The Warning

8/4/2019

by Danielle N. Hall

This poem is one of several I wrote and featured in the appendix my sophomore solo book: Dirty Little Secrets and The Little White Lie. “Calm” sums up most of my days: noisy, yet I steal away and find a moment of peace and quiet. Sometimes the noise is from external sources and sometimes it’s the sound of many thoughts dancing around in my mind. Either way, it can truly be overwhelming at times and what I need to really hear I may miss.

I’m reminded of an exchange I had with my eldest son, who I affectionately call my Big Boy. He’s the one who has willingly taken over the majority of the chef duties in the house. I have the privilege of getting at least one day a week in (insert sarcastic face here lol). Sunday is my designated dinner day. I admittedly cheat sometimes, though, and resort to food that has been prepared by other hands. Anyway, I do try to stick to my schedule. So in this exchange I had with Big Boy, who had ALSO become both the food police and food bandit in the house, he informed me of a few items we were in need of. One of said items was oil. I heard what he said, but remember that noise I mentioned before? The noise interfered with me storing that warning into the proper category. I won’t say that I ignored it, but I didn’t totally give it the attention it needed.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks afterwards. It was a Sunday, which means it was my dinner day. I was so excited about preparing the fresh produce I had picked up from the nearby Amish market on the Thursday before. I got a few things, but was most excited about the fresh broccoli and Brussels sprouts I had purchased from the market. Don’t gag…I used to have trouble with the thought of consuming Brussels sprouts for many years, too. The last time I sautéed the two vegetables together it was SO tasty and I think Big Boy shared the same sentiment because he had quite a healthy portion. I put my music on to get me going and I proceeded to prepare the veggies. I washed the veggies and cut the sprouts in halves and then cut the broccoli. Afterwards, I washed them again. I got ready to get my pan heated and realized: I HAD NO OIL! Surely, I had already received this warning some time before, but it wasn’t until I needed it that I realized that I didn’t have it.

Have you ever experienced this? You had your mind set to do something and moved forward with the plan and you realized that you didn’t have what you needed to effectively complete the task? Have you ever, with good intentions, attempted to engage in a godly endeavor, but realized you weren’t equipped?

Some are eager to step in places or to do things that they weren’t properly prepared for. Are you out of oil? Remember the parable of the 10 virgins?

Matthew 25:1-9 (AMP)

25 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins, who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish [thoughtless, silly, and careless], and five were wise [far-sighted, practical, and sensible]. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they did not take any [extra] oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil along with their lamps. 5 Now while the bridegroom was delayed, they all began to nod off, and they fell asleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! The bridegroom [is coming]! Go out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins got up and put their own lamps in order [trimmed the wicks and added oil and lit them]. 8 But the foolish virgins said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise replied, ‘No, otherwise there will not be enough for us and for you, too; go instead to the dealers and buy oil for yourselves.’

One thing the foolish virgins and I had in common: we weren’t prepared for what we set out to do…we all were in need of oil. I was warned, but because I didn’t immediately heed the warning, I had to interrupt what I was doing to be properly equipped to finish what I started. I, too, had to go out and buy oil. Don’t let this be you. When you receive a warning or a heads up, make sure you shut out the noise so you can appropriately respond to the warning. Fortunately, I was able to get oil and finish preparing my veggie dish, but it could’ve been completed faster. It could’ve been a more efficient experience.

If you’re reading this, consider THIS as your warning to not forget the oil (or any other “ingredient” you need to be prepared for the mission you set out for. More importantly, make sure that you silence the noise so that you clearly hear the warning and then respond appropriately.

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 💗

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)

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

 

Hot Sauce In My Bag

by Danielle N. Hall

6/9/2017

If you’ve been coherent and have had the ability to hear any time since the Super Bowl last year, chances are you’ve heard one of Beyoncé’s most catchy tunes: Formation. In said song, she makes a reference to what an unknowing listener may think is a condiment. “I got hot sauce in my bag, swag.” Let me make this very clear for the ones who may be unaware: she wasn’t talking about staying ready to douse Texas Pete, Frank’s Red Hot, Tabasco®, or Cholula on a nice, fried piece of catfish. I can show you better than I can tell you: here’s the “hot sauce” Bey was talking about she stays ready with.


Apparently, she wanted to let the people know to not be fooled by the fame and fortune…she’s still “country”, yet fierce and she’s not here for the foolishness. She wanted to let you know that you can get it.

I, too, have “hot sauce in my bag” and a message for the people. 


You can get THIS “hot sauce“, too! I recently had to make a pit stop at one of my favorite artillery shops to get one of my most useful weapons: “hot sauce” is what they call it. 

When I tell you that the past 6 weeks have been quite an exhausting adventure, please believe me! From my father’s next to death experience, to the Mr’s requirement of 3 procedures under anesthesia in a 10 day span, to the eldest child being faced with potentially repeating 12th grade, to the middle child being provoked and engaging in physical altercations, to dealing with vertigo…this has been a season to remember. It had been wearing me out and I knew exactly where I needed to go and what I needed to get. 

Turning Natural© is an establishment on a mission to create healthier lives by way of education opportunities and the products they offer. The line of juices includes my favs: Bromelionaire (pineapple, apple, and ginger), Beta Bomb (carrots, apple, oranges, ginger, and a hint of lemon), and 50 Shades of Green (chlorophyll, mint, pineapple, apple, and coconut water). There’s both a variety of smoothie options that don’t include any dairy products and a selection of vegan edibles that are tasty…the black bean burger is outstanding! 

All of that is great, but let me tell you about this hot sauce that’s in my bag: it’s a liquid vitamin blend of vitamins A-K.  Vitamins A-K are essential to keeping the body healthy and the mind alert. Lack of these vitamins can lead to fatigue, impaired vision, weak teeth and bones, and even serious illness. When we are constantly on the go and are constantly pouring out, we can get drained and fail to give our body what it needs for proper functioning. When it feels like life has been getting the best of me and has been wearing my body and mind out, I almost always think of stopping by my artillery shop aka Turning Natural© and loading up on weapons. “Hot Sauce” is one. It is served in a syringe, is refrigerated, and looks like the Cholula brand hot sauce you see atop many restaurant tables.

Your artillery shop might not be Turning Natural©. You may not identify “Hot Sauce” as your choice weapon like both Beyoncé and I have. My question is: what IS in your bag?

For more information on Turning Natural© visit http://www.turningnatural.com

Sweet Somethings

by Danielle N. Hall

11/1/2016

Remember when you were…well nevermind about how old you were, but remember that time when you heard those whispered babbles in your ear and you felt warm and fuzzy? Well, those are what are known as sweet nothings. According to one source, “sweet nothings” are affectionate, but unimportant words spoken to a loved one (usually whispered in his or her ear). I’m a firm believer, however, that #ALLwordsmatter. Sometimes, those sweet words are just what we need to calm a troubled spirit, to soothe an aching soul, or to quiet a noisy mind. Therefore, I choose to call kind or affectionate words, that are uttered by others toward me, sweet SOMETHINGS.


These sweet somethings featured above are just a few highlights of what I’ve received over the past 24 hours. Flowers are best when one is alive and able to receive them. These sweet somethings are like flowers to me. They are pleasant, they are mood enhancing, and they are meaningful.

Perhaps it’s crossed your mind to buy flowers for a loved one or for someone you care about, I submit to you to consider offering a different kind of sweet something: words of life. 

“A soothing tongue speaking words that build up and encourage is a tree of life…” – Proverbs 15:4a (AMP)

Don’t hesitate to be kind and to speak kindly to others. Unexpected kind words can be just as effective as an unexpected bouquet of flowers: they are sweet somethings. I’ll leave you with this note: “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet and delightful to the soul and healing to the body.”-Proverbs 16:24 (AMP)