Hannah's Story

Hannah Smith shares her testimony.

"Hannah Elizabeth Smith
June 29, 2000 -June 16, 2022"

"Let me tell you about my granddaughter, Hannah. From the first moment I saw her in the nursery, I knew she was special. She was wide awake, very alert and following her nurse’s every move. She definitely did not like all the attention she was getting. I ask myself, “Who is this little creature that has entered our world?” Her Mom Kristen and Dad Brian would soon find out.

As an infant she was curious and independent. She would only be held facing outward so she could see what was happening around her. While preparing a meal, she would stretch as far as she could to see what was cooking. There were always bean or peas in one of the pots. I would say beans. Soon she would look in the pot and say “bean” in her little voice. And what child cuts her first teeth chewing on cucumber or lemon slices? Hannah did!

Another thing she loved to chew on was her “Jesus Loves Me” soft book. Papa would take her little fingers in hand and read each word to her…over and over until she was satisfied or asleep. When she had learned to walk, she would go to the book basket and choose her Jesus Loves Me book every time. She would take it to one of us. Papa would read it to her or on rare occasions, she brought it to me, and I would sing it to her. Sometimes she would get the book and insist Papa sit down, so she could crawl into his lap for a reading session.

Because both Brian and Kristen worked, Hannah stayed with a fine Christian couple who showed much love and patience for the little ones in their care. She earned the nickname Hannah Handful, because of her determined nature. Her parents said she had a double dose of stubbornness, wanting her way. However, she was gently molded into one who shared with others. When Hannah was almost four years old, her little brother Blake was born. She instantly became his little mama, helping to look after him.

I called her Hannah Helpful. She loved to help cook, clean, and garden. One dry summer afternoon, she helped me water the flowers. I probably got wetter than the azaleas, because she sprayed me twice squealing with glee at my reaction. I called her a little stinker. When I retrieved the hose and sprayed her, she loved it. That was Hannah, full of fun and giggles.

It was no surprise that Hannah learned to read soon after she entered Kindergarten. By this time her cousins Cullen and Conner had been born. When visiting our home, she was often found sitting on the floor, open book in hand reading to the three boys. She had their total attention…at least for a while. I was sure she would become a teacher someday like her mama."

"She loved puzzles and games from an early age. She loved sleep overs at Uncle Paul’s watching movies and having snacks with friends. As a little girl she loved swinging from a tree on a tire. When we decided to move to the Bismarck area, she reminded us to look for a tree big enough to hold a tire swing. We found one on Edgewood Drive. During her teen years, binge watching Hallmark movies and Netflix series with friends were added to her list of fun things to do. She was an avid Razorback fan to the point of sitting in icy rain so she would not miss a play. She also enjoyed going to the Arkansas Symphony at Christmas, performing at the Senior Saints Banquet and doing skits with the youth group. Being in the church choir was also added to that list.

Trips to Memphis to visit Meme’s family and go shopping for Christmas gifts was an annual event. She looked forward to family trips to Branson, Pigeon Forge, Disney World and Orange Beach. She also enjoyed picnics at DeGray Lake, and swim meets at OBU with Kassidy. Hannah absolutely loved life.
Her high school life was filled with band trips to football games, marching competitions and concerts at school. She loved playing the drums and helping set up music for the percussion section. She won state recognition participating in accounting competitions. Trips to California and Baltimore, Maryland representing Bismarck High School expanded her horizons."

"Between her junior and senior year, she was chosen to participate in the M.A.S.H. program at Twin Rivers Baptist Hospital in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. She found the two-week program exciting. I’m sure this experience was a factor in her choosing nursing for her career.
From infancy to adulthood, Brian and Kristen were faithful in teaching Hannah about Jesus. They served in church with loving and giving hearts. They gave her and her brother Blake every opportunity to have that same desire. She attended church camps from an early age, attended Arkansas Youth Conferences and other local events such as Meet You at the Pole.

Hannah also was on the mission team to Austin, Texas, Winthrop, Massachusetts, and Peto, Yucatan Mexico. She learned a lot about giving for the Lord at each of these places but was most impacted by the people at Peto. They had so little but were so grateful and happy. Once again, she found the children were drawn to her. She loved every minute of her week with them. She came home feeling guilty because she had so much and just took it for granted.She had hoped to go back to Peto, but that trip would not be made because the world was turned upside down by Covid.

In her junior year in the Henderson Nursing Program, we saw a change in her. She lacked energy and seemed tired. When asked, she explained it away, saying she was really busy with her classes or she was participating in the HSU-OBU Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship program which took a lot of her time and she enjoyed being part of the worship team so much, she didn’t want to give it up."

"When the semester ended, she got a job at a local church day care program teaching 4- and 5- year-old children. She really enjoyed the experience, but she soon had pain in her legs, which needed to be checked out. It’s probably growing pains she said. That was the beginning of doctor appointments, blood tests, X-rays, CT-scans and many other tests. A lot of conditions were ruled out, so it was time to see a specialist. Due to Covid, she couldn’t get in to see anyone until September. Tests were reviewed and more ordered. Finally on September 17th, Hannah got the diagnosis of ALL, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She was admitted to the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Hospital that afternoon and her first Chemo treatment was started before midnight. Hannah faced the news with a positive attitude, her Bible and devotional books in hand and a smile on her face. “GOD’s got this”!

Everyone was in shock initially, but soon her friends and church family went into action! Posters were made, little ones made cards. All would be taken to UAMS and placed in her room to encourage her. A non-stop campaign of prayers, Face Book posts, texts, and fund raisers began. Her friends designed a Hope for Hannah T-shirt with her favorite verse, Romans 8:28 on the back. ("And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good. For those who are called according to His purpose"). Then yard signs with the same design were made available. We were encouraged to say a prayer every time we saw one. They were everywhere, so lots of extra prayers were said each day. Even people who didn’t know Hannah, began praying for her when they heard her story. Praise them!

Hannah carried us with her on this journey by posting updates on her FB page always giving God the glory. I said many times that she was chosen, because God knew she would be a witness for Him wherever she went including the hospital. That’s exactly what she did. What I haven’t said about our Hannah is that she had a servant’s heart…always thinking of others and putting them first. She had come a long way from the selfish little girl at Mrs. Phyllis’ day care. She had accepted Jesus as her Savior. He gave her the courage to reach out to people of all ages everywhere. She had a sweet spirit that was evident to the UAMS and MD Anderson doctors, nurses and staff. They recognized that her room was different. Some realized it was because God was her Great Physician.

After many and varied treatments, infections, and other physical setbacks, her body didn’t have the strength to fight anymore. So, her Jesus called her to her heavenly home, where there is no sorrow or pain.

Now, it is up to us…all who knew and loved her…to carry her story and her love for Jesus forward…to become a witness for our Lord and Savior. HE created her with all the talents, strength and conviction needed. She chose to dedicate her life to serving Him by serving others. If anything, she has taught us that God created us in the same way with all we need to be used by HIM for His honor and glory.

Her family praises His name for always being near as He promised. He blessed us with almost twenty-two years of memories. May Hannah’s story be a blessing to you, too."

Becky Smith

Hannah's Story was written by her grandmother Becky Smith for the purpose of bringing glory to God and encouraging others to put their trust in Jesus.