Treat Yourself / Weekend Links: Makeover Edition

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It’s summer and my brain doesn’t feel like having to think too hard this weekend. Plus I need a time-out from all of the big opinions of the day. Is it too much to ask for all of us to just love our fellow man and then go paint some furniture together? It is. But that won’t stop me from dreaming of pretty walls and enjoying a yummy lunch and painting furniture by myself.

Also, a fun announcement. There’s a little something I’ve been working on these last few months. It’s free. It’s for you. It’ll be on the blog next week. Yay! Check back in, subscribe, and all that good stuff so you won’t miss it.

Now on to the weekend. May these links inspire you to re-imagine what’s right in front of you — whether it’s a cast-off piece of furniture, your refrigerator’s tired produce, a blank space on your wall that’s begging for art, or empty hands that just need a good book. Happy weekending!

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Sewing Cabinet To Outdoor Bar from Sweet Pea.

My screen porch called and said she wanted this for parties. Please send all the old, empty sewing cabinets my way. I’m super lazy these days when it comes to rehabbing a piece of furniture but this one looks easy-ish and can work for everything from a party for grown-ups to a tub full of gatorades for my kids and their friends. Not to mention an iced-coffee bar. Tons of possibilities with this one.

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Bizarro Meal Prep that Changes the Game from Kendra Adachi at The Lazy Genius Collective.

At first this sounded like it required more energy than I felt like giving because my lazy streak is a mile wide. But I’ve done this a couple of times now when I’m already working in the kitchen. It’s easy and makes you feel like a superhero when a lackluster Tuesday rolls around and you have a yummy lunch or diced veggies already waiting for you.

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Get Your Falling Free Bonus Freebies at Shannan Martin Writes.

If you preorder Shannan’s book {coming out in September / can’t wait}, she’ll fill your arms with all sorts of goodies, including this FREE downloadable fine art print by Jess Franks. #swoon

You’re welcome. {I’ll be chatting more about this book in the weeks to come.}

Jess Franks Splendor

And here’s a couple of summer posts from yours truly that you may have missed:

My 5 Favorite Literary Novels Ever

5 literary novels

How to Receive Your Own Summer Life

Thank you Emily Freeman for recently featuring this one on “For Your Weekend.” What a sweet and happy gift.

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I’m all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life.

If that sounds like something you need, sign up in the box below to receive fresh hope and possibility delivered to your inbox no more than a couple of times a week.

{P.S. Let’s hang out on Instagram.}

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A Tale of Two Houses. A Story of Hope.

2 houses

Several weeks ago I snuggled up with my boys in their bunk beds as a blanket of grief covered us. It was our last night in the only home either of them had ever known.

My youngest was wracked with guilt and sadness because we were abandoning the house itself. What would the house do without us? How would it feel?

My oldest son told me that this felt like The Giving Tree. Our home was like the tree who had loved us unconditionally, housing our play and family dinners and nightly slumber. Though we’d leave for school and work and vacations, the house was always there, awaiting our return. And now? We were just walking away, leaving it to strangers.

I’d done my best to soldier on until that point. But y’all, The Giving Tree analogy? My seven-year-old crying into his pillow, asking me what our house would do without its family? I flat out came undone and surrendered to the tidal wave of emotion.

Homes are sacred places. For nearly ten years our family stored up memories and meals and milestones within the walls of that little house.

I remember the day we brought our youngest home from the hospital. I placed him on our king-size bed while his big brother and sister oohed and aahed over his brand newness. Along with their pet lizard. In a jar. On my bed.

I remember holding sick toddlers wrapped in blankets out in the cold nighttime air, praying away croup at 2 am on the porch, waiting for the medicine to kick in.

I remember birthday parties in the driveway and a yard full of neighbor kids.

My boys learned to golf in the backyard.

My baby learned to walk in the living room.

My daughter skipped into the house at the age of four holding her Barbie. She walked out for the last time holding her iPhone.

My youngest locked us out of our bathroom with the handcuffs he got for Christmas one year.

handcuff

Ten years is a long time to stay in a single place. It’s by far the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. And because home is the space where we shelter our people and root our hearts, we don’t uproot without struggle. And a lot of emotion. Leaving home is hard, even when it’s good and right.

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If you’re a regular here, you already know that this journey has been a long one. We’ve planned to move for a couple of years now, longing to have a bit more wiggle room for our growing-up family, a few more walls for their introvert mom, and closer proximity to the schools and church and places that are part of daily life. But houses sell quickly here and we knew that we’d have to sell ours before we could look seriously at anything else.

In July of 2014, confident and excited, we were finally ready to put our house on the market. Just getting to that point was a miracle in itself. My husband and I don’t make decisions quickly. I worked my fingers to the bone instead of enjoying summer with the kids. We spent more money than we’d expected trying getting the house staged. I knew exactly what to do because blogs and HGTV are the boss of me. The house listed a month later.

Crickets chirped. And chirped. And chirped.

Through a long and painful fall and winter, at the worst possible moments, our little house suddenly began showing up a storm. {Dear Timing, you are mean.}

In the midst of grief and chaos, I’d get a request to show the house, put my hiney into high gear, fuss at my kids, load up the extra junk in the van and back out of the driveway like a crazy lady. The kids can tell you the drill. I’d be in tears, apologizing for yelling at them in all of the hurry and stress, and we’d pray that it was the last showing.

moving van

Eventually, I lost count of how many showings I’d killed myself over. We got wonderful feedback every single time about how cute it was and how well it showed. We were even under contract last February, two buyers dueling over the house on the same day. But the stars never aligned. Within a week of the contract falling through, our car died and our washer broke and my youngest child got a scary virus that made his legs not work for a few days.

And with so many things falling apart and breaking down all at once, my heart followed suit and broke a little bit too.

Enthusiastic and well-meaning acquaintances who didn’t know our ordeal talked about how someone just showed up at their house! That wasn’t even on the market! And offered them over market price!

At least three times I heard versions of this story from different people as I smiled through gritted teeth and told them how HAPPY I WAS FOR THEM.

I sat on a throne of lies.

In May we finally pulled it off the market. I was bitter at the house, envious of others, and drained by the ordeal and seemingly misspent stress, money, and energy. We needed a break. We didn’t know how long the breather would last. We didn’t really talk about it at all, which was a problem. And our lack of communication may have simmered into a rapid boil that necessitated a trip to our counselor.

God bless our dear, long-suffering-counselor-turned-friend. Jon got us on the same team again, reminding us that if we weren’t communicating and praying about this together, then we weren’t inviting God to be part of it. And why would we want to go one step further in this journey without asking God to be in it with us?

It was the turning point we needed and the truth we’d forgotten. {Dear God, we do want you to be All In.}

Walls came down as we communicated humbly with one another. We apologized and forgave. We prayed together and kept at it, asking for wisdom regarding our current house and for the provision of a new one, if that was God’s will.

And just like that, we decided to put it back on market and see what happened. We didn’t tell anyone at first but our realtor. The sign went back up. We had six showings in one week and were under contract less than two weeks later.

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Now here’s where it gets crazy.

The morning after it was obvious that we were going under contract and things looked solid, a house popped up on the internet, for sale by owner. I literally gasped and went running into the living room where my husband sat. The location, the price, the specs — all exactly what we were looking for. We couldn’t find a phone number so we hopped in the car and drove straight over. There was a little sign with a phone number. We called and made an appointment to see it later that afternoon.

It was the one we wanted — a sturdy, soulful house built in 1959. Best of all, it had a screen porch the size of a living room. If you know me, you know that I would live in a cardboard box if it had a screen porch. It’s something I’ve wished for since childhood.

screen porch fall table

It also had flowers and beauty and just the right amount of quirk and wonkiness to suit me, a gal who loves storied and lived-in things.

Friends of ours live right down the street and they texted the owners, telling them that they knew us and probably assuring them that we weren’t killers.

I’d enlisted our parents and a few others to pray, to really pray that we would find favor with the owners and that what seemed impossible would become a reality. Because even though the contract on our house was a good one, the couple couldn’t close until October 25th! And it was still the end of July! What person in their right mind would agree to that? Especially when the market was hot and inventory was low and they could sell it ten times over before October.

But they did. They agreed. Because they wanted the right family in this house that they loved so much.

Two days later, we pulled into the driveway to sign a contract. A text from our realtor came in. “No explanation for this but your buyers have agreed to move the closing up a month. Congratulations! You get to close September 25th instead of late October.”

I sat in my minivan and sobbed. My heart could not hold all the goodness.

The next two months were hardly smooth sailing. We had some major hurdles. It was going to take a miracle for our house to appraise for what we needed it to. See, that was the thing that tanked us when we were under contract back in Febrauary. Our area had a string of unlucky comps right after our house went on the market the first time. We were powerless to do anything about that.

Lo and behold, just two weeks before our appraisal {which providentially kept getting delayed}, several houses on our little street all sold higher than houses had been selling. You can guess what happened. Our appraisal was golden. {Dear Timing, I’m sorry for what I said about you earlier.}

A friend of mine told me months ago that she didn’t think our house would sell until we found the one that was meant to be ours. I didn’t know how right she was.

We got a buyer. The next morning our new house showed up.

“It’s funny,” the owner told us when we first looked at the house. “We’ve been trying to get this house ready to sell for months and just haven’t been able to. We put a For Sale by Owner sign up two weeks ago but didn’t get around to putting it on Zillow until yesterday.”

You know what they say, “Timing is everything.”

And timing does not belong to me.

For so many months, God had allowed us to wait and wonder and strive and struggle. I’ve doubted and despaired. At every low point, I’ve been faced with a choice: try harder or trust.

This story may seem like it’s about something as superficial as a house but it’s really about so much more than that. God uses the stuff of real life to peel back the layers of my heart and reveal its true state. I had a plan. I had a timetable. I wanted certain outcomes. Despite so much time and toil, nothing was working out.

God had a plan too. And his plan had more to do with the state of my heart than the sale of my home. I’ve been through trials far weightier and more heart-wrenching than selling a house and finding a new one. But this road has been its own special journey of faith and trust and repeated surrender. I did everything “right.” I consulted the experts. I staged and re-staged. I took every showing seriously.

It simply wasn’t the time. And no amount of toil would make it so. Psalm 127:1-2 comes to mind. I was trying to build my own house, “eating the bread of anxious toil” instead of trusting God, the one who asks, “Will you literally rest and trust me?”

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives to his beloved sleep.

That right there is some truth.

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stream and path

Months ago I began praying that God would provide in a way that was ridiculously beyond what we could over orchestrate. Not in the form of impressiveness or a fancy place. I just wanted a story where He got all the glory.

He absolutely came through on that one.

Redemption is the theme of my life and the older I get, the more enamored I become with the glory of God and the smallness of me. He keeps allowing opportunities for me to strive, hit a wall, and finally give up / get out of the way so that He can do my very favorite thing of all: show up in beautiful and unlikely ways, doing wonderful, redemptive works that absolutely slay me.

It’s been an agonizing journey. I am simultaneously elated about our new home yet still grieving the loss of our old house and the dear community of people we lived among for ten years. Like I said, uprooting doesn’t come without a struggle and our roots feel more like exposed nerves — sensitive and painful and not wanting to be touched.

I had to stuff a lot of emotions just to get through the packing and moving process and they all came tumbling out the night before we moved when my boys played The Giving Tree card. {Dear Boys, do not every pull that one again.} They came tumbling out the moment I walked out of my door for the last time. They still tumble out when I least expect them to.

Moving, no matter how near or far, is one of life’s most baneful chores and emotional roller-coasters. I joke that it’s taken years off my life. My insides are a mess and my spirit is fragile. I’m exhausted and headachey and jumpy and overwhelmed, even in the midst of such gratitude. It’s a mixed bag is what I’m saying, and I know I’ll need some time to make peace with the change, even though it’s change I hoped and prayed for.

I also need a nap. Every day for the rest of my life.

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tea on the screen porch

I’m sure I’ll be writing more about the house. A new house means new beginnings and new projects and new ways of doing life. But I can’t begin to do any of that without the backstory.

Always, the backstory. Because redemption isn’t even a thing if we don’t have that. And this house is such a picture of redemption. Not because it’s new or posh or in the best part of town. Those things weren’t on our wishlist. But there’s so much about it that’s just right for us, gifts that feel like a kiss from God who keeps reminding me that his heart for us is one of preservation and blessing. Not in some slick prosperity gospel sort of way, but in a personal sort of way. This is the place for us, given at just the right time.

All along, God has kept our family when the odds were against us. The world launched its missiles through our windows and kicked at our foundation. We almost gave up. Rebuilding has been a slow and messy process. We wouldn’t have made it without hope. We still don’t make it without hope.

In so many ways, this home is hope realized.

The day before we closed, in the midst of blinding rain and mud and moving plans going awry and expenses climbing and having miles to go before we slept, I blubbered to my husband on the phone. “I know this is hard and feels impossible. Everything about this process has been messy. But we’re doing this together. We’re moving as a family. All of us. God has been so gracious. Crazy as it all feels right now, this is redemption.”

And it is.

Thanks for journeying with me — for your encouragement and support. We are far from settled. Between marriage and motherhood and boxes and doctor visits and my jobs and his job, daily life is full. I’m forced to find new ways to weave regular-ish writing into these busy days. It is my comfort, my coping mechanism, and my worship.

And once again, I am both bewildered and comforted by Timing. If I’ve learned anything, it’s the reality that time does not belong to me. Though I wrestle with the frustrations of that, I’m also soothed by the promise of seasons and change and how there really is a time for everything. This is a time to re-settle, to do my right-now work, to love my people and run my home and choose to rest in the midst of the undone.

In the whirling hum of these sacred tasks, I still get to hope.

To trust the One who is the giver of all things.

To unwrap each season and each gift as He ordains.

Thank you again for walking alongside me and sharing in my story.

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The Stressy State of Things & Why Small-Moment Living Just Might Save My Life {+ book winners & another giveaway}

stressy state of things

School started yesterday and I’m “feeling all the feels,” as they say.

My girl started high school, my middle son started middle school, and my baby son {even though he’s 7} walked into elementary school for the first time without big brother as his faithful companion.

True confession. I was so ready for them to go back to school because this summer we all earned PhDs in Togetherness.

And then they did all go back to school and I can’t stop crying about the whole business. I think it’s simply the emotional occasion for all the bottled-up stress and apprehension to come spilling out.

Have a seat and let me catch you up on the state of things:

After a year of trying, not trying, and then trying again to sell our sweet little house, it looks like we’re actually moving.

I’m so afraid to announce things before they happen because we are not famous for our smooth sailing. We are famous for nothing going as planned. But assuming there are no bombs, floods, or other catastrophes, we’re moving from our home of nearly ten years.

It’s a local move and if everything works out, I’ll tell you all about it because it is a story indeed.

September is not known for her carefree days but that’s when the Vischer family is set to pack up one house and settle into another. Amid drop-off and pick-up lines and homework and cheer and football games and jobs, we’re going to move. Try to hide your jealousy.

Moving takes years off my life so I will be 180 in moving years once we finally get settled.

I started a part-time job in April. I begin another one next week. Both are fantastic jobs — family-friendly and meaningful, jobs that use my gifts.

It’s simply a lot of transition in a short amount of time.

So yesterday I tried not to hyperventilate and cuss in front of my kids when I discovered those tiny kitchen moths had set up shop among the stale crackers in my pantry.

When crisis or change comes my way, I can struggle with sleep and stability. My overwrought brain doesn’t know where to find the shut-off valve. While I have sometimes shocked myself as Grace Under Pressure during a season of crisis or even that one time when the toddler threw up on a road trip and we had to hose him and everyone else off in a sketchy West Virginia car wash, I’m also the one hyperventilating over pantry moths.

The timing of so many things is lost on me right now.

But there’s one gift that’s come at just the right time — Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World by Emily P. Freeman.

simply tuesday

Earlier this summer, my name was randomly chosen to be part of her launch team. That means I got to read the book early. Friends, it has been a gift to my anxious heart these summer months.

This is a book about true home.

About doing our work but releasing outcomes.

About settling into our small and ordinary places.

About all the places our soul runs to in search of life, only to leave us dissatisfied.

Most of all, for me, it’s a book about keeping company with Jesus through every anxious moment, every runaway thought, every desire and devastation, every welcome and unwelcome transition.

I love what Emily says about keeping company with Christ instead of keeping pace with the world. Her words are always like a gentle hush for my soul.

As citizens of an invisible kingdom, we refuse to take our living cues from the world that says to build, grow, measure, and rush to keep up. Instead we take our cues from the new hope alive within us, from the life of Christ who has made our hearts his home. We’ll stop trying to keep up with the fast-moving world and, instead, we’ll settle down and keep company with the small moments of our lives…

We don’t know where these moments might lead, what we might grow into, whom we might influence, what impact we might have. That is not our business. Instead our job is to stay right here with our friend Jesus. To know that he is with us and within us, and he’ll stay no matter what.

We’ll find our places to call home. 

We’ll find our right-now work. 

We’ll gather with our Tuesday people. 

We’ll write our hidden prayers in the fog.

We’ll let love lead.

large tree

I always need the message of small-moment living but I especially need it during this season when my world feels like it’s spinning on a wonkier tilt than normal — when there is much to manage, outcomes I can’t control, dicey emotions that show up without notice, a new job and precious people to welcome into my life, deep longings that will tenderly be placed up on a shelf for a time.

Throughout these shifty days, there is the promise of the presence of Christ as I gather up my many things and let him carry the burden.

Emily has the loveliest video you can watch. It’s both an introduction and an invitation. Go watch and you’ll see what I mean. And if you’d rather not wait to get your hands on a copy, I don’t blame you. You can order here.

Order before August 28th and you can get a small group conversation guide for FREE! 

wreath-on-wreath

This weekend I’m looking forward to attending a launch party for Simply Tuesday. I’m taking my extra book so Emily can sign it for you!

That’s right, another giveaway! I’m keeping it simple so just leave a comment here on the blog about anything at all or on the blog’s Facebook page.

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Thanks so much for those who entered last week’s giveaway and to Kindel for letting me team up with her! For those of you who are new to this place and to some of the online places I hang out {like the blog’s Facebook and Twitter pages}, WELCOME. I’m so glad to have you as part of this community.

And now for the winners:

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Congrats you guys! You’ve been notified by e-mail so I can get your addresses.

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