My6inchchallenge's Blog

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

Archive for Spouse

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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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.

Putting a face on domestic violence

One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991).You can’t really tell, can you? No one wears the evidence of domestic abuse as a badge for others to see. Our smiles conceal it. We may be too ashamed to speak of it, and much too afraid to try to escape it. As I look at the photo of the three of us sitting at the table, Laura, me and my mom, I’m aware that the American Medical Association reported that in the United States approximately 1 in 3 women will be assaulted by a domestic partner in her lifetime.

To bring it home, it means that probably at least 1 of the women sitting at the table with me has been abused by her husband, 4 of the women I work with may have been or could be abused by their domestic partners, and it boggles my mind to figure the number of abused women who could have been worshiping with me at church this morning.

I was stunned when I found out that each year approximately 3 to 4 million women in the United States are beaten by spouses, former spouses or their male lovers. I may  never again be able to share my space with a group of women without wondering, “Will they be safe when they get home?”

Their stories may differ, but they share similar emotions. One woman said her husband would not hit her, he would just hold her around the neck and squeeze – he was a choker – she was terrified to stay and even more terrified to leave, he threatened to kill her if she left. Another woman said her husband would pin her down and pound her head against the floor, she was afraid for her life, but she stayed as long as she did because she felt she had no other options, and the stories go on…

October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is almost over and it’s easy to forget those things that don’t directly affect us. However, if we were able to put a face on Domestic violence this awareness can remain with us the entire year. Imagine it were your mother, sister, daughter, friend…  For, approximately 1,000
to 1,600 women in the U.S, are killed each year by their male partners. This does not include those women who kill themselves in an effort to escape the violence, or those who die due to homelessness as they try to avoid being battered.

If you are a victim of domestic violence or if you are aware of someone who is, know that many women have found the courage to leave their abusers, have survived to share their stories and have overcome the tough challenges of starting over.

Help is available. Check for resources in your state or click this link for more information http://www.ncadv.org/resources/OtherUSOrganizations.php your life or the life of someone you love may depend on it.

Is God really a brother, or is he Hispanic?

“No, that one’s not sweet, neither is that one, or…” I was in BJs sniffing pineapples. I firmly believe that if certain fruits are sweet you should be able to smell the sugar…

“You so Goorgous!” I turned around and started chuckling softly as I stared into a mouth of gold teeth. “Well, thank you!” I responded, “How are YOU doing today?”

“Give me yo number so I can spou you!”

As I wondered what made this brother think that an offer to spoil me would be a good line, I smiled and said, “no, thank you, but have a good day, ok.”

I laughingly thought, you have to admire a man with confidence and at least he used his words. Some black men have a way of  just staring at you and grunting. I HATE that! Steve Harvey use to do that to Regina on the “Steve Harvey Show,” remember? I loved that show.

When I moved to the U.S. I started realizing that our diverse cultures have flavored us differently and that our black men offer up a variety of flavors. I love their individual differences. However, brothers, work on those lines! Remember your sisters are diverse and do not all respond favorable to the same things.

Speaking of cultures, let’s hop over to Piggly Wiggly, my neighborhood grocery store. As I head to the fruit and veggie section I spot one of the workers, he’s Hispanic and has been there for years. He always compliments me and he is always respectful.

“You vacation?” is normally the first question he asks after he responds to my greeting, “Como Esta?”

“No, I’ve been here.”

“I look, look, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, no see!” Then he pauses, looks me up and down–not like he wants to eat me–but as though he is really sees me, then kisses his fingers with an exclamation of “Beautiful!” He then sweeps his hand in a gesture from my head to my toes and declares, “You! Ebbrything Good! Ebbrything Good! You change your hair? I like! I like! Ebbrything good!”

Now, who wouldn’t love a compliment like that. There is something almost biblical about it that has me wondering, is God really a brother or is he Hispanic?

Later that evening I sat down with a book “Our Blended Family, God Revealed Lessons for Marital Success” written by my close friend Carletta Henderson-Youngs. I had intended to just scan it, after all it did not really apply to me, but as I started reading I was hooked as she talked about the failure of her first marriage and the commitment that both she and her husband had made to ensure that divorce was not an option in their second marriage. I realized I have a unique opportunity to learn as an outsider, (a single woman) listening to the wisdom of a married woman.

Often in marriages, the promises to spoil each other, to cherish and see each as “good” get lost somewhere along the way. The book is excellently written, but the lessons are practical and on point.

I wonder how our homes and communities would change if couples learned the art of unselfishly building up each other with their words and committing themselves to the good of the other. I wonder how future marriages would change if singles learned as outsiders looking in and developed  those relational skills now.

Religion: Finding safety in the enemy’s territory

Sunday after Sunday she shows up to church, sings in the choir and helps with the children, she then heads home, and in another attempt to keep her husband, plies her young daughter with alcohol so that her husband can once again have sex with their child…

She hates going home, she dreads being left alone with her father and his friends, she’s only 9 years old but she has been called every degrading thing you can thing about by her dad. She’s just a child, but her innocence was stolen a long, long time ago….

They were just young boys, twins, who were sent to church I guess to learn about God, instead, they became prey and were molested by the priest their family trusted….

She’s been abused physically and emotionally by a husband who openly cheats on her, she goes to church and says she loves God but she wonders sometimes if she could get away with killing her husband…

Blow the trumpet in Zion, SOUND THE ALARM….

For while we are caught up in our women’s day services — choosing what colors to dress up in and having hat contests — women are shouting right along side us then going home and making compromises that would blow our minds; while we are debating about the clothes our children are wearing and pointing our fingers at all that’s wrong with the youth of today our children are being broken and harmed in the places they should find safety. While we are doing church as usual, people are dying.

Blow the trumpet in Zion, sound the alarm… Rend your heart and not your garments and return to the Lord your God…

What happens when our lives are threatened in the places where we should find protection?

David was in such a situation when King Saul was trying to destroy him. The bible says that David took refuge in the enemy’s territory, among the Philistines. I’m convinced that this is the trick of the enemy to make the places where we should be nurtured, loved, protected, where words of life should be spoken into us, become places from which we feel the need to escape , and persuade us to run to the enemy for safety.

The problem here is that King Achish, though he gave David a location where he could escape Saul’s attack, he saw this man that God had destined to be a king, as his servant. As a matter of fact he thought to himself that David had become so offensive to his own people, the Israelites, that he would never return home and he would remain his servant forever.

It’s painful and heart-breaking that some have to face the kind of challenges they do, and it hurts because there are no easy solutions. When Adam and Eve scoffed at the idea that sin brings death they could never have imagined that their choices would plunge the rest of humanity into a life-cycle of physical and spiritual death, brokenness, pain and destruction. I believe that today, when we make choices against God’s will that the wages of sin have not changed, when we sin something dies and sometimes it’s not only in our lives.

I don’t know how a mother could make her daughter an object for her husband to take advantage of, or why a dad would be so hateful toward his young child, why broken and wicked men who claim to represent God pass on their of brokenness to others, or why husbands and wives hardly seem to have lasting love in their relationships. One thing I know for sure is that running to the enemy is never the solution, for the enemy may know our potential but he will always offer us less than what we have been destined to become.

The Good News is that God restores, through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus, the broken, hurting and those who have made messes of their lives and the lives of others can find restoration, they can go home again. In addition, He offers His power to destroy the patterns of broken behaviour and the power of sin in our lives so that we don’t have to be the ones passing on the cycle of brokenness to others.

Did you know the troll got married?

The Troll got married

The Troll Transformation

I’ve never been one to spread gossip so I was quite surprised when I heard myself spilling some newly acquired information. “Did you know the troll got married?” I asked my publisher, who had stared at me quite puzzled. However, the troll’s wedding and wife had dominated the conversation with one of my closest friends during my morning commute. Can you believe it?” she had asked, somewhat shocked and with what I thought might be a hint of envy, “the troll got married!”

No, the troll is not code for someone we didn’t like during high school. And if you did not spend time during your childhood lost in the world fairy tales this would mean nothing to you, as a matter of fact you just might think it quite ridiculous – grown women still talking fairy tales.

However, this grumpy troll who had both excited and horrified us as children with his threats of eating who or whatever wanted to cross his bridge, had gotten married to a beautiful troll girl named Petunia. My friend had discovered this while watching Dora the Explorer with her daughter, and it had obviously triggered some soul-searching.

“Dona,” she continued haltingly, “if even the troll can get married, do you think WE might be too picky….?” There she goes again with the “WE” stuff… “Well, Petunia must be very special to be able to look pass Mr. Trolls obvious faults and still love him,” I answered deep in thought, comparing myself to Petunia and coming up short. “Yes, she has to be,” my friend agreed and I sensed the same comparison. “And the troll says she makes him laugh all the time.” “ALL the time? That’s mighty special,” I responded unable to contain my laughter.

But in the midst of our silliness here are some things I learned:

  1. In the simplest of things we can find enlightenment
  2. If we can bring laughter to someones world we’re more special than we may realize
  3. Even “trolls” need love and can be loved
  4. Love is not about being blind to ones faults but seeing them and choosing to love anyway
  5. Like a Petunia, we can plant ourselves in someone elses world and add fragrance and color to it
  6. Never be too old to enjoy moments of silliness.

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.
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