Not Out of Obligation, But Appreciation

I want to quickly share a conversation that I hope will inspire you this Christmas Day.

A friend invited me to her home to celebrate Christmas Eve with her family. My heart wanted to be there, but

I wasn’t sure my tired body would sustain my heart’s desire. I told her that I planned to be there. She said, “I understand your work schedule, you don’t have to come out of obligation.” I said, “I wouldn’t come out of obligation, I would come out of appreciation. You love and support me, sis. I want to come and support you.”

Over the course of our 15-year friendship, I’ve seen many pieces of her life. I’ve met most of her family, but I hadn’t seen them all together. It was a joy to watch the personalities, relationship dynamics, and the spirit of Christmas gleam from her four children, four grandchildren, one in-law, former husband and family friend (who is due to deliver her second child any day) and her daughter.

I had an incredible time eating, laughing, and exchanging hopes, fears, dreams, and stories of God’s miraculous moves in our lives.

The spirit of Christmas reminds us of the appreciation and adoration of the incredible gift of life that changed the course of the universe. Jesus didn’t come out of obligation, he came out of appreciation for who we are and what we can become.

My prayer is that every moment you spend celebrating with those closest to you will be felt with the same level of love, freedom, and elevated awareness that Jesus bought to the plant.

There Is More Inside, YOU!

God Bless you, I love you, Merry Christmas!

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How to Triumph Over Bullies

My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Phoebe Prince, other families who have experienced such a tragedy and every person who has ever been wound in the crossfire of bullies. Like Phoebe, I moved to a new school and they, the bullies were there waiting for me. Here’s my story as shared in There IS More Inside.

“We often empower undeserving people by allowing them to tell us
who we are and how far we can go. We put our faith and trust in them.
The truth is, what do they know about us and what God has for us? Set
your own standards and watch others respect and follow you. You will
eventually develop a confidence that says, “I know who I am, I know
where I’m going, and I’m excited to be on the right path.” Stay focused.
Be consistent in who you are and just watch your reputation of respect

I can recall when I first understood this profound lesson. When I was
growing up there were two middle schools. They both taught fifth
through eighth grades. I attended fifth and half of sixth grade at Central
Middle. There I was teased, picked on, my lunch money was taken, and I
was constantly threatened by the bullies. I was terrified. The only thing I
could think about was how I could fit in. What did I need to do to fit in?
How could I win these people over? Their reign of terror came to an end
when I moved to a new neighborhood, which required me to attend
William Henry Middle School.

As with most people, I was concerned about being accepted and liked.
I wondered if the kids would harass me as they did at the old school. But
I decided that that wasn’t going to happen. This was a new start for me
and I was going to build my reputation differently.
I wasn’t going to be the timid, “I don’t know what I want, you can take
advantage of me” person anymore. But when I got there, it was more than a
notion. Of course, there was the bully and her entourage waiting to put fear in my
heart.What was I going to do? I wasn’t a fighter. In fact, I feared fighting
even when I wasn’t the one fighting. But this was my moment. I had to
dig deep and find the courage to be me. This meant that I had to do what
I most feared doing — stand up for myself and make my position known.
Not only to them, but to myself.

The group of girls invited me to join their group. But I didn’t want to,
because I understood the consequences of being part of such a group. It
meant that there was one leader and everyone else were followers. If one
leader didn’t like someone, the rest of the group didn’t either. Being in
this group meant that someone else would dictate how I should feel and
act toward others. That wasn’t me. Those days were over! I wanted to be
me. I wanted to be friends with everyone. I tried to get these girls to
understand, but they turned on me. They started by trying to intimidate
me with the “I don’t like you” stuff. It didn’t work. So, they decided that
they were going to beat me up!

We were in gym class and each girl took
her turn hitting me in the back of the head as she ran by. I sat quietly and
watched the girls as they laughed and joked at me. Little did they know
that I was looking for the weakest link. I found her. When she ran by and
hit me, I got up and ran after her. I threw a few punches…thank God it
didn’t last long. Before I knew it, I was in the guidance counselor’s office.
No one could understand why “the good girl was fighting.” After that
incident, I never had to worry about being intimidated by my classmates
again. I did exactly what I said I was going to do. I became friends with
everyone. I was a leader. I was consistent, respectful, and fair to everyone.
I showed that I was a leader. And my classmates honored that. In fact,
two years later the student body voted me Queen and most popular, best
dressed, friendliest, and most reliable!”

I can’t say that my plan will work for every person, but what I do know for sure is that the greatest gift that we can offer our children is teaching them how to love themselves–that’s were the real power is. I also extend my prayers to the bullies and their families. This is not only your lesson this is a lesson for everyone. Hopefully this will change the educational experience every child.

© Copyright 2010. All rights reserved. S. Renee.