Thursday, May 24, 2007

If life were as simple as Yahoo filters...

I have thought about this off and on. Wouldn't it be nice if we could have 'filters' in life, like those on my email inbox, which automatically send the 'junk' to it's own box?
In my own life I realize that I have control over some of the 'junk' that comes my way, and I believe that exercising these 'controls' is not only a sign of maturity and growth, but it helps me define my priorities and it is often just a 'good idea' in the ever-growing barage of information that comes at us on any given day.
I have said it before, that I rarely watch television...and in fact didn't even know that American Idol had it's season finale last night until about 12 minutes before it was over. {Chip had it on while he worked on his I happened to catch the ending and feel like I am 'in-the-know' this morning simply because I crawled into bed at the precise moment last night. Just don't quiz me on any of the finalists names of this season beyond Jordan and Blake. =)} I admit that our tv is on a lot...SpongeBob, Dora, Tom & Jerry, Charlie and Lola...yeah, I need Yahoo filters in my life for lots of reasons. But beyond that, I have been thinking how what comes into our minds shapes us far more than we think sometimes, and really, I don't think we even know how much outside messages are getting in at the rate they do.
It hit me in one sense, when Bella and Wyndham received their character awards in preschool last Friday. It was so fun, for me as a mom of little ones, to watch those kids walk up and get their certificate and each of those preschoolers just beamed with pride. It really was a special moment. Later on however, when I asked to see Bella's certificate, the conversation went something like this:
Me: Bella, let me see your award.
Bella: What award?
Me: Your award for being loving.
Bella: I don't have an award for being loving.
Me: Yes you're holding it. Let me see your certificate.
Bella: What's a certifi...kit?
Me: Sweetie. You just walked up during your program and when your teachers gave you that paper it was because they said you were so loving at preschool. They were proud of how you show your love each day.
Bella (looking at her certificate closely now): This says I'm loving? I won the award for love!
Me: Yeah. The teachers said you always are telling others you love them and you just love to give hugs and show your love- that paper is your certificate that tells us they picked love as one of your best qualities.
Bella: Yeah, that's because I always love everyone. I'm loving.
(As a side note, Bella has soaked this up, and has taken to telling everyone that she 'won the award for love'. She told Wyndham's therapists, the grocery store clerk, our mail lady, and I'm sure she'll be telling whoever else she comes in contact with next.) =)

It was so sweet to me, and for a few days now I can't stop thinking about that little character award and it's implications- not only in Bella's life, but in other ways too. First, I think it's so telling, that she (and probably most of the other children too) were so proud to walk up and recieve their certificates, and they all got applause when they did that...but that most of them probably didn't know what it was really for.
I was glad that I had that conversation with Bella, because I guess I had just assumed she knew what she was proud of at that moment. The fact was, she had no clue...and was simply happy with the recognition and applause. My explanation to her is what she really needed to have the reality of that certificate sink in for her.
It made me think of how many times I have done things in life, or simply looked for 'applause' and sought to be awarded, without really having anything to back that up. It happens far too often in this world, I'm afraid, and I see that so many people seek this stuff in life...but when they get it, it's empty and holds no meaning. They can have money, wealth, 'success'...but without truly having a sense of what they have achieved, it winds up feeling meaningless.
Another thing that I can't help think about is how many people have never been given 'character awards' in their lives, much less have them explained to them further. It made me happy to see Bella awarded 'love' and Wyndham awarded 'persistence', and I think their teachers were right on when they chose those character qualities to highlight in each of them. I saw how proud each kid was to have a few seconds to 'shine' in front of all the other classmates, teachers, parents and siblings. they felt special- and rightly they should.
I was happy to have the opportunity for my kids, to be told they were 'special', and to be encouraged and applauded for something positive that others see in them. But I'm also a realist, and my heart has been heavy for all the children of the world who have never or will never be given an opportunity such as this. I ache for them and the challenges that they have in life- through most often- no fault of their own. They simply have been born into their respective places, and sometimes those environments are daunting and wrought with only hardship and pain.
Some of these thoughts come from the series of messages our pastor has given on 'Justice & Mercy' in recent weeks. It has opened my eyes even wider, to how truly blessed and privileged I am in life. Other thoughts stem from the realization that God has been so good to me. I didn't choose my family and the love that I was raised in...I did 'choose my husband' in a sense, and I have been more than fortunate with our relationship and couldn't be happier much of the time with how we have grown and developed a solid foundation together through the past 11 and a half years. I can't take credit for a lot of the goodness that surrounded me the past 34 years, and that is where my heart feels such compassion for others. I know life isn't always fair. I know some people live day to day with the world 'against them' in so many ways. I hurt for people like that, and I know that I can't change the world- it's a fact that the world is a fallen, broken place because of sin. Bad stuff exists.
That's where the thought and dream of having Yahoo filters comes from. I realize we all have choices and can listen to lies and chase empty dreams, or get 'beat up' too many times that we finally succumb to that and just give up on ourselves. I just wish every child had the opportunity to hear and be praised for their good qualities- at least once as they grow up...and I can't help but think that maybe that would even be enough to give some kids hope in this increasingly sad world.
I think often, about the woman who was suicidal and hopeless, and as a result of this, killed Teagan and Peggy, and changed the lives of countless others forever. She has never shown remorse nor offered an apology to any of us affected by her actions. Even though Chip and I extended forgiveness and offered her hope, I still struggled with anger and the unfairness of it all for a long time. But, over the past few years, in drawing on my faith and praying and seeking God in the midst of my hurt, my heart has grown softer and I have found myself wishing for a 'do-over'. I do not know the past of this woman and what her life was like, but I do know that somewhere along her life's journey, she started to believe too many lies, and as it turns out, she developed a heart that felt nothing- for herself or others.
I am willing to bet that she never received a character award and likely heard a lot of negative things about herself through the years. My heart wishes that we could turn back time and, in not just her, but in so many other kids, and tell them the truth about themselves. That they ARE worth something, that they have potential, that they can grow and become the best person they can be if they work hard, ask for help, set goals, and seek God in their lives.
I am doing my part as a Mom, to care for my kids, to love them and praise them and let them know that they have value. I try to encourage and discipline and show them that life does have a lot to offer them. I am getting better at 'filtering out' the stuff that none of us needs to hear, and yet to not live a land of make-believe. It's a balance thing really, and I know I'm not perfect, but I am trying. I know that my heart is in the right place. I am thankful for all the privilege I have and I am looking for ways to share 'my wealth' with others.
Today, in your own life, I hope that you will stop and think about what things you can 'put a filter on' right now, and also, look for ways that you can lift up or encourage someone who needs a word of hope. I know I'm not as big as Yahoo...but I am still trying to do my part.


Erin Saeger said...

Life filters are great...and essential if you have children. Thanks for your thoughts!

Sharon said...

Thank you, for the reminder that what comes into our minds shapes us more than we think it does! Your doing a wonderful job raising your children in a very loving and uplifting home! God Bless!

~Lea~ said...

This is a great reminder...awesome post Jody. Have a great day!!

Cris said...

Very true, and very well said.

hollybird said...

I am a psychiatric nurse in a child and adolescent unit. You are right in the fact that not enough of the children in our world get to hear the positives. It is my honor to be able to love on these kids as they walk into my office each day. They may not hear it anywhere else in the world, but in here, they know they are loved. I didn't always get that as a child myself, and God has laid it upon my heart to try my best to make a difference with those that I come in contact with. Then He just happened to put me in a position where I come in contact with a LOT of those kids who are hurting now like I was then. I can share the hope of Jesus with them.What a privilege!! This was a great post... very thought-provoking about what is it that each of us can do to make a difference in the world around us! One CAN change the world, at least for the one she (or he) touches! thanks and Blessings on you today!

FlipFlop Mom said...

I never heard positiveness growing up.. and essentially shut down and just motioned the days forward... :(.. but then I found Christ.. and life has been seriously different.. and each day seems to be brighter and brighter.. as I learn new things about myself.. my kiddos.. my husband and even God!! I think if we all stopped what we were doing ONCE a day and found someone to edify... we could bring such joy to others!!

GREAT post!!

Christal said...

Wow, Jody! What a GREAT post and very well written! Thanks for the reminder!

Julie said...


Thanks again for another great post. I am definitely going to share the character award idea with my son's preschool. I remember as a kid having to write "warm fuzzies" about all the other kids in class and not always being very excited about that. At that age, I just didn't realize that those might have been the only kind words that some of the kids ever got to hear.


Lisa said...

Jody - You are so right! This is one of the things that has pushed me to want to be a teacher. And teach young kids. In my last semester as a student teacher I was with a teacher that said things to students that wasn't necessary or nurturing in anyway. Some of those kids probably got that enough at home. I tried so hard to do the opposite and remind them of how smart they are and how beautiful they are inside and out, how they can use what's inside to shine outside!! It's the best part about teaching - simply telling a child the truth - even the ones that never listened to my directions and made me a little crazy. :) I still told them how great they were! Oh, I miss them!! Thanks for the good thoughts today!!! I have to admit I've been a nitty.gritty. slacker lately - spending too much time on SIStv! Sorry about that! :) Have a wonderful day - you wonderful person!!

Kelly said...

Jody, I love to read your blog - it always inspries me and motivates me to live a life pleasing to God. Thank you so much for your words today. They remind me to treat every one of the kids I see daily with Christ's love

almadr said...

Thanks Jodie - I'm going to think about the filters I need and I'll try to start using them immediately ... as well as giving encouragement and praise - it's so very true that we so often criticize and so rarely think about giving appraisal ...

patterns of ink said...

As you know Julie and I have been off on Sr. Trip, but I'll make sure she sees this. It will be an encouragement to her. She's been doing those awards from the start of her preschool director days (18 years ago), but I'm not sure she has ever read an account like this that lets her see the significance of how it plays out after the "certifi-kit" has been given. =)