8 weeks.

When we decided to move forward with adoption from Korea, we moved quickly and diligently, the way I believe God calls us to move when He's shown us where to go. Within a day we had filled out all of our paperwork for our application, written a check for a rather large amount of money (not to be confused with the very large amount of money still to come), and sent everything off in the mail with a prayer. On September 23, our agency sent word that they'd received our check and would be sending our request for approval to Korea the following week.

And then? We waited. The three weeks we were expecting our approval to take quickly passed, and the days kept getting crossed off the calendar as we continued work, homeschooling, laundry, cooking, cleaning, photography, bedtimes, and all the other things that make our days normal. But in the busy-ness of life, we were waiting.

_Doubts come often in the waiting.

When things don't follow my timeline and I have to remember who's God and who's not.

Honestly, sometimes it's harder to stand through a drought than a storm.

Last Thursday was a difficult day. Dustin and I were both weary after a long week. Ironically, when you feel down-trodden, it's the hardest time to be on your guard, and I'm pretty sure we were both objects of spiritual attack. It wasn't attack regarding adoption, but rather the temptation to give up on the everyday struggles. Just for one day. Just take a break; you deserve it...

In our weakness, God was our strength. He brought us to His Word, and in chapter after chapter we were reminded that God is good; life is hard; and there will be an end to these struggles. When that end comes, I want to know that we were faithful in the big things and the small things.

"The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

Friday the email we've been waiting for showed up in our inbox while I was working at the computer. I'd like to say that I saw the little envelope in the right-hand corner of the screen pop up and I knew instantly that this was what we'd been waiting for - and I did! But I also knew it every other time it had popped up in the last 8 weeks. So I held my breath and opened it, wondering if it would bear the news that we'd been accepted by Korea--that we were considered good enough by whoever-it-is-over-there-with-the-rubber-stamp--and would be officially placed on the waiting list.

I'm normally what my mom calls "stoic," but this even-keeled heart was bursting at the seems as I read that Korea had officially accepted us as a waiting family--and, to top things off, that we were now number 9 on the waiting list with our agency! It seems that while God's been working half the world away, causing the right events to happen in the best time so that we can bring our child home exactly in His time, I've had to trust that He hasn't forgotten.

To be still. To wait. To know that the story He's writing is better than the story I would write, because He knows each chapter and each character intimately, and in His wisdom each piece of this messy story will fit together perfectly--for His glory.

So now, at number 9 on the list of families waiting to call a little Korean boy "son," we wait again.

We choose to trust that He will provide everything that we need, and that the God who sets the lonely in families delights in this story He is penning.

As an English major in college, when people talked to me about my degree it was usually accompanied by a look of sympathy and dread for my future. The concern of my friends, family, and random bystanders making conversation inevitably led to further questioning, which led to what, exactly, I was studying.

My emphasis within my major was on research, grammar, and communication. Literature? Eh, it's nice when I need a break. But what I really enjoy is spending hours pouring over what others have written to search for truth and then postulate my own opinions on where that truth leads, and why. I also wondered how -a writer persuades his readers to believe him. How does one effectively communicate with a variety of audiences? These were the questions burning in my mind as I wandered from class to class. My brain hovers in the place where liberal arts meets NERD.
Needless to say, I was pretty much alone on my track within my major. The nerds tended to congregate on the opposite side of the university campus - where all the engineering and science courses were. I was comfortable there, but I'd say the word, "English," and get nothing but blank stares. The same would happen on my own side of the woods when I'd mention my love for grammar and research, most English (literature) students' two greatest fears.

College is almost a decade in my past, but my love of research continues. This is why it took months and months for us to choose the country we were going to adopt from. Since Dustin's at work for most of the day, I took it upon myself (sort of grabbed it for myself, I guess you could say) to research all of the countries we were eligible to adopt from. Dustin graciously gave me that. And true to the definition of nerd, I used a spreadsheet to categorize the pros and cons of each adoption program, and then another spreadsheet to rank various adoption agencies according to certain criteria that Dustin and I agreed were important to us and for our adoption journey.

The frustrating thing was that I felt that, no matter how much research I did; no matter how many hours I spent on the phone with agencies; and no matter how much I wanted the answer of where we should go to be staring me in the face, glowing in neon letters, it just wasn't there. We prayed intensely for over a year that God would open and close doors. And He was faithful. He showed us through various means (like Ethiopia drastically reducing the number of adoptions they were processing - the week we planned to submit our application) that He has a plan for us. But while we wait (I'm not good at waiting) for Him to bring all the details together, we've had quite an adventure exploring our options - and improved our sense of geography at the same time. You can read more about how we chose Korea in the post  "Chapter 2 - A Rest at the Starting Line."

Here's a little glimpse at what our path has looked like so far:

(I'm thankful that the trip has been only in our minds and hearts so far, and we haven't had to pay for all that travel!)

Five and a half weeks ago, we submitted our paperwork to the agency we chose, and they promptly sent it off to the Korean government (or whoever it is in Korea who gets to say that we're either acceptable or unacceptable parents for one of their precious children). We were told that the average wait to hear back is 3 weeks. Two and a half weeks over what we thought we'd be waiting may not seem like much, but it's almost double what we expected. And, I'm not good at waiting!

I'm stuck. We're in this limbo between knowing where we plan to adopt from, and actually being on the waiting list of families. There's no research I can do to make things move along. No phone calls I can make to find out what the holdup is. The ball is completely out of our court. In fact, it's so far gone that we can't even see it. Not even a tiny speck.

So I've had to take comfort in the Word. I've had to remind myself that I am not in control. To be still and know who is God. To be stuck and to be still are two very different things, but God is refining me. He is teaching me that when I am stuck, all my writhing and wiggling and frustration does not remove the fact that He is going before us. My job is to follow. To walk after Him, but to wait when He tells me to. And to remember who He is.

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:14