Even the best laid plans go awry…. I like plans. And lists. And predictability. And I live in a house with people. Big people, little people, LOTS of people who rarely conform to my plans, lists, and expectations. For the last couple of weeks, I have planned Easter menus, Easter schedules, Easter baskets, Easter clothes, Easter shoes, even Easter hair. After all, this is the south, and we make a big fuss about these trivial things and we do it with big hair and big smiles ( Don’t tell me you didn’t paste on some beauty walk smiles for those cameras today. You know you did!) This is the story of my Easter plans gone awry.
I stayed up late to finish the Pineapple Lush Cake, iron the Easter clothes and play Easter Bunny. I fell into bed exhausted but excited because I had the morning all planned out. I was going to wake up early, before anyone else stirred, make a pot of coffee, get the Paula Deen Mac & Cheese going in the crock pot, set the baskets out to be found. Well… I did wake up early, with the sun, actually… BUT it was not to the sound of my alarm. My wake up call was a child standing beside the bed telling me that his brother needed us because he was sick. I enter his room and find him burning up with fever and complaining with his throat, head, and tummy. Not an uncommon occurence, but definitely a curve ball I had not expected on this Easter morning. Distracted but still calm, we tend to sick child, daddy goes back to bed and I go downstairs to conquer The List. As soon as I get the first saucepan out I hear a little one calling “Mommeeeee!” Gracie is up and wants to join me in the kitchen, where she finds her basket of goodies. Ok, to be perfectly honest, I had really been looking forward to cooking without toddlers underfoot, but she was up, excited, and no biggie, I can still get this thing done, right? A little more distracted, but still checking off my list.
Now at this point I realize I have somehow inadvertently entered a time warp and it is now 7:30, and I still have not showered. Don’t panic, I’ll just skip the hot rollers and shave really fast and the clothes are all ready so I’m still feeling ok. Then I remember that I haven’t gotten anyone else up or dressed or ready. This is where things start to unravel. I start to sweat, literally, figuratively, profusely, you get the picture. And I’m all of a sudden ticked off. At everyone, myself included, but mostly everyone. I wake Daddy up and begin to bark orders and he doesn’t comply (somehow I have not learned that he doesn’t take orders barked in his sleeping ear very well) and I am shooing Gracie out of my bathroom because she is holding the Lysol and I’m thinking “Why isn’t he up and helping?” And I’m hot, and the a/c isn’t working and that makes me mad too. Because the oscillating fan makes my hair tangled and stick to my lipgloss.
The oldest child emerges from his bathroom fully dressed and ready to go (lucky for him). Daddy is starting to get ready but I forgot to iron his clothes last night, so I take a few minutes to do that. Sick child comes upstairs to inform me that the twins have made a big mess with their goodies (no surprise there) But I know that I only put a few M&M’s or jelly beans in each of their eggs SO THAT they couldn’t make much mess with them. (See, I planned so well!) Nothing could have prepared me for what I found downstairs. They obviously took great pleasure in the opening of the plastic eggs, for they had opened all of them. M&M’s and jellybeans and plastic egg halves EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t take a step without something crunching underneath. Keep in mind that I am already sort of simmering from all the rushing and distractions, and this mess is really turning the heat up. Not to mention the chocolate faces and hands and I don’t have TIME to clean this mess up and them too. I’m yelling for Daddy, he’s still not really hearing (amazing male ability to tune out anything that resembles drama) and both big boys have also disappeared. So it’s just me. Gotta get it done, get them clean and in these clothes so carefully laid out the night before. I’m close to tears, but mad is easier…
I clean hands and faces, brush out tangles and get them looking like they didn’t just emerge from a war zone. But the war is still raging. Everybody is tense (except maybe sick child, because he knows he will spend the day with his mom, not the crazy-step-monster) but we get in the van and head to church. I’m fighting tears, still, but don’t really want to mess up the Easter make-up, so I choke them back. I realize how distracted I have been all morning and I feel bad, because all weekend I have truly tried to stay focused on Christ and what He did for me and what it means. And I KNOW that I have blown it this morning, but my pride is still telling me “If only he had gotten up early with me and helped I wouldn’t feel this way.” Or “If only anyone EVER said thank you or asked if they could help, I wouldn’t feel this way.” I just can’t let those pride walls down long enough to see that I made a choice to rely on MY plans this morning. I got distracted, stayed distracted, didn’t pray, didn’t take time to remember what all my planning was for. To celebrate a Savior who gave His very life for me when I was still an ungrateful unrepentant sinner. I’m close to tears, but blame is easier…
At church, I do get a reprieve, thankfully. Little ones safe and happy in their classrooms, beautiful worship service (in which I do manage to stop thinking about me, remarkably) and a great Sunday School hour with friends and encouragement. Everybody else is smiling here, so it is easier to smile along and put aside the stress of the morning for a while. But then we go home. Back to the mess. And I still have to garnish the cake and gather clothes and baskets for the afternoon festivities, and I know once those 6 kids get out of the van what it will take to get them back in it and we only have a few minutes, and once again, no one seems to be in a hurry but me. It takes us an hour to leave and we really only had 30 minutes. In between trying to make the cake (which is now rather lopsided) look pretty, stir the macaroni, keep the children clean and load the van, I notice all those tears I had been choking back are beginning to leak out. Oh no. I do not cry pretty and we are on our way to my sister-in-law’s family gathering, and they don’t know I’m not (always) a basket case and I cannot pull myself together for 5 minutes. I cry all the way there, can’t stop, and no sympathy from anyone in the van because I’ve been such a meanie all morning and I don’t even blame them, but oh how nice it would be to receive some grace right now.
Here is Grace… We all had the most wonderful afternoon. The weather was perfect, I get some much needed sympathy from my mom and sis-in-law when they see tears (because they are moms and they KNOW) and I feel the stress start to fall away as I see the kids happy and playing and I realize that God loves me so much to give me this perfect afternoon on HIS day, when I least deserve it. And how if I had only asked for grace this morning before I started on The List, the morning would not have knocked me down so easily. All my hopes for a glorious Easter celebration had been pinned on The List. Not on Grace. How could I make such an arrogant mistake? I didn’t mean too, really… I just got distracted and busy. Like Martha. She is a pretty relatable character, isn’t she? I came home, started cleaning up a little, and saw this little card stuck with a push pin above my kitchen sink. It reads “Prayer first: Prayer before anything else or there isn’t anything else.” I had placed it there only days before and probably read it hundreds of times already. But it isn’t in the reading, though that is important… It is in the DOING. So tonight, with a humble heart (for now, anyway) I pray, asking for forgiveness for countless sins of pride with hope that maybe this is a lesson learned well for tomorrow. We’ll soon enough find out! Tomorrow isn’t Easter, and I can’t get today back, and that makes me sad. But I can start my day with prayer and celebrate a risen Savior and ask for Grace and Help and Love to splash on to others.
My precious family is really probably wondering if I have developed a personality disorder, with all the highs and lows and starts and stops on my faith journey. But the truest truth about me is that I am a work in constant progress, and will be until I die. I wish I believed it would one day be easy. I do believe it will one day be worth it.