Healing Hannah’s Heart

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Night to Shine“Mom, why are all those people out here?” We had just pulled up to the high school where Night to Shine was being held.

I looked where Hannah was pointing. There were a lot of people by the door that she would have to go through.

“It’s gonna be okay, hun. Maybe they’re volunteers. Do you want me to walk in with you?”

“Yes, I don’t want to walk by all those people by myself.”

“Okay. I will.”

I thought back to when Hannah first told me about this special event.

“Mom, guess what? I just found out that there’s gonna be a prom for special needs kids! I’m so excited! Can I go?” She smiled and giggled in anticipation.

“Well, that sounds like fun and it’s a possibility, but I’m gonna need more information before I can decide.”

“It’s called Night to Shine. A bunch of churches are putting it on. They would give me a dress and do my hair and makeup and everything!”

“Wow! That sounds amazing.”

“Come on, mom.” Hannah’s voice pulled me back to the present. We got out of the car and began walking to the door.

The people separated into two lines, one on either side of the sidewalk. Hannah’s eyes opened wide, her eyebrows raised, and her jaw was clenched as she realized we would have to walk through the middle.

But then something extraordinary happened. Just as we were getting close to them, the people all began to applaud and cheer for Hannah. Her jaw dropped open and her eyes grew even bigger. That look of shock was quickly replaced by the biggest and brightest smile I’ve ever seen. Her head raised and shoulders straightened. She couldn’t help but giggle.

Dear God, is this real? I swallowed hard as my eyes welled up and tears threatened to overflow.

People are celebrating Hannah! I felt a stirring deep in my soul as a couple tears escaped. Hannah looked at me. I choked back the tears and gave her a reassuring smile and wink.

We walked in the door and were warmly greeted by volunteers who put Hannah at ease immediately.

Wow! I am genuinely impressed. I looked around and saw not only teenagers with disabilities, but older adults as well.

“I thought this was for teenagers,” I said to a volunteer.

“Oh no. It’s for anyone fifteen years old and up.”

“That is so cool!”

Hannah’s giggle grabbed my attention. I turned and looked just in time to see a couple of ladies “ooing” and “awwwing” over her long red hair.

“I wish I could be the one to do your hair!”

“Me too! Your hair is absolutely gorgeous!”

“Thank you.” Hannah giggled again.

“Now, Hannah, we can assign an escort for you if you’d like.  It would be someone who would guide you through the evening and help with anything you might need. Would you like that?”

“No, I think I’m okay on my own.”

“Okay. That’s fine, but if you change your mind, you just let us know and we’ll get someone for you. Okay?”


“I’ll take you to the room where you’ll get your hair done, but I still wish I could be the one to do it!”

Hannah turned to me and gave me an enthusiastic hug.

“Bye, Mom.” There wasn’t a trace of anxiety left.

“Bye, sweet girl.  Have a wonderful time!  I love you!”

“I love you too,” she said giggling yet again and turned to follow the lady who had been so wonderful with her. I just stood there for a couple minutes and watched them walk through a large, beautifully decorated room.

Wow! She’s practically floating three feet off the floor. This is just so amazing! I choked back tears as I again felt a stirring deep inside.

I walked out the door in time to see a couple more participants, with smiles as bright as Hannah’s, walking between the lines of cheering people.

As soon as I got back in the car, Dan asked, “Is she doing okay?”

“Yes, she’s doing great,” I said with a shaky voice. “I’m the one that’s a mess.”  I barely got the words out before bursting into tears.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Everything. Is. Perfect,” I said between sobs.

He gave me an “Oh, I get it” look.

Once I calmed down a little, I said, “It’s just that she’s never been celebrated like that before. They were amazing with her and made her feel so special. I was so moved by it. No, it’s more than that. It’s like all the times in the past when she has felt like she stood out like a sore thumb, or was misunderstood or rejected; I’ve felt her pain. Do you know what I mean?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Well, tonight it was like the wounds in her heart were being healed and I could feel that as well.”

Silence. I looked over at Dan. Now he was teary eyed. He felt it too.

God is good!


  1. // Reply

    OMGosh, will you cut this out? I don’t think I’ve gotten through one of your posts yet without tears! hahahahaa….. Seriously, I love the way you write. Your words always move me. One phrase in particular…”Hannah’s voice pulled me back to the present”. It pulls the reader with it.

    It also made me realize that probably things go “unaware” more than we realize. I remember the day that Hannah was born. My heart was so full of love and excitement and celebration. But she was too little to know that she was celebrated then. But the Lord God and his host of angels were applauding, singing and dancing. Yes Hannah, you are celebrated! ♥

    1. // Reply

      Okay, now you made me cry! You’re absolutely right. Her birth was greatly celebrated. I loved that so many people were in the waiting room with Mandy and Derek. Let alone the celebrating taking place in the birthing room. I’m so glad you were there! In fact, all through my pregnancy there was a very real sense of celebration among all of us. It was incredibly special!

  2. // Reply

    I love this! I also got watery eyes. It’s so amazing what God is doing through Night to Shine, thank you for sharing. I volunteer at the Night to Shine put on by my church and I don’t know who has more fun – the volunteers or the guests! Such an amazing experience.

    1. // Reply

      That’s awesome, Chelsey! I’ve wanted to volunteer before, but it just hasn’t worked out. So I’m really excited to be a part of it this year.

  3. // Reply

    Ok you both quit it! Can’t stop sobbing! Oh my is all I can say! Just beautiful!

    1. // Reply

      Awwwwww! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and tears with us! You’re such an important part of our lives!

  4. // Reply

    Thanks for sharing mom! Thanks Aunt Debbie!!! You two are in my group of heroes.

    1. // Reply

      Oh, Hannah! You are one of my heroes, sweetie! The amount of courage you show every day is amazing. God’s love and grace are all over you!

  5. // Reply

    This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for this story and for sharing about Hannah. I’m smiling through tears. This is how God showers each of his with his love. I’m elated Hannah was able to feel and see that. God bless you and your family. Jill Hoven shared this and I just had to read it. xoxo

    1. // Reply

      Thanks, Carolina! I’m so glad you stopped by. God’s love is amazing! When His love is poured out to those with special needs, it is absolutely awe-inspiring!

  6. // Reply

    Marlene, what a moment-for you and Hannah. It gave me chills! Thank you for sharing. I can’t even fathom how perfect that was for the both of you.

  7. // Reply

    Thank you, Christina! The event itself was amazing, and God’s love pouring over the wounds in our hearts was even more amazing! You’re right – it was simply perfect!

  8. // Reply

    What an awesome experience for Hannah, and blessing for you to witness!
    And yes, I cried too.

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