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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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.

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!

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?

From the Waters…

by Danielle N. Hall

7/29/2017

Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Are you sick and tired of drowning in the seas of others’ opinions of what you should be doing or how you should be? I know I am, but I’ve got news…I’m coming from the waters:

Like Roger Waters: “The Tide is Turning”

Like Muddy Waters: “I Love the Life I Live”
Like Crystal Waters: “From the back to the middle and around again…”

Like Maxine Waters: I’m “Reclaiming my time!”


I’ve learned that allowing people to try to plot out your life’s course, worrying about people trying to determine your salvation, giving people free rent in your head space, doubting who you know you are, and hesitating in doing what God told you to do is a waste of time. It’s official: I’m #reclaimingmytime. I’ve wasted years swimming around in the troubled waters of doubt, fear, and limited thinking. What I’m not gonna do is dwell on how much further I could be if I hadn’t squandered time and opportunity, but what I am gonna do is resolve to move forward…and I’ll do so with great faith and perseverance. 

The tide is turning, I love the life I live…from the back to the middle and around again…I’m reclaiming my time! I’m coming from the “Waters”!!!

2 Samuel 22:17 (NASB) He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. 

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

 

Body of Evidence 

by Danielle N. Hall

12/22/2016

This a brief account of Danielle vs. Fear, Doubt, et al.
On August 3, 2014, was when the first piece of documented evidence in this case was established. See “Exhibit A” below:

Exhibit A – The First Step


Fear, Doubt, Procrastination, and Limited Finances had been holding her hostage, but on August 3, 2014, Danielle found a breakthrough moment. She had been searching within for a way of escape and then she discovered Faith. It wasn’t long before she found out Faith was one of her greatest assets. On said date, Danielle broke free from the grips of Fear, Doubt, et al. and, with Faith, she delivered a major blow to the aforementioned adversaries. Though she broke free, they continued to stalk her. However, Faith was strong and Danielle was resolute so those that had once intimidated her could no longer gain control over her.

On July 28, 2015, additional evidence in this case was established. Pictured below is a screenshot of what had been yet another blow to the perpetrators. We will call this “Exhibit B”.

Exhibit B – Progress Made


Surely, this was upsetting to Fear, Doubt, et al. and they continued to rear their ugly head. Months would pass and they continued to stalk, but Faith was still strong and Danielle was still resolute so there was no surrender from the two them. Danielle wanted to ensure she stayed free from the bondage of the adversaries so she delivered another blow just to make sure they understood she wasn’t weak. It’s depicted in “Exhibit C” below.

Exhibit C – The Fight to the Finish


Apparently, this was upsetting to Fear, Doubt, et al. and they would gain a couple more allies: Vertigo and Threat of Absolute Eviction. These two meant business and did temporarily knock Danielle down and weakened Faith. On July 17, 2016, Danielle received a life changing phone call and suddenly she was back up and Faith was yet strong again. Danielle took matters into her own hands and, with Faith, she triumphed over the adversaries (including the new allies).

Danielle would shortly after enter into an agreement with Faith and in just a matter of time the final counter assault was delivered to the adversaries. After many battles with the perpetrators, Danielle (with Faith, of course) prevailed. The last piece of evidence was the delivery of the final blow. On just yesterday, what started on August 3, 2014 was finally finished. Please direct your attention to Exhibit D.

Exhibit D – It Is Finished


“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – Hebrews 11:1 

“So too, faith, if it does not have works to back it up, is by itself dead inoperative and ineffective.” – James 2:17

If it had not been for faith and the mind to work, the finished work would not be so. Dewdrops: Refreshing for the Soul is the very “body of evidence” of said faith and the mind to work. I allowed fear of failure, doubt of success, procrastination, and little money once hindered me from moving forward, but I pressed and I am pleased to say that I have officially authored my first book. It will soon be available for purchase online and in the near future I’ll have a book signing.

For a final note, please know that you really can do all things through Christ who gives you strength and no matter what you lack, when you write the vision and set out to make it happen, God will make the provision so that it will manifest at the appointed time. Don’t quit. Just keep going!

“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” – Proverbs 24:10