September 29, 2013, is a day Lindsey and Brent Sharpton will remember forever. It’s hard to forget the day you held a miracle in your hands. But to understand the end of this story, we need to start at the beginning …

Like most young couples, Lindsey and Brent, who live in Asheville, North Carolina, had dreamed of the day they’d add a child to their family, of precious moments when they’d kiss sweet baby cheeks and run their fingers across downy soft hair. But things didn’t go as planned. They tried for a year before doctors told them they didn’t think they could have children, so they visited a specialist and looked into various procedures they could do. 

The couple was overjoyed when Lindsey got pregnant, but their dreams were crushed again when she had a miscarriage. The emotional and financial toll caught up with them, and they decided not to do additional procedures. They started thinking about adoption, but it didn’t take them long to discover how expensive that would be. So they put the word out on Facebook that they were looking to adopt. 

Three people came to them after seeing their posts, but none of them worked out. Lindsey and Brent were on a cruise when the last of the three gave birth unexpectedly. They left the ship in Honduras, flew to Miami, drove all night to get home to see the infant — and then the mother decided to keep the baby. They were devastated. 

They never gave up hope, but it was so discouraging, so perplexing. Lindsey wasn’t in a good place emotionally. Mother’s Day was especially difficult for her, and baby showers and visiting friends at the hospital to meet their newborns was tough on both of them. They were happy for their friends, but each instance was a cruel reminder that their own arms were empty.

The three years of constant heartache caught up with them, and they decided they were through. They told God, “If anything is going to happen, you’re going to have to do it.”

Knowing how depressed they were, some friends invited the couple to take a trip with them to New York City to see the ball drop on New Year’s Eve. On December 30, 2012, the four of them toured the city, and as they passed Macy’s, Brent and Lindsey noticed a sign on the side of the building that said, “Believe.” They stopped and took a photo in front of it. “It was kind of like a sign from God to keep hanging on a little longer,” Lindsey said.

Months went by and nothing happened – until Sept. 29, 2013, when something unusual occurred, something miraculous. Pam Ledford is women’s ministry director at the church where Brent grew up. At the end of the Sunday morning service, a church member, Tonya, walked up to Pam and said, “I know this is going to sound crazy, but I felt like God told me to bring this baby to you. It needs a home.”

The baby belonged to Tonya’s neighbor. She realized she couldn’t care for the infant and her family wasn’t in a position to accept full responsibility. So Tonya had stepped in to help with the little one and was trying to find her a home.  

Pam asked Tonya some questions about health issues and so on, and she learned that the baby had been premature, weighing only four pounds.

Tonya agreed to care for the baby that afternoon so that Pam would have time to think and pray about it. “Let me make some phone calls and I’ll be back in touch with you,” Pam told her.

Later that afternoon, Lindsey and Brent popped into Pam’s mind. Knowing their background and the emotional roller coaster they’d already been on, she was apprehensive about contacting them. She didn’t want to cause them additional pain. Pam also didn’t know the birth mother, and she knew it might not work out.

But she called and said, “I can’t make any promises. I don’t want to get your hopes up, but this is the situation.” And she told them what had happened that morning.

After all the heartache they’d been through, the young couple was afraid to believe it might happen. But they wanted to meet the baby. Pam called Tonya and told her to bring the little one back to church that night, and they all met before service.

Brent’s eyes fill with tears as he recalls holding the baby for the first time. “I held her and I was like, yep, this is it,” he says. “It was unbelievable. I don’t have words to describe it.”

“It was a miracle, just a God thing,” Pam says. “I was excited for them and for the baby, and it was so tearful it took your breath away. You could just watch them in awe of her.”

She tried to capture those moments in pictures. “Little things that people may take for granted were so real to them. You could see the bond happening, and it was breathtaking….

“God lined all the puzzle pieces up and they fit perfectly. I mean, what couple goes to church and has a baby just handed to them?”

Pam remembers one extra-special moment. When Brent held that sweet baby girl for the first time, she wrapped her hand around his finger –almost as if she could sense this would be her new daddy. It went right to his heart.

They made an appointment to meet the next day, and Lindsey and Brent went home to get things ready for a baby. All they had was a crib in their storage building. 

Their meeting with the grandmother and birth mother went well. “She was so thankful,” Lindsey says. They spent about an hour together, and everything went smoothly. Lindsey and Brent got guardianship. “It was like a rush at first,” Lindsey says. “Most people get nine months to get ready, but 24 hours later we were parents. It was truly a miracle.”

Brent and Lindsey took Brynleigh home that evening, arriving to a house filled with excited family, pizza, balloons and a living room overflowing with gifts and supplies. The moment was even more special because they thought they’d never have it.

Their lives would never be the same again. The days zoomed by as the couple bonded with their baby girl. “I remember just sitting on the couch, looking at her and holding her and wanting someone to pinch me so I’d know it wasn’t a dream,” Lindsey says.

Brynleigh quickly became a daddy’s girl. Tears fill Brent’s eyes as he says, “She smiled at me and it broke my heart.”

Over the next few months, their attorney assisted them with the necessary paperwork. DSS interviewed them and did a home study. The adoption was final in nine months – a time span that had extra meaning to Brent and Lindsey. You see, when Brent was looking through old photos one day, he realized they’d taken the picture in front of the “Believe” sign in New York nine months to the day they took Brynleigh to their house to stay. 

The months ahead were filled with so many amazing moments. Lindsey cries as she tells about the joy of her first official Mother’s Day. Brent’s favorite was the day Brynleigh told him “I love you” for the first time. Precious moments they’ll never take for granted. 

They don’t regret the struggles, because they made them who they are today. But, oh my, Brynleigh has filled their lives with so much joy and laughter and more love than they ever could have imagined. “We couldn’t love her any more if she’d been born to us,” Lindsey says. “I don’t think of her as ever not being ours.”

This story that’s better than any fairy tale certainly has had a happy ending. A sweet baby girl who needed a home found one where she is loved and doted on by parents, grandparents and countless others. And a young couple whose arms once were oh-so-empty now has them filled with the joy of sweet Brynleigh.

Brent sums it up best as he chokes back tears: “Two people got her who couldn’t have loved her more.”

And it all came about because a baby was literally handed to them at church one Sunday.

Michelle Cox'is the award-winning bestselling author of "Just 18 Summers" (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., April 1, 2014) and (releasing fall 2016) "God Glimpses from the Jewelry Box" and "God Glimpses from the Toolbox." Visit her at www.just18summers.com.