Just a few months into marriage, one load of laundry and I was ready for a divorce.

Dirty clothes, we all have them. There is just two of us. Me and Adam. When we first got married, I let all the clothes pile up until the end of the week and then I would do what felt like a whole day of JUST laundry. I quickly started hating laundry day, which is normally a task that brings me rest, so I changed it up. Now my laundry schedule goes as follows:

One load on Monday, one on Wednesday, wash towels on Thursday and bed sheet- on Friday. Smaller loads that are doable and quick. One week this didn’t happen…because of life. You know how that goes. With that crazy week where I couldn’t stick to my simple laundry schedule, I had enough clothes to divide up into three big loads of colors. Dark, Light, Whites. Let me be very clear. My parents taught me to do laundry by like colors and only like colors. But in college I realized it doesn’t make that big of a difference so little quick loads is more of my style.

There I was with a huge pile of perfectly sorted, everything turned right side out, ready to go into the wash. Darks were done, folded and put up. Lights, done folded and put up. The day was winding down. Whites were in the dryer, a glass of wine was in my hand, Adam was in the shower and I felt as every type-A person feels when the house is clean, and the perfectly sorted laundry is coming to the end, with the last bit tumbling in the dryer.

That’s when our marriage almost ended. I opened the dryer, screamed, marched heavily to the shower, opened the shower curtain where Adam was enjoying his alone time and I screamed “FIX IT”. I don’t really remember what exactly was said…but I’m pretty sure it went something like this.

Adam: “excuse me?”


Adam: “What about them”


Adam asked for a second to dry off then he followed me to the dryer. He opened the door and started apologizing right away.

The WHOLE load of WHITES had been graced by an angry INK spill from a PEN he left in his clothes. AN INK PEN…. This had happened before but never to this extreme. I put everything in a laundry basket and took it to our bedroom to sort through to see if anything was able to be saved. I looked at Adam and said, “Is this what the end of a marriage feels like? Or just one of the hard parts everyone tells us will happen?”


He hugged me tightly and said, “Let’s look at the damages.” As we started sorting through, I quickly realized that more of his clothes were heavily effected than mine. Two pair of his favorite khaki pants are now covered with ink stains. As I was going through my ink covered whites, I had to toss out a blazer I got from goodwill five years ago, a cardigan I got at a yard sale for free and a few other very cheap pieces of clothing. I was calming down until I noticed my new favorite shirt. It was a shirt I got for free from a yard sale. I loved it so much I wore it two days in a row the week before. As I was feeling so many emotions Adam could see that I didn’t care about tossing out most of the clothes that were covered in ink, but this one shirt was my favorite.

Adam quickly grabbed the shirt from my hands and told me it was going to be alright. He left his ink stained clothes behind and quickly started googling and doing everything possible to save my favorite shirt. I told him it was a lost cause. I asked him to not worry about it and to simply do a better job taking out all of the pens from his pocket before putting in the dirty clothes bin next time and every single time. But he stayed with my favorite shirt.

I kept what I thought was worth keeping even though covered in ink and I got rid of the rest…which was most of everything. As I was piling up the trash can I was thinking about to the minimalist challenge I did in September. I spent September evaluating almost everything I owned and only kept things that gave me value and joy. I got rid of a lot of stuff during that month and this felt the same. I wasn’t mad that I had to get rid of clothes. I didn’t even lose more than $10 worth of clothing. I was frustrated with the fact that Adam has left pens in dirty clothes before, but it has never gone unnoticed and ended up this bad. I was mad because I worked so hard to get things ‘perfect’ and one little thing messed up my ‘perfect’.

After I got everything cleaned up, I sat with me, myself and my emotions. I quickly understood that this was going to make Adam and I stronger as a couple instead of pulling us apart. I felt God whisper to me that our marriage was worth the mess. As if God was right beside me and told me He loved me even though I mess up sometimes. Not long after Adam called me into the kitchen. I slumped my way to him where I found my favorite white shirt that was once completely covered in ink stains perfectly WHITE AGAIN. He worked some magic and it looked as if it had never had any damage to the white fabric.


I was so impressed. I was so filled with love to know that he cared more about my favorite shirt (that we have $0 invested in) than his own clothes. He cared more about my joy than his. I went from being so mad at marrying someone who left pens in his clothes to speechless at how quickly he stopped everything to serve me.

Now what was once my favorite shirt is now my redemption shirt. It is the shirt that reminds me our marriage is worth it. It is the reminder of how my husband puts me before his own needs. It is a reminder that nothing is ‘perfect’. But out of all of these reasons it is my redemption shirt, the best reminder it gives me…I was once dirty and covered in ink called sin. God washed it all way to make me pure, clean, and stain-free. When I was imperfect, He still loved me and knew I was worth a transformation.

white shirt

Clothes are clothes. I will never cry over a piece of clothing. Not even my wedding dress. I know with such confidence that God was watching my load of whites and was so excited to send me a wake-up call. For me to have such a simple and funny way to be reminded how much he loves us. For Adam and I to understand that marriage is messy. For me to see how my husband so quickly puts me before himself. And to be humbled and reminded of the Heavenly father that I need every day to take me from dirty to clean.

Now I wear my redemption shirt with such pride and humility! All because of one little ink pen that was to be washed and dried with a load of whites.

redemption shirt


Keep your head up high and your words filled with love!

Your friend, Colleen Howard



  1. Kevin Kavanaugh
    27 Jan 2019 / 7:45 pm

    A great reminder that God’s grace is fresh and new every day and His forgives comes without a memory. We all need to be more like Him.

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