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 💗

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When God Says Wait

by Danielle N. Hall

11/19/2017

Do you have recollection of an experience where God asked you to do something that forfeited your comfort or that you thought may have been an inconvenience to you, yet a convenience to someone else? I can think of a time or two when I’ve had such an experience. Picture it…Bowie, MD…August 26th. It was a gorgeous Saturday…the weather was delightful: the high was 81 degrees and the low was 65 degrees! It was the perfect day to go to the hair salon and I certainly took advantage of it. The previous months had been taking their toll on me and the FoxZ Hair Studio experience is usually a breath of fresh air that I enjoy. While heading to pay a much needed visit to my hair stylist/friend, Zanada,…I thought “It would be really nice to see my friend (Michelle aka Min. Benn) today”. It was once common for Min. Benn and I to receive beauty services at the same time, but as of late, our paths had not crossed there. To my pleasant surprise, she was in the right place at the right time! Some people can have a calming presence about them and she happens to be one. SIDE NOTE: Your presence can either agitate or alleviate…it can illuminate or obfuscate. The point is: your presence can make a difference: please try to be mindful of the energy you emit.

So, as usual, we all enjoyed laughs at FoxZ Hair Studio and Min. Benn and I had lunch after getting our manes tended to. I knew I probably should have been in bed resting because I couldn’t even put my shoes up on the back of my feet due to swelling. Nevertheless, I maximized the moment of fresh air that was much needed. After we were done, I was set on getting home and propping my feet up. When I got to my car, I noticed that there were keys on the ground next to the car that was parked beside me. I picked them up and determined that they were for that car. I observed that the car windows were down. I did NOT feel comfortable with leaving the car in that state. The Lord led me to wait.

Based on where the car was parked in relation to the nearby stores, I was pretty sure I’d be probably waiting about 10 minutes for the owner to return. A little more than 10 minutes passed and I watched each of the store patrons leave, looking for them to walk in the direction of the car. Also of note, there was a Planet Fitness keychain attached to the keys. I tried to observe people who may have had a certain build or who may have been wearing a certain type of apparel. Time continued to pass and no one had yet appeared in search of the keys.

Finally, after having waited for an hour, I decided to go into the place where Min. Benn and I had lunch. I asked had anyone lost any car keys and no one answered affirmatively. When I exited the restaurant, I saw a AAA vehicle pull up near the car. I walked over to the driver of the AAA vehicle and asked them to contact the car owner to let him/her know that I have the keys and they were left on the ground. The driver obliged and a few minutes after, a young lady came walking from the other side of the shopping center. As she approached, I noticed her wearing a Pizza Hut uniform, which meant that she was at work and CERTAINLY wouldn’t have been coming out in the 10 minutes I had initially thought the car’s owner would return in. She was very grateful because she both had her keys and did not require the service of AAA. I don’t know her story or how losing the keys would’ve impacted her world, all I know is God said to wait and I did…in spite of my significantly swollen feet.

We often fill our schedules with things that keep us on the go and we don’t take the necessary moments to rest or to breathe. Perhaps that waiting period was just as beneficial to me as it was to the car owner. Though I did have a choice as to whether or not I should wait, I opted to go with the Lord’s leading and wait. I didn’t have anything to rush to afterwards, but it still allowed me a moment to just sit, observe my surroundings, and enjoy the stillness of the moment. Believe or not, there is a blessing in waiting. Some of us are impatient at times: when it comes to waiting on others or waiting on the manifestation of what God has promised to us. Patience is not the ability to wait, but it’s how we act while waiting…”but if we hope for what we do not see, we wait eagerly for it with patience and composure.” Romans 8:25 (AMP)

Below are some questions to ponder regarding when God says to wait. Take a moment to reflect and answer these. After doing so, consider your responses and determine if there is anything you can/would change about your response to God charge to you to wait.

1) What/who has God asked you to wait for?

2) Does/did it seem like an inconvenience to you?

3) “How” have you waited…have you done so with patience?

4) Has someone had to wait with patience for YOU?

5) If “yes” is your response to #4, how did that make you feel?

Up Against the Wall

by Danielle N. Hall

7/4/2017

Have you ever had one of those seasons where so much was coming at you and you either just got your throwing hand ready to hurl the towel or you simply said: “What’s next?!” Last summer was certainly one of those seasons for me! There was trouble with my health, in my home, and with my home…I must admit: I felt a bit defeated for a second…I felt like my back was against the wall and I didn’t have fight in me. Waving the white flag of surrender sounded like a really great idea, BUT I’ve got that true Brock-Smith blood in me…the kind that doesn’t know anything but determination.

As I am recounting this experience, a familiar inspirational song comes to mind: Made a Way by Travis Greene. 

You made a way

When our backs were against the wall

And it looked as if it was over

You made a way

And we’re standing here

Only because You made a way

You made a way

I must say that these lyrics echo the sentiments of my heart. As I mentioned before: I faced health challenges and home challenges. The combination of all things was somewhat overwhelming. Allow me to elaborate…

Last July, I endured one of the longest bouts of vertigo I’d ever had since my first attack over 20 years ago. Just before the 4th of July, I’d attended a family/church fellowship at Solomons Island. Ain’t nothing like good family, good food, and good fellowship! However, my enjoyable time was brief…that horrible party pooper, aka vertigo, showed up on the scene.

“They” say: “When it rains, it pours!”. Well, vertigo rained on my parade and I was pouring with sweat! Fortunately, it only lasted for a couple of days. However, it had soon returned. The timing was less than ideal. The tension measurement in the household had been thicker than a McDonalds milkshake. (Side Note: they need to serve those milkshakes with spoons and not straws, but I digress). Perhaps this truth perpetuated the longer than usual recovery time. Things were a bit bleak on the homefront and we were at the point of making a life altering decision. Though I thought I was prepared to handle the change, thoughts of the change were stressful. 

Anyhow, after having been essentially bed ridden for about a week, I peeled myself out of the bed and walked gingerly over to our leasing office. I was blindsided by the surprise news that I received. When the words parted the lips of the property manager, I pretty much was speechless, but in my mind I was like: “Nooooo, I wasn’t ready!!!”. “It couldn’t be that bad” you might say, but trust me…given the timing and the circumstances, it def was a BFD to me. So on July 15th, as I sat in the chair in the office of the property manager, Mrs. S, I heard these words: “Oh, you’re set for ABSOLUTE eviction on August 2nd.” I was informed that these were irreversible plans of the Sherriff. I inquired about our options and she informed me there was no amount of money or anything else that would change what we were facing…It was a decision set by the sheriff. The last thing I was trying to hear, while dealing with both vertigo and a strained home situation, was that in a very short time we were going to be without a home. The thought of having to share that info with my three little ones was heartbreaking.

I will say that was one of a very few times where I felt defeated. I was sick and tired, literally. You have to understand how debilitating vertigo is to fully appreciate these circumstances. Quitting is not in my makeup…I’m a Brock-Smith, we are too determined, but in the above described moment, I didn’t feel like fighting anymore and I was ok with letting the chips fall how they may. 

On the evening of Sunday, July 17th, I had a conversation with my longtime spiritual advisor: my first grade teacher. In said conversation, she reminded me of who I am in Christ and she fervently prayed. After a major ugly cry, I suddenly no longer felt defeated and I also felt an immediate turn around physically.  I’d done some research and had made some appointments to view a few rental homes. We checked the places out and hadn’t really found “the one” yet. 

Our backs were up against the wall. Time was running out and we had none to waste because the 2nd of August was approaching. While at my desk at work one afternoon, the Lord spoke to me and said: “Call and ask again”. This was in reference to the leasing office and our options. I heeded His voice and called. To my pleasant surprise, the property manager had a different response. She said if you bring $xxxx.xx before we close today it will cancel the eviction. By the grace of God, we were able to combine resources and I darted off from the office to make sure we did our part to get the requested amount turned in. CLEARLY THIS WAS THE LORD’S DOING! He made a way, when our backs were against the wall and it looked as if it was over.

What I want you to get most from this particular post is that it doesn’t matter how grim or impossible a situation may be, God is sovereign and He is able. HE has the final say. As a matter of fact, in the midst of that trying season, at church I had to lead the song “Sovereign God” by Maurette Brown Clark. In that moment, the message in the song was very personal to me. Before ministering in song, the Lord nudged me to share my testimony about the situation I was in at that moment. I was apprehensive because it was embarrassing, but I know better than to not heed His voice. I did as He said, and I was the recipient of a check for $1500 from an anonymous source who followed the voice of God! 

This type of experience is not happenstance and is the reason I have great faith. God is faithful and has proven Himself to be so…over and over and over. He is not a tyrant, but He IS a good, good Father. Who wouldn’t want to serve a God like that?! 

Below are the links to the two songs mentioned in this post. I hope they bless you…especially when you feel like you’re up against the wall!

“Made A Way” https://g.co/kgs/fgQuA9

“Sovereign God” https://g.co/kgs/NDHniv

 

Angels Watching Over Me

by Danielle N. Hall

3/30/2017


Two weeks ago from today, I’d had what I would consider a good day. The work day had come to an end and I prepared to leave to head to praise team/choir rehearsal: as is custom every Thursday. What I did not know is I’d be walking outside to a not so good discovery on what had been a good day.  I walked towards my car and discovered that the rear driver’s side tire had gone flat. I had a few thoughts, but my primary thoughts were that this is something that’s gonna cost me both money and time that I don’t have. I called my husband to inform him of my situation and he did offer to come to the rescue. I told him to just hold on and let me think for a minute because it would be quite a distance to travel from where he was to where I was.

My next phone call was one that I’d reluctantly make to the insurance company. You see, the way my insurance is set up, I’d be responsible for fees up front and would have to submit the necessary info to get reimbursement. Before I placed that call, though, I did make one other call and it was  quite short in duration. It kinda went like this: “Lord, please just send somebody to help.” That was my request and I had faith that He’d favorably respond to my call. Yet, in the back of my mind, I knew time was of the essence. 

Just as I’d dialed the number to Allstate, a gentleman appeared and was walking on the service road that leads up to our office building. I blew my horn and waved him over and asked if he knew how to change a tire. He answered affirmatively and asked me to pop the trunk so he could get what he needed to handle the task at hand. It turns out it was tougher than what I thought. 

When I solicited his assistance it was 6:20pm. As he was taking care of the tire, I asked him where he was headed and if I could give him a ride. He declined and said that it was just a 5 minute walk. Oh, did I mention this was a 20 degree day?! He informed me that he was heading to the early bird special at Bingo which started at 6:30pm. I again offered a ride and even a couple of dollars. He respectfully declined. He finally said to me: “This could be me one day.” 

While having the tire issue addressed was certainly a blessing, I was more blessed by this man’s extreme kindness, to the point of inconvenience, with nothing expected in return. I thank God for immediately answering my call, for being a present help in the time of trouble, and for His angels who are so busy watching over me because my tire could’ve gone flat while driving on the highway. I was even able to catch the tail end of praise team rehearsal and all of choir rehearsal, while this man opted to both walk in the frigid air and to be late for what he had planned just so he could assist me. Indeed, he was an angel. 

“For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go.” – Psalm 91:11 (NLT)

For a closing thought ponder the following: Are you willing to be inconvenienced for the benefit of someone else?

The 5 Words That Blessed My Life

by Danielle N. Hall

6/14/2016

I’m sure many of you have had some interesting, memorable interactions in the workplace. I tend to have them in my everyday life…in various settings. I guess the real reason I’m not drawn to amusement parks is because each day of my life is an adventure. I’ve got a host of stories to share! I’ll admit that I wasn’t as welcoming of some experiences, but maturity has caused me to embrace a Romans 8:28 mindset: I truly accept and believe all things are working for my good and for His glory. 

One story I’d like to share is from a workplace experience I had in 2005. If I could describe it in a picture, I’d say it was a….this:

I was in a season of transition, yet a state of contemplation. My mind perceived that change was necessary, but my heart hadn’t quite accepted that it was time. This is because I’m usually not a quitter. A wise person once told me that a season is an appropriate period, but a moment is an appointed time. While I was preparing for the inevitable as best as I could during that season, a request came my way that initially shocked me, but it was just what I needed to make it clear to me that it was time. This was the request made to me in 5 words: “I want you to quit.”

Let me be VERY real: I was offended…ESPECIALLY since I went above and beyond my call of duty and there was no explanation behind the request. However, I was also relieved because I had already been searching for another option and I had an interview scheduled on the next morning. In hindsight, I view those 5 words as God’s way of telling me it was time because He knew that even though I was frustrated, I probably still would have had trouble leaving because I’d consider all of the great experiences I had at that establishment. 

Now that I’m older and wiser, I recognize that what we need may not be presented in the most appealing packaging. If I hadn’t heard those 5 words, I may still be painfully sitting on the fence. The moment had arrived and I would’ve missed it. It takes maturity and the right perspective to understand and embrace the following about life:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV) There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. 

Some of the greatest blessings that I’ve received came wrapped in peculiar packaging, but I’m grateful. I’ll leave you with this final note:

#SHIFThappens