Hannah Giselbach (previously Hannah Colley) is a beautiful young wife and mother who is an inspiration to many. This incredible woman regularly speaks at ladies’ days, keeps a blog, looks after her beautiful boy Ezra, and is a devoted wife to her husband Ben. She has also written a book, GIFTS (which is wonderful, by the way, I am currently studying with the girls at my congregation!), and co-written another book, Girl to Girl.
Since I am always on the lookout for “winners” to learn from, I had to have Hannah write for my blog. Have a read of what Hannah has to say about family, faith, and how to overcome the challenges that young women face today.
Chantelle: Tell me a bit about yourself and what you do (how long you been married, church work, etc.).
Hannah: I grew up as a preacher’s daughter living in the southeastern part of the US. I attended Freed Hardeman University where I obtained a Bachelors degree in English. I began dating Ben, the wonderful man that would become my husband, during my senior year, and I graduated in May of 2010. I taught high school English for a year, then was married in the summer of 2011. My husband is a minister and I’ve worked alongside him in the local work as well as in evangelistic efforts abroad since we were married three-and-a-half years ago. I also worked for three years
as a nanny for little children before I became pregnant with my own child, Ezra Lee, who was born six months ago in September. Now I’m a blissful stay-at-home mommy for my amazing son. My husband and I live in Montgomery, Alabama where my husband works for a church
leadership training program called Lads To Leaders.
Chantelle: What are some things your parents (or others) have taught you that have helped you as you come to have your own faith, and that you will implement with your own children?
Hannah: I was abundantly blessed with Godly parents who wanted nothing more than to help me get to heaven. As far back as I can remember, my parents taught me that “true success is living your
life and going to heaven.” They implemented that by having nightly Bible time with me and my brother. We were taught to “seek first the Kingdom” in all things. We were taught…no, SHOWN…that marriage when done God’s way makes all kinds of gorgeous sense, and that God’s ideal for marriage is one man for one woman for life.
One of the most meaningful, most loving things I was taught was that, in matters of religion, it doesn’t matter what they tell us. It doesn’t matter what the preacher says. It doesn’t matter what we think. All that matters is what the Bible teaches. They always told us that if we ever learn that something they taught us is not taught in the Bible, it is more important that we obey God than them. I’ve always respected that. My husband was also raised by righteous parents who fear God. I pray that Ben and I will be able to instill in Ezra the same love for truth and thirst for knowledge that was instilled in us.
Chantelle: What have you found to be a key ingredient to strengthening your relationship with your husband despite all the business?
Hannah: Respect. All men crave respect. He needs to feel that I support him and admire him in his role as the spiritual leader of our home. That needed respect manifests itself in a myriad of ways, and I fall desperately short in all of them, but I’m working on it. If I’m constantly spending outside of our budget, for example, my husband will feel that I don’t believe he is providing adequately for our family. My husband is a neat freak. If I constantly leave the house in a wreck, my husband will feel that his need to have a clean living space is unimportant to me. If I do not praise him for his strengths and limit my criticism of his weaknesses, he will feel defeated and downtrodden rather than uplifted and validated.
Chantelle: What do you believe is the greatest challenge we face as woman in today’s society?
Hannah: Our tongues. Women (including myself) are so bad about not thinking before we speak. On average, women speak 30%-50% more words than men do, so that means that we can either be doing 50% more good OR 50% more evil with our words than our male counterparts. Men
tend to internalize feelings while women tend to use our words as weapons, and that’s just so dangerous. Words, once they’ve escaped your lips, can never be unsaid.
Chantelle: If you could sit down for a coffee (or whatever it is you drink… What do you drink?!) with a young woman reading this and encourage them in one area, what would you say to them?
Hannah: Funny you should ask about coffee. I actually never drank coffee until I became a mother, and now it’s like some kind of obsessive primal addiction. I’m actually drinking a cup right now. Ha!
I’m sure that what I would say to a young woman reading this would greatly depend on her own personal circumstances, but one thing that I’m really having to learn is that you have to stop worrying so much about what other people think. I don’t mean you shouldn’t be concerned about your influence as a Christian. Your reputation is definitely very important if you desire to be evangelistic for the Kingdom. But your feeling of worth as an individual shouldn’t come from comparing yourself to other people. Do your best to obey God, and don’t worry about the small stuff. If you receive criticism, ask yourself, first of all, if it’s true and valid. If it is, consider the criticism a gift and work on finding ways to implement it in a constructive way. If it’s not true or not valid, throw it away and forget about it. It’s not worth your time to dwell on it.
In my new life adventure, motherhood, I’m gaining more confidence in my own decisions as a mother. I don’t really need the approval of other people (besides my husband, of course) in matters such as how I feed my child, how I clothe my child, how I discipline my child, how I clean my child, how I protect my child from illness, how I ensure safety for my child, etc. I shouldn’t depend on the opinion of others to give me a feeling of confidence and self-worth.
My strengths may not be your strengths. I can still go to heaven while being me. Comparing yourself to others can never end well. It will either make you feel inferior or arrogant. So serve God with your whole heart and just be you. Nobody else can be you better than you can. 🙂
Chantelle: Sometimes young women feel like they can’t be of use in the Lord’s church. How would you encourage someone who felt this way to be more involved?
Hannah: Everyone can do something. I might not have the same talents that you have, but that is what makes the church such a beautiful, fully-functional body. When everyone contributes their talents to the work of the church, beautiful, crazy-wonderful things happen. Maybe your talent is public speaking—teach a ladies class. Maybe you’re great with kids—teach a children’s class. Maybe you’re artistic—decorate a bulletin board. Maybe you’re a great writer—write a blog. Maybe you love to cook—take food to someone in need. Find women in the church who you admire and ask for ideas of ways you can become more involved. If you’re a member where there are elders, ask the elders to give you more opportunities to serve. You will surely be blessed in your efforts to make a difference in your local congregation.
Chantelle: I‘m sure you are very busy, working with the church, looking after your husband, and being a new mum. How do you find the time to work on your own spiritual growth and development?
Hannah: I don’t without discipline, determination, and routine. With the new year, I wrote out a schedule for myself with which I have a different study plan for each day of the week. One day is solely dedicated to Digging Deep, a ladies study group of which I’m a part. One day is for Bible marking, a study exercise I love. On Wednesdays I study what we are discussing in our Wednesday night Bible class. Saturdays I study what we’re discussing on Sundays at church. On Mondays I either read a spiritual blog or write a spiritual post for my own blog. On Thursdays I read a spiritual book to help me better understand some Biblical concept. I also try to keep an active prayer journal. I try to pray for a different “chapter” of that journal daily.
It’s not always easy to do this with a six-month old, but I try to set realistic goals rather than lofty ones to make them easier to reach and maintain.
Chantelle: What tools have you found useful in developing your own faith?
Hannah: Lots of fellowship with other Christians—I learn the very most from people I consider to be strong in the faith. I also like to read a lot—there’s a lot to be gained from reading blogs and books written by sincere Christians. I love discussing the scriptures with my husband and anyone else who is willing to challenge me to think critically. I hate shallow approaches to God’s Word. It’s a goldmine and there’s so much treasure to unearth when you really dig deep and strive to deepen your knowledge and understanding. I love a good, meaty debate about doctrine. What challenges me more than anything else is evangelism. Nothing motivates you to study more than trying to help someone else find the narrow way.
Chantelle: What is your favourite scripture and why?
Hannah: It’s really hard to pick a favorite, but I really like Proverbs 3:5-6 which says:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.”
I like the promise that if I trust, lean on, and acknowledge my God, He will work out all the details that I worry so much about. A similar verse I love is Romans 8:28, which promises everything works together for good if you’re living in His light.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Lately, I’ve really had this one on my mind from II Timothy 1:7:
“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Wow. That’s a bold, beautiful, no-nonsense statement and I love it.
Chantelle: What is your dream for the next generation of the church? What do you believe we can do as women to be a part of positive change?
Hannah: My dream is that the next generation of the church will be true restorationists. I don’t think the church, as God designed it, is non-denominational. It’s pre-denominational. We shouldn’t be trying to be more like the church of the 1950’s but rather the church you read about in your New Testament. I don’t know about all women, but I believe that for me, personally, the most important thing I can do to help the next generation of Christians is to prayerfully raise my children to love God, to love souls, and to constantly seek truth. If I am able to do that, I will have made a great difference in the church of tomorrow.
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See more of what Hannah writes on her blog, The Heart of Hannah.