About the Author

Mary is a writer and speaker who lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons – but lives because of God’s grace. She writes about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places at MaryCarver.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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Reader Interactions


  1. This was timely for me – thank you! I ran across some old letters the other day and couldn’t bring myself to throw them out, even though they were painful rather than good to think about. This was the kick I needed to let them go on focus on the good!

  2. Oh the good old middle school notes!! I can totally relate!! Time to pull out that file of encouraging words and uplifting memories instead. This is a great reminder to step back and refocus our time, thoughts and energy, thanks.

  3. For so long my heart couldn’t See the Truth–I’d doubt other’s truth-telling {about me} and I’d over-think a generous-giving of time with me; I’d make everything about what I might have done wrong, not willing to consider anyone else’s faults or responsibilities in situations–only seeing my role, my fault, my shame. There’s a lot of reasons for all of this–pride enters in and makes herself cozy.

    But now…now I See the Truth. I dance with the Truth. And I celebrate the Freedom that comes with this focused heart on truth. It’s such Amazing Grace, this transformation, and it truly changes Every. Thing.–futures, present situations, and even the way the past is looked upon.

    And though the days of living in disbelief of the truth are painful to reflect upon, I am clinging to the grace that speaks truth of this–All. Is. For. Purpose…even those times of the inability to See–for, His big-love can be evidenced in such a more personal way.

    You wrote some important stuff here, Mary, and I’m appreciative for the gratitude that it rings in my heart today.

    Rich blessings as you truth in Our Father for the purpose in even *those times*…

  4. I was wondering if anyone else had passed a notebook back and forth!! My best friend and I did that all through high school. We sometimes wouldn’t have the same classes together so I’d write her a long note and give her the book in passing between classes. It was such fun! No one ever knew what was in that notebook… but we did. It was the best thing we could’ve come up with! Thank you for letting me remember this time.

  5. I keep every card from my family and close friends. I made a special Friend Album & put all the cards & notes from each person in it. It’s cherished & makes my heart SMILE so big when I look at it. Each friend has there name spelled out and an adjective with each letter describing them. I’ve always told my boys that there is only one thing that can never be taken back and it’s an unkindly spoken word from our mouth. Words impact our hearts greatly. Have A Great Week-end! Love, Stacey ヾ(@⌒ー⌒@)ノ

  6. Thank you…this reminds me to be the encouraging words and thoughts in the notebooks stored in the brains and hearts I share with friends, co-workers, people I meet. Words are powerful and we hold the ability to be powerful kindness and encouragement.

    • Words ARE so powerful, aren’t they? I was really convicted by a sermon on the tongue and our inability to control with on our own the other week. Thank God He’s here to help us speak kindly and lovingly!

  7. I am somewhat obsessive about keeping everything that has meant something to me. It had become ridiculous for a while, and I eased up, keeping only the things that really mattered. But I know I need to do some cleaning, especially in my heart that has held on to the “not so pretty” messages from earlier years. Lovely post. 🙂

  8. I, too, keep letters and cards from family, friends and mission folks I help. They mean a lot ot me and bring back memories of helping folks and the love that was shared! 🙂

    I truly need to clean my head and heart – basically just tell Satan to go take a flying leap off a tall bridge – and rid myself of all the ugly talk he whispers to me…”You’re not … smart enough, good enough, talented, pretty, etc”.

    Lovely & Timely post!!! @:)

  9. Just last week I opened the box of letters, cards and notes from friends and family from 30 years ago. Yes, 30 years. I found many treasures among the letters, but one from my Grandparents that I had forgotten about. They are both deceased now and the letter is the last one I got from them in 1982. They both wrote me on one piece of paper. I was away at school in Florida. It felt so good to read their words and feel their love again.

  10. This is very timely for me. I recently had a very tight friendship spiral down the drain. This lead me to a lot of questioning of things I had learned from said friend, and kept me from doing some of the things I love to do the most: the main one being journalling of my prayers, and such. I found myself not being able to open any (and I mean ANY of my journals) the main reason being; this friend had given these journals to me. Each time I went to write in them, I was reminded of the hurt, pain and scars still fresh from that friendship.

    Well, about a week ago, my younger sister was school shopping with her boyfriend, she picked me up 4 composition notebooks. Lo and Behold (our God is amazing) the number of NEW journals was the exact number of the other journals I had. This allowed me the freedom to throw out the 4 causing pain and restart –fresh; for me; for no one else– and start journalling again.

  11. Middle school was one of the most awkward times of my life – I don’t even like to remember the traumatizing experiences of being made fun of – metal mouth (braces), teasing, boys were the worst. I”m so grateful to have moved on – thank you for reminding me to think on the lovely things!

  12. Mary,

    Junior high was absolutely the most challenging years of my childhood. I had awful things said about me by a former best friend and a group of her cronies. Though I knew none if what they said was who I was (except racoon eyes from my cheap eyeliner), the sting of being ostracized remained with me for years. I praise God for His word and reminders that come from others like you in this beautifully constructed message of lovely, God-infused truths that help me to keep renewing my mind to have the mind of Christ. Yes, what God says about us is what matters. Those are definite treasures to keep.

    • Rhonda, I’m so sad to hear that your former friend treated you so badly. Those things last for a long time, don’t they? I’m so thankful God is the ultimate comforter and truth-speaker, reminding us that what HE says is what matters.

  13. What if the words were not written but spoken?They are forever embedded in my memory. What if after the words were not being spoken anymore but were taunting me in my mind? They spoke many many lies that stripped me of my ability to trust, to love completely, to hear any truths that were spoken to me. I have pictures not letters. Pictures that take me back to a place I felt as if I didn’t belong. Pictures that show me events that I vaguely remember but I cannot remember the feelings associated with them. Words, pictures, feelings that all taught me how to build walls very tall and without doors or windows.

    One piece of paper I wish I still had was written 3 1/2 years ago—I have issues please pray–I wrote these words on the communication card at church for the staff to pray over. From that point forward to now I have ~ 1800 emails full of words from a person God sent directly to me because of those 5 words I wrote January 2008! Words of caring, compassion, encouragement, support, determination, correction, teaching, prayers, and above all, words of love.

    The words that were spoken will never be taken away from my memory. I will never forget those words or the pain or the shame or the guilt they caused me. But God has replaced those spoken words with new words that are spoken ever so gently, lovingly and soothingly (is that a word?) Words that taught me about our God who has never stopped loving me, who never forgot about me, who has a great book written just for me that is full of loving words also! As long as I don’t single handedly crash yahoo mail, I will not get rid of these emails because I read them often for reminders of truths I need to know!

    • Ohhhh, Lisa, my heart aches for what you’ve described here. But oh, the joy of an unexpected blessing and friend! 1800 emails? That is INCREDIBLE! So thankful God has replaced those ugly words with words of beauty.

  14. my best friend from high school came to visit me this summer and she brought along old cards i had written to her {i worked at Hallmark in high school… fitting}… it made me so glad she kept them, and I have a stack, too. reminders of love all around.

    but you’re right… i have that file in my brain that holds onto the hurt ones, as much as I wish i didn’t. it’s crazy how easy it is for the words of “not good enough” to get tucked away instead of purged from our hearts.

    • It would make me feel so good to see that someone had kept my letters or cards, too! And yes, those lies of not good enough – they ARE the ones we need to shove out of our hearts to make room for the Hallmark cards and love notes. 🙂

  15. The tape recorder that I have played back over and over in my mind with the unkind things people have said over the years needs to be retired. If I spent the same amount of time and energy into reciting verse Phil 4:8 over and over in my mind, I would feel quite differently I am certain. Thank you for your timely words and encouragement.
    I came away from this really realizing how powerful our words are. Oh the joy and pain that we can place or inflict on others is quite terrifying to me.
    And as Christians we have to be more aware than ever of sin enveloped in “good intentions”. I have had the most painful statements said to me wrapped up in “Well I just thought you needed to know…” or “I’ve been really talking to God or praying for you about your…”
    The two things I mentioned above happened over 20 years ago and I thought about both of those things this week. Yikes. It’s time to pull the ribbon out of the tape cassette. Cassettes are so 1980 anyways.

  16. Great post!! I often think back to the middle & high school years…they weren’t the best years of my life – that is for sure. I “see” some of those mean girls now on Facebook and can clearly tell which ones have changed, and which ones still have that “better than everyone else” attitude. Every so often, I go on an “unfriending” spree…because who needs that when we have “real” friends & a God that’s bigger than any problem we could ever imagine?