“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.

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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.

Out of the Woods

by Danielle N. Hall

5/14/2016

There are those nervy few who find it exhilarating to play with fire. If I can be honest, I felt that way at one point in life…living on the edge and being impulsive to the point of fault. If you dared me to do something, I’d oblige. Fortunately, as I grew older I also grew wiser. Most importantly, being a mother has heightened my need to protect and be protected.

My children are precious to me and the thought of the presence of any danger to them puts me on warrior mode. Yet, before God allowed me to birth them, I lived life a bit on the wild side. I had spontaneous thoughts and spontaneous actions to follow. Every time I reflect on my “then”, I thank God for grace! If we are honest with ourselves, we can say we’ve done some unwise things. This is where I’ll insert the praise break starter “BUT GOD…!!!” 

When you mature, you recognize that life is about more than fun. I’m certainly not suggesting that you can’t enjoy life…it’s a gift and who wants a gift they can’t enjoy??? What I am saying is when fun is your focal point, you can miss out on some of the greatest things life really has to offer and you can find yourself being caught up in unnecessary peril. I speak from a place of experience.

I vividly recall an incident from my adolescent years. I was at a bus stop and decided that I didn’t feel like catching a bus that day and I wanted a ride. One showed up and without reservation I hopped in the car. I then found myself in an abandoned apartment building with a man who had a briefcase with God knows what in it. We went upstairs to one of the units. There was a dresser and a bed in the unit. I checked out my surroundings and I spotted an ink pen on the dresser. I remember thinking the following: “If this man touches me, I’m gonna use this pen in his eye to defend myself.” Here I was, in an abandoned apartment, with a very strange stranger, and was contemplating how I was going to defend myself: how frightening! That was one time I can say that I truly feared for my life. Fortunately, I got away unharmed and untouched.

This account is a prime example of spontaneous thoughts followed by spontaneous actions that turned out to be unwise. Now before casting judgment, to understand one’s choices, you must consider his/her experiences. Refer to one of my previous posts entitled “Dirty Little Secrets and The Little White Lie.”  https://daniellenhall.com/2016/04/26/dirty-little-secrets-the-little-white-lie/

The beauty in this is that I’m out of the woods and I’m still here today to share the story with you so that you may think before you act. What may seem like it’s harmless, or is just fun, can be more detrimental than perceived. Again, I’m older and wiser and I’m a mother. With any position there is an accompanying level of responsibility. In my position as mother, I understand the importance of considering consequences before acting. I endeavor to stay out of the woods. The same is true with my position as a Christian. I’m not professing to be perfect…I do falter at times, but I try hard to practice what I teach/preach. I believe our examples are impactful messages. 

Here’s a final thought:

Proverbs 9:11-12 (VOICE)

Lady Wisdom: “Through me your days will be lengthened, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, wisdom is its own reward. If you mock what you don’t understand, you alone will suffer the consequences.”