Friday, July 19, 2019

Reflections from the Laundromat

Cinderblock walls and tile floors greet me when I enter. Smells of laundry soap, fabric softener and a diaper that hitch-hiked a ride through the wash permeate the air. Ceiling fans wobble overhead and attempt to cool the just barely comfortable room. Distant news channel and commercials are dimmed by the whirl and spin of machines working hard. A wall of windows letting in loads {pun intended} of natural light and an aqua clock ticking on the wall bring a somewhat homey feeling to the otherwise sterile room.

Wire clothing carts, blue plastic chairs, rolls of quarters and time to sit and wait.

A crepe myrtle blooms outside and cars whiz by on the sweltering summer afternoon.

Circular windows give insight into sudsy, agitating water removing dirt from a sleeping bag too heavy to wash at home. I’m reminded of being a child; I thought going to the Laundromat was fun. I would play “ice cream shoppe” with each circular washer and dryer door representing a different flavor of ice cream.

Colorful clothes, textures and all of the stories represented in them swirl around like a hamster on a wheel. It is somewhat mesmerizing and appealing but likely only because I don’t have to do it all the time. 

Maybe one reason I don’t mind the Laundromat is because I can be anonymous. Earlier that morning, I walked two of my children in to Vacation Bible School and tried to keep my heart light, soft and happy. We had attended this place of fellowship for the last sixteen years but in recent weeks have been visiting a new body of believers. This has left me feeling both anonymous in a new church as we begin to connect and also conspicuous in the other as friends' faces and voices reflect disappointment in learning of our change.

After feeling flustered and on-the-spot that morning, anonymity in the afternoon felt safe and welcome.

Perhaps I also appreciate the slowing of sitting and waiting for the dryer to heat, spin and dry fibers – I fish a pen out of my purse and scribble ramblings that come faster than I can write.

Or maybe it is the wondering about the lives of others who walk in and out of the doors. The bottom line is that we experience humanity at the Laundromat and are on common ground, because - don’t we all have dirty laundry? Both literal and figurative kind.

That same morning, I read of the Golden Rule during my Quiet Time {see Matthew 7:12}  – I will smile at the woman folding her clothes on the blue speckled table, help the white-haired man in the bright orange t-shirt figure out how many quarters he needs and feel grateful for the artsy-looking employee who breezes in and straightens all the carts, sweeps the floors and empties the trash cans, because that is what I would hope for if the tables were turned.

At the risk of sounding cliché, I’m aware that these washers and dryers with their see-through fronts are like our hearts to God. He can clearly see what’s inside and He is at work cleansing and purifying. We are not hidden from Him. And, just as I discovered this particular week was “dry-your-clothes-for-free-week,” so He has paid the price for my cleansing. Lord, take my junk, my dirty laundry to Your heavenly Laundromat – use the gentle cycle to purify the uncleanness there and remind me of the many blessings that clean laundry and a clean heart represent.

Phrases from verses tucked away for everyday application float through my mind:

“Wash me and I will be whiter than snow…”

“Create in me a clean heart, O God…”

A quick peek through Psalm 51 brings other words: blot out, wash, cleanse, purge and restore. Words like these give me hope - stains can be removed and cleansed, wounds can be healed, and my heart can be restored because of His work in and through me. 

Obviously I got more than my twenty-four quarters worth of wash done in this one afternoon. The sleeping bag is clean and dry but the quiet and reflection was also a great gift for my heart. Looking for God in everyday moments is not only a joy and privilege but a responsibility.

Thank You Lord for the Laundromat lesson and for caring enough for my heart to want it to be clean and beautiful for You.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Summer Beach Visit

Monday, July 15, 2019

Cheering on Friends!

Good morning! I'm popping in this morning with a few links to upcoming things that might be of interest to you. I know how great it is when someone shares something they love and as a writer, I am turning into a cheerleader for other writers when their books come out!

First, I wanted to let you know that applications are being accepted for the Writing With Grace Mastermind group with Ann Swindell. This is the writing group I have been privileged to be part of this year and I am so so grateful for what this year has done for me in my writing and just for me personally. Would love to share this with you and maybe you will know someone who could benefit from this sweet opportunity for women of God who feel the nudge to write for His glory.

Next, I want to tell you about a couple of books coming out in the months ahead!

Dianne Jago, wife and homeschooling mom, is the founder of Deeply Rooted magazine and I love her heart for truth and the Word of God. Her first book A Holy Pursuit: How the Gospel Frees Us to Follow and Lay Down our Dreams comes out in March 2020.

I appreciate Dianne's refreshing honesty and wholehearted pursuit of the Lord.

The second book I've pre-ordered for myself is Ruth Chou Simons coming book Beholding and Becoming: The Art of Everyday Worship coming out in September! I'm so excited about this book as I love the blend of truth and beauty in Ruth's books and her heart for preaching truth to our own hearts as well.

Ok, one more book I'd love you to know about is Beauty Maker! Lord willing, coming in August - I am excited to share this work with you that I've had in my heart since before Slow Lane was published! If you are interested in knowing more about my update, you can join my prayer team by subscribing to my newsletter in the margin at right or checking out my Facebook group for my prayer warriors.

*Amazon affiliate links provided for the two pre-order books.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Neighbor Ice Cream Social

Inviting neighbors over is always something I want to be brave enough to do! My sister has beautifully inspired me over the years by hosting her neighbors on her porch each summer for ice cream. Last year, I felt almost convicted to reach out and then over-thought it and never followed through so I knew it was something I wanted to make an effort to do this summer.

Rachel and I made these adorable invitations (template here) and delivered them to a portion of our neighborhood - there are too many houses for us to invite everyone at once but there is a nice section closest to us that felt manageable.

During the hottest part of the day one afternoon, Rachel and I gathered the cute invites into a basket and headed out to stick these on our neighbors doors.

I found myself feeling so thankful that she was with me and we were in it together! I mean, just having the company and she marched right up to each door, while Scout and I followed, and used cute washi tape to pin these to the door. One elderly neighbor was sitting in his garage and I hung back a bit because of not wanting to stir up their dogs with ours, I heard him read the invite aloud and then Rachel's sweet voice saying she looked forward to seeing him there. How that sweetness challenges me and encourages me!

Of course you know I just can't help it - I have to do it up cute! I ordered these bowls and spoons on Amazon.

A few fun photos of our set up! We had a few neighbors come and it was a nice and relaxing evening! Have you ever hosted your neighbors for anything? Tell me about it!

*Amazon affiliate links provided in this post.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Peachy Memories

Sticky summery days beckon us to the sweet juiciness of the fresh fruit department. Boxes, crates and trays of assorted colors, tastes and shapes await our partaking.

This particular visit, my daughter and I were drawn by the peaches - their aroma inviting us closer. The low price per pound was also enticing and we selected fruit by raising it to our noses and inhaling deeply, inspecting for bruises and gently pressing with our fingertips for tenderness.

Purchase made, bagged and transported home - I wanted to let them continue to ripen a few days, so gently placed them in a robin's egg blue colander where they became a work of art and beauty. Their scent sparked a memory from my childhood and I was transported to a charming brick apartment building in St. Louis where we would go visit my Grandma.

The ripening peaches put me in her small kitchen where I knew I would find the book shaped cup saved form my Mom's childhood, chip dip chilling in the fridge, Sara Lee coffee cake in the freezer and, yes, a bowl of fruit on the shelf by a half wall of glass cubes dividing the kitchen and dining room.

My Grandma is a beauty maker and beauty lover like me - or rather I am one like her. Perhaps it is her beauty genes emerging in me now, but everything was always lovely to the eye at her house. Here I knew I would find daisy sheets in the spare room, a drawer with past-their-prime wallets, purses and empty Mary Kay compacts waiting for my sister and I to play with them. Her lavender bedroom with heirloom furniture that I now sleep on every night and the paned windows speaking of a former era where energy efficiency was less promoted.

Then there was the basement - I loved the smooth, cement, echoing stairway leading down to the cool, semi-lit open space for storage and laundry. The smell of the basement was like dryer sheets, an older building, history and treasures waiting to be discovered and I loved it.

The smell of the peaches did all this for me in just a few minutes - one thought leading to the next and I could probably keep going. So when my daughter walks by our burlap and twine colored countertops to comment on how good the peaches smell - I wonder what that will bring to her mind in the future when passes a bowl of ripening peaches?

Monday, July 01, 2019

Darkness and Light

I found myself sitting beneath a canopy of trees and the deepening sky of late evening around the dwindling campfire. Embers glowed hot and white, lightning bugs sparkled whimsically through the trees and Emily climbed into the hammock.

A book in my lap and a candle lit on the weathered picnic table and all I could think about was how cozy this felt. Completely at peace and rest, comforted by the small glowy lights of deep blue sky going to sleep for the night and the warmth of both fire and candlelight.

Sitting alone but not feeling alone, it is hard to describe.

The next morning, I read 1 John 1:5-7 in my Quiet Time:

"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."

It doesn't take much light to stand out in the darkness - notice the little bit of light in the sky and the little candlelight in the night. But I am encouraged because God is light and there is no darkness in Him! Light beckons and welcomes, it is warm and inviting, comforting and an acknowledgement that someone else turned the light on or lit the candle in advance.

For further thought: Am I allowing any darkness to hinder my fellowship with Him? Consider the phrase practice the truth, how do I practice the truth?

Friday, June 28, 2019

Adventures at Camp Cozy