A bit of Christmas cheer!

I love decorating our house for every season, but I especially love decorating it for Christmas!  And a big part of that is because of our ornaments.  Decorating our tree has become a fun walk down memory lane for us each year.  (that's right--I said "us"--Ben even participates in this!)  Here's how we do it...

We pick out a tree (we're real tree kind of people).  And p.s., I want to find a place around here where we can actually go cut down our own tree and not pay a fortune for it.  Maybe we should just start cutting one down at my Mom's and bringing it back home from Thanksgiving.  Hmmm.  I digress.

So we get the tree home, get it in the stand, and get it watered.  The white lights go on the tree first--and we load them on there--the more lights, the better.  Then, the fun begins!  Ben unwraps each ornament and as he's handing it to me to put on the tree, we talk about where it came from, who gave it to us, what the story is behind it, etc.  (I label them with the year and the "story" when I get them so we don't forget.)  Almost every ornament on our tree has a story.  I love that!

This is the final product...

Here are some other Christmas-y pictures from our home...

The stockings over the fireplace (it's so exciting to think that there will be another stocking up there next year!  and a sweet friend has already given us a new set of stocking holders for our family of 3--plus the dogs, of course!)

Since the big tree is in our front room, I like to put a baby tree in our family room (these ornaments don't have a story, other than they are all tiny and I "stole" them from my mom!)

I even spread some Christmas cheer to the dog kennels!

This is one of my favorite things--all of our cards from friends and family!  We LOVE getting cards with photos and updates!  Can you spot yours? 

And one last favorite thing--the lights that Ben puts up on the outside of our house!  I didn't think he would have time to do it this year because he's been working a lot of overtime (he's an amazing husband who works hard for our family!).  But he surprised me one day and put them up while I was at work and I thought he was sleeping from coming off a 48-hour shift.  Our neighbors have commented each year on how much they love our star.  I love it, too!


Love, Team Huss

Mixed Emotions on These Numbers...

We just got our December numbers via email!  We tried to prepare our hearts for whatever movement (or non-movement) we would see, but we were still kind of bummed...

#22 on the girl list (moved 4 spots since 11/4/2010)
#14 on the boy list (no movement since 11/4/2010)
#14 on the sibling list (moved 5 spots since 11/4/2010)

Yes, you read that right--we moved the most spots on the sibling list, which makes our numbers the same for boy or sibling.  And remember, in our instance, the siblings would both have to be between 3-12 months, which most likely means twins!  Yow-za! 

The reason for the mixed emotions is that we moved 9-10 spots from October to November, so it kind of took us by surprise to move ZERO spots on the boy list this month.  But alas, we know that God has our perfect child (or children) for us, and we'll wait patiently (haha--yeah, right--not exactly patiently waiting over here!).

Christmas is celebrated in Ethiopia in January, so I don't know of any reasons that the referral process would slow down in December.  But we'll see...

Making Progress

In the last few months, we've made some progress on the baby front...I guess most of it would be considered "nesting"...

Decided on the nursery design
(NOTE: The animal fabric will be the dust ruffle on the crib and the valance over the window)

(NOTE: This is a picture of the stickers we ordered--this isn't a picture of our room)

Bought a car seat

Were given a dresser/changing table

Bought a crib

Made the bathroom more "cute"

Bought a glider

Registered at Babies R Us and Target
Got 3 immunizations in preparation for going to Ethiopia (ouch!)

We've still got a way to go, but it feels good to be making progress!  We should have our December numbers soon, so stay tuned!

Taking the Guess Work out of SHOPPING!

It's pretty cool that it has become an "in" thing to shop with a purpose.  You know, buy things that benefit something or someone.  I LOVE that!

On one of the ba-gillion blogs that I follow, this mom of 9 kids (4 bio; 5 adopted) spent her "free time" compiling a list of things you can purchase that benefit orphans in some way.  I love it!  A one-stop-shop (blog post) where you can buy cool things that will make a difference!  And Team Huss made the list! ;)

Hopefully this will make your shopping experience this Christmas a little more enjoyable!

Come on, you know you want to.  All the cool kids are doing it!  

Just click here to give gifts that give life.

We're in the TEENS!

Just got our new waitlist numbers and we're in the teens, people!

#26 on the girl list (moved 9 spots since 10/6/2010)
#14 on the boy list (moved 10 spots since 10/6/2010)
#19 on the sibling list (moved 9 spots since 10/6/2010)

This is our month to receive a phone call from our case manager rather than an email (it alternates each month).  The phone call months are great because you get to speak to your case manager, but it usually takes a lot longer to get your numbers because they have to call a lot of people.  Well, our case manager was sweet to send us these November numbers via email while we wait for our phone call.  Yay!

Shorter than the Charlton Heston version

Our pastor recently finished a sermon series about the 10 commandments.  The series was titled "Playground." 

Huh?  What does a playground have to do with the 10 commandments?

Well, he used the analogy of how every good playground has good boundaries.  Think about it.  As parents, that's what you look for in a good playground for your kiddos.  One with fences or something to keep your child from running into danger. 

Get the analogy?  God gives us boundaries because he loves us and wants the best for us!

My pastor is a much better communicator that me, but here is his summary of the 10 commandments.  And you know how I love a good "executive summary!"

God's Commandments (Exodus 20: 1-21)

Important point:  God had already established the relationship (v 1-2).  Rules without relationship equals rebellion.

Let this sink in:  God’s laws and rules were never given as a condition for a relationship with Him, but as confirmation of a relationship with Him.

Here's the breakdown:

First, honor God (v 3-11).

Second, honor parents (v 12).

Third, honor people (v 13-16). 

As a part of that, honor bodies (v 13), marriages (v 14), possessions (v 15), and reputation (v 16).

Last, guard your thoughts (v 17).

Note:  He would rather us not sin out of fear of Him than to keep making wrong decisions (v 18-20).

Closing thoughts:  In His boundaries there is freedom!  He isn’t trying to control me, He’s trying to help me live in freedom!

In Writing

My friend Brooke and I just entered a FITNESS CONTRACT.

(NOTE: I can't get pics to upload right now, so check out her blog for our pics.  She's much more computer savvy than I am anyway...)

We're not overweight girls, but we are out of shape girls. And feeling a little squiggly around the edges...if you know what I mean.

And well, there is no time like the present, so we decided it was time to get in "go mode." It's helpful that we're both of the organized (read: a little bit OCD) persuasion because we had all sorts of fun using forms and files to lay out our personal, ULTIMATE GOAL for this process, as well as how to manage it along the way.

And it looks a little something like this: Every Sunday, we will "check in" with each other, listing our exercise/work out goals for the upcoming week, and "checking in" on whether or not the other kept to the plan she turned in the week before. This involves some specific information and numbers you will never see because it's none-ya, but in general, it's just a manageable exercise schedule.

The fun part is, if one of us falls off the wagon, you can expect public ridicule on my blog or hers.

Just kidding.


We haven't decided.

But we have decided on a reward system. It involves putting money in a jar each week to save for a girls’ weekend when we’ve reached our goal weights/shapes. 

We would LOVE to have your help along the way.  We need a little “tough love.”  Keep us accountable.  When you see us, ask us what we’ve done that week on the exercise front.  Do NOT be the “nice friend” to us.  Do NOT affirm us if we give you excuses.  Instead, pull a Jillian Michaels on us and give us a verbal thrashing.  Seriously.

And feel free to pass along ideas, encouragement or hardcore trainer lingo in the comments!

We'll keep you posted on our progress...


The courts in Ethiopia have officially reopened and are beginning to process cases again!  Woot!  Our official waitlist numbers for the month of October are...

#35 on the girl list (moved 7 spots since 9/13)
#24 on the boy list (moved 3 spots since 9/13)
#28 on the sibling list (moved 1 spot since 9/13)

That girl list sure is looking like it's going to catch up with the boy list!!  We'll see what happens!  As of now, the estimates for being matched with our child still look like it will be around February/March of 2011.  We'll keep you posted!!

For more detailed info on what our numbers mean, check out the "Our Digits" page on the upper right-hand side of our blog.


I’m tired. Tired of wrestling. Tired of not being at peace. Exhausted.

Without getting into specifics or sharing too much about our family’s adoption journey…or worrying you or making you feel like there is some big juicy secret I’m not telling you, I’m just asking for prayer as Ben and I wrestle with a decision about our adoption.

Apparently this time of year is when God “messes” with us. Or maybe He is constantly trying to lead us and we’re just too hard-headed to listen until we’re completely worn down from the “fight.” Yeah, that’s probably more like it.

The abbreviated version of what’s going on is that I’m not at peace with something related to our adoption parameters. While Ben isn’t wrestling with it like I am, he is being fully supportive of me as his wife and feels that if God is moving me to do something, he should listen and we’ll make the decision as a team. I am so thankful for my loving husband who is incredibly open-minded!

Please pray that we will have open hearts and minds to truly hear God’s voice about this decision and that we will be obedient--no matter what.

Thanks for being so supportive!

P.S. (to my small group) No, I’m not trying to talk Ben into moving to Africa.  I swear!

A year ago today...

...Ben and I were in our car discussing a blog post I had read earlier that day and we felt God speaking to us loud and clear, telling us to adopt.  It was such a clear "calling" to us, that we reacted immediately (in 2 weeks, we had selected our agency and started the process).  I am happy to report that, a year later, we are still passionately pursuing that call! 

We have seen God "show off" to us time and time again this year!  Blessings have been overflowing and we have learned SO much!  I'm definitely not saying that following God's call has been easy--He never promised that it would be.  However, I have never felt more fulfilled in all of my life.  

God has changed my heart and my life in so many ways this year.  I have learned so much about myself and about how it's not about me at all!  This is all about God getting the glory, and the best way we can do that is take steps in obedience to Him and allow him to "show off!" 

So I want to encourage you to be obedient so you can be a part of His story.  If God is telling you to do something, just do it!  Don't just say "I'll pray about it"--God wants action!  Don't try to apply logic--God is MUCH bigger than logic!  Love is a verb, people!  So get on it! 

If you want to reminisce a bit (for those who have been around a while), or better understand how this all started (for those who are newer to Team Huss), below is an excerpt from the email we sent to friends and family on September 28, 2009 sharing our news...

Ben and I wanted to share something with you that’s going on in our lives (no, I’m not pregnant).  We’ve already spoken about this to our immediate family members.  Sorry we couldn’t get to you in person—I’m sure you understand.  Please share this with anyone we inadvertently left off.  It’s kind of a long story, so I’m sorry for the length of the email—but we really wanted to share it with you…

I’ve been feeling a stirring in me for the last few months or so.  I don’t really know how to explain it any better than that—a stirring from God.  Our recent sermon series at church (appropriately titled “jack’d up—no perfect people allowed”) was about the 12 disciples, so there had been a theme of how we respond when God says “come”, stepping out of our comfort zone, living sacrificially, etc.  And I continued to feel the stirring, but no clear direction to anything in particular.  Until a couple of weeks ago (September 16th to be exact)…

I was reading my usual series of blogs while I ate my lunch that day.  One of the bloggers is Jenny Simmons (www.jennysimmons.com).  Her post that day was about living sacrificially.  She was specifically talking about a girl named Katie who gave up her comfortable “normal” life in TN to move to Uganda to take care of orphans.  I felt more stirring while I was reading, so I forwarded the blog post to Ben (who hates long emails, I might add) and told him that he didn’t have to read it, but that I wanted to talk to him about it when I got home from work.
Ben had a doctor’s appointment that day (he has a torn ACL), so he had lots of “free time” while sitting in the doctor’s office.  So apparently he started reading the blog post that I sent him.  He called me from the doctor’s office when he was halfway through reading it and asked me what I wanted to talk to him about.  Since I was at work and I sit in a “cubicle farm”, it just wasn’t appropriate for me to talk to him right then.  So he hung up and apparently read the rest of it.  He called me an hour or two later and asked me again what I wanted to talk to him about.  Again I told him it wasn’t the best time.  Now, don’t get me wrong, Ben is usually interested in what I have to say, but not THAT interested.  So I was intrigued that he cared so much.
On Wednesday nights we meet with our church “small group”, so Ben picks me up at the bus stop and we ride together.  So that evening as soon as I got in the car he said “ok, we only have 20 minutes before we’re there, what did you want to talk to me about?”  So I launched in to telling him the same thing I mentioned above about feeling a stirring for so long, then reading the blog that afternoon and feeling even more stirring.  I listed several things to him in the context of “I don’t know what God is calling me to do…give financially, adopt a child, etc.”
Then Ben stopped me and said that when he read the blog that afternoon, he also felt something.  And when I was rattling off those things, when I said “give financially”, he didn’t feel anything.  But when I said “adopt a child” he felt something.  I said “what—it freaked you out?”  And he said “no—it was like a jolt of electricity through my body”.  Then we both looked at each other, smiled really big, and knew something cool was happening.  So I asked him what that meant and he said “It sounds like we’re supposed to adopt a child.”  Wow.
Adoption.  Wow.  It’s crazy!  Until now, I had never had an experience where I truly felt God calling me to do something.  Now I know what that feels like and it’s pretty cool!  The “normal Lauren” would apply logic to this situation and totally talk my way out of it.  But the “obedient Lauren” is just trusting God and having faith that He’ll guide our steps.  And this has really taken my relationship with Ben to a deeper level than ever before.  It’s really awesome to be on the exact same page with something this life-changing!
During the last week and a half we've been researching and listening for God's direction toward a certain country, age, race, etc.  We’re doing our best not to make “something out of nothing” with normal daily things.  For instance, on Thursday morning when I was in my car, I found myself trying to make every song that I heard relevant to adopting a child.  hehe!  I realized what I was doing after 2 songs and I just laughed at myself.  We’re both trying to listen/watch for God speaking and we’re just feeling our way through this with a lot of prayer.  Please consider joining us in this adventure by praying for us.  I’ll keep you posted on any developments.

Ways to pray for us:
  • For us to continue to focus on building love and respect in our marriage
  • For us to have clear direction from God regarding an adoption agency and country (we have a short-term goal of settling on an adoption agency THIS WEEK)
  • For us to be faithful to what God has called us to do…even though the world would say it’s impossible (“look at your bank account—you don’t have the money to adopt”; “it’s such a long process—are you sure your heart can take it”; “what if you don’t bond with the child”; etc.)
  • For safety, protection, and love over our baby—wherever he/she is

Slowly, but Surely

Got the call from our case manager this evening.  We're certainly moving slowly, but at least we're moving! 

(Can you tell I'm trying to keep things positive and encouraging?  In reality, it's still tough.) 

Our new numbers are...
#42 on the girl list (moved 3 spots since August 6th)
#27 on the boy list (moved 1 spot since August 6th)
#29 on the sibling list (moved 1 spot since August 6th)

We found out that the Ethiopian courts are in their court recess right now, so I'm assuming this has something to do with the numbers moving so slowly.  Our agency anticipates them coming out of recess soon (they have a scheduled court date at the end of September), so here's to hoping that we move more than 3 spots next month!

Check out the "Our Digits" page (top right corner of the blog) for more details on the overall wait time and what that means for us.

Legal Stuff

On Saturday we received our FDL--a letter from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that we need to have in order to adopt.  The official title of the letter is: Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application For Advance Processing of Orphan Petition.

While I don't understand all of the legal "stuff" (that's what our agency is for), I know it is another item that we get to check off the to-do list, which means we're one step closer to Baby Huss!

Here is an excerpt from the letter that is apparently what all of our fingerprinting and background checks were for...

It has been determined that you are able to furnish proper care to an orphan(s) as defined in Section 101(B)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

If the Department of Homeland Security says so, then it must be true! 

Waiting Stinks

It's true.  Waiting is NO FUN.

We had SO many adoptive families tell us that the waiting period would be the hardest part of the adoption process and we didn't really get it...until now.  It's hard.  Really hard.

You see, up until you're put on the waiting list, the process is kind of under your control.  How fast or slow you fill out forms, go to appointments, etc. is how fast or slow the process moves.  And when people ask you what the status is, you actually have something to tell them.

Then one day, you submit your dossier and everything just stops. 

And you wait.

How fast or slow those numbers move is totally out of our hands.  Not a darn thing we can do about it.

I really wish that I could report all of the productive things we've done while we've been waiting.  You know, reading parenting books, child-proofing our house, setting up the nursery, attending baby classes, etc. 

But that's not the case.

We've pretty much been in a funk. 

Don't get me wrong.  We really WANT to be excited about this.  But we've been guarding our hearts for so long.  We know that the adoption process is unpredictable.  We know that anything could happen.  So we haven't really allowed ourselves to make it a reality.

I think we're getting there.  But please pray for us.  And can I ask you a big favor?  Please don't give us any of the cliche lines like "it's all in God's timing," "He has the perfect child picked out for you," etc.

We already know that. I promise. We do.

And we believe it.

When the Lights Go Out (literally)

Monday night we had a big storm that came through Sugar Land and knocked out power for a lot of people.  Ours ended up being out from 6pm until around 11pm.  I learned several things that night...

1) Everything looks better under candlelight!
2) Ben and I have become WAY too dependent on TV for entertainment.  
3) I wish I had a gas stove (instead of electric) for times like these.
4) My house smells really good when candles are burning in every room.
5) I get a lot accomplished when I don't have the distractions of computers and TV.
6) Ben is more of a drama queen than I ever realized! (regarding it being hot)
7) Our neighborhood comes alive with people when the power is out.  Everyone was taking walks, hanging out in their front yards, etc.  It was great!

I'm hoping to apply some of these lessons learned and make some changes in my daily routine, such as...

- burn my beloved candles more often!
- turn off the TV!!
- spend more time out in my neighborhood!

Food Memories

So I'm eating green grapes right now and it's taking me back to a specific place from my childhood--Grandmama's (my mom's mom) kitchen.  I love how food can be such a memory jogger!

Green Grapes and Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches* = Grandmama and Grandaddy's house
Doublemint Gum and Fried Okra = Nana and Papa's house

*Grandmama mixed the PB&J together before spreading on the bread.  I don't usually make mine like that now-a-days, but if I want to feel nostalgic, I certainly do!

I can't wait to spend some time in Ethiopia so I can develop some food memories from my child's birthplace! 

What about you?  Got any food memories?  If so, share them with me!

P.S. (because I'm sure this is going to bug my mom) Obviously those aren't the only things I ate at my grandparents' houses.  They were all wonderful cooks and they spoiled their 4 grandaughters like crazy.  Those are just a couple of the food memories from their houses!

So it turns out I'm a troublemaker...

You just never know where you’ll find truth during your day. For me, today it was in a very sarcastic boss. He simply greeted me this morning with “how was your weekend?”, then “have you gone ‘a round’ with anyone yet?” Nice.

As a bit of background, a large part of my job—what I get paid to do—is to “push back” on people and make sure they are “upping their game” and turning in a very high quality work product. So, for the type of job that I have, my skillset and qualities are perfect, and my boss loves that. However, when he said that this morning, I heard it and applied it to my personal life...and a big light bulb went off!

Things I’ve known about myself for a LONG time: I’m a planner. I’m assertive. I’m organized. I’m efficient. I’m opinionated. I’m a leader. I challenge the status quo. I have high standards.

As you can imagine, there are some interesting “side effects” of having those qualities…

First, the good: Every generation needs people who will not simply sit and do what the generation before them did—I’m the type who doesn’t accept “because we’ve always done it that way” as an acceptable answer. I have the ability to organize data in a way that many people can’t. The way my brain works is useful in planning events or meetings—I can think ahead to everything that will need to be covered so that it’s covered in advance—I can anticipate questions that will be asked and go ahead and answer them in advance. Every group needs a leader, and that comes naturally to me. I produce high quality work products. My opinions often lead to great conversation. I rarely get stuck in a situation that leads nowhere—I make things happen!

Now, the bad: I get annoyed easily when others fall short of my expectations. I’m terrible at just “going with the flow” if I can see a more efficient way. I step on people’s toes. I can’t stand indecisiveness. I’m not a gracious loser. I hate being ignored. My opinions can hurt others. I get extremely frustrated with people who don’t speak up. I’m impatient. I have trouble functioning in a disorganized environment. I really don’t like to be wrong. It’s hard for me to give up the reigns to someone else if I feel I can do it more efficiently and effectively. I can often come across as bossy, controlling, arrogant, sassy, cold…or even like a drama queen, spoiled brat, or troublemaker.

You’re probably feeling very sorry for my husband, family, and close friends right now, aren’t you?!

The truth: My intentions are always pure and I’m never out to hurt anyone or step on anyone’s toes. However, I know that my actions can often come across in a bad way, and I’m owning up to that.

Something I’ve recently realized: It doesn’t matter what my intentions are, perception is reality. So, if people perceive me to be a troublemaker, I’m a troublemaker.

Until now I have always justified it to myself. “But that’s just my personality—that’s Lauren.” Well, that’s enough of that. Yes, that IS my personality—it’s how God made me. However, if some of my talents are causing these bad “side effects,” then I need to do something about it. God created me with these abilities and talents, and I should use them to glorify Him.

And since I’m now aware of it, it’s my responsibility to adjust. Honestly, the only way for me (or anyone, for that matter) to adjust my behavior is with the help of the Holy Spirit. I’ll be praying specifically for myself in this area, so feel free to join me if you’d like.  And PLEASE speak up and tell me if I do anything to hurt or offend you in the future. (remember, I get frustrated with people who don't speak up--heehee!)

IMPORTANT NOTE: I’m not writing this in an attempt to get positive affirmation from all of you that I’m a good person, etc. I realize that I am not defined by these qualities I've listed. I know that I have many more God-given talents and qualities that are great.  Actually, writing it is therapeutic for me and I hope it gives you a little bit of insight into what makes me me. Also, I want accountability and I need your support and prayer. Thanks for loving me in spite of these things!

A CHALLENGE: Hopefully this will spur you to do some self-examination like I’ve done. It kind of hurts, but it’s one of the greatest things you can do!

New Digits

We got our August numbers over the weekend...

#45 on the girl list (moved 6 spots since July 13th)
#28 on the boy list (moved 2 spots since July 13th)
#30 on the sibling list (moved 1 spot since July 13th)

Although we're trying to stay encouraged, it's definitely not easy.  The numbers just don't seem to be moving very quickly, and there isn't a way to explain it or predict when we'll be matched with our baby.  I know, I know--it's all in God's hands.  And we certainly believe that with all of our hearts.  But it's hard to explain that to our emotions. 

On a light-hearted note, I had a minor freak-out moment when I realized that the girl list is moving faster than the boy list:  I don't know how to fix hair!  That's right people--I'm 30 years old and I don't know how to fix hair (well, if you count a ponytail as a style, then I've got that one down)!  I've got a head full of curly hair that I've never done anything with besides leave it down, pull it half up, or put it in a ponytail.  You can even ask my sisters who always had to fix it for me!  (sorry for that,  Jenny!)   Needless to say, if we do get matched with a girl, I'll need some lessons from my sisters and girlfriends!

Who Needs Billy when You've Got Ben

This morning around 6:30am, while I was downstairs drinking my coffee and having some alone time with God, I heard some rustling upstairs.  I thought it was strange because Ben didn't have to work today and therefore wouldn't have a reason to be up that early.  I reasoned that he must have gotten up to go to the bathroom.  Then I heard it again and realized that it wasn't Ben.  The dogs must have realized it at the same time as I did--they sprinted up the stairs.  I followed behind them and we were all quiet, standing at the top of the stairs, waiting for the noise again.  It didn't let us down--we heard it again.

So I woke Ben up to get him to do something about it (no way was I going to confront something in our attic).  He heard it too.  Without hesitation, he then proceeds to pull the attic hatch down so he could confront the critter.  Then this exchange...

As a side note, every year around late-summer / early-fall, we have a possum problem.  So, my first thought was that this critter we were hearing was a possum.  Those things are not cool.  They are mean.  They have fleas.  They bite.  You get my point.

(as Ben is pulling down the hatch)
Me: Wait!  Don't you have a plan?
Ben:  No.
Me:  But you don't even have a box to catch it in.  And you're only wearing underwear.
Ben:  So.
Me:  Come on.  At least let me bring you some kind of container before you pull the hatch down.  I don't want some rodent loose in my house.
Ben:  Fine.
(so I bring him an empty box)
Me:  What are you going to do?
Ben:  You don't want to know.
(he's right.  so I went downstairs and covered my ears.) 

Ah, my husband knows me so well!  He knew that he just needed to "take care of it" and not let my innocent eyes see what he was going to do.  However, my husband is also quite the "funny guy" (so he thinks).  When I was about to walk out the door to head to work, I grabbed my cell phone and guess what photo was my new background?  Yep, a photo of the culprit.  A HUGE rat!  G.R.O.S.S.

Some closing thoughts about this lovely story...

1) I'm SO happy I married a "man's man."  You know, a man who isn't afraid to crawl into a dark attic with nothing but his bare hands to catch a critter.  Yes, it's definitely gross.  But I love that he isn't a "pansy" who is scared to do those things. 

2) I'm SO happy that Ben is a carefree, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy.  It's a good balance to my over-cautious, very scheduled nature. 

3) I'm SO happy that we have humor in our marriage.  It's awesome to laugh together--even if you're laughing about a rodent in your attic.

4) I'm very thankful that today was trash day...

P.S.  Everytime I typed the word "hatch," I thought of LOST.  I miss Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Locke, Ben Linus, etc...

P.P.S.  For those who don't know, my reference to Billy in the title is about Billy the Exterminator, who my friend Holly knows personally.

We're goin' down down, baby...

...yo street in a Range Rover...(sorry, just getting my Nelly on--heehee!)

Seriously, we got our updated waitlist numbers yesterday (in the pregnancy comparison, it's kind of like having another ultrasound).  Drumroll, please...

#51 on the girl list (moved 9 spots since May 24th)
#30 on the boy list (moved 10 spots since May 24th)
#31 on the sibling list (moved 2 spots since May 24th)

So, it's still looking like we're going to be matched with a baby boy!  However, it's moving a little slower than expected, so it might be more like December/January before we get matched.  Things change all the time, so by next month, it could be moving quicker, which would bump our travel time back up.  We'll keep everyone posted!

Thanks for the continued prayers for our growing family!


This is from a book I'm reading called "The Hole in Our Gospel."  The author (Rich Stearns) took some liberties and paraphrased Matthew 25:42-43 (what Christ said to the "goats" on his left).  All I can say is "ouch!"

"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed.  I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water.  I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported.  I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes.  I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness.  I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved."

...running through my head, running through my head, running through my head...

My husband is constantly telling me that I need to relax.  Just sit down and chill.  Stop being so busy.  He's right.  I seriously need to learn how to "be still."

You see, I'm the type of person who feels the need to always be productive (I'm sure a therapist would have fun analyzing me).  It's extremely hard for me to just sit and rest.  Even in times of supposed tranquility like when I'm getting a massage, my mind is always going full speed with the next items on my "to do list."


Or what?  What will happen if I don't get the floor swept?  What will happen if I don't respond to that person's email?  What will happen if I don't clip all of the coupons before grocery shopping?  Nothing catastrophic, that's for sure.

But what am I missing by being so "busy?"  Life.  Time just hanging out with my husband.  Time playing with my dogs.  And if I don't get this figured out by the time I'm a mom, then I'll miss some of the precious moments with my child.

The same concept can be applied to my relationship with God.

For the last few months, my head (via my heart) has been swimming with WAY too many convictions.  These convictions come from several sources...

- I read 3-4 blogs on a daily basis that challenge me on how I'm serving the poor and marginalized around the world. 
- I hang out with a group of people every week and we study the Bible and talk about life.
- I recently completed a 15-week course about God's heart for the world. 
- I read the Bible. 
- I meet with a friend every week and we talk about how we're treating our husbands, our families, and our friends. 
- I read books about all of these topics (I'm currently reading 1 book about how to be a good wife, 1 book about God's desire for us to serve, and 1 book about how to have boundaries at work and at home). 
- I pray.

But what's missing here?  The stillness.  Therefore, what am I missing out on?  God.

I'm not taking the time to truly "be still."  I'm doing a LOT of talking to God, but not a lot of listening.  No wonder I'm so overwhelmed!  I'm not allowing my Creator to give me the peace He so badly wants to give me.  I've become way too "busy" trying to seek His exact direction for my life that I've essentially taken Him out of the picture.

I've GOT to stop trying so hard.  I've GOT to let my mind (and heart) rest.  And I've GOT to just shut up and listen.


We got a very important call today from our adoption agency...we're officially waitlisted!  I never thought that word could mean something positive, but in the context of international adoption, it's music to our ears!

Since we are open to adopting either gender, and since we are open to adopting twins (or siblings who are both under the age of 12 months), we got put on 3 waitlists...

#60 on the girl list
#40 on the boy list
#33 on the sibling list

They estimate the wait time to be 9-10 months for a girl or 5-7 months for a boy.  They have no estimate to give us for the sibling list (and apparently twin orphans are not very common at all). 

Given those waitlist numbers and estimated wait times, it's certainly looking like we're going to get a little boy (but we're still open to either)!  It also means that we could be matched with our child and be making our first trip to Ethiopia as early as October!  If that happens, we'd have quite an exciting Christmas present to bring home from our second trip!

Since we're on all 3 waitlists, here's the way it will work:  each time a family gets matched with a child, our number moves closer.  If they are a family who was on multiple lists, then the numbers change on all of the lists they were on.  If they were only on the girl list, then our number only changes on the girl list.  Etc., etc.  

We will receive monthly updates from our agency on where we are on the list, so we'll keep everyone posted as we move closer to being matched with our child!

To try to compare this to a pregnancy:  if submitting the dossier was like finding out we were pregnant, then getting our waitlist numbers are like hearing the heartbeat for the first time.  We're SO pumped!!

Big Step Completed Today!

We sent our dossier to AGCI today!  They will review it tomorrow and as long as it's complete we get put on the waitlist.  Woo-hoo!  Once we're on the waitlist, it's 8 months (at the longest) until we get matched with our child.  Thanks for sharing this journey with us!!

The FedEx employees thought I was weird for asking them to take a picture. 
Oh well--I'm fine being weird. ;)

I want to grow up and become a Polish nun

No, I'm not crazy.  Well, maybe a little. 

So, I read an article today (found it on a blog I "stalk") and got super-excited.  I'm excited because it's written about a topic that I've been thinking a lot about for the last few months or so.  I'm excited because Christians are starting to "get it"!  And I'm excited because it's given me some clarity and direction on how to move forward.  I'm pumped, people!

You see, I've been overwhelmed lately with all of the things I feel God telling me to do.  It all has to do with my role in serving the poor and marginalized around the globe, but it's all jumbled up in my head.  I can't tell exactly what I'm meant to do.  In the meantime I've been praying for clarity and just doing "normal" service things that I've always done.  Not to downplay those things, but really--I feel called to do much more.

A tidbit of info about me:  I tend to feel called to action regarding EVERYTHING I read/see/hear.  I know it drives my husband crazy...he's definitely going to sigh loudly when I tell him to read my recent blog post...but I guess it's a good quality to have, right? 

Anyway, when I read the aforementioned article today, it stirred up a lot of excitement and heart pounding in me.  First I'm going to read the book that it references (and prepare for the change that it will most definitely bring to my life).  Then I'm going to talk to my small group about using the free 6-week study guide for our next study together (and pray that all of us are called to action)I'm pumped, people!

So, please share in my excitement by checking out this article and this book (and even this blog where I found the article). 

Here is another teaser from the article (the first teaser was the blog title)...

If secular liberals can give up some of their snootiness, and if evangelicals can retire some of their sanctimony, then we all might succeed together in making greater progress against common enemies of humanity, like illiteracy, human trafficking, and maternal mortality.

And a teaser from the book...

How have we missed it so tragically, when even rock stars and Hollywood actors seem to understand?

Career vs Vocation

Career - a chosen pursuit; a profession or occupation

Vocation - an inclination, as if in response to a summons, to undertake a certain kind of work; a calling 

A recent speaker in my Tuesday night class said "don't let your career get in the way of your vocation."  That phrase struck me deep and has been convicting me since I heard it a week ago.  I'm totally guilty of thinking that I have to wait until I quit my current job to do what God is calling me to do--to love and to serve the poor and the marginalized--to spread His story to all the nations--to really make an impact on His kingdom. 

I'm guilty of blaming procrastination on perfection--all of my ducks have to be in a row before I can move forward.  For example: I can't go hang out with the homeless until I've got my baggies all prepared with crackers, shampoo, and McDonald's gift cards; until I've done research on where the homeless hang out; until I've taken a training on how to best present the gospel to the homeless; until I've made sure it's safe; until I've...you get the picture.

That's always been my problem.  I don't move forward with something if I know that I can't do it perfectly.  Well, news flash to Lauren--you're never going to do anything perfectly--you're not Jesus!  My challenge to myself:  stop preparing and start doing!  Just take the first step--stop trying to see what steps 8 and 9 are going to be.  Just let God be in control and He will get the glory for it!

Bottom line:  God can use me wherever I am--all I have to do is obey His calling!  I can live out my vocation while I'm doing my career.  And who knows where He will lead me in the future...

This just in!

Our home study was officially approved by All God's Children!!  Woo-hoo!! 

Even though we finished the "meat" of our home study back in November, there were a few steps that had to be completed before it was considered complete.  Today we got word that our adoption agency gave the final approval of the home study!  Huge check on the "to-do" list (see complete list on the right)!

So, what does that mean?  Once we get the notarized copies in the mail from our social worker, it means that we can finally submit our dossier!! 

So, what does that mean?  Once AGCI reviews and approves our dossier (as long as we included everything on the checklist, then it will be approved), it means that we can officially be placed on the waiting list for our child!!

So, what does that mean?  Once we're on the waiting list, it means that we're about 6-8 months from being matched with our child!!

Thanks for all of your prayers and support through this process.  We're pumped about being one step closer to our kiddo!

Adoption FAQs

This Q&A post is not meant to deter you from asking us questions directly. We just thought it might be helpful for those of you who don't see us or speak to us very often. These are the questions we frequently get asked along with our best answers to them...

Why adoption?
Ben and I felt a strong calling to adopt in September 2009. We can’t really explain it in any other way than that—a calling. We had been trying to get pregnant for about a year prior to that, but thankfully had not experienced any loss associated with infertility and had not exhausted our fertility options. The fact that we did not already have children and were not pregnant certainly made it easier to say “yes” to adoption; however, this journey is about so much more than our desires to have children. We are excited to see how God will continue to work in us and to meet the child He has chosen for us.

Why international? Why not domestic?
The calling that we felt was very clear to us. Adopt an infant. Adopt internationally. Adopt right now. The beauty of the body of Christ is that we are all called to different things and we have different passions. Our particular calling and passion is to international adoption.

Why Ethiopia?
Ethiopia kind of picked us. You see, Ben and I initially did not feel a strong calling to any particular country. We based our country search on what we felt called to do (adopt an infant; adopt internationally; adopt right now). We started by selecting an agency (All God’s Children International—or AGCI), then we gave our information to see which countries matched with us. Since we are adopting an infant, that narrowed it down significantly (some countries only adopt toddlers and up). Then they take into account your ages, years of marriage, etc. For us, all signs pointed clearly to Ethiopia!

Are you going to adopt a boy or a girl?
Ben and I are open to either gender. We even put on our paperwork that we’re open to twins, so we’ll see if that happens!

Do you know if your child will be healthy?
In the adoption paperwork, there is a question that reads “are you open to special needs?” For us, that was a tough decision to make. First of all, it’s a bit strange to get to select the parameters for your child—when a woman is pregnant she doesn’t get to do that. Also, that kind of question forces you to confront any selfishness, insecurities, or overall ugliness in your personality. Ultimately we decided to check the “no” box to that special needs question and we are at peace with our decision. We know that God has chosen the perfect child (or children) for us.

What background information will you know about your child?
It depends. Our agency (AGCI) will review and finalize our child’s background information and will provide us with any records (medical, psychological, historical) that they have. No matter what background we know or don’t know about our child, please understand that our child’s story is going to be a very private and personal one—and possibly painful. Our child will likely have residual hurts—whether that stems from a stressful pregnancy, being left in an orphanage, or something else altogether. When we do get matched with our child and learn his background, we will likely talk to our parents about the story, but will respect our child and wait until he is old enough to decide for himself who else he would like to share it with. Please pray for healing of our child’s heart and pray that we can be for him what he needs us to be.

How long does it take?
With adoption you have to “expect the unexpected.” The estimate for someone with our parameters (infant, Ethiopia, either gender, healthy) is approximately 8 months from the time we submit our dossier to the time we are matched with our baby. What that means is that we should be parents by the end of 2010. I keep the checklist on the right-hand side of the blog updated with current timeline information.

How much does it cost? Why so much?
Adoption is a wonderful way to grow a family, but it is an expensive venture. Our adoption expenses will cost in excess of $30,000. This includes legal fees, travel expenses, training programs, administrative fees, etc. Our adoption agency provides us with all of the services associated with our adoption including serving as liaison with foreign authorities and orphanage personnel in Ethiopia. One of the many comforts we have with our agency is that they were among the first group of agencies to receive Hague Accreditation. The Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption is an international agreement between participating countries on best adoption procedures. To receive accreditation signifies the highest standards in integrity and leadership among adoption providers.

Will you travel to pick up your baby?
Yes. We actually will be traveling to Ethiopia twice during the process (flying in to Addis Ababa). Although we will not know our exact travel dates until the last minute, we do know that our first trip will be for our Court appointment with the Ethiopian Federal Courts and our second trip will be for our US Visa Interview appointment. On the first trip, we will go a few days prior to Court, spend time with our child (or children), and attend the Court appointment. If our child was relinquished by their birth family, this would allow us the opportunity to meet the family. Then it’s going to be tough because we’ll have to leave our child in the Hannah’s Hope orphanage in Ethiopia and come back to Sugar Land. Then 5-8 weeks later, we’ll travel again to pick up our child, go to the US Visa Interview appointment, and come home!

When can we meet him/her?
Through our adoption training, we’ve learned that it’s best to keep visitors to a minimum for the first few weeks. The main reason for this is to help form the attachment between our child and us as parents. Since orphans generally have several different caretakers who come and go, they are not used to bonding or attaching to one caretaker. After the recommended timeframe, we will gladly show off our child to the world!

Have you thought of names?
We will keep our child’s best interest in mind when deciding whether or not to change his/her first name. Social workers explain that changing an adopted child’s first name can potentially harm his/her sense of identity. Often times, the first name is the only connection the child will have to his/her birth mother. No matter what happens with the first name, we’re certainly excited about our child becoming a Huss!

What is the orphan situation in Ethiopia?
The country has more that 4.6 million orphans. Approximately 800,000 children have lost one or both of their parents to HIV/AIDS. Starvation and diseases such as malaria are other problems that have affected the Ethiopians. Orphaned children often become invisible to society because they are left with little choice about their own future. Orphans taken in by extended family often work on rural family farms and are therefore not able to go to school. Working is more a necessity than a choice. Orphans who do not have extended family go to orphanages run by the government or private organizations. Because most orphanages have little money, the orphans live in desperate conditions; nevertheless, these orphans are given food and clothing and they are able to go to school.

What if…?
There are no guarantees with adoption. We have no idea what the temperament of our child will be or how he/she will develop. We have no way to predict what the future holds. But there are no guarantees with children you birth, either. There are no guarantees anywhere when it comes to having children…or in life, for that matter. The child that God has chosen for us will become a part of our “forever family” just like children you birth. There is a "no return" policy, and for that we’re glad.

My Abster

Indulge me as I brag for a moment...I have 6 nieces and nephews (so far) and I am SO proud of ALL of them.  In fact, I find it hard to imagine what type of emotions I'll feel when I have my own children because I can't imagine loving a kiddo more than I love my nieces and nephews.  I just love 'em to pieces! 

Abby is the oldest of the 6 and she'll always hold a special place in my heart.  Although I don't get to see her very often now (because I moved to Texas), I spent a LOT of time with her when she was a baby and because of that I feel a special bond with her.  A few pics to explain (the snuggled up position was very common for the 2 of us)...

Here we are on her birthday (November 26, 1997)!

And a few years later...

And on her 5th birthday...

Abby will be a teenager this year (wow!) and I wish I could say that I played a part in helping her develop the creative talent that she has, but that couldn't be further from the truth!  I support her and cheer her on, but I don't have a creative bone in my body.  She does get it honest, though.  Abby's mom is my older sister, Jenny.  Jenny and I are the closest in age of all 4 of us girls, but we couldn't be more opposite when it comes to our talents/gifts.  Jenny is super creative--she can sing, she can dance, she can draw, she can...create!  And well, Abby has certainly followed in her mama's footsteps when it comes to her creative talents!

This is where the bragging comes in.  Here are some pics to showcase Abby's talents--and this is just a snippet...

She dances!

She sings & acts!

She draws & paints!

Your eyes aren't fooling you--this is a 16x20 in oil pastels that Abby recently did.  Isn't it AMAZING?!?!

Yes, people--she does it all!  And apparently I'm not the only one who is impressed.  As the "Webster Parish Most Talented Student 2009", she has been asked to have an exhibit of her various artworks at an upcoming festival; and was asked to provide three entertainment performances to showcase at her school and throughout the festival!

Go Abster!!