Are you stressed about how to educate your kids? Let me help.

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It’s the first week of August and Target has me all heart-eye emoji over back-to-school supplies. Is it just me or do school supplies get cuter every year?

Getting everything in order for a new school year ushers in its own sort of angst for me as a parent. But that’s the easy stuff compared to the deeper fears, dilemmas, and second-guessing about getting school “right” for our kids. It’s the sort of dilemma that most of our parents didn’t struggle with and that probably wasn’t even on our grandparents’ radar.

Why?

Because in this land of opportunity, we have more educational options than ever before. And while the vast majority of families still send their kids to the local public school, we all know families who are choosing to do things differently, whether it’s homeschool, charter school, private school, or online school.

Our motivations for doing it “differently” are as varied as our families:

  • Your kids having the best education possible so that they have access to the best opportunities possible. 
  • Choosing a more personal path for a child who has learning disabilities or who may be exceptionally gifted.
  • A passion to be involved in the public schools for the sake of a better community. 
  • The best sports program or a charter school geared toward the creative arts.
  • Providing a faith-based foundation for learning.
  • Protection from unsavory peer influences. 

 

And that’s just the beginning.

I’ve been thinking and writing about this topic of finding freedom in our educational decisions for several years now because I’ve been living through the ups and downs of this dilemma since I had my first child 15+ years ago.

Our overwhelm as parents has only intensified because our options are more abundant than ever.

If you’re stressed and uncertain about how to educate your kids, I wish we could sit down on my screen porch and visit. I’d listen to your worry and tell you it’s going to be okay. But my screen porch isn’t big enough for all of you so I’m offering something else.

“Is it like the Sorting Hat from Hogwarts?” you may ask.

I wish.

“You’re to be homeschooled! You’re perfect for your local public school! You were destined for the early college charter school!”

Alas, we’re not as lucky as Harry, Ron, and Hermione and I don’t have any magic.

But I have created a free resource that’s all yours — to download, to print, to share with your spouse.

It’s called “School Made Simple: FIVE Essential Questions to Help Your Family Walk the Path of Educational Freedom”

Why the 5 questions? Why not just give you answers and expertise and best practices.

Because we’re not robots.

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I’ve walked the hard road of my own story and I’d like to be a gentle guide who helps you walk yours with freedom and grace.

“How do I receive this free resource?”

school made simple freebie header

I’m glad you asked.

All you have to do is subscribe in the box at the bottom of this post and you’ll receive a link to download “School Made Simple.”

And if you’re already a subscriber, don’t worry. You’ll automatically receive a separate e-mail {later today} with your link to the download. It’s my way of saying thank you for being part of this space.

As a subscriber, you’ll receive posts no more than twice a week that are all about helping you recapture the possibility of your right-now life — whether it’s the ongoing dilemma over school, real talk about faith, the struggle of pursuing your hoped-for work in the midst of your right-now life, encouragement for realistic parenting, and even the challenges of prettying up a room {or your tired outfits} on a minimal budget. Plus you’ll be the first to know about new freebies, resources, and other insider scoop!

Don’t worry, this isn’t a lifetime commitment. Feel free to unsubscribe anytime you like. You can always hop back in if it works for you down the road.

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I’d love to have your feedback over this issue of school.

  • What are your personal fears, dilemmas, questions?
  • What has made the decision difficult {or easy} for you?

 

Knowing your struggles and concerns helps me create fresh content that meets you right where you are. You can chime in on the Facebook page, via Instagram, in the blog’s comment section, or by sending an email to marianvischer at gmail dot com.

I can’t thank you enough for your continued support and community here. It’s been nine years since I began writing online and I’m more grateful than ever for the gift of kindred spirits and for this place to unwrap possibility together.

Love, Marian

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P.S. Let’s hang out on Instagram!

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The Real Pretty Shop is open for its second sale. Come on in!

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Today’s shop is all about blazers. {Though you’ll find a few ensembles that aren’t.}

I have 12 outfits styled up for you today. TWELVE. I am insane. But my insanity is your gain so let’s get to it.

If you’re new to all this, you can go here to read about the first sale and the inspiration behind it. {I blame / thank Shannan.}

I’ll put the shop notes at the bottom of the post because with 12 outfits to cover, you’ll forget how things work by outfit #4.

And though you’ll be scanning for something you love, go back and read the “pairs well with” section that accompanies each outfit. You may just find inspiration to revive some tired pieces from your own wardrobe or discover new ways to pair them up.

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2.1 w tags

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I love watching Ellen {the one on TV} to see what she pairs with her blazers. This week she wore a fitted cardigan buttoned all the way up with a cute fitted blazer and I was smitten. She’s the inspiration for this number…though I don’t she’d rock the floral. But you, you can totally rock this. The fitted floral cardigan {Old Navy, size small} softens the light brown tailored jacket. Plus I added a long pearl + gold chain necklace.

This is put together yet easy. The blazer is super comfy and tailored without being constrictive. It’s a size 4 from Talbots {true to size} and I think the shape is actually more flattering than the picture shows. The pattern is a subtle, very thin stripe. Fabric is 100% wool {but not thick}. Fully lined.

PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • Any and all denim. The contrast would be perfect.
  • Slim pants with flats or booties.
  • White jeans. You can wear white in the winter now. Just call it “winter white.”
  • A slim skirt with wedges, heels, or tall boots.
  • Slim skirt.
  • The blazer will look great with any button up {think denim shirt}, a nautical stripe knit shirt, or “trendify” it with a graphic tee + chunky necklace and jeans.

 

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2.2 collage Polished wool, pin-striped Talbots blazer size 6. J.Jill black lace stretchy top, size medium petite. It actually is just a tad longer than the hem of the blazer so it’s perfect. Finished off with one of my handmade flower pins in fuchsia linen.

This J.Jill top is stretchy and soft and has the sweetest little collar you ever did see. It’s so French, n’est-ce pas? Put a black cami under this and wear it without the blazer.

PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • Any and all denim. Again, think in contrasts.
  • White jeans or pants.
  • The black top would be darling tucked into a skirt — pencil, A-line, or a full / flouncy number.
  • The blazer will look great with any button up or a fitted sweater.

 

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Go ahead. I’ll give you a second to catch your breath over this amazing, peacock blue jacket. Oh how I love her. This jacket / blazer is a medium but I’d say she can work for some smalls too. Even though it’s very tailored, she’s got some flex space. This could be a little big or very fitted and both would work. Plus, there’s the floral lining you’ll want to show off if you roll the sleeves up.

Details galore. From the pockets and the buttons to the lining that I want to have made into drapes because it’s so lovely and whimsical.

The scarf is Merona — soft and cozy and would look super cute with a denim shirt or graphic tee.

PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • This piece can be a blazer or it can serve as an actual jacket. She’s more substantial than she looks.
  • Great with sweaters, button-ups, tees.
  • Any jeans or pants will work.
  • Any and all boots. Or throw on your Chuck Taylor’s if you want to look hip and fun / casual.

 

I love this jacket. Did I say that already?

 

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Hello lover.

Can we just pause for a moment while I gather myself and dab the sweat from my brow? Behold the Velvet Eden blazer from J.Crew.

I swoon. The ruched pockets, shirred waist, slim shawl collar — feminine, tailored, velvet perfection. Click on that link above and look at the back. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

I looked high and low to find the right top to pair it with but this piece is so gorgeous, everything fell short. That’s not to say it isn’t versatile. I mean, look at how J.Crew styled it. {And you must read their description. It’s perfect.}

j.crew blazer

You could wear this with your pajamas and no one would notice because this luxe blazer is like a tractor beam.

I’m going to let you style this lovely jacket on your own but I am gifting you with a sparkly, antiquey, medallion necklace that pairs so beautifully with it. I’m also gifting you with a steal because this lovely lady retailed for $148 before it sold out.

Size is an 8P.

I’m 5’4 and don’t shop in the petite section but this jacket was a great length for me. I’m thinking you can probably get away with this if you’re a size 6-8 and 5’6 or shorter. I have way long arms for my height and the sleeves weren’t at all too short.

PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • Any and all denim. The contrast would be perfect.
  • Boots or booties.
  • Button-ups shirts, tucked in or out. Any kind of button-up would be great. I love the idea of a denim shirt with it.
  • A graphic tee or solid tee {with that necklace} to make it more casual and trendy.
  • Dressed up with satiny pants, skirts, even a dress like J.Crew shows.
  • Your apathetic boyfriend or distracted husband because once you wear this, he’s going to get jealous of how much you love Velvet Eden and all the attention will back on you. {No extra charge for the relationship advice.}

 

2.5 w tags 2.5 collage

If snazzy was still a word, I’d use it to describe this ensemble. It’s rich and classy and the sweater has jeweled buttons that I want to unthread and turn into earrings. But then you’d be left with an ugly sweater. Oh and did I mention BCBG? That’s code for spendy and trendy. Even though the sweater has a collar, I prefer it tucked beneath the jacket.

This jacket needed color so I found this I.N.C. slim sweater in a light mustard color with jeweled buttons. It fits perfectly under the blazer and adds to the tailoredness.

I wanted to finish off the look so I added a fun gold necklace with pearls and clear sparkly beads. This outfit is perfect for work but just as cute with bootcut jeans and some cowboy boots. {Which is how I’d wear it.}

Oh and check out the back. It has a tie so that you can customize the fit!

2.5 blazer back
PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • Any and all denim with tall boots or booties.
  • White jeans or pants.
  • Slim pants and fun flats.
  • Dressed up with a slim skirt + wedges or heels.
  • The blazer can look more casual and hip with a button-up, fitted sweater, or graphic tee.

 

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This is a similar look to outfit 1 — blazer + button-up sweater + necklace. But this one is a much more relaxed look. Camel-colored blazer is tapemeasure {brand} size 8. Sweater is daisy fuentes size large. Let’s talk about fit. I’d say both of these are a medium. The sweater runs small and the fit of the jacket is somewhat cropped {slightly above hip-length} and with a relaxed fit. I added a sweet necklace made of wooden beads and white shells.

If you want the look of a blazer but with the comfort of “real” clothes, this is a great outfit — comfy and easy.

PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • Any and all denim with tall boots or booties.
  • The blazer will look great with a button-up, fitted casual sweater, or graphic tee.
  • I’d wear it with a solid tee and chunky beaded necklace or a sweatery scarf. Or maybe a lightweight printed scarf.
  • The sweater is super cute on its own. Unbutton it and wear a solid tee or casual button-up with a chunky, wooden-bead necklace.
  • All three of these pieces can be mixed and matched with the rest of your wardrobe.

 

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So this lovely number isn’t a blazer but I had to put it in the shop. Both pieces are mediums. I love this outfit. First, it’s from Vera Wang’s collection for Kohl’s and she crafts the most gorgeous designs. First, the sweater. It’s medium and drapey and comfy. You can belt it to create more of a shape or if you don’t feel belted pieces are flattering on you, just snip off the loops and wear it as an open cardigan.

Let’s take a closer look at this matte silky shell that I want to marry. Also a Vera Wang piece, this is all about the details — from the bow-like draping to the sheer, edgy trim. Oh and I added a chunky beaded bracelet with dark brown, marbled beads.

PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • Any and all denim.
  • Because this ensemble is long and has lots of fabric, don’t go with a relaxed look on the bottom. Choose skinny jeans or slim pants.
  • Tall boots or booties. If you’re tall, you can wear flats or flat boots. If you’re not, you’ll probably want a wedge or bootie / boots with a heel to give you some height. {To balance out the top.}
  • Sweater would look cute and trendy with a graphic tee. Or layer a button up with it.
  • Shell can work in every season. Perfect with white jeans and sandals for the summer or dress it up by tucking it into skirt or pairing with skinny jeans and wedges.

 

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Rock N’ Republic is famous for its spendy, fabulous jeans. But a couple of years ago they came out with a line for Kohl’s. This blazer — size 10 — is edgy but not too edgy. I love that it’s linen {not too heavy and bulky} but with a studded lapel. If red and orange and coral had a baby, it would be this color. It’s fantastic. Here’s a pic I found online that shows the shape a bit better.

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{via}

I’ve paired the blazer with a knit, flowy shell in black by ana, size medium {runs a bit big so it works with the blazer.} It’s the perfect length for the jacket and is a little bit longer in the back than front. Add the braided metallic necklace and you’re good to go.

PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • DENIM. Because of course. This is rock n’ roll, not your Easter outfit.
  • I’d go with skinnies. You can go with bootcut if they’re fitted and if you wear a shoe or boot with a little bit of a heel. This jacket is a tad longer so you’ll want balance.
  • White jeans.
  • Black jeans.
  • Cowboy boots or some other sassy sort of bootie or wedges.
  • Pair the blazer with a denim shirt, graphic tee, or fitted sweater. Because it’s linen, you can wear it in the spring / summer. Because it’s a blazer, you can wear it in the fall / winter.
  • Pair the multi-seasonal black shell with anything and everything.

 

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I know. Not a blazer. But I came across this lovely lady and felt like someone needed her. The size has been cut out but after careful inspection, I’m going to say it’s a large. But it’s a smallish-large. This is a cowl-neck sweater / tunic. With velvety sleeves and neck. It’s so comfy / luxurious / sparkly. All the things a gal wants this time of year. Not too clingy. Comfortable yet pretty and festive. The photo makes it look boxier than it really is. The shape is longer and the weight of the fabric allows it to hang perfectly.

I can’t allow an item to stand alone so I’ve added these sparkly but simple earrings {on the left} to make it an ensemble.

2.9 collage
PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • Casual or dressy.
  • I’d go with slimmer pants or jeans since it’s a tunic-style top. Dark skinny jeans. Slim black or white / cream pants.
  • Fun flats — think metallic, satin or patent-leather.
  • Winter wedges or heels if you want to dress it up.
  • For holiday wear, how about black skinnies or slim pants with a suede or patent leather wedge?

 

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I know, I know. Not a blazer. But you guys, this is silk and it’s Banana Republic and one of you will look lovely in it. The pictures don’t do justice to this luxe button-up blouse in the most beautiful wine color {that I want for myself.} It has 3/4-length sleeves and I’ve paired it with a long chain — black metallic with stone beads. I love this ensemble so much.

It’s a size large and true to size but you could be a medium and wear it a bit looser or plan to layer something on top of it. It’s much less boxy-looking than the photo shows. Since it’s not a tailored piece, the size is more forgiving both ways.

PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • A vest. This would be stellar with a faux fur vest or plush sweatery vest. Vests are super in right now and easy to find in stores.
  • Throw on a blazer or cardigan for layers.
  • A scarf — sweatery {for contrast} or a flowy, drapey fabric.
  • Jeans — any rinse. Or white or black skinny jeans.
  • Tuck it into a skirt to dress it up and make it more tailored.
  • All kinds of boots.

 

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So blazers don’t have to be tailored and layered with fitted sweaters and button-ups. I adore this swing-type velvety jacket in plum. Again, the pics don’t show her true loveliness. This jacket has three pewter-looking buttons, 3/4-length sleeves, and is fully lined. This is a size 14. 

I’ve paired it with a batik-type lightweight scarf that will be your go-to scarf for everything, from your denim shirt to your flowy knit tops.

PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • You can go dressy or casual with this one too. Because it’s velvety and festive, you can for sure dress it up with satiny black pants or winter white dress pants.
  • Wear it as a cape-style jacket over a black dress or holiday dress.
  • Pair it with jeans or cords to contrast and go casual. The scarf takes it down a notch and makes it look great with denim.
  • You can go with skinny jeans / slim pants or wear bootcuts.

 

2.12 w tags 2.12 collage

Festive and fun and wonderful — that’s what this ensemble is. Chartreusey / citron Jones New York cardigan, size 2X, with 3/4 – length sleeves and sweet details. Notched collar and chiffon-type overlay on the trim of the pockets and at the collar.

I’ve layered it with a soft, sweatery scarf that’s embellished with a flower and I included one my handmade tassel bracelets. {Stack this with any gold bangles you already have.}

PAIRS WELL WITH:
  • Add a long-sleeve knit top, shell, or button-up.
  • Dress it up with statement jewelry and dressier pants.
  • Make it everyday wear with jeans, your scarf, trendy sneakers, or booties.
  • Love the sweater but afraid this isn’t your color? Pair it with a scarf — this one or your own — and it’ll work. This color actually contrasts well with other colors like pinks, purples, and blues.
  • Because it’s lightweight, it’s multi-seasonal. Because it’s a sweater {and has a scarf}, it’s just as perfect for this time of year.

 

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Here’s how the shop works:
  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. 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. Obviously.
  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 will 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.

 

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You may also like these posts:

That Time I Put Liz Claiborne Labels in My Target Shoes

The Women Who Inspire Me With Real Fashion {And I’m opening a shop. Or shoppe if you want to be fancy.}

For the Love of Blazers {and how to wear them} // The Real Gal’s Fashion Files

Don’t want to miss a post or an upcoming sale? You can subscribe and have each post delivered right to your inbox. As always, you may unsubscribe any time you like. {I promise not to sell your address to pirates, aliens, spammers, or The Gap.}

Why Checking “YES” to Interruption’s Invitation is Always the Best Choice

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My last post was September 10th. Today is September 26th. Days don’t always go as planned — and that is both hard and good. These many days without much writing has made me feel like I’m walking around with part of me missing.

I started this post days ago. And after revising it for an hour and a half this morning with a headache-tinged hopefulness, I lost all of my edits right before I went to publish. Like, really good edits that I could not possibly replicate. #writerproblems

So I began again, literally in tears as I tried to make a go of this post for the umpteenth time. The irony of the title isn’t lost on me. It’s like the WordPress gods played a cruel joke to see if I really believe my own words. Losing one’s best work can make a girl come close to losing her religion. I almost quit. But I’m so glad I didn’t. In the end I was able to grab hold of a truth far deeper than the one which almost got published.

It’s the story of my life, losing something I feel entitled to so that something better and truer can grow up in its place.

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But back to the last few writer-less weeks. Daily I’ve been reminded that I don’t have as much control as I think I do. I make my plans and then the day arrives and says Just kidding. 

I don’t know about you but I tend to think of the unplanned as either interruption or happy adventure, depending on what the unplanned thing is. But sometimes they’re not at either end of the pendulum.

When the unplanned comes knocking, I find that I hold my breath until “real life” resumes. It’s like I’m waiting for normalcy to return before I can exhale and really live.

I’m learning, however, that the unplanned life is precisely my real life. So why do I tend to think of it as interruption?

The additional tests.

The feverish kid.

The unexpected needs.

The big fat expense we didn’t budget.

The loved one I desperately want to help.

The stupid fight that came out of nowhere and has me wrecked.

The Walmart tire center. Two days in a row.

The last-minute text that my home is going to show in 96 minutes and I have an entire house to tidy and a curtain rod snapped clean in half and dangling by a screw and pee sheets to wash.

Who just wrote a series on “Grace in the New Rhythms?” Was it me? Because I don’t know anyone by the name of Rhythm or Routine right now. There hasn’t been any sustained days of normalcy in a few weeks.

But there have been many days of many graces and many gifts.

And in the midst of this grace {though we don’t like to think of it as grace}, I’m learning to receive the unplanned days of real life. I’m learning to let go of my big self and my big plans. It hurts a little. Sometimes it hurts a lot.

God is showing me the desires I hold too tightly and also teaching me that I can do hard things. He’s revealing that there are days when I’m privileged to do the work that makes me come alive and that there are days when I’m privileged to do the work that makes me doubt my worth altogether. I’ve questioned every ounce of my sufficiency as a mother, as a wife, and as a friend. I’ve cried out for a whole lot of help. I’ve been not enough in every way possible.

But here’s the thing. I keep showing up. I keep making the plans.

And I keep close the cup of grace and acceptance that allows me to drink deeply when different agendas come my way. I’m learning to say, This is exactly where I’m supposed to be. This is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. And it is good. 

Every day I have a choice. I can receive the unexpected as a gift to unwrap or a hardship to resent.

You’d be surprised at what a difference it makes, even for this glass-half-empty girl.

Just like optimism, service doesn’t come very naturally to me. As in, I once took an extensive personality test and being a “helper” is the furthest thing down on the list. It means that I don’t need to be needed. Some people thrive on being needed. I’m actually afraid of it. It means that I’d probably make a terrible nurse or mother. Oh wait, too late for that last one. {Though it does explain why the phrase, I need everyone to just stop needing me for an hour! has been uttered in our house five or a hundred times.}

But service isn’t necessarily about natural ability. Rather, it’s about availability. It’s about showing up and receiving the gift of giving.

I know what you may be thinking. I can’t say yes to everything. If I give every time there’s an opportunity, that’s not wise. God’s given me talents and gifts and limited resources and I’m to use them strategically. Don’t you always say that “Every yes is also a no?”

You’re right. All things being equal, you’re right. But there are times each day when things turn a bit upside down {from our perspective} and we throw plans and “no” out the window and say “yes” to living a bit beyond ourselves. It’s not about volunteerism or ministry necessarily. It’s a state of mind more than anything, a way that we approach and receive what we might not have chosen. It’s as simple as giving up my writing with peace and acceptance for a couple of weeks because there are people and needs that matter more. Or simply giving up my cherished plans for the evening because my child needs me. Often it’s small-scale but sometimes it’s major. I can’t give you a formula. I can’t tell you how you’ll know. I can only tell you that God is faithful to lead us.

Proverbs 16:9 says this:

The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps.

{The New Living Marian Translation of that verse is this: Make your plans but hold them loosely. God is the boss of your life.}

And within the doubt, indecision, and imperfect choices, we are surely upheld by grace. There’s still trial and error, even within giving and service. And that’s okay. We learn by doing — by getting it right and getting it wrong and adjusting decisions accordingly the next time.

Maybe this season you’re in is all routine and predictability. Or maybe it’s all crazy. Perhaps it’s a mingling of both and you feel like you can’t get as sure and steady on your feet as you’d like. Maybe you’re “waiting to exhale.”

May I suggest that it’s time to go ahead and let it out? Yep. Right now. On this very day. You have nothing to lose but that furrowed brow and unnecessary tension.

Whether it’s a day that unfolds with precision and obvious beauty or a day that unfolds with devastation and an ash-covered, barely-there loveliness that you have to squint to see, you still have a choice. You’re still presented with possibility.

squinting girls

Receive or resent?

Too often I’ve chosen the latter. Guess where that’s gotten me? Precisely nowhere. I’ve missed the gifts of hope, redemption, letting go, acceptance, waiting, and an opportunity to love and serve those right in front of me.

But it’s never too late to start choosing differently.

I’ve quoted these words before but they bear repeating. Emily Freeman says this about showing up in our everyday with eyes open and hearts willing.

Learning to live like an artist means opening your eyes to where you live right now, to see who stands around you, and to uncover how you might offer what is most alive in you today into the life of someone else–for their benefit and for God’s glory.

From the book, A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live

 

I really do long to see each and every day — whether I’m at my best or whether I’m wholly dependent on a strength and grace outside myself — as my real life.

I want to courageously walk the road of audacious gratitude instead of stumbling down the well-worn path of resentment.

I want to die to myself — to my big plans and my big needs and my big claims that I deserve “more” or different than what I currently have.

Do you want these things too? A life that learns to live the discipline of surrender, love, and acceptance?

Well, I found the secret.

You have to die.

{Raise your hand if you’re still glad you tuned in for this uplifting and encouraging post.}

Yesterday a friend reminded me that life can only come out of death. I can’t stop thinking about it. Because it’s true. Being a life-giving source to those around me requires certain death. I wish I could put in more palatable terms but I can’t.

A seed dies before it brings forth new life. A mother bleeds and suffers before the baby can be born. Our own selfishness has to be snuffed out before we can love and nurture with reckless abandon.

A perfect, innocent man had to die a cruel death on a cross in order to save the world. His death is my life — past, present, and future.

I don’t mean to be morbid but every interruption or disappointment hands us a personal invitation. And each answer is a death sentence in its own way.

Yes, I will receive this. I’ll die a small death today. Or even a big one. It’s the only way real life can spring forth.

No, I will resent this. My agenda matters more than this opportunity for redemption and beauty. And because I choose not to die to self, I’ll die a different death, a slow and painful one, poisoned by my own bitterness, ingratitude, and refusal. 

The yes or no makes it sound so simple. And it is. But simple is never to be confused with easy. We desperately need a strength outside of ourselves for this one. We need it every single day and for every single death, big or small.

Jesus said that his followers must take up their cross daily and follow him.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. {Luke 9:24}

For those who are in Christ, we have the strength already. It’s not a formula or a magical incantation. It’s a Person. It’s Jesus, the One who died so that we might live. The One who died so that we may also learn to die, many thousands of times, in order that we might live more fully and that we might be more fully alive for others.

This is redemption. And it comes around every day, asking to be seen and touched and tasted. It shows up in disappointment and in the unplanned. It shows up when we’re caught off guard and exhausted. It shows up in need and annoyance and downright beggary. It shows up in the fear and in the fights.

At first glance, it may not be pretty. Will you look for it anyway? Will you see the invitation that lies just beneath the frustration or even the devastation?

Will you say, Yes, I’ll die this death, that I might live full and free and flat-out shocked by the transformed beauty I almost missed?

Will you seek redemption along with me and bask in the unlikeliest surprise of what it just might yield?

 

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