My6inchchallenge's Blog

Tackling difficulties and overcoming the challenges life serves up – by Dona Halliday

Archive for April, 2010

Challenging others to live out their best

I stood in front of the closed-door at the “Y” and smiled at him expectantly. He was a stranger, big, heavy, very dark in complexion. He stood there and just stared at me. Continuing to smile, I said, “I’m giving you the opportunity to be a gentleman,” and in spite of his dark complexion, he blushed, grinned and pushed the door open.

Once upon a time, I operated with the belief that I could do whatever I needed on my own, without help from anyone. But about 15 years ago a lawyer friend of my mom told me this. “For years,” he said, “he visited this elderly man every week, and every time he prepared to leave, the man tried to give him something — you know, it might be a pencil or a dollar bill. At first, he refused, because the man was poor and he felt the man needed to save whatever he had. But later he learned an important lesson — everyone needs to know that he has something of value to offer, no matter how small. So from that day he not only accepted the gifts but treasured them.”

Years later, I’ve come to understand that true generosity is not only the ability to give but being humble enough to receive from others (and vice versa). In my rush, I sometimes forget to give others the opportunity to show kindness and be noble with simple gestures. Like the guys who offer to pump my gas, carry my groceries, help me put things in the car, or Brain, he’s homeless, who gave me used stuffed animals. I love giving men the opportunity to be gentlemen and to be noble, because I believe one of the ways we can challenge others to be their best is to let them know that we see value in them and recognize that they have something of worth to offer.

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Return to sender – Victims do not reside here

Recently, I came across a song that had my name all over it. Led by curiosity I wanted to know the message of the song. Originally a yiddish song, “Dona Dona Dona” tells a sad story of a calf that is restrained (tied up) and on its way to the market. Understanding its destiny is the slaughter-house, it looks on with mournful eyes, pitying its predicament and spots a swallow flying back and forth in the sky.

The farmer who is driving the calf to the market takes note of the calf’s expression and tells it to stop complaining. Then asks, “Why don’t you have wings to fly with, like the swallow so proud and free?” He further reminds the calf that its very nature predicts its plight for, “Calves are easily bound and slaughtered, never knowing the reason why, But whoever treasures freedom, Like the swallow MUST learn to fly”.

Amazing! Though my research showed that there are differing interpretations to the song, and that “Dona, Dona, Dona” does not refer to a person, I found the song fascinating. For I realize that we are not all born to the same privileges and life does not deal us all the same cards. So, when our opportunities seem limited and we experience loss, challenges and setbacks, we can find ourselves riding along in self-pity, thinking we are just victims.

But stop for a moment. Have you been taught that your nature, the essence of who you are, where you’re from, the way you look, dictate that you are bound to fail, to mess up, that you have little or no potential, you can only go so far and you cannot bring about change? Return that message to its sender with a declaration that victims do not reside here. For, who determines whether you are a calf or a swallow?

Apparently, swallows take responsibility and develop what has been placed inside them, the ability to fly. It may be easier to look around with resentment at those who are in flight and blame everyone and everything for your grounded mentality, but casting blame and self-pity have never produced wings.

Why don’t you have wings to fly with? Answer the question with — because, “I”. Take responsibility, and even if you have physical, geographical or financial restraints, as a friend once told me, start where you are, use what you have and trust God to do the rest.

Move forward with courage, there are giants ahead

Today, I’m allowing myself the rare indulgence of remembering some experiences I’d rather forget. These were tough ones, my giants, I call them. Though they were challenging, I’m reminiscing not with regret, but with awe, because I found the courage to move forward and overcome; as a result I’m stronger because of, and, in spite of my giants.

Last week I read of someone else who had to face a giant, his giant had a name, Goliath. As I read the story again I was impacted by this — the story says that as Goliath was moving toward David with the confidence that he was going to destroy him, David started running toward the giant.

Now, what causes one to do that? What made David, the boy, run toward Goliath, the champion giant, to do battle?

Here are 6 things I learned from that story:

1. We might as well develop the spirit of a giant slayer, giants will be around as long as we live. (David had been chasing giants and slaying them as a shepherd tending his father’s sheep, these giants were in the form of lions and bears)
2. Shout the battle cry even if you are afraid. (The israelite army took up their battle positions, shouting the war cry, but they were afraid. God sent a deliverer, David).
4. Expect criticism and put down from others, even those closest to you. (David’s brother derided him for having the nerve to see himself as a giant slayer).
3. Use what you have, and what from experience you know will work (David fought Goliath with what he knew, a sling, a stone and a mountain of faith).
5. Check your motives and know that your love for what you are defending can give you the courage that drives you toward your giants. (David’s indignation propelled him to do battle with the one who had defied God’s army).
6. Know the source of your power. (Though seemly armed with only a sling and 5 stones, David knew his power came from God).

Did someone say Zumba? Exercising through dance

Zumba! What a great way to exercise

Zumba at the "Y"

I’m remembering my years as a teenager, and once again I hear my grandmother say “I don’t want that kind of dancing in this house, I know you did not learn that in church.” Of course I did not learn it in church, honestly, I don’t remembering learning it anywhere, (this was before BET, MTV and all the others). Back then I used dance as a form of exercise and many of my dreams were about dancing. I would sleep and dream of new ways to dance, and mostly, this was no graceful waltz or anything so dignified it was that untaught African-Caribbean response to the pounding of drums, that was in many ways innate, raw and downright sensual.

No wonder I scared Mama, I had added this shake to my exercise routine and with my love of high heels even as a teen she probably thought she saw a flash of something definitely unchristian and totally unacceptable in my future.

I think I’ve only told one person of the dream I had of being a dancer, I love the beauty of choreographed dance routines, the graceful movements, the joy that dance brings, but that dream died that day in Mama’s house. As a matter of fact, it took me years to regain my love of dancing and not view it as something sinful.

And, every now and again, as I “shake, shake, step;  step, bend, swing;  twist, step, turn and shake again” in my Zumba class I remember that day. Once again, I use dance as a means of exercise and I don’t know anything that invigorates so after a long day of work and re-energizes not only the body but also the mind and spirit. I love ZUMBA!

Mama, I know you can still see me, and even though I still love to dance, I turned out amazing–I believe you would be proud. And so, in the midst of the everydayness of life, when I’m tired, frustrated, angry, sad, have experienced difficult challenges, or, simply loving life, like Pastor Donnie McClurkin, I sing, “I choose to be dancing,” because I believe it’s one of heaven’s gifts.

Training my heart to desire “good things”

Desiring the "good things." the God things

"Desiring the good things

It was taking much longer than I expected. How long does it take to form a habit anyway,  I wondered? I had given myself 2 weeks to make this adjustment but that 2 weeks had passed and the problem still existed.

Problem: My cravings were more frequent and insistent.

Plan: Get back to the discipline of a sustainable healthy lifestyle, revisit my eating habits and make note of what had changed and why.

Expected result: Retrain my body so that any unhealthy cravings were tolerated as the exception rather than the norm.

Quite doable, I have lived it before, and though I still maintain a healthy diet I want to get back to the place where my body craves blueberries, bell pepper, mangoes, papayas, even porridge, NOT muffins and definitely not those Chick fil a’s chicken biscuits.

Please realize this “6 inch challenge” is not about losing weight, it’s about reprogramming my body to consistently desire “good” things, not just the things that taste good but the things that are good for me.

I am very aware that as with the physical so it is with the rest of our being, we conform to what we consume most, and the more we consume a thing, the greater our appetite becomes for it. This can be a wonderful thing if we are feasting on what we want to be today and grow into tomorrow, but if we’re not, we can find ourselves trapped in habits and lifestyles that are destroying us.

This is my life’s journey, training not only my physical, but, my spiritual, emotional and mental self to desire and crave “good things,” God things.

Remember, the sooner we acknowledge that we are making unacceptable life choices, the easier it is to make a turnaround. The process of changing prolonged bad habits is usually slow, difficult and painful, but it’s worthwhile to begin that journey now. Tomorrow will not be easier, now is always the best time to begin.

If you are there, so is God

I’ve been labeled as being directionally challenged. I get lost just about everywhere I go in Metro Atlanta. I once went to pick up my brother from the airport — a 10 minute trip — over an hour later I pulled up to where he stood waiting, I had gotten lost, he was not pleased. However, when I start longing for sand between my toes and the sound of the ocean I’ve gotten in my car and headed off by myself hundreds of miles away and never worry about getting lost.

Some years ago that longing for the ocean took me to Destin, Florida. I rented a condo on the beach so that I could take early morning walks, commune with God and enjoy nature. That Sunday, on one of my walks I heard singing, I hurried in its direction, there on the beach I found a treasure — Church, out in the open, away from its normal enclosed structure, people had gathered, the act of worship was taking place — and God was there.

I’m excited about worshiping with hundreds of others tomorrow at the WOFLC, but I’m reminded that God is wherever we are. I’m amazed at how many acts of teaching, healing and restoration took place in ordinary spaces, (on the mountain side, by a pool, in the graveyard, in homes, along the road, on the shores) as long as Jesus encountered faith in Him, change took place. Many sick and hurting people sort him, crying out for mercy, asking for help, but he was also actively seeking those who needed him as well.

His “need to go through Samaria” brought about a life transforming experience for a woman whose life-choices had shamed her and made her an outcast in her community. His passing through Jericho connected him with a wealthy tax collector named Zaccheus whose life was renewed and priorities and goals altered after he met Jesus.

Are you hurting, sick, alone, outcast, bitter, angry, afraid, anxious, lost — Jesus is there, yes, there, where you are. Turn to Him in faith and tell Him about it, he will listen and act, because He cares.

Go on, be a hero!

I’ve never been the kind of girl who feels she needs to be rescued, so when one of my friends gave me the book “Your Knight in Shining Armor” with the expectation of having wonderful dialogue about the content, I could not relate. It seemed too fanciful, my rescuer not human enough, and the story did not leave me longing for such a hero as she had been.

Don’t get me wrong, I love stories based on fantasy, love romance and especially love stories about heroes, I just need them to be more relatable, a little more practical. Lately, I started listening to one of my favorite radio stations online at wlib.com, and found a hero I connected with in one of their ads. The hero, The Red Defender. Story line—There’s potential tragedy, the Red Defender shows up, takes charge and moves quickly to prevent impending danger, but, the end of the story is never what is expected. The rescues always go awry and the outcome is never what he intended.

Needless to say, I love this hero, he makes me laugh with his wacky rescues after proclaiming, “I’ll take care of that!” but ends up causing other disasters. But I have to admire the way he steps up in the face of challenges and tries to help. I guess another reason I’ve grown to love this hero is because I can relate in some way.

Have you ever tried to do the right thing, tried really hard, and made a mess anyway? Have you ever wanted to make a good impression but ended up doing something that totally embarrassed you? I have. So, I’ve had to learn the very healthy habit of being able to laugh at myself when the impression I leave does not live up to the person I am, and be willing to get back at it and try again.

I guess it’s true, there’s a hero in all of us. Most times, though, the hero never gets out because we’re too afraid of doing something wrong or making a fool of ourselves. But I’ve learned it’s ok to make a fool of ones self once in a while. That has been one of my most influential teachers in the lesson of accepting my own humanness and that of others. The lesson of offering acceptance and forgiveness when ordinary heroes try to be there and live out the greatness they know they possess but fall short. I say, “Thanks for trying” to all the ordinary heroes, “keep working at doing heroic things and know you are loved even when you fall short”.

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