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!

rps flor logo

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!

Want a sneak peak?

rps sneak peek

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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The Real Pretty Shop is Open for its 3rd Sale. Come on in!

S3 shop header

Happy Sale Day, friends!

Welcome to the Real Pretty Shop! New? Go here to learn more about the sales and the inspiration behind the shop.

This sale showcases feminine and colorful sweater ensembles that you can wear now and right into spring. Most of these pieces will transition from season to season and mix up beautifully with pieces you probably already have in your wardrobe.

A disclaimer: This sale has a disproportionate number of smaller-sized ensembles. Please don’t hate me. I had trouble finding an array of pieces in an array of sizes but I am working hard to remedy this issue for the spring sales and I have some cute stuff coming your way. {I’m already referring to them as pieces from the Spring Line.}

If you really love something but are unsure about size, just ask me in the comments. I’m happy to measure anything. 


I’m going to lead off with my personal favorite. Girly and dotty with an anthro + vintage vibe, I present to you…

S3 label 1 S3 #1 turq sw + dotty bl S3 outfit 1 collage

Fits like a generous XS / tiny S. Also? This one is my personal favorite of the sale. {Have had to hold myself back from taking it for a test run.}


  • Skinny jeans or pants
  • Booties, wedges, or sassy flats
  • Tuck in the blouse and wear with a pencil skirt or fuller A-line skirt.
  • All 3 of these fun and girly separates will add personality to whatever you pair them with.
  • Red lipstick. Trust me.


S3 label 2 S3 outfit 2 S3 outfit 2 collage For all you prepsters. Or hipsters. Or bored bohemians who may want to inject a structured vibe into your look.

This J.Crew cable v-neck sweater in a maizey goldenrod is a classic. I’ve paired it with a crisp white and blue striped oxford that shows off the MOST DARLING ribbon detailing behind the buttons. {So that maizey color won’t be sitting directly beneath your face, if you’re worried about that. The oxford is the brightening buffer.} And the icing on the prepster is the tassel bracelet, handmade with love by yours truly.

Fits like a generous XS or a small-ish Small.


  • Any and all jeans
  • Slim-fit pants or cuffed chinos
  • Pencil skirt with booties, wedges, or sassy flats. {Because flats should always be sassy.}
  • Wear the whole ensemble under a blazer. {Go here for more on the awesomeness of blazers and how to wear them.}
  • Break them up and wear the oxford under a graphic tee. When warmer weather comes calling, roll up those sleeves and wear untucked with your favorite summer shorts and flip flops.



S3 shop label 3 S3 outfit 3 S3 outfit 3 collage I promise you, this plum perfect sweater will become your go-to top. Comfy and soft as a sweatshirt, this fits like a dream. Wide band at the bottom, a blousey middle, and a real gal’s v-neck. As opposed to the J.Lo v-neck. And see that fun sweatshirt-style stitching? The photo does not do this sweater justice. It’s flattering and easy and just perfect.

And can we talk about these earrings for a sec? They will be your FAVORITE. Brushed-gold dangly geometric fabulousness. I bought a pair for a friend and she wears them every time I see her.

Purple hues pair beautifully with green so these stretchy bracelets provide just the right contrast.

Fits like a true small. But an XS gal could wear it too.


  • Any and all jeans. But this color looks especially great with white jeans. {You can totally wear white jeans year-round now.}
  • Since it has a blousey middle, skinnies or slim-fit pants provide balance.
  • A colorful contrasting scarf
  • Booties, cowboy boots, or sassy flats



S3 outfit 4 label S3 outfit 4 S3 outfit 4 collage This raspberry, soft merino wool, dolman-sleeve sweater is GORGEOUS. You can dress it up or dress down. Super flattering and so easy to throw on. The cowl-neck, banded bottom, drape, and fabulous color will revamp your ho-hum black pants or dress up your skinny jeans. A color like this is its own accessory, but it also pairs beautifully with contrasting hues. I’ve added gold geometric earrings and a green marbled bracelet.

Technically an XS, I feel this would fit anyone from a size 2 to a 6 because of its drapey shape.


  • Everything
  • Any and all jeans
  • Skinnies or slim-fit pants
  • Pencil skirt and sassy flats or heels for work
  • Wear with black, white {my favorite}, navy, or have some fun with a complimentary contrasting color — like chartreuse, coral, or teal skinny chinos. It works! I promise.
  • Skinny pants / jeans + booties or flats


These next few outfits are MED / LG {ish}. Because they’re cardigan and blouse sets, they’re forgiving, size-wise.

I often buy cardigans and button-ups in larger sizes because I prefer them loose {and my life is 99% casual.}

So keep that in mind and don’t rule something out because it’s not precisely your usual size. I’ll do my best to tell you how they fit and again, if you have any questions about size, ask me in the comments and I’m happy to measure something.

S3 outfit 5 label S3 outfit 5 S3 outfit 5 collage Ready for spring yet? You will be with this darling number.

Check out the festive beading on the lapel of this 3/4-length sleeve coral cardigan. And the RUFFLED seersucker blouse. Not to mention this is my favorite of all the tassel bracelets. This look is simply a festival of preciousness.

Fit: Shirt is a medium and sweater is a large, but they work together perfectly. If you’re anywhere from a size 8 to a 10 / 12-ish up top, this will probably work for you.


  • Skinny chinos / skinny jeans for spring! Again, white pants or jeans would be perfect. Slip on wedges, flats, or sandals.
  • Wear now with sassy flats or booties.
  • Tuck in the blouse and pair with an A-line or pencil skirt. You can even add a skinny belt to create silhouette.
  • Break up these pieces for endless possibilities throughout the seasons. The ruffled top would be adorable with summer shorts and skirts, while the cardigan is perfect to throw on over spring and summer dresses. You can still wear it in fall and winter over a long-sleeve denim or knit shirt.



S3 outfit 6 label S3 outfit 6 S3 outfit 6 collage I love the color and personality of this one. This leopard is one sassy kitty. I’ve paired this soft and easy cotton cardigan with a raspberry tank that has asymmetrical draping.

Fit: Sweater is a medium and fits like a true medium. The drapey shell is from Old Navy and has plenty of stretch. It’s also a true medium. A long, chunky, wooden beaded necklaces finishes the ensemble with casual, exotic feel. Everything about this is fun.


  • Dark-rinse jeans
  • Slim-fit chinos
  • Linen pants
  • Cowboy boots, booties, cute flats {that don’t compete with all that pattern and color}
  • Cardigan would pair great with a denim button up or graphic tee.
  • Shell would look great under a blazer. Then wear it in the summer with white jeans, dressy shorts, cropped slim pants, or tucked into a flowy summer skirt.



S3 outfit 7 label S3 outfit 7 S3 outfit 7 collage Classic and oh-so-pretty, this silk watercolor cardigan and fuschia tie-blouse {both from Ann Taylor, both silk} are so pretty and feminine. Rich fabrics speak for themselves and that’s definitely the case with this ensemble. The blouse is cut on the bias and zips up the side. It has the loveliest ruffled v-neck that ties. {I love blouses with ties. And ruffles.} The navy sweater has two front chiffon-like panels with a floral watercolor print. I added simple and classic gold earrings.

Fit: Sweater is a large but I think it could also work for a medium. Blouse is a size 10.


  • Definitely a dressier ensemble, this is great for work or church. Pair with dressy pants {navy, white, taupe.}
  • Tuck in the blouse and wear with a pencil skirt or high-waist A-line skirt.
  • Dress it down by wearing a solid tee or tank under the cardigan instead of the blouse and pairing it with skinny jeans. Or wear it over a denim shirt and with white jeans and booties or flats.
  • Perfect cardigan to wear over a dress in any season.
  • Blouse will be a perfect shell to wear under blazers right now or by itself in warmer months. {I mean, not totally by itself. You should probably wear some pants or a skirt with it.}



S3 outfit 8 label S3 outfit 8 S3 outfit 7 collage

You’re digging this one, aren’t you? Me too. Ruffled flannel shirt with pine, dolman-sleeve, sweater vest.

Fit: Again, the sizing will sound so wonky but I’ve tried it all on together {and on my mannequin} and it works. I promise.

Shirt is a long, drop-waist ruffled flannel from American Eagle, size 8. I love the colors. Fits like a true medium. The sweater says XL but it’s not; it’s more of a roomy medium. The proportions are great over the long flannel. I feel the entire outfit fits like a true medium. But the cut and style are such that you could pull this one off as a generous small or a smaller large. It’s very flexible and forgiving either way. {I’m typing this late at night and I fear it makes no sense. Does this make sense?}


  • Any and all jeans.
  • Cowboy boots or booties.
  • Long flannel would be so cute on its on with skinny jeans, a puffer vest, and booties or moccasins.
  • Sweater would pair equally well with a long-sleeved striped shirt, denim button-up, or any of your favorite button-ups.



S3 outfit 9 label S3 outfit 9 S3 outfit 9 collage I have a feeling this one might be a favorite for a few of you because you’ll want to wear this sweater with everything. I love the color combo and freshness of this outfit! Not to mention the versatility of each of the pieces. And how those earrings are having a party no matter what you wear them with.

Fit: Again, the sizes will sound wonky but bear with me. It works. It really does. Blouse is from Express and is a size small. But it’s a very, very generous small. Now, it would look cute on a true size small but it’s going to be a loose and blousey fit. {Which I love.} I feel it’s more of a true medium. It has sleeves that can roll up and button mid-way up the arm with a little tab. The cotton sweater is a Merona, size large. Again, this could work for someone as a loose and generous small or as a smaller large. {How confused are you by this point?}


  • Spring and ice-cream cones and a new purse and kitty cats and balloons. {Who’s excited for spring?}
  • Skinny jeans or slim-fit chinos with booties or flats.
  • Blouse looks great with black or white skinny jeans and booties or flats. Add a statement necklace or printed scarf.
  • Cardigan will be your new BFF, showcasing your favorite graphic tees and inspiring all sorts of pattern mixing. It’ll also want to marry your denim shirt. And then you’ll throw on some colored skinny jeans with it and Chuck Taylors or cute flats and feel just adorable.



S3 outfit 10 label S# outfit 10 S3 outfit 10 collage

This last ensemble is so easy and comfortable but still stylish and interesting. The Simply Vera {by Vera Wang} cardigan drapes just the way you want it to and has a sheer navy band that edges the lapel. I love that kind of feminine detail. I’ve paired it with a wine-colored tee that has lots of stretch and a wooden beaded necklace for a casual and effortless look.

Fit: Both are XL but I feel it would also work as a large.


  • Drapey tops tend to need some balance with a more fitted bottom so I suggest skinny or slimmer fit jeans or pants. But any jeans will work. Again, this is an easy outfit.
  • Cowboy boots or booties
  • Cardigan would pair well with bright, contrasting colors like hot pinks, chartreusey greens, or coral / orange. Also great with a denim shirt or to throw on over a summery dress.
  • Quality, stretchy tees are great staples. You can wear this one with white summer shorts, a maxi skirt and sandals or wedges, or under a blazer.



Here’s how the shop works. {Be sure you read this part.}
  1. See something you like? Go to the comments section and tell me what number outfit you like.
  2. Then include your PayPal address in the comment box. This is very important. If you don’t include your PayPal address, I can’t send you an invoice. {Or your outfit.}
  3. The comments section will stay open until Friday night at midnight. If there are multiple people who all want the same outfit, I’ll draw a name and send you an invoice on Saturday. That way everyone has a chance to get their hands on an outfit.
  4. If there’s more than one outfit you like, go ahead and comment on both. Let me know your first and second choices.
  5. Even if someone has already commented on the outfit you want, comment anyway since you all have the same chance to win. The comments will close at midnight EST on Friday night {Saturday morning.}
  6. I can’t ship your items before payment.
  7. All outfits will ship USPS priority mail flat-rate shipping. You guys, shipping is expensive. I really didn’t know. So in an effort to keep this truly affordable, your ensembles will be smushed into a tiny gelatin capsule that you’ll have to soak in water for 20 minutes and then poof, your outfit will dislodge. Kidding! But it might be tightly folded up like origami when it arrives. I apologize for the wrinkles. Blame the USPS. Throw your duds in the dryer with a dryer sheet and a damp towel and you’ll be good to go.
  8. No returns…much as it pains me. {My people-pleasing self hates this rule but it just has to be.} If for any reason an item doesn’t work out, you can pass it along to a friend, split up the items {keep what works for yourself or pass along what doesn’t to someone else}, or donate it to your favorite thrift shop.
  9. Like the shop? Know someone who would dig this sort of thing? Spread the word. You can use those share buttons at the bottom of the post.


Have ideas for what you’d like to see in the shop? I’d love to hear. You can let me know in the comments or send me an e-mail. 

The Next SALE! Tomorrow 2 / 26 {and a sneak peek}

dotty sneak peek

Just popping in mid-day to announce THE NEXT SALE — tomorrow, February 26th. I hope to open the shop first thing in the A.M.

What do I have for you? Sweaters. An array of lovely and layery ensembles that will take you right into spring. Feminine and colorful and fun, you’ll totally be able to layer these lovely ladies with pieces you already have. {Raise your hand if you need to unwrap a little fun at this point in the winter. That’s what I thought, ALL the hands.}

I’d planned to dish up this sale a month ago but then, you know, there were issues. Like Toiletgate 2015 and the dissolving hope.

Serving up pretty sweaters is just the happy and fashionable diversion my sulky and slightly unstable self needs at the end of a looooong February.

Want another sneak peek? Of course you do.

mustard sweater sneek peek blue and dotty sneek peek

If you’re new, just go here to get all the scoop on….

shop header lighter

Okay, off to over-caffeinate myself and make good on my word. See you {and all your friends that you’re gonna tell} tomorrow!

Love, Marian


Don’t want to miss a post? Or a sale? You can subscribe my e-mail in the box below. And of course, you may unsubscribe anytime you like.