How I Almost Let a Horrible Light Fixture Ruin My Life

light fixture header pic

In a perfect world, life should pause when you move your family and all of your belongings to a new house during the busiest part of the year.

But it doesn’t. We are grown-ups and therefore we carry on, even if we are not always keeping calm. People need to be fed and clothed and helped and loved, major life transition or not. And so, like many of you, I schlep around our three kids who are at three different stages of life in three different schools and with three different sports. Church and basketball practice and birthdays and invites — they all keep going.

And then there is this house, which we dearly love, patiently waiting to be settled into and cozied up so that it can love on us and the people who come through our doors.

These are all the best problems really. We have jobs! And children! Who get to receive an education and play sports and have friends!

We have a lovely house for which we prayed and waited so long, one that shelters us and felt like home from the very beginning.

tea on the screen porch

I write these things to remind myself because over the weekend I was not all, “Yay house and I’m so grateful for shelter!”

No. I was standing on top of my daughter’s bed WEEPING because of a light fixture from 1959. My bewildered husband looked at me and made the dreaded remark that husbands sometimes make when they are trying to console a crazy woman: “It’s not the end of the world.”

But in that moment, it was, in fact, the end of the world. It was so much the end of the world that I left the house and found myself in my favorite Chinese restaurant with a to-go order. Extra rice. And an egg roll for good measure. Because a gal needs nourishment when the world is ending.

This would probably be a good place to insert the backstory.

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I have a teenage daughter who cares very much about her room.

Like her mama, things like color and lighting and aesthetics affect her greatly. We are both “highly sensitive” types in these ways. And while she has HER VERY OWN ROOM on the “lower level” {as we like to call it}, her space has what the Nester refers to as “lovely limitations.” Limitations like textured cement walls, tiny windows that let in minimal natural light, and brown carpet with matching brown rubber trim.

And a light fixture with no globe that hails from 1959, when the house was built.

She’s a freshman in high school. These are the years when the world can begin to do a number on one’s angsty, adolescent, insecure soul. The years when school and activities and the social scene and pressure about the future can demand more than one’s fragile self can give. I want our home and our family to be a refuge from all of that. And because I love her more than words can say, I want to give her a space that says,

Come, child. Come lay your head and rest your cares and let it all go for a spell. Come sleep and dream and feel the love in this place that we’ve prepared for you.

I can’t give her straight A’s or a full-ride to college or protect her from a broken heart. But I can give her soft sheets and a furry comforter and an excessive amount of pillows and twinkle lights.

throw pillows

This was my motivation and my vision, a lovely and cozy sanctuary for my teenage girl who will only live here for a few more years. {Please pass the tissues.}

And then an Evil Light Fixture tried to steal everything.

An Evil Light Fixture with no globe that should have so easily detached from the ceiling and been replaced with a capiz shell chandelier that I got for $20 and had planned to fit ever so easily around the existing bulbs.

But this fixture got all 1959 on me with its sketchy wires and Houdini way of being UNREMOVABLE without the services of a professional electrician. It mocked me as it dangled from the ceiling.

dangling light fixture

It resembled the torturous lighting of an interrogation room. Which was appropriate because the sudden anger of the moment made me want to murder someone.

Let’s recall the aforementioned sensitivities to bad lighting. This room had the worst lighting in the house. Also? I had less than 48 hours to do complete the project. My daughter was away on a Young Life retreat and I had planned to surprise her when she returned. For two whole months, I’d been planning a secret re-do for this particular weekend.

But back to Friday night.

The Evil Fixture sapped my will to even launch the project. I was bone-weary from an extra busy week. I had everything I needed in place and the clock was ticking. But the perfect  paint color and cozy bedding and party of throw pillows would only make the space look like a girly version of an interrogation room if I could not remedy that fixture.

So I abandoned the cause altogether and drowned my despair in Asian vegetables + extra rice + eggroll in my bed while crying and watching a movie like a responsible grown up.

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Rest {and Chinese food} are magic. By the next day, I had a vision that came to me in bits and pieces.

A lampshade frame.

source

Yarn and fabric strips glued all Bohemian-like onto the frame.

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And this GLORIOUS wall-hanging that the Nester posted just last week.

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How to make a DIY wall-hanging starting with a mop

This is why God made Pinterest.

We come across ideas that lodge themselves in our brains. And then these ideas become friends with one another and help a sister out when the pressure is on.

Here I am on Sunday afternoon with a massacred lampshade frame {from a lamp I snagged off the curb}, a hot glue gun, yarn, and whatever other Bohemian doodads I could find in my craft closet.

making a lamp

Let’s all pretend this is a flattering photo of Marian.

Again, this is the Evil Light Fixture when it was winning.

dangling light fixture

And this is the Evil Light Fixture DEFEATED and hidden by a Boho chandy.

boho chandelier

It was one of the greatest decorating victories of my life. Even more than the flipped-over rug and the dining room turned lounge of yesteryear.

You won’t find this fixture in a magazine. It looks more crafty than couture. I hope to add more yarn and beads to make it a bit more substantial. But it worked. Resourcefulness and perseverance WON. And even though she would have picked a tiered chandelier from PB Teen in a perfect world, she actually said she wouldn’t change her one-of-a-kind chandy, pieced together with love. And a lamp shade from a stranger’s curb. And a lot of anger and unbalanced hormones if I’m being honest.

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I know this post appears to be about a DIY chandelier. But it’s not.

I needed that small victory something fierce.

Life today is more of a balancing act than it’s after been. From morning until I fall into bed, I spend most of my time doing what I have to do {because I’m trying to be a responsible grown-up} and have precious little time to partake of pursuits that make me come alive. Pursuits like writing and pondering and creating. I’ve started some meaningful projects in recent months and been unable to finish them.

There are four unfinished posts in my drafts folder as we speak.

A book proposal that I’ve recently restarted but had to put on hold. Again.

An entire house that’s waiting to be cozied up.

These are hardly tragedies. But Discouragement and Guilt and Frustration and Weariness have been my constant companions. I walk around with a low-grade grief because certain projects that I dearly love have either died or are still waiting to be born. Things that cannot have life unless I breathe it into them.

And so the bullies that live in my brain taunt me with thoughts like:

Maybe you should just give up. 

You don’t have what it takes.

You have to manage your time perfectly.

Just be grateful and quit dreaming.

You don’t have the resources or know-how to make this work.

So when I finished this room all by my big self AND defeated the Evil Light Fixture that felt like an impossible foe, I cried. And also did some high kicks.

It felt like the first win I’ve had in a long time. It gave me courage and confidence. It showed me that the worthwhile endeavors which make us come alive are indeed work and sometimes work is anything but fun. I gutted this one out, y’all.

And it was so worth it.

Most of all it reminded me that there is almost always possibility lurking beneath the impossible.

Maybe this applies to your marriage or maybe it applies to a room in your house with bad fixtures.

Regardless, it’s inspired me to think outside the box about how I can make regular writing a possibility. And finishing my proposal a possibility. And completing one room at a time a possibility. And working through hard relationships a possibility.

And most importantly, thinking about how I might take certain things off my plate so that some of these life-giving possibilities might become real.

Sometimes we just need the smallest of victories to keep us going.

Reminders that redemption awaits us in the most everyday of challenges. Even if it’s just an Evil Light Fixture.

 


 

P.S. I know y’all love a good BEFORE and AFTER as much as I do.

BEFORE

room before

AFTER

room after

She told me she never knew this room could look so pretty. Honestly, I didn’t know it could either. It’s been a gift to us both.

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If you’d like to DIY your own Bohemian chandelier, here are my very lazy instructions:

1. Find an old lamp shade and rip off the actual shade so that you’re only left with the skeleton of the shade.

2. Decide the shape of your fixture. I just needed one round oval piece. But you may choose to keep both the top and bottom parts of the shade plus the vertical pieces that connect the two. If you turn it upside down, you could have a beautiful tiered chandy.

3. Choose your yarn, ribbon, fabric strips, strings of beads, pom-pom fringe, or whatever materials you want to use. Cut strips of varying lengths.

4. Wrap the end of each length of yarn or ribbon over the frame and hot-glue it to the inside of the frame. Keep cutting strips and gluing. Do this 5,000 times or whenever you like what you’re seeing.

5. Attach the fixture to the ceiling with little hooks that you hang coffee mugs on. {I don’t know the real name of them but they screw into the ceiling.} I only needed two. Lightweight metal frames dangling with yarn don’t weigh very much so this shouldn’t fall from your ceiling. If it does I am not responsible.

In case you’re wondering, I spent two-ish hours making mine.

Here’s a view from inside the chandy:

inside the chandy

I replaced the swirly CFL bulbs that give off murderous lighting with two spectrum halogen bulbs that give off more of a natural daylight. It’s so much lovelier, plus nobody gets killed.

 


 

 

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When the Crazy Begins to Settle & the Imagined Becomes Real: Notes on a New Year

MI walk

Happy New Year! 13 days late.

Cranking up the blog after the holidays is a struggle every year. Much like cranking up the juicer and cranking up ye olde exercise routine. The older I get, the more I realize that the only way to win is to keep lowering one’s standards. I don’t feel the need to try so hard at ALL THE THINGS anymore. Think of me what you wish.

This is such a weird post and here’s why. For some reason I feel like I can’t begin writing “real posts” until I sweep out the cobwebs of my life and tell you what’s been going on with my big important self. I have all sorts of things I want to write about in the coming year but I don’t feel like I can do that until we catch up.

And by “we” I mean “I” because this is obviously a one-way dialogue. Which is technically a monologue.

Before I jump into the state of things presently, I offer notes on 2015: The Year I Almost Died. Not really. But in retrospect it sort of feels like it.

The year we tried to sell our house again. Then the year we quit trying to sell our house. Then the year we tried selling our house again, againThen the year our house finally sold and we moved. And then the year I almost died because moving is hell and I mean that with all of my heart.

Amid the whirlwind of showings and chronic uncertainty {and my minivan junked up with laundry and the dog and the kids and whatever chaos I couldn’t get put away before a showing}, some awesome stuff still came my way.

I took a part-time as the communications gal for a local non-profit. I love it and I thank God for it. Five months later, in the midst of moving, I took an additional part-time job. I also loved it. But I chose not to stay for the new year. Still, God gifted me with some beautiful new friends, 23 of whom are first-graders. I miss them but have promised to visit and read them books. I’m so grateful for all that they taught me.

On the home-front, we entered the world of three kids in three different schools — 9th grade, 6th grade, 2nd grade. I almost died again. I still can’t believe how fast it’s all going. We juggle cheerleading and teenagers’ social schedules and boys basketball and sibling squabbles and keeping our kids’ brains from turning to mush because of all the dang screens. Screens that I threaten to throw in the garbage on the regular.

Marian tried to stay strong-ish through it all, even if she did cry nearly every day and have to see her doctor about some medicinals. But moving and sleep deprivation and chaos will eventually have its way with one’s body and soul.

So when I broke my foot three weeks after moving and my kids suffered through some unsavory stuff and couldn’t really unpack or settle in, I almost died again.

ortho shoe

Who’s bring sexy back with the orthopedic shoe? Is it me?

December showed up with the flu and ear infections. January welcomed me with bronchitis.

And I realize this post now sounds dismal with a dash of hypochondria but the point is this. How long will it take before I learn that there is only so much one can carry before the mind and body says “enough?” Apparently for me it takes 42 years.

After our holiday travels landed us back home, I committed myself to the ministry of Netflix as I binge-watched {with a capital BINGE} like it was my job and with zero guilt. I finished Breaking Bad and Parenthood. For the win. I felt a strange sense of accomplishment in just finishing something. Anything.

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We’re on the second week of the new year and I’m writing this from my home office. Thanks to the steroid pack I enjoyed last week, I unpacked with an energy I hadn’t known since my 20s. And even though this week I’m back to my lethargic old self and I have a sick kid upstairs on the sofa, my office makes me feel like I’m LIVING THE DREAM.

home office

I haven’t busted out the paint or made her all pretty yet. But she’s open for business and I’m in love.

Last year was hard. I’m not gonna lie. Not in the way that cancer or real tragedy or chronic illness is hard. Not even close. It was a trip to Disneyworld compared to those things. Just hard in a very unsettled, very chaotic, so-much-stress-for-so-long sort of way. I never did get my bearings.

But the crazy thing is this. I am profoundly grateful for all of it. As I look back across the last two years, one thing is crystal clear. God fought for us and I love him for that. Loved ones fought for us too — praying for our house to sell, praying that we’d find one, praying for provision, praying that God would calm the storms.

When we’re waylaid by a season crazy, we can’t see straight and that’s normal. But now, from the vantage point of this January stillness, I look back and I could weep. I never thought we’d get here.

A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined sitting here in a different home in a real office. {Not that my tiny writing nook between my bedroom dresser and bedroom wall wasn’t its own brand of tiny-awesome. I prayed and journaled and wrote my heart out in this space.}

exercise ball

I couldn’t have imagined the meaningful work God brought my way and what a gift it would be to me and to my family.

I couldn’t have imagined some of the doors God opened up — to speak and share with others.

I couldn’t have imagined some of the storms that He would settle, even though all of them aren’t settled.

I couldn’t have imagined how my teenage daughter would also begin to become my friend — that shopping and binge-watching Gilmore Girls covers a multitude of sins. Raising teenagers with gentleness and unconditional love and half a clue is one of the hardest things in my life.

camera self portrait

We are both spirited, complicated, strong-willed women. Sometimes I wish we weren’t. But deep down I wouldn’t change us. {Well, I’d probably change myself.}

I couldn’t have imagined the unlikely ways God would begin to teach me about true compassion and how that compassion would begin first with myself and then to my people. For a gal who’s always looked for the book or the formula or the checklist to tell me how to do my life, I’m learning to simply close the books and trash the checklists. Because sometimes good advice can get in the way of God. More and more, God’s Spirit in me leads me to just love my people in a way that casts out fear and sends performance to the backseat.

I couldn’t have imagined that even though this kind of compassion sounds good and I’m rocking it one minute, I’m being way too hard on people an hour later.

Compassion is a process. Each day, I begin again.

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I’m grateful for the journey but I won’t lie. I’m exhausted. And I’ve committed to easing into this year with slowness and stillness and nary a resolution in sight.

And while I couldn’t have imagined so much of the goodness God has imparted after a long season of waiting and upheaval, please don’t get the impression that life is tidy and perfect. I have my fair share of angst and unanswered questions and embarrassing issues and stupid mistakes I can’t stop making.

Hope and beauty, mess and brokenness, excitement and exhaustion — they all live under the same roof don’t they? Though I breathe in complication, I’m learning to exhale trust.

2015 offered more opportunities to trust than I could have imagined. As I consider the unknowns of this new year and the tender places I still guard with a vengeance, Trust is my faithful companion. A companion I wouldn’t have without the ordeals of the last year.

I’m obsessed with fresh starts because I always need one.

As we begin again together, I hope that this little corner of the internet will continue to be a place of real talk and real grace for everyday people like you and me.

I hope to write with more courage and less reluctance. Because we all need brave friends, at least I do, and I’d like to be a brave friend, even if it’s a friend who lives in the internet on the other side of a screen.

I hope that we’ll redeem the epic and the everyday messes here together, that we’ll be able to laugh at ourselves and find beauty in the small things, the broken things, the not-yet things.

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Whether you’ve been around these parts for a while or you’re here for the first time, thank you. And if you’d like to keep up with each new post, just subscribe in the box below!

{Curious about the most popular post here on the blog in 2015? Here you go. Also? I still need to read this post every day.}

When Motherhood Has You in the Valley of Defeat

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One more thing: What would you love to see more of here in 2016? Favorite kinds of posts? Favorite topics? Consider this the most informal of all surveys. You can chime in here in the comment section of the blog {scroll back up to the top of the post and click “Leave a Comment”}, on the blog Facebook page, or by sending an e-mail to marianvischer at gmail dot com. Thanks a million! : )

Why You Really Are Prepared for Christmas. {Even if You’re Not.}

prepared for Christmas header

One of my favorite Christmas posts, edited and reposted from the Christmas vault:

It will be a Christmas memory for the archives. All five of us, on December 13th — just two weeks behind schedule — traipsing through the Lowe’s parking lot to find our family tree.

It was a soul-sucking vignette, to be sure. Megastore garden center at night. Vacant cinder-block stalls, emptied of the best trees. Bad fluorescent lighting that reflected off the cement and handed me a shot glass of depression. The whole scene felt a bit like prison.

2014 — The Year The Vischers Bailed Out a Christmas Tree

One child stood in the corner, arms folded and scowling and I can’t believe this is the tree we’re getting!

The other two pushed each other around on the flatbed metal carts because their mom was too melancholy to care. And my husband, God bless him, channeled his inner Clark Griswold and assured his disgruntled family that this was indeed a fine tree and that we were going to have a hap-hap-happiest Christmas after all.

We drove out of the parking lot as the kids complained about our small-statured tree and how we’re putting it up late this year and why aren’t there lights on our house and so on.

I simply stared out the window in silence. As we drove home, my husband asked me what our schedule looked like this week and when no answer came, he looked over and saw tears rolling down my cheeks. Of course he asked what was wrong and all I could get out was, I’m just overwhelmed.

We didn’t realize until recent weeks that the last half of 2014 was tougher than we’d acknowledged, an extended season of physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational stress that gradually seeped in without fanfare or acknowledgement. Sometimes we’re so busy putting out the fires and making the decisions and dealing with the issues at hand that we don’t realize we’re actually drowning. The waters have risen, ever so slowly, and we find ourselves gasping for breath.

Or in my case, crying on the way home from Lowe’s and telling my husband that for the first time ever, I wish we could just skip Christmas.

And then there’s the guilt. December 13th and no Christmas decorations. No advent readings {because the books are packed up in boxes} and therefore no hearts “prepared.” No intentional memory-making endeavors like gingerbread houses and Christmas lights and tree farms and putting on the ornaments while we pass the hot chocolate.

JOY

For the mom who’s overwhelmed by her stress, her lack, her distraction, her loser-ness, there is only one answer.

To be overwhelmed by grace through Christ. 

I can look at the expectations, overwhelmed by how I’m coming up short. Or I can look at Jesus, overwhelmed by his sufficiency.

I can look at the all the moms getting it “right,” overwhelmed by my pitiful comparison. Or I can look at Jesus, overwhelmed by his favor for me.

I can look at my kids’ expectations, overwhelmed in a torrent of guilt. Or I can look at Jesus, overwhelmed because there is no condemnation for those who are in Him.

In far too many moments, I’ve been looking in the wrong places for approval, affirmation, and joy. And I should know my now — that always leaves me gasping for air, emotionally bankrupt, and reeking of self-focus.

Why are we so prone to define ourselves by what we’re doing {or not doing} instead of what Jesus has already done?

It’s been a December in which I’ve been ambushed by my culture’s expectations, others’ expectations, and my own expectations instead of overwhelmed by the simple yet profound truth of the Gospel.

But it’s still December. And I’d love a do-over. I long to shift my gaze.

Because even if the tree never went up and the cookies never got made and the advent readings never got read, Christmas would still come because Christ still comes.

And when He showed up on the scene over 2,000 years ago, no one was prepared, not even his own family. There was no matching layette, no birth plan, no carefully prepared suite, not even a room at the inn.

Do we think Christ’s humble beginnings were a result of poor planning or just happenstance? Do we criticize Mary for not having it just a little more together, seeing as how she was getting ready to birth the Savior of the World?

Of course we don’t.

Because God isn’t a God of coincidence, the world’s unpreparedness was no coincidence.

If your own Christmas preparations feel behind, pitiful, or less than enthusiastic, you’re in good company.

Christ came to the unprepared, the unlikely, and the unsuspecting. And He didn’t show up with a checklist. He showed up with compassion.

During this crazy week, know that it’s never too late for your heart to “prepare Him room.”

And though He is God in the flesh, though his glory is beyond our comprehension, He is the most gracious guest for whom we’ll ever prepare. He’s not impressed by lights or tinsel or even our intentionality as parents. He doesn’t require garland or even a Christmas tree by December 1st.

He simply asks that we receive Him — just as we are, just as He finds us.

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You may also enjoy:

Why Compassion is the Answer to a Messy Christmas

What an $18 Fake Christmas Tree Taught Me About Saying Yes

This 4-Part Advent Series from 2014

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