By Tara Dowden

It was Easter Sunday. My husband, Landon, had already headed to church in prayer and preparation for the service. I had four little people dressed, had brushed four sets of teeth, fixed hair, and found four sets of matching shoes in the depths of four messy closets. The Dowden house was on a roll, and it looked like the pastor’s wife would, to everyone’s amazement, be on time for church! I had high hopes for this Easter Sunday. I reminded the children all week that the Easter bunny was fun and brought yummy candy but only Christ brings the gift of eternal life. Christ is why we celebrate Easter. Easter devotionals were taught, Easter baskets were filled, and matching outfits for everyone came together at the last minute with the main color theme being white and navy. Success for me!

I asked everyone to wait at the front door and to pretend they were statues not moving a muscle so that everything would be in place for pictures. I dressed my youngest in his handsome white pants, navy sweater, and navy and white polka dot tie. I was thinking about how cute all my kids were going to look on my Instagram post. As I turned my head for a split second to pick up my camera bag for the perfect family pictures, my six-year-old son ran out the door like a lightning bolt with my two-year-old close behind. Five seconds later, my two-year-old with white shorts covered in blood and with a sweater covered in dirt and leaves was screaming on my front porch. I joined the screaming, “Not the white shorts! Why??!! Where did your brother go? He is in so much trouble! Protect the white shorts at any cost!” I am sure my neighbors thought, “The crazy Dowdens are at it again!”

DSC_0118My perfect picture was now ruined! But in the middle of both boys crying and my running to get towels and Band-Aids, my own words were echoing in my mind, “The most important thing about Easter is Christ.” It stung a little, but I was thankful for the Holy Spirit’s reminder of how even moms make holidays about the perfect decorations, the perfect meal, the perfect outfits, and even the perfect pictures. We are just as guilty as our kids of filling our hearts with secondary loves. For a moment, I forgot that worship of the only Perfect One is even better than that not- so- perfect family picture. Alastair, who is two, cried for every picture. We were all late for church, but I was thankful for the reminder to celebrate the gift of salvation and Christ above all. “For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7).

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