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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  1. I have several “walking friends” … a different day for each one of them.
    Monday and Wednesday is Anne-Marie
    Thursday is Becky (when she doesn’t have a broken ankle–like now)
    Friday is Liz.
    And Cathy is any time our schedules will coordinate.
    For the most part, we’ve walked this way for 10+ years.
    They are the ones who have helped me through the sleepless nights of pregnancy & new babies, endured the ups and downs of our adoption processes, cried with me through the loss of our daughter Selah, and they are who God often uses to speak into my life when I need correction or redirection.
    I count them among the greatest blessings He has given to me.

  2. God placed a wonderful woman into my life in January 2008. Roni. She reached out to me after I placed a prayer request. She is the women’s ministry director at our church. Her title has changed alot over the past 3 years but she hasn’t! God knew what he was doing for sure. She very quickly became my ‘safe’ person; something very hard to accomplish in my life! God knew. She has held my hands and prayed with me more times than I can count. She has been my encourager, cheerleader, confidant, coach, prayer warrior, teacher, mentor, tough love giver and friend. I can very easily say there isn’t much she doesn’t know about me.

    She keeps me accountable by giving me ‘homework’ assignments when I am having a difficult time with a problem. It usually involves thinking about specific questions, searching in my Bible, writing in my journals or computer, just getting away to get quiet with God to give him the space to work inside of me since I often times get in his way! God sure did pick the perfect person to walk with me the past 3 years. I’m not saying she is perfect, dont get me wrong. I’m saying she was perfect for me during this time in my life. I’ve learned so much from her and feel there is so much more I can learn yet!

  3. i just had an early morning – on – the – way – to – work – breakfast with a friend who has held my hands up, whose hands i hold up and it is such a blessing to be surrounded by so many godly, wonderful women who look and speak into each other’s lives – thanks for the reminder to intentionally praise god for his goodness in these friendships.

  4. What a blessing to have accountability partners and disciplers. I’m always craving to have people like this in my life (or to be that person…sometimes people aren’t as serious about their goals as they seem at first!) Right now I have a woman discipling me for a precious short time until she goes home to the States in September (we live overseas in the Middle East), and another woman doing a Setting Captives Free study with me, and a group of people back home committed to praying for us. I can’t really describe the blessings in having these people in my life. And way to go on training for the 1/2 marathon! I’m training for one as well. You can do it, by God’s grace! The first time I trained for a marathon I thought “there’s no way. I’ll just get to 10 miles and pat myself on the back and drop it.” But once I ran 10 miles…it was over, I was hooked…now it’s 6 years and two kids later and I’m still doing it.

    • Those short-term blessings are indeed precious. My friend Brittany that I mentioned in my post will probably be moving in just a few short months and as sad as that makes me, I think it has made our time together that much richer.

  5. Ah, Mary. Tears here–thankful ones for you and friendship and the sisterhood of (in)courage. So many hands to hold our hands. What a gift! Wishing I could hug you right now…

  6. Amazing timing girl.. we talked about the importance of having women in our lives that hold us accountable to His Truth last night in Bible Study..

    I’m so grateful to have three women to hold my arms up weekly in accountability.. asking the tough questions like, “What are you NOT doing that God has asked you do do?” (yep that’s my question for this week) and praying specifically for me. It makes a HUGE difference in my life.

    I have gone through season blessed by women in accountability and study but never really sought out a mentoring relationship until recently. It’s tender, precious and hard but so incredibly worth it.

    I’m treasuring the deep relationships that take me into His Presence and dance with me there.

    LOVE this post.. LOVE you girl.

  7. I love this! I recently read that passage in Exodus after an exceptionally difficult time in our family’s life. I could identify with Moses- I felt that if I wasn’t holding my hands up for my struggling child, everything would fall apart. I did have some terrific friends who supported me during that time; without them I surely would have crumbled myself. To hold one’s hands up is exhausting, tiring, and draining. We must have those who will be our undergirding strength- along with the Lord- to keep those hands in the air!

  8. You are kidding me. This post is so appropriate for today. A day that I meet with a girl I’m ‘discipling’. That I get a text from her saying pray for me because I’m a college student and I’m stressed. The day we’re reading through the ‘shoulders’ chapter in Annie Downs’ book. Where she mentions this verse about Moses and how they held his hands up when he couldn’t hold them anymore.

    Glad you have women speaking truth into your life Mary! I’m thankful for the ones that speak truth into mine as well 🙂 Great post!

    • I am not kidding you at all. 😉 I’m glad this post came at the right moment for you, and though I haven’t made it to that chapter of Annie’s book, I am SURE it is beautiful encouragement on this very topic. That girl knows community and friendship for sure!

  9. Reading this makes me realize how much I am hungering for true friendships and accountability – something that is missing in my life right now, but something that I sincerely desire. It’s been difficult since I got married 2 years ago – things have changed and my best friends have either moved away or moved on to another stage of life that doesn’t seem to include me.

    This post reminds me of how important a close-knit community of friends is, and that I need to continute to seek others out and pray that my Abba brings people into my life at the perfect time.

    • Hayley–I will stop and pray right now that God will bring that kind of true friendship into your life…it’s so hard to go through that kind of life/stage transition….

      • Thank you Kara for the prayers. It means so much that even though you don’t know me, you take time to pray for me.

    • The same thing happened to me when I was married Hayley. I was one of the first in my group of friends. Things changed. I was in a different stage in life. It gets better. Some friends move into a similar stage and you find new friends that are there. It will happen! 🙂

    • I know what you mean, Hayley. Getting married, changing jobs, changing churches and friends moving away – these have been the changes of life (so far) that made the world of friendship so hard. Thankfully, God is faithful in providing people (or, sometimes, just one person if that’s all we need) in each phase of life. I pray that He sends someone (or someones!) your way soon.

  10. I don’t have anyone like this right now, but I believe you have pointed me in the direction of how to pray for myself. We have moved several times in the last few years and I tend to feel disconnected. The relationships you describe sound like the sort I’d benefit from. It’s good to hear that you’ve even made it work long distance. Thanks for this.

    • Yes! Pray for it! I believe that God is absolutely faithful in providing this much-needed part of our lives. I pray that God will send someone your way soon to encourage you and “do life” with you – SOON.

  11. We just moved, packed up and left the only home my children have ever known, dear friends I’d loved for fifteen years, almost my whole adult life. We left behind our church family, which were in many ways closer than our biological families. Right now I live in a town where I know no one, and church feels alien. I’m afraid my hands are hanging limply by my side. Anyone reading this, if you have these people in your life, thank God for them, praise Him for His generosity and love. I’m sure I will be blessed with new relationships in the future, and I’m waiting, in hope, for those.

    • Oh, Penny, I’m so sorry to hear that you are feeling lonely. While I’ve gone through several changes that have prompted the need for new or different friendships, I’ve never moved after living somewhere for 15 years. I can only imagine how difficult this time is for you, but I pray that God will encourage you and send someone to walk beside you – and soon.

  12. Great post! We’re “new to town”, and it’s been hard to start over in my 30’s. I can’t say I looked forward to going out and making new friends. But God provided. 🙂 He gave me a neighbor…who has become a close friend and texting buddy. Yes, we text all the time even though we live across the street from each other! 🙂 He gave me two friends to spend every other Friday with…trying out all the different coffee shops in our area while we chat about everything. 🙂 He gave me a Bible study with an amazing group of women who encourage me, pray for me, and make me laugh. I’m blessed!

    • I was JUST talking to a friend about how much harder it is to make friends the older we get! What a blessing that God provided a neighbor for you!! (And I say texting makes perfect sense during your busy days, no matter how far away or close your friends live!)

  13. I read this verse in Exodus back in January and though I had read it many times before, it struck me in a new way. The visual of his friends literally holding his arms up towards God for him in his moment of weakness is AMAZING.

    Just weeks later, a good friend of mine sent an e-mail out to several friends requesting prayer for her as she was going through a very difficult time and felt very weak. Response after response came back, letting her know that they were there for her, praying for her, and willing to help however possible.

    This verse came to my mind right away … I even blogged about it. What a PRIVILEGE it is to be able to hold someone’s hands up when they are too weak to do so themselves. And the best part is that this is something we can do from anywhere in the world through prayer.

    Amazingly, the verse came back in my life these past few weeks. My husband, our sole income earner, was laid off on Feb. 25 … and is not eligible for unemployment b/c his company (a religious non-profit) did not contribute. In this economy, devastating doesn’t even BEGIN to describe it. We have a mortgage to pay and 5, 3, and 1 year old babies to feed. There are SO many unknowns and it is all SO overwhelming … and the ONE THING that is keeping me going is knowing that I have dear friends LIFTING MY HANDS toward Heaven when I don’t have the strength to do it myself. When all I see is darkness and fear, they are there, giving me a rock to sit on and carrying me through until I regain my strength. AMAZING.

    And here it is again – another sweet reminder of the power of friendship, prayer, and Godly support. 🙂

    • Wow. Shannon, I love that God is using this story to encourage you in so many ways! I love your perspective that it is an HONOR to lift up each other’s hands – SO TRUE. Hearing about your husband’s job is so sad, but I’m also inspired by your gratitude even in this. I pray that your friends continue to support you, that your husband finds a new job quickly and that God provides in amazing and miraculous ways until then.

  14. Oh, I love this! Thank you so much! I need someone to help me in this area and so I will start looking around ~

    His love to you!
    Virginia

  15. I once had someone who walked with me, someone I really looked up to. For one year it was one of the greatest blessings and encouragement I thought I’d ever experienced. And then she gave up on me when I needed someone to stand by me the most. Now just thinking about accountability stings because it brings up feelings of rejection, but especially because I know how great it can be. I wish I could have something like this again, but it’s hard for me to let people close because I fear the same thing will happen.

    • Annie, I am so sad to hear this. I’ve had friends let me down, too, and you’re right. It’s a hard thing to get over. I pray that God will send someone who will be gentle with your heart but persistent in pursuing your friendship and trust.

  16. Wonderful post Mary! My friend Terri in MD is my friend who listens, cares, encourages and we even have a weekly phone call where after catching up with each other’s lives, we do a Bible Study. She is a gift from God!

  17. Oh Mary… you have the sweetest friends. What a blessing. Getting a boost from some one special when you really need it can make all the difference!

  18. There is no question that God’s plan for us is 100% relational! It’s so easy for me to retreat into my little hermitage and not bother anyone, not become a burden to anyone, just get it done on my own…and those are always my driest God-times. When I come out of the cave and allow the friends back in, I am soooo much more aware of God’s presence in my life – I need them to speak His truth into my life! Thanks for the reminder!

    • It is so much easier to revert to loneliness, isn’t it? Even when it’s not living life to the full or experiencing all that God has for us? I know what you’re saying – and we do have to be intentional about pursuing these relationships. But it is SO worth it when we do!

  19. This has hugged at my heart. I have struggled with friendship due to trust issues. I pray for some of this people in my life. I hope the Lord will bless me with friends I can turn to in times of laughter and pain. Xxx. I’m so thankful you have friends to bless your life.