“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. 

The Pressure Before the Push

by Danielle N. Hall

11/15/2016

I’ve had a host of memorable experiences in my lifetime, but something that left an indelible impression on me was the pregnancy and childbirth experience! I’ve had this great pleasure 3 times and EACH time was a different experience. Of note, is the journey to Maurice’s arrival: the debut of the second child. What a journey it was from the beginning to the end! I’m here to tell you alllll about it. Take a peek into my history…

Picture it…Washington, DC…2002. In the wee hours of the morning of May 12th I wasn’t feeling too well. I wasn’t alarmed, but I was feeling hopeful. To my pleasant surprise, I discovered I was with child. The added joy of this news is that the discovery was made on Mother’s Day! I was so grateful because I was confident that God had been unhappy with me and I wouldn’t be able to bear any more children. This was a significant experience of God’s grace towards me. I will NEVER forget how that made me feel. The joy was overwhelming, but then the real journey began and there were some tough moments.

In the first few months, I wasn’t able to keep down any water, ginger ale, soup, crackers, or anything else. The doctor’s response to this was the prescribing of Phenergan suppositories which were ineffective. Additionally, I would get severe headaches and I blacked out a couple of times. I was then prescribed Duradrin which seemed to be helpful. While I was indeed still grateful for grace, I have to admit I was NOT enjoying this part of the process. It gets even better, though! As much as I am a seafood lover, I recall being really excited about our to-go order from the Fish Market in Clinton, MD. We arrived home and proceeded to dig in. Unfortunately, both the smell and sight of the seafood made me severely nauseous. How could this be??? Time progressed and I began to crave very strange things: alphabet soup was one. The even more strange thing is that I would get sick if I waited too long to satisfy my craving and I would get sick each time I ate the soup. All of these foods my body rejected somehow translated into massive weight gain. I’m still perplexed about that. I also experienced consistent swelling of the ankles and very dry skin. This was a whole new world for me, especially since the previous pregnancy was much more calm and delightful. Oh, but there’s more…

A little after the midway mark, I began to not be able to sleep in a lying position and had to start sleeping in a sitting position with my back against a back rest pillow. The third trimester arrived and so did labor pains. I paid multiple trips to labor and deliver: long before he was due. I would have consistent contractions, but no dilation. I was prescribed yet another medication: terbutaline. My understanding was that this would alleviate the contractions and also help with asthma. That was a bonus since I was asthmatic during that time. Well, I can’t say that I was surprised, but the meds didn’t stop the contractions and it actually made me begin to have problems with asthma more. I was placed on bedrest in November with a due date of January 18th. This journey had been less than ideal, yet I was grateful still.

On one of the later trips to L & D, I received the first of a series of two shots in my rear to help strengthen the lungs of little Maurice in the event that he decided to arrive before his scheduled time. This was followed by a second visit 24 hours later to receive the 2nd shot. Did I mention that this was around the 11pm hour?! Fortunately, he decided to hang around inside for a little while longer.

The infamous day finally came! At 37 weeks, on December 31st, the contractions were truly coming and THIS TIME, I was not being sent back home empty handed. The contractions grew stronger and I wisely made sure I got an epidural. The problem was it kept feeling like it was wearing off too fast…this wasn’t good. By the time I was about 5cm dilated, I felt this extreme pressure to push. I was afraid because I knew it wasn’t time, but it sure felt like it. I got a few boluses to relieve this feeling, but the pressure was so strong. I was only halfway dilated and I didn’t know what was going to happen. It was quite an emotional experience. Several hours had passed. I was exhausted from resisting the urge to push and I was hungry. I snuck some of the Starlight mints I had developed a craving for earlier during the pregnancy. I also had some mini chewy Sweetarts. Unfortunately, this didn’t mix well with anesthesia so I got really sick. I grew increasingly frustrated because my body and proper timing weren’t in sync. When I had reached the time to push, I was almost too tired to do so due to all of the festivities before hand: extra anesthesia, nausea, and mental exhaustion. The time was here so I had to suck it up and rise to the occasion. The difficulty didn’t end before the push: it continued. Due to exhaustion, my strength was declined and little Maurice required the assistance of the doctor’s hands: that’s a nice way of saying the doc reached “in” and pulled him out because his shoulder was stuck. He was turning blue and needed a bit of stimulation to let us know he was ok. He did just that and I was finally relieved. WHAT A JOURNEY! I’m proud to say that he is a thriving, young man who has overcome many obstacles: including shoulder dystocia from the time of his arrival.

I shared this experience because when we spiritually conceive, it is a joyous occasion. As the journey progresses, we can encounter all sorts of challenges: discomfort from the baby growing inside, cravings for things that only will make sense to the one carrying, and the pressure to deliver before it’s time. This experience may exhaust you and you, too, may require a little birthing assistance. It is my prayer that whatever it is you’re carrying will be carried to term and will thrive when delivered.