Lisa Jo Baker posted a writing prompt for #FiveMinuteFridays on her website last week after an exciting collaboration where she and her readers banded together and raised funds to provide a clean water site and laundry facility for women in a community in South Africa, from where Lisa Jo hails. If you are feeling inspired by her writing prompt, feel free to join in and link up, and take time to read through some of the other entries from women doing the same.

I knew after reading what she shared about the laundry outreach in SA that her writing prompt would be the word “laundry.”  I mean, it had to be.  At first tons of mismatched socks ran through my mind, along with daydreams I have frequently about donating half of our clothes just so we don’t have as much laundry.  Then I thought about sharing how, on days when I remember and am intentional, as I fold fluorescent shorts and shirts, pair dozens of black socks, and linger extra long on soft, snuggly footed jammies, how I pray for my family, and fold, and fold.  Praying for their hearts to long for and know God the way He desires to be known, not tainted by the world or fundamentalist religion, but by faith which is bigger, and deeper, more pure, how He intended.

But then I remembered a laundry room from years ago where not only was my life transformed, but the lives of many college students were, as well.

Laundry, GO!

My husband and I lived in a laundry room for 5 years.  I was a Resident Director at a college in St. Paul, MN, and part of the job requirement was to live on campus, amongst the students with whom I spent my days, meeting, listening, praying, crying, laughing, and growing.  And, in order to access our little apartment, we had to walk through the dorm laundry room.  Being a builder’s kid, I knew this was an architectural afterthought, but it worked for us, and the low, steady hum of the machines actually provided for a quiet refuge on our side of the walls.

Not only could we do 4 loads of wash all at once, but we could turn around, pump the machines full of quarters, and have everything dried and finished in just 2 short hours.  I won’t lie when I say, I kind of loved it.

But what I loved even more than having all of our laundry done in a snap were the conversations which took place over the tables in that laundry room to the hum of the machines.  Girls would come sit with me to talk about life and love and God and relat

ionships and dreams and disappointments, past memories, hurts, passions, confusion.  Prayers were prayed in that laundry room.  The Holy Spirit showed up there many days, hand in hand, praying over these future world changers, knowing and humbled God had trusted these amazing young women into my pasture for a short time, grateful I wasn’t deterred by the environment, but seizing it as a space where supernatural heart change could take place, not only in their hearts, those seeking, but in mine, their leader and confidant, hungry to know God more and to seek Him for their sake and mine.

Of course dirt can come out of soiled clothes in a laundry room.  Every Friday for 5 years it did.  But I also know my ministry was launched from that little laundry room in St. Paul, Minnesota.  It’s there I learned, in airing my dirty laundry, it provides a space for other women to feel free to air, and clean out, their own.



4 Responses

  1. I didn’t spend time in the laundry room, but in the apartment attached to it! I was one blessed by the conversations during those years. The conversations, mentoring, and modeling have made me who I am today. I am forever grateful for that space that was an afterthought. The friendship that was made has changed me forever. Thank you!

    • I still remember our first lunch in one of the booths of Naz Cafe. Thank you for your encouragement, Michelle! Every opportunity, every one-on-one, challenged me and shaped me into who I am as a wife, mom, and friend. i learned so much from all of you guys! Love you, forever! xoxox

  2. What could have seemed like a slight was actually a beautifully crafted design to allow you to be right where those girls needed you to be. How cool is that. I’m so glad the prompt was laundry so that you would be drawn to share this piece of your life with us here. How I’d love to meet you in the laundry room. 🙂

    • One day we’ll get to hang out again, face to face, Lord willing. I’m so grateful for the reconnect and the healing God is doing in our lives via writing and sharing. That job, laundry room, our apartment, my office, countless couches, booths at the cafeteria, lots of lattes…God blessed my heart with the women (and young men) I was able to know, as well as the amazing TEAM I was part of, the colleagues with similar passion to walk with awesome young adults during formative stages of life. It was a highlight, for sure!

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