My6inchchallenge's Blog

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

Archive for March, 2011

Cause a shift in your world – Toastmaster speech contest

Toastmaster International area and division speech contest. Cause a shift in your world

Can YOU cause a shift in your world?

If I could just bottle it, package it and sell it… after all its source is endless and the demand for it would be relentless.

If I could just bottle it, package it and sell it…

But fellow toastmasters and guests, I can no more bottle love than I can bottle the air that we breathe. For love has already been dispensed freely to the whosoever is willing to grab a hold of it and run with it to positively change their world.

But, if I could just bottle it, package it and sell it, maybe then someone would recognize its value, rush to buy it and release it into their world. I would take it home because it would change my family, and just maybe you’d want to get some too, because your family could be changed. But just in case your family doesn’t need it, get it anyway because your neighbourhood, city, state, country and even your world can be changed.

If I could just bottle it, package it and sell it, maybe then someone would buy it and actually use it.

Each year more than 1 million couples in the US get a divorce and more than 1 million children are affected by those divorces, so states a report from the Princeton University. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that each year about 4,500 of our youth between the ages of 10 – 24 decide that life is not worth living and they take their own lives, this does not account for the approximately 9,000 who try but fail in their attempt. Each year, sources from the CDC further reports that 4.8 million women and 2.9 million men experience some form of domestic abuse. The US Department of Justice (Bureau of Justice Statistics) reports that 76% of our little girls and 80% of our little boys were first raped before the age of 12 and this took place within their own residence or some other residence known to them. Violence among teens in on the increase — only recently in Clayton county, Georgia, the life of a 16-year-old girl was taken from her when her 15-year-old boyfriend took a gun pressed it to her chest and pulled the trigger …

IF I COULD JUST BOTTLE IT, PACKAGE IT AND SELL IT, I would say rub a little, spray a little, dab a little, it could change your world. My fellow toastmasters and guests, I’m fully convinced that if we learn to consistently live out love, it can positively affect change in the lives of those around us. If we practice love and allow our words of kindness to permeate the space in which we dwell, just maybe, we can cause a shift in the atmosphere around us. If we choose to make the tough decisions and honour our commitments, to be there, to love a lot, and sacrifice even more, maybe there would be a shift, and the stories of our lives would be different.

Maybe instead of the stories of brokenness, separation, death, pain and violation, we’d hear stories like this … of a dad who said all I wanted to do was to leave. It was so tough, we fought and argued all the time, that was not what I had signed up for. I worked long hours because I hated home. My family was on its way to be numbered among the statistics. But I loved my child and I knew there is value to family. So I made the toughest decision I believe I have ever made. I decided to stay and work; work harder at building my family than I had worked at building my company. I decided to give when I felt I had nothing left to give.

So, he dabbed a little, sprayed a little, rubbed a little and when it seemed as if nothing was working he dabbed a little more… let me help with that honey; he sprayed a little… son, I’m so very proud of you; he rubbed a little… Honey, I just want to say I love you; and he stayed and loved and sacrificed and encouraged until he started seeing a positive shift in his family.

My fellow toastmasters and guests, what of you? Are you tough enough? Are you willing to make the tough decisions and honour your commitments and stay put when it matters the most? Are you willing to cause a shift in your world today by declaring, NOT MY SPOUSE, NOT MY CHILD, NOT MY FAMILY!

This speech was prepared for the Toastmaster International speech contest and was delivered at the area and division levels where I represented the Tri Cities 2490 Club.

Then it was Springtime. Passed from death to life.

Dona Halliday experiencing Spring

"It is Springtime!"

Recently I had a flashback from the most unlikely place, with a few notes from a song long forgotten, “Let’s get it on,” I was back in my 25th year. So much had changed during that year – my neatly packaged life, with its black and white distinctions of right and wrong, started unraveling.

The place I had felt most secure suddenly turned into a war zone. Two of the people who had nurtured me, the pastor – my spiritual father, and my former Sunday school teacher – one of my spiritual moms, were at war. I don’t know why it started, but blows intended to wound were hurled from the pulpit Sunday after Sunday, and soon the place I had loved going to, became a place I dreaded.

The first mistake I made during that time was to stop attending church. Mistakes two and three followed when I stopped reading my bible and then gave up on prayer.

Mistake number four showed up shortly after, a tall, handsome Trinidadian four years my senior, wearing the most beautiful smile. We started dating. He gave me my first secular CD, a mix of songs by Marvin Gaye. The first song on the CD, “Let’s get it on.” With him I tried my first alcoholic beverage, beer – yuck! alcohol was not for me. My first club experience was also with him – that was not for me either, and when back then I decided I would never get married and therefore there was no need to “save myself for my husband,” he was still around.

Note to self –  If I have children do not teach them to save themselves for their spouses. Make sure they build their values on a more lasting foundation.

We continued dating then I ended the relationship when he started talking marriage. Have you ever heard Christians, with much delight, talk about the fun they had before they came to Christ? I have. But I was not having fun. The poor choices I made were not fun to me. I was in rebellion and I knew it. I stubbornly resisted God as I challenged the notion of him as a loving Father.

Those were dark, winter days, I felt spiritually dead, and though consciously I chose not to pray, sometimes in my sleep I would happen upon my spirit crying, “God, don’t let me live life without you!”

I don’t know anything that is as beautiful and powerful in its ability to transform, like love that is consistent, sacrificial and forgiving.

Have you ever been loved into submission?

I can’t explain it, but as my rebellion and disobedience met God’s love, I started changing. Love, God’s love, makes me want to be better. The thing I would not change about that time was the journey of questioning, seeking and experiencing God for myself. The relationship I have now is not based on what I’ve been told but it’s based on discovering God’s heart and character.

It’s Springtime! To me, this is what knowing God is about. For even after we have committed our lives to God we may still have challenges that can seem dark and death-like. But don’t give up on the journey, question if you must, but continue to seek God.

God is not threatened by our places. The journey is that place of learning, discovery and growth, and with each lesson comes the opportunity to be awakened to a new understanding of God’s love, and life – vibrant, exciting, colorful, abundant life.

“I’m so tired of dirt” – the challenge to endure

I felt like the little boy in one of the stories Max Lucado told in his book, Traveling Light. I felt a groan, a whine, a good cry coming on. “I’m so tired of dirt!” Normally I’m a pretty tough cookie, I don’t allow the things of life to beat me down so badly that all I want to do is cry. But that’s how I felt. I just wanted to rest my head on my Daddy’s knees and weep. I knew tomorrow would be better, but I had been physically drained and exhausted for days, and everything seemed overwhelming.

But life goes on, pour, fill, stack; pour, fill, stack.

That’s also how the boy in the story felt. He lived in the valley at the base of a large dam. Every day his father would go to work on the mountain behind the house and return home with a wheelbarrow full of dirt. “Pour the dirt in the bags, Son,” his father would say. “And stack them in front of the house.” The boy obeyed but he also complained. Why didn’t his father give him what other fathers gave their sons? They got toys and games; he got dirt.

He objected to his father, “They have fun. I have dirt.” The father would smile, place his arm on his son’s shoulders and say, “Trust me, son. I’m doing what is best.”

Every day the father would bring the load of dirt and every day his son would fill the bags. “Stack them as high as you can, Son,” the father would say as he went for more. And so his son filled the bags and piled them so high that he couldn’t see over them.

“Work hard, Son,” the father said one day, “We’re running out of time.” As the father spoke, he looked at the darkening sky. The son stared at the clouds and turned to ask about them, but when he did the thunder cracked and the sky opened. The rain poured so hard he could scarcely see his father through the rain. “Keep stacking, son!” And as he did, the son heard a mighty crash.

The water of the river poured through the dam and toward the little village. In no time the tide swept everything in its path, but the stacked dirt gave the boy and his father the time they needed and the father led his son to safety.

They ran to the side of the mountain behind their house and into a tunnel. In a matter of moments they exited the other side, hurrying up the hill they came to a new cottage. “We’ll be safe here,” the father told his son.

Only then did the son realize what his father had done… he had denied him fun and games for a season so that he could prepare a safe passage and a safe place for him.

That night after I had wept at my Daddy’s feet I had gotten up with renewed strength to face down any challenge. My circumstances had not changed, I still had to get up the next day and pour, fill and stack. But I’ve found that taking time to sit at God’s feet empowers me to overcome life’s situations. Seeking Him reminds me I am loved well and I can trust Him completely.

So bring more dirt, Daddy. You know what’s best. See, I’m pouring, filling and stacking as you transform me, prepare me and use me.

The Challenge: Endure hardship like a good soldier…
The Promise: You will seek me and find when you chase after me with all your heart

In the eyes of the beholder… beautiful, naturally

Strive to be the beauty that is naturally yours.

In the eyes of the beholder

No husband wants to come home to a wife who looks like a greasy frying pan, with curlers sticking out of her hair.” This from the man who was most influential in shaping the first 20 something years of my life. My pastor. As a teen and young adult I had to prepare lessons to teach a Sunday school class, prepare a text to deliver on some Wednesday and Sunday nights, and if on any occasion I did not look just right I’d be sure to hear about it.

I can’t remember any other words from a sermon my former pastor preached or a bible study he taught, but this I remember. So this morning as I ran around the house doing laundry, still sporting the hairdo I had slept in, when I caught myself in the mirror I started laughing.

I find amusing the different ideas of beauty. I realize if we don’t determine what beauty means to us, we can find ourselves dissatisfied with ourselves, as we chase the ever-changing ideals of beauty.

I consider myself to be somewhat of a Plain Jane, for though I love being beautiful I do not like excesses — no fake nails, fake hair, tattooed brows or weekly visits to the beauty salon for me. I hate looking all perfect and done over. Actually, I’m a homemade variety. I do my own nails, brows, and when I can, my own hair. I’ve unintentionally insulted make artists who have tried to convince me that I need to up my beauty standard by going straight to the ladies room and washing my face after they have invested their time in making me over.

Even though I know being beautiful requires some work, my idea of beauty is simple. I want to step out of the shower, lace on my shoes, grab a purse, shake out my hair and head out the door. I have no line of makeup, no brand of beauty supplies. I have a black eyeliner, face powder, a container with earth tone eye shadow, a red lipstick that’s probably over 2 years old, two lip balms, and oh, coconut oil.

Someone I once dated said I was low-maintenance. I thought that was fabulous, he didn’t think so. “No, I do not take money from men even if I’m in a relationship with them. I can pay to get my own nails, brows and hair done if I want to. No, I don’t care if the women you dated went to the beauty salon every week.” Beholders can be so problematic sometimes. LOL!

There’s nothing wrong with women loving getting their nails and hair and other things done. I believe people should pursue what make them beautiful. However, it’s important to me to be the one who determines my individual beauty, and even that can change as I grow.

Although I’m not chasing  a physical ideal, there is a beauty that every now and again I find myself saying out loud, “oooo, I want that!” This kind of beauty you have to work for, and discipline yourself to attain. With the same enthusiasm and desire that I hear from one of my co-workers when she sees something beautiful, especially beautiful shoes, I find myself craving beauty in character when I see it lived out. “Daddy, daddy,” I whisper out loud, “that’s what I want!”

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