Laundry Room

The Laundry Room.

Laundry Room

You’d think it’d be a clean room, given that the primary function of the room is cleaning.  Yet, it seems to be “Most Likely to Succeed” in the contest for clutter.

I know many houses don’t have a laundry room.  They might have a hall closet.  In Tennessee we see washers and dryers on the front porch sometimes.  I can’t decide if it makes a small laundry room to have it on the porch or a huge one, since you’ve got the whole great outdoors.

Anyway, whatever your laundry space is, it needs to be orderly if you are going to get in there to do laundry.

In our current house, we have a decent sized laundry room/half bath.  If you don’t mind your knees hitting the dryer while you sit, it’s really not a problem.  And what is more entertaining if you are going to be there a while, than watching clothes tumbling around in front of you?

I’m just kidding.  There is enough room to sit comfortably without hitting your knees on the dryer.  But you really cannot open the dryer door, so don’t even think about using the closed potty as a seat while you fold clothes.  🙂

Our laundry room is in the finished basement.  The walls are cinderblock and theres’ just a tiny window near the ceiling, which made it feel a little dungeon-ish at first.  Once I got over my Cinderella complex, I spent a little time trying to make our laundry room fun.

Laundry - Loads of Fun

I let my littlest two (at the time I was painting) smack paint-covered hands on the wall for this one:

Please Wash Your Hands

And over the potty, Mike thinks I got a little carried away…


Need to Pee?

By the way, the walls are more of a spring green than they look in the pictures.  Here it looks like we peed on the walls.

We didn’t.  Really.

The bright color and fun images, along with white cabinets and adding an Ikea desktop for a folding counter, work together to make the laundry room feel less dungeon-ish and more like a room I’d like to spend time in.  I’m sure I would really enjoy it if I liked doing laundry.

I don’t.

But laundry happens, so I thought it was a good idea to make the best of it.

One thing that helps me is to have what I need handy and accessible.

  • We have a rod with hangers for clothes which need to hang straight from the washer or dryer.
  • I have hooks to hold mesh bags for delicates.  We also use these for socks.  It keeps the whole lot together which makes them easy to fold, keeps them from disappearing by halves, and helps me know to whom they belong.
  • A shelf over the washer and dryer holds laundry soap, baking soda, oxy clean, spot cleaner, and dryer sheets.  (Oh – here’s a nifty trick!  Cut your dryer sheets in halves or thirds or quarters.  They keep the static away and last 2-4 times longer.  We have a large capacity washer/dryer, so halves work well for our LARGE loads.  But I used to use quarters in more traditionally sized machines.)
  • The ironing board lives at the end of the washer/dryer area.  Since I really only use it for sewing and crafts, I’m about to move it to the sewing area, though.  But if you actually iron clothes, it’s nice to have it nearby.
  • And empty laundry baskets sit on top of a low cabinet near the washer and dryer.

That’s it.  A simple, organized, easy-to-use, fun-ish laundry room!

Oh – and extra laundry supplies live with all my other cleaning supplies.  I just refill as necessary.

Change is not Optional

I saw a poster the other day.  It said:

Growth is optional.

That’s true, isn’t it?  Change is life.  Growth is optional.

I’ve been thinking about that ever since and I keep coming back to the passage in John that talks about abiding as part of the vine.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”  — John 15:1-6, ESV

The quote which first grabbed my attention sums this up pretty well, I think.  And it captures part of the passage I don’t often contemplate.

I know if I abide in Christ – using the vine metaphor – I will receive what I need to grow, thrive, and be fruitful.  There will be a change in me as I become more Christ-like and more of the woman I was created to be.

But there will be a change in me if I don’t abide in Christ, too.

That’s what the quote I saw the other day captured so well.  Change will happen.  But will the change be growth or death?

C.S. Lewis put it this way,

[E]very time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.

Change will happen, it is not optional.  The question becomes: Will I grow or wither?  In the little moments, do I choose life or death?

Stir the Pot

My daughter was making toffee yesterday.  {Reason #1015 I love homeschooling.  🙂 }

Toffee is simply butter and sugar (and nuts if you choose to add them).  But it’s butter and sugar which have undergone a chemical reaction that has to occur at a specific rate at a specific temperature for a specific period of time under specific conditions.  Toffee made on an extremely humid day or on a day when it will cool too quickly will fail.

Stir the PotOh, and you have to stir the pot.  You cannot simply set it to boil and walk away.  Unless you want a disaster. (No, my daughter did not create a disaster.  Her toffee was awesome!)

Friendships are like toffee.  Sweet to the last morsel.  But they are forged under a variety of conditions, they require certain ingredients, regulated temperature, and time.  Lots of time.

And you have to stir the pot. 🙂

We were made – and redeemed – for relationships.  First with God, then with others.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:19-22

We can enter the holy places because of our friendship with Christ.  Our relationship was secured by a spiritual reaction – something eternally changed in us as a result of his bearing the heat of the consequences of our sin over time under specific conditions. His blood forged our friendship.  His sacrifice produced sweet fellowship.

And he calls us into fellowship with others.  He calls us to stir the pot of each others’ lives.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:23-25

As we see in Hebrews and throughout the Bible, “meeting together” is important to God.  It is how we stir the pot.

E-friends don’t see your piles of laundry or hear you yelling at your kids just before they knock on the door.  They can’t come keep you company while you paint the tiles on your kitchen wall.  They don’t hear you grunt angrily at the sewing machine when the thread gets all tangled or the bobbin runs out just inches from a finished project.  E-friends can’t call me on my sin, especially if I hide it behind a Minion-decorated-twinkie post.

There’s nothing wrong with minion twinkies.  There’s nothing wrong with augmenting friendship with social media.  Social media is great in moderation, but digitized “connections” can’t substitute for real-life relationships.  The Bible says it, and even science has stumbled upon it.

E-friends have a hard time stirring us up “to love and good works,” not because they aren’t genuine, but because their spoon is in a different kitchen.

Wooden Stirring Spoon

__________
Photo Credit:  Woman Stirring by War Office official photographer, Wooldridge (Sgt) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Wooden Stirring Spoon by Kåre Thor Olsen (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Christmas in July

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!  Ev-ery where you gooooooooo…”

OK, unless you live in Florida or California or some other equatorial location, it probably doesn’t look anything like Christmas right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to think about Christmas!

Christmas in July

As a matter of fact, now, during the lazy days (or crazy days) of summer, is a great time to think about what you’d like your Christmas to look like.

Or have you never gotten to January 4th and felt like a train plowed through your life and schedule and wondered what went wrong?  Then there’s the commitment to slow down next Christmas and really focus on savoring the Savior….

I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t happen without a plan.

I don’t know about you, but when I see the decorations go up in early fall, something inside of me rebels and I passively push back by refusing to even think about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.  And me and my family are the only ones who suffer for this inner rebellion.

While I don’t want to encourage retailers to capitalize on Christmas as the income-redemption it has become in the US, I am also learning I cannot wait until after Thanksgiving to think about Christmas or it all goes wrong for us.

So here we sit, in July, which is when I’ve started sitting down with the family and talking about what we want Christmas to look like next year.  What are the important things for us to do?

Usually our list includes things like:

  • give presents to people we love
  • make cookies and all kinds of goodies to share with others (and to enjoy ourselves, too!) especially fudge in honor of Grandpa Clyde’s love for all things chocolate, and we have to make Pretzel Treats like Grandma Carol makes.
  • choose which invitations we will accept
  • write a Christmas letter
  • have time for our advent celebrations from December 1-25
  • eat and sleep with balance
  • eat biscuits with Grandpa John’s honey
  • make a birthday cake for Jesus
  • go caroling
  • put lights and decorations on the outside of the house
  • drink hot chocolate after we decorate the tree
  • decorate the tree – well, trees actually – we have a little tree from Mom Mom we always decorate, too.
  • set up the train from Papaw
  • host a Christmas party
  • drive around and look at lights
  • do crafts – like making cards for hospice patients and using pictures and cards from last year to make a placemat
  • fill shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child
  • have Mamaw’s cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning
  • eat appetizers on Christmas Eve like we do with Sparkling Sangria like Granny makes
  • sometime over the holiday, eat Pop Pop’s Famous Crepes and spend some time remembering the joys we shared with Pop Pop
  • have fondue on New Year’s Eve – with sparkling grape juice
  • read all the cards one last time and choose which ones we’ll save for next year’s placemat.  Cut them down to size.

We start by making this list in July.

Then I sit down and make a plan for how we can get things done without going crazy.  I can tell you it makes a HUGE difference when November rolls around and we can enjoy our Thanksgiving company knowing our Christmas letter is ready to drop in the mail, our presents are bought/made, wrapped, and sometimes even mailed, and the advent calendar and devotions are down from the attic so we can start on December 1st.  The years we are ready for Christmas are the years we have the sweetest fellowship with each other and with Christ.  Those are the years we really can ignore the Christmas marketing, avoid the crazy rush, and savor the Savior.

It doesn’t happen without a plan.

So, your mission for July, should you choose to accept it, is to think about what you want to include in Christmas.

That’s all.

When September rolls around, I’ll start walking through our schedule for accomplishing tasks in advance.  Let’s just see if we can all have a truly Merry Christmas this year!

A Composed Christmas

__________
Photo Credit:
A Composed Christmas photo by christmasstockimages.com [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Does your life feel too small?

I was at the eye doctor with one of my kids the other day.  The woman who was getting us started and settled into the room was making friendly conversation.

Where do you go to school?

What grade will you be in next year?

What do you like to do in your free time?

And then to me,

You homeschool?  Are you a stay-at-home mom?

Her friendly banter included her own desire to be a stay-at-home mom, general information about her two children, and, again, her desire to stay home with them and a half-felt wish she could homeschool.

We only had minutes, so I decided to encourage her in her own decisions rather than comparing herself to mine.

Anyway, we really didn’t have time to get into how you can live on a single income, the ins and outs of homeschooling, or the whole “grass is greener” phenomenon she might be experiencing, never having had the chance to stay home with her kids.

It’s not all sunshine and roses.

Actually right now, if I am honest, my life feels a little small.

Have you ever been there?  In that place where you aren’t really happy with where God has you, where you feel like your gifts and talents are drying up, where all your heart desires seem to be forgotten?  Do you know that ache?

I’ve been struggling for a while.  I don’t know about you.  And I know, from experience, that I will not stay in this place forever.  If nothing else, circumstances will change – I’ll get to heaven!

But for now, here I am.

And I keep remembering the Israelites in Babylon.  They knew they were exiled, but they were commanded to settle into the new land and build houses, raise their kids, marry them off, and be.where.they.were even though it wasn’t Israel.  God on purpose took them out of the promised land.  I’m sure they felt my ache.

Some days I am better at being in the midst of the life God has clearly laid out for me than others.  Some days I am committed and faithfully serving right here, right now, in the ways he’s called me to serve.

And yet I wonder sometimes if I am growing in contentment with his calling or growing in resignation to the things I cannot change.

It really does matter.  Resignation is such a defeated way to live.  It assumes a posture of powerlessness and low-grade misery.  Contentment assumes a posture of confidence in God and develops a strength of character that chooses joy in spite of the circumstances.

Sure, I feel more than a little root bound in the pot where God has planted me.  But I am called to more than just being here.  I am called to stretch toward the sun (or Son, as the case may be) in spite of how small and tight my roots feel.

Small Pot  ~ Still Growing

I don’t really want to be resigned, defeated, and miserable.  I don’t really think God designed me for such a life.  But at the end of the day, whether I like it or not, it is my choices that define my level of joy and contentment or my level of misery and resignation.

I can choose to take my thoughts captive for Christ.

I can choose an attitude of gratefulness for what I have.

I can choose not to look back, like Lot’s wife, on the places from which God has called me (whether it’s an evil city, a bigger house, the freedom of singleness or marriage before kids,  ethnic diversity, the big sky of Texas, the validation of a workplace with a pay check, or an afternoon off).

I can choose to speak the same words of encouragement I had for the woman at the eye doctor to myself.

While I cannot control my circumstances, there is one thing I can control.  My choices.

I guess it all comes down to that famous line in Joshua, “Choose this day whom you will serve.”

But the truth is, it is not always an easy choice.

__________
Photo Credit:
Redwood Bonsai by Jeffrey O. Gustafson (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons