Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Merry Christmas Cheer...

We are a wild and crazy bunch around here and I am amazed at the end of each day what it takes to make it all happen as a family of six. Our boys are in 5th, 3rd and 1st grade and I can honestly say the break from the school routine has been so needed. I love letting the boys wake up on their own, play cards before breakfast, head out in their snow gear while still wearing PJs. It is great fun to have them home and they just love the hang time. Is it perfect- heavens no! They are so active, moving from thing to thing. They are constantly hungry and running to the pantry more times than me in a day :) They come in from outdoors and think they can throw all of their gear on the floor, knowing full well of course I will clean it up. They are mess makers and leave everything they have just started when a friend rings the doorbell. Our days are crazy. So this Christmas take three active boys home all day from school and add and 8 month old baby. Yes it is an interesting picture both good and bad :)

Ava is a trouper and continues to surprise me with her resilience and happy nature. She goes with the chaotic and often loud flow and unless she is hungry or tired she is generally very easy going. This morning we invaded Daddy's office and we were all quite the spectacle as we kept running into friends who had not seen the boys in years or met Ava yet. Ava just kept spitting up or puking as the boys say and  I felt a bit like I was herding cats as I was talking to old freinds and trying to keep the boys from sneaking to the back of the office to consume any and all treats they could get their hands on. So why not chow down on chocolate, sprinkles and candy canes right after having your teeth cleaned-  Afterall it is Christmas! We left the office and although I was feeling a bit fried,  I was so filled with joy for all the connections to family and friends Bob has. It seemed all who entered his office door were connected through our high school, neighborhood, the boy's school, staff family or church. I love love love our community and all that happens in the exchanges of love and support for one another.  We are so blessed!

So with just one day to go before we celebrate the birth of a KING I cannot seem to put our dear Ava down. I am so in love with her and the reminder she brings that God sent a baby- can you even imagine the wisemen bowing before a baby- a baby who would change the world and give his life to show us God's amazing grace? I stare at Ava Eleanor and I feel like a chosen Queen. I still cannot believe that adoption was placed on our hearts so long ago. That God chose me so that I might raise Miss Ava, teaching her to walk in the light with Jesus along side her.  Ava makes my heart sing yet I feel a deep ache for those children all around the world who are without those to love and support them. There are so many children who will not wake up to presents around the tree and stockings hung by the chimmney with care. I cannot save all children from being lost and alone but we will work hard to advocate for the orphan and support the agencies that strive to rescue children and bring them to the love of Jesus. There is much on my heart as we move into a new year. The orphan crisis continues to tug at my heart now that I have seen first hand the mercy and work that is needed. This year our merry Christmas cheer comes with eyes more open than before making our prayers deeper and our love deeper.

So we have spent the last few days delivering goodies to our neighbors and trying to find a few quiet moments to read a few books around the tree. The reality is that the subdued Christmas days where we all sit by the fire relaxing and enjoying an eggnog are not exactly how our famiy rolls but we are grateful for the cheer in the house, the excitement of the baby whose birth we will soon celebrate, the gorgeous Christmas cards that are still arriving in droves each day, the smells of chocolate and the red and green m&m cookies we are crave.  All three boys have been very emotional this year about buying each other gifts and while we should have thought of it a bit earlier, well we are trying to embrace their generous hearts. We also wonder if their ideas to buy for one another (all nerf I might add ) seem a bit like a conspirary threory as they all huddle in discussion but hey, isn't it all in the way you choose to see it?

Have a wonderful day tomorrow as we all prepare our heart and homes for the merriest of days... Below is a little eye candy of the daughter who brings our hearts so much fullness and joy this Christmas. She is our little ANGEL and we are grateful to celebrate our first Christmas as a "complete" family. Merry merry to you and yours!

One more thing... several fellow AGCI families who were scheduled to fly to Ethiopia tomorrow for thier return trip to bring their children home were notified today that the US Embassy is requiring more time to review paperwork. They will not have Embassy appointments this next week and they do not know when the appointments will be rescheduled. Things are up in the air and so are their lives right now... It is a very tough spot when your heart is ready to get on a plane and bring home the baby you bonded with just weeks ago. It is teven tougher to remember that God is in control and they there must be a reason why all of this is happening. I know they are hurting and feeling lost right now as we roll into Christmas day and their hearts ache to get their little one's home. We are praying for you and with you in this process. This adoption road is not always a straight path and we are asked to sit tight and breath deep many times throughout this winding journey. God is over the details and never forget that HE will hold you in the palm of HIS hand while you wait- even with questions and tears. 

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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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