Today I get to introduce to an old friend who is someone I get to see quite often- she's in our couples' small group! Many of the friends I have introduced you to so far are friends who are far-away, but this friend is just on the other side of town. Hannah and I have an interesting friendship story. She and I both grew up in Marietta and were friends with the Neese family. The Neese family attended our church, and the Hodges (Hannah's family in Marietta) were neighbors with the Neese family and all shared many childhood memories. When I went to school at UGA, my friend Ali Neese (now Ali Hatley) told me all about a girl I just had to meet. Enter Hannah. She and I both attended the UGA BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries) and hit it off pretty easily. Hannah is one of four girls, I have one sister, the Neese family has four kids, three of which are girls, and Hannah also has two cousins that moved to Marietta in high school. Needless to say, we had some fun times together through college on holiday breaks. We made some pretty infamous music videos (if we are friends on Facebook you can find them there. You're welcome.), ate a lot of cheese dip, and rang in many new years. Hannah is an amazing woman, and I am so glad that I get to introduce you to her today!
Tell us about yourself. Who are you?
Hi everyone! My name is Hannah Hussain. I am 28 years old and I live in Athens, Ga with my husband, Nick and our cat, Ivie. We love Jesus and our church family. I am also still getting used to the fact that I will be a mother to a little human in June of 2016! I teach 8th grade English/Language Arts in Clarke County. I love to read, write, and be outside as much as possible. I will explore any hiking trail any time-- rain or shine! I just helped to start an Ultimate Frisbee team at my middle school, and that's one of my favorite things in life right now.
How did you come to know the Lord?
My dad is a youth minister, so I was literally raised IN the church... I'm pretty sure there were some weeks growing up that I spent more time there than I spent at home! However, over-saturation of church comes with its own costs, namely that I struggled to have assurance in my faith as my own and not just the repetition of words and stories and songs in my head. I asked Jesus into my heart at a Chili's restaurant when I was 7, but my journey of knowing the Lord has extended my entire teenage and adult life. In high school, I didn't believe that God would love me even when I made mistakes, and I believed that I had to be perfect all the time to earn his love. I had a breakthrough at a summer camp (cliche', right?) my junior year of high school when I admitted to my mentor that I wanted to give up my drive to be perfect all the time so that I could lean on the grace of God.
In college, away from the church that raised me, I encountered a myriad of conflicting influences. I tried to attend every campus ministry at once, and couldn't find a place that felt like a church home. I made friends in my dorm who didn't have the same values as I did, and while I didn't engage in harmful behaviors, I wasn't filling my mind with godly things. I felt off-center and confused. I continued to try different things to get that "feeling" of being a Christian back, all the while not actually maintaining my relationship with my savior. I worked at a Christian summer camp and started dating my future husband, but I still wasn't really in the center of God's will. It wasn't until the summer after my junior year of college, during my 3rd summer of working at camp, that I was able to be broken enough to really understand my adult need for Jesus to be in charge of my life. I still fight God often and try to take control of my life, and he gently and patiently guides me back into the comfort of his will. I am reassured by Proverbs 3:5-6 that if I trust in Him and "lean not on my own understanding," that He "will make my paths straight."
What do you think it means to be a woman of influence right where you are?
I am learning more and more that my attitude is a clear reflection of how God is working in my life. If I choose to be grumpy or anti-social, I am missing out on opportunities to share God's love with other people. If I choose to be generous even when I don't feel generous, God is able to work through me and change others in ways that I would never have expected. God needs me to be open to anything he puts in my path, and I have to be willing and bold enough to take part in what He is doing.
How does the Lord allow you to shine His light through teaching?
Most people would classify middle school as the most difficult years of life. Middle schoolers are really struggling to build their identities while pummeled constantly by hormones and acne and "mean girls" and the worst kind of peer pressure. They can be rude, abrasive, and downright disrespectful. However, I chose to teach middle school because of the chance to mold minds before they get to high school and have cemented their beliefs. Middle schoolers are very open to discussions of beliefs and worldviews, and they have so many questions. I can be influential to my kids by modeling what it looks like to be a stable, confident woman who is still gentle. I can respond to their attempts to make me angry with God-given patience. Many of my students come from homes where they don't get positive reinforcement or encouraging words. I am able to have amazing, life-giving conversations with students who may otherwise never hear a positive word during their entire day. What a gift for me to be part of God working in this way! When I respond positively in a negative situation, I am also able to show the light of Christ to my co-workers. Teaching can be a discouraging job, which creates a backdrop where God's light and love are so much more evident when they are shared.
What is the best piece of marriage advice you've been given?
In our pre-marital counseling, our friend Linda reminded me that all of my issues would become Nick's issues once we got married, and that for our marriage to be healthy, I had to be healthy-- physically, mentally, and spiritually. It would be selfish of me to assume that I could neglect myself and still be a good wife. When I work to make sure that I am all-around healthy, our marriage really benefits!
What is your favorite verse or passage of Scripture?
Ephesians 2:1-10 is one of my favorite passages because of the complete picture it gives of who I am in Christ.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
What is one truth you want others to remember and cling to?
You will never be enough, but God will always be enough.
And last but not least: coffee or tea?
TEA in any form... especially Celestial Seasonings' Sleepytime tea!