Meet the Sisters of Hannah!
We are delighted to introduce you to the first mentors on the Sisters of Hannah team! The Sisters of Hannah mentorship ministry was named after Samuel’s mother Hannah, who suffered a prolonged period of infertility and poured her heart before God in the Temple. Reflecting on Hannah’s raw account in Scripture, the Sisters of Hannah will serve as witnesses of hope and encouragement. The Sisters of Hannah will begin meeting virtually with mentees in mid-July. We are thrilled to announce that, after a lengthy and rigorous discernment and interview process, our inaugural team will begin their important work in just a few short weeks!
Each of our Sisters of Hannah offers incredible gifts, compassion, insight and faith. Their own experiences of infertility will help them mentor women facing a variety of challenges, including: primary, co-factor, male factor, medical intervention, explained and unexplained infertility, adoption, and acceptance of the marriage vocation without the promise of children. Please pray for each one of our Sisters of Hannah mentors - Victoria, Dominique, Sarah, and Gillyan - and their families, as they courageously serve in this exciting and necessary ministry!
The Fruitful Hollow team would also like to thank our Sisters of Hannah Coordinator, Kristin, for her time and devotion to the preparation of this ministry. You are so appreciated!
We asked our Sisters of Hannah mentors to share a little bit about themselves and the journey that brought them here so that you can get to know them a bit better.
Do you have any favorite saints, Bible verses, prayers or devotions?
Victoria: Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady Undoer of Knots; Lamentations 3:22-23 (“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.”) and “Jesus, I trust in you.”
Gillyan: Our family verse is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13 (and we got married on 4/13!).
Sarah: My saint for the year is St. Francis de Sales and I have also had a special connection to St. Anne. My verse for the year is Matthew 11:28 (“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”).
Is there any song or music that has helped you through your infertility journey?
Victoria: The Divine Mercy Chaplet, 90s country and Beyoncé. You gotta dance it out, right!?
Gillyan: Even If by MercyMe has been playing on repeat for us! It reminds me that getting what I want isn't as important as doing what God wants.
Sarah: I would go with Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) by Hillsong United.
Dominique: The Middle by Jimmy Eat World has actually been the most reassuring song to me. I will always somehow hear it when I’m going through a tough time. I like to think of it as an inside joke between God and me.
What role does humor, perspective, family, community, etc. play in keeping you grounded and connected?
Victoria: As they say, if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, and there is so much joy and humor to find each day! Having a friend to confide in that wasn’t my spouse was so helpful. My husband and I were both enduring heartache, so it helped to have someone else to lean on, give request prayers and update with next steps. When in doubt, ice cream helps too!
Gillyan: Humor has been the foundation of our marriage since the beginning, and it's continued through our infertility journey. We're very open about our struggles and we try to stay lighthearted and optimistic throughout.
Sarah: I consider this journey like being onboard a ship in the ocean. Faith is my anchor: it’s what keeps me grounded so I don’t drift. It can be easy to drift in the sea of unknowns - unknown tests, unknown next steps, unknown outcomes - but when you’re anchored, you can get a better perspective of the beauty around you, like the sun, clouds, blue sky, water lapping, a beautiful island. Humor is like the wind, it fills your sails so you can get to the next destination. Family and friends can help you enjoy the journey. They may only be with you for a brief stop on your journey, but they can provide refreshment and joy. They can be an island retreat in a very long journey.
Dominique: Humor and perspective help us deal with the hard times by seeing the good parts of life even when times are tough. Family and community help support us and lift us up when we can’t do it on our own.
How was your marriage or faith strengthened on the journey? What challenges have you faced?
Victoria: Through the hard, we really learned more about surrender, suffering and trusting the Lord’s plan for our marriage. When obstacles came our way, we got the chance to discover and uncover the path God chose for our family.
Gillyan: Infertility has undoubtedly strengthened both our marriage and our faith. We've leaned heavily on God and each other. We've focused on the three of us as a team to grow our family. Some days are harder than others, but we've created a routine to keep us in relationship with God and each other no matter how we're feeling from day to day.
Sarah: My marriage and faith have been strengthened on this journey by the refinement coming from being challenged beyond what is comfortable. I continually have to repent and return to the Lord. I have learned I am like both the younger son and the older son in the prodigal son story: there are times when I thought I could take control of my fertility and run off like the younger son because I know what is best; at other times I was like the older son, as resentment filled my heart because I have been “following all the rules” without getting what I desired. The most important thing is that in either case, when I repent and return to the Lord, he accepts me with open and loving arms. He runs out to greet me and delights in me when I come back to him.
Dominique: Through our infertility we learned to lean on each other for support and learned that we both had different styles of processing and handling it. Although we faced difficulties in understanding each other and communicating our feelings and needs at times, we became a stronger team by working through the hard times.
Why do you wish to give back to couples enduring infertility?
Victoria: We wouldn’t be where we are today without the friends who were our sounding boards, encouragers and prayer warriors during our really hard times with infertility. It can be a lonely journey and other women need to know they’re not alone.
Gillyan: I've been given so much support, encouragement and advice throughout our journey. I'm really not sure where we would be without our community, and without the help of other infertile couples. I'd like to give to others what was given to me when I needed someone most.
Sarah: God gave us this cross. As St. Francis de Sales says “The everlasting God has, in His wisdom, foreseen from eternity the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart.” If it is a gift, how can I not share with others? God created us to be in community with Him and each other. While walking the journey of infertility can be a long and lonely one, this is one way to have a sense of community. Just as Jesus carried his cross, he didn’t do it alone, he had help - Simon helped carry the cross, Veronica wiped his face. I would love to be able to be Simon or Veronica to someone else carrying this cross.
Dominique: I want to be able to support others in the way I wanted support in the more difficult parts of our infertility journey.
How has God blessed you on your journey?
Victoria: We are so blessed to be parents through adoption. We would not be parents to our children without our infertility journey and we cannot imagine our world without them. We have been so blessed with an amazing community of friends who constantly lifted us up in prayer and were our cheerleaders as we embarked on the adoption journey. When we doubted, they helped fill the gaps.
Gillyan: God has blessed us with connection to others who are also struggling.
Sarah: I don’t think I can even explain how much God has and is continuing to bless me on this journey. He has taken me places that I never thought I would journey. I learned new and beautiful things about His creation and the teaching of the faith. I don’t think I would have learned about Theology of the Body in as much detail had it not been for infertility. God has also answered a prayer with the Fruitful Hollow community by providing support from other faithful ladies. My faith is the anchor, and in the storms of life I can’t imagine not having Jesus in the boat with me. It would be a very lonely and isolated journey without Him.
Dominique: God has blessed us by showing us that he is always there and caring for us, even in the hardest of times.
What do you hope mentees will get out of their mentorship?
Victoria: I’m here to sit with you in your grief as you discover what God has in store for your family. I don’t have all the right words, but I’m here and ready to listen.
Gillyan: I hope that mentees will get the support they are looking for - someone to vent to, a shoulder to cry on, hope for the future, prayers, encouragement and so much more. I know that everyone is on their own path, and I hope to meet them where they're at and walk alongside them.
Sarah: I hope the mentees will be able to see the face of Christ through the Fruitful Hollow community. They will feel safe and protected at such a vulnerable time. Being in this protected cove will allow them to stop and rest to gather strength for the continued journey.
Dominique: I hope they will get the support they need and some respite on their journey.
Please join us in praying for a successful launch in this ministry. If you are interested in meeting with the Sisters of Hannah, please fill out this form.