6 Things I Learned in July

july 15 learned

1. Jim Gaffigan is on Instagram.

This isn’t news but I just started following him. Think photos of food, Jim’s face made out of food, and the occasional family pic with hilarious captions one might expect from our favorite pale, McDonald’s-loving, Hot Pocket-lampooning comedian. {For the record, I also follow his wife, Jeannie Gaffigan.} #shamelessfan

 

2. Watching my boys play golf together swells my heart like nothing else.

golf brothers

I always envisioned myself as a boy mom. Even though I desperately hoped there would be a girl in the mix {and there is}, a house full of boys never seemed far-fetched to me. I don’t exactly have a house full but the males do outnumber the females in our home.

When the baby of our family was born, the youngest was already four. I worried that they wouldn’t be close as brothers because four years seemed like a hefty gap at that point. Even now, the older one will soon begin middle school while his baby brother is still in second grade.

Their personalities are nothing alike. But brotherhood seems to cover a multitude of differences.

They share a room and drive each other crazy yet neither one can bear the idea of not sleeping in the same room together. They also share a love of golf and have played until after dark many, many nights this summer.

On Monday, little brother officially caddied for big brother in a local JPGA tournament. Y’all, I couldn’t stop taking pics and smiling. I literally thought my heart would burst. I can’t tell you why this makes me happier than almost anything. I only know that it does. I hope that they always have each other’s back. Also? Seeing a tiny kid carry a set of clubs as tall as he is and advise big brother to either use his 7-iron or a hybrid is possibly the most adorable thing ever.

 

3. Primer is a girl’s best friend. Especially in the summer.

primer face

Makeup is still there!

So I’ve not worn makeup more than I’ve worn makeup this summer. Such is the life of a mom who has three kids, a house on the market, six showings in one week, and working from home. I know, I know. I was all about my Bobbi Brown makeup last month and I still am. I’m also just trying to survive and sometimes getting pretty doesn’t make the cut.

But on the rare occasion that I do get semi-gussied up, I’m all about the primer. Without it, makeup vanishes into thin air. These things happen when you’re over 40. My precisely applied eyeliner is all for naught. I tried some inexpensive primer way back when and it was okay but tended to turn into tiny gel beads on my face if I didn’t apply just right.

Recently I sampled some Smashbox primer at Sephora and my eyeliner stayed put! All day! So did everything else, even though I was walking around in the heat for hours. MIRACULOUS. I bought myself a trial size of this and this. A little goes a long way and I wanted to try it over time before I bought a full-size tube. I’ve heard there are other great primers out there so if you have a favorite, I’d love to know.

 

4. Having a writing companion is a game changer.

exercise ball

Starbucks and exercise ball / desk chairs are fine companions but they can’t take the place of an actual person.

Sometimes you become slowly acquainted with someone who’s at the same stage as you on just about everything — marriage, motherhood, work, writing. You have similar dreams, similar ways of seeing the world, similar obsessiveness with Anne Lamott. It’s a gift is what it is.

I met Kimberly Coyle two years ago at She Speaks. We got to hang out again last year at Allume. But my first introduction to Kimberly was many summers ago when we each wrote guest posts for Chatting at the Sky, Emily Freeman’s blog. I loved Kimberly’s writing style {and may have envied her life abroad.}

Not so long ago we embarked on a little journey to spur one another along in our writing endeavors. I wish I’d started sooner. Regular emails with my writing friend feels like having a grown-up pen pal. Knowing that she’ll check in encourages me to keep writing in the midst of self-doubt and laundry and busy-ness and tiny humans who start fighting as soon as I sit down to write.

 

5. Starbucks iced coffee in the grocery store.

 

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Get some today. Pour over ice and add a splash of half and half. Your afternoon will thank you.

 

6. When my outer world swirls crazy, my inner world follows suit. The well-spun words of others can be a gift in times like this.

See above comment about kids and summer and house-selling. Stuff is finally happening with our home but there are a thousand unknowns. I’m giddy one minute and devastated the next. I’ll tell you all about it later. Let’s just say that good sleep eludes me and soul rest sometimes feels like a joke.

I’m thankful for writers. I’m supremely thankful for ancient writers who penned the bread and life words of Scripture. I’m also thankful for today’s writers who speak in relevant ways to age-old struggles that simply wear modern clothes. I’ve mentioned it before {and will again} but Simply Tuesday: Small Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World has been one of those books for me. I was gifted with the chance to read it early and the timing was perfect.

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If you haven’t preordered your copy yet, I highly recommend that you do. {Choosing Rest by Sally Breedlove has been another timely companion for my anxious soul this summer.}

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So there you go. Six things I learned in July.

What have YOU learned this summer? We can dish in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter. Or you can chime in with you own list and link up with Emily.

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A Few Words of Rest for Your Weekend

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July weekends may conjure up vacation-y vignettes of water and fruity drinks and backyard barbecues. These are the lazy days of summer, are they not?

But as we all know, worry doesn’t brake for weekends.

Just because it’s summer and July and chill, there may still be ends that don’t meet and kids that don’t mind and outcomes that don’t match our expectations.

Savor the gifts. Because they’re always there if you look.

But acknowledge the sorrows too. For our days are surely a sacred swirl of both.

I’m learning to honor the sweet and the severe mercies, knowing that Christ sits with me at the center, the only comforting constant in a world that swirls unpredictably.

A few words of rest for your weekend:

If we are going to live out of a heart at rest, we must make the fundamental faith decision that no matter how deep or urgent the need is, it is ultimately not all up to us. We must choose to believe that God is at work in small things, in underground things, in unseen things, in not-yet-known things. As we rest in this foundational reality, the stress of what we cannot handle becomes a gate to rest.       

Choosing Rest: Cultivating a Sunday Heart in a Monday World by Sally Breedlove

This weekend, may you be able to stay present for what’s right in front of you, knowing that a loving God handles the unseen things. May quiet trust be “a gate to rest.”

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a few summer posts you may have missed

Essentialism for the High-Maintenance Soul

What We Need to Know When Our Spiritual Leaders Disappoint Us

5 Things I Learned in June

For the Christians Who Fear They’re Not Enough


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Essentialism for the High-Maintenance Soul

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It’s 8:22 in the a.m. and my mind has already spun a thousand webs. I’m not what one calls a “linear thinker.” I often struggle to prioritize, to land on that which is most essential for my life, right now.

Inhabiting a world of possibilities each and every day may sound dreamy and optimistic. But it can also kill you. I look at what’s right in front of me and instead of seeing one thing, I see twenty. I drive myself bananas with my wondering, wandering ways.

This spring and summer I have somehow managed to land in the place of thinking in a focused and sustained way about my truest priorities, to nail down the bare bones and commit only to the fundamentals. That may sound selfish but I think of it as life-saving.

I’ve been simmering in this place for months now, feeling a sense of urgency about the whole thing. I blame it on the age of my kids and this season of life that’s literally right around the corner.

It’s a time of transition for the Vischer family.

In a matter of weeks, the oldest starts high school, the second one starts middle school, and the baby begins second grade. Two of my three kids will make significant transitions. As their mom, it feels significant for me too. It also feels like it’s moving too fast.

Four years from right now, I might very well have an overflowing shopping cart of college dorm furnishings from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Four years seems like a long time when you have actual babies in the house and your days are a never-ending rhythm of diaper changes, spit-up cloths, and board books. But I’m far enough into motherhood to know that it picks up speed at an alarming pace.

camera sekf portrait

Today she’s in braces and cheerleading shoes. I’ll blink. And tomorrow we’ll be planning a graduation party.

Today he’s waiting for a growth spurt, hoping he’s not the shortest kid in the 6th grade. I’ll blink. And tomorrow he’ll be stealing his dad’s shaving cream.

These thoughts can sure enough get a sentimental mama thinking about how to make the most of the next four years, how to pare down life so that I stop spinning in good but misplaced directions. Earlier this summer I made some decisions all by myself. And then I told my husband and one friend.

Because they know me and my propensity to spend my short-supply energy in a hundred different directions, they were surprised by my minimizing ways. My husband, for whom “essentialism” comes naturally, was thrilled. He probably thought, “It’s about time.” But he has too much grace to tell me that.

And then I got some books that only strengthened my resolve. I’ve explored some possibilities that will take some domestic duties off my plate, willing to pay actual cash in exchange for time and energy to love the people and possibilities that matter most. I’m pondering what it means to have less so that we can all actually have more. Less clutter, less maintenance, less busywork, less stress, less time spent managing our stuff and our commitments.

If everything is important, nothing is important. This is true whether we’re talking about our commitments or our possessions. But it’s not always simple to figure out what’s most important, so I’ve needed time and a bit of help.

I don’t know how these desires and decisions will play out in real life. Everything sounds rosy in theory. I only know that we make decisions and tie them on stakes ahead of time. Otherwise people and opportunities will come calling and I’ll feel inspired and / or guilty. I’ll say “yes” when what I’m supposed to say is “no” or at the very least, “not at this time.”

Everyone doesn’t have to be as choosey as me. We’re all wired differently and I’m learning to accept my limitations instead of despising them. I have dear friends who thrive on people and contributing and committee-ing and tasking. They help make the world go round in such vital ways.

But I’m not one of them.

I’m a wife and a mom and a writer. But I try to do so much more and then wonder why I’m spent, dizzy, and unfocused.

mothers day loot

Depending on the day, marriage and motherhood require more physical and emotional energy than I naturally have on tap.

I have one child who needs extra encouragement and supervision with academics. So I read books on the learning disabilities this one lives with, feeling ill-equipped to handle these issues yet also knowing that if I don’t help and advocate, no one will.

Mothering takes time, discipline, and a whole lot of emotion.

I have a marriage that’s more of a priority than it’s ever been and also harder to prioritize than ever before. I see why people raise their kids and then divorce after thirty years. The relationship gets lost in the mayhem and we don’t want that. So we fight for the priority of our marriage.

Marriage takes time, discipline, and a whole lot of emotion.

I write for a local organization. I write here on the blog. I sometimes write and speak in other places. I dream of writing books because there are a few of them waiting around in my head. But love for one’s craft doesn’t mean the work is all blue skies and rainbows.

Writing takes time, discipline, and a whole lot of emotion.

Our life is ordinary but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. There are counseling appointments and orthodontist visits, sleepovers and basketball games, church involvement and our small group, extended family gatherings and carved-out moments with my dearest people.

There is also the unforeseen. The friend who gets cancer. The family who needs meals. The child who gets sick and misses two weeks of school.

I don’t want my life to ever become so crowded that it can’t stop for those in need.

Life, no matter how ordinary, takes time, discipline, and a whole lot of emotion.

This fall, Thursday and Friday nights will increasingly mean high school football games instead of quiet evenings at home as a family. And because one football game = a social marathon for Marian the Relational Introvert, I have to eliminate other things so that I’m not mean to the people I live with / in a coma.

Having a high-maintenance soul has forced me to learn my own kind of math and let me tell you, its heavy on subtraction.

But if I don’t tend to my soul, I can’t tend well to the souls of others.

girls

As I consider this new season, on chipping away at the non-essentials so that I’m left with the essentials, I long to make space for the necessary tasking and tending but also for the hoping and the dream-chasing. No one can do this for me.

In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown reminds us of this:

If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. 

Already there have been some “no’s” that have hurt a little. There may be people who don’t understand, who judge because if they can do it, why can’t I? It’s okay. While affirmation is nice, it’s not a requirement. I’m learning to let go of the obsession to make them see it from my perspective.

I choose to prioritize the relationships and opportunities within my own home. Every day I make the choice. Every day I confess that I don’t exactly know what choosing them even looks like. I only know that too often, I haven’t chosen well, giving the best of myself to other people and pursuits.

I don’t expect to get it right every time. This is more trial and error than formulaic. I’m thankful for grace and I’m thankful for Jesus, the One who guides each of us so personally and lovingly throughout the changing seasons and priorities.

The One who provides in our absence when we say “no,” lovingly reminding us that we don’t keep the world spinning on its axis.

The One who helps us accept our unique personalities and our unique people.

The One who provides us with longings and then provides the hope to see them fulfilled.

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How about you? In a world of pressure and possibilities, how do you pare down your own life to the essentials?

A few terrific reads that are helping me along the way

essentialism books

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Geoff McKeown

I highly recommend this one. It’s well-written, highly readable, and jam-packed with wisdom. While I don’t agree with all of his statements {such as “If it’s not a clear yes, then it’s a clear no”}, this book is incredibly helpful. I plan to keep it as a reference source for when I need to reboot with a common sense pep talk.

the life-changing magic of tidying up: the japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo

I only heard about this one a few weeks ago. I know! Where have I been? I’m leery of methods and formulas because I don’t believe there’s one-size-fits-all anything. But “KonMari” is more than a method; it’s an altogether different way of thinking about what we keep {and don’t keep.} I haven’t finished it but I can already tell you that it’s a game-changer. Again, I won’t abide by everything she says and some of her points translate better for a Japanese audience. Still, I think it’s incredibly valuable in changing the way we think about our possessions and our homes.

Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily P. Freeman

You’ll hear more about this book when it releases later in the summer. For now, let me just say that I have savored it. Every now and then you come across a book that begs to sit on your bedside table as a faithful companion, a book that’s a gift for your soul. Though the parts all relate to the whole, I can see myself re-reading specific chapters in the future when I need perspective on a certain issue.

Instead of feeling like I need to do more, this book invites me to embrace smallness and carry all of my anxious thoughts and unmet desires into the presence of Christ. If you’re overwhelmed with the pace of this world, the weight of expectation, and the burden of comparison, might I recommend this one? It releases in August but right now it has a pre-order price of just $7.85!. {That’s half off!} Run, don’t walk, to amazon and treat yourself to this one.

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy this short series I wrote last fall: Grace in the New Rhythms

new rhythms title pic

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