This is a story I wrote about two girls, a dress they both dreamed about, and the goodness of God. The story starts in a northern state where snow has fallen again, yet it is soon time for Easter. Sarah lives on a farm with her father, mother, older brother and younger sister. The story then switches to a state farther south where spring has officially come because the merry-bells are blooming. Callie lives with her mother and two sisters where there is an abundance of wildflowers but not an abundance of jobs. As the story progresses, it will move back and forth between Sarah and Callie, and time will also advance to the point where the two girls are grown into young women.
I hope this will be a story that you can share with your daughter, granddaughter, a young girl in your life, or that you will enjoy this on your own!
Sarah walked softly into the kitchen. Having just gotten out of bed, she was still sleepy-eyed and in her pajamas. The radio on the counter announced that it was the first day of spring. Looking out the frosty kitchen window, Sarah saw her brother shoveling the sidewalk clear while her father was plowing out their long tree lined driveway. Snow had covered the farm once again with a thick white blanket. Springtime for Sarah didn’t come as an announcement over the radio.
Mother said that the baby rabbits would be born in two weeks, hopefully on Easter morning. That was a sign of the coming spring!
Mother also said that when Father had finished clearing out the driveway, they would all go into town.
It was time to pick out a pattern and fabric for her Easter dress. That was another sure sign of the coming spring. Sarah had recently seen a dress in the window of the downtown department store that she could only dream of buying, but she was sure her mother could sew her one just like it.
The fabric store was Sarah’s favorite place to shop. With so many colors and so many prints, she loved to look at all the bolts of fabric. Mother was already searching through the thick pattern catalogs, looking for dress ideas for Sarah’s little sister, but today Sarah would find just the right pattern and fabric for her own dress.
“There it is,” cried Sarah. She pointed to a dress in the pattern catalog with a dropped waist, high collar, and sheer sleeves. Mother nodded with approval.
Sarah quickly wrote down the pattern number and her size on a small piece of paper and brought it to the sales woman who then pulled open one of the big metal drawers where all the pattern envelopes were kept and searched until she found the exact pattern number and size.
“There you go, dear. What a lovely dress that will make for you.” The sales woman gave Sarah a smile as she handed over the envelope.
“Thank you, ma’am.” Sarah headed for the new collection of cotton prints that had been put out for spring sewing.
There she found the color and print she had dreamed of – a yellow background sprinkled with tiny white rosebuds and green leaves! Soon she found a sheer pale yellow fabric to layer over the top and skirt and it would be also used for the sleeves. It would be like the dress in the department store window!
Mother caught up with Sarah, but when she saw what Sarah had picked out, she sighed. With two layers it would be like purchasing fabric for two dresses. The dress was going to be almost as expensive as the one in the department store.
“Sarah, is this the fabric you really want?” asked Mother.
“Oh, yes! It is exactly what I was dreaming of! It will be the most beautiful Easter dress I have ever had!” Sarah was dancing around the aisle with the fabric in her arms.
“God did bless us this past year with plenty of rain and perfect temperatures for our corn crop. It was the most abundant harvest we have had in years,” replied Sarah’s mother. She whispered a word of thanks to God that she could afford to purchase the fabric and see the joy in her daughter’s eyes.
She also thought of a favorite Bible verse of hers, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” James1:17.
Mother and Sarah decided the Easter dress would be worn for all special occasions during that spring and summer such as Easter, her piano recital, and her aunt’s wedding, and that of course, she would wear it to Sunday school and church until she out-grew it.
As Easter neared the only patches of snow left were on the north side of their barn; the mother rabbit was pulling out some of her fur to make a nest for her expected babies; and Sarah’s mother had finished all but the hem on Sarah’s dress. Springtime was here!
“Come and try the dress on, Sarah,” called Mother. Sarah came in a hurry. It truly was turning out to be the dress she had wanted. Slipping it over her head and sliding her arms into the sleeves, Sarah could tell immediately that it was going to be a perfect fit. She flew to her mother’s bedroom to look in the full length mirror and then she danced around the room, only this time the fabric wasn’t in her arms; it now fit Sarah as if it had been woven especially for this very special Easter dress.
Callie looked out the window. Through the trees she could see the yellow merry-bells nodding their heads, as though too shy to look up and announce that spring had come to their hills.
The wildflowers that carpeted the woods surrounding their home at this time of year reminded Callie of a wallpaper print she had once seen in a mail-order catalogue. Callie often dreamed of living in a home with walls covered in a flower print.
Callie also often dreamed of having a dress the color of the yellow merry-bells, but she had never had a choice in what clothes she would wear. Callie’s mama waited every year for the mission’s clothing swap. Schools and churches would send boxes of clothes to the mission, mostly hand-me-downs. Callie’s mama would bring the clothing her children had outgrown and come back with a bag full of clothes for each of her three children, and this is what they would wear for the year.
Callie always wished for something pretty, something soft, something…..Mama did her best, Callie knew that, but Callie also knew Mama looked at her with eyes wishing she could give Callie what she wanted. Callie looked out the window. She saw the beauty of the flowers and thought about what she had once read in her Bible.
“And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30)
Callie dared to whisper a prayer. “Could you give me, Lord, a dress as beautiful as the lilies of the field? A dress the color of the yellow merry-bells?”
Spring had come once again and Sarah was now a year older. The snow, as usual, was still on the ground in patches, and Sarah’s school decided to hold a clothing drive. The students contacted area businesses, churches, and citizens of their town to see if they were willing to donate new or used clothing. Pastor Johnson of the local Baptist church called the school, suggesting that the Green Briar Mission in the foothills of the Appalachians be the recipient of the clothing as the mission served an area of great need.
Going through her closet to pull out clothing that no longer fit, Sarah stopped when she saw her yellow Easter dress. It had been her favorite last year. She did wear it on Easter day, to her piano recital, to her aunt’s wedding, and to Sunday school almost every Sunday last spring and summer. She still loved it and it still was in very good shape, but it didn’t really fit her this spring. She had grown. Could she give it away? Mother had worked so hard on sewing it and had spent more money than she usually did for the fabric. Sarah knew this. Maybe her little sister could wear it some day. Still, something was tugging at Sarah’s heart, urging her to send it to the mission. She remembered a verse she had memorized in Sunday school.
“The Lord Jesus himself said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) Sarah was ready to give because of all she had received.
“I was thinking about giving my yellow Easter dress to the clothing drive. What do you think I should do?”
Sarah’s mother also loved that dress and would have liked to keep it for Sarah’s little sister, but she knew Sarah would benefit far greater by giving up the dress than she would by keeping it for Sarah’s little sister.
“Sarah, I think it would be just fine if you gave your yellow dress to the clothing drive.” Sarah’s mother didn’t say anything more. She knew she didn’t have to.
Sarah took the dress off the hanger and folded it with loving care, smoothing the fabric with her hands. She took a small piece of paper and wrote her address on it and asked whoever received this dress to write to her. She pinned the note onto the dress and placed the dress into the bag with the other pieces of clothing she was donating.
Callie wondered if she should have prayed for a yellow dress. A year had gone by. Maybe she should have just been grateful for the clothing she had. Why would God want her to have something that she had hoped for but didn’t really need? How would she have ever gotten such a dress anyhow? Still, she wanted to believe that God would answer her prayer.
The kitchen door opened with its usual squeak and Callie knew her mama was home from the mission. She heard the rustling sound of the paper bags being carried in. Her sisters were in the kitchen; their voices getting louder with excitement over what they were finding in their bag of clothing.
“Callie!” called Mama.
“Yes, Mama,” replied Callie.
“Come and see what I have for you,” Mama answered.
Callie slowly walked into the kitchen, knowing not to expect too much, but there was her mama holding up a dress the color of yellow merry-bells, and it was even more beautiful than Callie could have imagined! It had a low waist, a high collar, and long sleeves. The yellow fabric was sprinkled with little white rosebuds and green leaves and there was a sheer fabric covering the top and the skirt and it was also used to make the sleeves. It fit perfectly and as Callie danced around the room in it, she saw in her mama’s eyes the look of contentment she always wanted her mama to have.
“Callie, look, there’s a note pinned to your dress,” Mama pointed out.
Callie stopped and unpinned it. She read it aloud to her mama.
“My name is Sarah and I wanted you to know that because God blessed our farm, I was able to have this yellow Easter dress. I want to pass God’s goodness on to you by giving you my dress. I hope you will love it as much as I did! Could you write me a letter? Love, Sarah
Sarah often thought about the yellow Easter dress. She never found out if anyone had ever received it or had worn it. One day, however, when she had grown up to become a young woman, married, and now the mother of a newborn baby girl, a package arrived for her in the mail. Sarah and her husband had taken over Sarah’s family farm and lived in the same house Sarah grew up in.
The return address was from The Green Briar Mission! Sarah’s thoughts immediately returned to the day when she had given her yellow Easter dress to the clothing drive. As she opened the package, the first thing she saw was the yellow fabric sprinkled with little white rosebuds and green leaves. It had been cut into squares and sewn together with other squares of pastel fabric and was backed with a pale yellow flannel creating a soft and gentle baby’s quilt. As Sarah lifted the quilt a note fluttered down to her lap. Sarah picked it up and it read,
I pray that you do receive this quilt as I am not certain if this is still your address. When I was a young girl, I had whispered a prayer to our Lord for a dress as beautiful as the lilies of the field; a dress the color of yellow merry-bells. God answered my prayer through you and the Green Briar Mission. The dress was more beautiful than anything I could have imagined and it fit perfectly. Having that dress and wearing it changed my life as it taught me of the incomprehensible goodness and provision of our dear Lord. “And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you….” Matthew 6:30.
I wore it; my two sisters wore it. When my youngest sister grew out of it, I kept it. I also had kept your address knowing that some day I would write to you. This winter I decided to use what fabric was still in good shape on the dress to make it into a quilt for you and into a quilt for my baby daughter. I want my children to hear the story of the yellow dress and feel the fabric on their skin. I hope your children will as well. May God always bless you greatly for your willingness to share your yellow Easter dress. In case you are wondering about the return address, my husband and I now run the Green Briar Mission!
Sarah looked down at the quilt and tenderly touched the squares of fabric. Then she opened up the quilt and gently wrapped it around her newborn baby girl and held her in her arms while thanking her Heavenly Father. She laughed as she remembered that day at the fabric store when she danced in the aisles with the fabric in her arms. She once again felt like dancing. Yes, her children would also hear the story of the yellow Easter dress and feel the fabric on their skin and hear about the incomprehensible goodness and provision of our dear Lord!
It was spring. Snow was still on the ground in patches. The mother rabbit was pulling out fur to make a nest for her soon to be born babies.
Sarah and her husband walked together into church on Easter morning.
In her arms, Sarah carried her newborn baby daughter, wrapped in the yellow Easter dress quilt, and to everyone who complemented her on the quilt, Sarah told them of Callie, her prayer, and the yellow Easter dress.
Note: The yellow merry-bell (Uvularia grandiflora), also known as the yellow bellwort, is in the lily family.
“See how the lilies of the field grow…” Matthew 6:28
(This story is copyrighted and is currently being considered for publishing.)