As I sit writing this blog all my children sleep, while visions of chocolate bunnies dance in their heads, and I can smell the clean scent of watermelon shampoo wafting from their still-damp heads. After a full day of playing outside an extra scrubbing was needed, and they will be nice and clean for church in the morning. But this year I find myself relaxing in bed rather than my typical, last-minute scurrying about, laying out color-coordinated, ruffled dresses, white pantyhose, shiny shoes, and dainty purses. In fact, their clothes are still sitting in the suitcase. Talk about change!
Over the past few months, our focus had changed dramatically. I had minimalized everyone’s closets, and now we all just had a lot less. Ever since having my first daughter I fell in love with dressing a darling girl. I would stop at a department store on my break from work, going through the aisles of tiny, adorable outfits, and I would almost always leave with something new and precious. After seven years of this and two more girls brought into the family, I found myself with ruffle pants, monogrammed shirts, and smocked dresses coming out of my ears. I was drowning in darling dresses and pink pinafores. So I whittled them down.
This also came along the time of our decision to travel, so packing up and moving with a dozen outfits versus hundreds is much more practical, and easier to fit in small spaces. Our most recent journey has taken us to the warm weather of Central Florida. As such, I had packed away the winter clothing we had and placed it in storage. I had kept roughly two summer dresses apiece for each of the girls (which is a miracle in itself for a former clothes horse), but I had absolutely nothing for cooler weather. No hose, no dressy cardigans, and certainly no shiny shoes. It just didn’t fit into the new plan. Sundresses and flip-flops I had, but as I checked the weather for a trip back home to Mississippi I was met with a forecast of rain and cool temperatures. So as I packed our suitcase I resigned myself to the fact that this year would be different.
As I packed the only cool-weather outfit I had for my 5-year-old (something more appropriate for working out than Easter Sunday photos) I smiled. I smiled that it didn’t really matter.
My girls didn’t have any Easter dresses.
They didn’t have any pantyhose or patent leather shoes. No flower hats with matching purses. And that was okay. Here’s what we had instead.
On Friday I asked my 7-year-old why the day was called Good Friday, and she answered perfectly.
“What’s so good about Jesus dying?” I asked. “Why is that good?”
“Because He died for us. And He didn’t stay dead. He rose again.” She answered quickly.
That same day I had asked my 5-year-old, “why do we celebrate Easter anyway?”
“Cause Jesus died on the cross for our sins,” she sang happily.
Then she added, “He even died for bad people. He died for everybody cause He loves us all!”
This made me smile, and it makes me smile now as I lay in bed the night before Resurrection Sunday. My daughters will not have Easter Sunday dresses this year, but they will have a clear understanding of why the day is so very special to us. They will understand what is truly important about Easter. It’s not matching outfits for pretty pictures. It’s Jesus. And it’s not Easter baskets (which we also got rid of). It’s Jesus.
They get that it’s not about bunnies and chicks, but about The Lamb. And while we have egg hunts and chocolate candies (cause who doesn’t adore Cadbury eggs), they understand what the best gift of Easter truly is. In the morning they’ll find collapsible sand buckets (great for a traveling family like ours) filled with jelly beans and a special, unique treat from Mom and Dad. They’ll visit with family, hunt eggs, eat yummy food, and fall into a sugary coma from a chocolate rabbit. Those are all wonderful things! But they’ll also know those aren’t the best things. Those aren’t the most important things.
Many times in this life we are all guilty of placing a bit too much value on the “window dressing.” You know; the stuff that fills up our days and minds that really doesn’t matter. We fuss about these things when they’re not perfect. Our tempers get short over the little things, and we find ourselves on Sunday morning angry that our kids can’t look just right, get out the door on time, and look the part that we all play unaware. Next thing we know our focus is on all the wrong aspects of life, and we unknowingly pass along this skewed outlook to our children. Importance is placed on what others think, but not on what our Savior desires for our lives. I get it. It’s an easy trap to fall into, and it’s a slope I even have to pull myself out of still from time to time.
As always, and as you’ve heard me say a time or two, I’m a work in progress over here. I’m trying to keep myself reminded of what’s important in life. It’s all about keeping an eternal perspective, and saying to myself, “does this have a lasting impact from a Kingdom view?” So will people remember what I wore, or will they remember how I treated them? Will my children remember how much stuff we had, or will they remember the experiences we enjoyed together? Will they remember the dresses they wore on Easter Sunday, or will they remember the joy they felt over finally understanding the impact of Jesus’ Resurrection power? I know what I’ll remember.