Why Safety is the Answer to Exhaustion and Overwhelm {Also? A fun announcement.}

bright office

When one of my kids wants to tell me about a dream they had, I inwardly roll my eyes and brace myself for the most tedious story ever. This is why I will never take home the Mother of the Year trophy.

So on a Friday morning at the end of a long week — well, actually it was the end of a series of long weeks, I felt especially averse to conversations that start with, “I have to tell you about the dream I had.”

Just the day before I had said truthful but ugly things that a mature and godly grown-up should not say. And then I slammed the door for added punctuation. I sped off to two different schools and then to an event for work.

I was out of gas in every way but faked that I wasn’t, telling myself that all sorts of people live very busy lives and I needed to get over it already. When I returned home early afternoon, I ate lunch on the sofa and turned on the television. It was on the Home Shopping Network and I tuned in for 30 minutes like it was my job, fully convinced that I needed the $30 heart-shaped blush baked on real Italian tiles for two days.

Exhaustion and depletion make us vulnerable like that. We convince ourselves that we deserve certain rewards because of what’s missing in our lives.


Even though this season of my life is bursting at the seams in a way I’ve never experienced, even though there’s precious little space to reflect and process, grief still manages to chisel itself into the tiny cracks.

Busy-ness is only a temporary deterrent from unattended ache.


Last week I took a few minutes to list the things I miss. It felt like a small but necessary step toward living more honestly with myself.

  • I miss writing so badly that I cry just typing this sentence.
  • I miss having the physical energy that enabled me to get up extra early just a year ago.
  • I miss having more time together as a family.
  • I miss my kids when they were little and the stakes didn’t feel as high.
  • I miss the dreams for my creative work that feel forever on hold.
  • I miss putting our younger kids to bed early and having time in the evening with my husband to watch TV.
  • I miss the seasons when my sanity felt slightly more intact and I didn’t live with a constant, low-grade anxiety / anger combo that I can’t quite figure out.
  • I miss relationships.
  • I miss the days when the family calendar had more margin.


In the whole scheme of things, this list of losses is not so important. They are a collection of small griefs.

But the sum of them all feels terribly heavy in my heart.


On that weary Friday morning, I had also missed two weeks of Bible study and most of the lessons in between. I felt like I was languishing in every way — physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. I felt like a failure and a fraud. I needed nourishment and encouragement but was too tired to seek it.

As my youngest son crunched his cereal and I made my daughter’s lunch, he persisted about the dream.

I suppressed my silent scream of “Noooooo” and said, “Tell me about it.”

Well there were all of these lions everywhere. They were at the park and on our street and in all the yards. But they were in our yard more than anyone else’s yard and they were always trying to get in our house.

At this point, a thought entered my head: Marian, maybe you should pay attention.

large tree

So there were all of these lions in our yard but there was this one really big lion. You know, the kind that has all the hair around its face? This lion stood in our yard in front of the house. 

Me: Well, was it a good lion? Were the other lions bad?

Yeah, the other lions were bad and wanted to hurt us but this lion was protecting us from all of the bad lions. And he was our friend. Like, we could ride on him and stuff.

By this point I had stopped making the lunch and turned away because my eyes stung with tears and I had goose bumps.

In the midst of bread crumbs and Lucky Charms and lukewarm coffee, I felt the palpable presence of God.

I know that plenty of people, even spiritual folks, don’t believe that God shows up in our dreams like that. Especially in the dreams of a child. But for all of my natural inclinations toward skepticism and cynicism and all things rational, God has often bypassed reason and apologetics to get my attention.

I don’t presume that most dreams have spiritual significance but I do know that we’re at our most vulnerable when we’re asleep. And just as I have been attacked by fear and evil in my sleep, I have also been ambushed by truth and beauty.

Perhaps we see truth most clearly when our eyes are closed.


When I finally walked into Bible study that same morning, utterly worn out and tardy, having forgotten to bring change for the parking meters, I realized I’d done the wrong lesson. Of course.

Instead of Jesus’ trial, we read through Jesus’ prayers for the spiritual safekeeping of believers while we are still in the world.

Things could not have been more clear. “Dear God, message received.”

Why am I always surprised when He breaks through the universe into my own insignificant corner of the world to show me that life isn’t up to me to get right? It is not like a quest to find the Holy Grail.

Human striving has no place in the kingdom. We live and move and have our being from a totally different source. 

My schedule, my spiritual disciplines, my energy level, my work / life management, my family — all of these things are kept by a loving God who meets me in weakness and cluelessness and utter lack.

It’s not ultimately about my resolve. It’s not ultimately about my abilities or faithfulness.

He’s got us. Period.

And this is grace.

I’m tempted to add all sorts of disclaimers right now.

Now that doesn’t mean we don’t do anything or have certain responsibilities, blah, blah, blah…

See? I’m already doing it.

That’s our tendency with grace, to qualify it, to tame it.

But doing that dismantles grace entirely.


This is a strange post that feels utterly disconnected and hasn’t seemed fit to publish.

Here’s what I’m trying to say:

For those who are languishing in one way or all the ways —

For those who are too tired to try and get it together —

For those who just bought another life-improvement book (for the record I’ve bought 3 in the last month) —

For those who are being bullied by the busy-ness of this season of life —

For those who are holding a collection of small griefs but to acknowledge the heaviness seems silly —

For those who are trying to get their spiritual act together but keep failing —

God has you.

That means you’re safe.

tab and nomi

Safe to fall apart. Safe to weep. Safe to grieve. Safe to rest. Safe to ask for help. Safe to confess. Safe to have more questions than answers.

Safe to find Jesus in the dream of a child.

He walks to and fro, before you and behind you, fending off invisible enemies you may never know this side of eternity.

Your less-than state is no match for the Lion who is Jesus Himself, the One who intercedes in literal prayer and power for you and for your family.

It doesn’t mean we won’t have trouble here. We know all too well that trouble is alive and well. But it does mean we have a fierce and good Rescuer who has ultimately overcome the worst trouble.

May the awareness of his presence, the surety of his protection, and the encouragement of his intercession be your strength when you are too weary to muster your own.


Truth that might encourage you today:

Matthew 11:28-30

John 6:28-29

Acts 17:24-28

Romans 8:25-27



give thanks real life chair

You’re still here? Good. I was afraid this post about dreams and lions scared everyone away.

Here’s an extreme twist in subject matter:

For those of you who have been hanging around for a couple of years or more, you may remember The Real Pretty Shop. I had such fun opening those virtual doors for several sales. But then I got a real job. We moved. I have three kids in three different schools. And you get the picture — life has been fuller than full ever since.

But that hasn’t stopped me from tucking away little treasures in hopes that the shop might open up again. Sometimes I say to myself, “I might have a teensy bit of a problem.” And then I realize that I don’t have a problem, I have an unofficial shop. That just happens to be in a spare closet of my home.

I’ve been working here and there in the cracks of time and…

I’m opening the shop for another sale!

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YAY!!! And also, WHY AM I SO NERVOUS???

This sale will be a bit different than last time. I’m opening the doors on Instagram instead of on the blog. The shop will open at 7 am on Thursday, March 30th. Be sure to follow me on Instagram @marianvischer. I’ll do a post that morning telling you where to go and what to do.

I have twenty-something handpicked ensembles this time, all of them perfect for spring!

Full disclosure: I have a disproportionate amount of size smalls. : (  Don’t hate me.

This is partially because I get excited and buy cute things for myself, but end up wearing the same jeans and boots and denim shirt 90% of the time. #Iannoymyself

If I open the shop again in the future, I promise to have a more representative selection of sizes like I had in previous sales.

So hop on over to Instagram, follow me, and if you haven’t updated to the latest version, you may want to do that because I have multiple pics of each ensemble. The latest version Instagram lets you post multiple pics in one post. {Bad when someone just took a vacation and wants to show 10 different angles of their poolside mojito. Good when Marian opens the shop and wants you to see all the fun details of the outfit you’re buying.}

Hope to see you at the shop on Thursday!

Love, Marian


Instagram @marianvischer


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5 Things I Learned in June

5 things June

Each and every summer, I’m surprised by things that I’ve learned from previous summers but forgotten. September through May has a way of giving me amnesia. And then June rolls around, shaking her head and saying “Silly girl, this happens every summer. You should take notes.”

Dear June, this is me, taking notes. Please remind me twelve months from now that I wrote it down.

The What We Learned posts are hosted by Emily Freeman as a “monthly community link-up to share the fascinating, ridiculous, sacred, or small.”

Mine is usually just ridiculous.

In no particular order, here are 5 things I’ve learned in June.

1. Summer spotlights my introversion like nothing else.

I have a dear friend who actually has more energy for those in her household when she’s actively engaged with others outside of her family on a regular basis, something that confounds me. I can’t tell you how jealous I am of her extroverted ways.

The relational energy required of me by the four people I live with seems to drain all the relational energy I have. Not because they’re crazy people but because my social reserves run low.

On the two occasions I’ve been with other women over the summer, I feel inexplicably tired. As in, I can barely keep my eyes open. The entire next day I’m in a fog. It’s terribly inconvenient. Because I love my friends and my community and I feel like I just waved goodbye to everyone until the end of August.

I remind myself that I’ve only got 4 summers left with my oldest. Four. I could cry. The relational energy that summer mothering requires of me is embarrassing, but I know it’s effort well spent. These are my main people. I just need some breaks here and there to stay the summer course.


2. I stay up too late in the summer.

I go to bed early during the school year. When the kids are gone during the day, I get a break from talking and being a referee and answering questions about sharks and listening to so many words. But during the summer, I’ve noticed that I stay up late just for the quiet and solitude. As summer bounds along, I find myself feeling lethargic and unmotivated.

My husband told me this morning that staying up late might be why I’m so tired. #genius


3. I’m a fan of the capsule wardrobe.

The capsule is nothing new. I’m just late to the party. Simplifying is something that’s become increasingly appealing to me as I get older and long to streamline pretty much everything about my life.

One’s closet is a pretty non-threatening place to start.

I followed the capsule advice from un-fancy. Here are the basics:



I even used her free wardrobe planner. It’s been about six weeks now and the whole experiment has been a game-changer in all the best ways.

I’m sure this will be a post in and of itself at some point but for now, let me just toss out a few lessons I’ve learned.

Fewer options = faster decisions.

Fewer pieces = more creativity.

Less = more. More time, more money, more simplicity.

I know, I’m such an unlikely convert because clothes are my jam. But here’s the thing — outfit-making is still way fun and I’ve tried combos I never would’ve considered since I have fewer items overall.


4. I tend to trade one obsession for another. In this case, clothes for make-up.

You might think I’ve gone all minimalist since I’m doing the capsule and all. But I just swap addictions. I may not be thrifting and shopping like I used to but I’ve fallen in love again with make-up.

It all started with a scheduled makeover at the Bobbi Brown make-up counter for my birthday.

I’ve had a girl crush on Bobbi since she started doing makeovers on the Today Show years ago. I might even want to be her.


But Bobbi’s products are spendy and I couldn’t even go there. {Even if I have watched all of her online makeup lessons instead of doing important things like humanitarian work and laundry.}

I’m in my 40s now. The days of getting by with mascara and tinted lip balm when I’m in a hurry are long gone. It’s time to bring out the big guns.

I’ll always be the sort of gal who prefers a more natural look. But as I get older, things like primer and legit concealer and products with coverage and staying power become your best friends.

Even though I only bought three items from the Bobbi counter, I learned so many useful techniques from Kimberly, my makeup artist. Techniques I can apply no matter what products I’m using.


I’m such a dork. Could my grin be any cheesier?

Getting ready has become fun again. I highly recommend a free makeup lesson. It’s one of the best ways I’ve ever treated myself and now I want to go back and take all my friends. {But not this summer. See #1.}

If you’re curious about the products I got for my birthday, here you go: creamy concealer, creamy concealer kit {Bobbi calls these products the “secret of the universe” and that’s no joke.} And because it’s summer, bronzing powder. All of her products are amazing and I want them.


5. I cut carbs. I feel better. I want cake.

I don’t do diets or food trends. I’m about eating when you’re hungry, eating mostly real food, and enjoying all things in moderation. I’ve never focused on protein because I don’t really enjoy many high-protein foods. I’ve always been a gal who loves her healthy-ish carbs and healthy-ish foods, even if I did reach for candy too often. Until recently, I could rationalize my imperfect, healthy-ish ways.

Again, enter the 40s. And I realized that my food choices were more -ish than healthy.

Between hormones and fatigue and being sidelined for 15 months with a back injury that keeps me from running, I’ve had to adopt a new game plan. So one day I talked to my sweet Pilates instructor at the Rec Center and, long story short, she got me started on an in-home strengthening program and eating plan. I’ve been doing it since May and you guys, I feel better. Like, a lot better. {Except for when I stay up too late. See #2.}

I don’t follow the plan perfectly but I’ve redefined it to work for me. Protein is my friend and most of my carbs now come from fruits and veggies and when I cheat with cake. Which I am suddenly obsessed with now that I can’t have it. Seriously, I think about cake all day long.


So there you go. Five things I learned in June.

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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Do you need someone to bring real hope and possibility to your wardrobe?


Whether I’m writing about our school choices, mothering, decorating, or a great soup recipe, a certain theme always rises to the surface.

Life has to be real and authentic. It has to be accessible. Everything holds the possibility of redemption: marriage, mothering, messy homes, fashion, and even the dailyness of dinner.

It took me over six years of writing in this space to realize that this is what I always write about.

I don’t have the time or energy for perfect anything. I’m forty-one years old and I feel a bit tired on most days. I’d rather take a nap than have a spotless kitchen. I prefer splurging on the perfect macchiato than splurging on the perfect, full-price outfit, gorgeous though it may be. Recipes ripped from the pages of Gourmet are lovely and inspiring but what I really need is daily salvation at the stovetop. That means one-dish meals and a reliance on rotisserie chickens from the grocery store deli.


I’ve still got a thing for loveliness in all its forms. Whether it’s a fresh outfit for spring or a gallery wall I spy on Pinterest, I get weak in the knees over beauty.

gallery wall

I’m a firm believer that we can all have pretty vignettes in our lives, regardless of time, expertise, and budget. Every wardrobe, every home, every dinner, and every family holds the possibility of redemption. It simply takes a bit of vision, prioritization, and inspiration. And I get that not every person is wired to manufacture creative vision.

That’s where I come in.

I hold an honorary doctorate in Possibility and I’ve spent my life curating beauty on a shoestring budget. Thrift store finds and Craigslist rescues comprise most of my furnishings.

liv rm

Discount racks and thrifted pretties comprise most of my wardrobe too.

thrift stack sz 500

Slowly, I’ve introduced a new niche here on the blog, one that’s all about the possibility of real fashion for real women with real budgets. I’ve now had three sales in The Real Pretty Shop and had such fun writing The Real Gal’s Fashion Files, ongoing posts that uncomplicate the art of getting dressed every day. I’m so thankful to those who have encouraged me in these fun and fashion-y endeavors!

Last week I got a text from a friend of mine. She had read my “styling services” blurb on the page about the shop and she simply said this, “I believe this deserves better real estate on your blog.”

I’ve been thinking about it ever since and I think she’s right.

RGSS logo

Do you need a Possibilitarian in your life?

Do you have a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear?

Do you feel like you need a wardrobe update but you’d like to use as much as possible of what you already have?

Do you see things in the stores but have no clue how to make it work for your shape or your budget?

I’m the Wardrobe Whisperer and I’m here to help. And by “here,” I mean local-ish. At least for now.

Spring is right around the corner and it’s the perfect time for clean-outs and updates.

blue and dotty sneek peek

Options include {but are not limited to}:

  • wardrobe consultations
  • closet makeovers
  • personal shopping {whether your jam is the department store or the thrift store}
  • wardrobe updating on a budget
  • how to accessorize
  • how to dress for your shape, style, and stage of life


Email me at marianvischer at gmail dot com if you’re interested and we can discuss details and pricing based on your needs.

If you’re not local but you’d like some help and can think of a practical way I can do that, let me know. I’m all about options and possibilities. And I’m all about putting this out there for you real gals now, even though I don’t have every last possibility hammered out yet.

I plan to keep writing for The Real Gal’s Fashion Files and that’s for all the real gals everywhere, especially as we transition into a new season.

I welcome your ideas for these posts and for The Real Gal’s Styling Services!


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