About Hanna

www.dearhanna.com // Writer, educator, & enthusiast of the high school through college years. Student Enrichment Coordinator @BelmontUniv. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose.

What if a wedding isn’t about the bride + groom?

View More: http://jordanquinnphoto.pass.us/hannatylerIf you follow me on instagram, you know that my husband and I just celebrated our one year anniversary. I was slightly obnoxious with the amount of pictures I posted, both of our beach vacation and photos from our wedding. I couldn’t help myself. All day long on our actual anniversary, I was constantly reminiscing about our “big day”.

The great irony in all of this is that I did not want a big fat Christian wedding. I wanted to elope with only our immediate family, say our vows on a remote island somewhere far away, and avoid all the hoopla.

But hoopla we had. And as we scrolled through all our photos and watched hours (yes hours) of video footage from the day, I realized something profound. While March 22, 2014 was an important day for Tyler and me—the pieces of the day that I kept reminiscing about, that made my heart so full, were the ones that pointed to the faithfulness of our God and the honoring of our friends and family.

Our wedding day wasn’t so much about us as it was about testifying of God’s goodness and honoring the people in our lives.

Were Tyler and I the reason 200 folks gathered in a Nashville chapel on a Saturday? Sure. But the central figure was God and the guests of honor were those friends and family who worshiped, dinned, and danced with us.

Not to pat our own backs (truly), but I have to tell you that we were very intentional about this. After the wedding, my dad kept saying, “People showed up for a wedding and a worship service broke out!” Yes, it did—but that was not a surprise to Tyler or me. That had been our intention and prayer the whole planning season.

Pretty much every decision we made while planning (ok…except my dress) was filtered through the lens of how to best honor God and our guests. And while that sounds all good, Christian, and godly—that’s not my point. My point is that our intention paid off.

Because if our wedding had just been about the bride and groom, it would have fallen flat.

Looking back over our photos and footage would have been nice, but not as meaningful. Think about it. Think about the last time you achieved personal success. It was really important to you in the moment, but as time passed it faded. You are now hungry for more, even greater, success. I’m the same way. My personal achievements never satisfy for very long. And that’s what our wedding day would have been if it was just about us. A fun, expensive weekend that was great—but fades pretty quickly and leaves me a little unsatisfied.

Instead, as we reminisced, my heart only got fuller. LOOK HOW GOOD GOD IS! LOOK AT THESE AMAZING PEOPLE THAT GOD PUT IN OUR LIVES. Every way we turned, that weekend was about how rich our lives were because of God and friends and family.

Which finally (phew. I know. Thanks for sticking with me) leads me to my point.

Reminiscing over my wedding day made me realize that someday, hopefully many, many years from now, I will be reminiscing over my life. And how I feel about the success of my life isn’t going to be about me.

 What if my life isn’t about me?

 My heart is only going to be full if I’ve made my life about testifying of God’s goodness and honoring the people He puts in my life.

I know this is insanely counter-cultural. In our society, a wedding is all about the bride and this American life is all about me, me, me.

But we’ve got it wrong. And deep down you know it.

What if you and I lived every day with intention to testify of God’s goodness and honor the people He puts in our lives? Every day. With fierce intention.

I think our hearts would be much, much fuller than they are now. When I live for me, each day eventually falls flat. But when I live for God and people, each day grows fuller and grander over the years. That’s called a legacy.

Hannah’s Prayer: Rejoicing amidst sacrifice


When I was a little girl, one of my favorite books was called “Hannah’s Prayer”. Of course, my true interest as a five year old was that the main character shared my name– though she spelled it wrong– but after hearing Hannah’s story probably hundreds of times, Hannah’s Prayer became one of my favorite passages in the Bible.

The children’s book was based off an Old Testament story found in 1 Samuel. Hannah was married to a very good man but struggled with infertility and desperately wanted a child.  After years of crying out to the Lord, she makes a vow to God that if He gives her a son, she will dedicate him to the Lord by having him grow up in the temple in order to become a priest.

If you are familiar with the story, you know that God hears Hannah and answers her prayer by allowing her to become pregnant and give birth to a son. And then, the author of 1 Samuel records what I think is the most beautiful and amazing prayer perhaps in all of Scripture. Now, I will admit I am partly drawn to this prayer because it is spoken by a woman but it really is the most captivating and breathtaking prayer.

Hannah prayed,

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
my horn is exalted high because of the Lord.
I loudly denounce my enemies,
for I am happy that you delivered me.
No one is holy like the Lord!
There is no one other than you!
There is no rock like our God!
Don’t keep speaking so arrogantly,
letting proud talk come out of your mouth!
For the Lord is a God who knows;
he evaluates what people do.
The bows of warriors are shattered,
but those who stumble find their strength reinforced.
Those who are well-fed hire themselves out to earn food,
but the hungry no longer lack.
Even the barren woman gives birth to seven,
but the one with many children withers away.
The Lord both kills and gives life;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
The Lord impoverishes and makes wealthy;
he humbles and he exalts.
He lifts the weak from the dust;
he raises the poor from the ash heap
to seat them with princes
and to bestow on them an honored position.
The foundations of the earth belong to the Lord,
and he has placed the world on them.
He watches over his holy ones,
but the wicked are made speechless in the darkness,
for it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails.
The Lord shatters his adversaries;
he thunders against them from the heavens.
The Lord executes judgment to the ends of the earth.
He will strengthen his king
and exalt the power of his anointed one.” (2 Samuel 2:1-10)

Does that not make your heart swell with praise and gratitude? Phew. But here’s what I just discovered last week.

Though I knew that story like the back of my hand, I had one detail wrong.

(I’m learning more and more that the bible stories we are sure we know, we usually remember some piece of it incorrectly.)

In my memory, Hannah uttered that beautiful prayer after she gave birth to her son, Samuel. She was thanking God for answering her prayer! But that is not the case.   Hannah did not pray that prayer right after she realized she was pregnant or right after Samuel was born. She proclaimed that prayer right before she gave her son up and left him to be raised by the temple priest. 

Hannah prayed and rejoiced in the Lord– not when God gave her what she wanted– but when she was facing sacrifice and loss.

For five or six years, she had cared for and cherished Samuel as her one and only son. She headed for the temple knowing she had to make good on her promise. Her prayer is not one of weeping, complaints, or asking God for another way. Her prayer is full of confidence, hope, joy, and trust in the Sovereign and Almighty God.

How opposite is that from how you and I operate?

We love to worship God and sing His praises when things are going our way, when we are being given what we want.  When was the last time you praised God like Hannah in the midst of loss, hardship, or sacrifice?  When was the last time God asked you to give something to Him and instead of praising Him you whined, complained, or begged Him for another way?

You and I need to learn how to recognize God’s goodness, faithfulness, and perfect provision in the midst of challenging times.

And not just recognize it– how to shout it out for all to hear. Because here’s when it gets really good: After Hannah prays her magnificent prayer and leaves her son in the temple as she promised, God blesses her even more. After years of struggling with infertility, Hannah ends up having three more sons and two daughters.

When we joyfully look to God and keep our eyes fixed on Him in the midst of grief, hardship, or sacrifice, God will overflow our cup with His goodness and abundant provision.  It’s in His nature to care for those who choose to praise Him in the difficult times. And He is always, always worth of our praise.

Jesus doesn’t like me.

Each one of us has a tape playing over and over in our heads.  It’s filled with messages we tell ourselves on a continuous loop. Some of the messages are true; some are false.

It wasn’t until my mid-twenties when I began to become aware of the messages that I was playing over and over to myself.  And one of those messages was particularly damaging.

You see, I knew I was loved. My parents raised me with continual reminders of their unconditional love for me, and more important, God’s unconditional love for me. I definitely knew and believed that I was deeply loved by God and others.

Yet, as I sat on the couch across from my counselor, this sentence came stumbling out of my mouth:

Oh, I know Jesus loves me; I’m just not so sure He likes me.

Sister said what?! –That’s what I imagine my counselor was thinking, even though she just smiled and nodded, waiting for me to unpack what I had just said.

Growing up, we joked a lot amongst my family, “I really love you, but I don’t like you right now.” I say we joked, but many times that was a sincere statement.

I think we can all relate to that. The people we love the most tend to get under our skin the most, make us angry, hurt our feelings, and so forth.  We love them, would die for them, but sometimes we just don’t like them.

Unfortunately, that concept within human relationships translated to a theological level for me. I was convinced of God’s unconditional love for me, but I was also pretty convinced that He didn’t really like me. Scripture tells us that our Creator knows us better than we know ourselves, and if that’s true– which I believe it is– why on earth would God like me?!

But that bad theology didn’t stop there.

Because if God didn’t really like me, then there was no way that people could genuinely like me, and I certainly couldn’t like me.

You see, the way we perceive God to feel about us is the ultimate measure of how we believe other people can feel about us.  If you struggle with believing God loves you, you probably don’t believe people can truly love you. For me, I didn’t believe my friends would genuinely like me if they fully knew me. So I kept everyone close enough–so they felt like we were good friends–but far enough away so that they didn’t see any of my dark spots, rough edges, or learn my secrets. Because if they knew that stuff, they wouldn’t like me.

But God does like me. He likes you too.

He may not always be pleased with our decisions. He may feel grief or pain over a mess we made, but He in his overwhelming, unconditional love towards us, He also likes us.

LIKE [lahyk], verb

1. to take pleasure in; find agreeable or congenial
2. to regard with favor; have a kindly or friendly feeling for (a person, group, etc.)

David, the psalmist, warrior, and king, said it best, “He rescued me because he delights in me.” (Psalm 18:19b)

David was a “man after God’s own heart” but he was also a murderer, an adulterer, and a big fat sinner like the rest of us.  Yet, God delighted in him.  Another translation says God “was pleased” with him.

I don’t know what messages the tape in your head is continuously playing, but perhaps some of you resonate with what I’m saying.

What false messages are you telling yourself over and over that affect your relationship with God and others?

God loves you. God likes you.  And He created you, as His image bearer, to be in healthy relationships with other people who show that same kind of love and like that He shows us.

So you’re busy?

a-stressed-business-woman-looks-tired-she-answer-telephones-in-her-officeNo one’s impressed.

I will never forget those words my mom spoke to me while I sat at the kitchen table. It may seem harsh, but that’s my momma. Speaks truth like it is. No sugar coating. Straight to the heart. She has the discernment to know when you can take it straight and when you might need it wrapped in a hug.

No one is impressed by how busy you are.

For the last two weeks, I’ve been insanely busy. Now, my schedule is normally full but the last two weeks were over the top, out of control. I’ve been surviving. Barely. Not enough sleep. Not enough quality time with my husband. Not enough quality time with my God. Not enough rest. And definitely not enough quality time with any of our friends or family. In the slew of my busyness, everyone was getting the short stick. Including me. At some point along the way, you and I believed our culture’s lie that busyness is godliness. If you aren’t busy, you’re not important. You’re not hustling enough. You’re not contributing enough. You’re not valuable enough. You’re not enough.

Being busy is king. We think our crazy schedules should be admired. People should recognize how busy we are and realize how important and impressive we are.

So what does being too busy really mean?

It means you’re a slave to your schedule. It means you aren’t prioritizing well. It means you aren’t letting go of things that need to be let go. It probably means you aren’t spending quality time with the people you love. It definitely means you aren’t taking care of yourself.

No one is impressed by how busy you are.

So how do you and I get out of the busy trap?

1. Stop glorifying your busy schedule. Remind yourself that no one is impressed.  Being busy doesn’t mean you’re superwoman.

2. Say no. That two-letter word can be so hard to say, but if you’re too busy, say it.  Say no to everything, and I do mean everything, until you start feeling balanced again.

3. Look at how you’ve been spending your time and see what top priorities you’ve been neglecting. For me the last two weeks, those top priorities were time with my face in the Bible, quality time with my husband,  set time to actually rest/relax, and working out (aka taking care of myself).  I can’t expect to feel like I’m doing more than barely surviving if I’m not doing those things. Yet, those are always the first things to go when my schedule gets busy. That’s just plain insanity.

So, let’s stop the insanity.  Stop the busyness.  As my momma would say, “No one’s impressed anyway.”

Now, do you need a hug?

Facing rejection


Whether we’re jocks, musicians, actors, or mathletes, at some point in our childhood, we began the process of “trying out” for teams or auditioning for certain roles or opportunities.

Eventually, we all experienced rejection. You didn’t make the varsity squad or get the role you wanted in your high school play. You didn’t get accepted into your first-choice college.  You didn’t get the internship you wanted.  You didn’t get the job.

The longer we live life, the more we will face rejection.

But what if rejection doesn’t have to be taken personally?

When I was in high school, a musical theater director of mine introduced me to his personal theory I like to call The Bagel Theory.

Hear me out.

All of us musical theater kids, we were all bagels. My friend Chloe was a chocolate chip bagel; My friend Anna was a sesame bagel; I was a blueberry bagel.  You get the idea.  We were all great bagels, but we were each a different kind of bagel.

When auditioning for a certain role, Chloe, Anna, and I could all be up for the same part.  We would all be uniquely great for the role, but at the end of the day, the casting director was looking for a certain type of bagel.  Chloe may get the gig because they were looking for a chocolate chip bagel.  It didn’t mean that Anna or I weren’t amazing bagels. We just weren’t the bagels they were looking for.

Suddenly, getting rejected for a part wasn’t a judgement of our talent or abilities, it was just a reflection of someone else’s preferences.

While I don’t audition for musical theater roles anymore, The Bagel Theory, has truly shaped how I look at every application, interview, or opportunity I seek.

Now here’s where I like to combine The Bagel Theory with The Sovereignty of God.

My job is to work hard, be prepared, and show up for the opportunity. I just need to be the best darn blueberry bagel God has created me to be.  Then, if this is the right job, internship, college, or other opportunity for me, God will take care of the rest!

So now when I am rejected, not only is it not a reflection of my value, but I can trust in God’s Sovereignty, that it just wasn’t His best for me!

But you can always find someone who is better, stronger, smarter, faster, prettier than you.

Totally. I’m not trying to ignore the fact that every person is given a unique set of skills and abilities.  But that’s just it.

God has given you a unique set of skills, talents, and abilities!

And He is going to open the doors to opportunities that He has planned out for you.  He’s also going to close doors that you and I think are perfect for us, when He has other plans in mind.

The longer I live, the more and more thankful I am when God closes a door. I only want to be exactly where He wants me to be. Rejection is no longer a reflection of my worth.  It’s a reflection of God’s sovereign hand over my life.