A Hug From Heaven

by Danielle N. Hall

2/4/2018

I find myself having life experiences that often have me saying: “I can’t make this stuff up!”. I have not had a full week go by without me saying these words or having an experience that would provoke me to say those words. I’ve decided to share one of such experiences that I had about a month ago.

The Christmas season is pretty busy for us at work. There are a few different celebrations that take place. Usually kicking off the festivities is a brunch hosted by our admin department for the anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists. There always a variety of food and one of favorite things about this brunch is that I usually have smoothie duty…and I’m reeeeeal serious about my stuff. Each year I choose a different feature ingredient…last year’s was passion fruit. My “special ingredients” are under this table.

Anyhow, the other celebrations we have are an evening gathering at a hotel or a country club, another gathering at the department which is usually catered, and the last celebration is when our administrator takes the admin staff out for a time away from the office. On December 22,2017…two days after my dad transitioned…we had the lunch with our administrator. One of the activities planned was the White Elephant Gift Exchange. I signed up to participate, but in light of my father’s unexpected passing, I hadn’t yet secured a gift.

The morning of the lunch, I stopped at the CVS near my home to grab a gift card and some candy. I first went to look for a gift card holder and these small, plastic, gift bags caught my attention. I picked one up and placed it on my wrist so I wouldn’t forget. I gathered the other items I needed and, as I was shopping, I took note of the employee I observed that he was wearing a white shirt, American Flag print pants & a tie with the same print…during the Christmas season. I thought it to be a bit strange, but proceeded to complete the task at hand.

It is custom for me to view the name tag of the cashier when I approach a register, however, I hadn’t done so in this case. I placed my items and the counter and the gentleman scanned them and rung them up. He gave me my total and I paid for my items with my card. I realized after the fact that I hadn’t added the small, plastic gift bag to the items I was purchasing and I said: “Awww shoot! I forgot to put this on there. Oh well…it’s too late so never mind.” My receipt came out and the cashier said: “Wait! You’ve got something coming to you here. You’ve got $4. I don’t know how much this costs, but it’s a good thing you waited. You can actually now get it.” I told him that it was $1.99 and he excitedly told me I could go get another one. I really appreciated his spirit, but I was a bit hesitant because the line of people waiting was quite lengthy. He reassured me so I got another one.

The total of my items was $4.26. I didn’t have cash, so I took my card out again. He told me not to worry about it because he would take care of it. He got a quarter and a penny and added it to my $4. I told him he really made my day and he was going to make me cry. I shared with him that my father has just transitioned and that these little things really make my heart smile. He told me I was gonna make him cry and he asked sincerely about my mother and her well being. I thought it strange, yet comforting. I was overwhelmed by his compassion. He then told me he was going to come from behind the register to give me a hug. It was such a comforting embrace. I was nervous because the line of customers wasn’t growing any shorter. Nonetheless, it was as if time stood still for me in that moment. He told me to let my mom know he asked about her and he said he’d keep us in his thoughts and prayers. It was at this time that I asked him his name. I was blown away: He and my father shared the same name!!! His name was Robert! I was certain that this guy was an angel. I frequent that CVS and I never saw him before, neither have I seen him since. Just a few days ago as I was thinking about creating this blogpost, I thought again about the attire of the gentleman. The angel wasn’t confused about the holidays. I was SURE that “Robert” was my Dad paying me a visit checking on mom and looking out for me.

It was my Dad…still looking out for his family.

Thanks, Dad for sending me a hug from Heaven! Rest easy 🙂

“Do not neglect to extend hospitality to strangers [especially among the family of believers—being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 (AMP)

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A Night to Remember

by Danielle N. Hall

1/17/2018

This morning I was trying to dress according to the weather. I was looking for my gray sweater and I remembered where I had it. I got it and remembered why I had placed it there. I still have the visitor’s stickers from the night before my dad Robert Brock-Smith, Sr transitioned.

On Monday 12/18/17, Mom and I had visited Dad after work. For some reason I felt uneasy about leaving that night. Mom was ready to go, but I told her I needed to know he was ok. A nurse came in to tend to him and she began to sing “I’m trading my sorrows. I’m trading my shame. I’m laying them down for the joy of the Lord.” She also fervently prayed for him and asked God to have mercy on him. At this point, I was content with leaving. We had exceeded the visiting hours by 30 minutes. I took Mom to the store and then to her home. I remember being brought to tears as I watched my mom take gifts and boxes for gifts in her home. She was so excited about being a blessing, even while her husband’s health was failing. I watched in awe of this great woman and called my first grade teacher expressing to her how I endeavor to be at least half the woman that she is.

I snapped out of, pulled off, and headed home. I got home and laid across the bed just trying to rest my mind. Very shortly after, my cell phone rang. It was Mom and my heart started beating fast. She said: “Danielle, the hospital just called and they moved your dad to ICU. His heart has already stopped 3 times and they don’t think he’s gonna make it through the night.” I hopped up, put on the first shoes I could grab and heading back to pick Mom up to head to the hospital.

We arrived and were escorted to his room. Soon after we heard those dreadful words as we watched things unfold before our eyes: “Code Blue, ICU”. We were asked did we want them to revive Dad. Mom affirmed. We were initially asked to step out and then we were invited back in to observe the process. It was much labor, but they were successful. However, he depended on a ventilator 100% for breathing. We were joined by my sister and a couple of my nieces and we stayed overnight.

On the morning of 12/19, Mom and I went downstairs to the cafeteria and grabbed an omelette. It was highly recommended by one of the ICU nurses. After breakfast, we returned to the room. They checked Dad’s pupils and there was no reaction when they shined the light in his eyes. At this point, Mom was ready to go. I took her home and headed to my office…looking and smelling like the day before. Fortunately, I had some toiletries available at the office and could freshen up. I stayed a short while and decided to head back home to get more clean and change clothes.

On the way home, I received a call from my daughter telling me to call my husband because his van had broken down on the side of the road and then she informed me that my son had been jumped at school. By now, I’m a bit overwhelmed. I called my husband and he contacted my son and I asked him to wait at the school for me. I headed straight to the school and, unfortunately, the school day has ended and students had already been dismissed. I met with the head of security and filed a report.

We headed home to get my youngest son and then we stopped by to see my daughter at work so she could be reassured that all was well. Our next stop was the emergency room to be examined for head injuries. Fortunately, there is a Children’s Emergency Room connected to the hospital where Dad was. The boys and I went to visit Dad that evening and then headed to the ER for my eldest son to be examined. This is how the pictures sweater has two stickers from the same date with time stamps so close. Now one of the funny things about visiting Dad is that they almost always put the wrong name on my sticker and Mom’s. Clearly that was the case this night as well. Fortunately, my son had no serious head injuries…and fortunately we went to see Dad that evening…it was the last time the boys saw him alive. On the next morning, Dad peacefully transitioned. One thing I learned during the season of my father’s major health challenge was to maximize moments and make new memories. His legacy will forever live…memories of a life spent with him will be everlasting.

This post was written in loving memory of my father, Robert Henry Brock-Smith, Sr. 4/10/1937-12/20/2017

May He forever rest peacefully.

If Loving You Is Right, I Don’t Wanna Be Wrong

by Danielle N. Hall

4/9/2017

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:37-40 (NKJV)

Lately I’ve been thinking of the beginning lyrics to Kirk Franklin’s Song “Love”: 

“Love, a word that comes and goes, but few people really know what it means to really love somebody.”

As I ponder these lyrics, I’d have to admit that there may be some validity to that statement. In my opinion, what some believe is love just isn’t. Real love is not self-serving. As a matter fact, one of the ways Merriam-Webster defines love is as follows: “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another“. There are many who say they love, but their love only extends as far as your last deed towards them. In other words, their love begs the question: “What have you done for me lately?” Moreover, some who say that they love you may have an uncanny way of keeping track of offenses. I’m so grateful that God’s love doesn’t resemble that. According to His Word, this is what love looks like:

“Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (VOICE)

This is what real love is! Ask yourself these questions:

-When was the last time you told someone “I love you”? 

-When was the last time you showed someone that you love him/her? 

-Is the love that you have unconditional?

Prayerfully, the answer to the last question is “yes”, but for many of us the truth is that we do attach conditions to our love. With that being the case, can we honestly call it “love“? God commands us in His word to love our neighbor, but He didn’t say to do so only when our fellow brothers and sisters are being neighborly. His word says that “love bears all things regardless of what comes, believes all things looking for the best in each one, hopes all things remaining steadfast during difficult times, endures all things without weakening.” 

I know there are times when I disappoint God and there are times when I may have broken His heart, yet He still has the capacity to love me…in spite of me. He saw the best in me, when everyone else around could only see the worst in me. His love is steadfast and unmatched, He gave His only begotten Son just to show how sacrificial and unselfish His love is. What an example! The least I can do as an expression of my gratitude for this extreme act of loving kindness is to do as He has commanded. If loving you is right, I don’t want to be wrong! Just as He loves me, flaws and all, I extend the same to my fellow brothers and sisters.

Through the Fire

by Danielle N. Hall

3/21/2017

(Originally written on 3/14 for My Sister’s Corner)


I remember learning of a lady by the name of Edith Childs about 10 years ago. If you recall during the campaign of former President Barack Obama, there was this catchy chant: “Fired up! Ready to go!”. Apparently Childs, a councilor in Greenwood, SC, was responsible for getting this chant going. Since it’s popular debut in 2008, I must say that I find myself saying it often when I’m on assignment or on a mission. The truth is, I’m passionate about serving and I can’t help but to be fired up and ready to go! There are, however, times when being motivated is challenging. 

When life happens, it can sometimes be overwhelming and draining. During these times I’m reminded of the account in Daniel Chapter 3…when Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego are cast into the fiery furnace which was punishment for those who failed to compromise and bow down to the decree of King Nebuchadnezzar. In the case of these 3 fellows, they weren’t just thrown into the furnace: they were first bound and the furnace was heated seven times hotter than usual. Yet, they remained steadfast. While in the fire, two things were discovered: they weren’t alone and they weren’t consumed.

We learn from this passage that when we purpose in our hearts to honor God because we are passionate about His love and His will for us, though He will allow us to be tested, He doesn’t desire for us to be consumed. They say “He’ll turn your test into a testimony.” I can say I’ve had to endure many tests and have had to do so all the more since I’ve given my life to the Lord. From dealing with sexual abuse earlier in life to trying to balance between home, work, ministry, and self: there have been maaaaaany tests. From them I have a testimony and that is: “I’m fired up and ready to go!”. Not only do I have a testimony, I’ve got a song. “Through the fire, to the limit…Through the fire, through whatever!”. 

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test you [that is, to test the quality of your faith], as though something strange or unusual were happening to you. But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, keep on rejoicing, so that when His glory filled with His radiance and splendor is revealed, you may rejoice with great joy.” -1 Peter 4:12-13 (AMP)

Christ’s purpose fueled His passion. How could one be so passionate…even to the point of death? When you understand your purpose, you’re willing to go through whatever, come what may, to fulfill it. In John 4:34 (AMP), Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to completely finish His work.” He consumed purpose so that nothing else would consume Him. That same mind that Christ has is the one we’re encouraged to also have in us. When we adopt a Christlike mindset and are as steadfast as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego we can also go through the fire and not be consumed. 

For a final thought I’d like to leave you with these tips for keeping the fire burning…even while going through the fire:

1) Pause to celebrate the small victories. 

2) Renew your mind daily.

3) Surround yourself with firestarters.

4) Feast on His Word, so you can discover and absorb your purpose.

These helpful hints can help us go “through the fire, to the limit…through the fire, through whatever!”. 

“No Matter What”

by Danielle N. Hall

3/7/2017

A couple of weeks ago, my youngest son was responsible for completing a project for his World Culture class. The instructions were to “create a colorful collage containing pictures of American leaders in all fields of Black history” on the front and, on the back, place the bios of 5 chosen leaders & the bio of a person who has had a significant impact in his life. For the person who has had a significant impact on him, he chose his father. He diligently put the finishing touches on the board the night before the due date. The following morning, I decided to read the bio he wrote on his father and there were three words that stood out in his writing: NO MATTER WHAT. He wrote them in the body of the bio and then repeated them separately at the bottom of the page. 


For some reason, these words grabbed me and made me think of God’s love and His grace. I thought “What a great thing I could write my next blog about!”. It’s something that I’ve experienced and embraced time after time and, when I think about it, I’m brought to tears of gratitude.

If you’ve never experienced this TRUE love, then you don’t understand how to love in that way. God’s love is without boundaries: it’s unconditional.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us so much that He died for us. For I am convinced and continue to be convinced—(beyond any doubt) that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present and threatening, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the unlimited love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:37-39 (AMP)

In other words, God loves us NO MATTER WHAT. The question is: “Do YOU have the same capacity to love NO MATTER WHAT?”. I think we must first understand what love is and is not.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)

When you love someone, it doesn’t come with strings attached. That’s the way God love is. It doesn’t keep record of offenses, it’s patient, and it seeks to give. I mean, God loved us so much that He gave His ONLY begotten Son!

For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. – John 3:16 (VOICE) 

Are YOU willing to give a love that wasn’t earned? That’s the kind of love God freely gave to us. It was free to us, but it cost a life. No one has greater love than to lay down his/her life. God did this for us in spite of our sins. As a matter of fact He did it because of our sins. How gracious and merciful is that?! When I consider some of my thoughts, words, and deeds and how God knew them beforehand and then I realize that He gave me a waiver for the cost of sin, I’m both grateful and encouraged to extend the same sacrificial love to others.

You can only pour out what you’re filled with…receive the love God has for you so that your capacity may be stretched to love others without limits…to love NO MATTER WHAT.

Murder, She Wrote

by Danielle N. Hall

2/17/2017

It’s taken me over a month to finally get this thought out…

What a year 2016 was! There were deaths of so many people who we’d come to know or admire over the years or who we came to know of after their deaths. There was Prince, Alan Thicke, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Muhammad Ali, George Michael, Janet Reno, Arnold Palmer, and then there was Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The list is much more extensive. In some way, the news of the deaths touched us. The controversial deaths, of the last two mentioned, troubled our core and shed more light on an epidemic of the abuse of power of those in authority. I’d like to turn your attention to yet another systemic problem that has claimed more lives than few: character assassination.


In the age where social media engagement is just as routine as laundering your clothes, we are privy to a host of people’s opinions: good, bad, or indifferent. I’ve observed some of the most hate-filled and inconsiderate expressions of many. Having differing opinions, from the topic of political preference to the topic of lifestyle, should not warrant the spewing of sentiments laced with venom.

I’ll refrain from naming any particular individual(s) because the issue stretches far beyond the contentious utterances of one person or a few people. Social media isn’t the only place where we witness these heinous accounts: we’ve been privy to them in our families, on our jobs, and EVEN in “the church”. I want to be very careful of finger pointing because I don’t want to be guilty of the very topic being addressed here. I think what’s important is that we individually govern our thoughts and understand that just because something is permissible to say, it may not be profitable.

Consider this: each word spoken is a seed that will take root and then grow into a plant you’ll have to eat the fruit of. 

A man’s stomach will be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; He will be satisfied with the consequence of his words. – Proverbs 18:20 (AMP)

I don’t know about you, but I’m a picky eater!

Sometimes, when people attack the character of others it’s because they’ve either not discovered or not acknowledged the truth about themselves. We all have a flaw or two and being hasty to cast judgment isn’t advisable. At times I’m impatient, easily angered, or lazy. I know that about myself and I acknowledge it.  I’ve also been guilty of speaking ill of others. You know what they say: when you know better, you do better. We ALL have room for improvement and before you part your lips to attack the character of another, just remember that one day you’ll have to eat the fruit.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.” – Proverbs 18:21 (AMP)

Soul Food

by Danielle N. Hall

1/7/17

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. While I’m grateful daily, it’s a national day of thanks where people pause to reflect on what and who they’re grateful for. Of course this is typically celebrated with family and friends sharing a meal full of all types of goodies. A couple of my personal favorites are my mom’s high demand potato salad and her macaroni and cheese. Surprisingly enough, she doesn’t eat mayonnaise so she has no idea how the salad tastes, but her potato salad is SO good that it’s often requested for both work and family functions. Ok, I’m getting hungry now just thinking about it! While I’m a fan of both the mac & cheese and the potato salad, what really make me happy are words of life: real soul food.

At a time when I began embarking upon my most recently completed endeavor, I wasn’t exactly sure how it would develop or even how it would manifest. I received the card below from one who is extremely dear to me: one whose leadership, mentorship, and friendship I value greatly. 


Minister Michelle D. Bennett is one who I give thanks for often.  Who I am in Christ today is largely in part due to the inspiration and impartation received from her. Just as a baby requires careful handling and appropriate nurturing, so do babes in Christ. While I had been attending church for quite some time and had been an active choir member, I lacked true relationship with God. After having briefly been under the tutelage of Minister Michelle, radical change began to occur.  Being gentle enough to gracefully communicate, yet being firm enough to push you beyond your comfort zone are among the many effective leadership assets that she possesses. I’m grateful to not only have been under her tutelage, but to also call her sister and friend. When one is a teacher, the relationship is assignment driven. When one is a friend, the relationship is affection driven. Proverbs 17:17 (MSG) reads: “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” 


Something I also know about true friends is they will not ever leave you hungry. The card that I received was just the type of nourishment my soul needed to help me get through moments of self doubt and moments of procrastination. Every person that is in your space may not be worthy of the title “friend”. If you are hungry and your “friend” doesn’t offer you food or the means to obtain nourishment, then you may want to reconsider that person’s position in your life. Those who are your friend will feed you things as lovely as my mom’s potato salad and her mac & cheese. Know this: “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb: sweet and delightful to the soul and healing to the body.” Proverbs 16:24 (AMP) 

If you come to my house then you should plan to eat…as a matter of fact, that’s exactly what “Danielle’s Place” is all about: it’s a spot where you can stop by and get some soul food.