Imagine Love Over The Course of 98 Years.

Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf in the Albert Lea Tribune February 10, 2014

“Image what these 98-year-old eyes have seen.” holding hands photo: gero hands hands.jpg

Those words, spoken in a sermon during a funeral for a friend’s mother, gave me pause to reflect on what this woman had seen during her lifetime. It isn’t often we think of that when someone we love has died. Of course we reminisce about the person’s past, their accomplishments, what they loved, and how they lived, but for some reason when I heard this sentence the thought that came to my mind was love. Pretending to look through her eyes as I looked at family pictures, I saw love.

This is February and the week of Valentine’s Day. You might wonder what a funeral and someone’s death has to do with a day that is filled with hearts, flowers, declarations of love and clever advertising. The day is commercially about all of the glitzy, outer trappings, but what a better day to think about the love that we receive through our lifetime.

What better day to reminisce about those who have shown us love and that we have loved, that are here today and that we have known in the past.

Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday, not because I get so many Valentines, but because the day seems to bring out the best in people.

Recently I interviewed someone about the day and they said every day should be Valentine’s Day in the way we show love to people in our lives.

Back to this wonderful 98-year-old woman by the name of Sophia whose funeral I was attending. Looking back through her life I could see that it was her love of God, her love of family and her love of friends, and giving and receiving that love that carried her through her life all those 98 years.

Sophia married young, a man, older than she. Looking at the pictures and talking to her daughters and listening to the stories, you knew that she felt loved. Her life wasn’t always hearts and flowers. She lost two children, her husband, family members and yet her attitude was always encouraging. The love that her husband and those two children gave to her before they died stayed with her even when they were gone.

She helped raise a granddaughter after her daughter died. She had grandchildren. Later when she was no longer able to take care of herself, when she was in her 90s, she entered an assisted-living home. Still her family showed her love and caring by visiting her often and watching out so that she was happy until the final days. They did not forget her. Her sense of humor carried through to the staff and those she met. Pictures told a story of love and you could see the love she showed others even in her later years with sense of humor and the kindness she showed to those who took care of her.

What did those 98-year-old eyes see? They saw many changes in the world. They saw sorrow, heartache and happiness.

Sophia is not unlike many of us today. What do our eyes see each day? At the end of our lives what will our eyes have seen? Will we remember special Valentines Days? Maybe. Will we remember the glitz and the glam and the show? Will we remember what meal we ate when we were wined and dined by our sweetheart? Will we remember disappointment because no one remembered us on Valentine’s Day? Or will we remember the feeling of love throughout moments of our lives?

We get hyped up about this one day, Valentine’s Day, the day we take to show someone how special they are. Some people get romantic and some people get forgotten all together. It is good we do have a day like this to remind us to treat someone we love with a little special care because perhaps some people don’t think about it the rest of the year.

There are people, and I used to be one of those, that are very hurt and sad if this special day passes and they feel alone. If that is the case I want you to think about that statement; imagine what these 98-year-old eyes have seen. What will your eyes have seen over your lifetime? Think about the love that you have shown or been shown by others on a normal day throughout the year. Find the “love moments” in your life and remember them. Think about the love moments, or hours, or days that you have had.

Those 98-year-old eyes saw a lot of sorrow. Our eyes do, too. But in sad times, find the Valentine moments of love that you can cherish and remember your entire life. Love isn’t pinned to a specific day; it is pinned to the shadows of your heart for you to pull out when needed to make those dark days feel better.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” — Lao Tzu


There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch!

I don’t usually write about controversial things. I like my blogs to be pleasant and funny and inspirational. However, there are times that I wonder and I puzzle and I freak out about things that irritate me. We all have those little things that irritate us and we keep silent because we don’t want to offend anyone. We don’t want to make our friends mad. We tell ourselves it doesn’t matter and it is just us. We are the only ones bothered by some things, small things that are happening.

In the past years I have observed the “something” that irritates me many times. I have expressed my opinion openly at organizations and functions that I have attended and groups that I have volunteered at, many times to be scoffed at and told I am being ridiculous, overly sensitive. Perhaps I am and perhaps I need to let what is irritating me go on into the abyss. I appear to be one of the few that has a problem with donation baskets sitting at a place before the plates, before someone can pick up their meal, at functions that are publicized as free, so that those that do not have the means to pay for a meal can be fed.

This mornings devotion that I read by Max Lucado put into words what I have been feeling for a long time. This is this mornings devotion. I will post the mp3 link at the end of this blog. Here is what he said:

When people are refused access to Christ by those closest to him, the result is empty, hollow religion.  Ugly religion.

Hard to believe?  Yet it happens—even in the church. It happens when a church spends more time discussing the style of its sanctuary than it does the needs of the hungry. It happens when a church is known more for its stance on an issue than its reliance upon God. It happens when we think Jesus has more important things to do than to be bothered by such insignificant people.

Christ thought otherwise. Jesus felt sorry for the blind men and touched their eyes, and at once they could see.  In that moment, of all the people, it was the blind who really saw Jesus.

From And The Angels Were Silent

This devotion hit a nerve inside of me that has been nudging me for a long time. We, in our churches and communities advertise things for free and we say we don’t expect people to pay, but do we? Maybe the devotion was a nudge to write this blog about something that has bothered me for a long time. Why do we have such a hard time giving something away to those who need it? We say we don’t but the suggestion is front and center that nothing is free.

Perhaps we don’t really believe that there are those that can’t pay. Perhaps we don’t really believe that those in need live among us in our communities and our churches because they dress well, are clean, and appear to not have any problems. Can’t we always tell those in need by the way they dress? Do we look at them as the people from “there” and not those “who belong depending on how they dress?” Is there a distinction if you put everyone in a room sharing a free meal?

It’s not always easy attending what is supposed to be a free meal and watching those ahead of you in line dropping in a $10 or $20 bill. If you have pride, you want to avoid that feeling that maybe once, you could do that but at this point, you may need that free meal and it is hard to swallow that pride and walk past that basket.

If I put myself in that person’s shoes and maybe I am too sensitive, but few would know that at times money for food has been scarce in my life and I have looked at that basket and felt bad because I could not contribute. Instead of enjoying the meal I felt ashamed that I was at a point in my life that I have never been at before and I could not afford the $10.00 or the $20.00 to drop in that basket.

I live in a rural area where people have pride and are used to taking care of themselves. We have good, caring people in our communities that want to help. There are times perhaps the only way we can help is to put ourselves in each others shoes. We need look beyond the clothing, what we have always known to be true and get past our ideas that perhaps what we are doing is always the right way.

I have never been homeless. We, for the most part have always been able to pay our bills. I do not know what it is like to walk in those shoes. I have not been hungry, just grocery challenged at times when a free meal was welcomed. Those that read this might not believe that I am telling the truth about being financially challenged at times in our life. We have businesses, we are educated, we live in a nice house, we pay our bills and we might look to the world like we always have it together or maybe we just think we look that way. But we have had those times when our situation was iffy.  That is why I say that we need to look beyond that donation basket at the beginning of a line of people that appear that they can afford to drop in some money.

Rural communities are a wonderful place to live. They take care of each other. People in rural communities have pride and they have always paid their way. We don’t see the homeless on the streets. We don’t have people begging on the streets for money for food. But they are there. Our food shelves are busy. We take a few hours out of our week to pack lunches for the school children. We take a few hours out of our week to open our food shelves and provide meals. We take great pride in the fact that we house food shelves and put on free meals so others can eat. We do that but we don’t really take the time to try and put ourselves in their place and understand what a collection basket possibly conveys to those attending the meal or even having coffee. It is free but it conveys the idea that you should pay.

I am not saying we don’t need donations to fund coffee hour, or the free community meals. We do. There has to be a better way to ask for donations such as a sign that says “If you want to make a donation to this meal, please leave your money  at the basket by the door on the way out. It is less intrusive and more private. No one sees who gives and no one is made to feel inadequate. Just an idea.

How does Max Lucado’s devotion tie into this. This devotion gave me pause in wondering what is important in my life. Do I discuss the sanctuary more than the needs of the hungry? Do I rely on God for help in this area? And do I go along with the thinking that Jesus is more important than being bothered by such insignificant people? And if I do, what can I do to change that?

Writing this blog post is a start.

What can you do?

There is a saying and it is this; “There but for the grace of God, go I”.

Where will you find the donation basket the next time you attend a “free meal”?

Revive The Greeting Card!

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf printed in the Albert Lea Tribune February 3.

The United States Postal Service is raising its rates. It is partly my fault. The reason I partially blame myself is that I am memory-challenged when remembering to send people cards for birthdays, Christmases, baby births and times of illness, sympathy and friendship.

I like to get the cards. I keep the people in my prayers and always have good intentions but never seem to get it done.

This is not something new that has developed since I have become an adult. When I was in grade school and high school, I would write letters to my aunts and uncles and cousin but they would never get mailed. When they came to visit and occasionally their visits were yearly, I would hand deliver the letters to them.

This is my greeting card showing greeting cards.
This is my greeting card showing greeting cards.

There is one problem, and that is the fact that I love to buy greeting cards, and I love to make greeting cards. I must have a problem with that in many areas of my life since I love cookbooks and recipes but don’t like to cook. Maybe it is the author in me that likes to see things in print.

Since I am changing careers I need to readjust and change out my office so I can work more efficiently with my new writing career. It is amazing the joy it creates when you find an object that you have been looking for. In the midst of the mess I found so many greeting cards. As I looked and sorted the beautiful cards in to categories I wondered how in the world I ever accumulated so many cards. Then I felt a little sad that I never sent the cards to the people they were meant for.

Some of the cards that I found were perfect for someone in their young adult years, but the person that I had in mind when I bought the card is no longer a young adult, in fact they might be called a senior citizen now.

In my meandering of thoughts it crossed my mind that greeting cards are probably obsolete too or they will be soon. I hope not. History is represented in greeting cards. I have the Valentine cards that my mom got when she was young. I have the Valentines that my parents gave me when I was young, and when I read them it brings tears and good memories to my heart.

I am de-cluttering, but there are some things that are keepers in my heart, and those are the Valentines of my youth. The birthday cards from certain people from my youth that I still have. It is the Christmas cards, not all but some, that I have kept over the years from people that I miss because they are living with God now. Those cards give me comfort, make me smile, occasionally make me cry and bring back memories.

My mother never threw anything out, and I was very vocal in letting my opinion be known. There are items that did not need to be kept, and I would still be vocal about them if she were here. She was a child of the Great Depression, and that made her at times hoard things.

When it was time for me to go through her things I found the treasure of her youth. I found a scrapbook she had made of old Valentines. I found cards and letters of sympathy from my dad’s funeral. I hadn’t paid much attention then to all the cards and letters of caring he received when he was sick and when he died. Reading them twenty years later as an adult made me appreciate the impact he had on people’s lives. I would have never had known that.

As I look at the cards, the many, many cards, I have in my stash to send to people I made a decision. This year I will try over the year to mail every single card that I have to someone. As crazy as it may seem, I might send a Christmas card in July. I am not going to pay attention to season but I will pay attention to the get-well and sympathy cards and make sure they go to the right place at the right time. Sending a sympathy card could get a little tricky if the person were still alive, though many years ago when my uncle’s favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, lost the World Series, I felt it did warrant a sympathy card. I was sure my uncle mourned for the next year about that.

Will I live up to my new resolution? It’s not a New Year’s one. Join me in sending cards to friends, family and strangers this year. It may change their day, it may make them smile and … it might keep the Postal Service in business. Challenge your friends. Let’s start a card revolution in 2014.

I have started a page on Facebook called “Revive the Greeting Card.” Hopefully it will help me in my resolve to send out greeting cards. Hopefully the members of the group will keep me on task.

If you are a Facebook person look for the page “Revive the Greeting Card “and join us. Take the time this year to send some greetings to someone, it may change their day.