My6inchchallenge's Blog

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

Archive for Living

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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What if I *saw the beggar – A time for healing

It was night-time and I wondered if he still hoped that tomorrow would be different. Was it really possible for him to remain hopeful for 20, 30, 40 years? I couldn’t imagine being in his state — for he awoke every morning, seemingly powerless — having to be carried from place to place, bathed, fed, clothed, then taken to perform his daily work. He was a beggar.

He enjoyed sitting outside though, for here, surrounded by beauty, he had dreams that his life would be different. He was pulled from his day dreaming by the bustle around him. He realized that it must be almost 3pm – prayer time, it was like clockwork.

He did not like this time. It got very busy, but as the people passed through the gate pressing their way to the temple he could not bear to see how they looked at him. So with his head down cast, he said in his practiced, upbeat tone, “Anything for the poor and cripple? Anything…?”

Some passed by as though they did not hear, some in a rush to get inside to pray did not even notice him there, but every now and again he would hear the tingle of coins as they fell into his can.

He tried not to become discouraged, but he had hoped that something miraculous would happen here, at the gate called Beautiful. He’d heard about the Nazarene and his power to heal, but he had never met Him. He’d heard that His disciples came to the temple to pray and wondered if they could do the same miraculous things that He had done.

“Anything for the poor and cripple, Anything…?” His mind was far away, he had said those words so many times he did not need to think about them. He was surprised when he saw two pair of legs stop in front of him, “Look at us!” one of them commanded. He looked into their eyes, afraid to find the familiar look of disgust, but instead he saw compassion.

“Silver and gold I do not have…” the man had continued. But it was ok, his look of compassion had been like a balm, soothing and healing the years of disregard and disdain. “…but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!”

So they had been with the Christ! he thought. He felt his ankles becoming strong as the man reached out his hand and pulled him to his feet. As he leaped and jumped around like a child he raised his voice in praise. He was healed!

After sometime he asked the man, “Have I not seen you here before? “Peter’s my name,” the man had responded, ” and this is John, and yes, we’ve been here many times before.” He looked at them hesitantly and said, “you seem so different, may I ask what happened?”

Pentecost happened,” Peter said.  “An empowering by the Holy Spirit has taken place, an enabling to DO, to impart God’s power to affect change in the lives of others.

God’s power has been given. If you feel crippled or powerless by the tough challenges of life, it is 2012 the time for healing, time to arise and do.

*See – to give attention and care to

2012 — A Mind To Do

2012 - A Mind to do, for it's the time to do

It's the time to do

As I sat and sucked on the bottom of my fifth ice cream cone I once again discounted the wisdom that when we know better we do better. A few days earlier, in a hurry to get to some location that does not seem that important now, I had found myself  divorcing the wisdom of safety — I had closed one eye, peeked at the yellow light ahead with the other, and to my horror, had accelerated.

For many days in 2011 I had groaned when my clock alarmed at 4:45am, and instead of jumping out of bed to stick to my fitness routine, I had pulled my cover closer, curled around my teddy bear, promising myself, I’ll exercise tomorrow. When my clock alarmed again at 6am signaling my prayer time I had sometimes crawled out of  bed to pray, but mostly, I had either slept right through it or sent up some mental prayers while I was still curled in bed.

Maya Angelou said “When you know better you do better,” and though I’ve used that quote often, as I draw to end of 2011 I take a look around: at myself, the body of Christ, friends and acquaintances, employers and co-workers, our politicians and our world, and I question, “Do we really do the better that we know?”

I think about the things we’ve learned in 2011, the seminars we’ve attended, the sermons we’ve heard, the truths we’ve discovered, the amazing stories we’ve read, the life lessons we’ve experienced, and I have one simple prayer as we move into 2012 – “Lord, give us “a mind to do.”

Give us a mind to act on the good we know, a mind to use the knowledge we’ve already acquired, a mind to live the wisdom we’ve already attained, give us a mind to live out the love we so fluently speak of — give us a mind to do, for it’s the time to do.

I believe when we know better we become equipped to do better, but a life of living the better we know  must move beyond the acquisition of knowledge. We need “a mind to do” — where there is a marriage of knowledge, wisdom and discipline, a marriage of truth, love and kindness, a turning from selfish agendas to the serving of others — a mind that enables us to live more eloquently than we can ever speak.

Relationships – Mind blowing intimacy

Genuine love ultimately seeks covenant relationships.

Love's progression

Years ago someone I dated for a very short time told me I was not romantic. I did not know a lot about him. He had shown me his garage, it was full of fancy cars; he had told me of beautiful female celebrities he had spent time with and that his career was moving him to very exciting places — so, when I had gotten up from the sofa, pulled the front door wide open and wished him a good night, he was quite surprised.

There are certain things I don’t argue, this was one of them. I understood that the idea of romance meant different things to us. Romance to him simply meant sex. Romance to me means simple things, like walking and holding hands, dancing without music, walking on dried leaves just to hear them crackle and touch with no particular agenda – just the intimacy of that physical connection.

I’ve always been a watcher of lovers. I’m intrigued by that exchange, when it’s felt that no one is looking.

Many years before that, while I was still 20 something, my pastor had showed up at my mom’s house late one evening, visibly upset. He had proceeded to give me a dress down stating that someone had told him they had seen me holding hands with my fiance in “town,” our capital, Basseterre. He then said that there’s a survey that says 10% of what you see in public means that there is 90% more going on in private.

I’ve learned a lot about respect and honor over the years but back then I had calmly replied, “Really? Does it mean that when you treat your wife with total disregard in public that there is much more of that going on in private?”

My pastor who had known me since I was a child had not spoken to me for a long, long time after that.

But I’ve always been an observer of lovers, especially those who have been married for a while. I’m fascinated by what love looks like when it is lived out — maybe because I still don’t love as well as I’d like to.

Until I was in my 30s I had on my relationship “never list” – never marry a pastor, they don’t know how to love their wives.

How is that possible, though, since they represent such a phenomenal lover?

I’ve been excited for several days about this love chapter that I’m reading in John. About the relationship and mind-blowing intimacy desired there. You know how difficult it is to separate from the one you love – you always want to know when you’ll see them again. Here, Jesus calms his disciples anxiety over his departure with the promise that he’s coming back to get them.

Still teaching he leads them to an understanding that as he’s preparing a place for them, he needs them to invest that time in becoming a prepared people. A prepared people whose hallmark is love for God. Jesus then demonstrates what that looks like as he talks about the love and intimacy between Himself and his father — we are so connected, Jesus says, that if you know me you know Him. An intimacy so riveting that every action is about fulfilling the desires of the other – His Father.

Jesus makes it plain that love and intimacy is not only about the climax of one’s emotional high but that love is responsive in other ways – love seeks to know, desires to please and strives to obey.  “Whoever has my commands and obey them, he is the one who loves me…” John 14:21

Love ultimately seeks to be in covenant relationship. It’s progressive. Jesus promises that when our response of love is our obedience, then something truly intimate happens. There is an exposure, a baring of sorts, as he reveals intimate details, has intimate conversations, moves in with His father to make a home with us, and builds a relationship based on trust. There is a safety in true love and intimacy that dispels fear and allows us to live in peace.

Fit for something

Surrounded by Senior Sheroes

A FIT life requires flexibitly

We walked around the park enjoying the cool weather, over 200 years of life and life’s experiences combined, “pounded” the track. No matter our age we still need to exercise, so we had gotten in the car, Laura, my mom and myself and had headed to the park.

At 88 years Laura had the privilege of setting the pace and as we walked I was about to jokingly comment on how fit we are but stopped myself because I knew what the responses would be. Laura would be quick, she would laughingly say, “yes, fit for something!” my mom would say, “of course we are fit, right Laura?”

I’ve thought about getting them little exercise outfits complete with headbands and a little cape with SS embroidered on them – SeniorSheroes. Do you know how parents sometimes dress their children in ridiculous outfits because they think it’s cute? Well,…

I remember my mom made almost all our clothing when we were little and some even as adults, (the dress in the above photo she made about 6 years ago). I had never given it much thought before but it came to me that by the time my mom was about 21 years she had already had three of her four children. Lost in thought I was amazed at this woman who with limited education, (mama had pulled her out of elementary school because of a fight), had cooked, baked, done hair, made clothing for others and whatever else her hands had found to do to take care of her family. Then had worked toward her dream of her own clothing store. She had shopped in Puerto Rico, Miami and New York for clothing and had loved it.

I’ve learned so much from these women, my SeniorSheroes, from their wise and not so wise choices, from their triumphs and their really tough challenges, I’ve seen life rob them of their ability to remember and slowed their ability to move, but these women are fighters. I realize that as long as something stands up within us and refuses to curl up and surrender when we face the tough things of life, we will always be fit for something.

Breathe, Just Breathe. Bearing Life’s Challenges

My heart was pounding – this unfamiliar beat was unsettling, especially at 4:30 a.m., but a waking thought, a reminder of a certain challenge was causing me to pa….

Dona, DONA, breathe, just breathe, something within me whispered.

I inhaled, drawing deeply, held and released my breath slowly. I repeated it again and again until my heart rate slowed and I felt my body relax.

What had happened? Life. It has a way of delivering pleasure mingled with pain, ease along with hardship, joy partnered with sorrow, health and sickness,… and just when we feel as if we have our ducks all lined up, in a second, a strong wind can blow and take off with some of those ducks.

But the challenges of life are “common to men,” so the Bible reminds me. As I started thinking about plans I have to change and sacrifices that will have to be made I remembered hearing about this young man who had seen someone along the road who needed help, he had stopped to assist and had been hit by a vehicle, he had lost a leg. I thought about my 38-year-old cousin who had just discovered she has cancer, stage 4. I thought about the challenges of others in our nation and around the world and I wanted to whisper to them, breathe, just breathe.

Though challenges are common here are 6 choice-actions that will help us to bear them:
1. Refuse to engage battles that are unimportant
2. Be focused – seek resolutions. There is a hidden strength within all of us
3. Laugh often, give it all you have
4. Refresh others and you will be refreshed
5. When life gets overwhelming reset priorities
6. Do what helps you to breathe easy…

So this evening I had pulled out the laptop, searched for the Gaithers on YouTube, gathered with my mom and Laura and we raised our voices in song after song… “Through It All“, “Because He Lives“, “The Love of God“, “It Is Well“…

When God does not work… Can you really trust God?

“This is a radioactive pill,” the technician explained, “please make sure you do not touch it with your fingers, just toss it into your mouth and drink the water.”

I’m generally very careful about what I put into my body. As a result, I’ve never drank coffee, I do not like chocolate, (except Snickers bar) I’ve never had any of those fancy “‘ccino” drinks from Starbucks, I’ve not drank soda since my teen years, I do not drink alcohol, have never smoked, and other than my multivitamin I do not like pills.

So as I sat in that tiny room holding a vial, I was not feeling very happy about having to down a radioactive pill. “… There are absolutely no side effects,” the technician continued. So I had behaved like an adult, thrown back the pill and swallowed the water.

In December, about a week before I had my physical, I had listened to Roger Olson’s critique of the book “The Shack” by William P Young, and that moment completely shifted my perspective.

The story is about a man called Mack whose youngest daughter was murdered by  a serial killer. This began Mack’s journey of dealing with the horrific places life can take us, his struggle with accepting a God who did not act, and his discovery of God.

I’m not one of those persons who believe everything happens for a reason. Yes, I believe there are some things that God orchestrates, but I also believe that evil people cause destruction that God never intended. I believe greed, hatred and lust destroy families that God ordained should stay together. I believe the selfishness of others have caused some to go hungry and homeless. I believe, like the choice of Adam and Eve to disobey God, our choices are more far-reaching and long-lasting, and can affect the lives of others in ways we cannot imagine. I believe life happens. I also firmly believe that when the negative and painful things of life are offered to God, He can take them and use them purposefully.

I wonder if there are some, like Mack, who after some challenge or tragedy came to the conclusion that “God does not work.” I’m also not one of those persons who believe we should live in denial, hiding behind a smile. I believe God gave us real human emotions to express the joys and sorrows of our hearts. When I’m happy I laugh, so when I’m hurting I try to get to the safety of God’s arms and have a good cry. When I’m uncertain and feel unsafe I tell God about that too. When I’m angry, fearful or disappointed and I can’t seem to find the words to pray I hope there will always be a song. I remember that Jesus, in sorrow, cried and begged his Father to spare him the pain of the cross. I wonder if He thought that God did not work as He cried from the cross, “Why have you forsaken me?”

As I write now, I know what I’ve asked God to do, I also know that God can do what I’ve asked Him to. The shift that has taken place because of “The shack” is that I’ve discovered God in a new way. I’ve recognized His sovereignty, might, power, love,  grace, goodness, and I know no matter what happens in my world God’s worth does not change.

As King of all kings and Lord of all lords he deserves our praise, our worship, our lives. When I remember that, peace fills up the place when chaos threatens, praise pushes away complaints, and in spite of what does not seem perfect in my world I raise my hands in worship knowing that God is.

Can the good shepherd be trusted? Yes, He can be trusted, I trust Him with my life. Does God work? Max Lucado  reminds me that God is always at work, sometimes He calms the sea, and sometimes, (if we allow Him to) He calms the sailor.

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