The Key to Finding Peace and Purpose Right Where You Are

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Is your right-now season one of struggle or overwhelm?

 Are you in a place of upheaval or interruption?

 Has God given you challenging or complicated people to love and serve?

 Is your right-now work a far cry from your hoped-for work?

Always, you have a choice. Receive? Or refuse? Clench your fists? Or open your hands?

God meets you here, at the intersection of the right-now and the hoped-for. He has gifts for you unwrap, no matter how barren or chaotic things feel.

  • The gift of acceptance, which gives way to peace.
  • The gift of surrender, which gives way to trust.
  • The gift of laughter, which gives way to not taking yourself so seriously.
  • The gift of patience, which gives way to perseverance.
  • The gift of his presence, which gives way to joy and gratitude in the unlikeliest of circumstances.

 

But first, you have to receive. You have to relax your grip, give up your (illusion of) control, and let go of your agenda.

Receive your own life.

This is the key to living in the tension between your actual life and your hoped-for life.

Every choice to receive is a two-fold opportunity:

To reject your limited view of how life should go.

AND

To receive the grace and unexpected gifts that comes with surrender, trust, and hope.

I’ve lived through heartbreaking seasons where the unknowns stacked so high, I couldn’t see to take the next step. And I’ve lived through regular ol’ frustrating days of circumstances and people that conspired against my perfectly acceptable agenda.

Whether your current season feels broken in an extreme way or messy in a normal way, I’m learning (still) that “receiving your own life” is the key to finding peace and purpose right where you are.

I’m also learning that the broken stories we receive can one day shine with the beauty of redemption. (But that’s a message for another time.)

I’m offering a little something to wear as a reminder to receive.

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I’m so happy to offer these hand-stamped key necklaces with the word “Receive.” A sweet reminder for you or for someone you love who’s in a season or situation of struggle, of waiting, of hopeful expectation. It could also be for someone struggling to receive a time of rest or respite. Pain isn’t the only thing we learn to receive. When life has brought long seasons of struggle, receiving blessing can feel counterintuitive, even wrong. In the same way we learn to receive the unwanted gifts, we must also learn to receive God’s heart of abundance for us.

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Here are the details:

  • You can order by clicking this link.
  • Brass + hand-stamped + 14” drop / 2” key
  • Comes with a “Receive” printable so you can give the necklace as a gift without someone saying, “What a weird word to put on a necklace!”
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  • Limited supply. Shop will be open through Monday, December 10th or until they’re sold.
  • $20 shipped

Thanks for embracing this message with and supporting this little holiday pop-up shop! Feel free to leave any questions in the comments section.

Get your receive necklace here. 

Choosing Your Absence from Something You Love: 5 Things I’m Learning

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Five posts into writing a blog series I loved in early 2018, “The Sacred Art of Receiving Your Right-Now Life,” I found myself drowning in a sea of very normal roles and responsibilities. I’ve been living out the message of that series in real time instead of writing it down and hitting the “publish” button like I’d planned.

There was nothing crisis-like or dramatic about any of it, only that all the things conspired against my writing all at the same time. Or at least that’s how it felt.

  • Married with three children
  • I have a job, but it’s not full time.
  • And because it’s not full-time, a year ago I also took on a couple of freelance jobs that became triple the work of what I expected. (Lesson learned.)
  • My kids were doing all of their kid things. Two of them are teenagers, which means there’s no end to the shenanigans (and maternal angst.)
  • From February until the end of school, I lived in constant stress. Then summer and working from home with kids. Bless it.
  • After nearly 20 years of teaching Economics to college students, my husband began a brand new career last August. We’re grateful and excited; it’s such a good fit for him. But it’s meant long hours, working on Saturdays, and yours truly filling in the gaps. It won’t always be like this, but building a business requires a great deal of heart and hustle (and uncertainty.)
  • Also? Our girl graduates from high school in less than 8 weeks, and this year has stretched each of us in ways we couldn’t have known ahead of time.

 

Guys, I’m tired.

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But do you see what I mean? These are normal things, good things. Every role and responsibility I have means that I’ve been entrusted with gifts and people and opportunities to nurture and steward. But good things still come with hardship.

Which brings me to the first thing I’m learning during a season of living my stories instead of writing them down:

1. Too many good things at the same time are still too many things.

Sometimes we can’t help it. Sometimes we really are at the mercy of season and circumstance. But sometimes we let too many things in during a season that’s already sagging under the weight of all the good things.

Like a generous host throwing a grand party, we leave the door open and the lovely guests keep filing in, champagne glasses held high in celebration. Next thing you know, the floor has collapsed under the weight of this fine party. Here’s the part where I chuckle because this exact thing literally happened last year in the town where I live. It’s fine. No one was seriously injured. It’s a metaphor that works, is what I’m saying.

2. Life right now is much more about managing my energy than managing my time.

I’ve only fully realized this over the last several months and guys, it’s a game-changer. Busy as I am, I have actual time on my hands. We all do if we’re brutally honest. What I don’t have leftover is energy. And the things I really miss (like regular writing) require a mental and emotional energy that’s currently taken up by other required roles and responsibilities.

Once I realized this, I was able to let go of some of the guilt and striving, and replace it with grace and acceptance. I’m still sad about it. But all of my brain power and emotional reserves are currently spoken for. (See #4 if you want to know where it’s going.)

3. Structure is my friend.

A lot of us struggle with doing tasks that we don’t feel like doing. We procrastinate, distract ourselves, and make excuses. I have a friend who’s currently writing a book. As in, she’s under contract to write a book. One morning she texted me, “Haven’t gotten one word down on paper this morning but my hair and make-up look exceptionally good.” I laughed so hard because THIS IS WHAT WE DO.

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And some of us struggle more than others. (Ahem, it’s me.) Add to this equation that I work mostly from home, which means it’s easy for work tasks and mom / wife / home / life tasks to bleed together into an existence where I always feel “on” and never “off.” My brain is in a constant state of whiplash from switching back and forth between vastly different roles and tasks.

“Enough,” I said to myself in January. “You are a grown-up and you can do this differently.”

Now I try to have three days a week when I work full-time and two days a week that are for my other “job,” the one where I plan the meals, get the groceries, run the errands, fill out the paperwork, email the teachers and coaches, decipher FAFSA forms, do the laundry, (take a nap,) etc.

We’re all different but my brain works better when it has a long runway in the same direction. I’m more efficient with the work I do for my job when my brain gets in that zone and can just stay there for hours. The same is true for domestic life. It only makes sense to structure life in accordance with how my brain works. It’s required all sorts of rearranging and it will never be a perfect system, but it’s given me a renewed sense of hope that I can get through this season with a measure of wholeness and stability.

I can’t stress enough that this doesn’t always work perfectly. The last few weeks my rhythms have been off and I’ve had to accept it. But each week I begin again and ask for grace. Always, I try to hold it loosely.

(If you’d like to learn more about this, I highly recommend this podcast episode by Emily P. Freeman: Design a Rhythm of Work — Theme Days!)

4. If you’re living in a pivotal life season, even one that’s not a crisis, it will take up more space in your head and heart than you realize.

No one can tell you what it’s like during the last year before your child becomes, in theory, an adult.

And just like that, the tears start flowing. (I was doing fine until now.)

I recently told a friend that I feel a low-grade sadness all the time. I miss this girl of mine already and she hasn’t even gone anywhere yet.

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I think it’s because of this. When you hold that baby in your arms, 18 years feels like a very long time. It’s overwhelming, how long 18 years seems when you’re on the front end. But here we are. Though I hope and pray that our relationship will be always be close, that I’ll always be a trusted voice in her life, I know that most of the formative work is done. It is sobering beyond words, partly because I see all that I did wrong, all that I omitted, all that I didn’t know and now I do.

It’s also this. Senior year means we’re all living in the tension between a child still being under our roof and soon not being under our roof. Giving as much freedom as possible within boundaries is messy. It looks different for every child and it may exhaust you like nobody’s business.

Back in October, I drew up a “Senior Syllabus,” something we could all refer to throughout the twists and turns of this year. Sure, it’s been somewhat helpful but the truth is, there’s no real guidebook for this. We’re all simply making our way one day at a time. I pray a lot and I process it with a couple of trusted people in my life. I probably need to have a good cry or ten but I’m afraid that if I give myself permission to do that, I won’t crawl out of the corner for days.

5. Sometimes you have to choose your absence from the thing you love most.

Because there are people you love more.

For me, that thing has been my own writing. Again, it’s not that I don’t have leftover time. Monday I spent six hours of my day writing and editing content for my job. By 8 pm, I had no mental energy left, even though I didn’t go to bed for another two and a half hours. Sure, I could have come downstairs to my desk for personal writing time, but with what brain-power? (See point #2.)

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Five-ish years ago I read a little book called Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. He said many wise and timely things but here’s the phrase that’s stayed with me.

We must choose our absence, our inability, and our ignorance – and choose wisely. The sooner we embrace this finitude, the sooner we can be free.

In the last year, I’ve said no to speaking engagements that would have brought much personal joy and fulfillment. I said no to teaching a periodic  class, even though I miss teaching and would have loved it. I turned down additional freelance work even though the money was good.

And I’ve said no to regular writing and publishing my own words, for now, because it requires energy and intention I need to save for other things. Yes, it’s life-giving and makes me feel most like myself. And yes, this joy has a way of spilling over into my everyday life. But I tend to run after this joy, this work of my heart, with too much gusto, leaving my people in the wake. Though I desperately want to learn how to curb my own ambition and enthusiasm, I’m not there yet. And this high-stakes season is simply too precious and fragile to risk.

Even though I have so much to share with you.

I’ve been storing up posts and ideas in very organized and professional ways–scattered Word docs on my computer, iPhone notes, even an entire book I’ve outlined in a spiral notebook. I started it two years ago and I keep scribbling in it. I also want to write about teenagers–about daughters and about sons. I want to write about acceptance, doubt, everyday faith, and how the life of Christ has everything to teach us about receiving our right-now lives, even as we wait with hope.

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If you’re in a similar season of working, of waiting, of wondering if “your time” will ever come around, know that you’re in good company. And that company isn’t just me. It’s Jesus.

One of the things I’ve learned from studying his life is that God’s timing for our work is perfect, and that Christ himself is with us as we labor–whether it’s scrubbing the dishes (what I’m doing after I finish this,) helping with an overwhelming research paper on Macroeconomics and The Great Recession (what I’m doing after I finish the dishes #LordBeNear,) or being diligent in the work you’ve been paid to do (what I’m doing after I finish those other two things.)

As I labor in everyday ways, I invite Jesus, the one who filled the nets of his weary working friends with fish, helped them cook it up for breakfast, and then offered them a feast on the beach. This is his heart for us. He meets us as we struggle with discouragement, fatigue, and lack. He cares about all of our work, and delights to show up alongside us with compassion, grace, and sometimes a feast. (John 21:1-14)

Whatever season you’re in, I pray you will experience Christ’s presence with you, and know his heart of abundance for you.

Thanks for being here. (And for reading all the words. I sure know how to make up for lost time.)

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I do post on Instagram pretty regularly @marianvischer. It’s a little bit of personal life (think college visits + laughable school projects + how I redid my kitchen backsplash with stickers,) a little bit of writing, a little bit of everyday beauty. In the last year I’ve enjoyed writing a couple of series there.

10 Things to Tell You Series last September, hosted by Laura Tremaine. Here’s a link to the first post in that series. 

12-Day Series with Hopewriters in January. Here’s a link to the first post in that series. 

When I do publish here, or if you’d like to stay in the loop with news I only share with subscribers, sign up in the email box and you’ll be the first to know all the things. : )

The subscribe box is below this post or on the right if you’re reading on a computer. If you’re reading on a phone, scroll way down to the “Yes, Please” box underneath my photo.

5 Real Ways to Practice Self-Care in Your Crazy, Right-Now Life {that cost zero dollars}

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What does it look like to receive your right-now life just as it is and not how you want it to be?

What does it look like to receive this season of work you wish you didn’t have to do? What does it look like to receive this season of parenting? Of marriage? Of income? Of keeping so many plates spinning, you’re positively dizzy?

That’s been the purpose of this series — to encourage your soul in the midst of your right-now season and to provide you with practical tips to make the “receiving” a little bit easier.

We’ve talked about feeding your soul — why it matters and how to do it. And we’ve talked about why self-care matters, especially if you want to live a life defined by love.

Today, we’re getting super practical about everyday self-care and I’m reporting to you directly from the trenches. I’ve taken on too much work in the middle of a family season that also’s a bit too much. I feel stretched in every way and have had to accept that I’ll be a little bonkers until the end of the school year.

When life looks like this, we can proceed with fists clenched or we can proceed with palms open, receiving this season for what it is and opening our hearts to the ways God wants to love us, provide for us, and gently teach us.

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One of the ways He provides is through opening my eyes to “everyday self-care.” I’m not talking about massages and pedicures. I’m talking about daily rhythms and practices that help us to care for ourselves so that we can receive our right-now season of life (craziness and all) and better love those around us.

Here are 5 real-life ways you too can practice everyday self-care:

1. Do normal things slowly and with care.

During the holidays I listened to this podcast on self-care from The Lazy Genius. She talked about slowing down when you wash your face at night. And so I did.

You guys, do you realize that you don’t have to hurry when you wash your face? You can take the time to massage the cleanser into your skin, to slowly rinse your face with care, to gently pat your moisturizer onto your face. It turns a daily chore into a loving ritual. I feel like it helps to calm my brain and my body before bedtime.

I now do the same thing when I wash my hair, massaging my scalp with my fingertips in the same way my sweet hairdresser does. Why have we not being treating ourselves to these daily luxuries?

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If you had a friend who was struggling in some way, who needed your help to wash her face or hair, how would you care for her? Gently and with tenderness. Care for yourself in the kind way you would care for a friend. (I’ll say this a lot.)

Whether it’s a long shower at the end of the day, a warm bath instead of scrolling through Facebook, or washing your dishes slowly in a sudsy sink of hot water, the possibility of daily luxury is all around you. Treat yourself.

 

2. Kick hurry to the curb.

A couple of months ago I went to the grocery store mid-morning. It was a rare day of not having a super pressing agenda, so I gifted myself a latte from the in-store Starbucks and took my time through the aisles. Over and over, I said to myself: “Slow down. There is no need to rush.”

After I checked out and loaded my groceries into the car, I felt strangely relaxed and peaceful. Slowing down and sipping coffee had somehow turned a regular chore into a treat. I considered how I’m constantly in a hurry, even when I don’t have to be.

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I realize we don’t always have that luxury. You may have small children who accompany you everywhere or you’re squeezing in a grocery run before school pick-up. But when you’re doing a regular chore and you don’t have to hurry, be kind to yourself and value slowness over productivity. When I slow my pace and my mind, it’s as if anxiety runs out of gas and stalls, leaving me with a rare sense of calm.

As I’ve considered the life of Christ, I’ve noticed that he was never in a rush. We tend to assume this was a cultural state of mind, yet there are so many stories in Scripture of those around him hurrying and scurrying, frantic and panicked about all sorts of things. But Jesus never responded with hurry or stress, which tells me that’s not his intention for us either.

He is a God of peace and he calls us to be people of peace — in our inner lives and in the world around us. How can we be instruments of peace if we remain in a state of hurry and stress?

When a season of life is extra crazy, when we are struggling to receive it because we just want to get to the other side, hurry may be our default but it’s not our friend. Stressful seasons are the most important times to weave rhythms of slowness into our days.

 

3. Live within your means.

I don’t mean in a financial sense, though that totally applies. I’m referring to your energy level, your mental and emotional state, your relationships, your calendar, your commitments, your current season.

In my next post, I’ll tell you about an entire year of rest I had to take about 6 years ago. The reasons are long are complicated but a big part of the equation was my refusal, for years on end, to honor my own limitations. I was spinning my wheels in good, but misplaced directions.

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I wasn’t the only one who paid for it. For a long season of recovery, I had little to give anyone. When we don’t honor our God-given limitations, we will eventually fall apart, making it impossible to live a life defined by love.

{For more on this topic of honoring our limitations, see my last post: The Secret to Practicing Self-Care in Your Crazy, Right-Now Life.}

If your right-now life feels bananas, if you’re living beyond your means but you can’t take anything off your plate {it happens}, choose not to add anything else to it. Finish what you must and then resolve to move forward with intention. In the words of St. Benedict, “Always we begin again.”

 

4. Work with what you have, right where you are.

There is a holy hush that comes over my mind and soul when I quit wrestling and simply receive what is mine with gratitude. This applies to everything from my home and possessions, to the opportunities I have…and don’t have.

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This series I’m writing, while precious to me, has unfolded far more slowly than I planned. I have had to honor my limitations in the form of time and energy, which means I write in the smallest slivers of my full schedule and publish less often. I worry that I’m losing momentum and my writing skills, that people won’t keep reading, that the deep longings I have to encourage others as I write from my own heart will go unmet and unblessed. When I look around and see writers passing me by, it’s easy to lose heart, to panic, to throw in the towel.

This verse comforts me:

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6 (NIV)

Living a “limitless” life is not the goal. Notice that the psalmist is thanking God for boundary lines. Our good Father knows what we truly need and what we don’t. He alone is our portion and our provider. We can trust him with the limitations he’s placed in our lives, knowing that they provide protection or perhaps just a necessary pause.

We waste precious mental and emotional energy comparing our lives to others. We cannot simultaneously reach for what is not ours and receive what is ours. We can only do one or the other.

5. Feed yourself.

I’m talking about spiritual food and actual food. When our lives are especially crazy, we tend to neglect the most basic necessities, like nourishment.

As I said in an earlier post of this series, we can get a little crazy when we don’t eat. We lose all perspective. We despair. We cry. We don’t think or feel or act as we should. We act like young children with low blood sugar.

When I began to see Scripture as my food, it changed everything. It helped me prioritize time with God in his word, not merely as a spiritual discipline but as the daily sustenance I desperately needed.

The same is true for the actual food we eat. I love this illustration from Anne Lamott on teaching others to feed themselves in the same way they’d feed their beloved pastor if invited over for lunch or dinner:

They wouldn’t say, ‘Here Pastor, let’s eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of barbecue Pringles is all for you. I have my own,’ and then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container.

No, they’d get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, a plate filled with love, pride and connection. That’s what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create.  From, A Few Quick Thoughts on That Diet You Are About to Fail

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A couple of weeks ago my energy level was so low, I felt chronically sleepy and overwhelmed. How in the world was I going to do all the work set before me when all I wanted to do was nap? I couldn’t abandon my responsibilities or stop being a wife or leave my children as orphans. And even though I knew this commitment level would only be for a season, I still had to get through it.

As a last resort, I switched up my eating for this season I’m in, prioritizing my own nourishment. The details don’t matter because we’re all different in the ways we need to eat, but I will say this. As Anne Lamott advises, feed yourself with the care and intention you would employ if you were having your pastor or dear friend over for a meal.

The way you nourish yourself matters. Within a few days of making the changes I knew I needed to make, enough energy has returned for me to (hopefully) meet the daily demands of my current season. It’s impossible to receive your own life if you’re not feeding yourself in the most basic ways.

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And on that note, let’s take a break and enjoy a snack. : )

Because I have more real-life tips for practicing self-care in your crazy, right-now life, there will be a Part 2 of this segment on everyday self-care. In the meantime, what practices would you like to begin implementing in your own life?

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote on self-care:

I have become clear about at least one thing: self-care is never a selfish act–it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch. ~ Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

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If this series sounds like something you need, all you have to do is subscribe to this online space. (You can do that in the box below this post.) If you’re already subscribed, yay! You’ll automatically receive it. The series is totally free.

Simply come and receive.

Whenever the latest installment of the series is published, you’ll be the first to know and you won’t miss a post.

Other posts in the series:

Post 1: How to Live Your Ordinary Life with Extraordinary Purpose

Post 2: The One Word that Forever Changed How I Approach the Bible

Post 3: When Your Right-Now Life Needs a Realistic Way to Study Scripture

Post 4: The Secret to Practicing Self-Care in Your Crazy, Right-Now Life

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