January 25, 2006

"I'll Gladly Do Laundry, Lord"

1503 page24 capAS GOD EVER ANSWERED YOUR prayers so quickly that you were amazed at how promptly and appropriately He honored your requests?

When my mother-in-law had terminal cancer, my husband, Carl, and I took care of her at home as long as we could. I stayed with her from early morning until our daughter, Julie, arrived home from school and helped late afternoons and early evenings. Carl took care of her at night.

I had been working part-time to help out financially, but my ability to do so was greatly curtailed by our altered circumstances. I realized that I needed work I could do when Julie or Carl was taking care of Mom, or something I could handle while keeping an eye on her. So I prayed about my problem. The prayer was hardly out of my mouth when I picked up the local paper.

A Perfect Match
In the Help Wanted section were two possibilities. A woman wanted someone to do ironing. She?d bring her clothes to our house at the first of each week, then pick them up, bringing more for me to iron. She paid me a dollar for each piece of clothing or pair of pillowcases I did. I ironed handkerchiefs and napkins free of charge. Each week I earned $8 to $28.

1503 page24The second position was that of part-time musician and choir director for a Methodist church. Carl could stay with Mom while I helped them out. The pay was $30 a week. When I auditioned, the pastor hired me immediately. Mom died about a year later. But the laundry job lasted three years, until we moved to a different area.

It?s been 18 years now, and I still provide music for the Methodist church.

Mama had taught me how to wash, iron, and mend when I was a young girl. I knew some people worked in laundries, but I never dreamed it could be a marketable skill for me until the day I picked up that newspaper.

Likewise with my music: playing piano, organ, or singing was something I did for my own enjoyment or to help out at our own church. I never thought these skills might help us augment our income someday. But God knew what talents I had and what I needed, and I?m forever grateful for His timing.

For three and a half years I was also the organist at St. James Methodist Church, playing for one service before driving about 15 miles to help with my original Methodist congregation.

For about six years I served part-time (10 to 35 hours weekly) as a certified nursing assistant, aiding the sick and elderly in their homes. In training I learned how to save my back while lifting patients. Unfortunately, nothing was said about how we could avoid hurting our feet.

Pitching forward while transferring patients from bed to chair, chair to bed, or into and out of wheelchairs irritated a nerve in my left foot. Nothing the podiatrist and I tried helped. I had to have surgery. My other foot started having similar symptoms, so I knew I needed a change.

After convalescing for two or three months, I began my job search. I could still play my music, but I needed something to replace the nursing.

Back to Basics
I prayed as I thought about my situation. I remembered my former laundry client. That?s it! I could take in laundry. That type of work would be kind to my feet, for I could iron most things sitting down! ?Yes, Lord, I?ll gladly do laundry,? I told Him. ?Thank You! Tomorrow I?ll put an ad in the paper.?

But I didn?t have to. The next morning?s paper contained the following: ?Part-time laundry assistant needed for local bed and breakfast.?

I called the number, and a woman answered. She interviewed me that very afternoon. She showed me around, told me what she needed, and offered me the job.

Questions for Reflection
Or for Use in Your Small Group

1. What apparently menial tasks have you done in the past that have prepared you for the type of work you do now? How were they good training for what you do?

2. Who is someone in your church or community who does ordinary tasks with extraordinary flare? What does that say about them?

3. What Bible characters went from humble beginnings to great responsibilities?

4. How are our work habits a reflection of our relationship with God? Do you know someone who became a believer by observing a Christian at work?

Dorie paid me well, and I loved my work. I grew up with the idea that cleanliness ranks right up there next to godliness. I?ve always felt that anything that makes the world a cleaner place makes it a better place.

In addition to washing and ironing, I mended towels and linens. I also restored crocheted scarves, doilies, tablecloths, bedspreads, and quilts. Not only did I have a kind employer, but the laundry room was a pleasant, attractive place to work. It had a wonderful large window. As I ironed, I could look out over the beautiful lawn and see cows grazing peacefully in an adjacent field. I also enjoyed the sight of small wildlife such as birds, chipmunks, squirrels, and the innkeepers? three pet cats as they sauntered back and forth. The changing seasons added further variety to this pastoral picture. I had time to think and meditate as I washed and ironed the laundry. The words of the hymn ?God Will Take Care of You? often came to mind.

My job at Ashton Country House lasted until the owners retired. Before it ended, I saw an ad in our local paper for a laundry assistant at The Inn of Old Virginia, close to where I live. I became one of their vendors, bringing ironing to my home, delivering it, and picking up more linens when I went to get paid.

Health considerations motivated me to cut back my work hours enough that I could incorporate regular walking and exercise into my life.

Last July I found another job involving fewer hours, but good pay, as a musician at another country church. So with my early Social Security, the job that I?ve had with the Methodist church whose music I?ve provided for the past 18 years, and some money I earn from freelance writing, I?m still able to help with our family finances.

God has helped Carl and me find the work we need to make ends meet, with some to spare. We don?t know what the future may bring, but God has taken care of us long enough to believe He will continue to do so.

When we have special needs and want to know God?s will for us, when we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will truly direct our paths (Prov. 3:6) and help us find ways to serve Him that are just right for us.

I thank Him for my years as a laundry assistant and for everything I learned, including the spiritual lessons.

Bonnie Moyers writes from Staunton, Virginia.