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

quilt chair

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is my right-now life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am both overqualified and woefully unprepared.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the details:

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

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

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

coram deo gift

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

Click here to get yours. 

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

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

—> coram Deo neckalces

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

How to Wear Courage in Your Right-Now Life

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

How to Waste Your Life and Call It Beautiful

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

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

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Comments

  1. says

    This post. That Latin phrase. The necklace. All of it is just beautiful. Your right-now-life and the lessons you’re learning in the midst of it are blessing many. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Joan Rampey says

    Again…with gratitude for sharing in your own beautiful words what you are allowing God to teach you through your daily life and living. LYF

  3. Buddy Rampey says

    I am so appreciative of you and your right-now-life and the fact that I do have a front row seat. You are a blessing to us and many others.

  4. says

    This is beautiful and so needed, and especially timely in my life in this season. Thanks for the reminder that God does his best work in the mundane routine of our everyday lives.

    Blessings to you and the ones you care for in this holy season.

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