hours before the Orlando nightclub massacre, I sat at a window in Chipotle and saw a police officer get into his car to go back on duty after a late lunch. He was young and handsome, and I instantly thought of the 20-something men in our family, men we love, men we would fear for if they were wearing his pressed black uniform. He confidently and calmly drove away and I thought, You, young cop, leaving Chipotle with your belly full, your mind perhaps on your afternoon patrol ahead, or maybe on something else; a girlfriend, tonight’s Stanley Cup playoffs, your next day off. You, young cop, I’m praying for you. I hope your mama prays for you, but even

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My Heart, The Liar

In the middle of this worship song at church, the part where my soul usually soars with passion and hope, I had to stop singing. Stop cold, as if my jaw locked up. Through every trial My soul will sing Christ is enough for me Everything I need is in You Everything I need It was Mother’s Day Sunday, and I was in the midst of a “trial” (like many moms on a “holiday” that’s supposed to honor them, but ends up wounding them in a multitude of ways). I had spent my church preparation time stewing over my trial, a knife that had been thrust into my heart with increasing frequency over the previous several weeks. Then this: Christ is enough for

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The Answer to Jealousy

The Answer to Jealousy

Yesterday I stumbled upon two really meaningful articles on Facebook, one on gratitude and the other on jealousy, written by authors that I, along with millions of others, follow and respect. As my eyes and mind took in their wise words, I knew it was no accident. I had been swimming in both emotions all week following the birth of my grandson, my only daughter’s firstborn baby. For most of every day, I have been overwhelmed with indescribable gratitude for this beautiful little boy and the way he has swollen my heart to bursting. For witnessing my daughter and son-in-law be the most amazing and tender parents. For getting to watch his face for hours on end, praying for him while I

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Unattached woman seated on floor without face showing

Staying Sane When You Feel Crazy

I remember the first time I walked through a store after my first husband died. It was like walking on Mars; I was an alien in a foreign land. I looked like everyone else in Walmart that day, but I was a completely altered human being. I was struggling to simply put one foot in front of the other, to actually find and place a few grocery items into my basket, that in the grand scheme of things are meaningless to life. And no one knew. No one could tell by looking at me that I just lost my husband; that I felt like I might collapse in a puddle at any moment and melt away like the Wicked Witch of the West.

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Dear Daughter, as You Become a Mom

Dear Daughter, as You Become a Mom

She comes around the corner of the kitchen, her belly preceding her by a scant second and quickening my heart. Even though I can’t possibly for a second forget that my daughter is pregnant with her first child and I see her every day, for some reason that tangible reminder first thing in the morning is a jolt, stimulating utter joy and also complete amazement at how fast the last 25 years flew by. My hands have a mind of their own as they reach out to touch this soon-to-be-born little boy. I have to ask the same thing every morning, “How did you sleep? And how is my grandson?” She rolls her eyes. But I know that in her heart she

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