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. Mary,
    First, I have to say what a cruel thing for someone to come up to you and say. Shame on her bad manners. Second, I take great comfort in remembering that some of the heroes we know best in the Bible didn’t do their greatest deeds until they were well into their senior years. God gave them a lifetime of preparing and it was only later in life did He see fit to use them for His glory. At this rate, I figure I have at least 25 more years until God’s going to do something really great through me 🙂 I have found that God is constantly working on me, taking me in new directions I never would have imagined. When I was up to my eyeballs in diapers, I never imagined getting time to actually write and starting a Christian school in the Middle East. Who figures that into their plans?? God. As one closer to 60 than I care to admit….take heart young ones, some of your greatest years are yet to come. Excellent post, Mary!! As valedictorian, I’d say, since high school, you’ve rocked life!! You gave me encouragement this am!!
    Bev xx

    • Bev,

      I do believe you have a gift of encouraging others… It’s not often that I leave a comment, but I notice that very often your comment is the first one on the list, with a good word related to the post. Just wanted to say ‘Hello’ and wish you a lovely day! You have a beautiful spirit! 🙂

    • Bev, you’re so right to look at how many people well past their 20th reunions God has used to do His work. No reason to think He won’t keep doing that with us! 🙂

    • Dear Bev, I’m very glad for you – no cancer! That’s great news!! I did read your blog post (always have trouble commenting on Disqus… )

      Here is an interesting quote I’ve just read, in the hope that it might encourage and bless someone here as it did me… It’s from a very short play by Thornton Wilder. A physician, overwhelmed by regret and sadness, approaches the pool where other suffering people are waiting, so they can enter the water as soon as the angel troubles it, and find healing. The moment the physician gets ready to step into the water, the angel stops him and tells him to draw back, because this is not his moment. The doctor insists, talking about how much he needs help, even if physically he appears to be all right (he can move on his own). And then come these words from the angel:

      “Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very remorse that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve. Draw back.”

      Someone else is healed, but his help is immediately needed for others who are troubled in their spirit and who need encouragement. Powerful words, I think! I hope they encourage someone. 🙂 Perhaps the more broken someone is, if belonging to Christ, the more God can use him/her…

  2. Wow, Mary, I thought I was whispering those questions quietly enough so that no one would know, but apparently you overheard? Ugh. I have yet to attend a high school reunion, so I’ve never had the past-valedictorian conversation with anyone (and do you ever chuckle about that “secret identity” as a smart person when you’re trying to remember where you put your car keys or how to do something on your phone?), BUT I do have that cross-examination with myself when I’ve wandered away from Truth. Thank you for this reminder that in the Kingdom of God there are no has-beens, and He’s all about building forward into a marvelous and custom-designed plan for our flourishing and for His glory.

    • Hmmm….. ~ There are no “has-beens” in God’s Kingdom ~ …..Going to take that with me today….Thank you, Michele ~

  3. Mary, Thank you for sharing such a poignant story with us. Makes you stop and think for sure I went to my 20 year reunion and while most were still having children, I was the only grandmother there! I wasn’t the most popular kid in school, I had my few select friends but the girls that were popular back in school were still popular 20 years later. Still beautiful as ever, had wealthy husbands, great jobs and traveling the world. Me, well I am just simply me. Had lost my husband to a tragic accident, raising two girls by myself, and a grandchild on the way. Felt like nothing had changed for me. Just a step back in time… But , I was thankful that I had been blessed with a loving God that through all the tough times, never left my side, never gave up on me and always let me know my worth in the world. I am His daughter and I can walk with my head held high. He’s not finished with me yet, I am a continuing work in progress! Praise God!

    • Marggie,
      Your high school and reunion experience sounds a bit familiar to me too. I hope you realize that you got the Facebook version of the popular girls’ lives. Nobody is without scars, whether they show them or not. I have only kept in touch with my best friend from high school, and she is dearer to me than a sister. She IS a sister in Christ, too. Blessings to you!

      PS to Mary-
      Wonderful post and encouragement for this old gal!! XOXO

      • Thank you Kim for the reminder that it is the Facebook version. And that while you do see the outward, surface we really don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. Thank you for that! God bless you sister!

    • Maggie, I’m sorry to hear that your own reunion was that rough. But you are absolutely right that God will never give up on you. He loves you and is not finished with you at all! 🙂

  4. Mary,

    Don’t we tend to be our worst critics? I know the voice inside my head often is… What a good reminder that God isn’t finished with us! One verse that I always find encouraging is Proverbs 4:18 (ESV): “…the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.” It tells me that a child of God keeps growing – whatever the age.

  5. This happened to me just yesterday- not a comment or even a remark, but more of a “less-than” feeling as I struggled through a project at work, watching others younger and smarter than I pull it all together in ways I just don’t have the experience or knowledge to do. I started to feel very dumb… but I didn’t realize the damage the self-doubt talking in my head was doing until about 4 am this morning when the tears hit my pillow. This is so perfectly timed for me- thank you.

    • Hi Beth you’re not alone I’m there too. After years of working alone I just took on a business partner. He’s a brother in Christ, super talented, 6 years my junior and still single. I am blessed to have him as a partner but I’m a married mom to 2 young kids and always stretched to the limit. I have never felt so inadequate. Why? I ran a successful business on my own for many years… We women are so hard on ourselves. May God encourage you to mentor the young ones and reveal the beautiful role you are still to play. Blessings xx

  6. Thank you so much for your words this morning…It’s true! We all can’t be the cheerleader, superstar athlete, homecoming queen, etc… 2017 was my 40th high school reunion! What’s that quote…”people may not remember what you said or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel”…. My memory isn’t what it used to be and of course daily “school life” is now a blurred distant memory to me – but I remember who was kind, who was funny, who was friendly, who was snobbish, who was mean, etc…. And real life has a way of leveling the playing field. I also came from a small town and our graduating class was a little over a 100. And those few really close friends that I thought would be in my life forever are simply – not… The class of 1977 all moved on – college for some (not me – 40 years ago it wasn’t something possible), married, divorced, kids, no kids, moved away, moved back, careers, no careers, jail for some, so many deaths – car accidents, heart attacks, cancer, etc…. That’s life, I guess. But I’ve lived my life, married, had 2 wonderful children and now 2 awesome grandchildren, no career – just a job that helped provide for us – and came to know and love Jesus in a way I never dreamed! Another saying I like – “Life is the journey – not the destination!” Be blessed today!

  7. Whoa—-this went deep with me. I was also the high school valedictorian. I passed the honor down to the next person in line–because I didn’t want to give a speech. So, I was the salutatorian.

    I’ve thought these same thoughts for YEARS–what do I have to show for it? I had “potential,” but did I use it?

    Healing from all of this has been a long time coming. Slow-motion. And sometimes it still creeps up on me.

    Your last paragraph went straight to my heart~~~
    Thank you!

  8. Mary,

    My life definitely hasn’t turned out like I thought. Parts are better, some worse. Yes I also hear those self talk negatives in my head. I was the shy kid in school not many friends & didn’t do much at school. I was in a large town with 2000 graduates. My life plan included getting a good job quickly. That didn’t happen. Fast forward 34 years & I’m living in a small town in Upper E. TN married to my sweetheart, with 1 iguana & a part time job. Many detours along the way including 16 months off work to care for my aging dad. God has done some work on me & I’m not that shy anymore. In fact I get up in front of people & do sign language to music, help out with several local missions. My life verse: “For I know the plans I have for you, declare the Lord.” “Plans to prosper you & not to harm you”. Jeremiah 29:11. Let’s quit the negative self talk & start focusing on God the author & finisher of our lives. He is still molding us into the person He wants.

    Blessings 🙂

    • Beth, I love hearing about how your life has turned out. God’s plans are good, indeed! (And I can’t imagine going to school with 2000 classmates! Wow!)

  9. I am a just a year past the 20th reunion, I didn’t go, but these are some of the same thoughts that I have recently been struggling with. About seven years ago I went through a divorce, went back to school, started a career, got remarried, and then had my sweet girl, I started staying at home again… not at all where I thought I would be. I had big dreams of being a writer, then those changed to dreams of being a paralegal with a paycheck that would support myself and my son with some free time on the weekends, then I dreamed of being a great Mom and wife again, then depression grabbed me and I have barely kept my head above water for the last few years. But He is so good and I know I am entering a new chapter now; I know he isn’t finished with me yet. Each day he shows me and gently reminds me of this truth; today he used your beautiful post to do so. It doesn’t matter what you have done since graduation, what matters is that you are touching lives and hearts for Him in a real and tangible way today! Thank you.

  10. Ya know, I’ve sometimes thought about that as I’ve watched ladies years younger than me rock this writing thing. I think to myself — I’m somehow late to the party. But, I’m so crazy-proud of all these younger ladies who are making a difference. My heart feels a mama-bear kind of pride for them. Love watching them do their thing for His glory. — God is faithful to remind me that He has me on the path I’m supposed to be on, and when I was those younger ages, it wasn’t my time for this path. So thankful there’s no room for comparison with Jesus-girls, because we all have a unique life that can point back to Him in due season, if we let it. (One class year away from my 30th reunion, and feeling like it should only be, maybe, 15. Time is so darn sneaky! 🙂 ) ((Hug))

    • Brenda! Have you been reading my diary?!(Ok, I didn’t actually write that down, but still, if we slightly adjusted the numbers…) Loved what you said that God is faithfully reminding us we are each on a uniquely designed journey. And we’re all journeying toward Him together. So no worries if I’m a tortoise and some others are cheetahs. (All the animals made it on the ark, right?) Blessed by you, today, Brenda. Thank you.

  11. Oh Mary! What a good word and one I definitely needed to hear. Thanks for sharing your heart and speaking truth over all of us. And praise God he is not finished with us yet!

  12. Oh Mary…thank you. I was not valedictorian but was voted “most talented” – I thought I’d have won a Tony by now for my role in Les Mis on Broadway…alas, never made it to Broadway except in the audience. There are days that I’m happy with my choices and where they’ve landed me. And there are days I look back with regret on where I could have been “if only…” But when reading your post, I am reminded that I am fearfully and wonderfully made…I know He has plans for me, plans to prosper and not harm…plans to give me hope and future…that He names the stars and calls them by name…and that includes me. You. Each of us. I am beyond grateful to you for sharing this post. And grateful each day that I am part of this community of beautiful women who love and encourage and speak truth over one another. Yes Jesus! Thank You for grace and this amazing life you’ve given us to live to the full…no matter what road we take.

  13. Mary, this year’s my 20th reunion, too (except it’s on the other side of the country so I can’t attend). Still, those thoughts attack. I’m making peace with my uniquely designed journey and learning to thank the younger crowd for being an inspiration. I love how Brenda said a few comments earlier there’s no room for competition among Jesus-girls. I’ll raise my teacup to that! Thank you, thank you for your encouragement, Mary. Just yesterday I heard Mandisa’s song Unfinished for the first time. It was the first thing that popped in my mind when I read your post. Have you heard it?

  14. This post really touched my heart. I saved it in my documents so I can refer to it again and again. Love your writing. I almost never comment but today I felt compelled. Thank you.

  15. Mary,
    Thank-you for sharing this with us….I’m sorry that you were put on the spot the way you were. I think it would be hard for anyone to sum up their life in mere moments. And for those of you who graduated, congratulations on an achievement not everyone has accomplished.
    Have a blessed day all,

  16. Mary,
    Amen!! My best is yet to come! Just getting started!! Job 8:7 And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great. Holding on to that!!


  17. I thought I had it all at about 25 or so, my plans were set, high school was over. God had better ones, maybe I just have to be late bloomer. I hate feeling like I’m in high school again, I’ve never been to a reunion, but I have had friends to say awful things. I once saw a lady at the grocery story, I noticed two long blonde pony tails, when she turned around she had the cheerleader look. I’m not making fun, but I think it would be so sad to just think that you had to relive that part of your life, because it was the best part. God has better, I promise, and so does He.

  18. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. They were so soothing for my heart. All of the questions you listed
    “Do you feel disappointed by what you’ve accomplished this far?
    Did you think you’d do more or be different at this point in your life?
    Are you afraid you missed your turn, that you’re wasting your potential, that your best days are behind you?”
    they have been running through my head a lot lately. I am definitely in progress of letting go of where I thought I would be at this point in my life. Your words were truly a soothing touch and gentle reminder to really open my hands and let go of those unfulfilled expectations.

  19. Wow, do I know where you are coming from! I’ve felt those things so many times. (And yes, I was also the valedictorian. Don’t ask what I’ve done with it . . . 🙂 ) I truly feel like I’m getting started now in the best years of my work. And I’m much farther down the road than 20 year reunions. Thanks for the reminder!

  20. It seems likely that my husband’s and my best years are past, but we continue to move forward. Heading into our 70’s after nearly 30 years in Missions, we look forward – not to retirement, but to continuing to work, albeit at a slower pace and, in my case,with annoying and often embarrassing memory gaps. What was for many years a ‘Ma and Pa shop’ has been growing and expanding. We have managed to ‘pass the baton’, but still have a place in the organization that we started.

    Does my life look like what I imagined in High School? Thankfully not! God’s plans for us exceeded what we could have imagined. Has it been easy? No. Life in Africa is seldom described as easy. We had to leave the country we thought God had planted us in after just 7 months. Even with all of the hard times, would we do it again? Oh, yes, we would. So, finally, no, we are not afraid that our best years are past… even if they are. Our story is not over yet. A story goes on after the climax.

    • Joy, wow, thank you for sharing part of your story and your heart with us here. I love hearing your perspective and the reminder that none of our stories are finished yet!

  21. What a rude person. Probably just jealous! I love your take on it though. Life is indeed “hundreds of beautiful and terrible milestones and everything in between” and we are not finished until we are finished. Loved this piece!