Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Part 5

Fifth Myth. It is silly to fold laundry. It takes too much time. Besides, it will just get messed up and unfolded again by the time everyone sorts through and gets theirs and it finally hits the drawers anyway. And the ironing pile never runs out!

There's a whole lot of things that we do in life, not  because they are the most convenient things, but because they just seem to make sense and work. That's how I feel about folding clothes. I like when things are organized, and for me it seems to be easier to organize (stack, arrange, etc) when things are folded. The more things are folded, the less have to be ironed. Also, for me, there's just something about going to the drawer and getting out clean, folded clothes. I've always been used to that, and I love it. It isn't a right or wrong thing, just a preference, but I do think it is easier to be organized this way. I know lots of people who have drawers for each person's socks/underwear and that works great for them. I personally like my socks matched when they are thrown in the drawer, and I like everything else folded. I hang up most blouses, skirts, and dresses, and tend to fold knit tees, jeans, etc.

Clean, folded laundry is a beautiful sight in my eyes! This is my counter after returning home from a tour and having a huge laundry day!

You won't have to iron as much if you hang or fold your clothes. I always try to hang button shirts right after they come out of the dryer, so I hopefully won't have to iron them as much later. Knits can obviously lay in a pile for a quite a while and then be folded and still not be too wrinkly.

My very favorite laundry hack of ALL TIME is the dot system. I don't remember who told us about this but it has been a huge game changer in helping with the organization of our laundry system.

As I mentioned in the introduction post, for years I did all the laundry for my family. I would wash, fold, and then have a pile for each person in our family to "pick up" in the laundry room, at the end of the laundry days. I have a pretty good memory, and with doing everyone's laundry every week, I was familiar with whose clothes were whose. But those (especially!) were the days where my brothers seemed to be outgrowing and passing down clothes nearly every month! And I just couldn't keep track of whose was whose. Also, whenever I would leave on a trip or something and someone else had to do the laundry, then they didn't know whose was whose. So we began the DOT SYSTEM. One dot for the oldest boy, two dots for the second...and on down the line. When Mitch outgrew something, and it got passed to Carson...I added a dot. (see picture above for example of the dots) For shirts, I was careful to place the dot on the thicker ribbing part, because if it was done below that, the dots would show right through to the back of the shirt, and that wouldn't be good!
*With my sisters taking over the laundry this year, the dot system has been a huge help to them in knowing whose clothing is whose.

I'm going to finish this post with a few questions that have been asked over the course of this series:

"Have you been able to restore shrunken clothes?"
The only tip I have for this is rewashing. It has worked a few times, but not nearly always. Sometimes if I wash something and forget and put it in the dryer (and it shrinks) it will resize (or close) if I wash again and then HANG TO DRY. This doesn't always work, but it has a time or two. Typically things will only shrink if they are dry clean items, or poor quality items, or if they are supposed to be washed cold and are washed hot. I would definitely advise paying attention to the labels on clothing when washing! If an item is cotton, you can probably get by washing it however you want. But if it specifically says "wash on cold, gentle cycle, dry flat" then best results will definitely come by doing just that.

"When you wear clothes and they aren't dirty, do you put them in a hamper anyways or what do you do with them?"
Yes, if they aren't dirty, we just hang them up and wear them again.

"What do you do with smelly rags?"
I've found that it is extremely helpful to rinse rags well (even in soapy water) before throwing them into the laundry pile. This really helps with the smell. Another idea is to have one specific laundry basket to throw all the rags/towels into. This keeps them from spreading the smell/wet to other items of laundry, and helps contain the dirtier portion of the laundry. If you do these things, you shouldn't deal with too much smell only washing two days a week.

"How do you do laundry only two days a week and still make it from time to time with also having hardly any clothes?"
This isn't actually that hard. All you need for this to work is four sets of clothes, and everyone I know has quite a bit more than that. =) Also in our family we often wear jeans/skirts two days in a row, without washing in-between. 

"I was just curious if you would recommend how to make it work to do less laundry days per week, when your family members don't have many extra sets of clothes?"
I love it that this question and the one above it both came from farm girl readers. =) For farmer's wives + daughters, this whole laundry thing has a whole new element to it. And I am right there with you-the struggle is real! It is a little difficult to answer this question, because every situation is different. But here is how we do it. Some of our guys wear coveralls over their clothes, and then hang their chore clothes, and re-wear them several days in a row. In the summer this isn't an option, because they get so hot and sweaty and their clothes wouldn't last several days without washing. They each have about four sets of chore clothes, and the barn laundry is the main reason we wash twice a week. Their chore clothes are nothing special-just older/worn clothing. The guys often have patched jeans and then older tee shirts that are more worn out.

"Can you discuss how to minimize clothing?"
This might be a totally new topic for another post! But basically, it is all about just choosing a simpler lifestyle of LESS IS BETTER. Now, this advice is coming from the person who is considered to be the biggest clothing/fashion junkie in the family. (whoops!) I have long been a minimalist in many areas, except for my closet! However, I finally realized that having so much stuff that I never wore, was just ridiculous. So I began to purge, and shop more intentionally, and I love my wardrobe so much more now. Just choose to do it. If you have lots of clothes that you haven't worn in months and months and months, ditch them!

Missed the other posts in this series? Click the links below!
The Laundry Line Series || Introduction
The Laundry Line Series || Part 1
The Laundry Line Series || Part 2
The Laundry Line Series || Part 3
The Laundry Line Series || Part 4

Thank y'all so much for joining along with me on this laundry series!
It's been fun!
And I apologize for the lateness of the last post. Wednesday escaped me! =)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Part 4

As you may notice, it is not Wednesday, the normal day for this series. 
It is Thursday.
I missed Wednesday. 
Now I am posting Thursday instead.
Thanks. =)

Fourth Myth. Stains are stains. Blood stains, grass stains, manure stains (for you farmer sisters/wives!), and grease stains are impossible to remove. I might as well not even try. And I have no idea what products to use for my laundry anyways!

This is the toughest part about laundry. We'd love to get everything clean; spotless, every time, yes? And yet sometimes its just out of our control and we can't. I have to throw out ruined items just like everyone else. However, along the way, I have learned about a few products that are absolute SAVERS for me when it comes to my laundry routine. I know there are lots of great laundry products out there! Today I'm going to share with you my "staple favorites".

The most basic thing needed to do laundry is...the SOAP! I love making my own, and do that often when we are home. I use this recipe here. It works great and is SUPER cheap to make.

Note: my favorite essential oil to add to it is Citrus, but you can use anything! Or you can make it without a scent as well! I personally use Young Living for my essential oils, but for laundry soap use I would actually recommend using an off brand (such as this one) because the Fels Naptha used to make this soap is pretty strong itself and not exactly an all natural type product, and for that reason I always feel like it is wasteful to dump in such a pure + expensive brand oil, like Young Living. I prefer to use Young Living for normal oil usage, but if I'm putting it in something like this, I will use a cheaper "off" brand.

However, when we are on the road touring, it isn't practical or feasible to be hauling my 5 gallon bucket of homemade liquid soap into every laundromat. =) And sometimes I run out of the homemade and simply don't have time to make another batch right away. After trying a variety of different kinds, I have found that my favorite is a brand called Charlies. It comes in both liquid and powder form. I prefer the powder because I do most of my loads on hot or warm water anyways and it dissolves so well in that. I also like powder with the tour life because it takes up less room to pack (every little bit of space counts on the bus!) and is more concentrated than the liquid. However, I have used the liquid before and I like it, too.

My ultimate favorite stain remover products are the OxiClean powder and OxiClean Spray. These are LIFESAVERS for me! I used the powder (dissolved in a bucket of water) to soak whites, and I use the spray for any other kind of stain. (Note: I would recommend buying the spray from Walmart instead of Amazon, though; it is several dollars cheaper at Walmart. I only include the link so you can see what it is and know what you're looking for at Walmart)

I also love using bleach for my whites. If I have a few items that are starting to look a little yucky, or off color, I just stick them in a bucket of bleach water, and that can work wonders! Just be careful with that bleach-I'm speaking from experience! Bleach stains is one thing I have NEVER figured out how to remove. =) I'm not sure that one is possible!

For ink stains, I use aerosol hairspray. The cheapest brand you can find at Walmart should work great! Spray straight on the ink and let set for a bit. Then scrub the foam area into the stain, and wash. It doesn't always work, but if you apply it right away and follow these instructions, I almost guarantee you will able to remove the stain. Just to be safe, also apply a little of the OxiClean spray right before washing.

Peroxide works wonders for blood stains. Again, I apply the same way I do with the ink stains---pour the peroxide straight onto the stain, and let set for a while. Then wash with cold water and more peroxide on the stain. Finally, spray with the OxiClean Spray and let set awhile before washing. 

The OxiClean Spray also works wonders with grass stains and manure stains. The main thing is to treat the stain/s as possible BEFORE washing. Once an item is washed/dryed, it is going to be almost impossible to go back and get the stain out, because by that point it is quite “set” in. 
When I did laundry, my brothers knew exactly where to put their jeans that needed treatment. (laid in the utility sink in our laundry room, which I only used for laundry) When we are on the road, items with stains are put in grocery bags before they are thrown in the laundry, that way when we are at the laundromat, I know which items need extra attention. 

The biggest deal with removing stains is to work on them as soon as possible after the stain has occured. With brothers and grass/barn stains, I often don't get the opportunity to work on them right away. I do as soon as I can though! But with cooking, for example, we girls have learned to ALWAYS change right away and treat the clothing item which we’ve stained. So for example, if I am cooking something with butter, and I accidentally spritz a little melted butter up onto my shirt (this happens waaay more than I would like to admit! And even when I wear aprons, it seems to avoid the apron!) I will (if possible) turn off the burner, go change shirts, and immediately treat the butter stain. Typically with butter/oil/etc, I use the OxiClean Spray as well. 

And...that's it for today! Come back next week for the LAST post in this series! I will be answering all the other questions I have received the past month (as well as any related questions y'all might have this week) and then also talking about basic folding/organizing/simplifying tips.

Missed the other posts in this series? Click the links below!
The Laundry Line Series || Part One
The Laundry Line Series || Part 2
The Laundry Line Series // Part 3

"The most memorable days...usually end with the dirtiest clothes!"
Remember that quote the next time the stains overwhelm you. If it wasn't for hardworking husbands and active brothers, we wouldn't have stained +  dirty clothing. 
And I want to happily work with those extra stains and a little extra dirt, 
out of appreciation for people who aren't afraid to work hard and get dirty! It's a blessing!

***My product links are through the Amazon affiliate program. (see my discloser here) Rest assured that I only recommend products that I personally use + endorse!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Part 3

Third Myth. I have to do laundry every day so that it won't take over. If I don't do laundry every day, it will get completely out of hand. Doing it every day is the only way to stay sane.

I hear this over and over again, and every time I just want to shout NOT TRUE! I feel so strongly about this. Doing laundry everyday is the biggest waste of time. This is reason enough not to do it every day. Do you really want to be thinking about laundry every day of the week? As I’ve mentioned before, I love doing laundry. But there are other things I love too. And I don’t love laundry enough to do it everyday if I have an option for something else. 

Now, you might say, "You don't understand my situation! I have to do it every day so it doesn't take over!" Well, let me tell you-if I could successfully do laundry for a family of twelve, only two days a week, then YOU CAN TOO. My mother is a big fan of minimalism, and our family has fewer clothes than any other family I know. So if we can make it with only doing laundry twice a week, then anybody can. My strong preference (and what I fully plan to do in my own home someday) is laundry once a week, but for a few various reasons my family really prefers to have the laundry done twice a week, so I did it that way for them, to make the whole system work the best for everyone. 

The mothers I know who are the most overwhelmed with their laundry situations are the ones who think they can't let any dirty clothes setting in the hamper. Light bulb moment: that is what the hamper is for---dirty clothes to be out of sight, out of mind! Obviously there are exceptions; I'm not advocating sticking your child's diaper blowout outfit in the hamper and letting it sit there for a week, nor am I suggesting doing the same thing with soiled sheets/etc. But, as a rule, that hamper is there to keep your life organized and your dirty clothes in one place until it is time to wash them. So use it for that!

Speaking of hampers. I am a huge fan. Have them. Either in the bathrooms, or the bedrooms, or sometimes both, depending on the amount of people in your household and where it is most necessary to have a place for the dirty clothes. You will drive yourself crazy if you have piles of dirty clothes setting around all over the place. Organize your mess. There always will be mess/dirty things of some type. The key is to keep that mess organized and as out of sight as possible.

Our current laundry days are Monday + Friday. This works for us. Find what works for you. But I would highly highly HIGHLY suggest sticking to one or two at most, days per week for your laundry. You'll be amazed at the time that is open and available for other things. 

If for no other reason, it will save you money + energy with your water + detergent consumption! If you do laundry every day, there is no way you are having enough dirty things to have a full load for the various loads. (darks, lights, whites, etc) The only way you could possibly have one full load of whites every day is if you had like twenty people in your family and they all wore white tee's the same day. That scenario is highly unusual and unlikely. So if you are doing laundry every day, this means you are either
A) throwing all your colors together for full loads (bad idea-you'll ruin your clothes!) 
B) having teeny tiny loads and wasting lots of water/detergent (specifically if you have a front loader)
C) doing it every day because you think it will take over otherwise

None of those are good ideas/reasons. I want to give you a brand-new idea today---what about trying the "once a week" or even twice a week, method? And have a laundry day, or days. Whether it is one, or two, or even more. Have it on the schedule that those are your laundry days. 

Someone asked in last weeks' post about how I managed to switch loads and keep on schedule, back when I was still in school. I would take breaks to switch the laundry but would not fold the laundry at that time. Instead I would pile it in baskets or somewhere until the afternoon when I could fold it all at once. Later on, after I was out of school and we had the new laundry room, I still used this idea often---piling all the clean laundry on the counter in our laundry room, and waiting until most of it was done to fold it all. If there were items (like button shirts or dresses) that would wrinkle easily, I would quickly hang those up to avoid wrinkles. But most everything else was fine piled and waiting for me to fold later.

Last thought. The only reason this once a week deal might not work for you is if you are either highly distracted + don't keep loads going, one after another, OR if you have twenty people in your family. Given that most of us don't have families of that size, the first reason is probably the only valid one. Enter the world of timers on washers, phones, and watches! Never has it been easier (technically) to keep ourselves on track. My tip is to start your first load the night before, and then keep it moving from waking time (around 5-7am) until evening. It should easily be possible to get it all done in that time if you stay focused and on track.
When you realize how much this will free up the other days in your week, you will be happy to sacrifice a little flexibility for ONE day a week to be your laundry day, and have the extra freedom from it the other six days!

Missed the other posts in this series? Click the links below!

"This home has endless love, laughter, + laundry."

Happy scheduling of your laundry days!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Part 2

Back today to break down another myth-this one about where you do your laundry, and how to handle whatever space/area you have.

Second Myth: I don't have a laundry room and therefore it is impossible to keep any semblance of order or routine because I don't have a "real place" for my laundry.

First off. Lots of people don't have the blessing of a laundry room. I didn't either, when I started doing laundry. For the first ?? years, I ran up + down the stairs, to our unfinished basement, every time I needed to switch a load, or start a load, or empty a clean load, or ANYTHING. Then, because our basement is very unfinished and not really conducive towards folding, I hauled every single load of clean dry laundry upstairs to fold. Or I would haul half of the wet loads up and out to the line to hang first. It definitely wasn't a dream situation, but it worked just fine, because it was what I had. I remember my mom telling me that having the laundry in the basement was an excellent little leg workout for her those years when she did it, because those days she had lots of babies and not much extra time for working out, so she took full advantage of those steps and going up + down fast to work leg muscles. It might seem like a little thing, but it is great to find benefits and blessings in whatever situation you might have. Order and routine does not depend upon your location; it depends upon your attitude and what you do to improve whatever location you may have.

Eight years ago, we did a remodel, and one of the rooms upstairs was turned into a laundry room. It actually doubles (or quadruples??) as closet for my younger sisters, sewing room, craft room, and storage for all number of things, including linens, gift supplies, some kitchen things, etc etc. So still it isn't technically just a laundry room, but that's perfectly fine. Both of my laundry situations have been great ones, not because they might be considered perfectly ideal, but because I chose to be thankful for them + find the goodness in each situation.

I'm not saying this to pat myself on the back, because trust me, I've had plenty of situations in which I have struggled + not been grateful. Case in point is that I am not in love with my current washer/dryer. My father was so sweet and wanted to get the best of the best for us when we built the new laundry room, so he got what was supposed to be the latest + greatest front loader washer/dryer combo. Countless repairs + frustrations later, we realized that when it comes to washing machines, the older ones are usually better. It is so weird because it isn't normally that way; often, newer brands are better. But in the case of washers I would definitely recommend older brands/styles! A few years back, my father got a used Maytag off CraigsList for $40, to have in the basement for washing the guys extra dirty barn clothes. I now like that washer better than the one we have upstairs in our "real" laundry area!
So that's just a little free tip on my washing machine experiences---older is better, and I personally HIGHLY prefer the top loaders to the front loaders! They might not fit quite as much in, but they run way faster and break down way less.

You CAN keep order + routine even with what might seem to you a non-ideal laundry situation. I have friends who range from having biggest, most beautiful laundry room you've ever seen (complete with a color theme + gorgeous laundry signs/quotes hanging on the walls) friends who go to the laundromat every week to do their laundry. Your joy + organization in the job really doesn't have a whole lot to do with what you're stuck with-it has more to do with if you are viewing it as "stuck" or viewing it as "worship". (like we talked about last week in this post

You might not have the ideal laundry situation. You might be running to your basement to switch loads, like I was, and folding the laundry in your living room. That's perfectly fine; you can still feel organized + productive! The goal is to keep your laundry space (whether it is your couch or your dining room table) clean + uncluttered. Don't leave loads setting out constantly. When you dump that load on the table, don't leave the table until it is folded + put away. If you don't have time to fold it when you get it out of the dryer, then leave it in multiple baskets right in front of the dryer (or somewhere somewhat tucked away) and wait to fold it all at once, later. What will frustrate you is folded or unfolded laundry setting out on your otherwise free surfaces, all the time. So do your best to avoid that.

If you are blessed with an actual laundry room, these same tips apply to you! Don't let your room get overrun just because it is "expected" that you can always have laundry all over the place since it is the technical "laundry room". Stay organized! I love to have candles burning + music playing when I do laundry. You can do this if your laundry area is an actual room, or if it is your living room!
I don't know why this is, but it is more mentally freeing to fold laundry in a clean, clutter-free room, than to be in a room that is cluttered with toys + other things. Making your work area a clutter-free zone is actually a very important truth that applies to any area of work/life. Having a clean space for your laundry is not about having the perfect laundry room; it is much more about a way of life and choosing to keep clutter out of your house as much as possible.

Missed the other posts in this series? Click the links below!
The Laundry Line Series || Introduction
The Laundry Line Series || Part 1

I'll end today's post with this great quote I found:

"I am thankful for all this laundry...for it means my loved ones are still at home."

So true. If you have this, you are blessed.

Monday, July 17, 2017

God Is Always Good

Always. Always. Always.

There's never a moment that He isn't. Grab ahold of this truth NOW. Don't wait until your life is rough; don't wait until you "need" to know this. Know it + believe it + live it now. Choose now to brand these four little words into your heart, your mind, your soul. It might seem unnecessary but trust me, there will be a time sooner or later when you will need to know this truth more than you need anything else. You must determine ahead of the trial that you know God is always good; that He always loves you; that He always has your best in his plans. You cannot afford to wait until the trial hits you, for then it will be all you can do to hang on to this truth. You must know and believe it now.


My mother has told me this more times than I could ever count. It has been a part of my life teachings from her. She told me when I was young, and now I hear her tell it to my younger siblings day after day after day. Call it brainwashing if you will, but it was the greatest brainwashing I ever received. It carried me through the greatest trial of my life, and I know that it can carry me through whatever trials I will face in my future.

This was what she would say: "Chelsy. People will let you down. People will hurt you. They will say unkind things. They will disappoint. Those even closest to you will at some time or another fail you. But there is one Person who will never let you down, and that is Jesus. He is ALWAYS good, and He is always faithful."

It is so needed that we understand this now. Yes, it sounds simple and cliche', but you need this rooted deep in your heart for whatever you will face in life! Prepare your heart now, that whenever the testing and trials of life come, you will say "YES LORD...YOU ARE GOOD." No matter how hard. No matter how deep. No matter how much you want to doubt God's goodness. 

You will have plenty of fear, plenty of doubt in yourself, and plenty of doubt in the goodness of humanity in general. That is why you must know now that God is always good.

Don't wait until the decision comes to decide whether Jesus is still good no matter what, and whether He still loves you more than anything else. Choose to do as Daniel did, and PURPOSE IN YOUR HEART now.

These are just these few little thoughts on my heart today. But I hope they bless someone out there.
I hope someone is challenged to prepare themselves for life by trusting God's goodness NOW. 
I hope someone who is going through a trial will be encouraged that Jesus still loves them.
And I hope this truth rings strong in your heart as you repeat it to yourself over and over:
"God is always good. Always." 

"O taste and see that the LORD IS GOOD:
blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.
-Psalm 34:8

Have a beautiful Monday!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Part 1

Good morning friends!

Let's dive right in to this big laundry pile, shall we?

First Myth. Laundry is a necessary evil. It has to be done, but is a complete drudge and it is impossible to be truly productive and gain anything by the experience, except for clean clothes which will promptly be dirty again the next day.

This first myth is so not true! I want to get started this morning with a little scripture to get us going on the right foundation:

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. 
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: 
for ye serve the Lord Christ." 
Colossians 3:23+24

I remember telling a friend, once, that laundry was my act of worship. 
His response: "Laundry? Worship? That's..quite the interesting perspective!"

Absolutely! It can be an act of worship! Contrary to public opinion, worship is not just singing + raising your hands. It is that, yes, but worship is SO MUCH MORE than that. Worship is whatever you are using as an active part of your life to glorify God. This can be anything. Suddenly your whole realm of worship will expand to a whole new level when you realize that it is not what you do, but the spirit + grace of HOW you do it. 

First of all, ask Jesus to change your heart + mentality on doing laundry. Make a decision to view it as a blessing to those you are doing it for, and as an act of worship to Him. Decide to do it with JOY, whether you like it or not. After you have a good attitude and are ready to do this thing with excellence, on! =)

Make your time in the laundry room, as productive as possible. We should always be looking for ways in our lives to maximize and make the most of every minute. When doing laundry, our hands are busy sorting, loading, folding, etc. We have to (more or less) stay in one spot when doing those things. So with that in mind, what is free/available? 
Our mind and our ears. 
Enter the world of podcasts, worship music, and online sermons. 

*I print out scripture and post it on the cupboards right above where I fold. Obviously it isn't really possible to read the whole time one is folding but I found that this method worked great for scripture memory. Read a verse or two, and then go over them in your mind while you are folding. You can go back and forth with your eyes from the laundry pile needing to be folded, to the scripture posted on the wall/cupboard/wherever, and really not lose anytime. Incorporate scripture memory into your life. Yes, it is good to have a separate, set apart time for scripture memory in your daily quiet time. But it is great to also have it posted around your house/place of work, so that you can see it on a regular basis and spend time going over verses and meditating on them as you go about your day.

*Podcasts are the greatest invention ever. Now, if all you're doing is sitting around listening to podcasts, and never implementing, then, yeah, thats a problem. But here we are talking about time that is going to, mentally, be filled with nothing else. So you might as well fill it with something good! Obviously I am also a huge fan of just quiet thinking time, praying, meditating, etc. But it is good to have variety, and also when you have the magnitude of laundry piles that I did, you're looking at hours worth of time doing laundry, not just a few minutes here and there. My favorite podcasts currently are SetApart Girl, Trim Healthy Mama, and Revive Our Hearts. (just search any of these on your podcast app) I know there are a host of others out there that I haven't tapped into yet,  but I am a little late to the podcast bandwagon and just got into it more in the last little while here, so I'm still a newbie. I'm hoping to add some good finance/business/marketing ones to my list in the near future. (I'd love to hear about y'alls favorites-on any topic!)

*Listen to good worship music! Music that draws you to Jesus should be a regular part of our lives anyways. Why not blend our "laundry worship" with our worship music at the same time? You can sing along, or just listen. But it is a great way to uplift your spirit and worship Jesus with your song, while you are working. 

Next week, I will be talking about how to turn your laundry area into an organized + beautiful place! After all, if you're going to be stimulating your mind + worshiping Jesus in the middle of the mess, you want that mess to be as peaceful and attractive as possible. 
You think that's impossible? It's not! Come back next Wednesday!

Missed the other posts in the series? Click the links below!

Thanks for following along! I'd love to hear YOUR thoughts-what do you do while you do laundry? Are any of these tips helpful, and will you be implementing any?
Have an amazing day in your laundry domain! 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Laundry Line Series || Introduction

This series has been promised for quite a while now. Ironically, I quit my job as "laundry queen" at the beginning of this year, due to some changes + shifting of responsibilities happening. Even though I am no longer in the thick of things laundry-wise, I still have fifteen years of experience doing all of the laundry for a family of twelve, and I still love doing laundry, even after all that! Read on. =)

I am all about choosing the practical + functional, and we all know that laundry is a very real part of the life of any functioning human being. (unless you have someone who does it for you) Most women will have to do laundry, to some extent, at some point in their lives, and I might add that the world would be a much better place if the men knew the basics about doing laundry, too. (that's your cue not to run from this post, guys!)

*Rabbit trail: Moms do their sons a big disservice by not teaching them to do laundry/housework. Housework isn't "girl work" and it definitely isn't lesser work. All of my brothers know how to make meals, scrub toilets, and pick up after themselves, and their wives will be blessed women because of it. The laundry thing? That one is a little harder to teach when you have an older sister who was OCD about everyone staying out of her laundry domain for fifteen years. (whoops!) But it's never too late to change, and my brothers are learning well even in this area.

Once in a while, there are weird people who just love to do laundry. I am one of those. It was pretty hard for me to let go of my title of fifteen years and give it over to my sisters, because I just honestly loved being in charge of it so much.
The truth is though, that for the general public, laundry is not at the top of their list of "fun, productive, and energizing work".
That is just fine; rest in the fact that you are more normal that way!

My goal for this series is to teach you how you can become freed from the "laundry monster" and learn to run your laundry system, instead of letting it run you. I am going to break the series up into five different posts sharing a few of my "tricks of the trade" and what I've done to make sure my "Laundry Line" is run efficiently and effectively, instead of letting it run and take over my life.

A few of you are shaking your heads, and I'm chuckling inwardly right now because I can just picture you thinking: "This girl! What is the deal? Five posts about DOING LAUNDRY? What a lame series!"

Y'all are dismissed from the session. =)

Most of you are going to stay, though, because you are intrigued. I know this, because you have told me so! I get "laundry questions" over and over, and I know that there are TONS of people out there who hate laundry and hate the time it takes up in their lives. This post is for you. To be honest, all of us should always be on the lookout for ways and ideas to simply our lives and streamline things. I'm not an expert by any shot! But I do have a little experience, and I'm excited to share that little bit with those of you who are interested, in this series!

First Myth. Laundry is a necessary evil. It has to be done, but is a complete drudge and it is impossible to be truly productive and gain anything by the experience, except for clean clothes which will promptly be dirty again the next day.

Second Myth: I don't have a laundry room and therefore it is impossible to keep any semblance of order or routine because I don't have a "real place" for my laundry.

Third Myth. I have to do laundry everyday so that it won't take over. If I don't do laundry every day, it will get completely out of hand. Doing it every day is the only way to stay sane.

Fourth Myth. Stains are stains. Blood stains, grass stains, manure stains (for you farmer sisters/wives!), and grease stains are impossible to remove. I might as well not even try. And I have no idea what products to use for my laundry anyways!

Fifth Myth. It is silly to fold laundry. It takes too much time. Besides, it will just get messed up and unfolded again by the time everyone sorts through and gets theirs and it finally hits the drawers anyway. And the ironing pile never runs out!

Some of these will apply more to those of you with larger families/larger amounts of laundry. But most are applicable even if you are a single, doing laundry for only you.

I encourage you to come back for the next five Wednesdays (starting July 12th) as I talk about these five different "laundry room myths"!

We are going to "sort out life, one load at a time", and it's going to be fun, I promise! =)

Leave me a comment with any other questions/thoughts you have on the laundry subject,
 and I will include them with one of these five posts!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Beauty of Kindred Spirit Friendships

{above picture-my sister + I with five new kindred spirit friends we've just gotten to know this year. Love you girls!}

I'm so thankful for friends. They add such spice and beauty to life. God gives us friendships to show us an outpouring of His love, I think. The community and closeness that comes from my friends is such a blessing in my life, and I am so grateful for it. My siblings are obviously my closest friends, and the ones I hang out with the most (and I will be talking about that soon here!) but it is good and healthy to have other friends in addition to family, and today I want to talk to you about those "other friends" that you need to have in your lives.

You may be surprised to hear that I'm not really a social girl. I can have a good time in a crowd, but, at heart, I'm really more of an introvert that an extrovert, and I love quality time spent with...silence!

Enter tour life, ha!

I had to teach myself how to be sociable and enjoy time with lots of people. I had to learn how to enjoy being with hundreds of new people, everyday! The truth of the matter is, even introverts need and are blessed by the beauty of friends in their lives. You might be a social butterfly with thousands of IG followers + dozens upon dozens of "kindred spirits". You might be like me with hundreds of friends but a much smaller number with whom I stay in regular contact. Or you may be something in-between. Either way, no matter what your personality, I am here to tell you today that good friendships are important and needed in our lives. I believe very strongly that it is absolutely vital to have good friend circles, specifically with those that are the spurring onward, kindred spirit types.

"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24

However, as with anything good, there is a downside to friendships. And that is that it is so easy to
A) get caught up in bad ones
B) spend too much time on friendships that don't benefit
C) lose sight of the importance of GOOD friendships

Friends will influence you. You will influence friends. And that influence (both ways) will either be good or bad. If you want to be making and receiving good influences, then you have to be intentional about that. It won't happen accidentally.

Life is too short to just go through and have all friendships just be one big party. Don't get me wrong-I love friends who can have fun and laugh lots because that's me too! But at the end of the day it's not the party that is going to count-it is where and how you INVESTED your friendships. Were you benefited and grown from the time spent in a friendship? Were you blessed and encouraged? Or was your time squandered?

We all, most likely, have friends in every "set" I'm going to describe here. And, contrary to what you might think, I personally am of the opinion that it is good to know people and rub shoulders with the different kinds in each of the categories listed below. If all your friends are kindred spirits, then chances are you aren't doing a whole lot of outreach. However, if all your friends are of the outreach type, then you are gonna get burned out in no time flat, and you are also going to be pulled down to the level of your "outreach" friends.

In friendships, it is very important to have a balance of giving/pouring out, and getting/coming in.

There are so many stories in the Bible about friendships. Daniel + his three friends. David + Jonathan. Naomi + Ruth. The list could go on. We can see in each of these stories how friendships not only strengthened and edified these people, but they were a means of furthering the gospel and giving us beautiful examples to follow.

"Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." 1 Corinthians 15:33
*This is that friend who you maybe have known for years. Or maybe you've not known them long at all. Sometimes it is the friend to whom you have tried to reach out repeatedly and received a cold shoulder. This friend is more of an acquaintance. You often feel like when you are with them you are wasting your time. (note: this might be your fault, not theirs!) They are shallow and have no desire to "go deep", to really make a difference or even have conversations that matter. For me, I have found that most who fall into this category are the boy crazy, shopping crazy, movie crazy lot. I love movies and shopping as much as anybody. (boys, not so much, hehe!) But if those things are driving someone's life...than I'm probably not going to be getting much encouragement out of constantly hanging out with that friend. And chances are if they are consumed by those things, they aren't going to be very interested in intentional conversation anyways. We need to always be on the lookout for not allowing our lives to be overrun with these kinds of friends. They aren't true friends anyhow, and they're just going to drag you down. Hang out with people you want to become like.
"Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future." -unknown

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend...." Proverbs 27:6a
*This is that friend who is growing, who wants to learn, whom God places in your life (often just for a season) to encourage. These are mentorship type friendships and are absolutely vital as well. It is important to be giving and pouring out, in the same way that others (our mentors and/or kindred spirits) give out and pour into us. Don't ever let all that love just sit and pile up onto you---give it away again to others! Often this type of friendship occurs with those who are younger than you and needing advice/a listening ear from someone who is just a few years further on down the path of life. As I mentioned, sometimes these friendships are more seasonal/for a time, but sometimes they are friendships that turn into the kindred spirit type later on. Either way, you need some people like this in your life.

"Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friend." John 15:13
*And finally, the kind of friend that this post is mainly about. This is the friend who has your back. Always. The friend whom you will send a text at a crazy hour to let them know that you need prayer, because you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will get on their knees and intercede for you. This is the friend whom you will drop everything to be with you in a time of need. This is the friend who just "gets you". The one with whom you can be serious and brutally honest. But also the one who has seen you in your craziest moments and loves you even when you're weird. This is the friend who is your spiritual hero; who spurs you onward spiritually. With this kind of friend, your conversation can be broad and varied but will always be coming back to praying for and challenging one another in the Lord. Always. Your closest friends must be this kind.
If you want to grow more like Jesus in your friendships, you have to surround yourself with these influences who are also know Jesus and are actively seeking to serve Him with their lives.

Now, some of you are asking, "But I don't know people like that! How can I have close friends like this when I don't even know anybody who fits in that last category?"

First of all, ask Jesus to send you friends like this. Second of all, don't just expect them to land on your doorstep dropped from a hot air ballon. You have to be friendly, open, available, and you have to go places. Be a social person! Even if you are an introvert. Get out of your shell and your house and find some people somewhere. =) Host events at your home. Find a good church/s to attend. (I have several friends who attend one church on Sunday but throughout the week attend Bible studies at other churches that have strong groups of godly young people attending) I'm not including links today, but it is amazing how many Christian family/fellowship/etc networking groups there are these days! It isn't nearly as hard to meet good friends as it used to be. Yes, godliness is becoming less and less, but there are still people out there who love Jesus and want to meet others who love Him too.
Note. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, God gave us family first, and they are amazing friends. And it is also important to have friends of all ages. But it is ALSO good to have strong Christian friends in your own stage of life. 

Well, this has gotten waaay longer than I intended! (would you believe me if I said I wrote half of this in October of 2015 and the rest of it today? #truth) There's much more I could say, like how important it is to have strong sibling relationships, or strong friendships with older people, or strong + good friendships with guys...but I will save those thoughts for another time, and close with a little wisdom from the Anne girl, who had some great thoughts on friendship + the importance of it. =)

"Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. 
It's splendid to find out that there are so many of them in the world." -Anne of Green Gables

I would love to hear how each of you build + invest in your friendships! 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

When Your Younger Siblings Get Married First {An Older Sister's Perspective}

This post isn't what you might be thinking it will be. If you want a sob story post of the older sister who is wallowing in depression with her three baby brothers getting married before her, well, wrong stop here. =) This is a post of so much hope and happiness that I'm thinking a little of the love might just rub off onto y'all after reading it! I've been sitting on this post for EVER (I was waiting til all three were engaged because, well, that just would make it quite legit) and am so excited to finally share it!

It has actually been something on my heart for years. Call it sister intuition, or whatever, but for so long already I have expected to have my younger siblings get married first. Probably partially because they were always mature for their ages, whereas it took me a little longer to grow up, and then partially just because I really thought it would end out this way. It never bothered me; on the contrary, I was ecstatic for it. I prayed for it. For the last several years, in particular (as they've been getting older) it has been one of the greatest cries of my heart---for my brothers to find and have peace about the right girl with which to spend the rest of their lives. I was totally thrilled with the thought that they would probably "go" before me. It didn't bother me in the slightest, rather, it was my chief wish and dream that my brothers would get married first. At the time I started more seriously praying for them (in my early twenties, when they were getting to the age where they could get married) I knew that there were no guys I was interested in, and at the time I honestly had no desire to get married, with other things in my life that I was focusing on. The thought of wanting my brothers to wait until I was ready and married first, never even crossed my mind.

And here we are. The boys all started relationships in the fall of 2016, (Mitchell in August, Josh in September, and Carson in October) and now all three of them are getting married this fall, 2017. It was all so God, the timing of everything. Recently a friend told us that a rumor is going around our home community that my Dad "finally allowed his boys to get married". That story got the loudest howls of laughter you can imagine, around our dinner table! Without going into the whole long stories of their lives the past five years, let me just tell you that the reason my brothers are all getting married now, virtually at the same time, has nothing to do with planning it all perfectly, or the timing being just what they would've picked, or any of that. For everyone of you who knows their stories, and for me, their oldest sister, we can only say, "the hand of Jesus was all over those stories, and the timing was perfect, because it was ALL JESUS."

Last fall, when all of this was beginning, Allison was living in Mexico, and I was at home, trying to keep all three of these brother lovebirds on the straight and narrow, haha. And you know what? It was, and continues to be, one of the happiest times of my life.
I vividly remember one October Sunday, when all three girlfriends were over for dinner. I texted Allison pictures and said something like this: "Sister of mine...from my place at the kitchen window, washing dishes, I can faintly hear Mitchell + Bryn chatting in the schoolroom, I see Josh and Cassidy swinging and talking on the swings in the front yard, and Carson and Carolina are deep in conversation, still at the dinner table, the only ones left there. ALLI! God is so good! I might just sit down and cry from sheer happiness! How are we so blessed? So much answered prayer! So much grace and beauty poured down from Jesus!!"

For my sister and I, it wasn't hard. People asked us if it was. (hashtag most asked question ever!)
I felt like I should have some big response thought out, but all I wanted to say, every time, was, "How could I be anything but happy at so much answered prayer? At so much beautiful young love? At so much joy? How could I be anything BUT the happiest girl in the world when Jesus gives such good gifts to my best friends---these brothers of mine?"

All these questions, and this constant expectation for my sister and I to be knee-deep in depression over the situation, got me to thinking about something.

A) Why is it expected to be hard for an older sister if her younger siblings get married first?
B) Why do we allow those expectations to be the norm?
C) What needs to happen for them NOT to be the norm?

I don't claim to have all the answers. I'm quite new to this whole business, having never had any siblings married up to this point. All I know is what I know as a girl who fiercely loves her brothers and is more happy than should be legal, about their upcoming weddings. =)
And as such, I have a few thoughts that I'd like to share from my heart, to whoever is reading this.

The first thing that comes to my mind as a foundation for setting a new "normal" is close-knit sibling relationships. If your siblings are your best friends, your closest confidants, your greatest blessing...than why would you feel anything but joy for them when God brings along their life partner?

The second is the answering of prayer. When there is something that has been such a big part of your heart and life and prayer list for so long (aka godly girls for the brothers) your first thought, when God answers, is "glory hallelujah!" Am I right? After all, this is how we respond to every other answered prayer, so why not the same to this one?

The third thing I think of, is a subject I have touched on before, and will continue to talk about in the future, and that is joy in the current journey. When you find joy right where God has you, and desire God's perfect best + timing for all of your life (marriage just being a drop in the bucket of God's gifts) and the lives of those you love, then when He answers those prayers and brings your favorite people together, it is so amazing. 

Why do we put God in such a box? Why do we think everything has to happen in order? Why do we think it is fair, and right, and "how it should be", for kids to get married in age order? It is so bizarre, if you actually think about it, and it basically never happens that way anyway!

My answer to this is that I think we put God in this box of "our perfect timing" because we think we know best. We think that we know how it all should be. I really have no idea why we think this; in every other area of our lives we would say God knows best. (at least I'd hope we would!) So why not in this area of one of the most important decisions of our lives? Why wouldn't God know best on this one, too? And if we know He knows best, why would we not be absolutely delighted with His timing and plan? Not only for us, but for all of the people we love, also? Regardless of age.

Honestly, age has nothing to do with it. If people could just get that idea out of the way, it would be a much better world. (can I get an amen from from the single readers here?) One of my beautiful sister-in-laws-to-be is nineteen. I could not be happier for her and my brother. She is an absolute gem, and one of my heroes. God's perfect time for her to get married is now, when she is young! I sure wasn't ready when I was nineteen, and I'm relieved that I didn't get married then, because if I would've it would've been disaster. But that was me. It wasn't God's time for me then. It is God's time for her now. See, it is all about timing and following the Spirit, and nothing about age or situation.

Yes, my brothers are getting married first.
Yes, as most people think and say, we "went" (as in relationship/marriage timing) topsy turvy and all "out of order".
Yes, it has been the most wild and beautiful past nine months that you could imagine.
Yes, it is going to be an incredible fall. Hey, not just every girl gets to gain three sisters within 24 hours!! Talk about party time, overtime! (cue all the confetti + heart eyes) I still can't believe it!

No, it isn't hard, and no, it isn't a struggle. God has answered my prayers and given my brothers these gifts-these three incredible women-that I prayed for. It is the most beautiful thing to watch God answer prayer in such exceedingly abundant ways. My heart is filled with so much happiness!

"I will worship toward Thy holy temple, 
and praise Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth:
 for Thou hast magnified Thy word above all Thy name."
-Psalm 138:2

Please feel free to share this post wherever, simply linking back to my blog. 
I feel very passionately that this is a subject that needs to be talked about in our generation!

And as always, I would love to hear from y'all. 
Thoughts, questions, comments? Leave them below!

{Note: My sister Allison also did a post along this same vein, over on her blog. Read it here!}

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Double Header Northern Weddings Sister Roadtrip

Can't believe I totally forgot to post this! (actually I can believe life these days...can't remember anything!)

It is so very long after the fact that I hesitate even posting...? Buuuut. Our sister road trip posts are my favorites, and I really want this one in the archives. So here it is, all of eight months later!

It was the first weekend of October 2016. Would you believe it---we had invites for two weddings in the north (Minnesota + Wisconsin) and not only were they on a weekend that we were home, but they were also on a weekend that we were home AND available, and the wedding locations were two hours apart from each other, and last but definitely not least, they were on a Friday evening and a Saturday afternoon.

Can't get it anymore perfect than that, my friends!

So off we set, sista love and I, bright and early (think 4am!) on Friday morning, heading to the twin cities of Minnesota. 
The first girl getting married was an old friend of ours, and she brought us in to do the hair/makeup for her bridal party. That was definitely such fun, as always! 
Classy ladies, with hair + makeup done, hanging out before dress changing + pictures. Unfortunately when the photographer in me turns into the hairstylist in me, the hairstylist in me forgets about the photographer in me. (so frustrating!) So I usually get home from these weddings and say, "whaaat?? How am I a photographer and I took NO PICTURES?" To save myself from that embarrassing scenario (because a photographer with no pictures is just weird) I try to grab random shots at random times. You'd think I could've gotten something the real deal? Like the bridesmaids in their dresses or something? Never even entered my mind until days after. 
It was a marathon but we got all of those eight ladies done in the time allotted! I will say that by the time we were finished we were very hungry and very tired. In addition to all that it was absolutely freeeeeeezing cold that weekend. (it had been warmer at home, but the further north we went, the temps kept plummeting!) So we were also underdressed. 
Next came the saga of finding Chipotle. GPS informed us that there were only nine in Minneapolis-the closest being seven minutes away-this definitely should be easy! 
You would not believe the hassle we had finding that place. I should've tracked our time (and miles!) but it was a good hour after leaving the apartment that we FINALLY located Chipotle #5. 
Never, no never, has Chipotle tasted SO good. 

After Chipotle it was on to a little hipster coffee joint we found across the street. We were chilled to the bones and I seriously considered taking a nap on that little couch in the shop. (but refrained =)) 
So very much fun to bump into friends at weddings. The world really is so small and I feel like one never knows WHO one will meet from event to event! At wedding #1, I got into a conversation with the ladies in our pew, and discovered that they were cousins to the girl that MY COUSIN was marrying the following day, and that we also had other mutual friends. So fun.
And here we have the charming little air B+B place where we stayed Friday night.

Got to tell y'all about this place. Oh goodness, what a story. I really wanted a fun little place for us to stay at Friday night. Something not too pricey (because we were literally only going to be able to be there to sleep and for a few hours in the am) something cool, something hip, something homey, something kinda funky and out of the box...I had a whole list, and Allison had a few ideas too. =) I was in charge of our lodging details, so I set out to find the best place I could.

After looking through dozens of options, we settled on this one. It looked perfect, and it was right on our way from wedding #1 to wedding #2, in the middle, in St Croix Falls.

The saga of getting there after the wedding was...well, just that-a saga! We left wedding #1 quite late, and headed to St Croix Falls. On the way, a variety of things happened. Amongst other things, roads were out, we lost cell service, and at one point it looked like we possibly would have to spread out under a bridge in a very sketchy part of the country.

We finally rolled into the town around midnight and were able to find our little apartment without any trouble. We had to park behind/underneath; the parking situation was quite something. As we unloaded in this strange town, at midnight, after several hours of quite the adventures, I turned to Allison and said, "some things...we will NOT mention to our mother. She will sleep better if she never knows about some of tonight." =)

Love technology these days---we had a code for our the rental "nest" and never even talked to anybody at all. Just let ourselves in with the pre-given code, and checked out at the agreed time. Dream situation.
The whole place was so eclectic---totally random styles of decor/tiling/colors/etc.
Allison was in charge of our food, as usual. She packed a delicious  little breakfast for us---sausages, her famous fire roasted tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. We also had energy balls, fruit, and chocolate covered something. (can't remember, sorry!)
Grabbed this sister selfie right before we left---it will always be one of my favorites, I think.
The view of the town from our little "perch" apartment. The whole town was set on the side of a hill overlooking a river. Would've loved more time to explore there!
Got to wedding #2 early enough to spend a few minutes with our cousin, the handsome groom! So excited we got to be there for his special day.
Literally THEE coolest wedding favors I have ever seen. Perhaps this is just because I have a real affinity for maple syrup. But the bride's family is maple syrup farmers and so they gave a little container of maple syrup to each guest. So sweet. Literally. =)
Love these cousins of mine! 
Family weddings are such fun, because there are so many favorite people at those. =)

And that's just another one in the sister book of road trip adventures. 
Hope y'all enjoyed following along. =)