Let me share with you our journey. Our family has recently decided to adopt a little boy from Ethiopia. This is how we came to this point in our lives. When we got married, we talked about adoption. Clint tells people that when he was a little boy he always wanted to adopt. He grew up watching Different Strokes (what you talkin' about Willis), and from that show, God grew in him a desire to have biological and adopted children. It has been a topic of discussion over our 15 years of marriage. However, neither of us had a peace that 1. we were called, and 2. that it was completely our desire.
In March, Clint led a mission team of 12 to Ntcheu, Malawi, in Africa. Our church partnered with an organization in Northwest Arkansas, Bigger Than Life, to build an orphanage in Ntcheu, called Esther's House. We have teams that travel there several times a year. Chandler, our oldest child, went with Clint on the trip. It truly was an amazing experience for both of them and for the entire team. Chandler came home, and he begged his parents to adopt from Africa. Little did Chandler know (or Clint know) ... the Lord was placing the same desire in Ashley.
Shortly, before the trip, Ashley asked our friend/student pastor's wife, Jackie Harmon, questions about adoption. Clint did not know the Lord was stirring Ashley's heart. Keith, our student pastor, and Clint meet weekly over breakfast to challenge and encourage each other in their walk with the Lord. When Clint returned from the mission trip, Keith casually stated Clint, "I didn't realize that you guys were thinking about adoption." Clint replied, "I didn't either." Ashley says that she knew if she talked to Clint that he would be filling out paperwork before the conversation was complete. She knows him well. :) Ashley also talked to Erin Kennedy, another staff wife, from our church about their adoption process. Both the Harmons and the Kennedys have adopted from Ethiopia. Clint also heard about this conversation.
This began many conversations late into the night. We talked about it with our children. We prayed ... we seeked God ... we talked about our concerns ... our fears ... our children ... our extended families ... we talked for 3 months. We didn't have a peace, but God was at work!
On June 13th, our student pastor, Keith Harmon, preached a message on Sunday morning. He said that sometimes God asks His children to do radical things that we do not know the "how", the "what", or the "why", but we have to just "JUMP IN." We have to "live by faith and trust God." Wow ... Ashley and Clint looked at each other at that time, and we both knew that was a word from the Lord to us. At the end of the service, Clint, Ashley and Chandler went down to the altar, and we committed to obey God's call. We prayed for God's provision. And the Lord gave us the peace we needed!
Since that day, we talk about our baby boy every day, and we eagerly wait for the time to come to go get our new baby boy. We know that it will happen in God's perfect timing so we are not anxious (or we try not to be) :) We often think ... has our son already been born? Or will he be born today? What will he look like? If he is already here on Earth, is he hungry? Does he feel love? And the Lord constantly whispers in our heart ... "don't worry, just trust Me." So we do!
So, our new journey has just begun ... and o, how we can't wait to reach the final destination!!