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. Mary,
    We must both be on the same wavelength this week….this life. I just wrote about my usual “MO” for when my calling seems to be too large, too much. It usually goes something like this….try harder, try harder, try harder. Then after a period of trying harder, I turn into a growling grizzly bear to everyone around me soon followed by a total collapse in tears (this week it was in the Walgreen’s parking lot). When I finally got to the end of “me” (and therein is part of the problem), I went crawling to God to crawl into His loving lap. This is what He gave me…Psalm 121. Here are the first two verses:

    I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
    Where will my help come from?
    2 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

    The rest of the Psalm is equally as hopeful and comforting. Instead of staring at the task at hand, I needed to lift my head and focus on where my help comes from. If God gave me this ministry, He certainly didn’t give it to me to do on my own, in my own strength. After reading it I knew that instead of stomping on the accelerator even harder I needed to ease my foot off and spend time in God’s presence. Shortly thereafter, a good friend messaged me and said that God had put me on her heart and that somehow I could use her help in my ministry….wow. God came to the rescue fast with hope on this one. But….I needed to STOP and lift my eyes to Him first. Thank you for this post that reaffirms what God has been telling me…He gives us our callings, not to bring glory to “I” or “me”, but to Him. I had lost track of that….
    Blessings and ((hugs)),
    ps. Sorry so long winded…this has been my struggle too lately.

  2. Dearest Miss Mary,

    Thank you so much for sharing this lovely, encouraging post… God always times these things just right and directs us to what we need to hear doesn’t He? I know with my whole being that I am where I am supposed to be and 99% of the time I find myself hop, skip and jumping my way through my days with a smile on my face plowing through whatever tasks the day holds. But, there is that pesky 1% that still gets to me… I find myself tired, okay, exhausted. The dishes, the laundry, the cleaning, the bed making, the impending articles that need to be posted (and written… shhhh). What do I do when I feel as though my calling is “too much?” Well, first, I don’t get to decide whether I feel capable enough or not. It’s not up to me and God does not make mistakes. Second, I remember whose daughter I am. I remember that my loving Heavenly Father sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross for my sins… that He is right there beside me and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! (Philippians 4:13) Lastly, I remember that those negative, tired, selfish, “poor me” thoughts are the enemy trying to get me down. As soon as those thoughts start trinkeling in I FORCE myself to SMILE. Knowing that this tired, bitter, yucky feeling I’m feeling won’t last forever and I rest in the loving arms of my Heavenly Father. Sure we can have tired or “off” days… but we can’t dwell in them. Because the creator of the entire universe is on our side!! Thank you again for such an amazing, well timed, encouraging post. I pray your day is blessed!

    This side of Heaven,
    Summer Rae

  3. Oh my goodness, I need to rent the movie just to watch those lines! I have and still feel this way most days. I see so many amazing writers online and I keep asking God, “Why are you asking me to write? I’m a numbers person, not a writer!” Seriously, I am an accountant! I have been obedient but it’s been a hard road. Some days I say to myself, I could be just watching TV or relaxing after working all day if I just ignore this. I totally get those who love writing but it does not come naturally for me. God HAS to give me inspiration or I have nothing to say. Most times I use it as an excuse not to write but God knows my personality. So He throws projects at me with deadlines and I commit and move forward onto a path that, most days, is filled with fog. But I trust and follow His Light on the path and if I am obedient, He will give me His words.

    So just last night, I was tired and frustrated and repeated the words that keeps circling back in my mind. “You are not cut out for this.” God woke me up this morning and I found your post. Wow! This was for me! I know God has a history of using the most unqualified people so that He gets all the glory! Thank you, Mary! You have touch the deepest part of my heart! (Although I read blogs, I rarely make comments. But I really wanted to let you know that God used you to encourage me. Just in case you needed to know!<3)

    • Thank you so much for taking time to comment and share your heart here! I hear those same lies, about not being cut out for the things He’s called me to. But He HAS called us – and He WILL equip us to do just what He’s asking us to do!

  4. I remember God’s promises of never leaving me, always walking with me, choosing me to love, never giving me more than he and I together can handle πŸ™‚ and always working things for his glory and my good. Sometimes this recipe is mixed with some tears of frustration, anxiety or anger but the strong ingredients always pull me through πŸ˜€
    Thank you for sharing your heart and I pray God’s blessing and protection for you.

    • Kirsten, I love your word picture of a recipe. I’m so thankful He gives us so many ingredients to equip us in our individual callings!

  5. Mary,

    The calling God has given me is not saving the world, or my island, or my people. It’s just not that big. That’s what makes it hard. I am supposed do the things you talked about — take care of my family and my house and honor Him. I have been praying for more. For so long, I have been praying for expanded territory, wider borders. But He still says, “Go lower. Be smaller.” The calling of humility is just plain hard sometimes, right? Thanks for writing my heart today. It’s easier, knowing I’m not alone. Hugs!

  6. Thank you for writing this!! God has given me the gift of healing, and lately, the demands of this calling have been weighing me down. Thank you for this spiritual pick me up, just when I needed to hear it.

    • Baby steps are still steps, right? That’s what I tell myself when the lies creep in about my progress being too slow. He is patient with us; we just need to be patient with ourselves!

  7. Mary, thank you for your encouragement and comments about that movie! (Hard to find worthwhile movies sometimes!) I just read another very similar message and think God might be trying to tell me something?! πŸ™‚ I think I need to save this post for future days, too! Grateful.

  8. Moana’s story parallels Christ’s moment in the garden asking God to let the cup of his impending death pass from his hands and again on the cross when he asked why God had abandoned him. Yet he heeded God’s call to do his will, and so must we.

  9. This is precisely the place that I find myself today. Thank you for sharing your heart and fulfilling your calling. I needed these words today. Thank you and May God continue to bless you.

  10. I have been a wife for a long time, no children though. I have gotten to a point where I feel like my calling in life is to make my husband’s life easier-it is what it is. However, I feel that even though someday in the future my husband will get a chance to retire but I don’t feel like women ever truly do retire. There will always be dishes to wash, laundry to also wash, a room that needs dusting, etc.. I am at the point where I am trying to allow myself to be more relaxed about certain things like wearing a pair of jeans out of the dryer without ironing them LOL. I am thankful to God for getting me through the times when I just can’t even stand washing dishes. Thanks for listening, that’s all I really wanted to say. God will always be with me.

  11. Blessings!

    Often it is best to “talk less and say more.”

    So, I offer you my sincere “thank you” for sharing.

    This was just what I needed to hear today.


  12. Thanks so much for this post, Mary! I feel like this all the time. So hard to juggle life and kids and ministry. It’s great to know I am not the only one who feels like crying on most days.

  13. I am constantly amazed at the raw honesty of these articles and the willingness to be so very vulnerable. Thank you so much- you are healing to all those of us who are and do experience the same meltdowns. But it saddens me immeasurably to see that others criticize your heart and mock your contribution. Thank you too , for keeping going, in spite of the unkindness.

    • Lisa, I think we all face critics at some point, but thankfully God is no stranger to criticism, nor does He ever leave us defenseless. Thank you for reading and being part of the community here!

  14. This article is exactly what I needed in my inbox this morning. I had an extremely discouraging evening related to what God is calling me to right now. I also have a daughter who is a obsessed with kidz bop. πŸ™‚ Thank you for your words!

    • Don’t tell…but I kind of like Kidz Bop, too. πŸ˜‰ I’m glad this post was encouraging to you, Rebecca! Thank you for reading and sharing with us here.

  15. Love this. I will print it out and post it nearby so I can be reminded often that the One who calls is faithful. Thank you for your words. They did, indeed, touch my heart this morning.

  16. This is great! The hurting marriage, the ill mom, the adopted child’s trauma, the ill child, the straying husband, the hurting wife and children. …. God can And will make me who He wants me to be. He knows with His help I Can and will stay strong with Him. And somehow will accomplish my work in the midst of these hardships in my life. With God I can go on again today. Thank you!

  17. Thank you for this post! I needed this encouragement today. I think sometimes in looking at others, I think that everyone else is rocking their calling and never struggle with real life stuff. But they aren’t! We all need God with us. Thank you for the great reminder and the hope that it brings.

    • Oh, Hannah, you nailed it. We are ALL struggling. We are ALL facing battles. But God is with each one of us! I’m grateful this post was encouraging to you.

  18. Thanks for being real and sharing this honest and encouraging post today. Spoke right to my heart and reminded me that God’s callings on our lives are sure and true and He is with us every moment…even when we forget and try to make things work in our own strength.

  19. Dear Mary,
    I don’t think I’ve ever left a reply on Incourage and have been a follower for years. We are an American family stationed overseas in England. My passion is women’s bible study. I love to teach the Word. And try my best to do so here in England to 2 small groups (One teens, One Ladies). My pastor of a fairly large church here in the UK has asked me to preach March 26 (10days away!) It’s “Mother’s Day” or known here as “Mothering Sunday”. I have no words for the privilege this is. Nor the natural strength to do so, but I know it’s what I was made for. I literally don’t even know what to reply here to you but felt compelled to respond. The weight of this simple 25ish minute talk is weighing so heavy on my heart. I have wrote it and my pastor approved of it and encouraged me….also while recommending a few changes here and there. But I am overwhelmed. I feel like a small little girl in a room of spiritual Giants. (I’m 43 btw…so not so little but I feel like a little girl πŸ™‚ I’m like, “Who am I?” that I get to do this? I sit right now in a Waitrose Cafe. My heart is full from this post of yours and the tears are running down….and this is such a “non-British” thing to do. ha ha. I love you Sister and thank you for taking the time to study God’s Words so that you in turn then pour your encouraging words to us. You are a gift. Keep on keeping on, Love, Cindy xx

    • Cindy, thank you so much for sharing your heart with me here. What an amazing opportunity your pastor has offered; what an incredible gift God has given you! It sounds like you are right on track for walking down the path He’s created for you. I just know He will hold you tight and give you the strength to share your message. Many will be blessed to hear His truth from you. Thank you for being obedient and faithful! And I am the most non-British person ever if tears in a cafe are any indication! πŸ™‚

  20. “God has called us and no matter how many oceans we face, He will be with us.” Amen! Thank you for writing this — I needed to read it this morning. There are times when I can become tired and weary of what I know to be God’s purpose for my life, days when I find myself wondering “why me, Lord?” –and it is good to know I am not the only one who has days like this. Normally I find myself wondering why I am not finding joy in serving the Lord, only to realize that my focus has slipped away from Him and onto myself. In my own petty strength, I can do nothing. In my weakness, He is my Stronghold. And He will always equip us for what He has called us to do — and I have found that he has to bring us to the end of ourselves before we can truly rely upon Him. Thank you for the timely reminder this morning!

  21. Mary,
    Oh yes, this message is quite timely for me. Knowing God has called me to a particular something and will provide the means to follow through with it, yet vacillating between trusting God and taking it into my own hands. But, holding onto the truth that when I am weak then He is stong. Thank you for your beautiful words of encouragement.

  22. I so totally get this. I wrote something for Lisa-Jo’s Five Minute Friday several years ago that you almost stole a quote from;) “We find ourselves at the end of ourselves.” Clearly, we’ve both been there. But then, we’re not the only ones. I just turn to scripture. “Lord, I believe. Help thou, my unbelief.”
    I’ve been feeling down (in my calling – I’m a pastor’s wife) over the past year. But just this past Sunday, when we had a fellowship meal, two separate people offered special prayers for me in thanks for what I do, for no reason other than that they felt led to do so. I was so touched and encouraged. That made such a difference in my spirit. I think I can. I think I can. The Lord knows I can with His help and according to His purpose.

    • I wanted to post what I wrote that sounded to similar to what you said.
      Beyond for 5 Minutes
      I can do anything for five minutes – at least that is what I say when I am not doing hard things and am only imagining them. Sometimes, though, I really am pressed to go beyond. And sometimes I arrive at the end of beyond β€œat the end of beyond” – screaming or in tears.

  23. Mary, your words resonated so deeply with me today. I just read that part in the Bible, yesterday, with Moses complaining that he wasn’t the right person for the job because he couldn’t speak well. I think, the message, that God is with us, every step of the way, is one that I, and so many others, need to hear, again and again. Thank you for sharing.

    • I’m so glad this encouraged you, Dawn. It’s definitely a message I need to hear myself, over and over again. Thank God He never tires of telling us!

  24. Yes….in December, after God made it so clear in August my husband and I were to start and manage a group, I was bawling in the Hobby Lobby parking lot, overwhelmed with the responsibilities I knew were coming up, and for the family health issues we were to experience. I told Him he had to show me if I were to continue, or if I heard wrong and this is my own doing, and should I then bow out. I turned on the radio, and for the next four songs they spoke so clearly to me. I wept harder knowing Jesus had answered me. I did what I had to do for that day. Very slowly, help has been trickling in. It’s still very, very hard with managing it, and the work, and I still wanted to throw in the towel for March, and during the meeting spoke to me of the necessity for the group. It is as Bev said, crawling up His lap and resting, I’m adding for me, doing only what He directs me to do, and trusting for the rest.

    • You can do this, Joanne! With God, you CAN. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I believe God is using your faithfulness and He will equip you every step of the way. <3

  25. Oh Mary, yes! I took my family and in-laws to see this film in the cinema for my birthday … I live in the Netherlands and this film felt like it would be a piece of home (it’s about a Maori legend after all: and I hail from little old Aotearoa: New Zealand). I cried and cried . . . also because it was my Mum’s death that brought me home to Christ and the Grandma in the story reminded me so much of my Mum (who being in the cloud of witnesses encourages me to keep going ) .

    I told my girls that Tawhiti is like us people when we are far from God: without God’s heart in us we are afraid and angry….but afraid of and angry at our God who will ultimately save us. My girls and I both needed that reminder and also that God’s purposes will prevail in our family.

    And for me personally this too struck a chord:

    β€œWhy did you bring me here?
    I’m not the right person.
    You have to choose someone else.
    Choose someone else.

    I’ve spoken those very words to God again and again, as He’s called me to share/speak His Words to others that have met with silence and outright rejection. It is then He brought me this (pray it encourages you too):

    Jeremiah 15:19 AMPC
    Therefore thus says the Lord [to Jeremiah]: If you return [and give up this mistaken tone of distrust and despair], then I will give you again a settled place of quiet and safety, and you will be My minister; and if you separate the precious from the vile [cleansing your own heart from unworthy and unwarranted suspicions concerning God’s faithfulness], you shall be My mouthpiece. [But do not yield to them.] Let them return to youβ€”not you to [the people].

  26. Mary,

    I hate to admit it, but I just did the hiccuping, heaving sob like a baby thing myself as I read your post. I’ve had some major life transitions take place over the last (almost) two years and I still want to run out into the street every other night and shout those words into the tree line. I expected this new “calling” to be so much easier than it’s been. I at least hoped that the transition would feel comfortable after a time. But not yet. I still question all of it. I still ask if I heard everything correctly or if it was just a fabrication of my own doing.

    I know that’s not true. It’s easy to second guess, but the certainty was as strong then as it is now and that part of me still in denial is a part of me I need to silence.

    Yet…calling is such a tricky thing. I think sometimes we think it comes with flashing lights and uses all of our strengths and none of our weaknesses and I’m finding that couldn’t be more untrue. That it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the God I serve and the people He places in my path. And even when I feel wrung out from the mental exhaustion of it all, I’ve never once buckled. He carries me through every doubt and fear and places me on the other side where I’m comforted by His peace.

    Your words truly resonated today. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

    • Ohhhh, yes. The part about it having so much less to do with us and so much more to do with Him – that is a lesson I have been learning, too! I’m grateful this encouraged you (although I’m sorry it made you cry!). πŸ™‚

  27. Thank-you Mary,
    This was a beautifully written post. I pictured poor little Moana feeling the weight on her shoulders doubting herself.. When my calling feels too big what do I do you ask? I trust it with God.

    Have a blessed day all,


  28. “God has called us and no matter how many oceans we face He will be with us”…I loved this and can relate. Six weeks after launching my Repurposed Faith book last fall, I landed in the hospital twice in one month for 11 days. Since recovering I have not had the energy to market or speak or do book signings. Now I’m re-processing my calling re future books I feel called to write. I’m at the Grandma stage of life and am leaning on the Lord to direct me step by step. I liked reading the comments that recognize that it is ok to step back, rest up and keep moving forward slowly as the Lord leads.

  29. Thank you Mary – last year God led me to resign from my pastoral role to establish a teaching ministry. What I’m doing is new in our little country NZ and the opposition has been intense. There has been the faith factor dropping to one income but my kids have literally been sick since I resigned- and any time I release a new study or have a speaking engagement the sickness amps up. This week the car broke down the night before a speaking engagement and I had to ask someone to take me! I keep getting the word to stand firm. Thank you for sharing your own struggles- it is an encouragement to know and be reminded that we are not alone in our callings being hard and costly. Bless you!

  30. There is a line from a Steve Green song, ” Each day can be too much for me, be thou my vision, so I can see. ” Any little thing to help you keep going and it’s true, what you do may not seem like it’s worth it but Jesus certainly is, and it ‘s even a shame to think that people aren’t worth it, but sometimes I don’t think they are and so I try to think of one that is and that helps. I don’t think any of us are worth what Jesus did but I’m glad He thought so.

  31. And that’s got to be why He told us in 2 Corinthians that “[His] grace is sufficient for [us] for His strength is made perfect in weakness.” When I just typed that, I think for the first time I paid attention to the part “made perfect,” especially “made.” So, it’s when we’re weak, and reeling from knowing just how weak we are, that He comes with His almighty strength and grace to restore us to the joy of our faith in Him and His peace that passes all understanding. I need to keep remembering this for all the times I’m on that small boat right next to Moana….

  32. This is just what I needed today, Mary! God knew and he used you! I have been to the place you describe many times and God is always faithful to provide a way to continue pursuing the calling he has given me. He will do the same for each of us, his beloved daughters. Thank you for your transparency, it helps me to see I am not alone in these struggles πŸ™‚

  33. Mary, thank you for this piece today. It was one of the days i was at my breaking point and was ready to tell God to choose someone else because I am tired. Just when I think I could rest He send someone to be ministry to, to listens or someone that need love but His word said, He does not give us more than we can handle. He always give me the strength I need to accomplish His will, His way. Thanks for letting God uses you wwith words. God bless!

  34. Don’t you worry I sat crying at the exact same place in Moana! I keep finding that God always calls me to do whatever it is that makes me the most uncomfortable. Because I need to learn to rely on Him to rise to the occasion. It is hard! But nothing could replace growing with Christ as opposed to being without Him. He molds me into so much more than I thought possible! I just need to stop being stubborn and trust Him :).

  35. Thank you for this Mary. I’m reminded that, in our weakness, He is strong.
    Also, you may be finding it hard but you are so good at this, just looking at all the comments above!

    • Thank you for your kind words, Abi. I actually really struggled to write this post; the irony is not lost on me! God IS indeed strong and good and faithful, and I’m grateful He never tires of reminding me!

  36. Mary,

    God called me to some hard things in life. I knew I would be caring for my aging parents, but didn’t realize to what extent. The last few years have been hard–really really hard. I’ve felt tremendous stress working full-time and dealing with his medical issues. Like others I got upset, & cranky. God allowed me to quit my full-time job to be more available. That was both relaxing and upsetting at the same time. Most days were good, but some were bad-awful. His dementia ran the gamut. There have been days I asked God how much longer-what must I learn. I know it was only through God’s strength that I could carry on. He spoke to me confirming I was where He wanted me. People would say “you’re gonna get stars in your crown for this”. “you’ve taken good care of your dad-God will bless you”. This month has been hard-but God finally answered my prayer “how much longer”. Wednesday 3/15/17 my dad passed in his sleep. He is at peace with God!!

    Blessings πŸ™‚

  37. Mary,
    I’ve felt this way soooo many times. I go to the Scriptures that remind me of God’s grace, His strength and His promise to always be there for me. I listen to music – the hymns and contemporary ones. Sometimes I take a run. But, my most favourite reminder is to go down to my kindergarten block and sit in their classes. Their singing or recitation remind me of my purpose in such a real way. As a Christian educator, I am training children in the King’s way. Once I feel their hugs, see their little eager faces and hear their voices, I’m good to go. God is soooo awesome.

  38. *GASP*

    I need to make this ENTIRE post my phone wallpaper right now. I may print it and leave it on my nightstand. As a matter of fact, I think that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’m in a season where I’m exploring and running toward a calling and the ups and downs and the vacillating between “I AM MOANAAAAAA!” and “YOU CHOSE THE WRONG PERSON” or worse, thinking I haven’t been chosen at all but am simply mishearing Him amidst my own delusion of grandeur- I’m back and forth multiple times a day right now. This was so encouraging and is just what I need in this season.