My6inchchallenge's Blog

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

Archive for Journey

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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Impelled at the point of surrender

Have you ever started a journey to a certain place, yet found yourself in a different location realizing that it was where you needed to be all along?

As I continued my study in Acts I started listing the different seasons of the early church: times of power and growth, peace and favor, obedience and courage, death and persecution…

Stephen had just been stoned to death and Acts 8:1 says, “…a great persecution broke out against the church… and all except the apostles were scattered …” These acts of persecution that were intended to destroy the church were being used by God to fulfill the great commission. Once again I felt unsettled by the reminder that God still allows, and moves through painful and discomforting circumstances.

I was amazed by the actions of the disciples, for though they had been thrust from their places of comfort, security and familiarity it is recorded that they preached the Word in all the “displaces” of their persecution.

Once again I was led to one of Catherine Marshall’s books, “Meeting God At Every Turn.” I didn’t know why I felt the need to track down her book, but at a time when we are being taught to declare and decree what we want, to demand an end to our discomfort  — what about a time of surrender?  Trusting God to work through us to accomplish His purpose no matter in what season we find ourselves.

“In Meeting God at Every Turn”, as Mrs Marshall traversed through some tough decisions and challenges she does this intentional probing of her life, her heart, her motives.  As she examined her life, I started examining mine, and felt deeply shaken by the awareness that there was a part of me that I kept closed, protected, even from God. Protected from that place of complete surrender, lest surrender takes me the way of Calvary — that place of “others-living,” where it’s not about my space and comfort but it’s a willingness to deny me, ALWAYS, for the cause of Christ.

This is the place where I had not intended to journey but was a journey that I needed to make — broken, honest and exposed before God, I surrendered everything…

One thing I know about the Word is that it’s active and alive. It probes our heads and hearts, challenges our places of comfort, exposes our motives and reveals hidden things with the intention of transforming our lives. For if the Word has no power to impact our living, if there is no intimate personal relationship with our Savior, if there is no indwelling of the Spirit to empower, lead and counsel, if there is no Difference Maker, then what would be the point? We could do life anyway we see fit. But at the point of our surrender to God, I’m convinced that’s when we are most powerful, where no matter what impels us, our hearts and lives can affirm, God’s Kingdom come, His will be done….

The journey to “suddenly” – It can all change in a moment

There is a journey to suddenly, a time of growth, transformation, readiness - then, "Suddenly"
Prepared for “Suddenly”

I really don’t know how it happened… I kept wondering if things were ever going to change — get better, you know? I was at a point of desperation, and just when I thought I could not hold on for another second, suddenly there was a knock on the door and my life changed completely…

I don’t know whose story those lines are from but I know that we have all longed to get that place of “Suddenly.”  That pivotal moment when our faith interrupts reality and we know it has to be something supernatural, a God thing, because just a second before suddenly occurred there was absolutely no evidence that things would, or could possibly even change.
A funeral procession, a grieving woman who had recently lost her husband now cries over her dead son, her only son, THEN SUDDENLY….
A grave yard for a home, living among dead people, clothes torn, restrained with chains, his mind and body no longer his own, THEN SUDDENLY…
A  church service, a woman who could not even lift her head toward heaven because of her crippled body — bent over for 18 years, THEN SUDDENLY…
He sits on the roadside, begging, blind, and crying for mercy, THEN SUDDENLY….
I don’t understand God’s timing, but in my own life I’ve come to appreciate the journey to “Suddenly.” That season of stillness, challenges, pressure, growth, change. I believe with all my heart that God makes the difference. He shows up in our circumstances, and with a word and a touch; years of graveside, crippled, blinded, churched and dead living meets the transformation of “Suddenly.”

Are you in a situation that desperately needs the God of “Suddenly?” Seek Him and remain steadfast in your faith.

Was God Not Paying Attention When He Made Me?

Learning to love ourselves is a journey we must all take.

I love my kinky curly hair!

Was God not paying attention when he made us? That was the question I raised when I delivered my speech at my Toast Master’s club on Monday evening. I wanted us, African-American women to take a close look at ourselves and continue the journey of learning to love those things that make us unique.

I realize, however, that it’s not only us who struggle with self acceptance, but women in general seem to have this destructive, negative, internal talk that makes it difficult for us to sometimes accept and love what we see in the mirror. How can we guard against passing this negativity down to our little girls?

Those thoughts inspired this short poem:

I love being me!

I love this skin that I’m in,
I love the crown that I wear,
I love the shape of my face
Beneath my kinky curly hair.
I love the size of my lips,
I love the spread of my nose,
I won’t trade any part of me,
Not for those, those, or even those.

I love the way that I curve,
I love my poise and my pose,
I love my entire body,
With and without clothes.
I love the shape of my legs,
I love my wide-width feet,
I don’t care if I’m not skinny,
If I’m not petite.

I love being me!
I hope you love being you,
Those who want to change us,
Don’t even have a clue,
Inferiority and insecurity,
Won’t find a lodging place,
For we are wrapped in His beauty,
And covered by His grace.

I love being me!
Do you love being you?
Can you recognize your beauty?
It’s right there in front of you,
Should God have really formed me,
the same way He formed you,
As though He lacked originality
and creativity?

How much is your word worth? Build a relationship with trust

“When we see persons of worth, we should think of equaling them; when we see persons of a contrary character, we should turn inwards and examine ourselves,” so says Confucius.

Lately, I’ve tried to answer the question,“If someone’s word has no value, how can one build and navigate a relationship with such a person? What if this is the kind of relationship where you can’t just walk away, but you have to engage that person in some way.

We seem to live in a society where ones’ word is given without thought and where promises are made quickly without counting the cost of what it will take to fulfill them. I still don’t know and therefore I’ll have to learn how to navigate such a relationship, but this has caused me to examine the worth of MY word.

In the busyness of getting things done, getting to there from here and trying to balance life, have I decided that it’s acceptable to be a person whose word holds little worth? And who can I look to as an example of one whose word has utmost value and is known to hold a perfect record for keeping promises?

King David writes of God in Psalm 138:2 “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving-kindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” This is fast becoming one of my favorite verses in the bible because it speaks of relationship. Mine and yours with God. It’s a relationship of commitment, one of trust and one of principle on God’s part; and like David we have to choose our response.

There is something that excites me about the God of the universe who so honors his covenant with his people that as the Clarke’s commentary on the bible puts it “He preferred faithfulness to his promise to the attribute of his power.” God who has the power to cause and accomplish anything and has created all things, understood that it’s difficult for trust to develop and relationships to grow without confidence in one’s character. So to build relationships with humanity He offers this promise — that with every powerful act that has proven His name – creator, deliverer, savior, healer, provider, counselor, king…, He has placed His obligation to fulfill His word, to honor His promises, above all.

This is good news to me because as I grow in my knowledge of God I’m learning of His character, I’m learning to trust Him, and trusting Him leads me to love Him. On this journey where my seeking God in prayer, bible study and worship has placed a stamp of confidence in my heart in the infallible God, I find an increasing desire not only to love Him but to grow up to be just like Him.

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.

This is the Way, walk in it. Finding your haven in 2011

Not certain where the journey is taking you? Listen for God's direction, "This is the way, walk in it."

Listen and find safety

I sat, phone to my ear, scribbling. Sure, I could go to Google maps or mapquest for directions, but I have a brother who understands I have no concept of East, West, North or South. He understands I not only need exit names and numbers, but I need landmarks, light counts and anything that would remove my anxiety of getting from point A to point B. Preferably, I need someone who has traveled the way I need to go.

I felt anxiety creeping in as I asked, “Why couldn’t they let me go to the location I’m familiar with?” My brother answered, “If you always go to the same places how do you expect to learn anything new?” “I agree with that,” I had replied, “but it’s just not convenient to learn anything new today, I have too much to do, I don’t have time to get lost.”

That was almost a week ago. So this morning when I had left home at about 6:30am to go to another location of Piedmont Hospital, I felt a little more confident. My fear of missing the merge that would place me on  I-75, (believe me I’ve missed it before) was replaced with a silent alert, “look ahead, look for the message.” Now to those who have no challenges with finding their way, this may seem the silliest thing, but just before the merge, painted on the road in large, white letters, there’s the message, “THIS   IS    THE   LANE   TO    I-75.” “Dear Lord,” I thought again, laughing with relief, “I could marry the person who came up with this idea!”

Already, I’m looking ahead to 2011. I’ve had this dream that felt as though I was on a cliff looking over the edge, and I was told to continue moving forward. Again, I hear my brother’s question, “If you always go to same places, how do you expect to learn anything new?”

The fact is, we have no idea what the future holds. We don’t know where God will ask us to go, the new roads we may have to travel, or the new places we may have to adapt to. We are not yet aware of 2011’s joys or challenges, or those challenges that will bring joy. What we know for certain is, even if we are challenged and pushed beyond our places of comfort, stretched to limits we do not know we could endure, we know the One who has traveled the way we have to take and we can find safety, shelter and peace in Him.

Keep looking ahead and listen for God’s messages — “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” Isaiah 30:21.  …and, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will watch over you and counsel you.” Psalm 32:8.

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