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. 

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)

Sore Thumb

by Danielle N. Hall 

10/10/2016

Being different has been historically viewed as a negative. Whether it is a birth feature, a behavioral difference, or a matter of a choice of style…people tend to critically view these things and shun them. I submit to you that we were each uniquely designed to stand out with respect to individual purpose, yet be on one accord in heart. 

At the tender age of 2, I must have grasped ahold of this notion of being born to stand out. I had even found another way to spell “out”. Despite hearing my grandmother say: “O-U-T, OUT!” I’d discovered a way to spell it that had a different ring to it: “O-T-T, OUT!”. Soon I discovered that I was in error 😊. However, as time progressed, I found myself participating in spelling bees with children who were older than I. This was largely in part because I was afforded the privilege of taking classes with others who were in a higher grade until I reached the 2nd semester of my 3rd grade year; at that point, I was skipped to the next grade. While everyone was not as welcoming of this privilege, I’m truly grateful.

Here’s something important to note: though we are uniquely designed to stand out with respect to purpose, it does require others to help you achieve that purpose. Consider this: if you pioneer an organization for the cause of meeting a specific need, in order for the purpose of that organization to be fulfilled you will (at minimum) need the people who you endeavor to help. Be careful to not confuse being outstanding with being independent. The following scripture may better convey the point I’m attempting to make:

How would a giant eye be able to hear? And if the entire body were an ear, how would an ear be able to smell? This is where God comes in. God has meticulously put this body together; He placed each part in the exact place to perform the exact function He wanted. If all members were a single part, where would the body be? So now, many members function within the one body.” 1 Corinthians 12:17-19 (VOICE)

As a member of the body of Christ, I may be an eye. I say this because it’s been my experience to see something that may otherwise be insignificant and I get an encouraging message from it. This particular writing is an example of one such experience. Below is a picture that I took to capture the moment that would later develop into this writing.


While in my vehicle, after having finished a delicious portion of spicy kale, I looked for a bag to dispose of the trash. I typically keep one in the car, but on that particular day I didn’t have one. In an effort to try to make the trash more contained, I attempted to bend the fork I was using so that it would fit in the container. I was unpleasantly surprised at how strong this fork was; I was trying to get this container sealed and was encountering all types of resistance from the fork. I bent it and turned it in so many directions…to no avail. At that moment it occurred to me: the fork wasn’t designed to fit in that container and that’s why it was standing out! Immediately, I said to myself: “Self, you have to take a picture of this and share about being designed to stand out.” I had no idea what I’d write or when I’d write it, but I got up early this morning and began to type and this message is the result. 

My friends and I often joke about how I see common things and get a message out of it, but it’s a perfect example of having unique, individual purpose. Embrace the gifts that God has given you and don’t be afraid to be like the proverbial “sore thumb”. I leave you with this final thought:

Now you collectively are Christ’s body, and individually you are members of it each with his own special purpose and function…And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering; if one member is honored, all rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27, 26 

Strength In Unity

by Danielle N. Hall

9/24/2016

When I walked out to leave for work yesterday, I observed that my rear driver’s side tire had gone flat. Mind you, I already have one plugged tire and had recently replaced the rear passenger tire with a used one. At any rate, I enlisted the help of a uniformed passerby who was kind enough to apply my spare tire and who refused to accept the money I tried to offer. He mentioned that I needed to replace all 4 tires and get an alignment to avoid future uneven wearing. I’d just recently received the same recommendation when I went to have an oil change. Not that I was trying to delay, but the way my bank account is set up…

Fast forward to the evening. I went to a tire business after work to inquire about the cost of 4 new tires. It was significantly less than what had been quoted to me at the place where I received the oil change. This was pretty much a no brainer. I decided to go ahead and get the issue resolved there. I went inside as the work was being done and in about 5 minutes, the manager said: “You’re ready.” I was perplexed. I said you mean you mean it’s finished and then he affirmed. CLEARLY, this was the result of teamwork. 

“Strength In Unity”


As with most of my daily experiences and observations, I get a lesson or encouragement. Yesterday’s experience was a reminder of the strength in, and power of, unity: we can achieve so much when we work together. I’m still in awe of how quick the work was completed and am encouraged to be an even better team player. 

Here’s a final thought for your consideration:
“Beyond all these things put on and wrap yourselves in unselfish love, which is the perfect bond of unity [for everything is bound together in agreement when each one seeks the best for others.]” Colossians 3:14 (VOICE)

Hello From The Other Side

by Danielle N. Hall

7/26/2016

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably window shopped at least once or twice in your life. I’ve seen some display items that were appealing, and others not so much. I must say that I may have even unfairly estimated how good a store was based on what I could see from the outside. 

The truth is, this type of bias is also applicable to our perspectives when it comes to people. When we are outsiders looking in, what we can view is limited.


You can observe a person’s behavior, but you can not fully perceive who they are based on that limited view. It’s when you are granted access to what’s inside that you can better estimate or deduce…even then, the perception may be skewed based on your personal experiences. Here’s a light example: if you were to look through my living room window and see that there are multiple video game consoles, you might deduce that playing video games is a regular activity of choice for our household. However, it is rare that we all engage in that activity. 

How about this for a better example: today after dropping my sons off at cadet camp on my way to work, I observed what appeared to be a conflict between mother and son. I only briefly heard part of the exchange, but I would soon find out that she was requesting him to remove his earring and give it to her. I was getting ready to pull off, but from my rear view mirror I saw her pretty much chasing him. I parked and got out of the car to try to peacefully intervene. When I approached them, I began speaking to the young man and his mom. He said “No one will ever listen to me.” I told him that I was willing to hear what he had to say, but I also helped him understand the importance of being respectful. She then mentioned that she was going to go sign him in. While his mom was inside I continued to communicate with him. He expressed that she had previously permitted him to wear the earring so it was upsetting that she changed her position on today. She returned to where we were and perhaps the corporal asked about the young man and he then came outside. We all talked and then the corporal stepped away with the young man. It was at this time that the mom disclosed to me that he was adopted. She said she had him since he was 9 days old. She mentioned that he lacks for nothing and that the family had just returned from a nice vacation. She said that he just likes to have his way and he just doesn’t like when she tells him what to do. I mentioned to her that it may be possible that he has resentment towards his birth mother that manifests in defiance towards her. I’m an outsider looking in, so I really can’t say…but I took that moment to enlighten her that there may be something deep rooted within that she can’t see from the outside. I asked if it was ok for me to pray with him, she agreed and I did. Before I left, he walked over to her and hugged her. Those doggone allergies started getting the best of me 😊. I told her I would be praying for them both and I did just that when I got back in my car.

I shared this experience to encourage you to not make concrete assumptions from the outsider’s position. That isn’t always a great vantage point. If you’re in a home and you look OUT of a window, chances are you would see more than if you were on the outside peering IN. Be open minded.

I leave you with this final thought:

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” – Robertson Davies

Unnecessary Roughness 

by Danielle N. Hall

6/2/16

MOMENT OF THOUGHT:

Just before reaching the office this morning, the phrase “unnecessary roughness” crossed my mind. It led me to begin to think of how we are sometimes too hard on ourselves. This unfortunate fact can be attributed to (but isn’t limited to) past rejection or hurt from others, embracing the standards of others, or having a propensity to please people. In these situations we tend to lose ourselves and the inclination to love ourselves.


MOMENT OF TRUTH:

For years, I focused the majority of my energy on comforting and loving others and sacrificing for them. It took some time and courage for me to decide that I was going to start making sure I invested in my own happiness and well-being, too. The above picture represents one of such investments. It was taken at the Red Door Spa on my birthday last year. I’ve made an executive decision that this would be a consistent treat for me. Sadly, though, when I initially made the decision I actually felt a little bit guilty and I started to beat up on myself. This is because I’d grown accustomed to neglecting me. I began thinking about how finances are limited and how that money could be better utilized for a household need. Then when I began to reflect on how relaxing and rejuvenating the Red Door experience was, the guilt started to fade away. There are other ways that I’ve been less than kind to myself in the past, but I’m learning to be more loving and caring to me.

MOMENT OF THANKS:

There is a multitude of ways to be kind and gentle to ourselves. Consider the following activity that I thought of this morning:

Write a “Thank You” note to yourself. This may be a little unusual because often when we reflect we focus on struggles, headaches, heartaches, and bad choices. Today, however, I encourage you to do something strange for a change. While you write, sing to yourself the following lyrics: “Loving you is easy ’cause you’re beautiful.”