A picture THAT full and diverse takes a story to unpack.
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 convesations. The first fifty responses were disappointing. There was one right answer and I had yet to hear it until I met Chad Strange. “You know, I had a scholarship to (somewhere else), but as I prayed about it, I really felt the Lord leading me here.” THAT, ladies — was the $500 answer!
I made a mental note of THAT guy.
A few weeks later, Chad Strange found himself in desperate need of a date for some band event. Problem was, he didn’t know any girls. All he ever did was study and hang out with the band. His roommate found me and asked if I would mind showing Chad some mercy. I remembered his answer- found some compassion- and agreed to go with him. That’s when muscle shirts were king and big bangs in Texas assumed. He and I have been best friends ever since. That man makes me laugh.
The journey God has led us on together we never anticipated. Chad and I hold degrees and careers and parent a hoard of children we never were clued in enough to desire or dream possible. I was going to teach history. He was going to be a pastor. No, a philosopher. No, a professor, Wait, a forest ranger. And my favorite possibility, a farmer–this from a man who uses Bath and Body Works products for everything! I don’t think so. (I wish I was kidding!) And all this was AFTER we were married. My life is an example of God’s sense of humor. Somehow He brought clarity and dreams we never could imagine ourselves.
Eight months pregnant with Taylor, God thought was the perfect timing for me to begin a PhD. A couple of years later He threw in a second baby, Addison, just to mix it up a little. I completed that academic stent in time to finish a truck load of paperwork for adopting a baby girl from China.
Chloe was actually a dream come true (minus all the screaming). I learned of China’s One Child policy when I was nineteen and informed Chad I wanted to do something about it when I got married. Fifteen years later, we did. But while sitting on a bus in China holding an inconsolable baby, we could not take our eyes off another child joining her forever family– a six-year old named Ally. And somehow we knew we would be back.
That six-year old changed our lives forever. In 2008 we returned to China for 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 and Tate (5). Let me help you with the math. That is altogether eight. Six were added in six years, five of whom did not speak English. Not only was there a language barrier, there were lessons to be learned in all things hygiene, utensil usage, how to put on underwear UNDER the clothing, and the all-important rules about where NOT to go to the bathroom IN YOUR ROOM! I promise, it has never been dull or boring.
I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
The points between the solitude before the PhD. and the choas that this kind of life brings were the birthings of training exercises, learning to take His courage to do things this timid wallflower didn’t think she could– stretching further than a small-minded girl is comfortable thinking or moving. And then came the calling to bring others along that can be summed up in these words from Charles H. Spurgeon:
Do as you have opportunity, tell it out; empty it upon the earth.
If you have proved Him, confess to a generation about you that He is a faithful God.”
That is what we do here. Nothing more. Nothing less. It is my privilege and joy to do exactly this: empty myself– to tell it out and confess to anyone who will read or listen.All and only for His Glory and Honor,Cheri