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This is my story.



I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.







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I sit at the dining room table most mornings while Novi plays. I open my Bible and I spend time with God. I know she’s too young to “get it” but I keep the routine predictable.

If you ask me why I’m a Christian today, I will tell you it’s because my mother never deviated from her routine. Every day, without fail, I saw her sitting at the dining room table with her Bible open and her notebook out. When life was good. And when life was hard. I wanted that stability… I wanted to be just like her.

I started seeking God and trying to figure out what I believed when I was 20 years old. For myself but also for that woman sitting at the kitchen table all those years.

I watched my mother go through the hardest things a mother should have to go through with my brother who, at the time, was heavily addicted to a variety of drugs. She seemed so strong, even in the midst of the biggest storm, and I envied the foundation she stood upon. Even amidst the turmoil, she handed her life to a God who she believed was good.

Meanwhile, things I’d chosen in my own life were starting to mean less to me. The empty kisses. The hangovers that left my insides feeling ransomed. The ache to be wanted by anyone, even if that want was purely physical and transactional. I found myself always asking, “Is there something more to this? Does my life mean more than this? Am I ever going to feel like you are there, God?”

I had one prayer all those years: Please, God, if you are real- please make it so my life is not an accident.

Almost like Elizabeth Gilbert, minus Italy or Bali or the hot Italians, I went on a quest to find God. I was 20 years old. I was broken-hearted. I went barreling around a Catholic campus to find him. I was hungry for anything that would make my existence seem more real, like there was some kind of substance to this life that I was leading.

I found people who wanted to study the Bible with me, and I was pumped. Little did I know, these people were part of a group that would be banned off-campus in the following months.

I learned later that this group was classified as a Christian-based mind control cult. One that is banned across different cities and college campuses. It’s been cracked open by dozens of news stations who have gone undercover to produce exposes. It’s listed in encyclopedias that get down to the bones of cults across the world. There are thousands of testimonies tucked into the internet about wives that left their husbands, daughters who left their parents, all for this one group. My 15-page testimony is buried somewhere in the clutter of the noise. I chose to be anonymous when I first wrote down all that had happened to me. I thought if it was anonymous then it meant it would all get erased one day.

I was a victim of what experts call a “spiritual tear down.” I was told that I was worthless. They convinced me that my previous faith practices were worthless. They told me their way, their group, was the one way to be saved. I was expected to give up all my past life for this group. If I denied their beliefs, they tore me down.

I was spiritually manipulated. I felt excluded from the Gospel. They used the vulnerable parts of my story against me. They made me write down all my sins and confess them to the group in deep detail. I was told that I and the people I loved would not get into heaven if I didn’t join the group. I was told I was selfish over and over again. If ever I rebutted a part of their belief system, I was the selfish one. I was told over and over again that I was in the dark and I needed to do whatever it would take to be in the light.

My body told other stories though. I woke up each day and found less of a reason to get out of bed. I was exhausted. Tired. Emotional. I was empty and even God did not want to speak to me. I was not clean enough for him yet. I pulled away from normalcy more and more each day, caring less about my commitments, my school work, or my writing, and fixating on the happiness I could only achieve through surrendering myself to this group.

I am writing today as someone who was saved from this group. As someone who has struggled to tell this story. To be quite honest, I still wince when I share my story because there’s a part of me that wonders if I am wrong.

I spent years thinking God was mad at me. More than anything, I was mad at God. “I went looking for you,” I wrote earnestly into my journal. “I went looking for you and you left me in this mess.”

For a long time, I was heartbroken by God. If he and I could have set a relationship status on Facebook, it would say: It’s complicated— And it was exactly what “It’s complicated” really means— we were a bit broken and estranged; we could not fully let the dance go so we still called from time to time but I was never bold enough to ask the real question: Am I staying or am I going?

I get what people mean when they say God has broken their hearts. I felt that way and it took me a long time to uncover the goodness of God while weeding out man’s need to overpower others with religion. I wish I could say sorry to the many, many people who’ve been hurt by religion or had the Bible used against them as a weapon. I am sorry for the way human hands contort the beauty of Grace. I am sorry for the way people have judged you, and shamed you, and forgotten you.

The other day, Novi crawled up on the chair beside me while I was spending time with God and started to doodle in her own storybook Bible. She sat with me the whole time and I fought back tears. She’s too young but maybe one day I’ll tell her the truth:

“Your relationship with God is deeply personal and deeply intimate and it’s okay if the story isn’t finished yet. It’s okay if you have to search for a while. Over time, it will give itself a name. It will roar quietly inside of you and you won’t be able to ignore it.

But whatever that is, whenever it finds you, I truly hope that it is tangled in love and not fear. If people are hurting you or dangling the love of God over you like a piece of cheese, please walk away. Your God will not strip you of your dignity or make you feel less than, naked, or shamed. If it is a voice of condemnation, that is not the voice of God. It may take a while for you fully know the sound of his voice but I promise it sounds like love. Like goodness. Like peace. Because he is wildly proud of you and always in your corner.

He is not placing hurdles and hoops in front of you. He wants you now. Instantly. Always. And don’t ever let another person try to tell you otherwise. You have always been, and always will be, a child of God.

And that is something that no one can ever take from you.”

I’d love to hear from you:

In moving my blog to a newer platform, I sadly had to let go of the thousands of comments and conversations that came from readers over the last 10+ years. This grieves me deeply but I know there will new conversations, fresh words of wisdom, and opportunities to create close community once again. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. I’ll be reading + replying on a regular basis.


  1. Melissa W says:

    I love this, I love your faith, and I love you.

  2. Elizabeth OMalley says:

    The Faith .. So powerful and so compassionate . I’m fighting for myself now Hannah and I’m loving my Father in heaven . Loving Him and trusting Him . I won’t be letting my anxiety and depression win this . I am chosing Faith over fear .So glad that I found you .. So glad that God is able to reach so many through you .

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!


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