During the Christmas holidays, my intern Rachel and I took the residents of the Hannah House to look at lights at the zoo. We ventured out in the party wagon, over snow piled roads, all singing enthusiastically to the Christmas carols playing. At one point, we were stopped with a volunteer outside our window. Our 7 year old yelled: “Hey, guess what! Our whole family’s here! Well, everyone except Jen[*].” One of the ladies had not come, but the child naturally identified her as a member of the Hannah House family. We all laughed, and my heart was full.
Reflecting on the ways that God was at work in 2016 is humbling for me. A prayer that has been on my heart throughout the last year is that of establishing a sense of “family” at the Hannah House. Family can be the atmosphere, the space, the feeling that is associated with being in the company of those who love you and accept you unconditionally; family as defined by what is uplifting and supportive, rather than the experiences of broken families that many of the women know. I have wanted it to be more than just a bed or a house, but a home in which women are free to be themselves, free to explore being who God created them to be. My vision has been to create a space in which change can take place. I have sought ways to foster the sense of family, through meals and relational time, but ultimately, God has been the one who has brought this dream to fruition.
I was sitting at one of our Tuesday night bible studies listening to the gals share their hearts when it clicked that it had arrived, that somewhere along the way everyone had begun to relate to one another as a family. The Hannah House was no longer a place where women went about minding their own business and just getting by. It had become a place of growth and support, one in which the members of our family were genuinely invested in the lives of one another. It had become a place where meals, tears, and laughter were shared. It had become a place where conflict did not mean the end of a relationship, but rather challenged the participants to grow in maturity and empathy, to work through problems rather than run from them.
Along the way, the Hannah House has also become my home. It has become a place where I am free to be myself, a place of raw openness where I can share the struggles I am walking through. It has become a refuge for me, a place of blessing and joy. It is home to some of the hardest and deepest relationships I have had in my life. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 sums these relationships up well:
“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
God is doing a work at the Hannah House in the lives of all who pass through these doors, and I continually thank Him for His faithfulness.
– Muriah, Hannah House Director
[*] Jen’s name has been changed to protect her identity