My6inchchallenge's Blog

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

Archive for Difficulties

From death to life, empowered to stand

For several weeks I had been praying a short, simple prayer, “Holy Spirit of Life, ‘life’ your people, that we may live! Breathe in us, Spirit of God…”

…Only to find myself sliding in a kind of despair I’d never experienced before. I struggled with doubt I would have never thought possible and questioned every promise from God that would rise up in my spirit. At times when it seemed that the light and life had gone out inside me and I chose not to pray, I’d awake during the night to hear my spirit praying, “Holy Spirit of LIFE, life me with Yourself. I want to live!…”

As always, after God speaks and brings breakthrough in my personal life, He confirms His word in some public setting, speaking though some other source.

At watch might service, the sermon was entitled, “Time to live again.” As I study Ezekiel 37, the scripture reference from last night’s sermon, I once again rest in the covenant relationship with a God who will come to us when we find ourselves in valleys of despair and death.

He commands only that we perceive, become conscious by the ear and give our attention to His word (vs. 4 – Dry bones, HEAR the word of the Lord!). He follows with promises of what HE will do — vs. 6 “I will attach tendons, I will bring flesh on you, I will cover you with skin, I will put breath in you, and YOU will come to life.

I’m very much aware that death requires nothing of us, but LIFE does. Even after the first prophecy – that produced the rattling and noise of the coming together of bones, that gave the dry bones the appearance of a healthy physical body – they were still lifeless, without any power to act. However, when The Breath was called forth and the Spirit of God surged in them they stood up, ready for action.

The good news is that no matter what causes us to give in to despair, if we can decide not to shut down and close ourselves off but instead to open our ears and perceive/discern that in the midst of whatever it is, God is still speaking and working – we can live.

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KISS me slowly, sweetheart. In honor of breast cancer awareness month

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Kiss me slowly, sweetheart, she whispered. It was another one of their games she had invented after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Life had been such a whirlwind before. Their schedules hardly allowed them time together. They would dash off to work at mornings and fall into bed exhausted at nights. With schedules and functions and staying focused on that damnable goal they would throw each other a quick kiss accompanied by a sleepy goodnight and drift off to sleep.

Why does it take something devastating to make us reevaluate our lives? How do we lose sight of the really important things so easily?

Sabina and Sebastian had been stunned after they had received the diagnosis – Sabina had Stage III breast cancer. In the midst of the decision-making, surgery and treatments they had needed help to just cope with it.

One morning as Sebastian had brushed her lips with a kiss, she had wrapped her arms around his neck and whispered, “Kiss me slowly, sweetheart.” She hated this terrible disease and what it had done to her body but loved this person she never knew her husband could be.

It was he who had told her to ask for the KISS  principle or any variations of it when she needed it. When things got overwhelming, she would say, “Keep It Simple, Sweetheart.”  Shortly after, that had morphed in any request she could invent that involved the word kiss and they had found pure, simple fun even in their tragedy as they tried to out do each other’s level of creativity.

Sabina had excellent doctors, her faith in God had been challenged and strengthened, her love for Sebastian had deepened, yet she knew tomorrow was not promised. She had to love and live well, today.

So whatever you are going through:
Find the “simple” in the midst of it
• Allow yourself to be loved
Have fun with those in your space
Remember your faith in God CAN bear up beneath tough challenges
• …and if you have someone to share a kiss with – take it slow and savor it – tomorrow is not promised.

Don’t Judge Me!

That Sunday afternoon found me in the kitchen chopping veggies as I prepared Sunday lunch.
I was wearing my “intelligent design, interior shorts,” with matching green shoes and an orange floral top–exposing my shoulders, midriff and thighs.

The door opened and in walked my mom, Laura and Laura’s cousin. “I love your outfit,” she said, as she gave me a hug. I turned to her with mocked seriousness and said, “You know I did not wear THIS to church?” She laughed, then responded, “Even if you wore it to church, I would not judge you. I’d just figure if that’s how you want to do church, you should do you.”

What is it about that generation, I wonder, that make them so quick to state that they neither pass judgment or want to be judged. Are they correcting some flaw they saw in the generations before them? Is there possibly some confusion about values, right, wrong and the act of passing judgment? Or is there something that we all can learn from them?

Let’s explore…
Her name is Saffron. She’s deathly still as she sits in her car. There is no life in her eyes, except for the tears welling up in them. Until, as if suddenly jolted to life, she starts pounding on her steering wheel, crying, “My life HAS to change, I can’t live like this anymore…”

She turns on her car and starts driving, noticing for the first time how many churches she passes on her way home. In her 21 years she had never been to church except for weddings, and she’d never had a desire to go. …The HOPE Cathedral; New Beginnings; Changing A Generation; A Church For The Community; Whosoever Will Come; Lifesavers Ministries; The Love Center; Haven of Rest… She kept reading the signs, her heart yearning for what they all promised…

She pulled in the parking lot, slipped out of the car then with horror realized she had not thought about how she was dressed. She was still wearing her shorts and high heels from the previous night and shame gripped her once again as she debated returning to car and going home. She was so tired, tired of her life the way it was, tired of where her choices took her and so tired of feeling ashamed.

She slipped in the back door hoping to sit in the back pew, unnoticed. Instead, it took an eternity to get to the open seat in the middle of the church. As heads turned and eyes stared, she fought to hold back her tears. “Would someone just help me?” her heart cried?

…If this was “your church” how would they respond?

Would the Outreach Ministry present Christ to her? Would the intercessors be crying out on her behalf? Godly women who had been taught to be uncomfortable about their bodies and made to feel insecure in their relationships, would they view her suspiciously, wishing she had gone elsewhere? Would the older women, steeped with propriety be able to see pass her attire and discern her need?

Would the men offer her Christ or themselves? Would they be so comfortable with a life of continued sin to confidently offer her Christ AND themselves?

What would I do?

What would you do? Would our actions make it difficult for her to receive the Word?

Would Saffron find Christ at the Church or would she find selfishness and judgment?

Seize the little fox that threatens the vineyard – the bad is good for you

“…give into the temptation …..sometimes the bad is good for you, lol.” We had been messaging back and forth on Facebook and when this reply came through I felt an obligation to correct such faulty reasoning. However, somewhere between finding the right response and typing it I was distracted by a thought, “…hmm, he might be right, it will only take me about two minutes to drive there.

I sat for a while, “scheming”. I had been at home sick for the week and the last thing I felt like doing was getting dressed and leaving the house.

Note to self: Beware of encouragement that pushes you in the wrong direction.

It seemed that was all I needed, a little encouragement. I pulled open the closet doors, Aha! pulled out a knee-length winter coat – thick enough to keep me warm, (I had a fever that was giving me chills,) yet short enough so that I did not look totally crazy – slipped it on, and headed to the car.

Note to self: the bad might feel good to you, (and sometimes only for a short while), so stop deceiving yourself, it is never good for you.

“I love ’em! I hate ’em! I love ’em! I hate ’em, I really, really hate ’em”

Now, if from the start I had been truly honest with myself I could have avoided this emotional roller coaster, the abdominal pain, the sick feeling in my stomach, the headache, the regret, and that voice that always comes after – “Dona, you’ve been here before, you know better, how many times will you repeat this cycle before you learn.”

Have you ever been there? That place of after, called regret. For before, you were certain you could not do without “that thing”. You listened to the desire that said “Oh, just try it, if you don’t like it you can just move on.” Now you are caught in this cycle. Long after you’ve started hating “the thing,” you find yourself unable to move on.

Note to self: be careful what you give yourself to. You may find yourself in a lifelong struggle driven by some physical desire or psychological connection.

Thank God it was only Cheetos, that crunchy deliciousness that makes me sick every time. And the Cheetos pusher? My nephew. But don’t miss the point, always examine the long view when choices offer immediate and short-term gratification. Learn how to seize and destroy those thoughts and suggestions that are planted to destroy your vineyard.

What’s in a shout? The trouble with Jericho…

He was big, brash and braggadocios. When he spoke the atmosphere vibrated. As he stomped, the earth trembled. He had one goal in mind — intimidation — shout loud and long until fear paralyzed his enemies.

What’s in a shout? Does it possess some kind of power? For, had it been all about volume, this loud-mouth Goliath with his head now severed from his body would not be sprawled at David’s feet.

But shouting works, sometimes…? Doesn’t it? Remember Jericho? On the seventh day, marching for the seventh time — soldiers, priests, weapons, ram horns, and God Himself (represented by The Ark of the Covenant) — then a long blast, followed by a loud shout — fallen walls, and the city of Jericho was exposed.

I’m fascinated by this, but what grabs me most is the conversation, covenant and  commitment that Joshua had with Jehovah. (Joshua 1:1-5; 3:5-13; 5:15; 6:8-19)

Their Conversations provide great insight into their Relationship.
The Covenant reminds us as it did Joshua that God keeps His word. Joshua’s (& the Israelites’) response was obedience.
His Commitment to God was proven even before he became a leader. With reverential submission to God Joshua led the people.

I believe here lies the trouble with our modern-day Jerichoes. For, shouting has neither toppled them nor shown evidence that we are victors. Like Goliath, shouting and boasting in our own might, we may have misunderstood what powers our shout.

In obedience to God: For seven days the Israelites followed His strategy — they circled Jericho twelve times without uttering a word — the city was under siege. On the thirteen day Joshua commanded, “Shout; for Jehovah has given you the city…”

Don’t miss what comes next, for fallen walls did not make them victors. God had commanded that when He took care of the walls (they fell FLAT,) no matter where the soldiers were they should charge straight into the city and possess it.

It is said that shouting during warfare was meant to confuse the enemy — The thing that won Jericho and that will win our modern-day Jerichoes is an unshakable faith in God, belief in His ability to accomplish His word; and our part — bold acts of obedience.

Boot Camp Blessings – Physical, Spiritual & Emotional Training

The "Right" trainer has a vested interest in making you leaner, stronger, healthier, better

Challenged to Transform

I wanted to lay some ground rules after I signed up for boot camp, compliments of Sherri Adair/Best Self Magazine Atlanta, so I sent an email to Kevin at The American Boot Camp Company stating, “…I’ve never liked working out hard, I don’t really run…, I want to start at a comfortable place… I love my workout being fun…”

If I had done my homework I would have known that boot camp was not the place for that mentality— that’s like showing up for life, stating, “I don’t do conflict, I don’t do challenges and I want life to happen on my time, every time.

There are certain things we can change, but some things were designed to change us. Knowing the difference will determine how we respond to life’s challenges and who we become as we go through and emerge.

Here are 6 lessons about Boot Camp Blessings:

1. I wanted to show up for boot camp and just walk the park and listen to the birds. The rewards of a boot camp and those of walking the park are completely different – Choose the thing that will get you the results you desire.

2. At night when I’m tired and hurting I remember how much I hate boot camp. In the morning when I’m rested, I’m excited and eager to go – Don’t make decisions that can change the quality of your life when you are vulnerable and driven by your emotions, things have a way of looking better in the morning.

3. On Thursday after 6am as I knelt on the cold, wet grass, doing painful, ridiculous things that are supposed to tone me, lift me and shape me, with the head trainer shouting “WORK THOSE GLUTES!!” I found myself thinking, “I really don’t need that good-looking a bottom…”  In the midst of challenges, quiet your negative thoughts and focus on the big picture. Looking better is just icing — being healthier, stronger and a better you IS the big picture.

4. Every time I decided to “sit it out” I heard several voices going, “Come on Dona, you got this, you can do it!” The task of your trainer is to push you, stretch you, challenge you, encourage you and produce growth…. even when it hurts, angers and irritates you.

5. It’s Sunday evening and I’m more prepared for my week than I’ve ever been. Clothing? In car! Breakfast/Lunch? READY TO GO!  If you look at this the wrong way you can go through the discomfort, the difficulties and the pain of it and still miss it – Don’t miss the things designed to discipline and mature you. Be trained by them!

6. Do the work – exercise, eat right, rest well and expect to see results. The evening after my first workout I headed to “Y” to soak my aching muscles in their whirlpool. As I jumped into my tankini and boy shorts I looked in the mirror and declared, “I see results already!”

It’s time to accept those who are different

“I’d have to change my response to the wedding vows from ‘I will’ to ‘I’ll do my best with God’s help’.” That did not go over very well with the minister and his wife with whom I was having this conversation. It was years ago, I don’t even recall why we were talking about this, but my response had greatly offended him and his response had not hidden that fact.

It keeps amazing me that people can seem to be getting along so well, yet offenses, misunderstandings, differences and disagreements can not only divide us, but cause an end to relationships, or even worst, cause people to make enemies of each other.

Time teaches that differences/disagreements/etc are normal happenings in life. However, I think the greater lesson is that our responses can paint very accurate pictures of where we are at various stages, and therefore can be the impetus for personal growth.

The idea of standing before God and saying, “I will,” to me meant writing a blank cheque of commitment to someone as we stepped in an unknown future, and it filled me with terror. Yet, in “Meeting God at Every Turn” as I read Philip Lader’s vow to Linda Ann LeSourd (Catherine Marshall’s stepdaughter), something within me exhaled and I finally got it.

Part of Philip’s beautifully written vow read, “…the “I will” said today is not so much fact accomplished, as responsibility assumed… you and I are commissioned by this wedding to make God’s love believable to the world. By His grace however, we have different gifts, and these beg quarrels. When frustrated by your tenacity of opinion, I shall not waive my own, but shall honestly and patiently seek resolution…”

When I think of how different we are — we can respond to conflicts, successes, challenges, pain, disagreements and even pleasure differently. Even if we’ve been raised in the same household we can still respond to life in very different ways. I believe our differences were meant to be complementary and not used as reasons for division.

However, as we live out life in its varying arenas – relational, religious, political, etc. “making God’s love believable to the world” still seems the most difficult thing for us to do?

In Acts chapter 10 Peter was being transformed by God’s lesson on acceptance. In a vision, as Peter dismissed the very idea of eating or being involved in any way with “unacceptable” things transformation took place when he exchanged his way of seeing things for God’s way.  It was time for the hostility between Jews and Gentiles to be faced, for hearts to be opened and for arms to be extended in love to the unacceptable.

God’s purpose has not changed, his reconciling love has always been extended to the whosoever – no matter how wide the cultural or ethnic divide. His heart has not changed, He still desires that ALL persons be brought into an intimate relationship with Him.

Acceptance becomes easier, I believe, when we realize that we would have been included with those who were condemned as unacceptable. Unacceptable, but for God’s grace and His command of not calling anything impure (unacceptable) that He had made clean.

As we represent Christ, His love, grace, mercy & forgiveness have to be the guide to our interactions with the “different” people in our world. His love has to touch those who have been destined to walk in the reach of His light that shines through us, and His acceptance of the whosoever has to be the standard by which we measure our acceptance of others.

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