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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& you will too!
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Reader Interactions


  1. Mary,
    Great “straight to the heart of the matter” post! On my best of 2013 list would be thanks for the gift of walking. It’s been a year in the making, but I can finally walk without thinking about the mechanics of each step that I take. Recovery from complex knee surgery made me grateful for this simple everyday gift. I also started my blog because I literally was not allowed to walk for 6 weeks. Another best of. If my “best of” only had one thing on it – my salvation thanks to my Lord and Savior and a promise to live in eternal union with Him, then it would be full enough.

    • Bev,

      I’m so glad to read about your knee recovery and your gift of walking without thinking of all of the mechanics. After some difficult rehab for a serious back injury – I get how moving freely, without both having to think about it and pushing through pain – is SUCH a gift. Thankful along with you.

    • Bev, what a great perspective on 2013! I love that you’re focusing on the blessings that came from a complex surgery!! And YES, salvation starts and ends every one of our lists, doesn’t it? 🙂

  2. My 2013 has been a season that I’ll be glad to see come to an end. It has honestly been the hardest year of my life – and I’ve had some doozies. But, in starting to see some light at the end of this darkness – I do have hope that a year from now, this season of coming undone will shift what is ahead for me and for my family, and that the hours spent in counseling and in fighting for a real and intimate marriage have been labors sown in hope, yielding joy.

    I started this morning unexpectedly early – couldn’t sleep, and I spent some time just in quiet looking at our lit tree and intentionally focussing on what I’m grateful for (first time in awhile) in the midst of this season of hard. And over some (extra early) morning coffee – you post was a timely word for my heart. Thanks, Mary.

    • Amy, I’m so thankful for your perspective here! I like how you describe it as a “season of coming undone.” When my husband and I were at our lowest, hardest points last year, I began looking at it as our old, unhealthy marriage dying so a new, healthy one could develop. We’re still working on that 🙂 but I pray, like you, that the work and time will continue to yield joy. Blessings to you!

  3. Mary, thank you for this post. 2013 is one that I DO NOT WANT TO RELIVE and would prefer to not go back and ponder on. We lost our 13 year old disabled daughter in March. WE are still fighting for our marriage (have been for 12 or so years) and life is tough. I am weary, very weary. I keep looking for light in the darkness, for that spark. I know God sees, loves, heals but I have to say right now it’s quiet in my life. God has ushered quietness. He is revealing things to me that are hard..those ouch moments. So I am sitting…in HIS quietness. Thank you again!

    • Tricia…I’m so sorry. There really aren’t words, I know, that can comfort you in these pains. So…praying for you. Praying for comfort and peace and renewed love in your marriage.

    • Tricia,

      Praying for your family during this time of trial and loss. Know that your are loved by our God.


      Please surround Tricia and her family with peace. Comfort them during this year of loss and heal their marriage. Cover them with your loving, healing arms and shower them with the love they so desperately need.


  4. Tricia, bless you, bless you. Praying you will recognize even more of Emmanuel, God quietly with you, this advent time.
    With love Ruth

  5. Hey, your life mirrored my life last year? Wow. Perfect post and fellow list-loving friend, this hits it right up close. Thank you. By the way, it made me smile about the felt like you were drowning comment (I will have to check that out) as I did a series for the 31 Days…on Faith Life Preservers! Because, I felt I was drowning…and the writing of those posts did keep me afloat. Thanks again, for a well timed, divinely written post.

  6. My husband and I have had a very emotional year. On one side, we had one of the most beautiful blessings come to us – the birth of our precious, lovely baby girl… Our first child. On the other side, we have some toxic family members who have done incredibly hurtful things to us beyond our comprehension, to the point where we have requested distance. As I type this I realize how much just those two instances alone show the beauty and brokenness in the world around us. So, no matter where we all are, I pray that all of us can see some beauty in the midst of brokenness as we reflect on 2013. He is here… Immanuel… bringing light into the darkness. Thank you for this encouraging post this morning.

  7. What perfect encouragement for today. It has been a really difficult morning in a string of difficult days. We lost our home and most of our possessions in a tornado on November 17. Just trying to get the necessities of daily living together has been a struggle. In our small town alone there are over 1200 displaced families with over 250 homes totally destroyed so there is a feeling of heaviness over the entire town where Chrsitmas joy would have been. God has been and always will be faithful and good every step of the way, but every step continues to be difficult and exhausting. Thanks for this mornings encouraging words. I needed them more than you could know.

    • Oh Terry. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your home! Remembering hard years or struggles can always cast shadows on the holidays, but it’s especially hard when it’s happened so close to this time of year, when you haven’t even had time to recover. Praying comfort and relief for you this season – and joy despite the circumstances.

  8. This time last year I was ready to throw in the towel, but God in his faithfulness helped me to crawl out of that very deep, despairing pit. I am not where I was, but I am still on the journey of recovery. What keeps me going is knowing that he will use the mess of my depression for good. He already is. I wrote this poem (below) yesterday. Last year this week, the week after my birthday, my hope was the faintest it has ever been; so the fact that I could write this poem this year speaks volumes of God’s care and faithfulness.

    “Broken is not my address anymore. I am moving to RESTORED.
    The move may not be easy, because moves never are,
    but it is one the Lord tells me I can afford.

    Broken may have sheltered me for years
    and I’m grateful for the lessons I learned there
    but the walls are coming down and it’s time to depart

    The walls of RESTORED will tell a new story
    of a life trusting God
    So, please mark your address books and hope to see you there.”
    Christina Hernandez, December 2013

  9. Mary, thank you so much for this encouragement today! 2013 has been a year of loss, difficulty, questions, and darkness for me. I’ve found myself clinging to hope in a whole new way. While I’m desperate for this season to end, I’m resting in the promise that Jesus will never leave me or forsake me. He is working something beautiful through this season, even though I can’t see it at the moment. It’s hard to trust His plan when the circumstances in our lives don’t match what we think they should. That’s the beauty of faith though, looking beyond the present to things hoped for; beyond the visible to the invisible. Praying for those who have are weary this season, and claiming in faith that 2014 will be a year of victory!

    • Leslie, thank you. Thank you for sharing your heart – both in the hard things you’ve been facing and the beautiful faith you’re holding onto despite it all.

  10. Thanks that my mum and friend are still here. Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and has come through the treatment well. My friend really struggled with her health this year, but miraculously is so much better than she was! They both mean a lot to me.

  11. Thank you for the post. I need to go back to a simple list of things I am grateful for. The darkness & heaviness seems so thick much of the time. There are things that have no “light at the end of the tunnel”. We struggled in our marriage, my husband’s Alzheimer’s is slowly getting worse, and we are still fighting for our daughter’s life (anorexia). Add in the two other teen daughters’ struggle just being that age, and it’s a year I do not want to revisit. Yes, The Lord is here – no, I don’t always sense Him, or have time to be in His promises. I think a simple “1000 things” list will help me refocus. Thank you.

    • Oh Martha, I’m so sorry to hear about the struggles you’re facing. Life can seem so overwhelming and heavy at times! But yes…YES! He IS there with you, and remembering to be grateful helps all of us in times good and bad. Praying peace and healing for you this Christmas!

  12. Thankful for these posts and having “Sisters in print”. I’m feeling heavy and chasing the Christmas spirit relentlessly, but it keeps slipping away. I have been so blessed this year and am seeing the light, but still dealing with challenges that have the power to bring me down. Just praying for peace, and faith in the hope that Jesus brings. Merry Christmas friends. 🙂

  13. Thank you Mary. I so needed to hear that it is ok to acknowledge the broken and the fact that 2013 was a tough year. It is hard sometimes to fully embrace the season, but God’s grace sustains me. He is walking with us in all of life’s circumstances, the good and the bad. He heals the broken hearted! Now, on to that list of 1000 blessings. Merry Christmas Everyone!

  14. Wow! Very powerful article. I would put – a renewed energy to continue pursuing my passions and a much closer relationship to God.

  15. Thank you, Mary! I needed to read this. We are soooo ready for 2013 to be over. It has been the hardest year of our lives and we just keep holding on, waiting for this season to change! Thanks for saying that it is okay to grieve through the difficult times while waiting for times to change with a hopeful heart. It’s hard not to feel guilty for grieving sometimes.

  16. Mary,

    I love making lists & spreadsheets. This has been a tough year for many in my church.

    One family has been struggling for over a year. The Sunday after Thanksgiving 2012 the father had a heart trouble, stroke and we weren’t sure if he was to live. After much hospitalization & rehab he was able to go home-ended up having to move into his mother-in-laws house due to wheel chair. He was beginning to speak and walk. Fast forward a few weeks and he is back in the hospital again. This time he had some type of infection on his finger and had to have surgery. His wife, an RN, can only feed him with through a feeding tube. They have struggled both financially & emotionally.

    Another family lost their father to leukemia. The daughter did survive a severe case of bladder cancer and had to have surgery in Nashville, a 6hr drive away. That was a praise God. Now the daughter-in-law has breast cancer and is not doing well.

    I would put good health on the top of my 2013 gratitude list.

  17. Amen! I so know what you mean. I have had “years” in a row that I stopped journaling because I didn’t want to remember the “bad” stuff. I didn’t want to re-read it and I didn’t want anyone else to every read it. Some things are just not worth living through more than once.

    I do, however, love the idea of the “Best Of” list. Doing that as a monthly review might be a good idea. (I never really got back into the habit of daily journaling.) I will have to add that to my list. And yes, I am a “lister” as well. I love to make list and scratch things off…what normal person wouldn’t?

  18. I have just read this post, from Dec. 2013. I have had a rough 2013 and at times it just does not seem to get any better. It is because of sin in my life, changed my world, and sometimes it does not seem like I can get past it. Will God get me thru this? He can, but will He? I’m sure He will. Sometimes, I am sure He will. I am not sure all of the time. But I am grateful. He has given me healthy kids, healthy husband, and a warm home with plenty to eat. I am blessed. I know that. Most days.