I am SO excited to introduce this new series on to The Thrifty Pineapple. God has really put on my heart to be more vocal about his good word, the work He’s doing in my life and others around me.
From this “Digging Deeper” series you can expect to learn more about some amazing people that God has had my path cross with. I’ll be asking the hard questions about faith, family and themselves.
To kick this series off I had the pleasure of digging deeper with Hannah Mooney. Hannah and I met through my former job back in June. I spent a few long tireless days with her and was amazed by her contagious positive energy, humility, and gratitude.
Hannah is originally from Arkansas but now lives in Nashville with her talented husband Shay, from the country duo Dan and Shay, and their adorable son Asher. Hannah is on fire for the Lord and when I reached out to her, she said: “I truly feel like God gifts us talents and platforms to give Him back the glory.” She could not be more right! I am so excited for you to get to Hannah, her heart and her story.
So without further ado here’s Digging Deeper with Hannah Mooney.
Tell us a little bit about you!
My immediate reaction to this question is to launch into my entire life story (ha!) but I will spare you all and go with the highlights. Hi! I’m Hannah Love Mooney 🙂 I grew up on a farm in rural Arkansas (Franklin, to be specific). I graduated high school in 2009, won the title of Miss Arkansas USA in 2013 and graduated college in 2014! I met the love of my life the following spring. We became pregnant the year after that, and we welcomed our greatest treasure into the world in January of last year! Whew, seeing it all written down makes it seem like a quick and seamless story! However, there are many seasons throughout and between each of these big life milestones… And I will work to fill in the gaps of this timeline as we go!
Did you grow up in the church?
I did! I grew up in a very conservative Baptist church. I lived in what’s considered the Bible Belt so we were at church every Sunday morning and most Sunday nights + Wednesday nights! It was my norm. It may sound like a lot to some people but looking back, I am so thankful to have been given that foundation for my life.
When did you become a Christian?
As I mentioned, I grew up in the church. Some people think that automatically qualifies them as a Christian. However, I believe that making the decision to have a personal relationship with God is the true teller. At the age of 9, I asked Jesus into my heart. I did the ABC’s as they call it. A: Admit you are a sinner. B: Believe Jesus died on the cross to atone for our sins. And C: Confess Christ publicly. Can you tell I was at church camp when all this went down? Haha! Regardless of HOW I came to invite Him into my life, I did it. 🙂 And my life has never been the same.
How did moving to Nashville affect your faith? I know for me when I moved to NW Arkansas it really was a leap of faith and something I had to trust God in and His plan. Was your move a similar situation?
So, I’m going to backtrack here for a moment and fill in some blanks before Nashville came into the equation… The season you’re talking about? That leap of faith season? For me, that happened when I graduated from college. It was the summer of 2014. My lease was up two weeks BEFORE my graduation date. My roommate was already gone. I was going through a breakup. And I had zero jobs lined up for myself after graduation. Now, I know ‘rock bottom’ may seem like a dramatic phrase here but at the time, that’s how I felt. Completely lost. So, standing in my valley, I looked up. I prayed for God’s will. I didn’t just speak it. I longed for God’s will with every fiber of my being because I knew whatever that was would be better than the place I found myself in. And so, things started to happen. Long story short, I stayed with my boss (at the time, I was working in a frame shop/art gallery). I found a roommate and apartment in NWA (I went to college at UCA in central Arkansas so NWA was a fairly big change). And, I found a job (eventually) in NWA as well. The entire time this was happening, I had such a peace. Friends would say to me “Aren’t you freaking out a little? If I were you, I would be!”. But, I had peace. I knew God had a plan and I would be okay.
Fast forward. I met Shay, my (now) husband. I knew he was my person and we knew from the beginning we would get married. We were long distance, as he was in Nashville and I was still in NWA with my job. At the end of our first year together we got a surprise. We were pregnant! Commence a small freakout. Despite the fact that we had already looked at rings and Shay had already asked my dad’s blessing, we weren’t married yet. Growing up, as we both did, in conservative small towns with traditional parents, we were terrified to confess our new status as parents-to-be. I won’t lie. It was a hard season. Full of anxiety and fear of the future. We worried what people would think. We struggled at the thought of disappointing our families. However, despite the stress and the surprise of the situation, babies are blessings and we knew this child would be SO loved by all. He was just arriving on God’s timetable rather than the one we thought we were on!
This leads me to your actual question… I’m sorry it took me a novel to get here! ‘How did moving to Nashville affect my faith?’ Well. The situation was complicated, to say the least. Again, I feel I need to fill in some of the blanks from this time period so you get a full picture of how important my faith was and continues to be! Shay was on tour and only in Nashville two days a week (on the road the other 5 days). I was still in Arkansas. We scheduled a time for me to drive up while he was actually home and we went house hunting. In literally two days time, we had to pick a house, put in an offer, and hope for an acceptance. They accepted. I drove back to Arkansas and Shay got back on the road. I had to ask my boss if I could work remotely once I officially made the move (I still had bills to pay and refused help from Shay until we were married). Another little wrench in the wheel? My personal insurance didn’t cover pregnancy. Meaning I had to pay the full cost, out of pocket, every month when I went in for checkups. Expensive. And to add insult to injury, I had zero benefits at the office I worked at. So, what does my life look like at this point? I moved into Shay’s tiny one bedroom condo and worked remotely for the next 3 months while he was gone on the road. I was alone. I was pregnant. I was unwed. I was a giant bundle of stress. (The house we had purchased took over a month to close, then another month to be painted, and THEN had to be furnished as well, so there was no staying there). Not only did I have to wrap my mind around becoming a mother, but I had to do it while in a new city in a new state with no friends or family for hundreds of miles. Transitional phase anyone? *inserts “This is fine” me’em* It wasn’t fine. I wasn’t fine. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of loneliness and change. Everything was changing. In my heart, I was thinking (hoping, really) ‘God must have a reallllllllly incredible plan for me and my future’ because in that moment, I felt like I was in my lowest valley yet. Have you ever been there? You’re in that low spot and you just think how one day God will help you back up the hill again?
At this point, I hope everyone reading this has noticed a pattern here. The hills and valleys of life. *Play Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells for full effect*. I recognized in my low place that God saw me through after college and he would see me through THIS season as well. He is faithful. We are never alone. So I clung to that and rode out the ‘storm’. I knew with time, things would begin to settle. We finally moved into the house. One of my best friends ended up taking a job in Nashville so I had her while Shay was gone! We were coming to the end of the pregnancy and life was about to transition AGAIN!…
How did you find your home church in Nashville or are you stilling looking? What tips do you have for someone looking for a church in a new city?
Finding a new church home is always a challenge. I remember in college trying out a few different places. You feel uncomfortable and new. You feel out of place with the unfamiliar faces and different service types and music and standards of dress. Pretty stressful, really. But I found one in college and I remember thinking it was so worth it to sort through until I found the church I felt at home in! I put off looking for a church in Nashville for a while… Mostly because Shay was gone on Sundays and I was pregnant and alone. I felt self-conscious. Even when I did start trying out a few new places people would ask me questions ask about my husband… I know it was all innocent and from a good place but I was still so overwhelmed with my new situation that the questions felt unwelcome and I started to avoid looking for a church home.
Then we had Asher. Our happiest bundle of joy! There is something incredibly powerful about the perspective shift that occurs once you become a parent. I immediately thought… We HAVE to find a church home for our baby to grow up in! So, we began the hunt seriously. Shay was home more and we were able to go together. There were some places he loved and I thought were nice but they didn’t feel like home. There were other places I really enjoyed but Shay didn’t get the same fuzzy feeling. It was important for us to both feel at home in this new place. Finally, one Sunday, we came across our now church home. It was SO close to our house and to be honest we were just Yelping places to try at this point! It was tiny and intimate and a branch of a larger church. This meant it had strong roots but there was a newness and an opportunity for us to grow along with this new sister-church. We love our pastor. We love the young families there. And I feel totally at home going in on Sunday with or without Shay, Asher on hip. The dress is casual and the rooms are full of welcoming energy! If I could offer any advice on finding a church home I would say the most important thing is to keep looking and don’t settle. As uncomfortable as it may be. As stressed as you may get. Once you find the church that is right for you it should feel like coming home! And what a wonderful feeling. Having a place to fellowship with like-minded people is like balm to the soul. It is an anchor that grounds you every week. It is a fountain that fills your heart continuously as you pour out your own to the outside world! So that’s my advice. Keep looking until you find it and try not to be discouraged if that takes months or even years. On a more practical note, I will offer this little tidbit as well: In between these long weeks and months of searching, I would listen to podcasts of churches or sermons or pastors I enjoyed too. This helped to keep me ‘fed’ while I was looking for my forever church home.
What is your favorite verse or book of the bible? And why?
I really enjoy Psalms, Proverbs, and James.
Psalms: This book is long and often repetitive. But this book is also full of prayers I have often gone to when I couldn’t find the words to say myself.
Proverbs: Proverbs is full of wisdom. Proverbs is full of metaphors that are applicable to literally everything we face in life today.
James: James is a short book. But, a book full of lessons. It teaches us many things about how to treat people and live life.
I’ve noticed you walking through Jesus Calling on IG stories, how has that devotional been for you and how did you choose it?
I can’t tell you exactly what year I received Jesus Calling, but my sister got it for me for Christmas one year. She knows I’m a reader and she said she thought I may enjoy this little devotional. That had to have been at LEAST 7 or 8 years ago now! My copy is worn completely out, the spine has ripped on both sides, and the coloring has faded. But the words are so full of life! I have always felt like each page was written exactly for me and my situation daily. I have gifted it to many friends through the years and even shared pictures of it on my Instagram back when Instagram was new! Over the last year, I would occasionally post the day’s devotion to my Instagram story. Each and every time I posted I had dozens of people dm me and say “Wow. I needed this today.” or “These words feel like they were written just for me and what I’m going through!” or simply “Thank you for sharing this..”. I was so touched and encouraged by these messages that I decided to start posting them daily. I have since loved reading messages of people who reach out to me and share that they were/are now looking to grow their personal relationship with the Lord because of the words found in the devotional. It warms my heart to see how God works through us. I take zero credit for anything and always remind myself I’m just a messenger here on earth!
What tips do you have for someone who struggles to have a daily quiet time?
Hmm… that’s a wonderful question. I would never claim to have always been good at this but through my life seasons, I’ve certainly become better. I have learned that I am my best version of myself – best mother and wife and sister and friend…when I MAKE time for quiet moments. I suppose it can sound counterproductive. Take a timeout and block off minutes in your day so you’re better prepared to do the million other things on your to-do list that you feel you should be doing instead?! But, I looked at my routine with Asher and decided the moments he naps were my windows of opportunity. Granted, some days I’m looking around a wrecked house and a long list of to-do’s and think my time would be much better spent in action rather than stillness. But, the stillness is what keeps me steady and able to handle the rest of my day with a sense of peace and calm. My advice would be to look at your schedule, pinpoint a few windows of opportunity and try to make a habit of spending those minutes reading the word or a devotional or in prayer or all of the above! Whatever your intimate time with Jesus looks like, do that. And even it is hard to make time in the beginning, it becomes easier because of how GOOD you’ll start to feel. Soon, you’ll look forward to this time rather than just look at it as a check on your chore sheet. Sidenote: during quiet time it may also be best to put your phone away so you aren’t distracted like we allllll tend to get haha!
I can’t even begin to imagine how it is with the paparazzi and press around, has this affected your faith at all?
And to your other point, yes, our life is a bit crazy at times. Shay has a continuous (hypothetical) spotlight on him and I find myself standing next to him some days with just as many eyes on me and Asher. I have struggled with this because I have never wanted my personal identity to be attached to someone else or someone else’s career. Not to say I don’t love and support my husband fiercely, but I am my own person with my own thoughts and opinions too! At the end of the day, though, I decided that while I may not have chosen a life in or around the spotlight, that IS what my life looks like. And that’s totally okay. Because I have chosen to remember that God gives people platforms so that we may give glory back to Him. Truthfully, I did struggle to find my own confidence in this conviction but, eventually, I did! So now, I feel at ease using my voice to talk about my personal faith. I feel like God has provided an opportunity of sorts. Many eyes are on me, and what I put out there for them, how I serve them with my words..it’s a choice. And in many ways, I have grown stronger in my faith because of this decision to use my voice. I choose to encourage and uplift people because I am able to, through God’s blessings in my own life.
Have you had any instances in the industry where your faith was questioned or being a Christian was a bad thing and how did you deal with it?
Thankfully, no. We are fortunate to live in a community here in Nashville where people are so very loving and respectful. I hope I’ll never experience this but I am also not naive enough to think I never will.
I’m sure it can be tough with Shay on the road and touring a lot, how do you keep God in the center of your marriage?
Well, let me just say that I am totally and completely blessed that God gave me Shay. I literally tell him all the time God made him exactly for me and vice versa. We were raised in VERY similar family/home environments. We both grew up in church and on farms. We were loved on by our parents and grew up always hearing and learning about Jesus. Both of our parents are still married. That similar foundation that we had for our childhoods… It never ceases to amaze me. Because of it we never have to question how we want to raise Asher or live our lives; we had the greatest role models in our parents!
Now, that is not to say that our marriage isn’t work, or that it’s perfect. Because it IS work and it’s NOT perfect. But I’m happy to say that we have more wonderful days than bad. I attribute this to God, our network of incredible family + friends, our church home, and good + consistent communication with one another. I spend my quiet time at home every day while Shay is on the road. We don’t always have time for lengthy conversations or texts but I do tend to send devotionals that really speak to me or verses that are on my heart that day. We go to church every Sunday. Shay isn’t home most Sunday’s but we cherish the ones when he is! In marriage, I have decided that we each have a job of holding one another accountable. Whether that be in our personal walks with God or just sitting down and making sure we are on the same page with our life priorities. Business tends to cause shifts in priorities, even if we do not notice so it is important to consistently keep check on them. For us that means, are we putting God first? Then, our marriage. Then, our family. Then our career(s). That is what we try to maintain in our household.
With sweet Asher, what ways do you share God’s word with him?
Oh, that sweet boy! He loves music so I constantly have contemporary Christian music playing on low through the day. Most days it is just the two of us so it is nice to fill the house with sounds of praise. Even if we aren’t always listening, I feel the difference. It feels lighter and happier. We pray over Asher every night when we put him down for bed. I go on walks when it’s cool enough and I talk aloud to Jesus. I want Asher to know He is our father and our friend and we can talk to Him ANY time not just a dinner or bedtime! Now that he is getting bigger, I try to incorporate little reminders about how much Jesus loves him. And, of course, we pray for him constantly. The best thing we know to do, really, is live our lives as an example to him. Like our parents did for us. Years down the road, if we keep God first and live by that set of priorities I mentioned… I hope that Asher and all of our babies will know God’s love. I hope they will all make the decision to have that personal relationship just like Shay and I did.
What advice do you have for fellow Christians or young mommas with littles when studying the word?
I would tell them that a daily devotional, no matter which one they choose, is a wonderful investment. It is like a bitesize dose of Jesus for your day. It doesn’t feel as intimidating as reading directly from the Bible. (Although I also encourage reading your Bibles too)! I would tell them to be easy on themselves. Momma’s do it all. That is not meant sound braggadocious, it is just reality. We cook, clean, launder, chauffeur, teach, nurse, pray, and LOVE. We raise babies and love our families and live selflessly in the pursuit of their happiness. So, I say again, be easy on yourselves. Because you cannot help anyone if you are falling apart yourself. Be kind enough to your own big hearts to take time for YOU and for GOD and then go love them BETTER because of it.
Wow, Hannah has an amazing story and is truly an inspiring woman of God! Her fire for the Lord is contagious and even though her plan wasn’t God’s plan she was able to trust that He knew best for her life. We can all learn that even in our darkest times, God is still with us.