The Warning

8/4/2019

by Danielle N. Hall

This poem is one of several I wrote and featured in the appendix my sophomore solo book: Dirty Little Secrets and The Little White Lie. “Calm” sums up most of my days: noisy, yet I steal away and find a moment of peace and quiet. Sometimes the noise is from external sources and sometimes it’s the sound of many thoughts dancing around in my mind. Either way, it can truly be overwhelming at times and what I need to really hear I may miss.

I’m reminded of an exchange I had with my eldest son, who I affectionately call my Big Boy. He’s the one who has willingly taken over the majority of the chef duties in the house. I have the privilege of getting at least one day a week in (insert sarcastic face here lol). Sunday is my designated dinner day. I admittedly cheat sometimes, though, and resort to food that has been prepared by other hands. Anyway, I do try to stick to my schedule. So in this exchange I had with Big Boy, who had ALSO become both the food police and food bandit in the house, he informed me of a few items we were in need of. One of said items was oil. I heard what he said, but remember that noise I mentioned before? The noise interfered with me storing that warning into the proper category. I won’t say that I ignored it, but I didn’t totally give it the attention it needed.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks afterwards. It was a Sunday, which means it was my dinner day. I was so excited about preparing the fresh produce I had picked up from the nearby Amish market on the Thursday before. I got a few things, but was most excited about the fresh broccoli and Brussels sprouts I had purchased from the market. Don’t gag…I used to have trouble with the thought of consuming Brussels sprouts for many years, too. The last time I sautéed the two vegetables together it was SO tasty and I think Big Boy shared the same sentiment because he had quite a healthy portion. I put my music on to get me going and I proceeded to prepare the veggies. I washed the veggies and cut the sprouts in halves and then cut the broccoli. Afterwards, I washed them again. I got ready to get my pan heated and realized: I HAD NO OIL! Surely, I had already received this warning some time before, but it wasn’t until I needed it that I realized that I didn’t have it.

Have you ever experienced this? You had your mind set to do something and moved forward with the plan and you realized that you didn’t have what you needed to effectively complete the task? Have you ever, with good intentions, attempted to engage in a godly endeavor, but realized you weren’t equipped?

Some are eager to step in places or to do things that they weren’t properly prepared for. Are you out of oil? Remember the parable of the 10 virgins?

Matthew 25:1-9 (AMP)

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish [thoughtless, silly, and careless], and five were wise [far-sighted, practical, and sensible]. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take any [extra] oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil along with their lamps. 5 Now while the bridegroom was delayed, they all began to nod off, and they fell asleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! The bridegroom [is coming]! Go out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order [trimmed the wicks and added oil and lit them]. 8 But the foolish virgins said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, ‘No, otherwise there will not be enough for us and for you, too; go instead to the dealers and buy oil for yourselves.’

One thing the foolish virgins and I had in common: we weren’t prepared for what we set out to do…we all were in need of oil. I was warned, but because I didn’t immediately heed the warning, I had to interrupt what I was doing to be properly equipped to finish what I started. I, too, had to go out and buy oil. Don’t let this be you. When you receive a warning or a heads up, make sure you shut out the noise so you can appropriately respond to the warning. Fortunately, I was able to get oil and finish preparing my veggie dish, but it could’ve been completed faster. It could’ve been a more efficient experience.

If you’re reading this, consider THIS as your warning to not forget the oil (or any other “ingredient” you need to be prepared for the mission you set out for. More importantly, make sure that you silence the noise so that you clearly hear the warning and then respond appropriately.

The Great Exchange (It’s Not What It Looks Like)

by Danielle N. Hall

7/21/2019

Picture it…Upper Marlboro, MD…2019. It wasn’t the hottest day of the year, but it sure wasn’t the coolest. Parched puts it lightly when describing how I was feeling, but I had just downed a bottle of water. I don’t know if many enemies I have, but I can say with confidence that Ms. Heat is definitely NOT my friend. I carry a personal fan in my bag just to try to get Ms. Heat to keep her distance…she truly is not welcome in my personal space. We have difficulty getting along and I’m not sure that we will ever find a common ground.

Back to that empty water bottle…

The setting was Sunday morning, in the chapel preparing for service. The issue wasn’t so much that it was warm inside, it was that Ms. Heat and I had a little battle as I was walking into the church. She has NO respect for my personal space. So she decided she would stick real close that morning. I tried to cool down and stay calm so I drank my water. It didn’t quite do the trick, but time was of the essence and I didn’t want to drink much more because I wanted to avoid the risk of making a mad dash to the restroom in mid-song. A kind lady noticed my empty water bottle and offered to dispose of it for me. I usually drop it in the bin on the way to the sanctuary and it seemed to me that giving her what was no longer useful to me would’ve been a bit unfair. I was very hesitant and I kindly declined. I said “Thank you so much for the offer, but you really don’t have to do that.” I continued to gather my things to head to the sanctuary for service. She again asks to take what was no longer serving me any purpose, but THIS time she said “I have something I want to give you in place of it.” I’m a bit of a crybaby when it comes to random acts of kindness. I saw this pink beverage, but the label was covered. I saw enough to know it was a Minute Maid bottle, but it looked like the bottle contained pink lemonade: something I would unfortunately not be able to consume due to my allergy to lemons. Nevertheless, I took a chance and I said thank you so much for your kindness. As a giver, I’ve learned that it is extremely important to give when you feel led and when others might not receive, it could block both you and them being blessed. I didn’t want to block her blessing so I agreed to give her my empty container in exchange for the bottle full of pink drink. Oh, I forgot to mention that the beverage was coooooold.

As I approached her, I saw the label and to my pleasant surprise, it was NOT lemonade at all: it was watermelon punch. Suddenly, the strange eyebrow position I had because I was nervous about receiving something I couldn’t use, changed to one expressing excitement. I’m sure when I smiled all 26 of my teeth were showing. I was so grateful and then so disappointed that I was hesitant.

I know God’s track record and He has not EVER sent someone to bless me with something I didn’t need or couldn’t use. Why would I doubt Him in this moment? I didn’t spend a lot of time beating up on myself, but I spent more time being grateful than guilty. It was a valuable lesson to me that I thought I would share to inspire you. Here’s the thing: we like to hold on to things that no longer serve us and God is trying to remove them from our lives to give us something better. What He is trying to bless us with may not look like what we are expecting, but God is a bullseye kinda guy: He’s ALWAYS on target. He knows what we need, when we need it, and how to get it to us. The next time God tried to take something away from you that you don’t need, LET HIM! Get rid of unnecessary weight in your life and allow Him to fill you with something of useful substance.

Special thanks to the angel who looked out for me last Sunday and blessed me with that wonderful pink drink.

P.S. – pink is my favorite color 💗

Best Man/Dot to Dot

by Danielle N. Hall

5/27/2019

It is human nature for us to give advice (whether solicited or not), but not take heed to our own words. We encourage others, but forget to be our own cheerleader when necessary. I decided to take a little bit of a different approach this year.

While I don’t necessarily feel out of sorts physically, I thought it would be a good idea to get checked out: it had been a few years since I had my last physical. At that time I’d been diagnosed with a Vitamin D deficiency which wasn’t surprising since I don’t consume dairy products based on lactose intolerance which I developed in my adult life. Additionally, because I am challenged with vertigo, I avoid the sun (especially since heat is a trigger). Unfortunately, sunlight encourages production of Vitamin D, so I had to resort to Vitamin D supplements. Anyway, I was overdue for a physical since a few years had passed and I decided to take care of business. I scheduled my appointment, showed up, and went through the process. They attempted to draw blood for routine testing, but had difficulty doing so. They referred me to an outside lab and I scheduled my appointment for the next morning.

On the morning of October 25, 2018, I hosted my daily inspirational call which takes place at 7:30am EST and then I proceeded to take care of my medical business. The blood was drawn, I went on my merry way and I picked up my phone to call my mom. I realized it was not quite 8:30 and that she would not have been at work yet. I said that I’d give her a little less than 10 minutes and I’d reach out. Well, she beat me to the punch. She wasn’t just calling to say good morning, though. She realized she left her house keys on her couch at home and she asked if I would go by her home to pick them up and get them to her. I did not hesitate, but I thought about it once I pulled up and it really didn’t make sense for me to do that. I could’ve just picked her up from work when she got off and let her use my keys to get in her home. Nevertheless, she made a simple request and it didn’t hurt. Besides, I was already there.

I went inside. All of the lights were off and it was an unusual stillness. I observed the keys, but decided to go to the bedroom. I decided to sit on my dad’s side of the bed: something I had not done since his transition on December 20, 2017. I sat and I thought about how much I missed him. I had a very tearful moment…but it was a much needed moment to sit still and connect. I hadn’t allowed myself to truly grieve, so this moment was treasured. I looked up at their dresser and I noticed the teddy bear that my cousin had bought for him during one of his hospital stays in his last year. It took me back to the worshipful moments we would have in his hospital room. Fortunately, I have a few captured on video. I also noticed a bottle of cologne…well a few. Dad loved his fragrances and he loved to mix them up when he wore them. He really didn’t care about any particular designer, he just liked his fragrances. I must admit that he passed down the fragrance loving trait to at least this baby girl. I digress. One bottle stood out in particular and I decided to take a picture of it.

It made me cry more. Dad wasn’t perfect…no one is, but I honor him and I appreciate him for being a great man! There are so many memories and moments to behold and I’m grateful for each of them. I truly appreciated the moment I was having at that time even though, he was not physically present. I did sense his presence nonetheless. I got myself together and walked out to the living room to get the keys mom asked me to get. My cell phone rang and after I answered, the caller asked if I was ok because she was riding in her car and my name just popped up and she thought she’d check on me. This was no ordinary caller, but this caller was someone who had also recently experienced the transition of her father and, fortunately, she happened to be in a good place on this day. She encouraged me and I cried some more. As a matter of fact I am now typing through tears remembering that moment. That call was timely and so was the visit to my parents’ home.

What I know about God is that He is the master orchestrator. He guides our steps, but it’s up to us to take them. If I had not chosen to get the physical, if they had not failed to draw blood at the doctor’s office, if I had not been at the lab the next morning…then I would not have been in position to honor mom’s request to get the keys she left at home and ULTIMATELY I would not have had the much needed moment I had reflecting on dad’s side of the bed. EACH dot connected and then God showed just how much He cares by sending that on time phone call. He cares about even the little details in our lives and He is nearer to us than we often acknowledge. That moment was one I won’t forget. It was so much to process and I actually originally started writing this blogpost November last year. Then I stopped and resumed in December last year and I kept getting stuck. I decided today would be a great day to finish what I started. It’s Memorial Day and in loving memory and honor of my father, who served this country, I decided to write this post. It was originally entitled Dot to Dot, but I had to pay tribute to my dad…my “Best Man”: the one who served both his country and his family.

Then and Now

Exactly 2 years ago today, V.O.I.C.E. (Victorious Overcomers Inspiring Christian Empowerment) was launched. It was strategically launched in April because it is the month where #SexualAssaultAwareness is observed. #SAAM (sexual assault awareness month) is when the light is shed on what may otherwise not be acknowledged. I am not ashamed of my truth and I’m grateful to have been trusted to birth a ministry to serve women who have been sexually assaulted or abused. I’m also grateful to have had the courage to write my story.

On April 26, 2016, I wrote my experiences here in the form of a poem. It was liberating and received such an overwhelming response. Many said: “You should write a book”. I took heed and 3 years later, I’ve now expanded on those experiences originally written in the following blog post and I wrote my story:

https://daniellenhall.com/2016/04/26/dirty-little-secrets-the-little-white-lie/

Today, you can get your copy of Dirty Little Secrets & The Little White Lie for only $2.99 at https://amzn.to/2IssK33 or you can get the paperback copy if you like to physically turn pages. Thank you for your support! #littlewhitelies #secrets #breakthesilence

Growing Pains

by Danielle N. Hall

8/12/2018

Growing Pains ©️

I’m comfortable where I am.

I do not want to leave.

However, there is a very sad truth:

I have no room to breathe.

The pot has, unfortunately, become too small.

My growth is becoming stunted.

I find I just don’t fit at all,

It’s like I’m no longer wanted.

I try to wrap my brain around it.

I guess I just need room to grow.

It’s so hard to say goodbye,

but in order to live I must go.

The Hangover

by Danielle N. Hall

7/3/2018

One of the most horrible experiences EVER is the hangover! Symptoms include fatigue, thirst, headache, dry mouth, nausea, light and sound sensitivity, muscle aches, dehydration, loss of appetite, diarrhea, heartburn, excessive sweating, irritability, bad breath, and vomiting. Sounds like a new medication ad, I know… I mean the body really goes through some changes!

This one time…not at band camp…I remember having a pretty rough night. Ok, ok…maybe I’ve had a few memorable occasions and not just one rough night. Anyway, I recall watching a regular Friday night comedy special. There was the usual case of Schlitz Blue Bull available and random snacks. I indulged. I got extra creative and decided that it’d be a great idea to get a bagel and pour chocolate syrup on it. My creativity didn’t cease there…oh nooooo…I had that Emeril spirit and decided to kick it up a notch. I grabbed a little bit of lime flavored Jell-O and topped it with whipped cream. You can just call me Chef Girl-At-D. Well, needless to say, I probably needed to go back to culinary school because that combo juuuuust didn’t quite get together. The result was a catastrophe. I hadn’t experienced spending so much time in the throne room getting that acquainted with the throne. We did share much quality time on a few other occasions as well. It was a hangover to remember.

Now that was a true story, but also true is another hangover account. Picture it, DC, 1999. I was excited, nervous, confused, and happy: simultaneously. On the morning of December 13, 1999, I started having these unusual pains and discomforts. They were an indicator that there was some activity going on beneath the service. I had arrived at work at the day care center where I was employed and I just couldn’t seem to get comfortable. Not long after arriving, I decided it may be best for me to go back home to assess and deal with these changes. Time progressed and a few hours later I made my way to the hospital. I called my parents and they beat me there! Time was ticking, Dad got tired, but mom hung around.

I was offered medication to help ease the discomfort, but I declined. Somewhere near the 10pm hour, I changed my mind and took them up on their offer. A few hours passed by and after being extremely exhausted and going through these changes, an observant baby girl made her debut at 2:05am on December 14th…weighing in at a whopping 5lbs. 13oz. What an experience!

I had only gained 12lbs. The entire pregnancy: though it appeared as if I was gonna give birth to twins. After having given birth, I lost 14lbs. This was awesome! I walked often during the pregnancy and was pretty active. I lost 14lbs., but managed to gain a new trophy: the mother’s pouch, which I am dubbing as “the hangover”.

Now this picture isn’t me, but I could’ve posed for it. I couldn’t understand why I had acquired this new gift, but I learned to embrace it. It is a reminder of one of the most rewarding experiences: becoming a mom. I’ve since become the mother of two more jewels and I’ve experienced tremendous weight gain and some weight loss…but that hangover is yet holding on. I proudly wear my badge of honor and I thought I’d encourage any mother who still has her pouch (in spite of efforts to reduce it), to wear your badge with pride. Don’t stop working at reducing it if it makes YOU happy, but don’t be discouraged if it hangs around for your lifetime. You are a mom and you rock!

P.S. – I haven’t had those other types of hangovers anymore…I’ve got a new appetite and I hunger and thirst after righteousness: not Schlitz or any other concoction I’ve made in the past. God made the difference!

The Other Silent Killer

by Danielle N. Hall

03/17/2018

I don’t watch much television and I’ve missed many movies, but I’m not all the way green…I have seen a few. One that comes to mind is Madea’s Big Happy Family. As with any other Tyler Perry movie, there were many things going on once. However, there’s a particular scene that I recall. “Mr. Brown loses a lot of blood during his surgery and the doctor asks Cora to donate some. When she does, she finds out that she doesn’t have the same blood type as him, implying that he may not be her real, biological father. At dinner later on that night, Tammy and Kimberly have a vicious argument that leads to Tammy revealing that Kimberly is Byron’s birth mother, having had him when she was 13 years old. Byron storms out of the house, angry that this secret was kept from him.”

They say that art imitates life. The truth is that Mr. Brown and Kimberly aren’t the only ones with family secrets: the other silent killer. More often than is acknowledged, families perpetuate lies and deception: choking the life out of the truth in order to spare the image of one. How many children grew up thinking that someone was their older sister only for the actual truth to be that said “sister” was actually their biological mother and who they had been thinking was their mother was actually their grandmother? How many Mr. Brown scenarios are there where people have assigned someone the title of “Daddy” that has no trace of the man’s DNA? The truth is this saving of an image has done more harm than good.

When I had barely entered adulthood, I gave birth to my first child. I was 21 years old and her biological father was 22. We weren’t fresh out of high school, but we were young. Things did not work out and we went our separate ways when our daughter was still an infant. Time progressed and I later married my husband. Now, my daughter’s father has always been active in her life, so she has been blessed with two dads. When she was about 4 years old I explained the difference between her biological father and her stepfather. Some may argue that she was too young, but you’d have to know my children to understand my decision to divulge when I did. She understood and I was never posed with any questions about it because I was straightforward with her. One time, our household had gone to the movies and we saw my daughter’s biological dad outside. When she saw him, she excitedly said: “My other daddy!”. I must admit that was a bit embarrassing, but it was her truth: she has two dads.

Sometimes our truths can be embarrassing or humiliating, but hiding it can be devastating. Suppose one begins dating someone and things get serious and marriage becomes a goal…and then a reality. Then, you through some very unusual way discover that you two are actually blood relatives…close ones at that. Do you see how problematic and destructive perpetuating a lie can be: all for the sake of keeping secrets and saving images?

Let’s not ignore the other proverbial elephant in the room. How about the sexual violation by a family member? This is certainly not foreign or unusual. It’s a sad truth that I am unfortunately very familiar with…more familiar than I want to be. It is common for survivors to not speak of what has happened because they are often muzzled by fear of other’s opinions. In some cases when the survivor does come forward, the common response is “What happens in this house stays in this house.” If you have a perverted individual who obviously lacks self control, why would you not make it known to spare others enduring the same offense? Is it because he’s the bread winner or because he’s everyone’s “favorite uncle”? The image of the perpetrator is salvaged, but there is a wreck in the internal environment of the survivor: her/his voice is suffocated and identity is often lost.

Maybe the family secret doesn’t involve any offense. Maybe a mom or dad didn’t graduate from high school and yet they keep it a secret for fear of others labeling her/him as a failure. Now let me be clear, experience is a great teacher and we can learn a lot in life from experience. High school graduation does not mean that you have arrived. The point I’m making is that in many areas in our lives we fall short and then we play the pretend game because we worry about other’s opinions. When I drafted my father’s obituary in December last year, I was adamant about telling his truth. He spent a lot of years of his life concerned about what others thought, though he often said he didn’t. My dad graduated high school at the age of 21 and even MY existence is a result of one of dad’s unfavorable choices. However, it was his truth and he suffered silently being concerned about his image. In his last couple of months, a family member visited him in the hospital and essentially cursed him. I was livid and it was obvious that it affected how he felt about himself. I discerned what he wasn’t speaking, but was yet communicating. In a rare type of discussion I had with him while I was heading to work one day, I told him that unforgiveness was a sin even when don’t forgive ourselves. He said he never thought of it that way and his voice became more lively.

People can be so brutal sometimes. What I have come to live most about my life, is that I discovered the liberty that Jesus avails to us to walk in. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. So many are bound by the guilt and shame of life choices that they die a slow death inside. This is not the intent of God. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty [emancipation from bondage, true freedom].” 2 Corinthians 3:17 (AMP)

I implore you on today to be free and I pray that the spirit of liberty will reign in your family so that there will be no more death of the truth as lies are nurtured to save images!