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....