My6inchchallenge's Blog

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

Archive for November, 2010

Are there no cooks on Calmer Circle? Thanksgiving dinner preparation

The real spice of life is having people to love, resting in the knowledge that they love you back, and having the good sense to appreciate it.

Family Thanksgiving Dinner 2010

In the kitchen hangs a small plaque with a poem entitled “The Spice of Life,” it was placed there by Laura’s husband. The poem talks about all the things that civilized man can live without, but states emphatically that civilized man can’t live without cooks. Some 17 years after his passing, the plaque still hangs. That’s really interesting because there is no longer a REAL cook in that house on Calmer Circle — Laura’s husband, was a chef.

To me, real cooks are those people who can “throw down” at anytime, under any circumstances. There is a certain atmosphere I have to create before I can cook. So after getting out of bed I spent some time praying, giving thanks, then reminded the Lord that I needed his help in the kitchen so things can turn out “right”.

Next, I fixed my hair and headed for the shower. I’m not one of those cooks who can head to the kitchen, hair uncombed, looking frumpy, I’m not that good a cook. I have to draw on everything to create the atmosphere for good cooking. I got dressed in white shorts, a pink top and my 3-inch-heel house shoes, powdered myself with something lavender, (the aroma of calm) then headed to the kitchen.

At times like these I’m glad Laura is not a cook. As a matter of fact, without prompting she will gladly offer two pieces of information about herself, “I’m 87 years and I don’t cook,” delivered with the pride of an 80-something who has lived long enough not to care. But that works for me, I’ve discovered that real cooks have little tolerance for people like me, especially good christian cooks. I say this because I made that discovery while trying to help out in kitchens at different churches. Only last month I was asked to help in the kitchen during “Trunk a Treat” at the church I attend. After helping with the hot dogs I offered to help the person who was washing the pots, rinse, she had turned, looked at me and said “We do REAL WORK in this kitchen.” I had smiled at this good christian woman, then taken my high-heel-wearing, no-real-working-self up to the kids’ area to have some fun.

I can’t say I blame them though, real cooks I mean, for I have three things that work against me in the kitchen. I move about the kitchen with a relaxed, unhurriedness that frustrates real cooks — they like to rush, bang things, make noise. Sometimes when I’m “creating” in the kitchen I have no clue what the end result will be — real cooks always know what they are making. Finally, I never follow recipes.

I went about making my part of our thanksgiving dinner, stuffed eggplants, rice and beans and a spinach salad, my other family members were preparing the other foods on the menu. While preparing the salad I realized I had forgotten to buy grape tomatoes. I scanned the fridge and saw red grapes, practically the same thing I thought, they are roundish, reddish, delicious and good for you, so I used those instead.

Now, a word to my dear husband. When we finally meet and realize we love each other enough to commit, please note that on occasions like these if I forget to buy something I will not be rushing out anywhere to get it, neither will I be asking you to go and pick up this or that at the last minute, we will use what we have. On the flip side, if you take pleasure in having as many balls in the air as possible, if you thrive on chaos because it makes you feel like you have life going on, sweetie, please try to practice now how to put away some of your balls, learn to know and love yourself in stillness — I will not have chaos invade my calm.

The good news is that everything was delicious. My brother as usual boasted about his turkey and offered a challenge for next year. As we sat at the table eating, talking, laughing, enjoying each other, I felt rich. I thanked God for these people He had placed in my life, those who were family by blood and those who have become my family. Once again I was awakened to the realization that this is what life is about, this is the “REAL SPICE OF LIFE” – people to love, the knowledge that they love you back, and the good sense to appreciate it all.

This is Dona Halliday challenging you to recognize “the real spice of life,” those people who have been placed in your space to add flavor to your existence, give thanks and show appreciation.

Confessions of a practical romantic – knocked off my feet by love

Knocked off my feet by love

Confessions of a practical romantic

As a child I loved fairy tales, I’m a lover of stories really. I loved getting lost in my own imagination and escape to a world of dreams. Somewhere along the way that child who loved fantasy grew to be extremely practical, especially when it comes to the things of love. I label myself  “a practical romantic”.

I still enjoy getting lost in romantic comedies and fairy tales. I even enjoy well-known romantic things, like, taking long walks, playing in the rain, holding hands, spending time, etc. but unlike some of my friends, I’ve never had a longing to have someone show up on a white horse riding to my rescue. So the idea of being knocked off my feet by love is not something that I think can happen to me, I’m way too practical.

However, there are different kinds of love and there are different ways to be knocked off one’s feet. So, once upon a time, well, about two Wednesday nights ago, as I was leaving our Wednesday night bible study I spotted a very young friend of mine, she is about 5 years. I realized she had seen me so I stooped to get down to her level and opened my arms, she came running toward me then threw herself  into my arms, unprepared for the impact I was knocked off my feet and landed on my bottom.

Several seconds after my bottom hit the floor, from behind, I felt these hands slip beneath my arms. Someone had seen me fall and had come to my rescue. Note to self, please learn to be gracious when being rescued …. for, as my rescuer tried to lift me from the floor I was resisting with my weight saying “Stop it, stop it, no…” (I really need to work on that “I can do it myself” attitude). Suddenly, the entire thing seemed very funny and I gave way to laughter. As I relaxed, the gentleman lifted me from the floor and I stood up laughing, saying “I can’t say I’ve never been knocked off my feet by love.” Once again I opened my arms to my young friend who was on the verge of tears, covering her face and trying to hide behind her mom. Once again she came running, I caught her, lifted her and hugged her close hoping to teach her never to embarrassed or ashamed when expressing genuine love.

Love is probably the most powerful force that we possess, yet somehow along the way we learn to accept and give its counterfeit, deny it, hide it, hold it back and protect ourselves from it.

But as we all learn to love better, this is Dona Halliday challenging you with some words from one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve seen, “A beautiful mind,” a movie based loosely on the life John Nash. “… I have made the most important discovery of my career – the most important discovery of my life. It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reason can be found. I am only here tonight because of you …”  this said by John F. Nash to his wife as he received the Nobel Laureate in Economics — in the movie, his wife, who in spite of the fact discovered early in their marriage that he was schizophrenic, in spite of the fact that their marriage, because of his illness, held none of the romance she had dreamed of — she choose to love what she knew was inside him even though she could not see it, and exhibited the act of love that was so enduring that it took him all the way to the Nobel prize.

May we all discover a love like that within ourselves  — definitely the kind that would knock one off ones’ feet.

Relationship — A call to love

It was Monday, a little after 8 a.m. I sat in my car on I285, traffic at stand still, rain pouring down, harder now it seemed. I danced as the music filled the space, the message resonating on point and on purpose, as Israel Houghton sang “Love God, Love People, Love my neighbor as myself… You can’t give it, till you live it, You can’t live it, until you give it away …”

Something about the music and lyrics made that space magical, it was as if I were transported to a theater. Israel and his group were on stage somewhere in the shadows, singing. I looked down and realized I was in a fancy ballroom dress, reds, yellows, golds and high heel gold shoes.

This was no time for entertainment though, for as Israel Houghton sang, figures started appearing on stage, seemingly painted in place in bold, brilliant colors, and then given life. I saw children from Haiti and thought about the devastation they had suffered and the hardships they were still experiencing.

More figures filled the stage, people from around the world. Some images looked familiar, like the ones I would see on TV just before I switch channels; tiny limbs, bulging tummies, big sunken eyes; hungry people, broken, hurting, lost … As I stared at these people, tears on my cheeks, something looked out-of-place, for on the same stage were areas and people who I knew. I saw my neighborhood, my family, friends, co-workers… “I can’t give it, ‘til I live it, Now that my eyes are open, Teach me how to love…” sang Israel Houghton.

I tugged at my dress, it seemed so out-of-place in the midst of the hunger, devastation and lack. Also, there were underlying questions in some of the songs I had heard, “Who can I send? God seemed to be asking, “Who will go?” Israel Houghton continued in song “What if the I and the ME, Turned into THEY and then WE, Together we could be, The change that we all want to see… It’s a love Revolution.”

I believe so many of us want to make a difference in the lives of others, sometimes knowing where to start is difficult. The bible says no one lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl, instead it’s placed on ITS lamp stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. I believe that God has strategically placed lamp stands all around us — in our homes, our neighborhoods, on our jobs, in all the places He takes us in life. He may just be waiting for us to climb on our lamp stands and shed light, live love, in the places he has positioned us, so others may see.

This is Dona Halliday as I challenge myself, I challenge you, to join the “love revolution’ and dare to shine in those places where life seems darkest.

From the mouth of Babes… Stand on God’s word

There is so much we can learn as children. Learning to trust and stand on God's word are lessons we can't learn too early in life

Stand on the word of God

I was on the phone talking with my grand-nephew, at 3 years he seems to be at the questioning stage. “Aunty Dona, way you be?” he asked in our island dialect. “I’m in Atlanta,” I answered. He kept going down the list, “Way uncle Livingston? Way you daddy be?” After he had finished the list of all the people he could think about in our lives, I asked him same questions.

“J’ where are you? Where is your daddy? Where is …?” After he got tired of my questions I heard him say ” I be , I be, I …, correcting  him I said,  “J’, say I am.”  “I BE, I BE, I BE…”  “J’Kwon, say I am.”  “I BE…” in the midst of thinking what a strong-willed child he was, I caught the rest of what he was saying and realized that he may not have had it right, but I was not right either. “…I BE, I BE,” he continued, “yes, that’s the book for me, …” Normally during our conversations he would sing a song and I had missed his transition to song. He had started singing a song I had learned as a child. “The B-I-B-L-E , yes, that’s the book for me, I stand alone on the word of God, the B-I-B-L-E…”

I started singing with him and afterward thought how teachable we are as children. That was a song that had shaped so much of my faith as a child and young adult. We would sing that song as a medley and we would transition to “Jesus will never fail, never fail…, no, no, no. Jesus will satisfy, satisfy…yes, yes, yes!

Faith and trust in God had been so simple to me as a child. I had had wonderful Sunday school teachers who had taught me the steadfastness and dependability of God and I had figured at an early age that though my biological father was absent and my stepfather was elsewhere emotionally, my heavenly Father was always present.

I had strayed from that faith as an adult but those childhood lessons had still shaped so much of what I did and had established a longing that had made it impossible for me to remain disconnected from God. As I type this post, I pause to sing with assurance some of that same medley, “No, no, never will the Saviour leave me, no, no, never will He forsake me…”

In times of despair, hardship or even failure, I challenge you to draw on your faith. If you have children teach them now by your words and your walk. This is Dona Halliday reminding you, as my nephew reminded me, we can stand on the word of  God.

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