I Believe In Miracles

I believe in miracles. When I say the word miracle the thought that comes to mind first is a big life changing happening such as what we Christians celebrate on Easter Sunday with Jesus resurrection.

As Holy Week for Christians is being celebrated I ponder what we believe today. When I was a child it was easier for me to believe in the miracle of Easter and miracles in real life. Although as a child I can’t name one miracle I believe happened. Again–think big–life changing–someone coming alive again–miracle thoughts. But I still believed they could happen. I didn’t have anyone anywhere proving to me miracles couldn’t happen. I had faith as a small child does.

Lent and Holy Week as a child still have impact. I knew what Lent, Holy Week and Easter was, and I held it in reverence. There was no debate on whether I would attend the Stations of the Cross and Holy Week services. Even though I protested the length of the Saturday Evening services, which went on for hours, I had to attend the service.

Good Friday afternoons was also a given for services with stores closing for two hours so churches could hold Good Friday services. There was nowhere to go during that time so you went to church. At home we also made Lent a special time and I had no doubt what Easter meant and yes, I had Easter eggs and Easter bunnies but the main focus was on the religious part of the holiday.

These practices remained with me through most of my adult life but this year I feel them failing. I haven’t attended religious services as much as I usually do. Wednesday evening Lenten Services were missed. The outside world intruded on my life, not for any good reason but the fact I let it. In the world we live in my Christian holiday practices are not front and center and it makes it harder to stay true to the things I was taught so many years ago. I must say I feel Easter this year has almost become just a blip on my radar and I don’t like feeling that way.

As I ponder my reaction this year I look around me and wonder what is going to happen years down the road. Will the religious holiday of Easter disappear from our lives? I look around at children and even my grandchildren, and wonder if they truly know anymore the meaning of the reason we celebrate Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Even though children are being raised in the churches, is the little time they now spend in church going to make an impact on their lives?

It used to be communities made accommodations for people to practice their religion. Communities adjusted their schedule for the churches. Now the churches adjust their schedule for the communities so people will come to church. Sunday School and activities adjust to shorter times to accommodate sports schedules and more. If churches didn’t adjust schedules, would anyone attend? Yes we have more diversity in religions but I suspect all religions might be having the same problem.

And so we are back to the question–will Easter eventually just fade away? Will the miracle at the tomb no longer be remembered? Since that was one of the first miracles I was awed by as a child, will my and others beliefs be changed, especially when it comes to miracles? If my recognition of Easter changed this year because of society’s influence on me will my recognition and belief in miracles be changed too? Has it already? I have never seen someone be raised from the dead. Is that perhaps why my celebration of Easter has fell by the way side? Is it too hard to believe the story of Easter? Is it too easy to get mired down by the rhetoric of the politicians, the hate groups, the naysayers and so our belief’s crumble from what we believed as a child. Or if those beliefs were never there or never taught then why would we believe the story about crucifixion and resurrection?

I will tell you why I believe in miracles. I pray for a friend to be healed from a twenty-two year battle with cancer. I ask for a miracle of healing and my friend tells me she already has many miracles because she is still here and still fighting. She has lived to see her grandchildren. She feels she has had her miracle even if she is not healed.

A baby of a relative is born early and has many health problems. The parents consider it a miracle that the doctors were able to save him and he will live a good life. The doctors and modern medicine being brought into their life were their miracle.

I see my Christmas Cactus grow and flower and I see a miracle because I haven’t killed it yet. I see miracles every day. They may not be the earth shattering miracles that we expect but they are in itself a miracle. Had I not been brought up to hear the Easter Story, the way I look at things might be different. Our journey starts with the impressions of our childhood. Will the Easter Story be part of the childhood of the children of today?

Are You A Quiet Leader?

 

Something About Nothing – Column published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of March 29, 2015

I always struggle with my column the Monday before Easter. What can I say about the Christian holiday of Easter that I haven’t said before?

I have spent the week preparing to celebrate my family’s Easter on Palm Sunday. We weren’t able to all get together for Christmas because we kept getting stormed out. Hopefully that won’t happen on Palm Sunday.

The eggs are ready to be decorated. Easter baskets for the grandkids are ready to be filled. The groceries are bought and my house is getting a good cleaning in preparation for a first-time guest who will be celebrating Easter with us this year. These are the fun preparations for Easter.

Growing up in a Catholic family, the preparation for Easter in my early years and in society was more focused on the days leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus by prayer and church services that were attended without fail. It was about church and not so much the commercial part of Easter.

I got it, what Easter was about. I am not so sure in this day and age that our young Christian boys and girls understand that in today’s society, because focus is a little more on the fun and not the seriousness of the Christian holiday.

Pondering these thoughts I thought about Jesus’ leadership while he walked this Earth. He was a quiet leader accomplishing much but doing it in a way that was quiet but moving.

For me Easter is also about quietness, a time to reflect. I don’t know if I am a leader but the way I lead isn’t quiet. I am out there, in your face, letting my opinion be known. People either like me or well, you know the opposite of that. I can be very intrusive. That is not necessarily the best form of leadership.

Thinking about the people I know, I focused on one person that has a quiet leadership style but has more respect than anyone I know. I am not comparing this person to Jesus because she would feel she is not worthy. In the world we live in today we don’t always see quiet people as leaders.

This person is a leader because I have never heard one word come out of her mouth that gossips or maligns another person. I have never heard this person utter a foul word or show anger by shouting or losing control. I have not ever heard this person complain about her fate in the ups and downs in her life and she has had plenty. She is capable of saying no to something she does not want to do but does it in such a kind way that no one gets upset. She does not always say no to things she doesn’t want to do but pitches in and volunteers if she knows she is needed, whether it is a task that she likes or not.

You might think I am making this person into a saint, but I am not. That quiet leadership style brings peace to a task, gives a person permission to say no and not feel guilty and teaches me that quietness and gentleness and kindness can move people and move mountains without strife and conflict. This person would be the last person to call themselves a leader but she is. She leads by the way she conducts her life. That is what Jesus did. That is what the quietness of his life teaches us.

I am not a Bible scholar. I can’t preach the gospel and I can’t quote too many Bible verses. Jesus led a quiet life and those who did not share his leadership style brought the notoriety and conflict into the story. They took a quiet life and made it very public.

Quietness — do you know any quiet leaders? Easter is days away. Christians will hear about the life of Jesus and his walk to the cross. Take a few moments this Easter Sunday aside from the Easter bunny and Easter egg hunts and sit in the quietness. Where do you see the quiet walk of those who are moving mountains in lives the same way Jesus did?breathe[                   Something About Nothing

 

Easter Season Changes: but Easter Reason Hasn’t

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

The sun is shining, the earth is warmer and it is time to examine my wardrobe for the spring. Easter Sunday is almost here.easter cross photo: Easter Cross eastercross.jpg

As I thought about my wardrobe I remembered my youth where we dressed up for church on Easter Sunday with our dresses and our bonnets. Men wore suits to church, and we had Easter vacation. We attended special church services during Holy Week and the churches were packed.

Easter Sunday started with an early church service. When my kids were young, the youth served breakfast and 6 a.m. services were normal. The youth participated in the services, not always willingly, because they loved their beds, but they did it because we dragged them out of bed to do it.

In the end they always seemed to enjoy the activity, and it is a part of their memories of Easter, just like my memories of my youth with family and Easter Sunday.

As I contemplated my spring wardrobe and the time of year I realized how much things have changed. As I am writing this I am wondering what I am going to wear to a grandmother/mother/granddaughter tea this weekend. It is dress-up event, and I usually dress down these days. I do own some dresses because I go to this event every year.

My problem this year is that my body didn’t remember the size of the dresses. I think it has increased in size and I am not sure if those dresses that have been hanging in my closet, though various sizes, have increased in size along with my body.

I rarely dress up anymore. I haven’t tried those dresses on for a year, since last spring. I did wear a winter dress once this winter, and, this is sad, I can’t remember why I had to dress up. I do remember thinking how nice it was to dress and go out dressed up. You would think since I only dressed to the nines once this year I would remember why.

When I was having issues with my health a few years ago it was a chore to fix my hair, put on any makeup and care about my clothes. A friend of mine that has had health issues for many years gave me a bit of advice that I remember. She told me to get up and make the effort to do my hair and put my makeup on and dress in something colorful. It would make me feel better. She was right.

We have a way to dress to feel comfortable. We have a way to dress to feel more polished. We have a way to dress to feel daring. We have a way to dress to please other people. We have a way to dress for occasions, at least we used to. I know I feel differently about myself depending on how I am dressed. That may be weird.

I recently did an interview with my grandson for his school. He asked me what was different about school then and now. I told him that girls wore dresses and boys wore pants, no jeans allowed.

This carried on through high school. It was a big deal to have jeans day in school. We had school clothes, dress clothes and play clothes. It might have seemed work for our parents, but we didn’t have as many clothes as kids do now. What I will tell you is that our behavior seemed to be a little different depending on how we were dressed. I am not so sure a dress code in school was a bad thing.

Yes, society has changed. Easter vacation has become spring break. Many families don’t remember Holy Week or know what it is, especially kids. Some churches have given up the early morning service and given up on the kids serving because it is too early for them to get up.

Something About Nothing Column – Albert Lea Tribune published April 14, 2014

I don’t buy special clothes for Easter Sunday. I don’t know if others do, but I don’t see too many Easter hats anymore. Easter celebrations in churches may have changed. We are a culture of many different nationalities and beliefs, and we have a hard time accepting that we are now a country of many nationalities and religions that celebrate different traditions.

Recently I did an interview with a friend, Alissa Bruss Ellingson, who lives overseas with her family in Malaysia. One of the aspects of her interview that impressed me was the fact that they are integrating and accepting parts of the culture of Malaysia into their daily life.

They are able to practice Christianity a world away from here, but while doing that they are teaching their children about other cultures and religions.

This is one little bit of what they had to say about this; “We have realized over the years that exposing our children to so many different cultures and religions at such a young age has actually helped them to firmly accept our Christian morals and beliefs. We have had some amazing discussions with them about the differences between Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity while touring various temples and mosques — and they can readily see for themselves the differences in worship practices and beliefs between the religions.”

You are probably wondering what that statement has to do with clothes and Easter. The way we dress for Easter has changed.  What we call vacation at this time of the year has changed, but for Christians the reason we celebrate Easter hasn’t changed.

We can still embrace our traditions while learning about and respecting other cultures that now reside right here in our country. That is the great thing about America. We have the freedom to practice religion and learn about other religions. What could be greater than that?

Happy Easter.