My6inchchallenge's Blog

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

Archive for women

Time for good men to stand up and step forward

She was short, round and stocky with a voice like a trumpet. “Don’t do anything else to her car, the woman has no money!” She shouted it seemed to the entire world, her neck stretching through the open door.

Yes, “The woman” she was referring to was me. Totally embarrassed I covered my face with my hands but was so tickled by the way she said it that I was laughing. She was right. I had gone home, changed clothing, dropped my journal in a bag and headed to the park. On my way home when I had spotted the car wash I had stopped, forgetting I did not have my purse. Somewhere during the process the thought that had been trying to reach my consciousness finally got there. I jolted from my relaxed seated position to my feet, as the thought ht me, “Dona, you have no money to pay for this service”.

Thankfully, there was a gentleman who responded to the trumpeter by reaching into his wallet and offering to pay for what they had done.

What makes a man a good man?

Earlier that day I had gone to the movies to see Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds”. In the movie the character Wesley Deeds comes to the aid of this young woman (Lindsey) and her daughter, when life had dealt them some very tough stuff. I love the movie for its story line, its strong parallels and metaphors, but as Lindsey told Wesley that he was a good man, with a good heart I found myself raising the question once again that I had written on a post-it and placed in my bible to mark the eleventh chapter of Acts. “What makes a man a good man, and how can he be recognized?”

His name was Barnabas. No, not the man from the car wash, I don’t know his name. But this Barnabas in Acts 11 was described as a good man. He was known to be an encourager, generous in helping the poor. He was full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. He was a worshipper and a man of prayer.  He stood by and mentored his nephew when others may have given up on him. He loved deeply, was committed to God’s work and was trustworthy. He was a reconciler, whose Godly character was known not just by his words but by what his deeds.

In your opinion what makes a man a good man?

Can you recognize them? Well…, then help them stand in their homes, communities, churches and places of business. Help them stand in familiar and unfamiliar places. Help them stand for those who cannot defend themselves, mentor those who may otherwise be cast aside. And at the smallest glimpse of “goodness,” tell them that they are good men, for with just a little encouragement we may have good men standing up all around us and stepping forward.

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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.

Relationships: Stop or go, can we read the signs?

I had no songs that night, the cold was nipping at my ears and seeping through my clothing. I had finally finished my evening class at The Art Institute and as I sat on a MARTA bus I was feeling tired and miserable. My face was expressionless, my lips unmoving, but inside I was throwing a major spiritual temper tantrum.

After two years of living in the U.S. I was feed up, like the children of Israel I was telling God how much better it had been before. “… You know I never wanted to move here,” I murmured to God in my spirit, “my life back home was fine — I can’t stand it here!  At least back home I could afford to go on a vacation every year.  You know what, I don’t care what you say, and I don’t care who it is, but if anyone asks me to go to a cabin where I can curl up in front of a fireplace, I’m GOING….”

A figure got on the bus, walked pass me, turned back, sat down in the seat next to me, and this stranger said, “You know what would be nice, a cabin in the woods with a fireplace. I have access to a cabin…”

Stop or go? Can we read the signs?

A few years later in a conversation with my second mom, I said, “I’m tired of men who act like lambs, I want a lion. Someone who is not intimidated by me, confident and knows where he wants to go in life.” Following our conversation this guy who I had gone out with the previous day, for the first time, dropped by and asked me to go out again. When I told him I would not go out with him again he said he wanted to pray about it. I do not remember the prayer except as he ended he said, “…Lord, help me not to be like a lamb, I want to be more like a lion, bold…” I had showed him to the door and bid him a good night. Some of my friends said that was a sign that God intended us to be together – was it really a sign? How do we learn to read them?

It’s sometimes difficult to understand how God works, and we can cause chaos in the process because we want easy solutions to our questions and speedy deliverance from our challenges. But seemingly God-sent signs that may give us the answers we want to hear but are contrary to God’s teachings of patience, discipline and wisdom may not be signs from God at all.

Did I go to the cabin? Of course NOT, I’m not crazy.  I talked with the guy afterward from time to time and he even wrote me a most beautiful poem, but I never went out with him. Years later I ran into him and was shocked to my core, he was ill. I thanked God that what he was carrying I had never put myself in a position to get it.

So why didn’t I go out again with the lion-want-to-be? The day I spent with him at the festival he had stopped at every store front glass, admired himself and talked about how good he looked. He had a one-liner that he worked into every conversation, and with an audience of one or two he would climb upon his imaginary podium and proclaim “The problem today is that people don’t want to get to know people on their FEETS they just want to know them between the SHEETS.” I understood and even agreed with the message but I recognized that the messenger was way too wrapped up in himself. Was he good-looking? YES – HE- WAAS! But that has never been able to sustain any relationship.

Relationships – If he thinks like a dog and acts like a dog, just maybe…

Help make him a man

We all have our stories...

“I can’t believe I let another man fool me….”

We all have our stories and the way we live our stories determine not only the quantity but the quality of the baggage we lug around with us.

One look at him and she had decided she wanted him. When she found out he was already dating someone she and her friends would invite him out and exclude his girl friend. She was determined to have him. She finally got him, for a few short weeks anyway, then he moved on to someone else.

“….I had promised myself I won’t let this happen again,” she continued bitterly, “he’s such a dog…”

It’s interesting how differently we view things depending on where we are looking from. I’ve heard our women call our black men many negative things but I’m convinced that our men can only get away with some of the crap they get away with because we help create that space.

There’s this guy I had known for about 10 years and had dated him for several months when we first met. When it became evident that our values were not the same we ended the relationship. I was therefore surprised when earlier this year he said he wanted to talk with me, he had something to say but did not want me to say anything until he was through. He told me he had gotten married but had known all the time that I should have been the one. He knew we would have been happy together because we had so much in common. He wished he had been mature enough to know what was important then, he knew he would have made me happy because he would have been a good husband…

I’ve never called a man a dog. I believe if a man thinks like a dog and acts like a dog, just maybe he has not been taught how to truly be a man. I listened quietly, mentally examining everything he said, labeled them the rubbish that they were, reminded him that he had chosen the woman he was with and making HER happy was his chance to prove he could be a good husband, and ended any further communication with him.

How does a male grow into a “man”? I found myself pondering that question again this morning as I devoured the waffles my brother had made. What makes them responsible, dependable, honorable, committed, strong? So much of who we are is determined by the things we’ve seen, experienced, been taught or not taught. Where do they learn how to stay put and give support, how to be there and do the mature thing and not the easy thing?

Where did my brother learn, I wondered? He had not had a father figure, yet last week when I was ill he’d brought homemade soup and this morning before I left for church he’d showed up with homemade waffles. Where did he learn how to be a man?

In so many communities where our families bear the challenge of fatherlessness, I guess some of our men are disciplined enough to stick to the course they’ve set for themselves, some learn by trial and error, and some, I’m convinced, who seem bent on carrying on in the ways of their absentee fathers, as we, women mature, we’ve got to help by administering tough love and nudging them in the right direction.

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?

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