My6inchchallenge's Blog

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

Archive for generosity

Jehovah-Jireh and the little black dress

The story of the little black dress is really about God'a ability to provide.

The Lord will provide

I believe symbols are imperative, for as a people we are sometimes prone to forgetfulness. Often in the Old Testament the people of God were instructed to hold on to something, even an ordinary thing, as a  reminder of the extraordinary display of God’s power.

In Exodus 16, Moses instructed Aaron to take some manna and keep it for generations to come so that they can be reminded that God provided bread in the desert.

In Joshua 4, Joshua instructed 12 men to take 12 rocks from the middle of the Jordan River so that in the future it can be remembered that on their way to possess the land that God had given them, He had cut off the flow of the river so that His people could pass over on dry land. 

Manna, rocks and my little black dress have something in common, they are reminders that Jehovah will provide.

I had purchased my dress more than a year ago and on Tuesday evening as I slipped into that dress once again to attend the 2011 NARI CotY (Contract of the Year) Awards I was definitely in need of that reminder. I had spent days pouring over John’s account of the feeding of the five thousand (John 6) and found myself stuck at Andrew’s response to Jesus.

Read the story again, and see if you find yourself there. I certainly did. The crowd had followed Jesus and He had ministered to them by teaching them and healing them. It was now late and they were hungry. The only food in their midst is discovered by Andrew, it’s a poor boy’s lunch. Andrew brings it to Jesus and says, “Here is a boy with 5 small barley loaves and two fish, but how far will they go among so many?

Do you find yourself being challenged by those “HOW” questions? How long, how far, how much, how soon, how in the world is this possible?

Let me tell you about the little black dress. It happened over a year ago the night before an event I was to attend. I’d decided to get creative with something I’d had for years, but that night in my dreams I saw a little black bubble dress. The next day as I took a shortcut through a store to get to my car I turned around just as I was about to exit the building and hanging on the wall was my black dress.

It’s significant to me to remember that had I not seen it in my dreams I would have turned back around and headed out the door. But when I saw my dress I got it from the wall and took it to the cashier. When I inquired about the price she had no idea and after checking with management she came back, scanned random items behind her, and I left with a gorgeous, black dress for which I paid $9.97.

The dress is my symbol, it reminds me that even when I give away what I need, God has the power to take what little I have left and show Himself as Jehovah-Jireh. He’s our God, our provider.

I love Jesus’ response to Andrew’s question. He simply instructs them to have the people sit in the green pastures.

How far can 5 loaves and 2 fish go?  As far as Jesus commands them to. Jesus took the poor boy’s lunch, gave thanks for the little that was available, and did what in the natural 8 months wages could not do, he provided for the people until they were satisfied.

Jesus is still answering those how questions. Whenever we feel as if what we have or who we are is not enough, take it to Jesus and trust Him to make up the difference.

More than enough by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

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.

Whispering, heart two heart

My heart whispers, “Hope — stay true, hold tight,”
My heart whispers, “Peace — don’t give in, the end’s in sight,”
My heart whispers, “Trust — be still, you’re secure,”
and when all is silent,

YOUR heart whispers….

Child, remember hope in me will not cause shame,
Persevere! My peace will outlast all pain,
I will save you, you will not fall,
You are safe when you trust in me.

Then my heart sings, hope in place of despair,
Peace, though chaos hovers near,
Trust, I hold it so dear
It’s my confidence,

that you are my hope….

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.

Finally, I see you

He just stood looking in at me. I did not want to look at him. He stood on my left. I had never realized how long these stop lights were before. I sat searching my mind, adding and subtracting and came up empty. I had no money in my purse–I could not look at him and not have something to offer him. I felt compelled to turn–I saw the empty mouth hanging open, but his eyes broke my heart. They seemed sad, desperate and lost.

I suddenly remembered I had put away some single bills the day before for this very reason. So I reached for it, rolled down my window and handed it to him. He said, “All I can say miss, is God bless you for your kindness”. This guy was new, I had not seen him before. I had a few regulars, they were on my route home so I felt in someway responsible. I’d give them a few dollars and move on.

This day however, when I got home, I bawled, literally. There was something about him, that broke something inside me. I had arrived home to a house that was so warm in the winter that my attire was consistent year-round–dressed for the topics–but I had handed him $2. and left him out in the cold.

I kept wondering what else I could have done, my help in the face of such a challenge seemed inadequate. Later that evening, while reading “He Still Moves Stones,” Max Lucado retells the story of Leo Tolstoy, a Russian writer. Tolstoy said one day as he walked down the street he saw a beggar. He reached in his pocket to give the beggar some money but his pocket was empty. He turned to the man and said, “I’m sorry, my brother, but I have nothing to give.” The beggar brightened and said, “You have given me more than I asked for–you have called me brother.

Maybe that’s why I felt so broken, I finally saw, and realized these too were my brothers, though homeless, hungry and hurting we were connected. I also learned that even when my purse is empty, I can offer love, acknowledge and affirm their person-hood and let them know I see them.

Places of Inspiration-The Art of Inspiring Change

About six months ago I started attending another church. This place has become one of the greatest sources of inspiration and influence in my life. A friend asked what I liked about the church and I replied that even though I found the teaching very profound, it was the simplicity (sincerity) and practicality that drew me.

I told her of a series we had done in December entitled “Before You Begin Again”.  Lessons taught on making and sustaining changes in our relationships, changes in our lifestyle to affect levels of fitness and health, and changes in the way we view money, were all very insightful. But, this statement inspired me more than anything else “Just be kind, it costs nothing to be kind”.

That may seem quite elementary, but the truth is profound. I also remembered as a child one of my favorite bible verses was “And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

I believe the reason that statement affected me was because I realized I had strayed from the core of that message. For years, I have protected myself by not allowing most people to get too close to me. I have experienced moments though, when my heart must have escaped that protection, because those were the times I lived my best life.

As a result of being inspired and challenged, I’m allowing my heart the freedom of tenderness as it learns again, that living is about opening its door and genuinely loving and caring for others.

“O, that I had given him all!”

Elliot's book, the path to loneliness gives a different perspective on how we can invest ourselves in others and will give of our time to help others.

"The Path of Loneliness" by Elisabeth Elliot

In the book “The Path of Loneliness” by Elisabeth Elliot” she relays that there is an old story of a king who went into the village streets to greet his subjects. A beggar sitting by the roadside eagerly held up his almsbowl, sure that the king would give handsomely. Instead the king asked the beggar to give him something. Taken aback, the beggar fished three grains of rice from his bowl and dropped them into the king’s outstretched hand. When at the end of the day the beggar poured out what he had received, he found to his astonishment three grains of pure gold in the bottom of his bowl. O, that I had given him all!

Have you ever been in a relationship where it seems as if you are given just enough to “keep you from complaining”? Relating to people who are stingy in the way they love, in the way they support, in offering help, in being generous can make a relationship very difficult. These may be the type of people who always want to keep account of how much they’ve done and whose turn it is to do next.

I admit I have been stingy sometimes, holding back for some reason or another in sharing of myself, my time, even kindness-a kind word. So, as I work on my attitude, that is, the attitude of a generous spirit I hope to never say with regret “O, that I had given my all!”

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