Wednesday, July 31, 2013


by Alanna

A few weeks ago I said goodbye to the twins, who I had nannied for the past nearly two years. It reminded me of other goodbyes, in nursery rooms in South Africa. I cried for all those kids I love, my son I ache for, the hurts of the world's little ones.

I had grown to love the twins- how could I help it? They had been a stable factor in my life over the past years of emotional turmoil, both good and bad. When I started with them, I had just come back from Africa and was praying about adoption. I ached for my little one, my heart left behind with him. All my thoughts and prayers constantly pulled back to that continent and the place where he was, and all my plans here revolved around him and what I believed God wanted me to do concerning him.

Each week, I went to work with the twins. The boy reminded me of my little one and sometimes I cried for it, but him and his sister also won their way into my hearts as I watched them grow up little by little. In that first year of work, I fought for my son. And in the end I lost him, lost the chance to be his mother. But in that ending there was also immense victory, as God answered prayers and did beautiful things for my little one. I watched in awe, gratitude, and heartache, as God finally placed him in a family.

Through those times, working with the twins got me out of bed in the morning after I'd cried myself to sleep. Through the twins God gave me gifts every day, things to thank Him for here. And then in the second year of working there, God brought a wonderful man to me. And less than one year after I said yes to being his girlfriend, I'm his wife. We'll soon board a plane to Honduras to be teachers at a Christian school there. Over these last two years, I've experienced both the saddest and the happiest days of my life. I still cry sometimes, still act like an emotional wreck. I still dance around the house because I'm crazy in love. I'm thankful today for the twins, and the way that God gifted us with each other through all the turmoil of these last years. I'm thankful that God Himself is a gift to us through all these changes. He is ever faithful, His promises enduring always.

Friday, July 19, 2013

beautiful life

By Mary

I keep thinking about this blog and thinking I should probably try to contribute to it occasionally, wondering what I should write.

Things are happening fast, lots of traveling and weird schedules and different distractions. I don't have as much time to just sit and think or write. But all these things make for a beautiful life. And maybe even a life worth writing about, a little bit?

Exactly one month ago I braved the four hour flight to Colorado with my 18 month old for Alanna's wedding. It wasn't a complete disaster and I survived obviously--and besides that, the wedding was so well worth it. I've definitely never seen Alanna happier, or a couple more clearly in love and brought together through God's good plans. And I had a whole week to spend at home, with grandparents to watch (and spoil) my little baby girl any old time. I felt like a kid again, having my mom doing the cooking and being able to leave Gianna whenever it worked better not to take her out with me. She sure loved time with her grandma and grandpa. I think I was the one missing her while I was gone, not the other way around.

About a week after we came home to Maryland, I had a reunion with my man who's spending two months this summer in North Carolina for Marine Corps training. It was so wonderful to have our little family all back together. I think this time apart has really made me appreciate even more what we have.

After celebrating Independence Day with our friends in MD we took a little 6 hour drive down to my brother's house in North Carolina where I've been staying the last two weeks with the baby girl. Nick comes to see us on the weekends and we get together for a little family date once during the week since he's still a bit of a drive away from here.

My niece is turning two this week--just five months older than Gianna. In a blink of an eye we'll have a two year old of our own. Our three year wedding anniversary is the same day as our niece's birthday--I'm so thankful for the things God has done in our marriage, the blessings He's given, the ways He's grown us.

And speaking of blessings, while I was back home I made a little discovery--and I'm happy to report that our family of three will be a family of four near the end of January in 2014. All the beautiful gifts keep coming =)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

the frailty of life

by Alanna
On June 22nd, 2013, I became Mrs. Hailu- wife and helper and lifelong companion to the one I love. The wedding went well despite any worries I had, and hopefully gave glory to God- the Giver of this good gift called marriage. I was blessed by so many dear friends and my precious family rejoicing with us. Afterward we spent a week in the mountains, which was a gift in so many ways. I’m quite sure I love Yonas more now than I did a week ago, even than a day ago. I had some fears before the wedding, that maybe sin would manifest itself stronger after marriage, and that we’d go from joy and delight in each other to fighting and hard. Our first week of marriage dispelled those fears for me, because God is the One who brought us together. He blessed us with so many good things all week. We danced in the kitchen and laughed hard and walked and cooked and loved.

On our third day of marriage, God gave us a stark reminder of the frailty of life. And I pray we count each other more of a gift because of it. Yonas and I went out in the canoe on a big lake. We had ventured out a bit too far when the wind picked up and the canoe tipped. The water was icy cold and I panicked. The shore was much too far for swimming against the cold waves. We asked Jesus to come to our rescue. He sent a boat. And we are still alive, even today. Instead of drowning, we get to be married and love each other for one more day. It puts things in perspective. Those vast mountains- their Creator so powerful and strong. And then little weak us- flailing in a tiny spot of water. And He comes to our rescue. I believe it’s so that we can love- Him and those around us. It reminded us not to take each other for granted. Every moment is really a gift. No matter what else I do as a wife or a sister or a daughter or a friend, I want to love people fiercely, as if time is not guaranteed. I want to hold nothing back. Because today is all we may have left.