Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Awaiting Ava

It has been twenty one days since we first opened your picture. In twenty one days I know you have changed so much. I wish I could be near you today if only for a moment to touch, hold and snuggle you. I wish I could whisper to you that we are so grateful for your little life and for for the ride of our lives in bringing you home to us. I wish I could touch your long fingers and kiss your tiny head of hair. Each day I wonder what you must be like. I wonder if you are active and smiley or quiet and peaceful.  I know so little about you and I so long to know more.

The one thing I do know is that you are in a very wonderful place. I know that through Hannah's Hope are being loved and cared for by the Special Mother's who have made it their mission to raise each child in their presence with affection, warmth and love. For now they must take the place of your family that awaits you here.

Just yesterday Owen asked, "When are we getting our baby?" We are thinking about you, praying for you and praying for this process to move quickly. We want to get there Miss Ava to meet you, know you, hold you and love you. Keep waiting baby girl... We are on our way!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

We have been made ready

We have beautiful news to share. News that makes our hearts soar and our minds wander as we dream of what lies ahead for our family. I'll get to the news but I must start by saying that I stand in awe of God's hands in our adoption story. It is to be honored and treasured that we were chosen to endure the challenge of a great loss to get to the other side of the river to find our precious daughter.  This adoption story has had so many roadblocks and detours that we have had days of wondering how we will ever know who it is in Ethiopia who is intended for our family. But God is faithful. We have tumbled through the adoption air sometimes gasping for air only to have now landed right side up on our feet. We have a daughter who is waiting for us. She needs us as much as we need her. We are longing for Ava. Ava is a precious teeny tiny one month old Ethiopian peanut who needs us to bring her home. She needs three silly brothers loving on her. She needs a Mommy to rock her and cuddle her. She needs a Daddy who will play and read to her. She needs a community of neighbors, churchgoers and school pals. She needs Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and lots of cousins. She needs a story and we cannot wait to be her story. Baby Ava we are waiting on and longing for you.

Now wrapping our minds around bouncy seats, onsies and bottles is very interesting considering we were thinking all along that God had a toddler in mind for our family. In all honesty the whole thing makes us laugh. I sometimes feel a bit giddy like I am pregnant without the stretch marks, cravings or recovery after my c-sections. It is funny how God's plan on the road of life is not always revealed in a neat and tidy package. We now know that we needed to connect with, pray and advocate for a toddler in order to make our way to our daughter. What I have learned is that our hearts are open, wide open to the orphan who needs a story. We can be wide open with loving arms and loving hearts and so many children in this world need that. Our call to care for the orphan is true. She has been revealed and she is a baby born especially to be loved and nurtured by us. Thank you God for choosing us.

Even through the tough stuff and what we have certainly come to realize is that there may be more tough stuff, we will remain humbled by the call to adopt. We will pray for sweet Ava and we will remind ourselves that as much as we want her to be ours she is really yours God. She is in your hands. We will pray for Hannah's Hope, the orphanage where she is nurtured and cared for by beautiful Special Mother's and a Director who do all they can for the orphans of Ethiopia. We will pray for those working with AGCI, our agency, that they will continue to be guided by your hand and that they will remain true to the very basic needs of humanity and children in Ethiopia. We will pray for the Government of Ethiopia as they undergo new laws that will now require families, yes we will be the first, to travel twice to avoid future challenges within the adoption world. Lord make us your ambassadors in this new system. Remind us that we are not in charge but rather along for the ride. Our hearts are sometimes scared and lately somewhat guarded but remind us each day that this WHOLE thing is so much greater than us.

We are coming for you baby girl. We have no clear picture yet as to how soon we will be there to meet and hold you but we want you to know that we choose you. We want you and we want to someday be the best story of your life. We hold tight to the reigns as we know that this can sometimes be a bumpy road, but here we come little Ava. We hope at this very hour you are snuggled up tight and sound asleep. We push onward with paperwork, preparations and prayers with faithful and hopeful hearts!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


This past weekend we attended such an outstanding event. We joined friends for an auction for Open Doors Orphanage, a new orphanage opening later this year in Guatemala. Please go to to learn more about the mission of the Paradise Bound team. The ministry was started 13 years ago when a couple began serving the poor and sick people of Guatemala. Now their outreach in Guatemala is far reaching and the tremendous need for an orphanage is an answer to prayer and a dream soon to come true.

It was not just the auction that made the evening so rich but the people. When we arrived I was overwhelmed to see so many people who had come out to support the cause. Our friends, Lisa and Eric attended a mission trip back in February, heading to Guatemala for the first time to serve the needy by building homes and spreading God's word through Paradise Bound so they knew several others. The family who is soon moving to Guatemala to become the orphanage Directors where there and right away I noticed a sweet little Ethiopian face peaking out from a baby bjorn carrier. Thye very recently returned from Ethiopia with their new son. Now as a family of five they will be giving up all the comforts of their American home to go serve the needy orphans of a country only twice the size of Tennessee. In such a small country there are 370, 00 orphans. Can you imagine living among so many children in need? What an opportunity to love, nurture and raise many children under the new roof of Open Doors Orphanage.
So as we are roaming around checking on all the goods up for bid we run into the family that I met over two and half years ago who helped us in knowing that we were being lead to Ethiopia.

It's one of the God stories that so many who adopt spend years trying to understand. We knew adoption was placed on our hearts but as we grappled with the when, where and the how God was showing us over and over with examples such as this...

It was a chilly February day and my husband was donating his time at a big event down at our local Children's Museum. My oldest was in school so I ventured downtown with my two little guys to hang out at the museum. We climbed up the stairs to the second floor and immediately my guys took off for the area where you can do crazy moves with gizmos that spin. I looked over and right away spotted two little fellows standing at the same station. As I walked up to join all the boys a little voice in my head told me, "these boys are from Ethiopia." Now again that means very little to most people but to me searching to hear what the next step was supposed to be for our family, I perked up. It was Divine Intervention when from out of the blue the Mother and sister of the little boys approached the station. Almost immediately we began talking about why the girls were out of school that afternoon. They were darling smiley and looked like they really needing to tell me something when one bursts out, "Mom should we tell her?" "Sure," their Mom responded. "Our brothers are from Ethiopia." I'm telling you this little girl was just busting at the seams to tell me and of course I knew why. OK God now I am really listening. An amazing conversation about adoption ensued and we have been in touch ever since. They are the coolest family with such an open heart for orphans and the needy. Within a short couple of weeks they were visiting my husband in his office and he heard the same little voice. I'll bet this is the family my wife met at the Children's museum, Bob thought to himself after seeing the boys.

So we visit with this special family and we learn that they have been connected for many years to the man who is moving with his family to run the orphanage in Guatemala. Do you see a few dots being connected here? It is not by chance that such people have come into our lives. It is just like all the AGCI families we have met, most over email or the phone. They are incredible families all following the journey to adopt. So many of the mommas have been prayer warriors and very encouraging friends through all the waiting, wondering, excitement and even tears. We strive to be the same for them, strong supporters on the long journey of serving others, of reaching and to bringing home an orphan who needs us.

So you might wonder if we won anything in the auction. I am happy to report that we won 20 trees!
They are the sweetest little trees and so far we have planted five. We hope to share a few with neighbors and friends in order to spread the word about and add trees to our planet. The trees serve as  perfect reminders that we are all in constant growing mode each and everyday and that along this winding road of adoption there will be good and bad days. There will be exciting news and trying challenges to making it all happen, but just like the perfect cycle of the tree we are fed and able to grow if we listen to how God speaks. What signs is God using to point you in a specific direction? Many of us blog and jot down all our daily experiences as a way to remember the journey but also to support and encourage others. We want to be that tree trunk, holding up the many branches. We can be that for one another and we can be that for the least, the lost and orphan. Be aware of the little messages, the gut feelings, the signals and signs. I promise you they are there if you are willing to take note and listen. Perhaps like me, you will be very surprised by what you hear.

It was a wonderful Mother's Day and we seized the last hour of outdoor time to get a few trees in the ground. What do you think?


Into Our Arms Forever!

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welcome home ava! from melanie Strobel on Vimeo.

Meeting Ava during our first trip to Ethiopia

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Meeting Ava Ethiopia Trip July 2010 from melanie Strobel on Vimeo.

Korah- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

During our recent visit to Ethiopia I felt very called to the village of Korah in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. There have been numerous rumblings lately about the tremendous need to help the children of Korah who are growing up in and around the local trash dump. The village was established 75 years ago as a place to send people with leprosy who were said to be cursed. Now there is a 3rd generation of people living in Korah with nearly 100,000 suffering from such things as leprosy, HIV, misc disease and of course malnutrition. There are many children of Korah who have been forced to live and work at the trash dump in hopes of finding food and possible items to sell in Korah's center of town. With the start of the Great Hope Church in Korah and the building of a shelter, along with the ministry of local Sammy Liben and Sumer Yates, there is now a feeding program and a sponsorship program in place to rescue the forgotten children of Korah and send them to boarding school where they can escape the horror of the conditions of living and working in a large trash dump. For more information please visit: or where you can learn more about how you or your organization can help the people and the children of Korah. Please send me a message or email Erin Allen at to request sponsorship information. I will soon be posting the photos of my day recently spent in Korah. I must tell you it was life changing and beyond anything I have ever done to stretch, change and rearrange myself. God helped me to help the people who I met. Much of what I could offer was nothing more than the snap of my camera or a warm touch or an inviting smile. The needs in Korah are beyond our wildest imagination yet God is over Korah and there is already amazing work being done. I invite you to view the following videos to learn more about the beauty and the needs of Korah's people.


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Hannah's Hope Orphanage- Ethiopia

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