Hannah is a girl with a cause – one Cause worth living for. Her enthusiasm for Christ and for discipling young women culminated in her debut book, Uncompromising: A Heart Claimed by a Radical Love. In this remarkably encouraging book, she shares her journey through the ups and downs of the teen years and motivates her peers to seek God’s call for their lives. Hannah’s passion for ministering to young women has led her on a nationwide tour. She is now studying at Patrick Henry College and seeking new ways to motivate others in the cause of Christ.
I loved it. As the oldest of four kids, studying at home gave me lots of time to spend with my brother and sisters. It was great. And since kindergarten, my family attended a one-day a week supplemental school for homeschoolers. I feel like I got the best of both worlds.
In Uncompromising you mention coming into contact with the greatest Cause – Jesus. Can you briefly tell about how you accepted Christ?
Sure. I was nine years old and had just memorized Romans 3:23 at church, which says we’re all sinners and guilty before God. I didn’t grasp much, but I felt a deep guilt and felt dirty in the eyes of God. Mom knelt with me as I confessed to God how much I needed Him. Although my faith was not very deep, I can see baby steps after that point, little milestones of God growing me.
When did you start writing seriously?
I felt strongly about writing even as a little kid. Back then I mostly wrote stories about orphans and puppies, but it was serious business then. When I was fourteen I wrote a political blog (which is hilarious to think about now, since…well, politics just makes me steamed these days) and I guess that was the start of me pursuing nonfiction writing.
Besides the Bible what books and authors have most influenced you?
Such a difficult question! I love so many books. The Prodigal God by Tim Keller and God is the Gospel by John Piper both challenged my thinking about God as I had come to envision Him. Writing-style-wise, I love Andree Seu (a columnist for WORLD magazine) and Annie Dillard.
What experiences have developed your heart for young women?
Mostly I’m fascinated with the human story—how God has chosen to interact with damaged people. As a girl with a web of my own personalized weaknesses, I know how we hold on to our secrets, try to act brave and just get through our “issues.” In my own life, I’ve seen firsthand how God intervenes, and how Love wants to stoop down and rescue. I want other girls with their own secret sins to be found by the same hope that found me. It also helps that I have dear girl friends, and two little sisters with whom I’m close. Knowing the struggles of other girls really keeps the fact of our need for God close to mind.
You’ve spent a lot of time traveling and holding conferences for young women. What is the greatest challenge that comes with ministering to young women? How do you overcome it?
Honesty! It seems like no one wants to be honest. We’re all willing to talk about the problems we’ve supposedly overcome, but the real and present issues, we don’t talk about. I guess this honesty is really rooted in a need for humility, and a need to recognize that every single one of us are sinners in need of the same grace. Once we realize we’re all in the same boat, honesty comes easier. Then once we’re honest to God and each other, we can start getting free from lies and sin that have caught us.
You started the first draft of Uncompromising when you were fifteen. What originally inspired you to write Uncompromising and motivated you to keep working on it for almost five years?
Hah. My first motivation? Pride. I had just come out of a dark period of time, and was alive with the certainty that I now knew something important to tell people. The actual writing process served to humble me, and show how much I truly needed to dig into the Bible to know anything.
Yes. I erased and re-wrote, erased and re-wrote, erased and re-wrote. You don’t want to talk about such things, because it means you lose all denial. It’s a final admission, “Yeah, this happened, and I can’t pretend it didn’t.” Even now, to be perfectly honest, it’s a struggle to talk about the ED in detail because it’s still a permanent weakness. Christ has conquered, but I still fight in that area sometimes.
Uncompromising covers a variety of topics from modesty to purity. How would you summarize the ultimate message behind your book that ties all these topics together?
The Christian life isn’t about modesty, purity, or anything else. It’s about Christ. We have to be about passionately pursuing Him and His glory first. That love for Jesus then becomes the motivation behind everything else. If we try to pursue good things like modesty and purity independently from Christ, we’ll either fail or just become legalistic. Either way, it will be boring. It won’t sink into our hearts and become a passion until our passion is first to glorify Jesus.
Books about “Christian womanhood” often come across as pious and slightly impractical. But in Uncompromising you present your message in a conversational, candid, sometimes humorous style. How did you achieve this personal approach?
Sitting down at the computer to write and saying to myself, “Look, kid, you’re basically writing this book to your little sisters. And your little sisters are hilarious, adorable, and would be bored to tears by most nonfiction books. So don’t just write with your head. Write your guts out.” Also, my agent, Karen Neumair, would tell me if I started straying on the side of “preachy.”
So many books focus on checklists. But in Uncompromising, you say you don’t want to “review a list of behavior changes, things we should or shouldn’t do as Christians.” If checklists aren’t the remedy, what do you believe will bring genuine life change?
Jesus. The Spirit. Chasing after the heart of God through reading His Word. Living in the presence of God—that’s what we know brings life change. Lists and laws don’t change anything—they just show us how much we fall short.
Right now you’re attending Patrick Henry College. What do you see for yourself in the future? Do you hope to write more books? Or do you see other career or ministry opportunities on the horizon?
Well. That seems to be the question of the hour! Like a lot of people my age, I’m not sure where God will have me in five years. But considering how I can’t seem to function without writing, I definitely foresee that in the future. I’m working on a novel right now and am really, really, really, really pumped about it. The rest is up in the air.