I Notice How AWESOME You Are

Despite the saying, words do hurt.  Believe me;  I know.  Unkind words hurt adults just as they can truly damage a child’s self-esteem.  For me, I am a lover of words, font, text, etc., especially when they are placed together in such a manner with the goal of improving someone’s day.

The other day while celebrating a dear friend’s fortieth birthday, we were perusing a local independent bookstore.  While there, I came across some business cards with the saying, “I Notice How AWESOME You Are.”  This, of course, brought to mind a business card I once received in my mailbox which was attached to some Girl Scout papers which I needed to process for our troop, not one of my favorite jobs.  Yet, I sat at my kitchen table that evening working on those papers with the hugest grin on my face.  That card with those words had made all the difference.  Such a simple ripple can result in quite a tidal wave of happiness.

awesomecards

Last night, volleyball practice began for my second through fourth-grade players.  Club Serve at Troy United Methodist Church teaches volleyball skills, but also focuses on serving others.  Each practice ends with a homework assignment in the form  of  a service project, one which is geared towards the age of the child.  I laminated homemade business cards with the saying, “I Notice How AWESOME You Are.”  After giving each player a praise card due to his/her amazing participation, effort, and encouragement of one another, I handed out an identical card.  This card is meant to be distributed by the player to someone he/she finds “awesome.”  I offered suggestions:  a sibling, teacher, coach, Grandma, etc.  I added it was okay to leave the card anonymously.  Immediately hands were raised asking some truly thought-provoking questions:

Is it okay to give it to my best friend?  Yes!

What if I took it in my lunch box and gave it to someone at recess?  Yes, as long as it’s okay with your teacher.

Which card should I keep, and which card should I give away?  You choose.

Can we give it to someone right here, on our team?  Yes!

Not ever knowing if an activity is going to be a keeper or a bust, I was thrilled to file this one under “keep.”  I’m looking forward to hearing to whom each player gave a card (part of the homework).  In fact, I was so encouraged by the players’ reaction that I decided to give an employee working in the drive-thru a card this morning while I was purchasing water bottles I had forgotten to pack this morning.  My daughter’s friend giggled and said, “That’s weird.”  You know what?  I’ll take weird.  Weird is good.

Jennifer Cook

Why do you write?: I write because it is fun and God whispers little stories to share...or prompts.
I write because it makes me feel free.
I enjoy writing about our family, motherhood, faith, and seeing my own stories evolve.

Describe where you write.: in our home office at a PC

Who or what is your muse?: our family

Three wishes . . .: To visit Italy, To cruise to Alaska, and to live happy long life

Favorite childhood book, and why?: The Secret Garden, It took me to a place of friendship and beauty I dreamed possible

Explain when is your ideal time to write.: early a.m. -- pre dawn

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why.: Bible, always new nuggets and so long and complicated I can never master its full Truth

E-book or print? Why?: print, I like to hold books...although my own writings and yours are E-books...so I guess I enjoy both

Favorite magazine, and why?: Southern Living, dream homes and recipes that will never truly be mine but seem awesome

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?: encouragement and joy

Jennifer Cook

Five Minute Friday: Still

Still.  I like this time of day, early morning.  A fan of sleep, I never thought I would say this.  All is still in the house with the hub, my two girls, and our dog sleeping.  I am awake because our dog needed to go outside, but she returns to slumber with hardly any effort on her part.  Instead of going back to sleep, this is my time to write, read, and reflect on recent events.  The only sound I can hear is the light hum of the heater in the background and the mild snoring of my black Labrador.

I wonder . . . is God here with me now?  Some days I can feel His presence while other days it feels as if He has left me here to fend for myself.  If I am still, truly still, I know He is here through the laughter of my children, the embrace of my husband, the encouragement of my friends, the fullness of my heart.  Other times, reading about Internet trolls harassing others, the slaughter of innocent children, the unkind words of one human being to another, I question His apparent absence.

So, I need this time carved into the early morning hours to be truly still.

Use Your Words for the Better Good

The other day I was discussing with my longtime loyal friend the lack of filters people seem to have when they speak to others with no thought to feelings or lasting repercussions of their words.  Words, I believe, should be utilized to build people up, encourage them, and make a difference in a positive manner.  Thus, a FREE means of making a difference in the world in which all people are capable of participating. . . amazing.  So, why such a lack of membership in such a tangible fraternity?

In discussions with my class over the social media Yik Yak, they were explaining how the posts were anonymous and typically negative in nature.  My response was, “Sounds as if people have too much time on their hands,” and “This could be a phenomenal medium used to encourage and praise,” without any need for author recognition.  So, why do people, regardless of age, use their words to bully others?

Believe me, I have been a victim of verbal bullying on more than one occasion as simply a human being, but also as a volunteer leader, volunteer coach, and volunteer teacher.  While informally researching this post, I talked with my salt-of-the-earth friends who never hesitate when it comes to donating their time and talents for others.  One friend told of how she and her husband were accused by a parent of bullying their child during a summer softball season.  This is the same woman who drove 3 1/2 hours with two young girls and a newborn to surprise me on my birthday and then turn around and drive 3 1/2 hours back that same evening.  Another mentioned a complaint by a parent when she cancelled a preschool soccer practice due to rain, and she responded with a reminder, “These kids are not training for the Olympics.”  A further woman blessing whom mentored me my first year of coaching over fifteen years ago advised of closed practices as a means of eliminating parental harassment from the sidelines, and she was oh so right.  It is no wonder people look away when asked to volunteer.  Yet, one rarely sees those who complain or critique stepping forward to answer the need for volunteers.  Brian Gotta wrote a Letter from a Coach which eloquently explains this phenomena.

I have had parents suggest I plan field trips and then fail to show with their child.  I have had parents complain about their child’s playing time, but then arrive for the games with player in tow late, time and time again.

This longtime loyal friend of mine who sat for hours in the waiting room with my husband while doctors removed my breasts, who allowed me to trim her hair after school in her classroom, who demanded I participate despite a carbuncle growing on my eyelid, who has been my voice of reason for over fifteen years, who uses her words for the better good ended our conversation with, “Sometimes I see all the mean and negative ways people act and wonder how much society disappoints God.”