The Beginning

It all began by the pond during Freshman Orientation with one question: “Why did you choose Hardin-Simmons University?” I had been weaving this question into most of my conversations. The first fifty responses were disappointing. There is one right answer and I had yet to hear it, until I met Chad Strange. “You know, I had a scholarship to HBU, but as I prayed about it, I really felt the Lord leading me here.” I made a mental note of that guy.

A few weeks later, he found himself in desperate need of a date for some band initiation function. His roommate had seen me in the lobby and asked if I would mind showing Chad some mercy. I agreed to go with him. That was when muscle shirts were king and big bangs assumed. We have been best friends ever since. That man makes me laugh.

The Journey Together

chad and cheri 2013

God has led us down a road we never anticipated. We have degrees and careers and a hoard of children we never desired or dreamed possible. I was going to be a social studies teacher. He was going to be…a pastor. No, a philosopher. No, a forest ranger. No, a professor. No, a farmer (I’m not kidding). And this was AFTER we were married. My life is an example of God’s sense humor. Somehow He brought clarity and dreams we never could have come up with ourselves.

 

When I was eight months pregnant with Taylor, God thought it was the perfect time for me to begin a Ph.D. A couple of years later, He added a 11second baby to the mix, Addison Grace. It took seven years to finish at Baylor University, just in time to complete a truck load of paperwork for adopting a little baby girl from China.

Chloe actually was a dream come true (minus all the screaming). I learned about China’s One Child policy when I was 19 and told Chad I wanted to do something about it. And we did, 15 years later. But while we were sitting on a bus in China holding an inconsolable screaming baby, we watched a six-year old, Ally, join her new family. And we knew we would be back.

In 2008 we adopted Jolee, who was nine at the time.  Then, in 2012, we went completely nuts, adopting a sibling set of four from Ethiopia: Sophia (9), Zoe (7), Zack (5) and Tate (5). Let me help you with the math. That’s eight in all. Six were added in six years, five learning English as a second language. Not to mention lessons to be learned personal hygiene, how to use a fork, how to put on underwear UNDER the clothes, and the all-important rule about where NOT to go to the bathroom in YOUR ROOM!

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I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

The Mission

The points between the Ph.D. and the chaos of eight children were the birthings of training exercises, learning to take His courage to do things this timid wallflower didn’t think she could do and stretch further than this small-minded girl was comfortable moving. And then came the calling to bring others along the journey.

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These words, these pages, these experiences—all His idea. It’s all His doing. What I am learning is that He wants to take you and me further. I’m beginning to think He’s serious about loving Him with everything we are–our whole lives–our entire beings. He truly wants us to want Him. To yearn for Him. To allow Him to shape every aspect of our lives. It may not turn out the way we plan, but we will stretch beyond anything we could have dreamed up by ourselves. One thing I know: it’s worth the yearning. Longing for and moving beyond living a comfortable life…is living out the Gospel in our time, in our generation. That–I definitely don’t want to miss.

 

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