Use the laundromat without losing your mind.

When I was in my 20s, I loved the laundromat. I would go on my day off, which was in the middle of the week, so I usually had the place to myself. I would dig under my couch cushions for enough quarters to pay for my one load (two, if I was doing sheets and towels). I’d pack a magazine and a tasty snack and I’d hit the ‘mat. I’d read or use my blackberry to catch up with friends. When everything was dry, I would carefully fold each item, taking advantage of the counter space and the rolling carts. All in all, I had no complaints about being a laundromat person.

Fast forward a …few years. And I’m a laundromat person again. But now, instead of one load (that I usually managed to fit in my rolling suitcase), I have so much laundry that it hardly fits in our huge SUV. And forget about the couch cushions. I have to hit the ATM, to pay for it all. I don’t pack a snack – and worse, I usually forget to eat breakfast, in my rush to get out the door so that I’m back before Tim needs to leave for work. Oh, and my shiny pink blackberry pearl … well, she’s long gone.

But, truth be told, I still don’t mind the laundromat. There are some things that I do differently now. If you’re a laundromat person, either because you don’t have laundry facilities or because your appliances are temporarily out of commission, maybe these tips will make your trips to the laundromat a little easier.

1. Buy your detergent in the smallest bottle you can find, but only once. Save the bottle so that you can refill it from the giant bottles. The giant bottles will save you money, but there’s no reason to lug all that weight back and forth every week.

2. If you use fabric softener, use the dryer sheets. No reason except that they’re lighter and travel easier.

3. Leave your delicates at home. This one isn’t for everyone. But if you’re looking to save a little money and you don’t want to drag a basket of wet, heavy laundry home with you, just leave them home and wash them by hand. I can do an entire post on bathtub laundry, if you want. I’ve mastered it. It’s not that bad.  And after one too many experiences, with laundromat dryers getting too hot (even on the low setting) and destroying my clothes, I’d rather just not take the risk.

4. Put your socks in a lingerie bag. This is especially helpful if you have kids. You know those tiny socks that are impossible to keep track of at home? It’s a million times worse once you have to take them out of the house. Save yourself the hassle. Put them in a mesh bag before you even leave the house. Throw the whole thing in the washer, and then the dryer and then into your basket. The matching/folding can wait. Which brings me to the one that took me the longest to figure out and has saved me the most sanity…

5. Stop folding everything. Seriously. When you’re doing 4 or 5 or 6 loads of laundry, the folding can take forever. So just stop. My new policy is: if no one sees it, it doesn’t get folded. The socks are already in the mesh bag. They can travel home the same way they came. Underwear doesn’t need to be folded. Neither do pajamas. Who cares if they’re a little wrinkled. And sheets and towels? Towels don’t wrinkle – and would you really care if they did?  If you’re like me, and you’re operating on one set of sheets, you’d be folding those, for the sole purpose of transporting them home, where you would unfold them and put them back on the bed. Just stop. It’s ok. Really. Now, before you start picturing mountains of unfolded laundry, strewn about my home … I DO fold everything. Just not at the laundromat. When I get home, I get X set up, matching socks and I fold the rest. Oh, and bring a stack of hangers for anything that wrinkles easily.

And last, but not least, stop for coffee on the way. If you’ve managed to get to the laundromat, without kids in tow, you’ll actually get to drink it while it’s still hot.

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Can you even imagine?

Keep choosing joy, friends!!
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We’re moving!

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Do you have any idea how long I’ve dreamt of saying those words?!  On January 21, it will be 2 years since we moved out of our home in Williamson. This year, I will spend that entire day PACKING!!

I was afraid it was going to take us a long time to find an apartment. With the newness of Tim’s job, some of the debt we’re trying to pay off, and our limited budget, it seemed like a pretty huge task to find an apartment we could afford, where we would be approved as tenants.

We made 4 appointments for Saturday.  At our first appointment, the property manager was a no-show. We waited for a while and then left. It was not an encouraging start to the day. We got to the second apartment, walked in, and fell in love with it. Xander immediately started running laps around the open floor plan while we chatted with the landlord.

We got back in the car and discussed whether or not we even needed to go to the other appointments. We decided to follow through with them but none of them seemed to ‘fit.’  We just kept thinking back on the first one.

We called after our last appointment and told the landlord we would love to be her tenants. It fits into our budget and she has been so wonderful in working with us while we work to put together enough money for the security deposit.

It comes with a few challenges. It doesn’t have washer/dryer hook-ups, there isn’t a ton of closet space, and the master bedroom is an odd shape. A few years ago, those things might have caused me to think twice. Now, I know that the laundromat won’t kill us. In fact, I’m already planning on working laundry into my routine on my long-run day. And fitting our furniture into the bedroom will be like playing life-sized tetris. We’ll make it work. We’ll make it ‘home.’

That’s right! 22 days from today, we’ll be HOME!

If you follow me on instagram, you can expect a lot of random pictures of my belongings as I finally get to take them out of storage!  I apologize, in advance. :)

Reflecting and Rebuilding

My husband starts a new job on Friday. We are rejoicing!

It’s caused me to look back on these 2+ years and reflect. I’ve been so focused on surviving it that I’ve refused to really process it. Now that it’s coming to an end, I’m finally admitting what it’s been like. And I find myself overwhelmed with emotion.

At this time, two years ago, we were nearing eviction. We had begun selling and giving away our possessions. And one night, while my husband was working his part-time holiday job, I started searching for homeless shelters in the area that would take a family with an infant. That night changed me.

We were spared. The generosity of a dear friend kept us from being evicted and my in-laws gave us a roof over our head. We were relieved, thankful, and humbled.

But we’ve continued to struggle.

We have relied on the generosity of family, friends, and strangers. And God’s people have been so good to us.

We have gone without many things. Because we haven’t had phones to keep in touch or the ability to attend events, we have lost many of our friends.  We have rationed toddler toothpaste by brushing Xander’s teeth once a day instead of twice. I have been making my own shampoo. I haven’t had the luxury of moisturizer or make-up and I have gone months without feminine products.  I’ve spent sleepless nights praying that someone would have hand-me-down shoes for X, before snow comes. I’ve stretched his pajamas around him and prayed for the next size. I have felt desperate, lonely, and sometimes abandoned.

Through it all, we’ve tried to remember that God is good. That has not always been easy. We have lost hope at times and our sense of security in first world comforts has certainly been forever changed.

We’ve tried to never let X know that we’re doing ‘without.’  We’ve tried to teach him to be thankful for every meal, every hand-me-down, every day we spend together. And we have tried to teach him that we always give out of what we have, even if that’s not a lot.

This season … I’m so happy that it’s ending. We’ve learned so much. And I will try desperately to hang on to these lessons. Mostly because I never want to be taught them again.

As we talk about rebuilding our lives, it truly feels like starting from scratch. And even though it doesn’t seem like it should be, I’m finding it overwhelming.  Having a phone again, talking about looking for an apartment once we’re able to put together some money – it feels like someone else’s life.

All of that aside, what I really want to say is this:
God is truly good. And so are people.

I also realize that we are not alone.  Many families are living like this. We’ve done our best not to let it show. And because of that, I know that there are people around us that are doing the same thing. So I pray for eyes to see and a heart to give.

We lost many things but one thing has remained. I haven’t found a single verse in the bible that promises me bubble bath. But I know that my salvation is certain. And that is a wonderful gift.

Be blessed, friends. His gifts are many!
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The Haze

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I’m not sure how else to describe the last 7 days other than to say that I’ve been in a haze.

A haze of gratefulness, that I finally have a diagnosis.

A haze of side effects, as my body adjusts to my medication.

A haze of information, as I learn about a disease I had not even heard of, six months ago.

Last Monday, I was tentatively diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis. The diagnosis was confirmed over the next several days, as I responded to the treatment. Myasthenia Gravis is a chronic disease that causes muscles to tire and weaken easily.  Currently, the muscles being effected are in my eyes (causing my vision problems) and in my throat (making it hard for me to swallow). It can attack different muscle groups at different times and also comes and goes in severity. While there are treatment options for the symptoms, there is no cure at this time.

The treatment I’m on right now is helping with my vision. While I don’t have my vision back 100% of the time, I have it back for the majority of the day. And that is VERY good news.

I need to carefully manage my exercise and avoid over-exertion. A relatively short and slow run on Monday caused my symptoms to come back in full force. I didn’t start feeling better until the end of the day yesterday. While I’m convinced that being in the best shape possible can only help me, I can’t wear out my body. In addition to the fact that I’ll be flat out for a couple of days, overdoing it puts me at risk of respiratory distress.  If you know me, you know that I don’t like the phrase, “take it easy.”  But it seems that I need to do just that.  Exercise is off the table until the medication helps me stabilize. Then I can begin again, in small doses.

I’m researching diet, vitamin, and lifestyle factors, in hopes of being as healthy as I possibly can be!

And now that I can see, I’m hoping to start blogging more regularly again. What do you want to hear about?  Wanna see my summer meal plan? (Spoiler alert: BLT’s are on there A LOT!)  Want to hear all of X’s new hilarious phrases?  How about his version of worship songs?  He sings them constantly. In the car, in the grocery store, and he gets the lyrics right most of time.

But, as I wrap things up this morning, here’s my favorite mis-quoted song.

“Forever, Arthur of the vation. Our God is mighty and brave. He is mighty and brave.”

Have a great week, friends!
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I couldn’t stay away!

I miss blogging!!  My vision is still impaired so I can’t guarantee that I’ll be posting regularly, but I’ll write when I can.

For my first post back, I’ll just catch you up…

MY HEALTH

Like I said, my vision is still impaired. I have better days and worse days. I’m seeing a neuro-ophthalmologist, a cornea specialist, and I’ll be seeing a new neurologist on July 1st, to continue trying to figure out the cause.  We suspect that it has something to do with the toxicity that was causing all my other health problems, but we can’t be sure.

Speaking of my other health problems, they’re gone!  Over the course of 2 years, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, Raynaud’s disease, cysts, complex migraines, Dermatographic urticaria, along with unexplained insomnia, hair loss, anxiety, and depression.

It appears that all those conditions were actually a result of the toxicity. Now that I’ve stopped taking the medication that was causing it, they’ve all disappeared! I still have an aversion to health and beauty products that contain chemicals (which, I learned over the weekend, includes sunscreen) but other than that and the vision problems, I’m in perfect health!

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A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE

I’m still trying to move my family toward clean eating. We buy very little processed food these days. Now I’m trying to cut back on our intake of refined sugar and white flour. Of course, it’s easier in the summer time when we have better access to fresh produce!

Even though the heat is really slowing my pace, I’m in my 2nd week of a half marathon training program. I’m hoping to find a half marathon to run in early November. So far, most of the ones I’ve found in the area have an average registration fee of $75-$100, which is out of the question. My search continues.  Even if I can’t find a race to run, the training program will be a good way to stay on track!

I’m also going to use my running during the month of July to benefit a great organization called Humankind Water. I’ll share more about that next week. (Because next week is July already?!!  How is that even possible?)

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AN UPDATE ON TEAM EVANCHICK

Xander is growing up so fast, it makes my head spin. He speaks in full sentences, he’s out of diapers and he has all sorts of opinions and ideas about all sorts of things. I love watching him grow and learn!  I love his amazing imagination. And I especially love watching him learn about God. He recently explained to me that Zacchaeus came down from the tree because he needed to go potty – and that Jesus touched people, but he didn’t hit them. He’s a wealth of information. :)

Tim and I are still seeking the Lord’s will for our next step in ministry. In the meantime, we’ve been serving in our local church. I began teaching a Sunday school class of 3rd and 4th grade girls and instantly remembered just how much I love working with children and youth. I had a blast with them and I was sad to say goodbye for the summer, when we had our last class on Sunday!

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can think of right now. What’s new with you? Seriously. I want to know! What’s new in your life?  Is there anything I can be praying about?

Have a great Tuesday!!
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In the face of discouragement.

EvanchickS_LZ122-ISJ7R8E_10Hi friends. I’ve been procrastinating about writing this post all week.  I decided today was the day to finally sit down and do it.

I’m going to be taking a break from blogging for a while. I’m praying that I can return to it at some point, because I find so much joy in connecting with all of you.  But right now, it’s one of the things I need to let go of.

The latest treatment, in an attempt to restore my vision to normal, was a pretty aggressive one. The doctor expected that I would see immediate results.  I am at the end of the treatment and have seen no improvement. When I called to talk to the doctor about further options, he told me he doesn’t think there’s anything else he can do for me.  Obviously, that was not what I wanted to hear.

I’ve been trying to post on a somewhat regular basis but I struggle to see the computer screen. I had assumed that it was only for a short season and that my vision would be back to normal by now. It’s my hope and prayer that the day is near. But for now, trying to keep up with blogging is only adding to my discouragement.

So it’s time to take a break. Time to focus on the blessing of my family and the fact that spring is here.  There is much to be thankful for.

Keep choosing joy.
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We’re happiest when …

It finally feels like spring!!!  Xander would stay outside from sun up to sun down, if we let him. He loved spending last summer at camp, because that was pretty much what our days looked like. I’m happier when we can be outside, too. 4 days in a row of outside adventures. We’re happy, happy, happy.

THURSDAY

Daddy and Little Man on the riverbank.

IMG_0333Airplane sighting

FRIDAY

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Pinecones!

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All worn out.

SATURDAY

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Throwing rocks in the water.

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Watching the ripples.

SUNDAY

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Caterpillar!!

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When did he learn how to blow bubbles?  He’s growing up so fast!

I did NOT have much time to check out the blogs taking part in the Ultimate Blog Party so I’m glad it goes on all this week!  If you’re a blogger, business owner, independent consultant, check out the May Day Giveaway I’m putting together.

What did you do this weekend?

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Youthworker Romance

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Tim and I met because of our mutual passion for youth ministry. We were introduced at the National Youthworkers’ Convention, in 2008 and we were married a year later. We’ve supported each other in our separate ministries and done ministry side-by-side.

Sunday was scheduled to be my first day, teaching the 3rd and 4th grade girls’ Sunday school class. I was SO excited! I’ve been waiting all winter to begin serving. With no heat in the car, there were several Sundays that were too cold for Xander and me to make the hour long trip to church. But now that the temps are above freezing, Tim and I decided it was safe for me to make the commitment. I had my lesson and a fun get-to-know-you project, all prepared. I was PUMPED.

Then, Xander came down with a marathon cold. He got sick on Tuesday and over a week later, he’s still sick. Even though he seems to feel fine and not be bothered by the continuously running nose, we obviously needed to keep him out of the nursery. The easy solution would have been for me to go while the guys stayed home. But I still can’t see well enough to drive. So I said that I would find a sub, and stay home with our sick munchkin.

That’s not what happened.

Tim insisted that all of us make the trek. They dropped me off to teach Sunday school while he and X hung out together and got lunch before coming back to get me. Not everyone would understand how disappointed I was, at the thought of missing my very first week. But he did.  He knew how excited I was to start teaching again and he made sure I got there.

Then there’s this little shout-out on the Student Ministry Central About Page.

It’s true, the average church isn’t going to have the same pool of people to draw from that a larger church might. However, Sara Eden, a youth worker from a small town church decided she wasn’t going to let that stop her. She applied these leadership principles and recruited more than 25% of the congregation to her youth ministry team. As a result, she was even able to develop a community outreach program that regularly reached over 100 teens – more than the average graduating class of the town! (I was so impressed, I married her).

It’s nice to know that our youthworker romance is still alive.

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Don’t forget: Today is the last day to enter the JOYful giveaway.

Another Crazy Week

It’s been another busy week around here!

I’ve been working on my latest design project, creating a new logo for a youth ministry in Florida. I just zipped up all the files and sent them on their way to the youth pastor. So fun!

dothesethingswebWe’re also working on final edits, for the book my husband has been writing. It’s set to release in a few weeks. With my vision problems, the editing has been taking me forever. But it’s shaping up to be a great resource and I’m excited for it’s release!!

And speaking of my vision problems, I had my long-awaited appointment with the neuro-ophalmologist yesterday morning. I had hoped to come home with a pair of specially made prism glasses, to help me see straight. I was crushed when he explained that I have a unique kind of double vision, that won’t be helped by the prisms.  He also broke the news to me, that it’s likely permanent.  Last night, Tim gently reminded me that we have encountered “permanent” things before. He and I have both seen miraculous healing in our own lives, and we’ve witnessed it side-by-side, in the life of our son. He quietly said, “We are a family of walking miracles.”  He’s right. And I won’t give up hope. But I am feeling a little frustrated at the moment. Hopefully, I’ll be able to shake it off, once I process everything.

So that’s what’s going on around here. Oh, there has also been laundry, cooking, cleaning, and mommy-ing.  My plate feels pretty full at the moment. But it’s full of awesome things, so I don’t mind.

How is your week going?  Are you (like me) shocked by the realization that it’s Thursday already?!!

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