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...

Friday, June 6, 2014

Lighten up the load...

In the midst of this world wind we call life I am able to do a bible study by Ann Voskamp called "One Thousand Gifts." The purpose of the study is "to live fully right where you are." You daily record your gifts you have been given:

- the smell of my children after they are all bathed and jammied up
-my husband returning safely home from work
-our conversations around the dinner table

Those little moments that could very well pass you by and maybe not even recognize them as a "gift."
I have been writing them, I have been reflecting on them. But have I truly lived FULLY right where I am? Well the answer to that is no. Not even a maybe, but flat out no.

See, I have mentioned this before but this adoption has been.... different. Different for several reasons. It has been our most emotional adoption by far. For me anyway.

It has been filled with twists and turns and upside downs that often make me nauseous. It has been one thing after another financially. It has been a train wreck of a paper trail to this child.

Maybe it has been most difficult because she is older, because she has undoubtedly seen many things that children should not see or endure. Because she goes to bed at night without someone tucking her in. Because she doesn't have her family. Yet.

Eucharisteo:  Joy. Grace. Thanksgiving.

I have really been trying to wrap my head around this word that I can barely pronounce, yet I am drawn to it. Drawn to its meaning, to its place in my life and to the three words that proceed it.
Joy. Grace. Thanksgiving.

Have I been living in Joy? Have I taken advantage of his grace extended to me? Have I fully recognized the Thanksgiving that is due Him?

The answer again is no.

I have been concentrating on everything that has gone wrong. I have been fixated on time lines and setbacks. I have been consumed with getting things done in the time frame I feel we need to be on.

I feel at times that this isn't really going to happen. I feel that we are not prepared ( and we aren't!! the poor kiddo has a dress and a pair of shoes!!). I feel in my heart that she needs ME, that at times I am fighting for her soul. I am fighting tooth and nail for her to be my daughter. I am exhausted. I am a hot mess. I am depleted.

I worry constantly because we are lacking about 12,000.00 to bring her home. I will now be traveling alone due to our financial crisis. I call it a crisis... because it is. I will leave my family and travel to a foreign country to get my daughter. Without my husband. I'm not scared, I can do this. But I don't want to. I want my husband in that room with me. I cannot do this without him. It is like being in the birthing suite without your best friend, your soul mate, your rock.
I'm a little bitter and confused.

Why? Why is the fight so hard?

Because it isn't about me. It isn't about Everly. It isn't about the money or the struggles.

It is about the testimony. It is about what God is doing in her life... and in ours.

It is about this really awesome wicked cool story that we are going to share one day, a story that only GOD can be in, empty of me.

Everly belongs to God, just as my other children do. He knew her before she was formed in her mother's womb. He knows how many hairs on her head and every desire in her sweet heart. He knows the needs that she needs met and we are prayerful that He is preparing her heart for us.

So in this day to day I will strive for Eucharisteo. I will strive for Joy and Grace and Thanksgiving. I will strive to be filled with grace and thanksgiving at each set back. I will strive for joy when things take a little longer. I will tell, with thanksgiving, all of the amazing ways that people are stepping into our lives and are giving of their time and talents and monetary donations. I will be intentional about living in the moment and living fully. Not with bondage or sadness, not with frustration or stress. But with thanksgiving that she is my daughter. My beautiful daughter that WILL come home in HIS time.

I am thankful for those of you that have really touched my heart. I am thankful for the encouragement, the hugs and phone calls, the ways that you are helping bring Everly home. The ways your are, right at this very moment praying our daughter home. 

She will be home.

It takes a village, it takes a lot of hard work, it takes faith. But she will be home....

Sunday, May 25, 2014

In a little while...

These last few days have been exceptionally difficult for me. Not for any other reason but that I miss my girl. I have thought of her often and the kids daily remind me that "When Ev gets here she will..." In a little while she will be here.
She will splash around the pool with her sister and brothers. She will jammie up after a bath and watch a movie with her people. She will love or hate pizza, she will definitely love Target.
This time next year will be very different for our family. We will be a family of 6...
I am so looking forward to that day of hugging her for the first time. Kissing her on top of her sweet head, readying her room and making her bed.
To be honest this has been the most difficult of our adoptions. Just about everything that could go wrong has. I am praying that the rest of it will go smoothly. I know that God has a plan for us and for Everly. I know there is a reason behind all of this waiting and mix ups. I know that God has already orchestrated this beautiful reunion to His liking. I know there is reason why financially it doesn't make sense.
But honestly, in my heart, I'm struggling. When I see you out and about and you ask me how we are doing and how the road to Everly is coming along I will smile and say fine! I love to talk about her and the thought of her being close to us :)
But I miss her. I miss her being near and I miss her in our family. See, when you fall in love with a child halfway around the world you tend to be only 3/4 really there. The other 1/4 is in an orphanage. My thoughts are constantly with her. My heart is always with her.
It was our choice to bring home Everly. It was our choice to sacrifice and fundraise and save and fundraise some more. It will be worth everything once she is home. And I may never really understand the holdups and the incredible amount of time that I feel this is taking (although I tell Shannon all the time that we should actually be bringing two home and that is why this is taking soooo long).
But until then I will dream. I will pray and I will be thankful. Because in a little while....
She will be home.

Monday, May 12, 2014


It is so hard to believe that it has been so long since we have updated this blog! I have such great intentions when it comes to this blog but finding the time to sit and be still... yeah that kind of escapes me.
We are done with our paperwork and homestudy and we will be sending it to the courier tomorrow to be authenticated and such. It will go to the Chinese Embassy in Washington and get all stamped up and prettied. But believe me that I will be waiting with baited breath  until it is safely at WACAP! Once it leaves us it will go directly to our agency for review. We are however waiting for a clearance from GA from the time Shannon spent there in the Army. Somewhere between sending off our immigration and our homestudy being done GA opened up it's clearance data base. So we will need to get an addendum to our homestudy once that comes back. We will get a "pink slip" from immigration since it isn't all together. Please pray that this is done quickly. This has been the most frustrating adoption paperchase by far and mercy, I am pooped! Seems as soon as we get one step ahead something comes up to push is back. But we will not falter. God is in control and that is just what I keep telling myself.
We did get an update and she really hasn't grown too much since we got her last update in December. She is really so incredibly precious. Another family was able to get a 3 minute video of her and she has the sweetest voice and you can just tell she is full of personality!
People have asked for ways that they can help us. I normally don't just put things out there but we need help financially. It is so hard for me to put that out there but this really isn't about me. It is about bringing our daughter home.
We had some things come up and left us with very little in our savings. LoveGave and a generous donation from a family in our home church was applied to our homestudy and agency fees. We actually owe our agency a whopping $30.00 which is amazing and God has moved some serious mountains for our Everly. We will be yard sale with a  few other families at our church in May, we are tossing around having a family fair/craft kind of thing. We will do whatever we have to do to bring our girl home.
I know that God has this. I know His plan is for us. But my flesh begins to fret when it comes to bringing her home. We are saving for travel right now and her orphanage donation. We have established that only one of us may be traveling.
Please pray for our family that we not have anymore set backs ad that the much needed funds will come to us and that we will be given the opportunity to work and save more. Please pray for Everly that her heart will be open to our family and she will make a smooth transition away from the only home she has ever known.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

And just like that

I got a message that a family was able to see and hug our girl. Today. 30 minutes after I posted my last post I saw Everly's face. From today.

I cannot even wrap my head around it. I have looked at her picture a thousand times today.

Proverbs 25:25 "Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land."

Thank you, Lord. I needed that today more than ever.

Running in place...

Many of you have asked for an update in where we are in our adoption process. Well, I feel like we are running in place at the moment.

We are STILL waiting on Shannon's NJ clearances to come back. Seems they (NJ) decided to change the process where clearances are concerned. Our social worker sent the clearances and got word we had to resend with more necessary  paperwork. Awesome.
Once our home study went to our agency for review (meaning it was DONE and we were just waiting for their stamp of approval) they thought it was necessary to have my step mom included in the clearances. So we get her paperwork filled out and sent to the home study agency. We wait. And wait. And are still waiting on clearances for her. She will also need to be fingerprinted by USCIS which is another 85.00. All of this is necessary (??) because she keeps our children in our home overnight (with my husband here, mind you.) Their (placing agency) thought was that because she is included in our HS as staying in our home it would be easier to get it done rather than them request it once it has already hit the fingerprint stage.

So we wait. And I am so not good at waiting. I know, it is all in God's time. But to be completely honest I suck at this part. I want to move forward. We cannot get an update until our HS is complete. We cannot apply for grants until our HS is complete. We cannot move forward in BRINGING HER HOME until our HS is complete.

I have been in the biggest blah funk ever. I am sure I felt this way with Sam and Norah but cant remember.

There are several families in Luohe right now bringing their kids home. Some have posted pictures from the LOCC and just knowing that my daughter is in that building is KILLING me. I need a picture, a sign, a little something that takes the heaviness off of my heart. Something. Anything. I need some relief. I am feeling desperate, my insides are all out of control and antsy. I pray every night to dream of her, just to feel close to her.

I know this sounds crazy but I feel like she needs me. Now. There is just a heaviness. I can't explain it. I pray every night that God will protect her. That she will stay safe.

Please pray for Everly. Please pray that this paperwork will be completed quickly and the rest of this process will move along.

Lord, I know all of her life is in your hands. I need not feel like I need to be in control because she is YOUR daughter too. Please help me to surrender this process to you, as it is yours. Please prepare her heart and ours to unite as a family. Please take care of her. Please comfort her and protect her. Amen...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Ways to Help

People have asked how they can help us in this journey to Everly. We have a few ways set up at this time.

1. HerStory Bracelets: The kids chose their fabric, we chose ours and of course there is the Everly bracelet. The kids came up with one word that they think best describes their sister. Elias {Extraordinary} Norah {Important} Samuel {Beautiful} and Mom and Dad chose {Adored}. You can click the link to the right to order yours if you so choose :) These will be available through February. What a great Easter or Mother's Day gift!!

2. Just Love Coffee: This is a really awesome coffee shop out of Tennessee. The owners are adoptive parents that just want to help other families out. So, they allow us to set up shop and get a portion of the sales. How cool is that??? That link is on the left as well!

3. Donating: We have a PayPal account set up if you choose to donate. PayPal is a secure site and the money goes straight to brining our girl home. You don't need to have a paypal account to donate, just your debit/credit card.

Thank you to everyone that has purchased HerStory bracelets. Thank you for helping our family bring this little girl home. God has been so incredibly gracious to us this far but we have a long way to go.

We will be having several yardsales when the weather gets a bit warmer and I will keep you posted on that ! I LOVE a good yardsale!

Please keep our family in prayer during this time of preparing and waiting. Please pray that we will have the funds needed to complete this journey set before us.

Thank you!! <3 p="">


Early Morning Thinkging...

I was up this morning around 4:30. Shannon was up before getting dressed for work, so by default I seemed to rise and (not so much) shine a little earlier then usual. I fixed a pretty cup of coffee and sat down to check my email and look over facebook.
For the last few days we have been confined to our house due to the weather. Wednesday we lost power for most of the day throughout the night. We finally got it back around 3:00am Thursday morning. I must admit that I enjoyed having no power. No computer. No phone. No internet. It was a nice reprieve from the normal. We played, talked, wondered what to do next, ate dinner by candlelight. And that dinner consisted of PB&J, chips and milk. It was awesome!!
During this time I couldn't help but think about my Everly. I wondered what it was like at her orphanage and if they had heat.
I wondered what our life was going to be like with her home and was a little scared at what that might look like. We have seemed to settle into this really comfortable vibe around here. We all have a job and we do it. We all have a place and we know where that is.
All of that is going to be shaken up a bit here shortly. All of the normal is going out the window. I've done this twice already so I know what is getting ready to go down. And it makes me a little nervous.
I asked Norah last night, "Norah, what are you going to do if Ev wants to sit in my lap all the time. And needs lots of hugs from momma, and takes up A LOT of my time?"
Her reply, "I'll just pull her off of your lap and we can play. But only when she has been here a long time and is used to us."
She talks about her sister a lot. The boys not so much. They know she is coming home but I honestly don't know if Sam has a clue. Elias will ask questions but Norah has incorporated her into our day to day already. I try to explain to her that things may be a little different when she comes home for a little while. She just shrugs and plans their next big adventure. Bless her.
I'll be really honest. I don't like this part of the journey. The not knowing. Not knowing if she is alright, if she is being taken care of, how things will be once she is home. Not knowing how this shift will effect everyone involved. Not knowing how to communicate with a 9 year old that speaks Mandarin. Wondering what her favorite color is. Will she like music? Movies? Us?!?
When will we travel? How will we really make this financially? What will the end of this journey look like and what will her story look like?
I cant wait to show you her picture. Those sweet lips, that porcelain skin. Oh, y'all she is to precious for words. She is petite, precious and she is a Sharp. And she is half way around the world. It is the most humbling feeling to know that. To know that God chose this family again despite our shortcomings. Despite how many times I think I have failed as a mom. He chose us again. I am honored and so thankful that He saw fit to use us.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


Throughout this adoption people have asked me questions... many of the same questions. So, I thought I would have a Q and A with myself to help y'all better understand this process we have to take to Everly.

* WHY do you want 4 kids?? Are you crazy???

Well, yes. We are crazy. Fruitloops. Bananas. And we are crazy about our kids and crazy about this family we have. Yes, our house is small. Yes, the kids will ALL have to share a room. We won't be making several vacations a year, we don't eat out a lot, our kids wear handmedowns and we LOVE Community Thrift Store. They don't get everything they want, we say no A. Lot. And there are times that I do lock myself in the bathroom for 5 seconds of peace and quiet. I ain't gonna lie. BUT... our kids love each other. We all love each other. There is one seat left at our kitchen table, perfect for our Everly. We don't have a ton of possessions and we aren't rich. But we have a lot of love to give each of our children and they really dig that. They think we are pretty cool :)

*WHY does it cost so much??

A China adoption costs roughly 25-28k. Sit back and take that in for a sec.
Okay, you are back. Awesome.
So when you adopt from China there are people involved. A homestudy agency that visits and asks lots of questions, the placing agency that is facilitating your adoption, immigration/fingerprints so you can bring your kiddo back, your dossier (a packet of notarized papers and forms that you gather) must be sent to a few places to be looked over and they each get a seal. They all want and need money to make this happen. THen you have your international flights, visas, hotels and food while there, Everly will have her visa appointment and her medical exam and she will need a flight home. There is also an orphanage fee that is paid directly to the place she lives.
So all of this costs money. Lots of it.

*Is this why you are selling bracelets, having yard sales, doing other fundraisers and contemplating selling your kidney?


*Will she speak English?

Nope, not a word of English. She will strictly speak Mandarin. There will be a lot of charades going on at the Sharp house for a while :)

*You talk about adoption all the time. You adopt like it is your job. WHY??
We have a natural born desire to have more children. We love our family and we love the children in our family. There is a place for one more. We want one more. They are not a burden, they are a joy.
We feel as Christians we are called to defend the cause of the fatherless. We feel that we are inline with what we are supposed to be doing. Everly is a much loved and much wanted child by us. But she is also a child of the Father. We have room, she needs a family, we are called to do this in James 1:27. Boom. Done. It is a win win all the way around here people.
And we are now balanced! Partners for rides, buddy system in full effect, we got this!

As a side note, why do people ask why we would adopt "so many" kids anyway?? It would be like someone visiting their friend in the hospital after they have delivered a beautiful baby and say to them: "WHY DID YOU HAVE THAT BABY! ARE YOU CRAZY??

So, for the record we are crazy. Our goal in life is to be like Brad and Angelina.

There. I said it.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

{Part Two}

So as you can imagine "Esther" was not meant for our family. But I believe that God was preparing us for an older daughter. I believe that, much like Esther in the Bible, he was preparing us to rely on Him and some pretty incredible unshakable faith. I believe that I was CHOSEN, much like Esther, to step out on that faith "for such a time as this"...

Love Gave.

LoveGave is a collaboration of churches in Charleston that are on mission together. Once a year they have a three day drive to support local non.profit organizations. This year they kicked it up a notch to say the least. Not only were they planning on raising money and supplies for the organizations, they also chose 10 families in the Charleston area to come around and monetarily support  in their adoption endeavors. Our family was incredibly blessed to be one of those families.
LoveGave took place on a Thursday night, all day Friday and was to wrap up Saturday at 7pm.

I tended to be there a lot during the celebration as 1. I couldn't stay away. 2. It was just charged with this crazy amazing energy. 3. I just couldn't stay away. So I was there a good bit of time helping the team with production and whatever else they needed me for.

As I was standing at the production table right in front of the stage I happed to look at my phone and saw there was an email from our agency and they got an update (finally) on Everly. I stepped away and read over the email and new pictures. I was DYING inside. I stared at this child for a while, just intently looking at her precious face. Her almond eyes,  plump lips and thick hair. I was doing jumping jacks and summersaults in my heart. After holding my phone and my emotions under control I couldn't do it anymore.

My dear friend Katie was hanging out with me that night. Katie is a lover of all things adoption and is actually awaiting another brother from Ch**a. She spent much time there, two years to be exact, working in orphanages loving on all kids Chinese :) I felt like I needed to tell Katie. I HAD to tell Katie. I called her over there and showed her the picture. That was all I did. I didn't speak a word. I didn't tell her what orphanage, province, boy/girl (Everly has really short hair in this particular picture, bless her.) I spoke not a single word. And then this happed.

"Penny, I know her."


"I know her. She is in *** Province. I have hugged her. I painted her fingernails. I've hugged your daughter."


She immediately began to cry. She then went on to tell me all about Everly, things I knew and some things I didn't know. She was freaking. I was freaking. She told me I need to call another one of our friends Autumn.

Before I called Autumn I was so incredibly visibly shaken I had to sit a hot second. I took a seat by a one of our pastors, the missions pastor to be exact. Funny how that works out. I sat down and I know he thought I was a freak crying in the middle of the day. I told him what happned and he looked at me. Then this happened.

"Penny, don't you remember?"


"Don't you remember the orphanage we came around when Autumn was in Ch**a? We sent them boxes of craft supplies for their summer camp? You sent your daughter crayons."


I (thankfully) got in touch with Autumn on the first try. I probably would have had a stroke otherwise. Autumn, come to find out, was actually IN Everly's orphanage for a few months.


Our church came around a few orphanages that Katie and Autumn were going to be spending time in. They wanted to have a camp for the kiddos and our church came along side of them, collected A LOT of stuff and mailed 25 boxes to them in Ch**a as they were traveling around the world. While the girls were traveling it was my responsibility to meet the FedEx truck at Autumn's house and make sure they got all tucked in the truck and were sent to the orphahages. As a matter I have some pictures from that day. Funny how God works in the tiniest details...

After talking to Autumn, I knew that I had to get my girl. And it was of utmost importance that I do it now.

I couldn't believe how God orchestrated such a story for our family. Long before we knew of Everly He was working and making things beautiful.

But, if I am going to be completely transparent.

Two days after we decided to move forward with Everly I wanted out. I mean like all out. Fear set in and I felt like it was going to swallow me whole. I sent a text to Katie and told her I couldn't do it.
Her needs were too much. We were not capable of being her parents. I questioned her relentlessly about her needs and if she was able to walk, talk, skip, dance, sing, go to the bathroom by herself, tie her shoe... you get the point. Could she do all of this like normal kids.

Katie's response rocked my world.

"I don't know if she can do all of that. But I know that she is a child of God and she is WORTHY to have a family. She is WORTHY."

Yes, sweet Everly, you are so worthy. You are worthy of a family and love and a home, baby girl.

We don't know what needs she will have coming home. We know her special needs listed but we also know that she has probably endured more and her little eyes have seen more than we all have in a lifetime. We will have struggles and set backs. Good days and bad days. Bad days and even worse days. We are working so diligently on paperwork and getting things in order to send our dossier to Ch**a.

Happy Birthday, precious daughter. I hope someone tells you today that you are special and loved. I hope with all of my heart that someone hugs you tight. This will be the last birthday you will be alone. I promise next year that you will have a HUGE party with all of your family and friends present to celebrate what a treasure you are. We are working so hard to bring you home soon.
And Everly, above all you are worthy.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

{Part One}

I want to tell you about Everly. I want to tell you how God moved in our family and in our life to prepare us for her. But I feel that I need to start at the beginning and be really transparent. I want to soak in and not forget one single detail of HER story but I feel that I need to scoot back. WAY back....

A year and a half ago I approached Shannon about adopting again. He was hesitant at first. Okay, he was really hesitant. He is a realist and I... well, I lead with my heart. I would have 6, 7, 8 kids if he gave me the "yes" every single time. And this time, it was a "no". But I knew in my heart that it was time. MY time. MY time to be a mom again. So I begged and cried. I acted like a brat. I exhausted him. He was still pushing back with that yucky word... "no". So after trying to do it MY way I laid it down. As my friend Heather says, "Lay it at the foot of the cross." And I did just that. I laid it down. It was soooo hard to put it there and not revisit it every. single. day. But I did it and survived to tell about it. Oy vey... I prayed and prayed and prayed some more. Just one more, God. Just let me be a mom one more time and I promise I won't ask again.

I began to come across the name Esther. Esther was everywhere I looked. Who knew that was my son's favorite book of the Bible? Who knew our vet techs name was Esther? It was in books, on the radio, TV... it was IN. MY. FACE.

On a random day, 9/11/13 to be exact, I was so sure in my heart I had found my Esther. Her Chinese name literally meant "Bright like a  star"... Esther means star. Esther, who was a pretty amazing woman in the Bible, was also adopted.

This particular girl was prissy, precious, a little older than I imagined my daughter to be, but none the less. I was sure.

A few days later, on a Thursday to be exact, Shannon came home and said that we needed to talk. Uh. Oh.

Our conversations went like this:

"So, are we going to do it again?"
Me:  Excuse me? What?
"Adopt. Are we going to adopt again? Because if we are

And at that point I was a hot mess. I mean HOT. Snot slinging, hugging, more snot, ugly cry. It was bad.

But I realized that this was not MY time. It was GOD's time. His time is so incredibly perfect.

Esther+husband that says yes= DAUGHTER!!!

So I began to pray. If this was God's plan for our family that he would open the doors. Esther wasn't agency specific. She didn't even have her paperwork done. And that if it wasn't His will he would close the door. Her paperwork, we would later find out would make it's way to Italy. This girl, who had just turned 9 on September 11th, the day I saw her face, was moving farther and farther away from us. Like really far. Italy far. Everything we tried to work out to bring her home just didn't fit. I cant explain it. It was more than really overcoming odds and trusting God to move mountains. It was suffocating, exhausting, and I felt we were running a race that we were waaaay off course for. And I was so right.

In the beginning of November I was looking at an agency website that has waiting kids from China. I like to torture myself, don't ya know. I came across this one particular girl that caught my eye. She reminded me soooo much of a friend's daughter. I knew I had seen her previously, actually not long after we came home with Sam. But we just weren't in a place to go there. She just looked SO familiar to me! So I see her on the website and it just got the best of me. I emailed the agency and asked for more information. I quickly got a reply back with her "file" (all of her medical and social information that Ch*&a provids to waiting families. I looked at it, called Shannon, and asked for more information called an update. I thought of her but just felt so... raw from what we went through a few months later that I was really afraid to go there. I didn't tell anyone about getting "Wanda's" file. No one. Not mom, not best friend of 25 years. No one. I just couldn't put anyone else back on this rollercoaster again. I was sure they were nauseous from the last ride. So, I kept it to myself.  We waited almost 5 weeks for an update. I would be lying if I said I checked my email like it was my job and my nerves were on edge. They just weren't. She was older, her needs were a little unclear and I was scared. So we waited on that email while fully engaging in life.

Then, LoveGave happened....

{to be continued...}

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sweet Everly

As most of you know we are adopting.... again. I say again because our journey was "done" when Norah came home. Just ask Shannon. Then Samuel came home and we were "done". Now we are going back again. Yes, again. So now when people ask, "Are you done??" I just say, "I have no clue!!" We are so excited to bring our girl home!! She has an incredible story. One that takes my breathe away each time I tell it.

This is just the beginning of her story. She is going to change hearts and lives, I can just feel that in my bones. I ache to hold her, to smell her, to kiss her. My heart aches for this girl I have never met. My thoughts go to her everyday as I see an empty seat at the kitchen table. I wonder if she has eaten today, yesterday. Will she eat tomorrow? Will she be hugged? Loved? Adored?

As of now we are gathering paperwork. Lots of it. But each step will bring us closer to the day she is our daughter.

I will start her story soon. The story of how she became Every Jane WanJun Sharp...

Stay tuned because it's a doozie!!