Thursday, April 23, 2015

Pretty Girl

When we were waiting to travel for Everly I sent her a care package. In that care package there was a disposable camera and some other things all tucked neatly in a book bag. On the day Everly became a Sharp the book bag didn't come with her. She has several other paper bags that had some snacks and her medicine. Once we got back to the hotel and I was able to go through those bags I did come across the disposable camera. I put it away and in the chaos of life just got the film developed today. Five months later.

I opted to get the pictures on a disc because honestly, I wasn't sure that there was anything on the camera. At this point I would have been happy with one picture but I was pleasantly surprised when I got home to find there were 36 pictures on this disc. They were all taken the same day but they were pictures that I didn't have and I was so thankful that they took the time to take my girl on a photo shoot :)

As I excitedly scrolled through the pictures, each one so similar to the last, I came across this:

And for a few minutes I sat there looking at my girl. This picture stopped me in my tracks and brought so many emotions to the surface for me.
See at this point she had no idea she was a daughter.

I know she saw many leave the orphanage before her. Did she wonder if she would have a family of her own? Did she wonder what took us so long to get there?

Can we talk about how far she has come and the little ways she lights up my world?

She has the most amazing belly laugh.
She LOVES music and she loves dancing.
She has the stinkiest breath in the mornings.
She would eat hamburgers and hot dogs everyday.
She loves school and has made lots of friends.
She tries really hard to listen and make good choices.
She loves to sleep in our bed.
She loves Elias. I mean loves him. She wears his baseball hat around the house.
She wants a yaya like Norah... and Norah gave her one. She sleeps with it every night.
She loves when Sam helps her and always says thank you to him and wants to lavish him with hugs.
Her English is coming along so nicely and when she spouts off a new word we all erupt in applause and she is so so proud of herself.
She is determined.
She is so self sufficient and will blow your mind with the things she is capable of doing with just one arm.
She has learned how to be held.
She has learned to hug back.
She says I love you.
She will grin from ear to ear and salute Shannon when she see's him in his uniform.
It is amazing to watch her know and learn the love of a daddy.

This girl. Oh, this girl. Some days are rough and some days are amazing.
I will take the bad days 6 days a week for that one good day. Yes, it is that good. And thankfully those bad days are wearing away little by little.
The light in her eyes will blind you.

That little girl in the picture, she is gone. She has been replaced with life and light and joy. She has been given a name and a purpose. She has been given a home and a future. She has been given a new identity.

But we have been given so much more.

I am so thankful I am her mom. I am thankful for the hard parts. I am thankful for the good days.  I am thankful for the unending hugs and sweet kisses.

This songs sums up so perfectly my heart for my Evy Jane.
"Pretty Girl"
by Sarah McLachlan

Monday, April 13, 2015


So I have attempted to write this post for some time now and each time I was pulled away by one thing or another. Maybe it wasn't the right time, maybe it was me just being hesitant.

I have gotten many messages and text and face to face conversations from people thanking me for being "real" in this adoption. More times than not, if you ask how things are going I am going to be honest with you. There are good days and bad days and my answers will vary day by day.

But I feel so icky just putting it out there on the world wide web for anyone to see and scrutinize and judge. I do believe that there are people that genuinely care and I believe that there are nosey people. Such is life.

So maybe that is why things felt so icky, I don't know. The last thing I want is for any of my kids to get a hold of this blog when they are older and think, "Oh, my mom felt THAT way??" Ewww.

In the spirit of being real though, and not going into details, I will tell you that this adoption has been hard. Heck, every adoption that we have done has been hard. Now that I think about it, show me one that is a cake walk.

Yes, we asked for it and yes, we knew what we were getting ourselves into. (We really had no idea....) We felt prepared and felt ready and felt all these feelings in general and we were blindsided.

 I won't go into the details but....

I have friendships that I thought for sure would be lifelong that have dissolved because I am "too busy."
I have cancelled one too many hair appointments, one too many coffee dates, one too many lunch dates.
I have been incredibly weird, incredibly distant and incredibly emotional.
I have backed out of obligations, meetings and family outings.
I have cried my eyes out, said words that are far too foul and often thought worse of people than are true.
I have prayed, thrown my hands up, begged, and turned my back.
I have lived these last four months beside a child and have gone with her places in darkness that no child should be accustomed to.

I have seen the kindest child spit nails.
I have seen the older child seem so childish.
I have seen the child that loves with all he has spew venom.

This has been an incredible life change for our whole family. This has turned one little girls life completely upside down.

I say all of this to ask for your grace and your understanding and that you not take our absence personally. If we cancel last minute or if we are an hour late, or I forget to call you back or don't call at all.... grace.

There are some days that we just cannot leave the house. There are some nights that are just too long.

Thank you to the friends that have stayed the course, to those that haven't given up on us. Thank you to the friends that speak life into us. To the friends that I can confide in without judgment. To the friends and family that get it, to those that pour love on our kids no matter how messy we are.
Thank you for those that have shown grace and have offered a kind word. Thank you for not judging. Thank you for loving.

I cannot begin to tell you how far we have come. I cannot begin to tell you how far she has come. She really blows me away with her tenacity and perseverance. There are times that I just tear up and thank God she is ours. It has only been 4 months and she has burrowed and ingrained herself in my heart.
We have a long way, but praise God we are moving forward.

To those out there in the trenches, tackling one day at a time, praying for a better day tomorrow.... tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow is a new day of grace.

"I will not cause pain without allowing something NEW to be born, says the Lord." Isaiah 66:9

Monday, February 9, 2015


This is going to be long one. Go ahead and grab a cup of joe and settle in.

I want to tell you a story about a little girl, a fighter, a daughter, a sister...

It was freezing cold in Luohe as we were standing in the civil affairs office waiting on Everly. She was one of the last vans to get there. We watched all of these other families getting their babies. Some of the babies were crying, some were in shock and others reached for their parents as if to say, "Hey! I have been waiting on you!!" It is such a precious thing to see. Families that are normally brought to light in the most intimate atmospheres are formed today in front of an audience of 24. It was loud, cold and emotional. Everly's van pulled up and we knew she was in there. All of the other babies had arrived and been placed. It was just our family and another family that were waiting at this point.
I couldn't believe that this was it. This is what we had been waiting on for a year. In about 2 seconds we were going to see her right in front of us.
I saw her red coat and recognized it from the care package we sent.

first Everly sighting...

Yep. That was her.

She was with a nanny and another gentleman from the orphanage. As she looked at the daunting steps in front of her, she turned back around as if to head for the van. Her nanny talked to her and she put one foot in front of the other and moved forward. Courage.

She got halfway up the steps and I couldn't stand it anymore. I met her where she was. She immediately got frightened and turned to her nanny and buried her head in her jacket. The nanny explained I was Mama and to hold my hand. I reached for her. And she looked at me, eyes so soulful and terrified. She took my hand. Her sweet hand was so cold and so sweaty at the same time. Trembling, she held it. And we walked up the stairs together. As soon as she got inside the building she went.... wild. Walking quickly and we lost sight of her immediately. She was going family to family, her eyes were wild and she was just completely overwhelmed.

                                                               Leaving Civil Affairs Office

We took very few pictures that day. And very few pictures of our time in China.
We didn't leave the hotel room unless we had paperwork to do. Smells nauseated her, the busyness confused her, the wind made her drop to her knees. She did better in the hotel room. It was a controlled environment. She learned a bit about us and we learned a bit about her.

That was 2 months ago.

Fast forward to today. My girl starts school Wednesday. She is so excited. She told our guide in China that she wanted two things in America. 1. To go to school. 2. To have long hair.
We have her book bag packed already. Got school supplies today. Lunchbox on the counter.

But what has really happened in those 2 months??


Our first few weeks were spent at home. Luckily the kids had Christmas break and we were all home together. What a gift!!

It was day in and day out people in your face. The smells were all to nauseating to her once again. The seizures were coming every few days. She was up wandering at 3 in the morning. She was still on China time. I made one to many calls to my Katie for mandarin help. Everly was so unsure of everything around her. She was constantly on the defense, constantly looking over her shoulder and trusting no one. She was angry.
So day in and day out it was the same routine. Every once in a while we would venture out to a store and more times than not we had to leave to come home.
There were many behaviors that needed correcting, learned behaviors that were so normal for her.
She had NO idea what family was. No idea that we would be with her for the rest of her life. She had no idea what any of this meant.
Just thinking about it now makes me so sad for her. Sad for those kids that will never know what a family is.

Little by little she is learning to trust. Little by little she is blossoming.

I cannot believe how far she has come.

                                             Family Day                     6 weeks a Sharp

She has so much courage in that little body of hers. I think about where we were two months ago and I just cannot believe it. Some of you I called and poured my heart out to while in China. And you helped me more than words can ever say. Dinners that were delivered to our house were a blessing beyond words. There was no way I could have fed my family in those early days. It was all we could do to survive. Justine came to my house to cut my shaggy hair, and it was a good thing. It forced me to take a shower and do something with myself. My sweet Seattle friend that sent bedrails and my CA friend that sent cookie butter. There are no words. The support system we have is hands down the best.
Thank you to everyone that loved on our family. There is really no way to thank you fully. And to that special one that left a bottle of wine at my door step.... bless you. ;)

Everly. She is a treasure. She is so girly girl. She loves Barbies and bracelets and hair clips. She is such a sweet child. Random kisses and the tightest hugs.  She loves to dance and sing.

I love to see the confidence she gains each day. She is holding her head higher. She was once a child that had no idea how to engage in a hug or be held. I had my moment of the year in the Target parking lot when she wrapped her legs around me when I picked her up. Yes, I cried.

Now my girl is going to school. I feel like we just got her. There was a time when I didn't think we would make it. That I wouldn't make it. That somehow all of this wouldn't fit.
But it fits so perfectly.

As I type this, Everly and Norah are sleeping side by side and I hear these little giggles every once in a while. Everly is a sister. She has an older brother that is so protective and loving to her. She has a little brother that rejoices with her when she learns a new word.
She is a daughter. Her dad is smitten, gonner, done. He is so gentle with her and I am telling ya. Seeing him with his kids... oh man.

I am so thankful she is ours. I am so thankful that we said yes. I am so thankful that God put the lonely in our family. I am so thankful she is giving us a chance and that she has the courage to just be.

She has come so so far. We have come so far.

She is so incredibly worthy.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

He is Faithful.

Ahh, good morning sweet friends. I cannot believe that it has been so long that I have posted an update. Clearly time is marching by without looking back to see is following.

 I couldn't sleep so I decided to get up and write. Catch all of you up on our life, my thoughts and our girl. It is early morning here in the Sharp house. Everyone is still sleeping, I have an awesome cup of iced coffee beside me and my sweet Lucy dog is under the table with her sweet head resting on my feet.

We got an update on Everly a few days ago and her favorite color is red. Be still my heart. She is still just as tall as she was last December. Her weight has remained the same as well. A whopping 39 pounds. Who knows if it is really accurate at this point. I have a hard time believing she hasn't gained a single pound in almost a year. She is tiny, that is for sure.
This update was slim, with just height, weight, favorite color and the knowledge that she doesn't really know what adoption is. Which is no surprise really. They haven't officially told her that we are coming for her as we are waiting on one single piece of paper to be able to officially tell her.
We usually get two or three pictures with each update. This time there wasn't a single one. We aren't guaranteed any pictures, but they are usually provided. They said they would send them at another time. My heart dropped as I thought of the million reasons there were no pictures. Was she okay, was she sick, where is my girl?!?!? I need to see her face and make sure she is okay!
A few days later, Monday night in fact, I see her face. Her sweet precious face. And as it seems, she has two front teeth :) For a while there that tooth was missing. I thought for sure that tooth had been knocked out somehow. But her teeth are there and her smile is to die for.
Two days later we get an email from our agency that they have a video.
The most precious 45 seconds of the week.

God is good friends. He is faithful, He is close to the brokenhearted. When I feel like I could crawl right out of my skin with worry for Everly He gently eases this mothers heart. Not only with pictures but a video.
He has shown up time and time again in this process. Right at the very moment I feel I am breaking, or I may not make it, or I may go crazy He is there and gently shows himself.
I get so overwhelmed with thoughts at times. Good thoughts, bad thoughts, confusing thoughts, untrusting thoughts.
When we started this process we needed about $16,000.00 to complete this adoption. Yeah. So we just said, a few fundraisers, save like crazy and pray. That is all we could offer. But we were obedient.
We are roughly $2500.00 away from that $16,000.00 mark. We keep saving, we keep praying and we keep trusting.
I am thankful for the people that have made it their job to stand in this HUGE gap for our family. Friends that text and email with words of encouragement and prayers. Friends that have our Everly on their fridge, chalkboard, phone... praying over her safety and our finances.

I am just thankful this morning for a Father that loves me but also loves Everly even more. A Father that wants her home. I am thankful that we said yes to this precious girl. And that we are fighting for her. Yes, she only knows mandarin and only mandarin. We will get through it. She is 9 and has lived in an orphanage in Ch%^$ for 9 years. It is going to be hard. Her emotions will be all over the place and jetlag is going to suck. Integrating into a family of 6 is going to be weird and trying. She is going to grieve. We are going to grieve. It is going to be a hot mess up in here. Probably for a while actually. But we are going to be okay. The same great God that brought us together is also in it for the junky messy stuff. He specializes in redemption and brokenness. And in this creation of messiness he is already redeeming me. In my brokenness and ugliness he is fixing this heart of mine. Making old things new. Turning the sour sweet. I am honored to be stretched and molded. Plucked out of the comfortable and into the unsure. In grieving their past we all grieve. In looking to the sun, we are all warmed and refreshed.

Monday, June 30, 2014

One little girl...

One little girl has changed this life of mine. I no longer want to be complacent in this world, I no longer want to be idle and still for my own selfish reasons. I want to run to her, swim to her... I just need to get to her.
And when I get to her I will smother her in kisses. We will show her what family is, even though it is messy and crazy.
But what happens when she comes home, for she is not the last of the orphans. She is one in a million. 147 million or more I do believe.
147 million +
Try wrapping your brain around THAT one.

What happens to all of the other children left behind in China, Ethiopia, Haiti, Ukraine, Uganda, South Carolina, Summerville... what happens to them? They have no voice, no one fighting like hell to get to them and protect them. They are just... there. They are a number, a face, a small tiny body wading in a sea of rubble walking down broken streets and broken glass for a piece of bread or perhaps some water. They are tied to beds, chained to this broken world behind closed doors. Empty faces and bellies with no sense of touch or belonging.
And I just want to scream to those around me, "WAKE UP!!! DON'T YOU SEE!!!!!"
But you can't save them all Penny. I hear this time and time again. You can't save them all.
And you are right. I can't.

But I can do something. I can pray for them. I can talk about them. I can share their stories.

See, as a Christian I have been adopted.

John 1:12 "But to all who believed  him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God."
Children of God. We were once that wayward child walking on that street of rubble, desperate for something, anything. And He paid our ransom. He was made UNCOMFORTABLE and His flesh was ripped and torn for US. For his children so that we may come to know him.

In Psalm 68:5-6 "Father to the fatherless, defender of widows - this is GOD, whose dwelling is holy! God places the lonely in families...
These children, they are lonely. WE were lonely. He is commanding us to take care of them and HE WILL place them. He has placed them... in my life, perhaps in your life.

James 1:27 "Pure and genuine in the sight of God the Father means caring for the orphans and the widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."

So as a Christian we have a responsibility.

We have a responsibility to save them, to help them. To help the least of these in this broken and crazy world. It doesn't have to be international, it doesn't have to be monetary, it doesn't have to be a child in your city. But for the love of all that is good don't turn your back on them because adoption isn't your thing. Or because you have already adopted and you feel you have done your part, or because it looks messy and scary. It IS messy and it IS scary. And it takes courage and faith and sometimes closing the bathroom door and bawling your eyes out because it just isn't how you expected it to be. And it takes courage to talk about it and walk it out even though it hurts.  It takes someone really incredibly brave to say, this hurts! Something isn't right here. We need help and we need to get this fixed. That my friends is a real reality and if for one moment you think this is all unicorns and rainbows you have been mislead. Adoption is messy. Period. And God bless those families that are walking in the trenches right now with their kids from hard places. They are out there hurting and they need us. I will be the first to say I have your back. I will walk this road with you and stand beside you even in the darkest of places.

We have a responsibility to these families and to these children left behind.

I am so appreciative of those who have helped us. This journey has been full of ups and downs and twists and turns. But I am thankful. Thankful that I am able to say YES, SEND ME!! I am thankful for those that are walking beside us, helping us and praying for us. So incredibly thankful this isn't about US but about our daughter. Please keep the prayers coming and one day... one sweet day we will be united. #oneless  #sharpfamily6  #comehomesoon

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Updates all around...

I wanted to update everyone this morning on where we are in the adoption process and also in fundraising.

I want to thank everyone so much that has participated in one way or another in the iPad mini give away and those of you that have offered your time and talent to the upcoming auction. You have no idea how much it means to us to have YOU right beside us in this fight to bring Everly home.

So our i800a was approved and we FINALLY have immigration clearance! That is such a HUGE step for us as we were given an RFE (request for evidence) and that took almost a month to get through. But we got it!! That was the last piece of paper for our beautiful dossier that will head to China in the next few weeks. Once our dossier is sent to China (DTC) we will then become LID (Log in Date) and that is where the REAL wait will begin. I anticipate being DTC hopefully, prayerfully by July 11th. It usually takes a week or so to be LID. Once we are LID it is **usually** 4-5 months until we can get Everly. I would *anticipate* traveling the middle of November. BUT that could change at anytime. Could be sooner, could be later. I am praying sooner. She needs to come home...

The tentative date to complete the iPad give away is the end of July. I know lots of you have asked when the drawing will take place. We may extend that but I PROMISE we will have three winners. We are praying that it will pick up and people will enter to win! Please share on facebook and in doing so, make a comment on your post that it is infact for a fundraiser so people will know. I appreciate it!!! To enter, click the fundraiser button on my blog and fill out your info. Easy as that...

-TShirt!!! We finally found a really awesome local company that will produce our tshirts. The will be a charcoal gray with the white anchor and verse. I will take orders/payments for one month and then place the order. It will be a week turnaround and the shirts will be in your hands... fresh from the press :) I cannot wait to get one of these!! Our friends have been so gracious in designing them and helping us find someone to make it all happen!!! As soon as I get a "mock" design I will begin taking orders :)

- Auction: The auction will start August 1st and run approx. 2 weeks. We have had so many incredible donations from local companies and people. WOW!! I cannot wait to share this with all of you!


Thank you for praying for our family. Please keep Everly forefront in your mind and prayers. We are still far from our goal but I know that God isn't going to keep us from our girl. It is such a humbling experience to walk this road and depend on HIM alone.
I updated the thermometer with the most accurate information...
Thank you for EVERYTHING you are doing to help us bring her home to her FAMILY!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Bringing Everly Jane Home...

Our daughter Everly is 9 years old. She has lived in an orphanage in China just as long. She is beautiful, has the most precious voice and she is missed here more than words can say.

There is not a moment that goes by that I don't think of her and wonder how she is doing. This is pretty normal for all of the adoptive mommas and dads that are living half way around the world from their kiddos. The empty seat at the kitchen table, the extra seat in the car, a room filled with one that should belong to two. Brothers missing their sister. A sister missing her other half. Momma and Daddy missing a piece of their heart.

Oh, my heart. It soars at the thought of her. Soars at the thought of holding her for the first time. Seeing her toothless grin as she is missing one of her permanent teeth. Memorizing the lines on her hands and every freckle she owns.

I am so thankful that I get to be her momma. So thankful that God chose this family to live out life with this beautiful girl. No matter the road. No matter the journey. I am thankful.

I think about her and smile. I think about her and cry. My heart skips a beat. It drops and twists and turns when I think of her. When I think of how well she is or isn't being loved. How much or how little she is eating. What she endures, what she has seen. Prayers are sent every day for her. Prayers from this mommas heart, silent prayers from a tenderhearted father, from protective brothers. And the prayers of a 7 year old sister that would just break you.

It is hard to be a momma of a daughter halfway around this world. For part of me will be there with her until we are united. Oh, what a glorious day that will be. Beautiful indeed.

As we embark on our dossier being thisclose to making its way to China, a typical time line from here is once we are logged in by China and the CCCWA we have about a 4-5 month wait before we can travel until we get our Everly.

This is where is gets tricky. We need about 16,000.00 for travel. We have decided that it would be in everyone's best interest (and safety) that Shannon travel too. To put it in to perspective... Wouldn't you expecting mommas want your husband in the delivery room? Well, this delivery room: International airfare, hotels, incountry travel, orphanage donation, medical exams, food, flights home.... yeah. All that adds up.

We have been given some pretty amazing opportunities to raise money for travel. God has been so good to us, our friends have been so good to us. There is not one day that we are not thankful. Not one. single. day.

So without further ado... Here are the fundraisers that we are doing currently and ones that are up and coming.

#1 We have a fundraiser going on RIGHT NOW for winning one of 3 iPad minis. These were so graciously donated to us and we are so thankful!!!
The link to your right will direct you to a page where you can buy chances to win. The more chances you buy, obviously the more opportunities to win one of these pretties. Once you select your entries and fill out your information it will direct you to a paypal account where you can submit your payment. Once that is complete you will be entered and given a number. We will use a random generator to select 3 winners and your ipad mini's will be mailed to you :)

#2 T-Shirts: Parker and Ashley Simpson so graciously donated their time and skills to create this one of a kind t-shirt for our family. **COMING SOON!!!***
*As most of you know the song by Hillsong called "Oceans (where feet may fail) is one of my favorite songs and also the song that is so close to my heart as we bring Everly home. It is a perfect reflection of waiting and yearning for our daughter to come home... Hence the anchor of HOPE...

#3 We will be hosting an online auction that is going to be AWESOME. Donations range from haircuts and color, prints, oils, jewelry, ahhhh and the list goes on and on. It is going to be awesome!!! More info on that the closer to time :)

#4 Another awesome friend has offered to host  a "Back to School Cut-A-Thon" for your kiddos at a salon in North Charleston the second week of August (final date to be determined and confirmed). What a great way to send your kiddos back to school! A fresh cut and some love for our girl!

So I know it seems like a lot. I feel overwhelmed too. $16,000.00 is ALOT of money. But it is nothing in the eyes of God. And I have faith that we will meet this. And our girl will come home. I cannot wait for all of you to meet her. Heck, I cant wait to meet her!

This money isn't for us to go on a lavish vacation. Not for us to shop til we drop.
No, this is going to bring our daughter home where she belongs. Home. A word that precious child has yet to know. Home. Safe, warm, where everyone loves her and where there will always be someone that has her back.

Thank you for being the hands and feet. Thank you for keeping our family in your prayers. Thank you for the encouragement and the love. We feel them. Please continue to pray for Everly and the children that live with her.

Until they all come home...