When Your Right-Now Work Feels Extra Ordinary But Not Extraordinary {and something I made for you}

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The day began in the pre-dawn hours with black coffee. It’s a telltale sign I’m extra serious about the day.

By 7:30 I had cooked four hot breakfasts, packed two lunches, and made an unplanned trip to the middle school. I’d walked the dog and made a grocery list, even though I was just there yesterday. And probably the day before.

A friend asked me why I don’t just buy cereal. “It’ll change your life,” she said.

It’s true. Cereal is from the Lord and I promise you that we eat plenty of it because many of our mornings are just sheer survival. I’m often stumbling through the early moments of a new day in ways that feel less like June Cleaver and more like a hangover.

But when the stars align, when I’m up early and have the capacity to do All The Things, I try to nourish these people of mine before we all go our separate ways, hopeful that the warm food in their bellies feeds their souls and not just their bodies.

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It sounds idyllic but let’s be honest — it’s work. And it leaves the kitchen a disaster. I don’t feel naturally inclined toward any of it and yet I find myself, again and again, serving up oatmeal and stacking up laundry like it’s a normal thing. Because it totally is.

This is my right-now life.

My younger self found herself lost in thoughts about doing big, brave things in the world.

My right-now self finds herself lost in thoughts about work-life balance, ordering takeout, and being able to lie down.

I think hard about better ways to get everything done, wondering how I can best approach work life, family life, writing life, community life. I shift and re-shift these blocks of time around in my mind, working it like a puzzle that will forever have a missing piece or three.

On black coffee mornings, I wonder how I got here.

My small life in this big world feels both humble and humbling.

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College degrees and four years of graduate school provided not a single course that taught the skills I clumsily employ for the majority of my waking hours.

I am both overqualified and woefully unprepared.

This humble, ordinary life of mine is my greatest earthly treasure. Yet on a daily basis, I often consider the work required in maintaining this treasure as “beneath me.” I work tirelessly to make all the puzzle pieces fit into a vignette that is awe-inspiring. But the truth is, my everyday landscape looks mostly like unmatched socks, an embarrassingly full inbox, and making dinner again.

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I know I’m not alone when I often long for more than dishes and lunches and permission forms.

In a culture that confuses significance with visibility, our daily lives and ordinary work convince us that we’re coming up short.

In her book, Liturgy of the Ordinary, author Tish Harrison Warren says this:

We tend to want a Christian life with the dull bits cut out.

Yet God made us to spend our days in rest, work, and play, taking care of our bodies, our families, our neighborhoods, our homes. What if all these boring parts matter to God? What if days passed in ways that feel small and insignificant to us are weighty with meaning and part of the abundant life that God has for us?

I find myself praying for God’s strength and presence as I swipe the peanut butter and scramble the eggs because the honest truth is this: I’d rather do something more significant.

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Yet these are the daily rhythms that knead truth and humility into my forgetful, prideful soul. The dailyness that comprises my existence can either rob me of life or give me more of it. Fighting for the latter is always worth it.

This fight to find my life in the ordinary places always begins with humility, with smallness.

Time and tasks spent in the daily service of my own household has become the holy ground of spiritual formation and transformation, namely my own. As I die to my own grand notions of significance, I begin to find life. It has not gotten easier, only more normal.

This hard-fought, daily relent feels much like repentance. First the resistance, then the surrender, and finally — the life and the freedom.

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Coram Deo is a Latin phrase that Christians have used for centuries. It literally means before the face of God.

To live coram Deo is to live all of life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, and to the glory of God.

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Presence. This is Emmanuel, God with us. A God who washed feet and cooked fish and fed people. He is with us as we do the same, not as a distant ruler but as a kind, here-and-now companion, keeping company with us at the sink, in the classroom, and during the dark nights of the soul.

Authority. Yet this humble baby was also a sovereign King. A King who rules our individual lives with love and defends us against our enemies. This sovereign, loving King uses our everyday, right-now lives as instruments of redemption. It makes no sense to me but it has been the theme of my own life.

Glory. The smallest task on earth is bursting with glory potential, from the selling of goods and services, to the wiping of bottoms. When I’m struggling with insignificance, when I’m bemoaning mundane work, it’s usually because there’s a glory I’m not getting for myself.

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Life coram Deo means to live a life that is small in the best ways. This maker of Heaven and Earth is not helped along by our pride, entitlement, and ambition.

And it means to live a life that is big in the best ways. This Creator God is with us and for us.

Perhaps this is the big, brave life I wanted all along. Who knew that I would find it among the breakfast dishes?

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On an everyday December morning, in the hustle and bustle of a chaotic kitchen, I am good to be reminded of life coram Deo.

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Ours is an integrated life. It means that all of our work is sacred because it is done in the presence of Christ Himself. All ground is holy ground. All work is pregnant with the potential for our own transformation and for the feeding of bodies and souls.

Scripture says we “have this treasure in jars of clay.” I smile as I consider that God uses a common household item, an everyday clay jar — the ancient world’s Tupperware — as a vessel for treasure. This verse goes on to tell us why: “to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” {2 Corinthians 4:7}

Our clay selves, prone to cracking and breaking, have been chosen to carry the light and life of Christ into every nook and cranny of our lives. This is the light and life that allows us to suffer with grace, to surrender with trust, and to serve when it’s not part of our “skill set” or resume.

When we die to the glory-seeking agendas for our own lives, we make space to receive His life that moves in us and through us.

May we be humbled to realize that the light which shines from the face of God somehow shines within us too, lighting our path to the bedside, the boardroom, the kitchen.

The smallest work is heavy with significance when it’s weighted with the God of the universe.

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As you may have guessed, my own journey with this phrase has inspired a wearable offering for you.

Just as I wear “courage” on the days I need a tangible reminder that there is strength while I wait, I wear “coram Deo” on the days when the tasks of my right-now life feel extra heavy.

Here are the details:

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Each coram Deo necklace is $17 each and that includes shipping.

  • Hand-stamped with love : )
  • Aged-brass look
  • Added tassel. The tassels come in assorted colors so the actual color you receive will be a surprise. (Since I don’t have an endless supply of any one color.) They’re all lovely and can go with anything!
coram Deo collection
  • Gold cord with at least a 16-inch (plus) drop
  • The cord makes it light and casual, simple to wear with anything and to layer with other necklaces.
  • I will ship within 1 business day of purchase.

These make such meaningful gifts and, well, it’s the season for that. I include a little note that references coram Deo and what it means. Order as many as you like (until they run out) and the shipping is still free.

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I’m set up a bit differently this time and now have my very own Etsy shop. These necklaces will be on sale through Saturday (December 16th) or until I sell out. Last time, I sold all the courage necklaces in a little over 24 hours, so you may want to act sooner rather than later.

Click here to get yours. 

Feel free to leave any questions in the comment section or email me at marianvischer @ gmail dot com.

Thanks so much for your kind support of this little corner of the internet. Happy shopping and gifting!

—> coram Deo neckalces

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If this post resonated with you, you may also enjoy:

How to Wear Courage in Your Right-Now Life

How to Pursue Your Hoped-For Work in the Midst of Your Right-Now Life {a series}

How to Waste Your Life and Call It Beautiful

How a 92-Year-Old Woman Taught Me the Real Value of My Right-Now Work

New here?

I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life. Each post provides courage, companionship, and resources for life lived real.

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5 Things I’ve Learned this Fall

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It’s time to dish about the life-changing (not really) stuff I’ve learned this fall! I’m joining one of my favorite people on the internet, Emily P. Freeman, to “reflect on the past season before we move ahead into the future.” There’s a whole community of us and we’d love for you to join in! #wwlcommunity

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Here we go, 5 things I’ve learned:

1 .My family will eat the same thing over and over again if they love it.

I started making this soup last summer, which is crazy because who eats soup in the summer? It became a thing due to some dietary changes one member of our family made. It’s one of the few things the entire family loves and, bonus, it’s super healthy. I’ve been making it almost weekly this fall and everyone is still loving it.

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image source

You can find the recipe here.

Pro Tips: I double it and add a splash of balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine. Also? Just buy a bag of shredded cabbage because there is no sense in unnecessary chopping. About cabbage, I’m the only one in my family who likes it, but chopped up and simmered in soup, they don’t even know. Also, my mini-prep food chopper is my best friend because carrots and celery can be chopped up super fine and in less than 5 minutes. Final lazy tip: buy chopped, frozen onions. They’ve changed my life. I haven’t chopped an onion in months.

 

2. I love collections of short stories and essays.

I read Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and I loved it so much. There’s something satisfying about being able to finish a whole story in one sitting.Yet each one had me looking forward to more words from the same author. (Rick Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin’ was another one I read and loved this year.)

 

3. Getting stronger is empowering.

I’ve been in a state of injury for the last 3 years. I’ve been able to run a little bit but not consistently or in the way that I used to. I’ve experimented with some other types of exercise and also experimented with doing nothing at all. These are first-world problems, to be sure, but I knew I needed to take better care of my body. A bone density test finally drove the point home.

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As women, we need to get take care of ourselves by strengthening the places where we’re weak.

I’m only about 6 weeks in, but I’ve been pursuing fitness in a way that’s kind and accommodating to my body. I don’t get the same kind of endorphins that I did from running but I feel like I’m laying an important foundation for long-term health and for (maybe) running more in the future.

Yesterday I noticed that I could do things I couldn’t do just a few weeks prior and I felt empowered by my own budding strength the rest of the day.

Sometimes we have to let go of what we’ve always done if it’s no longer serving us. I’m out of my comfort zone for sure. But it also feels good and right to be on a slow and gentle path toward greater strength and less pain.

 

4. I love helping others discover who they are and pursue personal growth.

I’ve become an unofficial Enneagram Whisperer.

The Enneagram is all the rage these days. If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a personality framework with ancient roots. I’ve been using it as a tool in my own life for 7 or 8 years now and it’s been a total game-changer. My husband will tell you the same thing.

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In the last year, I’ve shared the Enneagram with a couple of different groups and we’ve also introduced it to our own small group. It’s been delightful.

I’m not an expert, just a student, but I’ve learned that I really enjoy helping others understand who they are and how to pursue growth and compatibility with those they love.

(The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey of Self-Discovery is a great primer on the Enneagram. You can also learn more and find a comprehensive assessment at The Enneagram Institute.)

Also, if you’re already an Ennea-fan, you have to check out my friend Sara’s Ennea-collection!!! Mugs + prints + tees + totes for your kindred Enneagram lovers. : )

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5. Being a shopgirl is so much fun!

I started with The Real Pretty Shop sales several years ago. I think I’ve done 5 shop sales and they’ve been such fun.

In October, I offered something new — a way for each of us to “wear courage” in our everyday lives.

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I sold out in a little over 24 hours.

I started this blog 9 years ago because I love sharing ideas, resources, stories, and beauty with readers. Though I’ve mostly shared my own words across the years, I love having a space where I can continue to share other offerings that inspire and encourage you right where you are.

Next week I have a new word and style that you can wear for yourself or give to others. I think it’s the perfect word for this season and beyond. Stay tuned. : )

As you reflect on the past season, what are some things you’ve learned? You can share in the comments section.

 

posts from this fall:

A Few of My Favorite Things for a Peaceful Holiday Season

Finding the Unlikely Path to Gratitude

Remember Who the Real Enemy Is

How to Wear Courage in Your Right-Now Life {a personal post + wearable reminder}

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new here?

I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life. Each post provides courage, companionship, and resources for life lived real.

If that sounds like something you need, sign up in the box below to receive fresh hope and possibility delivered to your inbox.

P.S. Amazon links are affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase through the links. Thanks for helping to keep the lights on in this littler corner of the internet!

A Few of My Favorite Things for a Peaceful Christmas Season

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Ready or not, friends, the holiday season is upon us.

In a feat that can only be described as a Yuletide Miracle, our tree is up and our halls are decked. I don’t even know who we are anymore.

Like most of you, I love the holidays — the lights, the cookies, the kitschy Christmas mugs, the music and family traditions.

But…

The holidays can also be a struggle — the crazy calendar, the expectations, the “gimmes,” the low-grade pressure to make All The Things Special.

This is why I’m grateful for resources that quiet my soul, center my intentions {and make my house smell good.}

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Here’s a not-too-overwhelming list of my personal favorites:
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// for you //

Journeying to Bethlehem by Kimberly Coyle

My soul sister Kimberly knows that our lives are crazy and spendy enough this season, so she’s created a free seasonal offering just for us called Journeying to Bethlehem: An Advent Audio Devotional. 

From Kimberly:

No money, no time commitment, no fuss. Just pop in a pair of earbuds, and join me for a few minutes every week as we prepare to make room in our hearts for Christ.

Yes please. Kimberly will deliver this weekly Advent devotional straight to your inbox. Click here to sign up.

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The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp

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If ever there was a season for quiet mornings, a steaming cup, and Ann’s poetic voice, it’s Christmas. Four years ago, this book began ministering to my hurried holiday self and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ by Tim Keller

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I got this one last year and look forward to reading it again. Also? It’s small, which I consider a virtue during this busy season.

From Amazon:

Timothy Keller takes readers on an illuminating journey into the surprising background of the nativity. By understanding the message of hope and salvation within the Bible’s account of Jesus’ birth, readers will experience the redeeming power of God’s grace in a deeper and more meaningful way.

// for your kids //

Jotham’s Journey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide

Several years ago I wrote a Christmas post that exposed our less than angelic Advent moments as a family. {Picture me trying to gather my three cherubs in the living room to read The Greatest Gift to them. {Ann has since released a children’s version of that book and for that all the weary mothers rejoice.} Anyway, my sweet friend Lena read that post and promptly sent me this.

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Her note said, “Ann’s book is for you. This one is for your kids.”

God bless her.

It pains me to write that I now only have one child who will sit for this one and — true confession time — I still don’t think we’ve read every page. But that speaks more to my forgetfulness than it does to the engaging nature of the book. It’s delightful and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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Family Resources for Advent and Christmas from Sally Lloyd-Jones

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Chances are you already have the Jesus Storybook Bible. {If you don’t, I can’t think of a better time to grab a copy.} It’s for kids…and just as much for grown-ups. She’s created a free downloadable resource for families!

From the website:

Join us in a journey of wonder through The Jesus Storybook Bible this advent as we trace the beautiful story of God’s great love for us–from the very beginnings of the universe, to the birth of the baby who would rescue the whole world.

The Jesus Storybook Bible Advent Guide includes:

a reading guide
printable ornaments
activity ideas
a note for parents from Sally
a special introduction from Sally

Click here to get your free resource. {And click here to snag a copy of the Jesus Storybook Bible.}

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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

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A beloved teacher read this to my class in elementary school and it. was. magical. It’s still one of my very favorite stories of all time.

There’s something completely refreshing about the irreligious, irreverent Herdman kids who found the Christmas story so startling, so amazing, that they hijacked the annual pageant {cigars and dirty sneakers in tow} and told the Christmas story to the entire town. A town that was so polite and well-mannered, they were embarrassed by the startling truth and wonder of their very own Christmas pageant.

It took the filthiest, most uncouth family infiltrating the town’s Christmas pageant to wake the people up to the greatest news of all:

Hey! Unto you a child is born! 

This story still has my whole heart.

// for your home //

Mrs. Meyers Iowa Pine Everything

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How did we ever manage the holiday season before Mrs. Meyers made Iowa Pine soap and spray and candles?

I could barely wait for Thanksgiving to wrap up, such was my excitement for all things Iowa Pine.

If you’d like a sampler set, here’s one with dish soap, multi-purpose spray, and hand soap. And here’s the candle. #thebest

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Nestle Cookie Dough Sheets

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It’s the Lazy Mom’s way of creating holiday moments in the kitchen, sans mess and stress. Hallelu.

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Immanuel, a Christmas Album by Melanie Penn

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This has been on repeat as I’m making dinner or doing laundry.

Melanie has the voice of an angel.

I listened to an interview with her on Cultivated {a favorite podcast} and I couldn’t wait to hear this album in its entirety. It’s even lovelier than I imagined.

From her website:

These songs are about the first ones to hear the good news. They saw signs, had dreams, heard from angels, watched the stars, and they sang…

May this collection be a part of your Christmas season. And may you know the miracle of a person called Immanuel, God with us.

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As you ease {or perhaps tumble} into this holiday season, may you remember that peace is a condition of the heart. We can make space to receive it, even when the world around us rattles with stress and expectation.

May grace, peace and smell-good candles be yours this holiday season!

Love, Marian

{P.S. Amazon links are affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase through the links. Thanks for helping to keep the lights on in this littler corner of the internet!} 

New here?

I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life. Each post provides courage, companionship, and resources for life lived real.

If that sounds like something you need, sign up in the box below to receive fresh hope and possibility delivered to your inbox.