My6inchchallenge's Blog

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

Archive for growth

The Caterpillar and I

My first impulse was to step on it. I don’t like bugs. But as I watched it, the caterpillar’s body, slow, a little clumsy, yet beautiful, I was fascinated. It was out of its element, crawling, seemly getting nowhere — reminding me of life sometimes.

Sometimes it seems no matter how hard we try or how fast we move we’ll never get to our destination. The challenge? Remain steady and keep at it even when progress seems slow.

In your caterpillar phase remember that change is closer than you may think. Avoid the burden of comparing yourself to others who are designed differently than you.

Not everyone will recognize your beauty. Don’t be deterred by those who only see a bug.

Remind yourself that you are being transformed daily and soon you’ll leave the tedious task of crawling and take to the air doing what you were ultimately designed to do.

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In the meantime and in-between time

Plant hope, faith, peace, obedience, common sense and gratefulness in in between times

Be patient with the process

Are you at the place you want to be? How are you handling the in-between time on your way there. I confess, I don’t like the uncertainty of in-between things, this flux of not being here but not quite there. I hate just-below-the-knee dresses. I like my dresses preferably short…, or long. I don’t understand capris, even though I wear them occasionally I take issue with this indecisive garment that can’t decide if it wants to be long or short. It’s unusual for me to buy 1, 2 or 3 inch heels, I like my shoes the way I like my shoes. I find this length of my natural hair somewhat challenging, though it’s growing it is in this in-between stage of being neither long nor short.

But don’t get confused, these are just external, minor, in-between things that I can control to a certain extent. Much of life can find us in “in-between” places dealing with things beyond our control, yet, we have to learn to flourish in these places.

Here are 6 seeds to plant in the soil of “in-betweeness”:

Hope: We don’t all start out on the same playing field, don’t let that make you bitter. Hope in God, seek him in your planning, commit yourself to work your plan, and be steadfast.

Faith: Though this is not a guarantee against pain or hardship it guarantees that the object of our faith, God, loves us, and can take the challenging and the painful and work them for our good and His glory

Peace: Remind yourself of what God says, it will remind you of why you can have peace even in challenging times

Obedience: Offer God the right to yourself, surrender everything of you to him and obey His word.

Common sense: If it took years of unwise decisions to get you to a certain place, be patient with the rectification process, adhere to wise principles and stay committed to change

Gratefulness: Take time and correct faulty thinking. Be thankful! not for everything but in every situation give thanks, the unchanging factor is God.

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.

6 signs that your relationship might be killing you

Challenge the relationships that challenge you

He's got to go!!

“I just flew up from St. Kicks with my girl to see the Bodies,” he said. I sat there staring at him wondering if he suffered from delusions. Why would anyone find it necessary to initiate a conversation and then tell lies. This guy I had gone out with had stopped two strangers and after asking them where they were from had told them we had just flown up from St. Kicks…

I remember the only thing I said to him was, “if you are going to pretend to be where I’m from, the least you can do is to learn how to pronounce it. I’m from St. KITTS.” After that I knew I would never go out with him again. He had to go.

That was years ago, but I’ve come to realize that there are far too many people who would go to great lengths to convince people they don’t know of a life they don’t possess.

As we listen to the buzz of how to show love this Valentine’s day, be careful not to make the expression of love about others who don’t matter. Even more importantly, for those of us who are single — don’t enter into or stay in relationships just because you don’t want to be alone. Evaluate your relationships. An evaluation can help reveal what ‘s working, what can be made better, and those things you need to let go.

Here are 6 signs that your relationships might be killing the best of who you are:

1. You lose your self-confidence and question your worth when you are together. Someone once told me that when she went out with the person she was in a relationship with her self-esteem would hit the floor. “He would always look at other women and talk about what he loves about their body and how they look,” she said. “I hate how I feel when we are together, but I love him and I know he loves me.” Really… how about some RESPECT? He’s got to go!

2. You introduce him as your boyfriend, and it’s eating you up on the inside, because even though he’s all up in your “yum yum’s” he still introduces you as “just a friend”. Do I really need to say anything about this? Your “yum yum’s are precious, discipline yourself and stop sharing them all willy-nilly. He’s got to go!!

3. The person tries to control you by playing on your insecurities. I believe we should post on our mirrors the definition of love, try the 1 cor. 13: 4-8 version. It will not only help us in learning to love better, but it will make it challenging for us to continue deceiving ourselves about the manipulation that others use, and call it love.

4. You feel pressured to do things that go against your values. Know where you stand and know why you take the stance that you do. It can take many years of growth to become strong in your convictions. Step up to the challenge, set appropriate boundaries, work on not placing yourself in compromising situations, and don’t choose to do something just because it’s easy or popular; not when those decisions can change the course your life.

5. You have an enforcer. This person makes it their responsibility to try to change you. If you do something they don’t like, even in error, they change their behavior because they mean to teach you a lesson. This is just another form of control, call things what they are, only then can you work on changing them.

6. You need to be “kept in your place.” Whether it’s your love life, your work life or where ever it might be, realize this is not really about you. When someone finds it necessary to try to withhold knowledge; close doors to opportunities for fear you may enter; feel threatened by your growth and try to shut you up, shut you out and put you down; it’s usually about their insecurities. Refuse to be kept in the space others have defined for you, keep going, keep growing, keep trusting, and watch God!

Soul Searching — reaching for knowledge in music, life and love

If we fail to search, to embrace, we can miss so much.

Searching … Music, Life, Love

“… Nev – er treats me sweet and gentle the way he should, I got it bad and that ain’t good … now when the weekend’s over and Monday rolls around I end up like I start out  just crying my heart out, he don’t love me like I love him…”

I was lost in the sweet crooning of Louis Armstrong’s husky confession of having love bad but it was not good. This is no indirect confession of unrequited love on my part but it’s more a response to a criticism a friend threw at me — He said I have no SOUL. When I asked him to explain he said that I knew nothing of the music of our people and he started tossing out the names of singers and their songs which indeed I knew nothing about.

Since I realized there was truth in what he said, it made no sense to get upset. Raised on the island of St. Kitts, surrounded mainly by what we called “christian” music; and calypso, which Christians really were not supposed to sing, I can’t say Sam Cooke, James Brown or even Aretha Franklin was on my horizon. I remember after my mom returned from Puerto Rico with records by Jim Reeves and Tom Jones my “christian” genre expanded to include songs like “Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone, Am I that easy to forget, I can’t stop loving you, Delilah,” and my all time Tom Jones favorite “Without Love.” Definitely not the soul my friend was talking about.

I’ve discovered it best that if I don’t know something not to pretend, but to seek opportunities to learn. As a result I was delighted when I saw this little jewel at the library, a play-a-way of the “Harlem Renaissance Remembered,” maybe not the soul he was referring to but in my mind as good a place to start as any.

After exploring for the past 3 weeks I’m completely in love with these beautiful, brilliant minds with their skilled, colored words. For when they write, speak or sing I not only hear but see their emotions, feel their pains, experience their challenges,  support their determination and feel inspired by their gifts. I became that man on the rickety stool playing that sad raggy tune like a musical fool, in Langston Hughes poem “Weary Blues.” I told Louie how beautiful I thought he was as he moaned “Black & Blue” wailing that his only sin was in the color of his skin. I took to the floor and found myself giving the rhythm every little thing I had as recommended by Ella Fitzgerald in “It don’t mean a thing,” Who were these people so skilled in their craft with the ability to give life to words and paint them with the right emotional hues? I had almost missed knowing them.

I understand we are shaped by our environment, upbringing and culture, but if we allow these things to become reasons to build barriers, walls that divide, we can miss so much. I’ve always wondered why the need for sameness, why the need to look like others or offer acceptance only when others look like us? Why do we exchange our uniqueness to become invisible – to just blend in? Why does our idea of beauty lack color?

After some soul-searching, I realize there is so much to know, to embrace, to love, so much life to live, so many things to experience. This is Dona Halliday challenging you as I challenge myself to discover what is special about the people who cross your path, celebrate them, then further beautify your world by being  your unique self.

Relationships — Moving pass failure

It was Saturday, about 8:00pm, I was dressed in my favorite four and a half-inch high-heeled sandals, a little black dress and too much self-confidence for my own good. I was comfortable, at home, my surroundings familiar. My friend who was working at my desk turned and said “We should get married tomorrow.” I laughed and replied, “I hope you don’t throw that around to everybody, someone might have you down the aisle before you finish that sentence.” Then, “what would you have done if I had said yes?” I asked. “We would get married,” he stated simply. I really like him, he’s laid back, has a great sense of humor, a keen business mind and one of the most focused persons I know. We’ve known each other for several years, we are friends — I was comfortable. So comfortable that I kept ignoring the little voice in my head.

The next day was Sunday. After church I took a different exit because of where I had parked, I had been late for church. I had used that exit only once before but I lived about 7 minutes from the church, so feeling “comfortable” I drove. Finally, I came to an area I knew, I had driven 25 mins  in the opposite direction.

Saturday evening before I left home, I had been totally exhausted, that’s what the voice had been trying to tell, or remind me rather. One of the boundaries I’ve set for myself is not to go out when I’m so tired, when I’m tired I’m vulnerable — I like closeness and comfort.

If we are honest, we would admit that normally on our way to the course that leads us away from what we have determined to live by, there are several warnings. When he had asked if I wanted to postpone, I should have listened to that voice, and said, yes. Before we left, I had leaned my head on his shoulder as we talked, I should have listened to the voice that said “Girl, you’d better sit up straight!” When we got to the restaurant, at the dinner table and I realized I was playing footsie beneath the table…, well, I did stop, but I should have listened.

One of my favorite verses. “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life,” comes to mind. There has never been a time when I’ve failed to guard my heart, that I have not failed. Whether it’s a physical act of flirting too close to the edge of right and wrong, responding with a bad attitude, or giving in to anger, guarding my heart is absolutely necessary to living a life that represents God well.

Failure for me is saying no when God says yes or vice versa, forging my way when God says to wait, choosing what I want instead of yielding to God’s word. You see, God’s word is the standard, it’s unchanging, everything else vacillates. So when I fail, God’s word does not shift to make my wrongs right but I have to shift, repent, to meet His standards.

Over the years I’ve learned when I’ve chosen my own path that finding my way back to God is easier than finding my way home. For His word says, “If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

I’ve realized that when we fail, the challenge is not to allow shame, guilt or pride to keep us stuck, reluctant to admit our wrong doing, hinder us from making it right with God. I believe that’s really the enemy’s winning card, to make us feel we can never go back, to silence our voices, put out our lights. If you have failed in any way, I am Dona Halliday, challenging you to refuse to stay there, to get up and go back to God, for what I was reminded of in Church on Sunday is that covenant relationship, God’s kind of relationship never gives up on us, neither does it passively wait for us to return but He comes seeking those who lose their way.

The power of the tongue: Saying what God says

Sunday evening found me just sitting around. I was pondering what I had learned about seven hours before. That Sunday morning I had heard a sermon that covered the power of confession — empowering our lives through our speech by speaking what God says. Encouraged to develop my personal confession and speak those things that I wanted to see manifest in my life, I sat thinking.

I was wondering what would make such a practice effective when I reached for my bible. It opened to several verses I had highlighted. Without thinking much about it I started reading the verses aloud like I normally do, but I read that passage like I had never read it before, because I realized, this was what I wanted more than anything else. This would be my daily confession.

My aha moment was when I grasped the power behind the practice of confession. Faith is believing that God exists, that He is faithful to and capable of performing what He says. But saying what He says is not just for Him, it’s for us, for there is an awareness, an alertness, a shaping that take place with the confession of truth. There is an awakening, transforming, renewing of the mind that open our eyes to opportunities for practicing our confession.

Tonight at bible study our pastor said it best when he said, the Word FORMS US, not just informs us. So tonight before I go to bed, once again I will confess and reaffirm this great desire that my heart holds:
“Love is patient, therefore I am patient. Love is kind, therefore I am kind. Love does not envy, therefore I will not be envious of others. Love does not boast, therefore I will not be boastful. Love is not proud, therefore I will walk in humility. Love is not rude, therefore I will be courteous. Love is not self-seeking, therefore I will seek the good of others. Love keeps no record of wrongs, therefore I will be quick to forgive. Love does not delight in evil, therefore I will not delight in wrong, Love rejoices with the truth, therefore I will rejoice in the truth of God’s word. Love always protects, therefore I will protect the people in my life. Love always trusts, therefore I will trust and be trust worthy. Love always hopes, therefore I will live in hope. Love always perseveres, therefore I will never give up. Love never fails, therefore I will love totally and unconditionally.

This is Dona Halliday encouraging you to take time to hear God speak, then say what He says.

Take a listen to this song from MercyMe — Word of God Speaks

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