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 hope the poison ivy didn’t last too long! I’ve been there, wondering how in the world I even got the stuff and like you it was from blowing in the wind while riding a lawn mower!

    Yes, I am vain. I cover the gray hair, I worry about my weight as I watch the numbers just go up on the scale, I imagine that I cannot be attractive to anyone especially those single men out there who could be potential dates! I have believed I was not lovable by any stretch of my imagination.

    What I have learned the last 4 years I’ve been on this journey of healing. I am lovable and most importantly God loves me. I have friends who love me and truly care about me. I am beautiful despite the extra weight, the gray hair, etc. because I hold Jesus close in my heart and although I still mess up everyday in how I treat people, I’m learning how to look past others flaws to see their heart and treat them the way Jesus would want me to. About the single men comment, I’ve learned that if they like me for who I am and what I stand for then the flaws I see on the outside won’t stop them from liking me.

  2. First, I’m so sorry you’re covered with this rash! Ouch!
    Second, I celebrated turning 45 yesterday. The older I get, the more I feel comfortable in WHO I AM.
    I don’t worry nearly as much as I used to. I’m confident that my appearance isn’t what makes me ME.
    But there were times….oh boy, that I felt looks mattered the most.
    I’ve never weighed this much in my whole life and I have the face & skin of a mama that’s 45 (and all that goes with it BODY-WISE). Yet, I know…..I am who I am. God has me just the way I’m supposed to be.
    Hoping you heal soon! 😉

    • Thank you, Wanda. I have heard women in their 40s talk about the issue of knowing who they are several times. I wonder if it’s just a matter of time for many of us…and what we can do to focus our hearts there sooner?

  3. Oh no! I’ve been through the massive poison ivy rashes before and I remember how itchy that was. I actually met my now-husband while covered with poison sumac all over my face and arms. I hope you’re feeling better soon!

    Even though I know that God loves us that it is what we have in our hearts that is important, it can be hard to keep this in mind on those mornings where none of my clothes seem to fit right or my hair is determined to stand on end no matter what I do.

  4. Mary,
    On one hand, I’m sorry you had this experience, but on the other…hope it was for the Glory of God.
    I took a child to the doctor recently and his nurse, who is normally quite friendly and talkative, seemed to avoid me and kept turning her back and holding the file in front of her face. Then, once, I got a glimpse that all her teeth were gone. I felt so sorry for her. I know she had just had them pulled as the next time we were there she had a brand new beautiful set of dentures. But to have to go to work without any teeth just tugged on my heart for her.
    Hopefully, for her too, God was glorified through the experience.
    Blessings to you,

    • Oh, wow. That story makes me even MORE thankful that this is temporary and can teach me a lesson in God’s love AND that it’s not all my teeth! Isn’t it amazing – truly! – how God can work through the ugliest (to us) of situations?!

  5. Mary,
    Thank you for letting your heart in total honesty shine through from feelings to truth. I needed to read this today and am thankful God asked you to share your heart in this area. You have been a blessing to me.

    Hope your itchy rash goes away…I feel for your discomfort!


  6. I am so sorry about the rash! I can relate to the your feelings of vanity. I have had acne on an off over the last 10 years (thanks to hormones!) and when my skin is clear and lovely, I feel pride and vanity and have a greater self worth than when I have a few spots. Like your rash it is usually short lived and thankfully is easily covered with make up for work. While i still struggle to remember that a) weather I have a zit or not, I am still a good, kind caring person and b) most people spend less time looking at or thinking about my good looks (or lack thereof) than I think. Most people are focused on their own insecurities to spend too much time worrying about mine!
    I also think it fosters a great compassion for people who’s insecurity about their looks is not temporary, people with scars, birthmarks or deformities. It is a good reminder that since I don’t want to be judged by my cover, that other books out there don’t want to be judged by theirs either.

    • Great point about fostering compassion! I think of myself as being pretty kind anyway, but I had to admit to a friend today that if I saw someone who looked like me right now, I would probably stare. Now…hopefully I won’t.

  7. Thank you so much for these comments–we all have been there, sometimes more often than others. This really helped lift me up and encourage me to keep on keeping on. I know that God loves me no matter what and that I pay too much attention to what others think…….this just reinforced that and with humor. Loved it – thanks again for the picker-upper.

  8. How timely is your message this morning! I woke up Sunday morning, rushing to get ready to head to church, and noticed my eye was a little puffy. Thinking it was from a long night with the baby, I continued to apply my make-up and get dressed as usual. Long story short, my eyes continued to swell and the bumps spread from my eyelids to my cheeks. After a visit with the doctor, it was determined that I have had an allergic reaction to my cosmetics…products I have been using for years. Needless to say, I, too, have been given prescriptions and an order to go sans makeup for 12 days. I, unfortunately, do have an office to report to on a daily basis and I left the house today with the same thoughts…I am ugly. Your words have touched my heart in more ways than you will ever know. I know it is the Lord that led me to your blog this morning. Praise Him!

  9. I can relate also. I have never had poison ivy and after what you have wrote I dont think want it…I do hope you feel better. Im allergic to myself..literally. After the births of all three of my children I would break out in hives for 1 full year. Not just a hive in a random place but full body. Hives so big and thick that they would bruise when they went down. My face however would swell..my eyes, my lips everything. I looked like a freak. It was awful. My face didnt swell for a year but the hives were there. I shiver everytime I think about it.
    I hear people say at times that if you want to know the truth about something ask a child cause they can be brutally honest. Having three kids I know that can be true but I have trained them now and they know not to say a word. However I was with a little cousin the other day, talking with her and she flat out looked me and said you look old. I immediatly felt self conscience. I asked my entire family- my kids and husband and they tried to convince me otherwise. I studied hard in the mirror. Grey hair, some lines, puffy eyes. She was right..at 39 I looked old. That child inspired a change in hairstyle and some facial cream. I am very self conscience….I do try and remind myself that God doesnt see those imperfections and that I am perfect in his eyes but sometimes I just dont see it or feel it.

    • Tami, I can’t imagine having such a reaction to my own body. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through that! And yes, children are brutally honest, aren’t they? But God does NOT see our rashes, our blemishes, our imperfections. He sees His beautiful creations, His children – what an amazing blessing!

  10. What a difficult thing this is for us women. Are there any women out there who TRULY, deep down inside, believe that they are beautiful? I can know that God thinks that I am beautiful and still think that my outside is not beautiful. For every women I have ever spoken with, there is something that they wish they could change about their appearance. How successful Satan has been in our society to convince ALL women that they are not beautiful enough! May God continue to work in our hearts to expose that lie for what it is and to reassure us of the truth that God doesn’t create anything that is not beautiful! Thank you for being open with us.

  11. Bless your heart. Yes, truly humble feelings come when cannot rely on our looks and God takes them away…even for awhile. I’m so sorry you have been miserable (both internally and externally) but loved your post and your authenticity.

  12. We all write about beauty, and how it is not what truly defines us, and yet we fight that battle every day. Thank you for the reminder, as I need to hear it regularly. 😉

  13. Ugh … so sorry. But a sweet reminder of our inner beauty that holds more value than our skin-thin loveliness. But still … bummer!

  14. My heart goes out to you. I so get this! 7 years ago I had a viral rash that covered the left half of my face and left ear and made them swell besides. My husband wouldn’t give me a vanity pass to skip church, either. Praising God “because I have been remarkably and beautifully made” is generally a challenge because of the way chronic illness and the meds for it affect appearance. Thanks for your brave honesty here. Grace and peace to you in Christ!

  15. Thank you for sharing these potent words today.

    Struggling through such a rough season…this post is like a healing salve. Just what I needed to hear today.

    Isn’t HE so sweet to us?

    Blessings to you.

  16. Mary, This post caught my attention on FB because I have very recently just gone through the EXACT same thing. Okay, not the exact thing because my allergic reaction was all over the back and side of my neck, on my forearms, and my torso but did not make it to my face. I was a wreck thinking about what that would be like. I have been on a steroid for 2 weeks and have been an absolute wreck. Partly due to feeling really ugly and partly due to the side effects of the steroid. I also only just got my stitches out from the biopsy they did on my neck to see that it was just an allergic reaction! I’m feeling your pain sister. Thank you for the reminder of how God truly sees us and that is what is really important. I’m feeling better – only just today – and only after a stomach virus put me over the edge 2 days ago! There is hope. You will feel better. Thank you.

    • Anne-Marie, I won’t lie – I’m kind of relieved to hear someone has gone through this, too! Although, my goodness, a biopsy and a stomach virus on top of all of it? You have been through the wringer, girl!!! Seriously, I am so glad to hear that you’re feeling better, and I hope you get off all the crazy-making meds and back to normal soon!!!

  17. Thanks for this: Let your beauty not be external by the braiding of hair and wearing of gold jewelry – but the inner person of the heart, the lasting beauty of a gentle and tranquil spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.

    I hope you feel better soon. Each summer we suffer from a caterpillar into the oak. the burning hairs of this caterpillar ensure itching, urticaria and red rash. Calendula cream helps and soothes. And a antibiotic therapy causes the lungs are not affected.
    ank you for this powerful blog

  18. A great reminder, thank you for sharing your words this morning. I have often loved some of those scriptures you added and there were a few new ones that I will now treasure, too!

  19. Mary, this couldn’t have been more perfectly timed for me from the Lord!

    First of all, I am SO sorry for what you went through! How painful and awful.

    We were on vacation this week and I let myself eat desserts and food I don’t usually indulge in … and I’m showing it one week later. I had lost 14 pounds in Jan and slowly they crept back (those little buggers). But, through all this, I’ve been trying to train myself to talk to myself with gentleness and respect. It is crazy how mean my talk in my own head can be! (Sounds like I need a padded room, I know).

    I’ve been trying to look at this whole thing (weight, image, etc) differently this time around. Instead of “I can’t eat that” or “I blew it” … I’m looking at it as “I want to care for this body God gave me.” It sounds like a small shift, but really it is huge.

    Our society is so strict about image and elevating our looks to the point that they are a “golden calf” of sorts … we all gather around and dance together instead of looking at what God deems important. It reminds me of the Rom 12 verse about not being conformed to the pattern of this world, but being renewed by the transforming of our mind.

    I thank you for the wonderful scriptures you shared here — Truth to wash my mind with as I give myself grace for just being a little lenient over my vacation. God isn’t bugged about me having dessert. He just wants my heart. He doesn’t want me to give in to Satan and His plan for my life. Satan would love to see me self-obsessed and discouraged. God wants me obsessed with Him and others and encouraged.

    Thanks so much, Mary for being faithful to share this wonderful post.

    • Patty, thank you for sharing your heart here. I don’t doubt for a second that God is glorified when we focus on Him and enjoy the blessings He’s given us – even if that includes dessert every now and then. And you don’t sound crazy to me at all, because one of the most powerful Bible studies I’ve ever gone through was Jennifer Rothschild’s Me, Myself & Lies – which is all about healthy, God-honoring self talk (versus the nasty lies most of us recycle in our minds daily). Truly, what I learned in that study is what keeps me from talking down to myself like I used to.

  20. I started getting cold sores a few years back and was horrified. I was having frequent break outs and was afraid to go in public for fear that someone would notice the sores or even worse, ask me what they were (they were really weird – they were actually ON my lips). I was fortunate to not be working at the time, so at least it was mostly strangers that would see me during an outbreak. But, what I’ve come to realize is that strangers don’t really look at your lips. So it was just another instance of me thinking the world revolved around me and that everyone was paying attention to every little detail about me. Thankfully, they weren’t! Thank you for sharing this story with us. I hope your rash clears up soon!

    • Such a good point, Sharon. People – especially strangers, although I’ve noticed it even in friends and family – just don’t pay that much attention to our appearance as we think. Here’s hoping we can remember that next time we are forced to go out during an outbreak of anything!

  21. Mary,

    Well, God redeemed those ugly feelings by inspiring you to write a BEAUTIFUL post! I don’t think there’s a woman alive who wouldn’t wrestle with frustration and despair in your situation (umm, remember…I got poison ivy on my face a few years ago so I can totally relate!!).

    Really, truly…I LOVE your humor in handling the “ick” on the outside, then your candor in sharing what you’re really thinking. THAT’S when we all can relate best.


  22. This post hits home to me, in a good way. For many years I felt ugly and invaluable (thus bringing on my battle with anorexia). It took working through recovery and also training my focus back to Christ to really grasp how beautiful I am in God’s eyes. Yes I still have days where I get discouraged because my jeans are tight or I have a zit on my face, I think this is natural for all of us. The key is not allowing ourselves to remain fixated on these things that, in the grand scheme of life, really do not matter. Thank you for this wonderful post and beautiful scriptures.

  23. Just two days before Joseph was born, my chest and neck broke out in these weird rash {allergic reaction to administering my daughter’s antibiotics, note to self, when telling doctors I’m allergic to penicillin emphasis that even touching it causes a rash}.

    Anyways, the rash got worse after Joseph was born, spreading to my face, arms and legs. I went to see a doctor who actually made the situation worse by saying some pretty ridiculously horrible things about my appearance {cracking jokes about me still looking pregnant 3 days post delivery, a real confidence booster}. After a week or so, it went away, but it was a really embarrassing time.

    It was really hard {and can still be hard} to remember that God loves me just as HE created me. And even with random rashes and other body blemishes, He still loves me just the same.