I have to tell you about this 7th grader I met years ago. She was impressive even as a 12 year old. I often tease her that she acted like a 25 year old back then. It’s true; she was mature, insightful, outgoing, and made everyone in the room feel valued and like her best friend. We met while I worked at The Chapel in the Jr High department, and she was in my class. I had the privilege and opportunity to watch her grow over the years. When Hannah served as the First Glance Board President for four years, I really felt old.
Over the years Hannah has become my friend. I used to wonder as I watched people become friends with former students how that happens. And then it happened. Hannah and I stayed connected, and although she served on our board and even was the president, our friendship shifted when I started learning from her. One day over lunch soon after I found out I was pregnant, I told her I felt like I needed to start a new blog. To me this was weird. I already had one, and nobody read it. Why would I start a new one? I remember so clearly that warm day sitting outside the Mustard Seed and saying, “This doesn’t make any sense, but I feel like I’m supposed to start a blog and announce my healing and pregnancy. And I feel like I’m supposed to have you help me.”
Within a few days those first three blog posts about my healing and pregnancy were written. Hannah was the first person I sent them to. She edited and helped me launch my new blog. Little did we know that my son would die and blogging would be a way for me to process, inform our friends and family of our grief journey, and hopefully encourage others in their faith.
Hannah has continued to be a resource of information and insight for me, some with this blog. You should probably thank her because she’s the one that has continued to push me to write, post them on FB, and post the blogs that feel the most vulnerable or scary to write. I can’t tell you how often I send her one and say “Are you sure I can post this? It feels scary.”
Then a year ago, I invited Hannah to go away for a few days with me, think through, pray about, and brain storm what would happen if we started a conference called “bad-ass women of Akron unite.” As many of you know, Akron Women on Purpose came from that weekend just months later. And now we are planning the next conference for March 24th!
The thing I admire most about Hannah and continue to try and learn from is her natural, unconditional love for every person she comes into contact with. I saw this in Hannah when was she was 12 years old in the Jr High room and still see it now as she approaches 30. Over the years I have prayed a lot about seeing people as God sees them, and I can honestly say that Hannah does so without much effort. She genuinely sees the best in people, encourages them towards those things, and sees God honored because of it. Hands down she does it better than anyone I know. And yes, I did corner her one day and ask her how she does it because I wanted to learn. She will tell you the same thing she told me, that this is her spiritual gift. And anyone who has interacted with her will not deny that it is.
I am so very grateful for the way that God brings people into our lives “to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” (Heb 12:4) Hannah is certainly that for me!