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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& you will too!
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Reader Interactions


  1. Hi Mary, thank you for this illustration. I need to reset my day sometimes and forgive myself for my less that stellar behaviors. What a beautiful post of forgiveness of others and ourselves. This is beautiful!

  2. Oh, Mary, YES!
    A huge hallelujah for those new mercies everyday that move my clothespin back to green!
    (And I’m hoping I can walk away from this screen holding the image of Oprah’s grace give away. You have such a gift for broadcasting smiles!)

  3. FANTASTIC! You give rays of light into the dark anger and resentment in this Mommy’s brain – I love this mental reset each night that gives Mom-peace and I’m putting a color chart up today!!

    • I’m putting up my chart tomorrow too! What perfect timing after the past couple of weeks as I’ve felt at my wits end with my first grade daughter also. I too know I am to blame as I am also feeling angry with her more easily each day. Thank you for these words today!!

  4. Oh my! I really needed this and funny thing is I didn’t realize I needed this until I saw the title. I’m so thankful you shared. This is definitely what God wanted me to see this morning. God Bless!

  5. We ALL need a fresh start! And by Jesus’ sacrifice, we all can CHOOSE to get one! Wash me clean this morning, Lord, because You love me more than I love myself, and You understand my sins and failures more than I ever could. Dust off the throne of my heart, Jesus, and make it Yours. Thy will be done in my life today. Thank You, for Calvary. Thank You, for a fresh start. I praise Your Holy Name!

  6. Ahhh…so wonderful to read this this morning! My heart is in that exact place of feeling no break, no relief, no blank slate with my 16 year old daughter. As a believer in Christ who has been forgiven much and who is shown grace day in and day out, why is it so hard for me to do to the same? I’m praying God will show me a kind of “color chart” I can use with my daughter to help us reset each day. Something that will give us hope for the day instead of anxiety. Thanks for sharing your heart and how God is changing it!

    • I’m trying to think how to adapt this for my term daughter as well – and I welcome any thoughts / ideas / suggestions !

    • If you all think of any older-kid versions of this, I’d love to hear them! I have a 10-year-old who needs something a little different than this color chart (even though I still respond quite well to the colors!). 🙂

  7. I love a surprise ending! The visual of the heart-resetting green starting card is just beautiful. What a picture of God’s grace and mercy and of the importance of remembering to extend these gifts to ourselves, too. Thank you, Mary.

  8. Thank you for sharing Mary! As a mother to a three year boy, I often feel guilty when I yell or lose my patience with him. I condemn myself and end up repeating the behavior. However, your post reminds me I can start over fresh with each new day.

  9. Thank you for this word of renewal this am, I certainly needed it. My daughter is 19, and we have had these moments for 17 years. I often feel hopeless and encourage myself to wait out the storm, but anger has manifested lately moreso out of just being over it… I’ve even withdrew from the constant feeling of walking on egg shells to working later just to avoid the roller coaster of emotions.. I always feel a mixture of relief and shame for doing so. My heart breaks for her as she has been raised in grace, love and forgiveness but has sought a worldly approach to bring her comfort which she admits is not working but continues to drive deeper into the gutter… I am thankful again for your encouragement and I am excited to do an older version of a chart to reset the day after all that is the word for his grace is sufficient and we are renewed each morning.. so I will use our dry erase board to wipe the slate clean each day to remind me to forgive and think on it no more…
    God Bless,

    • Leslie, I love your plan to use a dry erase board. I may use that for my 10yo (and me)! Praying your daughter responds to your (and God’s) love and patience and grace.

  10. I love that color chart!
    I will suggest it to my daughter-in-law when it comes time to deal with my beautiful grandchildrens behavior.
    I love spicy questo too! Yum!
    Love, Maggie

  11. Thanks for sharing… not everyone may relate to where you’re coming from, but it helps women come together as sisters tonpray for each other even if our struggles may be different.
    I have been in a season of extreme stress for over a year now. From my husbands hospitalizations last year, Car accident in the fall, foreclosure and illness taking its toll and turns in our family. My oldest received news that after finally being cleared from a concussion, he may have lymphoma, then broke his hand playing baseball in the outfield right before Easter… did I mention he’s our lead guitar at our small church ;( he’s a senior in HS )
    Lastly my middle son has missed school due to GI issues that should have gone away in days….lasting over a month, still testing for causes. Hopes diminish, exhaustion sets in and honestly….yesterday I just curled up and slept almost the day away! I felt so guilty, and yet the Lord in His Word says, to “Be Still…and know that I Am God!” So I regrouped late last night and read about how God is faithful and will fight for His own. I don’t always have to have the answers or the miracle treatment for my family. Maybe not even time or energy to make homemade soup, but can enjoy sitting down to eat chicken noodle out of a can with peace in my heart. Why do I put so much pressure on myself…,that I never seem to get a break. The year has been almost unbearable, but God is good and His mercies are new every morning! We appreciate your prayers! 😉

    • Brenda,
      So sorry to hear of all of your struggles. Prayers that all will be well. Take one step at a time.
      Have a blessed day,

    • Brenda – wow. That is so much to bear – too much! For what it’s worth, sleeping for a day sounds like an excellent way to take care of yourself as you cope with all this. Praying God sends hope, relief, and healing soon.

      • Thank you for your prayers & encouragement. Really appreciate it. Each day is a giftFrom God, & I must choose how I use it…blessings

  12. Mary, I love this! I’m 70, not 7, and thrilled to go back to green this morning. Just thinking how much greater God’s grace is than a first grade teacher’s elates my heart.

  13. Mary,
    this was refreshing, thank-you so much for sharing with us this morning.
    Have a blessed day all,

  14. Reading this, I think I often take for granted His mercies. Every day back to green. Mercies “afresh” each morning. (I love that translation.) And, ya know, I bet those “new” mercies are literally new. Non-recycled from days past, but brand new mercies, fresh out of their packaging, for a brand new day. Tearing up at the thought of His constant love. And faithfulness. Oh, His faithfulness; always being a God of His word and modeling grace. — Thanks for this sweet word today, Mary. ♥

  15. This is beautiful, and needed. Yes, I often struggle to “start fresh” with myself and others, but I SO desire to extend to them (and myself) the grace that God so lavishly gives to us.

    Thanks for sharing your very real, normal struggle and your wonderful response and what God showed to you.


  16. We’re struggling with something similar with our teenage son – you’ve just inspired me to visualizing resetting his (and my!) day each day. Thank you – I really needed to read this today!

  17. Mary,

    OH yes! I often kick myself for how I behaved & what I said the day before. Too often we forget His mercies are new-Brand New each day. He wipes the slate clean & puts the pin back on green. Raising children in today’s world is tough-super tough. But Praise God He gives us new mercies daily to try again. We get to start over each day. It is hard to forgive ourselves for the mistakes we make. If God can forgive us then why can’t we forgive ourselves? We need to pray each night & ask for the forgiveness & do our best the next day.

    Blessings 🙂

  18. Having worked with children, I’ve tried it all. Stickers, rewards, time-outs, timers for activities, even baking cookies. Most do very well and are receptive. But I have run across a few that nothing appears to work with, even some that are not interested in hearing Bible stories, that concerns me. Singing is a good outlet. Quiet time is a must. Art or Bible journaling. I try to teach the fruit of the Spirit, starting with love and ending in self control. The Lord has dealt with me about anger, the latest two I have worked with, have loud voices, defiant attitudes, anger issues. I was being loud to combat their loud, it wasn’t working. And we are to be angry and sin not, and certainly not go to bed that way. Having a family daycare was different, fostering or being a parent 24/7 can be exhausting. Especially keeping them out of adult discussions. I don’t think we need to let bad behavior slide by, prayer is the key and He does give us a blank slate. I try my best not to rehearse the past. I ask the Lord to bless everyone who reads this and call good things into your life, in Jesus name.