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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things we love
& you will too!
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Reader Interactions


  1. Mary,
    Like you, I am a very sensitive soul. I can cry at sentimental commercials. I work with orphans in the Middle East. Like you, there’s a part of myself that I find I’m holding back because if I look too hard, I will see it in their eyes. They desperately need hope. Their living conditions – well we can’t even begin to fathom it here in the States. What they really need to know is that someone cares…someone cares about their story….someone cares whether they look at tomorrow with despair or with hope. Giving them a way up and out is literally throwing them a lifeline. Oh how I wish I could get on a plane and hug them all…but the way our world is right now – I can’t. I can still tell them I love them via Skype. I can tell them there are people here who DO actually care. Jesus loves them and yes, there IS hope. Bless you and Mercy House in the hope and love you are giving…the world needs so much more!

    • Bev, as I read this, I was thinking about your sensitive heart, and knew that I would find you here in the comments. Thank you for all that you bring to this community.

    • Thank you, Bev, for that beautiful, God-given, sensitive heart you have, dear sister πŸ™‚

  2. Thank you for sharing a view from the inside. I totally get where you are coming from and appreciate your honesty and courage. Hope is truly the anchor to which to cling.

  3. Thank you for sharing! Your words put into words what I can’t find words in my heart to say. Hope. Such a powerful word – wherever you are and whatever you do … hope is needed and yet so difficult for many to find. We all need to say “yes” to God more than we do, and I thank you for saying “yes” to what He asked you to do. Don’t stop!

    • Yes, Carrie, hope is so powerful, isn’t it? It’s funny you say I put something into words that you couldn’t – because I felt the same way when I read someone else’s article today. Sara Hagerty wrote about hope in a devastating and breathtakingly honest way that resonated with me. Seems like maybe we all need hope – and each other to share it!

  4. Mary… I don’t have the right words…maybe just two: thank you. Still processing. But it’s given me hope that I’m not the monster I feared I was. Sometimes the heart goes into hiding…behind loud, too cheerful, books, whatever…how to find it and coax it out to be of use to others in the degrees of pain it will require? Perhaps it takes only one brave soul to pioneer the way…

    • Pearl, thank you for your wonderful and gracious words…sometimes it does only take one soul, one yes πŸ™‚

  5. THIS. Sometimes, as much as it makes us feel like and criticize ourselves as “heartless” beings, we hesitate to open our hearts because we know all too well how much it will take out of us. I had this conversation recently with a friend who has struggled with not “being able to feel the same sympathy for all the terrorist attacks as I do for Orlando” (she lives in Orlando). I realized in that conversation that, like you with the babies in Kenya, I can’t face some situations and people because I know, deep in my heart, how much I care and how much it will hurt to care.

    This isn’t about not wanting to care; it’s about caring so deeply that you just cannot emotionally carry it.

    In my conversation with my friend, I told her how I’ve gone too far the other way in some situations, to where I DO feel but I have to mentally “shut off” the compassion tap…and anyone who knows me knows how deeply I feel, how “personally” I take things, and how that well of compassion and empathy is so deep, and I’ve only been dipping little bits.

    What I’ve also realized lately is that, at least in my case, God is calling me to give even when it’s going to destroy me emotionally, because he gave me that compassion and empathy for a reason. He has been working in my life to strengthen my relationship with him, work through my abandonment issues, and teach me selflessness. It’s difficult (especially as a 30-year-old single woman with the heart of a mom) but he doesn’t give us compassion for no reason. πŸ™‚

    This was a BEAUTIFUL post. I’m actually asking a friend of mine (who has friends in Kenya and has been there twice) if he knows of this house. It sounds like an amazing place to experience.

    • Shelly, thank you for these words that speak so much to my heart. I understand what you mean by giving until there is nothing left, to pour out all, to “hurt to care.”-its His grace living in us that we can only say yes to because He is bringing His purpose through it. Keeping being the beautiful you that the Lord has made, letting Him refine you. I’m reminded that He is faithful and will never let us be consumed because of His compassion, He is greater than our feelings, and because of this, we can, like the author of Lamentations, have hope. My heart is with you, praying…:)

    • Shelly, thank you so much for understanding what my heart was trying to say! This is something I was already wrestling with before my trip and now it’s just about all I can think about – even though I can’t find all the right words to explain it. I’m grateful God continues to push us into growing closer to Him and closer to the women He created us to be (even when it brings on all the tears and tied tongues!).

  6. Oh Mary, thank you! Thank you for your authenticity and courage to make the trip
    and then untangle the learnings as you returned home. Your words brought back a
    flood of memories as I lived in El Salvador and saw families living in boxes during the rainy season.
    Your words brought back memories of Renya, a small girl living in someone’s garage, which
    was in fact a luxury place to be. When we took Renya for an outing we wanted to get her a “treat.” We,
    in all of our well-meaning ignorance, imagined she might ask for a doll. Instead she requested only a loaf of bread,
    her own small loaf. And then she saved most of it for her family. That moment is etched into my mind and heart.

    That time in El Salvador changed me just as your time at Mercy House is changing you. As you share your experience
    as hard as it was, you help all of us to open our eyes and soften our hearts. Your words help us to hear God’s whisper
    in our own hearts asking us, “And what would you do to love my children everywhere?”

    God Bless!

  7. Before I go off to check out the work Mercy House is doing, I wanted to say, Mary, that your words impacted me. They reminded me that the hope I have in Jesus is more vital to my survival than the necessities that sustain my body. And while books, diapers, food, clothing are only material things, they are given with the hope that they will reveal Jesus in us.

    • Thank you, Crystal. And YES – those material things are not the hope we need, but they reveal Jesus. That’s exactly what I was trying to say!

  8. Mary, how I praise the Lord for these vulnerable words that you shared. Thank you for going and being Christ’s hope, for shedding tears, being the sensitive person the Lord made you to be for those at Kenya House. Thank you for helping me to work out some things.

    I understand why the books; I am sensitive too and find myself not able to handle somethings too some days. It takes time to unravel and process it all lest we get overwhelmed by it all. Like you said “We desperately, deeply, need hope that we can make a difference, that the worst things are redeemable, that God can turn ashes into beauty. Hope that we are enough, even when we are not what we β€” or others β€” expected. Hope that saying yes to God is never a waste of time or money or heart, and hope that He will finish the work He’s doing when it’s the exact right time.” We need each other in the unraveling that the Lord does so that He can take the unraveled knots and embroider the threads of our lives into His masterpiece. One small baby stop, baby stitch at a time.

    Its so hard to hope some days and perhaps that is why Paul said that perseverance leads to character and character to hope. Our hearts break in the openness and vulnerable and it seems hard to hope in those broken spaces, but His love helps us to keep being open thorough hope. I don’t know, but ask the Holy Spirit to teach me so that the hurts teach, inspire, and not hinder. Mary, keep being the beautiful who the Lord needs you to be, that His fruits are seen as they already are.

    May we each keep persevering in the hard, being open and vulnerable to the Lord and all the seeds He wants to plant, each stitch He wants to sew, and each masterpeice that He wants to create πŸ™‚

    • I like how you said we need each other in the unraveling. Yes, that is so very true, An! Thank you for your kind and encouraging words today.

  9. I love books! I hate to see children messing them up and to think something we take for granted is unheard of in many places. Goodwill had a sale every year at one of our malls. You’d be surprised how many Bibles and childrens Bibles too and too. I could spend a few dollars and have to have help carrying out shopping bags, I gave them to lots of people. Of couese, we all need hope, and what better hope than Jesus. Don’t worry about crying and being sensitive, my concern is people who aren’t.

  10. Oh Mary! This post is so powerful and honest and true and I just get it 100%! I’ve had similar experiences – wrecked more by the everyday parts of my life that I take for granted than the shocking realities I’m walking through in another place or country or story. Thank you for this beautifully honest and telling invitation to admit what’s going on in our hearts and how Jesus uses all of it and all of us. Love you friend!

  11. I loved this glimpse into your trip and your heart. It’s so very strange to be in such a BIG moment and feel as though our reactions don’t measure up. I have been there. But God moves in his own time. It’s obvious Kenya has a piece of your heart now and I can’t wait to see what God does with that.

  12. Mary,

    I am a sensitive person also. I can cry at the drop of a hat. Truly understand not wanting to look into the eyes of the mothers of babies. I would want to bring them all home with me. Everyone needs to have hope to hold onto. We need assurances that someone hears our stories and cares for us.

    Blessings πŸ™‚

  13. Mary,

    I’ve been waiting for these words. Not because I’ve been anxious to hear how your trip went, but because I wanted so desperately to know if you felt the way I felt after returning from Rehema House not quite a year ago. I, too, had such intentions of penning words during the coarse of the trip to share all that I saw and all that I felt.

    When I came home, I had a friend who is involved in missionary care, ask if I needed to talk. I told her I was fine. “Just processing…” I said. Months went by and the “just processing” became “I just can’t talk about it yet…” Finally – I spilled unending tears to a friend in her car as we drove up the Interstate. She asked, “So, it’s been months and you’ve never really told me anything. How was Kenya?” My throat swelled, I took a deep breath and began spewing it all. I still don’t know what to do with what I’ve seen…

    Last weekend at the Declare Conference I took some time to chat with the ladies at the Sole Hope booth. We exchanged a few small stories and both of us, unable to really even put our emotions into words, settled on tears and hugs and acknowledging the fact that it’s ok to be completely wrecked about what we saw. That it’s ok to let our heart break for what breaks His. Even if we can’t explain it yet. Even if we can’t ever explain it.

    I don’t know if I will ever fully be able to come to terms with it and to share the stories in the manner that I want to share them. I hope I can. But until then, I just keep loving and praying and doing what I can to help from within my four walls half a world away.

    And may I just say in response to your words above… “Me too, friend. Me too.”

    • Hey Jennifer! Thank you so much for sharing your heart with me. It’s so encouraging to know that I’m not alone – or a failure – for not having answers for people who ask about the trip, for not having words to describe even the small part I’ve processed, for not having processed hardly anything. Your “me, too” means so much. Thank you. <3