April / Hannah
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Lives in: Dallas, TX
Takes her coffee: Colombian pour over from Coava Coffee Roasters
Last book read: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer
Works at: Chase Oaks Church as Worship Resident
Responsible for: Production design, music selection, and worship leading across multiple campuses
SIB: In 2017, you wrote the intro music for Evanna Lynch’s veganism podcast, The Chickpeeps! As a non-vegan, how was it creating something for a cause that you support, but don’t participate in?
HL: There’s a little bit of cognitive dissonance. I love [Evanna’s] approach to it - let’s have a conversation about this and create community around it. I love her material and I love her heart. [Her podcast is] coming from such a place of authenticity, and I always want to support that. She was so sweet about it. She sent me a hand written note and was really grateful.
SIB: What was it like when your manager reached out to you about the project?
HL: I knew that he worked with [Evanna], so when I signed with him, I was like, “I have a connection with the Potter world!” I geeked out about it. Because she was overseas, I never got to meet [her]. My manager had her sign the Harry Potter Blu-rays, and that was our wedding gift from him. To have that connection was like, [sings] “This is awesome!”
SIB: What Hogwarts House are you in?
HL: I’m a Gryffindor, but I test as a Ravenclaw.
SIB: I can see that. You’re creative.
HL: I guess that’s what it is, but I don’t care about my education at all. [laughs]
SIB: You moved back to Dallas last July after spending seven years in LA. How did you know it was time to move?
HL: Lots of prayer. We knew it was time to leave, and we didn’t want to leave until we had somewhere to go. The Lord very clearly put the call of seminary on Jason’s life, and we were praying about it. We were in Israel in May 2018, and I felt like God gave me a word, which was we were going to move to Dallas, Jason was going to go to seminary, and I was going to work at the church I grew up in, which ended up being what we’re doing now! It’s been really cool.
SIB: Between parenting, creating, and working, what does your schedule look like? (Hannah and her husband Jason have an 18-month-old daughter, Eliza.)
HL: I’m in the office Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday for about 7-8 hours, depending on the day. We have a babysitter on those days, and I work from home Thursday and Friday. If I’m leading at a campus that weekend, I’ll have weekend responsibilities. I’m not the most disciplined with my personal creative work. There are a couple things I’m working on right now, songwriting and stuff, and that’s when the muses strike, unfortunately. [laughs]
SIB: What does your workflow/creative time look like?
HL: Sometimes the lyrics come first, sometimes the melody. Sometimes I’m just playing the same four chords for an hour until something happens. Now that I’m a mom, I’m subject to my daughter’s sleep schedule, so when she feels like napping is when I’m allowed to be creative. I tend to go to the piano to process things. A lot of things will come out of that, in personal worship and also playing songs I love. I love to write music to other people’s songs. It’s like writing a third verse to a song that they’ve already written. I take those lyrics and turn it into my own thing. So I steal, is essentially what I do. [laughs]
SIB: You’re love the Enneagram! What personality types are you and your family? (Refresh your memory on the Enneagram types here!)
HL: I’m a 4w3 (Individualist/Achiever). They’re also known as the Enthusiasts, which is why they mistype as 7s. I’m convinced [Eliza’s] an 8w7 (Challenger/Enthusiast). Jason is a 1w2 (Reformer/Helper). The funny thing is, he goes to 4 in stress and I go to 1 in health, so he brings out the best in me and I bring out the drama in him. Joking aside, it actually is such a privilege to have someone lead me. I know that I am the best version of myself because of him. And I say that with no amount of irony.
SIB: My parents never experienced any flack because of their interracial marriage, but that isn’t always the case for couples. Have you and Jason ever experienced weird reactions to your marriage?
HL: [laughing] If anything, I’d say it’s a little fetishized. People will say weird things on Youtube. [Jason] does a lifestyle blog (FamLee Life), and we’ve noticed that the main hashtag that people find our videos through is #AMWF, which is “Asian male White female,” and it’s kind of like, “Okay...? This is weird!” [laughs] We’ve been fortunate that our families and friends have been very supportive. But for any two people in the world, there are differences, and we don’t realize how much our upbringing informs who we are. So [there were] a lot of [challenges], but not flack.
SIB: What’s it like transitioning into being a working mom?
HL: Messy’s a good word. I think the transition to becoming a mother was really, really challenging for me. It is the greatest humbling that can happen. You think you’re this awesome person, and then you have a kid whose very existence requires your selflessness, and you’re like, “Wow! I got a lot I need to work on!”
I wanted to be a stay at home mom. God loves to subvert all of my preconceived notions about what I think my life should be. I think having something on the side that I’m able to work toward has made me a better mom, because the mundanity of childrearing is beautiful but so hard. I would hear these women talking like they’d “lost pieces of themselves,” and I was like, “They just don’t understand motherhood.” And then I got into it and I was like, “Oh my gosh, I get it!” So I’m really grateful that the Lord in His sovereignty and kindness had this manna for me in this season.
from hannah's husband's IG, itsme_jasonlee
SIB: Since having Eliza, what have you learned about how the Lord feels about you?
HL: I’ve been in this season of God wooing me as His bride. As a romantic, I long for this love story to be delighted in. God has been like, “You have it. You’re my bride.” Now, as I’m navigating motherhood in a healthier mental place, it’s been fascinating seeing the love that I have for her. Like, “Wow. I mean that much to You, God. I am seen fully in all my flaws and yet loved.” Which is parenthood. You wipe a kid’s butt enough times, you’re like, “I’ve seen it all.” It’s a beautiful gift to be a mother and I don’t take it lightly.
SIB: When did your postpartum depression hit?
HL: It hit the hardest at her four month sleep reversion, when she just stopped sleeping. I felt like I was losing my mind because [Jason] would be at work and I would be alone with [Eliza]. I just needed an hour to myself to do...anything. She would just scream and cry, and that was harder for me than the 3 ams. I felt like such a failure.
SIB: How did you crawl out of that depression?
HL: Community and worship. I felt safe and assured of who I was and who God was in those times of private worship. Having friends there that I could talk to. And my brother was living with us at the time. He makes me laugh more than anybody else in the world, so having him for comedic relief was super helpful.
SIB: Your favorite Bible verse is Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." How did that come to be your motto?
HL: As kids, it was one of those verses that we sang in Sunday School. And then my mom - she’s a really gifted calligrapher - wrote it along the backs of our kitchen chairs. So that was part of our inner family circle.
When I was 18, I was deciding if I was going to move to LA instead of going to college - which had never been the plan until a month before. My mom and dad were like, “That’s not going to happen.” Then a few days after, my dad came to me and said, “ If you think God is pulling you to LA, we’re with you. I don’t want you living your life based on the expectations of others.” And the verse he gave me was [Matthew 6:33]. He said, “Take that with you. Seek first God’s kingdom, and these things will be added.” That verse has been a lifeboat, a reminder of where I came from, a reminder of where I want to go. That’s my marching orders in life. Seek Him.
SIB: Has God ever asked you to give something up that you weren’t ready to yet?
HL: Dating was really hard for Jason and I, ‘cause I at the time was pursuing acting full force. One of the first fights we ever had was whether or not he was comfortable with me kissing other people for roles. I was 19, so the majority of the auditions I was getting were like, CW and Disney and Nickelodeon, and even if it didn’t have a kissing scene, at some point it would have most likely. So for him it felt like, “I can’t have my wife kiss someone else.” We broke up for a while about it, and then realized we missed each other too much and got back together.
SIB: Is your song “Homesick” about that time?
HL: Yes. When we got back together, I realized I needed to hear [confirmation] from the Lord.
I believe God gave me the promise when I was 15 that I was going to make it in the industry. So I was like, “God, You said that this was the career I was supposed to be in, but if I set this boundary, that closes that door.” And He said, “Trust me.” So I handed that to Him, and He in His kindness met me with such joy. Even though I was giving up these things for the kingdom, He met me with Himself and I got to know Him in a deeper way. Being on the other side of it now, it’s funny to see how many new dreams He’s brought. Acting is still a part of my life - Jason and I shot a short film in San Francisco in November. God’s been so kind and He’s so much better than any of it. He’s making all things work together for our good, for His glory, and it’s such a freeing thing to know you’re not in control of your own life.
SIB: Have you ever noticed in hindsight those things that God has worked together that seemed random at the time?
HL: I’m starting to see how, because of the pain and the failures that I’ve had, I tell better stories. At my heart I’m a storyteller, taking that cue from Jesus, in that His ministry was telling parables and that’s what captivated His audiences. Also Him being God probably helped too. That whole Messiah thing. [laughs]
The pieces that surprised me [when they came together] are the dreams I didn’t know about. How deeply I longed to be married and to be a mother. Unlocking those sides of myself has been wonderful and humbling. And also with interior design, stepping into that more.
SIB: Tell me about that!
HL: So Mr Kate is a YouTuber who does interior design, she and her husband. I was a contestant on [Design Vs. Design], an interior design competition show that they had done a year ago and I ended up winning that (watch it here!). My father in law works in real estate and I’ve done projects with him. And tapping into that 4 [personality], aesthetics and creativeness. I do that a lot with what I do in the experience part of worship and creating ambience. Creating a home, and loving hospitality. I’m an extrovert and I love having people over to my house. It’s something I never knew I wanted to do.
SIB: Based on your former IG feed (Hannah has since stepped away from social media), you seem to be drawn to be drawn to soft textures and colors. Is that the case?
HL: Yeah, I like soft things. I like hygge. I like cozy. Since I became a mom, my uniform is jeans and a T-shirt. I love doing things simply and really well. I think that’s the most important part of storytelling. If it doesn’t serve the story, cut it out, and that’s the idea with minimalism, too.
SIB: Have you always been into minimalism?
HL: You can thank Marie Kondo! I loved [her] book (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). We Kon Marie’d our whole house right before we moved. That’s how I shop now, in trying to pick out things for our home. Function and form, just making sure those things align. Growing up in an Asian family, Jason’s very practical, and his influence on me has definitely made me more conscious of those things.
SIB: What makes you happy?
HL: So many things. I’m an optimist. With 4s, you hear a lot about how they’re sad, and that’s true, but their capacity for joy is just as deep as their capacity for sadness. Hydrangeas, my daughter, a clean house, candles, soft music playing with soft lighting, a good cup of pour over coffee, a glass of Prosecco, worship music, old swing vinyls, bullet journaling - not a lot that doesn’t make me happy!
SIB: What does balance mean to you?
HL: Seeking first the will of the One who’s holding it all together. And not doing it as, “This is how God will bless me and I’ll get all the things I want,” but seeking Him. He’s the portion anyway. Balance is a side effect of that. Praise Jesus, cause I ain’t a balanced lady!
Interview and photographs taken at La La Land Kind Cafe in Dallas, TX
Check out We Are One Project, their nonprofit for foster kids!